Saturday, April 28
7:45 - Get up, wonder why a toothpaste can't be invented that doesn't leave a sourish taste in your mouth the next morning.
7:50 - Have shower.
8:00 - Shamble over to kitchen, make bowl of 'Coco Shreddies', noting that it probably isn't a good idea to eat them as dry snacks since I've finished most of the box and I only bought it a couple of days ago.
8:10 - Check email. Nothing interesting. Check BBC News, note that Dennis Tito is about to be launched into space. Mull over whether this is a good thing, considering that the ISS is a scientific station but this is tempered by the fact that he's paying $20m. Decide to withhold judgement until he gets back to Earth.
8:30 - Get changed, curse for the nth time that I have lectures on a Saturday morning, go off to main door to meet my neighbour.
8:40 - Discuss with neighbour possible ways in which to eliminate next-next door neighbour for having noisy parties until 2am in the morning. 'Once we kill him, we'll be able to sleep easy at night.' Didn't think I'd ever hear that one.
8:50 - Discuss children's TV shows with friends walking to lecture. Muse inwardly that children's TV shows are always a good topic for conversation - they're uncontroversial and something in common with a whole range of people. Remember reading on the Internet that you know you're getting on well with somebody when you can talk about something other than children's TV shows.
9:00 - Get to lecture.
9:05 - Determine that lecturer isn't saying anything new, and taking a long time to say it. Slump down in defeat when I realise that I have another two lectures after this one...
Friday, April 27
Recently, I reverted back to using my good old 'Head' bag instead of the newer PriceWaterhouseCoopers freebie I'd had. Mostly it was for practical reasons; the Head bag could store more and looked better. But besides those reasons was the sheer experiences I've had with the Head bag. I first got it about eight years ago now, and I remember getting it simply due to its ruggedness. Over the years, it first lost its solid bottom sheet, then its plastic front cover. There was a period of a few years where it stayed fine, but then in the space of one year, one of the front clips was ripped off (the person who did it had the wit to realise the magnitude of the mistake he made) and then the other clip was broken.
Right now, there are a few holes in the smaller pockets, but what's important is that the bag is still holding up, after eight years of heavy usage. Lesser backpacks have fallen at these hurdles, but it still lifts my heart every time I see a similar Head bag to mine - invariably they're in a battered condition with bits of plastic torn, but they're worn with pride by their owners.
In perhaps a clever move by Head, they seem to have discontinued this line of indestructible backpacks in favour of producing more attractive yet shorter-lasting bags, to get more money. This is indeed a sad turn of events, but when I look upon my backpack, with its mysterious 'ATB' word emblazoned on the front (the provenance of which is still unknown - some wags believe it means 'All Terrain Bag'), I think - 'truly, I would not exchange this bag for any other.'
Wednesday, April 25
Some reviews of Britney Spears' novel at BBC News Online. Best quotation:
"Britney's novel is nothing short of genius. It is a work of supreme scholastic skill. She has a distinctly Joycian prose, yet she emotes like a young Turgenev. If she was English, this would have to be on the Booker Shortlist. I hope that it will become a National Curriculum staple. Five stars."I agree with John Ingram of the Culture list - this Roobenzian must be located and congratulated post-haste!
Monday, April 23
I read something very interesting in a book today, about Naturalistic Decision Making (NDM). This is where experts take the limited data available to them in any situation and compare it to their vast fund of experiences, and then make quick decisions based on analogies to past experiences.
Arguably, everyone uses NDM. However, it's obviously more effective for those with more varied experiences who are used to having to make quick and definite decisions. And in these cases, NDM gives these experts a huge advantage over others, in every facet of life and work. It's not just enough to have a vast fund of varied experiences (although it is a prerequisite) - it's having the experience and skills to use those experiences that matters, and the confidence (or perhaps sheer arrogance, some might say) that their decisions will be correct.
I can't say that there's a point behind what I've just said about NDM - but to me, seeing NDM spelt out made a lot of sense even though it seems common-sense.
The Question and Answer sessions of the Reith Lectures on ageing are always the best part - read the first question on this page...
Sunday, April 22
Continuing with the Disney songs thread, I've just realised how good some of the older(ish) songs. I've got a friend who has a (perhaps justifiable) pathological hatred of the 'glitzified' versions of Disney songs. Case in point: Beauty and the Beast. During the film, Angela Lansbury sings a perfectly good rendition of the song. But on the CD is a completely over the top performance by Vanessa Williams with long drawn-out notes and all the rest. What's the deal with that?
Interesting factoid: Apparently, since UK consumers view Japanese products to be of higher reliabilty, quality and value than other products, a large number of supermarkets and shops stock Matsui electronics. The thing is, Matsui electronics are largely owned and produced in the UK - the only Japanese/SE Asian thing about it is its name. Can't say I knew that.
[drums fingers on table and hmms thoughtfully]
It's at time like these, in semi-awkward pauses between conversations, that my mind races and I try to mine my brain and experiences for interesting or funny things to say. Most of the time it works quite well, and normally what I try to do is to direct the comment into a question to the person I'm talking to. I like getting other people to talk about themselves, I find I can do it quite easily.