Saturday, December 31, 2011

On the Saint

The "Saint" is a popular TV program with the famous actor Roger Moore, who later starred in the James Bond films. The Saint, or Simon Templar was always very smart. He never seemed to use guns. I was watching the repeats. The Saint was always a kindly hero who was always helping attractive women who had family members kidnapped .

Apart from the fairly recent film about the Saint in the 90s or 200s that starred Van Kilmer most of the films of the Saint were similar to the TV series. However, in one black and white film the Saint was almost vicious, while he was still a dandy.

There were a series of 3 adaptations of the Saint on BBC radio, that I listened to recently. There was a hardness to Saint character that was missing in the TV series.

On holiday I have just read "Enter the Saint" by Leslie Charters. These books are not available on kindle, so I had to use a real paperback book. I am not sure if I can use a kindle on a plane so I have to use a real book to pass the time. The Saint in the original books is a dandy, but is also capable of  extreme violence. In the book a number of people were killed by people in the Saint's gang

So perhaps as usual the TV series was a watered down version of the character in the books.

Many of the Saint books are out of print -- at least according to Amazon. Even the books say that Templar is not a man of this time -- when the time was the 30s to 60s. Now it is very hard to have any positive feelings about the tweed dressed public school educated men, who know how to box and give their word of honour.

On being a God

About a month ago I was reading a scathing review of the new film about Tintin -- the boy reporter. The reviewer was clearly obsessed by Tintin and was a bit of a freak because he had read all the Tintin books.
He claimed that the original author of the Tintin had hidden he idea in his books that he was the king of Belgium. This struck me as insane in a grand way. I tried to think of a central theme about this blog.




What I decided was that the hidden theme of this blog is that I an in fact a God. Not the single sky God, because that would be insane and weird. But I like the idea of being a God.


In particular it would solve one of the problems that I have in winning the Templeton prize for corrupting science with religion. I don't see how they couldn't give me the prize, if was both a God and had a PhD in physics. What more could I do to get my hands on the million pound prize, One of the main problems with me winning the Templeton prize, apart from the fact that I don't deserve it, is my deep hatred of priests and vicars. I can see the fat bishop trying to shake my hand as he handed me my cheque, and me giving a gentle slap with my fist.




Of course if I was a God, I could happily punch a couple of vicars and not been censored, and more importantly still get the cash.




Of course you may be thinking Craig has finally lost his mind. However, I remember that an old Greek philosopher, who thought he was God. To prove he was he jumped into a Volcano. Where you might ask will I find a Volcano. Funny you should ask that, because there is a friendly Volcano on Tenerife.
Luckily it is quite a walk to the Volcano.










Stress and holidays


Tenerife

So here I sit in a hotel room in Tenerife, trying to think of some content for a blog post. This year I decided to spend the new year on holiday-- mostly because the last two winters were so harsh in Wuppertal.  I seem to be spending more time in these englishfied holiday resorts. In my defense you need reasonable weather, if you want to read outside.


So far it ha rained a little bit here but perhaps rain is not the right word, for only a small amount of
water fell from the sky. I do like to see the black clouds swirling in the night sky.




I should say that I tried to push myself to do many things at work  before I left work for the holidays. I was unable to complete anything, and the stress meant that I could not write any blog posts.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

The dead list



 The dead list



Last night I watched The Dead List
a film with Jean Reno in it.
It was a strange film with action mixed
in with some father versus son conflict.



I feel slightly guilty because the film
was set in France and I know from the Daily
Mail newspaper that the UK is almost at war with
France. That sneaky French president using
an underhand tactic called negotiating that
no proper English gentleman, such Cameron
would bother to use or understand. Doesn't Sarkozy
know that Cameron went to Eton and that his demands
should automatically be granted.

Monday, December 05, 2011

On the importance of goofing off

I have so much to do at the moment. I wanted to spend most of the weekend working on the backlog. Although I do a reasonable amount over the weekend, I did laze around after dinner for a while. I watched an episode of the "13 Warehouse" This is an american fantasy series.

I felt guilty, but somehow relaxed as well. If I wasn't working perhaps I should have been reading. If you are thinking, what is the guy talking about, because the last 4 posts have been on films. I normally watch films after 10:30 at night, when my brain is dead, and I have worked up a beer thurst. It was relaxing to do nothing for 2 hours and just watch TV.

We have been doing the theme of free time in my German class. Every essay I read said that watching TV is bad, but is passes the etime. In fact "supernatural" is on TV now, so I must finish this post.

Attack the block

Attack the block

Over the weeken I watched "attack the block" from Itunes. As I am sure many people have written it was really hoodies versus Aliens. I enjoyed it, it was fairly inventive. The killer aliens looked like cuddly toys with teeth, but they were scary.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Being cold is to be a man

On thinking warm

I feel so ashamed! Today I switched the heating on for the first time this winter. I am getting weaker -- I could have held out for a few more weeks, but I get cold when I am sitting down at the computer.

I have been going around the campus just wearing a T-shirt. This has been remarked apon by many people, so I am going to have to keep this up the entire winter. So because of my pride I will probably freeze to death this winter.

Saturday, December 03, 2011

X-mas market in Wuppertal

Last night we hit the Christmass markets of Wuppertal. The Christmas market in Wuppertal is clearly a close copy of the famous Manchester Christmas markets.

First we drank a mug of Gluwein, after a problematic German conversation, about whether there was a deposit on the mug with the hot wine in. We them moved onto another Gluwin stand, where I had taste of mead. For a long time I have wanted to try mead, because it was the drink of the vikings. I was disappointed with the mead -- it was too sweet and tasted of honey.

There is a lot of food stalls at the market, but I just had the greasiest Wurst in some bread. My faith in the German sausage was restored. There is also a little area with animals close to the C&A. What you don't see, is the big goat trying to mount the little goat, that it spent about 15 minutes. An interesting way to end a short evening of drinking.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Call me Chilli

My chili diet is not going well. I eat the chillies and my mouth burns. Then maybe one hour later I can feel my stomach bubbling. I am not sure that I am losing any weight.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Book reading jealousy

On literature


I like to think I am a little bit well read,
however when I read the list of the best books
in 2011 compiled by writers in the guardian, not
only had I not read any of those books, but
I had also not heard of them.

It doesn't help that they don't mention any science fiction books at all, I am cut off from literary culture - perhaps I should cut down on the 99p books from kindle.

Saturday, November 26, 2011


Last night I watched Detective Dee - Mystery Of The Phantom Flame
via Itunes. This was a great martial arts film set in
ancient china -- with great wire and CGI stunts. Somehow
the acting in Asian films are better than in western films,
which somehow mix ultra-violence with cheesy emotion.



The amusing things is that there is some
propaganda message in the film. At the end
of the film -- the detective swears allegiance
to the Empress -- even though he had been a
rebel in the past.


Sunday, November 20, 2011

13 assassins


So continuug our theme of movie reviews,
I watched the film "13 Assassins" over the
weekend. THis was directed by Takashi Miike,
who famously directed "Iche the killer" -- one
sick fuck of a film.




The film is about 13 Samurai who are ordered
to assassinate an insane Lord. Although I may tell
people it is world cinema, it is actually more
of an action film. The fight scenes are fantastic,
but the acting is good as well. The Hollywood action
thrillers annoy me with their cheesy emotion, but
this had more honest feelings, in a made up fantasy kind of
way.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The box

I am in fine ranting mode at the moment. I also watched "the box" by I think the same director who made Donny Darko. It was not the film I expected. A couple get a box with a button. If they press it, they get a million dollars, but someone that don't know dies.

Normally I like a bit of alien stuff thrown into a film, but it was not clear it helped this film. The acting was very good and real, but the story was so confusing to the point of randomness.

The green Lantern

Since I am in DVD reviewing mode, I also rented "The Green Lantern" from Itunes. The trailers for the film looked so good on TV, but what a pile of crap the film turned out to be.

Somehow it is annoying to hear an American saying "we are a young race". The film was trying to tell high school jocks that they are the future of the planet - rather than annoying bullies. I don't have much time to work up a lot of bile and rage for high school jocks, when I have worthier targets for my hate, such as Etonians.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

When I used to live in Glasgow I would quite often rent DVDs from blockbusters, I used to actually buy DVDs when I lived in Liverpool. There was no shop close to me that would rent DVDs and at some stage DVDs became fairly cheap.

Although there is a shop in the center of Wuppertal that rents DVDs, but it is not so convenient to return DVDs. So I just rent films from Itunes -- which is a lot more convenient.

Last night I watched Devil's Rock a great she-devil film with Nazis. What more could a person want from a film?

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Fallen leaves means sadness

As I have pointed out many times. I live on the edge of forest. Normally, the view is great, but when the leaves fall from the trees it looks very bleak. I see a road and some small buildings that look like garden sheds in allotments. Ironically, I can see the blue of an outdoor swimming pool.

I have tried to complain to people about this, but they keep talking about how beautiful it is with the colored leaves. No I say, fuck beauty, I want the green leaves back. They make me feel so peaceful and tranquil. I am now feeling stressed and angry. I wonder If I could use the excuse of "leaf rage", to explain any future random acts violence.

Reality 36

As part of my back lash at wimpy fantasy books, I have just read Reality 36 (A Richards & Klein Investigation) by Guy Haley.

This was a story about a crime agency with an AI and cyborg. Well I liked it - plenty of action.

Final days

I started to read a novel that started with a scene with an Unicorn. I got through chapter 1, but I thought "fuck fantasy -- I need some hard science fiction."

So I started reading Final Days by Gary Gibson. Actually I thought the book was by William Gibson, an easy mistake to make. Anyway the book was great - with time travel and the end of the world. Unfortuantely, I wasted an entire Sunday on. No work done at all. Now that I look at his wikipedia page I see that there is a Glasgow science fiction group. Umm, what would have happened if I was still living there.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

On dreams and project management

Although I don't sleep particularly well, I have learned that it is fatal to worry about work. There is usual nothing you can do and the next day I would be tired that would slow me down, so I would do even less work. So a vicious cycle would begin. So now when I worry about work in bed, I try to move my thoughts in a more sexual direction.

So I was surprised, when I woke up and started thinking about what I had to do today. I remembered that I had to rerun some computer program on one data set. But then I thought, who ordered that? Given that the runs were done on Saturday. As I thought about it more, I suddenly thought that the project was from a dream.

Of course there is a history of people making scientific discoveries in dreams. For example the chemist who discovered the structure of the benzene molecule. But perhaps I have been brainwashed like in the film inception.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Zombie Diaries 2

Last night I watched "World of the Dead: Zombie Diaries 2" via itunes. Why, well it was a 1 pound rent. It was one of those films where it is meant to look as though it was filmed on a camcorder. This was a fresh idea with the cloverfeld film

The thing that really made me mad was that at some stage they were in a safe compound. The zombies got in because someone had left the gate open. But the film never explained who opened the gate? Then there were some nasty torture scenes.

When I looked on Amazon I see that the reviews for the first Zombie Diaries film are mostly poor. Perhaps I should not watch any more films about zombies.

I still have to red the Jane Austin and zombie mash up I have on my kindle. I will not be well read unless I have read this.

dreams and kickboxing

I had a strange dream last week. I was with a friend looking for something -- but what? I was in a pub looking for what ever I wanted. I think it was a photograph of some kind.

Then I was in a pub. The landlady of the pub was someone I knew in Knutsford, when I was growing up and starting to succumb to demon that is drink. The pub had a Thai kick boxing demonstration.

What does it all mean? I have eaten two Thai dinners in the last week and unfortunately I have not had any further dreams of kickboxing.

Spinning elbow shots are cool!

kindle and walking

I love my kindle. I have nearly 100 books on it -- obviously I have not read them all! It is so small and compact. Soon there will be no problems with carrying the weight of books on trips.

Of course some people take their love of kindle too far. I assume that there is less of risk of street crime for kindles, than there is for smart phones, partly because I don't think that crooks are too keen on reading, but mostly because kindles need to be registered.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Casino Royal

When I was a teenager I used to collect the James Bond books by Ian Fleming from second hand shops. I am not sure why. I don't think I actually read that many of them. I was forced to sell them when we moved to the first of the ever smaller houses we used to live in.

The only story by Fleming I remember was a man who kidnapped a Gypsy women for some reason. He chained her somewhere and fed her red meat. When he unchained her, she didn't want to leave him. In the few times that I have an intimate conversation with a women, they often say "tell me what you are thinking." I am mostly think that it is not wise to tell them about the Fleming story.

Anyway a week ago I read "Casino Royal" by the Ian Fleming. The book has a certain power, even without knowing the prehistory of the films. I had forgotten about how big a viscous shit he was.

Mystery man

Last week I finished reading "Mystery Man" by by Bateman. THis was a amusing detective story set in Belfast. An owner of a bookshop -- who has some cute mental health issues and is a big coward solves some minor and one big crime.

Not that it mattter but it was a real physical book as wel.

Vinegar addict in Germany

I don't want to criticize German people but sometimes I find what they do a bit strange. Today I was in the queue at the Mensa to pay for my lunch. A student in front of me had two bowls of french fries and one bowl of raw carrots. He picked up a bottle of Balsamic Vinegar and poured it over the carrots only!

What the fuck I thought. I have noticed that I am the only person who puts vinegar on their french fries. I pour it on, point to it and say "lovely" in loud commanding English voice. I will introduce the joys of Anglo Saxon cuisine to this country.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Some time in Heidelberg

I have wanted to visit Heidelberg for a long time. Essentially I want to grow a big black mustache and get some dueling scars that women like. I payed more money than I normally do for a hotel, so that I was staying in the interesting bit. So since Darmstad is fairly close to Heidelberg, I thought it was time to visit. I took a slow local train so that I would have more time for reading my Parker book. I was expecting that Heidelberg was old fashioned but the view from the train station was the standard concrete that greets every visitor by train While I was waiting for the tram I saw a modern sculpture.

As I go I got off the tram and saw a Woolworths shop, and after some confusion I found the hotel. So Woolworths lives on in parts of Germany, I didn't buy any pick and mix sweets for old times sake. I didn't get to the hotel until about 5, so I didn't have much time to explore in the light. There is a huge main street that stretches for miles and miles. All the good bars were a long way from my hotel. There was a shop that sold many different types of absinthe, but I decided to buy any, because they were all expensive, but I wanted to buy a lot.

I went for meal in a Korean restaurant. The food was really great -- with 8 vegetable side dishes. As far as I could tell all the other people in the restaurant were Americans. Somehow Korean restaurant attracts Americans.

Sandman Slim

In the last couple of days I read Sandman Slim: A Novel: by Richard Kadrey. This was an urban fantasy book, that starts with a man coming back from Hell to seek revenge on the magicians who had sent him to hell and later killed his girl friend. Well I enjoyed it. Do I need to read the next novel in the series. Hell yeah.

A quick tour of Darmstadt

After the workshop at GSI I thought I would explore a couple of close by German cities. I walked from my hotel in Darmstadt to the railway station. It is a fairly long walk from the hotel to the railway station, but I missed a turn and I walked too far down a long road. My rucksack seemed heavy, but perhaps I was weak.

When I got to the railway station, I thought I would give Darmstadt a better look over. I left my rucksack in a coin operated locker in the railway station. It amazed me that such things still existed. In UK train stations there are no rubbish bins and it costs close to ten pounds to leave luggage in left luggage, because they want to Xray everything and market efficiency means that customers get ripped off. But enough complaints about the UK. There was a coin operated locker and I left my rucksack in it

I walked into the center of the city. My body got tired, but luckily I found a nice park. It was threatening rain, but I the bench seats were dry enough to sit on. I started reading "Point Blank" by Richard Stark. This was the basis of the great film: Point Blank

It started to rain so that stopped my reading. I walked around the city center a bit and had fries for lunch. I took the bus back to the railway station, where I worried that my rucksack had been stolen. At the station I took the train to Heidelberg.

I dream of clean windows....

I had a strange dream a couple of nights ago. I was talking to a woman and then we kissed. That felt good. She was a friend or the partner of a friend (sorry, but desire took me). However later I was in a shower with a naked man very close in front of me in a non-sexual way. The shower took a long time.

Last night I dreamed I found a good tool to clean windows. This made me happy.

According to Freud we should be able to learn something about me from my dreams. The dirty windows in my flat are starting to get me down a little bit. They spoil the view of the forest. On the inside of the windows there are the corpses of many dead flies. I did buy a tool from a Euro shop, but the window still ends up streaky. Perhaps I will have another go at cleaning the windows. I should listen to my dreams.

Saturday, October 08, 2011

A visit to Darmstadt

This week I have been at a workshop at Darmstadt.

So what are my impression of the city? Well frankly not much. I stayed at the Ibis hotel, but got bussed to the conference site. In the evening I would work on my talk and then at 23:00, I would pop out for a few drinks. On the first night I went for a beer in the bar next door. I was lookingt at the drinks menu and noticed that with some horror that the first choice was some nasty brew called "Fosters". I tried to order Pilsner, but compromised on Newcastle Brown.

After the conference on Friday night, I watched the Germany Turkey football game in a bar. I was interested to see that most of the bar were supporting Turkey. In fact all the coffee drinkers cheered for Turkey, but the beer drinkers supported Germany.

Saturday, October 01, 2011

China shakes the world

When over lunch or dinner the conversation turns to the future of the West, or lack there of, there is the specter of the East. As the West is driven down by our right wing politicians and so called business men, so China rises.

I have recently read "China shakes the world" by James Kynge. This is a very interesting book about modern China. It touches on corruption, and the worrying rise of nationalism.

Friday, September 30, 2011

On tomatoes and class

I am trying to change my eating habits so that the dreaded calories going into my mouth are reduced. To succeed in this I need to add more variety in my diet. So I have been slightly more "adventurous" in the food I buy in the supermarket.

So in the supermarket I saw a box of red shriveled things. So those must be "sun dried tomatoes", I speculated. Will I be able to eat them without turning into a middle class person I thought. Luckily the current Tory government is trying to destroy the middle class by their management of the economy. Cameron and Osborne will only stop when there are two classes CEO and hedge fund traders and everyone else working in Tesco. I didn't realize that Hugh Osborne was the MP for my home town Knutsford. Yeah what a surprise.

I sort of liked the sun dried tomatoes, but I still prefer the fresh kind.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

11

I am a man of steady habits. I have cut chocolate out of most of my life, except for a bar of chocolate from a vending machine, close to my office, at 11:00. I could get the chocolate bar from the cafe in front of the vending machine and save 15 cents, but the chocolate from the machine is colder, and I like machines.

There is a great film called "the Repo man", that has a song that goes something like "when the shit hits the fan." One of the crazy characters, perhaps a scientist, has a long speech where he claims he only eats food from vending machine, because he likes the surprise that when he orders something, he might get something completely different. It was that kind of film.

I have been eating a twix (two double bars) at 11. There is now a white twix. Cunning;y they mix the white twixes in with the standard boring milk chocolate twixes in the same line. It is revolutionary! I never know whether I will get a magical white or boring milc chocolate twix from the vending machine -- it just depends on what is at the front of the rail. Sometimes I hang around the vending machine, waiting for someone else to come along and buy the milk chocolate so I can rush in and buy the white chocolate. It is like big game hunting, or like being in the secret police., when I stalk the vending machine.

I am easily pleased.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Smile or die

When I was young and unfortunate enough to live in a village in the south of England, a baker tried to make me smile more, by giving me sugary things. I am not a great smiler Smiling is a cultural thing as well. I remember an American radio program, where a person tried smiling at people in Paris. They were avoided as crazy people.

I have just finished reading "smile or die" by Barbara Ehrenreich. Barbara is an author with progressive politics (that is probably the worst bio she will ever get -- sorry). When she was close to 50, she got cancer. Luckily she recovered, but while she was taking chemical therapy, she found the world of positive thinking. There was a lot of pressure to think positive, however she was angry.

After this experience and when she got well again, she investigated the "positive thinking movement." I have read a number of positive thinking books. What I didn't realize was that the positive thinking movement is a very powerful way f brain washing people. For example the advantage of positive thinking for people with cancer is that they complain less to people around them. A similar situation occurs when a person loses their job. Companies are now using life coaches to tell people getting fired the challenge of finding a job is the best thing that could have append to them.

Barbara reviews the literature on whether positive thinking actually helps recovery from illness. It was not clear that it did help.

Now that you know that smiling and being positive is wrong, you are ready to listen to my worries.

On death and forests

I have been thinking a lot about death recently. Well once you get to certain age, death does seem to matter more. Especially as you start to lose friends and relatives. I am not getting too depressed about "the end", so that I just sit in a room drinking whisky, but ...

I was walking to work two days ago. I looked at the ground ans saw dead leaves. No, I screamed, all the trees are going to lose their leaves. I am going to sit on my balcony and stare out on a wasteland of empty trees. It is like waiting for the second coming. I will look out onto a road and see some allotments. Why do the trees have to lose their leaves?

Well some people may say that I should be enjoying the forest while the leaves are green. I should takes walks through it, trying to avoid the many dogs and dog shit. I should marvel as the leaves change color. Even when the leaves are gone, I only have to wait a few months, before they start to grow back. To these people I say "fuck you." I love the leaves and the forest. Why does it have to die every year?

This is what happens when you live in Germany. It is not enough that I have the daily challenge of finding a decent sausage, but I also worry about the forests.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

1000th post

So dear readers my google account tells me that this is my thousandth post. I can feel your sense of excitement. What will he write about for this special occasion. Vague rumors may have reached you of me switching from Vodka to absinthe for light night cocktails, to pour green fire on my creativity. Strange stories tell of a man limping into many bars of Wuppertal, and saying in a loud voice "I will take a Gin Gimlet" and "has anyone seen my friend Terry."

Perhaps he will talk about special trip abroad. Some adventure in a foreign land, involving exotic fruit, veiled women, and some tassle with a taxi driver.

Maybe Craig will review this blog. He will try and make some sense of reallity through the prism of old blog posts. He might stress some lesson he has learnt.

Or perhaps he will review some special book, such as the Necronomicon, written by "Mad Arab" Abdul Alhazred. You will read with amazement, and then dread, as I rant on about "old ones", before I finally disintegrate into THE MADNESS OF CAPITAL LETTERS.

Suddenly I reveal the word hypnosis. My experiments with blog hypothesis have revealed the importance of the power word "tipple". When we meet again, I will say the power word. You will awake 2 hours latter, with your clothes in disarray, your money gone, but me smirking in front of you.

But as your eyes reach this part of the text, a sudden fear grips you. Could it be that Craig will write a post about "nothing at all". Sure it was funny when Seinfeld did a TV series about nothing, but the joke gets a bit dull after a while. I have read enough about literature to know that is more important to write about the process of writing and the difficulties of being an American teacher of creative writing, rather than anything as quaint and old fashioned as a story, or rational information.

So dear reader, I feel your pain and disappointment. (But I don't really care.) This post has been about nothing. And in your rage, you notice that the comments section is blocked. You will have to vent your frustration in the more traditional manner of going out and slapping someone.

Of course rather than writing a 1000 posts, I could have writen a 200 page novel instead. I could be looking at the reviews on Amazon of the kindle version: "a novel about nothing is not worth 20p." Still I would be cooler, and separate me from the twitter and facebook crowd.

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Jeeves and me

I am often asked questions about the philosophy, history and culture of the Anglo Saxon world. A bit scary, because I know nothing about any of that. I do my best to wave the flag for the UK. People around me now know the importance of hating Manchester United and Etonians.

Currently the UK is being ruled by a bunch of ex-public school men. They are asset stripping the country. I want to put a horse whip to the dam blighters.

Why this sudden blast of posh, but weird threatening language? I have been reading a number of books P.J Wodehouse.

On holiday I read:

I am sure I have read them all before. I also watch the old ITV series with Fry and Laurie. I recently purchased series 3 of that TV show. Also the BBC radio Iplayer is playing an old radio series of the stories by Bertie and friends.

I am not sure why I like the Jeeves stuff. I know nothing of their world. The upper class has declared "class war" on the rest of the country and are destroying it before they move to the US top work at a Hedge fund. So why then do I like reading and watching the exploits of a bunch of rich idiots running around?

They make me laugh anyway.

Doctor Who and the Daleks

I have never been so shocked by a book, before I had read: Doctor Who and the Daleks. This was the book of the first ever episode of Dr Who! What shocked me was that the Dr deliberately hid a piece of the Tardis, so he could explore the city of the Daleks. This was mean, and he looked even more stupid, when they all got radiation sickness.

Is this the same Dr, we have come to love and fear?

On bathing

The eternal question is shower or bath. There never seems to be enough time for a bath, although somehow there is always time to goof off and stare at the cartoons flickering on the TV.

I have not had a bath since I have been in Germany. It is such an effort. People used to say that a famous Archbishop in the middle ages was so clean that he took a bath twice yearly -- whether he needed it or not.

I do shower of course, but I suddenly noticed that the bottom of my legs looked a bit grimy. The idea of starting Sunday with a next hot bath grew and grew.

Well today, I thought, is bath day. I started the water and it flew into the bath. But it was not so hot. My past memories were of bathwater being so hot that it was almost scalding. It taking me 15 minutes to actually acclimatise my body to the sub-boiling liquid.

But sitting in tepid water is no challenge. My body is so stiff, that it was non-trivial for me to get in and sit in the bath. I did wonder whether I could get out. What a way to die - he starved to death in his bath, because he was too weak to get out.

My abdominal muscles have faded away, so I don't feel comfortable lying on my back, because I find it hard to breath. This was a problem when I was doing ground work in martial arts clubs. It make it hard to relax in the bath.

So after 5 minutes I got out of my tepid bath and dried myself down. I have scheduled my next bath for when I leave Germany. I am not looking forward to it.

Friday, September 02, 2011

On being fat

For some time now I have been feeling a "little" over weight. I thought I should quantify this, so I purchased some scales to weigh myself.

So I stripped naked and looked at the scales. I was a bit nervous as to what I might find. I stepped onto the scales and the little needle swung to 80 kg. I thought that seems a little unlikely, because the average weight of men in Germany is about 80 kg. Although a diet of sausages, spuds and beer does take its toll -- many of the students are rake thin.

So I entered the weight into an android app. Then I discovered that I had not been standing on the scales properly. The shitty little needle moved up to 90 kg -- bad but not super bad. As I was moving the scales below my bed for storage, I found that there were bits of cardboard stopping the scales moving correctly. I removed them, stepped on the scales, and the evil little needle spun up to 104 kg.

I was thinking "fuck man" do I have to calibrate these scales. So I have three measurements and I have to assign a central value and an error. After the last PRL referee's report I saw, I know they want me to quote the absolute value for the errors.

So my weight is 92 +/- 12 kg

I am only one sigma from a normal weight!

more on Steven Segal

Although I know many physicists who tell proudly tell me that they don't own a TV -- I still like to watch TV -- mostly because it fills my lonely room with sound. Also it helps me relax before I go to sleep.

Last night I was waiting some incredibly crap German reality show that I translate as "the meadow". I was waiting for an action movie to start, but I must have got the time wrong, because this crappy "meadow" TV program refused to stop. Everyone was wearing country Alpine like cloths. One woman had to do the challenge of eating 6 hard boiled eggs -- which she did very slow, while the woman in charge kept saying "schnell".

I turned over and later flipped back to see if the action film had started. It was a Steven Segal film I had never seen. It was dubbed into German, but it is so weird to not hear his cocky American Italian voice. Although Segal was a legitimate martial artist when he was a young man, he got very big as he got older. When I was training in martial arts, I used to say, that although I am crap, at least I don't need stunt man to do a basic thing like a kick, as Segal does. (I should say I really like his first films such as Nico.)

Anyway the film last night featured him doing a number of Aikido moves -- that looked good.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

On drawing

When I was at school after the age of 16, I specialized in maths, physics, and chemistry. The powers that be worried that we did not have a general education, so I was forced to take a course called "general studies".

This subject was meant to be a mixture of all things, such as art, languages, and maybe other liberal arts. Personally I thought it was a waste of time, but I did manage to just pass the exam.

As part of this course we had to spend a few lessons in the art lab. I can remember two things about that time. One was when one of the female students spent some time telling the class, how and why she gave a blow job to her boy friend.

The other thing I remember is being asked to paint a daffodil. When I looked at the resulting picture it looked as though it had been painted by a five year old. I was a bit ashamed by this, but on the other hand. Who gives a shit. I don't need to paint or draw. If I need to draw a diagram, I use a computer -- although usually the resulting picture still looks like it was made by a 6 year old.

I was reading a book about creativity in software, and the author suggested drawing as way to unleash some additional creative energy, by drawing

During my holiday I spent a very small amount of time working through the exercises: "Drawing on the right side of the brain" by Betty Edwards. Betty's idea is that I am crap at drawing, because I use the half of my brain that deals with science and language. I am not using the arty-farty-creative side enough.

I have inserted my picture of a horse. The actual picture was a knight on a horse. I got bored, so I didn't bother with the Knight. The idea was to copy it from the book upside down, so that the drawing was not stopped by the language side of the brain. It still looks crap to me, but there you go. My goal for drawing is to be as good as an untalented adult, rather than a 5 year old child.

Of course I could unlock the creative arty side of my mind in the traditional way, by taking a shit load of drugs. If my drawing doesn't improve I will install linux on the arty side, and praise cmcneile-laptop-II >head -80 blog When I was at school after the age of 16, I specialized in maths, physics, and chemistry. The powers that be worried that we did not have a general education, so I was forced to take a course called "general studies".

This subject was meant to be a mixture of all things, such as art, languages, and maybe other liberal arts. Personally I thought it was a waste of time, but I did manage to just pass the exam.

As part of this course we had to spend a few lessons in the art lab. I can remember two things about that time. One was when one of the female students spent some time telling the class, how and why she gave a blow job to her boy friend.

The other thing I remember is being asked to paint a daffodil. When I looked at the resulting picture it looked as though it had been painted by a five year old. I was a bit ashamed by this, but on the other hand. Who gives a shit. I don't need to paint or draw. If I need to draw a diagram, I use a computer -- although usually the resulting picture still looks like it was made by a 6 year old.

I was reading a book about creativity in software, and the author suggested drawing as way to unleash some additional creative energy, by drawing

During my holiday I spent a very small amount of time working through the exercises: "Drawing on the right side of the brain" by Betty Edwards. Betty's idea is that I am crap at drawing, because I use the half of my brain that deals with science and language. I am not using the arty-farty-creative side enough.

I have inserted my picture of a horse. The actual picture was a knight on a horse. I got bored, so I didn't bother with the Knight. The idea was to copy it from the book upside down, so that the drawing was not stopped by the language side of the brain. It still looks crap to me, but there you go. My goal for drawing is to be as good as an untalented adult, rather than a 5 year old child.

Of course I could unlock the creative arty side of my mind in the traditional way, by taking a shit load of drugs. If my drawing doesn't improve I will install linux on the arty side, and praise "logic" over humanity, so that I am like a character in a Star Trek episode.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

On the Ouza question

I estimate that 80% of the people staying at the hotel were British. I heard a lot of Scots accents. This means of course that the main alchol drunk was beer, and most of the men wore no shirts. There was only wireless in the bar, so while hacking around, I watched a bit of the recent Man City versus Manchester United football game. I was amazed to see people supporting United, because there were shouts of joy when United, scored three goals after City had a 2 goals to 0 lead.

Anyway on the booze question. As well as beer I did drink a fare anmout of Ouza. Ouza is almost the national drink of Greece.

One advantage of Ouza is that it is clear on its own, but goes milky when you add water. This of course means, that you can order "that milky" stuff and then wink at the waiter, while your fellow diners think, "wow that's good he is only drinking milk these days.", but still get a bit shit faced.

On Greek TV I saw a program with what looked like gangsters. They were in a club drinking Ouza. I was watching TV drinking Ouza. I am like a Greek gangster, I thought. Yeah!

Although I am not a great fan of mixing water or soda with spirits, I am not sure I can drink Ouza neat. I like aniseed like the next man, but there are limits. After some experimentation, I prefer to drink Ouza with ice -- this that is still a bit strong. At the hotel they recommened drinking Ouza with lemonade, but that didn't taste so good.

While looking at the wikipedia entry for Ouza, I noted the connection to Absinthe. Obviously I know they taste similar. I was introduced to absinthe by my cousin over 10 years ago, before a trip to Prague. While in Prague, I sat in the Marquis De Sade bar with an absinthe and a beer. My life has come to this, I thought as I took a little sip from both glasses. I am living the dream.

Somehow drinking absinthe conforms more to my own self view. It is the drink of artists, and poets, people living on the edge. I dimly remember that Edgar Allen Poe died from drinking it. I see from the web that Aleister Crowley used to drink it. It was banned in many places, but not the UK. I just wish that it wasn't so fucking expensive.

Rule 34

Another of my holiday books was "Rule 34" by Charles Stross. It took some time to get into this book, but I enjoyed it the end. The plot is complicated, but it was all about the future of spam and policing -- with huge databases, social networking and spam bots, all connecting together. Although the technology was buzz word compliant, the characters were fairly real.

Of particular note was the use of the "nudge theory" in the planning of crimes, or the anti-crimes. This nudge theory stuff is topical, because Cameron and his Tory buddies like it, because they can control people without hard rules.

Perhaps I should read the nudge theory book, but I am shocked to see that I now have over 50 items on my kindle.

The woman in black

I got a late flight back from Rhodes to Cologne. I got into the Cologne airport at 2:00 in the morning. Luckily the trains run through the night, so I caught a train at 3:14, and after two changes I ended up at the Wuppertal railway station at 5:00 in the morning. It seemed like a reasonable idea when I booked it, because it saved me money. But last night I was dreading the trip her home.

However, I had a good book "the woman in black" by Susan Hill. This was a scary ghost story written in the classical style of someone like Henry James. A lawyer goes to the isolated house of a recently deceased old woman. Then follows ghosts, madness, and more unjust death.

Sunday, August 07, 2011

kindle

I am a cheap kindle book junky.

This morning I finished Immune (The Rgo Agenda) by Richard Philips, Three children find an alien ship. The goverment has an another alien ship and they are using it to release sinster alien technology.

I feel guilty because I yesterday I finished "The Alchemist's secret" by Scott Mariani. The plot involved an ex special services hero looking for the potion that would give importal life (elixer of youth.) for a little child. This was enjoyable, but not really great writing.

A couple of days ago, I finished reading "Area 51" by Bob Meyer and Robert Doherty. This book involved alien ships ans humans trying to fly them.

Earlier in the holiday I read Soulles: The Parasol Protect by Gail Carriger. This book didn't involve aliens ships, but was about vampires, werewolves, a woman with no soul, all set in the astodgy Victorian age

I seem to be reading a lot of "escapist" fiction at the moment. Am I unhappy with my life and reality in general? I think probably yes. Most of the thrillers I am reading break down into two main catagories. One: a group of losers who take on the shadow goverment with the help of one special forces kind of guy. The other plot theme is someone with friends is taking on a goverment conspirancy. This time there is no special forces person, but there is much more paranoia and madness. Books that don't include a special services charachter are usually better written.

cats in Greece

There are some cute cats around the hotel. They are small and lean, and thn tend to beg for food at breakfast time. Cats are simple beasts, usually you just give them food and then they give you love (or at least they let you pet them). The white cat often comes to me on my balcony and tries to sneak in. But I have no need of love, so we just stare at each other, an it goes away trying to find a more gentle man.

Rhodes holiday sloth

I know that Rhodes has many important sites, but I really need a relaxing break, so I have been just hanging out on the balcony of my hotel room. The sun is way too hot to do anything, but there is a nice breeze.

I am at family run hotel. There is a swimming pool, bar and cafe. I have always wondered what it would be like to have a holiday where you sat by the pool sun bathed and drank cool drinks, such as beer all day. Given that my skin burns quickly and I get all nervous and sweaty when I see women in swimwear, I have not actually sat by the pool yet.

This lazy sloth was broken this morning, when it seemed that the kettle in my room was broken.. The red light was on, but the waer didn't heat up. One can not read all day with out frequent cups of tea. But this afternoon I had one more try at getting it work again.

The majority of the people staying at the hotel are from the UK. I also heard a few people speaking French. Thi does mean that they put on bingo and karoke in the bar in the evening. Many of the conversations I have overh involve "how cheap their holidays were." Althou on the bus back from Rhodes, I did hear someone talk about going into a gun shop and looking at a MP4 and AK47. It was not clear whether these were replica weapons or not. He did say he had (hopefully replica) AK47 at home. He had a happy common face, so I don't worry.

City and the city

as one of my holiday books I read The City and the city by China Mieville. The book was essentially a detective story set in two cities that overlapped. Citizens on of city were not allowd to look at the citizens of the other city, even though they shared the same streets. they had to unsee things from the other city -- if the didn't they would be "arrested" for something called "breach".

Look it is a confusing idea, but very clever.

Friday, August 05, 2011

Cakes and Ale

Sometimes I go though stages of trying to read more highbrow books. So many years ago I bourght "Cakes and Ale" by William Somerset Maugham. I decided to read it this holiday because it was a small paperback book and I needed somethuing to read on the plane, where I don't think they let me use my kindle.

When I started the book I was a bit worried because in the introduction it the author told me the book was about a man of letters. This is going to be boring I thought. A writer complaining about his poor book sales, but it was such a clever book, that it hooked me. It has portaits of how writers increased their careers, but there was a sense of irony. I liked the way the charcters of the book were trying to make points about writing, but the author of the book made his points by more subtle means. I particularly liked the last line of the book.

More holiday taxi hatred

I enjoy talkig to taxi drivers in the Uk. If they like to talk, then it can be interesting. For exmpla one time, a taxi driver told me that he had got into fight with a younger driver over who was going to use an air pump first. He said the guy looked as though he was on drugs and he wanted to fight The driver told me he beat the guy up quikly because he was so unfit that he would be able to cary on. This sounds arrogant, but the driver was out of shape and not bragging just letting me know the importance of fitness. I learnt a valuable life lesson.

However somehow when I am on holiday taxi drivers turn from providing a useful service to people who want to get from A to B, to a person who wants to steal all my money.

When I arrived at Rhodes airport I looked around for a taxi. Strange I thought, normally airports are full of taxi drivers who are trying to drive people places. But I didn't see any taxis. After walking around in typical confusion, I decided to ask someone. An official said "the taxi drivers are on strike --your best bet is to get a bus".

Given that I didn't have an accurate address and the hotel was in a snall village close to the airport. The bus was not an option. I should point out that I arrived in Greece at 22:40, so this was all done late at night.

I had read on the web site of the hotel that they would pick me up. Although I am an international traveller I don't make so many phone calls. I have a cheap phone and I am not an expert on international dialling codes. So I spent some time trying various options like the pay phone (that wouldn't take coins), before discovering I was calling the wrong number on the print out from Expedia.

After I arranged with hotel for someone to pick me. I was waiting at the airport entrance. I looked over and saw the taxi rank. There were a number of taxi driver waitin there, looking a bit hostile and consperital -- not just a bunch of lovable crooks. A black taxi stops in fron of me. Two drivers from the taxi stand rush over to him and start talking to the driver. A women gets into the car. It looked like a scab driver was taking a ride. I suddenly thought that asking the oerson from the hotel who was going to drive me to the hotel to pick me in front of the taxi rank of striking drivers was not such a good idea. What if they walk over and kick the shit out of him and set fire to his car. Look I have read "The general strike" by Rosa Luxemberg, but it was 23:00 at night and I wanted to get to my hotel. I didn't want t phone the hotel again to sat "look the last person you sent got beaten up. Can you send someone else, but I will meet him someplace else."

I was thinking all this when a taxi driver comes over from the striking taxi rank and asks me if I need a ride to my hotel, because they had seen me waiting for a long time. I as trying to explain him that the hotel was going to pick me up, which he wasn't so happy about, particulary as the figure of 50 Euros was mentioned for a 5 minute drive.

Five minutes later the driver for hotel turned up and I got into the car without the need for violence (or cowardice on my part). When I got to the hotel. They gave me a complemantary beer. So all was well.

R and R in Rhodes

It is tradition in Europe to take very long holidays. Many people in the group I work in tend to take a month off. I am not so good at taking long holidays. I start to get bored after a week, also when you stay in a hotel the costs go up.

About three weeks ago my body decided I needed a break. Both the times I had been out of Germany this year, I had to give a talk when I got back, so the breaks were not as relaxing as they should have been.

So I am in Rhodes for a week. It is a small Greek Island. Mostly I cam here because the hotel was cheap, the slight disadvantage of this is thet there is not that much near by. I have tried to do some exploring bt frankly it is too hot. There us a nice cool wind.

My hotel room has a nice balcomy, that is a good shady place to read in. The tree with fruit is cool, but the view of the white wall is less impressive.

The hotel has an outside swimming pool. As an abstract idea I like the idea of lounging by the pool, but in reality my body burns very quikly.

The hotel is geared to an Englisg crowd. For example one of the options at breakfast was a bacon sandwhich. I would like to point out that because I am living in Germany, a bacon sandwhich is a real treat. My guide book tells me that most Greeks, don't eat breakfast, so pleased on't give me any of that "the engklish abroad crap."

Sunday, July 31, 2011

No fizzy tea riches for Craig

I want to be rich! I want a trophy wife, but most of all I want to travel first class on planes. Just for legroom, free booze, and status.

However, to be rich I need money. Here you see my great business idea. You like tea and you like fizzy water, so what about fizzy tea? I have tried heating the fizzy water, but all the bubbles were lost. But I should persist. Perhaps I should add salt to the water.

Cocktail drinking festival

There is a festival called Elberfeld Cocktails, that is running this weekend in Wuppertal. (Elberfeld is one of the towns that makes up Wuppertal). Last year, I did go to the festival, but I didn't drink anything -- somehow this surprised the friends I was with yesterday.

So this year I went to the festival feeling burnt out with a thirst on me. The festival was just many stalls selling food and drinks with some small stages in the city center. On one of the stages we saw an Elvis tribute band, before a few drops of rain forced us to go to the Chinese restaurant.

I drank three Cocktails at different stands. The cocktails were shots with juice, so not too sophisticated. I like the idea of taking a Martini, but somehow that is never an option -- at least in the places I looked at. But the festival is still ongoing today, perhaps I should search again .....

Saturday, July 30, 2011

another holiday soon to start

I am feeling really burnt out. I am not getting enough sleep and I am tired all the time. Luckily my holiday starts on Tuesday. I am going to Rhodes in Greece for 1 week, where hopefully I will see many tourist attractions, such as the sun and the blue sky.

Some of the other tourist attractions in Rhodes no longer exist. Now I see that they are planning to rebuild it.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

The end of Harry Potter

On Friday I went out with friends to watch the last two Harry Potter movies. I did read the first book and I went to see the first film at the cinema, but that was my limit. I have watched the other films, if they happened to be on the TV. So I am not a fanatic.

I was a bit nervous of the film, because they could have been a lot of children there, and perhaps even worse people in costume. Luckily the film was in English so that cut the audience to 18+. The theater was full.

It was a two film double bill, which raises the question is it possible to have too much Harry Potter? The answer is yes if the theater is a bit hot and the couch a uncomfortable. The showing started at 19:30 and ended at 00:20.

The penultimate film was too long and a bit slow, but the final film moved a long a lot faster. My main problem is that Harry Potter is receiving a private eduction, much like an evil Etonian does. Personally I would have built a nice Comprehensive school on the grounds of the destroyed Hogwarts. No doubt Harry got a job at the Ministry of Magic -- just from his old school connections, rather than any ability. It is Cameron all over again.

I quite fancied the weird gothic chick in the film. Well OK she was a bit weird and a psychopath, but she probably likes to listen to the Fall, and she wouldn't drag me to see Opera and ballet, as Hermione no doubt would

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Chilli addict

I think I am a chilli addict. This is what I had for lunch, but with no chillis. And that made me feel sad. I have to walk into town to get a supply of fresh chillies. It is Sunday today so everything is closed, but I have been thinking about getting better supply routes. Chillies go so well with tuna.

A new dressing gown

My balcony is very important to me. I like reading on it, but sometimes it can be a bit cold. I thought that putting on a dressing gown on the balcony I used to own a nice black dressing gown, but I lost it in my move to Germany. I thought I looked kind of alluring in it, as my leggy flesh would occasionally leak out.

So I decided to buy a new dressing gown. But as I stood in C&A I suddenly had to decide what kind of image I wanted to project with my dressing gown.

On the rack there were some silky dressing gowns. Not for me I thought, not manly enough. I thought. Too arty as well, but then I thought I don't want to buy anything too boring. I don't want to be the bitter old man in ratty dressing gown with a bald head and a ciggy in my mouth, randomly shouting at people, shuffling about the house. I started to panic, because a real man doesn't spend a lot of time thinking about a clothes purchase.

Anyway I just got the cheapest dressing gown.

Lust in the sun before the rain

Last week I was thinking of writing a post about how happy I was that the sun was shining. Somehow the heat increases my sexual desire and I was noticing women a lot more. All the women were wearing bright colors and patterns. When there is little possiblity of rain, women seen to wear clothes that display the shape of their bodies to the best effect.

After I was musing on the nature of beauty and lust. It started raining again. Not in a hard core kind of way, but in that's the end of the summer for you kind of way.

Vielleicht bin ich ein alter Lustling aber ich will ein toller Henger sein.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

The Second Ship

Another day lost to Kindle. After the morning where I booked my summer holiday, I spent the day reading: The Second Ship (The Rho Agenda : Book One)

This was a science fiction book aimed at young adults. The heros of the book were 3 teenagers:2 girls and a boy, who find a spaceship. I can't be bothered telling you the plot, but the book felt a bit clunky at the start and I felt I wasn't going tp be able to finish it. Things picked up later in the book, and not just because people started to get murdered.

The parents of the familes were very perfect. The heros were upset about stuff, but there was never any real rebellion or the hate of a real family.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Tesco, Toxteth and trouble

Toxteth is a small district in Liverpool, that is (in)famous for having riots in the 80s. I lived there for about 5 years. How did I end up living there. Well, as usual I didn't actually know the flat was in Toxteth when I first rented it.

The flat was incredibly cheap, as 220 pounds a month for a one bedroom flat. When I first moved there, a lot of the nearby buddings were boarded up. At the end of the road was a burned down pub. During the 5 years I was there, there was a lot of new buildings. For example, the pub was torn down and replaced with a funeral parlor.

There was a small collection of shops and a big supermarket close to my flat. I now see that they have put a big Tescos on Park Road close to my old flat. The UK will be full of Tescos soon. I really miss tesco -- just the smell of the food.

I pulled the picture off the web. If I have not made a mistake, this is an old closed cinema that was at the bottom of Park Road.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Deja Vu

I am starting to think that these cheap books on kindle ar more dangerous to me than the booze.

I just finished reading Déjà Vu: A Technothriller on my Kindle (price 86 pence). I didn't read the book in the space of a few days, but rather spread the pleasure out over a week. As a result I was confused about what was happening about 40% through the book. The plot involved time travel and artificial intelligence of some kind. After the plot lines came together, I had a better idea of what was going on.

Ohhh, there is a second book in the series for only 70p. What to do?

Saturday, July 09, 2011

The Everyman rest in peace

So I think that Liverpool is a better place since last week, because the hated Everyman Bistro has closed down.

I worked at the University of the Liverpool for 8 years. Even after that time, the only political power that I acquired was choosing the place we went for lunch before the regular theory seminar. Unfortunately, since before the beginning of time, the theory group used to go to the Everyman bistro for lunch. There were rumors that once during the 80s there was a trip to a strip-joint, where they probably complained that the food was not as good as that you can get at the Everyman.

Now let me tell you about the Everyman bistro. It served meat and rice - that they used to microwave to heat up. How hard is it to use a microwave? Apparently very hard, because I would regularly get cold curry. Obviously, none of the food was that spicy, because the middle class can't be stressed by anything extreme. And it served a vast amount of quiche -- the bitter nectar of the bland middle class.

I did like to see the look of wonder on the theory group's faces when we went to a new cafe, such as Kinos. However, I know that once I had left, they went back to their regular favorite of the Everyman. Some people don't want to change.

London Calling

last weekend I finished reading London Calling (Inspector Carlyle 1) on my Kindle. The book was a detective novel based in modern London. Somone was killing off old members of an Oxbridge club, some of whom were very similar to sleaze bag Cameron. It started slow, but I enjoyed it in the end.

I do pity the author's partner, because there were quite a few anal sex scenes. I suspect that the author had to practice, but perhaps he just read up about it on the internet.

visions

I was walking into work two days ago. I had just come up to the road that leads into the University. In the distance I saw a woman with blond hair. I suddenly partly recognized the woman, as someone I was in love with. My little heart started beating and I started to sweat. But then I started to notice the little differences.

It was unlikely that the woman was my impossible love, especially as she lives in the UK, but I still hoped that she would be waiting for me at my office. There was nobody at my work. My office was empty -- much like my life.

Monday, July 04, 2011

from android

First blog bost from my new android tablet. A keyboard would be nice, but a person has to sufer if they want to be cool.

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Stories of your life

I have been reading too many novels recently, and some of them have not been of too high quality. My ever increasing list of kindle purchases tempts me, before I start any hacking at the weekend. I regret the time wasted in recreational reading.

However, I don't regret reading "Stories of your life" by Ted Chiang. All the stories were very science based, and very clever. For example the basis of the short story: "Tower of Babylon" is the topolog of the world.

So after reading the book, I naturally wanted to read more. Unfortunately, Amazon tells me that he has only written one more novel. Given that he was born in 1967 (the same year as me), I was disappointed. Look, Ted write some more books please, you lazy bastard.

On losing weight ....

People keep telling me I need to lose weight. This is of course true, so I have started my chili diet. The basic idea is to let the chilies burn the fat off me. I usually buy some fresh chilies from the big supermarket in town. This evening I am having chili with schnitzel.

Perhaps typically for Germany, the chilies are not super-hot, but after meals my stomach feels chemically unstable. At the end of diet, I will be thin and be in the possession of a new wonder diet, that I will sell, and become hugely rich.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

New maps of hell

When I was growing up I used to read a lot of science fiction, because that is what you do when you have no girl friend and an interest in science. After going to University I read more literature. At some stage I got bored of modern literature, because I reading a lot of stories about Professors who taught English literature, or creative writing. Frankly, most stories were very well written, but boring and pointless

So after a few years, I thought fuck it, let's go back to reading science fiction novels. This is just a unfocused introduction to saying that, I have just read "New Maps of hell" by Kingsley Amis. Amis was part of the English literature establishment, so it was surprising to see him write a book length review on science fiction The book was published in the early 60s, so before the infusion of some aspects of science fiction with the literary main stream. He was mostly reading the science fiction magazines, such as Amazing.

I got the impression that Amis also liked science fiction because it was more interesting to read than say the books his son now churns out.

My criminal dream

I have been trying to record my dreams, as I wake, because I usually forget them. Not really sure why, but they make better "chat up lines", than my rambling stories of lost German pyramids.

However, I totally freaked out when I read:

Forging Peter Mandelson's signature to get computer accounts

before I remembered the related dream, I had dreamt the previous week.

Mandelson was one of the main slimey scumbag bastards that made up the inner circle of New labour. He was a minister in the labour Goverment, before having to resign (several times) because of his gloated love of money. Of course now that we are ruled by this new lot of evil shit Tory politicians, I miss his rule.

Just to be clear. I did forge his signature on 10 application forms, but I never sent them. People kept asking me about them, before I woke up.

The adventures of English

As I vainly attempt to learn this German language, I have started to get interested in other aspects of language -- particularly those that don't involve memorizing large tables of verb endings.

So I read "The adventures of English" by Melvyn Bragg. The book is a history of the English language from its German roots towards modern times. I discovered that "dales" is actually a word from the Vikings.

Also I didn't know that the black death plague (around 1348) had a good consequence. It killed many of the "masters" of the land, who spoke French, and also killed many of the clergy who spoke Latin. Yes, the Kings of England spoke french after the Norman invasion in 1066. English was the language of the masses of Britains.

RIP Glasgow laptop

Ashes to ashes and dust to dust. All good things end. I turned on my laptop last night and all I heard was a grinding sound. The hard disk is dead!

Perhaps not surprising, given that I got it when I first moved to Glasgow five years ago. The fan was loud and the disk drive was small, but I still loved it. I mostly used it to watch digital TV and Itunes. Oh the memories of watching Kung fu movies in German.

Please excuse the rambling nature of this post. This is the first laptop that has died on me. Normally they get stolen -- or work want to keep them.

Friday, June 17, 2011

1000 uses for severed heads

Last night I dreamed about severed heads. I was running around the backstreets of some houses, trying to work out the time since a head was severed from a body. Just before i woke up I had figured something out involving formaldehyde and a needle.

I wrote the above paragraph about a week ago. I have already forgotten the dream, but the text shocked me. What caused the dream? I had been reading Truth Dare Kill by Gordon Ferris. This is a great cheap book on the kindle about a serial killer set in 1945. The hero is a private detective, who suffered a bad head injury in the war. His own paranoia starts to rise as he searches the streets of London.

1066 and all that

There is a famous book called "PCT spin statistics and all that". The title was based on a book called "1066 and all that". Given that I am on a history trip, I decided to read it last week. I enjoyed the book, but I don't know enough British history to appreciate many of the jokes.

The best part of the book is the preface, where they claim that this is the end of history.

No internet for Craig

Boohoo isn't life unfair! I have not had proper internet access now for three weeks. One day it stopped working -- after doing some investigations I found I had no dialing tone. Because of the language issue I had been putting off ringing the help line. Anyway I rang it on Wednesday. The guy helpfully asked if it would be better if he spoke English. He did his tests and agreed to send a technician out on Friday morning.

OK -- fine. So I wait in on Friday morning for a slot between 8 and 12:00. After 11:00 I knew he couldn't come. My emotions run from rage to despair and back again. I ring the helpline again at 12:30. They say the guy will be here soon. At 14:00 I get a text to say he will not come and to ring the help line to get a new date for the guy to come round. I started sulking immediately. So I have no fast Internet access over the weekend, and I have to stay home on Monday.

I was listening the BBC program click via the Iplayer. They had a piece on whether having Internet access was a "fundamental human right". Umm, don't know about that, but I do feel digitally castrated. I can't even download books to my kindle.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Rocannon's world

I don't like taking my kindle with me, when I wash my clothes in the laundrette. I usually take a small light book with me, just to read something while my clothes dry. Last week my book was Rocannon's world by Ursula K.LeGuin. It was an interesting science fiction novel, nor perhaps as grand and wonderful as Dispossessed or The Left Hand of Darkness. There was an interplay betweeb magic and science.

Looking at wikepedia, I see that it was her first novel.

Monday, June 06, 2011

The Shrapnel Academy

I have just finished reading "The Shrapnel Academy" by Fay Weldon. This was an amusing book about a set of crazy people snowed in a private military academy. Mixed in the book was a bit of military history that mirrored the events of a dinner party gone horribly wrong.

Friday at the bus stop in Manchester

So I was back in England last Friday for a quick visit. I got the train from Manchester airport to Manchester to get the bus to Burnley. The Bus for Burnley goes from Chorlten street. I had to wait for a while, while people were going out for Friday night drinks. There are lots of bars and pubs near a canal.

Over the road two rough guys were holding cans of strong lager and leads to small dogs. The older guy with white grizzled hair and a small black dog, suddenly stops, and says "oh no." His dog, stops and takes a big shit on the pavement. He then walks off to follow his friend. A taxi driver looks disgusted, but waits for future passengers.

I saw a number of people walk over the crap, and stop and complain to one and other.

On my side of pavement a big group of women dressed in the same pink costume. They were clearly on a "hen night" out. I wanted to start a big night out in Manchester -- going from pub to pub in the warm air. The buzz of people, as the alchol slowly warms my body. At the end of the evening my inteligence and mind would be blown. "Ah, England", I thought as I got on the bus to my mum's house for a gallon of tea.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

More dreams

I walk into school. A woman says something to me in a language (perhaps Spanish) and I say "yes OK", even though I don't understand, what she says. I walk into the building

I give some papers to a woman. She reads the papers, and then goes into another room, where there is is a child. She starts shouting at him about him being a cheat. I think it would have been better if I understood the woman outside and the school and I had done what she asked. Perhaps giving the paper to the woman was the wrong thing to do.

Is this my future? As a teacher in a school in Spain or Mexico. Could things be worse? Well they could be. I have been listening to a radio adaptation of "the drowned world" by the Ballard on the Iplayer. In that book the sun shines straight into a persons mind and alights the ancient mind. My room bleeds white light in the morning into my soul. I wake around 6, because the sun is blazing. I have tried sleeping with my head away from the sun, but like an addict, I like to wake with the glowering power of the sun.

I find I have to write my dreams in the morning, otherwise they decay during the day.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Thoughts on Peter Davison on the radio

I don't want to give the impression that I am obsessed by Dr Who, but one of the reasons it is taking me so long to write talks is that I first write the talk. The length will be 50 slides maybe. Then I usually decide I have to make some changes, because people in Germany may not be so familiar with the mythology of Dr Who. So then I am back down to 35 slides.

The reason I mention is that the BBC radio is doing a series of episodes of Dr Who with Peter Davison. What I remember is that Davison betrayed the Dr Who series, in someway that I can't remember. I still feel the anger and the need for vengeance, but I just can't remember what for. Perhaps it is a false memory inserted by the master. The radio series is great, and is actually quite dark, so I think I was wrong about Davison.

The main thing to take from this post is that I am not obsessed by Dr Who, in way, shape or form, at all.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

More dreams

On Tuesday I had many strange dreams. In one I was having a big argument with someone about some arcane part of the English language. Difficult to believe, but as a native English speaker, I am often asked to help with English. This would scare my more literate friends in the UK, who would trust me to choose between the word "bastard" and "wanker" in a text, but little else.

The next part of the dream involved me walking into a Doctor's surgery. The doctor was dressed in tweeds and Scottish. There was also a couple at a separate table in the same room, so the consultation was not private. Luckily I woke up before he could ask me about my drinking.

Dreams of people past

Last night I dreamt that I went to the pub with a person I grew up with. This person sadly died a few years ago. He sat down with some women and started to chat them up. I went to the bar and got the drinks in. For some reason he wanted cider. I bourght two pints of cider, but started drinking both, so I had to get another pint for my friend. I had just started to talk to one of the women, when I woke up.

This was a strange dream, because my friend gave up drinking 20 years ago and was happily married. I expect it was a guilt deam for not staying in contact.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

On alkohol frei Bier

You have to be very careful with what you drink in Germany. When I last stayed in Germany, perhaps over 10 years ago, I did try to search out different things in German culture. For example, I would try out many different beers from the supermarket. Sometimes I would open a new can of beer only for the beer to taste like shit. I would then look at the label and see the dreaded words "alkohol frei".

This time around I keep seeing adverts on TV for "alkohol frei beer". I kept thinking that I should try out this beer -- just to see if it tasted any better. The world is in such a terrible shape - nothing ever seems to get better. I just hoped that technology that produces alcohol free beer has at least improved to the point where it is drinkable.

By accident I ended up buying two bottles of some brand of "alkohol frei beer". The accident was that I didn't read the label on the bottles. The taste was OK, perhaps slightly weird. Given that I sometimes drink Carling beer when I am in the UK, it wasn't so bad. My faith in human progress is restored.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Thor

Last week I went out with a group of friends to see "Thor" on Tuesday last week. We drove to Cologne where there is a cinema that shows films in English. This was the first film I have seen in 3D. Parts of the 3D stuff was amazing, but the quality wasn't always consistent. The film was fun -- which is the important part

The director of the film was Kenneth Branagh. He started out as Shakespearean actor and director, so you could say that Holloywood has broken him. Luckily Mark Kemode has dealt with that issue.

Mr Nice

My brother gave me "Mr Nice" by Howard Marks for Christmas. This was story of his life. He was a big smuggler of dope into various countries. He certainly had a lot of fun setting deals up, but in the end he was busted by the DEA from the US.

The main thing I got out of the book was the importance of an Oxbridge education. When ever things were going badly, it would be brought up that he had attended Oxford in the late 60s and everything would be smoothed out. This is why I could never be a drug smuggler. Even though Imperial College has shot up in reputation since I was there, I don't have the connections with the establishment to get me out of trouble.