2008 — 21 July: Monday

Tonight's picture of Christa shows her in Kew Gardens. She introduced me to the place, and we visited several times over the years. On our last visit, I remember we went in (successful) search of a Bhutan pine. I took this picture over 30 years earlier, on our very first visit together, which would have been in late 1974, shortly after we were married, but before we spent that Christmas in Germany. I remember it being jolly cold (though not in the cactus house, of course):

Christa in Kew Gardens in the cactus house, 1974

As ever, a warm smile for me, though — I was a very lucky man. G'night.

It's a new day...

... and I've anticipated the arrival of my last bit of video magic by updating the system diagram for — I very much hope — the last time for quite a while. Now (08:59) I really must do something about a cuppa. "People have an obligation to work" says the benefits minister. Worse yet, the Tories agree with him.

Right, thought I. Let's ask Mrs Google about what I'd always assumed was the Nazi slogan "Arbeit macht frei". Turns out to have been the title of an 1872 novel. Personally, I think the lie embodied within this phrase is as nasty as the one exposed by Wilfred Owen: Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori. Still, if voting changed anything they'd make it illegal.

But the cuppa tastes great, the sun is shining, and all the workers around these parts have set off for work. So I'm free! What shall I do today? Well, as I ingest the healthy brekkie, to distract myself from its taste I contemplate that last bit of video magic (still undelivered) and realise, after a thought experiment, that I may not actually have to use its output to connect to my screen. As its sole purpose is to convince the video scaler that its digital output is en route to an HDCP-compliant device, and as my scaler contains (buried deep within its advanced configuration menu) the ability to disable HDCP checking, the device may well just have to be plugged in to act as a "dongle" and as a conduit for the incoming digital video. Hurry up, Mr Postie!

It's 11:02 and I've just heard a soundbite from our revered Great Leader, who sounds as if he's gearing up for war in the Middle East. It's a lot more fun to bury my head in the sand of Eastleigh, somehow. I've also been reading the comments, by IBMers, on the Register regarding their surprising lack of pay rises in the wake of supposedly outstanding 2Q financial results (although, thank goodness, the executive bonuses are unaffected, so I don't have to worry about them, at least).

In case the email disappears... dept.

If you're reading this Geoff, I've just emailed you a set of comments that mostly affect the spelling of the word "possibility" — you managed two incorrect variants in a single relocated paragraph, bless you. But since my emails to you seem often to end up in the great bit-bucket in the sky I thought I'd better let you know by this more sluggish route, too.

The supplies trail...

... is beckoning. Here I go again. Spose I'd better look out for Big Bro's next issue of his aviation magazine, too. He's been stuck in Chile for a long time now! And is probably fed up reading the toilet paper carton.

There's an interesting list of free supplies (of a sort) here. But we're running out of IPv4 addresses to host such sites. See when that crunch hits.

Small World... dept.

Not just the title of a ridiculously well-written book by David Lodge, also a simple statement. In the Waitrose car park I exchanged greetings with a member of Christa's local set of German friends — nice to see you, Heidi! In Waitrose itself I had a brief chat with a former IBM secretary. And, barrelling around the last couple of curves on the homeward stretch I wound down the window and yelled a cheery greeting en passant to a member of Christa's local set of ex-badminton players — nice to see you, Mary! If only the Girl herself were here, it would have been a perfect day...

Now that the fridge is slightly better-stuffed, I shall head out again into the afternoon sun for a little adventure and an errand or two. After all, it looks as if Mr Postie has given me the cold shoulder for the day. <Sigh> Attention, Bro! I now have the August issue of your aviation magazine (so that's three issues you owe me for). Why don't drivers signal before cutting in front of me? Is it something about the Yaris? I always thought the idea was "mirror, signal, manoeuvre" but steps one and two seem to be optional. It's 18:12 and I've just sunk a soothing cuppa before taking said Yaris out for the third and final time today. I have a DVD to return.

Book, magazine, DVDs


Supper has been supped and the tea is too hot to drink. Although I browse this Interweb lark quite a lot I missed Joe Queenan's jeremiad ("Admit it, you're as bored as I am") against contemporary classical music in the Guardian a couple of weeks ago. The Wall Street Journal didn't, although they did manage to misquote the URL by inserting an extra space character. (So now I know what the Guardian's "404" page looks like.)

... concert-goers have learned to stay awake and applaud politely... because they know this is the last time in their lives they'll have to listen to them; and because the orchestra has signed a contract in blood guaranteeing that if everyone holds their nose and eats their vegetables, they'll be rewarded with a great dollop of Tchaikovsky and Mendelssohn.

Joe Queenan, in The Guardian

Interesting programme on BBC Radio 4 about emotional pain and some of the similarities to physical pain. It seems I'm still treading the slow path back to some form of Planet Normal, but at least I'm safely past the highest risk period for blokes to die — literally — of a broken heart. That's got to be something, hasn't it? And now the well-remembered voice of the late Charles Wheeler, and a programme about the massive wartime evacuation of children away from the cities. Twitch that dial (button, actually) back to the music — sorry, Sir Charles!

Time for Tony Hancock's cure: another cup of tea ("Is that your answer to everything? Tea? Tea!!?? Oh, all right... two lumps, please.")