05 Sep

We all have curly tails now..

Ah well.. it was bound to happen and yet for me at the least convenient time. I got the ‘swine flu’ or the H1N1 virus which is a type of swine influenza mixed with some avian and human ancestry. I knew this was coming, and at first I kinda worried that this would be another ‘Spanish flu’ that killed 20-100 million worldwide 1918-19. But there is little point in worrying and I did think that the years of preparation for avian flu would have made the WHO and the major governments as best placed as possible to interdict it. Some people sadly died, but despite the alarmist headlines it started to look as though it might be quite mild in reality, unless you had underlying health issues. I watched a few programmes on BBC Four, started to understand the subject, realised the ‘second wave’ would be the testing outbreak and decided to not fret.

Well my son Matt and his friends Ben and Alaa and Louis and others all went to Leedfest this year, and from the accounts coming in it sounds like the ‘second wave’ has gone right through the festivalgoers. They’ve all got it. I saw Matt on Monday and Tuesday but still felt fine when I boarded the train to London to catch the Eurostar to Brussels for some very important meetings. I started to feel ‘off’ on that first train and I wish I’d had the gumption to turn back, but these are very important meetings that dictate if I have an income for years to come so I pressed on. On the Eurostar I started to have very ‘viral’ symptoms.. headache, hot breath, some limb ache.

By that night I was laid pretty low, fever, headache, aching limbs. My colleague Frank was going to the meeting on Thursday so after having spent a bad night I couldn’t make the meeting, hoping to regroup for ‘my’ meeting Friday. I started to make plans, asking good colleagues from Banverket to chair if I was missing and using the lulls when I felt normal to ensure that all documentation was printed by our hosts at UNIFE. Another terrible delirious night. But I woke feeling a little better and decided to have a light breakfast (I had avoided food since Matt had consistently been unable to hold down food) and make the very short walk to the UNIFE offices. What a mistake.

I spent the meeting shaking, shivering, barely able to concentrate, and eventually went to the loo and upchucked everything that I had eaten. It was game over and rather than catching the train home which was my plan, I could do nothing but take a taxi to the hotel and book myself back in for what turned out to be the worst night of all. Eventually the fever broke at about 3am and today, Saturday, I am not well at all, but better than I was.

So.. how is the dreaded ‘swine flu’ of 2009 (and I bet 2010)? Well it’s not mild, it’s a full on bastard of an influenza that knocks you up pretty bad. It cripples your weak spots, which for me is usually headaches, for Matt it’s his upset stomach, and I’d want to keep a very close eye on it if you had an underlying respiratory illness, like any flu. It may not be the killer it was headlined as, and even now we don’t know that for sure, but you don’t want it and when they have that vaccine I’d take it if it was offered (subject to your belief system regarding vaccines). In the UK you can also get access to anti-virals which I couldn’t take since I was umpteen hundred miles away from them, but consider them too. Add it into the mix in the winter months with seasonal flu and it’s gonna cause a lot of disruption, and everything the medical people can do to limit it will be well worthwhile. UK health advice is here. US health advice here. EU overview of all Member States here.

As for me.. I’m stuck in a hotel room in Brussels too ill to leave the room, not sure if I will be up to travelling tomorrow, and wishing I was home. My colleagues coped, I should have stayed at home, and my final advice is: “If you feel flu coming on.. go back to bed.. take paracetomol.. and hope it’s not too bad.”

But we do all have cute curly tails now..


03 Aug

How to make Opera font rendering not suck

Original Post

The problem has been that certain fonts used by certain websites show up looking somewhat pixelated or granular-looking, unlike the smooth fonts other browsers will display for the same text. See the top headlines in the screenshot below to see what the problem looks like.

The problem seems to be that core X fonts are enabled in Linux Opera by default, and the solution is as easy as disabling them through opera:config#UserPrefs|EnableCoreXFonts (the "Save" button is at the very bottom of the page). Restart Opera, and you’re good to go.

Posted by Dynaflow

30 Jul

Restore GRUB

1. Pop in the Live CD, boot from it until you reach the desktop.
2. Open a terminal window or switch to a tty.
3. Type “grub”
4. Type “root (hd0,6)”, or whatever your harddisk + boot partition numbers are (my /boot is at /dev/sda7, which translates to hd0,6 for grub).
5. Type “setup (hd0)”, ot whatever your harddisk nr is.
6. Quit grub by typing “quit”.
7. Reboot.

I may be missing your point though, if so, please forgive me 🙂

05 Jul


Just finished a long weekend’s gardening which has been very enjoyable and productive. The Hozelock Aquapod system worked very well watering the greenhouse whilst we were away, admittedly some plants may be a little moister than they needed: tomatoes, and some drier: cucumbers, but overall it worked excellently. The hanging baskets should have probably gone to stay with a neighbour, but after a good trim by Ann and repeated soakings in water they look to be recovering. Most things are growing very well, at last my sweet peas are peering out from behind the lilies I mistakenly planted them behind. The marigolds (dwarf) are blooming in profusion, the petunias are starting to flower, the pansies are resplendent and just next to the house the first California poppies are making a show. The raspberries are beautifully ripe, the apple trees have fruit (which I have thinned a little) and my runner beans and climbing French beans are doing well. The balcony is full of deep red and yellow lilies and the aliums have finished flowering and have become artistic globes of drying seed heads.
In the greenhouse the tomatoes are growing well, maybe I little slower than last year, but flowering well, which is earlier than last, so that’s good. I have a sea of green in the pepper department and the two cucumber plants are really going for it. On the raised beds I had a cornucopia of lettuce which I harvested and have shared amongst the neighbours (the cornucopia of cabbage was before the holiday) and I have today sown carrots, peas, lettuce, radish, cress and some basil. My red onions are huge and close to harvesting, so I’ll pop some beetroot into their slot, and the new rows of cabbage are already looking deep green and close to being good to eat. The mesh net isn’t that great at keeping cabbage white butterlies out but at least once they’re in they never get out again.. I harvested 4 potato plants and we’ve had delicious new potatoes yesterday and today, and my courgettes, dwarf beans and sweetcorn look good. Obviously I mowed the lawn, and did a feed and weed. I could do some more weeding but I’ve done the veg beds and the worse weeds in the flower beds so that’s all for now.
All in all, a great gardening weekend..

02 Jul

mad tom

mad tom
Originally uploaded by tzunder.

Hi, it’s me in Spain being zany. Actually I am being quite chilled but this is the kind of face you make when you do that ‘top down social networking avatar’ self. This has been quite a relaxed if hot holiday, not doing much, reading and sitting by the pool.

Our son Mike has been in the news, well the military news, as the Harriers return from Afghanistan. Whatever you may think of foreign wars, and I support the intervention in Afghanistan whilst disagreeing with the Iraq war, raise a cheer for the servicemen fighting there: Harriers Return. (Mike is a nice newsworthy nugget, having served as an infantry officer and now a pilot, I hope the other pilots who’ve served far longer don’t rib him too much.. I know Mike will be most embarassed to be singled out).

Back to far too much travel and too many meeting next week..

29 Jun

I am most taken with the Dover Thrift Editions which are incredibly cheap editions of vast range of classic books from the collection of Anarchist Writings by Kropotkin that I am reading now, via Joseph Conrad novels, to 19th century books on Architecture. Spend almost nothing and get a great read..