Irritating But Ultimately Not Too Much Of A Problem

When I started writing album reviews the aim was to always have something to write about. I can’t always have a polemic ready to go and publish on this glorious site. I would like to be that person but I also feel that my writings or attempts to express my thoughts would be diluted if I wrote too much about society and politics etc. So I decided to write about music and rather than have me concentrate on every band in a particular order I chose to describe my relationship with each album I own in alphabetical order. This would mean that the artists are mixed up and it’s a pseudo random order for the reviews. I would normally be surprised by what I had to write about next – screw Led Zeppelin for naming their first four albums numerically but I don’t own number 3 so I guess I saved myself some work there.

When I started doing the reviews in 2013 I think I was using the order of albums on my phone and the iOS system doesn’t really include the “The” at the beginning of an album name. So the list is ordered by whatever the name of the album is subtract the “The” at the start. This makes sense and works well. At some point over the last nine years I started using the Sonos App to get the albums alphabetically. Now Sonos does not remove the “The” from the start of the album name and so somewhere my system of ordering the albums changed from one system to another.

So now I have to see what album is next on my list in the Sonos program and then check whether I have already reviewed that album and then write or not-write depending on what result I get when I search this site. See, it’s a little irritating but easy to solve and while I’m miffed at myself I’m not bothered particularly. Once this round of album reviews is over I’m going to start a new list covering the aggrotech and EBM stuff that I’ve bought since 2013 but I have searched this site and some of those have already been reviewed and some have not. So it’ll be a similar issue when that happens, if that happens. I’m not sure how many albums there are to go but I guess I’ll finish them at some point.

It’s All Electronic Now

I’ve got a couple of things happening at the moment that are slightly frustrating for different reasons. Firstly I’m waiting for my gas boiler to be fixed and I’ve been waiting for about three months. This isn’t me waiting for bloke around the corner it’s me waiting for a technician from a service a pay a lot of money for. The organisation have been really bad at communication and, oh did I mention, I’ve been waiting three months to get my boiler fixed.

I’m also trying to prove my identity to a financial company and while it can be done online they are only accepting scans of specific documents from within the last three months. Now, I do understand why these rules are there and I’m happy to play along but the frustration is that none of the documents they want are ones that I have paper copies of. I don’t get paper statements and things sent to me. Why would I in this age? The one type of document that I can supply only comes to me once a year so I have to wait for that to come through the post box. Oh well. Not a huge amount I can do so probably best just to keep trundling on.

Surprising Compression

Recently I went somewhere for a thing! Given the last year of lockdown and nothing really happening this was a super treat. Motorsport Vision emailed earlier in the year offering the chance to drive the GP circuit at Brands Hatch and as I considered the price to be suitable I booked a place. There were rules to follow once on the circuit but it was nice to experience the route in the sun and in my Prius. There were quite a few “showy” cars in the queue for the sightseeing but I didn’t care. I enjoyed it even though our speed never really exceeded 50 mph.

Driving The GP Circuit
Driving The GP Circuit

I will say that even at the pedestrian pace we were going the compression going down Paddock Hill was surprising, it also started earlier than I had expected but now that I’ve had time to reflect it makes sense that you feel negative g as you go over the top and then the onset of positive g is fast as you approach the inflexion.

This was great fun and something I’d love to do again. I should probably see what lap time I could get by driving on Gran Turismo. Unfortunately the current GT version doesn’t have a Prius so I’ll try and find something else with similar power and torque.

Not Just Myself

I’ve been removing social media apps from my phone as I’ve found that their form of distraction from the real world wasn’t enough of a distraction and a waste of my time. I still check-in now and then just to see what is happening but I try to do that on the PC and not waste my other time staring at my phone. This is really about me trying to not get too upset at all the shit that is going on in the world. I can only just about cope with my own life at the moment and so reading about all the crap that is going on wasn’t helping. I’ve had to change my approach and be a little more selfish about the things whirling around my head.

So, I removed Twitter and Reddit from my phone. I still subscribe to Private Eye but I find I don’t read much of it as it’s all about the corruption and bullshit in the world of politics and as much as PE does really important work I can’t have all that other stuff going around in my head. So, I am trying to read more books on my kindle which I love. I’m using the Kindle app on my phone to try and read some technically dense writing about the NASA F-16XL supersonic laminar flow boundary layer investigations. I’m trying to improve my own levels of knowledge and understanding while avoiding the shit-heap of politics.

I still care of course and so balancing it all is hard. I think it’s why I like Minecraft so much. It’s a world where I have control over most things except for bloody creepers and what my kids do in the world. I’m building a beach house at the moment and I’m looking forward to the results. So, instead of me having to think about all the issues going on in the world I do this by proxy. I give money [not that much but enough] to organisations I think are doing the right thing. I put my energies into work and getting money to live and then I give some of my time and money [mostly money] to people whose values agree with mine. So, here’s who I give money to:

British Humanist Society – because if I had to describe myself it would be as a humanist or as a pastor of the Church Of The Flying Spaghetti Monster.

National Secular Society – because I don’t believe any religion has the right to be a part or have influence over laws and government.

Green Party – I used to be a part of the Liberal Democratic Party who I joined just after the Brexit vote. But since then they elected a bigot as their leader and I no longer found my values aligning with theirs. The Green Party do seem to have all the right policies. I am concerned that many people my age still think of the Green Party as a bunch of unrealistic hippies but the party values align with mine more than any other party.

Puzzle In A Thunderstorm Productions – These guys take the piss out of religion and it is well deserved. I like their shows and so I donate money to them. Over the years they have been a source of comfort through some tough times and I align well with their values.

Extinction Rebellion – I honestly think these people are doing the right thing. The climate is going to be a disaster soon and so these people get my money because I’m not in a position to do much myself.

British Problems on Reddit has been one of my favourites over the last couple of years. Like minded people pointing out the problems about living in Britain and while it’s very much a list of first world problems it does make me smile. Recently I noticed a post [?] complaining about usage of the terms “myself” and “yourself”. The post seemed to think it was just estate agents who use the term incorrectly and I have pointed out that the educated professionals I work with [in a grammar school] mostly seem to use this incorrect construction. Things like:

“if you aren’t sure come and see Dave or myself
“please email myself if you want more information”

It’s one of those little things that really annoys me. It sounds pretentious and is just plain wrong.

“if you aren’t sure come and see Dave or ME
“please email ME if you want more information”

These are the grammatically correct ways of saying these sentences. Please help me change the world so that everyone speaks properly. Yes, I know the title of this communication is wrong, it’s called humour.

Don’t Think It’ll Ever Be Right

I’ve been trying to withdraw myself from the news more and more and yet I still feel drawn to it and am teetering on the edge of utter rage. My latest conclusion is that while we expect our governments to look after us and care for us all they really care about is doing just enough to keep everything ticking along. Maintaining the status quo is important and when we get annoyed by things they even feel the need to make protest virtually illegal.

How do you let those in charge know your feelings? You have to be allowed to protest. If things are important enough then the people should be able to let you know. The people should be allowed to protest and if you don’t want to listen then it is time you stopped governing. I feel that protest is important. It means that we are finally getting off our arses and going to do something about it. But then I remember that over one million people marched against the Iraq war and yet still a Labour Prime Minister entered that war.

I feel despair and as such I don’t think I can write about all my thoughts here. Not that this is really the forum for this. I think I need to see my friends and talk about my ideas. I have some close friends who help me back from the thoughts of extreme to a more middling place where I can cope.

In the mean time I have played Gran Turismo for the first time in a few weeks and actually qualified pole. I then went on to win the race but I did lose the lead on lap two for a short while which was worrying. It was a good fun race.

A Win!
A Win!

HODL or Not?

Quite a while ago I invested (?) in the ICO of a new cryptocurrency. At the time I used it as a way to learn about cryptos and how they worked. For the last four years my investment was worth one fifth of the value I had spent. But it wasn’t a huge amount and I knew it could head off with the fairies.

Over the last couple of weeks the Electroneum I own has been valued at about four times what I paid for it and now I’m interested in selling my coins. I have now started the process to do this although I am unsure how long it will take. There is quite a bit of anti-fraud and anti-money-laundering hoops to go through, which is correct. I just hope the value doesn’t start dipping.

I had a conversation at work this week where we discussed Cryptos and whether their value will hold in the long term. I am unconvinced. I think they will all tank at some point. I like the idea of a decentralised currency and the ease of transactions but for a currency to work it has to be easy to use and accessible to many. ETN is trying to do that and maybe the value will stabilise at some point in the future. I guess it will be worth whatever someone is willing to pay or offer as goods for it.

The Homeland

In 1996 I did something I had never thought I would do at any point before. I moved to live south of the river. I grew up in Essex and went I went to university I lived in Knightsbridge, Fulham, Earl’s Court and Ealing. None of those places were south of the river Thames and I rarely went there. I always considered the south to be full of poorly maintained roads and areas less nice than I was used to. When I eventually got a teaching job I was happy but also somewhat full of trepidation as I had a job in Kent and I was not going to travel across the Dartford Crossing every day. So, I moved to live in Gillingham. A Medway town. A working class town full of history and pride. I’m trying to think of a nice building in Gillingham and to be honest I’m struggling. The whole area of Medway had really struggled since the closing of the dockyard in the 80s.

I lived in Gillingham for three years before a short dalliance back in Essex when I taught at a school in Brentwood which has since closed. Then I came back to Kent. I’ve been here since living in Rainham, Maidstone and now the village of Eccles. I quite like it down here. I’m not sure I’ve ever felt that “home area” feeling you get when you are a kid and I also know that I don’t have that feeling when I return to the village in Essex where I grew up. I wonder if that ever returns. I think I still feel a little like an imposter. But then I’m not sure what feelings I am seeking.

Looking Back To The Homeland
Looking Back To The Homeland

How long do you have to be somewhere before you feel “at home”. I do love my little house and I really enjoy the scenery around my house but I don’t often feel “at home”. Maybe adult life is always about feeling transitory. I’ve been involved with the community so I don’t think it’s that. In the past I’ve been a trustee of a local charity and I’m currently involved with the cadets. Maybe we all feel a little lost sometimes?

The photograph I above is from Queenborough on the Isle Of Sheppey. There’s a small lump in the middle distance and that is Grain Tower Battery – a war defence platform. Then, behind that you can see the skyline of Southend. A famous coastal town in Essex. I’ve been there and I can sometimes see Southend when I go for a run. I look at it almost wistfully but also in the knowledge that I’ve only been there a few times as a person older than ten years old and have no anchorage there.

Mid March Already

This whole lockdown thing has really messed up my internal calendar. There are times when I think it’s coming up to autumn and other times when it could be May? I have to keep looking at an electronic device to make sure I know what month it is. But then again, a bit like when we change the clocks, I’m never really sure I trust the programming on any devices until I can check with a third party official source [normally the radio].

I’ve had a mostly administration day. I’ve looked at updating computers and making sure things work properly along with setting up various cloud storage devices. It’s one of those jobs that needs doing every now and then. It’s almost fun. Also, for some reason a few of my albums within iTunes were labelled as compilations and that put them somewhere strange in the music app on my phone so I’ve been doing some admin making sure they are all correctly organised and labelled.

Friday night I didn’t fall asleep at 2000 so that was nice, being able to watch a television show all the way through!

Well, I’m sure other important stuff happened this week but I have no recollection.

Not Sure Why – Just Do

I had a realisation a few weeks ago that I really missed wearing odd clothes and makeup. I was watching the series Umbrella Academy and the character Klaus was wearing a skirt and I thought – I want one, I want to be at a place where I can wear one. Smith and I have travelled to Germany every summer for the last few years and we’ve planned costumes and things long beforehand. There are small gigs we used to go to where people are more free to express their wants and delights, in terms of clothing and look, than they are in the dreary offices where they work. None of these things has happened for over a year now and I think a part of me is missing.

Back when I was young, and that’s quite a while ago now, there was the first ever Red Nose Day. I was in school and I want to say I was in something like the fourth or fifth year. I will check in a moment to see when it actually happened. Now I don’t recall why I decided this but I chose to wear eye shadow and paint my nails when I went to school. We must have had a non-uniform day. Why I chose to do the makeup thing I honestly have no idea. What I do remember is liking the feeling that I looked slightly different and I also liked the look of my painted nails, I think I felt more “me”. [Just looked up when the first comic relief was and it turns out to be 1988, so I was in the fifth year].

There are some later events which made me think about the whole makeup thing a little more. I dressed in drag at a show performed by cadets at RAF Coningsby in the summer of 1988 and I had some makeup on. I remember the eyeliner didn’t really wash off easily and I got some funny looks in the JRM the next morning. I can remember going out to pubs in Bishop’s Stortford in my late teens and early twenties when I was already wearing eyeliner [badly I would say because I am terrible at putting it on]. Most of my friends were just accepting and didn’t care. Which was nice. I enjoyed wearing this stuff and as much as I didn’t have these terms I do think I felt more me when doing that.

Skip forward a long way and the rediscovery of wearing makeup occurs with attendance at the M’era Luna festival and going to Club AC a couple of times. The smaller gigs that Smith and I have attended also help as many dress up and a lot of the time the gigs run into the Slimelight club. I went through a phase of wearing nail varnish each week and while I stopped that while my kids grow up and go through school it is something I think I will return to. I just like it. One of my favourite things is when Smith and I are in the Eurotunnel waiting to get to the continent and I put on my black nail varnish. It feels like coming home once that stuff is on. Yes, I know that psychologically it’s linked to being “out” or seeing bands or having a great weekend away at a festival but I think I genuinely do miss wearing it and would like to wear it all the time.

Fancy Dress For Fun But Wanting To do It All The Time
Fancy Dress For Fun But Wanting To do It All The Time

So, I love the look and feel of makeup, I really feel at home surrounded by freaks and geeks when at a gig or festival. Walking up the stairs at Electrowerkz and entering the main venue to the sights and sounds of a gig and people just being who they are and accepting it – this feels like home and there’s a calmness that descends on me, a feeling of belonging. We are all people of contrast and the flip side to me is that I also really enjoy being part of something super restrictive about clothing and rules – RAFAC. I can dress up in uniform and I do it well, I do it to look smart and I do it to show the dedication I have to the organisation. I can spend time away on RAF bases or spend time at the RAF Club and still feel at home. So, I suppose part of me is constantly rebelling and trying to be subversive while another part of me loves being in the establishment. Perhaps I secretly like the feeling of being in the establishment but also having that other rebellious part to me. I’m quite open about how I dress and my outfits. I think it takes a few people by surprise and some just write it off as “dress up” but I honestly feel as though it’s more than that. It’s a part of me.

I am fortunate to live in a time when most people don’t care about these things. I am lucky to be able to live in a society where you can dress like this and attend your events and most people aren’t that worried about it. There are social rules that are broadly tolerant. It must be very difficult to want to dress up or wear make up or do things that are considered subversive by the country’s leaders and you don’t have the freedom to be what you are. It is such a shame that some people will judge and be disapproving, unaccepting, scared or even violent towards those who are different. I imagine the newspapers and societal need for shaming others for their behaviour when I remember the sort of thing where “MP caught wearing women’s clothes” or kink shaming would regularly make the headlines and there would be scandal. I don’t think that society has moved on from that particularly. People’s lives are judged by a set of rules which don’t fit all. Imagine a cabinet member being discovered to live within a threesome. A lot of people would lose their shit. For me the question would be – are they all consenting and are they all happy? If that was the case then I care not. It feels that society expects its leaders and people of prominence to behave like the “perfect ideal”, which doesn’t exist, but we grow up hearing so much about mum+dad+family that a lot of people struggle to be accepting of anything else.

Just think about the hoo-hah that occurs when a Hollywood celeb announces that their sexuality is not hetero. We have lots of news articles and the world seems to be up in arms for a short while. Many people seem obsessed with who puts what body part into whom and where. I would hope that one day we reach the point where you don’t have to “come out” because no-one gives a shit. You be as you want to be and we don’t care. That is a place I would like to live.

That Was A Week, That Was

Absolutely bloody shattered. That’s how I ended this week. Last night, Friday, I ate food and then tried to watch a film. Fell asleep at 2000 on the sofa and then went to bed at 2230 when I woke up. I’ve not even really had the hardest of jobs in the organisation. There are others who are running the testing centre and track and trace and all that and all I have to do is our core business of teaching. Knackering. But also nice to be able to see faces again. Kinda.

I bought a new cafetiere and it came with a coffee grinder so I’ve been grinding coffee beans and testing that type of coffee out. It’s fun, I guess, but not sure if it’s worth it. Especially as I bastardise my coffee with sugar and milk. I then decided to get a filter coffee machine instead of a new kettle. My kettle looks worn out but a bit of descaling has meant it still works fine so I can live with it for a while longer. The coffee machine has a timer and so I can set everything ready in the evening and come down to fresh coffee when I wake up every work day. I will say that having everything done when I walk through the kitchen is a sheer delight.

My home boiler, hot water and heating, has issues and I can’t let the heating work automatically. This has been like this for two months now. I pay money for a boiler fixing service and my initial appointment was to be about four weeks after I initially called them, and while that seemed a long time to me I had to remind myself this is Covid and my system still works to an extent. Then they cancelled that appointment because – reasons and pushed it back to mid March. Now the service company have cancelled that and pushed it to beginning of April. I will have been waiting approximately four months for something to be fixed with a house that is mostly cold. This isn’t the sort of service I pay for. Screw them.

I got a new mobile phone a while back and while it’s the same brand as I normally get it still feels new. Which is nice. Normally I get a new phone, you transfer all your data and you look at it and go “Oh, works the same then” which is exactly what you expect when devices run the same OS. This one feels and looks different somehow and that’s even after one month of owning it! Oh, I also upgraded my sim only contract and now I have 160GB of data a month. I use around 5GB. So, I’m going to have to see if I can max this out. Time to start downloading films and streaming lots of video. There was only one time in my past when I think I went over my data allowance and that was at Linton when I was trying to stream an F1 race.

I also had a bad headache this week and woke at 0200 in pain and not able to get back to sleep. I had to get up and take pills in the night, which I can’t remember ever having to do in the past. Fortunately the pain had gone by the morning and I was able to head in to work. But trying to sleep and having thoughts running through about how to organise work and cadets when you aren’t going to be there is not nice. I think I need to change one of my life rules. If I think I might take some tablets then I should take them there and then. Don’t wait to see if it gets better. Just get those drugs into my system. I have a similar successful rule about work. If I think I’m not sure I can make it to work because I feel ill then that is when you don’t go in to work. That particular rule doesn’t always work because there are other social pressures when working in my sector.

Minecraft Bedrock ran an update which also included a server update so it was a nice distraction to put the updated server on my PC. It’s not a hard job but there’s a list of things that need to be done correctly to make sure everything works properly. Which it does and so I got a nice sense of satisfaction from that. I did have a small panic when the ray tracing didn’t seem to work on the PC but it did after a short wait and so thankfully I don’t have to investigate why. I quite enjoy fixing PC things but sometimes the time involved can be quite high. Things are generally fixed either within fifteen minutes or three hours.

I hate selling stuff on eBay. I recently went through a cupboard and found some old tech items and thought I would either throw them away or sell them. So, I decided to sell them on eBay. I wasn’t sure how much I’d get but it seemed more responsible than just chucking them out. Once tech items sell I’m always worried they decided to stop working in transit and arrive broken. I would never knowingly sell something that doesn’t work [unless I labelled that clearly]. So, once things are posted I have a week of background stress until I get my positive feedback. One item I sold I accidentally labelled it as the wrong model and so that is coming back to me which is perfectly fair because that’s my mistake. I’m happy to correct that. The other item the buyer wanted to return because “it didn’t work”. Now, he had already messaged me asking for the software download and how to get the item working. This indicated to me that he didn’t understand the tech side of things. Then he wanted to return it saying it didn’t work. I messaged him asking if he had followed a detailed list of steps to get it working on his system and I haven’t heard back at all. I suspect he was hoping it was plug and play and I also suspect he was connecting it directly to his PC and not to his router. There are many things it could be and I’m not his personal tech support. So his request to return was denied.

Time to get out for a run and burn off the calories of my take-out last night.