Friday, December 08, 2006

London Nights

Going to the big city tomorrow for the Big VPS Christmas Meet - well, I'm not sure how Big it'll be, but there'll be half a dozen of us having a festive drink, anyway. This is also an opportunity to wander around the shops and think about what to buy people - probably a bit early to actually buy presents, we don't want to go mad here. Besides, it's fun to frantically run round the shops just before they close on Christmas Eve, adding to the burden of the poor overworked shop assistants.

Also, I'm getting back into memory training quite well now. Did a pack of cards today in under 30 seconds for the first time in a while, and I've got not only a proper routine, but plans to expand it in the new year when I won't be so busy all the time. Who knows, I might manage another world championship yet.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

All Things Must Pass

My favourite webcomic, Newshounds, ended yesterday. Which is very sad. What's more, my favourite superhero comic, Runaways, is coming to a sort of end in January - it's going to continue beyond then, but written by someone else, and although the someone else is Joss Whedon, who's great, it won't be the same without Brian K Vaughan. Along the same lines, Fabian Nicieza is leaving Thunderbolts, to be replaced by Warren Ellis. Which is going to be terrible - Ellis is capable of writing good stuff, but not anything that's remotely like Thunderbolts.

Why can't these people consider the feelings of those who spend most of their lives immersed in other people's fantasy worlds? We're easily disturbed, you know.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

The Death of Time

My stopwatch has dropped dead. And I have no idea why, because it's practically brand new. It might just be the battery, but I've trawled through my piles of old junk and I can't find a single other item that takes those little silver disc things (my calculator is a freakish kind of calculator that takes big silver disc things), so despite my efforts in digging up a tiny screwdriver to unfasten the tiny screw that holds the stopwatch's battery in place, I can't put a replacement in to check it.

I also can't find the other stopwatch that I was sure I had - Ferdinand Krause's that he left behind in Cambridge and I haven't had an opportunity to return to him yet. Unless I gave it back to him and forgot about it, but I'm almost certain I didn't, because I remember not bringing it to Stuttgart with me. But it's disappeared now, along with the countless small-battery-powered items I know I must have (my dad was always buying me useless trinkets like miniature calculators). Some malevolent force out there just doesn't want me to be able to time things.

Also, if you mishear a trailer for "Law and Order" and think it says "no underwear", what does that say about your subconscious mind?

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

I'm ready to go anywhere, I'm ready for to fade into my own parade

So, I quit my job. Well, as you know, I quit it a long, long time ago, but then they asked me to keep working as a 'consultant' part-time for November and December (so basically, doing exactly the same job but in less time). But having thought about it at length, I came to the conclusion that working in December would cause me much more stress and inconvenience than could be made up for by the minimal financial rewards of working eight more days, or the good feeling of not inconveniencing my colleagues. My replacement should be starting next week, assuming there aren't any more delays, so no doubt everything will be running smoothly before long. And if it isn't, what the heck does it matter? We're talking accountancy, after all - nobody really needs accountancy, it only exists to provide work for otherwise untalented bean-counters like me, who without it would be doomed to a life as unproductive members of society.

This of course means I need to get on with doing useful things. I'm already easing back into the memory training, which I haven't done much of for the last month or so, and for the remainder of the month (the bits not fully booked by festive activities) I'm already planning what I'm going to do with the long-postponed How To Be Clever - I want to at least have a proper structure for the book written down with real words and everything, and bits of it composed, researched where necessary and typed up by the end of the year. Ah, the joys of being self-employed. Or, to phrase it more accurately, idle.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Also on Saturday

During the last round of the othello, an accordionist set up shop outside the window and serenaded us with the Tetris theme tune. Sort of confusing if you're the kind of person who automatically starts to visualise differently-shaped blocks falling onto an othello board when that happens.

It reminded me of the first world intelligence championship at the MSO in 1997, when the final day was accompanied by a surprisingly large jazz band playing outside the Royal Festival Hall. That's another example of how much the MSO has gone downhill these days - the only background noise this year was loud hammering and drilling from the builders working in the room next door. Of course, that was also the case with the WMC this year - perhaps next year if we're lucky these competitions will be able to afford a venue that's already been built.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

The return of the non-prodigal son!

Here's another VPSer who has a blog that I was completely unaware of until today - my dear adopted son Mythril Knight! Which is doubly exciting, because I genuinely was just thinking about him today on the train on the way home from Cambridge. Go on over and say hello. If you know him already, anyway. If you're one of those readers I keep forgetting about who aren't one of my circle of friends from years ago, then you don't have to.

Anyway, it's been a fun weekend. There were twelve of us at the Christmas friendly othello tournament, plus Aubrey too wrapped up in interviews to play but dropping in for all the parts of the day that involved pubs. I got off to a cracking start in the first round, beating Imre 35-29. Regular readers will recall that beating Imre is a big deal in othello circles, and that I also beat him at the same tournament last year. That makes four times in total, I forget how many times I've played him and lost because I don't tend to remember statistics that don't make me look good, but I still think I've got a pretty darn good win-loss ratio against him.

Anyway, I soon came back down to earth with a thud when I played Geoff in the next round and got well and truly thrashed, although the scoreline of 39-25 makes it look like it was a lot closer than it really was. Still, regular readers will recall that he beat me 63-1 last year, so I'm obviously improving radically. After that, things progressed in the usual way, with me winning some and losing some, and I ended up with four wins out of seven and joint third place with most of the other competitors. Graham won with 7 out of 7, Imre second with 5.

My scores had a rather pretty symmetry in the first five rounds - 35-29, 25-39, 58-6, 15-49, 45-19. It occurred to me that if othello scores work in the same way as poetry, and I don't see any reason why they shouldn't, I was due a 8-56 drubbing in round six, but as it turned out I only lost 42-22. Which was much more satisfactory.

Apart from the actual playing of othello, there was the committee meeting too, in which I volunteered to organise the national championship next year in Derby. So now I'm on the lookout for a cheap and pleasant location for disc-flippers to descend on for a weekend next September.

Also this weekend, I had time for a quick buzz around the charity shops and found a few cartoon tapes that may or may not contain a Looney Tune or two - you can't really tell from the packaging in most cases, but it looks hopeful. Among them, brilliantly enough, is the Krypton Force Videotoons volume 1! I had deduced its existence from the fact that I own volumes two to five, but it was nice to actually find it. There's a Marc cover featuring his representations of both Bugs and Daffy!