chickenfeet: (Default)
[personal profile] oursin gave me 19.  Comment if you would like an age (the convention is, leave your current age, but if you want to risk futurology, feel free).


I lived in: It was my second year at Durham. I lived one term in college and then two terms in very scruffy university self-catering accommodation and then in a shared house in Belmont.

I drove: I had a 70cc Honda step through scooter/moped thingie..

I was in a relationship with: I think I was dating [ profile] wandra but that may have been the following year.

I feared: Nothing but fear itself (and electro-magnetic theory).

I worked at: It was my second year reading maths at Durham.  I was also insanely busily involved in student politics.  I was secretary of the Labour Club that year.

I wanted to be:I'm not sure I knew yet.  I was toying with politics but also with the idea of doing a PhD.


I live in: a condo in downtown Toronto (which I own).

I drive: Autoshare cars when I need to but mostly I walk, take transit or ride my bike.

I'm in a relationship: with [ profile] lemurcatta.  We've been together for about 15 years.

I fear: The kleptocratic conspiracy that dominates business and government.

I work at: I work for the crown agency responsible for cancer control in Ontario. I act as a strategic IT advisor for the clinical programs and drug reimbursement programs that support chemotherapy.  I also mange a team that supports a portfolio of chemotherapy related applications and quality/safety initiatives.  I also moonlight as an opera critic.

I want to be:It would be nice to avoid/reverse ageing but that ain't gonna happen. I am content with my lot.


Dec. 12th, 2011 02:31 pm
chickenfeet: (Default)
Gacked from [personal profile] f4f3

Not sure I have six…
1. John
2. Chickenfeet
3. Bear
4. Gilksey (a Nomads thing)
5. that's pretty much it

1. XLs rugby shirt
2. ski pants.
3. socks

1. A job
2. To see my daughter
3. that's about it


1. The Guardian crossword (well started it anyway)
2. Read a very silly book about Mozart by Brigid Brophy
3. Cooked dinner

1. Kate
2. Almost certainly some pest from a bank or similar
3. see above

1. Go to the library
2. Go to the pub
3. Work out

1. Good red wine
2. Craft beer
3. Laphroaig
4. Wiser's Small Batch

1. Miss Bonkynose McSqueaklepuss
2. John Malkovich strangling Laura Aikin with her own bra
3. twelve across
chickenfeet: (death)
OK that was a slightly weird play list.  It would be a bit more varied but for the first line is the title issue.  In terms of getting stuff right I declare <lj user="sabotabby"> to be the winner with six correct answers.  This means her taste is similar to mine and she is therefore doomed.

I haven't attributed performers to any of the songs because most of them exist in a squillion versions.  In this case it's a safe bet that the performers are one of Dick Gaughan, Billy Bragg, Phl Ochs, June Tabor and the Oyster Band or Waterson-Carthy.  Come to think of it, I've seen all of them live except Phil Ochs.

The answers )
chickenfeet: (Default)
Seen in many places.


1. Open up your music player. Hit shuffle.
2. Record the first few words of the first 20 songs that come up that do not give away the name of the song. Skip instrumentals, but don't skip the embarrassing ones.
3. Make hapless LJ denizens guess the song names and artists. Google is cheating.
4. Least hapless LJ denizen wins admiration.

I modified this a bit as if I did as instructed it would have thrown up 70% opera arias known by their first lines. I took the play list I use for working out and shuffled that instead. I'm still surprised by how high a proportion of stuff I had to eliminate because the title was contained in the first line. Thus there are no 18th century gallery hymns in the following list.

Here we go then... )

Five things

Mar. 7th, 2009 07:10 pm
chickenfeet: (bull)
from [ profile] buzzy_bee

Being far from your kids

This sucks donkey balls and just gets worse. I was thinking about Kate today. I really miss her. I miss David too.


It's a hard thing to do but I think it can be the right thing. Losing touch with people and places can be hard but the new stuff can compensate. I'll be honest, I think Canada is a vastly better place to live than England so I'm profoundly glad I came here. I kind of wish my dad had gone to New Zealand in the 60's when he had the opportunity.

Being car free

There are minor drawbacks but honestly spending $8000 per year on something I hardly used was not very sensible. Autoshare is really good and so I don't really miss not having a car of my own.


The one on my desk right now says "yes". Infuriating, destructive, cunning little predators. I love them.

This year's 6 Nations.

Rubbish really. Two teams are complete crap; Scotland and Italy. England might not be crap if they picked players who hadn't had lobotomies. France, Wales and ireland are just inconsistent. A few games; Wales v. France, Wales v. England haven't been too bad but some of the others have been awful. Ireland v. England was just an appalling waste of time.

I'm also unimpressed with the refereeing. Some of the refs seem to be reffing to a script rather then the game they are actually seeing. Wales got away with stuff against France that italy or England would have had players binned for.
chickenfeet: (cleopatra)
[ profile] majea associated five things with me. If you want to play you know what to do.


It’s no secret that I enjoy opera and have done for a very long time, as in since I was a teenager. For the longest time I had a huge blind spot about some of the most popular parts of the repertoire, principally the Italian 19th and early 20th stuff like Verdi and Puccini. I have come to like that stuff quite a lot recently so my opportunities to enjoy have increased greatly. I still think my preferences lean more to early and late though. There should be much more Handel opera performed.

A lot of people claim to really not like opera at all. I think there a lot of reasons for that. The first and most obvious is that a lot of people don’t like “classical” music. I can understand that. It’s quite hard work to learn (in what other genre do you have to come to terms with technical conventions that have evolved over many centuries and where works of all those times are still performed?), you can’t really dance to it and drugs don’t improve it. Then there’s the problem that many people have tried to listen to opera rather than watch it which is a bit like listening to football on the radio never having seen a game. It doesn’t work. So a lot of people get put off without ever having seen an opera which I think is a shame. It’s also quite expensive and I can see why people would be reluctant to spend $150 on something they might not enjoy. Fortunately the current MetHD broadcasts are very good and only cost $20 so that’s not really a good excuse anymore.

Bottom line, I like opera and I suspect more people would if they gave it a go. That said I don’t think it’s for everyone but then what is?

feline caretaking

Currently of course we just have three adult cats so the care and feeding thing is pretty easy. Looking after kittens was far more work and was almost a full time job for the lemur who is undoubtedly a Hero of the Feline Revolution. The hardest thing about having cats is going away. Apart from the hassle of organizing care I miss them horribly and worry about them constantly.


Yes, I’m an argumentative bastard but I like to think I’m a logical and reasonable one. I really dislike people who argue ad hominem and I’m deeply suspicious of discourse which privileges a priori positions.

I did do the formal debating thing for a while at school and university. The high point was probably debating against Michael Ramsay shortly after he retired as archbishop of Canterbury. I also, of course, got involved in debates at conventions when I was politically active, both on the conference floor and more relevantly in caucus (where all the real debate happens). People I’ve crossed swords with include Trevor Philips, Charles Clarke and Sue Slipman..


I first played competitive rugby in 1968. I had a long lay off for all kinds of reasons between about 1980 and 1996 when I started playing again. I stopped playing competitively in, I think, 1993 and then altogether two years ago. Both decisions were injury related. I’m still involved as a coach and referee.

Rugby is a fun game to watch but better to play. As Surtees said of ‘unting, “All the excitement of war but not five and twenty percent of the danger”. It’s a truly physical activity requiring speed, strength, skill and, frankly, courage. I like that and I like the kind of people the game tends to produce. Sure there are some pretty awful rugby types (mostly South African) but most of the people I’ve played with I have liked in one way or another. I’ve also found the parents of the kids I coach to be quite the opposite of the horror stories I hear about soccer and hockey parents.

science stuff.

As opposed to that hand wavy arts stuff? I’m a mathematician by academic background. I’m glad of that because mathematical thinking at quite a high level is necessary to understand much of modern physics. It’s more than just a language or a set of techniques it’s a fundamentally different way of perceiving/constructing reality and that helps with, for example, physics where what happens on a large or small scale simply doesn’t make ‘sense’ in that what is going on is beyond our powers to perceive directly. I also like having an easy familiarity with quantitative arguments. It means I can call bullshit on a large range of crap that floats past my tender nostrils at work and elsewhere.
chickenfeet: (armadillo)
From [ profile] nanila

1. If you were to write a book, what subject would you choose?

I've asked myself that more than once. I think the best answer I've ever come up with (and it maybe the lemur who came up with it) would be a history of ships' cats. It could be of some historical interest and, being about cats, would be bound to sell well.

2. What did you do on your last visit to the UK?

It was a very brief visit piggy backed on a wedding in Ireland. We spent a two or three days at my parents and did central southern touristy things like Stonehenge and Salisbury cathedral. Also the Royal Signals museum at Blandford Forum and the naval dockyard in Plymouth. I think we spent a couple of days in London too.

3. String theory: mathematically elegant but physically pointless, or potentially the unifying theory of the particles and forces?

I'm ninety percent sure it's the former. It's just been too long without a real, verifiable prediction (that doesn't depend on parameter fudging). My gut feel tells me that the answer to the ultimate question doesn't lie in any theory that assumes a smooth and uniform spacetime. I suspect that spacetime is quantized at some level and theory needs to recognize that.

4. What is your favourite theorem?

I'm going to say Cantor's theorem because it's a fine example of the sort of mathematical argument that comes more and more to resemble the flight of the Oozelum Bird the more one thinks about it. And that's what makes maths fun.

5. Should rugby have cheerleaders?

It is does in, for example, the Super 14. In cold rainy countries I think cheerleaders are a bit pointless.

Usual rules. if you want five questions, ask.
chickenfeet: (sphere)
[ profile] chiller asks about:


I guess one can think about this at either a personal or a societal level. At a personal level I am in many ways wickedly competitive. I like to win. I'm not completely stupid about it. When I'm coaching kids I don't get on their case because we don't win every game and I won't do stupid or cheating things to win. I'm not above passing on "the tricks of the trade" though. No reason why the kids should suffer by being naive.

More broadly, I'm agnostic about the value of competition in areas like the provision of public services. I can easily accept that where enterprises are competing for individual's money in areas where they can make a reasonably informed choice then competition is good and stimulates innovation. Do I want a Mars bar or a Crunchie, a Mac or a Dell; that kind of thing. OTOH I've seen far too many examples of the public sector buying things, whether in internal markets or from the private sector to think that any rational form of competition is operating. The incentives aren't (and can't be) aligned to make the process work in an economic way. So it doesn't


It's mostly a good thing. That said, I'm not a propertarian. I believe that there are basic human rights that transcend the right to buy and sell. There are very good reasons why all legal systems evolve some sort of equity based system alongside more contractually based ones. More broadly, ideas of freedom need to be reconciled with understanding that we live in power structures where individuals are not always or entirely free agents. Whether Mrs. Thatcher liked it or not, society is, as Carlyle recognised, more than the sum of the individuals in it. So my take on freedom would be sort of utilitarian. I believe in the greatest freedom for the greatest number.

Trading off freedoms is complicated. Trading off freedom for an illusion of security is just plain stupid. You can take your surveillance cameras and Gitmos and detention without trial and torture and stuff them very hard up the arses of the fascists who dreamed them up.


I'm fond of lettuce. I eat quite a lot of salads though perhaps not as many as I should. I think romaine (cos) is my favourite. A properly made Caesar salad is a wondrous thing. The thing that all too often passes for a Caesar salad is not.


Like most new technologies it wasn't one I adopted immediately. In fact for quite a while I resolutely refused to carry one except during working hours. That said, I've had one for about fifteen years back to the days when 'portable' was a relative term. Nowadays I have a Samsung Jack which doubles as a phone, email device (work and personal) and MP3 player. It's small enough for that to be OK.


I spent the first half of my life in places where it rains often (ie whenever one wants to go climbing or watch cricket) but rarely torrentially. Now I live where it doesn't rain nearly so often but when it does it tends to be deadly serious. An electrical storm blowing in off Lake Ontario is truly awesome to watch. I have an especial fondness for the sort of 'fret' that is endemic on certain coasts. The Olympic coast of Washington would be an excellent example where rocks and sea and sky merge into a shifting pattern of greys. It's really rather lovely.

Feel free to ask for five topics of your very own.
chickenfeet: (mohan)
1. Gum chewing: No. I equate it with wearing a baseball cap backwards (or indeed at all)

2. Knife: I know which utensil or none to use for which foods in a variety of cuisines. I can eat like a civilised English person but it would strike me as bizarre to eat Indian food that way. Eating Thai food with chopsticks is even more bizarre (unless it's noodles from a street vendor).

3. Sports: Rugby (union, need you ask?), cricket. When younger, I did a lot of climbing and mountaineering and a fair bit of skiing.

4. Radio: BBC3 or 4; mostly via the internet these days. (ETA: I've appeared on BBC Radio Newcastle and Sud Deutsche Rundfunk)

5. Hygiene: Somewhat obsessive. I bathe every morning, sometimes at night and always shower or bathe after exercise.

6. Drink: Yes. Almost anything. Gin (usually pink) or sherry (very dry) before dinner, wine with, whisk(e)y later. Beer, usually a microbrew, when I feel like it.

7. Restroom/napkin/couch: Bog, napkin, couch

8. Room the sofa goes in: living room

9. Groceries: A real mix here. Most are bought daily or nearly so from appropriate specialists at the St. Lawrence Market. Canned goods,rice, dry pasta etc come either from Loblaws or the T&T (large Asian market). Fish too often comes from the T&T.

10. Name: My first name is ludicrously common and is probably possessed in various forms by at least 10% of the Christian population of the world. My family name is somewhat rare and has a most curious distribution, at least in Canada, owing to there being two 'clans', not related and having quite different migration patterns.

11. Socks: Plain black, except for sports. Shoes ditto, at leastfor anything involving work and not involving shooting small birds.

12. Midday meal: Lunch (or maybe brunch on Sunday)

13. Dogs: I'm a cat person but you knew that. If I had a dog, which I would only do if I lived in the country with access to lots of open space, it would be a labrador or possibly a golden retriever.

14. TV: We do have a home theatre set up but it's not connected to cable or any other conventional feed. We use it for movies, opera, favourite shows like Blackadder and the odd rugby game downloaded via torrent. (ETA I've appeared on CBC Newsworld, Rogers Cable 10 in the GTA and a local channel in Batimore).

15. Holiday: I like the idea of holidays but my travel urge was pretty badly dented by a dozen years of heavy business travel. Also, I miss the cats. Holidays I've enjoyed in recent years have ranged from backpacking down the Olympic Coast of WA to bumming around Thailand by bus and train to taking a cottage on the cliff top in the far west of Cornwall.

16. School: A not very grand public school (scholarship) followed by Durham.

17. Asking for clarification: Informally; grunt, what?, do what now?. Formally/professionally. "Let's see if I'm getting this right. You are arguing/saying $very_careful_restatement_of_other's_view_in_more_straightforward_language_eliminating_any_and_all_corporate_bafflegab?"

18. Newspaper: I rarely read a paper version. News comes from a variety of websites, principally the BBC, the Guardian and The Globe and Mail. Crosswords come from The Guardian.
chickenfeet: (cleopatra)
The Metropolitan Opera has a quiz to help you figure out what kind of opera you might like. It's funny in a memeish sort of way without apparently having been written by an American high school student.

Depending which way I swing on a couple of questions I score as Madam Butterfly or Lucia di Lammermoor.
chickenfeet: (srscat)
Because this seems to be the question du jour (via [ profile] oursin)

If you saw a police car with me in it, what would you think I got arrested for?
chickenfeet: (fools)
via [ profile] kalypso_v

Post a picture of a cat in your journal. (Your cat, a lolcat, or someone else's cat. But preferably yours, if possible.)

So three snap shots taken a few minutes ago. )
chickenfeet: (Default)

visited 40 states (80%)
Create your own visited map of The United States or determine the next president

One could add Hawaii, Florida and Colorado to the map if one counted states where all one has seen is the inside of an airport.
chickenfeet: (thesee)
Not a big surprise

Read more... )
chickenfeet: (blouses)
When you see this, quote Blackadder in your LJ.

They do say, Mrs M, that verbal insults hurt more than physical pain. They are, of course, wrong, as you will soon discover when I stick this toasting fork into your head.
chickenfeet: (srscat)
From [ profile] oursin

1. Is there anywhere, that, supposing you to be offered the ideal job with more than acceptable pay and benefits there, you would refuse to relocate to?

If it were just me and a return ticket was involved then the answer would be "very few". I don't think I'd be interested in going somewhere really dangerous or unpleasant like Baghdad but I'd be pretty flexible. However, in reality, it would have to be somewhere [ profile] lemur_catta would be comfortable which would restrict the choice quite a bit.

2. Is there any particular cuisine you have not yet tried that you would like to?

I've had little or no exposure to Laotian or Cambodian. I think I would probably like them. I've not had much South American food either though what I have had I've liked.

3. What would be your ideal production of a particular opera with particular performers?

Last year's Met Peter Grimes came pretty close! OK, assuming all performers are 'in their prime' then I go with Le Nozze di Figaro with Fischer-Diskeau and Schwarzkopf as the Almavivas and Terfel and Bartoli as the lovers. I can't make my mind up whether I want Bohm or Beecham in the pit.

4. If you could take a year off to research some particular topic or learn a skill, what would it be?

I think maybe rugby coaching. Given a year full time I might get quite reasonable at it.

5. Normans or Saxons?

Let's see, we have a relatively literate people with an amazing literature and really cool art plus trade, a navy and so on who even produce scholarly and/or saintly kings on a fairly regular basis. Or we have a bunch of illiterate barbarians camped out pretending to be French. As far as I can see the only good thing the Normans did was to lay waste to Yorkshire. It's no contest.

Usual rules. Comment for questions but if you do you have to answer them!
chickenfeet: (Default)
[ profile] panjianlien asked:

1. Why Canada and not some other Commonwealth country?

It was basically an accident. Work brought me here. I liked it. I have also lived in Australia and spent a fair bit of time in New Zealand. In both cases I find the remoteness rather daunting. Australia has a great climate but a culture (or lack of it) that I really don't enjoy. New Zealand I like in lots of ways but the smallness is a constraint. So on balance I'll take the accessibility, tolerance and multiculturalism of Canada and, especially, my adopted home, Toronto, despite the shocking climate and the distance from the ocean.

2. How has the shift been going, overall, since you decided to do without a car?

Pretty well. I find i need a car once or twice a week for a few hours which is about what I expected. I haven't had any trouble getting a car when I need one and the whole thing has worked pretty smoothly.

3. What are your favorite specialty foods of the country of your birth, and of the country in which you currently live?

Black pudding! I guess I also miss some of the rather old fashioned prepared foods like potted shrimps and whitebait. As for Canadian specialties, I think I would have to say that some of the artisan cheeses are excellent but that the only thing that I can think of that is a true regional specialty that I like a lot is Mennonite summer sausage.

4. What visual art would you most like to master?

This is almost as abstract as asking me what super-power I would like to have. I guess something book arts related. Either book binding or perhaps an intaglio based illustration technique. I suspect that both though would require rather better drawing skills than I have.

5. What is Lady Jane's most adorable quirk?

She is all adorable quirk! Maybe her habit of landing in my lap at high speed with a noise announcing her arrival which is almost impossible to describe but is something like m'reep. Her carefully escalated way of getting attention when I am typing is pretty funny too.

Comment for your very own set of questions.
chickenfeet: (fools)
Observed near ubiquitously

"When you see this entry quote from Doctor Johnson."

A decent provision for the poor is the true test of civilization.

Much may be made of a Scotchman, if he be caught young.

Meme: A device through which the multitude erroneously believe their several follies may bring forth a collective wisdom

Book Meme

Sep. 21st, 2008 07:38 am
chickenfeet: (thesee)
From [ profile] ironed_orchid:

List 10 books you have on your bookshelf that you think nobody else on your friends list has on theirs.

Roger Garaudy "From Anathema to Dialogue"

Andrei Sakharov "Peace, Coexistence and Intellectual Freedom"

James Mark "Climbing in Southern Ontario"

James Raffan and Bert Horwood (eds) "Canexus: The Canoe in Canadian Culture"

Walter Strachan "The Artist and the Book in France"

EP Thompson "The Sykaos Papers"

Paul Halmos "Finite Dimensional Vector Spaces"

Robert Proctor "The Nazi War on Cancer"

Douglas Porch "The French Foreign Legion"

Eric Wolf "Europe and the People Without History"
chickenfeet: (fishy)
No, I'm not going to do the meme. FWIW I think I score something like 89/100 and I don't think there is anything I wouldn't try on the list. It's not like I have an aversion to Michelin 3 starred restaurants but my bank account does.

What's interesting me is the things people say they would never try. Now, I understand that vegetarians and others with dietary restrictions are going to have things they won't try and I get that some people are squicked by insects or innards and so on but some of the exclusions just seem really weird to me. Why would anyone be averse to gumbo or salted lassi or lapsang souchong? Chacun a son gout and all that but I do find some of it a bit puzzling.

Now, for me, the only things I absolutely wouldn't eat are primates (much too close to cannibalism). endangered species, cat and bear (both for entirely sentimental reasons). You can bring on the grilled rice field roaches, throw another koala on the barbie or open a jar of fermented fishy things. No worries!

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