2010 — 24 May: Monday

I was admiring the beautifully-clear late twilight sky a couple of hours ago, just as the Guy Garvey programme was about to kick off (though he's actually in the recording studio with his band Elbow, which is heartening news). Anyway, stars were just becoming visible, but I suspect1 the brightest one I could see was actually Venus, and not a star at all.

In earlier times, on warm evenings/nights like this, when Christa and Peter were generally in bed2 already, I would either sit under the study skylight trying to hold the window open vertically to persuade cooler air to, as it were, drop in as I inspected the night sky,3 or I'd sit downstairs at the back of the living room on the back steps by the sliding patio door, reading by the light of the streetlamp that also served as Peter's night light.

Now that I have the whole house to myself I've yet to decide where to sit, although (of course) I can now have music without disturbing anyone. Mind you, the need to catch up on some email makes the decision easier :-)


Cloudless blue skies...

... suggest, at 08:35, that I'd better skedaddle quickly to the storage place with my last four cartons before it all gets horribly hot again. Half a grapefruit will have to "do", for the breakfast time being. [Pause] Back in time to hear about the Warren Cup. Explicit male to male sexual acts before breakfast on the BBC? Crikey!

Warren Cup

I like my car's air-conditioning on days like this. I now have another twelve cartons to fill, but need some food and drink first. I also moved around without triggering the lights inside the warehouse this morning, which was rather spooky. Not to mention awkward.

Thanks, Mr Postie — those two Bramah books are here. As before, the paperback appears to be a "print-on-demand" product (dated 7th May, over in Breinigsville, PA, rather than Milton Keynes, this time). They will not be getting packed off into storage, no matter how temporary. (A little CICS joke, there.)

Horrid flashback... dept.

An emergency ambulance has just (10:20) cruised past the house deeper into the Gardens, here, blue lights flashing. I don't take this as a good sign.

Three more cartons packed — time (12:41) for a brief "lemonses" break and a cuppa. I'm slowly realising that clearing everything hereabouts from the floors to give the plumber a chance (at least) to get at pipework is a bit like re-installing your PC operating systems. A necessary task, from time to time, no matter how disruptive.

Having heard reasons for leaving creeping ivy alone I'm now listening to the BBC Radio 4 item about more social lending... viz., Zopa. Fascinating. I can lend money to them for three years at a rate I choose myself. But, to be honest, I've never really fancied4 being a banker. Nor have I ever met a banker I fancied.

This is a cool piece of recent (Usenet News) history for such a hot day. And a lovely item from Verity Stob on "quality". Would that it were untrue.5 Back to the carton stuffing, David.

Space, indeed...

Brian kindly sent me a link that includes a free PDF of a Martin Gardner book. Among other gems in this download is this "Powers of 10" style limerick by Tim Rowett:


In case you need the "key"...

10-14 meters is (roughly) an atomic nucleus
   10-7 meters is (roughly) the size of a human cell's nucleus
      100 meters is (roughly) a human body
         107 meters is (roughly) the diameter of the Earth (compare here)
      1014 meters is (roughly) the outer Solar System
   1021 meters is (roughly) the span of the Milky Way galaxy
1028 meters is (roughly) the extent of the Universe (give or take)

Oops! As "Dubya" might have put it, I've misoverestimated the number of cartons so far shifted. There are 55 now in the warehouse,6 but the highest-numbered is #57. Well, I have another 18 to be filled, so far, but it's far too hot to contemplate doing that now (at 17:21). Time for a cuppa, and to put my feet up.

... and Time

I've just warned Mike that walking is "off" tomorrow unless it's significantly cooler. I'm running low on the time left to finish getting the house ready for the plumbing work. Christa and I seemed to get more done between us than just me working alone, dammit. Mind you, we were both younger and fitter, I guess, when we moved here in 1981. Perish the thought.

Given some of the things I've been unearthing...

Old fascinations

... I've become painfully aware that a) I was every bit as much of a squirrel as Christa ever was, and b) my tastes and interests (some might say "obsessions") have actually changed over the years. I note, too, that magazine typography has also changed. Good grief! It's 22:01 already. Hah! Brian just emailed to tell me he has an almost complete run of this magazine, including my issue here, stashed in his loft. Perhaps it's not just me. I've also just read the NYT obituary piece for Martin Gardner. And this optimistic piece on BBC 6Music.



1  Had I studied my copy of "Teach Yourself astronomy" more closely back in the mid-1960s I'd probably know how to confirm it. But not having corrected vision at the time, and only a cheapish refracting telescope, I lacked the incentive.
2  Anne Fadiman's lovely essay Night Owl applies.
3  Recall Sylvia Plath's "Insomniac" (The Night Sky is only a sort of carbon paper...), not to mention that lovely exchange from the Jodie Foster film Contact about it being "an awful waste of space" if there's nobody "out there".
4  The adverts in my Cheadle Hulme school magazine in the very early 1960s carried the suggestion that young men (not women, oddly) entering the profession could hope to better themselves with annual salaries possibly as high as £1,000 within a decade or so.
5  My shameful computing history includes an unmerry stint tangling with ISO9000 and Malcolm Baldrige.
6  I can fit 6 cartons across the room, with a 7th turned through right angles to use the space left over at the end. And I can (with some effort!) pile them 6 cartons high. It's much like building a wall, I guess.