Category Archives: Uncategorized
It’s my first weekend properly in the new place (last weekend having been spent mostly away). Gradually getting to grips with the place, and that view really is as good as the piccie I posted. Perhaps even better, as it’s forever changing with the weather and tide, and there’s more on the trees!
Not everything is that great. The best thing about it is that view; the worst is the six-lane dual carriageway running along the side of the estuary but cleverly not visible in the photo (the steep slope and 30m elevation makes the water appear closer than it really is). There’s also the railway line!
On the plus side is the extra space and what it enables. A separate dining room means the table doesn’t have to be squeezed into a corner of the living room (which is just as well, given that the living room is smaller – though the big bay window and opening into the dining room give a feeling of more space). Upstairs I have two decent-sized rooms, one as bedroom and the other as office, and a third so-called bedroom so small it would only just fit a regular single bed without obstructing the door. That room’s currently full of junk, but might eventually become a guest room if I take advantage of extra space including the attic and outdoor covered area to reorganise.
On the practical side, the kitchen and bathroom are elegant, but some of the fittings are horribly impractical. I’ve bought a dishwasher to relieve myself of one more chore, but some things have had to move out of the kitchen due to having less cupboard space than the old one. I’ve got a garage to keep bikes in. And having a second (outside) loo is a definite luxury: no need to worry who else might need it if one has company and someone wants a long soak in the oversized bath!
Hmmm, what else? BT’s ADSL checker told me their service would be pretty useless here, but cable is available from Virgin so I signed up with them. Now I see BT’s checker may have been out of date, as they appear to have installed fiber. Still, it’s too late now to revisit that choice: I’m committed to Virgin for my ‘net, and have signed up with sipgate for a landline ‘phone number via VOIP.
The final urgent thing was my bed search. My old bed-grade futon was falling apart, so it went to the tip, and I’m temporarily on the lower-grade futon that serves as a convertible seat/guest bed. Not, alas, a comfy platform for more than a night or two! I now have a new bed on order from one of the five local furniture shops I tried, and I look forward to sleeping in comfort again when it arrives.
Lower-priority things I’ve yet to order are a new sideboard/dresser to keep crockery in the dining room (I’ve temporarily pressed a tall bookcase into use for that), and new chairs for several places.
I’ve finally signed on the dotted line and parted with money. I’m moving house, just as soon as I can arrange the logistics.
I’ve been wanting to move for a long time: the present place is far too noisy, and also a little on the small side (particularly since there’s nowhere sensible to keep bikes without bringing them inside). The new place is somewhat bigger, and in a much more tranquil location, which should mean a big improvement in my quality of life. I’ll even have a spare bedroom!
Oh, and there’s a view from the front, and nice big windows to take full advantage. It looks even better when the agent has (I suspect) touched up the blue colour of the water
It’s also a move into Plymouth, though a couple of miles out from the centre. I shall miss some things, like having the moors right on my doorstep, and some of our local shops. On the other hand I’ll have very easy access to the coast (including coast path), and all the city life should be no more than 10-15 minutes on the bike. Even the moors are still easy cycling distance via the Plym Valley Trail. It’s been years since I’ve lived in any city, and I’m wondering if I’ll still enjoy it.
The move will invalidate my postal address, my .co.uk email addresses (I need to switch provider to cable, because ADSL is hopeless at the new address), and possibly my landline phone number. Readers who have those details will know alternatives you can use if I forget to tell you personally. Other readers can continue to use the .com or .org email addresses and the cellphone number.
Reports in the press tell us particle physicists are getting excited at the prospect of experimental support for core elements of their mathematical models.
I look forward to the comedians’ take on this. Who will be the first voice of the Higgs Boson to scream “leave me alone” to his observers? If it happens while The Now Show is still on, I’ll guess at Punt & Dennis.
A NASA satellite is crashing to earth, out of control. Noone knows where it will land, but the chattering classes have been speculating on the risk of humans getting hit by it.
I just heard Prof. David Spiegelhalter on the wireless telling us the risk of getting hit was similar to the chance of 44 consecutive Heads on tossing a fair coin.
The Stoppard fans among us know that 44 times is nothing. Do we need to resort to an Infinite Improbability Drive?
This blog is looking sparse of late!
One reason for that is last week, which I spent dog-sitting for friends. Moved into their house for most of it. With no broadband and only a very limited (read: slow) mobile data connection I was semi-offline, and certainly wasn’t indulging in low-priority activity like blogging. The week was hard work but also good fun: an element of the holiday to it, but of the busman variety.
Also online I’ve been following the progress of OpenOffice into the Apache Incubator. It was accepted today, so that will now go ahead! The debate generated hundreds of emails per day over the week, which was unfortunate timing with my limited connectivity.
In national news, we’re now officially into a drought in one region of England: East Anglia is a dry area as well as Britain’s richest arable farming area (I expect the wheat crop is suffering, among others). Here we have semi-drought. But at the same time, we’ve started to get some rain: several heavy showers over my week with the dog should be sufficient to halt (albeit briefly) the decline of water supplies and tables. Yesterday we finally had a longer spell of real rain, sufficient to raise the level in the river to near-spate for a couple of hours. But even with that, the ground is already dry again up on the edge of the moors. The forecast now is mixed: sunny days and showers, which is probably healthy!
Had the hair chopped today. Barber was busy, and my idle curiosity turned to the fate of the vast amounts of hair they must sweep up. Does it go to any kind of recycling? Maybe to produce energy, or even compost? I asked: apparently not.
Does anyone have a process to make constructive use of chopped hair? If not, why not?
Today’s big story: they’ve killed Bin Laden. Let’s assume for clarity we can take today’s reports at face value.
Conclusion: no great loss to the world. But perhaps not such good news as everyone seems to believe. Does he have a following (or potential for one)?
If no, then how is he or his death relevant? To be the bogeyman he’s set up to be implies he had followers.
If yes, then we have a more interesting and more disturbing scenario. Because he has all the hallmarks of a true biblical prophet. Most obviously the prophet Elijah, a similarly absolutist man of God who brought immeasurable suffering on a godless people, incurred the wrath of earthly powers-that-be, and fled into the wilderness. Indeed, “9/11″ looks pretty trivial compared to Elijah’s deeds.
We have a lesson from history there: a charismatic maniac of absolutist views and uncompromisingly extreme violence is the very stuff of which religion is made. Elijah is an obvious prototype, but we can find many similarly terrible examples amongst biblical prophets and other heroes (the suicide bomber Samson is another fine role model for modern terrorism).
Now they kill him, and dump the body at sea so there’ll be no shrine. Well, there’s a great biblical precedent for an ignominious death at the hands of one’s enemies. The man who got crucified wasn’t one of the thoroughly evil prophets (though St Paul, who founded a church in his name, certainly was), but that terrible death just became part of a glorious myth. Another lesson of history is that a humiliating death makes a powerful story. And a visit to, for example, Rome’s catacombs, shows the lengths to which adherents of a story will go while they are the world’s repressed underdogs.
Bin Laden acted and looked the part of the true biblical prophet. To follow him is madness, but at the same time no more irrational than to follow the bible. If he had a real following, it’s just been handed what could possibly be the strongest stimulus to a single man since Christ’s crucifixion.
I don’t expect him to have a live cult a generation hence. But I wouldn’t care to bet too much against it, especially after today.
Just a few minutes ago I was sitting at the desk, when I heard an alarming ‘pop’ and the light went out. I assumed the bulb had gone suddenly. It was half-past midnight and I wasn’t in the middle of something important, so I took the cue to suspend the ‘puter and head for bed (from where I’m now blogging, using the laptop).
On the way I went to make my customary bedtime pint of herb tea, whereupon I found the kitchen light was also dead. Now curious, I tried all the ceiling lights: the entrance hall and the bathroom were the only ones to work. Evidently a safety device had been triggered, so with luck it should be easy to reset. Except of course, I’d never before looked in the control box, and I couldn’t read the instructions in the dark. Oops! Still, I can boil the kettle in the dark, and I have the bedside light on a different circuit.
Hmmm, can I do better? I don’t have a torch, but the bike light was where it’s supposed to be, and cast sufficient light to read the instructions and identify the relevant switch. Reset it and all’s well, except the popped bulb which is indeed dead. Have to try and remember to replace it in daylight tomorrow.
I’ve been here six years now, and this is the first time I’ve had to use that box (I turned off the master switch to wire in the cooker, which is the only thing I’ve done that required any non-automatic safety measures. And when something does go wrong it proves utterly trivial to fix. Something’s right about modern electrics, even to the point of putting the hall light on a different circuit!
Shame I can’t say the same about the fire alarms. Both mine and the neighbours tend to get over-enthusiastic for no good reason.
Contrast who appears to be happier:
to my new nephew, Philip, born 27/12/2010 in Auckland, NZ. And best wishes to your parents, my brother and sister-in-law, too.
It’s rather a long way to follow a star to your cradle, but I look forward to meeting you in person … umm … sometime. And maybe online once you’re old enough to venture into L-space.