Friday, 13 October 2017

Catalonia and I

It's really quite amazing how the things that featured in my past come back and one that has come back is Catalonia, which is something I knew of because of family connections, learning about the Spanish Civil War and reading many of the novels of George Orwell.
In North America as in Great Britain his two towering texts, Animal Farm a fable of a revolution gone wrong in the form of allegory of the Russian Revolution of 1917 and 1984 which is about totalitarian dictatorship, blind obedience to "The Party" and the attempt by defining out to prevent critical independent thought and betrayal
One book that had an influence on me was Homage To Catalonia which is his account as seen by him of being an independent fighter for the Spanish Republic against Franco that tells not just of the action but the bitter blood thirsty internal squabbles among the left-wing republican forces not least the sacrifice of non-communists by communist support and Russian Government  and the blind refusal of many on the English left to tell it as it is.   
I hate to say it but there times where a disrespect for Truth and Humanity are ignored when it doesn't seem to fit a narrow political objective or imperative not just by suppression of criticism but the telling of deliberate untruths.
Part of that Civil War was about individual freedoms and the centralization of the State most telling after Franco's victory.
This is where today's concern for the people of Catalonia and of wider Spain come in because while previous regimes have tried to allow more local budget setting and decision making in the manner of the UK's evolving devolution and Quebec's unique status within Canada as a separate society, the current crisis happened on a backdrop of reduced autonomy.
It seems the current Government in Madrid feels a strong Spain in difficult economic and political times requires more control from the centre and this fed into a situation where the Catalan regional elections produced support for more independence minded parties.
This lead to the recent 'illegal' referendum where pro united Spain parties  abstained and by default the only parties taking part supported independence.
It is only fair to point out under the Spanish Constitution only the State has the power to call, hold and act on such referendums and declare independence. 
The referendum being called, the Government called in the National Police to disrupt the illegal action, seizing ballot boxes  beating up voters and protesters.
To pull a old woman by the hair, to beat causing cuts and bruises those who protest and defend the right to express though voting an opinion for a good number of us brings back the images of the 1930's and indeed of fascism.
While the election was illegal, the state held the Trump Card  in that it was well within its rights to not act upon the results and so having not prevented it, seeing polling itself had started tolerated it as a safety valve.. No damage was being done.
Having done that then looking at how to square more support for greater local say on matters within being in Spain would of been a more sensible approach as would engaging in the debate during that campaign.
Instead, it only appears to have inflamed tensions more and the failure to adequately censure the Spanish Government for police conduct by the European Union and many of its leaders appalls me. 

Thursday, 5 October 2017

Upon the death of Tom Petty

It was announced late Monday night UK time, that Tom Petty, one of America's greatest songwriters and singers had died on what had been a pretty dark day for the Las Vegas shooting with its 59+ dead and the violence in Catalonia by Spanish Police in response to an illegal poll.
This was the formal announcement as issued on the day:

On this blog we have reviewed some of his albums not least his final one, 2016's Mudcrutch2 that surprised and enthralled us as someone who was sixty-six years still had the vitality to pull off as much as 2014's Hypnotic Eye did with its social and political observations did two years before.
Tom goes way back to '76/7 with me with the release of "Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers" a 30 odd minute much needed straightahead roots rock that garnered attention in New Wave's spiritual home, Great Britain, which presented the opportunity to develop the live act and then 'sell back' to the States that bought You're Gonna Get it and its 45's I Need To Know and Listen To Her Heart.
If I was to pick just one of his albums outside of 1994's Greatest Hits, I'd pick Damn The Torpedos, his 1979 release which in so many ways encapsulated his simple but effective way of reducing down complex ideas to the most commercial while not losing the 'message'.
The best known examples from that album  are "Refugee", "Don't Do Me Like That" and "Here Comes My Girl", all hit 45's.
Tom was a member of the Travelin' Wilbury's a 'super group' with former beatle George Harrison, Roy Orbison, Bob Dylan and Jeff Lynne of England's Electric Light Orchestra that blended the talents into a very much 'Americana' feel best exemplified by the mainly Canadian band, The Band but being contemporary too selling well beyond each members own audience.
It is hard to put across what Tom meant to us: At a human level he was very genuine, reflective, free from the ego grabbing me,me,me that the so many in the music business have. 
Musically he straddled that gap between so-called 'Classic Rock' and 'Indie Alternative' in a way another of my music loves, Bruce Springsteen never quite pulled off  even if he did do the long epic song.
'Refugee' was a song whose theme spoke to me as a disabled person battling not be defined by events, unable or unwilling to move on.
Writing this has been emotionally exhausting cos Tom meant so much almost on a par with David Bowie.
Rest In Peace, Tom.

Friday, 29 September 2017

Goth wedding account

This weekend past was somewhat chaotic to say the least in that a marriage reception that I had known about for a period being notified of the date and then the time and location  had some poorly communicated serious changes to it.
You see, I was meant at least according to the official invite that I R.S.V.P'd  in the affirmative to be attending a reception social gathering for the wedding with it being on from around of 2PM through 11PM with the actual wedding being held in Florida in the States.
The invite specified a dress colour plus the that this was an event to which you could drop into and leave at any point within that so in the absence of any further information to the point of checking a day before, I was under the impression I was to be picked up for 6 PM attending in the evening  so had just had a light cooked late breakfast on the Sunday morning as I received a call from the Groom's mother inquiring if I had my lift arranged for a Wedding service at 1PM and I was required to go!
That's like two hours notice of a change of plan as when I asked politely what was this about, I was was informed there had been a change of plan and indeed a subsequent call to my brother confirmed even he who was to witness it, had only been informed the day before. I was able to get transport arranged at speed and then proceeded to get dressed at speed to attend the civil ceremony in a hall in the centre of a large park.
One of first things to say is this wasn't a plain civil ceremony because the place had been decorated in halloween gothic manner with pumpkins and lanterns down the bridal procession with pumpkin shaped critters suspended from the ceiling, spiders and streamers and a spooky arch by the registrars desk.
The bride and groom all walked down the aisle in black with the bridesmaids in a velvetry purple coloured dresses before making their marriage vows and my cousin presented the ring.
After that we went outside whereupon I met one member from the Spanish-Canadian side of the family  I hadn't seen for a while who moved during the Franco era and talked with several others as the photographs were being taken in the park.
The park itself look in great condition, plenty of flowers still out although the fall was making itself know as some trees were changing colour which made for a great backdrop on what was a bright sunny day.
While that was going on the catering team were setting up for the reception where food was served with black napkins and the cakes themed including the wedding cake that was themed in black all of which was done buffet style.
After saying my goodbyes, I left home, feeling however chaotic the day had started and the amazing level of miscommunication, a great day was had  not least for the happy couple.

Friday, 22 September 2017

Mozart Masterworks 1991 revisited

Last time we had a "syncro-post" on this blog which I hope you all enjoyed but today's post will be the complimentary post for a post on the other blog looking at classical music which was something I did blog a bit about on That Boarding School Girl because it was a childhood and school centred experience that included a woodwind group and lessons in music appreciation.
In 1991, to mark the 200th anniversary of the death of Mozart, the record label Deutsche  Grammophon at the time one of the leading labels issuing classical music, instituted a 25 compact disc series entitled Mozart Masterpieces that picked what they regarded as the most essential Mozart compositions in performances they regarded as being desirable all in what was a budget price which from recollection was around £5.49 per disc available separately or as a complete set. 
When compact discs first came out typically we paid £12.99 or more  and by around 1987 mid price discs often more generous when it came to content when it came to classical ones came out around the £7.50-7.99 mark so to have all these recordings at a low unit price really was a bargain for someone who only had a few recordings and many of them on tape or record.
There were however a few for various reasons I didn't get such as the recording of Symphonies 40 and 41 by the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Claudio Abbado that it was generally scarcely skated the surface of what was in the score to which I bought the mid 60's recordings by the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra  conducted by Karl Bohm instead and there was this one that I had the 1976 Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra recording by Karl Bohm I bought in July 1987 when it came out on the new Deutsche Grammophon "Galleria" series  with the Posthorn Serenade.
I thought it was time to revisit this series that was the core of Mozart collection and track down a copy for the 1960's recordings the Berlin Philharmonic did of this and two other works under the larger than life conductor Herbert von Karajan.

I did buy the Melos performed String Quartets disc but I bought later on a 6 cd set of the main String Quartets performed by the Amadeus Quartet at which point this single disc disappeared for some reason or other so I've picked up a replacement so I can enjoy their account of these two works.

Also included in the series was G├ęza Anda's recordings of his Piano Concertos 26 and 27 which for some reason I never bought although I did get a different recording of no 27 than the one in  this cd set which were from a complete series of them that currently are in a 8 cd set that I hope to get at some point being one the finest ever issued.
While the cover on my copy has the label "Privilege" not "Resonance" in the same font) it is from the very same stamper used for it so it is technically identical.
This series was the first one I followed rather had bought for me, providing an opportunity to replace a number of works I had on much played records and tapes, making available what had in some instances been full price discs cheaply such as the Berlin Philharmonic, Anne-Sophie Mutter recordings of the 3rd and 5th violin  concertos and the first time some recordings previously issued on tape and lp record came out on cd.
Revisiting it, playing some of the original purchases and these others I missed  brings back many happy memories that lead to the establishment of considerable collection of favourite works by many composers on compact disc and its higher quality form, the super audio cd.
As well I did get a complete set of recording of Mozart's violin sonatas that originally came out as separate cds at this time cheaply comprising of excellent all digital recordings to go alongside the collection.

Monday, 18 September 2017

The Best Bat in the School

As mentioned on my Introducing That Boarding School Girl post and its hopefully helpful questions and answers I said they'd be a few shared posts between this middles journal and my main little/middles blog  and so today we are having a 'syncro-post'.
We have been going through the St Brides/Maudsley series of classic girls own fiction by Dorita Fairlie Bruce and recently read a new book in the series but with a twist.
This isn't a regular 'series' book so much as a compilation of a series of short stories originally published for various Girls Own publications such as yearly annuals she wrote for and one which is more of a long short novel which is the main feature  and all involve the characters of we met in the St Brides boarding school  and Maudsley day school although there is sufficient information to make sense of the story if you hadn't.
The main feature, The Best Bat in the School, is set at Maudsley with Nancy, Phyllis, Lois, Charity and the gang and how measures the school adopted to deal with a severe outbreak of Scarlet Fever in the district-placing restrictions on the school girls movements lead  to resent and a girl disobeying them.
The focus of the story is on the cricket match between Maudsley and Larkiston which I'll be honest and say is not a game I have a clue about and the role Lois and Charity have as the girls in charge of making the teams selection.
The issue is Lois saw a girl who go to the theatre breaching the restrictions and feels by putting their own enjoyment over others respect for school rules should be dropped.
What unfolds is the lesson set out by the authoress  around  how a misunderstanding (which girl and why) leads to a condemnation of that particular girl unjustly, how that impacts on the relationships of all the girls bring various people under suspicion and puts into jeopardy the schools honour in the competition which with interventions by Charity working out the actual situation, they do win. 
It is I feel having read it, a very important lesson well told in  this story
Victoria Vixtrix is set at St Brides around a girl who badly needs to win a scholarship to go to University to complete her education when her family are through no fault of their own facing poverty.
We meet again Winifred Arrowsmith, disabled wheelchair user to use modern terms as I was for part of my childhood, crippled by polio, showing clear signs that the more regular, less pitied interaction has developed  into one more sympathetic, just one of the girls
A strength I feel of her work is both her clear understanding of social disadvantage such as poverty, the impact of illness and disability on family welfare and the emphasis on moral education which may perhaps to some today seem a little old-fashioned but one I wholly subscribe to so we better serve ourselves and others.
There is more to us than physical and intellectual abilities and needs.

Friday, 15 September 2017

Weekly update from "The Dorm"

I'm writing this in the aftermath of Hurricane Aileen that arrived over Tuesday night and rampaged into Wednesday morning here pulling down trees, causing localized flooding and causing a power out that lasted five and a half hours to which I don't known what is worse: being without the power or sheer cacophony of security alarms ring for hours as you try to get some sleep in.
Anyway, we're back up and running, nothing has blown from a power surge although it confused the main tv into thinking it had no antenna for some strange reason that took a bit of troubleshooting and I think the electric kettle's on its last days.
As you know I've always had a thing for Kawaii, almost an obsession even over the cutest of things having shared it on That Boarding School Girl pretty much from the beginning and indeed at one point I even had a very short-lived side blog devoted to 'cute stuff'.
If you'd of asked me in 2008 I could see my dorm looking just like the room illustrated then I'd have to of said yes cos while the cute bits and bobs are there I was very much into cutified technology replacing standard keyboard and mice and might of replaced the monitor too.
In 2017 it's different because of that technology, I use mainly a small Chromebook which is black and an aging Dell Windows laptop for music downloading and copying to files on and they have less customization as in making pink even if do liberally cover them in cute stickers because not needing separate keyboard and mice, I don't have the excuse to toss the supplied boring one to landfill and add something from the Hello Kitty range instead cos I don't like the look of 'boys toys' although I'm not exactly a technophobe.
I have finished with any luck the redesign of this journalling middles blog in conjunction with my middle/littles blog so they do match and have a less busy, more streamlined feel on the theme side.

Friday, 8 September 2017

Hits on cd

I was looking back yesterday tidying things up at clippings from such magazines as Smash Hits!, Big which was a music, movies and tv star teen magazine that came out before Bliss and Sugar with pictures on Adam Ant, 5 Star and New Kids on the Block that you pinned to your dorm or home bedroom wall.
It got me thinking back to how we listened to music back then.
When in 1983 the compact disc was introduced commercially in North America and Europe, there were a number of concerns beyond of that of the then high price for the actual players for those who had more than $700 to throw at this new technology.
One was the catalogue which on launch was minuscule and pretty expensive as I well remember and the other was connected with it was let's say you're a dealer so what could use to demonstrate it to broad customer base?
Luckily Philips, co-creators of the format through its then Phonogram music arm had the answer in form of a short lived compact disc series called simply Hits on CD

It was launched in early 1984 taking 14 to 16 tracks from the in print cd catalogue they owned in Europe one track per artist across a wide range popular music from Techno pop to Hard rock to show off the medium.
Nice touches included information about the album it was from and catalogue number and using full length versions of tracks from Trio to Kiss and all points between.
It was I believe the first place on compact disc the non album single Twisting By The Pool by Dire Straits was issued and one the few places anything by the very short lived trans pop star Marilyn was ever issued on cd.
I own the first four which work well with some of my other original 80's  compilations -hello Now '86! - and do sound very really good no doubt because they use little post studio processing in the way so many do today.

Saturday, 2 September 2017

Nancy to the rescue

Seeing this is second post of the month following yesterdays entry about this blog's future we'll begin by catching up with a series of book reviews that by co-incidence is being printed at the start of the Autumn Term.

Following on The New Girl and Nancy, this installment is set at the start of the Autumn term with Nancy being moved to the Upper Fifth  Form with Desda (Desdemona) Blackett which is seen as being a more dull but worthy form more centred around academic work.
It is soon resolved however to do something about this not least by making a AM. group which is really an Amateur Dramatics and Arts group where they'd study to put on short productions, recitals and undertake some games.
Followers of the previous entries might recall this series started not at Maudsley Grammar school but at St. Brides and this past of Nancy's is a key theme in this edition as we are reintroduced to Althea who we learn has moved to Maudsley in somewhat distressing circumstances, her mothers ill health and given the era we are is the nineteen-twenties there is no Welfare State, they ate in a state of acute poverty where Althea and her mother at at risk of losing their rented home and from which Althea has had to leave St. Brides because of being unable pay the school fees.
Nancy's after school life involves her being in charge of ("Maid of Merit") of the Guildry where the adult Miss Knevitt, is talking about setting up a new unit and that it would involve some changes in unit leaders including Nancy.
It was coming back from a meeting where this was being discussed that Nancy hears a flute being played as it happened rather well and upon coming across her realizes this is her lost friend from St.Brides who is malnourished  and Nancy takes her to a cafe for a drink and food and soon realizes things are very bleak.
Disturbed by this, she takes a long detour to Lord Woodridge a local land owner and 'big cheese' of the town and discussed her friend and mothers plight with him suggesting with his mothers knowledge of nature that an offer of the post of Curator of a museum he is about to open soon be given to her and with it a place to stay.
Like many of her generation Althea's mother would feel they could not just accept a place out of charity, it would have to be seen as being in exchange for her services and this way is accepted by him.
Equally Althea herself needs to continue in her education but there is a stumbling block which is that while a 'scholarship' can be issued for any form it is not generally accepted for 'upper school' which is where she belongs but it is in his remit to award one he does and so Althea now goes to  Maudsley Grammar in the upper fifth like Nancy.
Unfortunately, a small rather voracious group of girls lead by Elma hold to the notion that having a Free Scholar rather lowers the tone especially one held to do something vulgar like play a flute for money even though Althea only did this to raise money where her Mom was down to her last three pence and facing eviction and make things difficult by having so they would not play games with her so she helps the Fourth and lower Fifth out instead and having made a big deal in bring her poverty stricken flute playing out so embarrasses her that an offer to join the AM. for which she has considerable talents is just too embarrassing for her to take up.
In time however Althea joins the Guildry, just at the point Nancy is pondering a change to the 2nd new unit as it's leader so she feels supported although the behaviour of those other girls is really bad.
Just before the Museum is about to open and Althea's Mom has moved in, a mysterious Japanese man comes in a demanding a Cedar tree that her Mom refused to sell, refusing to leave until he's gotten it. Nancy and Althea trap him and just by luck Lord Woodridge comes by and has him arrested. It transpires what was so desirable about the tree was a Crystal which was buried beneath it as an insurance against hard times for Althea's Mom.
Althea's new found status as an heiress impresses those who so rejected her as the Free Scholar, the shallow meanness thereof not lost on Nancy and clearly transmitted in the book to the reader.  
A area competition for the arts is held called the Rosebury Festival and Nancy's name is put forward as a soloist but Nancy feels strongly this is Althea's time and so puts forward to the Head Mistress that really a change of entry to Althea is really called for as her skills as flautist are the stronger but she'd accompany on piano.
This is accepted so the pair go in the competition judged at City Hall and Althea wins the gold medal  and Nancy awarded a special commendation for the accompanying so the pair have brought honour upon their form and school.
Although in some respects it's a relatively simple book in the series, I think it's strengths are that it tackles head on social prejudice, and poverty in a compassionate, thoughtful  way that reminds me very much of what it felt like being 14 or 15 felt like, caring deeply about issues and each other, wanting to help in the way Nancy did her friend and mother, trying to make a difference for the good.
Making a stand for decency, treating people fairly are important lessons we need to learn to keep our society holding to civilized values.

Friday, 1 September 2017

Introducing That Boarding School Girl

First post of the month where vacations end and school, college and university for some begin.

If you hadn't noticed there is something different about this blog from the last time or two since you looked at it although this has been on the cards for quite a long time, the last eighteen months really, so I think I'll explain it in question and answer form.

Q: Why did you change the title?
A: I changed it because in truth it was always the that bit more middle, more grown up version of my other (littles) blog dealing more with discussion of topical matters which came from the same spot that in English and General Studies we'd debate and present ideas from different angles that were to do with our world in a way that the other blog while marking events doesn't.

Q: Did you not like "Daytime Office Girl Crisis" as a identity for this blog?
A: I did, and I liked it heaps but that had no space for my middles side which is where I've always been at and the pressure of keeping that suppressed on a blog which is about my life rather than purely a hobby or interest was too much. That's what lead to having to explain this last year to you all.

Q: The blog layout looks a little different than it did. Why?
A: There a few reasons one is this blog goes back to 2006 and the displays on computers back then were smaller typically 1200 x 800 and 4:3 aspect ratio so the layout settings were narrower to accommodate people using smaller screens. Mine for instance was 800 x 600!
Also around that period some notebooks came out with screens of 1000 x 600  which may of widescreen but not that great. Today most are 1366 x 768 or better so I decided to more of that space for a less cramped presentation. This is set at 1050 so should be good for 1280 upward.
I have emphasized the page tabs for a more clearer easy to find look in line with my littles blog.

Q: Did you go to a boarding school at all?
A: Yes I did and I truly loved it, being an important part of what made me who I am.

Q: I see you kept a bit of that Shoujo Manga feel in this blog.
A: I couldn't think of a good reason to remove it as Manga art and anime as an animated cinematic art form all come from my middles side as no doubt teens and young people today develop their interest it too. As well, that was one the first communities to accept me as I am.

Q: You mention acceptance, was there any group that this blog was aimed at that played a part in this change?
A: Yes, the Angels who were the main group who read this blog to which I was very nervous talking about my middle side to but given how central it is to being me I talked at their forum about it and they just accepted it. I'd like to thank Jo Angel and the members for that.

Q: When you say it's a middles blog, are we going to see anything change much since I first started following you  a few years ago?
A: When it comes to the interest and hobbies that I'll be writing on, there won't be any  because that's always come from that side of me and those things that are more related to my middles lifestyle will go on the other blog. What it does mean is I can be more open about being me, allowing space for a fleeting reference to a  part of such as going away with like minded friends so while you won't get account of that, I can say I did or mention aspects of this life where it may help.

Q: Will there be any shared posts between your littles blog and this?
A: A few of which one is scheduled for tomorrow such as book reviews where my reading ability is badly impacted by my disabilities so I read more Junior Fiction and the odd music post. In general though the content on here will be unique to it.

Q: So it won't be 'littles' blog with post after post about toys, stuffies and age regression?
A: Exactly! The change  just allows me the space to be more open about this and where some sides of my life come from when it's needed.
Think of it as being the Journal of That Boarding School Girl, because there's little here than I'd of put in one at the time and that's my headspace.

Saturday, 26 August 2017

Ideologies at war

Few things surprise me any more and at times frankly real life today seems beyond satire not least in so far as current affairs goes.
I had purposely left Charlottesville off this blog because I wanted to gather my reasoned thoughts together so any opinion over which there is a good number thereof is considered.
To me there are two aspects around this discourse, the reaction on the day and subsequent actions and statements.
I might begin with what may be obvious to some and not to others which is I am not an American, I have not lived in your society and by definition have an outsiders vantage point.
We may as well go back to a part of this discourse that matters, that triggered a strong emotional response from people of differing points of view because to an extent, they colour all else that has happened since.
The catalyst in this is the proposition that statues of people erected who fought for the Confederacy such as Robert E Lee be removed from public spaces because as we are all only too painfully away the Confederacy allowed and supported the right to own slaves and whose treatment was based on racial inequality something that remains a running sore in the South.
To those who understandably oppose such sentiments the continued presence of them they are seen as not so much commemorating the Civil War but celebrating the Confederacy  and a rallying point for those who hold those views.
Others feel notwithstanding their preference for the statutes not have been commissioned in the first place, that it is a remind of a historic factual event that morever may cause people to think about why the Civil War as bloody as it was, was necessary and why racist attitudes are wrong-headed.
Another question to ask is should a State have the power to remove any public moment that reflects its past especially in a light it seeks to move away from?
My feeling is actually one of we learn from the past and that learning is what helps us prevent the same mistakes occurring, the political liberty and autonomy of the constitution that the Southern States had a right to was bought at the cost in part to the liberty of what we call today African-American slaves who were denied theirs.  The Civil War settled that not that North was free from discrimination itself I would add.
Four miles from my home there are two moments originally destroyed by people who opposed a religious past of our town who only accepted one view point erasing all they disagreed with  and repaired and put right centuries later as part of the past  in the spirit of tolerance and respect for the past. This happened during our civil war.
It has a very profound message not lost on my people.
You need to remember your past, that how things are seen does change and the existence of reminders prompts intelligent debate from which all including the many wrongs are understood and addressed in way that removal does not.
Few, perhaps rightly would call for those statues to built today and for understandable reasons although the civil war and its local impact should be marked for all of you but as they are there now, far from removing them you need to use them constructively so the attitudes behind them are discussed and wrongs such as slavery are acknowledged.
To deny your history does no one any good long term.

The second is what happened was wrong, mowing down people leaving one fatality, the use of armed militias uniformed and carrying weapons in public does not have the moral equivalence of pushing forward, at times aggressively with banners. It goes way beyond that into a threat (implied if not necessary acted upon) of violence and life-taking.
Put plainly it simply were never ever be permitted here nor in most English speaking democracies.
Much of the widespread bi-partisan criticism of President Trump, revolves around that and his failure to be at least sufficiently clear that those actions and that incident where on person lost their lives could not and should be condoned and that was not conditional to his points around the States attempt to remove the moment and the right of peaceful protest by all.
They are seperate.

Saturday, 19 August 2017

Project X, Part VI, Adding the sound from compact disc

In August of 2015 I started a mini series of posts around a rather novel small inexpensive amplifier that tied into my love of experimenting and building things that had been sadly curtailed due to industrial injuries and severe disabilities.
It was called Project X, the standing for mystery as I put together a mini system based around it looking at what a person on say a limited income might be able to do and just how good these units actually are. 
We covered topics like how to add input selection, the issue of dealing with its high sensitivity input and how we might ration it, the sort of speakers best suited to a small low power amplifier and in the last entry on March First, 2016 I looked at reproduction from cassette tapes.

There recently has been some rationalization of equipment  such as outmoded VHS video tape players and also upgrades on my main stereo system and I felt like adding cd replay so I repurposed the Rotel RCD 965 LE Discrete from the main system to this because in the intervening two years, I have found the amplifier to be capable of high quality reproduction and certainly shows the benefit of good quality sources.
While its replacement is better, non the less for regular cd this remains a lovely sounding player and so an ideal candidate for  adding cd replay using a high quality lead and using another Rothwell attenuator to bring its 2 volt maximum output down to that it can handle without distortion. 

On Tuesday I listened to a program of American Classics from composers such as Copland, Bernstein and Barber that I grew up on through it and it sounded really impressive, clear capturing both the tonality and also the vibrancy of the music well.

Previous Project X Posts:
Part one - The SA 36a pro ampifier
Part two - Adding multiple inputs
Part three - Adding the loudspeaker
Part four - Attenuating inputs
Part five - Adding tape replay

Saturday, 12 August 2017

Supporting the cause and its limits

Having more or less caught up, I thought I'd talk around an aspect of last weekend's kerfuffle around the National Trust, its volunteers and supporting LGBTQIA rights.
I think the best start point is to look at the relationship between a volunteer who isn't paid and the body that offers up that opportunity of which in Great Britain we have a good number of.
You're not, having worked for two organizations as one seen as an employee with a formal contract that relates to employee rights although good organizations do set in a document its terms when it comes to supporting you and what you are expected to do sometimes with a formal review between a supervisor and yourself.
In general you are expected to follow the policies of the organization and this includes to offer a service to all regardless of ethnicity, religion, gender and sexual orientation, not imposing upon others your own feelings. 
Equally they should respect yours.
You are expected to wear something that identifies you as a volunteer and to take part in promoting what you do.
What I feel was at issue was the idea that a person not under formal contract  should be told to wear something that was not ordinarily a part of your work attire and to mark an event - the 50th anniversary of 1967 Sexual Offences Act - which of itself has nothing to with their work role.
It was the case the trust building itself was part of exhibition whatever one may think of its own relevance to the general charitable role of the Trust, to whom publicity material etc was issued.
Requiring a volunteer to wear a symbol of LGBTQIA pride was not necessary for them to act as guides during the course of this exhibit and was directly imposing a cause onto an individual to be seen to support.
It's common place today to see public servants at Pride events but for instance a police officer isn't ordered to wear a badge or are they required to attend in support and that is not not seen as a breach of a commitment to equal opportunities.
One aspect of life as someone who supports LGBTQIA rights for personal and ethical reasons I find most annoying is the tendency of some to infer an objection to having to wear badges for a variety of very worthy causes means really you are prejudiced or in some way not fully committed to the struggle for full equality.
Rest assured I and others are but we don't feel like being festooned day after with badges or having to this or that campaigns T shirt by order.

Saturday, 5 August 2017

Natural return

First post in the great blogisphere since arriving back from my vacation late last week and most of this one that I'll write about elsewhere later on however one I thing I won't be touch much on is the what the heck the more wobble than a blancmange governance in the White House and Trump's throwing transgendered service personal under the bus the keep the right-wingers happy cos that ship past its sailing time to blog on.
You could say in so far as what this blog is mainly around, the period away was the necessary break from brexit, post grenfell towers building control issues, trump tweets and all that which just winds me up for being internet free and spending less time watching tv news.
I spent some enjoyable time just being out doors, switched off from that, going on walks around the grounds where we stayed, admiring the trees, watching the bees and as you can see even spotted a Red Admiral butterfly out and took its picture!
Insects of a less welcome kind that did hang around were flies black with a couple of dull stripes running along their frame that tried to get everywhere!!!
A friend took some pictures of the sky at night as the sky was clear and the area doesn't suffer from the light pollution that afflicts chunks of our densly populated country fro domestic and highway related electric lighting.
That time away I feel was what I needed.

Friday, 28 July 2017

Caro's topical round up

Hello and welcome. This weeks entry coming from the patented Blogger scheduler because as those of you who have followed this blog and possibly may belong to 'Angels' know I do have a 'littles' side and that side of me is on a very much child-like vacation this week which being twenty-seventeen I can just come out and say that to you all.
There are couple of things I do want to talk a little about of which the first is I do welcome the consultation over the 2004 Gender Recognition Act and the noises coming from government making the process less intrusive because while that Act was a breakthrough at the time non the less it was still centred around a diagnosis of gender dysphoria, the sense in which you feel distress that your sex (aka your physical body) does not match your sense of Gender such as gender identity and gender role.
This was common associated with the process of transition -usually medical involving hormones and often surgery too to give you the legal identity of the gender you 'belonged' to and legal recourse during the process of transition in areas of civil and employment law.
I do feel moves that allow more for those who may not wish to go down the route (or perhaps cannot for variety of reasons) of medical transition should be able to get certification of being and wishing to be regarded in law as the gender they are with full legal rights.
The other thing is Periscope the Twitter app used by teens. 
I don't wish to sound like a boring groan up but I do question the idea of allowing a thirteen year old the ability to in effect broadcast 'anything' online with no transmission delay and patently limited by nature moderation especially when coupled to GPS information on exactly where they are. It's practically impossible to monitor in real time every user and there is worrying evidence of it being for inappropriate sexual contact and grooming by pedophiles who know exactly where to find them.
Let's face it. Would any of us be allowed to run a radio or tv channel as a young teen with person to pull the plug if either we did something wrong or a person we were interviewing got out of hand? No, we wouldn't - we wouldn't be allowed unsupervised airspace so just what are doing allowing this??? 

Saturday, 22 July 2017

Toy ad rules - some thoughts

One thing that's been in the news here are new regulations governing gender stereotyping in advertising be it in print, on tv or online which have brought many varied responses from people.
Most of us can agree some of of these stereotypes such as mom at home, dad at work or dad does things for himself, mom cooks and runs the house are out of date, do promote less co-operative ideas about how males and females can get on productively and so shouldn't be pushed to children still forming their own ideas.
There are still some situations though where certain scenes generally won't happen.
That whole necessary conversation between daughter and mom as they play would never be the same even if we had dad playing with dolls with her so should a ad like this from nineteen sixty-five be banned or totally degendered if someone came up with something similar?
Equally is there anything wrong in itself with an ad showing a boy engrossed repairing a bike with dad or an uncle where often there's more going on than fixing the bike, like fixing how to be the best boy and in time being the best adult male he can?
I'm totally for gender neutral play and fighting the tyranny of pink and blue but this kind of relating actual aids kids form relationships and make good connections with adults that help move them on in time toward maturity. 

Friday, 14 July 2017

The Main Ingredient

This week I'm doing an old school post rather like the last bunch were but as was always the case on Daytime Office Girl Crisis around one of other core topics, music and my collection.
Soul music is something I like being very much brought up on that from the nineteen sixties and  seventies and this group from New York were one I've always been partial  to.

As a overall compilation that one on the UK's Kent soul label is a s good as gets for sound quality but when I get deep into something I really mine catalogues especially when they are of such high quality.

This set of two albums originally issued  in 1970 and 1972 respectively was re-issued in two-fer form in 2010 by Superbird, a division of Cherry Red records in the UK featuring the hit single "Everybody Plays The Fool".

Expansion Records who tackle more specialist soul reissues in the UK, released their 1975 and 1976 albums Rolling Down A Mountainside which was ten 10 R&B hit 45 in 1974 and Music Maximus albums on a two-fer

A number of soul albums on RCA's catalogue were issued in the nineteen seventies in discrete four channel (Quadraphonic) tape and CD4 records.
in 2016 the enterprising UK company Vocalion, were able to license both the stereo and quad mixes of the 1974 Euphrates River for a super audio cd (playable on regular  cd equipment in stereo only) which includes their version of Summer Breeze covered also the Isley Bros. The album reached #8 on the R&B chart.

Saturday, 8 July 2017

Our values and defending them

This is being written in bits as I'm feeling very warm at the minute  and to be honest there are couple of things I could of blogged about this week but I'm choosing one that's topical and I think worth mulling over.
As much as I dislike 'soundbites' there was one on Thursday I felt worth looking at and it's from a 'marmite' politician where President Trump of the States said "The future of Western civilization is at stake" before stating the following question: "The fundamental question of our time is whether the West has the will to survive."
What he had in mind when it came to the threat was both political and religiously motivated terrorism and extremism that rejected liberal democratic values, such as free speech, free and fair elections, an independent justice system free from political and religious interference and the use of terrorism to bring those societies that support such principals within its orbit.
The is little denying groups such as Isis do explicitly reject what we call western values believing in a single World-wide Islamic state that is a Theocracy rather than a Democracy that operates to its interpretation of that religion and to which it alone runs justice to its own so-called Sharia Law standards.
The usual and mainly left-wing explanation of their terrorist inspired activities in the west is one of fighting the actions of Western Governments in conflicts that affect them such as in Syria and Iran and in recent past Iraq and Afghanistan by bring death and disruption to our streets. "If only we'd of left them alone" it is at least implied "we'd not of seen the recent incidents in London, Manchester and Paris".
I'm not a fan of such 'interventions' not least as they typical don't have a endplan in place but I do wonder if the aim isn't actually wider wanting to whatever means to transplant its ideology on our soil and us terror was a kind of warfare to remove political and legal obstacles at best giving them the upper hand when it comes to us looking after our own interests around the world?
There is a concern that once a parallel legal system is permitted even in a limited form, you erode the common stock of legal rights that are the birth right  all living and born in our society. We may cherish our diversity but what of it when elements of it such as the rights of women and lgbtqi rights it may in effect be denied to groups within it?
Just how much of our moral, cultural and liberal democratic values as a society should we be be prepared actively to keep from people who either don't share them or even wish to take them away?
This kind of conundrum is the very thing a society like ours, liberal and diverse needs to think about so while I don't hold much with the man, maybe it'll start a debate where we do arrive at a consensus around these questions. 

Saturday, 1 July 2017

Caro's three in one catch up post

Happy Dominion/Canada Day folks! 150 years-way to go,eh?
Following on from last weeks 100% political post which was so old school when it comes to this blogs history, we have made some sort of progress with the Conservatives and the DUP agreeing to the supply agreement so it's likely the Queen's Speech will be carried and a number of actions in it supported although it should be recognized this is no formal coalition so expect a few bumps along the way.
Connected with that the UK Government has set out ideas around how it sees the protection of EU citizens in the UK and UK citizens in the EU human rights to be protected and while there is more common ground than one might think, there are differences around if full EU Rights should remain the UK where it doesn't apply them for its own and who should be the final arbitrator in the case of a dispute, the UK Supreme Court or the European Court of Justice? They may need to be a halfway house.

Moving beyond that which as we addressed last year, for this blog to go forward I need to be able to talk about parts of my life that moved centre stage to it since the blog was started, I do take part in a Little's Chat night and we talked about children's television and in particular how the recent death of Brian Cant who narrated the Camberwick Green,  Trumpton,and Chigley trilogy of cartoons set in Trumptonshire in the nineteen sixties (repeated into the nineteen-seventies) and also was a present on the Play away and Play school programs for young children left us.
These shows were a part of our childhood and many of us felt close to their stars.
Finally and something I hadn't spoken much of on this blog, I have been reading a lot around "Crossdreaming" as that applies to those of us who are transgendered, such as Felix Conrad's publications, the Transcend and Crossdreamers websites CrossDreamers .
I find much of what is said there speaks more to me than mainstream transgender narratives not least the thorny debates between those  who see transsexuality as a totally separate thing and those of us who see it as a part of a wider continuum of gender identity and roles.

Saturday, 24 June 2017

Weekly political round up

Politically this week we do not appear to have gotten any further along the path of stable government with anything being signed between the Conservatives and the Democratic Unionist Party with somewhat onerous "Don't take us for granted" messages coming forth on Tuesday. Perhaps they haven't been given quite what they wanted or want to explore other deals?
Almost bizarrely on Wednesday, we had the Queen's Speech delivered in a very much lacking in pomp and splendour way with what was a hastily chopped down program shewn of anything particularly controversial majoring with the legislation required for leaving the EU and the troublesome Social Care and extension of Grammar Schools measures featured in the manifesto dropped.
On the other hand the changes in school funding in England and HS2 phase 2a Birmingham to Crewe rail bill to give legal powers such as compensating where the line goes through land and buildings was.
Fifty-six million pounds to remove eighteen minutes off the journey time does to be honest seem rather excessive even if it does add more mainline capacity and I can't help thinking there are cheaper was of just doing it such as restoring four track working taken out in the past to save repair costs adjacent to existing track.
To some extent the more troubling development was Sunday's midnight attack by a hired van mowing down a group of Muslim worshippers taking a pause from Eid prayers at London's Finsbury Park mosque by a middle aged man from Cardiff, Wales who chanted anti muslim slogans and two others that resulted in one fatality and a good number of injuries.
Worrying because while the attitude of right wing, anti immigration and anti muslim groups such as the English Defence League is often aggressive and sometimes thuggish, the one thing they haven't done nor has any lone group of the like minded is target groups for terrorist actions in the way so-called Islamic extremists call for and 'inspire' independently people to commit such acts.
As a society we simply cannot accept tic for tac acts between these groups not just for the loss of life to those involved but because of that plus the impact on everyday life would be very severe. 
Finally the impact of the Grenfell Tower fire is working its way through with eleven tower blocks cladding failing fire safety tests for flammability and three Premier Inn hotels with a five block estate in Camden, central London being evacuated for emergency cladding removal.
It also transpires what started the fire was a Hotpoint Fridge Freezer that has a highly flammable plastic back which when the polyurethane insulation melts is the equivalent of   four gallons of petrol melting completely after exactly fifty-five seconds, setting kitchens well alight. In the US they have to have metal backs.
Ever felt our well-being is being ignored for cheapness.