Saturday, March 25, 2006

Curse the man who invented the common cold

I'm still all bunged up. Practicing memorising cards with a runny nose reminds me of the MSO championship in 2003, when I was similarly afflicted. I had to pause every couple of minutes to wipe my nose, without making too much noise - sitting in silence for long periods of time when you've got a cold is difficult.

Attempted to boldly go where no one except Andi Bell and possibly a couple of others have gone before today, and tried to memorise 36 packs of cards in an hour. That gives me time to go through each pack twice, and about three-quarters of them for a third time. But my recall had way too many gaps in it. Still, I'm pretty sure it's something I could do with a bit more practice, and it's good to aim high in these things.

On the other hand, I could stick with 30 in the world championship and get most of them right, and still win the discipline comfortably, if nobody else does much better than in previous years. I'll have to decide closer to the time and see what everyone's achieved in the half-hour cards at the German championship, and hour cards at the MSO or British Championship, if any of these promised events actually happen this year. But if Andi's not competing, or not properly competing this year (and who knows what he's going to do, if anything?), I wouldn't expect anybody else to go much over 20 packs. I'd like to be proved wrong, though - if I keep up the kind of form I'm in at the moment, I'm going to be well ahead of everyone else, touch wood. Always with the proviso that someone else might have improved too, and people usually do...

Friday, March 24, 2006

President and First Tiger

Congratulations are in order for Sam, who's just been elected president of the Bangor students' union. I'm sure this is a start of a great golden age for the university, and that his appalling right-wing views won't bring about the collapse of all peace, happiness and moral rights throughout the student population of Wales and the wider world. I have been saying for years that Sam is the kind of person who's going to be Prime Minister when he grows up, and I think this goes some way towards proving me right. He's certainly the kind of person you want to stay on the right side of, just in case. Luckily, I've still got the photos from that night in York, in case I ever need to blackmail him.

In other news, I've just taken the unprecedented step of giving my phone number to someone from the BBC after a single email request, without even being pestered for it for weeks on end. I'm going through a phase of feeling like I could be a TV star again, and this is part of the latest get-rich-eventually scheme that will never come to anything. They only want me to be a consultant on a programme about memory, rather than the star of my own variety show, but it's a step in the right direction. Who knows, I might even get round to writing that book this weekend - I'm not doing anything special again (two weekends in a row? Have I really that little social life?)

Elsewhere, I've just been quite tickled to see that in the German translation of Ozy and Millie, Dr Wahnsinnig is called Dr Insane. I don't know why, but this little detail makes me laugh. I like useless trivia like this, and the way a strip last week revealed that Ozy's middle name is Justin, which suits him perfectly somehow. I know I've plugged it before, but you should really go and read it - at the moment, Ozy's curse of annual baldness has manifested itself in the form of an overzealous security check at the airport, while Llewellyn is building a windmill in his garden in order to annoy the neighbours.

Oh, and I must get round to hassling the WMSC about getting that promised abstract image generating program available - if it's not on the internet a month or so before the Cambridge championship, I'm going to have to drop it from the schedule and acquire a poem instead, with all the attendant translation difficulties that entails.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Miscellaneous Thoughts

I've still got a terrible cold, and it's getting on my nerves.

One of the builders working on the bit of our office building that isn't finished yet is a woman. I think this is very cool - I don't think I've ever seen a female builder outside of politically correct fiction before now.

There's a Brazilian guy called Renato Alves who's claiming to have broken memory world records with some really unexceptional performances, which is riling the 'memory sports' message board today. As best I can understand Babelfish's translation from Portuguese, he does courses on memory and charges a lot of money for it. There are a quite a few people in the world who do this, and they really don't teach anything you can't find on the internet for free.

At the US Memory Championship, the water provided free was 'Smart Water' - water with added chemicals that help the brain. I didn't dare touch the stuff.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006


Spiders are made predominantly of nitroglycerine, and explode at the slightest touch. Although they are actually insects, spiders like to describe themselves as 'arachnids', a made-up word that doesn't mean anything. This is just typical of the spider mentality. Among the other things that spiders do that really get on my nerves are passing themselves off as human beings in order to claim unemployment benefit, cleaning the windows of their houses so well as to put other people to shame, exploding at the slightest touch and eating wallpaper. The high price of wallpaper in this country is entirely due to spiders eating so much of it and not, as spiders will tell you, the fault of the government.

It's about time someone did something about spiders, but they hang out with all-in wrestlers and freemasons, so nobody dares to hassle them. On the other hand, hornets are mild-mannered and pleasant, so anybody wanting to take out their spider-related frustrations should go and beat up a hornet.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Football, Football, Football

There's way too much of it on TV at the moment. Tonight's a night off, because the BBC could only splash out on the rights to three of this week's four midweek games, but it's still definitely enough to get in the way of all the useful things I could be doing with my time. Or the useless things I do to avoid doing the useful things, anyway.

It's a funny kind of situation, really. Absolutely nobody wants the FA Cup quarter finals to be held midweek, on consecutive days, which forces a few clubs to play two games in three days. But it's part of the squeezing of the football season's fixtures so as to give the England squad four weeks off before the world cup starts. And for TV reasons they can't play all the quarter finals at the same time, and for obvious reasons they can't play them during office hours, so everyone just has to lump it. Spectators aren't happy, managers and players are extremely not happy, and we'll only lose the world cup in an embarrassing kind of way anyway, same as usual.

You might have gathered that I haven't got anything interesting or unusual to talk about tonight. I've got a sore throat and cold, thanks to the germs that have been stampeding around our office for the last week or so, and I'm short of imagination just at the moment.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Media studies

I've just had advance warning that another documentary-maker, from the BBC this time, is going to be emailing me. I seem to be getting a lot more of this kind of thing this year than I did the year that I was World Memory Champion. Perhaps the TV-viewing public are really demanding coverage of 'mind sports' these days? There's also apparently going to be some kind of programme about othello, thanks to Michael Handel giving the game so much publicity on The Armstrongs (with one thing and another, I've missed every episode since the first, but I'm definitely going to see it this week. Assuming it doesn't clash with the football). Perhaps I'll be rich and famous with minimal effort yet! I can just see it, major memory championship celebrity appearing in adverts for brainy things like... well, my imagination's drawing a blank as to the kind of product that would benefit from endorsement by a clever person. Apart from furniture design, of course.

Actually, now I come to think of it, I've always wanted to appear in an advert for McDonald's. I read an article a couple of years ago about how eating junk food is supposed to damage your memory, and I thought I would be great in an advertising campaign along the lines of "McDonald's - it's not just for fat, stupid people."

People should eat a lot more junk food.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Lemming Aid

I didn't have anything better to do this evening [this is Zoomy-speak for 'I had lots of important and useful things I could have been doing, but didn't feel like doing them], so I've just spent an hour or so playing Lemmings on my old Mega Drive. Lemmings seems to be popular again, or at least I see adverts for it on the PS2 or one of those new-fangled consoles, probably with bonus features. Everything's got bonus features these days.

But it's one of those timeless, enduring games that you can just play for hours on end and never get tired of. Frustrated and terminally addicted, yes, but not tired. There's something compelling about having the fate of hordes of mindless little animals in your hands...