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Archive for May, 2011

Signs of incipient old age, no. 6

May 19, 2011 Leave a comment

I bought a new computer programme the other day. Among other things it makes PDFs and has lots of knobs, bells, whistles and other even more useful bits of functionality.

I could have downloaded it but decided to buy in an actual shop, because if you’ve got the disk – well, you’ve got the disk. You can reload from disk if there are ever any problems.

It’s just taken me 30 mins to work out how to undo the sodding cardboard packaging without breaking the disk…

The end is nigh!

May 14, 2011 Leave a comment

Last night, after something like four months of a group of us juggling diaries, we finally did the video shoot for a project I’ve had in mind since late last year. There’s more to do: some still photography, design work, and fitting the whole thing together. It’s been a steep learning curve because I’ve had to work out how to do video editing and various ancillary things, but the end is now in sight. Another couple of weeks and I should be able to show and tell…

Vikings and sagas – an appreciation

May 10, 2011 2 comments

Just caught the BBC programme The Viking Sagas, which is now available on the BBC iPlayer, and will be there until 17 May.

Some of the stuff I knew, actually, but a lot I didn’t despite having read different sagas at various times. I knew for example that many of them relate the stories of actual people and real historical events. But I didn’t know that many of the places mentioned are still identifiable, so a farmer can easily point to a bend in a fjord and say ‘Oh yes, Gudrun’s house was just there – 1000 years ago. And the valley where her husband killed his brother is a short walk away and the dip in the ridge that he hid in while waiting to ambush his brother is still there.’

I also found the attitude to language inspirational. There are obvious close links between language and magic, because saying words can put chains of events into effect and change the way we define and even perceive things. And this comes out in the sagas. Plus, when you hear extracts, as offered in this programme, the rhythm and rhyme and power of the sagas becomes far more evident than it is if you’re simply reading them in translation.

I also didn’t know, and find it amazing, that about 10% of the Icelandic adult population are published authors, the highest figure anywhere in the world.

On a side note – there was an event outside my house yesterday that might yet turn into a saga. Two guys having an argument, and when I heard the shouting and began to pay attention, the words I heard one say to the other were ‘And you shouldn’t ever forget that when we were inside [i.e. prison], you were my bitch!’ The power of words, eh? Don’t be surprised to see me use that line sometime in a story… I might add that thankfully this kind of thing is not common where I live…

Makes a change from working at home

Because I work from home, I rarely get into the city centre. However I had a few in-town jobs to do, went for a coffee at Darkside and then, by the clock tower, came across this guy busking there, who turns out to be someone called Oded Kafri.

Whatever you think of the various Youtube segments embedded on his site I can assure you he’s many times more impressive live. As best I can tell he has a regular kit, plus some eccentric items like a large water bottle upturned on a stand, and an electronic kit that allows him to trigger a selection of bass, flute and other riffs and some special effects.

Hearing ten minutes of really cool drumming just made my day. I may be easily pleased but I thought it was worth sharing.

Lost in space?

We had the elections to the local council today. I voted, but was extremely unimpressed. I evidently live in a black hole, a pit, at an address no one can reach (or possibly doesn’t dare to approach). No doorstepping, which I admit I’m happy about. But no ‘vote for me’ flyers from any person or party either. Do they want me to vote into a void? Or does my vote not actually matter to anyone? Just as well I’d taken at least some initiative prior to voting…

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