Reelin' in the Years

I have recently been rediscovering Steely Dan - one of my favourite bands of all time. Until the late 1990s they were regarded as a passé 1970s AOR band - but over the last couple of years have reformed and released two great new albums. I have always loved their witty/ ironic lyrics, clever rhythms and high standards of musicianship/ production.

I have now discovered on amazon, that there are a whole load of "early years" compilations available of material that they recorded before their first official album release "Can't But a Thrill"...
by Stephen Foote | last updated 16.06.2005, 9:35

Random Genealogy

Great story on BBC News this week - The Comfort of Strangers - about members of an online genealogy forum, frustrated with trying to burst through their own brick walls, have taken to researching other peoples' family history - by selecting people at random from the 1881 census.

The forum in question - rootschat - also features an area for "censuswhacking" - identifying the only person or family with a given first name, surname or occupation in the census. Great examples include Fanny Minger, Silly Trollope and Loonie Cooper.
by Stephen Foote | last updated 16.06.2005, 9:21

Coldplay - X&Y

It's not often that two of my areas of interest converge - but I saw an article in the Guardian Science supplement last week, which intrigued me - "How do you decode the new Coldplay album cover?" by Marcus de Sautoy, a professor of mathematics at Oxford.

Not wanting to be a spoilsport or anything - but the answer is that it is a pictorial representation of the Baudot code for the characters X (10111), & (11011,00011), Y (10101).

If you ignore the colours - you should be able to see it clearly reading vertically. Things are getting a bit pretentious when it takes an Oxford professor to decode your album cover !
by Stephen Foote | last updated 13.06.2005, 21:51

Chocolate month !!

It is looking increasingly like June is becoming Chocolate month:-
  • Our latest selection of luxurious chocolates from Hotel Chocolat arrived (one of Tina's birthday presents)
  • The new Roald Dahl Museum has just opened in Great Missenden - with chocolate-coated doors.
  • We visited Cadbury World (see separate article) - apparently Dahl's inspiration for Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory (didn't see any Oompa Loompas there though).
  • Tim Burton's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - the movie - is now complete, and the launch date has just been announced for ... er ... July.
Oh well the celebration of chocolate will have to continue past the end of June then.
by Stephen Foote | last updated 13.06.2005, 21:08

Online Encyclopedia of Genealogy

Dick Eastman, publisher of the renowned Online Genealogical Newsletter for as long as I can remember, has recently launched an Online Encyclopedia of Genealogy.

Since its launch in December last year, the Online Encyclopedia of Genealogy has grown from just a few random articles to a wealth of information about family history societies, obscure occupations found on census returns, guide to sources for military family history research and many more.

It is based on the increasingly-popular "wiki" style of reference source (the original being Wikipedia) - meaning that most of the articles are contributed by other people - and since anyone can edit anyone else's contributions, any inaccuracies are be ironed out quite quickly.

by Stephen Foote | last updated 13.06.2005, 20:52

The Brewery Mill

On a recent business trip to Lippstadt in Germany, we were entertained at an unusual restaurant called Braumuhle near the village of Schmerlecke. Braumuhle (literally brewery mill) brews their own beer on the premises. There is a bar on the ground floor, then two floors of restaurant seating above - where all the original working parts of the mill are still visible. IT is not huge inside, but there is a large beer garden where they have held several open-air concerts (including Chris de Burgh - aaagh!).

by Stephen Foote | last updated 03.06.2005, 13:31

Cadbury World

Last weekend, we all went to Cadbury World. Based at Cadbury's factory in Bourneville in the suburbs of Birmingham, it was an entertaining day out, for what was essentially, a factory tour. In fact it was much more than that - there were rides and climbing equipment, a museum on the history of chocolate and the Cadbury empire, a multimedia display of Cadbury's advertising down the ages - and best of all - an interactive chocoloate playground where you actually get to make your own chocolates.
by Stephen Foote | last updated 03.06.2005, 13:05