Planarchy Archive - April 2003


Saturday found young Dee cantering through the forest on horseback.  A large horse at that, 17.3 hands she tells me.  Are hands part of a decimal system?  Surely their sub-division should be the finger?  Anyway, on Sunday a somewhat smaller steed was in her care, though here she was merely acting as guide whilst my little nephews and niece took their turn on the ponies back.

Yep, puppies and horses, it was that sort of weekend.



Down at my parent's today, helping, among other things to build a run for their latest puppies. 
You'll want a picture. 
OK.  Can do.

There are seven and I have no idea which one this is.  But it's my brothers foot.  If that helps.


Jean Genie

With apologies to the great David Bowie for that.

So, as you'll be aware if you've Googled today, DNA is 50 years old today!  Before that people were coded with jam.  Oh, yes.

When we celebrated the invention of the shoelace last month we questioned whether it was really invented on that particular day. Most inventions are surely a development over a period of time. 

Though sometimes there are lightning strike ideas, even these usually require refinement before an invention is complete.  Sure enough in the case of DNA, today is the anniversary of the publication of Watson & Cricks findings in Nature  and here quite a nice timeline which traces the steps that lead to DNA's discovery.... why there isn't a similar timeline web site for the shoelace I have no idea!



Today's Grauni informs us of the launch of TypePad™, a new blogging tool based on the excellent (I'm told) MoveableType.  I'm sure it will be excellent and if it's a little less massive than MoveableType then all well and good.  But I'll still not be using it.  I shall be continuing with my extremely dis-organised system until I've finalised my MySQL database. 

Then I'll be sticking with that. 

From an Anarcho-syndicalist viewpoint I should be using some hacked up open source concoction.  But once I started learning a bit more about PHP and MySQL it seemed more fun to do it myself. 
(Particularly when I learnt someone else had done it this way.)  It's coming..... any day now this disorganised collection of files will be in a neat MySQL database.  If only things wouldn't keep getting in the way.  Going to work is the biggest obstruction.

But why must I do it this way rather than choosing the easy option of MT, GreyMatter or even Blogger

Is it a power thing? 

Do I have to be in control? (seems likely for someone who proposes anarchy). 

What else? 

The challenge obviously.  The satisfaction of even a fragment of code doing something that you want it to still thrills me. 

And I need to know how things work, and this way I will!  Yesterday when the Digicam broke I was just itching to get the screwdrivers out and open it up (old friend Tee will here bring up what happened to my Ricoh KR10 twenty something years ago, but I learnt from that... don't use surgical sprit on SLR prisms).  It's so much better to learn from personal experience, after all.

RIP Digicam

My cute leetle Nikon 775 is dead.  I now learn it's quite a common fault.   "System Error" it says, even when I turn it off, remove the batteries and hit the fecker with a large hammer.

It is is a sad day.  I've come to really love this pocket sized package, it had re-introduced me to the joy of taking snaps.  And its macro facility was very impressive.

Woe is me. 

What am I to do?  It will be taken back to the shop on Saturday obviously (once I've filled in the dents) as it's only 6 months old.  But it's not going to be an instant replacement job is it?  And we're off on holiday in 4 weeks. 


Long term I'm likely to go for the Pentax *-ist D as it will work with my existing SLR lenses.  But it's not out yet, and will be way too expensive at first.  And anyway what I want is a pocket sized thang like my late Nikon.

Rats, rats and then some more rats.

It's not been a good week really.



Hah!  So, I guess you thought I'd sunk pretty low with the "Here Comes Summertime" episode a few weeks ago.  Those of a delicate disposition or hip musical taste should read no further.  It all started with the foul and stinking cold which has left my sinuses throbbing in agony.  SARS!  Pah, nothing! 

Anyway, shivering in the kitchen this evening whilst everyone else wiped sweat from their brows Zee suggested she "Go get the blanket from the bedroom."  As soon as the words had left her lips she realised her mistake.  For it is a line from Billie Jo Spears' country classic "Blanket on the Ground".  And despite my near terminal condition she knew I would have no choice but to start singing said lurve song...

"..and we'll go walking once again,
To that spot down by the river,
Where our true love first began'
Just because we are married,
Don't mean we can't mess around....."

Kay commenced her habitual response, "Da-ad!", though I have to say she's no stranger to picking up lyrics from innocent conversations herself (I'm proud to say).

But what, you're asking, is a sometimes punky prothletyser such as ,I doing with such a song anyway? 

No idea, but as well as remembering the lyric it also brings back a little glimpse of my past....... if we plough back through the mists of time to 1977, your hero was but a spindly young teenager.  'twas the middle of the punk era but I still needed something to tune my bass to.  Somehow this lilting melody with it's lervely plodding bass line seemed to fit the bill.  So in between the punk tracks I'd put it on and check my tuning.  I seem to remember it drove my brother wild (he never shared my taste for C&W).

But you'll have to wait for the MP3.... I'm too poorly right now.

Easter Message

Remember, Easter isn't only about Chocolate eggs!

You can get choccie bunnies too.

Good Breeding

Flowers again today, I'm not all ashamed to say.  This little primula has been fascinating me lately.  It looks particularly good, as here, in the early morning light.  But there is extra pleasure to be had from this plant. 

Though the flowers are bourne high like a cowslip, the appearance otherwise with a fully opening flower is of the normally ground hugging primrose.  It's clearly the result of cross breeding and self seeding.... I never put it there, yet it fits perfectly.



24-hour supermarkets can be a boon to those such as I, who rise early.  I can get all the shopping (save meltables) before work and miss all the fun of queuing.  The one snag is that they won't let me buy alcohol until 8 am. 

Even if I promise not to drink it until later.

Or get a note from my mum.


I'm a responsible(-ish) adult, they can trust me surely?  I know it doesn't take much to get me drunk (pint and a sip and I'm anybody's) but I really, really wouldn't drink before work!  And, for that matter, what's it got to do with them if I want to get drunk at 7am anyway?  I could always buy it the night before anyway so it still doesn't make sense.

Suspiciously, the deli counter isn't open until 8am either.   Is that a legal thing too?



Another amphibious friend joined me in the garden today. Now inintailly I thought I was mananging to get these pictures due to the superior macro facilities offered by my leetle Digicam.  But no, it's just so cute and un-threatening.  Unlike the SLR which looks like a serious high calibre weapon.  The animals were just scared of my big black Pentax.


Whiskey by pints

Fitting that today, which sees the unveiling of my the letter F in my soapbox A-Z, is the anniversary of the creation of the Union Flag.  Though i don't suppose 398 is a particularly notable one.  But it too gains a place in the lyric-a-day.  I was torn between the Pogues "Navigator" for the lines...

"The supply of an Empire where the sun never sets,
Which is now deep in darkness,
But the railway's there yet"

and Billy Bragg with the obvious choice: "Take Down Your Union Jack".  So, another one for Billy.

PS: How come no-one told me all my soapbox pieces had the title " Favourite Chrissy Prezzies 2002", eh?  And I've no idea why they did, either.

PPS: The Soapbox Zed entry has been updated following extensive (but as yet incomplete, research by Sss).


Ground Control to Major Tom

It's the 42nd (ie: most important) anniversary of Yuri Gagarin becoming the first man in space today.  I was only six months young at the time so can't claim to remember the actual event.  Nevertheless, Yuri's always been a bit of a hero of mine.  Space was my thing for a long time in my boyhood and Yuri an obvious hero. 


Well, he was first, can't beat that can you?

Also he died young (in suspicious circumstances?), which always adds a certain je ne sais quoi.  And he was a Cosmonaut rather than an Astronaut which somehow sounded so much cooler.  Finally, Soviet spacemen  returned to earth and not to a splashdown in the sea.  As someone who didn't learn to swim until they were over 30 years old this is a pretty key piece of information. 

So, here's thinking of you Yuri.

Now, longer term readers will know how I live my life being through popular song lyrics.... the Lyric-A-Day at the head of the Blog being just a small part of this obsession.  In honour of Yuri the Lyric-A-Day function has been modified to include a fitting lyric every 11th April.  "Space Oddity" was actually my second thought.  My first was the far less relevant Billy Bragg lyric.....

"I saw two shooting stars last night,
Wished on them but they were only satellites,
Is it wrong to wish on space hardware,
I wish, I wish, I wish I cared.....

Excellent stuff as ever, from the Bard of Barking.  I remember the first time I heard that song, my old friend DeeJayEllPeeQueue played it to me from a twelve inch promo.  Every time I hear it I'm taken back to his bed-sit flat in Brixton.  Eee, them were the days.


If You Want It

I've taken down the "No War" button.  Would you have noticed? 

Don't know. 
But I wasn't going to do it without drawing attention to the fact.  Not going to sneak it away in the middle of the night like a doomed dictator.  But a lecture on all of my thoughts on the affair will wait for another day.

But it doesn't mean I'm a convert to the war cause.  I still believe it was wrong.  But I'm glad Sadam's regime has gone.  Hopefully the war will soon be over.  Then, as they say, we must make the peace.  Hopefully it will be more widely supported and last longer than the war.


I've never been a Photoshop user, considering €1,000,009 (or even £569.88 - Ed) being a touch too high a price for the occasional bit of image fiddling.  OK, a bit more than occasional fiddling since the scanner, the digicam and the Blog.  But too late I'm a Paint Shop- Pro user through and through.   The four-floppy version I first owned has grown to a 52 Meg download for the beta of Version 8. I have yet to explore all the new features of this version but have had great fun playing with what they call "scripting".  Macros they're called in the Microsoft (no links available) world and make my life with photo-retouching so much easier.  I can now automatically sharpen, blur, rotate clockwise (and then back), grey-scale, colorize and then "revert to saved" all with just one click. 

This will save me hours. 

I've called this script "LeaveThePictureAsItIs". is not (sadly) sponsored by JASC Software (makers of Paint Shop Pro).


Dan Dare

Now, when I was at school, technology (though it was called woodwork or metalwork), involved making a name tag (so useful), tray(so broken) lamp (so never worked) or poker (it was a stick made of steel).  But times have changed somewhat dramatically....Dee brought home this rather wonderful buzz-box.  Or "Steady Hand tester" as she calls it.  It's like the game in the fair ground where you have to draw the loop along the wire without touching it.  Which, to me brings to mind Dan Dare.  I recall an episode ("The Funfair of Death" I guess) in which Dan had to complete just such a puzzle but where, instead of a buzz he would get an electric shock of 1,000,009 volts.  But he was allowed one "free touch" of just 10 volts.  So clever old Dan made that one touch last the whole length of the loop and successfully escaped an early fry-up. 

Now, why did this story stick in my mind? 

No other Dan Dare episode has at all.  I think it was this one free touch idea.  "Heh, heh," I thought, "I'll be able to scoop a large cash prize next time the funfair comes to town, using Dan's clever trick."  But you never get one free touch in real life, do you? 


Not Noddy

Dave Hill was 57 today.

What do you mean "Who he?"

Dave Hill

He of receding hairline or awful haircut (I was never sure which) but mainly lead guitarist of Slade!  Anyway, I know you'll all join me in a hearty "Happy Birfday Dave!" and sing-along with "Cum on Feel the Noize".

And who said poor spelling was invented by current yoof culture and txting?  Pah, we bin ver 1st!


It may not be as grand as this, and certainly doesn't require as much space as this but at least the Scalextric we bought Kay for Xmas no longer has to be packed away after use (just lent against the wall!).

I have yet to add pulleys, switches and leetle motors to make Thunderbirds style retraction behind the mirror a possibility. 

But give me time.....



Well, it was sunny here yesterday so you were probably expecting a picture of a flower.  Well, if you want it, here's some cherry blossom from the tree at the bottom of our garden.  But, as an alternative here's the three chums I found under a plant pot whilst tidying up this afternoon.  Nigel, William and Simon I have named them. 

And guess who's going to eat who?




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