Not cycled to work yet. The weather is colder again and I am very lazy.

I picked up the  guitar last Sat. Very good, though the control knobs need sorting out. Joe advised against using the ‘old’ Fishman pickup on the Pres, but is going to do a setup. The frets are a bit worn and the relief isn’t quite right. Had some fun testing the guitars with another customer m. Played quite a bit over the weekend.

Next Sunday I drive up to Liverpool. The new company helpdesk is there and I’m going to help with the tricks of the system. I hope to visit the Liverpool University team.


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment


Not been out much. On Saturday I caught up with a few things. I did a few more bits on the new car radio. Eventually figured out how to use the config menues. I did some work in the garden and picked up some things from Homebase. The weather was so nice I didn’t want to be inside, so I did the walk up the local hill  that I have been neglecting. It made me puff and sweat. At the top a butterfly was patrolling the road. I could see it was a Vanessid – dark colours and the fact it was about so early. They hibernate. I was trying to see it better through the sweat, when it alighted on my chest. Red Admiral. They used to be mostly migrants, so late summer butterflies. It is warm enough now for them to hibernate. It landed on me twice, which was rather wonderful. Maybe interested in the sweat.

On the way back down I met Bernie looking very sleek and athletic. She was walking further. 

Over the weekend I got my commuting bike ready to go, but I had to go in early today as the consultant on the hardware replacement project was coming in.

We had quite a good day. Several PC config issues solved and a good meeting with our hosts about network security. Looks like it can be improved without too much trouble.

I got the call to say my guitar is ready. Can’t wait to see it on Sat. I will be taking my Pres in to get the acoustic pickup sorted. I doubt the neck can be made much better.  I’ll have to rehearse a lick or two. I’m finding striking the quitar difficult. When I bit my nails, I used the corner of my thumb nail to hit the sting. Not fast, but very good damping if I wanted it. Now my nail varies in length. I couldn’t find a plec last time I looked, though I know there are plenty around. I played base style with 2/3 fingers, which worked OK, but I think I will have to get used to the plec. 

I was very tired all day, despite sleeping a lot at the weekend. Will I cycle to work tomorrow? I’m about to look for my kit.

For Battle Mountain, I have a handcyclist talking to me and a UK university team.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment


The trip to the guitar repairer was great. I liked him. Old school craftsman. He reckons he can sort the quirks of my old Egmond http://www.egmond.se/egmond_se_History.html

so  it plays really well. Now I start to want all my other guitars done. At £80 a go, that is possible.

I took another Egmond with me. It’s neck is really wrong. It would have cost £280 or more to get it done. I think I paid £12.50 for it, but I may be able to do most of the work. The fretboard is more concave than flat or convex. I find it is easy to buy fretboard radius sanding boards. I have one on order. No truss rod at present, but the relief is about right with light strings. It’s the kind of thing you can do a bit of then leave.

I have an old Wilson Sapphire bass I started working on many years ago. The finish on the back is cracked.  I planned on stripping it and painting it. Later the idea came to give it a layer of glass cloth and epoxy on each side. After a long gap, I got in contact with Mike & Silvie at HQ fibre products. They are happy to do the glass, epoxy coat and bring it to a finish, ready for the subtle colour pearlescent white and layers of clearcoat.

I’ll put up a guitars page when they are looking a bit better.

Andy F’s birthday this week. I was invited to the restaurant in Neasden. Had to say no. The travel isn’t easy and I get embarrassed by all these Brazilians gyrating when I don’t feel competent. I had some hopes last year….

I just confirmed Battle Mountain motel bookings for me, Legs and Sherri. We can cancel or change, but I got the last single room for Sherri.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment


It has been quite a tough week, but reasonably productive. I’m getting over my injuries, but my guts and side still hurt a fair bit.

Tonight was fun. I wasn’t feeling great at first and slept a fair bit. Didn’t drink much at home. I was going to my local, but the I remembered the other local pub was re-opening after a lapse of a couple of years. It was very busy. Not many people I knew, but I bumped into some, including the hotel/restaurant  crew. Also my old friend Bernie. She really took against one of the chefs. She thinks he should represent the establishment. He couldn’t be further from. She thinks he is arrogant. I think honours are about equal.

On the way home I met an Italian couple I previously met at the local a couple of weeks ago. She is Sabrina. very nice young woman. Psychology student at the local uni. I’ve done a few things down that way and we had a good conversation.

Tomorrow (Sat) I will be taking one of my guitars to Joe White’s Guitar Workshop, to sort out the buzzes. I have not played it for a while, but is wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought when I tuned it up tonight. Improvised Black Magic Woman anyone?

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment


Early morning. Had a snooze earlier and am not working today.

Weds at the pub was a bit of a washout. 2 of the hotel/restaurant guys turned up very late. It turned out funny in other ways. I had a a conversation with Frazer about the Scots referendum. Despite a strong accent, he does not have a vote as he no longer has family in Jockland. I know a few people ‘North of the Border’, all of whom are in the No camp. In no way is that represenataive. Asked how he would vote if he could, he said he was a conservative (the last conservative Scot?) and would have voted no. Gently I talked a bit more about his conservatism. He is ‘every man for himself”. I want a caring society. My ideal is nearer Skandiwegia, his beyond the US. He stormed off from me ‘before it comes to blows’. Strange. Must be a bit insecure in his beliefs.

My mother was a communist party member in the ’30s. Many idealistic people were. Nobody knew about what was really happenning in the USSR. My Polish grandfather was a member of a socialist club, after he had been thrown out of a German dominated choir because he was Jewish. The photos of the club are amazing. Chrinolines and frock coats.

Back in the pub, there was a large group of young women. Local ageing failed lothario Ray was trying to chat them up. I could hear 2 of them near me were speaking French, so we spoke for a few minutes. They were au pairs from an agency. Quite a few different countries. They left. Not my doing.

After that I was landed with Ray. He knew I speak Spanish and now French. He greets me we ‘Hola, Como esta?’ every time I see him. It is easier to say ‘Muy bien gracias’ than to get more involved. He has a few phrses, which are rubbish. He is an East African Asian. He speaks other languages, but does not appear to have an idea how languages work. Knowing about verbs is a big shortcut. He wants me to teach him. I declined. I told him a few things. He won’t remember, which will show why I won’t do it.

Today at work wasn’t too bad. I installed my new Lenovo ThinkCentre as my work PC. Windows 8.1 is going to take me a while to get used to. I don’t have my old desktop with all the icons. I think we got firm numbers for the Cap Ex form, which should happen today. We should be putting in a slightly high figure to come down from. Instead the figure is pared to the bone because unrealistic budgets have been assigned.

Posted in Uncategorized | 10 Comments


Back at the grindstone today. On Saturday I was aked to go to the pub again by Aaron and co, but I can’t do 2 evenings in a row. There is another big one on Weds when another of the group is moving on. I’ll be there.  

I’ve been reading 2 very contrasting sets of books. I can’t put down the Lee Child Jack Reacher books. Despite the author being a Brit, the idiom is very American. Still, he drops in things like a cop called Geezer Butler. Very little used apart from the name. The other extreme is Alexander McCall Smith. I first met him through the No.1 Ladies detective agency, but he has other series. I think he set himself to write in quantity like Dickens. Lots of good jokes and truthy smiles. I do read serious things too from time to time. Maybe I will list my library some time. 

I’ve been enjoying the Raymond Chandler series on Radio 4, and the Barchester books. Go to bed with a Trollop! They are doing Pride and Prjudice. I thought I had read, heard and seen it too many times, but I’m enjoying that too.

One of my guitars has a problem. The neck has twisted a bit. I refretted it years ago, but I have changed the way the  neck locates since. It is a cheap Egmond plywood f-hole guitar. I have done lots to it over the years. The Beatles used them when they couldn’t get anything better. Mine has 2 very good humbuckers and very wide switching choices. It would be great to have it enjoyable to play again.

On friday I was talking to Chris of ‘The RampRats’. I was going to take the guitar to Chandler Guitars. They have a frantastic grinding machine for dressing frets. Chris told me Doug of ‘Zapped’ used someone else at good prices. Doug’s a neighbour. Yesterday I dropped round. Doug and Sue were very welcoming. I got to turn the odd lick on his new Cabronita. Cool! Anyway, I got the details and will follow them up.

It turns out Zapped are history. Rainer was at their last gig, when I was unwell. Doug and Keith will carry on to something new. They are writing original stuff. Doug has another band with a different style, but they are not close by.

Then the work bit. I hate going back every week. New silly problems. Today at least I was taught about Lync by my support guys. It is obviously very useful, but I suspect it can be disruptive. It is hard enough having the phone ringing and email to answer, without managing my availability to the very second. I don’t think the Capital Expenditure things went in today. They should have. I am dealing with small companies. Terms tend to be 30 days, but my company arbitrarily decides who it will pay and who it will not.  Totally unethical and very frustrating.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment


The dam has taken a very long time to break. I finally have permission to raise purchase orders for replacement of the IT kit at work. About £78K. If we can get the dreadful work processes to cough up, it should start very soon. I have an example PC. It is a Lenovo tiny desktop, about the size of a CD drive. It is Windows 8.1. It does not make sense buying anything earlier if it is going to last. The servers will be 2 virtualised HP servers which mirror each other. Backup is a big hard disk.

I have been very worried about all this. I don’t think I am really qualified to specify, but with some support I seem to be as able as anyone else.  

I live in the Thames flooding corridor. My aunt, who lives nearby, had to evacuate. I had no problems. My loo is on the ground floor. If the drains back up, I get it first, but there hasn’t been a problem. I gather my part of the village has not flooded since 1956, the year of my birth. 

I had last week off, using up my holiday. It did not work out as expected. I was very tired on the 15th. I adjourned to bed with a bottle of wine, Radio 4 and a book. Not quite Omar Kyam, but good enough. I woke in the early hours with severe pains in the left of my lower abdomen . They came in waves, which made me think it was gastric. I slept (with frequent interruptions) until late, hopeing it would go away. It didn’t. At about 14:00 I tried 111. They suggested I try pain killers, which I did not have, and to go to casualty, which I couldn’t. The conclusion was I should call 999.

Charlotte, the quick response driver, turned up very fast and made sure my heart was working OK. We had decided she would take me to the hospital. Then I coughed and nearly passed out. She helped me back to sitting position and called the ambulance.

The ambulance staff were Ken and possibly Kelly. Excuse me if I forgot a name, I was a bit stressed.  At one point the 2 women were prodding my belly. Not unpleasant. My fat gut is surprisingly solid. They said it was like a 6 pack. I’ve been looking at why it might be like this. Could be IBS, which I’ve had for years 

I sat up in the ambulance as changeing position hurt. I had a few bad moments. I was admitted for 2 nights.

I was in A&E for ages. After answering the same questions lots of times, I was X-Rayed. They suggested I had a couple of broken ribs, but I might have a variety of other things that explained my distended gut, including pancreatitus. I was a bit concerned as cancer of the spleen, or other internal organs could look the same.

I was given me some IV painkillers and I was floating a bit. I waited a very long time. Finally they took me to a ward. Same questions, more drugs.. On Sunday at 06:00 I was moved again. More questions, more drugs. I was pretty disorientated by this time. The pain spasms were less though. Eventually, a specialist came to see me, with a covy of students/juniors. He talked to them about pain relief. He gave me cocodamol alternated with ibruprofen. His main concern was lung infection as I wasn’t breathing fully. He decided to give me a CT scan to see if there was anything wrong internally.

By now a very large bruise was forming on the left side of my back. Just on the lower ribs. I didn’t seem to be able convince anyone I had not drunk more than usual and didn’t know what had happened. No other bruises, which would be odd for a fall. I had sneezed very hard and painfully on the friday.

I waited most of the day and finally got scanned. Then waited again and was kept in. On Sunday morning they gave me a different ion pump inhibitor from my usual one. I thought just once would be OK, but no. By the evening my skin was itching all over – which is why I had switched drug before. Also I was given oral morphine from saturday and was very constipated. A very uncomfortable night, but I had been dozing a lot, so I wasn’t too bad in the morning. I persuaded them to let me take a shower.

Late afternoon Monday, one of the students/juniors came to see me. The CT scan had found nothing significant. My liver is slightly enlarged. I have a couple of spots on my kidneys, but neither of these are unusual for a man of 57. They didn’t find a fracture. Then I had to wait some hours for my prescription of painkillers.

I managed to leave at about 17:30, walking rather carefully to the station. I stayed in bed and took the tablets for most of the rest of the week. I am much better now, but when I breathe deeply something goes crunch in a rather sickening way, so I think there may be a fracture after all.

In general, the staff were really nice to me and I got good treatment, though communication wasn’t great and everything was terribly slow. Of course, I wasn’t at death’s door and others were, but I did use rather a lot of NHS bed time.  

I had a nice night at the local on Weds . I was off  work on Thurs. The work progress was worth celebrating.

Unusually, today at work was not difficult. Tonight I went to the local. I saw lots of friends. One friend is a chef at a fairly serious place. His name is Aaron. Lots of his staff were there and it was nice to meet them. Aaron’s right arm is paralysed after a motorcycle accident. We grossed out some of the youngsters. You know the Woody Allen joke about sitting on your hand until you can’t tell if it is yours? He has his own version.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment


Last Thurs was the funeral of Peter, my Mum’s kid brother. He lived about a mile away. His family are very close, with children and grandchildren. He had dementia for 3 years. Nobody teld me. I visited my Mum when she was dementing  and worked with people with dementia.
Well, it was odd. It started in the local Methodist church. Very good non-family attendance. I had never thought of Pete as religious. There were a couple of hymns I knew and sang lustily. The rest were just rather dull, musically and in words.
The touching bits were a piece Dorothy, my aunt, wrote, and the words of Pete’s 3 grandchildren.
Afterwards at the house, there were some strong memories. When I was young, Peter was a hero to me. Even let me try on his police helmet. It was good to meet the other family members especially the ones who have grown up.       
At work, the dam is gradually breaking. We have another 2 years, subject to some administrative botches. I am allowed to start buying a few bits of kit and should be able to start the whole IT replacement project in the New Year. I’m also seeing suppliers to replace our Meeting Room Manager system and of course nothing else goes away.
I am talking to 2 teams about handcycle record attempts at Battle Mountain. Not sure what I will do, but it is good to be valued. I have to do a ‘Community Day’ for work. I’ve put quite a lot into society over the year and I think this is very paternalistic, but if they pay for me to see the team in Plymouth, plus fares, well…
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment


I hope to add a bit more, but here is the return trip. I spent Sunday with Al and Alice heaving boards and the like and closing up the store. Very tired. We ate at the Mexican again and had a couple of beers, by which time (09:00) I was only fit for bed. I got up fairly early, but not early enough. Filled the tank at The Smoke Shop/Shell. Took me all the way back to Sacramento.  I was quite tired already. Near Truckee I had to come off the road and sleep for a few minutes. Filled up in Sacramento. The South Asian garage attendant had a brother in Hounslow. 

I was late. By the time I got the car back and the transit to the terminal, it was less than half an hour before departure. Fortunately the flight was late. I had already checked in. They put me in the priority queue and I got to the gate before boarding time.

I had an aisle/bulkhead seat. There was someone sitting in it. I turfed him out to his seat. Next worry was the woman with child next to me. The staff asked if I minded if they put a basinet in front of me. I thought that was a type of seige engine, but it was a seat for the child which strapped to a shelf in front of me. It turned out OK. The child wasn’t ‘The Crying Baby’, that was several rows back, in fact this one was charming. She smiled at me from the start and held my finger. Only 11 months. Mother from Congo. Very peaceful to watch sleeping. Despite exhaustion and being plied with wine, it took me a while to sleep. I tried one of the pills again. No obvious difference.

Back at LHR, I don’t remember much. I caught the bus home and slept most of the way. Straight to bed, but it took me days to get enough rest. Back to work on the 18th, but only in body.

Posted in Battle Mountain 2013 | Leave a comment


I managed to miss the work detail. I was hanging out with the guys at the Super 8 when the Obree team turned up. There are 7 including me. Graeme, his son Jamie, Charlie the manager, David the film maker, Rick the photographer and Gary the journalist. We all went out for a first look at the course. Always a great moment. Then back for the meeting. Graeme talks a mile a minute. The bike has a single fixed gear. I think they went off to the Mexican and Dave and me ended up at The Wol.

Posted in Battle Mountain 2013 | Leave a comment