Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Streaming Music is now in hiatus

April 20, 2022

I have finally given up on the intractable problems I have with getting my music to stream up to my Internet shows (both to Second Life and to Third Rock Grid – 3RG). I can’t waste any more time on all the endless technical problems I have faced relating to getting software (butt & Rocket Broadcaster) to work properly both on my PC and laptop and also my computers to do what they are supposed to do. I don’t think these problems are related to my Internet Service Provider or to the person from whom I rent my stream. However, I regret to say that the whole thing is no longer enjoyable activity for me.

I’m not sure what I’ll focus on in the future. For the time being I shall keep my avatar, Fyrm Fouroux, and my small music performance venue in SL (Terra Fyrmusica). I may put more energy into my fiction-writing, my art work, or my classical piano playing. I’ll see how it goes over the coming summer months. Speak to you later my dear blogophiles.

Brisk Walking for Good Health

March 18, 2022

Today, I decided to start doing some brisk walking around a suburban road circuit. It has a fairly steep and lengthy hill and several ups and downs along the way.

I checked out a few background facts on the Healthline site:
https://www.healthline.com/health/exercise-fitness/average-walking-speed#what-is-a-brisk-pace

Apparently, the average walking speed for a man aged between 70-79 is 2.8 m.p.h. The Healthline site says a brisk walking pace is around 3-3.5 m.p.h. I covered something between 2 and 2.5 miles in about 45 mins. So that looks like a speed of around 3.00 – 3.5 m.p.h. Basically I would appear to be, roughly-speaking, on target.

It remains to be seen whether this mirrors the dreaded New Year’s resolutions, and will cease after a few weeks. It might be difficult to manage a daily walk and my motivation may take a dip if it is raining. I shall have to wait and see.
Speak to you later, my dear blogophiles.

My New Novel Comes Out of Hiatus

March 17, 2022

Today, I decided to bring the manuscript of my latest novel out of hiatus; I have not touched the manuscript since October 2021 – about six months. The provisional title is ‘Joe Bloxhall (b. 1945): a fictional biography‘. I shall give no more away about the book, at this early stage. My purpose, in today’s blog, is to reassure you that writing is, once again, taking place.

It is still rather cold but the sun was out this morning, and I decided to kick-start this new phase by setting myself up as if it were summer. So, I brushed down the garden lounger and made myself comfortable. I then let the muse guide my hand, writing some draft m/s with a ball-point pen and and a pad of lined A4 paper. I like to do this, as a first step, then I type up the material using the Scrivener software for writers (thank you Mr. James Scott Bell). Here is a picture of my external writing studio:

My external writing studio

My garden thermometer gave a reading of 10 degrees Centigrade and it was quite windy. So, I wrapped up well with a chunky woollen jumper and a warm hat (I like the large peak, to shade my eyes when the sun is out). Here is a selfie I took indoors using the bathroom cabinet mirror. It looks a bit weird but maybe we can think of it as post-modern realist photography. I’ll try to come up with an even sillier category (if I can be bothered) in due course.

I wrote for about an hour and a half. Once typed up on the PC, with a modicum of editing, that amounted to approximately 750 words. I feel very pleased with myself.

Selfie with external manuscript writing jumper

Of course, now that I am back into writing, I may have to keep my blog posts shorter than I should ideally like, and their appearance may be less frequent than my recent posts have tended to be.
Speak to you later, my dear blogophiles.

Pub Lunch

February 12, 2022

Today we ventured out into the officially-nearly-done-with-Covid world for lunch at the local pub. In the car we we had a mini-debate: To wear masks vs. To go commando mask-wise. Although I kept mine in my coat pocket, I did not put it on.

The pub was populated mainly by family clusters, spread around the bar tables here and there. One such cluster was seated within shouting distance of our own table. It is perhaps churlish of me to mention that the delightful little girl sitting with them managed to generate a level of decibels inversely proportional to her diminutive height.

Having bagged a table, we checked in with the bar staff and they said they would be over shortly to take our order. Returning to the table we revised our previous decision to drape our winter coats over the back of our chairs, and surreptitiously put them on again in order to avoid an attack of the shivers. Our drinks were brought swiftly to us. I enjoyed the sound of ice clinking against the glass as I sipped my sparkling mineral water. The waiter stood with pen poised over pad. ‘What can I get you?’

‘Do you have Scottish salmon?’

‘Scottish salmon. No, I am afraid we do not. We do have Scottish sturgeon. Can I interest you? I’ve got a pic of it somewhere. Would you like to see it?’

I nodded my head and settled back in my chair while he went to fetch it. The waiter returned and placed his tablet on the table. And this is what I saw…

I hastily declined the Scottish sturgeon and settled for cod, chips (a.k.a. French fries) and garden peas (can’t stand the mushy ones). He wandered off in the direction of the kitchen.

Anticipating the plate of fish and chips that was about to come to us, engendered a certain amount of salivation. As it happened, this turned out to be somewhat premature. The minutes ticked by. Eventually my saliva glands became exhausted and I have to say that by the time 45 minutes had passed they appeared to have gone on strike!

Of course, the moment the food arrived all grumpiness vanished in a trice. It is strange how that happens. Similar to waiting for a delayed bus or train; all is forgiven and forgotten, once the curtain goes up on the main event.

Getting down to business, I wielded knife and fork as if I were a surgeon (no ‘t’ in that word) in a hurry to get away for a family birthday party. The fish had a firm paper serviette between it and the plate and the chips were placed half falling out of a matching paper bag. I found this both puzzling and a tad annoying. I couldn’t understand what the point of it was. The paper had the function of rendering the knife blunt, when compared to how it might have cut were it to be slicing directly against the hard china plate. My partner then explained to me that it symbolised the old-fashioned way of eating fish and chips (wrapped in paper). If that really was the case, why on earth did they bring cutlery? Why were we fish-and-chippers not strolling round the room, eating the stuff with our fingers? I eventually allowed my indignation to be dispersed by a good glug of sparkling water, and relaxed into an enjoyable lunch.

I noticed that a Bob Dylan song was playing while I was chasing a couple of peas onto my fork, but by the time I got to attack my chips Dylan had morphed into Rod Stewart. I gathered that Rod didn’t want to talk about it and Bob sounded far too nasal to bother. I think the management were using a track list designed for the grey-haired lunch brigade.

I have never seen the point of playing music in restaurants. The assumption has to be that all customers have identical tastes in music. I suppose you could make some broad assumptions: a spot of classical music for the leafy suburbs, heavy metal on the wrong side of the tracks. To expand on this would be to reveal too much of my own stereotypes and prejudices; I think I will leave that for another time.

So, without putting too fine a point on it, I am now fully stuffed. Speak to you later, my dear blogophiles.

My recent Internet Gig is up on my Website, now

February 8, 2022

Hello! This is just to let you know that I have an mp3 version of the show I streamed up live to the Internet yesterday, 7th February, to the virtual community known as 3rd Rock Grid (3RG) on OpenSim. The gig lasts around 40 minutes. I have spent minimal time editing out mistakes and so forth, so what you hear is a warts & all version. The programme is as follows:

  • Fish & Chips*
  • Bad Things
  • Breathe Softly*
  • Rant about the Prime Minister
  • Civilian Reveille*
  • Full English Breakfast*
  • Homburg
  • Creaking Joints*
  • First Time Ever I Saw Your Face

*These songs are my originals (Lyrics & Music by John Lewis Smith)

I played the gig as Fyrm Fouroux (my avatar, since 2008).

I doubt I shall leave this gig up for very long. Speak to you later, my dear blogophiles.

My website can be found at http://www.lewismusic.co.uk/

The Road Ahead

February 1, 2022
  • Empty
  • Damp
  • Grey Sky
  • Nobody’s waiting for the bus

Could this be the start of a blues song?

Speak to you later my dear blogophiles.

Tight Socks

January 29, 2022

Tight Socks
Firstly, and let me be clear about this, I am not accusing my socks of walking down to the local pub and having one too many. Nor am I suggesting that they are way too frugal when it comes to spending money since, au contraire, I have to say that they usually foot the bill nicely(ouch!)

I am here concerned about the fact that they tend to leave their mark upon me after I have taken them off. I suppose you could think of such marks as podiatric love bites. I’ve tried talking to them about this before I put them on in the morning, but they take no notice. In the autumn I bought a bunch of them to get me through the winter. Perhaps we should speak of a ‘foot’ of socks, in the way that we talk of a ‘hand’ of bananas?

Last year, I attempted to stretch the socks by pulling them over a pile of books. Surprisingly, this had no effect whatsoever. This year I decided upon a new tactic; I got hold of a pair of scissors. I stretched each sock (using an appropriate bit of scrap wood I had lying around) and then used the scissors to cut multiple elastic threads at the top of the sock. The rationale behind this was to break the elastic tendency to draw the sock too tightly around my calf. I did not want to cut all the threads, since I needed a remnant of elasticity in the sock to prevent it falling down around my ankle.

I construed this as an experiment. If it didn’t work, I would only be losing the price of a few socks, but if the experiment did work I would have bought my comfort through the winter. I was not sure whether it would be possible to reach an optimum level of elasticity, and I did not know if they would disintegrate somehow when in the washing machine. I am pleased to report that the experiment has been a great success. Of course they look a bit manky and chewed up at the tops. However, in the winter I wear long trousers, not shorts. So nobody sees them and nobody knows about what I have done to them. Well, apart from you, my dear reader, but I’m sure you will keep it a secret for me? I’ve been wearing them since October and I am fairly confident that they will last through to May when the weather should be improving.

May I wish you warm feet throughout the winter. Speak to you later, my dear blogophiles.

Household Thermostat Wars

January 23, 2022

This is the third blog in the trilogy about household heating. I covered the ubiquitous coal fire method, much fancied back in the 1940s and 1950s, in Parts 1 & 2. In the current blog, I shall address the more modern and widely used method of central heating. I hasten to add that I am not about to write an essay on this topic, nor am I able to provide a detailed analysis of its use and/or its forms of delivery. I shall, however, share with you something of my own experience.

In our house we have a system of radiators. The water that pulses around this circuit is heated by our gas boiler. Of course, compared with the messy chore of making up a new coal fire in the grate, every day, central heating seamlessly runs in the background, once installed and set up. However, if something goes wrong, it can be bad news. Our heating boiler packed up one New Year’s eve – try getting a heating engineer to come and sort that out! Our boiler does the hot water, too. Very chilly.

The thermostat control is positioned on one of the walls. The question arises as to what temperature the thermostat should be set.

I feel the cold; my partner does not. Her preferred thermostat setting is cold for me, whereas mine is too hot for her. The accepted view seems to be that it is easier to wear more layers when cold than it is to revert to summer clothing when hot. I think my own biological thermostat must be a tad wonky. I will attempt to illustrate what I mean by this.

As for sleep wear, I have not one but THREE woollen dressing gowns (small, medium & large sizes). The small size is my natural fit. However, as the weather gets colder, I can wear the medium over the small, and then the large over the medium. By that time my torso is looking veritably box-like.

It goes without saying that in the winter I wear the heavy, brushed cotton PJs. I believe the technical term for the material is ‘Wincyette‘ – rather a nice name for a little girl, I think. As for my feet, they may well find themselves snuggled into a pair of woolly hiking socks. You will doubtless be relieved to know that I do not actually wear my hiking boots under the duvet, although I have sometimes been tempted!

I will not infrequently wear a woollen beany hat to bed on cold nights. Years ago my grandma knitted me a tea cosy (before the invention of T-bags, that is). In order for it to fit over the teapot, it had a hole for the handle and a hole for the spout: I could put it on my head and pull my ears out through those holes – very cosy!

Over the Wincyettes I wear equivalent sweaters to those I wear about the house in winter. The main long-sleeved sweater is usually something serious with heavy knitted ribbing, possibly with a zipped front. The one I currently favour is lined with a layer of lambs wool. I should perhaps mention that underneath the long-sleeved sweater I also wear what used to be called a V-neck pullover or tank top (short-sleeved, in wool).

I now turn to the question of underwear, the same specifications work for both day and night. Of course, I make use of a thermal long-sleeved top and a pair of thermal Long Johns. Beneath the thermals I also wear a pair of briefs and a sleeveless vest. These are made of open-mesh cotton, and thus provide good insulation. The holes in the mesh act to provide many small pockets of air next to the skin. If I remember my ‘O’ Level physics (passed in 1960, btw), metals are great conductors of heat (hence metal saucepans). Although hot air can be blown around as an effective conveyor of heat (think of hair dryers and fan heaters), it has to be warmed up first. So the heat from my body does not easily travel from my skin into these little pockets of air which are not going anywhere.

As for pottering about in the house, I sometimes wear a flat cap. We lose a lot of heat through our heads! I’ve also got a pair of woollen gloves with half-length fingers, and they are great for changing channels on the TV remote control. Well, I think that just about covers everything I want to say on this topic. The trilogy is hereby closed. Speak to you later, my dear blogophiles.

Winter Morning Car Ritual

January 5, 2022

A few degrees below freezing and there is a crisp layer of frost on my car, parked outside. I went out to the car and used my key-press to unlock the doors. I heard the sound of the locks moving, yet when I reached for the driver’s door, I could not pull it open. I tried getting my finger round the top edge to give it a little pull, but that did not do the trick.

I therefore resorted to a technique sometimes used by one of my previous neighbours; I boiled a kettle of water and began to pour this over the outside of the door frames (see below). Hey presto! One by one, I was able to open them. I also sloshed a bit over the front windscreen and that worked, too.

Perhaps I should share a secret with you that will help you understand what is going on in the picture. I happen to be able to transmogrify myself into a giant, at a moment’s notice. Here you see my giant-sized hand pouring a giant’s kettle of water over the car doors.

Anyway, once inside the car, I was faced with loads of condensation on the inside of the windscreen. I fetched a roll of kitchen towel from the boot which I began to apply and mopped it off as best I could. I had the car engine running and aimed the blower to the screen. Usually it takes a good 10 minutes to dry out completely and to get a good clear screen through which to peer, once on the road.

Sometimes, I sit in my hat and coat and read a book. I recently bought a dehumidifier bag that can be placed on the dash board. To dry it out, when it has stopped working, you put it in the microwave for 3 minutes and that is supposed to revitalise it. I have to say that mine doesn’t seem to be coping with the huge amount of condensation that my car generates. So far, it is rather disappointing.

I think I have to think of a way to construe the kettle ritual as not being a hassle. I suppose reading the current novel or listening to music on the car radio does help. In future I could make a cup of coffee and take that out to the car with me. Why not munch my way through a slice of toast & marmalade, too? Turn the whole thing into a little breakfast.

Speak to you later, my dear blogophiles.

The Joy of Mask-Wearing

December 31, 2021

I recently bought a bog-standard supply of masks to use when out of the house, mainly on the occasional trip to the supermarket. Indeed, a few months ago I had started to venture onto the metro for visits to a nearby city (it has a half-decent bookshop) but omicron has pushed me firmly back into my shell on that score. Still, I wondered whether the addition of a piece of artwork might make the masks less bland. The above pic is my first attempt. It is possible that the red lips has rendered it to be a tad androgynous. I suppose I could counter that by imagining myself as one of the Three Masketeers!

Sorry for not posting on this blog since October 2020. My friends Aliumaura gave me for Christmas a delightful little book by the wonderful J.B. Priestley (illustrated by his great-granddaughter, Tabby Wykeham). I love her style of illustration and the book has inspired me to take up blogging, once more. Hopefully my illustrations will improve as time goes by.

Speaking of time, I realise that today is New Year’s Eve. May I wish y’all a Happy Hogmanay. I usually make a point of retiring to bed early with a good book (nothing too serious or literary in nature). The idea of going into the City of Drunken Revelry makes my flesh crawl! And I regret that I am no longer even tempted by ‘Jools Annual Hootenanny’ on English BBC TV Channel 2 (the thought of which, not to put too fine a point on it, has me wanting to barf up my cookies, as my dear, deceased friend Gerry from Toronto used to put it).

Speak to you later, my dear blogophiles!