2009 — 9 June: Tuesday

Here's hoping for a larger contiguous chunk of sleep tonight. First, another of my specially-blurred photos of Christa, from (I suspect, given her pullover) the winter of 1977 in Old Windsor:

Christa in Old Windsor, 1977

I still have several of these little teddy bears that she made, on the shelves in what was her study. They predate the arrival of our son by several years. The cassette visible at the bottom of the picture is Angus Mackenzie's1 Dolby B reference calibration tape, as supplied with my external Videosonic PD22 processor, so I'm pretty sure of the vintage.


Hard to Patel

The 24th most common surname in the UK, apparently. Wonder where "Mounce" is on that list. "Cromwell", by the way, was the surname of the choo-choo that chuffed past last Saturday. It's a mere five months older than me, to obliquely answer one erudite reader's implicit enquiry.

I didn't resurface in time to catch the Reith lecture, but I've subscribed to the podcasts. It's now 10:04 and not exactly sunny (yet) after some overnight rain.

It's thirty years since I bought and read (in the uncheap Folio Society edition, too) The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon. I've just put the phone down after a call from my NZ sister-in-law inviting me up to see her (rather than attend her mother's funeral, thoughtfully) to discover that Shonagon's writings have been dramatised. I think I'd prefer a simple reading, but no matter. Time for breakfast! Then time to hit the endless supplies trail as I managed to drop that little task on yesterday's back-burner. Procrastination may well be the Thief of Time, but it's a good friend of mine.

Oh, Belinda!

I never suspected Simon Winchester knew such interesting people. Butterflies and a sweet-smelling unguent, heh? Crikey. With my tongue firmly in my cheek, here's the source of this item. Ironically, I'm listening to a programme about pollinators as I type.

Why is it, do you suppose, that about every 100th reboot Windows wakes up having forgotten your chosen desktop colour scheme3 and reverts to the childishly garish default of rich blue and green? Poor programming perhaps? Just (14:29) back from a mini-adventure that took in lunch and a 40-mile tour of some of the Roman roads around the edges of Wiltshire. Coming downhill from Farley Mount we could see Fawley and Calshot in the distance, so the air was washed pretty clear. Right. Time to get back out there and do some retail damage.

The things people believe

I got back in time to have an amicably animated agreement to differ with my young neighbour — a Pakistani doctor who would like to get me to read the Koran and to disabuse me of my strange belief in the theory of evolution as espoused by people like Charles Darwin. I do so enjoy these little interactions. He tells me he used to believe in the theory of evolution "years ago" (about fifteen, I gather) but is now firmly convinced that it leaves too many questions unanswered. The evolution of the eye, for example. But even Wikipedia, that well-known fount of all knowledge, has a good grasp on this. The missing species in between, say, cats and dogs. The missing primates between us and the various great apes.

Perhaps it's time to introduce him (gently) to the church of the flying spaghetti monster?


Aside to Christa

I note the owner of your Mum's favourite catalogue company (Quelle) is in dire straits. How things change, heh? And look what's just been unearthed in your old home country — the "Venus of Hohle Fels":

Venus of Hohle Fels

I doubt anything in the Quelle catalogue would suit this little lady.

Science made interesting

Start here! Make sure you don't miss this wonderful gem. Snippet and source:

Triazadienyl Fluoride... most of the literature on this compound remains computational, rather than experimental (other than Willner's lab), and unless it turns out to be the secret to faster-than-light travel or something, that situation will continue to obtain. It's already good for accelerating Pyrex fragments past the speed of sound, but there are easier ways.

Derek Lowe in Things I won't work with

Guillermo ("Hellboy") del Toro is being interviewed by Stuart Maconie. They're talking about a vampire tale ("The Strain") that he's co-written with Chuck Hogan — it's nasty and sick, I gather. He says "wampires" as young romantic bad boy heroes don't "peel his banana". He started making a short film about Pink Floyd's "Welcome to the machine" as a kid but ran out of money for his Super-8 venture. He would have been eleven when that wonderful album (Wish you were here) was first released.



1  The chap who used to write the "FM diary" column in Wireless World magazine.
2  The subject of my first-ever freelance hifi magazine article "Living with Dolby B" back in 1975. (It's conventional to say first-ever published, but actually I never had an article rejected.) By the time of this photo, I was using a rather tasty Tandberg TCD330 3-head machine on an informal, long-term loan. You can see (half of) this Videosonic box here.
3  Perhaps for the same reason that, rather more frequently, Windows forgets where it's stashed all its desktop icons and then belatedly recovers them one by one. Good job nobody uses this software for anything remotely mission critical, I guess.