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January 1st, 2012

12:32 am - 2012
Would seem to be here.  Happy new year to those of you who are not on facebook, or otherwise in communication.  May your year be just sufficiently interesting...

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November 5th, 2011

09:47 pm - progress... slow but sure
Got the class D provisional (class D is all buses, class D1 is buses up to 16 seats, "D1 category restriction 1" is what you have on your licence if you passed a car test before 1/1/1997, 16 seater not for hire and reward) 

Did the speed awareness course: interesting, even if I did know 90%+ already, I did find out a few things I didn't know.  Main point, no points on the licence.  I still maintain that all fixed limits are an abomination that should be chucked out ASAP and replaced with something less arbitrary, although there's no fat chance of that happening.

In pursuit of the minibus project I bought back the bus I last had before, and I'm no working on getting it back to PSV condition.  Deadline for the whole minibus thing is end of January next year, might make it yet...

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September 10th, 2011

10:27 pm - another hiatus, another post
trouble is there's so much to do, what with FB, G+, WOT, oh and minor things like real life.  

Done a complex deal with the bank of Parents for the money I need...

Bloody speed cam van got me the other day, but they've offered speed awareness course, so that's not so bad.  Trouble is, now I don't fancy sending my licence off to DVLA (to apply for new one with provisional class D) in case it don't get back in time for said course.  I'll check their expected turnover times, really need to get the bloody thign under way.  Course not til October 22, so SHOULD be ok - I have to bring the licence with me, apparently. 

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July 9th, 2011

08:36 pm - Blimey!
 is it really 4 months since I posted here... tsk.

been doing stuff, mostly connected with That Facebook, but also rather a lot of playing on a game called World of Tanks which I find rather good.  Needs a moderately capable PC and a reasonable internet connection... and highly addictive.  Find it here and don't say I didn't warn you.  

other than that life goes on much as ever, trying to raise loans from the bank, etc.   Honk Gong and Shanghai'ed now have a policy that all new current accounts must have a monthly turnover of 500 quid minimum, so it's quite likely I'll be going somebank else.

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March 31st, 2011

06:05 pm - RIP Eddie Stobart
 Genuine legend in his own lifetime, and only 56...


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March 20th, 2011

09:24 pm - We have
our first kid for 2011.  So there can now be a BGM, with BG.  More due before the relevant date, too.

new kid on the block

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March 9th, 2011

01:45 pm - BGM 2011
 A bit short of BG as yet, due to untimely demise of some of the AG (Adult...), but there is yet time.  BGM 2011 will be, I think, the weekend of 16/17 April, and will feature the usual sorts of activities, and, if the weather's nice, maybe mud-pies doing work on the pond dam.  There will not, sadly, be machinery to play with. 

In this area, that's the first weekend of Easter holidays, for the schools, but it should be in everyone's EH at that, seeing as Easter is the weekend after. 

Some idea of who will be attending, in due course, would help.

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February 26th, 2011

08:04 pm - the R-TH-AF and books 2
I've read Frozen Out and it's good.  Mr Bates, for it is he, is apparently currently working on the third book, the second is in the care of the Eagle-Eyed Copy Editor (E-ECE?), or words to that effect.

Meanwhile, it seems that femsc 's oldest son has also written a book, which you can get from Lulu, here.  It's called Shadow Path and I've not read it, other than the first few pages that are online, but on the basis of that, I'll likely buy it, if only to encourage the lad.

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February 2nd, 2011

09:13 pm - the R-TH-AF and books.
For those who are Of the Shed, you will of course know of the R-TH-AF, also known as Qunetin Bates.  Well, it seems he wrote a book, it's called "Frozen Out" and I have acquired it from That Amazon.  So far so good, started it yesterday night and I've found nowt to complain about yet ;)

Meanwhile, in facebookland, someone said that they "liked" "Earth's Children".  This a series of books by one Jean M. Auel (and no, I don't know the correct pronunciation), and this caused me look as I too "like" "Earth's Children"...

I read the first 4 books a number of years ago, and bought #5 when it came out about 10 years ago I think (checks) yeah, 2002.  Subsequently, there was a certain amount of speculation about Jean Auel and whether she was writing a 6th book, when it might appear and even whether she was still alive.

Seems she is indeed still alive and the 6th and final book of the series is due out in March this year, some 31 years after the publication of the first, which makes the whole thing quite an impressive work to say the very least.  So, back to That Amazon I went, this time to per-order the new book (The Land Of Painted Caves) and then to hunt books 1-4 which I never owned, in hardback, to go with #5 which I have and #6 when it arrives.  The first ones are not available new, unless someone reprints them to coincide with the publication of #6, I suppose) but I managed to hunt them, and the whole lot (including the new one) came to about 32 quid, which ain't bad at all.

For what it's worth and in case anyone wants to know, the books ( and publication dates) are:

The Clan of the Cave Bear, 1980
The Valley of Horses, 1982
The Mammoth Hunters, 1985
The Plains of Passage, 1990
The Shelters of Stone, 2002
The Land of Painted Caves, 2011
you can find a potted summary on wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earth's_Children

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January 14th, 2011

10:57 pm - lax
is what I've been in keeping up with LJ.  I blame facebook, which today/tonight is displaying reliability levels that make windows look like a paragon of virtue.

stuff has happened, most of it minor and or inconsequential.  The merc is on the road and has just been treated to new brake discs all round, which, together with a bit of cleaning of the back calipers, has stopped the rear brakes making odd noises.

Today was a more stressful day than I'd hoped, with vehicular hassle playing a large part.  To be fair, at least some of the hassle was my own silly fault for not checking it over properly before taking it for the taxi test.  Result, an embarrassing fail due to a worn track rod end.  The council licensing office then promptly suspended the license (costing me 1.5 days work, buggrem).  Today, to the garage with spare track rod end, the one that's gone can't be replaced as it's crimped into the end of the rod.  what a wanky design.  on the blower to spares place in Swansea, yes they have the rod-plus-joint, 56 quid plus vat.  Or a complete rod, with the adjusty bit and the other rod end,  63 quid.  Managed to persuade them to take back the 2 rod ends I bought on wednesday, so not all bad.  Back home to the garage to get it fitted, back to Llanelli to get it looked at and pick up the new taxi plate. 

The stress came from having about 4 hours to do the 2 journeys including time to buy the part, fill up with diesel and fit the part... the spares supplier is close to 40 miles from the garage.

And on the way back form the spares shop to the garage, met a small stone going the other way at what speed I know not, I was doing about 80... bloody great bang and a nice star in the windscreen, the gods were lenient in that it was outside the wiper area so not another cause for a test fail.  Actually, since it didn't cause another fail, I'm not that displeased about it, cos the windscreen needed replacing anyway, provided I can talk the auto windscreen lot into doing that rather than mending it, and the insurance will pay.

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November 29th, 2010

06:59 pm - It's a free country... or is it?
I make no apology that those who are friends on facebook will be seeing this twice.

A friend noted this article in the New Statesman blogspace, and more or less commented:

 young people kettled on Brighton beach & in London, will live with their memories of what exercising their democratic right to express their opinion means in a state controlled by the police. 

What's "kettled"? well read the article, basically, low-grade torture, it's the kind of thing that if I read of it being done in some other supposedly less-enlightened country I would think "well, what do you expect, we don't do things like that here", well, looks like we do.  I wrote to my MP (using the handy http://writetothem.com) and expressed my view that this is a step too far along the way to a police state and that questions need asking about the discrepancy between the official reports and (apparently) first-hand accounts such as the one above.

I would ask any of you reading this to do likewise and to please spread this message around.  Thanks for your time!

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November 16th, 2010

08:25 pm - Writer's Block: Time for a reboot
Which phrase would you choose to replace the ubiquitous "Have a nice day" phrase?

I could go with "fuck you very much" as a response to it... it's often completely meaningless. 

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08:16 pm - fist and mog
 This morning, driving in about a 30-40 mph rating fog (on roads only good for 30-40 anyway) I was once again struck by the fascinating way in which objects appear and then develop detail and clarity and finally colour through the fog as you approach them, very much like developing an old-fashioned photo where it starts off blank and details appear...

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November 11th, 2010

09:23 pm - Creepy...
Been re-watching season 1 of Buffy.  Episode 11 has a girl in school who everyone ignores and eventually she becomes invisble... after the usual sort of mayhem they catch her and then the FBI show up, lead her away and right at the end we get a bit where they lead her to a class full of invisible children being taught about assassination and stuff...

While I doubt that people actually do become invisible, it's exactly what I would expect the FBI to do with them if there were any.

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November 5th, 2010

02:02 pm - meme!
Snagged from k425 and hooloovoo42  

Rules: Use the first letter of your name to answer each of the following questions. They have to be real . . . nothing made up! If the person before you had the same first initial, you must use different answers. You cannot use any word twice and you can't use your name for the boy/girl name question.

1. Your name: Austin
2. A four-letter word: able
3. A boy's name: adam
4. A girl's name: anja

5. An occupation: artist
6. A color: aquamarine
7. Something you wear: anorak
8. A food: 
9. Something found in the bathroom: aftershave
10. A place: Aberdeen
11. A reason for being late: Animals

12. Something you shout: 
13. A movie title: Airplane
14. Something you drink: Amarula
15. A musical group: 
16. An animal: ass

17. A street name: atney road
18. The title of a song: all around my hat

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01:48 pm - More mercery
Put new tyres on it, noting in the process that the old set were 3 different makes and 2 different sizes.  Also did a very quick-and-crappy* spray-over of the top part of the near-side wing, which, although crappy, looks better than it used to.  This also highlights the fact that the paint is faded, in places quite badly - this will be an issue later in that the only real solution will be to respray the whole car, as re-doing any one panel will immediately contrast with the one next to it.  Paint came from an online paint place, Paints4u.com, not cheap but not to bad and posted to the door.  worth a look if you;re trying to match a colour that carplan et al don't admit to knowing about.

Brake light switch failed on it, apparently due to fatigue failure of brass parts inside, so had to replace that.  Also managed to sort the exhaust manifold/downpipe joints reasonably, so it's quieter now.  Won a headlamp on ebay, which arrived with the glass broken despite being very well packed in bubble wrap, WTF the post orifice did with it I don't know, must've been playing football or something.  Luckily, the glass was OK on the old one so wasn't a problem except that it would've been handy to have a spare glass.

Now got a nice pair of horns to fit, if it stops raining for a while, to replace the rather inept beep-horn that's on it.

* the wing is not in good enough condition to merit any more than this.  But at least while I hunt up a better wing, it looks less as though someone spilt battery acid on it, which for all I know they did.

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November 1st, 2010

08:37 pm - Alcohol baaaaad
I hope that the wonderfully-aptly named professor Nutt, in studying the relative effects of alcohol, heroin, crack and other drugs, took into account the fact that more or less anyone can buy alcohol cheaply in the supermarket.   While I agree that other, less legal drugs are by no means impossible to obtain, I believe the process is not quite as simple as dropping in to Tescos for a slab of tinnies.

I venture to suggest that were it either as easy to obtain heroin, or as difficult to obtain alcohol, the results might, just possibly, have been a teensy bit different.

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October 31st, 2010

12:34 pm - merc pix update
here: http://s1189.photobucket.com/albums/z425/Austin_Shackles/Merc%20in%20progress/

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October 28th, 2010

07:10 pm - Photo stuffs.
As some of you will no doubt recall, a bit back I got a half-decent camera, which came with an 18-55mm lens, and shortly after got a 55-250mm to go with it.  The 55-250 is Canon's consumer-level product, and surprisingly good for such a thing, much better than the older 75-300, which gets universally poor write-ups.  Canon now do a somewhat better 70-300 which has IS and so on (as does the 55-250) but these, even second hand, go well over 200 notes, new ones are close to £350) - and although they say "Ultrasonic" they aren't equipped with the full blown ring ultrasonic motors, so it's kind of a second-rate ultrasonic :). 

There are a few of the (proper) USM 100-300 which are top-end consumer level, with no IS, but they too seem to fetch quite a price for what they are.  Canon of course also do pro-grade lenses, identified by an  L in the designation.  These are jolly nice and way out of my price range.  The Canon 100-400 L zoom for example is a lovely thing, F4 and retails for a bit over a grand new, good second hand are nearly as much.

I've been studying the market.  There are quite a few cheapo 500mm teles around, but they're a bit limited.  There are also some Sigma 170-500 zooms, but they, like the older Canon 75-300, get poor write-ups for image quality.  The other day traawling around ebay I noticed some Cosina 100-400 zooms, some with Canon EF mount.  Googled around for some reviews and they're rated as not bad for the money, so I found one going for a price I can't justify but could manage to find... it arrived this morning.  Looks quite nice build quality, has a reasonable-looking metal mount (the cheaper Canons are plastic, although the 70-300mm IS/USM is metal)

Today was an unremarkable day in weather terms but I shot off a few frames anyway to see what it does...


1777, 1778, 1779 and 1780 are at the 100, 200, 300 and 400 settings.  The images are a crop of roughly the middle third or a tad more of the frame, at 1:1 (i.e. not resized).  Focus is off on 1778, if you look at the grass beyond the subject it's sharp.

1785 is full frame at 400, reduced to 800x1200.  1785-1 and 1785-2 are 1:1 crops from the original.  They don't look that good but the light was indifferent and they are taken through a double-glazed window with some raindrops on it, also at ISO 1600.

Next time the weather's half-decent I will shoot some more.

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October 27th, 2010

09:10 pm - Merc update
Few hundred miles done and nothing too untoward has surfaced.  Fixed the screen washer and the glovebox lid, fettled the driver's seat (which is rather worn) and made it a bit more comfy.  Removed the headlamp wipers (not working correctly) and disconnected the headlamp wash pump, which is I think the control unit sticking on.

still to do: change the oil and filter in the auto box and see if that makes it any smoother, it shifts a bit sharply at the moment.

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