Saturday, July 07, 2007

Fix! Fix!

I bought a lottery ticket today, which I don't normally do (I was feeling a bit depressed, and thought that since money is the secret to true happiness, a lottery win would solve all my problems), so I watched the lottery numbers being drawn on BBC2 tonight after the tennis. And I noticed that while there were references to the tennis, the fact that they were running late, and a couple of time checks, these were all spoken by the voice-over guy. Tim Vincent and the people on screen didn't say or do anything that they couldn't have said or done if the show had been taped a week ago! I sense a conspiracy theory. I bet they tape fourteen million different shows for every week, one with each combination of numbers, and then broadcast the one that guarantees the most profit for Camelot. It's disgraceful.

Actually, it would be a lot more than fourteen million, because there's the bonus ball, too. 686 million, by my mental calculation. Still, Tim Vincent hasn't been on TV for years, he's had plenty of time for all that filming. And the guy with the white gloves is a robot, so he wouldn't have a problem.

Still, the tennis was fun, and almost certainly not rigged by sinister gambling syndicates. I've been cheering for Venus Williams all the way through the last fortnight, so if only I'd thought to mention it on this blog, I could be boasting about how right I was all along right now. Note to self, always write everything down. It's the only way to beat the government/alien/freemason conspiracy. I'm not paranoid, everyone really is out to get me.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Tut tut

It's just occurred to me that I really should book flights and accommodation for the German Memory Championship in three weeks' time, in Tuttlingen. A quick internet check suggests that there is exactly one hotel in the town, and no way to book a room online. Wonderful. You know, I miss the days when people would organise memory championships in some place other than the heart of a vast uncharted desert, five thousand miles from the nearest reliable public transport and ten squillion miles from the nearest internet-accessible hotel. Once upon a time, they even held these competitions IN hotels! See, that's convenient.

Of course, I shouldn't complain too much. Phil has, after all, booked me a hotel within hitch-hiking distance of Highley, and I'm sure I could just ask any one of half a dozen obliging Germans to find me a room somewhere close to Tuttlingen if I can't manage it myself. But still, it's fun to complain from time to time. Incidentally, my Cambridge championship was equally inaccessible, being a long way out of town, and starting on a Sunday morning before the buses start running. Maybe I set a precedent and everyone decided to copy me?

Thursday, July 05, 2007

It's all about the money, it's all about the dum dum dada dum dum

I turned down a job offer today on purely financial grounds. I feel like such a money-obsessed miser. Well, mostly financial grounds, anyway - it was a temp job with the prospect of applying for the role permanently after six weeks, in Nottingham, and the job description made it sound good, but the pay was dreadful. Two-thirds of what I was getting in my previous job. And in all fairness, I can't believe it was as good a job as it sounded if they were only paying that amount - nobody with my qualifications would touch that with a bargepole. But I still feel bad about it.

But hey, there'll be other job offers (though probably not through SF Group, because agencies don't like it when you turn them down like that), and I really do want to make sure I pick something that I can stay at for a long time, until I become an institution in the office. A well-paid part of the furniture.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

We could be Heroes

The TV series, Heroes, is really much better than it has any right to be. I love it to bits! They really have taken comic book superheroes and turned it into a proper adult drama series. I wouldn't have believed it possible, but I'm still watching it and I haven't forgotten it was on once (although that's made easier by the way the SciFi Channel shows each episode three or four times a week - I usually forget it on Mondays, but catch the Wednesday showing). Save the cheerleader, save the world! If you haven't seen it, and if it's possible to buy it on DVD, then you should. Even if you don't like superheroes.

Sorry I haven't got anything more, well, interesting to say tonight, but I'm fresh out of ideas. Ooh, did I mention I did 25.88 seconds on the cards the other night? Gradually, glacially, getting there. The only trouble is doing it in competition - I seem to be making a lot of mistakes in recall, going at that speed. And getting one in three packs correct isn't a lot of use at the world championships. Still, we'll see what happens...

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Blasted Virgin Media

I bought a book about Jack the Ripper at the weekend, which makes entertaining reading. It's not really my kind of thing, normally, but I'd been re-reading Alan Moore's "From Hell" and wanted to know some more of the facts behind it. And this book, which is called "Jack the Ripper: The Facts", seemed like it would probably fit the bill. So now that I'm in a ripperological mood, I noticed tonight in the Radio Times that there's a programme on called "Vic Reeves investigates Jack the Ripper". Well, great, I thought. Vic Reeves is funny and Jack the Ripper is on my mind, I'll watch that. But then I noticed it's on Sky, and Virgin Media stopped carrying Sky several months ago. This is the first time it's really annoyed me. Although the Radio Times review calls it 'workmanlike', and Vic is never much good when he's not doing his own surreal material, so it probably wouldn't have been worth watching anyway.

I suppose I could watch "The Thick Of It" on BBC4 instead. The Radio Times says it's the funniest thing since Fawlty Towers, which is the kind of praise that's only going to leave you disappointed however good it is. And it's Alison Graham who's saying that, and I never like what she likes. But then again, if I'm going to judge everything on TV like this without seeing it, I'll never turn it on again. Actually, that would probably be a good thing. Opium of the masses, and all that. I could become one of those people who listen to the radio and have an ancient black and white portable TV for watching occasional nature documentaries.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Potters Bar

Ah, the Mind Sports Olympiad returns! I got the schedule and entry form in the post today. I'm pretty sure I'm not going to bother with it this year, though. All the really fun events either aren't there any more or have been shrunk down to nearly nothing. Othello is only one little 15-minute tournament, taking up 3½ hours, for which anyone who wants to just play in that will have to pay £12. What would be good there, actually, would be a memory competition. It'd be great if there was a full world-championship-standard event, for people who can't get to Bahrain a couple of weeks later. I wonder if I could organise one, if I could get a gang of people to help?

Sunday, July 01, 2007

I'm great! Sort of.

I did 1224 in 30-minute numbers today, and possibly 18 packs in 30-minute cards (I couldn't be bothered to check them, but I'm pretty confident what I wrote down was all correct. Allowing for a few stupid mistakes here and there, it should still beat the world record). This is great, obviously, but on the other hand I first tried to do a 30-minute numbers this morning and gave up on it after a minute or so twice in succession, because I wasn't really in the right kind of mood. I didn't feel like the big practice session I was meaning to do today until five o'clock. That's not the kind of attitude that would get you very far in a real competition. But then again, I've never not been in the memorising mood at a competition - it happens here at home quite a lot, but when I'm there, I think the atmosphere and the adrenaline gets me all hyped up. So I probably haven't got anything to worry about. I didn't have time to do the 30-minute binary practice I was intending to do, but that one wasn't so important - I already know how many digits I can go for on that in Tuttlingen. Could probably do with one more practice session before the championship, though, to keep me at match fitness, so to speak.

But now I can concentrate on the short little disciplines of the Highley championship (less than two weeks away!). Still need to firmly decide how much to go for in 15-minute numbers - four journeys feels right, but I need a practice run or two to make sure.

I'm also officially good at othello again - I was up to my usual mediocre standard in the kurnik tournament last night. It's strange how my abilities seem to fluctuate like that. Ooh, and I also haven't mentioned here yet that I did decide to leave my temp job - I'm finishing at the end of the week. Then I'm going to throw myself into finding a real, permanent position, and choose carefully so I end up with one that I can work at for the next couple of decades quite happily. I'm fed up with chopping and changing jobs, I need stability and boringness.