Thursday, February 26, 2009


It occurs to me that I'm going to have no time to get into any kind of practice routine for memory competitions for the next couple of weeks. Othelloing in Cambridge this weekend (so no blogging for the next couple of days, Zoomettes*), then New York the following weekend-and-a-bit (so again no blogs, most likely, from Wednesday to Sunday, Zoom-fans** - try not to forget about me).

*I've decided that followers of this blog should be called "Zoomettes"
**I've subsequently decided that "Zoomettes" sounds a bit silly and decided to phase it out of use

I really really need to do some long-discipline training, too. It's been a very, very long time, and I know I'm going to be rubbish when I finally sit down to do it. Almost as bad as I'm going to be at othello this weekend! I haven't played that, or thought about it, or found my clock, or anything for ages and ages.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

DVD people are stupid

I can just about understand them releasing Thundercats DVDs with the episodes all in the wrong order - there are lots of episodes, there's rarely any direct continuity from one episode to the next, and it is just a 1980s cartoon that very few people are obsessive about to the extent that I am. But there's no excuse at all for the people who made the DVD of Police Squad and got the sequence of episodes wrong. There's only six of them, for crying out loud, and the end of each episode explicitly lists all the previous ones, and they still couldn't get it right!

I repeat, DVD people are stupid. Bring back videos.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Go team!

I do like watching Champions League football. I've turned into a bit of a Man Utd fan these last few years, especially in Europe, in an attempt to discourage Chelsea from winning things. It's working, too. Perhaps if I devoted myself more determinedly to supporting Boston Utd, maybe they'd win something one of these days...

Monday, February 23, 2009

A little bit of memory

One thing people often say to me when I'm explaining my system for turning three-digit numbers into images is "Surely it makes more sense to have 999 be a policeman [or 112 or 911 or whatever the number for the emergency services is in the asker's country] and so on?" I know Dominic does recommend diverging from his system if the number itself suggests an image to you, but I disapprove.

The 'Ben system' and any other system for turning numbers into words and thus images is best compared to learning another language. If you've got it working properly in your head, you don't see the numbers as such, you read '999' as 'b-oh-b' and think of Bobo (Mr Burns's teddy bear) or whatever your favourite word starting with that sound is (I recommend the cartoon series Bobobobs, or the German children's book series 'Bobo Siebenschläfer', but I'm just weird like that). Reading it as a number in some cases and a word in others is just confusing.

Look at it this way - if you speak French and read the word 'pain' in a French text, you don't automatically think 'ouch', because you're mentally pronouncing it differently and taking it in context. That's how it works with reading a story in a 2000-digit number too.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Coronation Stone

I hadn't been to Kingston for a relatively young donkey's years, and it's funny how much the place has changed. First glance on emerging from the train station suggests that it hasn't been a change for the better - Books, Bits & Bobs, the cool little shop that sold comics, costumes and party gimmicks is standing derelict and waiting to be demolished along with that whole block of buildings, but judging by the snazzy new cinema just over the road, it's going to be replaced by something shiny and modern.

And most of the city centre has gone all 21st-century too. I don't know what it is, exactly, but there's something smoother and shinier about shop-fronts these days. A few little redecorations and a place becomes unrecognisable. And with the Bentalls centre I had the usual fun of visiting a place from one of my memory journeys and realising how very different it looks in real life - my journeys tend to stylise the layout of a place like that, shrinking the parts in between locations and subtly changing the positions of significant places. Doesn't help that they've turned the fountain into some kind of weird plant-display, either.

Still, at least the combined ice-cream-and-burgers van is still in the same place it's always been, just outside Woolworth's, despite the shop itself being all closed down and empty.