Thursday, June 28, 2001

There is not enough gaming going on in Salisbury at the moment! So let's do something about it......

You're all invited to my place next Thursday (5 July) for a game session. I'm thinking of lightweight fun games - after all we've got to get up for work next morning - such as Carcassonne or Guerrilla. Bring a bottle and/or a game of your own if you feel like it. If it's a success perhaps we can make it a regular fixture. Just like the old days.
Global software giant bows to pressure from nimrods!

According to DaveNet Microsoft are dropping their plans for intrusive Smart Tags in their web browser. Common sense prevails! (OK maybe it wasn't just the disapproval from this weblog that changed their minds.)

Wednesday, June 27, 2001

Don Giovanni at the ENO was panned by the critics: "It's been a while since I saw so much garbage on a stage" said the Independent. I went to see it last night with Fiona and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. Yes, the production was violent, modern and vulgar. No breeches and lace here. But it didn't overwhelm the music or obscure the story. Maybe it helped that I am new to Don Giovanni - my curiosity is roused now and I'd love to see it again in a more traditional production.

Tuesday, June 26, 2001

Why are Catholics so much better than evangelicals at good stuff like the CAFOD Drop It Virtual Postcard?

The "debt crisis" is not over! So far, some of the richest countries, including the UK, have promised 100% cancellation of the debts they are owed by the poorest countries. However the poorest countries still owe huge amounts to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank.

They invite you to send your postcard to Tony Blair to call on him to instruct the IMF and World Bank to cancel 100% of the debt. So do I!

Monday, June 25, 2001

After last week's panic attack, my concert on Saturday night went very well. Katya Apekisheva and the New London Sinfonia gave a stunning, passionate performance of Ravel's Piano Concerto. Then after the interval it was our turn to sing the Faure Requiem. The rehearsal with the orchestra in the afternoon had gone quite well and I had spent an hour in the afternoon sunshine going over the score one last time - so I was feeling reasonably confident when we stood up. It is unnerving singing without the score, but it does mean you can give your full attention to the conductor. And David Gibson was putting everything into it - his passion and musicianship were inspiring. I think it went OK, and Simon who was in the audience said it was very moving, and that the people around him seemed to have enjoyed it too.

And now it's done, the applause is over, I have put the score away (though I still catch myself practising the music in my head). Life seems slightly empty without this big challenge to work towards. I'm looking forward to starting on the next one - Brahms Requiem in November.

Friday, June 22, 2001

Today's entry in Lileks has just reminded me all over again what a beautiful writer James is. He can find something interesting to say about the most ordinary things - walking the dog, a trip to the shops. And what is even more difficult and unusual, he can write convincingly about happiness, without being schmaltzy or overblown.
I just want to put this on record, as a guy whose whole career is wrapped up with Microsoft technology and who has a lot of respect for many of their achievements - I'm against Smart Tags. Read this article and follow some of its links to get an idea why this is such a horrifying prospect.

And a quote from Davenet that really points up the intrusiveness of this:

Will Microsoft be Smart Tagging the Bible? "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."
Wednesday's shambolic rehearsal for the Faure Requiem - which we are performing tomorrow! - prompted me to spend last night singing along with my choral rehearsal tape in a last minute attempt to learn the piece properly. Especially as we are expected to perform without the score. Good grief! - singing on my own at home my voice always sounds lousy. It keeps cutting out or going all croaky like a dodgy old car. It'll be alright on the night I suppose. If you are thinking of coming, don't let this panicky posting put you off!

Wednesday, June 20, 2001

I don’t often play computer games - after a day in the office, sitting in front of a PC again just does not appeal – but when I do I usually reach for Close Combat 3 (Microsoft). This game started life as an Avalon Hill project to develop computer ASL, and after many years and several changes of management ended up as this superb realtime tactical game covering the Russian campaign. As if that’s not enough, have a look at where you can download (free) game mods that will transform CC3 into a game about the North Africa Campaign, the Pacific War, or even World War 1 or the Gulf War. Amazing! If you can find a copy of CC3, for about £10 you’re getting a computer wargame with the scope and detail of ASL.

More amazing freebies at the University of Virginia’s eBook library. Just download Microsoft’s (very tasteful) eBook reader and you have free access to this large collection of classic books.

Tuesday, June 19, 2001

I've been listening to a couple of tracks from Buena Vista Social Club. It's so wonderful, and I must buy this CD before many more days pass - but now I'm consumed with this helpless longing to fly over to Havana and hang out in smoky, music-filled bars for a week (or possibly the rest of my life).
Three cheers for Rebecca who says:

I've been thinking about it the last few days, and I'm tired of people who have seen it all. I'd rather hang out with the naifs and unsophisticates, I think, who appreciate the new and unusual, and whose bar for those things hasn't gotten to be ridiculously high. Those who haven't realized that there are correct and incorrect responses, but who go through life simply enjoying it.

Monday, June 18, 2001

Had a very enjoyable party at my place on Saturday night. Vast quantities of red wine were consumed (and thrown by Jonny Graham all over Jonny Martin). I wore a gold lame jacket and shades in an attempt to look vaguely like Bono. We also had Santana and Geri Halliwell present, who gave us an exhibition of Salsa dancing later in the evening!

Quite a few nimrods were invited, but none of you turned up. Shame on you! If I had advertised it as a Battle Cry tournament you would all have been there wouldn't you!

For those of who who have asked about my dizzy spell: I've got my head back together now, man........

Thursday, June 14, 2001

I've just had three days of feeling poorly. It started on Monday morning with a dizzy attack when I arrived at work, followed by a day-long headache. This was still with me on Tuesday, and by lunchtime I decided I'd had enough and drove home (feeling pretty groggy - this was a bit scary!) Good job I did because I slept all afternoon then threw up. Wednesday pottered around at home feeling fragile but enjoying the sun. Even spent some time sitting outside Starbucks in town - hope no-one from NTL saw me! Back to work today, still not 100% but functioning OK.

What's the culprit? Top suspects are stress and caffeine. I don't feel consciously stressed at the moment, but I could write down quite a list of things I should/could be worried about so perhaps there is a level of stress I'm not aware of. And I did drink a lot of coffee and tea while wargaming on Sunday afternoon (so it's all James' fault!) A few years back I had a number of severe dizzy attacks and the doctor told me to cut the caffeine right down. I guess I've been letting that slip lately. Phil says he is going to clear the house of caffeine!

Monday, June 11, 2001

I don't know how many more Paths of Glory game reports this website will bear. Not exactly broadening our global appeal are we? But I must just tell you about a game I had with James yesterday afternoon. I was the Central Powers, and although I got soundly beaten, it was a very enjoyable wargaming experience - lots of tension, difficult decisions, setbacks, revivals of fortune, heroic defenses, overseas adventures.

Now James is a really nice guy...... but he is totally ruthless when it comes to exploiting the out-of-supply rules. You know, I've browsed the Consimworld postings, I've read the Player Guide articles, I've thought about the game and even played it a couple of times. But there's no substitute for experience, and in PoG terms I'm still a raw novice, as James demonstrated by putting about 4 of my armies out of the war in a devastating 6th-round encirclement. Then a few turns later I let him do it to me again!

This game is very chess-like, and as when learning chess, you have to develop the habit of scanning the board every turn for threats. Just hoping for the best isn't good enough. And don't be distracted - James deliberately did this to me with a big attack on Strasbourg just to pull my attention away from what he was about to do to me in the East. Nasty man!

We wrapped it up after about 7 hours at the end of turn 9, having finished the Limited War scenario, with me on 7 VPs when I needed 17 to win. Enough said! Excellent afternoon's gaming - thanks James.

Wednesday, June 06, 2001

I am busy rehearsing with the Basingstoke Choral Society for our next concert on Sat 23 June. We will be performing Faure's Requiem. Our last concert in May (broadcast on Radio 2) was a great evening, the audience seemed very appreciative! If any of you nimrods were to come along I would be delighted to see you there.

The Anvil website gives booking details. I can't get you a discount but I will buy you a drink in the bar afterwards!
Had a blast with Dave and Nick last night on the Paths of Glory 1915 scenario. They were a committee running CP. I got Yudenitch, MEF and Salonika - Nick was too polite to pull Dave away from his Western Front obsession to rescue Turkey, and I nabbed Constantinople! Spectacular haul of VPs!

Bit worried about the news from Nepal at the moment - I am planning a holiday in December, and wonder if the country will have quietened down by then. But more importantly I'm concerned about my friends Bruce and Louise who live in Kathmandu. I hope they are not going through too much of a miserable time, and that they stay safe.

Monday, June 04, 2001

Just spent the weekend on a church retreat at Lee Abbey in North Devon. Fantastic location on the coast, good teaching ministry, and lovely weather. However I did feel as though I had accidentally booked on a Saga holiday. My whole Christian life seems to be spent with oldies (nothing against oldies of course, but sometimes it gets me down). Shared this with my friends Philippa and Anna over cream tea on Saturday afternoon. Bless them, they rescued me from the country dancing scheduled that evening and spirited me away to Lynton's new cinema. Which was amazing! It has just opened in a little room behind the town hall, it seats about 30 people, you buy your ticket at the box office, then show it to the guy on the door who was standing right next to you when you bought it! He carefully tears it in half. Sweets and drinks are bought from a trolley by the door, and the guy rummages in his pocket to give you your change. We watched "Bridget Jones's Diary" (again!) with Philippa joining in with all the songs, and half the staff of Lee Abbey there too, it was a cheering occasion. Thanks girls.

When packing for the weekend I was looking for a simple but interesting game to take along in case of bad weather. Ended up taking Cosmic Encounter which didn't get played of course, which was probably just as well. Might have been quite difficult explaining the rules to a bunch of people who are new to strategy games. I've been thinking about this a bit more today - perhaps there is a gap in my collection here, where there should be a few lightweight but interesting Euro games that might appeal to non-gamers. Also portable, to be stuffed in the suitcase just in case. Carcassone looks a good bet, a tile-laying game with a Settlers-like theme for only £15. But reading about that I followed a link to El Caballero, another £15-er with a similar mechanic, but sounding much deeper and more interesting. Hmm. Need to suppress my hard-core instincts here and go for the simpler one.....

Friday, June 01, 2001

This is wonderful - the Christian Humor site! Who says American Christians take themselves too seriously?