Welcome to 2013

January 19, 2013

Doesn’t time pass quickly, already 18 days into a new year.Where did the last year go?

I don’t know about you but I had a great 2012. It was full of highlights, and here they are, more or less in order.

  • reconnecting with my grown up kids and getting to know them properly, especially Liam, the world jigsaw champion. He is amazing, can do 6 jig saw puzzles at once!
  • meeting Patti Smith, she apologised for being late – I had waited 34 years so an extra half hour would not have killed me. My girlfriend still not happy that I moved her photo and put Patti’s autograph in it’s place
  • the Olympics and Paralympics. What a spectacle and what an inspiration.
  • meeting the rock band Halestorm and having a drink with them, you could not meet a nicer bunch of people
  • going to 2 incredible rugby games at Murrayfield stadium, what an atmosphere, especially when the crowd sings “Flower of Scotland”. Roll on Feb 9th, Scotland v Italy  even though I am English
  • going to London and meeting friends I had not seen for 5 years although it seemed like only yesterday. Sheephaven Bay- best pub in England
  • meeting my dear friend Jules in Ipswich 
  • taking my Dad to see premier league darts, Phil Taylor et al in Newcastle then catching the bus back to his place and listening to Frank Sinatra on you tube via mobile phone. The young kids on the bus asking me to turn the music up 

Of course there cannot be highlights without low lights. 

2 people who I admired for their charity work, Lance Armstrong and Jimmy Saville, turned out to be complete scum bags. 

After 8 years together my son Ryan split with his fiancee, however he is now best friends with my cousin’s daughter – and I’ve not spoken to my cousin for years, but we are speaking now. So every cloud does have a silver lining.

Core Values

October 9, 2012

I am going to have to say this very carefully in case it ends up in court – I have never been a fan of Apple products. i-Pad, i-Pod, i-Phone. It seems Apple have copyrighted the letter “i”, which is rather bad news as I will have to be known as “Kevn” from now on.

I have seen people standing in long lines wanting to buy the latest i-Phone. Why? You’ve stood waiting for 36 hours, by the time you get your hands on it you’ll be too tired to use it!

Being an IT old timer, from the days when IT was still called Data Processing I can remember when there was really only one company who made computers… IBM. Then some young upstarts called Microsoft turned up and gave IBM a bloody nose. Next thing you know, Bill Gates and co have taken over the world. At the same time there was always this company called Apple in the background. They made computers for clever stuff like printing, but you needed a monitor the size of a small plant and you could only buy it from them which put most corporate buyers off.

As I remember it there was a law suit about who invented the idea of “windows”. Personally I thought it was the Tudors but then that is a bit before my time.  And it seems to me that Apple’s way of dealing with competition is just to sue them. Which helps no one, apart from the lawyers.

I get the impression that Apple would like to claim they invented anything which is rectangular and has rounded corners. Hmmm, I guess my bed is off limits from now on then! 

Google has now joined the fray. Now I do like Google, like Apple they invent lots of cool things. Like a phone that tells you where you are. Which is quite handy if you have a penchant for waking up in strange places.No comment. my lawyer says. 

But don’t get me wrong. I am no phillistine, nor luddite. I do occasionally visit the Apple store and try out their gadgets. It’s great, lots of computers, one giant free internet cafe! And I always look up the afore mentioned search engine and I type in “how do you make an atomic bomb?”. Then I wait for the next person to come in and see their expression when they see the results! 

Yasser

Disclaimers: if any of the above mentioned companies want to sue me, bear in mind the results of that google search and practice the “duck and cover” method

Yasser is up and running again

September 8, 2012

Sorry I have been away for ages, mostly working too hard and planning the recording of my new album. Well technically it is my only album but that will feature later.

I have spent the last few weeks watching the Olympics and the Paralympics. For most of the Olympics I was totally glued to either my TV or my computer.  I got to see an Olympic football match between Brazil and New Zealand, The hand full of Brazil supporters created an amazing atmosphere and the New Zealanders were dancing along with them for the entire game. Brazil has the next football World Cup and the Olympics, It should be amazing. 

The Paralympics have been just as good. I often point out that Hitler invented the idea of the Olympic torch. Well he also invented the Paralympics in a way because a Jewish refugee, Dr Guttman used sports to treat soldiers injured during World War 2 and this led to the modern Paralympics. This guy 

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Jonnie Peacock can run 100 metres faster on one leg than I ever could on 2 legs.There are a few people such as Oscar Pistorious, and Natalie Du Toit who have competed in both the Olympics and the Paralympics. The problem is they don’t make medals big enough for these people.

All this action has spurred me on to come out of retirement and start running in old fogies sprint races. But also, as some of you may know one of my children has a learning disability. he is 19 now and taller than me. He has my same springy legs so next year we are aiming to do a grandfather-father-son charity race with my 72 year old Dad. I can’t wait. 

How many people take their plants for a walk?

May 27, 2012

I do.

My efforts to grow carnivorous plants from seed are not exactly bearing fruit. I have got some sundews, these work like fly paper and are not very spectacular and they are also too small to photograph so far (although they have caught one fly).

So I cheated and bought some plants yesterday. I visited a large out of town garden centre which sells plants, pets, aquarium fish, garden furniture, glass houses, gifts and books.They even had some budgies going cheap.

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Yep the old ones are the best. 

So I bought 2 of these pitcher plants

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and one Venus Fly Trap

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As the weather has been very warm all weekend I have been taking them out to the garden to get some sunshine and possibly the occasional snack. There are not many insects about yet and the occasional fly did investigate but me being sat there waiting with the camera must have tipped them off.

One inquisitive ant managed to drop into the pitcher plant. Sadly no, it did not burp! But my organic pest controllers are available for hire (for a nominal fee). 

The other thing about these bog plants is they do not like tap water because it contains too many trace salts. They much prefer rainwater which is in short supply just now. So I have to walk half a mile to the river and fill up a bucket. 

My neighbours used to think I was crazy.  Now they know for certain. 

The Brighton Grove Chainsaw Massace

April 29, 2012

As promised, here is a story from my student days, back in the 1980’s when dinosaurs still roamed the earth and I was often chased home my a sabre toothed tiger. 

Brighton Grove http://maps.google.co.uk/maps?hl=en&cp=13&gs_id=1e&xhr=t&bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.r_qf.,cf.osb&biw=1440&bih=809&q=brighton+grove+newcastle&um=1&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x487e77394b1804fb:0xa135b2ba4f545282,Brighton+Grove,+Newcastle+Upon+Tyne&gl=uk&ei=nI2cT5D0Ccj80QWBusDyDg&sa=X&oi=geocode_result&ct=title&resnum=3&sqi=2&ved=0CEkQ8gEwAg

is a street in Newcastle built in Victorian times. It was a well to do place but is now mostly occupied by students or asians who co-exist quite well. The housing, and the streets around it consist of something called a Tyneside flat. Downstairs is  a 2 bedroomed apartment, upstairs has 3 bedrooms and sometimes the loft has been converted into 2 extra rooms. This accommodation was and is, mostly owned by Indian gentlemen  entrepreneurs who had bought it as investment property.

Back in the dark ages. when pubs closed at 10:30 I used to walk up Brighton Grove and there were various student parties which you could just join in. Think of National Lampoon’s Animal House…

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At this time I had a friend called Ewan, he and I  once went to a party dressed as a vicar and a nun. As an agriculture student Ewan was completely bonkers..He was from Swindon and had an amazing west country accent *ooo are. oi be from Swindon loike”.

Anyway Ewan turned up at a party with a chainsaw and said “ooh are and now for my next trick oi will now saw a wardrobe in half”. Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr……….zap and he did much! to the annoyance of the party people who had lots of sawdust to deal with. 

I miss Ewan.Ooo are he were good fun loike 

What a Weekend

April 16, 2012

Well I have had the most amazing weekend, a student reunion from the class of ’85, and I have really not seen most of these people for 27 years. Sorry I can’t show any photos yet because I’ve volunteered to organise them all into another blog – details to appear later..

It started off with an arrangement to meet in the Dog and Parrot pub in Newcastle. Its a proper “pub”, not a “bar” and when I got there there were 2 middle aged guys and 2 cute girls in the place. Obviously I was distracted by the girls and didn’t realise the 2 middle aged guys were part of our party! Well to be honest I wasn’t expecting them and didn’t realise until the others arrived.

Then followed more drinks, more reunions and a huge chinese meal at which I ate duck, pork, and all the things I never eat normally.

Saturday was a tour of the new and impressive Students Union (less bars, more computers) and they have a video booth which displays live video to Saturday night party goers. Luckily I am a life member so I may have to start going again on Saturdays. After the tour we had a trip to the beach on the Tyne/Wear Metro, with more drink at which point I was persuaded to stay for another meal in the very impressive Baltic http://www.sixbaltic.com/home.html.

I spent more on that meal than I spend in food in the average fortnight, although I suspect at least half was the drinks bill. Every time I looked up there was a full drink in front of me and every time I turned round there was someone wanting to chat.

We ended up having a very late night, or maybe it was just a very early breakfast? I think the best part was the sheer camaraderie, some of them had stayed in touch but others like me had not seen anyone for a very long time. But there were no egos on display, it didn’t matter who had the biggest car, who had the best house, or the most money in the bank. As Jamie, our former society chairman put it, “we’re all still alive, we’re all in good health, we’ve all got jobs, and we’re all here now. That’s the main thing”. By far and away the most sensible thing I have ever heard from a management consultant.

I really didn’t want the weekend to end and it was a shame more people were not able to make it or could not be contacted. But I will now make an effort to write down all the crazy things that happened in my student days, including the Brighton Grove Chainsaw Massacre, trying to persuade the police that the traffic cone on my head was actually a witch’s hat, and chatting up a girl at a party who was my boss 17 years later. 

Many thanks to Matthew Bowman for organising this.

Writing

April 11, 2012

Hi all

I have been cajoled, by my anonymous friend Marco, to blog a bit more often. Obviously he is rather bored at work as a nuclear missile tester (oops I am not supposed to know that) and would like something to read apart from the Official Secrets Act and the wiring diagrams for Hi-Watt amplifiers from the 1970’s.

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So I thought I would write about writing. For me it is a very personal thing. I have no problems making something up to write but I find writing about personal subjects is really difficult. I would find it easier to walk naked to work than to write about what I did yesterday. OK, close down those mental images you have right now, sorry! At least it is quite cold.

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Which is a shame because I’ve never been able to write poetry about how I felt about something. Even the songs I write, well one  a year, tend to be fist punching rock anthems and I’ve only ever managed to do one emotional song..

I have been writing for longer than most people. When I was 18 months old I broke my leg, jumping off my Grannie’s sofa and landing badly. As my Grandma said, “it was terrible, he cried all night, we didn’t get any sleep”. Yeah right, at least you didn’t have the broken leg! Eventually I was taken to hospital and my leg put into plaster. Now as a lively toddler, not able to toddle they had to find something for me to do. So my Grandma taught me how to write my name. Nowadays she would have done it so that I could sign disclaimers but this was before we had the ambulance chasing culture that exists now.

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Nee nah nee nah…

Sorry that wasn’t funny. Anyway being able to write and at least recognise my own name at a young age didn’t make a great deal of difference. Until I went to hospital aged 4 to get my tonsils removed.

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OK not my actual tonsils. But one of the nurses was taking notes with carbon paper and I asked if I could have a piece. It was like magic, you wrote on one piece of paper and it came out on the other piece too! Amazing stuff! Try explaining this to the cut and paste generation, they really don’t get it. So the nurse said I could only have a piece if I could write. I then just wrote my name down and she gave me the carbon  paper – outsmarted by a 4 year old.

Now having a broken leg is not nice

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It hurts. A lot (not my actual leg by the way, they didn’t have colour in those days). And as a result it makes it very difficult for me to ride a bike, drive a car, and do anything that involves balancing, even climbing a ladder because the circulation to my left foot is pretty random. BUT! Every cloud has a sliver lining

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and that’s how I learnt to write before I was two. See, writing personal stuff is actually easier than walking naked to work. Especially in this weather

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best wishes

Yasser

Technology…the first song you ever heard..

March 11, 2012

Alas my MP3 player was totally full so I had to buy a new one, expandable with a memory card. So I now have 48 gigabytes available to me. Enough for my entire CD collection plus every song I have ever heard, plus more besides. And this device is slightly smaller than a match box.

Now when I was very young my parents had a radiogram which played records AND could play the radio = AM radio also known as medium wave. It was slightly smaller than a coffin and needed 2 people to carry it. I tell my kids this and they look at me like I have 2 heads. The first song I remember my parents playing on this monster was Teddy Bear by Elvis Presley. What was the first song you can remember? 

Gadgets

February 18, 2012

Hi all

A bit of a gap since my last post, because believe it or not, I have been buying gadgets. Having paid all of my taxes I had some money left over so started researching these new fangled Android things. Researching is both easy and hard work. Its easy to find reviews to read but there are so many. Once you decide exactly what you want to buy there is a long line of online people trying to talk you out of it. 

Now I spent ages looking at gadgets and then spotted a half price Andriod tablet so I just bought it.The touch screen took some getting used to but its great fun. A bit too big to carry around so my son might be getting a surprise present next week and I’ll get a smaller version.But don’t tell him, he doesn’t know yet.

This is all part of my masterplan for world domination and I have bought a book on how to write Android apps. Part 2 of the plan was to buy an Android phone, but I have had no end of problems registering it on the network so I suspect it will be going back next week and exchanged for another. 

This all came about as a result of looking for a new MP3 player – I now have one of those too! Remember the days when your record collection took up half a room? Now mine fits into a matchbox – or at least it will when my memory card arrives. I have more than 30 gigabytes of music, which is more than my brain can possibly remember.

Also last Sunday I bought an electric guitar. I used to have 8 or 9 guitars but most got sold or given away. I had enough trouble playing one guitar, never mind 8 at once. So now I am really happy – can’t say the same for the neighbours but they’ll come round. 

Anyone got good ideas for an App? I’d like to write something to help disabled people. Any suggestions would be welcome.

Away we go down memory lane again

February 1, 2012

Hi all

About once every 6 months I see one of my ex girlfriends. She is about 5 foot 4 and has long blond hair, very long, almost long enough to sit on. We have not spoken for around 25 years.

I don’t think she recognises me – my hair is slightly shorter than it used to be but still pretty unkempt. I am probably the last person she expects to see passing by in Marks and Spencers department store.

25 years ago we were going to get married. It didn’t happen and we split up. It probably broke her heart. After many years I worked out why. I think in a relationship you need a partner who knows when to put an arm round you, and when to kick you up the backside. And I have generally met someone who could only  either one or the other.

I have carried this philosophy forward with my current girlfriend, and sometimes get the “arm round” and the “kick up” right, and sometimes wrong. When it goes wrong it goes badly wrong!

The next time I see my ex I will say “hello” and see what she says. Anyone have any ideas about what makes relationships work?