Saturday 27th August 2016

The most recent entries are near the top ~ going down the page is going back in time.
ONLY mobile number: 07476 followed by 884665

This website is designed for widescreen viewing.
Some break-up will occur at lower resolutions.

Clicking on any picture will open a larger version in a new Window.

The photo gallery is now working again, although instead of being in folders,
all of the (380) pictures are in one group. I shall sort this out as soon as I
get chance. Please bear with me in the meantime, although this may mean
that you see some shots you may otherwise have missed.
A link to follow the 'Juno' mission on the 'Contributions' page.
First review of the recently acquired Boss ME-50 on the 'Effects' page.
Saturn and Mars were visible to the South when I was in Llandudno, recently.

Life, the World and Everything.
Where does the time go? It seems like only a few weeks since we were sitting
around the table for the Christmas meal and, suddenly, here we are at the
start of August with summer yet to appear and not a child in the house washed!
I did play the piano last week, can't remember the last time I picked up the
guitar, apart from to show it off. That may be remedied by the purchase of a
compact guitar amp. combo (with reverb) that will make setting up for a
playing session quicker and easier. More on that when the thing arrives.
Apart from pictures of items for eBay sales, I haven't taken a picture in anger
this year. In that case though, I am going through a phase of being
disheartened that so many people seem to consider a 'snap' on a mobile
'phone to be just as good and, in terms of modern, throw-away lives, it is ~
provided you only ever see them on a tiny screen and who is going to look at
your crappy pictures, so what's the point? From my perspective, we do seem
to have lost the concept of real (as opposed to monetary) value of life.
I now have seven DVDs unwatched, including top, recent titles together with
films recorded from TV. It has taken two evenings, over the course of the last
week to watch half of, 'The Secret Life of Walter Mitty'.
This may sound rather despondent but the reality is the exact opposite.
Instead of coming here to fade away, I am leading a full, entertaining and
very sociable life. Even my re-awakened duties as 'roadie' have been
entertaining, although I barely find the time. I love it that some people say,
"So, now you're retired, what do you do?" They don't (bless them) know me
well. I still enjoy a challenge, whether self-imposed or brought to me by
someone else. That chain of thought from, 'problem; limited set of tools' to
solution, resolution still fascinates and drives me.
And, to top it all off, I live by the sea!

The Politics of Offence
Unlike most of my writing, this piece is being developed
as I go along, so it is very much a 'work in progress'.
Although people have always been able to take offence at the written or spoken word,
the arrival of the internet and social media has expanded the spread of potentially
inflammatory comments enormously and this fact together with the reality of being
able to respond instantly to a phrase one disagrees with, has elevated the objection
to experiencing 'offence' to a Right (and, indeed, a perceived 'legal' Right).

The internet has exposed our comments to a Global audience, across all religions,
political ideals and educational levels. Also, exposure to modern media and marketing
of all types has reduced the attention span of many people to 'sound-bites', so that
rather than consider a whole proposal or point of view, people often tend to respond
to the early stages of any such discussion.

Too many people will also use the ability to respond immediately to react before they
have been able to assess the points being made in a thoughtful, rational way. Here
is where the democratisation of the internet to all educational levels may be
considered to be problematic. Now, before you take offence at my suggestion that
only well-educated people should be able to use the internet, I shall stress that in
many ways, this democratisation of the internet is a very good thing indeed and has
contributed to rapid development of third-world countries and a growth in the peace
and prosperity of many regions.

What is of more concern is that the remedy most people seem to require is the
deletion of the offending item, a full retraction and an apology. This is nothing short
of censorship. The worthwhile response to a perceived offensive comment should be
well-argued debate giving a clear, logical, supported analysis of why the perceived
offensive statement is wrong. Forcing its removal just leaves the whole opinion
hanging, without resolution and, as such, moves us no further forward in that, or any
other debate.

Another worrying development is the large group of people who take offence, not for
themselves, but on behalf of some other, imagined group who, it is suggested, could
find any given comment offensive. These are the self-appointed defendants of moral
decency and standards. One such was Mary Whitehouse who, long before the arrival
of the internet, campaigned tirelessly against the 'smut' on TV. No-one chose her,
she passed no exams nor was pressed to defend her position as to her interpretation
of what was moral represented the views of the majority of people. As I say, the
concept of offence is not, in itself new. Had Mary Whitehouse lived long enough to
experience the internet, it would have killed her. (to be continued)

'Year of the Cat'
I recently added  Al Stewart's 'Year of the Cat' song back into my music collection.
I'm not sure why it has been missing for so long because I believe it to be one of
the best songs of modern times. You can hear it on-line easily enough if you don't
have it yourselves but I shall talk you through it, anyway.

It starts with a very distinctive piano motif which runs throughout the song. After a
few repeats (this is long for a 'pop' song ~ nearly seven minutes) the rhythm section
principally bass and drums ~ comes in. Then the vocals start (over a minute into
the song) telling a quite engaging story. Al Stewart has a perfectly pleasant voice for
this style of song, so it is easy to listen to and his diction is clear.

We then arrive at the song's bridge which is handled by a small string section and
leads us into the instrumental solos. The first of these is an acoustic guitar solo in a
'Spanish' style followed first by a searing electric guitar solo and then by an excellent
tenor sax solo which will remind many of Gerry Rafferty's 'Baker Street' although it
should be remembered that this song pre-dates Baker Street by some three years.

We then return to the vocal part, which now has the string section continuing behind
it. When the vocals finish, the strings handle the outro via another tenor sax solo until
the whole song fades out. Another very typically outstanding Alan Parsons production.
Peter Wood created the piano riff, so the song is credited to him and Al stewart.

Jupiter to the right of the brighter Venus.

Rod at the 'Glen'

I haven't seen many cats here.
I suspect the Welsh may put them in pies... What is Welsh Rarebit, anyway???
[Answer: it's basically cheese on toast, almost no cat whatsoever.
I think they add Worcester sauce.]

This is Where I Live...
Here is the view from my window. It extends from the Royal Pier on the left to
open sea on the right. You do need to allow for the combined effect of the wide
angle lens (24mm) and the panorama tool, which both introduce distortion. So,
I don't live on a curve but on a straight road ~ a curved horizon would have
been far more disconcerting.