Black Holes and Cute Cats – Image #42

Today there’s a lot in the news about black holes and the fact that scientists have discovered that gravity moves in waves in space.  So obviously I had to write something about that for my post today.  Only problem is, that’s about the extent of my knowledge on the topic!

No need to panic though. In keeping with an earlier post, here’s a cute cat being a black hole – enjoy!


Wonder if that’ll help my stats…


Hit me with your…earworm? Image #41

OK, so last week I wrote about having an earworm which was all about The Stranglers and JJ Burnel’s basslines in particular.  The only way I could stop it was by playing a lot of their songs and booking tickets to see them next month.  Tonight I’ve just started several earworms off at once.

I went to see The Blockheads at their first gig this year.  It’s fair to say it was an intimate venue, and I was by no means the oldest person in the audience!  Three words to explain the earworms which I know are coming: Norman Watt-Roy.  Much as I love SLF and Ali McMordie’s playing, and JJ Burnel’s basslines for The Stranglers, I’m left in total awe of Norman’s energy, fretwork, speed and accuracy.  As you can see from today’s image, I struggled to get a picture where his hands weren’t a blur!  I do wonder sometimes whether he regrets having written such complicated and beautiful riffs in his youth.


If you’ve not heard much of The Blockheads (with or without Ian Dury), I can recommend starting off with Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick (which has been on my Bucket List of basslines to play and I can’t even get close), Sex and Drugs and Rock and RollWhat a Waste and Reasons to be Cheerful.  Those and others are going to be rolling round in my head for quite a while I think!

As a band they obviously love what they do, and there’s a lot of interaction between the various members.  There were a couple of hiccups but they dealt with them really well, laughing and joking with each other while continuing to knock out brilliant (and very familiar) tunes.  As Dee said, it’s a bit surreal watching people you’d heard in your teens or even younger, some 30 or more years later, but they were brilliant!

Getting left behind by technology? Image #40


Even though I work in IT and come across a wide range of technologies, I’m really still amazed that there are still people out there using fax machines. Most people have access to a scanner (photo on a smartphone maybe, or built into most printers?) and email, so isn’t that quicker?  And aren’t most forms electronic too? So why are they still needed?

I’ve heard anecdotal stories, such as the guy who phoned a company he’d just faxed a form to and asked them to fax it back when they were done with it as it was his only copy.  I also heard about an employee who had noticed they were running low on plain paper, and a colleague suggested they photocopy a blank page and use the copies.

This isn’t meant to be a negative post, it actually started out as a way of sharing a little humour! It was good technology for its time, but is sadly now more or less defunct. I guess it shows just how quickly something that was widely used across the globe can very quickly be left behind by newer and better things.

Its hard to believe, but mobile phones haven’t really been around that long – I got my first about 21 years ago, though at work I had a pager. Email too – I’ve had one of my email addresses for over 20 years, but 22 years ago I didn’t know anyone who had mail. At about the same time, the Internet was a mysterious place with 9600 baud modems racing along to provide cutting edge, rapid connections (which you would hate to use these days – they couldn’t handle the volume of traffic) to bulletin boards and nascent websites with poor graphics. The first PCs I built had 20 or 40 Mb hard drives, and we couldn’t imagine filling one. Now you can buy thumb drives with several Tb of data (that’s a million times the size).  And we won’t even talk about social media…

I saw something the other day that said that all the data created from the dawn of time to 2003 was about 2 exabytes, and that in 2010 people were producing that in 2 days. I’d be interested to know how many hours (possibly minutes or even seconds) that equates to here in 2016.

The only constant in life is change, and in the technology arena that change is massively quick. I wonder where we’ll be in another 20 years.



Would you rather equality or equity for all? Image #39

Hands up who thinks they’re one and the same?  They certainly sound very similar, but as today’s image (by the way, we’re over 10% of the way through this year, as that was somewhere between images 36 and 37) shows beautifully, there is a marked difference.


I guess that a simple way of looking at it is that equality means everyone is treated the same irrespective of the end result, whereas equity means that people are treated differently in order to achieve the same end goal.


Enjoying flights of fancy in Image #38

Today saw a return to the Imperial War Museum at Duxford.  I think that the chill wind discouraged a lot of visitors, and to be fair we only looked at the first two hangars (there are 8 in total), but that still took nearly 3 hours.  It’s the fourth time we’ve been in 8 months, but there’s always something new to see and to experience.

Taking today’s image I felt like I was being hauled into the depths of an Imperial Star Destroyer in Star Wars.  In actual fact, it’s the bomb bay of an Avro Vulcan.  One of my favourite planes, it’s just awe inspiring getting so close.

Not a Star Destroyer...
Not a Star Destroyer…

One of the most fantastic things about the museum is that you can get up close and personal to all manner of iconic aircraft.  They’ve got fabric from the lower wing of the Wright Flyer, the first aircraft ever to take to the air. They’ve got the fastest Concorde ever – and you get to walk through the cabin – which reached 1450 mph during testing.  There are Spitfires, Lightnings, Mosquitos, Tiger Moths, Mustangs, Fairey Swordfish, F-111s, B29s and B52s (to name but a few) and a whole host of commercial aircraft. And for the most part you at least get within touching distance, if not underneath or inside them.

Hangar 2 is home to a number of privately owned aircraft which are undergoing restoration. It’s fascinating to see so many planes in various stages of assembly: for example, the Flying Fortress was undergoing maintenance today, and we’d seen it flying last year. Most of the work is done by volunteers and it’s a true labour of love.

At the far end of the airfield (which saw active service during WWII there’s a Land Army exhibit, with tanks and other vehicles from that period.  I need to have a proper look at that so maybe next visit…

#ItsNotOk – Image #37

I saw this on Facebook earlier and immediately shared it, then thought to myself that the message is important enough to be shared wider than just the few people on my friends list. It came from Bedfordhsire Police here in the UK, along with the image but the message is the same the world over. Not only is it not OK, it is NEVER OK.


It’s not OK to rape – and there are no excuses.

The way a person may dress doesn’t mean yes.

If a person is incapacitated due to drink or drugs it means they are vulnerable – not that they are ‘asking for it’.

Just because you’ve slept with someone before, it doesn’t mean you’re entitled to again. This is rape, and it’s never OK.

Common misconceptions still abound about rape, and Bedfordshire Police is committed to dispelling these myths as part of Sexual Abuse and Sexual Violence Awareness Week (1-7 February).

We need to talk about rape and what’s not OK.

Follow the hashtag #ItsNotOk to get involved in the conversation.

Get a Grip on Image #36

Ever had an ear worm? Not the invertebrate kind, but the piece of music that just goes round in your head and you can’t get rid of it?  I’ve had one for the past couple of days, or rather, I’ve had a selection, all from The Stranglers.

While listening to a couple of tracks with Dee the other day, I apparently became very animated and passionate about the music.  Maybe it’s because I insisted on playing (Get A) Grip (On Yourself) pretty loud, or because I was singing along to it, but I think what clinched it was the fact that I really love the following lines:

Stranger from another planet, welcome to our hole

Just strap on your guitar, and we’ll play some rock and roll

It’s hard to believe that any beings would travel the vast distances across space and time to visit us (sorry, but my logical, rational mind takes over sometimes), and a) they would have a guitar where they were from and b) they’d know how to play it!  But if you suspend that belief for a bit isn’t it a wonderful thought? Music makes the world go round, all cultures have it, so why not extra terrestrials too?

As well as the lyrics, I think The Stranglers have been as successful and are as good because their keyboard sound is so very distinctive and leading edge.  I’d go as far as to say that Dave Greenfield (the keyboard player) was one of the first experimental synthesiser players, pushing the boundaries with weird sounds and effects (just listen to Waltzinblack  for example).

In tandem with the revolutionary keyboard sound and riffs, JJ Burnel’s bass playing is majestic.  He has a gritty, dirty, full sound that is just awesome, and on the likes of Walk on By and Mercury Rising it just sets my hairs on end. I’ve tried a number of times to recreate the sound, but without the same bass, valve amps etc it’s practically impossible.  Here’s JJ in action, the image has been copied from

JJ Burnel courtesy of

Anyhow, if you want to give yourself earworms that’ll stick for days, check out the tracks named above, rejoice in the lyrics, and figure out some suitable songs to play for when that guitar weilding alien arrives!

The guy that speaks his mind

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