2010-02-28

The Rules Of Swimming In Lanes

I go swimming two or three times a week. I always do a kilometre, and every odd numbered length is front crawl and every even numbered length alternates between breast stroke and back stroke.

I'd like to lay down the law once and for all on how lanes should be used. No arguments, this is how it'll be. Lanes in the swimming pool are like lanes on the motorway. You swim along in the inside lane, and use the middle lane for overtaking. The outside lane is used for overtaking the overtakers. Got that?
  • Don't overtake people within a lane. A single lane can only fit two people across.
  • Don't feel that you have to stop at the end to let people past, they can overtake you using the middle lane.
  • Don't feel frustrated if someone in front of you is too slow, simply overtake them.
  • Do remonstrate with people who use the middle lane for going at a medium speed. The middle lane is only used for overtaking people in the inside lane.
I feel better now I've got that off my chest.

Exultant

I had a few minutes to spare and I wandered to the library and found a book by Stephen Baxter. It was highly engaging. Anyway, I had to leave before I'd got more than a few pages in.

Then some time later when I needed a book to read I went back to try and find it. I couldn't, so I got Exultant.

Well now I've got it all worked out. The book I originally started reading was Transcendent, the second in the Destiny's Children series, but I ended up reading the second book in that series, Exultant.

Are you still with me? Do you still care? Hey, wake up!!

There are great ideas in Exultant. Baxter really is at the top of his game. This is the the first time I can remember that I've come across the idea of life existing at different stages of the universe's early life. In one extraordinary piece, there's a grand war across the whole of the universe between two ancient civilizations. After the saga is told, it is revealed that the universe is now 10cm across, and only a small fraction of a second has elapsed.

As well as having stunning ideas, Baxter writes a good story with well defined characters.

Good though it is, I don't think the future will be anything like this. I should really put my money where my mouth is and write a story myself.

But the only way that's going to happen is if somebody kidnaps me and doesn't let me out until I've written a book.

2010-02-23

Loft Insulation

My house was built with a room in the loft. On either side of the room there's a low wall (dwarf wall is the technical term). This forms voids with triangular cross-section that I've filled with insulation.

The voids are ventilated with air from outside, so I also sealed the small access-doors in the dwarf wall to prevent cold air getting into the top room.

The most difficult part of the whole thing was getting into the space. I put down planks and bought knee-pads, and put up a shiny board to prevent myself scraping the existing insulation from the back of the dwarf wall. My dad helped me as well.

As well as keeping the house warmer in winter, I'm hoping that the insulation will also help keep the house cooler in summer. Do you think it will?

2010-02-21

Syllepsis

I like to spot instances of syllepsis.

A TV ad on at the moment for the health insurance company Bupa says:
She felt fine, then she felt a lump, but she didn't feel alone.
In Kirsty MacColl's New England she sings:
I put you on a pedestal, you put me on the pill

The Breakfast Club

I feel physically weighed down by a sense of nostalgia after watching Breakfast Club. It's the first time I've seen it, but the clothes, the music and the atmosphere brought back my memories of the eighties. I was 10 in 1981.

I've got to go swimming now, but I'll tell you all about it when I get back.

I thought a lot about colour, which colours go together. Eighties colours!

In 1986 I started at Dauntsey's School, and we lived in Littleton Panel. A few doors down was a graphic designer who had parties at the bottom of the garden where they cooked large amounts of rice, and played reggae music.

I remember talking to the son of one of our neighbours, he was probably about 20 years old, and he was into surfing. He talked about how cool it was to shoot seagulls with an air gun. He considered me a square and remonstrated that when he was my age he was getting drunk and going to nightclubs, and why wasn't I? I was silent, but there didn't seem the opportunity to do such things, and they didn't seem very appealing anyway. So yes, I was a square.

Round the side of that house was where I spray-painted one of my CDT projects. It was my best subject, CDT. This particular project was a device for picking things up, so that you didn't have to stoop. Everyone had the same problem to solve. Mine was a black plastic tube that opened two-thirds of the way down, operated by a hidden metal rod that was pushed with one's thumb. The idea was that it looked like an anonymous black tube.

Another CDT project was a desk-lamp. Mine was an anonymous grey prism. In fact, it seems that all my designs were based on platonic solids. My CDT teacher was the best teacher. I always regret one time when he made a mistake, and I said, 'you screwed up sir'. I expected a brisk rebuke, but he just looked slightly hurt. I felt guilty, and a bit confused that I had the power to upset a teacher. I grew up a bit then.

So my school days were nothing like The Breakfast Club, but it does have the power to take me back.

2010-02-20

Hague's Double Standards

I listened to William Hague on the Today programme yesterday, being questioned by John Humphries on the alleged extra-judicial killing by Israel of the Hamas official in Dubai. Hague said he condemned all extra-judicial killings. Humphries asked if that meant that he condemned the extra-judicial killings by the USA carried out by drones in Pakistan. Hague refused to condemn the drone killings.

Hague is therefore guilty of double standards. Is he fit to become Britain's Foreign Secretary?

2010-02-07

New Year's Eve Sky Lantern

On New Year's Eve we lit a sky lantern...


...and took it outside to be released.


It floated up into the air..


...and got stuck in a tree!

Roller Disco

Roller disco fever hit Bath Pavilion last week.


Me concentrating hard:


Julia (left) who organized our group of me, Andrew and Laura (right)


Here we take part in a ritual to honour the gods of roller disco.