A Chair for Mother

[This was written in 1990, as a school essay]

Me mother always comes on Tuesday to our house. She has done for as Long as I can renumber. Except, of course, when the Falklands was on. She stayed at home then, 'cause she thought the chap up the road was a secret Argentinian agent and might want to hold her to ransom. Well, me husband, our Bill, managed to get her out. How he did it I don't know, but he did. That was one of the very few things our Bill has done successfully in his life.

Well, anyway, every Tuesday there she is, stood at the front doorstep nine a.m. sharp. Stick in one hand and bag in the other. She's got arthritis you know. Not that it stops her at all, she can nip down to the shops for a pint of milk quicker than our Bill, but then again our Bill's never been one for dashing about.

Well, when me mother comes on a Tuesday, it it's a fine day she likes to sit out in the garden, or what bit of a garden we've got. Bill's not much of a gardener. But to sit out in the garden she needs a chair. We haven't got one of those posh chairs like Mr Jenks 'cross the road's got. God knows I've tried to get our Bill to get one, but he never has. We have to get a dining chair from our front room. The room looks nice to say Bill's done it up (he's not much of a painter is our Bill). I'm still not sure about the magenta ceiling a bit over the top for my liking, but Mr Jenks likes it.

"Somewhat different." he said.

He's always been a man of style has Mr Jenks.

Well, anyway, me mother's not very good at carrying things: her bag maybe, but a chair no. The only ones she can manage really are those dining chairs from the front room, which aren't very comfortable; never mind the scratches she puts on them carrying them about. I don't grumble though; she's been good to me in my time.

Well, I decided that I'd get her one of those garden chairs. bit of money from the bingo, so I wanted to get one. I told our Bill. Well he 'ummed and aarghed a bit for sure I can tell you.

"We better get one." I said, "for when me mother comes on a Tuesday. You know how she likes to sit out in the garden, and she's not getting any younger," I said.

Well he 'ummed and aarghed for a bit like our Bill does. In the end he took me to that new place that's open "Focus" it's called (what Mr Jenks recommended, nice man Mr Jenks). Bill took me in the end. Well, it was that or have no shirts ironed for three weeks!

Well, when we got to this "Focus" place I found the seats like Mr Jenks had said in his instructions. They were all set out right and proper with these other chairs. It looked just the thing for me mother, and it looked strong enough too. Not that me mother is a big woman, because she's not just rather portly as Mr Jenks would say. Well, she's always had a large appetite.

Well, anyway this mester came over, an assistant he was.

"Is it easy to put up?" I said.

"Yes" he said.

"Can you keep it up in the winter?" I said.

"Yes," he said, "but I would take it down," he said.

"Ta," I said. "I'll think about it," I said and he walked off.

A lot of help he was, a bit like Bill really he's never been much of a helpful person.

Well, Bill by this time was sat looking at a shelf of putty, so it was no good asking him. This other mester was passing by so I asked him. Bald fellow he was, I don't really like bald fellows, but anyway.

"What do you think to these seats?" I said.

"I've got one," he said, "they're good.

"The other mester said I should take it down in the winter," I said.

"I wouldn't," he said, "I'd leave it up. "

"Why?" I said.

"There's too many nuts and bolts," he said.

Well, we got this thing home Bill started complaining about his back when he was lifting it out of the boot. He's never been a healthy chap has our Bill. I didn't ask our Bill to put it up after what that mester said at the shop, so I went round to Mr Jenks and asked him to put it up. He put that seat up ever so nice he did, and he said he would give it a coat of paint next week.

Well, next Tuesday me mother came as per normal nine a.m. on the doorstep. I took me mother outside to look at this seat. Well, I was expecting her to be rapt, but she was anything but. She looked at the seat and then at the side.

"I'm not sitting on that our Edna!" she said.

"Why not?" I said.

"It's made in Argentinia, our Edna," she said, "I'm not sitting on that!"

Well, that was that! It does look nice in the garden though. Pity garden's not ours. Our Bill had to get rid of the chair before me mother came back. He was all for keeping it, but I told him either I leave or the chair goes.

So, now Mr Jenks has got it. and trailing ivy. He's put it next to his terracotta urns. Me mother still comes round on a Tuesday: sits in the garden on a dining chair mumbling,

"You can't beat British furniture, our Edna - better than that Argentinian stuff."

Good job she doesn't look underneath it though - says "Made in Taiwan!"

Raspberry Pi: my 3rd-ish bite

So finally got around to getting the Raspberry Pi out of the bag and connected up 'to do something'.. well not quite sure what yet, but at least it's out of the bag.

To be far it has been used so far for a quite trial of XMBC and also of volumio; both looked promising for one idea.  I did attend a IET workshop on using the RPI and GPIO with WiFi sniffing. That was very cool - but I couldn't get to keep the SD or the Wifi dongle used there.

So I've setup the latest Raspbian image (had to use Windows not Linux as that seemed to failed to write the SD card. But maybe in hindsight it  was a faulty SD card?) ... A tutorial by Neil Black is very good intro and has a few good things I'll be referring back to.

Now to the WiFi - well it seemed to go quite well following this tutorial - but could I get it register a IP address? I did spot that had 'manual' not 'dhcp' but that didn't work.

So after a little stress I spotted this tutorial that had a subtly different set of commands.  Now that has worked correctly - and the Pi is connected over wireless (as well as via cable).  Looking back now though I did a general update of the software I didn't do the specific update as suggested for the wireless tools in the first tutorial. Maybe that would have made the difference?

Who knows for the questions? Maybe I should go back and test them out - but then life is short; it's working.

And for the 4th byte - maybe node.js or maybe wirless print server, or GPIO.. we'll see!

Photographer Links

Last night I presented to the Fareham and Portchester Camera Club the 'Judging - a Personal Philosophy'. Seemed to go down quite well 🙂 And I learnt as well from the conversations with members. As a follow-on from last night this post has got the links to the friends that I've borrowed some images from. 

Many thanks to them - all three have shown me work that has inspired! There are also several other friends whose work is also very worth taking a look at; though I didn't get to show their work in the presentation last night. Perhaps a post for another day.

So working east to west in the world. 

So let's start of with Frances, based in Tokyo she has some great images of Japanese life, culture and landscape. Some very good recent images of floral still life. Flick link for tokyofran

Moving onto Humphrey Hippo; very different style from landscape, few portraits to  inspirational still life.  What I'm in awe of is her continued photo-a-day or 365 project. Well worth taking a look at.  Flickr link for Humprey Hippo, and the 2013 and 2014 '365 projects' 

Crossing the Atlantic now, we get to Alexis. Now based on Vancover, Alexis is specialising in city, land and sea-scapes. Flickr link for Alexis; worth also checking out Alexis Birkill Photography on Facebook. Lots of background behind the images. 

Finally and least here's my Flickr stream 

Again thanks to those letting me use the pictures and to those wishing to listen to me talk!

Cryptic Christmas Quiz – the return!

After a year's hiatus the Cryptic Quiz is back! This featuring "Items that you can wear".  This year's quiz is now ready and waiting for you.

We don't managed to do one every year; typically breaks have been taken when just too much going on. And to be honest it's really my wife who comes up with the clues. I provide technical support. If you look back on previous years some of the more literal clues are mine; not really in the spirit of cryptic quizzes.

These can be passed around - really should put a proper license on them - but we've asked in the past to spare a small amount to a charity of your own choosing.

Answers are going to made available on line after Christmas; if you are really really stuck then a pleading email might do the trick!

Have a Happy Christmas! Don't get stressed!

Animal Tales

Dear Syndey,

Sorry for not putting beak to paper before now, but you know it is these days in the jungle. I don’t get the time to do anything relaxing.  When the wife’s ill and there’s the kids to look after, I don’t get the time. My son demonstrated to me his low flying capabilities which I advise him against using too often. It is surprising how many parrots you hear of these days getting wiped out by low flying. Fellow the other day got caught in a creeper and was strung up like I don’t know what.

I suppose you don’t get much chance to do a spot of flying. Anyway I don’t see much need for you to fly around since you’ve got it all laid on, a nice warm cage, food and water whenever you want. We don’t have such luxuries here.
The main reason I write is to tell you the latest about is happening my area. I said the wife’s been ill, well for a treat for her and the kids (I stopped my son’s low flying antics), I took them to a small spot I once discovered on my travels. It is a nice spot with a large selection of food if I remember rightly. When I arrived had quite a shock. Just before we arrived we stopped for a little rest, and I had a little look on ahead to see if were on right track since it was long time since I was in that area. When I flown a few vines further on, I though I head a strange sort of noise, not one which I had ever heard before. Being an inquisitive sort of bird I ventured even further. Quite a number of vines later on I came to what I believed was one the clearing that I remembered. However, I discovered to be horror and disgust that the humans had transformed it into one of their massive great hard grey things that I had heard about on grapevine. From what I could see, it covered an area thousands of us parrots could live in and it would take several days to travel the length of it. My wondrous clearing had been totally destroyed along what all the food in it. I notice several other parrots around about so I went over and introduced myself.

I don’t really know what this object was supposed to be and the parrots showed me some other humans who apparently were not in favour of this thing. They had sticks and were throwing at this noisy yellow object, that was lurching around the place. Apparently they had once lived there and now they had nowhere to live. Some other people had pieces of wood which they had written “NO BYPASS” on.

Well I don’t know what the world is coming to, really I don’t. I must fly on now.

Regards, Wilberforce.

Why I will and won’t be voting LibDem

Tomorrow there is a General Election in the UK. In my area will have the chance to vote for both my member of Parliament and local council. I shall be voting in both of these, but shall be voting differently.

It’s worth stating some background to my voting choices. Firstly be born in 1975 meant that as I soon as I could understand anything about government my first Prime Minster became Margaret Thatcher.  So the reality that a another political party could really form a government didn’t become real until 1997 – a few years later.

Also it’s worth noting that I am an ardent ‘fan’ of the series ‘Yes, Prime Minister’ therefore I suspect a certain cynicism is present in my views.

So to my voting choices.  I was hoping that I would get to meet a Conservative Candidate and be able to assure them that I was “voting for a change” (the Conservative motto this election).  Voter apathy is often highlighted, especially amongst the young. This is to me the most concerning feature politics. My Grandmother would always say that people had died for my right to vote.  She would be horrified that people would consider no voting; although I suspect that she would be most horrified that the political parties had yet the voters get to the point where they saw no reason to.

This is one of the central reasons I have always, and will do this time vote for the Member of Parliament who is a member of the Liberal Democrats. They are not one of the two parties that have held government for many, many years. Therefore in order to get change of any sort we need a different government and therefore voting LibDem I believe is the best way of achieving that.

A Warning to the Liberal Democrats – you are a political party the same as Conservative or Labour, therefore I would expect you to have the same motivations. Should after several years of government you have not produced the change in thinking and belief then many people will be disappointed.

Note the phrasing in the paragraph above “vote for the Member of Parliament who is a member of the Liberal Democrats”. Any candidate who asks if they I would vote for them; would get the reply “sorry no I can’t”.  What the current system requires me to do the is vote for a party. In a general election it is interests of the country as a whole I am interested in. Those interests are therefore served by the government, and that under the current electoral system is governed by what party I vote for.

This leads on to why I’m not going to vote Lib Dem in the local election. In this I am voting for a person to represent and look after local issues at a local level. Here, I feel that party politics has less to offer me.  It is true that the same system works for electing the local council as for a government; but I feel that choosing the correct person is more important to represent local issues.

Therefore locally I always vote independent; the local independent candidates have done very well over many years. I see no reason to alter this.

These are my thoughts today; there are some holes in the thinking possibly. I would willing entering into any discussion of policies and principles of the system.

Apologies for any inconvenience

It's been some time since this blog was last updated. Well quite a lot of time actually - nearly two years. Well at lot as happened in those two years. When I say a lot I am referring to the 15mth old little one upstairs asleep (currently).

So I apologise for any inconvenience whilst I've not been blogging.  So why what write this now?  Well in the interim I've actually started using Twitter and been 'micro-blogging' for some time. I saw the title of this post on a vending machine. My thought process was - 'oh I'll tweet about that when I get back to my desk; but 140 characters can't sum up my dislike for it'. So I'm here!

Scenario is: at work we have cashless-vending. i.e. we need to 'charge-up' a card with money. Stick in your card, cash, and you can now use vending machines/buy lunch at the canteen etc. There aren't many of these charging machines, and when one was out of order, the nearest is the other side of the site. Ten minutes walk - ok not a big problem but it gets a "grrrr" when all you want is quick coffee before the next meeting.

So what's my problem? It's the any in the phrase. It has always implied to me that the author is saying.  "This machine being out of order could possibly in some rare circumstance have caused you inconvenience. Should this unlikely circumstance have arisen then I'm sorry".

It's the fact that the any suggests for the most of time you won't have a problem - but if you do hey, we're sorry. My argument is that they when this phrase gets the probability is that you have (or will) be inconvenienced. Therefore this phrase just adds "insult to the injury".

Rarely you do see "Sorry for the inconvenience caused" - which always gives me a better feeling. It's also a case of writing a phrase that is so often used the author is not actually thinking about what they have said.

Anyway - that feels better now, rant off.  So when will the next post be? 2011? I certainly hope not, but if it does I apologise for the inconvenience I will have caused you.

An afternoon in 1642

I went down to Little Woodham this afternoon - the "1642 Living History Village". James is a long standing member and encouraged me to come down; some pictures where required as well.

The weather was wonderful, and the site is in amazing small piece of oak woodland. Absolutely English!! Together with the wittle and daube buildings it is a very impressive place. After a while you really start to forget that it's 2007. The civil war siege of Portsmouth was occurring this week in 1642; one thing that struck home is that 1642 what we now think of as being close wasn't then. Scale was very different.

Wonderful people with great stories to tell of life and living. Narrowly missed being signed up to be a Pikeman.. best job for a gentleman apparently. Attention to detail is amazing - sausages in the chimney to smoke and kill the maggots.

My knowledge of 1642 is a bit rusty - better brush up for next time as well. Sadly some of my photo knowledge left me as well and the VR lens didn't perform as well as I had hoped it would do.

In the words of Bill Bryson "Go; go now".... (though I'd like to keep my car if you don't mind... plus it didn't exist in 1642 anyway)

Wheelwright, originally uploaded by Calanais.


Dodgy Statistics

Often in news reports you hear stastics quoted, such as 1 in 5 people eat fish once a week, or 20% of people got A grades in this exam.  Fine, it tries to give an idea of scale. There are many ways of quoting for example

  • 1 in 4
  • 25%
  • A quarter
  • 2 out of  8

Now they all quote the same proportion; my assertion is that whilst these are the same amount, that saying "a quarter of people" gives a different 'feel' from "1 in 4 people".

Assuming this assertion holds, the problem that I have is when 2 statistics are mixed together. For example (and this is the real example I heard today).

A quarter of students achieved grade A in A-level exams, compared with 1 in 10 a few years ago.

By using the x in y approach for figure a few years ago and using "a quarter" now I think exaggerates the difference between the amounts. Say we recast the sentance,

 25percent of students achieved grade A in A-level exams, compared with 10percent a few years ago.

Does that change the perceived difference? I think it does - please contradict me!!

Broughton Down

Despite the threat of more rain, I ventured out this morning. Having spent much of yesturday inside, I very much wanted to get out side. Checking the BBC's weather page this morning hinted that today would be notably better. The satelite pictures suggested that better weather was coming in from south-east.

Buoyed by a promising conclusion from the amateur meteorology, I headed for Broughton Down. A location I've wanted to visit for sometime, due to the tag of "the best views in Hampshire" from the Hampshire Wildlife Trust.

Following the HWT's directions I got there eventually, although the car is now muddy and it's suspension has less life in it. Walking past the burnt out shell of Ford Fiesta, I was not confident in that tag line. Nor did passing the supposed location of one of these view points. I sure it was a nice cornfield, if cornfields are your thing. After landing flat on my back after slipping on some exposed chalk, I had firmly removed "best views" from my thoughts.

Things started to look up, when I found that the actual view points where on the other side of the small wood I had walked down. Looking over across the village of Broughton, the countryside opened up. A small but pleasent chalk down with numerous low growing flowers, but without the usual butterflies that accompany such land. The weather at this time was turning bad so macro shots would have had me soaked, so I head into the woods. Some wonderful old knarled tress.

However whilst in there, the cloud started to break up giving some better light and I headed out again to the chalk down. The expanse of the flowers, much like bluebells looks like a great shot but capturing it is always difficult. A few shots with the 200mm looked promising; will attempt similar at a later date.

Time was now approaching lunchtime; the (virtually) unmarked track and that burnt out car had been at the back of my mind at the time. This seemed like farily remote and safe part of the test valley but was it? Plus I was hungry

Would I go back? Possibly, but I think I'd like to park in in Broughton, or similar go through the down on a walk to somewhere else.

See the results!