2008 — 9 July: Wednesday

Is there anything nicer than a leisurely read of the "Sunday papers"? Christa always thought so (or do I mean thought not?):

Christa and her Observer, 1978

G'night at 00:40 or so. The "tango" programme was marvellous, by the way, as was the Minghella celebration. And (for what it's worth) that Thomas Disch novel left my shelves some time after January 1995 — I'd bought it in August 1968 for 5/- (25p for my post-1971 decimalised reader). Funny how the house has a finite capacity for books. The limit is around the 9,000 mark at the moment. Not counting those belonging to Junior and still parked in his room... Nor those belonging to Christa that haven't been "merged" — all the German language ones, basically.

(At least I feel no compulsion to catalogue any of these!)

Rain? Again?

And why not? After all, it's mid-summer. It's also 10:23 and brekkie is being loaded between keystrokes. Did you know we now have a "stroke strategy" and a "National Ambition for Stroke"? Woman's Hour isn't helping my blood pressure right now. (Act FAST.)

All systems now patched though it seems (from the test here) that my choice of DNS server is itself still vulnerable. What's a chap to do then, I wonder? Watch the rain drops, I guess. 11:09 and Radio 4 remains depressing... (the American Legion convention in 1976 that gave us Legionnaire's disease).

Is it ethical to get old?

Good question, with an amusing (sort of) answer here. It ends with an editor's note: "The views expressed in this article are not necessarily those of spiked. In fact, they're not."

Are we, in fact, in much danger of growing old? The FBI "has published a pamphlet called Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD); a pocket guide." It describes the four types of weapons of mass destruction ("Any explosive or incendiary device, as defined in Title 18 USC, Section 921: bomb, grenade, rocket, missile, mine, or other device with a charge of more than four ounces..."). (Source.) Is this new news? I've sniffed around their website without turning up any sign of this pamphlet, but it sounds a bit like that old Civil Defence booklet "Protect and Survive". (Or am I thinking of the one about advice to the householder on preparing to survive a nuclear attack? I always thought it would be better to be at Ground Zero, to be honest.)

I stumbled over this depressing stuff in the May/June issue of the Annals of Improbable Research at Improbable.com but these five clerihews (finalists in a competition run by the editor's husband) are much more entertaining:


I voted for Bentley, but Berners-Lee is currently in the lead. Time for a spot of lunch, methinks. It's 13:01 and still raining.

They were here just moments ago (Take 2)... dept.

Several weeks ago I commented what a difference a quarter of a century makes. Here's another picture from a few seconds later during that same walk. (I called out from the study skylight window to catch their attention, not wholly successfully!) I've tried to match the angle and depth of field of my original shot in the one you can see by clicking on the picture here:

26 years later...

Time (15:54) for a reviving cuppa. I'll be trying de-caff Typhoo when the present set of bags is used up. I doubt it will stop staining the mugs but you never know. Stranger things happen at tea, as it were. At least my chum's water ingress problem is largely solved, ahead of this ghastly weather. 'Spose I'd better pop down and see how my DVD cutting is getting along, too. Life at Technology Towers, heh? Steve Wright has just played a Rutles track — I'd forgotten how good that parody? pastiche? tribute? was.

Good grief! Why does every flipping PVR have to do things differently by way of menu navigation, DVD finalising, and what have you? That fresh cuppa has had time to go almost stone cold while I navigate the Pioneer's menus, and manual, pillar to post. Still, I got there in the end.1 En passant, I wonder when the "Dracula" story (on BBC1 children's TV in the background while I struggled) made it into the category deemed fit for the nation's kiddywinks? I remember smuggling Bram Stoker's original tale home from the library, rather suspecting that parental disapproval was best circumvented by subterfuge, but how things have changed in the last four decades or more.

Good grief, doubled. I've just used the word "schadenfreude" in an email. While I was checking the meaning on Wikipedia, I was led to their item on a favourite actress of ours: Allison Janney and, specifically her 155 episodes in The West Wing. Her starting salary back in 1999 was reportedly $70,000 per episode. Do the multiplication!

Aside to Christa

You were absolutely right about the ineptitude of our double glazing fitters, my love. After a day of gentle rain there's a thin line of moisture across the inside of the frame in the kitchen — exactly what the salesman claimed was completely impossible. Anglian? Pah! Regardless of the weather, I think I shall have to hit the re-supplies trail tomorrow. That nonsense about "rain before seven, fine before eleven" only works when the front is actually moving, I guess.

I've been sorting through some of our ancient paperwork. I see you kept every scrap of stuff about our first house purchase back in 1976 in Old Windsor, including the survey report that you typed up yourself while working2 in the estate agents. I'd forgotten some of the hassles we had with Veronica the solicitor in Windsor, too. What a team, heh? I may just set about the rest of the house de-cluttering that we started ten months ago! I could even think about a spot of decorating, I suppose. Now there's a task I really, really detest.

Well, it's now 22:00 and the only caller today has been the chap who pushes Private Eye (and a variety of junk mail) through the slot in the front door. I felt quite sorry for him in this weather. But it's a peaceful life some days!

Did I say peaceful?

Missile tests. Bombs in Istanbul. What a wonderful world.



1  Ironically, I was finalising the DVD-R cut on the Pioneer DVD recorder to enable it to be played on the Pioneer DVD player. The Panasonic at least has the decency to finalise these things automagically. The thing is, I literally haven't used this Pioneer recorder for about 14 months. In fact, I've just discovered it's got an entire series of Still Game on it that I've yet to watch and/or move off to DVD archive. I was not exactly paying much attention to TV from about May or June last year (when Christa's symptoms began to flare up) and I only used it this week because the Panasonic was already going to be busy on the Minghella tribute. (Unlike the Humax, neither of these DVD HD PVRs has twin tuners, but then how often is there more than one thing on at a time worth watching, let alone recording?)
2  Christa actually had three part-time jobs on the go to help towards the cost of that first house purchase: her language teaching at Royal Holloway College, secretarial work in an estate agency, and giving evening classes at the Runnymede Adult Education Institute. All I was doing was the ICL training publications work and some freelance magazine articles. (She kept all those, too!)