Saturday, February 21, 2009

What a beautiful day!

Oooh, it's been like summer! I did get a nice short summery haircut, and went down to London (and also Kingston on Thames) to see the sights and bask in the comparative warmth and sunshine, and I've only just got back in. Now to rest my weary feet and watch Match Of The Day for the highlights of the few games whose result I didn't overhear in other people's conversations or see on randomly-placed TV screens over the course of the day. Why can't people maintain football-related silence on Saturdays for the benefit of people who like to watch MOTD in the evenings?

Friday, February 20, 2009

Hair piece

I need a haircut. My remaining hairs don't grow all that fast, but they've already got to the length where it's starting to look silly, and this weekend's the last chance to get it done for weeks - Cambridge othelloing next weekend and New Yorking the week after. However, I was thinking of going to London tomorrow, and I distrust southern hairdressers. I'm almost certain that they all charge you a hundred pounds and give you a perm whether you want one or not.

I'll just have to find a barber around here that opens reasonably early in the morning, get my hair cut and then get the train down south. I could always not go to London, since my only reason for going is that I quite feel like it and I haven't been there for ages, but I believe in doing what your heart tells you to do, and then rambling on about some insignificant technicality on your blog the night before.

I suppose I could cut my own hair. I did that once, years ago, and nobody noticed. Or shave it all off like a cool person.

Thursday, February 19, 2009


I've trimmed the fingernails on my left hand and not the right, out of an understanding that that's what ukulele players do. Well, 'trimmed' makes it sound like I've given myself a caring manicure. I bite my nails off, rather than using nail-clippers or scissors or suchlike. Anyway, I'm still having fun with the ukulele, and I wanted appropriate fingernails.

However, it's got me thinking about whether it will get in the way of the other things I do with my fingers. What's the optimum length for othello-disc-flipping fingernails, for example? I flip with my right hand and I think that you need medium-length nails for perfect flippery - no nails at all and it's hard to pick up the disc, big long nails and it's hard to hold on to it. This is probably why very few othello players have long fingernails. That or the fact that 99% of othello players are men.

As for memorising, I think, although I haven't really tested out the theory, that long or short fingernails shouldn't make a difference with the way I look through packs of cards now. Very long nails might get in the way, but I'm not planning to grow them to excessive lengths.

And what if I learn to make Fingermouse-style finger-puppets? That's on my list of things to do, and I think long nails would definitely get in the way there. It's a complicated business, being a polymath. The kind of polymath who's not particularly good at anything, of course.

In other, less finger-related news, Prince Charles is coming to my workplace tomorrow. Just a flying visit - according to his website he's also got other appointments in Nottingham and Mansfield in the course of the day, and I doubt he'll have the time in his schedule to find my desk and tell me he's a big fan of my TV appearances. In fact, he's scheduled to be in my building for ten minutes, according to the announcement on the company intranet, in which time he'll come in the main reception, be shown the 'heritage area' and leave by the exit on the far end of the big head office. He'll have to run. And the tour of the company heritage will have to be limited to one of the less overweight directors gasping "That's a bust of Jesse Boot! Right, come on, let's go!" as they run along after him.

Call me a socialist radical if you like, but I don't really see the point of Royal Visits.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Sluggish brain

I have to confess, it's a very, very long time since I did any serious memory-training. Tonight I did something that is part of my regular practice routine when I'm practicing regularly, but which I don't think I've done at all since the WMC last October - memorised 1500 binary digits in as quick a time as possible. When my brain's up to speed, I can do it in a bit under 8 minutes with a passable level of accuracy in the recall (four or five lines out of the fifty with mistakes, that kind of area). Tonight it took me 10:42.88.

This is horrible, but it's not unexpected. I know I'll snap back into my usual form when I've done it a couple more times, but when I haven't practiced for a while, my thought processes just slow down - it's not that I find it more difficult to remember what the image for 1110010111 is or that I struggle to make a mental picture out of it, it's just that my mind wanders and starts going off on tangents, and I have to drag myself back down to the mental story I'm supposed to be telling. It's nice to be confident that my times are going to increase by leaps and bounds the next few times I try this exercise, but it's frustrating that I'll have to work hard to get back to the level I was at last year before I can keep going and improve my personal best.

But it's nearly the start of the memory season! New York and Cardiff will put me back in the mood, I'm sure, and then I'll be back into training nearly nightly, exchanging memory-technique ideas with other memorisers with much more enthusiasm than I am at the moment, catching up on the latest buzz from the world of competitions, finding out what rule-changes Gunther has been lobbying for all winter and objecting to them, all the joys of memory!

It really is a LOT harder to motivate myself while I'm the world champion, but I'm pleased to report I'm much more in the zone right now, out of practice though I am, than I was back in 2005. Who knows, if I keep it up I might stand half a chance this year...

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Correspondence course

I was going to write a blog tonight about feeling proud of myself for getting up-to-date with my emails, but then I remembered one from a few days ago that I hadn't replied to, went back to my inbox to respond to it and found a whole virtual pile of other messages that I need to get back to as well. It's not like I'm even a big email-exchanger, it's just that sometimes I seem to get swamped by the things! So if you're waiting for an email from me still, I assure you it's nothing personal.

Monday, February 16, 2009

New York!

I've got a really quite big apple in my fridge right now, which just serves to remind me how much I'm looking forward to my trip to New York in a couple of weeks. It's ages since I had some time off work - what with starting there in the middle of July I only had 17½ days' holiday, and I used up most of those with various memory championships (and a certain amount of staying at home rather than going to the Memoriad because I was too worn out by the WMC), so I've been working five days a week, every week, for much too long now.

Also, I like long plane journeys every now and then. There's usually cartoons, films and video games, and what more could anyone want? And then there's all the fun people I'm arranging to hang out with when I actually get to the city! Gee, it's gonna be swell!