Thursday, March 31, 2016

What we know about the brain and Red 215

A cup of coffee with a friend this morning reminded me how, when we meet talk often turns to the subject of philosophy and the challenges around the human condition.
Electric coffee stimulates the brain
I have listened to a very interesting BBC Reith lecture (2003) it was the final one of a series given by Vilayanur S Ramachandran and was entitled Neuroscience - the New Philosophy (you can probably listen yourself depending on the territory you're in)

Professor Ramachandran who trained initially as a doctor is illuminating on the outputs from (fairly) recent neurological investigations - such research is now at the level where the physical abnormalities in the brain can be linked to various conditions - to me this seems a pretty amazing breakthrough telling us so much about the illnesses that many people suffer.

Having learnt something about psychoanalysis  and the work of Freud and his followers I have been moving to a position around our personality being largely formed by early relationships and this then subsequently modified by our environment and society - this has been knocked for six - also listened to the Professors thoughts around Art - seeing if there is some universality for the creative activities that man excels at. (The Artful Brain - the third lecture).

How these ideas reflect on the essence of the use of  'talking therapies', CBT to improve mental health is as yet unclear to me but perhaps the ways that the brain can heal itself and use alternative portions (as we've found in Stroke recoveries) tells some of the story?

[By the Way - What a shame it is that the present government wants to strip back the BBC as a resource to us all].

Red 215

This looks like an archetypical Lighthouse a sort of lamp stuck on a stick of rock

A maritime stick of candy coloured lighthouse

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Beatles connection in Plymouth and Red 216

Last day we spent time at gift shops -and I got a print of Beatles visit to Plymouth in 1967  ( during the filming of the Magical Mystery Tour they visited) - there's a sort shrine to it now.
Plymouth's a mixture of old and new

So our general reaction to Plymouth is a good one - plenty going on, some nice restaurants and 'arty' shops as well as a fair amount of cultural activity.

In terms of the rail service - glad that we had booked seats as the return train was very full, sadly GWR not such a bargain with the premium service plenty of coffee and crisps etc. but nothing more - WiFi limited too (no streaming)  and I'd been hoping for a green train- service was more or less on time (and this is generally more down to Network Rail).

Sadly as with most major cities in the UK there's some evidence of homelessness, lots of empty shops (as I think a result of continuously building new retail centres), also pavements a bit uneven and needing some attention.
Hotel reception area - away from the butts

Considering that the weather wasn't great our impression of the place was pretty good - if the sun had come out a bity more we'd have had a go on the 'Pitch and Putt' too -We're not sure if the sun dial works but it's big and metal.

Sadly untested by us

Our Hotel (Holiday Inn) was so-so but a rather bad first impression as a result of the smoking area being at front of hotel, plenty of smokers and cigarette rubbish does not create a great impression.
A very laid back style on cleaning of rooms too.- on the plus side reception was efficient and breakfast good.

Not sure if it's just for Easter but a bunch of quirkiness too with these artificial sheep 'grazing

Red 216

is it only Red sofas that get thrown out?

I'll only go So far

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Red 217 and swigging Plymouth Gin

Red 217

He rings twice and has a trolley
This wheels on fire (ish)

Plymouth Day 3

Well what can be more educational than a trip to the home of Plymouth Gin and a tour where the process is explained followed by a sample of the product?
Made for you to enjoy

Very interesting and for me strangely moving - Gin definitely not my tipple but the history and resurrection of the brand stirred something in me - great way to spend an hour - and £7 seems very fair as the drink you get free would cost most of this.
A chemical works with added botanicals
Henry the Eighth closed it as a monastery - and Coates is the man  who made the gin

A bar in what was once a monastery

Red 218 and Plymouth day 2

Red 218

During our few days away I actually managed to read a book (admittedly a slim one) - bill Bryson not too sure what all the fuss is about.

Hashtag Happy Reading

Day 2 in Plymouth

Our hotel in Plymouth was well located (Holiday Inn) and did a pretty good full English but not overly impressed with room cleaning (perhaps 4 in a bed has raised my  expectations to unrealisable levels?).
Walking to Mayflower museum was very interested to learn of the history of CPR (Continuous Plankton Recorder) survey and Plymouth's part in it today.

No cleaning prizes for our hotel I fear

Information about the CPR Survey

Apart from Sir Frances Drake there are many other sea stories from Plymouth.

What we found at The recently refurbished Mayflower Museum was genuinely educative and included referenced to Pocahontas (she visited Plymouth too).

Lots of stuff about the preparation and journey made by these plucky religious types - they weren't of course inhabitants of Plymouth but are forever associated with the port.
Not the Mayflower but a model of a Ship

Said to be the Plymouth embarkation point

Plymouth day 1 Red 219

Our first visit to Plymouth and what an interesting place it is - famed for many historic things including return of the Tolpuddle Martyrs from Australia.

And there was also a commemorative stone to NC4 the first transatlantic flight (a seaplane) in 1919

First Transatlantic flights landed here

Returning Martyrs recalled

Red 219

you'll be seeing this (or similar) today - perhaps the most religious Sunday for Christians

Closed for business

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Missing, Bins and Red 220


I'll be missing  for a couple of days but returning with the missing (Red) posts  (and more) when I get back.

Wheelie Bad Decision

The ugly solution?

Nice letter in the Ealing Gazette reflecting on the imposition by the council on householders of 'Wheelie Bins' made good points about (1)inconvenience and lack of independence for some (2) ugliness, (3) waste of old green containers and (4)possible decrease in recycling by residents.

Be so good to have been given a choice on this.

Red 220

so it's (red) curtains for me - temporarily..

Pull yourself together as the old joke goes

Friday, March 25, 2016

Digital Art and Red 221

Digital Art (1)

Just heard a rather nice BBC radio 4 documentary presented by (Baroness) Martha Lane-Fox called Arts Technologica - you can find the relevant programme links here.

Digital Art (2)

I'm thinking about what I'd like to show at this September's BEAT and as well as planning in my head it's nice to see the sequence of pictures.

Tamron the makers of lenses  have a nice little (free) tool that I've been looking at for planning exhibition layouts - it's not perfect but it does help visualise a sequence of pictures.

A virtual gallery showing my photo's

Pop Art

there've been a few deaths from the popular music world so far in 2016 - the figure that has left(for me) the biggest impression in popular music is Sir George Martin - I've read some of the obituaries to him and realise that it's pretty difficult to overestimate his significance in 'The Beatles Story' but alongside his creativity is the fact that he behaved so well.

Martin remained loyal and avoided backbiting as well as being a nice person who excelled it seems at making a mean Martini - I don't think we'll see a popular music producer like him again.

Red 221

Numbers, numbers- Lucky Red 447 - from my Landscape visit on Wednesday

A lucky red

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Landmark Photo's and Red 222

I've had invitations to Landmark in Teddington before but not realised what a splendid venue it is until yesterday.
The Richmond and Twickenham Photographic Society show opens

At the time of my own small photography exhibition some friends mentioned an annual photography exhibition near them and said they'd try and get us an invite to the preview, true to their words they did and it was at the aforementioned 'Landmark' - a former church in Teddington now used for a variety of functions that enrich the community.
A rare treat to come

Not only did we see a splendid collection of photographic prints accompanied by an  enjoyable glass of wine but I even won first prize in the raffle (an unheard of and slightly confusing event for me) - as the first winner I was able to select my prize from quite a nice collection and it seemed entirely appropriate to take the Vivian Maier DVD (not the one shown as part of BBC Imagine)  which I'm going to enjoy soon.

If you get the chance do visit the rather excellent collection  that is the  Richmond and Twickenham Photographic Society Annual Exhibition it's on until 3rd April and the website for the society is here.

Red 222

All the 2s - 222, White on Red and  'Luxury -ish'

When I was a kid Ford Cortina cars had  4 different models - above Standard was deluxe (then Super and GT).

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

London Mayor, Plot 202 and 223 Red

Our Mayoral voting details popped through the letterbox yesterday and it reminded me how disappointing (in different ways) the list of candidates was.

In 2011 there was at least  one  outstanding candidate Siobhan Benita who it seems to me identified some of the big issues facing  London and looked to solve them away from party political lines.

Boris has over the last 4 years done less damage than he might have but his eye has always been on the bigger goal, Livingstone was the archetype political animal.

With the current front runners there is too little in the form of independence (for Labour's Sadiq Khan) and a lack of true grit on the Green Issues (Zac Goldsmith).

If Sadiq distanced himself more openly from his 'official' party line to champion London or if Zac stopped negative campaigning (and produced less election landfill documents) and declared himself an 'Independent'  I could go with either of them as it is I'm going to have to look further down the list.

Plot 202

Great day yesterday and managed to get Garlic planted out - plenty of seeds started indoors and out but need to get focused as we move to the busies time of year for the allotment -eers.

Not looking too bad

Outdoors Broad beans
Indoors - Tomatoes and more

A row of garlic on Plot 202

223 Red

University pennant (or pennon) flags hanging in a row.

Those little Uni' flags

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Analyse this and Red 224

Sadly yesterday was the final session of Philosophy and Psychoanalysis course at the CityLit  -it was an incredibly wide ranging tour of the subject and (perhaps by its nature) at times un-satisfactory and fragmented but Scott Biagi  did an excellent job of engaging us with what are often difficult topics (personally and intellectually).
As they say 'it does what it says on the tin..'

Of course by our nature we enter such explorations with preconceptions which are generally diffused even if the least I have taken from this course is that we hide some of our past experiences not only from others but also from ourselves then it's been worthwhile.

In fact I have got much more  and having looked a little at Lacan (I found this a very illuminating piece in School of Life/book of Life)  and now with Marcuse I'm starting to see some areas of thought  where there is something of a convergence of Politics, Philosophy and Psychoanalysis.

Much as Greece and Rome had led thought in earlier times Central Europe was significant in the period between the wars especially Austria and Frankfurt-  why this should be so is I guess a complicated mix of circumstances.

My two major takeaways are (1) that Freud is easy to dismiss as a one trick pony but is much more than the topic he's primarily associated with ( 'sex') and that (2) talking therapies are, if conducted thoughtfully likely to help troubled people.

I hope to look again at these topics in time and I'll certainly be reflecting on the field.

Red 224

Not necessarily a favourite shirt but a red one

Monday, March 21, 2016

How do we Create something 'new' and Red 225

Mead on show - and it's  probably not IDS on the right
At UAL Mead Scholarships in Holborn today.

 Recently I've been considering how movements and periods of creativity have flourished - Brian Eno described well the benefit of perspective and seeing that at the time of Kandinsky coming to the for he was not alone in Abstract art, many of similar competence and originality failed to become recognised/commercially successful - often it's a fine line between the winner and the also-rans but this is not to say that the less remembered are without merit.
Victoria's film about her mum and the rising oceans 

Famously it is said that Van Gogh sold only one of his paintings during his life and was supported largely by his brother.

Looking at the stuff on show today, there was a lot I liked from the film Victoria Burns made about her mum (Tinau)   to the Mars journey imagined by Monica Alcazar-Duarte (Far Future) - it's difficult to say if they'll be in galleries in 25 years but they're undoubtedly moving things on and worth looking at while they're relevant and contemporary.

But it is Adrian Chiles at Ealing Broadway

Red 225

Today last day of current CityLit investigation/course - this at Holborn - sometimes we'd like one of these but even then it could be a blur and we miss it.

I couldn't

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Self Projection, Dreams and Red 226

The price of everything - is often lower that you might expect!
It includes remote too

I heard recently from a friend who has just got a new TV that weighs in at a massive 65" well by coincidence I've just got myself  an LCD projector (from Ebay - with negotiation too) - my hope was that I'd be able to use it somehow show some photo's in various locations - what's surprised me is that as well as free delivery it's got a built in Digital TV receiver - amazing that for just over £100 am now waiting for the screen I've ordered.

A thought of a dream too


Earlier on in the Philosophy and Psychoanalysis course (at CityLit) much was made of dreams and their link between the Conscious and Unconscious - one of our group even offered up his dreams for consideration.

I often quickly forget my own dreams but I did record the imagery of a recent dream - I don't think Freud would need to work too hard to see what it was about in his school of thought (sex), what was interesting though was the link to work that I've not done for about 20 years - It's all still in there though (the work thoughts).

Red 226

Red of course is the colour for organised Labour in the UK and their associated political representatives.

A political red

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Published pictures, unravelling and 227 Red

As published
For the last 2 or three years I've been offering up pictures to the local paper (the Ealing Gazette), it's probably telling me something about the press (as is the profusion of Freebies in London I got NME this week) that I'm now submitting to the third different person - Good luck to Steve Bax who published so many of my pictures and is now moving on.

Anyway it's nice to see another of my photo's in the local paper but again the cropping is I think slightly  detrimental - but there you go (you judge) .

The shed (plot 198)  less cropped


It feels like a real shame that the main UK opposition party (Labour)  is not in a 'better place' as the Conservatives continue to fragment and old wounds open up in front of our eyes - there are some difficulties that could really be used to strengthen the perception of a fairer alternative.

The question is really what IDS will do now freed of collective cabinet responsibility - is he a principled (quiet) man who has been pushed too far or an incompetent about to be revealed as an inadequate head of DWP?

IDS has been shown to be a duplicitous operator before  with questions not completely satisfactorily addressed on his academic career and his expense claiming (how would he judge a benefit claimant who wanted the state to pay for his pants?), he's unlikely to surface as leader of the Right having left as something of a 'bleeding heart' but perhaps he can be part of the 'King making process' when Cameron leaves the stage?

IDS may have done us all a service in bringing (again) to public attention the continued failures of George Osborne  and upsetting David Cameron enough to reveal his own short temper in the customary(but nuanced) 'exchange' of letters.

Interesting times continue.. 

Red 227

It's all about the product..


Friday, March 18, 2016

Adventures in Art and Design along with Red 228

National Gallery Come May, I'll be looking in  not out  
 In London to say we're spoilt with respect to the galleries and Museums is a severe understatement.

My current course at CityLit (Philosophy ) finishes next week and I have decided to have a change in subject and location - the idea of being shown (and explained) works at The National Gallery seems too good a chance to ignore - the guy leading the adventure (Leslie Primo) seems to know his stuff and the timing (Thursday Afternoons) suits me very well - really looking forward to the kick off in May.

Design Goes West

Current Designs of the Year exhibition

On the subject of Museums and the like the news that Design Museum (where I was on Wednesday doing some 'guiding') is relocating to Kensington has been in the public domain for some time - Closure this summer at Shad, Thames is  now out there and the re-opening at new bigger and better home in Kensington will be late November.

It's going to be bigger and better but time will tell if they need volunteer tour guides.

Red 228

A Lotus that's red - it screams Sports (perhaps)

one for Tracie Chapman

Thursday, March 17, 2016

The BEAT, New applications of Radar, politics and Red 229

What BEAT will do to the Borough in September
Fantastic to see BEAT website up and running already- it's about 6 months until the event kicks off (September) and its laudable goals are sure to get people involved and out of their homes

I've got my profile up on the site and the organisers are already busy getting things in motion  but they're  not too busy to send words of encouragement out too which reflects so well on the project

RADAR in the new millennium

Having mentioned my father yesterday it's perhaps more than a coincidence that I should be thinking of his work and career.
'New' Radar

After University I briefly followed in my father's footsteps and worked in Radar (at Marconi's in Chelmsford where they were for many years the town's major employer )
On Tuesday evening I went to a lecture at the University of West London, it was given by Professor Amir Alani and revealed how radar is used, away from military and Civil tracking of aeroplanes and Ships.

It seems that over the last 20 years or so Radar has been deployed  in monitoring structures be they bridges or even ancient monuments- examples that the Professor gave showed how traffic weakens bridges and the potentially disastrous damage can be shown using such techniques as GPR  (Ground Penetrating Radar), the new developments in Radar can also be used to help with mining exploration and even deal with ancient monuments.

Sugar Tax

I can't help but admire our present Chancellor for his capacity in sleight of hand' - the late Paul Daniels would be in awe of his diversionary tactics - look at Pukka Jamie Oliver on the news and forget the missed targets and the price paid by the electorate - the battle between George and Boris for the Tory leadership throne is going to be quite something.

Red 229

So happy to say I'm well over a third of the way in on my 'Reds' and today in miniature icons of the UK design world (for the tourists).

The Iconic phone box technologically redundant but still of interest to London's visitors