Wednesday 30 May 2012

Some More Rust, Reviewed.


These pics are all from my previous, 2011 Texas Travels, with the Red  Dirt Girl.
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Pamplemousse (french): Grapefruit.

I really like these peoples. Pomplamoose
Nataly Dawn and Jack Conti.

Saturday 26 May 2012

No-Snow Soot Globes

I've seen these in various places on the interwebs over the last couple of weeks, and so far nobody's mentioned what's wrong with them.

They're made by a U.K. art collective, Dorothy. You can buy a soot globe for £2000.  well, you can if there's still one left.
They say:
"The single greatest threat to the climate comes from burning coal but despite this a whole new fleet of dirty coal-fired power stations are on the verge of being built in the UK (the first for 30 years). The snow globe was designed for Ctrl.Alt.Shift in anticipation of the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen 2009.
Limited edition of 2 – only 1 remains
* Please email so we can provide you with a cost for shipping before you buy."

As with so many earnest  artworks, the idea's pretty clever, but on closer examination?
Okay: The first glaring fault? see those four big 'chimneys', all smoke blackened inside?
Wrong! Only the tall narrow one is a chimney. The four large waisted shapes are actually not chimneys. No smoke goes into them, in real life they're full of heat exchangers to cool water which the power station will turn back into steam, and recycle through its steam-turbines.  No  smoke, no blackening.
And if this thing's meant to embody filthy planet-killing evil, then how come there's no huge coal-mountain awaiting burning? how come the trees and grass are thriving so well?
Fail, Dorothy!
Before you make art that makes statements about anything, do your homework!

Oh. and for £2,000, I'd expect an altogether more detailed scene. I want yellow bulldozers and coal trains, and protestors outside the gates, who've driven there in their oil-burning cars, and, the least you could do is NOT  say "Post and Packing extra".

3D Printing update: Real world use, in Jay Leno's Garage.

Somewhere for Red Dirt Girl to Keep Her Portmanteau Words

My very special friend, Red Dirt Girl loves words, and she's recently acquired a truck-load of fresh ones.

I worried about how she'd keep them all organised and to hand for use in her craft as a writer, thinker, philosopher, POET.

Poets need their words to be well kept and carefully nurtured. No mess. To a poet, words are precision tools, honed and edged. You just can't keep precision words in a jumble on the floor. You need something better. Organised. Protected. Secure.  Leather bound, brass latched storage for a lady wordsmith.   Portmanteaux for safe carriage.
 This is for her.
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A Sad Blow For Penguinedom

82 days ago, a daring Humboldt Penguin, identified only by his jail number, 'penguin337', broke out of Tokyo Zoo, scaling a 13 foot (4 metre) wall, and cutting through a barbed-wire fence. Despite determined pursuit, he made it through the Tokyo streets, stopping only to disguise himself and eat out at a sushi bar. The alarm was raised when , after a few rice-wines too many, he got into the karaoke...

A hue-and-cry was raised, but the fugitive made it to the water's edge and got clean away. A few sightings were made as for a couple of months he cruised Tokyo bay,  like a native.  A few times, authorities tried to net him, the Coastguard almost managed it, before he gave them the slip, flipped them the bird, and wrapped their net around their own propellor.

Today, however, I have sad news. Recaptured. Shackled. Tagged. The penguin's freedom is over. Some stinking stool-pigeon gave up his whereabouts. Now he's back in captivity.

But with tales to tell. Guys, it's possible.
False i.d., civilian clothes, c'mon....

Mass Breakout!

n.b.:- It is just possible a few features of this story may have been a little um, distorted, for 'editorial reasons'.

On Comments, and my Tendency to Overdo Them

I am not, nor may I ever be,  succinct.
I can't say things in a minimal way. I have words to spare.
And my mind meanders.

I was just responding to a post by Bulletholes, ( Fan Letter to Bob Dylan), in which he describes how he once stretched out a hand of friendship to the  truculent troubadour, and was rudely rebuffed.
I ended up laughing at his story, and then at myself (because the Red Dirt Girl keeps telling me I should stop worrying about not being able to think of new blog posts, and just make a blog of comments).

Here's one such comment, then, demonstrating how easily my mind gets derailed.

"I've liked mister Dylan's music greatly over the years, and read and heard a lot about him.
Waaaay back in, I think, 1972? someone lent me a copy of Anthony Scaduto's biography of Dylan, which I read, cover to cover, because in those days I had some stupid internal rule that said I had to read any book that was presented to me. Now this idea fell by the wayside, when I incautiously, nay, stupidly, mentioned it, in confidence to a work-mate.
Oh foolish me. In about five minutes I was besieged by people proferring worthy tomes with titles like "The Population Ecology of the Water Vole", and " Old English Deverbal Substantives, Derived by Means of a Zero Morpheme", I kid you not. Dieter Kastovsky. I read it end to end, despite the fact that it was a book bigger than a refrigerator.
Tubingen. University of, I think it was his doctoral thesis. After that I was offered "A Brief Introduction To Stress-Concentrations Within the Core of the A1 Nuclear Reactor."

I gradually realised, probably half way through an exciting tome on the subject of slippage along shear planes in pacific abyssal ooze, that my friendly colleagues were betting on where I would break in my ongoing struggle to keep true to a foolish vow. Also, at the time, I was working at the National Lending Library for Science and Technology, so my tormentors had an endless supply of turgid texts.
It was something of a relief to be handed a doorstep-sized volume on Soviet Steam Locomotive Construction, in Russian.
It was clearly beyond me, as I have no grasp whatsoever, of Russian. I don't even know the cyrillic alphabet, so I had to content myself with looking at the engineering diagrams and the black and white photo-plates of triumphant sons and daughters of the revolution cheering brave locomotive crews as the sons of Genghis hurried thousands of tons of potatoes amidst thunder across the steppes.
Where was I? Oh.. I was replying to Bulletholes' post about Bob Dylan? Oh.
Yes, well. Scaduto. Biography... Oh yes. Well, I was amazed that there was a biography, after all, this was 1972, and Dylan had barely started. The thing I learned, and that none of the intervening decades has disproved is that the man's a great poetsingersongwriter, but an absolute arrogant asshole."


Friday 25 May 2012


I've long been interested in 3D printing. The first exposure to the concept was, in fact, long before I'd ever seen a computer, when I was a schoolboy way back in the misty depths of time when dinosaurs roamed the earth, oh my, back when.... Oh, no, you're right, it's not relevant to the story ahead.

We had to, for  some purpose or class, it might have been art, it might have been history, it might have been geography, I can't remember now, but we had to make a scene, a diorama, of something, like a museum might have.

I chose something I'd been learning about, a viking raid on a lake village, and a hill-fort to which the lake-dwellers retreated.
This was based on a real place, and my teacher suggested I make the real, accurate topography of the site.
Well, that idea vexed me, I had too few pictures to go about it, but then, after letting me struggle for a while, my teacher suggested that I trace successive contours on a large-scale ordnance-survey map of the site, and cut cardboard out so I had each ten-foot elevation as a 'slice'. Stack them up  and you have a scale, 3D stepped model.
And that I did. Years later, again, though, before computers were household items, I found a book called 'Cybernetic Serendipity' which contained images of grid-scanned human bodies.

It's not too long a step from that to realise that pretty much any item can be described by a series of superimposed grids.

Back in the late seventies, the BBC's 'Tomorrow's World' showed a machine which shone two laser beams at the surface of a pool of liquid plastic. Wherever the two beams coincided, the liquid solidified, and the beams would draw a 'slice' and the slice would, on a lowering platform, sink beneath the surface, ready for the lasers to draw another slice on top. In such a way, a three-dimensional form was slowly created.

Now, 3D printing is a reality, but so far mostly a high-tech domain.
Google it though, and you'll find a plethora of machines, from super mega-expensive high tech, to 'make it yourself' lash-ups.
It's clear to me that in a few years, that printer/copier/scanner on your desk will upgrade to having 3D capability too. Instead of buying something and having it shipped to you, maybe you'll get a file download, and your printer will pop out the thing you needed.

It's not quite ready yet, or is it? but ask yourself, how long ago was it that digital cameras didn't exist? Or televisions only an inch thick?

Here's a video of a fairly crude printer printing a chair out of recycled fridge-insulation plastic. Watch it and imagine the process a thousand times faster, and a thousand times more precise.

So? are these things real? Where is the 3D printer of today?
Thriving. What are people making?
Have a look at Thingiverse .

I'm not trying here to tell the whole story, just to open a little window, a thought-bubble, an idea. Three Dimensional printing is here. Hewlett Packard make desktop 3D printers.
Zcorp make big ones,

Or get it made by Shapeways.

Or Makerbot!

Yesterday's Future Seems So Very Tomorrow

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Washed Twice Every Day.

Full service history, One careful lady owner, 
Low mileage,
Never raced nor rallied.

Sunday 20 May 2012

Angels and Bicycles

It has come to my notice that the ongoing saturday-nights out on the town are bringing Angeldom into disrepute. Angels are reminded that wings and halos are NOT to be worn when off duty. 
Angels arrested by police are reminded that the Almighty has expressed an intention to institute immediate transfers to duty in "the other place"
The Management.
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Saturday 19 May 2012

Ladybug Adventures

I posted this in 2006, but having been looking in the archives, I thought it worth dusting off and reposting, because it still makes me smile. And I love the engine sounds.

Grafitti, Mural, Wall Art?

Seen today, as I was wending my way across town. The building it's on used to be a pub, but is now split into apartments, mostly, I surmise, occupied by students, as it's firmly in the student/low-rent ghetto.
When it was a pub, I was sub-contracting, back in the early nineties, for a local building contractor, and the workers all used to finish early on a friday, I seem to remember it was at three in the afternoon, We'd all retire to the Little Park (the name of the pub) and drink beer whilst waiting for the boss to turn up and hand out envelopes of crisp new banknotes. Some of the lads would be there from three until they were chucked out after midnight. By then their wages would be significantly decreased. 
The pub was surrounded by the meaner parts of town, across the road was a gym, famed for drug dealing, though I'd imagine you could buy almost anything in the pub.
There was a riot there around that time, cars overturned and burning on the street, police pelted with firebombs. It was claimed the other pub nearby, The Newlands, was being used by the police as a centre for covert surveillance of local criminals. The Newlands didn't survive the riot, it was burned to the ground.
That evening, I was out in the area, about half a mile away, with friends, having a meal at an Indian restaurant (Ayesha on Victoria Road), when we got home, the phone was ringing, my pal's girlfriend in a panic, calling from Wales to see if we were alright. "Why?", we asked, and were told that the riot had been on the television news at ten, with film of fire and flames, and riot police, and mobs, and.... we'd wondered why there were so many police vans going past the restaurant, but otherwise? The disturbance was far smaller and more localised than the press ever implied. Most of the people there were probably reporters and camera crews.

You could pretty much guarantee that at some point in the friday afternoon session the table would be visited by some thug offering a still warm VCR (remember those?) or a car stereo, or a nice t.v., or some tools, fresh out of a rear-door wrenched van.
No, it was NOT the done thing to trot to the pay-phone and call the police. (we didn't have little phones in our pockets back then), not if you wanted to retain all your limbs and be able to walk.
However, one afternoon, a dodgy trader tried to sell Big Mick his own hammer-drill, and Mick was not amused. A trail of blood, broken glass and destruction ensued. The thief was pursued outside, to where his accomplice was waiting in a car. By then, about twenty builders and contractors were spilling out of the pub. The car was set about, with boots and then sledgehammers,  then overturned onto its roof. The two thieves were treated in similar manner. I thought it a good idea to set off home, and not to know anything about the ongoing mayhem.
I was not surprised, when a couple of years later, the pub was all boarded up and for sale with planning permission for conversion to several dwellings.
The area's not so run down now, a lot brighter. I still wouldn't leave a car parked there though.

My limited abilities with image-stitching glued these together into a panoramic single. There was another pic, of another figure at the far right, but I accidentally deleted it. Oops.

 Found it! He's bashing the dragon's tail with a teddy-bear.


Painting by 'Sune' and 'Replete'
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Friday 18 May 2012

In Which I Hit the Blog Millennium.

Composing a post, as I just was, I chanced to glimpse, on the blogger dashboard page, the post-count. Can't say I ever noticed it before, but it caught my eye this time because of the symmetry of the number displayed.


Which means this is 1000.

How did that happen? I started with the blogging back in December of 2006. I'd been browsing blogs for a while, and I'd wanted to comment on a blog, but it wouldn't allow comments from complete strangers, I had to have a blogger or similar i.d., or so it seemed to me. I really didn't know how to comment, back then. I was the most clueless individual you could think of, but I really wanted to leave that comment, on a blog long gone, by Red Dirt Girl.
She's still around, and that comment, well, it led to me signing up for a blogger account, and then creating this blog.
It also led to an exchange of comments with Red Dirt Girl, emails, chats, phone calls... transatlantic flights, romance, and..... Within the year I'm moving to Texas, to live with her. And to marry her.

None of that was forseen on day one, when I left that comment, and she replied, and I posted my first post, and she commented.

Here's the first inauspicious post, from Tuesday, 26 December 2006:

An Inconspicuous Beginning.

Damn... What have I done? And why?

First of all who am I?
For most purposes, these days, I am Ersatz Soubriquet.

I have another name, several, in fact, but Ersatz has been taking over in leaps and bounds. He first came into existence... A long time ago, I won't disclose how long just now, but it was before the internet, when he worked with a quill pen.
Stop that!
Ersatz, you never had a quill pen.
I did!
Liar! You remember, you had a pen, like a wood stick, with replaceable nibs, that you used for carving the desk until Mr Dennis smacked you with a ruler. And then you had to ask Mr Dennis for a new nib and he was very cross.
And you had to dip the pen in an inkwell on the desk, full of Parker's patent Quink, blue-black, washable, for schools, refilled from the big bottle in the cupboard. And then you left a big blob of ink on your book, and then you blotted it with blotting paper, which was pink until it got blotty all over, and you always had blue fingers and..
What the hell is all this? What are you doing? ink and nibs indeed, you're supposed to be introducing yourself to the as yet, mythical reader.
But there isn't a reader, The reader is a myth, it's just me!
Look, this is the innertent, or as the rest of the world outside our fuddled head knows it, The Internet ! (ooh good! if you hit the keys harder the letters are bigger and blacker)(or whiter, in this case) and the innertent is full of shoals of aimless people who might happen along here and read this.
But why would they?
Stop asking questions, just trust me, they might, and if they did, they wouldn't want to read about your early school years.
They might.
Trust me, I'm your more sensible self, they don't.
So. You're me?
I am, only more sensible.
Oh. Do you remember Mr Dennis then?
Yes. He was very big, we were about eight years old, and he smelled of pee. And he had an old greeny coloured jacket and he could throw a piece of chalk so it hit you right between the eyes.
I remember that. He was very big on not day-dreaming, or looking out of the window, or bending nibs.
Bit of a tough task, then. me, us, never been good at focusing on the task in hand, the present, and so on.
Right. Lets try focus, get together in the same brain and get on with it, shall we?

I've just signed up for this bloggery and I've no idea how it works or who the hell wants to know what I think about anything.
Will I persist? who knows. time will tell. I'd better learn how to do it now, so don't hold your breath, unknown first reader
, because it might take months to figure out... Like what happened there? fonts changing size? and there's no teacher in the room. Maybe if I pull out the computer's plug it will fix itself... shall I buy a new keyboard?

That's it, I'm intimidated now by the empty space, I'll just go read someone else's blog and pretend I'm clever enough to do it.

Now what? Preview button..... post... Labels?

Anyway, mythical first reader, If you do happen by, please leave a comment. Try not to wound me too much.


Eek! The mythical reader!

The Mythical reader happened along. It was all a bit scary when the little flag came up, to tell me someone had tripped the trap I so carefully set.
After a while, I gathered enough courage to creep out from behind the sofa and take a look.
Thank heavens, no scattered blood or viscera around the trap. I remember that from when the cottage got a nasty case of mousies. I really hated traps. But those mice just ate and destroyed, and eventually my innate niceness was destroyed, and the little nipper mousetrap, all blood and gore, became my ally.. I'll tell you about it one day, but just now I'm being as concise as I can.
Oh yes, the cheese had gone. A few pointy heelprints in the carpet gave a clue... Now, where did I recently see.... Oh yes, I think they are the prints of a pair of psychedelic pink Emilio Pucci high-heeled boots. A bit wonderwoman, don't you think, Red Dirt Girl?
(I wonder if that will work? Remember, I'm a bloke, I'm hacking away at this blindly, we don't read the instructions until after we've fucked-up) That link will probably send you to a top secret sub basement of the Pentagon, and scary blokes in black will abseil out of silent helicopters and smash through my windows, chucking stun grenades and shouting Bruce Willis dialogue. Oh dear. Perhaps I'd better pack a small bag ready for thirty years incarceration without trial... Let's see, teaspoon for tunnel digging....
Oh. Sorry, I was wandering again.
See, it's a bit problematic. Red Dirt Girl, she doesn't know it, but she's the cause of all this. Being on holiday, and not much liking the weather, and having read myself into a stupor, and not wanting to tackle the real stuff, like putting up shelves, chucking out that steel thing the scanner and printer sat on, until one two many painful knee bashes sealed its fate... I just went blogsurfing. And I was reading a Blogger site, full of poems that reminded me that I'd been poetry starved for a long time. They're just good. Really. The ones there- Oh look, I'm a buffoon, I'm talking about how good they are, and I'm bluh!. Bluh. There. just ran out of words.
(if my sister was reading this she'd be, rolling on the floor laughing. "Never happen!" she'd cry, knowing i was pre-loaded at birth with enough words for a dozen lifetimes.)
True though. There are two poems concerning a bicycle that ran off to live with a herd of goats.
Go there, read them yourself, lighten your life, browse the recipes, buy a pair of fearsomely expensive looking boots. That is, if the link doesn't dump you in a sub basement of the Pentagon.
Anyway, I was reading that and I wanted to say how much I'd enjoyed it, to give thanks, but I couldn't do it unless I had a blogger account so. So I got a blogger account and Then I thought I'd give it a go, and, well, that means the first visitor was lured by a false trail of cheese.
And then another... No cheese left though. It was a piece of Cantal, from the Auvergne in the middle of France. I'd planned to eat it with some crusty olive bread and a bottle of Kriek, which I found in the cellar.

I'll post this and see if the link works. If this is the last you hear of me, please write to your politicians and point out that I'm far too disorganised to pose a threat.

I thought, back then, that I'd use the blog to see if I could write, I used to be able to, but I got out of the habit. It escaped from me, though, the blog has never really been totally under my control. Sometimes it's something of a diary, sometimes a scrapbook, where I paste things I think mythical readers might like to see, pictures, poetry, music, videos, things that puzzle me, things that interest me, things I love.

Things I want to share. 

In the last six years, I've met a diverse group of people through the blog, who, though I've never met them, I regard as friends. If I'd realised the thousandth post was so imminent, I could have planned it, and held a party!

And I could have planned a better thousandth post. It's a minute to midnight as I write, and my brain is fried, tired after a long work day and too much thinking.

Just don't ask me what this blog's about, what's its mission statement. I really have no idea at all.

"Good night, world"

Sleep Never Rusts

(I stole these pics, they aren't mine)
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Desperate Times Called for Desperate Measures,

Only by throwing off their heavy winter garments could the girls hope to keep up the speed they would need to beat the train to its destination, 1200 miles away across Siberia.
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The Return of Albert

The Return of Albert

You've 'eard 'ow young Albert Ramsbottom,
In the Zoo up at Blackpool one year,
With a stick and 'orse's 'ead 'andle,
Gave a lion a poke in the ear.

The name of the lion was Wallace,
The poke in the ear made 'im wild;
And before you could say 'Bob's your Uncle,'
'E'd up and 'e'd swallered the child.

'E were sorry the moment 'e'd done it,
With children 'e'd always been chums,
And besides, 'e'd no teeth in 'is noodle,
And 'e couldn't chew Albert on t'gums.

'E could feel the lad moving inside 'im,
As 'e lay on 'is bed of dried ferns,
And it might 'ave been little lad's birthday,
'E wished 'im such 'appy returns.

But Albert kept kicking and fighting,
Till Wallace arose feeling bad,
And felt it were time that 'e started to stage
A come-back for the lad.

So with 'is 'ead down in a corner,
On 'is front paws 'e started to walk,
And 'e coughed and 'e sneezed and 'e gargled,
Till Albert shot out like a cork.

Old Wallace felt better direc'ly,
And 'is figure once more became lean,
But the only difference with Albert
Was 'is face and 'is 'ands were quite clean.

Meanwhile Mister and Missus Ramsbottom
'Ad gone 'ome to tea feeling blue;
Ma says 'I feel down in the mouth like,'
Pa says "Aye! I bet Albert does too.'

Said Ma 'It just goes for to show yer
That the future is never revealed,
If I thought we was going to lose 'im
I'd 'ave not 'ad 'is boots soled and 'eeled.

'Let's look on the bright side,' said Father
'What can't be 'elped must be endured,
Every cloud 'as a silvery lining,
And we did 'ave young Albert insured.'

A knock at the door came that moment,
As Father these kind words did speak,
'Twas the man from t'Prudential,
E'd called for their 'tuppence per person per week.'

When Father saw who 'ad been knocking,
'E laughed and 'e kept laughing so,
That the young man said 'What's there to laugh at?'
Pa said 'You'll laugh an' all when you know.'

'Excuse 'im for laughing,' said Mother,
'But really things 'appen so strange,
Our Albert's been ate by a lion,
You've got to pay us for a change.'

Said the young feller from the Prudential,
'Now, come come, let's understand this,
You don't mean to say that you've lost 'im?'
Ma says 'Oh, no! we know where 'e is.'

When the young man 'ad 'eard all the details,
A bag from 'is pocket he drew,
And he paid them with interest and bonus,
The sum of nine pounds four and two.

Pa 'ad scarce got 'is 'and on the money,
When a face at the window they see,
And Mother says 'Eeh! look, it's Albert,'
And Father says 'Aye, it would be.'

Young Albert came in all excited,
and started 'is story to give,
And Pa says 'I'll never trust lions again,
Not as long as I live.'

The young feller from the Prudential
To pick up his money began,
And Father says 'Eeh! just a moment,
Don't be in a hurry, young man.'

Then giving young Albert a shilling,
He said 'Pop off back to the Zoo.
'Ere's your stick with the 'orse's 'ead 'andle,
Go and see what the Tigers can do!'

Marriott Edgar

Thursday 17 May 2012

More of my Travel Pics. Old Town, Spring, Texas.

We visited Spring, Texas, by chance on a day when the streets were closed to cars and full of visitors, it was "Springfest!"
The town has a lot of old style wooden buildings, and an eclectic mix of retail establishments.


Like a corset barn.
 And whyever not, I ask?

The yellow house you can just see in the background was for sale. A nice place for a pottery, perhaps?


Or here...


Antiques store


And peaceful.... 

And quaint.

This one was empty too

Shotgun shack?

More pink. I think the pink place was the Vajazzlery.

The heat was relentless, so after we'd had ice-creams elsewhere, I found myself unable to pass the Loose Caboose without purchasing an ice-cold beer to sip in the shade. 
Except there was no shade. Seats in the shade were crammed, so we sat on seats that were prototypes for a solar griddle. The loose caboose sits on a very short railway. Maybe one day the traindriver will look back into the dusty distance and try count wagons... "Oh my", he'll say, or "Heavens to Betsy! We done lost our caboose!"
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