2010 — 16 February: Tuesday

I'm giving up on the Star Trek temporal paradoxes (basically how exactly did the "future" Spock show up in the past with the renegade Romulans and the mysterious "red matter"? Let alone survive transition through a black hole?) after my second viewing. Instead, I have settled for the delightful discovery that the Prokofiev "Romeo & Juliet" CD I was hunting down in Soton yesterday afternoon is not only the BBC's recommended modern recording (from their "Building a CD library" series) but also (being an SACD) includes a 5.1 surround sound mix that the Oppo Blu-ray player deals with very nicely via its 5.1 analogue output. There were half a dozen copies of the (double) CD in HMV, though I have to say their basement classical selection1 is a pale shadow of its former glory.

I also picked up the new Peter Gabriel CD, a new one from the Unthanks (no longer "Rachel and the"), and a Sandy Denny compilation. Plus the latest copies of three of my favourite magazines: "The Word", "Computer Shopper", and "Ubuntu User". So that lot has pretty well absorbed my evening until now (now currently being 01:39).

One final cuppa to enjoy, the black bin is already wheeled out, I've remembered to take some bread out of the freezer, I've done the dishes and some laundry. I'm even beginning to get the hang of the "safety peeler"2 I picked up in Waitrose after a trial run on half a Bramley earlier. G'night.

With the morning comes...

... the discovery of the original "peeler", exactly where it's always been. Mind you, it looks pretty ancient compared to the new one. It also has its blade "in-line" rather than at right angles to the handle. I shall have to do some comparative speed trials. But not before breakfast.

It's 09:51, raining, grey, and I'm being told about the black Sphinx of Taharqo. Much more interesting than anything on offer here, which is all rather depressing, even if it does capture the zeitgeist. (Kevin Smith is overweight, Michele Hanson's house is cluttered, a TV quiz show starring a monkey... I rest my case.)

The BBC is somewhat more serious, it seems. I have nothing but sympathy for Ray Gosling, for example. Indeed, I admit a similar idea went briefly through my mind, though with Christa's pain under control in the hospice, and with her remaining compos mentis until literally the last 24 hours or so, I didn't have to carry it out. Can't say it was a happy time, though!

Now, about breakfast and your list of tasks for today...

Well, Stone (Age) me... dept.

The story of recent finds on Crete is Quite Interesting, but reminds me irresistibly of two nicely twisted SF stories: "Protected Species" (by HB Fyfe) published the year I was born, and "Inherit the stars" (by James P Hogan, who was working for DEC at the time [1977] and whose mini biography reveals he earned just £50 on top of Del Rey's advance for this fine novel, written as an office bet). Both stories hinge on there being people where people "just knew" people weren't at the time, if you see what I mean.

It's 11:12 and seems to be brightening up a bit. Good.

The odd thing about...

... having an odd memory (though I wouldn't want it to work any differently, as I'm just about used to it by now) is the odd way in which it keeps turning up odd things. Here, for example, is a scan of the paper bag I'd saved for 33 years or so as a keepsake. I remembered its artwork by Cawthorn dated to 1977, and I recently rescued it from the great radiator flood of January 2010:

Dark They Were and Golden Eyed

While I couldn't say for sure why I still keep it, you have to admit it's rather more visually interesting than the bag that blows around in scene 16 of American Beauty! Though that, too, recalls the 1948 Heinlein story "Our fair city"... The next cuppa awaits as I listen to Composer of the Week (quite how "Bebop" constitutes a composer is a whole different issue).

Terrorist alert levels...

... can be explained in terms of national character, it seems. I've received a text that's bounced around many many thousands of miles. It begins:

The English are feeling the pinch in relation to recent terrorist threats and have raised their security level from "Miffed" to "Peeved." Soon, though, security levels may be raised yet again to "Irritated" or even "A Bit Cross." The English have not been "A Bit Cross" since the Blitz in 1940 when tea supplies all but ran out. Terrorists have been re-categorized from "Tiresome" to "A Bloody Nuisance." The last time the English issued a "Bloody Nuisance" warning level was in 1588 when threatened by the Spanish Armada.

Somewhere on the Web

Meanwhile Mrs Toyota has arranged to "fix" my accelerator pedal next Tuesday afternoon for an hour (she sounded most grateful when I told her I thought Toyota had been both responsible and responsive — I presume that isn't the most common opinion she's been hearing). And that unwicked Uncle ERNIE has delivered a useful £25 to help me offset what that nice central banker describes as a "temporary blip" in the inflation rate. Print a fresh wodge of £200,000,000,000 and see if that doesn't distort anyone's economy.


BBC Radio 2 has misplaced Desmond Carrington. Oh well — it's 19:06 so I suppose I'd better make something to eat. I must say the weather has been uniformly horrid today.



1  I also note that the little box of the complete Stravinsky that I bought just weeks before Christa died is still available, but has gone up to £32 now.
2  I was inspired to get one having watched Mike make very light work of carrot and potato prep the other night. Mind you, I'm sure I remember Christa using one of these devices many years ago. Indeed, I know we bought several in the large supermarket in Trier to give away to various people when they were commonplace in Germany but still rare in the UK. I have no idea where ours is, hence the new purchase. (I also never was terribly adept at using it, preferring to risk life and [small] limb with my trusty sharp Kitchen Devil.)