Week from Monday 4th July 2016

LE TOUR DE FRANCE a commencé... and I've already had an opportunity to cheer on the brave TREK-SEGAFREDO TEAM in their endeavours! In Stage One, EDWARD THEUNS contested the final sprint. Frustratingly, he finished fifth behind the 'usual suspects', but he did get himself the WHITE JERSEY for a day. On Stage Two, JASPER STUYVENS was in a breakaway group for the whole day. The group was gradually whittled down, until he was left to make a solo bid. Sadly, it was not to be - he was caught in the final few hundred metres. But he does now hold the POLKA DOT JERSEY for his bravado. BAUKE MOLLEMA came in ninth in that Stage... SHOW YOUR STRIPES!!!

Last week, I couldn't tear myself away from THE MEEJER because of the political upheavals that beset our land. This week, I've forgotten about that entirely, because of SPORT (never thought I'd ever be caught saying THAT!). Every 'working' day stops at two in the afternoon.

I finished re-jigging this here BLOGGY DIARY THINGY for the new-fangled 'RESPONSIVE WEB', at least up to a point where I'm happy to make it 'public'. AS YOU CAN SEE. I haven't yet found a way to make the 'PLAYLIST' pop-up truly scalable (I might come back to that?), nor will the LINKS LIST page ever fit properly on a small screen. That page IS a bit 'OLD SCHOOL', I'd be the first to admit. Its width is defined by good old-fashioned TABLES, but I don't particularly want to have to do the whole thing again. I stand by my opinion that NOTHING EVER looks good on a piddling little mobile screen anyway... so if that is the ONLY way you choose to interact with the double-you-double-you-double-you, you must be accustomed by now to ridiculously small graphics and ugly line-breaks. You get the web you deserve. Give me a desktop widescreen any day! But for now, my website 'works' - it 'RESPONDS' to all sorts of window sizes (most of the time) and IT DOESN'T LOOK LIKE ALL THE OTHERS, which is probably the most important thing from my point of view.

DREAM DIARY... I'm still a student at Watford, but I'm also 'commuting' up to Yorkshire, where I've joined a multicultural band called Rhythm-Nyng... I'm apparently rather good at playing Touch Guitar and I'm also called upon to play mandolin (the old Gridling Band 'mandolayly', open-tuned of course!)... we're all borrowing bits of equipment from here and there and 'making do'... We have loads of gigs lined up, but it would seem we just have the one song written and even that appears to be different every time we play it... I have something of a romantic attachment to one of the girls in the band... her father is like a stereotype character straight out of "Emmerdale", all "'Appen as lahk an' sooch"...

I set aside a day to update/upgrade my laptop to LINUX MINT 18. I decided this time to back up all my stuff and do a CLEAN INSTALL, reformatting the harddrive entirely. But, having done so, I hit a snag. The new Linux Kernel appears to be missing some drivers, so I found that my WI-FI connection wasn't working! I had to plug in an ethernet cable to connect with the router. After some messing about trying to get it to work properly with 18, I eventually rolled it all back to a bare-bones earlier version, by installing 17.2 from disk, and then upgrading it back to 17.3 - back (sort of) where we started! Slightly disappointed with the 'new' LINUX MINT then. This is the first version I have ever had difficulty with, in all the years I've been using it. Every version of Linux Mint I've used previously has worked on my laptop "straight out of the box". But I see other folks on the Google Plus 'community' also complaining about these and other such symptoms, so I'm probably not alone. I don't think the fault is with Mint itself, but with the Kernel and the newer version of Ubuntu further upstream. Hopefully, they will sort out the bugs before they make it possible to do an 'upgrade' via the terminal. It doesn't do any harm to do a CLEAN INSTALL once in a while, but I shall be somewhat miffed if I have to do yet another one so soon...

Okay, I need to go out and stretch my legs after all that...

Week from Monday 11th July 2016

The consistently wide-of-the-mark BING translator (brought to you by the M!¢r0$ØfT concern) autodetects KURT SCHWITTERS' lipsmacking sound poetry as VIETNAMESE, and makes a brave attempt at 'translating' it, simply by swapping two of the nonsense 'words' around. M!¢r0$ØfT have unwittingly created a sort of RANDOM POETRY GENERATOR.

I'm having a bit of a 'craze' for that RADIOHEAD this week... not only is their newish album "A MOON SHAPED POOL" a constant presence on the office jukebox, I've also finished compiling a seedydisk from some of the various radio sessions and non-album singles that I've had sitting on the harddrive for a while.

Southampton... Don't go there! It's full of elaborately painted zebras!

This coming Saturday, ARTS ASIA hold their annual MELA in the park in Southampton. As usual, I've advance-downloaded the afternoon's programme of events, and there is much to look forward to... but the weather we're having now does not bode well. Previous experience tells me that it is not worth making the trip unless it is a really nice sunny day, because attending this [entirely free and mostly amateur] event involves a lot of sitting or standing around, waiting for them to get their acts together! I usually take a book to read. Not only that, they have been known to cancel the thing altogether if the weather is really horrid. We shall see.

Speaking of horrid weather... LE TOUR DE FRANCE has encountered rather a lot of it this week, what with hailstones bombarding the mountaintop finishing line and high winds fragmenting the peleton as it coasts the Mediterranean. Thursday's stage is supposed to finish on the infamous lunar landscape of MONT VENTOUX... except that it too has been enjoying 100kph gusts of wind this last couple of days. So they have shaved a few kilometres off the stage and moved the finishing line to the ski chalet a little further down the mountain. Not that it will make it THAT much easier...

I've just noticed that it's now been (over) a year since I started that ruddy TWITTER lark. It was the third of July, to be exact. What do we think of it so far? SHELFY joined Twitter VERY briefly, but he says he found it "confusing" (That also seems to be the opinion of others I know who had already found their 'comfort zone' on certain other SOSHULMEEJER sites). He has reactivated his SOUNDCLOUD site instead, which has gone by a number of VERY SILLY names over the years. It's now known as (and I'll have to look this up again now...) "HMM, NOW THAT'S A VERY UNUSUAL MOTH".

I'm having another go at upgrading the laptop to LINUX MINT 18, now that the [dist-upgrade] path has finally been established. I got there in the end, but it was not entirely painless and there are still one or two things that DON'T LOOK QUITE RIGHT TO ME. I've a feeling that won't be the end of it. Still, at least the WI-FI works this time around...

Mixed fortunes for TREK-SEGAFREDO in the windy-vidual Time Trial. BAUKE MOLLEMA has been catapulted into second place in the GC competition, but EDWARD THEUNS crashed and abandoned earlier in the day. Sadly, France's thoughts are elsewhere today...

The weather on Saturday turns out to be pretty sweaty after all... so I'm off to Southampton to count zebras. Naturally, I take in the MELA for an hour or so. Caught glimpses of some Bulgarian dancers, a Bollywood brass and dhol outfit, several stilt walkers, a sort of bhangra keep-fit class and some Irish people soundchecking. Smelled a lot of food. I lolled about in the sun for the duration of the AFTERNOON RAGA performed by JASDEEP DEGUN (sitar) and SANJU SAHAI (tabla). It might have been RAAG SARANG in TEEN-TAL, but I'm getting a bit rusty... A stupid bit of programming meant that I didn't hear any of the Chinese music this year, and for the second year running, I didn't stay for the QAWWALI GROUP because I want to get home for the TOUR DE FRANCE highlights. There was some dreadful rapping going on near the Bargate. I counted seventeen zebras.

Week from Monday 18th July 2016

It's a 'rest day' at LE TOUR DE FRANCE, so this seems like a good opportunity to get some actual work done(!), a couple of little jobs for L'EMPORIUM DES HAIRS. I am also getting some tonsorial teasing done into the bargain...

DREAM DIARY... Trying to do isometric drawings of some sort of bearing attachment or bracket, while "Happy Hour" by The Housemartins plays repeatedly in the background...

Back on the LINUX MINT 18 project... I've started to PUT THINGS BACK as they were. I solved the problem of the CLI 'terminal' losing its colours - a script file called [.bashrc] had been [re]moved, so I 'borrowed' a new one from that jolly useful double-you-double-you-double-you they have now. Result: a bashin' new terminal with some added features! LM18 now comes with the ever-popular X-SCREENSAVERS included, so I didn't have to install those from scratch this time. Some of the new LM18 visual themes ARE missing however (the much acclaimed "MINT-Y" and its dark derivatives), but I didn't like those much anyway. I've added some new icon themes from the NOOBSLAB concern, including my favourite 'MALYS-UNIBLUE' set. I think the 'APPEARANCES' control panel is missing some components, because it locks up trying to load its own background wallpapers. But I have plenty of my own wallpapers on file anyway. The 'UPDATE MANAGER' itself now PREFERS me to do the updating and upgrading via the command line, so I think that too might be missing something. Meanwhile, there are still vestiges of Linux Mint 17.3 hanging around in the LOG-IN sequence. I'm fairly certain now that the issues are not with LINUX MINT itself, but with the new UBUNTU base, further 'upstream'. When I've done some more research reading, I might be able to copy some files from LM18's LIVE CD (or from the web?) to replace any corrupted ones. For the moment, "IT WORKS, JIM, BUT NOT AS WE KNOW IT..."

This morning, some cleaning up... I ran [mintupgrade] again, just to make sure. This seemed to get rid of those aforementioned 'vestiges' of older Mints still lurking on the system, like the 'SOFTWARE SOURCES' interface still believing it's on 17.3. I also removed a few of the extra Linux Kernels I had knocking around, before settling on the recommended one for 18, plus the previous stable one I'd been using on 17.3 (all the time making sure that I hadn't done anything to upset the wi-fi connection all over again!). I ran [update-grub] a few times, so that the boot-up knew which one to go for... at which point I noticed that the GRUB Menu still read "Linux Mint 17.2"! As I don't have a multi-booting set-up, I don't have to use the GRUB screen very much. But it's one more thing that DON'T LOOK QUITE RIGHT TO ME... I thought long and hard before I risked editing the [grub.cfg] file to change the menu's output. Happily, it worked without 'breaking' anything! PROGRESS!!!!

I regard (and enjoy) LINUX as an OPERATING SYSTEM FOR THOSE WITH GEEK TENDENCIES. That is its appeal for SOMEONE LIKE ME. But be honest, it is STILL not one for the Everyman. It will never have the mass appeal of Windoze or MacOS, so long as it requires this amount of deep, dedicated BUILDING WORK to get things going! By its very nature, it CANNOT come with a guarantee that it will work 'straight out of the box', pretty much the same on any peecee, with little or no DIY by the user... and that is what 'NORMALS' require of THEIR computers.... Now to see what else I can do with that [.bashrc] script... (Am I boring you with all these procedures and routines? Hey! Whose diary is it anyway?!? dot dot dot Ed.)

Phew! what a scorcher... It's a battlin', mountain-climbin', cheeks-a-puffin', sweatin' Wednesday in LE TOUR DE FRANCE and the GC table has been upturned yet again. With another Time Trial and even more BIG MOUNTAIN DAYS before Paris, BAUKE MOLLEMA was holding onto his podium position by the skin of his teeth... only to literally plummet off the leaders' table altogether a couple of days later in the rain. The only bit of schadenfreude-consolation-type-stuff was that Froome left some skin on the tarmac as well. But that's LE TOUR for you! At least nearly all of MY sporting disappointments are concentrated into a single month. People who follow association kick-o-the-ball teams must be like this all the year 'round?!?

Yr wythnos hon, yr wyf wedi bod yn gwrando ar lawer o gerddoriaeth a chwaraeir gan ddynion blewog o Gymru.

Naturally, I grew out of so-called 'HEAVY METAL' decades ago. But anyone who ever wrote a song called "NUDE DISINTEGRATING PARACHUTIST WOMAN" is still okay by me. That's my kind of stoopid. Meanwhile, someone in The Guardian (reviewing a recent compilation album of the genre) has described turn-of-the-seventies hard rock as "THE STUNTED IDIOT OFFSPRING OF PSYCHEDELIA". I want THAT little mission statement on a t-shirt STERRRRRAIGHT AWAY!

There were several good music programmes on BBC FOUR this weekend, including a DANNY BAKER documentary about pop fandom, a film marking the fiftieth anniversary of "PET SOUNDS", a repeat showing of the amusing "WHEN POP WENT EPIC: THE CRAZY WORLD OF THE CONCEPT ALBUM" and a couple of clip shows from the Beeb archives. There was, I would happily concede, MUCH about the psychedelic era that was PRETENTIOUS, but I would say that no one demonstrated this more than THE MOODY BLUES. Okay, they did have one or two good tunes in their heyday, but there has always been something about the Moodies that is VERY contrived and disingenuous. The short clip of them cluelessly attempting to play Indian instruments and chanting "Om", each dressed to some degree like Jason King, with expressions of studied seriousness on their ridiculous moustachioed fizzogs, was roll-on-the-floor laugh-out-loud HILARIOUS. It was a parody of psychedelia, rather than anything genuine. They look and sound like the house band in a party scene from "Bedazzled" or "Austin Powers".

Week from Monday 25th July 2016

I GET UP. I GET DOWN. I GET UP. Furthermore, if you will, I GET DOWN again... This afternoon's office ambience is some live YES. Proper live YES. Classic line-up YES. All thrills, no fills, YES free of interminable 'solo' spots and tweeness. Not a near-soundalike, YES self-tribute band. But real YES. And it's bloody marvellous. We shall never hear the like again.

What's brought this on, you say? The news that STEVEN WILSON has finally finished the three-year, on-again-off-again task of turning "TALES FROM TOPOGRAPHIC OCEANS" into something worthy of high-fidelity reproduction apparatus. COMING SOON!

On Wednesday, I find myself on a train journey to Romsey to look at paintings... Of course, in every 'new' town I go, there are also previously unexplored CHARITY SHOPS to visit. I came away from the local branch of Oxfam with a couple of £2.99 purchases, an upgrade for IT BITES' "Once Around The World", and a REAL WORLD goody from SAVARA NAZARKHAN.

This week marks thirty years since we first went to a WOMAD FESTIVAL and ten years since I went to my last. During that twenty year period, I went to at least one every year. Then, sadly, suddenly, it all stopped. I don't get to go to WOMAD anymore, what with its unachievable location and cost. But listening to Ms Nazarkhan's "YOL BOLSIN" brought memories of old festivals flooding back, in particular, the one in 2003 when Savara performed (on two or three stages throughout the weekend). I do miss those days, it's just not the same on radio! In lieu of 'THE REAL THING', it might be time to dig out a few of the old recordings and pictures for a virtual fest of my own! Incidentally, if you want to read my diary from WOMAD 2003, it's here:- Page all the way down to the VERY FIRST entry in this here WebbyDiaryBloggyThingy and set your browser's TEXT ENCODING to 'Western' instead of 'Unicode', so that all those funny foreign accents show up properly.

This year's BBC PROMS have been going for a couple of weeks now, but I find I haven't been tuning in nearly as much as previously. The Beeb's apparent process of 'DUMBING DOWN' the Proms to reach out to a broader spectrum of (ahem!) music lovers has ruined them for me. There have been far fewer premieres of cutting edge NEW music and, instead, an emphasis on the 'POPULAR CLASSICS' (the hoary old standards) and events with telly appeal - "Strictly Come Dancing" at the Proms, anyone? A "CBeebies" Prom? Razzazzazzah! SHOW BIZ!!! Puhleeeeze! In fact, it wasn't until this Friday that the Proms had ANYTHING AT ALL to offer the likes of me!

I generally avoid performances of my beloved GUSTAV MAHLER at the Proms, as I will inevitably be disappointed (likewise STRAVINSKY). Hearing the master's music being slaughtered by some hack BBC Orchestra full of jobbing labourers is not my idea of musical bliss! These days, I will only give a concert the time of day if it is to feature a world-class orchestra with a big name conductor who will knock them into shape. Otherwise... well, I'll just listen to my favourite recordings, thank you very much. On Friday, octogenarian maestro BERNARD HAITINK coaxed a magnificent performance of MAHLER'S huge 3rd SYMPHONY out of the LONDON SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA and massed choruses. Now this was the 'musical bliss' of which I spake! I was rapt. The ninety-odd minutes just flew by.

Later in the evening, BBC 6MUSIC's much vaunted "DAVID BOWIE PROM" took place. It started promisingly enough, with a gorgeous "Warszawa" arranged for the superb German modern ensemble STARGAZE, but it sort of went downhill from there. The orchestral arrangements were consistently delightful and inventive, but I didn't really find myself warming to any of the vocal 'talent' on offer. I found the whole affair a little too REVERENTIAL and joyless. Perhaps I'm not enough of a Bowie worshipper myself to appreciate it? Only JOHN CALE had anything fresh to offer on the subject. (Oh! whoever's idea was it to have a wildly inapposite rap segment cut'n'pasted into the middle of "This Is Not America"? Cringe!)

Saturday is PC SECURITY DAY... As well as all my usual scanning and cleaning routines, I found myself installing a whole new antivirus programme, as ever since AVAST received an upgrade about a week ago it has shown itself to be rather unreliable. The real-time protection has a tendency to switch itself off after a system restart, almost as if there was a 'denial of service' thing going down. Much purging ensued. AVIRA, the one with the red umbrella, currently tops all the "Best Free Antivirus" lists, so I thought I'd give that one a go instead. (It's a bit slower to 'WAKE UP' in the morning, but after that it seems more stable and a lot less intrusive than other anti-virus progs I've tried on Windoze!)

On the train home from Romsey during the week, I'd received a phone call from one of the HAIR LOVELIES, enquiring about poster sizes... then she reminded me that I should shoot another one of my "TRAIN VIDEOS". So I captured about three minutes of the container port coming into Southampton. This footage has formed the basis of another bit of YouTubery to accompany one of the CLOUDLAND PEDESTRIAN pieces. I later received a couple of twitcomments saying that the music was nice, as indeed were the visuals... Where have you been all my life? I've been doing this sort of nonsense for years! I've also done a 'scratch video', made up of old footage of Cotton Club jazz dancers, to go with the 'secret hidden bonus track' from "CC:PP EPISODE IV". I figured that seeing as nobody has EVER downloaded the full package, that track will have gone completely unheard until now. This once again raised the question of how I get people to listen to my stuff once it's done, and whether going to all the effort of assembling my music into an album-length 'product' is at best VANITY PUBLISHING, in this day and age.

DREAM DIARY... I went to the hole-in-the-wall for some money, but the cash came in the form of a single £200 note... It was mainly blue, with a strange, stylised (almost cubist) design, printed on just one side... Not having seen one before, I had to go into the bank to confirm whether it was legal tender or not...