Saturday, May 13, 2006

Short attention span

If you're just watching TV in order to see a particular trailer, does that automatically make you one of those hyperactive types who can't focus on anything that lasts more than thirty seconds? Or is it a valid excuse that I half-saw a trailer on BBC1 today for some programme about global warming that has at least two rather obscure cartoon clips on it? The trailer was a rather strange montage of weather-related snippets (Michael Fish saying there isn't going to be a hurricane, that kind of thing, although without sound and with music in the background. It's The End Of The World As We Know It, I think it was), including a clip that I think was from Jack Frost, the cartoon I acquired on the Betty Boop collection I wrote about a couple of weeks ago (but it took me by surprise and went by too quickly for me to properly register it) and a couple of seconds of Felix the Cat mopping his brow in a 1920s cartoon I don't recognise. So now I really have to see the trailer again to properly identify the clips. And possibly find out when this show is going to be on and what it's called so I can maybe watch it, but that's a secondary concern.

Anyway, I've done no memory training again today. The Cup Final is a sort of excuse (amazing game by the way, real Roy of the Rovers stuff, I'm getting suspicious that someone is scripting big games to make them exciting enough to get a big audience), but I do need to keep on top of this thing if I'm going to win the WMC, and I still do really want to do that. I've also eaten a whole bag of Haribo tangfastics and feel a bit sick. But Smiths are selling them half price.

Oo, and also, I bought a lottery ticket for the first time in yonks, and won a tenner!

Friday, May 12, 2006

Dirty Dusting

There are posters up around the Derby area for a comedy at the Playhouse, proudly boasting that it stars Pearl out of Last Of The Summer Wine, Helga out of 'Allo 'Allo and Robbie Jackson out of EastEnders. And while I personally think those are three great actors, I've seen parodies of that kind of poster with less F-list stars than that. I might have to go and see it.

And while I'm in the mood to poke fun at people, let's all point and laugh at the artist who forgot to draw Spotty's spots throughout the extended story in this week's Beano. I mean, did the character's name not give anyone a clue as to what he's supposed to look like? Also, I'm pretty sure a Beano from my day wouldn't have included the line "eats shoots and leaves". It's shocking, what is the world coming to and so on. Which reminds me, for the benefit of regular readers who'll know I'm still complaining about Ken H Harrison not drawing the Broons any more, Big Brad Wolf is a much better fit for his artistic talents than Robbie Rebel was. So I shouldn't complain too much.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

I'll Be Glad When You're Dead You Rascal You

Don't worry, I'm not talking to you.

I have a habit of whistling or even singing quietly to myself if I'm under stress at work, just to keep myself sane, you know. Which is fine as long as I choose an appropriate song, but the one that was running through my head on a particularly stressful and hectic work day today was Louis Armstrong singing the above song from the Betty Boop cartoon of the same name (which I watched last night). I had to be careful not to sound like I was telling my colleagues essentially that I would dance on their graves.

The last bag of rhubarb and custards that I bought from Sainsbury's were mostly roughly three-quarters custard-bit, but this latest bag I've got are the other way round. As someone who used to work in a sweet factory, I wonder if this was the result of cost-cutting measures, or running out of certain ingredients, or problems with the machine.

I'm busy typing up my transcripts from the othello tournament on Saturday. I normally like to play through my games to see where I went wrong or right, but since I was playing so dreadfully on Saturday I think I'll skip that exercise so as not to depress myself unduly. I remember playing a couple of absolutely terrible moves because I missed something really obvious. The worst thing about Saturday was losing my 100% win record against at least two players, maybe as many as four (pick whichever of Joel Blackmur, Steve MacGuire, Aidan Robison and George Ortiz haven't beaten me in a live tournament game before - I can't remember exactly which of them have, but I've only played them one or two times each). This kind of statistic is important to me. That's why I've assiduously avoided Takuji Kashiwabara for the last three years - I think I might feign a heart attack or hide under the table (whichever seems easiest at the time) if I end up drawn against him again.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006


My phone doesn't seem to be working. Actually, it hasn't been working at least since I got back from Cambridge, but it's just now that I'm deciding to do something about it. I don't use the thing very much, and indeed unplug it quite regularly if I'm doing something that I don't want to be interrupted, but I don't like not having a means to be contacted in an emergency. The thing's completely dead, and it's not a problem with the phone itself - I've got a spare one that I acquired a few years ago by way of a funny story that I probably shouldn't fit in the middle of this sentence, and I've tried plugging that one in, to no avail - which means I'll have to call Ntl out to come and look at it. Which is a drag.

Anyway, that other telephone apparatus came about because I thought my original one (a stylish one made of transparent plastic with flashing LEDs) was broken, because it was just flashing and not making any noise when someone called me. Only after I'd bought another one and been using it for a week or so did I notice the switch on the side of my original phone that turns off the ringer. Casting my mind back, I remembered that I had deliberately set it to 'off' mode to see what would happen, and then forgot about it. So I ended up with two perfectly good phones, and went back to using the stylish one.

My dad also promised to buy me a fancy new phone from the mail-order catalogue he was so obsessed with, the last time I saw him, now I come to think of it.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

The first-day-back-at-work-after-a-competition blues

Turns out that going back to work after organising a memory competition has exactly the same effect as going back after competing in one. I get in the kind of mood where I figure if I can make it through the day without handing in my notice, it's a very good day. Getting any work done really isn't going to happen. The problem, I think, is that my brain's still working, and it takes a while to get back into the frame of mind where I can turn it off and get on with the accounting. I was coming back down to earth by the afternoon, though, and managed not to run off and join the circus, so now tomorrow I've just got to work a long day to catch up with everything.

Anyway, I'll write a bit more about the weekend when I get round to it. Right now I want to get in a bit of training of my own for the competitions coming up. I'm listening to a really cool song right now, called "I Wish I Was A Punk Rocker". I think it's going to be a hit.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Chance meetings with everyone I know in the world

Going home to Derby this morning I got to Cambridge station at quarter past ten, to find that the trains up to the midlands leave at four minutes past the hour. So rather than sitting around for fifty minutes, I decided to go back into town and hang around there for a while. But on my way out of the station I bumped into Ed Cooke, on his way home too, and Paul Smith, on his way to London on business. They don't know each other and just both happened to be in the same place at the same time. So we chatted about memory and MSOs for a few minutes until they went in to catch their trains, and since by then it was starting to rain and there was only half an hour to wait I went back into the station too, and ran into Jenny, on her way into work having overslept! I can only conclude that everyone in the universe passes through Cambridge at some point around 10:30 on a Monday morning.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

A success!

Contrary to expectations, the Cambridge Memory Championship went really quite well. No major disasters at all, and hardly any minor ones either. My fears about it overrunning horribly weren't entirely unfounded (in fact, Mystic Meg's fears have never been so founded), but that didn't turn out to be a problem in the sense of us getting thrown out of the building - when we were finally leaving at about 7pm, a caretaker turned up to say he'd have to hurry us. Nothing went seriously wrong - my laptop proved incapable of playing the spoken numbers loud enough, but we fixed that by some clever technological means, I didn't think to bring stopwatches but enough people did that we managed okay, I had a dispute with Clemens about him wanting to use a pack of cards that was made up out of two different packs, so some had red backs and some had blue, but we sorted it out amicably in the end.

And we had the best Germans, the US Champion and lots of new British competitors! Clemens won, to nobody's huge surprise - he's now won the last five competitions he's entered, in a run stretching back to Vienna 2004. I really have to do something about that some time. Gunther came second and despite what I said yesterday in a competition-organiser-stress kind of mood took the whole thing entirely in the right spirit. Johannes Mallow came third with a very impressive performance including a huge 720 digits in 5-minute binary, Boris had a bad day but came fourth. So the Germans dominated much as expected, with me and Ed marking papers instead of challenging them. But the newcomers all seemed to have a great time, and hopefully will all be coming back to future competitions. There's definitely going to be one more in Britain this year, it seems - either a British championship or the worlds after all, Malaysia might not happen.

Nobody beat any of my records, which I was pleased about. Boris was shocked to hear that the Speed Cards Challenge will coincide with a Germany v England world cup football game if Germany win their group and England come second - he'd scheduled it specifically to avoid the days Germany might be playing. Aubrey joined the memory crowd for lunch at the Robin Hood and Little John and everyone had a lot of fun. The TV people interviewed me and a few others and seemed to like the look of the competitions after all. Everybody was able to get to the venue despite the lack of buses and to get home again without any major disasters, assuming Ferdinand Krause managed to catch his plane (he cut it a bit fine, with the competition running so late).

I've got the day off tomorrow, so I get to spend a lot of time in bed recovering from the mental stress. It turns out that running a competition is just as tiring as taking part in one. Who'd'a thunk it?