Friday, August 30, 2013

Village of the Damned

Edinburgh is home to the Royal Bank of Scotland, the bank that owns Citizens Bank of Rhode Island (subsequently Royal Bank of the Americas) where I worked until I got the surgery on my shoulder and they dumped me faster than an old newspaper.  I couldn't afford to keep the house and all the cards fell down.

It's tempting to go to the home office to query them on just how they would make this situation right.  However, it's not likely they would do anything as the bank, like many others, is crooked to the core.  This is the same bank that almost single-handedly came close to bringing down the UK economy.

Fred Goodwin was running RBS at the time and this incompetent and amoral swine at one time had a knighthood from Queen Elizabeth.  Whether he still retains it after the revelations of what he did and the bank did on his behalf is unknown.  What is known is that the bastard lives in luxury to this day despite it all.

In England there is a 'super-injunction' which prevents news media from saying anything disparaging about anyone who has manifested the type of behaviour he has demonstrated.  I don't know if that applies to blogs but I do know this blog is published in America so that son of a bitch can blow me.

I can't speak of the financial wrongdoing of RBS as a whole as I wasn't aware of it and wasn't involved in it but I do know specifically about what happened in the acquisition of ABN AMRO, a Dutch bank that was sold off in parts around 2007.  Goodwin on behalf of RBS was competing with Bank of America for the retail division of the bank but he lost.  Rather than blowing it off and moving along, he continued competing for a transaction processing division of ABN AMRO which was neither significantly profitable nor compatible with the growth model defined for Citizens Bank / RBS Americas.  With this component he was successful but this was only an example of losing by winning.

The transaction processing division is not a high-profit unit even though it passed hundreds of billions of dollars daily in international transfers.  The division did not get a piece of the action but got what was, in effect, a click charge much like the toll that is paid for crossing a bridge.  The problem with this was that Citizens Bank was tasked with doing it and significant hardware and staff expansion was needed to accommodate it.  When it's known the division doesn't make all that much money, to pump bank capital into supporting it is patent absurdity.

The consequence of this stupidity was the growth model for Citizens Bank was frozen.  Up until that time the bank had been very successful with a relatively simple model:  Acquire, Absorb, Recover, Repeat.  It would buy other banks and assimilate them into the Citizens Bank system thus growing its reach, number of accounts, profits, etc.  The bank grew to be the fourth largest bank in the United States this way and this model is what Fred Goodwin shot all to hell as there was no way to continue with any profitable acquisition while hardware and staff were dedicated to stabilising the ABN AMRO unit.

So, what say I present at the RBS HR office and ask them about the weather, huh?

Thursday, August 29, 2013


Any potential for WiFi here in Scotland is hamstrung.  There is no chance it will happen in the flat where I'm living.  There's no way to get a different one without getting on The Dole and there's no fucking way that is going to happen.  More accurately, it could happen but I won't do it as I'm damned if I'll be the slave of the state.  My only interest in Scotland is getting the hell out.

In other news, the iBookstore package for "Abandoning Paradise" has been completed and I will publish it within the next few days.  I'm not sure if I will add anything further to it as my attitude toward Scotland is so full of bile that it doesn't need description, particularly not in that medium.  I guarantee the new content I've added will shock you out of your chair and, as with everything else, it's all true.  Well, not all of it as I added suggestions for the brilliant movie director who will inevitably make a movie of the saga.  No movie can succeed without gratuitous sex scenes so I have suggested where to add them.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Trying to Get to Memmingen

Movies and the like will pass time but they're of no interest to me at all when I can get to the Internet and my biggest interest there is how to get to Memmingen, Germany.  Going to Munich is out of the question as it's one of the priciest cities in Germany.  Memmingen is not so far off but so far there hasn't been any luck in finding an affordable flat.  There hasn't been luck in finding any flat, for that matter.

More to come.   Silas on the job!

The Worst Tom Cruise Movie

The question of the worst may seem like a trick because some of you want to answer All Of Them.  I think some of them are pretty good but that list won't be extended by "Oblivion," an exceptionally weak sci-fi movie I've just watched.

Perhaps you will think I'm being unfairly harsh in calling it a bad movie when its only problems are a plot that would embarrass any science-fiction writer who ever lived, continuity that would make a four-year-old sound like Socrates, and one other tiny oversight:  he plays a young stud but only those with substantial visual impairment would accuse him of being young.

There were two very good aspects to the movie and these came in the forms of Olga Kurylenko and Andrea Riseborough.  Both are quite beautiful women but the movie could not have been saved even had they got naked and given us lesbian sex on a trapeze.

The only saving grace is that I didn't pay for it.  File-stealing, I mean sharing, is such a beautiful thing.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Just a Touch of Scurvy

There is a profound violation of modern-day protocol in getting sick and then failing to whine about it on Facebook but I figure if you can get it together to whine on Facebook then how sick could you possibly be.  So things sucked but now are much better.  No need for details except to say there's nothing lasting from it and there wasn't anything different from the evil bugs that smack all of us from time to time.

And to show things are back on track, this would be a peach of a time to slam One Direction, yet another reason British music should be banned.  If One Direction is the modern-day answer to The Beatles, the whole new generation is doomed.  They even have a 3D movie where perhaps they can give some tips on hair gel.  Gad.

It was looking promising for WiFi last week but now it isn't so that's kind of bleak.  There's always television.  Maybe you think Brit television is brilliant because of the stuff like Monty Python that was exported to the US but you don't see the abysmal rubbish they don't send.  However, you can also watch Formula 1 on a free channel so it's not all bad.

That will be enough television, tho.  Now that there's a bit of strength again, it'll be time to start swinging the guitar around again.

Unknown if there is any chance for WiFi.  Without it there's no point in staying but I haven't given up on it as yet.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Digestion According to Bimini

The last few days I've been sicker than I've been in years and this manifested itself as more explosive behaviour from my stomach than was observed in the so-called 'nuclear research' that took place in the Bimini Atoll in the sixties and, in relative terms, it made that 'research' seem no more impressive than poppers at a child's birthday party.

It started Wednesday night when my stomach resolved to expel everything in it and this continued far into the next day.  Anyone who thinks this type of reaction is not possible after the stomach runs out of contents has never participated in matching tequila shots at The Matrix on a Friday night.

In those last two days, I did manage some solid food.  I started boldly with half a slice of bread.  There wasn't anything on it, just the bread.  This exercise fortified me enough to stumble to the co-op to get some chicken noodle soup, the food which is so effective in curing just about anything that if adopted by any medical insurance organisation would quickly rise to cost of one hundred pounds per can.

Thus far, this plague has not been inflicted on the other end of me and I beseech thee, Zeus, don't let it happen.  I'm nackered, bro.

Language catch-up:  Nackered is universal Brit for worn out.  Shattered is Midlands Brit for hungry.  Some slang is regional so keep your notebook handy.

Perhaps you wonder why no-one could help with my little problem but, looking about the place, I observe there is no-one else here.  However, during this time, I learned to my amusement that one of my sisters is devoting her autumn years to helping the homeless.  Thanks for the fish, sis.

This time was not entirely lost as I managed to continue my marathon of reruns of "The Big Bang Theory."  Thus far, I have seen almost every episode from the first six seasons.  You may think think that's unusual as you have been a regular viewer and have seen them too but I've done it since I got to Scotland.  In fact, I watched the entire fourth season in the same day.  The only consequence of this is that I may never again listen to anything by Barenaked Ladies (they did the theme song for "The Big Bang Theory").

And that segues nicely to the substantial difference between a geek and a nerd.  If you know that substantial difference then guess what.

Hint:  a geek bites the heads off chickens in a circus

Without commercials, the show only runs for twenty minutes but lately I would be asleep again before each one finished so I have watched some of them multiple times.  And still the pressing questions remains:  will Leonard and Penny really stay together this time; will Howard and Bernadette really get married; will Sheldon and Amy ever get naked together; will applied physicists ever find anything useful that can be done with the Higg's boson that theoretical physicists have so cleverly discovered.

There are two priorities for this day, to talk to Cat and to go to Pol Arida's show tonight.  There was no chance to talk yesterday as I could barely walk to the bathroom until evening when I got the chicken soup that turned me into Superman.  I'm still a bit wobbly and solid food would tempt me equally if served on a plate or scraped off the road but I have news and must talk to Cat.

(Ed:  Why not tell her here?)

Cat gets news first.  Everything else in the article she probably figured out already but this is new.  Update to come tomorrow.  I'd say it's 50/50 on making it to Pol Arida's show, tho.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The Ladyboys and their Monster Trucks

Yesterday I was talking to Cat about things to do in Edinburgh.  Going to see Pol Arida on Friday is obvious as I've heard him online multiple times but this is a chance to see him live.  Tron is the venue but I've got no idea how to find it.  Who knows, maybe my cuz would like to go and she's lived here all her life so she'll know how to find it for sure.

I also told Cat about some other shows, one of which is The Ladyboys of Bangkok ... or Thailand ... or some such.  It didn't strike me as all that interesting to go to see men dressing like women as why not just go to see women dressing like women and skip the, um, cover charge.  However, there is another show in town, something you might not expect to find here.  There's going to be a Truckfest with Monster Trucks.  If you thought it was just drunked-up cowboys doing that stuff, guess again.  This show doesn't sound that interesting either but we talked about it and decided a good show would be if the Ladyboys from Thailand were driving the Monster Trucks as that would be a bizarre show to see.  Now that would be worth a cover charge.

I missed the Sheep Races in Dumfriesshire but they have bull races in Germany and I know those are funny.  The bull races aren't like the bucking broncos in rodeos as they're geldings and are sometimes decorated with balloons and flowers.  The Germans are so stiff and take things so seriously.

One thing I know is that I can get to Frankfurt for about thirty pounds on Ryan Air ... plus about eighty more pounds to bring the guitar and my box of gadgets.  That's vastly cheaper than I could do it with Haximoto so she will stay here.  Euro Rail is very expensive but I understand I can take other trains for much cheaper so this might be a solution to getting about there.  Und jetzt muss ich mehr Deutsch versuchen (and now I must try more German).

You thought this was over?  Yah, right!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Why Do They Sing Like Girls

The latest Brit singer who is a prime candidate for a bullet between the eyes is Bruno Mars.  He sounds the same as all the others:  like a girl.  What's mystifying is they seem to have girls hanging all over them so was there some radical change in females that they decided the ultimate in sexual attractiveness is some effeminate wimp who looks like he was dressed by his mother.

The other height of musical nauseation is the latest round of boy bands and these are doing to music what New Orleans termites do to houses.  Love the two-tone hair, honey.  It looks really butch.  Honest.

Oh yeah, and in-between there's Rihanna.  Jeebers.  Kill me now.

All the while Cat is trying to push music out in every direction she can but there's a gigantic tidal wave of bilious effluvium washing all over everything and all they can say for themselves is at least we're not on drugs.  Frankly, I don't believe it.  The whole crapshoot reeks of Ritalin.

I'm not bitter for not finding a gig as I'm not looking for one.  Doing what I do requires multiple instruments and they aren't here.  If I do it again, it will be another version of the Cincinnati show except this time I know how it to do it one hell of a lot cheaper than the last time.

The reason the subject of the latest wave of music is on my mind is that it plays in the Belly Buster sandwich shop where I go to get free WiFi.  I've seen a whole lot of waves of music splash up on the beach in my life and this one is by far the worst.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Pol Arida - Live at TRON in the Edinburgh Fringe Festival

Pol Arida has a unique style for guitar playing which is very compelling and high-energy.  He will be appearing at TRON in Edinburgh at 4:00 in August 23.  This is not a show to be missed so I have seriously got to find the location for TRON.  The show is part of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival which is a huge collection of events all around the city and goes for about a month.  You can find more about Pol Arida on his Web page.

As you will see from the video, Pol Arida does some highly-professional work.  He may not like it if I were to shoot video in his set but I will ask him beforehand.  Even if it's only still shots, I'll have a report from the show.

Friday, August 16, 2013

"Cat Fire Abstraction" (audio podcast)

"Cat Fire Abstraction" was recorded last night and it's all in one-pass, no multi-tracking.  This is the first bit I've recorded since I've been in Edinburgh and I'm pleased with how twisted it turned out to be. It runs about seven-and-a-half minutes and I'll likely do more like this as it's really feeling good to do it. Haven't had it rippin' like that in a while.

This kind of thing is why I want to jam with Michi Renoir.  Maestro Michi is the only one who is nuts enough and plays wild enough and loud enough to have any idea why I do what I do.  Alazarin could easily do what I do but he doesn't do it the same way as he works very hard on composition and puts his music together in a quite rigorous process.  Besides, guitar players get together and turn into gunfighters to see who is the fastest draw.  Synthesizer players don't care about that.

"Cat Fire Abstraction" is available now on the "Ride the Dragon podcast" or you can link to the file directly.  It's a free download, as always.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Wandering About Edinburgh

Edinburgh Castle is on for Sunday as it looks like a fairly good chance of dry weather.  That will be a good chance to get pictures of double-decker buses too.  Meanwhile here are some other pics:

This is Brittania, the royal yacht.  This one is no longer in service and is a tourist display here in Edinburgh.  My friend said his taxes paid for the fookin' boat so he should be able to walk around on it for free.  Taking a wild guess, I would say he is not a royalist.

This is not far from where I'm staying and it's to give an idea of the feel of things here.  Check out the cobblestones.

Quite an impressive piece of work!

Edinburgh is a destination for cruise ships.  These are nowhere near the giants that cruise the Mediterranean but you can see the size relative to the cars.  It's a huge ship.

Near the dock there's a big banner that reads:  If You Like Winter, You Will Love Scotland in the Summer   (I might have made that up)

In other news:  the ISBN for the book has been ordered and I will publish it shortly.  I've been checking and modifying through the whole time and Cat has just given me a good tip on something else to review.

Coming soon to an iBookstore near you!

Saturday, August 10, 2013

More Abandoning Paradise

Since I'm broke and have nothing better to do, more thought has been going into "Abandoning Paradise" and I decided it made no sense to describe abandoning paradise if I didn't say what was Paradise about Greece.  Therefore I've been expanding the introduction to the story.  This, as with the conclusion, isn't an adaptation of material I've already written on the blog so it will take a bit to complete it.

I realise that reading about writing is about as interesting as watching a cricket match and it doesn't have the compensation of the disgusting but delicious hotdogs they serve at sporting events.

So the other aspect of life at the moment is getting things moving with Andromeda.  My ears already ring like hell so I don't suppose it makes much difference if I play rippin' loud and I've been doing that ... and enjoying it thoroughly.  I still don't have the cable I need for recording but I may get down to see my cuz later today and perhaps I can find it then.

I've also been spending some time watching PSMs (Previously Stolen Movies) on the computer and if you think "Braveheart" is a gut-ripping flick, try watching it in Scotland.  I watch the first part of that up to when his girlfriend gets murdered and I have tears streaming down my face.  Any hint of pacifism in me disappears altogether and I'm right with him on the righteousness of killing Englishmen.  Mel Gibson may be a racist, anti-Semitic pigdog but he sure can make one hell of a movie.

There's been a lot of encouragement to get on The Dole which is a complex government benefit in the United Kingdom that goes far past unemployment compensation, etc.  This is related to "Braveheart" insofar as I feel that doing this only means I would be owned by the government and I very much believe it is better to starve.  While I haven't met anyone from the Fraser clan, I also feel it would be shaming them if I proceeded with it.  I don't feel any particular guilt over getting medical support and I'm going ahead with it but asking for a financial handout particularly given that I have never paid anything into the system just isn't right.  If you can't handle living on tuna and rice, you're not ready for this game.


Gay Olympics in Russia

Russia has made it illegal to present 'propaganda of gay matters to children.'  They might just as well pass a law against politicians making stupid laws as that wouldn't be observed any more than gay people will suddenly stop being gay simply because Moscow has decided it's illegal.

In any case, the vagueness of the law is such that a gay pride parade would be considered illegal as it's possible children might see it.  The law might not have received much attention outside of Russia except for the upcoming Olympic Games and now there is international outrage.

Various groups have called for different kinds of protests and there's even a demand for a boycott of the Games.  Apparently in this as in discussion of any variety of politics there is a very short memory in people.  Jimmy Carter's protest with a boycott of the Olympics by America was hopelessly ineffectual and served only to punish the athletes who would otherwise have participated.

An alternative to a boycott is to protest on Facebook or other social media but, as with anything else, this has had no effect in the past and it won't have any effect now.  Usually the strongest protest of an unjust law is to violate it.  This type of protest has risk but change rarely comes without risk.

What I suggest is an armband that represents support for gay people and Olympic athletes could wear it to the Games.  There is no overt propaganda in such a thing but it would be clear what it meant.  Where a boycott is embarrassing to the country initiating it, any reaction from Russia to the wearing of armbands would be an embarrassment to Russia instead.

Pink armbands represent support for breast cancer research and rainbow colors represent equal rights for people regardless of color but I don't know if any particular colors represent gay rights.  Inventing some colors and creating the armbands shouldn't be a formidable task.  Just as the black gloves of the athletes at the Olympic Games in Mexico City presented an unforgettable image, it's likely the same thing could be true of a gay rights armband at the Games in Sochi in Russia.

OK, so this problem is now solved.  Moving along to other things.

Friday, August 9, 2013

What Happened to the Guitar

Well, nothing happened to it but I wouldn't take it to the flat as I was concerned about burglaries.  My cousin insists the flat is well enough protected that I don't need to worry about it.

So, right now Andromeda is plugged into the amp simulator and I was playing her this morning.  She's badly in need of a new set of strings but I have them.  Before I got into the Galactic Peace Tour I got a stack of sets of strings and I still haven't run out of them.  I did the same thing with guitar picks as I only  like playing with Fender thin picks and I haven't run out of those either.  Buying them a gross at a time always gets a laugh when I do it but it works fine for me as after all this time I still got 'em.

I haven't been able to find the cable I need for recording but I will try again this afternoon to locate it as most likely it's under Haximoto's seat.

There doesn't appear to be much chance of getting online here as it looks like the only way to do it is on a contract.  Those always come with a financial penalty if one cancels it so that doesn't work.

The exploring will continue as well.  I'm planning to go to Edinburgh Castle on Wednesday or Thursday as it's quite impressive and I will get the pictures I promised.  I need to get you pictures of the double-decker buses too as they aren't only painted red plus they look much cooler than the stodgy old ones.  If you're bored sometime, check out how far one of them can tip before it falls over and I promise you will be amazed.  Maybe that's something for "Top Gear" to cover sometime; get Clarkson and his lunatic friends to race some double-decker buses.

And, the latest addition to the book:

British Television

Brits gave us “Top Gear” which is one of the few television shows anywhere that is really funny and where else can you see someone hammer a Pagani.  However, Brits also gave us Jeremy Kyle who is easily the most vile television personality since Jerry Springer so, on balance, British television seems equal in banality to American television.

Further evidence is needed for an accurate evaluation and this comes in the form of “The Big Bang Theory” which runs continuously, albeit on different channels, for close to twelve hours every day.  However, TBBT is an American television production so a conclusion on this evidence is still not definitive.

Perhaps the final comes from the commercials featuring an aging Kevin Bacon who tries to sell us on some type of network product.  However, even though these commercials run relentlessly and are as irritating as maintaining an ant farm in your bedding, I have no idea which network he is promoting.

The answer for both countries seems the same:  kill your television.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

And the Latest from Edinburgh

Yes, of course the PDF for "Abandoning Paradise" has been updated.  It won't be final until I release it to the iBookstore at which time it will be such a hassle to change it that you can be sure I won't do it anymore.  I'm still planning on that release next week when I can get an ISBN for it as that is required for publication.

I have added some more commentary in the Conclusions section (American Cars and British pop music), more links within the book, and a picture of the Loch Ness snow monster I made with my sister years ago.  I'm told Edinburgh gets cold but it gets relatively little snow so hopefully that will be the last I'll see of snow sculptures.

A reporter from the Edinburgh Evening News has been trying to reach me but I don't have a mobile phone so she has had some difficulty.  With any luck we will make contact today and my deranged story will go public.  My friend thinks there could be some money in that but I don't see why.  Besides, the exposure is worth far more than anything they might consider paying me.

It may seem stupid to go to all this immense trouble to write the book only to turn around and give it away but I look at that as exposure as well.  Hopefully people really will buy it when it goes out to the iBookstore.

I want very much to get to Munich, in part as obviously I want to meet Cat and also because it amused me that people had never heard of krautrock until I mentioned the name of some bands that represent it.  That will be a whole new book as Haximoto won't be in that one.  We have seen that traveling that way is hideously expensive unless you are camping and even that isn't so cheap.  Doing this sort of thing when you're twenty and doing it when you're sixty are vast distances apart.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

"Abandoning Paradise" - Free download (draft)

What I hope is the final draft of "Abandoning Paradise" is now online as a free download from My Duck Soup.  I had considered putting a password on it but I decided it served no good purpose doing that.

The download is about sixty megabytes and it presents much like the iBooks version that will go online in the iBookstore in a week or so.  That version will only work on an iPad but the PDF version should work on just about any computer.

This is the best way I know to say thanks for the help you have given me in doing this lunatic expedition and I hope you enjoy the book.  There are changes here and there all through it plus a Conclusions section that you haven't seen at all.

Thank you!

Edinburgh Chimneys

While these pictures don't show you much of Edinburgh Castle, they present another aspect of Edinburgh you may find interesting.

I've noticed the chimneys on the houses as they present some mysteries of earth-moving moment, the first of which is why would any house need so damn many chimneys.

Also, check out the cobblestones.  This is definitely not a tourist street so they're here because people like them.

One house.  Maybe forty chimneys.  What is Santa Claus to do.

OK, so if you're clever enough to figure out why each house needs so many chimneys, let's have an answer for why they're all different.

Some final mysteries for today:

What in the world is anti-climbing paint and where is it.  Further, if it prevents people from climbing then why tell anyone it is there, assuming it really is there.  Perhaps I'm being obtuse but I only see rocks.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

How About Some Pics

Things will be pretty dry until payday but what I can do in the meantime is to get some pics around the neighborhood.  It's very much unlike anyplace I've been before and the pics don't necessarily have to be landmarks with huge historical value.

There's not much to report otherwise.  Writing about writing doesn't make much sense but writing about distributing isn't the same thing.  I've deliberately not exploited all the cleverness an iBook is capable of doing so "Abandoning Paradise" works pretty well as a PDF.  It's quite a large download at about 100 MB but the only way to make it smaller is to take pictures out of it and that's not going to happen.  I'm deliberately holding off on making it accessible as Kannafoot will laugh uproariously on hearing me say that it's finished.  There's always another update after that.

I'm going to create a password-protected folder on My Duck Soup  OR  I will make it necessary to enter a password to open the PDF.  I'm not sure which would be the best way to do it but there's still time yet to review that.  The time in wrapping it is NOT going toward filling it full of editorials that I didn't write previously; it didn't need them then and it doesn't need them now.

Some things suck but it's very cool that I can live by myself here.  My cuz is eight or ten blocks from here and we see each other most days but I'm as much of a hermit as I ever was so this arrangement is very good.

So, get some pics!

Friday, August 2, 2013

Abandoning Paradise

The book is nearly complete and will be published as soon as I can get an ISBN for it.  Doing that costs money so it will wait until payday.

Cat and I talked about it and came to the conclusion the book won't be finished until it has a title that doesn't suck.  So the new and improved title is ...

Abandoning Paradise
Why is it Not a Bad Idea to Ride a Motor Scooter from Greece to Scotland

I'm fairly pleased with how it has developed and it's over two hundred pages.  I tried to send a PDF copy of it to Lotho but Mail blew me off saying the file was too big.  I did successfully send one to Cat via Skype but that wouldn't be practical for getting it to everyone who helped.  Maybe I'll create a folder on Duck Soup and put a Secret Sam password on it so I can send you a link / password to get it that way.  More to come on that.

There is not much of a spectacle to report from writing as it looks pretty much the same no matter how long you do it.  I haven't yet been to Edinburgh Castle and I haven't forgotten that I owe you all a whole pile of pictures.  I'm grounded for the moment but I will definitely get those pics as the castle is very well-preserved and looks most impressive.

A big part of the reason for coming up was medical.  I had abandoned any hope of finding coverage but that turned out to be too pessimistic as it turned out to be quite easy.  I'm not an immigrant as I was born here, I've just been away for a LONG time.

Getting WiFi is still difficult but hopefully there will be news on that fairly soon.