Monday, March 20, 2006

How Long?


This post and comments on demonstrate the general loathing of minimum wage workers toward the only management they have any contact with - so-called Middle Management. Actually, in this case (where the workers at a coffee shop walked out en masse, leaving a note on the door) the cafe manager is probably better described as "Lower Management". In more ways than one, apparently.

In reading the numerous comments I am drawn to the fact that no-one has looked any higher up the corporate ladder. This is a sad reflection of the fact that minimum wage workers are not thought about much by the people who employ them and profit by them. In most organizations I know there are several layers within the management hierarchy. This means that the cafe's manager has a manager who also has a manager and so on all the way to the top. I am stating the obvious here because it may not be that obvious to many looking up from the base of the corporate pyramid. Particularly if they never actually see or hear from those who run the company.

I am not going to defend the manager of the cafe but I am also not prepared to believe it was all his fault. If his managers had done their job properly he would probably either not have been promoted or would have been given guidance on how to get the best out of people. The sad truth is that many managers hold low paid workers with near contempt. Shame on them. People deserve respect no matter what position they hold or how much money they don't make. Via Pete.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Any name but Blair

I pity anyone whose surname is Blair these days. If it isn't the new Mr. Sleaze, PM Tony Blair (the man who promises peerages in return for "loans" to help win elections - and this is supposed to be a democracy!) then it's Ian Blair, the Metropolitan Police Commisioner. He appears to keep his foot in his mouth and yet is in line for a £34,000 bonus on top of his £228,000 salary! Wow, I'd be happy to earn that sort of money and get away with continually making stupid judgments! Clearly these days it pays to be a public servant (except the last thing these people think they are is a public servant!)

Enough already.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Cheltenham Festival Mayhem

We live close enough to Cheltenham to be affected by the crush of visitors for the festival - actually a week of horse racing over hurdles, otherwise known as steeplechasing (where the steeples are being chased I know not). I am actually very ignorant about the sport and, based on the behavior of the average race goer, I'm likely to keep it that way! Suffice to say that I will be pleased when things get back to normal next week and all the punters have left. (BTW, you can tell a serious punter by the "enclosure badge" he wears on his lapel when quaffing a drink in the pub long after the last race of the day has been run - a status symbol to be worn with pride!)

But this post is more about the fact, reported today by the BBC here that nine horses have died (actually I think it more accurate to say some were put down) as a result of accidents on the course. This all sounds quite shocking in what is supposed to be a civilized world. The other night in the pub I heard the rationale "horses enjoy jumping otherwise they wouldn't". But maybe they don't know the risk of being put down should they break a leg?

CBSO - Mahler's 2nd

We went to Symphony Hall Thursday evening for a concert I have been looking forward to since late last year when the season's calendar was announced.

Mahler's Second Symphony is a signature piece in the CBSO's repertoire. Recorded around 1988, the Simon Rattle/CBSO disc was voted record of the year and put Rattle firmly on the scene. Now it would seem that Sakari Oramo has taken the mantle and run with it for this was a seminal evening in many respects.

Mahler's Second is a huge symphony - long (85 minutes) powerful (very large orchestra with extras like organ and distant brass ensemble) and vocal (two soloists and a choir). It is technically demanding and is a potential piece de resistance for the conductor who can triumph or fall on his own baton.

So, how was it? For me, quite indescribable! The experience was exhausting, exhilarating, mind-numbing and simply fantastic! I must have listened the Rattle/CBSO recording dozens of times in the past year so I am familiar with the music and found myself anticipating "what comes next". All that "came next" met with my every expectation.

It'll be interesting to see what the critics made of it and, by the way, the BBC Radio 3 microphones were there so it may be aired very soon to a far wider audience. But it won't be the same as being there, in Symphony Hall!

Monday, March 13, 2006

Googling Greenland!

I have managed to do this with 6 of the 7 Greenland images.

I have cropped the image from Google Earth as close as possible to match the view in the photo.

Now this means that I have removed the text from the image that says this is copyright Google and Digitalglobe and MDAEarthSat. I acknowledge all three made this comparison possible.

The first step I took was to view the East Greenland coast until I found the same coastal features. I then zoomed in until Google Earth was at 38,000 feet (an average flight plan elevation) and played around with the controls until the oblique view more or less matched the photo. As noted above, I then had to crop the Google image to match the view captured on film. The original Google image noted the location: 63º 15' 5.62" N, 41º 22' 39.55".

There are several differences. The most obvious to me is that Google's terrain is less mountainous. I was surprised by that. The second is, of course, the amount of snow, ice and bergs. My photo was taken in August 2000 probably close to the warmest time of the year. Google's image was probably taken earlier in the season because of the greater quantity of snow and icebergs. I have no idea which year the Google image was acquired.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Long Compton

This is a revised travelogue that used to be called "Cotswold 2000". It now focuses on the village itself and its nearby attraction the Rollright Stones. The church and lych gate have been getting some attention on Flickr recently and I promised I would update this travelogue and upload it. Here it is!

Friday, March 10, 2006

Greenland Flyover

Greenland Flyover August 2000 - 6

Seven photos taken in sequence while flying over Greenland in August 2000. The flight plan from London to Houston was much further north than usual and the pilot of the brand new Continental Airlines Boeing 777 announced that we could expect superb views of the greenland icecap, glaciers and mountains. Which we did. Except we were the only two passengers who looked up from the movie to take a peek out the window! Weren't we the lucky ones! But twice as lucky in that the windows on the new plane were unscratched, clean and perfect!

View the Flickr set here or to see them on a black background check out the Focalplane gallery (recommended).

Site Map

Should every site have a map? I guess it should. So now there is one for It demonstrates what I set out to do - to design a very flat site. Basically nothing on needs more than two clicks to be accessed as there are only three levels including the Hub. And even the aggregated sites are conveniently close.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Washover Channel

Washover Channel

Something I don't understand at all. This photo has suddenly jumped to way top of the focalplane "most viewed" on Flickr. OK, it's an interesting geomorphological study but that in itself shouldn't be a reason for boosting it to the top of the pops, should it? So why? Do tell.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Aberaeron, Wales

A short travelogue extolling the Ceredigion (Cardigan) coast, with supporting photos in the Flickr set on Wales.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

The Cotswold Way

A new feature that was on the old Focalplane site. But now it's been flickr-ised. We have yet to complete the Cotswold Way from Chipping Campden to Bath and have walked about 30 miles of the 100+ and written them up in three stages. There are four parts uploaded:

Part 0 - Introduction
Part 1 - Chipping Campden to Stanway
Part 2 - Stanway to Belas Knap
Part 3 - Belas Knap to Dowdeswell

In addition, we have started a new group on Flickr - The Cotswold Way - and invite photographs and discussion that are relevant to the Cotswold Way. We see it as a hiker's resource with pictures!

Flickr Friends!

I really enjoy Flickr. It's not too addictive and after using it for a while the cream seems to rise to the top as members search out each other on the basis of common interests, similar levels of experience and so on. So here is a short list of recommended non-family Flickr-ites:

Recursion see Recursion

A Warwickshire man with a good eye for details! With only 102 photos uploaded I would like to see more! I have blatantly followed in his footsteps twice (Bullring blob a.k.a. Selfridges and Hatton Locks). Not quite planted my figurative tripod feet where his may have stood but close!

Robert Silverwood

Another nearby Flickr-ite with a lot of photos of locations that we know well. His photos provide proof that high end digital cameras are a match for traditional film, with or without some interesting processing techniques (HDR). Robert also gives plenty of background information for some of his compositions.


A photographer with a keen interest in architecture, particularly of the grand style. Again, lots of good solid information and a willingness to enter into discussions about his subjects.


Some superb shots, again proving that high end digital SLRs are here to stay. Recent photos taken in the Lake District prove my point!


Brenda is the opitomy of Flickr - a real community member with roots in the northeast (England) as well as the Birmingham area. Her love of photographic experiment shows a youthful exuberence for taking a chance. Having Brenda as a contact means that you are always likely to come across some refreshing stuff.


Canadian member I stumbled across while in Calgary. Lovely scenic shots of British Columbia with attention to details often lost on others.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

More travelogues on their way

But for now we are a house full of colds! Goodness knows where they came from as we've been healthy all winter. And the past few days have been perfect for getting out and about.

The travelogues include two more on Big Bend but key photos are in storage so they will will to wait a while.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Swapped Columns - Better?

Because the Hub seeks out feeds it takes a while to load all the Spokes, so I have swapped the columns. Now the menus load first. More efficient and effective, I think.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

The Eight Bells and the Phoenix

This entry might sound like a tale of two pubs but actually it is only one - our local, the Eight Bells. Just over two weeks ago the bar had a fire that erupted during the night and caused a lot of damage. Fortunately no-one was hurt but the owners, Neil and Julie, found themselves without a business, a lot of work to do and a whole slew of customers temporarily drying out.

The repairs took just two weeks and the place looks better than ever. We have been back a few times to make up for lost beer time and to show support. The best news for us is that the entire pub has adopted a no smoking ban. No more irritated eyes and smoky clothes! And this doesn't seem to have affected business as the place was really busy on a Monday night in February! That says something! The Phoenix has risen.