hirez: (24)
Quite a long time ago, when we lived in the big old house that has since been on the telly because someone who was on the telly rents it, Pa kept an ornate cabinet against the wall on one side of his office. It was opposite a big metal-enamelled thing that was called 'The Potez' and which emitted warmth and a pong of burning oil.

The Potez had followed us from Holt Farm, where it had warmed the big back room with the parquet floor where the Christmas tree was kept. I suspect that there'd been some late sixties/early seventies DIY business with knocking walls through and installing a big steel beam to hold the house up, because I think I remember that flooring being installed. Anyway, since the internet is shit at things that pre-date it, the only picture I can find of a Potez oil heater is from the October 1963 issue of 'The Irish Plumber and Heating Contractor' on page 16, 17 or 18, depending on which PDF page-count you like best. It was a sturdy communism-brown thing with a thick glass porthole for viewing The Reaction Chamber, louvres for Venting of Waste Gas and several large Levers and Knobs for fine control of The Combustion Process. Looking at the picture now, it's no surprise that things like the AN/FSQ-7, WOPR and Interocitors felt so familiar.

Anyway, opposite The Potez in the ornate cabinet was a shelf of Red(ish) Cassells 'amateur mechanic and work handbooks' which covered the range of things that a sensible sort would need to know about. Pump maintenance, elementary clock repair, welding and brazing, taxidermy, poultry houses and appliances and knotting and splicing ropes and cordage. At least those are the ones I can remember/find pictures thereof. There was a wall of the things.

Obviously long since lost in one house-move or another.

If I were in that sort of mood, I would begin scouring the ebay or the s/h book-pedling sites in order to replace a part of my youth that I thought I was missing.

However, not. Well, not unless I see the pump-maintenance one for a fiver.
hirez: (safety chicken)
One one day or another during the week, I returned home to discover that the street smelled faintly of coal fires and rather more strongly of fish and chip shops. Since there was also an overlay of salt air from the Bristol Channel, it all worked rather nicely. It also reminded me of visiting The Aunts. They weren't my aunts, they were mum's, which made them my great aunts. They used to live in a big house in Sevenhampton called 'The Homestead' which had been built by my great-great-grandfather, along with many other houses in that village + surrounding area. When I was small, so some time in the early seventies, they sold the Homestead, had a bungalow built on the vacant land alongside and moved into that.

In early seventies Sevenhampton, bungalows were of the same order of futuristic habitation as a space-module or one of the seabed research platforms you might see on Tomorrow's World. It was all built at the same time from the same material. There was a double garage that featured no wavy tin and had never been a barn. There was a thing the adults called a 'conservatory' which was a lot like a greenhouse, only not made from damp wood. There was also 'Racing from Lingfield', 'Rothmans king-size', 'The Sunday Express' and 'Advocaat'.

As you might have gathered, the smells that remind me most of that time are coal fires and boiled cabbage. Sometimes we would walk down from the new bungalow (Named 'Aylmerton', which I only discovered a few years ago is a village in Norfolk) past the tree with the parish noticeboard fixed to it and down to the ford, where you could play Pooh Sticks under the footbridge alongside. The house net to the ford belonged to (mum's) Uncle Harold. The lane up past his house to the 'main' road was (is) in a deep vee several feet below the level of the fields either side.

Since I hauled blackberries from the freezer today, I was also reminded that brambles grew thick along the sides of that lane. As a small child, I was jolly pleased with myself for clambering up amongst the thorns with a fine-fare carrier and setting about them with a will. I was somewhat less pleased to discover that The Aunts were planning to mash the berries to a pulp so as to avoid the seeds getting under/behind their false teeth.
hirez: (Riiight)
I could probably go and find out, via the magic of looking for the relevant LJ entry, when I first found the Berkeley Arms. However it was probably a disturbingly long time ago and I would be left wondering what the hell I was thinking in the interim years. Whatever it was, it didn't add up to 'We should totally visit that pub on a warm evening and sit around with beer.' because it took some proper poking from [livejournal.com profile] cybermule before it happened.

So we totally visited that pub on a warm evening and sat around with beer. It was really jolly good.

The place has a bar with a choice of bitter or, er, an unlit Guinness pump. The thing that was lit was the square 'Tartan Bitter' lamp from the seventies. There were probably bottles of barley wine, Babycham and Mackeson, too.

There were Zwartbles sheep that belonged to the landlady, which were in the field out front, rather than in the bar. That would have been weird. Also out front was a pillbox that offered commanding views over the fast-rising tide up the Severn.

Later, we went to inspect the state of the Purton Hulks in the last of the daylight.
hirez: (pillock)
I am not a natural camper. I'm probably an unnatural camper because the sight of middle-aged blokes in shorts, long socks and brogues clambering out of a caravan at 8AM leads me to question my life choices, rather than nod in an English way and go polish the Caravan Club badge on the front of the car.

(NB: Does Not Exist. NT badge only. Tangentially, I never used to wonder at the number of CSMA badges I used to see as a small child. They were just there. Only very recently did I stop and think 'I lived down the road from GCHQ. Oh...')

Anyway. The weekend past (and part of the week) was spent in a field at the far pointy end of Cornwall, handy for both Porthcurno Telegraph Museum and the Logan Rock pub. Both of which we visited mob-handed. Because if you're going to go off camping with a mob of hackers (I think the 'and makers' goes without saying.) you might as well visit one or more of the key places of historic (and less so) interest.

It was fucking marv. Even though as first person on site (a terrible mistake for everyone else to make there) I didn't spot the direction of the prevailing wind until after erecting my tent on the 'wrong' side of the windbreak fences. Hey, and indeed ho.

Sat around, talked rubbish, drank beer, generated a set of fine ideas, walked around and looked at things, got a bit sunburned, drank more beer. Really didn't want to leave.
hirez: (Challenger)
Container drivers! Kraftwerk soundtrack! Pre-Schengen Agreement freight transport!

(part 1) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ms6rKgt3seg
(Part 2) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RUM93-hChto

An article in CM provides a lot of background, but the things that mostly struck me were 'Top Gear are still using the same typeface. And Range Rovers. And exactly the same sort of shots. Still, can't expect progress from that lot, and I doubt you'd see them repair their vehicles in a Belgian car-park after a day's drive.'
hirez: (Aspirational message)
There's been the remains of a greenhouse piled down one side of the garage at the bottom of the garden since we moved in. Last autumn some time, those remains were joined by bits of a concrete trough, some wall and an amount of broken soil-pipe.

That end of the garden has been looking somewhat scruffy therefore. As opposed to the rest of the place which is still only mildly scruffy.

Normal people would have taken their wallets in their hands and chartered a skip or something, rather than ignoring it until it was a vast mental edifice of terrible possibility and hateful failure.

Of course, now that it's all gone it's still a scruffy garden. I was expecting a larger sense of something-or-other, though. Bother.
hirez: (dissent)
Today's discovery was that through careful idleness I had managed to accrete a complete set of credit-card statements from November 1989 to the present day.

It's been something of an odd afternoon reading back through the things and discovering the difference between what I felt like writing on LJ and what really seemed to have been going on. And indeed remembering what happened in the 90s by means of a sequence of monospaced financial postcards from my previous selves.

Many of the early 90s ones go 'Fuel, record shop, curry house, fuel, off licence, pizza, clothes (Gap or Cult Clothing it seems), book shop, fuel.' And that seems normal.

I don't remember why I ended up at the 'Tasty chinese restaurant' in Chippenham in August 1996, mind. Although that looks like a busy sort of time because a couple of days earlier there's an entry for 'Mokham's of Digbeth' which would have been the place handy for the Mercat in Birmingham, which, um, Children on Stun/Libitina? Something like that.

Of course, those are the nice bits. The less nice parts concern the ebb and flow of the balance. For instance I discovered that over the winter of 2001/2002 I failed to even open the bills. This is so entirely unlike the me that I think I'm used to that I'm at a loss to explain it. The version of events on LJ is completely unhelpful because that's the other part of my brain desperately holding on to nice things to think about.

In short, Pontrilas.
hirez: (tank)
In the seventies, when Upper Hill Farm was still grandfather's (Rented land. From the old days when a labouring type who wanted to make a go of farming could actually do that, rather than having to piss off to the city to earn £neg+bonus as some wideboy spiv forex trader. Well, I say 'earn'. It would now appear that I mean 'steal, with the alleged co-operation of your chums in the other ugly skyscraper next door... And then retire to some imagined bucolic wossname with untrammelled green wellies and an untravelled green 4x4. Like some kind of massive cock.) it was just a massively dangerous adventure playground for small children. Weirdly, one of my favourite things, after the shed with the trials bikes and chainsaws that smelled of Castrol 'R', the circular saw belt-driven from the front pulley on one of the Fordsons and the 12-bore propped up in the corner of the hall, was one of those spinny-plunger ashtray things.

It went 'wumm-blarggh' when you wellied the plunger, as you might imagine a robot would if it had been smoking 40 Sprocket and Hedges a day for the last sixty years.

Yesterday, while avoiding the rain and homicidal, er, (those wee Vauxhall things that are too new to be Novas. Cribble? Crapheap? Something like that.) I spotted one of those things glued or bolted to the dash of a manky Volvo. It's probably a really efficient way of distributing smouldering tab-ends into various flammable recesses of your car. Let's hope it was an automatic. That way they driver will have a free hand to beat out the flames.
hirez: (tank)
I have an odd memory of what I think was a tabletop semaphore machine that lived in the attic of Holt Farm, which was where we lived until 1976.

Like most of the the rest of the interesting things in my past, it has been removed by agents of the Ministry for Temporal Affairs, and its like does not appear in the Google for similar reasons.

It seems that for some reason, perhaps to do with the safety of other people, no material trace of things I remember can continue to exist. It's like being in a terrible film.

Anyway. Semaphore machine. The two arms were on a common spindle, each operated by pulleys and a pair of levers close to the base of the device. I can only guess that it had been a teaching device, or perhaps some part of a command-and-control structure for Edwardian assault-pedalos.

It struck me today that it would be an ideal sort of thing to drive via an Arduino. Indeed, someone has already had a similar idea and written the code. However, the other half of the project is missing. I wonder what it would take to hack up an IP-over-semaphore rig? I imagine one would begin by finding some cheap stepper motors...
hirez: (Challenger)
Earlier this arvo I was outside Ma's, pretending to be a bicycle repair-person, when a strange man hove into view in command of a vintage Fordson Major. Strange man turned out to be Uncle Will, showing off his most recently restored tractor.

"Go on," he said. "You used to drive them all the time..."

'All the time' actually parses out as 'on and off in the school holidays when Pa could be persuaded I wasn't going to break any expensive machinery'. Breaking myself was never a consideration. If duffers best drowned, etc.

So after something like a thirty year break I am back in command of someone else's tractor and trying very hard not to reverse it into the scenery or any of the quite expensive cars that are all carefully parked right in the way.

I am also in command of an idiot grin and laughter that you can hear from the far end of the paddock over the sound of the engine.

Only after I have failed to break it or anything around me do I discover that the thing used to belong to grandfather (Will's dad), so I guess that would be three generations steaming around on the thing over time.
hirez: (My name is legion)
Today I got around to properly inspecting the slide-rule I rescued when we were sorting through Pa's worldly goods.

As one might expect, the internet is not short of sites dedicated to slide-rule collection, so it didn't take that long to work out that it's quite old enough to have belonged to my grandfather. I believe that's a War Department stamp on the thing, too:

Far away )
Close up )

Which, I don't know. I don't even know what I think about that yet. I think I would perhaps like to work out how to drive the thing, just in case electricity stops unexpectedly and I am called upon to perform some hard sums.
hirez: (muddy)
Hemp-based 'raw protein powder' smells and tastes more or less exactly like the back of a rickyard after a light shower. Even if you try to drown the taste with a good handful of raspberries.

This is all terribly previous. Fills in some gaps in the mental landscape, mind. Imagine my surprise that there's a subheading named 'Nonconformity'.
hirez: (Default)
Wide-open fridge pix )

The padlocks were to keep the beer in and the dole-scum out. Also, because it was A Feature of Humblebee parties that some drunken bugger(s) would thieve your beer and/or steal into your bedroom to shag, vomit or pass out. Or combination of same. One of the dole-scum got all holier-than-thou about it and threatened to break the doors off, presumably because he had some right to steal my beer. I think he shut up when it was carefully explained that "Then there won't be a fucking fridge you hopeless fuckwit."

Apparently he's in television now. Or prison. Or a doctor. Hell if I remember.

Astute readers will notice that there are certain similarities between the stencilling and my default icon. Since it's been more or less a decade of LJ-bothering, it seems appropriate to show off the source material.

Bonus scruffy oik pix )
hirez: (Cooper-Clarke)
Why the seventies were a different planet: Mule Train.
hirez: (Q-309)
At the tail end of the week, I managed to bootstrap myself into the more recent present and stuff enough memory into my phone such that it would hold a third of my MP3 pile rather than its previous pitiful fraction. I'd also not bothered using the Android as a music player because the installed effort is by and large hateful, and I had a lumpy-creditcard Creative, er, thingy already.

On the other hand, the Creative, er, thingy doesn't do scrobbling (because it is just so important that I can bore other people with whatever Peelist malarkey the random function chooses to lob in my direction) and is only 8G in size.

8G meant that I had to fairly carefully curate what went on the thing. In the beginning it was mostly thumpy techno; misc, Futureshock, Akufen. After a while, I found myself poking the 'oh just sod off' button more often, so the more frantic stuff was replaced by Boards of Canada, Belbury Poly and, er, Motorhead.

Having a lot more storage than that means that the nature of the curation has changed, I think.

Among the sensible grown-up albums, I have quite a pile of what-I-guess-passes-for-the-equivalent-of-singles - odd MP3s that fail to fit into any sort of order. Indeed, they're in directories named 'Indie, Goth, Odd Music, Loud Music, Shiny Pop and Random Techno' which covers quite enough bases thank you very much. Some of these media-objects are at least a decade old. because I remember listening to them A Lot during the tail-end of the second London adventure. I was listening to a lot of MP3s because that was the six month period when I left the house but rarely. As one might imagine, that's a painful set of things I don't particularly want to remember.

Thus curation now seems to be 'Fill MP3 device. Listen on random. Delete things that make you cringe and go 'oh fuck no'. When enough space has been reclaimed, fill it with Krautrock or psychedelia.' Or something like that. Y'see, records just used to go to to the back of the box(es). Perhaps because I thought I'd be able to re-evaluate them in the future, or perhaps because I'd not experienced anything quite psychically damaging enough yet.
hirez: (Trouble with my worms (ii))
I was walking about Bath yesterday afternoon for the purposes of fresh air, exercise and quietly thinking about a problem. The nature of the light, the colour of the leaves and the act of exploring reminded me of the state I was in on the way up I-95 to Martha's Vineyard. Both excited and somewhat trepidatious about meeting people and learning things, out of my comfort-zone, but energised by that and as fascinated by more or less everything as jetlag would allow.

I walked through a tunnel under one end of the Pulteney Bridge and peered into the back of a pub or nightclub. It reminded me that I want to go back and look at Croton and Mystic. Even thinking about those names makes me weirdly nostalgic for an adventure that hasn't happened yet.

I want to live in that state of mind.


Oct. 6th, 2011 12:08 pm
hirez: (tank)
I recall reading the edition of Byte where they investigated the Lisa (Byte used to do computers properly, I guess because each one was new and strange. They'd have the lid off to look at the circuitry, talk to the designers of hardware and OS and maybe even show you some example code).

I couldn't make head or tail of the thing. You moved a 'mouse' around which shifted a 'pointer' on the screen? And then what? How did you actually do anything? Where was the terminal so you could type stuff and get on with some work?

AppleII kit made much more sense; 6502, seriously hackish disk-OS code that did one thing if you jumped into a routine at point A and something completely other if you jumped in a few instructions later. Twisted genius. And the sodding reset button right by the return key.

Of course I 'got' it later. I bought an Amiga because they were just better than the x86 kit and I didn't want to do DTP which is what Macs were for. I'd done real typesetting and one fo(u)nt per page was quite enough thank you very much.

And then. And then there was this expensive black box made from unobtanium that ran an OS that did stuff. It came with a dictionary and a thing that could send 'electronic mail' with pictures and noises. Although you could only send those messages to other NeXT users and Bob help you if you were on a dial-up because even at 14k4 it took a while, cost a lot and tended to piss off the recipient for similar reasons.

I still have a NeXT; it's probably twenty years old, but that was the point that Jobs and his team made Unix work. Inasmuch as Unix has always mostly worked, but the work was to do with Unix, rather than it being a platform on which to do other things.

OSX is likely the most productive Unix workstation I've ever used. There's a bunch of things it does really quite badly, but they tend to be the things that involve Other People's Protocols. (Not really a valid excuse, but there we are.)
hirez: (Challenger)
It was the countryside. There were no buses. Well, there were - one a day into and out of Cheltenham (the 'work' bus, because it got you there for just before nine and left again circa ten to six) during the week, ditto Saturday (but towards lunchtime) and one once a week in the other direction for people who liked to visit Winchcombe on a Wednesday morning.

Thus one applied for one's licence as early as possible and blapped around on an ancient Suzuki (or Yamaha) two-stroke Miasma. A year later one saved for driving lessons, passed as quickly as possible and then rattled around in an ancient Mini or Escort.

If you were a bloke.

Girls just went out with car-driving chaps. Which always seemed a bit... dependant.
hirez: (Pie!)
It turns out that if you have managed to make something best referred to as coulis, you can just tip it back into a saucepan and boil the stuff until it sees sense.

(Or as mum said 'Until it goes a bit volcanic')

Mum also said 'That's some of the best jam I've tasted, you bastard', which I shall take as a vote of confidence.

And since we still have hedgerows and freezer filled with suitable fruit, and a 5kg bag of sugar, the experiments continue.

At this point I would say 'Anyone want a jar?', but since those jars are what we had lying around and are unlikely to survive under the care of Royal Mail, it's probably safest that I consume it myself. It's a terrible burden, but I'm sure I'll manage somehow.

(For me, buying jam jars fits in the same box as buying furniture. I'm ashamed that I've fallen so far from family tradition.)


hirez: (Default)

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