Week from Monday 5th September 2016

I'm actually taking a half-hearted, half-assed interest in the week-long TOUR OF BRITAIN this year, as TREK-SEGAFREDO have entered a team. The highly visible Italian champion's jersey of GIACOMO NIZZOLO was there in the final sprint for Stage 1. Of course, in the end, it was won by ANDRE GREIPEL, as is any bunch sprint that has Andre Greipel in it. Giacomo had to settle for fifth place. Thrilling stuff, but I still feel that ITV4's telly coverage of this race is best watched with the sound turned off. Meanwhile, over in Spain, "a Trek rider" FABIO FELLINE, ever the pinstriped bridesmaid, got yet ANOTHER third place.

I've 'finished' doing the RESPONSIVE version of Uncle Willy's website, having found a way to make the homepage more interesting, with an ever-changing, all-over 'slideshow' background. I think I've succeeded in doing it in such a way that it doesn't distract from the site's content and function, and doesn't just look like yet another case of a web designer SHOWING OFF at the expense of the client. We shall see what he thinks...

I spent most of Sunday afternoon immersed in the concert video part of the "RADICAL ACTION" box set. And what an immersive experience it is! Phew!

This morning, I listened to the ENSEMBLE INTERCONTEMPORAIN's late night Prom as 'office ambience' via the BBC iPLAYER. I was perturbed and disturbed to find that iPlayer is STILL reliant on the dreaded ADOBE FLASH! They had been beta testing an HTML5 alternative, but it now seems that was just for the duration of the all-important Olympics. The BBC website has now returned to 'normal' service and is predominantly Flashy in its content. New versions of web browsers are being announced that will block Flash content altogether, so it's time for the Beeb to get up to speed with ALL of its content, not just the popular stuff. For me, the Proms are over for another year, as the final week's programme mainly consists of BBC orchestras hacking their way through Beethoven, Mozart and Handel, none of which holds any appeal whatsoever... culminating in the dubious flagwaving of the "THE LAST NIGHT", to be avoided at all cost... Ah! but wait! I almost forgot the concert of STEVE REICH music being performed in a Peckham car park. This happens to be music which goes rather nicely with the bike racing (with the TV sound turned down!)

I was browsing online for mobile phones - I'm getting a new one for myself for Xmo, plus my mum wants an 'upgrade' as well. For both of us, the newish PIXI-4 from the ALCATEL concern would seem to suit all 'needs'. I was dismayed to see that, by a long chalk, the top item on the list of FAQs was "CAN I PLAY POKEMON-GO ON IT?". So for Joe and Jane Pleb, this is now the most important consideration when buying a new 'phablet'? More so than actual, intrinsic issues such as battery life, SIM card compatibility, or which operating system it comes with, or even what the quality of the camera is like? Humanity, you sicken me!

The Health Centre has suddenly started nagging me again about blood tests and what-have-you. I'm now firmly convinced this has nothing to do with having MY health interests at heart (ha!), but is mostly so they can tick the right boxes in order to meet GUB'NINT QUOTAS. Please remember that, under the current health service "WAY O' DOIN' THINGS", a doctor who I've never even met routinely signs off on my monthly prescriptions. Just to keep them happy, this week I'm doing my own BP tests (using my own sphygmo kit) and keeping another of my famous charts, before I go to see the nurse for a routine leeching blood test next Thursday.

Week from Monday 12th September 2016

My cycling viewing season is over for another year, and I'm pleased to report that that our man FABIO FELLINE (recognised by all ITV commentators as "a Trek rider in third") held on to his lead in LA VUELTA's points competition. He narrowly beat the veteran Valverde to take the coveted green garment. Meanwhile, over here in the Tour of Britain, BOY VAN POPPEL once again found himself up there with the sprinters, but not quite high enough to be mentioned. JACOPO MOSCA was the highest placed TREK-SEGAFREDO man in the ToB (placed top ten in both GC and the King of the Mountains competition)... There's now a big bicycle-shaped hole in my schedule between seven and eight in the evening.

MORNING WALKIES... went for a jaunt around the 'farm' to watch the buzzards going about their nefarious business. I returned a-drench in equestrianine perspiration and even more flustered than when I started. It was at twenty degrees at nine in the morning. By the end of the afternoon it was well into the thirties and everyone was complaining about it on soshul meejer. In most places, it is officially the hottest day of the year (IN SEPTEMBER?!?) and the pressure cooking has led to thunderstorms across Dorset. On such days, I can appreciate why Johnny Foreigner takes siestas and recognise that only sitar music will suit the ambience...

On the one night that I decide I can catch up on a couple of my chums' podcasts, I find that MIXCLOUD is closed for repairs. I probably won't get another chance till the weekend...

On Friday, I went for one of my "DAZE OUT" bus rides to that Southampton. Saw some zebras. I found a slightly tatty CD box-set containing the first few albums by DR JOHN THE NIGHT TRIPPER in a charity shop for under a fiver ("jockomo feena nay, Lazy Les good times ruler Norlins, fillet of gumboot and all that jazz") and some zebras.

And then... another week, another MILES DAVIS box! HMV have suddenly got stocks of the 40th Anniversary Edition of "BITCHES BREW", so I had to have me one. (Of course, it's more like forty-six years now!) I already own the album itself, needless to say, but this version contains some alternate takes from the studio sessions, seven-inch single edits (yup!) of some of the tracks, the entire Tanglewood concert and a video of a show in Copenhagen, not to mention a book-load of sleevenotes and essays. Did I mention the zebras? I spent the evening watching the Copenhagen video (not one for non-believers, I would say), followed by the director's commentary of "MILES AHEAD", just to keep "The Theme" going.

Now, about those podcasts...

Week from Monday 19th September 2016

The NHS is the main cause of, rather than the solution to, my high blood pressure. Have you ever tried to telephone the Health Centre? Be prepared to be 'on hold' for at least fifteen minutes, listening to plastic muzak and 'reassuring' "THANK YOU FOR WAITING" recorded messages, only to find out something that they could have left in the original message requesting that I phone THEM. It would be easier to get through to a utility company's helpline! It's not even that it saved me a personal visit, because I then had to go there to make the appointment (which could surely have been arranged over the phone in the first place, if we weren't dealing with civil service jobsworths who use a landline on which I'm never reachable). The upshot of it all is that, despite all the officious naggery that conspires to raise it, my BLOOD PRESSURE is on target and I have to go for my next 'LEECHING' in November.

BBC FOUR had a lighthearted, but highly informative documentary on the story of the dADa movement, presented by Jim Moir (alias top light entertainer VIC REEVES). But none of this could be more surreal or absurd than having KEITH RICHARDS take over the airwaves for an entire weekend...

Week from Monday 26th September 2016

AUTUMN is suddenly here... but, bearing in mind we had the hottest day of the year only a few days ago, I shan't be getting out the woolly jumpers and long trousers JUST yet! I finished last week with a "DAZE OUT" in Southsea, trawling the charity shops and trying to figure out why the buses to the harbour only run on SUNDAY (the polar opposite to public transport elsewhere). This morning, my WALKIES will take me into town to drop off a prescription at the ELF CENTRE and take a bag of stuff to the OXFAM SHOP (some books and sheet music, but mostly CD swapsies and no-longer-needed VINYL albums that I now have in 'superior' formats).

There are rumours flying about that GOOGLE are going to buy TWITTER, no doubt for umpteen billions of dollars. People (especially Americans) are once again concerned with issues of security and the monetization of folks' "PRIVATE" data. Seeing as Google ALREADY own all of my personal information, I'm no longer overly worried about that! But what DOES concern me is that, as we have seen repeatedly, whenever a MEGACORP buy up a popular online franchise, they have a tendency to try and change things IN THEIR OWN IMAGE, losing touch with whatever it was that made the site popular in the first place. There is a misguided tendency amongst Silicon Valley marketing types to want to make things more "STREET", in order to broaden its appeal with a certain "HIP" demographic. When that happens, the site generally ends up appealing ONLY to that specific demographic, alienating the pre-existing user-base in the process. This already happened with MYSPACE and a number of music and blogging sites. Social network sites are COMMUNITIES not COMMODITIES...

I took advantage of the SERIF concern's generous offer of an upgrade to PAGEPLUS X8 for under twenty quid. Usually when they do that, it means they have an EVEN NEWER version coming along, which they try to sell you five minutes later! But I doubt I would need it. I've downloaded X8 (replacing my long established version X6), along with its manual in PDF form, and it seems to do everything I'd expect and more. They haven't changed the layout too much, so I can still find my way around. Some of the improved features, particularly the FOUNTAIN FILL and DROP SHADOW tools, reveal that they've copped a few ideas off CorelDraw since last time!