The Ramblings of a Geek...

...or "Adventures in Stereo"

A memory of things past...
SA, Cigar, CapeTown, 2008
I logged on to Livejournal this week, to read a post by kylecassidy about the back story to the cover photo that he shot for Amanda Palmer's new album, and I remembered that I liked Livejournal.

We fell out a little a few years ago when I started to run my own blog, and since then I have started another blog, published some posts on Medium, and all told I thought that I was done with this account, but it turns out that I am not.

A couple of people that I really like to read are still here, though most of the people I discovered blogging with have also moved onto pastures new, but there is still plenty for me to read here, and I like coming back to visit.

So in the spirit of showing Livejournal some love, here are some thoughts about some recent TV...

The night before last Lee-Anne and I finished a quick sprint binge on the latest season of Modern Family that is available on iTunes (season 7), and I have to say that for me at least the show just goes from strength to strength. There are no "filler" characters, and I love the various dynamics that have been maturing over the last few seasons between the various families and the friendships that are so delightful between siblings and in-laws. Oh yeah, and the laughs.

I have also been watching Bloodline on Netflix, a story of family strife and revenge set against the backdrop of the Florida Keys. It is dark as Hell, and filled with moral ambiguity; I love it. I don't want to say anything more, really, as I hope that you, dear reader, will give it a go (assuming that you have Netflix), and if I say any more I will ruin it for you...

And so I come to Mr. Robot... Four episodes in after two evenings of viewing pleasure and I am in AWE. I know that all the cool kids are already watching Season Two, but we are behind out here in the Pacific... I have never before seen a show about "thingz cyber" that I did not immediately hate on a professional level and thus had to fight really hard to even tolerate. There are pieces of artistic license, of course, but the tech is at least believable, even for someone that writes code and builds systems for a living, and really the tech is not the most important aspect of the story, not by a long shot. The cast is just amazing, the writing blows me away and the story has my attention, even when I am not watching ;-)

Right, so, time for bed... Night LJ-Land, I will be back sooner than it was the last time.

"How blessed am I?" or "Having awesome friends is awesome"
SA, Cigar, CapeTown, 2008

I first became friends with Jim and Liz by dint of being friends with their daughter Sarah.  I have written before of the delightful welcome they offered to me when I tipped up at their home in Saint John, New Brunswick, on the eve of Sarah's wedding in August, 2008.  As a complete stranger to them, known of only via what Sarah had told them about me, they welcomed me into their home and startled my reserved, British little self with their easy going nature and generosity, though I like to think that I got into the swing of things before my brief stay with them ended.  The following year they invited me back, this time for Canadian Thanksgiving, and I spent some time at their camp on the Musquash, near to Saint John.  I have to say that, amongst other delights, I enjoyed the best nights of sleep I have known in adult life there, the most tranquil and peaceful place I have ever spent any reasonable amount of time.  Have a look for yourself (this is a photo I took in 2009)...

Lee-Anne and I saw Jim in 2011, he stayed with us for a couple of days on his way back from the Bi-Annual Balloon Festival in Chambley - need I mention that amongst his many talents and surprises he is an accomplished hot air balloon pilot - and it was really great to renew our friendship, sit and talk about his recent adventures in France, and reminisce about times shared in New Brunswick.

Last year, when I was in New York for work in October I was invited to renew my acquaintance with the Musquash, once more for Thanksgiving, but it just seemed too difficult and too expensive to get there; I was offered a 14 hour flight, via Toronto, to Fredericton New Brunswick (about an hour from the camp by road), for $850, which seemed like a lot of money to be there for 12 hours all told.  I looked into hiring a car and driving up to the camp through Connecticut and Maine, but there are strange rules about foreign nationals and taking rental cars over the border, so that idea got shelved too... (As it happened, Sarah came down to NY from Toronto and we raised a glass to all in the Musquash, so in a sense we were there).

Cut to yesterday, when after a bit of texting back and forth during the previous few days, my family and I pulled into the Citgo station in Calais, Maine and parked up our rental car next to Jims truck.  After transplanting the car seats and then the kids into the back, we loaded up and headed over the border and thence to the Musquash to spend a delightful and peaceful evening with Liz, Jim and Libby (their dog) in a magical, wonderful place where there is no electricity, no TV, no plumbing even, and all of those things seem to make the place even more perfect.  A combination of their lovely, easy-going and friendly way - and let's face it, with our two kids running around and making noise and generally breaking the place up they must be saints to have taken so much pleasure in it all, let alone putting up with us - and the glory of the woods and the lake and the quiet and the full moon...  Once more I experienced a brief spell wherein I felt as though I had left the world behind and entered a more real one.  I cannot describe it more plainly than that.

And so my contention is that I am blessed.  Once more a fabulous, nay priceless, experience has been laid out for me all through the kindness of friends and I have no doubt that I will never forget it, nor ever be able to properly thank them for it.  Not only that, but this time they welcomed my wife and children with the same generosity and friendship that they have always shown me and the impact that it had on them was so plain for me to see that I now want to thank my friends for giving this gift to those closest to me as well.

If nothing else, this last couple of days has reminded me not only how lucky I am for this one thing, but how lucky I am to have the other friendships that I have.  It has reminded me of all the amazing things that other people have done for me out of fellowship, friendship and love that have kept me sane, alive and afforded me the chance to experience some amazing and wonderful places, things, emotions and times.

Friends are awesome, and I want anyone who knows me and knows that I call them my friend, that I not only value their presence in my life, but that I am truly thankful for it.  Let's spend more time together when we can...

Right, must sleep - tomorrow there is more of Maine to explore!

Adventures in Air Travel...
SA, Cigar, CapeTown, 2008

Don't let anyone tell you that travelling by air with small children is easy; it ain't.  Having said that, don't let anyone tell you that it's so hard it's not worth doing either, because it definitely is.

We had a very long day yesterday, getting up at 0400h (BST), taxi to Heathrow, flight to Newark (LIberty International) and then driving the hire car from the airport to Livingston, NJ.  By the time I crashed at around 2130h (EDT) I had nearly been up for 24 hours, and doing that with two children under three is no picnic, but overall it was not only worth it, but it was also "not that bad".

Clearly, we were lucky that K slept for four out of the seven hours, and we were lucky that O is very keen on drawing and colouring, and that even she deigned to sleep a little.  We were also lucky that the flight crew took pity on us and moved us to a set of bulkhead seats that had been vacated by a group who had been lucky enough to be upgraded to Business Class.  Even then, we had our moments - there was the pencil situation, and the constant screaming all the way from the airport to our hosts' home to name but two issues - but the general feeling of utter relaxation that has come about from being on vacation would have made an ordeal a hundred times worse completely worth it.

Later this week we are going to drive off into New England to take in the sights and sounds of a part of America that my wife and I have long been keen to visit, and it is my sincere hope that we are allowed to enjoy it by the kids, but I am optimistic based on the idea that the flight was more than twice as long as any of the drives we are planning to do.

Pictures and more musings to follow...

Oh yeah, there were wild deer in the back garden when we got up this morning.

The Day Margaret Thatcher Died...
SA, Cigar, CapeTown, 2008
(Originally posted on Facebook)

Right, I've thought about it...

I didn't like Margaret Thatcher, at least within the context that I was able to make a judgement on liking or disliking her, and that is to say in terms of her politics and the manner in which she conducted herself as Prime Minister.

That she made history as the first woman to ever hold the post is to be remembered and respected; it's hard to understand how we do not have far more visible and accomplished women in British politics given the massive impact she had upon the zeitgeist while she was running our country.

I make no apology for having enjoyed, immensely, her fall from power - that is a part of "the show that never ends" and even though one might say she took it with good grace, I was cheering along with all the others as she was driven away from Number 10, and it was all the sweeter for the tears that were visibly about to erupt from her eyes.

Am I happy today? No. Today an elderly woman who was unwell passed away, leaving her family to grieve. I cannot begin to imagine how horrid it must be to be her child or grandchild and see otherwise lovely normal people cheering and planning parties to "celebrate" the passing of their Mum or their Granny. If she had truly been a dictator, with no mandate from the electorate, or if she had truly presided over illegal actions, or if indeed the record of history could show that she did anything but that which she believed to be right within the confines of the system she was put in charge of by the people, then that judgement should have come through the courts during or after her time as P.M., not posthumously as portion of the populace dance on her grave. Certainly history will judge her; if you've not run a country I am of the opinion that the day of her death is not the time to criticise - should have got it in while she was still alive, or at least wait a decent interval and stick to the facts.

Above all it's hard not to concede that if passions run this high across the spectrum about someone, then they were not coasting through life or choosing the path of least resistance. For all her faults, as I see them at any rate, you couldn't call her a coward or a milk-sop or frankly anyone's bitch. It's not that hard to respect someone while disliking them and disagreeing with them, when you get right down to it.

So, no party for me, no crowing or jubilation; let's just do our best to remember that when our Mum's die we'd probably rather no one threw a party either.

To be clear, I don't like her now, even now she's dead - just in case any of you were wondering...

Kyle's Demotivator Contest...
SA, Cigar, CapeTown, 2008
I thought of this right away, but I left it too long for anyone to see this as in any way original :-(

Oh well, here it is anyway:


Testing, 1, 2, 3...
SA, Cigar, CapeTown, 2008
This is a test of the lj-cut tagCollapse )

Movement order...
SA, Cigar, CapeTown, 2008
Hello friends, acquaintances and unknown internet-based lookieloos...

Next week I am going to be in New York, for work, but I should have a little time in the evenings, and I am not flying back until the Sunday morning, so Saturday becomes a possibility too...

It would be lovely to see / meet American Online people, if you are around and fancy meeting up with a random Limey ;-)

Please let me know...

A Decade..?
SA, Cigar, CapeTown, 2008
I find this rather odd, but it would appear that I have had my LJ account for a decade today.

Once the home for all my musings and ramblings (and the site of more than a few bits of hideously self-indulgent whining along the way), LJ has ceased to be important for me in terms of creation and / or publication, but I do still read the journals of those that post here, they who remain...

Since getting married I've found myself devoting less and less time to blogging of any kind, and LJ has suffered more than most. I had a brief spike of posting when I was in New York for work last year - I think that this was mostly because I was on my own and had time to kill - but I haven't posted anything since, until today.

Nonetheless, I find myself unwilling to simply back up the journal and delete it, and I log into it most workdays, if only to scan the work-safe filter that I have on here for reading friends' journals; I sometimes comment...

I wonder if I will still have this account in another ten years..?

Trillian's new play - Re-posted 'cos I'm going!
SA, Cigar, CapeTown, 2008
Originally posted by kylecassidy at Trillian's new play

I was put in mind of this today...
SA, Cigar, CapeTown, 2008
maleghast I thought that I would share it ->

Neil Gaiman Addresses the University of the Arts Class of 2012 from The University of the Arts (Phl) on Vimeo.

I hope that you enjoyed it as much as I did. :-)


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