2007 — 1 May: pouring oil in troubled Bluebelle

Did you remember to say "Rabbits!" this morning? Neighbour Shelagh's new vehicle has sprung an oil leak, and needs to be patched up in good time for next weekend's outing to a gathering of like-minded enthusiastic owners and drivers of these modified 2CVs. I shall therefore be doing what I can to help. It seems all one needs is a 12mm spanner and sufficient torque in your wrists. How long the torque will remain sufficient though, there's the rub. Read the excellent piece "The way we age now" in the New Yorker by Atul Gawande.

The fitting of new, steel-shrouded, flexible oil piping went so well that neighbour Peter sent a few words of praise to the supplier, the delightfully-named "BonaParts2CV" — a 2CV and similar specialist (I gather). Their reply reveals a Northern sense of humour:

A most gracious message Peter. To receive such an accolade helps immensely towards making the wretched poverty, debilitating working conditions, homelessness and indescribable despair of all of our staff almost bearable. Thank you so much. Thank you


Saki rides again

I've always been rather secretly pleased with myself for discovering this wonderful writer all by myself, about 35 years ago. I later discovered that my favorite aunt was also a fan, but that's another story. (I gave her my copy of a Picador subset of his stories when I bought myself the more complete volume in 1980 while on one of my regular business trips to ICL HQ in Putney.) Last night, BBC4 did him justice in an excellent documentary. His work (according to Wikipedia) is now in the public domain, so you can catch it here.

Acquisitions of late

Meanwhile, yesterday afternoon's outing to retrieve Her gobbled plastic card from the ATM gave me an unexpected hour in town. I put it to good use in FOPP, browsing the DVD shelves while listening to the loud live jazz CD they had on. The haul:

And, not to be outdone (though I was blissfully unconscious when he knocked, it seems) Mr Amazon dropped off:

Software, heh? Can't live with it; can't live without it. Each week, when I write to dear Mama, I seem to have to reset2 the "auto-format" to handle sexed quotation marks. And today, I see the following delightful letter in the Guardian:

I am used to software not being able to hyphenate. But I was wondering what indignities suffragettes had to suffer when they were "rear-rested" (Letters, April 28)?

Professor John Collis, Sheffield

Farewell... Bobby Pickett

Co-writer (with Leonard Capizzi) of the 1962 novelty hit "Monster Mash". It paid his rent for four decades — not bad!

Unforeseen perils... department

While I doubt you recall the Randall Munroe cartoon encapsulating the problem with Wikipedia I have a miniature real-life example to offer. Today's Guardian (what a fantastic resource, heh?) Diary ends with a snippet from the Journal of Sexual Medicine (it exists, I looked it up with Mrs Google) about a "study of 10,000 men suffering from erectile dysfunction" ... that led to "an international panel of experts" ... [which] "has developed a new hardness tool". Vanished in the far-off mists of my engineering days, it seems, is the Brinell number (named after Swedish engineer JA Brinell, and dependent on the extent of penetration by a specific tool!)

As I don't have a subscription to this, doubtless fascinating, journal, I couldn't access the article cited, but in browsing around the site I found a delightful-sounding study which asked: "Genital Sensation and Sexual Function in Women Bicyclists and Runners: Are Your Feet Safer than Your Seat?"

Does President Bush realise, I wonder, the in-depth research taking place in the (bicycle) seat of excellence that is the Yale University School of Medicine?

Day 179  


1  Nancy's example, from her review of MM Kaye's "The Far Pavilions": This is one of those big, fat paperbacks, intended to while away a monsoon or two, which, if thrown with a good over-arm action, will bring a water-buffalo to its knees.
2  What? Yes, of course I save the options afresh each time. I'm not a complete idiot!