2013 — 24 January: Thursday

I decided to "give sleep a chance" this morning.1 John Mullan's book pulling together all sorts of well-observed threads within Austen's 'oeuvre' is proving to be excellent, although it also requires quite attentive study which is — alas — more than I can say for the original TV version of "Dark Shadows".

This afternoon's post-lunch adventure, after obtaining in-store navigational hints in advance from Brian, will be an exploration of IKEA in search of at least one more LED-light strip that I intend to mount behind the plasma screen. It's a little disappointing2 to see quite so much ice still lingering, and the forecaster chappy has just promised me another cold day, too.

Time for breakfast, methinks. And that sunshine has already disappeared behind dull grey uniform clouds. Time to don another layer.

Nothing new here, agreed, but the venue of the talk was certainly an interesting one. Wonder what the delegates thought?

We do not know whether there are other cultures and civilizations out there among the 200 billion stars in our galaxy. But if there have been and if they managed to blow themselves to bits within a century or two after getting the technology to communicate across space, it would be featherbrained to think of finding an active alien outpost, because such limited communicable lifetimes are mere specks in the billions of years it takes to evolve a civilization.

Owen Gingerich in American Scholar

Also alarming to read "the physical mass of human beings and domesticated animals now makes up 90 percent of the vertebrate mass, up from 0.1 percent 10,000 years ago". Those pesky exponentials get you very very quickly in the end game.

For by no means the first time, I'm reminded of a fine drawing by my underground comix hero Ron Cobb. If you click it, you should be able to read the small print on the control panel:

The insanity of perpetual growth

It dates from 1969 and appears in his 1970 collection "Raw Sewage". I'm pleased to find a fellow enthusiast here, by the way.

I wonder...

... how long this chap — a truthful politician, it seems — will keep his job?

Japanese opinion

"The finance minister is known for his straight-talking, otherwise known as unpleasantness." Indeed?

Unable to resist...

... downloading for 79p a nice high bit-rate MP3 with its opening fragment of Audrey Hepburn dialogue from "Breakfast at Tiffany's" — the slyly comic The Booklovers from The Divine Comedy's 1994 "Promenade" album, having just heard Lauren Laverne play it. Brrr. Just nipped out to the bin to export some used tea-leaves, and can confirm it's indeed bitterly cold out there.

Still able to resist...

... the idea — clearly described, quite laboriously, here — of switching to Amazon S3 to host 'molehole' though I know it's something Junior has been looking at, if not into. Strikes me as overkill. Old dog, new tricks, and all that. [Pause] Time to saddle up, and head on out.

Musical lights

Lunch at the King Rufus was followed by a successful sortie in IKEA. And then tea and biccies and a chat at Len's. Then back to Technology Towers to play the new game of 'musical lights'. Thus, the two dim lights that have been hanging precariously from a kitchen wall-cabinet to shed not many photons over the phone in the kitchen for the past decade or more have now been cast into the outer darkness. Taking their place is the brighter fluorescent (?) strip that had been behind the plasma screen for the last three years or so until displaced a few minutes ago by the latest three-strip set of white LEDs. Readers with good memories may recall that this is more progress in a few minutes than I managed in half a day up in my loft3 over five years ago.

Today's hefty lunch was supposed to do away with the need for an evening meal. How come I'm hungry? Habit, I suspect. I've also learned I shall now be enjoying an overnight visit from Peter and Peter's g/f on Saturday, so I suppose I'd better remove all the stuff I've been lazily parking on their bed... <Sigh>

LAN speed niggle solved

Had I plugged my router upstairs into the gigabit switch instead of directly into the Cat6 cable that runs — cunningly hidden under the newish carpet — downstairs I could have been enjoying faster file transfers to and from the Buffalo NAS for many a long month. I didn't realise the router lacked gigabit capability, dammit. Silly boy!

My bungalow (and usefully four-wheel-drive equipped) neighbour has just sent me the results of his (BT) fibre broadband speed test. Since we're equidistant from the nearest exchange, I can but hope I will see the same sort of results as his: 36.7Mbps download and 7.98Mbps upload, though I already know that Zen choose to throttle back the upload speed they offer. Though I have no idea why. Nor with how many neighbours I will be contending.

Flippin' cheek!

I just sent my regular Friday afternoon tea&biscuit hosts a short, simple email...

Subject: Might you countenance...

... the idea of a visit from an itinerant biscuit-scrounger tomorrow
afternoon? Just askin'

... only to see it rejected by the recipient domain [error 550] on the grounds of it having scored 103.5 spam points! To add insult to injury, the 'bounce' message adds:

If we have erroneously blocked your email, then please accept our apologies
and try again after rephrasing your email. (state 17).

The world is going barking mad if an automated mail system thinks it can get me to rephrase email to its unstated criteria. Recall the Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy and "Eddie" the ship's onboard computer: "Computer, if you don't open that hatch I'm going to reprogram you with this large axe." I can see this is a relationship that we're all going to have to work on.



1  Probably why it has recently passed 09:00, I expect.
2  In "light" of the bright early morning sunshine streaming on to the screen from an unusual elevation that has just highlighted, and thus allowed me to use one of my optician's wonder-cloths to remove, a couple of previously-unsuspected finger marks. I harbour dark suspicions, given their small size and low height, regarding one or both of my recent small dancing visitors :-)
3  In fact, I really ought to get on and finish that little lofty task — bringing better illumination to the far-flung reaches — while I'm still physically able to get up there and clamber around. My optimistic thought back then that the three remaining lights might have to wait "a day or so" got sadly overtaken by events that weekend when Christa's illness tipped dramatically over into what proved to be our last four weeks together. (Did I ever mention I loathe cancer? I suspect I may have done so, on occasion.)