02 Feb

More relaxed

Much better this morning, backache reduced a lot. Fairly sure arm twinges are caused by sleeping on arm! Eyes still not normal and face still weak, but much calmer. I dreamt of when my eee notebook arrives last night, so I must be feeling a little better. gspearing has as interesting blog about which roleplaying game you’d bring back and how, which I found interesting and is here.

On another note I am fascinated to see that Fuji are talking of releasing a classic 1950s style folding roll film 6x7cm camera, that for all the world looks like the old Zeiss Ikonta/Agfa cameras. Somehow I suspect it will be a massively expensive collectors item and never be seen outside of Japan, but it is very nice with electronic shutter and a coupled rangefinder. I doubt I will buy one, but it’s nice to see things of beauty still being made..

01 Feb

Home but not really well

Home. Relief. But I am not fixed, my eyes still don’t work fully and my lips are weird and not quite right. My steroid does dropped today and I am interested as to whether my symptoms are returning. Because I responded both to steroids in my face and my feet (an old numbness I have had for 18 months) the docs suspect a deeper problem with me. It does not look like Guillain-BarrĂ© which can be dangerous since 30% of patients can stop breathing. Maybe neurosarcoidosis which is very difficult to diagnose. I also have a very sharp pain in my upper right back and my left arm has shooting numbness. As I was being discharged they said that my EMG showed lumbar radiculopathy, which may have been caused by the lumbar puncture, or not.. Basically I am at home, I still am not right and I am a little freaked out.

30 Jan


Well. My facial paralysis lifts greatly day by day and if you did not know me you would think me normal if a little grim, some might say my normal face! Still no idea as to cause and so the tests continue. Monday I had the MRI, no biggie. yesterday I had the lumbar puncture that has had me scared silly since last tuesday. With a mild sedative and a great bedside manner the doctor got me through it fine, more odd than anything. Just had nerve conductive tests. This did involve thin needles which did not freak me out, proving it is needles and my poor veins that I have a phobia about, not needles. I hope that given I may get home tomorrow since we have a trip to Edinburgh and the doctors seem to think I am in no immediate danger, appearing to have responded incredibly fast to steroids or maybe spontaneously. The question remains: what is or was behind it all?

27 Jan

Hallam at last

Great. At last I am in Hallamshire and the testing can start. Not tat I had had a problem with Barnsley, but it was a holding loop. I met some fascinating people all facing mortality on the coronary ward. George was in the fire service for his whole life and was one of the first crew at the Flixborough plant explosionn the early 70s that as a child I heard explode about 50 miles away and thought they’d dropped the bomb. Roy, 88, who’d tended cricket and bowling greens all his life but also served in all 5 years of the horrific Burma campaign in WW2 and still shuddered at it. A poem may come of this.

I am pleased to say that I am starting to function better. I can wiggle my eyebrows and speak more clearly. I feel so much happier and on a good path. My good friend Simon has popped in twice, gspearing is due in today at 2pm and dear Dom has sent intellectual support in the form of SF books. My dear wife Ann has been in twice a day and looked after and cared for me wonderfully whilst I am sure she has been deeply worried. She will not be in today and I am missing her already.

Ah well. I am drained and have bad backache. L8r

21 Jan

Drab dose dammned nubb libbs

From Weds. night I have been suffering from repeated cluster headache attacks and as of Saturday I have developed facial paralysis. Not sure what it is. Am going to hospital now. I can’t speak properly and as such I can’t be of any help with anything. I don’t know if I will need to be kept in for appraisal, I hope not, but I may have to. It does not look like a stroke, it may be Bell’s palsy, (which is not permanent) but it does mean a few things:

1: I can’t lecture.
2: I can’t go to the Freightwise review in Brussels.
3: I can’t roleplay, but if I am not cancelling the Gaming Sunday just now..

I’ll report back when I know more. I think all projects and tasks are in safe hands and proceeding well.

… later on the same day …

Just back from hospital. Not a stroke, possibly hemiplegic migraine, but frankly they are all nonplussed. The problem being that it isn’t on side of the face alone, which is what nearly all such facial nerve things should be. Talking probably worse. My lips just don’t work! Don’t ask me to say ‘Blue Balloon Please’! Cluster headache rolls on, this is the longest headache I have ever had!
Back at hospital at 9am on Tues. morning for CAT scan to rule out any stroke/brain nasty and then I don’t know what.. doctors can be so non communicative and I can’t grill them too well with only 50% of the consonants and vowels!

15 Jan

Oslo and eee

Well, first full day in Oslo. We were bussed to a golf club some 30km south of Oslo for our workshops, and frankly I can’t understand why. The venue was very sweet in a Scandinavian way, but frankly it wasn’t exactly suited to the numbers or the needs. Oh well, it’s all part of life’s rich tapestry. I spent some time trying to track down a supplier that actually had the Asus eee in stock. I think I tracked one down, but this is definitely this year’s Tracey Island for geeks, an ultra portable sub notebook that runs Linux and weighs nowt. I know I should wait for the 8Gb version but frankly I suspect I could have days of fun with this, and also take it everywhere whereas my current laptop (Powerbook G4 15″) is frankly bloody heavy.

Listening to the Clash and reading up on the Leica M7, life ain’t too bad..

14 Jan

Off to Oslo

It’s 2008 and the traveling season has begun again. I am off to Oslo on a SAS flight out of Manchester and it’s both good and bad that I am out and about again. Good in that I definitely make my biggest inputs as a networker, manager and project planner; bad in that I can’t do much basic academic work when I am travelling and meeting and doing all the management stuff. Sometime this year I need to get down and write 1–3 papers, deliver on 4 projects (with a 5th about to to start), organise 2-4 FP7 project bids and manage a team that is currently about 4-5 strong at home and 30-40 when you add in all the partners that I am responsible for across many workpackages. I can do the project management, I can do the people management, I might even be able to do the papers if I can squeeze the time, but it is a gear shift change from the first 2 years at Newcastle when it was just me doing all the work and eking out a living on a few projects.

31 Dec


Russia was grim, but not because of the cold, but the money grabbing rudeness of everyone, the studied ignorance, the closure of museums at random by uncommunicative militiamen, the lack of any signs in Russian let alone English, French or German. I suspect that the rampant corruption is why everyone is so down and why in a major city like Moscow or St.Petersburg it takes 45 minutes at least to order a taxi, due to the fact that any enterprise attracts the attention of corrupt officials. On the other hand the Russians themselves seem to react to this with a studied glumness and large quantites of alcohol. so do not expect a sober driver or indeed for any driver at all. I travel everywhere in Europe, including all the old Warsaw Pact countries now in the EU, I have travelled worldwide from the Americas to Asia and I have never ever encountered such unfriendliness, lack of interest, money grabbing extortion and sheer horribleness of Russia and the Russians. Don’t go. They have nothing of interest, their art, architecture, culture and food was either bought by a monarch by mail order or one of the long lost of Italians, English, French and Germans that they hired to make or build it. The only part of their history that is fascinatingly Russian is the USSR and they have obliterated all traces of it, so that you can’t get any grip of what it was like, and the place seems to have been run by a succession of kleptocrats of one kind or another since 1991. It’s scary that Stalin seems to be being rehabilitated as a “Great Russian” (ironically exactly how Lenin described him as a warning to others) and the place reeks of xenophobia. If you want to try Eastern Europe, go to Budapest or Prague, do not try Russia for at least another 30 years.

Ok, now I have offended all Russians and people of Russian descent, let me add that I have known Russian ex pats all my life and it was falling in love with the idea of the place as a kid that made we want to go.. maybe that made it worse for me.. I know that behind the rude ignorant glumness there are happy husbands and wives and children and if I knew them as people they’d be fine.. but that’s true everywhere and nowhere else (not even Poland which was a bit like it in Warsaw) treats visitors so badly whilst gouging every last ruble from them.

The fact that my Leica M4 was robbed from my bag on the St Petersburg Metro, a camera bought for me by Ann for my 40th and therefore both of great sentimental value and a beautiful artefact in it’s own right soured things still further, but be clear, we were so deeply sick of the place before then.

16 Dec


Micro$oft have introduced a new file format in Office 2007 which they claim is ‘open’ but looks to be extremely difficult to support.


If you have an earlier version of Word you’ll need an update from Micro$oft.

If you use OpenOffice or another WP then it’s going to be irritating but solutions are on the horizon: Right now my Ubuntu Gutsy system with OO2.3 can open but not save them.

Personally I am going to ensure I can read and write to the new format but whenever someone sends me one I am going to ask them why they don’t use a more widely supported format like the true open Open Document format.