2012-04-22

The Clear Out Continues

This is part of my ongoing effort to document the stuff I'm throwing out as I sort out my new smaller house.


I've had this sleeping bag for ages. Since I was a child. Certainly since the early 80s, maybe even before! It's been with us on family holidays, packed in the Renault 4. Used as a barricade on the back seat to prevent my brother and me fighting. Great value sleeping bag!


Lovely old jumper. I remember I used to wear it in the sixth form a lot circa. 1989. I remember going to the Ancient Fowl and drinking Zambuca with my friends. Probably Gareth Adams and Jo Carrier IIRC. Some of the holes in the jumper were no doubt made by Roger (our dog).


In the sixth form I suffered from depression, but one thing I did manage to do was redecorate my room. I had a futon with this African blanket on it, over the duvet. The blanket was probably given to us by my aunt. I think the spare use of colour is perfect. From photos, I sort of thought it might be the kind of thing that Lyall Watson might have.


Never wore this jumper much. I think it went in the wash at too high a temperature and shrank. Anyway, I remember wearing it at Uni. I said to my friend that I was worried about an upcoming exam. She said there was no way I could fail, wearing that jumper!


Doug brought the back this Tour de France 1998 t-shirt back from France for me. I've worn it a lot!


Another t-shirt brought back for me by Doug on his travels. This one is from a nightclub in Prague where he saw Sigourney Weaver.


Doug went to see the Dalai Lama and brought back this t-shirt. Even though it's not written in English, you can tell the date is 1991, because it's a palindrome. Next to it is a towel of great family historical significance. Although the exact significance I can't remember. Perhaps it was my grandmother's?


Ah, all the dates of the University Drama Club. I was in a couple of plays. I've gone on about that elsewhere enough I'm sure. The white t-shirt is from the Uni Environmental Society. I wrote the constitution and demonstrated outside Sainsbury's. Also remember fly-posting furtively, but didn't really realize it was illegal.


At Uni a friend of mine was shocked that this jumper had so many holes in. I replied that it was the height of fashion and that the holes had been made at great expense by a designer wearing black. She actually partially believed me! Years later I was wearing it at the Mason's Arms on Newtown in Bradford On Avon. Bill remarked that it really wasn't a jumper to wear outside the house. I've more or less followed his advice since.
I was walking along at Uni and some guy said, 'are you into skating?' because of the clothes I was wearing. I said no, but said I was interested in being interested. So we went and bought a skateboard and did some skating! I've given the skateboard away now. Gone to a good home!

UK Cabinet Office Open Standards Consultation

I've made a brief response to the UK Cabinet Office open standards consultation. The first question asks:
How does this definition of open standard compare to your view of what makes a standard 'open'?
My reply is:
This is a good definition, but a shortcoming is the alternative to RF:

'alternatively, patents may be covered by a non-discriminatory promise of non-assertion'

I'm suspicious of this alternative to RF and do not see the necessity for it. Retaining it would add complexity and confusion where none need exist.

I'm pleased that the definition excludes FRAND. FRAND is incompatible with Open Source software and it would be disastrous if an open standard couldn't be implemented by Open Source software.
In responding I found Glyn Moody and Simon Phipps helpful.

2012-04-03

He Knew He Was Right

Some time ago, while visiting Matt in Oxford, we came back from his PhD celebrations and sat in his kitchen for a bit. One of his housemates was there and talked about Charles Dickens. I opined that Dickens was sentimental, melodramatic and at times lurid. She recommended Anthony Trollope. I remembered that but never got round to it. So when I was in the process of moving to Bath, I promised myself that I'd read Trollope when I finally moved in. Amazingly someone gave me Trollope's He Knew He Was Right, just at the time I was moving in.

It's a brilliantly told story, or really set of stories, as it's done in soap opera style. The main thread is about a man getting himself into a terrible mental state, over a period of many months. His psychological decline then leads to his physical decline. One of Trollope's achievements is to portray the step by step decline convincingly. The book is leavened with social sub-plots with engagements made and broken, swings between poverty and wealth, and the stubborn eccentricities of Miss Stanbury. Post boxes were introduced in Britain by the author, and Miss Stanbury took against them, complaining of the iron stumps, and saying that any decent person would walk to the post office. It reminded me of the attitude to wind turbines today.

A cautionary tale, really.

2012-04-01

Various Things That Have To Be Thrown Out

My first mobile phone
My gratitude to my brother for giving me this phone is so great that it is beyond words. I was living in a tent at the time, and the phone let me keep in touch. It could store a maximum of 10 texts! Unfortunately it's one of the things I have to throw out now.

Some books from my childhood
Clearing out the garage, I had to confront this stack of books from my childhood. There are so many memories attached to these books. It's moving to look through them, evoking sadness and nostalgia.

More books
Those top 3 are a boxed set of Michael Crichton books that my brother gave me for Christmas (or birthday, can't remember which). I liked them, thanks for the present! I can see a book by William Poundstone there. Interesting person. I read about him much later when he was promoting his latest book on electoral reform in the US. A proponent of range voting if I remember correctly.
Lots of memories here
That top one is supernature by Lyall Watson. I've written about him before. A classic book. Then The Meaning Of Liff, by Douglas Adams and John Lloyd. I remember having it in my pocket as a teenager, and taking it out and reading it when we were visiting Ikea in London by bus. My mum thought it said, Meaning Of Life and thought it was a religious / self-help book. She said, 'that won't help you'. I didn't say anything. The book takes place names, and uses them for things that we don't have a name for. One that I remember is Polbathic, meaning to have the ability to turn bath taps on and off with your feet. Does God Play Dice? was very influential for me. I think I went to visit Dundee University and bought this book for my brother. Of course he wasn't at all interested and I was really just buying it for myself, but I fooled myself into thinking I was buying it for him. You know what I mean. This book first got me into fractals and chaos, which was one of the things that made me switch from Architecture to Physics at Uni. It was one of the few things I felt I understood, and created fractals from modelling diffusion limited aggregation for a project. During the Uni holiday I ran the simulation overnight on a laptop that my dad borrowed from work. The next book is H.G.Wells' The History Of Mr Polly. I read it at Uni, and it has a wonderfully peaceful ending. I was in much need of peace of mind when I read it. Polly Devlin's All Of Us There was actually given to me by Polly Devlin herself! Her husband was involved in a company called Open World that I worked for. I was asked to go over to their house and fix her computer. I did my best with it, and I hope I left it in a better state than I found it. In return she gave me a copy of her book. Lastly, the dictionary. On the front it boasts, 'Updated for the 90s'.

Cravat
This was the cravat I wore when I played the older Bernard in Dennis Potter's Cream In My Coffee. We took it to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival where it was seen by lots more than one person!

You youngsters don't know how lucky you are. We used to have to have these Ordance Survey maps in the days before smartphones and OpenStreetmap. Actually, some people loved the paper maps, my dad for one. He had a collection of them on a couple of bookshelves. They were a feature of my childhood. It annoyed me that there were duplicates for some. Why not throw away the older one? One sure way to torture my dad was to fold a map incorrectly.