jfs: (Default)
Amused by the news that not only will the X Factor's Alexa be at number 1 in the Christmas Top Ten with her cover of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah", but that there's a more than reasonable chance that Jeff Buckley will make it to number 2 with his cover of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah", I feel that there's only one possible response.

I've just bought a copy of Leonard Cohen's version of "Hallelujah" from iTunes. Partially because I don't think I have a copy, and partially because I think it would be tremendously amusing if the same song was in the first three positions in the chart.

A Decade

Aug. 8th, 2008 05:55 pm
jfs: (Default)
When you came, you were like red wine and honey,
And the taste of you burnt my mouth with its sweetness.
Now you are like morning bread,
Smooth and pleasant.
I hardly taste you at all for I know your savour,
But I am completely nourished.

Amy Lowell
jfs: (Gun)
A throwaway comment in the Independent today got me thinking.

We're told that the government is considering making organ donation an opt out rather than an opt in scheme; thus if you don't register a choice, the assumption is that you allow your organs to be used on your death. Now, despite assurances that the wishes of the family at the death of the individuals would be taken into account, there's a load of individuals arguing that the state has no right to the body of an individual after death, blah, blah, blah.

You may infer from the above paragraph which camp I sit in.

So, here's a solution.

Organ donation is an opt in. No question. If you're not on the register your family won't ever be asked if bits of you can be used post mortem.

But if you're not on the register, you don't get an organ from anyone should you need one. After all, if your body is sacrosanct, so is theirs. (People up to the age of 18 get a bye on this - they're not allowed join the register and so shouldn't be excluded because of that choice.)

Oh, and no jumping onto the register after being diagnosed, chuckie; that's just plain rude.

I welcome a free and frank exchange of views.
jfs: (ninja)
I'm designing a series of buttons for an induction website, and I was having problems with one particular one.

It's to go with a screen about regulations, and the person who wrote the screen has called it "Dos and don'ts."

The problem is, that phrase works best when you typeset it thus:

DOs and DON'Ts


Because when you don't use the capitalisation, especially when you're talking about IT, people might be forgiven that you're talking about a very old operating system indeed.

Only, the buttons I'm designing have lowercase text on them, and though I say so myself, they look pretty good. And that really emphasises the operating system problem.

dos and don'ts.


Anyway - so I thought I'd have a look at other people's work to see what I could steal gain inspiration, so off to the web I went.

Have you any idea how many pluralised apostrophes there are out there?

do's and don'ts


Do these people not realise that if you accept that apostrophes pluralise, then logically, the phrase should be typeset thus?:

do's and don't's


Or even

do's and don's


I despair.

But not that much.

MeMe!

Apr. 30th, 2007 05:39 pm
jfs: (Default)
As handed over by [livejournal.com profile] immerwhar, a double handful of 'aitches.

History: the only H listed on my Interests in Livejournal. I've loved history ever since I was aware of it as a separate subject at school - I still have fond memories of Mr. Cope at BRJ, and his term long project on how towns grow, which started with an a5 map of a piece of coastland in Celtic times, and to which we added houses, fortifications and fields. Each week, on friday he'd update the map, taking into account Viking raiders, wars overseas and the changes that would happen to our town dependant on the choices we'd made. I think we covered about 1000 years in the twelve weeks.

Hobbits and holes, I guess - a love of fantasy literature spawned by two people - Nici Hawkins, who's dad was a teacher and who was happy to lend books to Nici's friends, and Mr. Barnicott, who was my last teacher in Infant's School, and who spent each friday afternoon reading to us. You can get through an awful lot of good stories in a year - it was Mr. Barnicott who first introduced me to John Christopher (who wrote the Tripods trilogy) and to Peter Dickinson, who was responsible for The Changes.

Hippies: some of my best friends are :-) Like pornography, Hippies are difficult to define but easy to spot - they tend to have a casual approach to fashion, a desire to live ethically, and some of the best and worst taste in music; often at the same time. I have at times been accused of being one, but my mung bean sandals don't fit any more and my crocheted tofu hat is lost.

The Housemartins, and the Beautiful South, and all other purveyors of poppy wonderment disguising lyrics that are designed to wound. Lily Allen is much the same. Singing with their own accents rather than some mid-Atlantic drawl, and wielding "adjectives of annihilation" over a song that sounds like a summer's day. One of my favourite genres of music, though I really don't know how I'd identify it.

The Hounds of Love - still my favourite Kate Bush album, despite some strong competition. Beautiful videos, and a concept album about drowning on the B-side. How can that be beaten? Kate's still top of my list when it comes to female vocalists, and this is her at her ethereal best.

Hair - hirsuteness rather than hippies. I used to have long hair. I no longer do - the inevitability of genetics drifting from pater to pate. I will say that at my age, my dad was far balder than I am, but it's a phyric victory, really.  When I change my passport in the next couple of months, I will no longer have to know the French for "That photo was taken a very long time ago, m'sieur."

Happy. I mostly am, these days; far much more so than I was in my twenties. Scanning back through LJ postings, I notice just how many times I've felt the need to mark that fact - "I'm having a good day", "The sun is shining" ... and pretty much always the memento mori - "this too shall pass". It's as if, 5 years on, I still can't actually believe that I'm likely to have more happy days in the future. Sometimes I just need a slap around the back of the head.

HTML and the web. For me, one of the best inventions and the greatest wastes of time invented in the last 40 years. The web sucks time into itself far more than television ever can, because of its interactive nature. I love it.

Horatio Hornblower - an anti-hero who fascinates me. He's resurfaced in the Seafort Saga SF series by David Fientuch (the titles of which all contain the word Hope), though he's now called Nicholas Seafort. A hero who doubts himself continually, who cannot believe that anyone sees him as heroic, or likeable, or attractive. Hornblower is a seething mass of insecurities writ large, and in a measure of schaudenfrede, whenever I feel insecure or un-confident, I can always look at Hornblower and say "well, at least I don't have it as bad as him ...". In writing this I looked at Wikipedia to make sure I was spelling Feintuch correctly, to find out that the author died in 2006.

And, finally, Horoscopes. I don't believe in them at all. Never have, never will. Which is why I find it funny that I've run my date / place and time of birth through a number of online horoscope generators and they all put 4 - 5 planets into the same house - Virgo. And, as most of you know, I am very much a Virgo. What I find amusing is the nature of faith and belief, I guess. I know lots of people whose horoscopes are just plain incorrect - even the broad strokes that they're usually written in don't apply. Mine do, and yet I still don't believe. Faith isn't a matter of choice, you see. You can't choose to believe in something. You either do, or you don't.

Usual offer - you want a letter, ask in the comments.
jfs: (Goblet)
One of the things about having an mp3 player with multiple gigs of storage is that sometimes, you don't choose what to listen to. Put the 'pod on shuffle and accept what fate brings. It can be both a good thing and a bad thing; sometimes the music you listen to is so dissonant to how you feel that you mood changes immediately; other times it's so in tune with the place your head is in that you have to laugh or cry or dance. And you can't predict it.

When I used to carry a CD player to and from work, and before that a tape Walkman, there was a structure to my music. I packed a wallet with the CDs I was going to listen to, and each one had to be loaded into the player on its own. I could put the player on shuffle, but that was just choosing between 12 tracks, and more often than not I listened to an album in the order that the artist intended. And if there was an album or a track that I wanted to listen to but hadn't had the foresight to carry with me, I didn't get to hear it.

No longer.

Now, I've got 85% of our joint music collection hanging at my belt. I carry little classical music, and there are certain artists that [livejournal.com profile] feistyredhead likes that I don't, so they get excluded  in favour of others. 5000+ tracks, so when I put my 'pod on shuffle, there's a lot to choose from.

I was walking out of the tube station this morning, putting away the book on Anglo Saxon England that I bought yesterday and shifting from 'commuter' to 'trainer' when the following lyrics came in through my earphones and laid eggs in my brain.

"She lives with a broken man
A cracked polystyrene man
Who just crumbles and burns.
He used to do surgery
For girls in the eighties
But gravity always wins.
And it wears him out, it wears him out
It wears him out, it wears him out."

A cover version. Marillion covering Radiohead, singing live. Steve Hogarth Marillion at that.

It was like Whizzer and Chips or the Beano vs. the Dandy. Wolves vs. Liverpool. You could either be a Whizz-kid or a Chip-ite, not both. And you either liked Fish, or Steve Hogarth, but really if you tried to admit to liking both, you weren't really trying hard enough.

And for me, it was Fish all the way. I remember hearing Market Square Heroes at Bridget's house, and using my job at the local library to order in all of their previous albums on vinyl so that I could tape them to listen to; losing myself in the prog-rock stylings and fantastical stories, half growled, half sung in a Scottish falsetto. Grendel, for Gods sake! 17 minutes of guitar noodling and lyrics inspired by Anglo Saxon poetry released as a single! You either loved Fish, or you hated him, but you had to take a side.

Did I mention that I was 19 when Fish left Marillion? Just going to university with my walls covered with Mark Wilkinson's beautifully complex artwork - I still have photos from my room in Halls where 8 out of 10 of the posters you can see are Marillion album covers or tour posters.

So when Season's End came out, I didn't like it. No. Lets be honest. Before Season's End came out, I didn't like it. I didn't like Steve Hogarth's voice, and I didn't like the lyrics he wrote for the tunes that Fish had already written lyrics for. I'd planted my flag, and that wasn't going to change. And then antipathy turned to apathy, and the real reason I haven't bought any Marillion albums in the last 18 years is because there's always been other new music to listen to rather than any great principled stand.

But somehow, I have a Steve Hogarth track on my iPod. Admittedly, it's him covering Radiohead, but it's definitely him rather than Thom Yorke. And this morning, as I stepped into the sunlight after a weekend that was far more complex and stressful that I really needed it to be, Steve Hogarth started singing.

Her green plastic watering can
For her fake Chinese rubber plant
In fake plastic earth.
That she bought from a rubber man
In a town full of rubber plants
Just to get rid of itself.
And it wears her out, it wears her out
It wears her out, it wears her out.

I'm not a great fan of Radiohead - nothing against them particularly, but they've never really rang my bell before now. And I'm sure that I must have heard this cover version before, even though I have no idea at all how it got into my music collection. But this morning, it was like I'd heard this song for the first time ever. And not "heard this song for the first time when I'm in my late 30's and quite liked it", but "heard this song for the first time when I was a teenager and wanting to define the world, and hearing something that just makes it all make sense, whether for good or ill."

Partly, it's the lyrics. Those are beautifully painful words, describing, detailing and dismissing pain all at once. And, whatever I may have thought of him 18 years ago, Steve Hogarth can sing, and can inject vulnerability and humanity into his delivery.

Today the lyrics and the voice wrapped around me and reminded me in a vaguely schaudenfradic way that I'm alive, and so are the people I love. My friends are happy, and the things which were stressful about the weekend have a silver lining. The sun shines, and it's as easy to look up to the sky as it is to look down into the gutter.

This too shall pass; I know this.

But today, thanks to Thom Yorke and Steve Hogarth; today is a good day.
jfs: (penalty)
Last May, my car got hit by another driver. After much shilly-shallying to do with them admitting liability and then denying it, my insurers are now taking the other driver to court.

This means that solicitors letters are flying around; not good for our stress levels given that we're potentially about to enter into another legal dispute with our upstairs neighbour.

There's a problem with the car claim - somehow, someone at the solicitors put the wrong name on the documents that get sent to court. It's an understandable mistake - the wrong name that they put was [livejournal.com profile] feistyredheads. She's named on the car insurance, and (I think this is the telling part) her surname comes alphabetically before mine. It's a little bit sloppy of the solicitors, but you wouldn't think it was that big a deal. They have to 'fess up to the court, and they have to re-issue the paperwork so that letters come to me instead of [livejournal.com profile] feistyredhead.

The solicitors aren't treating this like it's a little mistake. My account handler seems to have taken it as a personal affront that this mistake has been made. I just got off the phone with her and she has raised this with her manager, and with the manager of the poor unfortunate who made the mistake. The words 'training issue' were used; I'm hoping she means in the 'sit down and go through the procedure again' rather than 'get shipped off to a labour camp and made to dig potatos for the rest of your short and squalid life'.

Actually, that's 're-education' rather than 'training'.

I understand that it potentially makes the company look like chumps in front of the court, so I can see that from a professional point of view, she's annoyed. But she's also annoyed because it potentially damages my relationship with the company. She just said "We're supposed to be acting on your behalf here, and if you can't trust us to get it right, who can you trust?".

I'm expecting to recover £100 from this - the cost of the excess on my insurance policy. My insurers will recover about £700. And she's making me feel like I'm her number one priority, and that her main goal this week is to fix this problem and to make sure it doesn't happen again to anyone else.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again now. Good customer service isn't always about getting it right first time. Often, it's about what happens when you've got it wrong. How do you react at that point?

The stories that people tell their friends aren't about transactions where there were no problems. They're about the ones where there were problems and how they were dealt with.
jfs: (Default)
Space Men Vote Earth Most Jolly (of the) Solar Universe's Nine ...


Bugger.

How am I going to remember them now?
jfs: (Default)
You come across a page on a website which makes you think "Either that's a really cool place to work, or some PR wonk has suggested they do that to make it look like it's a really cool place to work. Or someone's about to get fired."

Today's page is http://www.proporta.com/F02/PPF02P05.php?t_id=1258&t_mode=des - completely safe for work, and just that little bit of randomness to start us sliding to lunchtime.

Anyone got a spare £1,175,000?
jfs: (NWO)
Warning - geek post ahead.

http://www.rpg.net has a new feature - a gaming index, created by the readers. You can add in a gaming supplement that you have, rate it, and discuss it. Or if someone else has already added it, you can flag that you own it, or that you want a copy.

That's not so bad.

What's bad is that you can go through the list of products for a gaming line, all on one screen, and tick the box that says "I own this" and you get a little green bar around the box.

People who have seen my bookshelves may see where this is going.

So I went to the Ars Magica page, and started idly ticking boxes. And by the time I'd reached the bottom of the page, with its 60 items, I found that I had perhaps 15 unticked.

And that's when the collector-boy-gene kicked in and said "you know, it probably wouldn't take a lot of effort to complete that list."

The collector-boy-gene lies, of course. One of the items on the list is so rare that the last time it was for sale on ebay, it went for $500+. And a lot of the supplements I'm missing are adventures, and I don't like buying adventures for games - they're based of such a different approach to the way I want to tell stories that I either stripmine them for ideas or read through them, harumph and then put them back on the shelf.

But those poor lines without the green bars are calling to me.

I must be strong.
jfs: (penalty)
My mac power supply is buzzing in a way I do not like.

Despite it being nothing to do with my machine at all, the support guy told me to reset the power manager on the laptop. Now, the screen display doesn't work and the laptop keeps resetting itself.

As he put me on hold "to speak to second level support" the familiar tones of the Cars can be heard.

"Who's gonna tell you when
It's too late
Who's gonna tell you things
Aren't so great"?

And then the immortal line:

"Who's gonna hang it up when you call?"

Is that really the best song to have on as hold music for a technical support line?
jfs: (sunglasses)
I guess they'd be watercooler chats, were we in the room with the watercooler.

One of those weird conversations this morning, which started with my boss telling us about the training course that he'd been on yesterday, about managing poor performance. It quickly morphed through the films seen at the weekend (Da Vinci Code for others, X-Men 3 for myself), and finished with a rousing chorus of "We are the Self-Flagellation Society" being sung by one of my Irish colleagues.

Glad it's a sunny day.
jfs: (Default)
Game geek, I'm afraid, but I was reading the article on Legends of the 5 Rings, and I found out that the US Olympic Committee successfully sued AEG to stop them using the 5 rings symbol on the back of the cards in the CCG, "because a special Act of the U.S. Congress gave them the exclusive rights to any symbol consisting of five interlocking rings".

Tech love

Apr. 3rd, 2006 01:25 pm
jfs: (Default)
I am currently trying very hard not to buy a small Mac laptop.

Thus far today, I am succeeding.
jfs: (Default)
so I checked my LJ archive.

It's just gone three years since my car was vandalised.

Hurrah! I no longer have to mention it on my insurance!
jfs: (ghosts)
But it suddenly struck me that V For Vendetta should have been released last November, and I didn't recall seeing it in the cinema.

Now it might have been that the wishes of geeks everywhere had caused a consensual shift in reality, damning the film into an abyssal pit, but that didn't work with Highlander 2: There Should Have Been Only One, or indeed the first three Star Wars films: A New Dope, Send in the Clowns and The Farce Strikes Back.And, let's face it - if the combined geekitude of Planet Earth couldn't wipe those films from the grimy windshield of life like the bug-brain-ass interfaces that they were, what hope did we have for V?

Remember, Remember, the Fifth of November ... lets face it - with that as a tag line, there's an obvious opening for marketing. And with no Lord of the Rings megaepic to contend against, there was only the Boy Wonder's latest excursion to beat.

But it didn't happen. For whatever reason, the film was not released last year. So now what? Are they going to hold on for next November 5th? A date held dear in the hearts of all iconoclastic Englishmen?

Of course not,  my dears. Of course not.

This is Hollywood, and the Wachowski siblings (brothers no more, remember. Brothers no more.)

V for Vendetta will be released on 17th March, 2006.

That well known English holiday.

"Begorrah, Evey, will ye not come in and blow up the Houses of Parliament, will ye?"

EDIT TO ADD: I've just done a bit of digging, and Joel Silver has been claiming delays in post-production are the reason for the delayed release, rather than wishing to avoid offence by showing a film that contained an exploding tube train less than 4 months after London was attacked. So that's all right then.
jfs: (Default)
which will follow, I promise ....


 NATIONAL ANTHEM OF THE ANCIENT BRITONS
(to the tune of "Men of Harlech")

by Colin Douthwaite



What's the use of wearing braces?
Vests and pants and boots with laces?
Spats and hats you buy in places
Down the Brompton Road?
What's the use of shirts of cotton?
Studs that always get forgotten?
These affairs are simply rotten,
Better far is woad.
Woad's the stuff to show men.
Woad to scare your foemen.
Boil it to a brilliant hue
And rub it on your back and your abdomen.
Ancient Briton ne'er did hit on
Anything as good as woad to fit on
Neck or knees or where you sit on.
Tailors, you be blowed!!



Romans came across the channel
All dressed up in tin and flannel
Half a pint of woad per man'll
Dress us more than these.
Saxons you can waste your stitches
Building beds for bugs in britches
We have woad to clothe us which is
Not a nest for fleas
Romans keep your armours.
Saxons your pyjamas.
Hairy coats were made for goats,
Gorillas, yaks, retriever dogs and llamas
Tramp up Snowdon with your woad on,
Never mind if you get rained or blowed on
Never want a button sewed on.
Go it, Ancient B's!!

 

jfs: (Default)
I don't use my mobile a lot, but this evening, there have been a couple of weird calls. Firstly, for the first time in a very long time, I got a "Number withheld" on the mobile. I answered anyhow, expecting a junk call, but instead I got silence for a few seconds and then the sound of someone hanging up.

And a couple of minutes ago, someone called Dan rang because I'd apparantly rang him at 4pm.

I hadn't, and we were both mightly confused.

Is there weirdness happening in general, or is it just me?
jfs: (Default)

As part of a thread on Pagga, Nath (yes, that Nath) whinged at the prices that get charged IC in certain LRP establishments for a slice of cake, given the low cost of wheat in game. [livejournal.com profile] scary_lady responded thus:

" [QUOTE=Nath]"It is a general 'bug' that food sold for IC money (not by anyone in particular) goes for absurdly high prices, even accounting for the inflation you would expect at a big fayre for important people."

*shakes head* I don't think so. How much is a ton of wheat in the UK? How much is a cake in a supermarket? And lastly how much is a slice of cake in Starbucks? Cake isn't sold as a fraction of a ton of raw materials anywhere - it is priced according to what you need in order to cover overheads (which are high in retail and higher still in service industries) and leave you with a 40% net profit margin. If anything I reckon we are significantly undercharging "

Because I didn't want to derail the thread (which is about something else entirely) but was interested, I went to do some digging.

According to http://www.foodqualitynews.com/news/news-ng.asp?n=56088-poor-uk-wheat (which is reporting on last years harvest)

" Market centre bread wheat prices were last week estimated at £85 per ton across the UK, with a spot price of £102 per ton delivered to Liverpool, and have almost risen as much as they can before it becomes more economical for millers to use imports instead, according to HGCA economist Josh Dadd. "

The report goes on to mention that these are high prices, given the poor harvest.

Starbucks is, what, £1.50 / £2.00 slice?

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