Can you sum up 2005 in just 24 words?
If you can, do so here. I did.
If you can't, try harder. Really, you can.
Witty and pertinent observations on matters of great significance OR Incoherent jottings on total irrelevancies OR Something else altogether OR All of the above
If you can, do so here. I did.
I was just over on Ruth's blog. She described such a delightful Christmas that it seemed superfluous to wish her a happy (belated) one, so I wished her a happy New Year.
1) I got the new Darkness CD. Yay!
I shall be up in Ballater ("the country estate") for the next few days, blissfully out of range of Internetty things, so I won't be posting. Therefore:
SO Alan Whitehead is planning to oppose any government proposals for new nuclear power stations as part of its strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This intellectual powerhouse is quoted in the Guardian today as saying:
Thanks to Anna of Little Red Boat for linking to this article by George Monbiot. Sometimes I like George, sometimes not. Here he mostly talks sense. He mentions the Association of British Drivers website, which I thought might be amusing to take a peep at, especially as he mentions its many links to websites "claiming that global warming is a fraud". Now when Greens describe people as treating global warming as imaginary what they usually mean is that those people fail to toe the Green party line in every respect. For God's sake, Bjorn Lomborg is routinely derided as a "global warming sceptic" despite explicitly stating (in The Sceptical Environmentalist) not only that global warming is a reality, but that it is mainly, possibly wholly, caused by human activity. This makes him many degrees less sceptical than many reputable scientists, including David Bellamy. (Also than me. FWIW I think it's a reality, don' t think we're mainly to blame, but think it would be a good idea if we didn't actually make it worse while we argue over the causes.) So I thought I'd take a look at these sites and see just how flaky they were., or weren't.
It was serendipitous that, having got behind with my Doonesbury reading, I should encounter this strip (from last Sunday) on the day that Judge Jones told the Intelligent Design scammers to sling their unconstitutional hook well away from any US schoolroom. (Amen.)
I couldn't pass by this post from the wonderful Ruth of Meanwhile, here in France.
Just read a great piece by Zoe Williams in last Tuesday's Guardian all about The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. (via Danzor.) I liked Danzor's remark that people complain about the death-and-resurrection business in TLTWATW but don't bat an eyelid when Neo dies and comes back to life in The Matrix. He even has a kind of ascension to heaven in Matrix Revolutions.
Another concert last night (Saturday). This time all I had to do was play my violin, though, as it was a different orchestra. We (Edinburgh Players) were accompanying the Jubilo singers in a Christmas carol concert. Same sort of mixture as every year: some carols for the audience to join in, some just for the choir, some for choir and orchestra. What choirs did before David Willcocks and John Rutter made their hundreds of (very well-known - trust me, you've heard at least one) carol arrangements it's hard to imagine. There was a moderately substantial centrepiece in Gerald Finzi's In Terra Pax, and after the interval the orchestra played a short work without the choir (this year it was a CPE Bach Symphony). Then it was encore time, and we all whipped out Santa hats, antlers, tinsel etc for Jingle Bells. I had my bow festooned with red tinsel; the flutes both had hats which emitted birdsong, some of the choir sported flashing lights, the first bassoon had a snowman sticking out of the end of his bassoon, and our section leader had a red nose and antlers.
I just heard this wonderful anecdote from Sir Timothy West on a Radio 4 programme all about how extraneous noises and occurrences disrupt the audience's suspension of disbelief.
Here's another very funny post from Saltation's blog.
Saltation has a great post concerning a test you can try at home to check out your brain switching rate. Go and try it. I tried twice (if you're on your own, dial up the speaking clock) and came out disappointingly average both times. It will be interesting to try under different conditions (though not when drunk).
From Counago & Spaves, this marvellous example of Babelfish in action(via.)
This from Francis in Stockholm. I love the thought of librarians kicking the FBI around. "Agent Mulder, if you don't turn that cell phone off RIGHT NOW I'm going to have to cancel your ticket for the special collections. And Agent Scully, if you want to be allowed to borrow any more books on cryptozoology I'll need your solemn promise that you won't get them covered in slimy stuff nest time."
Let's celebrate the Plain English Campaign 2005 Awards. Nice to see the Guardian getting Best National Newspaper; even nicer to see the Edinburgh Evening News getting Best Regional Newspaper. Take a look at the Scottish Borders Council website, and join me in wondering why all government websites can't be like that.
A good day.
See, children, this is what happens when you post sarcastic comments about Tofurky and then do a "How Do You Taste?" quiz (via):
On the way home from the Runrig concert we pulled off the A8 into the Showcase Cinemas leisure park, to patronise the drive-thru Macdonald's (not having eaten anything since about four o'clock). Hilary' s carload collected their food and parked, and I (with two kids) collected three meals, went to go to park, and...whoops, no engine. Dead. As. A Dodo. And the alarm began to emit mournful intermittent bleeps. My first thought was that the alarm's immobiliser had decided to go AWOL. Anyway, got pushed into a parking space, ate food, then phoned for the RAC. The lady on the phone (Jenny, hi there!) was insistent that, unfortunately, knowing we were at the Showcase Leisure Park by the Uddingston turnoff on the A8 just outside Glasgow was NOT going to be specific enough for her to send me someone. What part of Glasgow was I in? The correct answer (see above, as we were just outside Glasgow, on the A8, etc) did not satisfy her, and a postcode had to be supplied. God only knows what I'd have done had Macdonald's not still been open to tell me they were G69 something. Anyway, I sent all the others home in Hilary's car and settled down to wait for the predicted 75 minutes.
Last night the Saunders family, accompanied by our friends the Walkers, trooped through to Glasgow to see Runrig at Barrowlands. I was the only one who had been to Barrowlands before, as it turned out: a wonderfully seedy establishment (metal detectors at the door; no bottles of water or anything else to be taken in; my Swiss army knife was confiscated on an earlier visit). The actual concert space reminds me of nothing so much as the dance hall in "The Boys"; it should rightfully be full of teddy boys and their squeezes going through the "Ur ye dancin'?" "Ur ye askin'?" "I'm askin'" "I'm dancin'" ritual.
A few weeks ago I wrote a post about a Thanksgiving dinner given by some American friends of ours and how I'd learned various new things about Thanksgiving. One of those new things was the existence of Tofurky (which is what vegetarians eat if they really really have to have something turkeyoid at Thanksgiving). Chip and Eddie did not provide Vanessa (who is veggie) with Tofurky, I am relieved to report.
First of all, go here and vote in the 2005 Weblog Awards. No, I've not been nominated (dream on...) but some of the finest blogs on my blogroll are in there. For example, Mike has been nominated in the Gay BLT category (I don't know, something to do with sandwiches, I think). Petite is up for best European (non UK) blog, and while I'e been voting for her I should point out in fairness that Vit is also a nominee. The marvellous Boing Boing is up for overall Best Blog. A new addition to my blogroll, which I found via the Weblog Awards site, is D-flat Chime Bar, nominated in the catchy "Best of the Top 6751 - 8750 Blogs" category. And bringing up the rear for no other reason than that she's the only one currently leading the field in her category, we have Dooce in "Parenting Blogs". You can vote once every day in each category until the closing date (whenever it is - look it up yourself). Seems weird, but there you are.
I have just watched Harold Pinter's Nobel Prize lecture on Channel 4. First of all, full marks to Channel 4 for showing the whole thing, uncut, uninterrupted by advertisements, and on the terrestrial channel (having shown it live, I think, on More4 earlier).
I started this post on Monday night at work, but Blogger was playing silly Bloggers as so often and repeatedly trashed my browser if I so much as tried to post a comment. Yesterday I was away, and tonight Blogger merely takes five minutes to open a window. No surprise, then, that Clare has been posting comments on my blog about the subject of this post before I've finished the post.
Thanks to Croila for this link to pictures of Duncan Ban MacIntyre's monument in Greyfriars Kirkyard. Last night Blogger wasn't letting me post comments. (Their server had a "technical issue", meaning that it always asked for the same word in the word verification box, then failed to accept it and displayed blank images for all subsequent attempts. Helpful.) So I had to respond to her comment on this post via email, saying that I'd heard of Duncan Ban but that he was just a name to me, and I couldn't find a picture of his grave. Hence the link she sent me.
I'm sitting here blogging feeling very happy at present, an effect partly attributable to a large Havana Club and coke but also to today's rehearsal and concert having gone very well. Nobody failed to turn up (though the harpist cut the rehearsal pretty fine, and one of the percussionists arrived tonight as we were lining up to go on). No major instrument moves in the car today (a pair of congas, that's all), and plenty of help from the various players with moving everything from the storage area in the church to the stage and back.
I hadn't heard this quote from Barry Norman before finding it on Tiny Pineapple's blog. Rather good, I thought.
... or at least blogs. Today was the big moving day: squillions of percussion instruments from various garages, store-rooms, etc into Greyfriars Kirk for our concert tomorrow. All handled impeccably by Neil of Intransit Removals with his, er, Transit. Except for the eighteen tubes from the tubular bells which were lovingly transported in the back of my car after I'd taken out yesterday's kettledrum. (For Joe's benefit, the only thing I played were the bells, after I'd strung them all together, to make sure I hadn't misread a C# as a C and screwed everything up.)
Beacuse it's Christmas. Yes, 'Tis.
We are entering a busy period of intrument moving. Yesterday I had a pair of congas and an anvil in my boot (actually, although the sound is authenically anvilesque, the noise in question is generated by a metal mallet on an immersion heater spanner).
Last Thursday I learned all kinds of Thanksgiving-related stufffrom our American hosts, including the whole "hand turkey" business. As Thanksgiving is a wholly secular holiday it's OK to celebrate it in schools, so teachers and kids go crazy over it. The hand turkey is a kind of cartoon turkey you get by drawing round your fingers and adding stuff. I think we're talking about primary kids, though maybe the odd grad student....
So anyway, I'd just been reading Mike's post all about his fruity ceramic oddity, and had posted a picture of the Dunmore Pineapple in his comment box (as you do). When we lived in Stirling it was one of the places we liked to take visitors. We also liked to take them to meet Hercules the bear. I mean, you can't avoid Robert the Bruce and William Wallace (we had a stunning view of the Wallace Monument from our living-room, and Bannockburn is a Stirling suburb) but one tries to diversify, to avoid the obvious where one can.