2010 — 23 May: Sunday

It's some time after midnight.1 Having watched, but barely cracked a smile during, the extended edition of HIGNFY,2 I've managed to pack a further nine cartons of books, ready for the warehouse. I still think it might have been slightly less bother simply to move house :-)

No sign of "Stasiland", though I did unearth a missing Byron Rogers hardback. Blimey, it's warm up here. Remind me why I need a heating system...

Nearly forgot. I actually had a brief phone chat with dear Mama yesterday afternoon. Her neighbour was checking to make sure I approved of him arranging the return of her gardener to do some more tidying up. Clearly she cannot now handle a phone herself. The usual "When are you coming up to see me?" (of course). Not just yet, I'm afraid. G'night, at 01:44.

Just wasted my time (again)...

... browsing the official BBC blog (here) for any signs of response from ex-fizzy drinks (or whatever his expertise is/was — t'ain't eclectic contemporary music, that's for sure) marketeer Tim Davie regarding his proposed closure of the 6Music channel. It recalls the reaction in IBM back in the bad ol' "Big John" Akers3 end days of 1992 when online (internal) forums went white hot as a series of notes made by somebody listening to his intemperate comments during a senior education session for rising stars was leaked, and then seized upon avidly by us peons. Among other things, it clearly revealed that the chaps at the top had little or no idea at all that there actually was an internal mechanism for the workers to use, company-wide, for the exchange of non-management views.

The first response was to try to shut it down (of course). That's the trouble with command and control economies in a networked world — that damned public, heh?

BBC Trust reaction cut-off date for input is Tuesday... (It's not terribly easy to find, but is very easy to fill in.) Right! Breakfast? Check. Cuppa? Check. Next batch of book cartons? Oh, OK then. It's 10:22 already, and there's some lovely Miles Davis on Radio 3 just now. (From "Miles ahead".)


Twelve cartons ready to launch. Two trips required, therefore, and I've left it until now (11:17) on the assumption that the warehouse is manned slightly later on a Sunday. (I can get in when there are no staff, but it's a bit of a hassle.) Off I jolly... Whew, it's hot.

Last trip of the day

It's a lot more hassle when you forget your PIN — not me, but the aggrieved lady from Torquay with the tattoos and heavy tobacco habit. I assured her I was happy to let her in, but she would be alarmed at the callout charge for opening her locker (and setting off the alarm) had she failed to PIN in at the entrance. With no staff present, I was unable to buy further cartons so am now down to my last four. Storage score: 47 so far. And still loads of room in the space. I have (of course) optimised my packing density by using boxes of a uniform size that exactly fit across the width available.4

Judging by his email, while my drinking chum was eyeing the wares (honies and honey, apparently) on display at our local Farmer's Market, I was the one beavering away in wares of the storage house variety. It's amazing what crap people seem to think is worth keeping. And clear that books do not feature in the modern 'ome. Or, certainly not to the point that they overflow the space available. I also had to "queue" for the first time — the corridors between the rooms admit only one trolley width, opened doors swing out to block the corridor, and there is a dearth of "passing places". Still, there's a camaraderie somewhat similar to that of dog-walkers.

Having cooled down with a hot cuppa, it's 13:34 and my thoughts are turning vaguely towards the next set of calories.

Good job...

... I'd finished my lunch before reading this fascinating piece about the possible benefits of a hookworm infection (if "infection" is the correct term for deliberate exposure to a parasitic miniature fellow-traveller). It brings back memories of the Nobel-winner who infected himself to prove the causative rôle of Helicobacter pylori in stomach ulcers. That ol' black magic Intelligent Design, heh?

R.I.P. Martin Gardner

At the age of 95. A good man, and an invariably interesting writer with a fine, inquiring mind. He introduced me to hexaflexagons, and the Soma cube (you can see here the one I bought on my first picnic trip with Christa to Oxford though by then I'd also built one for myself5 out of balsa wood). Said cube now lives on the windowsill of my bedroom and has become rather sun-bleached, which makes it even easier to solve, of course! I bought and read his most recent book just last month.

If proof be needed...

... that BBC 6Music is vital, Jarvis Cocker (to mark Robert Moog's birthday in 1934) has just played the wonderfully eerie track "Country Lane" by Walter (now Wendy) Carlos which was written for, but not used in, the soundtrack to Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange. It still raises the hairs on my arms! [Pause] The devil finds work for idle Amazon shopping baskets... I just snaffled a used copy leaving only the "new" option at a fairly outrageous £45 or so. I had the soundtrack album on vinyl when it first came out.

Search me, guv!

This didn't seem any slower than the non-SSL variant:

Google SSL

My last four cartons are now (19:25) ready to roll, but there's no point 'cos there's no-one at the warehouse to sell me my next batch until tomorrow morning. Besides, it's still very warm out there. So, an evening meal and a few moving digital pixels, methinks.



1  Clue: there's still nearly two hours of Bob Harris to go.
2  I missed the original by accepting a glass or several of mildly alcoholic firewater over the road. I also still have many insect bites to mark the fact that I sat out in a lively garden — dangerous places, gardens (if you remember those Lindsay Gutteridge novels, such as Cold war in a country garden). I see from the current second-hand prices on Amazon that I should really have hung on to my copies. I had them in SFBC hardback editions from the early 1970s. Mind you, the number of books I still have is a bit of a sore point just at the moment...
3  I'm sure the $1.2m or so annual pension since then has helped cushion his feelings.
4  I was (as you do) idly leafing through one of my books (that I wrote in 1975 — Accessing data in PLAN) before I packed it and was highly amused to note that my irritating footnote habit was already going strong 35 years ago. One such footnote was to the ACM paper on "Scatter Storage techniques" by Robert Morris in 1968, and another was a reference to a form of quick access indexing (relying on a pre-analysis of the data) that used what was called then the "Berners Lee algorithm". Now, where on earth have I heard that family's name since, I wonder? :-)
5  I also built my own version of pentominoes after Arthur C Clarke taught me about them in his novel "Imperial Earth". Wonder when that one fled my shelves?