The Weather Outside Is Frightful – TWTW # 64

We’ve just had another weekend of weather warnings, more wind and rain. Again we seem to have escaped the worst – although it’s been pretty miserable and not very conducive to doing much outdoors – other parts of the country have been very badly affected.

I’ve been staying in, reading and making chutney – another batch of gooseberry and red onion, which went down really well last year, and gives me a bit of space in the freezer after I defrosted the gooseberries.

I’ve gotten through a couple of books this week, another Vivian Shaw Novel – Dreadful Company and an HP Lovecraft novella – The Shadow Over Innsmouth. I enjoyed both, I’m slowly rereading the HP Lovecraft stories but taking my time, no need to rush them. Not sure what’s up next, although I did get given Denali by Ben Moon last week, and have a copy of Mark Twain’s Notebooks that I want to get stuck into at some point. My problem of a never seemingly decreasing “to be read” pile, doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon.


Works been pretty busy this week, mostly just moving various things forward for clients, and some discussions with an old client about doing something for them. The next couple of weeks are looking pretty busy with some travel coming up.


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I was contemplating going to the London Pen Show next month, it’s just before my birthday and I thought that it might be a nice treat. Then I looked at the cost of the rail ticket, and the accompanying weekend railway works and bus replacement services and decided instead to put the cost of the rail ticket towards a new fountain pen and some ink instead. I was contemplating getting the pen at the show, but I guess I’ve cut out the middle bit!




There are many things in politics that I feel like commenting on, but I’m afraid my commenting would probably lead to ranting in fairly short order. However it is leading to some great political cartoons, at least at the moment.


And on that note I’m out of here. Have a good week everyone!

Socks of the Cthulhu TWTW # 55

Greetings from a new computer. I bit the bullet this week and ordered the replacement laptop that will hopefully take me through the next few years of work and life related technology.

I’ve still got lots of setup to do with it and files to transfer but I’m in no hurry, I was planning to do most of that in the break between Christmas and New Year, but I’ve done the basics for now, so if there were to be a failure of my old machine I’d have this one ready to go. It does seem that whatever you buy though the newer machines never come with as much “stuff” as the older versions. Less ports, no CD drive, pushing you ever further away from the analogue and more towards the digital. I’m not sure I like that so much. I like having my music collection on a hard copy format, I still have a lot of CDs, audio cassettes and vinyl. My preferences has been the CD for many years now, and I’m not sure that I want to switch to anything else. It’s the same with books. I like my kindle but I like to have anything I want to keep and treasure as a real book; paper, card and ink that I can touch and feel.

Don’t get me wrong I like the form factor of this new machine, it’s small, light and compact, but in many ways I’d settle for a fountain pen and paper any day.


In addition to the new laptop I’ve also been doing a bit of Christmas shopping, about a 50:50 split between online and physically from the shops. I’ve still a bit to do but it’s early yet, I don’t think I’ve been this far advanced ever before, even though I’m not a last minute shopper at this time of year anyway.


Two greats passed away this week, Clive James and Johnathon Miller both lost to horrible illnesses. “Saturday Night Clive” was a bit of a staple of my teenage years, and the stories of his escapades in homemade go-karts from his “Unreliable Memoirs” still remain in my memory today.


Austin Kleon on healthcare


I’ve not been travelling much this week, so my listening time has been more suited to podcasts and other shorter form audio. Next week sees the launch of The Whisperer in Darkness, which is a follow up to The Mysterious Case of Charles Dexter Ward. These are both titles of stories from H P Lovecraft, but have been retold in a modern setting as radio plays written by Julian Simpson and broadcast on the BBC. You can listen to them here. I’ve been re-listening to The Mysterious Case of Charles Dexter Ward this week as The Whisperer in Darkness launches on December 2nd, so it should be available when you read this. I’ve listened to the trailer for The Whisperer and although you can probably listen to it as a standalone, it might be worth listening to Charles Dexter Ward first.


On the subject of radio, it looks as if Neil Gaiman’s Playing In The Dark which was recorded earlier this year will be broadcast just before Christmas on BBC Radio 3 and Radio 4. It’s scheduled for Radio 3 on December 23rd here, and Radio 4 on Christmas Day (although the latter is an edited version). I haven’t seen or heard any previews but the author has written about it on his blog here.

He has also written about the stage production of his book The Ocean At The End of The Lane here, which is also well worth a read if you haven’t already.


I stopped at the library this week with the intention of checking out some books to read, instead I ended up buying some books from their sale stock – books that have been withdrawn from their lending stock. It struck me that actually there was nothing wrong with the books that I bought and that they were very cheap (£1.60 for these four). As soon as the general election is over there is going to be a consultation on the future of our local libraries, and there is much talk about the savings that the council needs to achieve and that libraries are an obvious target for budget reductions. Not much detail is available yet, but we’ll see what the consultation brings when it’s available. I’m hoping that it doesn’t get buried under the seasonal festivities.


Speaking of H P Lovecraft, from a certain angle my Christmas socks seem to have a rather Cthulhu-esque look to them.

I’m on the road a bit more this week, with some trips to Somerset and other places, so until next week, have a good one.

The Last Throes of Autumn TWTW # 44

Welcome to the last week of the meteorological autumn, Winter is but a few days away and it’s a month until Christmas!

It’s beginning to feel like it will never stop raining here. I’ve started monitoring the groundwater levels near my Mum’s house as if they rise too much then there is a possibility of flooding. I don’t think this has happened in the last five years but things were very different for her five years ago and she’d need much more help if it were to happen now. In the meantime I’m doing the anti-rain dance in the hope that might hold things down, or rather keep them in the clouds!


No long trips for me this week but I did finish listening to Edward Snowden’s autobiography, as I only had an hour or so left on the audiobook. It is a proper autobiography and starts in his childhood and goes right through to just past the events that made him infamous. If you don’t know much about the circumstances of his whistleblowing then this gives a good coverage of his side of the story, but ultimately although he is still technically a wanted criminal he did succeed in getting the laws around mass surveillance of US citizens changed.

I’ve started reading one of the “lost” Douglas Adams Doctor Who novels. Shada is a Tom Baker Doctor story with Romana and K-9 as companions. It’s taken me most of the week to read, and I’m about 100 pages to the end, so things are moving towards their climax and the Doctors showdown with the villain. It’s been an enjoyable read, if a little slow to get going, but it’s probably only the sort of book you’ll like if you’re a Doctor Who fan already.

 


Speaking of Doctor Who – this was released in the last week.


Continuing to watch His Dark Materials (and I got the books out of the loft for a read), The War of the Worlds and discovered a TV version of The Name of the Rose showing on the BBC. Not quite sure how we missed the latter as it’s six out of eight episodes in, but fortunately it’s available on i-Player and we blew through the first 3 episodes on Saturday and a couple more on Sunday, so we should catch up to it in real broadcast time soon. (Trailer below if you’re interested).


Workwise this last week has mostly been about ticking things off of my to-do list. There were a few things on there that had been on it for a while in various guises and I wanted to try and push more of them to completion.

I gave a talk on Tuesday evening, another edition of “An Allotment Year”, it seemed to go down well and there were a few questions and people coming up to me afterwards to ask my advice. I normally talk for about an hour and then answer questions until the audience stops asking them. I don’t think I have another one now until mid-January and that one’s a little odd because it’s a mid-afternoon booking whereas they’re almost always evening talks.

I’ve managed to progress client work quite a bit, and followed up on the enquiry about the new piece of work which might start in January.


I’ve been looking at laptops a lot this week, with a view to progressing my plans to replace my existing one in the next few weeks. I’ll be running them in parallel for a bit and doing most of the changeover between the Christmas and New Year period, but I need to do something about migrating a lot of the data between the old machine and the new one. Most of it’s in the cloud anyway, but there’s enough on the actual machine that I’ll still need to do a physical transfer. I’m thinking about a portable hard drive and moving it across that way as it’s probably faster than trying to connect across my Wi-Fi .


That’s about it for this week. I’m mostly repeating last week in terms of commitments and work this coming week, although I do have some travel on Friday, although not too far away. I’ll also be hoping for a drier week if that’s possible. Whatever you’re doing this week, have a good one.

On The Road Again TWTW # 42

img_0008I’m writing this on Sunday afternoon, as I have a meeting on Monday morning and if I don’t do this now it’s likely that it won’t happen at all. I’ve had a week with quite a bit of travel and I’ve got another week of the same coming up.

Work’s been keeping me pretty busy so I’ve been relishing the other things, like early morning dog walks that take up a smaller part of the day.


img_0005On a return trip from Somerset last week I stopped in the village where I often take a break from the road. The shops were still open and I had a browse in one of the charity shops. I mostly only ever look at the books, and found a complete box-set of Colin Dexter’s, Inspector Morse novels. I’ve read some before but never all of them, and it was probably nearly twenty years ago that I last read one. An opportunity too good to miss I thought.

As I was going to pay I also noticed something else that will make a perfect Christmas present so I got that too. A great break from travelling.


img_0002This week I’ve mostly been reading listening to The Dog Went Over The Mountain: Travels with Albie, An American Journey by Peter Zheutlin. In between chapters of that I’ve been reading the first of the Inspector Morse novels –  Last Bus To Woodstock.

I reckon I’ll finish both this week,but I’m not sure what will be up next. I’ve been thinking quite a bit about the number of books in my “To Be Read” pile and wanting to make some serious inroads into it before I add too many more books to it. It’s been growing a little bit out of control this year. Even though I’ve read a lot of books this year I’ve not made a noticeable dent as the pile has grown at a greater rate.


I did a bit of a “What’s In My Bag” post earlier last week after my Somerset trip.


I’ve started working on the main bed on the allotment, trying to get it dug. It’s quite weedy so I’m going to break it up over several weeks and not rush it so that I get all of the weeds out. Weather depending it should take a few visits but there’s not rush it just needs to be done by Spring.


Well that’s about it for this  week. As I mentioned I’m on the road again a bit this week and working on client project work in between trips.

What’s In My Bag November 2019

It’s been a long time since I’ve done one of these posts. There’s a previous one here, and there are others out there in various places on the interwebs, but I thought I’d snap a quick pic of what was in my bag yesterday following a visit to a client. As I was driving there and back there’s a noticeable lack of a book or my kindle, when my method of transport is by train one or both of these find their way into my bag.

Also not pictured is my reusable mug and water bottle as they’re in the dishwasher.

1. Messenger style briefcase (A Christmas present from my parents about 10 years ago. It’s still going, and has aged quite well. Still use it because of the sentimental attachment).
2. Current Laptop – Lenovo G50 64-bit running Windows 10. This is starting to show it’s age and I’m thinking about replacing it in the next couple of months, possibly going to a Mac.
3. Logitech Anywhere MX wireless mouse
4. Laptop power supply
5. Pens / pencils. I use a fountain pen a lot. I was carrying a Parker Sonnet when this was taken.
6. Old 35 mm film canister containing £1 coins (for car parks / emergency coffees etc)
7. Paracetamols
8. Hag stone
9. Savlon
10. Tissues
11. Inhaler
12. Business cards
13. Hand cream
14. Post-Its
15. USB Thumb Drive
16. Umbrella
17. Anker power cell for recharging phone or iPad (if I’m carrying the latter)
18. A4 notepad
19. Client specific notes / papers
20.Field Notes notebook for ideas, thoughts etc
21. Mobile phone – currently iPhone 8.

Rinse and Repeat TWTW #38

img_20191003_072036752_hdr-effectsAutumn seems to have arrived, damp and much cooler.

I must admit to feeling a little frazzled, it’s been a busy couple of weeks, and although I missed writing here on my usual weekly post, I’m glad I gave myself the break.

My routine has been: Wake Up>Make & Eat Breakfast>Walk Dogs>Work>Make & Eat Lunch>Walk Dogs>Work>Make & Eat Dinner>Travel To Evening Talk>Give Evening Talk>Drive Home>Sleep>Repeat as required.

This has included quite a bit of travelling for other work commitments as well as to give evening talks, and I’ve got through a fair bit of audio books and podcasts when I’ve been on a train or in the car, more on that below.

It also feels good that my days have returned to a bit more normality (at least for the time being), I have no more evening talks until the middle of November and then after that nothing until January, so I can focus on the day-job!


I’m really looking forward to the new Star Trek series, and this new trailer dropped as part of the New York Comic-Con.


And while thinking about this, the series writer is Michael Chabon, and this is an interesting discussion about some of his other works and how they have influenced the Star Trek  cannon.


I’ve only had a little time for the allotment in the past couple of weeks. The weather hasn’t always been favourable, but I have managed to do some of the end of season digging and put some manure out on the plot to feed the soil for next season. With autumn arriving it’s going to be more of the same over the coming weeks.


screenshot_20191010-145052I’ve finished a couple of audiobooks while I’ve been travelling. Darwin Comes To Town by Menno Schilthuizen and A Jaguar Ripped My Flesh by Tim Cahill.

I  also finished The Robots of Dawn by Isaac Asimov.

All were great and I enjoyed them all. I’d forgotten that the Asimov was as much a crime fiction as a science fiction, and it’s made me want to track down the previous two books (The Caves of Steel & The Naked Sun) in that series because I don’t remember those either. At the moment though my to be read pile as rather large and I think I need to work on reducing it a bit before I buy more books, plus I’ve got some pre-orders arriving over the next few weeks. I will keep an eye out for them in the secondhand stores thought and if I don’t find them before I’m ready, I’ll be using the library.


In between audiobooks, I’ve also had my earbuds in listening to a lot of podcasts. I think I’ll save the list of the things I’ve been listening to for another time, as this post is probably going to be quite long as it is, but I particularly enjoyed listening to a recent edition of the Tim Ferriss podcast on one of my journeys. It features Neil deGrasse Tyson, and prompted me to track down a couple of his books.

img_20191011_103919_190

One of those books I ordered secondhand and it came in the post on Friday – Death By Black Hole – when I opened it up there were lots of bookmarks still in the book. It had obviously been someone’s (there was a ticket stub with the person’s name and address on) airport / in-flight read at some point in 2008. This person had, in October that year flown from Luxor to Cairo and then later the same day on from Cairo to Sharm El Sheik. He’d had a pizza and a margarita on his stop over in Cairo. Three weeks later he flew from Heathrow to Denver at which time I think he must have finished the book because that is where the forensic trail runs cold.

I’ve had a couple of secondhand books like this recently that people have left “bookmarks” in and it’s always interesting to see what you can decipher from them.


The Problem With Net-Zero Emissions Targets [LINK]. I’m involved in a couple of projects looking at this at the moment, so this was an interesting read for me.

And at the other end of the spectrum, the 20 firms behind a third of global carbon emissions [LINK].


North Atlantic Right Whales Are Dying in Horrific Ways[LINK].


If you can access BBC Sounds or iPlayer – I’m not sure whether this works outside of the UK or you can use a VPN to access – then BBC 6 Music are doing a series of the favourite music of graphic content writers. They’ve already had Alan Moore, and Neil Gaiman on. Hannah Berry and Warren Ellis are up in the next couple of weeks.


Jonathan Franzen: online rage is stopping us tackling the climate crisis [LINK].


img_20191002_142921461The last few years I’ve wanted to give a Hobonichi diary a go. I journal most days and I hope that this will be something a little different.

I know it’s only October but these sell pretty quickly, and in previous years I’ve left it too late to get one, so I’ve ordered early.

Bit of time before I get my hands on it properly, but I’ve already got quite a few dates for things in 2020.




What’s In Your Pockets? TWTW # 37

What’s in my pockets? Well it would appear that in terms of my coat, a mix of stuff for walking my dogs or things that I’ve found on our walks. I was clearing out my pockets to get the coat ready to be re-waxed and to transfer the pocket contents to another coat. The coat has big pockets and all of those balls that you can see in the picture are ones we’ve found and not ones that belong to my dogs. I keep them and pass them on to a friend when I see her as her dogs are not fussy about the ones that they play with, unlike mine!

It’s been another busy week, pushing client work along and a mix of being here at my desk in front of the computer or on the phone. The next two weeks however are shaping up to be the weeks from hell, with several evening presentations and quite a bit of travelling. Unfortunately most, if not all of it, is going to be in the car, so other than listening to more audio books I won’t have much time for anything else.

Fair warning therefore that if there isn’t a post here from me next Monday (7th October) that’s why. Hopefully normal service will resume the following week.


I’ve been reading another Maigret novel this week – Maigret and the Wine Merchant.  It’s interesting that this one was originally published in 1970, and although that is many decades ago, it’s nearly forty years after the first Maigret novel – Pietr the Latvian was published in 1931. There are quite a few differences between the two, and the first mention of computers that I can recall in a Maigret novel, as well as many other cultural changes. Quite the contrast between them, and even more so when we’re not far off 100 years since the first one was written.

When I was sorting through some things at my Mum’s house came across a couple of Isaac Asimov books. I’m planning on reading these, as soon as time allows even if it’s only a page or two at bedtime for the foreseeable future! They’re a blast from my childhood but I can honestly say I don’t remember much about them, so hopefully they’ll be a bit of a treat to read again after all that time.



My time on the allotment has been a little curtailed this past few weeks, partly due to available time, but also down to the weather. The apples that I was hoping would stay on my tree have all blown off, so good news we get apple crumble, bad news, we’ll probably be eating a lot of it because that’s a lot of bruised apples that won’t keep for too long.


Dwelling As Resistance


Michael Chabon asks “What’s the Point?”


More than half of native European trees face extinction



I think that’s all I have for this week, all being well I’ll be back on the 14th October (although there is a little post coming later this week, but I wrote that one before I wrote this one – the wonders of technology!) Be careful out !