Saturday, June 16, 2007

Well, so much for Greece

Even though my chances of winning the BGP at the London regional today were strictly mathematical, what with there being so many good players at this one, I still played badly enough to demonstrate beyond doubt that I don't deserve to play in the world championship. Still, it was a fun day. The venue was a pub called the Bath House, just off Oxford Street and thus in the only part of London that I can find my way around without getting lost. It's another of those pubs with a history that boasts about it, although the fact that Karl Marx lived down the road doesn't strike me as particularly impressive. Nor does the fact that the lengthy official history on the wall of the meeting room admits that it has no idea why the pub was renamed the Bath House in the 19th century. It's never been a bath house or anything like that.

Anyway, an impressive 15 of us turned up at the historic silly-named pub, among them Graham, who unsurprisingly beat everyone. My game with him had an infuriating position that I sat staring at for ages, because I had what looked like it should be a really cool Stoner trap, but which just didn't work, and however I could try to play it, there just was no way to make it work. And a bit more staring later, I realised that there was also no other move I could possibly play except the X-square, so I had to play it anyway and resign myself to losing.

Not that I mind losing to Graham, I always lose to him, but then in the next game I made a really stupid mistake against Roy when I should have won, and then I also lost to Iain Barrass, who admittedly is much better than me and always beats me too, but I've been doing so well this season that it still annoyed me. And even more annoying, I didn't even get second place in the BGP! Geoff finished a horrible three points ahead of me, with David the clear winner. Not that you get anything for second place in the BGP, but I wanted it!

Actually, I don't really mind any of this at all, and I'm completely happy with the way the day went. I had fun. But it's also fun to lament about how badly I did.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Gene Genie

Robert performed genetic engineering and succeeded in creating a parrot with suckers on its feet, enabling it to climb up walls. This seemed like a good idea at the time, but the evolutionary advantage this gave the parrot and its many descendants soon led to humanity being supplanted as the dominant species on Earth. Driven out of the cities by the superior fighting ability of wall-climbing parrots, the entire human race was forced to set up home in the small Lincolnshire village of Herman’s Bum. Overcrowding was a problem.

Fortunately, Robert was still alive, and he quickly set to work genetically engineering a passing rabbit until its burrowing capacity was enhanced by a factor of ten. Soon enough, it had dug a large enough warren for every human being on Earth to have their own reasonably-sized accommodation under the ground, where the parrots’ sucker-feet would be hindered by the loose earth of which the walls were composed.

All was well for a short time, until the super-rabbit reproduced and its descendants burrowed to such an extent that they hollowed out the entire planet, leaving nothing but the surface. Humanity in its entirety was thus left rattling around inside the
globe in a way reminiscent of a handful of peanuts that have somehow been put inside a football. Dissatisfaction was rampant.

It was suggested to Robert, in a way that included obscenities, that instead of genetically modifying animals so as to make them better than human beings and bringing about the ruin of the planet, he might try his hand at performing genetic engineering on himself and either solving the planet’s problems or killing himself in the attempt. Either resolution, it was observed, would be a benefit to society in general.

Undaunted by his increasing unpopularity among all but his closest friends, Robert did genetic modification on himself until he had gained the ability to walk through walls. Because this made him better than the parrots, which could only climb up walls, he was able to return to the surface and install himself as unquestioned king of the planet, ruling with an iron fist over parrots, humans and rabbits alike. This, he maintained for the remainder of his natural life, conclusively proved that, despite what people say, genetic engineering is great.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Oh, and

I should probably also say a public many happy returns of the day to my brother, rather than just going on at length about me me me. Happy birthday, bro!

Little by little

I did a pack of cards in 25.94 seconds tonight. You might remember that a couple of months ago I was enthusing about a time of 25.98. At this rate I'll beat the 25-second barrier at some time in the 23rd century. It's funny, you'd think it wouldn't be as exciting to chip away at my personal best a hundredth of a second at a time as it was when I was just starting out with card-memorising and taking whole seconds off my record on a regular basis, but if anything it's more thrilling now than it ever was!

In other news, I've got an interview next Wednesday for a proper, permanent job that sounds really, really cool and exactly the kind of thing that I want. So everyone has to a) remind me to go to the interview, and b) cross their fingers for me.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

sdaeh rieht edih dna nur yeht semoc niar eht fI

Ah, that's something I've really missed. Cycling home in the pouring rain without so much as a coat on because it was baking hot and sunny in the morning.

Ah well, I suppose it could have been snow. Or great big boulders. Anyway, I got an email today about the world memory championships, and it seems Bahrain is definitely going to host it. They've got a venue and everything. There might even be special rates for accommodation and plane tickets for the competitors, if we're lucky. And I'm sorry, I know the various organisers are doing a great job in providing this competition, for minimal or no reward, but I had to giggle at the line "The fee far participation in the competition has been fixed for the past few years, and will remain so again for 2007 at UK £30. As you can imaging this in no way reflects the actual cost of running the competition, so we are more than grateful to our many sponsors who are shown on the website. Please support them."

Seriously, I can't imagine many people will be celebrating only having to pay £30 to enter the competition when they have to splash out on plane tickets to Bahrain. Anyway, £30 from 50 competitors or so is £1500. I could run a world memory championship for £1500. Probably. Assuming lots of people wanted to help me and not get any money for doing so.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Handbags and glad rags

Well, I'm officially an office boy again. The coolest thing about the job is that they finish at 4:30! 4:00 on Fridays! And it's less than 15 minutes away by bike, so no lengthy commute home. That gives me plenty of evening time to lounge around doing nothing, or possibly practice memory stuff. Apart from that, it's a pretty unexceptional kind of employment, although I can't really judge based on today since, with impeccable timing, one of their servers was down, so I spent the day doing that old favourite, bits and pieces that can be done without using the main piece of software.

The building's on Newmarket Road, on an industrial estate where all the roads are named after race courses. I would like to know the reasoning behind that decision, but I'm not quite so fascinated that I can be bothered to look it up.

Monday, June 11, 2007

They just use your mind, and they never give you credit

I've got a job. A temp thing, three months I think it is (but I didn't write that bit down when the guy told me over the phone), starting tomorrow. It doesn't sound spectacularly exciting, but it pays fairly well, and it's only about 15 minutes away by bike, and it'll keep me off the streets. So back to the grind of ironing a shirt every single day, slaving away over a hot computer moving numbers from one place to another, mingling with other wage slaves. Ah well, at least it's entirely by choice on my part, so I can't complain.

I've even bought new shoes. Proper shoes, from Clark's, not the cheap ones that fall apart within a month of buying them. I haven't bought proper shoes since I can't remember how long ago. They're real leather, not other materials. I thought about buying a new suit and some shirts, too, but decided not to go mad. My old tatty ones will do fine, it's just a temp job. You don't expect temp accountants to be clean and shiny.

It's with Synergy Healthcare. They do industrial laundry, dental supplies and prosthetic appliances.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Mister Memory

You know, before I resign myself to life as an accountant again, I really should work out a stage show I can do with memory tricks. And by "I really should", I mean of course that I've been thinking about it this afternoon, and by "work out" I mean "steal from Boris". What I want to do, and I think it would look really good, is do basically what he did on a German TV show a few years ago, it goes like this:

There's a bunch of twenty or so tables, restaurant style, with two or three people sitting at each, and they each choose a meal from a menu with a choice of ten starters, ten main courses and ten drinks. I wander around each table in turn and they tell me what they're having, I memorise the whole lot without taking any notes, and then recount what everyone ordered. It'd be a piece of cake with just a little bit of advance preparation, and it'd look really good on Paul O'Grady's show or something else like that (I watch the last two minutes while waiting for the Simpsons to come on, every now and then). Then for an encore I can recite pi to a few hundred places until everyone falls asleep.

I was thinking I might like to try this, and a few other basic memory tricks, on an audience somewhere, sometime, to see how it goes over. It would be kind of a challenge for my organisational skills, but it would be cool to set up shop at the Edinburgh Festival and do a show. And I think it would be rather a groovy experience.