Sunday, January 23, 2011

Sound Tracks

I'm writing a novel.
It's set in a flat I used to live in but the story is pure fiction. There are plenty of things I remember about the time I was there and a lot of small details about the place are creeping into the story. One detail I had forgotten was the album 'Disgraceful' by Dubstar. I played that tape a lot and it became the soundtrack to that particular period of my life. While crate digging today I found the album on CD, I didn't hesitate to buy it. By listening to it again after all these years two things have happened. One, I've enjoyed listening to the tracks again and I can see why I liked it the first time around. Two, it has teased out a few more memories which in turn will become details that are added to the book.
It was a good purchase and a useful one too.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Memory Boost

It's time to upgrade.
Since I've owned my PlayStation 3 I've been surviving on just 40gb of hard disk space. A while ago that was enough but not any longer. I've had to delete so much stuff recently to get more space that I have decided to upgrade the HD to a massive 640gb. That's plenty of room for all my music, photos, game saves and Play TV content. It'll no doubt take me longer to re-install all my data than it will to swap the drives over but I can live with that.
It'll just be good to have my music and playlists back so that I have some decent music as my soundtrack on Burnout Paradise.
The upgrade is worth that alone.

Monday, January 17, 2011

My New Car

I've wanted one of these for a while.
Now I have one. My girlfriend likes them too but she wants one it matte grey. In fact when it comes to cars it's the only thing we agree on.
We both think that the Fiat 500 is just right. They're practical, easy on juice and add a bit of fun back into driving. I had to save for a while to get mine and if my girlfriend wants one to she'll have to get her own PS3 and a copy of Gran Turismo 5.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Pushing My Button

Life could be so simple.
Take for example this morning. I got out of bed and the heating was off. It seemed to be the same problem as last year. I tried to reset the boiler and get it working but to no avail. Luckily the guy who sorted it before was on the other end of the phone and told me to call back when I'd got home. This I did and he talked me through getting it running.
All that needed doing was that a little button needed pressing and that reset something which let the boiler work. The thing is that the button was hidden away inside the case. There is no reason it couldn't have been located on the outside. Its where it is to create work for someone and that work costs.
While I'm all for trades people earning a living I'm against manufacturers creating that work through bad design.
Life could be simple but it isn't.
It needn't be either.

Hands On

I have been given a new watch.
It's a free promotional Erdinger beer watch. Nobody paid for it so I don't mind receiving it. I'm funny about watches. I won't let anyone buy me one. Clocks are different. Anybody can buy me a clock.
I think that some things are just a little too personal to be bought for you. With me it's watches. I'm very fussy about the design and accuracy, the feel of the timepiece has to be right.
The watch I received tonight strangely fits all my criteria and because it's free I don't mind that it wasn't my choice. Not that it matters.
I'm perfectly happy with it.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Write Time

I'm writing again.
This time it's the novel. I know how long it is since I last touched it but I'm not going to tell you. A while anyway.
Since making my new years resolution of writing more I've been thinking that I should get back to the book. It's something I never stop thinking about but one really does have to be in the mood to start typing hundreds of words in a single sitting.
Having reviewed the last chapter, which incidentally needs quite a few changes I've added a better ending and so now it's on to the next chapter which is fun and fairly easy so I should fly through that. I'm determined to finish the first draft before I head to Italy in May so no pressure there then. It would be nice to have a decent holiday and then head straight into the first full revision and second draft. Will I do that? Who knows but I hope so because I've got the bug again and I need to feed its hunger.
Wish me luck.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Kid. Me? Not

Get a load of him!
That's an eighteen year old me. I didn't get my first bicycle until I was sixteen. After that you couldn't stop me. These days I walk when I'm not driving. The comfort of the car for this over forty something has overtaken the daily slog to and from work on a trusty two wheeled steed. Cycling safety has never been a problem. I'm quite a defencive cyclist. I always use lights and reflective clothing. I always stop at red lights. I know that some drivers don't care much for cyclists and I know I'm most at risk from other road users especially on dark mornings and dark nights. I know I need eyes in the back of my head.
So why when I'm slowly but surely adding pounds to my weight do I continue to drive to work?
Because I've become lazy, it's that simple. It's because the car is there.
That eighteen year old above who didn't have a car used to cycle sixty miles on a Saturday for fun.
I could learn a thing or two from him.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Change, No Change

Sometimes change is bad.
Take for instance tonight. My once favourite take away changed hands a while ago and now it's bottom of the list because the flavours I used to like have changed. In fact it's rubbish now and I won't be going back.
Then there is the corner shop. Once nice and friendly and now trying to rip me off for a quid. Maybe they could smell the alcohol on me and thought they might take advantage. They couldn't and they won't get another chance either.
If small businesses stayed consistent they'd last but the ones round here don't and then they disappear. Over the years I've seen them come and go. The two mentioned probably won't last too long either.
I'd put money on it.

And Relax

Newcastle Brown Ale.
I must admit that if I'm not drinking Scotch or wine that this is my poison of choice. Maybe it's because it's familiar, maybe it's because I've been drinking it for years and maybe it's because I can't afford to take chances on new or different tipples these days.
There are few beers that I actually enjoy the taste of but this is one of them. It's also my first of 2011 so here's to another decade or so of sticking with what I know and like.
It's hard to go wrong with Hobson's choice.

Snail Mail

I'm collecting addresses.
You can send me yours by emailing me at sendmejunk (at) mikistrange (dot(com)).
Don't forget to add a real name and I'll add you to my special address book. Pen-pals with a tangential sense of humour may also apply.
Not that anyone ever does.

Thursday, January 06, 2011


Twenty years ago today...
I was living in London, I smoked, drank, smoked blow, rode a bicycle, wrote poetry, wrote music, wrote letters, had a girlfriend, had a Spectrum 128k, had two jobs, used public transport, socialised at the weekend, bought and listened to tapes and vinyl, owned various bits of tech, didn't own too many clothes and spent a lot of time daydreaming.
Twenty years ago today...
I didn't own a car, a PC, a mobile phone, a smart phone, a Sony Reader, a PS3, a PSP, a typewriter, a Moleskine notebook or mechanical pencil. I didn't know about the internet, Twitter, Facebook, FL Studio, plugins, video calls, instant messaging, apps, blogs.
Twenty years ago today...
My father died...
Some things change, some things are bound to stay the same but memories you can keep forever.
And I've got loads.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011


This is Chordbot.
In my humble opinion the most useful music app I own. Why? Because I like building songs from a chord structure and once I have those chords in place I like to build the rest of the track from there. There are other apps that let me put chords together but I then have to sequence them to hear what I've got. If it's wrong I then have to change the incorrect chords an re-sequence and that's time consuming and annoying.
Chordbot gets rid of that sequencing stage. You choose the chords, tell Chordbot how many times you want that chord to play then hit play and off it goes in an endless loop. You can change chords on the fly which makes previewing a track really easy and quick.
Not only that but Chordbot adds a style of your choice to your arrangement so you can get a feel for how your finished track will sound. While the styles don't cover every style you can easily find something suitable.
For song building or rehearsal it's an extremely useful tool.
If that wasn't enough you can export MIDI and Wav files through iTunes but an email export is on the way very soon. Another addition to Chordbot in the next update will be Audio Copy so your instant backing track can be added to other apps!
Grab a copy, it's getting better all the time.

Monday, January 03, 2011

Electronic Ink

I like reading.
I do a lot of it. Whether it's full novels or manuals or online news I'm usually adding some form of knowledge or entertainment to the old grey matter. A while ago I bought myself a Sony Reader. Up to now I haven't used it because I wanted to finish the book I was reading. Having done that it's now time to venture into unknown territory.
I have heard good reports about most of the electronic readers but I'm going into this with an open mind. I hope it's a good experience for me. I'll let you know in due course.
Time for a new book.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Happy New Creative Year

So it's 2011 already.
I have made a resolution for the new year. Only one and it's quite easy to keep. Write more.
I've started well with my new Moleskine diary but the main reason I need to write more is that my head is full of ideas. I seem to need to get stuff onto paper or record stuff just so that I can create a bit of empty space in my head for even more ideas. There are songs, poems and stories stuffed in my head so it's time to work. I'm aware that creative spurts never last so I need to get all this stuff down even if I don't use it for a while.
As you can see above, the coffee machine has been brought out of retirement. Caffeine and I are good working partners.
Full speed ahead.