Saturday, March 26, 2016

I aten't dead

Esmerelda Weatherwax
The blog has been quiet of late because nothing of any significance has happened.

Six days shalt thou labour, and on the seventh day shall thou be confronted by the Client, who has a proper two-day weekend, and verily shall he insist on talking Shop. Yea, and verily shall there be a full, frank, and extremely profane exchange of views.

That was the excitement last weekend.

This weekend, such as it is, consisted of me adding to my collection of musical recordings and uploading them to YouTube. I have at last figured out how to get the EWI to sound reasonable when piped through the computer. Increase the sampling rate. A welcome side effect is the sound that now comes out of the machine is no longer delayed, so I hear what I’m playing pretty much immediately rather than a fraction of a second late, which makes playing to anything like a sensible tempo a questionable ability.

My own ability remains fairly questionable, but abetted by a microphone, some coaxial cables, a computer, a webcam and sound card, and Audacity I have been having some fun recording and mixing. A recent effort produced three tracks of Muggins playing Misirlou on three tenor recorders. Actually one recorder, recorded three times and then multi-tracked. Arranged, mixed, and performed by me.

Interesting that Dick Dale and the Deltones (who did the extremely electric version of Misirlou that you know from Pulp Fiction) hold the copyright. I’m amused that a tune that existed before 1919 and is performed by me off sheet music published in 1936 can be copyright DD&D in 1963. However, I’m not a copyright lawyer, so I guess I’ll suck up the ads that may pop up on YouTube.

For what it’s worth, anyone who wishes to see and hear my eclectic collection of musical work may search for my real name on YouTube with the word ‘recorder’.

The job continues to stink. The Minister of Paper Clips, who says he’s desperate for all the designs to be completed, delights in finding further and more ingenious ways to delay his approvals. A recent one was to resubmit everything he’s already got in a slightly different format. He’ll be getting it in 16-point Comic Sans  if I get my way, along with a plain brown envelope containing some non-toxic crayons.

That’s it then. Day in, day out. Six days a week. I’ve not been out of the region since August 2015 and I’m getting a little stir crazy. There is a trip to UK planned, but that’s not until September 2016, and I have insufficient annual leave to go anywhere else between now and then.

I am holding on to my life, but my sanity is in tatters.


Thursday, March 17, 2016

Horse Ballet

I really do know very little about horses, beyond them all having a leg at each corner, a hoof on the end of each leg, and they're generally big enough to ride. Not that I've ridden one in probably 25 years, and that was for an hour of light-duty pony trekking in which the animal knew the routine and did precisely what it wanted. This was to do the same old circuit of the bridleways around Queen Elizabeth Country Park near Petersfield in Hampshire.

Anyway, fast-forward to Doha in 2016, and my friends Nix and Pegz suggested that I might like to go along to an international horse tournament over at Al Shaqab. As Beloved Wife was in Doha that weekend, we agreed to meet at the venue.

In the traditional way, we arrived at Gate 8 as signposted, to be told that the parking was full, and to go to Gate 9. There, another officious Bottom Inspector declared that we'd have to drive halfway to bluddy Shahhaniya and get the shuttle bus back. So I parked outside on the street. The same jobsworth declared that we weren't allowed to enter the car park on foot from Gate 9; I drove back to Gate 8, entered on foot, and we made our way to the entrance halfway between Gates 8 and 9.

No, I don't understand it either.

Having met up with Nix and Pegz, we sat and watched some horses going over jumps, and I took photos. As I said, I'm completely Jon Snow about how to do it, but I do get that instructing the animal to get its stride exactly right in order to clear 1.6m hurdles takes a lot of skill. And to stay aboard whilst doing so: that also helps. At least the rules are fairly easy:

Fastest wins, assuming nothing gets knocked over and nobody falls off.  If nobody gets a clear round, fastest still wins with minimum faults. And these are world-class performers, so falling off is probably extremely unlikely.

We'd arrived for a final jump-off against the clock, and when that was over we went to the indoor arena to watch the horse ballet.

Dressage, as it is more properly known, is more difficult to understand than jumping. There are stopwatches turning, there are judges in several different locations, and there's a loud music track that keeps changing.

The horse dances. Not in a 'bouncing around on its hind legs' way like the Lipizzaner stallions at the Spanish Riding School of Vienna, but a lot of hoof-pointing, high strides, and a whole lot of other stuff that must have names. See Jon Snow for more details.

I noted double reins, and a lot of very, very subtle moves from each rider. Nix assures me that the tiniest movement allows the rider to tell the horse what is required. The performances obviously were the result of months or years of training and practice. I couldn't do most of it, and I've only actually  got one pair of hooves.


Monday, March 07, 2016

Waste of space

What does the Goat do for a living? Paperwork. He ticks boxes and fills in forms. He writes action plans and risk assessments. He checks designs for compliance with standards. He proof-reads documents for language, spelling, grammar, and content. He even writes technical reports.

How much of the Goat's work over the past 18 months has been accepted by the Client? How many items have been approved?

None at all. Despite consents from the many layers of checkers and reviewers, the actual Client has rejected everything. There is nothing of the Goat's work that has allowed this billion-dollar project to progress.

'Perfect' is the enemy of 'fully compliant with the Terms of Reference'.

And this upsets the Goat, whose personality requires due diligence and professionalism.

If an airline pilot screws up, people die. Same for doctors and also bus drivers. If the Goat screws up, it creates paperwork. If the Goat doesn't screw up, the Client will still reject his work for failing to meet the Clint's latest whim. Then more paperwork.

So the Goat adds precisely no value to anything. He is merely here to take money, spend it on rent and food, and then die. And once his employer figures this out the money will stop.


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