Saturday, October 28, 2006

Lochaber no more

I wanna go to America. I heard the Proclaimers song "Letter From America" today and it's made me feel like a visit over there. Not that the song's supposed to inspire that kind of feeling in people, but it did it for me. I don't think I can really do it this year, though, however much I rearrange my schedule, what with going to Germany next week and everything. I suppose I shouldn't complain.

Anyway, am I going to do any good in the various competitons and record attempts over the next week? I'm quite hopeful of successfully memorising 270 binary digits in a minute on the Friday, if all goes well. Which will be nice. I'm sure I'll do very unexceptionally in the mental calculation world cup itself, but in that it really is the taking part rather than the winning that I enjoy. As for the memory, it could go either way. I'm more interested in getting good scores in the numbers and cards rather than defying the odds and the lack of English translations to win the competition outright, but I'm really still not sure at all how well I'll do. It'll just have to take me by surprise, like all good things.

Went down to see Grandma today, and she gave me seven new pairs of socks. She (quite correctly) always assumes I don't own any socks that aren't full of holes. I seem to wear the things out at an astonishing rate. Perhaps I should learn how to darn. Another thing I should do is get a video camera. Whenever I see Grandma I always have the idea that someone should tape her telling her life story - I honestly think it would make great TV, because she tells it so well (she can talk for hours, uninterrupted) and because it really is fascinating in a real-person's-view-of-history kind of way. It's another thing on the things-to-do list, anyway.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Happy birthday, Jenny!

And for that matter happy birthday yesterday to my neighbour Andi, who it turns out reads my blog. And I thought I was living here in peaceful anonymity. That's a different Andi from the one I normally write about here, by the way.

I'm feeling rather short of inspiration for things to write about tonight, as you can maybe tell by the many happy returns of days that aren't necessarily exactly today. Although that does remind me of something I haven't mentioned on here yet - while lying around the place playing on the internet the morning after my birthday party, we discovered that I was born exactly fifty years to the day after the publication of Winnie-The-Pooh! This is quite significant, since most of us at the party met as a direct result of Pooh's existence. That's the kind of numerical statistic that leads some people out there on the internet to believe that they're the second coming.

This internet-browsing session was also notable for Ace shouting "Pooh links!" quite loudly while two normal people were in the room delivering a hamster to Crispy and Sleepy. Well, comparatively normal, anyway, probably. I don't know them, they might have been complete weirdos, but they probably weren't.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

The importance of little yellow squares

I've been playing quite a bit of othello on Kurnik just lately, and trying to stop my rating from plunging to new depths. For the uninitiated, your rating goes up when you beat someone and down when you lose, and how much it goes up and down by is based on the rating of the person you're playing. It got down as low as 1399 today, which is horrible. I try to keep it above 1500, because then you get a little yellow square next to your username instead of a green one. Of course, if you're even better than that you can get a little orange square or even a red one like Ben Seeley, who was hanging out there today, but I think that kind of lofty goal is beyond me at the moment.

I generally only play people rated over 1500 so as to get a good game, but since my rating's so low at the moment most of them don't want to play me, so I've lowered my standards. Meanwhile, my tournament rating has been quite good just lately - you get a separate rating for games in official tournaments, and for some reason or other that's generally lower than normal ratings. Mine struggled up just above 1250 in time for the exclusive 1250+ tournament on Tuesday night, which was brilliant. Like being allowed to play with the cool kids. But now it's dropped back down to lowly levels again. Ah well.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Spoiler alert

Wow, I sound like one of those nerds who post to message boards about comics. Granted, I sound like that when I post nerdy things to message boards about comics myself, but I'm pretty sure I've never used jargon like 'spoiler alert' on my blog before. Hopefully I never will again.

But I think it's now acceptable for me to talk Torchwood. As I'm writing this I'm watching the repeat of the first episode on proper telly, so nobody in Britain has any excuse for not having seen it before reading this. As for the rest of you, well, that's what the alert was for. It's not just window-dressing.

Actually, all I wanted to say, apart from the fact that it was really, really great, is that the BBC's advance publicity was brilliant. This is the spoiler part - one of the Torchwood team dies at the end of the first episode as part of the final (really cool) plot twist. In all the hype, including a big feature in the Radio Times, they talked about this character as if they were going to be one of the regulars, so as not to spoil the surprise. I was impressed. Especially since the Radio Times spoiled the surprise death of Tara in Buffy the Vampire Slayer for me. They're back on my Christmas list now.

As for Torchwood, I should just add that there were so many little funny lines and cool moments that I lost count. Very Russell T Davies. It's going to be a highlight of the week from now on.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

It's a steady job, but he wants to be a paperback writer

Did you know November is National Novel Writing Month? No, neither did I until today (thanks, Kitty!). What it is, if you're too lazy to click on the link and work out what the slightly unfathomable website is talking about, is a kind of challenge - write a 50,000 word novel from scratch during the month of November. The idea being that you're going to write a load of drivel, but at least it will get your creative juices flowing. Really, it's exactly the kind of impetus I need! The I'll-do-it-if-you-do-it-too attitude always motivates me to do stuff.

I think everyone should do it. In fact, I COMMAND all my loyal readers to join in and write their own masterpieces! Go on, don't be shy, you don't have to show your novel (or navel) to anybody if you don't want to, but I think everyone in the world should try to tap into their muse as much as possible. It's good for you. And don't give me that "I haven't got time" nonsense - I've got a trip to Germany packed with mental calculations and memorising, a semi-full-time job, a non-novel book to write and a whole pile of cartoons that need watching (thanks Mike!), and I'm still going to write 50,000 words.

I haven't got a title yet. Or rather, I have, but I'm not sure if I'm going to use it or not. I'll see what kind of novel I feel like writing. Look me up on the website - I'm Zoomy.

Monday, October 23, 2006

I am the music man, I come from down your way

I'm endeavouring to learn how to play the piano. I have tried before, several times, but this time I'm taking a different approach from my usual tactic (find a piece of music I'd really like to be able to play, sit down with it and try to work out how to play it, fail to do so, give up) - I've got a book. I don't think it's a particularly good book (Piano For Dummies), but playing through the exercises in it might at least get my fingers nimble enough to cope with a concerto or two.

If I have the patience to learn how to memorise thirty packs of cards in an hour, surely I can find the time and inclination to sit down and play scales until I can do it right? Dominic O'Brien can play the piano, after all, so logically I should be able to play it even better than him. Learning the guitar is also high on my list of priorities, but that's a bit more difficult to get started on - I've got a clever electric keyboard with headphones so nobody can hear what I'm playing on it, whereas if I got a guitar, all my neighbours would be able to hear me mangling it while learning to pluck and strum. And I'm not sure I like the idea of other people hearing me play an instrument, at least not until I'm the best player of it in the entire universe. This attitude is of course why I picked a silent hobby like memorising things.

I also need to learn to play something obscure and classical, so that I can join an orchestra. It'll need to be an instrument that nobody else plays, of course, so that even if I'm not very good at it, the orchestra boss (I also need to learn the proper terminology for these things) will say "well, we need a Venezuelan nose-flute for this performance and you're the only person in the world who can play one (since very few people are prepared to have the necessary nostril enhancement surgery) so you get the job. Go and sit next to the bassoons."

Sunday, October 22, 2006

You don't have to be crazy to work here...

I forget why I agreed to work next week when I could be staying at home and practicing for the two competitions I'm doing in a couple of weeks. I'd rather not have to go in tomorrow, anyway. I'll see if I can wriggle out of it. That said, I haven't been doing any practicing today (or is it 'practising'? That's one of the only words in the English language I'm never sure how to spell right), I've been watching telly and aimlessly wandering around cyberspace. Although I prefer to buy my old cartoon videos from charity shops, I found one on eBay that I couldn't resist - it's titled "Sniffles the Mouse"! I had no idea he'd ever got a tape named after him. It's got two Sniffles cartoons on it that I've already got, and a few other random non-Sniffles ones that I haven't. The opening bid of £2.99 (plus postage and packing) is so ridiculously high for this kind of thing that I almost didn't bother, but I thought what the heck. I might as well run out of money sooner as later.

Anyway, Torchwood is on in ten minutes, and I'm still entirely unclear on whether it'll be any good or not. I hope it will.