Wednesday, August 30, 2006

It's all a conspiracy

Listening to: 'Further down the Spiral'-Nine Inch Nails

Popular conspiracy theories I believe in:

I have seen enough to be convinced that there is definitely more governmental knowledge about this phenomenon than is in the public domain. This does not mean I think they are alien spacecraft. The automatic UFO=Alien association really hacks me off. Think about it. If an Unidentified Flying Object is an alien craft, well, its not unidentified is it? Lots of things could be UFO's. In the absence of decent evidence beyond observation, speculation is useless.

Area 51.
Very loosely tied to the above. There is likely to be lots of stuff going on there that we don't know about, and possibly never will. Top of my list of places to go if I had unrestricted access to anywhere. Do I think there is a secret alien base there? Possibly (in the sense that it probably isn't impossible), but I doubt it.

Oil as a pretext for invading Iraq.
No brainer.

Alternative technologies are being suppressed by Oil companies.
Again, a no brainer.

Popular Conspiracies I don't believe in.
To my mind, these make evidence fit hypotheses, and rely on too many assumptions. Good investigation is the other way around, making hypotheses and theory fit the evidence, with few or no assumptions. Scientific investigation was a big part of my tertiary training, and is a big part of my job also. The government and then DSIR reports into the 1978 Kaikoura UFO sightings are classic local examples of making evidence fit.

The moon landings were faked.
My stated opinion that I'll happily stand by and argue is that it would be easier to actually put astronauts on the moon than to fake it to the degree required to withstand intense scrutiny. EVERY piece of 'evidence' I have seen for this theory has explanations that don't require a conspiracy (think Occam's Razor. Simplest explanation with fewest assumptions is usually correct).

Various 9/11 theories like 'The missile', and 'The pod'.
Again, a lot of 'evidence' for these does not survive Occam's Razor. I'm not going to get into details but I have spent some time looking into these as they do intrigue me. There was a conspiracy that day, to hijack airliners and crash them into iconic structures. Two of them collapsed completely due to the damage caused by the collisions. I have seen no reason to doubt that this is what happened.
Before and after the event, however, I am open to skullduggery occuring.

The Masons/Illuminati/Knights Templar/Osmonds control the world.
Too many people required to keep too many secrets. Secret international treaties are much more likely, and infinitely more plausible.

Stealth and other high technology has been reverse engineered from alien spacecraft
We shouldn't sell ourselves short like this. Not plausible, and unnecessary (stealth for example isn't really that complicated at a theoretical level).

Conspiracies I am undecided upon.

Lone gunman is just as possible as Cubans/Mafia/Military industrial complex/whoever

The KGB orchestrated the assassination attempt on Pope John Paul II
Both plausible and possible.

KAL 007 was allowed to be shot down.
This was the Korean airliner shot down by the Soviets in 1983. Murkiness and nefariousness in order to protect ongoing intelligence gathering operations is possible. Or that the Soviets were trying to make a point.

Aliens are among us
Too intriguing to dismiss entirely, how matter how unlikely

Pretty much all of human history will involve high level conspiracy in the form of secret plan making at some point. The problem is in the definition of 'conspiracy'. I am conspiring to go to Sydney for Labour weekend. Not-kate, Fi and I are conspiring to go to her 80's quiz on Friday. I am conspiring to leave work early in order to attend.
None of those things are secret but I'm sure you get the point by now. Are conspiracies such because they are secret? Lots of secret stuff exists that isn't necessarily conspiratorial. There are good reasons for some things to be secret. Conspiracies exist in the eye of the beholder I think, and people see what they want to see.
I am open minded, but demand proof, which a lot of 'conspiracies' either don't require (in the sense that they can neither be proved or disproved) or can't provide.
A lot of 'proof' I have seen is people encountering stuff out of context, saying 'WTF', and accepting it as unusual, when it often has completely prosaic explanations the observers were unaware of or simply hadn't encountered before.
I'll close with an observation. Every form of media is a conduit for what other people want you to see and hear. Newspapers, TV, the internet, all are identical in this respect.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

I look like...

Since I shaved my head on Friday I have been compared to:

Billy Corgan
Andre Agassi
Bruce Willis
Some guy called Shawn

I'm getting used to it. It took a few days, and a few times walking past the mirror saying 'who is that and why does he have no hair?' The first couple of days were cold, now I have desensitised enough not to notice. I like how long it takes to dry in the mornings. I like not having to worry about bed hair. I have been as short as #2 comb before, but the enthusiastic fourth form girls shaving my head on the stage at UHC didn't even ask if I wanted a number before plowing in with the #0, and here we are. I like supporting my wife in this way.

In other news, I joined d3vo, Fish and Curtains for the becoming regular run in Petone. Ran about 3+ K and didn't die, or have to stop involuntarily. I am way fitter than I think it seems. I also made the crew think I was going to jump off the end of Petone wharf, which was fun. Half of the way I ran along the top of the seawall, jumping gaps and on and off the wall as required. A passing jogger called me a smartarse in a respectful way. I love moving around on top of walls, rocks and things. Fi called me 'Dances with mountain goats' while I was clambering over a rock pile at Castlepoint once. I seem to have a natural affinity for it.

I did the 'Daily' crossword in todays dom in about five minutes today. To be fair, the daily isn't that hard, but my wordsmithery impresses my workmates (I also do the back page much harder crossword, the target, and the codecracker). Most common questions: Do I read a lot? Yes. Do I use a dictionary? No.

I don't do Sudoku. My verbose mind can't handle all those numbers and shit. Actually I probably could do Sudoku, but don't apply myself.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Long video

The previous post was composed and published entirely within the length of the extended 'Thriller' video.

Reminds me of the time I got through a complete 15-balls sunk game of doubles pool within the length of the 'Macarena' a few years ago.

This week's T

Listening to: The U choose top 40 again. This week it is 'Most shocking videos'. But 'Thriller' is at no 14. 'Thriller'? Shocking? Please. It's too camp to be shocking. Good bass line though. I am old enough to remember a time when seeing the full video gave you kudos.

This week: "Fast Food"

Kind of self explanatory really. For the record, I actually quite like cats, despite their native bird eating ecological disasterousness, so any cats reading this shouldn't take it personally.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Short sentences

Listening to 'Seeds'-Brother Cane

Cutting off all my hair was very cathartic.

My birthday celebrations have so far been excellent. I have received great thoughtful gifts.

Birthday dinner with my family last night was fun. Roast beef followed by chocolate cake and sweets.

And mum made me a plate of chocolate fudgecake to take home. Which is delicious.

I also bought myself a new pair of boots. I didn't find the camera equipment I was looking for.

Something monstrous is coming to life on my workbench

I am having an excellent weekend.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Happy birthday to me

Why is the blogger homepage logo a dog with a party hat on today?

Hmm. Maybe its because today is my birthday.
Today I turn 30. Well technically, according to family legend I don't turn 30 until about 1630 this afternoon, but a date is a date. Also Sean Connery's birthday. But I am cooler and suaver than he.


I was going to bombard you with some interesting statistics from my life in the past three decades, but that will wait for another post, as it is 0247 and too late to think of that kind of stuff. When you do three hours of overtime on an evening shift, this is when you get home.

So instead of the stats (which I know will crush you with disappointment. Later bloglings, later.), here is my plan for the day.

In about four freakin' hours I will get up and drive Fi to work (cue the V). This is a tradition after my week of evenings, it lets us catch up after five days of not really seeing each other.

After that I will head into the city for some breakfast at the small cafe around the corner from Felix, across the road from the Town Hall which I can't remember the name of but does a great mix grill. Anyone who reads this early enough is welcome to join me. I'll try to get a window seat so as to be visible to random wanderers. ETA at the Cafe is 8-830ish.

Once breakfast is done, I will do some shopping. For camera stuff, footwear stuff, magazine stuff, music stuff and model stuff. That should take most of the morning.

At lunchtime I will head back to Upper Hutt for Fi's head shaving. And hopefully get shaved myself. It's a solidarity thing primarily, but also very cathartic on such a momentous day.

After schools out I expect we'll go to the pub with all the other teachers.

After the pub we'll be heading to my folks place for roast dinner with the family, which should be noisy and entertaining with all the niblings in attendance.

After dinner an amble into town is kind of on, a workmate is having a leaving dinner, no doubt followed by drinkies.

By that time I'll probably be drunk or asleep or both, so home will no doubt be beckoning.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

T-Shirt of the week

Listening to: Top 40 power ballads on C4 (though I'm not sure that Metallica's 'One' is technically a power ballad).

This week, to entertain you on a Monday, the Caution:Mosh Pit.

Worn at the Big Day Out in 2002. The image captures perfectly the heaving sweating ecstatic crazy mass of people that is the mosh pit. I have been the poor dude on the floor a couple of times. I have crowd surfed. I was never dumb enough to stage dive. I moshed through most of the nineties. I don't anymore generally. I feel I have earned the priviledge to stand back these days and focus on enjoying the show rather than trying to remain standing. I don't have anything left to prove. Being at the gig is the main thing. That said, I still pit occasionally.
I bought this one because I thought it was funny and understood it perfectly.
I like the Caution label, they've done lots of cool stuff.

Mosh pit survival tips:
Wear hard footwear. Your feet will be stood on. If laced, double knot them, and tuck the bows inside your shoes/boots. An untied shoelace can be dangerous. Just bending down to tie it up puts you in danger of being jumped on. Worse, if someone stands on it, and the crowd moves you away, you're going down, where you are in real danger of incurring injury. To most of the people around you you will be an extra squishy bit of floor.
Empty your pockets if you can. You don't want to be dropping stuff on the floor.
Wear stuff you are happy to get ripped.
Keep your fluid levels up. Lots of mosh casualties occur through dehydration. It gets very hot with all the jumping around and other shenanigans.
Remember to breathe. Seriously. It's really easy to start hyperventilating, given that you're basically in a supercharged aerobics session. Start hyperventilating and going into oxygen debt, and sooner or later you'll be on the floor, which we've already established is a bad place. Asthmatics like me can find this breathing thing difficult. It's very hot, and there isn't a lot of good air around. If you're going to mosh, take your ventolin, before, during and after.
Don't mosh drunk. Be hammered by all means, but seriously drunk no. You'll probably get into some bad karma which will involve physical violence, never mind the increased potential for faling down.
If the crowd moves, move with it. Be split from your friends if required. A moshing crowd is basically a fluid entity, with tides, currents and eddies. It doesn't care that you been standing in the best spot in the venue for the last four hours. If you don't move with the crowd, bad things happen.
If you're a petite, pretty girl, find a nice boy who will earnestly try to prove his manliness by giving you a shoulder ride. You'll get the best view in the house.
Avoid slam dancers. Mutants.
Ignore being groped, boys and girls. The groper probably doesn't even know they have groped you.
If you are being crushed at the front, get a bouncer to rescue you. That is basically their job, apart from stopping stage divers, and if they are doing it well your distress will quickly be spotted. You'll lose your spot, but you will survive. People have died from being crushed in this way. I was in the crowd at the 2000 Big Day Out during Blink 182's set when things got really out of control (they had to stop playing to calm things down), and it was damn scary.
Stupid people will call you weak and unspirited, and they are kind of naff and uncool but earplugs are worth it. You don't lose any sound quality, and your hearing is worth more than a night's entertainment. Your ears will respect you in the morning.
Crowd surfing is fun, and looks cool but can be very dangerous. I've done it, but would absolutely not do it again unless under quite specific circumstances. Getting up is easy, but getting down is the thing, and if you are unlucky you will land on your head from a height of six or seven feet. Prevalent throughout the nineties, it is somwhat less practiced now, as at a lot of gigs if the bouncers get their hands on you post surf you tend to be kicked out of the venue.
Scream, dance, yell, wave the metal salute, sweat through all your clothes, and lose yourself in an experience you'll remember forever.

Mosh etiquette:
There isn't much really. If someone falls, pick them up. Don't use others as launch pads for pogoing. If you care about pogoing that much, pogo on the off beat. That way everyone sees you and you get a momentarily spectacular view of the crowd below as they compress after landing from their own pogoing efforts. Don't slam dance unless everybody else is. It's an excellent way to start a fight after you accidentally punch someone in the face.
Waving a lit cigarette lighter is a really good way to burn your fingertips, and set someones hair on fire if you're really lucky.
Don't hang at the back of the pit waiting for your favourite song and then try to rush to the front. It will take you half the song to get there, and you'll annoy the hell out of everyone you blunder past.
After the gig has finished check out the floor as you leave. You'll find all kinds of interesting stuff, usually in the form of money that has fallen out of peoples pockets.

Favourite Mosh Pit memory:
Being very near the front for Supergroove's set at Mountain Rock in 1995. They opened with "You Freak Me", and the crowd went apeshit. The guy next to me shared his rum and coke. In my top ten favourite all time gigs. It was legendary. That gig also had to pause for safety reasons.

Worst mosh pit memory:
The aforementioned Blink 182 fracas. They were playing the stage by the entry stairs. People were flooding down the stairs to see Blink, preventing anyone going up them, while at the same time hundreds of people were pushing from the back. Lots of people wound up with nowhere to go (including me and Fish), and it got genuinely scary for a few minutes. People were getting squashed around us, 40 meters from the stage. I think people were injured closer to the front. We forgot about watching the gig and instead concentrated on not getting hurt, which was quite difficult. Being in a crowd like that is like being in a rip. You have to remain calm and move with it while looking for a way out. We managed to escape, and took a time out under the bleachers to recover. I think after that the organisers reduced the number of tickets sold for future events. There were way too many people in Ericsson Stadium that day.
Second worst memory is the mutant redneck with the broken arm at a Shihad gig in 2003, who was going to get to the front during his favourite song and wave his arms around, regardless of whose head(s) he bashed his cast on. Mutant.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Love and Hate

Watched some Rock Star Supernova tonight. Difficult to find the words to describe how much I HATE it. Can't stand it. Shithouse covers of good songs. Performances that are more about swagger and looks than important things, like say, remembering the lyrics. Dude sang Peter Gabriel's 'Solsbury Hill', one of my favourite songs, and couldn't even get the first verse right. Chick sang 'Cat's in the cradle' and munted the lyrics on that too. I've got nothing against the people performing in it, I just hate the concept that brought them there. This and Idol have nothing to do with picking the best person. They are about picking the most popular person. Can you imagine say, Joe Strummer or Billy Bragg or P J Harvey winning one of these things? Neither can I.

Anyway, enough of the hate, on with the Love.

I love how at night, noisy busy places become quiet and peaceful.

I love how electric lights come on at dusk as the sunlight fades.

I love how at dusk things can take on the colour of their surroundings.

I love how mist holds light, and makes it surround things

Top left: The Terrace from the Benny Party
Top right: Paraparaumu and Kapiti Island from Paekakariki Hill Road lookout
Lower Left: My car at the Paekakariki lookout
Lower right: My street on a cold misty night

Monday, August 14, 2006

Monday monday

Another weekend gone. I find I get kinda depressed on Sunday nights now, cos I know the weekend will soon be over. Still the sunday night spa's ease the pain somewhat.
Fishy's done a good weekend wrapup here.

Saturdays netball tournament was hard. 6 games, with 6 minute quarters. Given that most of the players were sourced from Wellington Indoors Superleague teams (including Fi and myself), the games were played at that level, which is kinda demanding physically. By the end of the last game I was ready to fall over. I fell over quite heavily in game four and my right leg wasn't quite working right, which made things more difficult (this was later fixed by a judiciously applied combination of nurofen and beer). Still I enjoyed it. Our team was competitive generally if not winning, and we didn't disgrace ourselves. It was good for my self confidence as a player with trials for the summer season fast approaching.

Still working on a positivity list after the positivity post was reposted after being yanked by its author.

Got to disappear for more netball now, but I'll leave you with this, which I found very funny:

I'm not gonna flinch

The commentary is priceless

Decisions decisions

If you book it they will come....

My 30th birthday party.
A certain function room in the central city.
Friday, September 15th, early-mid evening til late.

More details including the precise location (which has been booked as of fifteen minutes ago) will follow in a much classier email/paper invite. If you are wondering if you'll get an invite, you probably will.

There will be a theme, and it is T-shirt oriented.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

T-Shirt of the Week

Listening to: Hail to the thief-Radiohead

This weeks T is the legendary Hypercolor. For those who don't know or don't remember, the colour of these T's could change when subjected to heat. This particular one would develop pink patches depending on the heat generated by the wearer, usually across the chest and upper back, and below the arms. There were other colour combinations, like green/yellow, and brown/red I think. These were generally only worn by males, as female wearers could develop prominent, attention drawing, patches in the chest area.
These were popular in the early 1990's. I got mine in early 1992. After being initially disappointed with the colour, as I preferred something darker, I later grew to like it.
As cool as the hypercolor T's were, they suffered from one serious flaw. The colour changing element of the dye was not very robust. Sooner or later, all hypercolor T's stopped changing colour. Maybe you just weren't meant to wash them. Sadly, my T no longer changes colour, and is forever fixed at sky blue. The stains below the collar I think are paint. Or blood. I'm not sure which.
Process explanation here
I'm not sure about the colour combinations listed there. Mine was definitely blue/pink.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Random stuff

Listening to: Anthology disc 2-Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. Thanks Ed for playing it at your party and inspiring me to listen to it again.

Had a good weekend, went to a couple of good parties (at one of which I finally found out exactly what Cal meant when she referred to me as milk chocolate, and decided on a most likely idea for my 30th) and a curios and collectables fair. Fi was fascinated by my knowledge of 1980's Matchbox Cars. Judging by the prices on offer, my near mint collection of about 100 cars which are currently stashed at my folks could sell for several hundred dollars. Which is kinda scary.

I had a cold all weekend, and took yesterday off to kill it finally. Which I have achieved, and had my first beer tonight in ages. I don't drink when I have colds. My sinuses (which I am reliably informed are far from ideal) can't handle booze when I have a cold. Plus decongestant medecines have a known catastrophic effect on my already low alcohol tolerance.

Netball was fun last night. The first half anyway, which is the half in which we won the game. The second half was a shambles, but the game was won by then, so we could afford a shambles. My indoor soccer team got smoked tonight, 8-3. I got one of the three (my fourth goal in two years), despite my usual position of full-time goalkeeper. I was on the field as one of our team can only play goal for fear of re-injury to a delicate knee. One player of the oppostion team got five of the goals. I'm not sure I am any good at indoor soccer. When I played outdoor I was a specialist defender/midfielder, and goalkeep. I have a reasonable defensive game, but no real attacking game. Indoor requires both a defensive and attacking game, as there aren't enough players to specialise. This is why I prefer keeping. The objective is clear (stop the ball any way you can, pass it out to your team, who will promptly score at the other end), and thanks to netball I have reasonably quick hand-to-ball reflexes (I am sometimes referred to as 'The ninja' by my team).

Fi didn't want to watch me play soccer, so scored two netball games with teams we recently retired from. I scored no freebies. I could have filled in for another team, but I watched them win 58-23 with only five players on the court ( 1 A), and figured I would have just slowed them down. Admittedly they had one of the best two point shooters I have ever seen (like a metronome). Tuesday night netball at Petone is either really mediocre or stratospheric when it comes to skill level. Lots of good players there.

Notkate has been prolificly posting in the past few days. Her latest list is most thought provoking. It will take me a little while to come up with ten things I really like about myself, but I like a challenge so will give it a go.

I like how ideas and inspirations like the above spread through the blogosphere. I love the written word, it allows for a clarity of expression I seldom attain verbally.

1985 redux

Listening to: Anthology disc 1-Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.
Fi plays netball at the courts in Taita. Which are across the road from my primary school, St Michaels Catholic Church School. I thought I'd wallow in nostalgia for a while and show you what it looks like now. 2Treesandahorse should like this, as he attended also. We have known each other for a very long time. Anyway. things have changed a little since my final year of 1986 (standard four. The girls stayed to complete form two, but the boys were evicted after standard four, usually to go on to catholic boys intermediates such as St Bernards. The girls would usually go on to Sacred Heart College. Consequently, this was the only time I attended school with my elder sisters).
Everything is smaller now. The path (which is straight in reality) runs from the front gate past St Michaels church to the School at left. Visible at left are rooms 11 and 12, although the adjacent rooms 9 and 10 have disappeared, so I'm not sure if the numbering is the same. Rooms 9, 11 and 12 were mine. I never had my home class in the older rooms that make up the rest of the school. The fenceline in the background at right is the source of my '1985' post. Except it was a hedge then. In the far distance (beyond the rugby posts) there was a small building which has since disappeared. I never figured out what it was for, but it had bright paintings of cartoon characters on its inner walls. The huge gum trees in the foreground were young 3-4 metre tall saplings in my time, which were too small to climb (it's the trees that really show the passage of twenty years). They would attract Emperor moths (probably still do), with the attendant huge caterpillars, which were endless fascination.
Somewhere out on that field I lost my 'Kenner' Luke Skywalker's stormtrooper helmet. It's also the same field where I hit a home run at Danish Rounders, and beat Raymond Changtung in a sprint race to become (briefly) the fastest kid in school. On the days it was mowed we would build forts out of the grass clippings and throw wads of grass at each other (this was during my brief 1982-1986 non asthmatic/hayfevery period; probably couldn't do that now without the aid of large preemptive antihistamine doses). The rest of the school with its courtyards, other classrooms, library, admin and playground are out of shot to the left. The smaller field in the foreground is perfectly sized for games of bullrush or rugby.
I wouldn't mind visiting the school someday when its open, to see what the inside looks like now (smaller no doubt). That could be a lot of fun. I'm pretty sure one teacher from my era is still there.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

I like a good T-shirt

I love humorous or ironic T-shirts as a form of expression. I have many. I wear them because they make me smile and laugh, and amuse others when they see them (I often see people reading me and smiling). I can use them to say things for me that my reserved nature might otherwise prevent. Also they can be great conversation starters.
Here are but some of my collection, which some of you may recognise:

For the sake of sharing, every week or so I will try and profile one of my T's.
First T-shirt of the week is 'Kermit Klein'

I got this one in 1995, and still wear it occasionally, as due to baggy T's being fashionable a while ago, all of my old T's still fit ( I still wear T's I got in the 80's. You wouldn't know if I didn't tell you). Kermit was available in white or lime green. I went for the green, which is somewhat faded now. I liked the send up of Calvin Klein, and Kermits model pose. Plus Muppets are eternally cool. I wore it to the survivor party, and also removed it during my planned sacrificial eviction Both events are recorded in the video presumably.

Friday, August 04, 2006

more cool

slightly more permanent link here

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Heh heh, cool

Go here and for the next 24 hours or so you'll find me on the front page of the 'Modeling Madness' webzine, linked on my links as 'Primo plastic modelling site #1' My first published thing that isn't a letter to the editor. Told you I was a geek. I've already gotten emails from strangers complimenting my work, which is stoking as I don't get to share with other modellers very often.

Also cool is that Fi left a glass of wine out for me when I got home from work last night, and found my missing Sigur Ros CD for me. How cool is that?

My day has been made.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Netball musings

Listening to:'Binaural'-Pearl Jam

Wow the last post was difficult.
I now turn to the easier topic of sport. Eventually I will delve into my sporting history as I'm sure you are all eager to read about it.
I'm still sore from last night's indoor netball game, where fill-in Phil tried to intercept a pass meant for me and instead connected with my testicles. Fi will be most relieved that I'm pretty sure that there is no permanent damage. Not really Phil's fault, just something that happened. Still owie owie though. Boys reading feel free to empathise, girls be thankful you don't have to deal with this as a day to day possibility, and then feel free to rant about how you put up with worse. I found last nights game difficult primarily for that reason, but also due to the umpire's style of not ruling contacts, pretty much ever. Still he did call people for stepping into me when I was shooting, which I appreciated. I now have the step away ploy to draw a foul from any foolish D who tries to follow down pat, to the point where it is almost automatic. I seem to be learning to adjust my shot correctly as well, thus becoming able to step away and still core from outside the circle. I thought I had a good game last night. I've got to get better at the calm and composed thing though. I hate that I get so worked up sometimes on court.
Played again tonight, as a fill in for the Tuesday team I recently quit. Shot some more twos, and enjoyed the game way more than Monday's. We lost, but I relaxed in the knowledge that the Monday team would have crushed our opposition tonight.
Fi and I succeeded in reducing our netball consumption by dropping Tuesday and Wednesday. We happy to fill in, but not having a fulltime commitment is kinda liberating.

Danny Boy

Listening to: 'Grace'-Jeff Buckley

My Dad's big brother Harry died last night from lung cancer, at the age of 76 (Dad's a bit upset naturally, but also philosophical). I confess I did not know Harry well, nor were we close, given that we lived on opposite sides of the world. I was only around him for a six week period in 1989-90, when my father and I visited his relatives in England. That's us in the photo on the Seaham breakwater, County Durham, Harry on the left, 13 year old me in the middle, Harry's dog 'Lady' on the right, in December 1989. As you can see (and those of you who have met my father can attest to this), height is not a strong trait in my family. At 13 I was taller than everyone I was related to in England.
Although all my memories of Harry are now 16 years old, they are good ones. He was fun to be around, always talking and telling stories (like my father), most of which I couldn't understand due to the accent and dialect of the english north-east. The first time I met him he said "So what do you think of us Geordies then?", which Dad had to translate for me before I could formulate a response. He had a lot of time for a 13 year old nephew he'd never met before.
We spent a lot of time at his place where he lived with his wife Kath while we were there. The photo was taken one morning when we took Lady for a walk. We wandered past pubs, and abandoned coal mines, each place with a story. Lady was one of the nicest dogs you could ever hope to meet. Friendly, not at all aggressive, well trained. She liked me because I gave her a lot of attention. We came across Harry walking her once and she ran straight over to me looking for a pat or a head scratch. Harry would sing 'Danny Boy', and Lady would yelp along with him. That song always makes me think of Harry and his dog. Lady must be long gone by now. I like to think she's waiting for him.
By the way, I'm not trying to neglect Harry's wife in all this. I just don't remember her as well. I do remember that she was pretty sharp, and also had a lot of time for me.
Harry was already sick when Dad last saw him in May. He said he wouldn't take painkillers "because I don't want to wake up dead!" Apparently his end was peaceful; he was found by his housekeeper in his chair in the lounge.

I would have liked to have known him better.