Saturday, October 13, 2007

Try, try again

The commentator on the rugby tonight described S├ębastien Chabal as 'the 21st century Asterix', because he's really large. Honestly, what do they teach them at school nowadays?

Watching the game right now, after the football this afternoon, not to mention a bit of golf before that. It's not my fault if I haven't achieved anything productive today, it's the TV people.

Also, yes, Boris, got your emails, I'll reply as soon as I get a chance. Likewise James, and no doubt lots of other people too. I'm just lazy. As you can see from the short blog entry tonight.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Nimble fingers!

Woo! I memorised a pack of cards in 23.05 seconds today! I should have switched to that shuffling-the-cards-between-my-fingers method years ago! It really is a lot quicker than turning them over two at a time, and it didn't take long to get used to it at all. I've hardly done any practice since the world championship, and I'm well over two seconds better than my previous best. I might just beat 25 seconds in a competition next year!

I also did a perfect 200 in spoken numbers today, for the first time ever. So all in all, I'm extremely happy with myself and in the mood to boast to everybody else in the world that I'm better than them. On the other hand, what I actually need to work on if I'm going to win the blasted WMC next year is the long events - it wasn't really the speed cards that lost me the world championship this year, it was the mess I made of the hour cards, and that was all down to me not having practiced the long disciplines enough, and built up the stamina you need to memorise for hours and hours over a three-day period. I would vow to spend all this weekend doing hour cards, hour numbers and half-hour binary, but a) you all know I wouldn't do it anyway and b) it's my birthday and I don't want you to think I'm a complete saddo.

Although I'm not having a party for another fortnight, and I don't actually have any plans for Sunday. Maybe I am a complete saddo...

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Should've wispaed a bit louder

I was quite surprised to read on Sam's blog that Wispas are being re-launched. I'd genuinely never noticed that they'd stopped selling them. Four years ago. How could that, and the subsequent internet campaigns and petitions, have passed me by so completely? It's not like I'm one of those health-food-eating, chocolate-hating weirdos you hear about - whenever I'm passing a newsagent or corner shop, I'll have a choc bar of some description. I quite like Wispas. Has it really been four years since I had one?

What other confectioneries might have been scrapped without my noticing? I'll have to take a thorough inventory of all the sweetie shelves in Derby. Trying to think what chocolate bars I haven't seen lately... Do they still make Topics? Never liked them, but haven't seen one for a while. I'm pretty sure they stopped making Fuse bars, which is a shame, because they were great. I think I heard something about Ripples recently, too - have they stopped, or restarted, those? I remember when they first came out. Wispas too. It's disgraceful that they should stop selling these things without asking me first.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Gizza job

So, I promised you a funny story about jobs, didn't I? Well, I had an email from D E Shaw & Co, an American investment company that has a tradition of employing people with impressive mental abilities - chess champions, international maths olympiad medallists, that kind of thing, and they suggested I might want to apply for a job with them, seeing as I won the decamentathlon in 2001.

That's right, the decamentathlon - the little four-hour MSO competition involving solving puzzles in ten different 'mind sports'. Not the memory stuff, they'd never even heard of that, nor the mental calculation competitions, or the World Intelligence Championship I also won in 2001, or even my amazing skill as an othello player, but they were really impressed by the decamentathlon. I've always kind of thought it would be cool if some company wanted to employ me solely for the purpose of boasting that they employed a memory champion, but I never expected something like this.

Of course, if it was the kind of company that hired people solely on the strength of their decamentathlon performances, it really wouldn't be the kind of company I'd want to work for (it would also be the kind of company that goes out of business very very quickly), and once they'd seen my CV, they let me know that as expected, your background and accomplishments are impressive, and it is clear that you have much to offer. While we have not been able to identify an immediate opportunity that would be a good match for you, we will keep your resume in our files on the chance that a suitable position should become available at a later date. In the meantime, we wish you much success in all your endeavors.

Still, it would have been groovy to work in New York. Perhaps I should think more about applying for jobs in America - there are, I'm reliably informed by non-American comedians, lots of really stupid and wealthy people over there, and perhaps there really is a company out there that would want me as a sort of trophy employee, paying me a small fortune and not expecting me to actually do any work. And then I'd be able to compete in the US Memory Championship too! And attempt to qualify for the US othello team (although that's generally just as difficult, if not more so, as qualifying for the British team, so it's probably not worth emigrating just for that).

On the other hand, I have got an interview lined up (sort of - haven't fixed the date yet) with a company in Cambridge. Emigrating to Cambridge would be quite cool, too.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007


Bumped into I'm-almost-certain-her-name's-Sarah-now again today. It's like buses - you don't see a bus for two years after you and the bus were both made redundant from the same company, then you see the bus in town twice on consecutive days. But she had her daughter with her this time, so that resolves that minor mystery that was puzzling me yesterday. And as a follow-up to what I was going on about the day before yesterday, the new shopping centre in Derby was officially opened today! I'm disappointed that they didn't ask me to cut the ribbon, but never mind. Anyway, it's really big and shiny and new and full of exciting things. I'm all in favour of it! It really makes a difference to have a real shopping centre in the city - all this time I've been living in Derby I could just hear Nottingham sneering at us, mocking the size of our mall. "I've got two gigantic ones," it said, "and all you've got to offer is this tiny little one-storey thing." Well, nyah nyah, Nottingham, now Derby's got a cool place to go and look at shops too!

Wow, I'm almost feeling a sense of civic pride here. I must have been brainwashed by the local media.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Sonic 2

Wow, but Sonic 2 is a great game! I haven't played it for years, and it was wonderful to remember all the little bits and pieces of it. I can't believe it's 15 years since it came out. If they'd make video games like that nowadays, I might still play them.

But that isn't quite all I've done today, don't worry. I've also done a bit of memory practice and applied for a couple of jobs - one which would be extremely groovy but is very unlikely to happen (won't go into detail yet in case I jinx it, I'll tell you a funny story about it when they tell me I haven't got it), and another which would also be rather cool, to a slightly lesser extent, but which I think there's a better chance of success with. Then there's other memory-related things that might happen and be groovy, but I'm not supposed to write about them either until everything's set up, so never mind. This is a terribly uninformative blog post, isn't it?

I also bumped into probably-Sarah who I worked with at almost-definitely-Parkhouse today, and spent the ensuing friendly conversation (carefully structured to avoid revealing that I'm only 70% certain of her name) resolving to make a real effort to memorise people's names and personal details in future, in case I need to talk to them a couple of years down the road. It'll reduce the need to exchange pleasantries like 'how's the daughter or possibly son that I'm fairly sure you had?'

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Sonic 3

The big shopping centre in Derby has been a building site for just about as long as I can remember (so at least a week, then), but the new-look, much-bigger-than-before, all-different Westfield Centre is opening on Tuesday. It's terribly exciting. Makes me wonder what will happen to the army of builders who've been hanging around the city centre having tea-breaks for twelve hours a day, every day for the last couple of years. But to explain the title of this blog post, you can see into the new section from the back of W H Smith, with its shiny new empty shops and gleaming new escalators, but you can't get into it yet. It reminds me of the classic video game, Sonic the Hedgehog 3.

Not that Sonic 3 was set in a shopping centre (although that would have been cool), but it was released in a hurry, before they'd finished programming it. It's a cool game,

(I must just interrupt myself here to record the fact that an absolutely gigantic spider has just nonchalently strolled across my living room floor. Don't know where he came from, but that maybe explains why I haven't been bothered with flies so much this year. The thing's the size of a house!)

but it's really obviously not finished, because there are parts when you can see into big sections of the game that you can't get into. If you do the cheat that lets you pass through walls, you can see these big sections generally have bits missing, or stop dead at unexpected points. A bit later they released 'Sonic and Knuckles', which you could plug Sonic 3 into and get the full game as it should have been if they'd been able to take their time making it in the first place. That shopping centre has really put me in the mood to get my old mega drive out and play through all the Sonic games. I can see that's what I'm going to spend tomorrow doing, rather than anything halfway useful. Somebody tell me off, will you? I need discipline.