Tuesday, 26 February 2013

A fire, a damned good writer and wonky horizon

26 February 2013

Warwickshire's last deep coal mine is in danger of closing permanently.  Miners had been warned that unless they greatly improved productivity the mine would close in 2014/15.  News came out yesterday that a large underground fire had ignited and it would be months before any coal could be mined there again.  Today's News has said that fire as severe as the current one had not been seen for many years.  Around 650 workers are employed at the site and closure will be a hard knock for them and the area as a whole.

Today is Tuesday if you really needed to know, which means that Amateur Photographer (AP) is on sale again.  Before I read today's News I finished off last week's AP.  The last page of the mag is reserved for a regular column by 3 or 4 different writers.  Last week it was Roger Hicks turn.  Now there is man I would love to meet and chat with!  Roger is a pro photographer and has some very strong opinions as to what photography is and isn't.  In last week's column he looks at the latest fad for gimmicky photos taken mainly on camera cameras.  During the film years there were a number of errors that were seen and taken for what they were, errors.  There was also a fad for cross-processing film, that is, processing a slide film as a colour negative film.  That produced some very strange effects and it was something that I didn't try; couldn't afford it to be honest.  It seems that there are apps that will allow camera phones to produce these effects now.   But why for petes sake?  Most photographers work hard to ensure they don't make these types of errors and one way is move from the Auto settings and change all the controls and focusing yourself.  But as Roger Hicks says in his concluding paragraph, "Yet this, of course, would mean that you have to know what you are doing.  Much easier, therefore, to eschew competence and embrace inferiority."

Now I will return to the news of the underground fire at Daw Mill; the front page of the paper as a large photo of the entrance to site - but the horizon is slopping.  There's no indication of who took the shot but I hope it wasn't the staff snapper.  Whatever, I wonder what Mr Hicks would say about it?  I know I'm not impressed.  I have a friend on Facebook, well, did have a friend until he 'unfriended' me for some reason I don't know.  Anyway, he uses the Sony Alpha 350, the same camera as I used to use before the A77 was bought.  I noticed that a lot of his shots. perfectly good shots too, were spoiled by a slopping horizon.  Then he went to extremes and claimed to like the effect and was intentionally turned the camera to produce even more slope to his seascapes.  They really did look odd and I didn't like them at all.  And being my normal 'helpful' self I mentioned it him.  I also explained that any competition entries with that effect wouldn't even be looked at.  At least my friend old friend wasn't using a app to produce his shots!

And now we come to photo time ... 

A safe place to have lunch.

Funny time ...
I was in the jungle and there was this monkey with a tin opener. I said, 'You don't need a tin opener to peel a banana.'   He said, 'No, this is for the custard.'                

Monday, 25 February 2013

Fowl water, HS2, and new writing getting done

25 February 2013

Severn Trent Water is the local water company around here.  They have a less than glowing reputation when it come to fixing problems they know are their responsible for.  Three times last year they were supposed to have made repairs to a sewer drain that kept overflowing.  Each time they cleaned up the area effected, including the back garden of an 82 year old lady.  However, it has happened again and the lady has been trying to get them to clean up her garden for the fourth time.  Some wezuck told her she had to arrange for her insurance company to get it done.  Severn Trent are now saying it was a mix-up in communication and they will be out ASAP to clean up the garden yet again.   
But surely if they had done the job properly in the first place then they would have to keep going back to it.  It's not just our Muppet Person who commute in to Planet Earth from Mars and Venus it seems.

The HS2 plans still rumble on.  The News has a story about contracts having been awarded for the second stage of the project from Brum to Manchester and Leeds.  But why are they being awarded just now?  I thought that the second stage plans were only proposed plans, not actual plans.  Call me cynical if you like but I have feeling that having awarded the contracts the government will then have the excuse that to cancel would cost more in penalty charges than building the line anyway so we might has well build it.  Bloody Muppets - they must think we are all stupid!

Yesterday I got around 2000 words of the new Fred Cooper novel done.  It was a relief to get some more done after trying for so long.  I'll soon have the proofing of Web of Hate done and get it uploaded ready for release.  That will be #4 - #5 won't be long!

Jan and I are planning to get out later today for a ride around the garden centres looking at bird feeder stands.  Of course we made that plan yesterday and true to form today we have a fine misty drizzle.  Great enit?

So photo time ... 

Buck House ... ... ...

And a funny ...

I phoned the local gym and I asked if they could teach me how to do the splits. He said, 'How flexible are you?' I said, 'I can't make Tuesdays or Thursdays.'         

Saturday, 23 February 2013

A safe baby, Terry, and to the tradition of repeats

23 February 2013

Social Services are up to their old tricks again.  They went to court and got an order to remove a baby from its mum and did so when the boy was only one hour old.  Normally I would be screaming from the roof tops against such actions.  I have little regard for social workers of any persuasion.  However, having read the front page story in today's local Telegraph I actually agree with their actions.  The mum's boyfriend has a history of violence and other criminal offending and had threatened to raise an army of 200 skinheads if the baby was taken into care.  In reality Social Services didn't have a lot of choice here did they.

Terry was one of my cousins.  He died a few years ago while on holiday in the States.  He was a tall man with broad shoulders and was one of those lucky beggars who would pull on an old sack and make it look smart and fashionable.  Anyway, I was reading Writing Mag in bed last night and it struck me that Terry would be a good person to base my next novel on.  Mind you, when it's done he wouldn't be amused at how I will have portrayed him ;-)))

We are not going back all that long for today's bit of history.  When I read it today it caused me to look at today's telly pages and I counted the number of repeats being shown today on the four BBC channels; there's 14 of them!  But repeats are nothing new.  The very first regular British broadcast began on this day in 1920 - and was repeated later the same day!  The BEEB has kept up the tradition properly ;-)))

I was rather impressed with building ... 

I found in London last Sunday.  Not all modern architecture is crap.

Another shorty today ...

I went to the local video shop and I said, 'Can I borrow Batman Forever?' He said, 'No, you'll have to bring it back tomorrow'          

Friday, 22 February 2013

'ere be dragons, another store closes and council tax set

22 February 2013

Last night was a bit of a wash out for both of us.  Jan had to go to A&E over her stoma.  She sat there for five hours waiting to see a doctor.  The on-call surgeon was called to see her and he wasn't concerned by how the stoma was and she finally got home around 11pm.  All that time Jan hadn't had anything to eat or drink and by the time she had a cuppa she was shattered and we were in bed soon after.

My night began with getting a numb bum sat on chairs at the A&E.  Jan suggested I go off and come back for her when she calls me - she knows well enough that I don't coupe with sitting around in hospitals.  So I drove into town heading for the Felix Holt ready for a coffee.  I parked outside a pizza take away and they came shouting and raving about it.  I don't react well when that happens either.  Honestly, I was polite when I responded but basically it was to tell them to get over it as walked off to the bank to get some cash.  On the way back they started again so I challenged them to call the cops if they weren't happy and that I would be sitting in the Felix Holt if they wanted to speak to me.  I saw no coppers arriving so that was that.  But I could have done without.

Dorktown council tax the coming year has been set and it's been frozen.  Of course the Tory opposition claim they could have set a budget that would have reduced the bill, not frozen it.  It's easy to say things like that when you don't have to set the bill.  But thing back a few years ago when they did control the council I don't remember them reducing the council that year!  I wonder why?

Dorktown's HMV store will be closing in around a month.  Yet another large store will be closed.  However, this one is in the so-called prestigious Ropewalk shopping mall.  Not only that but it also occupies the ground floor space under the old JB Sports store.  Oh dear, that will mean that there are now four or five units unoccupied in the Ropewalk.  So I wonder if the town centre really needs a new large shopping complex?  Something to think about ... ... ...

So then, let's find a photo ... 

The Dragon on a wall in London's China Town.          

And today's funny is another short one ...

I bought some Armageddon cheese today, and it said on the packet. 'Best before End'

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Self doubt, street llighting and the great leveller

21 February 2013

I have had a bit of  self doubt over two of my published books, House of Pain and Web of Hate.  The reason is that although both the story lines tend to move about the country a good deal, they are both centred on Cambridge with Fred Cooper as the lead character.  At the moment I have several other novels on the go and they all seem to be at a standstill part from just one, another Fred Cooper tale.  My doubt over this was simple; I didn't want anyone trying to say that I am trying to copy Colin Dexter and his Inspector Morse novels, based in Oxford. 

Simon Whaley is a writer, a blogger I follow and creative writing tutor.  He is a more than clever man all round.  So, I sent Simon an email asking for his advice over this doubt.  His very positive reaction has put my mind at ease of it.  Once I have finished the proof reading and correcting of Web of Hate, I shall be picking up the new Fred Cooper and getting on with it.  Another piece of advice from Simon is to try writing the end of the novel first; that gives you something to aim at.  What I have now actually would make a good ending of the new one and also gives a promise of more to come.  Thank you Simon; I really do appreciate your comments and advice.  Mean while, back in Dorktown ...

It seems that the town is short of grave yard space.  A plot of land beside the new crematorium has been identified as being suitable - or at least it was.  Now the Environment Agency has said that because of its intended use more tests need to be done.  All land has a water table underneath it and this site is no different.  Because of the wet weather over the last 12 months the EA is worried about how high the water table is and say they need to monitor it for another 12 months before they give the go ahead.  I'm pleased I'm getting burnt up ;-)))

The street lighting fuss and bother continues.  I was surprised that all our street lights were actually still on.  That was part of the upset by some other residents in the town; the poorer areas are all blacked out while the more affluent areas are still well lit.  I have since found out that all the lighting in our immediate area are still lit simple because there is a large number of sheltered, semi-sheltered and supported accommodation in the area.  Indeed, our flat is part of a supported complex.  At least the council has got right then!  No, not the lighting, the building of sheltered housing in less affluent areas.  They also tend to be rather rough and ready areas too with a lot of anti social behaviour and so on.  But I've been thinking ...

A lot of consumer advise sources recommend that we should all be switching our energy suppliers so as to get the best deal possible.  So why don't the County Councils do the same?  Or is there a clause in their contracts that prevent them doing so.  I would have thought that being such high energy users they should be able to get a really good deal from someone.  Talking of Which ...

My copy of Which? magazine arrived this morning.  I shall enjoy reading that later today.

Today's photo is an easy one to look ... 

a golden eagle I snapped in London.  My A350 was, actually still is a good camera.  One of its short comings however was that there was lot of fringing in shots where a straight edge was against a light background.  My new A77 doesn't have it, or at least is isn't showing so far.  Not only that but taking the above image up to a 200% magnification there was no fringing in sight and very little noise too.  At 300% the noise was clear though.  I won't be printing any of them to anything like those sorts of sizes anyway, so I have no worries about it.

And now for a funny ...

"Dave drowned. So at the funeral we got him a wreath in the shape of a lifebelt. Well, it's what he would have wanted."