It's always nice to know that some people are still reading this thing, and I do apologise to anybody I narked or saddened. But hey, now I've got something to write about tonight, so all is well with the world again. First question...
Tell us more about your trip Stateside!!
Well, that's more of a command than a question, but that's okay. I like having instructions shouted at me occasionally, it removes the need to think for myself. Anyway, apart from the lengthy flight delays, my visit to Pittsburgh was just fantastic. I got to meet up with quite a lot of people I only previously knew over the internet (among them, if they're reading this, Max and Logan, who I should say hello to - and assert that although comics fans won't believe me, Logan is Canadian and that's his real name) and have a lot of cartoon-animal-related fun! I also got to look around the city, which isn't nearly as exciting or big as I expect American cities to be. It did, however, have a really amazing fireworks display on the 4th! With some really clever rockets that make smiley faces in the sky!
Now that you are an expert in long-distance cycling, what are your thoughts on this year's Tour de France???
My readers are fond of punctuation, aren't they???? Anyway, I currently have no thoughts on the Tour de France, except that it provokes a memory of the Luxembourg National Anthem from an episode of Maid Marian And Her Merry Men: "Hurrah for the state of Luxembourg, all Luxembourgers sing! And let our heroes' deeds throughout the rest of Europe ring! A man from Luxembourg once came thirty-seventh in the Tour de France, and in this year's Eurovision Song Contest we stand quite a good chance."
Let me just see what's happening in the Tour. Ah, I see Bradley Wiggins, who's got a silly name, isn't winning, Lance Armstrong, co-star of Men's Health's Superhuman issue, is doing slightly better, and someone I've never heard of called Alberto Contador is winning. Hooray for him, I wholeheartedly approve. I know two people called Alberto and nobody called Albert. Nor am I friends with anybody called Bradley or Lance, nor anyone with the silly surname Wiggins.
You could talk about how, confident or otherwise, you feel about the upcoming competitions Ben.
If not maybe you could discuss the number of locations you have used in recent memory training sessions :-)
What I would really like to read is a list of 50-odd items described in the pictures made by another person. Censored obviously (which is probably why nobody ever does it; he he.)
Up to the challenge Ben ?
Erm, I'm up to the challenge, but I'm not sure exactly what you mean by "a list of 50-odd items described in the pictures made by another person." You mean my images for memory, or someone else's?
Anyway, as for the rest of it, I feel sort of semi-confident about the German championship. I've slacked off the training quite a lot just lately, but before that I had a month or so of very dedicated memorising, and hopefully that'll stand me in good stead. My motivation comes and goes these days, but I think the truly mind-boggling amount of memory work I did back in 2003/04 still helps me be in a good state with just a little bit of refresher-practice before a competition. I don't think I'll ever be able to get back into the mindset I had before I won the world championship, when I was training constantly and never leaving the house unless I absolutely had to. But I'm still keeping up with it, because I really don't like it when I'm not the world champion.
The number of locations I've used... I've currently got 62 journeys, some of them old familiar ones I've been using for years, some of them brand new and still not entirely clear in my head, with 26 locations each. Plus a half-journey that goes up to 14 locations max before I get lost, that I use when I need a partial one, like in trial 2 of spoken numbers (11 locations for the 100-digit trial, then 22 for the 200-digits, which uses one-and-a-bit journeys). That makes 1626 locations, unless I've got my sums wrong. Which I probably have, because the radio's playing and I can't be bothered to concentrate.
I estimate that I need 31 journeys for the German championship. Having twice that many journeys prepared was not deliberate.
Your birthday's only a couple of months away, should we follow tradition and throw another Poohsticker event? Perhaps something pub based this time for those of us who are temporarily incapacitated?
Would be great to get the old gang back together again :0)
Yes, yes it would! I don't know how we got into the habit of only getting together once a year on my birthday, but I think it's a great tradition. And to compensate for the Zoomy-centricness of it all, I'll buy birthday cards and little presents for everybody else this year! How about a weekend in York - I think it's the anniversary of that great event some time around now. How long ago was that now? Eight years? Wow, I must be old.
What are your views on the Fermi paradox?
I had no views on the Fermi paradox until I looked it up on the internet. I think it's a nice thing for science-fiction writers to write about. Personally, I think humans need to broaden their ideas of what alien intelligence life would be like if they want to find any evidence of it. People still think in terms of little green men in flying saucers, and all those fancy radio-signal-monitoring things are geared to detect something that's basically exactly like us. Show some imagination, people. Aliens a squillion light-years away are probably sitting in their living rooms "listening" to radio comedy shows transmitted by the disturbance in air currents caused by a dense metal box being strategically hit with some kind of space hammer. We need to build some kind of receiver that can pick that up.
Thanks for the questions, one and all!