Monday, 22 November 2021

Book Review - Dune

 I enjoyed Dune so much at the cinema that I went back and re-read the book. It was written in the 60's and I last read it in the 90's.

My view on it hasn't really changed – it's a wonderful science fiction book hiding inside an overlong and pretentious one. The story and the characters are great. The world which the author has built is interesting and believable and the way that he introduces it to you is very compelling. By the end  of the book it's a real page-turner. The problem is that there are just so many words. We have conversations where we're told what every character is thinking about every word which is said. He makes up words when perfectly normal ones would do. He makes up proper nouns for things on the planet but gives you no clue whether you have to commit them to memory or just let them wash over you. He uses difficult words when easy ones would do. He puts hundreds of words of metaphor and allusion in front of you rather than just explaining what's going on. Even though I loved it, it felt like a chore to read.

Richard "Damn You Frank Herbert" B

Heavy Weather Shopping

 A couple of weeks ago I got caught in a rain storm. I had stopped at a supermarket and the rain became ridiculously heavy while I was inside. Most people didn't dare venture back out into the carpark but I was pretty much dressed correctly for it as I had on my wet weather motorcycling gear. I put on my crash helmet (it is amongst other things a waterproof hat) before I left the shelter of the shop. The thing was that the rain and wind were so oppressive that I had to put my visor down just to be able to walk across the car park to my bike.

The leather of my jacket is waterproof, but the pockets weren't properly closed (they were filled with items from the shop). When I got home the pockets had about half a pint of rain water in each of them and I had to turn the jacket upside-down to empty them.

Richard "talk about the weather" B

Tuesday, 2 November 2021


 This weekend I attended a wedding. I'm almost exactly the same age as the groom and the bride is a few years his junior. The reception took place in a holiday cottage and professional caterers fed us and ran a bar. I was talking awkwardly with the woman running the bar as I had to get something on her side of it. She asked me if I was the father of the bride. To start with I thought this was either insulting to how old I looked, or flattering to how important and distinguished I looked in a suit. Obviously she was really telling me how young the bride looked in her finery.

Richard "witness" B

Wednesday, 27 October 2021

The Whole Shooting Match

 I was today years old when I found out that the phrase "lock, stock and barrel" makes perfect sense. I already knew that the stock is the wooden part of a gun. What I didn't know is that in the days of matchlock and flintlock guns, the "lock" is the part of the gun with the hammer, ignition system and priming charge. If you took apart your flintlock (or matchlock) musket (or pistol) there would be three parts: The lock, the stock and the barrel.

In my head it now joins the list of phrases that come from ancient firearms technology like "keep your powder dry", "go off half cocked" and "flash in the pan".

I'm ashamed to admit that I had made up a kind of rationalisation in my mind for the phrase. I thought it was probably something to do with everything you owned in a warehouse: The (pad) lock off the front door, the stock you kept in the warehouse, and the empty barrel(s) you used to store liquids. Wrong!

The phrase wouldn't have the same poetry if it was coined in the day of self-loading rifles: "I emptied my garage fire control group, magazine, bolt carrier assembly, receiver, stock and barrel.

Richard "eggcorn" B

Monday, 25 October 2021

On Hold

 I now lead a team of people and it's a busy job. One of the things we try to do is that if we're asked to help with some problem and it starts looking like a fault in the software, then it gets raised as a new ticket. That way we have visibility of the status of the fault/repair and who has done what to fix it.

My mum has a sore foot and I've been playing telephone message ping pong with the doctor's surgery since a consultant (for an unrelated condition) said that it needed to be X-Rayed. I was unable to make a timely appointment with the GP, but told to start again as though it were a new complaint and ring up the moment the surgery opened and ask for a same day telephone consultation.

There was a certain amount of mental dissonance and lack of self-awareness on my part that morning. I was on hold for about 20 minutes, cursing that I needed to tell the doctor about it again and cursing that the doctor wasn't available to talk to me instantly. At the same time I was going through my emails and messages wondering why there was a queue of new things for me to do first thing in the morning, and wishing that all these problems were accurately reported and recorded.

Richard "We're not so different you and I" B

Wednesday, 13 October 2021

Care Label

 One day last week I was walking dogs with my friend and chatting. We were discussing how both of us will often start a little project without first putting on dirty enough clothes. You start doing something in the garden or the garage and it gets more involved than you thought, before you know it you're clarted up with mud or brake dust or caulk or whatever.

As soon as we were home we pulled his chainsaw out from the shed-of-difficult-to-store-objects. One of the things that was in the way was a couple of tins of creosote. One of them was leaking and creosote got smeared up the front of the cashmere pullover I was wearing. Damn.

Richard "foreshadowing" B