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May 2002 | July 2002

June: 01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30

Captain's Blog - 1 June 2002

Well that's the end of my first month rambling around the Captain's Blog, though naturally I started fashionably late on the 4th. As Luke Skywalker said, after Darth Vader cut off his teeth, 'May the fourth be with you!' It will be with me now and always, and the bad pun will no doubt stay with you too. I ought to apologise but I won't. I'm like that. You'll see.

Anyway, one month in (almost) and I have 17,523 words behind me. That's 79,000 characters (not including spaces) or 96,522 (including spaces), whichever your preferences is. Of course, if you have a preference, you're as sad as me. Get a life, why don't you. You know, like me. More to come. Literally.

Coming a month later than the Captain's Blog, this World Cup thing has finally started and Senegal have beaten France. I'm entirely not phased by any of this, as it is really no concern of mine. That is, however, until I found out that a friend of mine was persuaded to put a �100 bet on Senegal. He was given the hard sell so much by the guy behind the betting shop counter that he was promised an England shirt too. When Senegal won... hehe.

Of course it also means that I've failed horrifically to avoid the entire event, and on the first day too. Sigh.

On a far more enjoyable front, we descended on the Griffin Inn in Barkisland for lunch. I can now highly recommend the brie in cranberry. Dan used to work at the Griffin in the days before he became someone who supports servers for firms with major global presence. Back when Dan lived in Barkisland and I lived up the hill in Krumlin we were busy being excited by these newfangled 386 computers that had real colour and stuff. Time has moved on a little, but the Griffin has reopened once more.

The Griffin is also host to a large ox's head that adorns a wall with panache. When we heard that the pub was to be a pub again we made sure that we had the second issue of The Village Voice to present to the new owners. This isn't the influential American publication, naturally, rather a magazine I produced for Barkisland residents to cover local interest. It ran to five issues which we produced and delivered free of charge to every home in Barkisland. It ended up reaching far beyond the borders of Barkisland to ex pats in five or six countries. I wish I could remember how many...

Issue two included a cover article by Dan tracing the history of Old Oxo who once sported the head in question. It was last a live ox in 1953 before becoming the first ox roasted anywhere in the country after the war. The law of the time meant that the meat could not be sold, but had to be given away and so it was, as part of the Queen's Coronation celebrations. I'm pleased to announce that now we're celebrating the Queen's golden jubilee, Old Oxo is still doing well.

My latest scathing letter may have to remain unsent, which is a shame because I thought it was a rather good one. I have been consistently harrassed by traffic wardens in my time here in Halifax, which doesn't bother me much as I don't own a car, but my guests often do. They understandably do not expect to be ticketed while visiting me, as they park in the correct designated area. It's taken a while but I now have official parking permits and hopefully none of my guests will ever receive a ticket again.

When both Mat and Dan got tickets within the same week of April, I blistered off a letter to the Fixed Penalty Office and have heard nothing since, at least until yesterday. Dan and Mat both have received a Notice to Owner explaining why they must now pay up immediately or be seen in court. Only today have I received a letter from West Yorkshire Police advising me that they are not going to initiate proceedings. Unfortunately Mat has already paid his fine, so I'll have to get that refunded for him. Thirty quid is thirty quid, after all. Maybe I will have a chance to blister some more, after all.

Bizarre questions of the day from Dan, two of them, for you to ponder. Any answers are welcome, to hal@dawtrina.com. No prizes, however. I'm not that rich, and hey, I don't really need to know that badly.

Firstly, why does every radio and tv station have to include a Scottish commentator for any major football game, even if Scotland are not playing? Is this some global politically correct thing or do all Scots get forced into the commentating business now that they can't get pressganged into His Majesty's Service?

Secondly, everyone remembers it and not usually with fondness, but whatever happened to white dog crap? Everyone's stepped in it at some point or other but I bet you can't remember the last time you did. Did the dog food companies change something integral in their ingredients, like removing bleach or asbestos? Are the dogs politically correct too?

Music of the day is courtesy of the late great Townes van Zandt. Search down everything this man ever recorded and buy it, regardless of the cost. You won't be sorry. Steve Earle once wrote that 'Townes van Zandt is the best songwriter in the whole world and I'll stand on Bob Dylan's coffee table in my cowboy boots and say that.' I am so not going to argue with that. Townes and his poetry come back to mind regularly and today I've listened through plenty, including Highway Kind, a song that I've sung myself to many empty streets in my time.

Highway Kind contains this verse: 'Pour the sun upon the ground, stand to throw a shadow. Watch it grow into a night and fill the spinning sky.' Townes grew into a night on New Year's Day, 1977 and he graces the same tiny graveyard in rural Texas as a friend of mine, another wonderful singer. I live my life according to another verse that Townes wrote: 'The days up and down they come like rain on a conga drum. Forget most, remember some but don't turn none away.' The title to that song, To Live is to Fly is inscribed on his gravestone. Rest in peace, Townes. Rest in peace, Becky.

Captain's Blog - 2 June 2002

In keeping with yesterday's strange questions of the day, here's another one. Is it just me or do Rammstein videos make no sense whatsoever? For those not in the know, Rammstein are possibly the most successful metal band anywhere in the world who don't sing in English, the international language of music. They are German and are happy to sing in their native language, which doesn't make life easy for me when I'm trying to interpret their cryptic videos. I need help. Naturally the odds on a German Rammstein fan reading this are about as high as those of a grand piano falling through my skylight.

I downloaded two Rammstein videos. The first is just plain bizarre, being entirely animated. The song may or may not be called Engel and it may or may not be based around the Japanese anime Neon Genesis Evangelion. I am an anime fan but I haven't seen that show, though I don't expect the cute schoolgirls with exo-skeleton fighting suits really talk with a German male growl. Somehow that really doesn't work.

The other, for the song Sonne, isn't any less bizarre as a modern retelling of the Snow White story. The band play miners presumably searching for emeralds or whatever the original seven dwarfs were mining, though there's only six guys in the band. Maybe Dopey got left out. Rammstein's Snow White is a sexy miss who seems quite happy spanking the dwarfs. She overdoses while snorting something that looks like gold dust and the dwarfs carry her up a hill in a glass coffin. A falling apple smashes it open and Snow White wakes up. Quite what this has to do with Sonne, which apparently is the German for 'suns', I really don't know. Maybe I should head over to rammstein.de or whatever their official site is. Then again, if they sing in German the site will probably follow suit.

On the music video front I must point out that Eminem's new single, Without Me must be the cleverest single to be released in years. I'm so entirely not a rap fan but I can't get this one out of my head. It is infuriatingly catchy and a rap that bears a second listen sits upon a wonderfully layered backing track. The video is even more clever than the song, with so much crammed into its five minutes that I keep finding new bits with each viewing. I may still have no idea who Chris Kirkpatrick is but I've fallen in love with the saxophone and Eminem's turn as Osama bin Laden. I don't think this song will die quickly and Dr Dre looks like he's getting ready to follow Ice T into bizarre territory as a television cop. What were the odds on that ten years ago when he was recording Cop Killer? Strange world.

From two media to a third and I've finished Outlaws of Mars which is as good as Swordsman. As far as I can tell, they are the only two Martian novels that Otis Adelbert Kline wrote but there are a few Venus novels too along with the Jan of the Jungle books. I only have the first Jan book but there's a 1939 short story from Thrilling Wonder at an intriguing site called Adventure House. My free Amazon order should arrive in the next day or two so I'll be busy for a while with those and Otis can wait. For now I've switched from the Martian copy to the original and started Edgar Rice Burrough's A Princess of Mars. I know this one's great because I've read it a few times but another time is always worth the effort.

My mum passed me a book today too which looks so fascinating that I'll have to dip into that frequently over the next week or so. It's a Sabine Baring-Gould non fiction work called Yorkshire Oddities. Baring-Gould is one of those polymaths that I find so fascinating and the book itself looks almost as interesting as him. The oddities it covers look to be predominantly people. As he points out, 'no other county produces so much originality'. I know a few people over the pond who would like a copy of this. Then again I still have last year's Christmas presents sitting here unsent. Maybe I'll get those sorted by next Christmas...

Captain's Blog - 3 June 2002

Today was a big day for the Queen. The rest of us got to watch fireworks and have street parties and go to pop concerts and all that jazz. That is if we really wanted to. I am a royalist and a monarchist and someone who thinks that the Queen is a Good Thing but I still don't feel the need to celebrate. It's her day; let her celebrate. I did get to see a few fireworks dancing in the sky above the freshly lit beacon just across the valley from my house though I missed most of them through the audacity of wanting to eat something at some point today.

Today was a Monday meaning that all Chinese restaurants are closed, and it's a Bank Holiday which means that everywhere else follows suit. Dan, Pauly and I played it safe and headed up to the Brown Cow Inn, home of the best pie and peas in existence. While the Cow is in the middle of nowhere, it does sit just above the highest motorway bridge in Europe making it a popular suicide spot. Such a claim to fame. I know this bridge well from the many times that I've walked over it in a blizzard, the times I've crossed it on the top deck of a double decker bus swaying dangerously in gale force winds, and of course the time I had to lie on the top of a truck piled high with hay so as to lift the telephone cables over the truck. It's a fun place, but today they weren't serving food. Typical.

So we wended our winding way down the hill to Ripponden and the oldest pub in Yorkshire. The Bridge Inn was known to be a pub as far back as 1307 which makes it pretty damn old. While not much of the menu grabbed my attention, I can highly recommend the Toulouse sausages in red wine and a leek and apple sauce. I just wish there had been twice as much on the plate. I guess that's the price to pay for pretending to be a gourmet for five minutes.

On the way there and on the way back and every time I hear a radio playing I hear Eminem. He's everywhere with this new single of his and he really doesn't need to be. I was singing along the first time I heard it because it's that damn catchy. Apparently he has lost the number one spot over here to Will from Pop Idol which is entirely scary. Call me mad, bad or dangerous to know but I'd rather my rhetorical kids listened to Eminem than some manufactured purveyor of pap. At least they'd still have a soul. Luckily Twin's kids have been Alice Cooper fans for years. I don't think they'd listen to Will from Pop Idol if someone paid them and rightly so.

On the book front, I spent the early afternoon reading A Princess of Mars and refreshing my memory as to how superb it really is. It is very much a Truly Memorable, but still gets eclipsed by book two in the series, Gods of Mars. After a few hours reading in bed I transplanted myself to the bath and didn't leave it until I reached the last page of Gods. The whole novel is one long superlative and it ends with the cruellest cliffhanger in history. Luckily I don't have to wait a year for the next bit because book three is now by my bedside and the remaining eight are just a staircase away. Now I have the problem of trying to get through all eleven before my Amazon order arrives, probably on Wednesday. Such a hardship to make such a choice. I can't remember the last time I managed to spend six solid hours reading but it's too long ago. It must be a good year.

Forget the Jubilee for a moment. The real excitement is at my team page at Folding@Home. It's Dan's team really because he set it up but I throw more processors at it than he does so I have a good claim too. Of course I won't mention that his two processors do more work than my seven but that's just nitpicking. If you've never heard of it, go and download the software. It uses your computer when you don't and puts its time to good use folding proteins. When you've downloaded and installed and watched the pretty screen saver, you can watch my team page because any day now we'll finally reach the top five hundred teams. Woohoo!

Captain's Blog - 4 June 2002

Did you blink? Did you miss it? We're now 499th on the Folding@Home list. See. What did I tell you? Now let's see how high we can collectively climb. There was some other news today but you'll have to go to BBC News for that. I've covered the important stuff. I'll leave the collapsing dams, nuclear tension and million strong throngs to the professionals.

I may have resisted yesterday but I couldn't resist further today. The book leapt into my hands and I think I even woke up early so I could get on with it. I must have been on tenterhooks in my sleep. Warlord of Mars kicks off where Gods of Mars finishes, so cruelly. It starts clumsily but soon reaches the Burroughs Groove and then it's a rollercoaster ride to the tearjerker finale. These first three books in the series comprise something of a trilogy and the rest are add ons or fill ins. Thuvia, Maid of Mars, rescued princess, is next and that's scheduled train reading tomorrow. For now, let's just say that the first three books constitute one entity and that it's a Truly Memorable. ERB is dead. Long live ERB.

I sorted my emusic subscription out, finally, finally. My required twelve month period was up and the subscription lapsed while I was in the States in March. Since I've been back I haven't had money available to put on my credit card and... I've missed it, dammit! For those heathen uninitiated, all those legal mp3 sites out there that the major record labels have set up are To Be Avoided. They are ripoffs one and all. That said I am entirely happy, nay eager, to throw my money at emusic and buy legal mp3s. They deal with minor labels, where most of the best music is, and they are realistic about pricing and technology. They are highly recommended. Get yourself a twelve month subscription now and cough up $9.99 per month for unlimited downloads of stunning music.

If you don't believe me, check out some of the gigabyte and a half of new material I've just set downloading while I slumber. Two new Tom Waits albums! Merle Haggard! Cheb Mami! DOA! Billie Holiday radio recordings! Vintage Ike and Tina Turner! New albums from Odetta! Jello Biafra! Ramblin' Jack Elliott! Some weird Moroccan stuff that I can't resist because it's effectively free and might just be awesome! And more, folks, more. All included free of charge with my monthly ten bucks subscription! A Complete Bargain!

By the way, today's show was brought to you by the exclamation mark and the number 9.99. Just don't turn it upside down, kiddo. You'll be surfing the lake of fire before you ever hear your first Eminem CD. Danger lies down that road. Be wary, mein liebschen, be very very wary. Say that ten times fast.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch. First tentative listens to the Tom Waits material, Alice and Blood Money suggests more dark grooves from a thoroughly unique maestro. As always I'm sure it'll take a few listens to get to grips with all the levels that Tom manoeuvres but I'm ready and willing to do just that. Oh boy, am I ready. The wildest track I found quickly was Kommienezuspadt which suggests once again that a collaboration with Danny Elfman is highly overdue. It will be highly replayed, I'm sure.

And 'that's all she wrote', he wrote. Writ by rote and wrote by grit. Time for bed, said Zebedee. Boing!

Captain's Blog - 5 June 2002

I'm getting hooked into Alice by Tom Waits, not that I've had much chance to listen to it yet. Kommienezuspadt reminds me more and more of Captain Beefheart in front of a wild horn section. I haven't a clue what it's all about, of course. Enter Babel Fish as soon as I get round to opening the door.

The lack of time tonight was due to heading on out pretty much as soon as I'd headed home. Today, while highly enjoyable in every way, was proof positive that I'm doing something seriously wrong with my life. Success at quizzes today fell to both myself and a good friend of mine, the delectable young Sophie, mistress of the Trivia Free For All community site at which I am proud to be a mere lackey. However the extremes couldn't be much more extreme. Sophie won �15,000 on In It to Win It with Dale Winton, while I won a third share in a gallon of beer at the Barge and Barrel in Elland. Yes, I'm still teetotal. Heck, it's pretty hard to split a gallon three ways anyway. PS: WTG SOPH!

I did get to finish off Thuvia, Maid of Mars, succeeding where evil Prince Athok and his twisted Dusor henchmen failed. Thuvia is the best John Carter novel to not feature John Carter, letting the Warlord sit back to let his son Carthoris adventure for Thuvia's virtue. Heroism and personal sacrifice for honour don't reach much dizzier heights than this and the very last page should bring a tear. I won't say why though because I'm entirely evil and you should read it yourself. So there.

Now it's time to fetch out your old jetan board and face The Chessmen of Mars. I remember this one as seeming longer than the others and I remember the strange headless people too. If memories are stronger for this one, the book must be pretty good, right? More soon, that's for sure, especially as my Amazon order hasn't arrived yet. It isn't even a bank holiday any more. C'mon, Parcel Force!

Byers Marketing is officially live now, though I've found a problem with my Perl script. If you're in the southeast of England and you feel the need for a cask of traditional ale these are the guys to call. I don't drink but I'm told by others that the prices are very good indeed. What more do you need to know?

Captain's Blog - 6 June 2002

A great swathe of pillows awaits to drown me in their softness, yet here I am to ramble a little for my sole reader. Dedication, huh?

The Chessmen of Mars continued the tried and tested Burroughs formula as laid down in book one. For those action lovers who thrill to each slice of John Carter's long sword as it hews its way through green skin and red, fear not! For as John Carter takes another backseat, Gahan of Gathol takes his place as the heroic saviour of Carter's own daughter Tara and does his job with aplomb. Now decisions must be made as I have five books left in the series but a whole box newly arrived from Amazon. Maybe a coin toss tomorrow.

Captain's Blog - 7 June 2002

As avoiding the World Cup has proved to be entirely impossible, it seems pointless for me to mention here that England played Argentina today. With the exception of Ronnie, a Scots colleague who wore a Diego Maradona shirt on the grounds that if Scotland couldn't qualify then he'd support whoever was playing us, the entire country was actively behind England. The fans were everywhere and the country stopped for a couple of hours to watch the game.

As I really don't give a monkey's (I mean, go England, but shrug (TM)) I would happily have carried on working except that everyone who had logged a call had stopped work for the game. So while the country watched football I quietly sequestered myself away in a back room and read Fighting Man of Mars. I finished Master Mind of Mars first but it's much shorter than the rest and I'd almost finished on my late train this morning. Did I mention that the damn Arriva train workers went on strike today? I'd lay odds that the timing was not coincidental.

Any sympathy I may have had for these people vanished the day they went out on strike and did nothing but inconvenience me. I'm fed up of getting to work late, getting home late and being put out of pocket to do so. We need Mrs Thatcher back to deal with these people. The one saving grace is the time I got to sit and read while I was waiting for the train to leave (thirty minutes late) and waiting for the next bus to turn up (forty minutes). As such I've put two Mars novels behind me today. Four to go and then it's onto Charmaine Harris swiftly followed by Anne Bishop and Tanya Huff. Strange fantasy abounds. This must be a fantasy year. I even have ideas for a novel too. Woohoo. Watch this space.

Master Mind of Mars brings to Barsoom another Earthman, Ulysses Paxton, who is soon up against a genius surgeon, Ras Thavas, who has mastered the art of transplanting every known body part. He teams up with a ragbag bunch to restore their bodies to them as they are now occupying those of others. Naturally he gets to save a nation and marry a princess, but that's only fair. Fighting Man of Mars features a mere padwar, a minor lieutenant, who risks all to save the woman he loves only to discover what love truly is. With disintegrating guns and invisible cloaks he naturally gets to save a nation and marry a princess, but... hmm. Deja vu. ERB did work strictly to formula but he was such a wonderful storyteller that it really doesn't matter. Next up is something a little different as well as the real return of John Carter for his first novel since the third. Roll up, everybody, for the Swords of Mars

Strange little news items lately, in and amongst all the war and football and stuff. Yesterday we found out about a young man whose Chinese tattoo was a little different from expectations. He thought the three Chinese characters tattooed onto his shoulder read 'peace, love, serenity' or some such sentiment. Unfortunately they really read 'however you look at it, this is a really ugly boy'. It turns out that the tattooist closed down the very day he had this one done. Colour me surprised. I wonder how many people will discover that their Urdu characters really read 'Osama Bin Laden is God'. I wonder how much the laser surgery people will make five minutes later...

Today it's the turn of the sort of sole genius that seems to popping up on Barsoom rather regularly. This one's in Russia, however, or was. While the well known highly funded exhibition of Lenin's body requires regular maintenance (application of special solution to face and hands every two weeks on top of an annual full soak), the unknown corpse in the Omsk Medical Academy is still in pristine condition seventy years on and without any maintenance whatsoever. It was the work of a self-taught lab assistant by the name of Andrej Romadanovsky who was working entirely on his own, resulting in the loss of his formulae. Maybe he dreamed himself to Barsoom and took the name Ras Thavas.

Those of you who despise all political correctness might find a laugh and a sigh in the revelation that Dominic Speakman of Travel Counsellors in Bolton had his job advert censored. Apparently the Jobcentre didn't approve of his use of the word 'friendly' as it may discriminate against some potential applicants. I despair.

Finally and back on the dreaded football, it seems that the national Belarus television station neglected to buy the rights to show any World Cup games whatsoever. When they hijacked the Russian coverage they were quickly slapped down and the Belarus fans are without coverage. Opposition parties are demanding punishment. Governments have gone to war over football games before. Maybe now a government will fall because of a lack of them. Stranger things have happened.

Captain's Blog - 8 June 2002

Well today was to be a catch up day, among other things, but I still can't get here before the witching hour. Such is the draw of e-book sorting. Soundtrack of the evening has been courtesy of Odetta, whose music I adore with a passion, even though her voice may need a little getting used to. She sings folk blues and anything else that may jump to her versatile talent. There are five albums available at emusic though I had one already on CD. I've loved Absolutely the Best for a long while but I was still pleasantly surprised by The Tin Angel, recorded with Larry Mohr.

Two tracks stood out tonight. One is New Orleans from Lookin' for a Home which is a stupendous piano vocal rendition of House of the Rising Sun. I felt major shivers hearing the emotion Odetta wrings out of this. It's akin to Nina Simone at her best. The other is a humorous folk tale written by James Stevens called The Frozen Logger. How about these for lyrics?

As I sat down one evening, 'twas in a small cafe
A forty year old waitress to me these words did say
'I see you are a logger and not just a common bum
For nobody but a logger stirs his coffee with his thumb.

My lover was a logger, there's none like him today.
If you poured whisky on it he'd eat a bale of hay.
Well he never shaved his whiskers off of his horny hide,
He drove them in with a hammer and bit them off inside.

My logger came to see me on one freezing day;
He held me in a fond embrace that broke three vertebrae.
He kissed me before we parted so hard that it broke my jaw.
I could not speak to tell him he forgot his mackinaw.

I saw my logger lover striding through the snow
Going bravely homeward at forty eight below.
The weather tried to freeze him, it tried its level best;
At a hundred degrees below zero he buttoned up his vest.

It froze clear through to China, it froze to the stars above,
A thousand degrees below zero it froze my logger love.
And so my lover died and to this cafe I've come
And here I wait till someone stirs his coffee with his thumb.

Edgar Rice Burroughs may have to wait a little while because I finally picked up the magazines a local shop keeps for me. I hadn't realised that I hadn't been in for nine months... so I left the shop laden down but with my wallet almost a hundred pounds lighter. Sigh.

I picked up a few other books at odd places too. I couldn't resist 'a rock'n'roll memoir' from Grace Slick entitled Somebody to Love?. This should go nicely with Paul Kantner's spoken word double album called A Guide Through the Chaos. The other key book is The Universal History of Numbers by George Ifrah which could just be the most engrossing read I'll see this year.

That should cover my spending for another month or three. Bills to pay, debts to clear. The landlord gets a thousand pounds tomorrow. Double sigh.

And I'll be damned if this isn't becoming some sort of diary. That wasn't my intention. I wonder if it'll keep following that road.

Captain's Blog - 9 June 2002

In keeping with my intentions to not turn this writing project into a diary I ought not to write anything today, but would that serve any purpose? Why am I writing this stuff anyway? What were my intentions back on 4th May when I first put virtual pen to virtual paper?

I'm not altogether sure what the answers are. Maybe there aren't any answers. Why does there always have to be an answer to a question anyway? Why can't the question alone be enough? Let today's word of the day be 'rhetorical' until you can find a better one.

In thinking about this I'm reminded of the time I joined the Open Diary. I saw it as an intriguing community where I enter in as more than an onlooker but less than an accepted member. I could be my usual fringe person and see how things worked and developed. I don't have the right sort of personality to be a diarist but I do have the right sort of personality to spout all kinds of gibberish at the world at large. Occasionally it may even be of interest to someone outside of my skull.

I was never an antisocial or subversive presence at the Open Diary but I was never part of the community either. I didn't write much about what I was doing or what was going on in my life. I wrote articles or slices of impression. I aimed at humour or at seriousness. In the end my 'diary' became a strange hodgepodge of eclectic elements that varied with my mood. It wasn't important in any way in the vast scheme of things there. I was an intriguing anomaly to some but never a real link in the tight chain of diarists.

What kept me there past the initial interest period was the system of commenting on other people's diaries. At the Open Diary you comment by way of notes which were limited to four hundred characters of text. These notes to me became a game of compression and writing skill. I enjoyed fashioning little pieces of art within the confines of those four hundred characters. The notes to me became far more important than the diary entries themselves.

I found a very few writers whose work was joyful to me. A couple were writers rather than diarists, people who enjoyed the dance of vocabulary as much as I did. One in particular, whose diary vanished around the same time as mine, I miss very much. A couple of others were truer diaries but with a highly individual humorous edge. I still go back to Free Open Diary, which has replaced the original free site, and read occasionally but I see the site mainly in the past tense. Maybe this Captain's Blog project is filling the gap.

The other gap it's filling is the one caused by my lack of sufficient time to press on with The Million Word March. This is my ongoing project to write coherent articles, stories or other pieces of literature, start them and finish them and eventually reach the magical million word mark. I'm around a tenth of the way there but I can't keep up the hour a day required at the moment. It will become a priority again at some point but work and work share that honour right now. This in a sense is a mini Million Word March. I'm still committing myself to writing every day and keeping that writing flame alive but it's all on a smaller and more flexible scale.

And that's enough thinking for now. The Land of Nod beckons.

Captain's Blog - 10 June 2002

Dear Diary. I got home. I slept. Sucks being ill.

Captain's Blog - 11 June 2002

Dear Diary. Ditto.

Well, almost. Yawn.

Updates for the last couple of days that I've so rudely missed out are that Grace Slick's memoir was fascinating reading though not as risque as expected. Jim Morrison flits in and out howling like a dog. He was certainly memorable. I'd have liked more about Jorma and Jack, but then this is Grace's book and she lived in the other half of the Airplane. I wonder if Jorma's ever written a memoir too. His influences would be worth reading a book on alone.

And talking of influences, no sooner do I spend an evening in the delightful company of the voice of Odetta when she turns up again, out of the blue in Somebody to Love? It seems that Grace Slick was a fan who sneaked backstage one night to be discovered by Odetta herself while playing one of her spare guitars. Joan Baez was a fan too, along with many others. I wonder if she's still alive and touring...

I finished Swords of Mars on the bus yesterday. While I was trying not to yodel under the seat, John Carter was fighting for his life and that of the Incomparable Dejah Thoris, who this time had been kidnapped all the way to Thuria, nearest moon of Mars. Helium security sucks. By the way, somehow I lasted all the way home. I'm sure y'all wanted to know that. It would have been easier if the train had been running as scheduled but I guess I can't expect miracles. The bus did its job.

Today I whipped through Synthetic Men of Mars featuring the return of Ras Thavas, everyone's favourite master mind. He's tried to keep his promise to only perform surgery for the benefit of Martiankind but his hand has been forced! Boo hiss! Now he's had to create an army of synthetic men from primeval substance. The substance is getting out of hand, the synthetics want to take over the world and John Carter is searching for Ras to save the life of the Incomparable Dejah Thoris who has managed to get herself into a severe flyer accident. Not only does Helium security suck but their drivers must be terrible. However this novel carries plenty of proof that there isn't much more heroic than getting your brain transplanted into the hideous misshapen body of a synthetic man to save the one you love. For Helium! For Helium and the Warlord of Barsoom!

Only two more to go now, with the series as strong as ever after nine volumes. Next we get to meet Llana of Gathol, daughter of Tara of Helium, who gets to fight alongside John Carter, her grandfather, in an attempt to escape the pits of Horz. Then it's a quick trip to Jupiter with John Carter of Mars, if my memory serves and then finis. What a ride, Mr Burroughs, sir. Thank you.

Captain's Blog - 12 June 2002

And the ride goes rollercoaster. I've read the entire Mars series before and more than once at that, but it's been quite a few years since my last time through. That makes this read a fresh discovery and a welcome one.

If my memory serves me correctly the first ERB novel I read was Escape on Venus, one of the Carson Napier series of novels set on Venus. It took Napier from one outlandish situation to another, with outrageous heroism and taut cliffhangers throughout. Only an imagination like that of Burroughs could maintain such a breakneck pace throughout a book, but he succeeded admirably. Llana of Gathol is the Martian equivalent.

For a change the Incomparable Dejah Thoris manages to stay unkidnapped, so it falls to John Carter to get himself into trouble, which he does promptly and succesfully. In just short of two hundred pages he discovers a forest city whose inhabitants have discovered a form of invisibility for themselves, a white civilisation that has survived undiscovered since ancient times, an even older collection of sailors who have been kept in a form of suspended animation since the time of the great oceans, a race from the north who are massing frozen warriors before mounting an attempt to take over the planet and a second city of black pirates allied to the outlaws from the south pole. Carter gets himself into trouble in all of these places, fights his way back out again and rescues his granddaughter repeatedly through the whole affair. Breakneck doesn't quite cover it. It may not be as tidy a read as the first three books but it's the fastest of the whole series.

Work lately seems to be alternating between complex problems requiring in depth investigation and nothing problems from the muppet brigade. Today brought not one but two separate instances of users swapping a mouse without switching off the requisite PC first, then thinking the mice were faulty when the cursor didn't move. Hmm. Possibly the most stupid of all came yesterday from a user who 'could not move her mail'. It turns out that it was the vertical scrollbar that was missing from GroupWise, the particularly horrific Novell e-mail client, and it was only missing because she only had eleven e-mails in her mailbox. Users: can't live with 'em, can't live without 'em.

Some interesting auctions lately. Captain Kirk's chair from the original Star Trek is reputedly up for auction on eBay and is expected to reach a cool six figure sum. I see also that the captain of the Enola Gay is auctioning off various mementos from the mission to drop the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima in possibly the most important historic act of the last century. I'm sure they will reach big numbers again. Me? I'll just buy the odd book here and there and leave the serious numbers to the professionals.

Captain's Blog - 13 June 2002

I finish off the eleven volume John Carter series and in comes news of major new discoveries in the search for extrasolar planets. These are planets orbiting other stars than ours and their discoveries are accelerating. We now know of a number of solar systems that are home to multiple planets and their sizes are getting closer and closer to that of the Earth. As our instruments get better and the next generation of space-based telescopes are put into effect, that elusive search for extraterrestrial intelligence may hit the jackpot. Plenty of news at the California & Carnegie Planet Search. In the meantime, John Carter of Mars sees the man himself getting kidnapped and flown off to face the skeleton men of Jupiter. This book is really two novellas. The first is a seriously underpar effort to rewrite a children's story for adults, and the second is superb but far from completed. It was meant to be a novel of four parts, similar to Llana of Gathol or Escape from Venus but Burroughs died before getting past the first part. It's a shame as it was certainly up to scratch.

Now I'm onto Charmaine Harris and her southern vampire novels. Sookie Stackhouse is a telepathic waitress living in rural Louisiana, but she sees her telepathy firmly as a curse not a blessing. Like Laurell Hamilton's Anita Blake, Sookie lives in an America where vampirism is legal, and it's a vampire that she falls for, in part because she can't read his mind. Such silence, such bliss, such an escape from a worlf full of unwelcome noise.

What makes Dead Until Dark far more than a clone (and I'm commenting after reading under a hundred pages) is that while Laurell Hamilton is a horror writer, at home with the horror mindset but with the ability to weave a clever mystery into the proceedings, Charmaine Harris is a practiced mystery writer who is adding the vampire genre into the mix. This opposite approach makes for a very different read. Anita Blake now stars in ten novels and Sookie Stackhouse two. Let's see if the two writers get more similar as time goes by.

Captain's Blog - 14 June 2002

With a little time, and Dead Until Dark finished, gone by I'll stick with my initial reaction. As much as Laurell K Hamilton's Anita Blake books are still the obvious comparison to draw, she and Charlaine Harris write very different books. Hamilton's Anita Blake series (currently ten books) is wonderful to read in one long stretch because Anita's character develops gradually through all her exploits until she becomes by book ten someone that she would have probably despised in book one. All of this is entirely realistic, even through such fantastic circumstances. Sookie Stackhouse may well evolve in a similar way. Right now she has obvious strength of character but she is no match at all for the powerful vampires that we briefly see. How strong can she grow?

I won't say that Dead Until Dark is a Truly Memorable but it gets pretty close. I'm hooked on the characters and how they kept doing the unexpected, while keeping the unexpected entirely logical. The downhome feel is authentic and certainly not a cliched setting and even the more outre touches somehow work. Bubba indeed. I was also kept guessing until the end, because this is a mystery novel at heart and I picked the wrong killer. I have high hopes for Living Dead in Dallas and then I'm sure I'll be a little peeved that there are only two volumes in this series at the moment. Luckily I ordered a couple of the author's Shakespeare series in the same shipment to lessen the blow.

Intriguing stuff at Slashdot regarding music. I'm quite taken with the Jelly Roll Morton legend that was related in a post here. Apparently he moved from city to city taking on the best pianists in competition and cleaning up nicely. How much of this is urban legend and how much is true I have yet to discover, but apparently some incredibly clever modern technology is restoring his live recordings to pristine condition. The description given was thought provoking, suggesting that we automatically assume that 1920s listeners heard the same crackle we do when listening to those old recordings. Of course in a live situation, Jelly Roll Morton didn't crackle, but that's alien to our way of thinking, just like we can't see history in colour because every photo taken was monochrome or sepia. More when I look it up.

Maybe it'll come down to a coin toss but with Twin unable to head over to this side of the pond for my sister's wedding in September, I'll head over there instead. Easy enough decision but what day to fly? I finish work on the 6th and the wedding is on the 7th, so a day or three to organise myself and it'll be the 11th before I know it. One side of the coin says that flying to the USA on 11th September is going to be an open invitation to have my life history investigated but the other side suggests that it'll be the safesht day to fly there is because every security guard in the business is going to be on full alert. It'll also be the cheapest day to fly because most people would be quite happy to stay home.

I can understand the draw to a terrorist of the anniversary of what has to be described as the biggest terrorist act of them all. If there was ever a day to make your impact then 11th September has to be it, but it'll also be the most unlikely day to achieve anything. Anyone who's even seen a terrorist will get strip searched and cavity probed just to be on the safe side. My theory is that I'd be far less safe on, say the 12th, when security lapses creep in due to the toll of twentyfour hours of paranoia alert. Call me superstitious but I'll avoid the 12th like crazy. I flew to the States the day after New Year 2000 when the millennium bug was about to kill us all and I'm still here to tell the tale. Why not 11th September?

Captain's Blog - 15 June 2002

Some years ago when I shelled out for my first state of the art computer I made sure there was a huge hard drive inside. I realised that storage space was becoming more and more important and I'd already reached the limits of the 20 MB drive in my Amstrad 1640. So I splurged. I bought a hard drive twice as large as any I'd ever seen, even at work. I went for the 200 MB drive.

A little later on when my huge 200 MB drive was not just full but full when compressed, I splurged again and bought a SCSI hard drive 800 MB in size. People may be able to think back to the Kennedy assassination but I can vividly remember exactly where I was when I first saw the price of hard drive storage drop below �1 per MB. 200 MB may have seemed large at the time but four times as much should be safe for a while.

Now, with 130 GB or so on the network already, I'm working out the logistics behind throwing a terabyte of storage into a dedicated redundant fileserver. For my sole reader who may only know megabytes, you can put 1024 of them together to make a gigabyte and 1024 of those to make a terabyte. That's a lot of megabytes and suddenly I've moved up to a whole new scale. The scary thing is that before too many years are out a single terabyte just isn't going to cut the mustard.

Anyway, there are problems. The RAID card I want won't cope with the motherboards I have and the older version that would work fine has been discontinued. In fact none of the RAID cards currently available will work with the Maxtor 160 GB drives that I want to use. Eight of them strung off a decent power supply and striped with RAID 5 will give me 1120 GB of usable space, but the cards are stuck on a 137 GB limit. To reach my magical terabyte I'd need to use 120 GB drives and ten of them at that with three RAID cards. Eek.

The current resolution? Put this project on hold until the end of the year when the Maxtor standard will be accepted and the industry can create some truly huge drives with RAID cards that will cope. Then we can look at options and prices again. In the meantime I can buy a couple and throw them into a fileserver as they are. The result won't be redundant so I'll have to make sure of backups but that's a small negative to pay in the short term.

Oh wow, a break from all the book stuff. Off goes Poe on a computer kick for a bit but three paragraphs later he's back on books. It's hard to keep away from them for long. I started Living Dead in Dallas in bed this morning and finished it in the bath. I've fallen heavily into Sookie Stackhouse's world as conjured up by Charlaine Harris, and I wanna read more, dammit! Write, woman, write!

This second book in the series delves far more into Anita Blake territory with Sookie learning how to use her powers while getting stuck more and more into the world of vampires. Harris is apparently a Laurell K Hamilton fan, which doesn't surprise me in the slightest, but while there are obvious comparisons the pair write in very different styles. Without Anita Blake, Sookie Stackhouse simply wouldn't exist, but she is far from being a clone. Harris is the better writer but Hamilton paints with a broader brush. I like having both to read.

As someone who has cringed for years at the use and abuse of computers in films, I thoroughly enjoyed some of the movie reviews at Insultingly Stupid Movie Physics. These guys rate movies according to the accuracy of their understanding of the laws of physics. Armageddon and AI get really slated, but The Terminator doesn't do badly at all. Maybe I should create a computer equivalent. Then I can be a real nerd.

Note: that's a nerd not a dork. A dork, as I've recently discovered, is a whale's penis. Given the size of these things (twenty feet for a blue whale) that could be one heck of a compliment.

Captain's Blog - 16 June 2002

Major news today. In a shot in the eye of tradition I have been asked to be a Maid of Honour. I'm not entirely sure what that entails but I'm honoured to have been asked, no pun intended, and I accepted happily. Now I just have to work out how to get to Quebec early next year or whenever the wedding will be scheduled, but that's not important. What's important is Lori is getting married and that she has the most wonderfully memorable day ever. If that's what a Maid of Honour does, then I'm happy it's my job.

Tomorrow I get to add another hat to my collection. I'll be an employer. They need an extra pair of hands at the site I'm contracted to so I put his name forward. Dan is overqualified by far but right now he's not working and in need of money, so it's a case of taking what's available. The catch is that the agency will not handle PAYE employees, or in other words people who don't have their own companies thus requiring the agency to handle the tax situation for them. Dan no longer has a company and it isn't financially viable to either start a new one or involve an umbrella company just for three weeks, so he'll technically be working for me. Maid of Honour, Employer, what next?

Captain's Blog - 17 June 2002

How technology marches on. One of the few computer games that my dad could beat me at (and he could wipe the floor with me with his eyes shut on this one) is now available for Dan's phone. I remember it as a BBC game called Frenzy but Dan's playing a subtle variation called Erix. Either way, the mobile phone version has more colours, joystick built in and a heck of a lot more processing power. I remember the BBC Model B being �400 to buy...

I also remember paying �200 a month for my net access. That's 56k dialup access only, restricted to offpeak hours. Now I'm paying �30 (down last month from �33) for a 512k permanent network connection. I've been with Telewest's Blueyonder service for over a year now and I've been almost entirely happy with them. Maybe they've even managed to get round their Usenet Death Penalty by now. Tomorrow I go a step further and double my access speed to 1 MB downlink and 256k uplink. This speed doubling will cost me a mere �10 more, or in other words a mere fifth of what I paid for offpeak dialup. I like technology sometimes.

With the onward flow of technology it's time to do another browser comparison. I've been using Netscape for years happily but I'm far from happy with more recent versions which are painfully slow, especially on old machines like mine. I was never a fan of Microsoft's Internet Explorer until version five but as of then it's become a easy to use and very stable browser. Unbeknownst to many, however, there are other choices out there.

I've used the Lynx text browser for a while and in fact this site, The Poe Station is designed to work seamlessly within Lynx. I also use Opera which is fast becoming my browser of choice. The catch is that it's not free of charge. I use it on my laptop but I plan on throwing it onto a couple of desktops too. If it goes well, and I see no reason why it won't, I'll pay my fee and register it.

Dan's Gentoo Linux system is running KDE and thus Konqueror and we have the new version of HotJava to play with too. I think it's time to run a full comparison of everything and see what comes out on top.

A couple of quick reviews before I catch the wrong train to Nod. Amongst a ton of highly varied music that I've downloaded over the last week or two, I'm listening to Lisa Gerrard, formerly of Dead Can Dance. I have a huge respect for Dead Can Dance who managed to carve their own little niche in popular music and filled it well. Now she's solo, Lisa Gerrard is still turning out highly listenable yet eclectic music. This album is Duality, recorded with Pieter Bourke and it's recommended. Thank you, unsecured servers.

Bookwise, the extended journeys I suffered today after jumping on the wrong train meant I got through all of the first Lily Bard mystery by Charlaine Harris, Shakespeare's Landlord. This is the writer who came up with the marvellous Sookie Stackhouse and her vampire boyfriend Bill in Dead Until Dark and Living Dead in Dallas and hopefully many many sequels to come. Lily Bard is another classic character. She's the best housecleaner in the rural Arkansas town of Shakespeare. She's in Shakespeare because her previous life was tarnished beyond redemption by a particularly nasty gang rape and she wants the peace of a new locale. She's been there for four years and things are working nicely. Until, that is, an unknown murderer involves her in his act. As she cleans for most of the key people in Shakespeare, she has plenty of opportunity to hear what goes on behind the scenes and she finds herself investigating on the sly.

Surprisingly enough this more traditional mystery is darker than the vampire novels that touch on the horror genre. Charlaine Harris writes very well indeed, as I've come to expect, and I'm a little upset that I have book three but not book two. I'm very interested in how Lily will continue to interact with some of the other wonderfully drawn characters that live and breathe around her. Almost a Truly Memorable, methinks.

Captain's Blog - 18 June 2002

A megabit net connection is very nice. It's rather pleasant to see 100k/s downloads. NewsShark is going to be in its element now. More soon. A lot more.

More web stuff soon too. I picked up Actinic Catalog tonight and tomorrow I'll be playing with it. Watch for Sweet Dreams UK live in a week or so. Watch also for Mill Race IT too because the source material for that one arrived today too. And there are others in the pipeline... life is looking busy.

Busy, busy, keeping busy. Lots of music again courtesy of unsecured servers but it's Enimen's Without Me that's back stuck in my head. It is seriously the most clever, most catchy and best constructed piece of music I've heard this year and I'm still surprised like crazy for saying that. Oh, and I found out who Chris Kirkpatrick (you can get your ass kicked) is. He's some guy out of N*Sync which makes me wonder what he's said or done to invoke the wrath of Eminem. Is the star in the right place in N*Sync? Do I care?

Let's see if I can remember to take the number to Tracy's Red Lobster with me tomorrow. I haven't heard from her in a few weeks but I know she's moved and may not have all her stuff sorted yet. The least I can do is ring her at work. She doesn't even know that I'm going to be a Maid of Honor yet, unless she's managed to read this, of course.

Captain's Blog - 19 June 2002

Yesterday the Prime Minister's wife, Cherie Blair, spoke up at entirely the wrong time to say that young Palestinians are blowing themselves up because they are hopeless people who see no other way to get their point across. As the government is currently embroiled in a pitched battle with the media who have finally become fundamentally fed up with the Labour party's consistent and blatant manipulation of the press, along with the fact that yesterday saw nineteen Israelis dead through the action of a Palestinian suicide bomber, I honestly cannot think of a worse time for this supposedly intelligent barrister to open her mouth. Today the media have hung, drawn and quartered her.

That said, I agree with every word she said and I'm rather surprised at the fact. Lots of surprises for me lately, it seems. I'm enjoying the music of Eminem and agreeing with Cherie Blair. If someone had suggested that a month ago I'd have laughed, but now... Of course, I still can't remember the last time I agreed with her husband, but that doesn't worry me in the slightest.

Apparently, Ariel Sharon's response to this latest upsurge of suicide bombers is to annex more and more Palestinian territory every time a bomber does his thing. Naturally he'd try and put out a blazing inferno by dousing it with petrol too. The man is as stupid as he is dangerous.

Music of the evening, while I've worked away on SubmitWolf, has mostly been courtesy of Bob Marley, the godfather of reggae, whose music is timeless. No self-respecting music collection is complete without a copy of Legend, his most comprehensive compilation and I've enjoyed mine for many years, but I've never had the pleasure of hearing Exodus all the way through until now. Exodus is considered by many to be the greatest reggae album of all time and I'm not about to argue with them. Sheer magic.

Captain's Blog - 20 June 2002

And the web wagon rolls on. While I work through Actinic Catalog literature so as to be able to get an e-commerce store up and running within the week (site by the weekend, then protx do their bit with the bank), news comes in from Cliff that we have another couple of sites coming soon too. This is starting to get hectic. Meanwhile I'm still working full time so my spare time will become more of a joke as time goes by.

Reading this Actinic material only serves to highlight why it looks to be the perfect purchase for any online store that aims at being serious. Once I'm entirely au fait with the rest of the process from an experience standpoint I'm very likely to register Dawtrina as an Actinic Catalog user and sell whatever I can sell. The sky is the proverbial limit.

For now though, it's a few pages of Anne Bishop and then sleep. Night, y'all.

Captain's Blog - 21 June 2002

My first invoice including an employee other than myself has been sent. Now I get to work out all the bloody tax. Joy of joys. Much happier news ought to be the slew of birthdays: Shawn today, Katt and Sebastian on Monday. I doubt I'll have time to visit a vague party on Sunday but I'll try. I don't turn up on Sundays any more because I'm avoiding the smoke from the soon-to-be happy couple but some days are worth a little sacrifice, I guess.

Anne Bishop leapt out at me when I was browsing Amazon and the first hundred pages or so of Daughter of the Blood suggests I made the right purchase. It's the first in The Black Jewels Trilogy and I'm hooked already. Such sensual and lucid writing combined with what promises to be a thoroughly unique plot suggests a possible Truly Memorable. I hope I'm not dreaming too high. More soon, of that you can be sure.

Captain's Blog - 22 June 2002

More reasons why Google has become the only serious choice for search engine. I'm experimenting with SubmitWolf Pro, a piece of software that automates the submission of web sites to search engines, so that I can maximise the outreach of the sites that I create for Telco Web. I figured out the procedure to use in about two minutes because it's well written software but I soon found a major catch: not all search engines allow automatic submissions any more.

One of the very useful features of SubmitWolf is the Ranking section, that checks fifteen top search engines for the position that your site currently occupies in a search. Of this list of key engines only Google returns a result for any of my sites. Now I'm finding out why. Google trawls the net on its own. It uses sophisticated software at the server end to cancel out all the crap and finesse your searches and mine to be as accurate as possible. It works and that's why I use it above my previous search engine of choice, AltaVista. If you want to submit a site to Google, don't worry. It'll find it anyway.

Talking of AltaVista, it seems that it's impossible to automate a submission to them now. No doubt that's why we can't find anything through AltaVista now. To submit a site for inclusion in the AltaVista database, you need to visit a particular url and wait for an image to become available. The image will list a string of letters and numbers that you then have to type into the Submission Code field. You can then add up to five urls per session to be submitted. Four to six weeks later they may or may not appear in searches through AltaVista. I can understand the need to strip the crap out of their database but this does not seem to me to be a reasonable way to do it.

I submit valid sites that I wish to be available through as many search engines as possible. I'm not interested in fiddling the system and submitting pages of dubious netiquette. I don't want to sit around waiting for a single search engine to decide to allow me the means to submit. Right now the UK version of AltaVista has a message up for me: 'No submission code is available at this moment. Please wait 5 minutes to reload the page for a new submission code.' Unfortunately that message appeared ten minutes ago and refreshing the page makes no difference. Sigh.

Oh, did I mention that there's an alternative. I could sign up for Express Inclusion, which costs money, naturally, to the tune of $39 for the first url, $29 for urls two to ten and $19 for any further urls. That's for six months of coverage. Like, no way, dudes. Who uses AltaVista nowadays anyway?

Captain's Blog - 23 June 2002

My legs are not happy with me right now. I've done more cycling in my life than most people will ever do but I haven't sat on a saddle in over three years. Sixteen miles of Yorkshire hills was not a good reintroduction. It has shown me just how unfit I am but then again it's shown me that I wasn't entirely unfit either. Now what next...

Anne Bishop's Daughter of the Blood was her first novel as well as being the first part of the Black Jewels trilogy. It's a remarkably different fantasy set in a remarkably different environment and the characters are alive! I'm having to restrain myself from leaping headfirst into book two because I have work to do but I'll head that way pretty soon. Part one is most certainly a Truly Memorable and that bodes pretty damn well for the rest of the trilogy.

It highlighted the passage of time for me acutely. Ten years ago I'd have identified strongly with Jaenelle but now I'm far more like Daemon. Time is definitely the great equaliser.

Part of the work I've been busy with today has gone live. Owls Hall Farm are environmental sewage and drainage specialists making the site a highly fascinating one for everybody. Not. Take a look though. It's an attempt to cram a bunch of information into a single page. If they decide to pay for a proper site then I'll create one for them.

Captain's Blog - 24 June 2002

The further I get into the Black Jewels trilogy the more I confirm that it is a Truly Memorable. This is awesome writing in the literal sense. Anne Bishop is a magician. I don't want to sleep until I've finished but I never want to finish. More soon. Oh yes, more soon.

Dan is running Gentoo, a flavour of Linux, on one of his machines. I'm very tempted to rebuild my Duron properly, and dual boot it between Gentoo and Windows XP. Everything else I have is Intel based running Windows 2000 but I'm happy for that one to be the odd one out.

I'm happy with XP, though I've finally switched the look back to Classic. I'm also happy with Internet Explorer 6 which comes as standard, though I'm even happier with Opera which I've now registered and customised. Definitely more soon on Poe's Browser War because I'm experimenting a lot with many browsers. Opera isn't perfect and there are a couple of things that are definite failings but all in all I'm happy for it to be my standard browser at the moment, happy enough to pay for it. Galeon looks to be excellent too and when I set Exceed up to access Dan's Gentoo box as a session I'll be able to experiment more with that.

Between us we currently have running IE, Netscape, Lynx, Opera, Konqueror, Galeon, HotJava and Mozilla. As a traditional Netscape user who moved to IE and now to Opera, I'm open minded enough to run a fair experiment, I think.

I had to pick my five favourite albums of all time on a community thread. I ended up with over twenty that were all time favourites and knocking it down to five was incredibly hard but, in no particular order, here they are. Water by Saigon Kick, Veedon Fleece by Van Morrison, Sabotage by Black Sabbath, Closer by Joy Division and Rain Dogs by Tom Waits.

Captain's Blog - 25 June 2002

My mind has been churning through those favourite albums today wondering which ones I'd missed. Today I remembered Mary My Hope's Museum and Lauren Smoken's self-titled debut. Those are two albums I would very much like better copies of but haven't yet found. I love the Lauren Smoken album to bits and am still stunned by her voice. I can't locate a copy of the album on CD but I keep running across her online. Not literally, of course, but mentions of her. I should mail her and ask if she has one available. Maybe she needs a website too...

Talking of websites, more problems with Actinic today. I'm still having problems connecting Actinic Catalog with the webspace that will hold the e-commerce store. I'll try doing it under Windows 2000 tomorrow and if I don't have any joy I'll contact the experts at Actinic. It means that Sweet Dreams UK will be another few days and Mill Race IT should be up first. Busy, busy.

Captain's Blog - 26 June 2002

So much for the best laid plans of mice and men. This entry is a day late but I'm cunningly disguising it so as to preclude my solitary reader from noticing. Busy, busy gets silly sometimes, even when it's fun.

And fun it was last night, erm tonight. Finally, Tracy is back in touch. Woohoo! Tracy, just in case anyone happens to be reading this with any level of interest whatsoever, is my ex-girlfriend who has remained my best friend ever since. She lives in a soap opera but a very different one to mine. We try to talk a couple of times a week to catch up but it's weeks since I've managed to talk with her because moving house (yet again) has left her with no phone. No phone means no phone conversations and no net access either. Shame. Last night meant three weeks of catch up, drooping eyelids and planning to write this in the morning while forgetting to set my alarm.

Luckily I only slept in ten minutes but it made me late with my blog! I'm late! I'm late! Call me a white rabbit.

Captain's Blog - 27 June 2002

And so to the real tonight, the tonight that is actually tonight and not last night. Soon it'll be tomorrow morning but I'm not writing that much tonight. Sue me.

Newsflash! Poe gets a raise! Not a particularly huge raise but a raise nonetheless. As of a previous date that I shall have to find out I am earning a dangerously large seven pence more per day. I could promise not to spend it all at once but that may prove ever so slightly difficult. So be it.

Newsflash! I'm still having no joy with my Actinic problems but I'm getting convinced that they are due to my XP machine getting its virtual knickers in a twist over networking. Strange things are happening that I need to fix and they may be damaging Actinic's attempts to chuck a bunch of html pages and cgi scripts up to our server in Seattle.

I concentrated tonight on finishing off MillRace IT's new site which I've uploaded to a test area right here. This may change of course as the customer hasn't seen it yet, but we need all the exposure we can get. Now MillRace IT is finished, or at least the bulk of the work is finished, I can concentrate tomorrow on sorting out Actinic and Sweet Dreams UK. Fingers crossed.

While working on MillRace IT tonight, I multitasked some mp3 stuff. Thank you, Karl, for a few movie soundtracks amongst other cool material. I always did love the Blade Runner soundtrack by Vangelis and now I have it as mp3s. The Guns n' Roses cover album entitled The Spaghetti Incident is well worth a listen too. They always could cover a tune with panache and proved that as early as the Live Like a Suicide EP and Rose Tattoo's Nice Boys.

I also resurrected the Mary My Hope album that jumped to mind the other day and it still sounds as fresh as ever. No joy trying to find tracks on Kazaa Lite though. Shameful, shameful. Someone needs to reissue this album!

At least old albums are being reissued. I rediscovered the wonderful New Renaissance record label run by the equally wonderful Anne Boleyn, lead singer of Hellion. I bought many of their releases as imports back in the days when LPs were the only real way to go and I've tried on occasion to locate some on CD but to no avail. Now I find that some tracks are available at mp3.com for free download. Finally I get to listen again to Blood Feast and Indestroy and Dream Death. Unfortunately I want more songs than are available, naturally. There's Blood Feast's Menacing Thunder but no Dark Side and Indestroy are there with the unforgettable Dead Girls (Don't Say No) but there's no USSA. Time to buy some CDs online methinks. So much for illegal mp3 copying, huh? hehe.

Captain's Blog - 28 June 2002

Good news on MillRace IT. Apparently all is well and they enjoyed the site. There are minor tweaks to be done but those should be easy to deal with. What matters is that the job is a success. Telco Web goes from strength to strength. You saw it here first, folks.

Gran Turismo, our forthcoming European Tour, is now in version 3 and still isn't finalised. Essentially we need to work out the places that we really don't want to miss and optimise the route around those, allowing for all the countries we can manage. That list of countries has grown too. We're going to be in Stockholm anyway so it seemed a little mad not to hop the Baltic to Finland. It's just a quick ferry ride, after all... and if we're in Finland we ought to head on down to Helsinki and catch a ferry across to Tallinn. Riga's only a little way further down and there are ferries running here presumably frequently. So Finland, Latvia and Estonia have been added to the list, if ferry service works, as has Hungary which we'll drive into and out of pretty quickly. Work pressure suggests that it's going to be a one leg trip taking six weeks rather than two legs of three. More soon.

I don't know how much a five foot mirror would cost but I've acquired one for free. Someone, in their infinite wisdom, decided to throw one out so I kindly gave it a home. Such a tender heart.

Captain's Blog - 29 June 2002

Dreams and headaches today. The fileserver is up and running with huge potential but that potential is muted at present. I picked up a Maxtor 160 GB drive this morning which will just about house my mp3 collection. With 137 GB the physical limit of the standard technology the drive needs a tweaked card to run it, and unfortunately the card we chose turns out to be not the right one. Now it's a case of returning this one and ordering another. Sigh.

For now it's back to Anne Bishop, fair twinlet and sleep, for tomorrow it's Sweet Dreams and how to crack Actinic. It'll be a long day.

Captain's Blog - 30 June 2002

Oh my. Could memory be so fickle as to hide something as powerful? Maybe. Maybe not. For now, Anne Bishop's Black Jewels trilogy is Truly Memorable beyond anything else I can think of. Perhaps tomorrow I'll come down from the high and locate its valid place. Perhaps not.

Good news on the fileserver front. Dan managed to upgrade the BIOS on his own system so he now has a clump of hard drives in there totalling just over 300 GB. I've been moving and copying and within a few days should have all my mp3s on one single drive. That will be a Good Day.

There's more work to do though, because I'll then be able to strip every IDE device back out of my main machine leaving it entirely SCSI, at least for five minutes until I get the tape streamer running. Then I'll have a means of backup for stuff that spreads further than CD size. I'll need to reinstall Windows 2000 with apps and I'll have a 4 GB Bigfoot free to throw into Jane's machine to give her some space to work with. I have 10/100 network cards to put into everything except the laptop too and soon I'll pick up a 100 MB switch to enable the network to run at decent speed at last.

I don't want to spend anything soon though because I'm still catching up debts. I'll have my VAT backlog caught up by the end of this week, which is going to be another Good Day. Unfortunately then I'll be switching to the Inland Revenue instead. The backlogs are starting to be caught though which is always good news.

Talking of news, though far from good news, if you head 100 miles or so southwest of Toronto you'll find a little place named Woodstock. I don't remember it but I probably travelled pretty close by in the summer of 1999. Right now it's somewhere not to travel through, however, as it's currently besieged by a murder of crows. In scenes reminiscent of Hitchcock's film version of The Birds the sky is blacked out and people are attacked by the sinister black birds. I know Hitchcock got his story from the Daphne du Maurier novel, but I wonder if she was working entirely from imagination...

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