148 – Friday 28 May 2010 – last day

In family on May 29, 2010 by Gabor Tagged: ,

Today was Jessica’s last day of formal tuition at Swanmore College of Technology.  Above we see her leaving this morning.  Below is the same scene on her first day, 5 September 2005.



146 – Wednesday 26 May 2010 : you were only supposed to blow the bloody doors off!

In bits and pieces on May 26, 2010 by Gabor

From the BBC News website (link)

Suspected robbers in Germany appear to have miscalculated the quantity of explosives needed to blow their way into a rural bank.

The building housing the bank in the northern village of Malliss was largely destroyed by an overnight explosion.

The bank’s cash machine survived intact and the suspected thieves are not thought to have made away with any money, Germany’s Welt Online reported.

No-one was injured, though the blast damaged nearby cars and buildings.

Investigators were working on the assumption that robbers had placed their explosives, possibly made from petrol or acetylene, at the entrance to the bank, German broadcaster NDR said.

The presence of a delivery van near the site of the explosion indicated that the suspected thieves may have intended to drive off with the cash dispenser, local media reported.

And it’s our 20th wedding anniversary: Caroline and I were married on 26 May 1990.



145 – Tuesday 25 May 2010 : nucular

In rants on May 25, 2010 by Gabor

Many misuses of the English language really annoy me.  If not top of the list, then very close, is when people say “nucular”.

No dear, it’s nuclear.  Pronounced “new-clear”.  There is only one u in nuclear.

We were at Cafe Scientifique in Portsmouth tonight.  The speaker was talking about nuclear fission and the environment.  Interesting talk, lots to think about.

When it came to questions, this woman popped up.  Never mind that she had her own agenda and plainly hadn’t listened to a word the speaker had said.  Her long statement, sorry question, included the word “nucular” at least 5 times.

Afterwards I was so tempted to say that the speaker had answered questions about nuclear fission when he had been asked about nucular fission, would he mind dealing with that?  I bit my tongue.


144 – Monday 24 May 2010 : the girl who …

In Reading on May 25, 2010 by Gabor

I have just finished The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, the third in the Millennium trilogy of novels by Stieg Larsson. Most of the reviewers on Amazon give this 5 stars. I do not, 4 stars at best, possibly only 3.

There is no doubt that in these three novels Larsson tells some pretty powerful stories. In the first one, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, we are introduced to the main characters and particularly Michael Blomkvist and Lisbeth Salander as they investigate a 40 year old mystery in the wealthy Vanger family, uncovering some nasty crimes in the process. The second novel, The Girl Who Played with Fire, starts with crimes that we expect that Blomkvist and Salander will work on and solve, but the book ends up being largely about Salander herself and the unravelling of some crazy and scary events around her. This third novel complete her story. This is not part of my criticism, but neither the second nor the third novels can be read in isolation.

My complaints about this book are all tied up with it being too long. It is about 750 pages. It could do with some serious editing. Stieg Larsson spends too long setting the scene and introducing characters. There is a time-consuming and ultimately unnecessary subplot: I had assumed that the poaching of Erica Berger from her role as editor in chief of Millennium magazine was going to turn out to be part of some cunning plan to compromise her and undermine the magazine. But no, this was just a sideshow that added nothing to the main story.

I suppose that I was disappointed that Lisbeth Salander herself and featured relatively little in the book.

All the way through, I had the feeling of a lot of loose ends being tied up. This is what made the last two Harry Potter novels rather unsatisfactory.

Many people have said that this is the best novel in the trilogy. Funnily enough, I preferred the first, and also the second. Maybe this third one was far too ambitious in scope. We recently saw the film of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (see post 87), which we thought was excellent and very faithful to the novel. A fair amount of material that was not central to the main plot was not shown. I understand that the films of the second and third novels have already been made*, and presumably they will be released in the United Kingdom before long. My hope is that the quality of production that we saw in the first film will be maintained and that robust editing will see the films improve on the novels.

* I mean the Swedish movies, not the Hollywood remakes.


143 – Sunday 23 May 2010 : seeing in the dark

In audio, Listening on May 23, 2010 by Gabor Tagged: ,

I am really enjoying the album How I Learned To See In The Dark by Chris Pureka.

The album was sent to me by a PR company, and I will be playing a track on electrical language soon.

Essentially this is an album of acoustic songs by a female musician, fitting into the “americana” and “folk” categories (I hate the word “folk” – it sends all the wrong messages).  I suppose you could say that this is excellent singer-songwriter music from a tradition that includes Joni Mitchell and James Taylor, even though those are not the best comparisons.

Chris Pureka’s web site:


142 – Saturday 22 May 2010 : Overton

In out and about on May 23, 2010 by Gabor

What a glorious, sunny day in Hampshire.  As warm as I could want in an English summer (funny how often we get a few days like this in May, and then a dismal July and August).

I took Jess and her friend Laura to a Taekwondo tournament at a primary school in Overton, a small village in North West Hampshire.  I had never been there before: a sleepy-looking old village in the upper Test valley.  Very picturesque.  At one point I went for a little walk, but I only photographed this scene.

The afternoon was spent there.  Most of the time I was outside in various shady spots, reading and listening to music.  A lovely relaxing afternoon.

I did come inside to watch Jess and Laura fight each other.  Although Jess was in the lead at half time, she tired in the second half and Laura won.


139 – Wednesday 19 May 2010 : stroke update

In my father's stroke on May 19, 2010 by Gabor Tagged: ,

I have decided that each Wednesday’s post will be a note on my father’s progress, just so as to have a record of sorts.

This evening when I arrived at the hospital Dad was sitting in a wheelchair.  He looked good, he was wearing his own clothes.  Again, he was very alert in facial expression.  In his face he no longer looks like someone who has had a stroke.

He has some movement in his right leg, but very little in the right arm and hand.

More vocal sounds today.  He was desperately trying to say something, but we still could not understand what.  The sounds are not recognisable words, although there are more different sounds.  He was pointing at next Friday, May 28, in Mum’s diary, and seeming quite agitated about it.  Mum has no idea, and checking Dad’s diary and computer at home, nothing could be found.

I had bout The Times and read a few articles.  He is aware of political developments but not interested.  What he liked was the stories about wildlife and plants: nature generally.

He enjoys listening to his grandchildren talk to him on the telephone.  All 5 (my 2 and Robert’s 3) do it very well.  Mum says he is smiling and nodding as he listens.

I may ask his permission to take a photo every now and then.

Mum and Dad will be attending a “care meeting” tomorrow, with all the medical staff, therapists etc.