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Haven’t you got better things to do?

keithlard's pictures of the year

This is your captain keithlard speaking, thank you for flying Air Lard this year, and we hope you enjoyed the flight. The local time in Finchley is 20:47, and if you look straight ahead you will see keithlard’s top ten photos from this year, chosen by an independent panel of keithlard. Please fasten your seatbelts and refrain from smoking as we enjoy these gourmet photergraphs, followed by a selection of cheeses. This is my most favourited picture on Flickr.

No introduction needed to this building.

Two lovely Canada geese, taken at the Welsh Harp reservoir in London’s exclusive North London.

The car is not really moving at a zillion miles an hour, that is the power of the long exposure.

The low resolution and noisy sensor of my little phone camera works best with strong forms and bold colours. This is one of my favourite pictures that I have taken with it.

I took a lot of photos of skyscrapers this year. This is a nice one, Tower 42 in the City of London.

Part of my Fridge Poetry project.

Best candid of the year, taken at Camden Town station. If you are one of the passionate couple depickted here, contact me to win five pounds.

My most viewed picture on Flickr, taken before the smoking ban obviously. Now even just thinking about smoking is punishable by death, squads of armed tobacco police are roaming the streets to hunt down offenders.

The Lloyd’s Building, reflected in the Willis Building. I like this one, especially as the glorious curved sweep of glass makes the picture look like a fisheye distortion.

Well I hope you enjoyed those, I had a lot of fun taking them. I am looking forward to doing lots of photergraphy next year, I have got some new gadgets to try out, eg a circular polariser. And it really is a beautiful world. See you there in 2008!

keithlard news

I had a super week on holiday at my Dad’s with Susan, becoming a smug Mac user. I also drank some wine and ate crisps, although I did lose weight due to doing a lot of walking. It rained incessantly, which I cannot understand as when I looked at the new Clouds layer in Google Earth, there did not seem to be any clouds about. I can only think it is a special type of magic rain.

I also learned a lot of German from my Michel Thomas German audio course, which is very good if you are walking, especially in the country. I could be speaking out loud quite unselfconsciously and stomping along muttering, “Warum können Sie nicht es mir bringen? Ich brauche es jetzt! Das ist ganz unmöglich weil ich heute sehr beschäftigt sein werde!” without being arrested as some type of spy. Michel Thomas was a counter-intelligence officer and interrogator during World War II which explains some of his teaching manner, and the fact that I cannot ask for a pint of lager in German, but I can get someone to confess where they have hidden the secret microfilm.

In all seriousness Michel Thomas courses are terrific, and if you have struggled with foreign langwidges that is the one to get. Forget Ecoutez et repetez as you will be speaking quite complicated things in German, Italian, French or Spanish in no time. I think I need to get Michel Thomas English in fact.

This week’s star news: Mars is very bright and prominent at the moment, I know it is a planet not a star tecknically so do not write in. Look high in the southeast in the evening, or if you know how to find Orion, look to the left and a bit up from there. It is the brightest thing in the sky at the moment as there is no Moon, and quite noticeably a sort of yellowy-orange. It is exciting to think that you are looking at another world, and one quite close by in cosmick terms. If the Earth is Finchley, then Mars is like Golders Green, only probably with less tasty kosher delis.

Intresting facts about Mars: eight Mars would fit inside the Earth, although that might create more problems than it solved. The average temperature is about -60°C so remember to wrap up warm. Also there is very little atmosphere, effectively none, which makes it a hard pitch for any estate agent, but there is tremendous potential for DIY enthusiasts and it is very close to local amenities such as the asteroid belt. No chain.

In conclusion, then, Mars!

The little keithlard that could

What did you do in 2007 that you’d never done before?

Learn German, buy a Mac, record my first album (not available in any shops!), get contact lenses, learn Emacs, do black and white photergraphy, get over excited about Charles Dickens, be hassled by building security guards all over London, tag my Flickr photos. There are some other things but I mostly cannot remember, because of drink.

Did you keep your new years’ resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

I just put down the things I want to do, not anything sinister like ‘establish an underground island base’, or ‘become a Sith Lord’, but just normal things like pracktise the guitar and be a kind man and help old ladies. To chocolates!

David Allen says to ask yourself are you putting the right amount of attention on the right thing? I use my list to check that the projects I am doing are in line with my life wish list in some way.

Matt was amazed that I have projects in my personal life, but we all do. I just write things down. I could keep this stuff in my head, but I have more intresting things to do with it, eg play with iTunes, or look at blackbirds. Pieces of paper are excellent at remembering things, while I in turn am excellent at… some other things which escape me just now.

Did anyone close to you give birth?

Not while I was watching.

Did anyone close to you die?

No, this is irksome as I have spent a great deal of time persuading everyone to make me the beneficiary of their life insurance. It is not that I want any of my friends to be horribly killed. But the money would be some kind of compensation. As would the Bentley, vintage champagne, gold taps ekcetera.

What countries did you visit?

My favourite one, the Her Majesty’s United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland. It is a great country actually and you should go some time. The inhabitants are friendly, except the wild-eyed skinhead train muggers, and there is a variety of charming ethnick folkways. I sent Romany a list of uniquely British delights which she would miss on her world travels, including:

proper cup of tea, bacon sandwidge, London bus, milk chocolate, drizzle, the Science Museum, Directors bitter, coots, mustard, prep schools, Truprint, slipshod regional ITV, family heritage theme parks smelling of urine and faeces, the Queen, “mustn’t grumble”, post offices, the Guardian, plane trees, Vauxhall Corsas, crisps, Lush, building societies, people with bad combovers, Trivial Pursuit, “mind the gap”, chavs, fish & chips, council tax, and of course the shipping forecast.

So I have made all of these into a big parcel which I am going to give her when she gets back. I hope she hurries as the parcel is becoming unruly, and soaking through onto the carpet.

What would you like to have in 2008 that you lacked in 2007?

I have mostly everything I want, so not much. Maybe just more MacBooks!

What date from 2007 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

I cannot think of any in fact. I am rubbish at these memes.

What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Being quite happy I think and not getting into any disastrous relationships, except the ones I have blanked out due to post-traumatic girlfriend syndrome. I did get my LPIC-1 qualification which is quite good but basically just certifies that I am a tedious IT man that can answer multiple choice questions about Unix.

What was your biggest failure?

Wii Tennis? I do not know. I succeed at everything I do, mainly because I avoid doing anything I might be crap at. Sometimes I do not get out of bed all day! Rigorous discipline, that’s the key.

Did you suffer illness or injury?

No, because of the strategy detailed above. One time I got cramp from being in bed all day. I have a good way of dealing with that, which is to shriek and thrash around like a dying moose, until it goes away. Sometimes these old folk remedies are better than so-called ‘medickal science’.

What was the best thing you bought?

Susan!

Whose behaviour merited celebration?

Just my friends for being ace. I will celebrate that right now actually with another glass of posh wine.

Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?

Anyone that mistreated my friends. If this is you then watch out, because I have you on a list and will hunt you down. I am not a violent man. That is why I always use hired goons.

Where did most of your money go?

Crisps, Macs and Mac accessories, books and other frivolous gewgaws, Oyster card that steals my money when I am drunk. Oh yes! Beer.

What did you get really, really, really excited about?

Macs, music, langwidges, jumpers, photergraphy, eggs, baths, New Scientist, curry, blackbirds, bicycle, USB accessories, being outside. Everything really. I suffer from a condition known as ‘Shatner’s bassoon’, which means I get over excited about quite ordinary things.

What song will always remind you of 2007?

I don’t know any! I only know concertos and things, because I am posh. Also sonatinas and such like. Basically I will be the first against the wall when the revolution comes, along with my Beethoven CD box sets.

Maybe Wir sind Helden’s “Ein Elefant Für Dich”, which is a lovely song and I do not quite know where the elephants come in, my German is still a bit shaky. Maybe it is someone that is in love with an elephant. I am quite tolerant of alternative lifestyles.

Compared to this time last year, are you:

i. Happier or sadder?

Happier. On the other hand, this time last year was shit. So it is a statistically misleading baseline, like Governmint spending figures.

ii. Thinner or fatter?

14 kilos fatter, which I know is rubbish. On the other hand in traditional nomadic societies I would be considered very attracktive and wealthy due to my large size, also I would provide emergency sustenance for the tribe during an unexpectedly lean winter.

In my defence it has been too cold or wet most of the year to go outside and do excersise, plus I am a terribly good cook. So the odds are stacked against me in a way.

iii. Richer or poorer?

Rather richer, I am a quiet home loving person that does not waste lots of money snorting cocaine off Patsy Kensit, or wearing expensive new clothes, or indeed any new clothes. Or leaving the flat. So there is a limit to what you can spend money on in my living room, except maybe Internet poker, but I do not like it.

What do you wish you’d done more of?

Being outside and bikling past crystal mountain streams and butterflies ekcetera.

What do you wish you’d done less of?

Eating. Stressing.

How will you be spending Christmas?

In the little flat, singing and cooking and covering everything with tinsel. Then with Jane for a super roast dinner!

Did you fall in love in 2007?

Does crushing count, if so then yes! If we’re not limiting ourselves strickly to human beings then Susan.

How many one-night stands?

None. I always stay at least two nights, because I have a strong sense of value.

What was your favourite TV programme?

The Wire which is the best programme ever basically. And Prison Break. I am inexplickably addicted to watching a heavily tattooed man repeatedly fail to escape from prison.

Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

I’m just not a hater. It’s too tiring!

What was the best book you read?

Can I count the Master & Commander series as one book? If so then that. Otherwise, Donna Tartt’s The Secret History, Robert Harris’ Imperium, Andrew Chaikin’s A Man on the Moon, George Eliot’s Adam Bede, The Mistress of Spices by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, Out of Africa by Karen Blixen. Everything by Joanne Harris. Don’t make me choose!

What was your greatest musical discovery?

Lots! Wir sind Helden, Ulrich Schnauss, Rilo Kiley, Catatonia, Avril Lavigne, Guitar, Relient K, Juli, Herrmann & Kleine, Lali Puna, Air, Annett Louisan. I discovered them all of course and no one else had heard of them before me.

What did you want and get?

Kindred spirit. MacBook.

What was your favourite film of this year?

Atonemint was pretty good, The Bourne Ultimatum, 28 Weeks Later, Michael Clayton. The Simpsons!

What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

I was 35 and I had a special execkutive breakfast of bacon, scrambled eggs, salsiccia piccante and espresso, and then a super curry in the evening with all my chums.

What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

Nothing much as it was pretty ace already! I had lots of photergraphy, fun, laughter and time with friends, it does not get any better than that really.

How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2007?

Quite a change around actually as I went from crumpled T-shirts and jeans to wearing posh shirts, chinos, smart shoes and even the occasional tie! I like dressing up smartly for work as it freaks people out and they keep asking if I have got an interview. Also I think I scrub up quite well.

What kept you sane?

The Simpsons.

Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

Sarah Wayne Callies (the hott lady doctor from Prison Break), or Judith Holofernes out of Wir sind Helden, it is a tough choice. Actually why should I choose! I’ll take both! Surely you concede I deserve it.

Hott doctor Holofernes

What political issue stirred you the most?

I stopped watching politicks. The nice thing about it is, like Neighbours, you can come back to it years later and the same things are going on, just different faces, and people called things like Toadfish instead of Charlene. That is Neighbours I mean, it would be a bit mad if the prime minister was called Toadfish.

Who did you miss?

She has had enough free publicity already.

Who was the best new person you met?

I met some awesome people this year including (in alphabetickal order) Emily, Fabian, Romany. That is a lot for me as I am a shy flower, also I rarely venture out of my flat for fear of missing an unscheduled episode of Ladette to Lady.

Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2007

Do not waste time on Internet memes as it takes hours. Macs are the best type of computer, by miles. It is probably not a good idea to do all your Christmas presents and cards in November and then spend December getting drunk and forget to put any deckorations up until Christmas morning.

Picture postcards from scenic Cornwall

No, not a scary Easter Island statue like you thought, but just a mad sculpture at Cornwall’s maddest shop, Trago Mills. It is like Bluewater for country folk, you can buy carpets, ironmongery and sheep dip under one unexpectedly castellated roof. I like going there and buying unusual and bonkers things, like elasticated lederhosen, or a miniature saxophone for weasels.

A weird house! In Lostwithiel, probably Cornwall’s most exciting small rainy town composed largely of antique shops. And that is up against some stiff competition.

They even have a sign! Don’t sound so pleased about it!

This is a nanshunt bridge in the heart of sleepy, antiques-obsessed Lostwithiel, and judging by the rusty sign, even single traffic is not exactly intensive. In fact when I tried to cross the bridge, the way was barred by an angry troll. I had to pacify it with some beef flavour Hula Hoops, which is annoying as I like them.

I know it is perfectly sensible really, but this is just the type of book which you only find at Trago. Or if you go to a horse library.

More of the world’s weirdest books, not available in any shops! Except Trago. I am a bit worried about the headless dog owner, I think it is just the power of optical illusion though.

This is in the sleepy and equally antiques obsessed village of Lerryn, you can see what kind of desperation the locals have got into for entertainmint. I do not approve of racing seagulls in fact as it is a form of abuse.

Nerdvana

Well I am tecknically on holiday, but it is good to be able to do a bit of work as well, especially with Susan. I am starting to get the hang of TextMate for editing, and with the Subversion bundle I can work on a local checkout. I am also logged on to my machine at work via SSH, running screen so that I can access lots of servers at once. I could run that here of course but I am just showing off, plus it does not require updating lots of firewalls with my new IP here.

I found a good tip for iTunes, I have the impossibly superior iAudio 7 music player, which does not sync with iTunes (despite starting with ‘i’), but it would be nice to play tracks from it through the Mac. There is a preference setting in iTunes under ‘Advanced’ called ‘Copy Files to iTunes Music folder when adding to library’. If you turn it off, you can drag folders into the iTunes window and it does not actually copy the music files into the library, it just stores their location. (If you just want to do this as a one-off, Option-dragging the files has the same effect.) I use this to play my main music collecktion at home off a network hard drive.

Similarly, I can drag the music folder from the iAudio into iTunes and it will happily play the tracks over USB instead of trying to copy everything onto my hard drive. It is a bit confusing though when you are moving around and attaching to different drives, networks and players, and the songs still show up in your library (if you try and play them, iTunes says they are not available). So you can create different iTunes libraries eg one for your music player, one for local files, one for a remote disk, ekcetera. Just hold down Option when starting iTunes and it gives you the choice of creating a new library or selecting an existing one. Nifty!

I also bought a nice little laptop travel kit, it has various goodies in it eg a retractable LAN/phone cable, retractable USB cable, USB mini adapter, a tiny 4-port USB hub, and a darling little USB optical mouse with a scroll wheel! All at a price to fit your pocket, in a zip-up pouch with lots of places to put your own bonus gadgets in! It is like Verbatim invented a special nerd accessory kit just for me!

As much fun as I am having though I should turn the computer off and do something else, I have not even read any of the books I brought with me! Last time I read the whole of Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, with hardly a pause except to get more wine and crisps. On the other hand I did not have Susan then.

Hello from mystick Cornwall

Hey hey! I am on holiday with Susan, and I am relaxing on the train while watching the Simpsons and composing my golden thoughts for Keith Lard’s Diary.


Picture of me taken by Susan!

It is amazing how quickly I have made the transition to smug Mac user. I am like Robert Webb out of those “Mac versus PC” adverts, only better looking obviously. The machine is just a joy to use and I have a sneaking suspicion it is smarter than I am. (It is. - Susan) I am worried that it might actually be editing my journal entries while I am distracted by crisps.

I have also become like a wi-fi vampire, roaming London to feed on the wireless internet of the living. Last night in the pub Matt and I were chatting away to Steve on Adium. It was like he was actually there, only in text form. I did not have to buy him any beer either as I just took a picture of a pint with the iSight camera and dragged it into the chat window. Cheap round!

So I am off to the miffic land of Cornwall, where romance and heroic legend mingle with delicious pasties. It is bad news for my weight loss campaign as in a week’s time I will actually look like a pasty. I think I am already starting to develop a knobbly ridge of crimped pastry down my spine.

The power of MacBook compels you!

Well it is my first entry powered by Susan which is my little MacBook. I am single so this is basically the most intense emotional relationship I have right now.

I really like Front Row which is a great media centre app, if you have some movies and TV shows burned on DVD or USB drives, or on your network, then you can play them nicely through Front Row using Perian and this hint. Pirate TV enjoymint ahoy! And it comes with a cute little remote so I need never leave the sofa again, except for emergency medical supplies of Twiglets, or posh beer.

The only problem I have is every time I try to actually do something, like work, or writing, or looking at web pages, I get completely distrackted by discovering some wizzo new feature or trying to figure out how to do something in OS X. I am happy but unproducktive.

And I keep forgetting to go to bed!

Basically narcissistic pictures of me

I shoot my gun and Java be dancin’!