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February 25, 2005

Heart Of Darkness

Heart Of Darkness - Joseph Conrad

Brooding journey into the African jungle

Famously remade into the Vietnam movie Apocalypse Now, this is the original Victorian era story. The narrator tells a tale to his shipmates, whilst waiting for the tide on board ship on the Thames in London. He realtes how he journeyed to Africa, and travelled up river to find the mysterious ivory merchant, Kurtz.

As he journeys he hears of the legend that this man has become in the area, how he has managed to survive, and even thrive amongst the savages. It is a dangerous land, with only the trade in ivory making it profitable. The boat is unreliable, and the river treacherous, but they make it to Kurtz's station, only to find him dying. Though he is unwilling, they take him, but he soon dies, and is buried near the riverbank.

At 100 pages, this is a short novel, but even so it is hard reading. The narrative is repetitive, and sometimes it is possible to read half a page without taking any in at all, and so it has to be reread. The brooding menace of the jungle is maintained throughout, and the description of the exploitation of the indiginous African people is deftly handled for the audience of the day.

This is perhaps a strength, but much is left to be guessed by the reader; just why did Kurtz descend into madness, what was in the letters he left behind, how did he come to go 'native' in the jungle with such success. If you like finishing a book and having more questions than answers, then this is perfect, but if you're after an exciting adventure story, then steer well clear.


Posted by se71 at 03:17 PM | Comments (0)

February 24, 2005

Work & Home

I'm not really allowed to blog about work. The NDA's in place hardly even allow me to talk about anything I'm doing. Which is a shame, as it's all suddenly got very interesting and not a little challenging.

I don't really like blogging about friends and family either, as it's their lives, and they should have the first say on what gets written about them.

So, it's just about my personal stuff then :-/

Posted by se71 at 04:03 PM | Comments (0)

February 23, 2005


Originally uploaded by se71.
Blogs are really quite unappealing visually, even if you do like the lovely CSS generated fonts, without a few pictures. So here's a gratuitous post with a picture.

I took this this morning at the train station, at about 07.00. I didn't realise is was quite so light, the days are really lengthening quite quickly now, and at both ends of course. It's still daylight at 17:00 too.

Roll on summer, even though I do like a little bit of snow occasionally too.

Posted by se71 at 03:23 PM | Comments (0)

Basement Jaxx

Was out to dinner last night and not unusually for me the topic of music came up. I mentioned that I had seen Basement Jaxx in concert when I was working in Stockholm.

A Dutch guy at the table, aged about 25, looked at me with a stunned expression as if his granny had just said she'd robbed a bank. How could someone as old as me have even heard of Basement Jaxx, never mind seen them.

I gave him a good tongue lashing for that attitude, but I fear I'm going to have to get used to it.

Posted by se71 at 02:54 PM | Comments (0)

February 22, 2005


Since starting my new job, I'm commuting up to London by train every day. My current novel is a bit slow, and I seem to always fancy doing the crossword. So I buy the Telegraph newspaper on the way to the station and have a go most days.

I can't make up my mind whether getting good at crosswords is useful, or a phenominal waste of time. It is a skill that can be learnt. I check my answers with yesterday's paper and try and understand them, and this improves my hit rate. But I'm getting good at something which is really pretty inconsequential.

The other side of the coin is that I'm keeping my brain really active, and I'm looking at words in very different ways. Today I have the word sack and I'm tring to work out whether it's something you drown cats in, the destroying of a town, being made redundant, or some anagram.

I think this weird mental gymnsatics will improve my lateral thinking skills, and this could help me in everyday life in unexpected ways.

It's also nice having a nearly completed grid on the train home and flashing it round the carriage :-)

Posted by se71 at 10:45 AM | Comments (0)

February 21, 2005


I was reading Kuro5hin at the weekend, and one of the posts seemed pertinent to me.

Basically, if you are writing a blog, and want people to read it, you should update it every day.

I concur completely, and so that's my aim from now on.

Posted by se71 at 02:28 PM | Comments (0)

February 18, 2005

Borscht 'N Tears

I found myself in Knightsbridge at around supper time last night, which hasn't happened for quite a few years. So I decided to take a walk down Beauchamps Place and see whether a restaurant I used to go to was still there. It was!

Borscht 'N Tears is the name. It's a Russian restaurant serving the usual fare of stroganoff, kiev and other dishes from the area. It looks a bit dark and dingy, but the prices and the food are really pretty competitive.

The real reason to go there though is that every evening they have live music. So you can sit and listen to some good Russian folk songs on guitar and keyboard and even though you have no idea what is being sung, you clap along enthuastically anyway. (I sometimes wonder if they're really singing "Die English speaking pigs", but maybe that's just me :-)

We even ordered dessert just to stay and listen a little longer.

Much recommended, though I think they get more than their fair share of hen/stag parties, so go early, or midweek.

Posted by se71 at 04:30 PM | Comments (0)

February 16, 2005


I read a book called Sleepyhead by Mark Billingham last year. It was a really good thriller, with a really original plot.

Imagine my surprise to see the first episode of CSI:NY last night with exactly the same plot. It took me a bit to realise, mostly because of the location change (London to NY of course), but once I'd twigged everything fell into place.

Searching google found this interesting blog entry. Seems I'm not the only person to notice. And Mark Billingham himself has contacted the show.

They wouldn't have a leg to stand on I expect, I cannot conceive that this plot wasn't stolen from Mark. But he's probably right not to fight it.

Posted by se71 at 04:55 PM | Comments (0)

Location Location Location

Watched this program on TV last night, and was as usual really annoyed by the little postscript at the end.

In case you haven't seen it, the presenters are tasked every week with finding a home for someone. Sometimes the requirements are a bit bizarre and arbitrary. So we spend 30 minutes seeing three properties, and even going through the bidding process with a vendor for one. Then just as the credits are about to roll, a voice-over tells us that the couple looking for a house decided not to bother in the end.

Can anyone tell me what is the point of this program? I don't think that I've ever seen anyone actually buy a house that has been found for them. It's a complete waste of time for everyone involved, and especially for the vendors and estate agents.

Please stop me someone from ever watching it again!

Posted by se71 at 11:43 AM | Comments (1)

February 14, 2005

DJ, Robert

DJ, Robert
Originally uploaded by se71.
Just upgraded my Flickr Account to Pro.

This is a test post - more later!

Posted by se71 at 06:15 PM | Comments (0)

February 11, 2005

Amazon Associates

I used to be an Amazon Associate, then there was a big patent issue with their 1-Click system, and I resigned in a huff.

The dust seems to have settled, and the world is still turning, so I've rejoined.

The Shadow Of The Wind

This is a link to the book I'm currently reading, which I'm not going to review now, but if you click on that link, then buy the book, I'll get some Amazon points!

Posted by se71 at 02:52 PM | Comments (0)


When a fashion becomes so prevalent that even I notice it, then it must be at epidemic proportions.

Walking to and from work I am being barraged by a sea of pink.

Pink scarfs.
Pink coats
Pink hats
Pink coats, and scarfs and hats all on the same person!

Surely it's time to stop.

I have a daffodil flowering in my front garden (Note to self - put it on Flickr), so maybe spring will herald a new colour.

Posted by se71 at 09:02 AM | Comments (0)

February 10, 2005

USB Memory

I've been working at my new job nearly three weeks now, and on quite a few occasions have wanted to transfer data from my personal laptop to the work machine. Normally it's a few Mb, but today I've wanted to move about 600Mb.

Whacking it onto the network and then back again is possible, though it's a bit of a waste of resources, and in fact there is only actually 15Mb free on the network drive I've been assigned.

So I think I might get one of those little trendy USB Memory modules.

I'd want at least 1Gb, so I could copy a whole CD's worth of data onto it. But that got me thinking - for only a little more money, perhaps I should get an iPod mini with 4Gb. This is the sort of thinking that stops me buying _anything_ !

Posted by se71 at 03:29 PM | Comments (0)

February 08, 2005

Slashdot Pricing

Looks as if Slashdot are charging for their content. Is this a new development, it's new to me but maybe it's always been there. It's $5 for 1000 pages, which is pretty cheap I guess.

The only advantage though seems to be that you can see articles before non-subscribers.

I have a feeling the market for this is small.

Posted by se71 at 04:32 PM | Comments (0)


I created a music category, and I want to get something in here early to stop the site looking so empty.

I bought a CD last week by MYLO. Hmm, it appears Amazon.co.uk have messed up his entry as it says it's "For We Who Are Consumed By the Darkness by Sarcophagus". Anyway. (Update: they've fixed this now)

Lots of reviewers are saying he (Myles Macinnes is a 24 year old Scot, and he is MYLO) is the redeemer of UK dance music, with this being the best album of the year.

Yes, it is quite nice. But no, it's not fantastic. None of the tracks have blown me away, the ones I remember most are the ones with a really dumb sounding American guy reciting rubbish. I've tried so hard to like it, it's been on my MP3 player to and from work, and on my CD deck all last weekend, but I still think Daft Punk, Royksopp or Lemon Jelly beat it.

I think there is a lot of promise, and I guess it's given me a few ideas for writing tracks, so I'm looking forward to MYLOs next one.

Update: After repeated listening, mostly whilst out driving in my car, I have some to the conclusion that this is a really good album indeed. Interestingly, repeated listenings of Lemon Jelly's second album Lost Horizons caused me to dislike it more.

Posted by se71 at 01:22 PM | Comments (0)


I've been thinking about quality recently. No, I'm not rereading Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance again, in fact, I've still not actually finished it first time, but the idea of quality just comes up now and again.

For example, just how flat and sharp do you need your television picture to be? What bitrate do you need to have your MP3 files encoded at? Does your mobile phone need to take photos at 2M pixels?

With quality there is also convenience and price. Other factors come into it too, like availability, it's a complex issue.

So what about that TV then?

Well, I said I was thinking about it, I haven't actually come up with any answers yet :-)

More later.

Posted by se71 at 12:40 PM | Comments (0)

Blog Content

I was chatting with a friend about starting a weblog. I explained that I had a lot of thoughts and ideas during the day, and most of them vanished. I wanted a way to capture them so that they wouldn't get lost, and perhaps I could get some interest from friends and family to discuss them if they merited it.

Only problem was, the examples I came up with were mostly me griping in a Grumpy Old Man(TM) way about Life, The Universe And Everything (TM).

I don't want this site to be just a list of reasons why modern life is rubbish, and me claiming it was much better when I was a lad, and it was all fields.

Some of the entries will be me on my soapbox - it's inevitable that things that annoy me most will stay in my head longer than usual and will make it as far as the keyboard. It's not my aim to continually complain though, so please pull me up on it if it gets too much.

Posted by se71 at 09:38 AM | Comments (1)


I've created a new blog, lets see how long it lasts.

I already have about four or five other blogs on the go, but this is a bit different. One reason for the difference is that it's not on Blogger, it's on my own server, so I'm totally in control. Another is that it's using Movable Type, so a lot of the features that I wanted to build in my handmade site should be available, and I can actually make this public and start spouting on about things ad nauseum.

Posted by se71 at 09:21 AM | Comments (0)