philmophlegm: (serval)
Once upon a time I used to listen to the radio. Nowadays, I own more music and the invention of the iPod Classic* means I can carry all of it with me in the car, so I never listen to music on the radio except on those occasions when my car is in for service and Porsche Exeter have loaned me some spiffing new Porsche with a hi-fi that lacks the ability to plug in an mp3 player. (Seriously Porsche? I can manage without intermittent rear wipe**, but not being able to plug an mp3 player into the hi-fi would be a dealbreaker for me if I was choosing between say a brand new 911, or something like an Aston or a high-end Jag or an Audi R8.)

Anyway, back in that relatively short period of my life when I did listen to the radio, I mostly listened to a selection of local FM stations and flicked between them when crap songs came on. At that time, a song that lots of them would play that I did like was this one. In fact, it turned me into something of a Bruce Hornsby fan, and I have bought most of his stuff since then as soon as it came out.

(Warning for viewers of a nervous disposition: There are some truly terrible hairstyles in this video, not least Bruce's.)













* Which Apple has now stopped making. Which means that it is no longer possible to fit all of my music and audiobooks collection onto a single device compatible with the amp in my car, or at least it won't be if and when my iPod Classic dies. Harumph.

** Which my car lacks because apparently it was a £250 option on my car which the original owner thought better of.
philmophlegm: (You're Hired! Final 2010)

Young people lack workplace skills, say British Chambers of Commerce. Schools don’t do enough to engage with the business community, in my opinion. Many are only interested in academic success, sport, music and drama, and think about employability skills once a year if that. So this survey comes as no surprise to me.

This is exactly the sort of thing they should be teaching in schools.

'France is finished', says John Lewis MD.

Come on, it's long overdue. Surely there should be a knighthood for Jeremy Clarkson.

The speech that Mrs Thatcher cancelled after the Brighton bombing. The language seems quite Tolkienian- ‘dark shadow’ etc, only she’s talking about union thuggery and Labour corruption, not orcish thuggery and Sauronic corruption.

Odd images from Google Earth.

Psychological research? Reach for the Monster Manual! (Incidentally, you can buy the new 5th edition Monster Manual for £29.99 from The Shop on the Borderlands...)

This BBC Cornwall news story is nowhere near as exciting as its headline suggests.

philmophlegm: (911 (2))
1. Managed to get six tickets for the Oakland Raiders / Miami Dolphins game at Wembley in September (me, two friends and three friends-of-friends). 28 years a Raiders fan and this will be the first game I've seen in person. (Not counting a preseason game.)

2. Car passed MOT (well, it needed a headlight bulb). I'd expected that at least £2,000 of work would be needed. The dealer had some very rare and interesting 911s in including three GT3 RS models (a very fast, very hardcore 911). One of these, in white, with red trim and red wheels had the number plate FA51 LAP, which amused me. They also had an utterly gorgeous blue ducktail 1970s 911 that was almost mint. The service manageress reckoned it was worth £180k.

3. Had a very successful wander around secondhand bookshops in Exeter while waiting for the MOT results. Two Robin Hobbses (although one turned out to be a book I already had but didn't realise, the other was the third in a trilogy where I've read the first and have the second sitting on the to-read shelf), one Tad Williams (the first of his famous trilogy, whose name escapes me, but which I've heard good things about), one Michael Moorcock omnibus (about the only Eternal Champion series I don't have - the second Corum trilogy), David Brin's entry into the trilogy of other-famous-authors-do-Asimov's-Foundation (which will take me ages to get around to, but only cost a quid) and a non-Revelation Space universe Alastair Reynolds. None of the books cost as much as £2, so I call that a win.

4. My Dad has ordered fibre-optic superfast broadband from BT based on my advice and has got his current provider (the astonishingly shite TalkTalk) to fix his current 1mbps copper connection for the remaining two weeks until his fibre is switched on. They'll go from 1mbps to "Up to 34mbps". I have arranged to provide some IT education so that they will be able to make the most of their new superfast broadband. This may have to start at a very basic level. I don't know why, but neither of my parents seems to pick up IT skills without actual teaching. They've had a computer of one sort or another in their house since 1982 and a Windows PC since the 1990s, so you'd think they'd at least know of the existence of copy-and-paste...
philmophlegm: (Impreza)

This post is directly inspired by a book I just finished, ‘I Know You Got Soul’ by Jeremy Clarkson of ‘Top Gear’ fame. In it, Mr Clarkson discusses twenty-one machines which have ‘soul’ – because they “possess that most human of qualities, a flaw” or “because they were born carrying the genetic fingerprint of a foolish and misguided inventor” and have “formed the backbone of some incredible stories”.

You might be interested to see the machines that Mr Clarkson picked, in which case, read on below the cut. I hope you might also be interested in some machines that I think have soul.

Read more... )

philmophlegm: (911 (2))
Had to take my car in for its annual service (a minor one) and four new tyres this week. [livejournal.com profile] bunn calls my car Percy*, but the name hasn't stuck as much as "Helga" has for her Saab 9-5.

Anyway, while four new 18" Pirelli P-Zero Rosso tyres aren't cheap (a little shy of £800 fitted), a minor service shouldn't have been too painful. Long term readers of this journal may remember that in true Chartered Accountant fashion, I bought this car only after creating a complicated annual cost of ownership spreadsheet.** A big plus for the 911 is the low servicing cost compared to similar cars like Maseratis or Aston Martins.

Unfortunately, my car is now very old (thirteen years and counting) and very high mileage (well over 100,000). And bits have started to corrode. Not big bits, but small and expensive bits. After some pretty effective haggling to reduce the labour rate by 50% (!) and only doing the things absolutely necessary (while leaving the "advisables" to a later date), we got the cost down to £2,440 including the tyres. That's quite a financial blow for someone on my income. Nevertheless, the car is running much better now, and I'm encouraged to think that there's no reason I shouldn't be able to keep this car running for several years. Maybe one day, it'll be a classic 911.***

One silver lining is that for the three days they had Percy, they loaned me a brand new top of the range Cayman S PDK with pretty much every option. They had an identically-specced one in the showroom with a list price of £61,500, so that's quite a generous courtesy car. For the uninitiated, the Cayman is like a 911, but with the engine in the middle rather than at the back and with no rear seats. Anyone who has tried to sit in the back seats of my car may argue that the 911 doesn't have rear seats either. The S is the faster model with a 3.4 litre engine (291bhp, 171mph, 0-60 5.1 seconds). However, what I really loved was the PDK gearbox. PDK is Porsche's 7-speed flappy-paddle gearbox ("Porsche Doppelkupplungsgetriebe"). I've driven a Porsche Boxster in the past with the old "Tiptronic" flappy paddle, but wasn't massively impressed. PDK is completely different. High-revving when you want it to be, but still torquey at low revs and with almost instantaneous manual selection with a flick of the paddle. I'm a convert.

My colleague random once suggested that Jeremy Clarkson was a strong influence on my life. This is true up to a point, and there are many issues on which Mr Clarkson and I agree. However, he is wrong about two things:
1. The 911.
2. Flappy paddle gearboxes, or at least the PDK.

The other thing that this Cayman had was the optional switchable sports exhaust. Press a button and the exhaust is LOUDER. (Why you'd want it to be quiet is beyond me - it sounds glorious. I'm sure the bloke I overtook on Dartmoor**** thought the same as I blasted past him.)



* Percy the Purple Porsche.
** Here's the chart. The current annual running cost even accounting for this service is rather lower, mostly because we're now on the flatter part of the depreciation curve.
*** The 996 model of the 911 is perhaps the least sought after of all 911s (which is how I could afford it in the first place). This is because it was the first of the 'new' 911s with water-cooled engines and sensible interiors, which makes it less attractive to people who want a more 'pure' classic air-cooled 911 and not as good as the more modern 997 and the new 991 models.
**** I've got a shiny new Cayman S PDK to play around with, so I'm going to take the fun road rather than the dull dual carriageway.
philmophlegm: (Witcher)
Today's big job was tidying up the library. We've removed a number of duplicates and some books that we're never likely to read or don't really want to see again. More on that later.

We've also moved the books we want to read next onto to-read shelves. However, by the time we'd finished, we had three to-read shelves each. (Note that this isn't how many books there are in the library that we haven't read, this is the just the books we haven't read and want to read NOW.)

Anyway, I thought I'd share the contents of my to-read shelves with you in the hope that someone would say "Oh, definitely read x next" or "I hated y, but you might like it" or even "Knowing your tastes, I don't think you'd get on with z".

Read more )

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