Saturday, June 02, 2007


Just remembered I'm going out tonight and staying over in Nottingham and I was meaning to write a blog entry this afternoon instead of this evening, but now it's time I was leaving the house and I haven't written one yet, so I'll just have to not write anything today. Except this, obviously, but this doesn't count. Pretend you didn't see it.

Friday, June 01, 2007


While picking up books in my bedroom the other day, I found my atlas. I'd quite forgotten I owned one. I suppose not many people use them, nowadays, seeing as you can find all the maps you want on the internet. Life was more fun when you needed to look things up in books, I'm sure. Still, it came in handy today when talking to an American friend who lives in Connecticut. It occurred to me that I hadn't got the faintest idea where in the USA Connecticut is. North or south? East, west or middle? Not a clue. It took some finding, actually - I had no idea it was so small and tucked away in the top right corner there. Or that it's practically next door to New York. I'm quite shockingly ignorant when it comes to the geography of other countries. I also thought Delaware was one of the big square ones in the west or middle bits, but it turns out it isn't. I've never encountered, or as far as I know even heard of, anyone from Delaware. I need to go there and make friends.

Of course, while my atlas is fine for learning about the USA, I need to be a bit more careful with some other parts of the world. My atlas was published in 1987, and it still thinks there's a USSR, and East and West Germany. It's a useful historical artifact, actually - did you know Walvis Bay in Namibia was part of South Africa until 1992? Well, you probably either did know that or had no reason to need to know that, but it's something I only learned today after studying an outdated atlas and checking up on the internet. Learning is cool. Now I'm going to go and watch football for two hours and forget everything I've learned.

Thursday, May 31, 2007


This month has gone really quickly. The other day I was filling in a form and asked what the date was, thinking it was either the 25th or 26th, and it turned out that it was the 29th. I really need to get a job. I'm normally only one day out in my mental reckoning when I've got a job.

I'd also like to get a job sorted out quickly so I know whether I can go to Munich for the South German memory championship on June 24th. It's only a tiny little competition, what they call a 'regional standard', with just seven quick disciplines, but I've never done one before, and it fits in with the pattern of gradually working up to the world championship with increasingly taxing competitions (the British championship on July 14th, then the German on the 27-28th). I'm really in the mood to compete at the moment, I can't wait to get back into the memory championship routine. And I want to do well in a competition in Germany for once. Not counting the World Cup or Speed Cards Challenge, but every time I've gone there for a normal competition, I've done really badly. I think it's a curse.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

I've bought a bookcase

Now I just need to put it together, pick up all my books and arrange them neatly on it. Sigh. I've had a flat-packed bookcase making my bedroom look even more untidy for the last couple of days. It doesn't seem fair that getting part of the way through tidying the place up only makes it worse than ever. There must be some fundamental flaw with the laws of the universe.

But apart from that, I'm feeling productive today, just because I had a big long interview with Hays Accountancy Personnel, who seem much more useful than the other agencies and likely to find me a good job some time soon. I have mixed feelings about returning to working life. On the one hand, it'll be great, because for some reason I think I'll be all the more disciplined when it comes to memory training and things if I have to schedule it around my work. I can go back to my old routine of doing an hour or so in the evenings when I get home, and longer sessions at the weekends. Whereas now, I can't do much during the daytime because I can't really unplug my phone while I'm at least technically looking for work. Not without feeling guilty, anyway. On the other hand, I've really got used to staying in bed till lunchtime whenever I feel like it.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Chewing gum for the eyes

One thing I forgot to mention yesterday after lifting my ban on showing off is that my Current TV 'pod' (that's what they call them. It's not my fault if no normal channels want to show programmes about me) is now available on the internet for anyone to see. Just click here. At least, that works in the UK and Ireland, I can't promise anything for the rest of the world. Search your local Current TV website and see what comes up, Americans.

And for those of you who want to watch something a little more worthwhile, I thought I'd do something a bit different tonight and, rather than thinking of something to write about, post a few YouTube videos I love. Hey, I do this very, very rarely, and normally this blog is cool and different. Besides, you can't deny this is a lot more entertaining than my normal posts.

Here's a very young Bob Dylan singing "Mr Tambourine Man" live at a folk festival in 1964. Absolutely wonderful.

KT Tunstall doing "Black Horse and the Cherry Tree", doing all the percussion and backing vocals herself by means of a foot-operated tape-looping device.

Give your inner hippy a treat with Devendra Banhart and "Little Yellow Spider"

You can't watch this and not cry. The Muppets sing "Just One Person" in tribute to Jim Henson.

Okay, that's got them out of my system (and hopefully into your brains forever). Normal service will be resumed tomorrow.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Mass mouse murder

Sniffles is dead. In fact, there turned out to be two of them, but Deutero-Sniffles is also dead. Thanks for all the advice on how to humanely get rid of mice, but in the end, killing the little blighters turned out to be easier and not particularly troubling to the conscience. But today I banged my foot on my scanner and hurt my toe tremendously, which I assume is my punishment for being so evil.

Anyway, it must be roughly a week since I decided not to post anything here that sounded remotely boastful. I got 4320 in a 30-minute binary practice the other day, which I'm fairly certain is a personal best. Which raises an interesting thing about the way I memorise - with binary digits, I look at them twice. I go through a full journey (780 digits), revise it, then move onto the next, and keep going that way until I run out of time. Doing it my new, slightly-slower-but-much-better-recall way, I get up to about 5000 digits, a bit short of seven journeys' worth.

With decimal numbers, though, I go through a journey rather quicker - I see the image immediately when I look at the three digits, whereas with binary it takes longer, I can't see a group of ten in one glance. But this also seems to hinder my memorising, and if I try to do a 30-minute numbers only looking at them twice, it just doesn't work. I can do 8 and a bit journeys in 30 minutes, but have a huge number of gaps in the recall. I need to look at everything three times to recall it properly.

All of which is just fascinating, of course, but it doesn't really give me any pointers on how to get better. I suppose I'll just go on doing things the way I always have, making it up as I go along.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

The joke only works with a Scottish accent

I've cleaned up my living room a bit. It occurred to me that having the floor knee-deep in books and papers and magazines and comics and things might make the place seem like a paradise to small rodents looking for a new home. I've even made a start on the bedroom, where I haven't seen the carpet for years because of the books all over it. Trouble with that is, I've got nowhere to put them if I do pick them up and arrange them nicely. So I've decided to do what normal people do, and get a bookcase. Maybe even a pair of bookcases, one on top of the other. I've got a high ceiling and own a stepladder, and I have got rather a lot of books.

It just worries me that keeping my books in a bookcase is so desperately conventional. I'd hate to turn my flat into a place just like any other. After all, if I pick up the books, I'll have to do the same with the clothes that cover the rest of the bedroom floor, and maybe find somewhere to put them too (I do own a wardrobe and cupboard, but they house my comic collection). And then what will distract people from the fact that I haven't used the vacuum cleaner or washed my bedsheets in about six months?