Friday 2 January 2009
It only took until around 7.15pm today, 2nd January, for me to say to Hels: "bloody hell, the year is flying past already!"
2009 is certainly going to be interesting, potentially dramatic and quite possibly bloody terrifying. As Gordon put it, we will all get there by the end of 2009, but it might be useful to know where "there" is.
Meanwhile, we have "reduced lighting" in our conservatory as the electricians have been (i.e. my father and brother) in preparation for the replacement of our conservatory this week. You’d think that replacing a conservatory would not be something to tackle in times of financial uncertainty, but this qualifies as a distress purchase due to the fact that water has been pouring in and it is about to collapse. It’s only costing us <cough> thousand pounds, but it does mean that we are the conservatory company’s new best friends. It will, at least, let in more light and reduce drafts – so we should be more energy efficient, at least by a small bit.
Other thrift measures in place include:
- taking a permit to saw down trees in a well-known National Forest and Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in order to get cheap fuel for our home (and to wind up passing dog-walkers/conservationists);
- thinking about laying more insulation in the loft;
- starting work on the allotment – potatoes are currently chitting on my office floor and a big box of seeds lies ready. But we need to do more digging yet and also source some poo;
- encouraging Tom to use the loo instead of nappies – he is late at making this transition, but shows no enthusiasm for it;
- installing a new, energy-efficient washing machine (another distress purchase – water flooded across the floor and the engineer scratched his chin and sucked on his teeth, just as the warranty had expired);
- enjoying days out that consist of walking with occasional added pint/coffee, or heavy use of the National Trust card;
- DartTag – £1 instead of £1.50. It’s the way ahead, and it makes a groovy BEEEEEP noise and makes the barrier go up all by itself.
Are you saving cash?
Saturday 3 January 2009
links for 2009-01-03
I like these lights a lot. The metal halide version appeals a lot to me, although the £450 price tag is less appealing.
Sunday 4 January 2009
links for 2009-01-04
How handy. I have a long lost bank account that I want to track down. It should have, oooh, about a fiver in it.
Monday 5 January 2009
links for 2009-01-05
Jim al-Khalili has a gift for explaining complex ideas in an entertaining, lucid and understandable way. I'll be watching this programme.
Tuesday 6 January 2009
links for 2009-01-06
Not that I'm planning to take this up, you understand, but it is noticeable that the dancers that visit our village every year and dance in the middle of the road are always the same aging faces. They barely have enough dancers as it is – a couple of illnesses/deaths could mean the end of the group.
Wednesday 7 January 2009
Lewes District Council is making a big fuss about street names. They want to sanitise them by using a pre-approval process for new names to rule out anything that might have a double entendre (even if unintended) or that might be "aesthetically displeasing".
What a load of nonsense. Lewes DC is LibDem controlled and this is a poor advert for them. It smacks of pettiness and small-mindedness.
There are many names which have heritage value that could certainly be considered rude now. I used to havea girlfriend who lived at Crouchers. Just down the road was a country hotel that used the name Crouchers Bottom, which had been the name of the property for hundreds of years. In Sussex, there are plenty of Bottoms (valleys and dips). There is also a Gay Street (homophobic?), Black Down (racist?), the river Uck (yes, the signs get defaced all the time – boring, kids, not funny any more). Lewes itself sits on the River Ouse – it doesn’t really ooze anything and it isn’t a particularly attractive word (it’s just an old word for river), but nobody would want to change it.
It’s a dangerous policy. There is an area of Southsea which features the unbelievably tedious names of Harold Road and Trevor Road – so called because, before it was developed, the land was owned by a family with these names. The area adjoins Fawcett Road which has a pub at one end – you guessed: The Fawcett Inn. More entendres than you could shake a stick at. But I suspect that these aesthetically displeasing names were just fine when they were new – language and attitudes change with time.
And do we really want to have a bunch of wholly anodyne names for roads? Downs View is incredibly over-used in this area. Around Chichester, anything to do with the local heritage (Roman history, the Cathedral, motor racing at Goodwood and local flying aces/aircraft of World War Two) gets used time and time again. Or you end up with a situation like that at Kings Hill (what used to be West Malling airfield) where all the roads are named for varieties of apples - braeburn, russet, worcester and bramley – or old aircraft – typhoon, tempest, anson and stirling. They soon merge one into the next in the warren of identikit houses.
Perhaps there should be pressure on developers to be original. Maybe they should be made not to repeat a road name that has already been used in the same district. That would certainly get rid of the Downs View/Street/Road/Close problem. But it might lead to things like the road near my parents’ house called Syke Cluan Close (apparently, it is named for a place in Scotland, although Google draws a blank) – not relevant to the local area, hard to spell for the locals, but certainly original.
Any funny names up your way?
Music without spectacles
I’m probably years behind all you cool kids that read this blog (yes, both of you) – I’ve just ordered a cable to connect my laptop to the hi-fi so that I can listen to music (particularly radio streams) without either the tinniness of the built-in speakers or the inconvenience of headphones.
One of the problems I’ve found with listening to music on my laptop is that I want to know what I’m listening to. Both WinAmp (which is suffering terrible bloat these days) and iTunes (which always was bloated) display what you are listening to – but in teeny tiny text that can only be read by wandering from wherever you happen to be (in my case, by the filing cabinet with headphones on, doing the filing on a loooong cable) over to the laptop and then squinting at the screen (and, quite possibly, fetching the player out of the system tray).
What I’d really like is a plugin for iTunes or WinAmp (or, perhaps, another player if it offers this function and doesn’t suffer from bloat) that displays the artist and title information (perhaps also song duration/time played) in fullscreen lovelybigtext™ that can be read from across the room. This is going to be particularly useful for dinner/party/dinner party occasions when I don’t want to keep leaping up from my chair/the hob to answer the “that’s good music – what is it?” question.
links for 2009-01-07
About time. Could be useful for work/holiday.
Screensaver shows current track title and artist, time remaining, etc. Winamp only.
Thursday 8 January 2009
links for 2009-01-08
Free desktop utility for Windows that potential might solve my squinting at WinAmp problem. Thanks Gordon.
Tuesday 13 January 2009
links for 2009-01-13
Amazing! In TWO exciting colours! Brown AND White!!!!!! This site is great – just check out the hyperbole.
Friday 16 January 2009
links for 2009-01-16
I'm rendered speechless.
Tuesday 20 January 2009
links for 2009-01-20
Includes conversion rates for invoices issued in currencies other than Sterling.
This is good, although it doesn't really help commuters. Re-opening the Uckfield-Lewes line – now that would be good.
Surely, isn't any crackdown that doesn't investigate efficacy of treatment meaningless? When will somebody really take on these charlatans?
links for 2009-01-20
Everything you needed to know about VAT in the EU in one handy place.
Friday 23 January 2009
“What would you like to do for your birthday?”
“Go to Buwwa Market and buy pie!”
Some requests I’m very happy to meet. Happy birthday, Tom.
Tuesday 27 January 2009
links for 2009-01-27
A portal for European political blogs.