Archive for May, 2013

May 31 2013

One Whole Month!

Hoorah! Well done, you have made it through the month. How was it for you? Did you learn anything? What did you enjoy? What did you dislike? Sum it all up!

Well that went a lot faster than I expected. I’m not sure I learned anything, I maybe thought about things more, or in a different way. I found some topics harder than others. Some I struggled to write anything of interest (you might argue that none of it is really of interest 😉 ) and some I struggled to rein myself in and not write too much.

I found myself really looking forward to some topics, and dreading some, but in the end there were none that I really disliked. I definitely did like the discipline of posting every day – and I made sure I did it every day.

What I really enjoyed was reading other people’s blogs, and seeing the different take on the topics. Everyone has their own perspective and that made it really interesting.

I have enjoyed it so much that I am now moving on to blog Every Day in June ! – taking topics from the fine blog 8 Clicks From Nowhere – Brad has done this for the last 2 years using the same topics – nice idea.

So many thanks to Elizabeth at Rosalilium – this was great fun.

May 30 2013

Who Inspires You?

Who inspires you? Are they close to you? Somebody famous? Or even somebody infamous?

Do I have to choose just one? I get inspired by all sorts of people for all sorts of reasons. For instance, Elizabeth has inspired me to blog every day in May. But I guess what is intended here is those big inspirations – those people that have guided you and shaped your life.

This is going to take some thought. There are plenty of obvious candidates for me – certainly in the ‘famous’ category, but I like to think that I am more complex than that, and I am guided by more than celebrity. I will try to explain each one, though I’m not sure I’ll do a great job. So, here goes:

  • Danny Wallace
    Danny was bored one day. Out of this was born Join Me. Join Me has changed my life – introduced me to so many great people, given me things to think about, raised money for charity, and generally shown me that people are fundamentally good. Danny is the heart and soul of Join Me, and barely a day goes by when my life is not influenced in some way by what he has done.
  • Richard Feynman
    I remember the first time I read about Richard Feynman. I knew nothing about him, but my dad had a biography called ‘Genius’ that he really liked, so I thought I would give it a go. I was utterly blown away, and since then I have read, watched, listened to, and generally absorbed all I can about this amazing man. Richard Feynman was a physicist, but also so much more than that. He worked on the first atomic bomb at Los Alamos and helped the investigation into the Challenger Space Shuttle disaster. He was interested in everything. He was almost the polar opposite of an archetypal geek – he was charming, funny, engaging, mecurial, but somehow he is a model for geeks. Me included. I have mentioned him more than once in this blog, and for good reason. Feynman is a hero of mine. He worked on what interested him. He wasn’t afraid to admit what he didn’t know – but would then usually work to fill in that knowledge. He loved with his whole being. He loved the beauty of science, and he loved to communicate that to other people.
  • Allan Chiles
    I’ll have to be careful here to not get too emotional, and not over-emphasise things. Allan Chiles was my dad, and he died just over 2 years ago. He was my dad, but he was also an inspiration for me. Many people have told me that I am very like him, and I am very happy to take that as a compliment. My dad loved maths (he was a maths teacher) and he passed that on to me. He loved music, he loved books, he loved equality. I am proud that he was my dad, and I know he was proud of me. But probably importantly for this blog, he inspired me to be myself. He never tried to steer me – to influence my choices. He was happy to give me information and knowledge but he was very supportive of whatever it was I decided to do. That is a very positive influence. You know about leadership by example? – I give you my dad.
  • Mick North
    Most people remember the tragic events of March 1996 when 16 children and one adult were killed at Dunblane Primary School. Mick North is the parent of one of those children. I have had the privilege of hearing him speak on a couple of occasions about the events of that day, and his reaction to them, and it has left a lasting impression on me. Mick is an academic, a father, a loving husband, a man who has had to deal with a great deal of loss (his wife died of cancer not long before the Dunblane incident) but he has retained a compassion, dignity and perspective that I’m not sure I would have achieved in his situation. I often think about Mick’s approach to life, and try to find that compassion in myself.
May 29 2013

Morning Ritual

Tell us about what you do every morning to help you get ready for the day ahead

I don’t really have a morning ritual, certainly not beyond the usual fundamental stuff. I’m one of those annoying people that can hit the ground running. That’s not to say I leap out of bed with a smile on my face, fully ready and prepared for the day ahead, but once I have made up my mind to get up – which can take a while – I get up. I don’t need a big build up or time to adjust, once I’m up – I’m up.

Many people, Mrs Worm included, need a good half hour to shuffle about, stare blearily at things, grump, dress, shuffle some more, and so on. I just get up, wash, dress, and get on with it. 15 minutes and I’m sorted. Call it 30 if I have breakfast (roughly every other day – usually yoghurt/granola and a cup of tea)

The only real variation is on a weekday I get up earlier (about 7:30) do my stuff and leave the house. At the weekend I get up whenever, do my stuff, then sit down to play Skyrim.

May 28 2013

Bad Advice

What is the worst advice you have ever received?

I think my real problem here is going to be that I don’t really get bad advice, or at least I don’t remember it. I’m not sure I pay that much attention to any advice, far less bad advice, and I certainly don’t pay enough attention to bad advice to remember it.

I could give you plenty of examples of good advice, or at least platitudes, but I’m not sure that it would really help anyone.

The best I could come up with is urban myths, but I’m not sure that really counts as advice. So, I suppose all I can really contribute is the best advice I have ever seen.

What do you care what other people think?
Richard Feynman

May 27 2013

Secret Talent

What are you good at that nobody knows about? Tell us all about it.

I’m not really sure that I’m good at anything that nobody knows about. No secret talents, but maybe some obscure and/or useless ones. Some are more bad habits that talents probably.

I can (or at least used to be able to) eat a BK BBQ Bacon Double Cheeseburger in one mouthful.

I can name all 197 countries in the world (barring disagreements about Western Sahara, Taiwan etc.), most of the capitals, and spot nearly all the flags (some are tricky because they are virtually identical).

I can crack all the knuckles on both hands, including thumbs.

I can drink enough red wine to stun a horse.

I used to be able to draw the periodic table from memory (which came in handy for chemistry exams) but I’m not sure I can do that anymore. In fact I’m sure I can’t.

I can annoy Mrs Worm with the use of one word. (‘aaaaaay’ like the Fonz)

So nothing actually useful.

May 26 2013

Fantasy Dinner Party

Dinner party time – Who would you invite? What music is playing? What are you eating? Is there entertainment? Let your imagination go wild!

Oh my lord – where do I start? My only relief in thinking about this is that my friend Emily is probably going crazy because she loves this sort of thing, and kind of does it for work, so she’ll probably have a million ideas.

So, I guess I should start with the guest list. Which is quite difficult really, as there are so many options. To start with, I’m not limiting myself to living people – there are simply too many people who are no longer alive that I would want to have there. I’m in no way able to pull together a complete list, but off the top of my head these are the first few that come to mind.

  • Richard Feynman
  • Isaac Asimov
  • Stephen Fry
  • Commander Chris Hadfield
  • Julia Child
  • Michael Ruhlman
  • Anthony Bourdain
  • Terry Pratchett

Reading down that list, it’s clearly got two main themes – science and food. Which makes sense because those are two topics very close to my heart.

In terms of food – god knows. If I could, I would hire Thomas Keller to do the catering, a man I admire greatly. Possibly Tom Kitchin helping out 😉

Music? Nothing in particular really, I’m not really into music as a background – I prefer actually listening to it, paying attention, so probably some good jazz or classical – cello music always sounds good to me.

Overall it’s about the people. My dinner party would be about the conversation and the food. All the rest is peripheral.

May 25 2013

Music love

What are your top 5 favourite albums and why?

I’m definitely going to struggle with this one, because I would struggle to pin down my 5 favourite Springsteen albums, far less 5 overall. But I will do my best, and as Mrs Worm dictated, only one of them is allowed to be Springsteen.

Bruce Springsteen and the E-Street Band – Live 75-85
album cover
I got this album when I was at University, and it really opened my eyes to the rich back catalogue that Springsteen has. At the time, like many people, I really saw Springsteen mainly through the window of ‘Born In The USA’ and while that is a fine album, it is only a thin view of a complex artist. ‘Born In The USA’ was Springsteen’s seventh studio album (he has now released seventeen) and the albums that went before cover a wide range of music styles and mood. Live 75-85 is a bit of a trip through those first seven albums, over 5 vinyl discs (when I first bought it – now on 3 CDs) and I played it over and over and over. It includes Bruce’s monologues between some songs, and his introduction to The River can move me to tears. It is a grand, sweeping epic of an album and it is a good attempt at capturing a Springsteen live experience.

Barenaked Ladies – Gordon
album cover
Introduced to me while I was at University by NoRM, this is BNLs first album, and probably their finest. It is musically adventurous, humorous, touching, meaningful, and fun. As with all the albums on this list, I have listened to it over and over. The songs hold together, and create a mood which carries you along through the album – it’s a journey. Every BNL album has at least one killer song – and in this case it’s Brian Wilson – simply brilliant.

Deacon Blue – Raintown
album cover
I hadn’t really listened to much Deacon Blue before I met Mrs Worm, but she is a huge fan so inevitably I ended up listening to them – and fell in love. Probably not that surprising given that Ricky Ross is a huge Springsteen fan, and they often cover Springsteen songs in their live gigs (I saw them play ‘Light of Day’ a few years ago, and was dancing my wee boots off). Raintown is their debut album – and what a cracker. Moody, joyous, beautifully crafted, I have strong memories of lying in bed in our flat in Aberdeen with this playing on our little portable CD player – over and over and over. To be honest every song on this album is a cracker, but ‘Town To Be Blamed‘ just blows me away – and I was too excited for words when I saw them do it live.

The Cult – Electric
album cover
When I was at school, this was one of those albums that everyone had – everyone that I knew anyway. This was one of the albums that made we want to learn the guitar, and contains such raw power and energy that it just excites me every time I listen to it. It was a change of style for The Cult, who hired Rick Rubin to produce it after they were disappointed with the original cut. It worked. Love Removal Machine has been insulted by my full-throated bellowing more times than I care to mention.

Tom Waits – Asylum Years
album cover
I love Tom Waits, a truly original artist, idiosyncratic, flawed, always exciting, always changing. I’m probably biased because my dad was a big fan and it was him who turned me on to Tom Waits. This album is something of a ‘Greatest Hits’ covering his years at Asylum Records. I ‘borrowed’ my dad’s tape of this when I went to university, and it was on almost constantly. From ‘Diamonds On My Windshield’ through to ‘Ruby’s Arms’ , every single track is perfect. Tom Traubert’s Blues is probably my favourite, but it’s a close call, because they are all amazing. In particular, his version of ‘Somewhere’ from West Side Story is beautiful.

So there you go. Would love to hear your comments.

May 24 2013

What’s in your fridge?

Describe and/or photograph what is in your fridge right now. Be honest!

I did take a photo, but it didn’t come out very well, so I’ll just go with the description. I suspect I won’t come out of this very well, but I am going to be honest.

Main section – working from the top down.

Yoghurt and butter
We eat quite a lot of yoghurt (it’s one of the few things I actually like eating for breakfast) and have both butter (for cooking) and Lurpak (for eating)

General Stuff
This is the main shelf, and currently contains butternut sqaush, chorizo, bacon, and more yoghurt

Jars
This is Mrs Worm’s least favourite shelf (she is always complaining that we have loads of jars) and one of my favourite shelves – mustard, olives, cornichons, chillis, piccalilli – it’s all here.

Drink!
Beer, fruit juice, cider, plus some large jars – roasted peppers and jalapenos mainly.

Veg
We have two large drawers for veg and I’m sorry to say that this is where most of our wastage comes. We’re getting better, and Mrs Worm is very good and using up veg to make soup for her lunch at work, but we still throw away far too much.

Then we move on to the door

Cheese
It’s cheese innit. Cheese rocks. Usually some cheddar (for cooking and eating) mozarella (Mrs Worm’s favourite) and some blue (for me)

Milk
We still get milk delivered, but in plastic cartons. Plus some lemon juice, mustard jars etc.

Drink
More bottles, some wine, coke (Mrs Worm) limoncello, lemon squash etc.

Jars
More jars, condiments, general – you know, stuff.

I’m sure that’s not very exciting, and I’m just glad you didn’t ask what is in our freezer 😉

May 23 2013

Compliments

Tell us about the best compliment you have ever received.

As I’m sure many people have said today, I’m not very good at compliments, and I generally get a bit nervous when people compliment me – not that it happens very often.

What tend to stick with me are the unspoken compliments – those actions that show that people are happy with you, have accepted you, even if they don’t say it (though sometimes they do that as well). So this is the first few that come to mind.

  • Mrs Worm said ‘Yes’ when I asked her to marry me. And didn’t change her mind in the following nearly 20 years.
  • Mrs Worm’s dad came to like me, even though I was a long-haired Englishman
  • NoRM asked me to be his best man
  • Every week I am picked as the goalkeeper for my football team
  • The Rotary Club picked me to go to South Africa, which was up against a lot of competition, and one of the greatest experiences of my life
May 22 2013

13 year old You!

If you could talk to your 13 year old self, what would you say?

(I’m not sure this is me at 13 – but it’s around that time somewhere)

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I’m not sure my 13-year-old self would listen to me. I was something of a dick back then – still am really. Still, on the off-chance that it would get through, I guess this is what I’d say.

————————————————————

Don’t be scared. This isn’t going to turn out like one of the science fiction stories you like so much where a vision from the future steals your life and causes the end of the world. This is a real me talking to a fictional you who doesn’t really exist, or maybe you do. Actually, you must exist otherwise I wouldn’t exist, but don’t worry about it – just go with the flow.

Now, as I’m sure you’re aware, there are definite problems with future events influencing the past, and I don’t want to get into the position where I stop myself from existing or something equally stupid, but hopefully I can at least reassure you about a few things.

Sorry about the haircut by the way – I’m not sure what that was about. But on to the important stuff.

You’re fine. I know this, because I’m fine. You’re not weird, or a loser, or any of the other things you get called or call yourself. You’re no more screwed up than anyone else – possibly less. You’re no better or worse than anyone else. Just get on with being you – it’ll turn out for the best.

You’re not going to get everything you dream about, but you’re going to get lots of things you never imagined. Life isn’t going to be as straightforward as you think, but it’s not going to be as hard as you fear. Things will go right, things will go wrong, but you’ll get through them all – I know because I did.

In the end, you’ll still be you. Older, wiser, bigger, still just as weird, still just as screwed up, but in all the right ways. You still need to think about what you want to do, but don’t worry about it too much – in the end, you make the right choices.

Apart from the choice to experiment by putting mint sauce in milk to make a lovely minty milkshake. That was definitely the wrong choice. But you’ll only throw up for a few minutes.

Thank you for being you – you allowed me to be me, and I rock.