Monday 30 May 2022


 I've had an amazing long weekend at a niece's weddings. We were looked after incredibly well in a castle in Scotland and I went there in my silly little sport car.

Can we get Land's End to John O'Groats?
No. We have Land's End to John O'Groats at home
The Land's End to John O'Groats we have at home:

I drove a Caterham from Plymouth to Inverurie, staying overnight at a Premier Inn in Carlisle, and then made the same journey in reverse a couple of days later. My observation of long distance travel in a kit car is that it's actually pretty slow (once you take into account all the stops and rests that you need to take) and that every part of you that interacts with the car ends up hurting. It's so noisy that I was wearing ear defenders. As well as all the discomfort from the cramped and awkward sitting position, my hands and heels hurt from the vibration they were in contact with. It's as if car designers have been right to try to reduce Noise and Vibration Harshness. My observation of waiting around in Carlisle is that it's a bit like waiting in an international departure lounge in an airport. There are a few places to shop or to eat, but they're all a bit crappy, and the normal social rules about when it's too early to have a pint don't seem to apply.

Can we get movie-star wedding?
No. We have movie-star wedding at home.
The movie-star wedding we have at home:

We only had access to the west wing of the picturesque Scottish castle and we weren't allowed on the ramparts. Two dozen of us had to share a single butler and I had to serve myself with the exquisite dinner. There were only two fabulous bands and it wasn't quite dark for our private fireworks display.

Richard "Congratulations" B

Tuesday 17 May 2022

Apple of My Eye

 I never had a Tamagochi, I'm not living in an Asimov story, and I never played The Last of Us, so I don't know what it's like to care for the wellbeing of a bit of software, but I do now feel like I'm bringing up a software child, and trying to shape it into my own image. I want to be able to listen to music in my car, but at the same time I'm a cheapskate. There is an FM radio on my phone but the reception turns out to be terrible. I'm not prepared to buy a subscription to a music streaming service, but I already have Amazon Prime, so I'm trying to enjoy their music service. Without paying for the "Unlimited" version there are two problems: It's full of adverts, and you can't pick what you want to listen to. What you can do is play a "station" and tell it which songs you like (we'll play more like this) and which you dislike (we'll never play this again).

Using just the thumbs up and thumbs down I've been trying to train it to find songs that I like and I now feel invested in the app, and the time and effort I've spent with it. I have no idea what "more like this" actually means from an algorithmic point of view. If I had said I liked "Stairway to Heaven" would it have thought I like Led Zeppelin, 70s rock, and people that can really play the guitar, or would it have signed me up for long, pretentious songs and lyrics with overtones of Tolkein and mysticism. I hope it's building up a database from other people who are playing the same game as me. Having only thumbs up and thumbs down is very constraining. I told it that I don't like Aerosmith "Don't want to miss a thing" but my hand hesitated over the icon. Would it take that to mean I don't like Aerosmith at all? I'd be happy if it played pretty much anything off any of their albums up to and including "Pump".

Richard "AI training" B

Monday 9 May 2022

Listen Up

 In a couple of weeks I'm going to take my silly little sportscar to Aberdeenshire. One of the things that I've been trying to improve in preparation is the acoustic environment, You get a lot of wind and road noise so it's rather tiring to drive. I usually wear ear plugs, but I would rather be able to listen to music. My headphones are Beyerdynamic DT770M (yes, they're related to the legendary DT100). They're designed for monitoring in live sound situations so they're part ear-defenders and part high-fidelity headphones. They should be perfect and when I drove with them it was much less tiring and much less boring.

I have had those headphones for about a decade and never had a problem with them. Rock shows are a harsh physical environment (just look how sturdy all the flight cases are and how heavy all the hardware is). Those headphones have survived scores of shows with me (and the associated loading, unloading and van rides). They failed after less than 500 miles of motorway driving in an open-top car. I broke them open and effected a temporary repair at the motorway services, but I think I'm going to have to buy something more focussed towards driving (or flying).

Richard "Dave Clark" B

Tuesday 3 May 2022

Fine Art

 As a younger man I went out with a fine artist. One of the things I learned from her was that some graphic art wasn't about beauty, but about the story it told or the message it sent.

This isn't a spectacular photograph, and I don't think the story is entirely clear just from looking at it. It's the story of a man who has bought some cheap pithy limes and tried to juice them for making cocktails. He's broken the hinge of his lime press, he doesn't have any 1/8" round bar in stock, but he does fancy another daquiri.

Richard "David Bailey" B