2008 — 10 September: Wednesday

And "Elbow" took the Mercury Prize a couple of hours ago — doubleplusgood.

It's now 00:43 and time for tonight's picture of Christa, from some point in the early 1990s, when she and Peter discovered a mutual liking for the South Coast World place near Brighton. They dragged me with them once, but I could only stand it for one evening (I'm not proud of that as I'm sure I disappointed both of them on that occasion). As I described it in October 1991 in a note to Carol: C and P have gone off to a place called South Coast World for the day. It's at the seaside near Brighton, but is basically a roofed entertainment complex with heated facility-stuffed swimming pool. It's evolved (le mot juste?) from the ex-military camps that were turned into typically British mid 1950s holiday chalet towns by one Billy Butlin after the second world war. (I don't know if they still have the red coats keeping an eye on the behaviour and decorum of the visitors...)

Christa at the coast near Brighton, early 1990s

Need to grill some sausages for the packed lunch later. So first, take them out of the freezer to defrost overnight! Done. G'night.

Big Bangers... dept.

Regardless of the LHC experiment, I've got a date with a sextet of sausages that need a good grilling. So (at 08:43) that's my first port of call this morning. Plus a cuppa, of course. Now, as I munch and slurp the healthy cardboard breakfast, there's time to admire a look back by Elaine Showalter (over 30 years later, good grief) at that wonderful campus novel Changing Places by David Lodge. (As I mentioned, I took the newly available Penguin paperback with me to read in Cornwall in September 1975 and greatly enjoyed it. Though, oddly, I remember I hated the typeface.)

Irritatingly, it is raining again, in strict defiance of the BBC's forecast last night. This may well put a kink in our walking plans today.

Aah, the sweet lure of technology!

IBM, it seems, is digitising its 50,000 technical consultants to "automate management"! Snippet:

I have a date there with Samer Takriti, a Syrian-born mathematician. He heads up a team that's piecing together mathematical models of 50,000 of IBM's tech consultants. The idea is to pile up inventories of all of their skills and then to calculate, mathematically, how best to deploy them. I'm here to find out how Takriti and his colleagues go about turning IBM's workers into numbers. If this works, his team plans to apply these models to other companies and to automate much of what we now call management.

Stephen Baker in The Numerati

My cynical emphasis, of course. The comments associated with this article are worth reading.

Bother! The continuing rain, and Mike's problems with his ISP, has made us call off the walk. OK, on with the next crockpot instead. It's 10:03 so the day is yet young. Crockpot stuffed and started, cuppa sunk, and (at 10:45) the rain has apparently stopped. Indeed it's almost bright out there. (Or is that because there are fewer lumps of tree to block the light?)

Trimmed trees

Bereavement allowance...

... doesn't go on for ever. The nice people in the Dover office have just written to remind me that it will end on the 10th November. (Amusingly, if the letter hadn't been delivered, it was supposed to be returned to a Belfast office.)

Tea for two

If a chap can't go for his walk then the next best is to nip out for a pot full of the cups that soothe. "Toot toot" as my co-conspirator says. Now, where's that sat nav? When I get back, I'll let you into what arrived in today's little postal stash... I'm back (it's 17:00 — somehow) and I can report that Sir Harold Hillier's tearooms spurn debit cards for amounts below a £5 threshold. I think that's what inflation means...

Today's DVD

It is unusual to see the Irish film censors attaching a "lesser" certificate than the UK ones. (Not that they're "censors" of course; perish the thought. No, no, they are all "classifiers" these days.)

I dug a little to see what I could find out about vehicle registration marks and the MOT test. The DVLA has a PDF leaflet specifying precise dimensions for the characters on the number plate. It must also display a BS logo with the number BS AU 145d, the supplier, and the postcode or name of the outlet. Here are the current requirements. (Another PDF file.) Vernier calipers have been issued to all our Plods (I assume), and these will doubtless need a new government department to oversee their safe use and annual calibration (I'm guessing).

I suspect I've found the paragraph that describes the true reason for this farrago: "The introduction of cameras for enforcement purposes means that it is more important than ever for number plates to be legible. The new regulations will ensure that there is clarity of numbers and letters through the use of a standardised mandatory font."

10 cc (or a Lovin' Spoonful)

As I listen quite a lot to BBC Radio 2, so I become more aware of the "unseen hand" that guides their playlist. They're obviously going through a 10 cc phase, or they've been keeping an eye on some of my recent acquisitions! Perhaps I should get something really exotic to test this hypothesis?