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Richard Clegg

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How to feel good about any possible election result [May. 7th, 2015|09:02 am]
Richard Clegg
Edit: Well, this many not have been my finest bit of prediction ever. I think I will leave it here as a monument to failing to adequately plan for bad things happening.

So, we know that this election won't produce a clear result. It seems likely that Scotland will elect the SNP, England will elect the Tories, Wales will elect Labour, NI will elect... gosh, one of those parties that nobody ever understands or invites to debates because they're over the narrow sea and don't affect Westeros. This election has no certainties except, perhaps, that nobody will work with the SNP because... um... look, no deals with the SNP OK, so stop asking about that.

It's a confusing system and we're all seeking some crumb of comfort here. At this point we know that a Labour or Tory majority are extremely implausible and an SNP majority would require some pretty radical gerrymandering. So here's the run down of all the genuinely possible election results and more importantly how to feel good about them. The government formed will fully account for the likely votes of everyone in the UK. No wait, the government formed will fully account for the likely votes of everyone in Great Britain (except for viewers in Scotland who have their own programming at this time).

How to feel good about a Labour minority: This is a great result. Think about it. This is the Breakfast Club result. This is the weedy, weird-looking kid making good. This is the result you should hope for because it is a triumph for the forces of minor dorkiness. It's a slight triumph; it's a qualified triumph; to be honest it's going to take a good spin doctor to make it out to be a triumph at all; but for some that's the only triumph that they'll get. We should celebrate that, perhaps by awkwardly eating a bacon sandwich and listening to "Don't you (bracket) forget about me (close bracket)".

How to feel good about a Labour/LD/Green/Raving Loony Rainbow coalition: This is a great result. Think about it. This is the hippy primary school teacher result. Everyone gets to play. All the children who haven't been naughty ("Where do you think you're going Cameron and Farage?") get to decide what happens and play nicely together. This is the best possible, nicest, friendliest government that this country could ever have. Everyone gets a say, no matter how incompatible or borderline insane their opinions are. With this result we will be a kinder, gentler nation who also sometimes eats glue (although many of us advised that this would be a bad idea others were firmly in favour of eating glue).

How to feel good about a Labour/LD coalition: This is a great result. Think about it. This is the Mills and Boon result. Nick Clegg, his eyes sparkling and full of hope, the cruel shackle marks still visbile on his wrists, bounds over, free at last. "Ed, Ed, I've been a fool, it's always been you." This time it's different. This time things can work out. This time it's for real. Think of it as falling into the arms of the man you love after previously falling into the arms of the man you thought you loved before you realised his glaring flaws sometime around chapter three.

How to feel good about a Conservative/LD coalition: This is a great result. Think about it. This is the ruthlessly efficient result. When the government cuts your benefits, guts the NHS, reduces public services, sends soaring numbers to food banks and in the name of austerity removes funding to everything that was ever good about this country, you can be sure of one thing: they aren't doing this by mistake. You can be absolutely clear with this result that, through years of experience, none of what this government is about to inflict is through incompetence or an accident. They have a plan and they are exactly and precisely going to act on it. It won't feel good, it won't be economically prudent and it won't be to the good of the country but you can be absolutely assured this will be a completely professional transfer of wealth from the poor to the rich. Think of it as being efficiently and competently mugged by people much wealthier and more powerful than you. Isn't that somehow reassuring?

How to feel good about a Conservative minority: This is a great result. Think about it. Although I know and care about football as little as David Cameron, I believe this to be the Millwall result ("noone likes us, we don't care"). They have a coalition with nobody because nobody likes them and nobody will support them. Also there isn't, by the very definition of minority, very many of them. There is no way this can work as a minority government for long. If there's any place you've ever wanted to see David Cameron it's alone and surrounded by enemies. Think of this result as being like the end of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, only you hate Butch and Sundance and it doesn't cut away before the part where you get to see them get shot, repeatedly.

How to feel good about a Conservative/DUP/UKIP Alliance: This is a great result. Think about it. No, really think about it. OK, think about it a bit more. This is the Monty Python Yorkshiremen result ("you think you had it bad"). This is an election result you can tell your grandchildren about, if they live. You know with this result then any other election will always be a lesser evil. You will have bragging rights for the rest of your life. Imagine this hellish future. In the 25th century, the entirety of everything in the UK has been sold to the BarCapHSBC Alliance and you can barely afford to lease enough air to breathe. You crawl to the shattered ruins of a bar and some rudimentary Mordoch-owned system is beaming the State Opening of Parlimoids into your neocortex (plus 25 channels of sports and a terribly popular fantasy series that is worth the price of your soul and firstborn alone). Black rod is ushering the God-Queen Lizdianakateron (first of her name) to give her first speech to the United Kingdom of Kensington, Chelsea and parts of Richmond (everything else having ceded, been sold or sunk into the ocean because it was infested with foreign). The shambling (but 20th generation British) mutant at the bar turns to you and says "Gor blimy, I can't believe they've only gone and elected the Fleshflayinghellbeasts of Ultron VI" you can calmly respond "I take your point my hideous comrade that their platform of 'kill all humans and drink their blood' may seem extreme but let me tell you of the election of 2015 because that was a really bad result for humans in general and the UK in particular." You can be completely assured that this is the worst possible government that could ever happen and from hereonin the only way is up. After this we need fear nothing.
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What the wild things are [Dec. 4th, 2014|10:21 pm]
Richard Clegg
What the wild things areCollapse )
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Unconscious but breathing normally [Sep. 17th, 2014|06:55 pm]
Richard Clegg
This morning I was heading into work (a bit late to be honest) and crossing Westminster bridge. Quite often there's a bagpipe player there. This morning he was crouching on the pavement next to a largish lady. She was dressed quite strikingly in a bright neon blue dress and bright yellow croc-like shoes. She was also very deliberately rolling on her side like a child on a lawn, heading rather determinedly across the pavement and into the traffic. I like a bit of street performance as much as the next person so I stopped to see what they'd do next. Perhaps a tune, a dance or some lines from Shakespeare? Unfortunately, what she did next was to continue rolling right into the traffic. He held onto her to stop her going any further and the two of us managed to crouch down and drag her back onto the edge of the pavement.

I put her into a rather poor recovery position but with her head resting on my leg not her hand so she'd be a bit more comfortable. She was out but with her eyes open and not responding to anything. According to the piper, she'd started shouting at him, in particular insisting that he didn't love Princess Diana enough. He was trying to reassure her on this point when she collapsed.

The piper and another passer by started to dial an ambulance when we encountered the "people of a certain age are hilarious with mobiles" phenomenon. "What number is it?" they asked me. "It's NINE NINE NINE," I said extremely clearly. "Really, even on a mobile, are you sure?" "Yes, I'm completely certain." (You can use 112 or 911 but I didn't want to introduce doubt at this point.) A little while later they were still consulting each other. I couldn't get my own phone at this point as it was in my pocket which is on my leg which was under the lady's head.

Fortunately, as they mastered the art of phone a passing GP stopped to help (immediately deciding her first priority was to phone her next appointment to say she'd be late). The helpful lady passerby had checked the unconscious woman's bag and found medical records, some pills and something that indicated she was diabetic. The GP took her blood pressure then within a few minutes a motorcycle paramedic and two policemen showed up. The lady remained stubbornly unconscious but breathing (initially with her eyes open which was disturbing) with occasional little twitches.

I spent the time crouched on the pavement telling the unconscious lady that everything was going to be fine and an ambulance was on the way. The paramedic helpfully chipped in with "haven't got no bloody ambulances, it's the cuts isn't it?" which we all agreed was shameful (and not terribly reassuring). A blood test was started and various suggestions were made (trying to establish if she'd hit her head) and I managed to find a position where I could rest my leg a bit because crouching down with someone resting on your thigh for fifteen minutes can get a bit uncomfortable.

We found out the ladies name from her medical record and just before the ambulance arrived she started to come round a bit and eventually say something about having a migrane. (There was an intervening period where she could only communicate by nodding her head or shaking her head very slightly and only I could really say which she'd done because her head was on my leg... so there was quite a weird "No, she didn't hit her head." "Yes, she has just come from the hospital." "I don't think she's going to be able to answer a question about the nature and frequency of her fits by nodding.") About twenty minutes after it all started the ambulance showed up and she was able to sit up and get a ride. I shook the bagpiper's hand (seems from his accent he was either English or very posh Scots) because she would have certainly rolled under a car had it not been for him. I've no idea what happened next except that I was thinking about it so hard I ended up riding the tube the wrong way for fifteen minutes.
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Bet with andrewducker [May. 4th, 2013|04:54 pm]
Richard Clegg
I am making the following bet with andrewducker related to voting systems

"I bet Andrew Ducker that before May 4th 2033 the UK (or that part of the UK which stays with London after any devolution) will retain First-Past-The-Post (FPTP) for general elections. Further, no English county council/unitrary authority elections (of the type described in [1]) will switch system away from FPTP.

The person who loses will buy the winner a drink of their choice (within reason -- pints of champagne or bottles of aged whiskey are out) in a bar in the winner's home city... presence over video accepted if distance precludes attendance in person.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Kingdom_local_elections,_2013"

Reasoning: Unrelated to bet but this is why I think the above.

I believe that, for the forseeable future the majority UK (or at least the England part of the UK) has no particular desire for voting schemes other than the simplest. I believe that there are plenty of systems better than first part the post but I think my belief is a minority one. Some political parties who currently support FPTP will in the short term have an advantage in switching to a different system (the Tories are probably in this position right now). However, they would appear cynical to switch to such a system in the near future. For at least ten years we will have important people in their cabinets who have recently publicly spoken out in favour of AV (as a result of the referendum debates) -- more so for the Tories than for Labour (who had more people in favour of AV).

For ten years a referendum is pretty unthinkable (as we "just had one"). After that it will take a few years for a party to gain consensus for a referendum to occur. I don't believe traditional media owners (newspapers and TV) will switch their preferences on which voting system they like as FPTP seems to provide easier to report on clear victories and such media owners have a strong preference for simple stories. Without the support of major political parties or traditional media, it will be hard to generate any momentum to change the voting system.

I do believe that any new electoral systems in the UK are likely to use more sophisticated forms of voting and FPTP will be the minority in new elections (for example if we get more mayoral elections). New systems are easier to change.
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A message to application programmers [Apr. 17th, 2012|01:28 pm]
Richard Clegg
Your program is not the most important program in the world. It's not the most important program on my computer. It's probably not even in my top 10. Maybe at best I run it once a month. More likely I ran it once because I needed something to do that task and I'll get round to uninstalling it in due course. Please therefore:

1) Don't make a portion of your program load at start up. I know it may make loading your program faster (which I probably will not do in the typical month). I know it will mean I can get security updates (which I will not want or need unless I actually run your program). If you're a virus checker then you get a pass on this one. Otherwise, you might want to consider that 99 times out of 100 you are just annoying me by having your program do this. I do take the time and trouble to turn off the portion of your program that does this and I do become annoyed with you for doing it.

2) Don't update your program regularly (unless there's a security issue). Honestly, I don't use your program (whatever it is) that much. If you've introduced an epic new feature, I don't care... wait until there's ten epic new features please. Trouble me once every six months (at most). I've got around about 60 pieces of software installed right now. If you all update every month that's two updates a day -- in Windows, naturally each program has its own hand-rolled update process and they're all awful.

3) When I select close or press a button with a cross on it I want to close your program. You may think your program is terribly important and I don't really mean close. You may think I mean minimize and keep running. My computer has a button for minimize. If I want minimize I'll use that. I'm looking at you Spotify and you Skype. When I press the button that everyone else recognises as "shut down" then shut down. I know, I know, Skype, that means people won't be able to call me on Skype. I know Spotify, that means I won't be able to send and receive music. That is, in fact, why I pressed the close button. (I know I can find an option to re-enable the correct behaviour but I'm still annoyed at you for disabling the correct behaviour). [Edit -- and if you really believe novice users want skype to be still open when they click close, google how do I shut down skype or close skype.]

4) Don't dot crap associated with your program around my computer like a drunk shedding kebab wrappers. I don't want a shortcut on my desktop [Edit -- sure, put a default option to have it for novices but let me unselect that], I really, really don't want an eighteenth bundled toolbar on my browser. If I'm not running your program I don't want to know it's there. I don't want it taking a minute of my time. I know you probably get a fraction of a penny from a corporation somewhere every time you get your code to slip some crapware past me and install yet another browser bar or plugin but really, do you feel good about yourselves for doing it?

Some divers pee in their wetsuits... amateurs [Apr. 5th, 2012|11:15 am]
Richard Clegg
Some divers pee in their wetsuits... amateursCollapse )

And these ones are far away. [Feb. 10th, 2012|10:23 am]
Richard Clegg
Did I see Ardal O'Hanlon at the theatre last night? I guess that would have to be a matter for the philosophers(*). Certainly I went to see Port Auhority and Southwark Playhouse. Certainly I chose to buy the tickets in part because of his presence. The play itself is an interesting enough affair albeit slightly unconventional. Three disparate Irish characters (one young, one middle aged and one elderly) give interspersed monologues at best tangentially connected about their lives and lost loves. For me the middle-aged guy's story (of being whisked from a mundane life into a cocaine and rock-stars lifestyle) was the funniest and some lines were delivered with that beautiful deadpan pathos that works so well in a Dublin accent.

However, as I'd forgotten Ardal O'Hanlon was in the play, I did not immediately connect him with the middle-aged bearded man speaking. Well, when I say immediately, I mean "until I happened to be browsing the leaflet for the play this morning". This provoked a little mental pause. In my mind, he's still fresh-faced father Dougal and that was nearly fifteen years ago now. Even now, I can't really connect the performance I saw with the person I thought I was meant to have seen. Mentally, I'm trying to slip it sideways and say "maybe he was the younger one" or "maybe he wasn't there that night".

Did I see Ardal O'Hanlon in a play? In a philosophical sense I honestly can't be sure although it seems certain I have seen a play and he was in that play.

Edit: It has been pointed out in email by D. Muir that I missed a golden opportunity to say "That... would be a philosophical matter."
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What to watch on TV [Jan. 8th, 2012|06:43 pm]
Richard Clegg
So, Caron and I (like most couples) sometimes watch TV series. As it's now the future we're pretty much free to choose between any TV series ever made that enjoyed any degree of popularity. We tend to have different series to watch sober (intelligent and interesting) and tipsy (dumb but fun). The thing is that we've "run out" or rather we can't now find one that we both will watch. There's a fairly difficult set of criteria.

1) Nothing with spaceships -- probably no sci-fi whatsoever but let's leave some wiggle room here. Caron's not likely to watch such.
2) Nothing prominently featuring policemen and especially not pathologists -- crime scene may investigate what they like but I'm damned if I'll watch them doing it.
3) Nothing currently running (unless there are a few seasons in the bag) -- don't want to get into it and find it jumps the shark one season in.
4) Nothing which is a cartoon and in particular nothing which is South Park.

What we have watched or tried:
Intelligent series:
A) West Wing -- Both love this. Took a bit for me to get into it but the final three seasons are so compelling and the debate episode may be one of the best pieces of television ever.
B) I Clavdivs -- obviously a total classic. Although it seems a little slow nowadays and some episodes are interrupted with five minutes of me going "Who is that again and how are they related to the other ones?" or "Really, he's her grandfather? Really? Then who is her father? I thought he was the brother?"
C) Numb3rs -- could not imagine a worse series if I tried. Caron was willing to tolerate this but I am not. This series should be burned and the ground sown with salt. It should never have existed. Everyone involved should be shot repeatedly until they stop doing whatever they did to create this. My god, I can't express how genuinely putrid this show is.
D) 30 Rock -- I like but not love this but Caron is not keen. It's not really that clever though.
E) House of Cards -- about to start this.
F) Yes Minister/Prime Minister -- Both love this although it hasn't aged brilliantly and it's a bit simplistic in some ways.

Dumb series:
A) Black Adder -- Both like this but season one is not as funny as I remember it being.
B) Buffy -- Caron likes this, I tolerate this. The mayor character I liked but there were four long seasons after that and one long series with pitiful special effects before that. Fitfully watchable if tipsy or drunk.
C) Angel -- I am not willing to tolerate this. If I never have to see David Boreyanus do his constipated angst face again then my life will be improved. Burn it with fire.
D) Coupling -- Obviously a classic stupid series although season four was probably not necessary.

What we watch because it's on currently but doesn't really count as either intelligent or dumb series:
A) House -- Both love this although selachimorpha leapage for me appeared to set in one season ago. Still worth it for the occasional brilliant performance by Hugh Laurie especially the last two season openers. It's been in self-parody mode for seven seasons now though.
B) Doctor Who -- Both tolerate this although Caron is continually annoyed by Matt Smith's habit of not being David Tennant and by Karen Gillan's habit of being and I am continually annoyed by Rory's death-prone nature.
C) Oh god what's it called with Malcolm Tucker (god my brain) you know, that one -- both love this although one of us appears temporarily unable to remember what it is called and the other one isn't here. Oh god... I'm going to have to google it. Yes, The Thick of It. Course it is.
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Lovecraft words [Dec. 19th, 2011|05:46 pm]
Richard Clegg
The complete worksCollapse )
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New culinary low [Dec. 17th, 2011|03:56 pm]
Richard Clegg
Today I reached a new low by failing to cook a Fray Bentos "put it in the oven in the tin and that's it" pie. For some reason the instruction to remove the lid before cooking had an "on no account" added to it. I remembered to open the tin but then left the lid on. This meant that the flaky pastry (the only really nice bit) welded itself to the lid. Fortunately, the heated metal disk with razor-sharp edges cauterised the wound it caused -- which is handy... I guess. I'll eat out tonight. It's safest.
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How to report a strike -- a guide for the British press [Nov. 30th, 2011|11:46 am]
Richard Clegg
How to report a strike -- a guide for the British pressCollapse )
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On infant mortality [Oct. 28th, 2011|11:15 pm]
Richard Clegg
On twitter I casually posted "Have you noticed that people usually give a weight when announcing births but almost never when announcing marriages or deaths." webcowgirl pointed out, almost certainly correctly, that this is because birthweight correlates with infant mortality. I would be willing to lay money this is where the tradition comes from. But you know, in this day and age we can do better. I solemnly swear that should I ever have the misfortune to produce offspring instead of a birthweight I will announce thus:
"Accounting for birthweight, gender and age of parents, a cumulative distribution function for the infant's age at death is attached as figure 1."
See, if we're going to predict mortality, thanks to the wonders of science we can do better than just weight. I urge any prospective geek parents to try this, indeed I'll even offer to help with the graphing.

This is probably why I shouldn't have children (amongst other reasons).

Tonight I am packing glowsticks... alas, in a sad statement on my life right now, this is not because I'm off to a 2002 themed club but because I'm going to spend Halloween weekend underwater in a flooded quarry in Wales.
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Bands with long names [Oct. 27th, 2011|05:04 pm]
Richard Clegg
This afternoon I've been listening to music from bands with long names. Started with the only moderately long: "A Place to Bury Strangers" and then went to "I love you but I've chosen darkness", "...And you will know us by the trail of the dead", "An experiment on a bird in the air pump", "The strange death of liberal england" and finally settling on my favourites, "The eighties matchbox b-line disaster".

I was running out of long names and didn't fancy "My life with the thrill kill kult" or "The presidents of the united states of america" which, despite being fine bands, just didn't fit my mood. So I googled long band names and discovered the existence of "The Powers Of Darkness Shall Rain Blood Upon This City For 500 Years". Unfortunately, I pretty much only discovered their existence. I could not find a track to listen to on the web anywhere. However, I was pleased to find that if I type their name into Amazon.com then the closest match is:
Organ Works by Ned Rorem, the track listing for this leads me to believe it is Quaker inspired church music. I wonder what search algorithm amazon uses? Try it for yourself -- mystifying:


Shamefully the band had no biography on lastfm so I took the liberty of adding one. Feel free to edit:
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Star Trek [Aug. 20th, 2011|07:24 pm]
Richard Clegg
Geeky I know but I've been rewatching Star Trek:TNG. This sort of thing happens loads:

"Computer, where is Lieutenant Spurious?"
"Lieutenant Spurious is not on the ship."
"Computer, how did Lieutenant Spurious leave the ship?"

Seriously engineering dept, this is easy to fix.

    for (person: ship.peopleMeantToBeHere()):
        if (person.getLocation == UNKNOWN):
        if (!person.onShip() && person.methodOfLeaving() == UNKNOWN):
        if (person.identity() == UNKNOWN):
        #Add more checks here to fix issues as they occur

(Probably want to change that predefined UNKNOWN when moving from dev to production code).

Home sweet home [Aug. 7th, 2011|11:27 pm]
Richard Clegg
This weekend was wonderful diving in Plymouth and two classic wrecks (Scylla and James Egan Layne), great company and great diving. However the weekend was made all the more sweet by arriving home to find my house cleaned hoovered and filled with beer by lovely housework gnomes Kriss and Kath. You guys can visit any time. Hope to see you both in person soon.
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Radio four: getting off the news cycle [Jun. 8th, 2011|11:08 pm]
Richard Clegg
Cut and pasted from my facebook on requestCollapse )
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Fat duck [Apr. 21st, 2011|12:26 pm]
Richard Clegg
I'm not sure if a meal can be said to include "spoilers" but for me a part of the Fat Duck experience was the unexpected things. Perhaps, therefore, if you want to eat there you might not want to read this. Thanks so much to Kriss, Claire, Helen, Sarah, Ed (I'm sure I missed someone there and will be horribly embarrassed when I remember) and especially Caron for organising. Executive spoiler free summary: If what you want from your food is a taste experience you will always remember then this is likely unbeatable. If what you want from your food is "delicious" then you might be less impressed. If you're pescetarian it's less satisfying and if you're vegetarian I imagine this problem is exacerbated. If you're not someone who relishes unusual tastes it would probably count as a bad meal. I would definitely go again (not that *I* could afford to go even once) but only if I knew the menu had changed significantly. Caron has pictures (they allow/encourage pictures but no flash so as not to disturb other diners) but since she's around 6 months behind putting pictures online then don't hold your breath for those. I'm going to steal someone else's pictures.

The full runners and ridersCollapse )
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And we would circle and we would circle [Mar. 7th, 2011|12:37 am]
Richard Clegg
[mood |tiredtired]

At 13:30 we kitted up and headed for the boat. The divemaster Charlie told us what to expect. "You're going to be diving to 80 feet in a fast current. You're going to dive with much too much weight. You will stick to the bottom and you will thank me for this. There will be a rope and I will point to the rope. Hold on to the rope. You will see sharks as you go down. Ignore the sharks, swim to the rope and lie down holding the rope. Do not attempt to pet or touch the sharks. You will want to pet the sharks and you will see me touching the sharks. I am wearing chainmail and you are not. After twenty five minutes you will need to surface. When you get to the surface inflate your buoyancy device and try not to move too much."

We descend fast in clear water over a sandy bottom. Charlie pointed to the rope and we held on. Below us we could see the unmistakable blunt noses of bull sharks, several bull sharks. They're wide, heavy-set but somehow graceful. The largest is about 3 metres, the smallest (just a baby) less than a metre. We grab the rope. Sure enough there's a ripping current blowing and if I even try to sit up I feel I'm going to be blown over. Caron has grabbed the rope next to me and we hauled ourselves along, a row of five divers and about nine or ten bull sharks.

Charlie in his chain mail is reaching into a metal cannister just opening it a little to get blood in the water. He's maybe five metres from us. The sharks know what to expect here, they start to circle. Because Charlie is close to us the sharks circle not just him but us as well. There are too many to watch all of them. Some come in fast, others more cautiously. The water is also full of remoras (shark suckers) who flock following the sharks and then following us, swimming up to our masks to see if we're suitable fish to follow. There's other fish too, jacks and smaller fish hoping to get in on the dangerous feast.

The sharks get close, very close and you know, like Charlie said, I did want to pet them. One of the divers actually did disobey instructions and pull a fin, fortunately with no ill effects. Charlie, on the other hand is used to the sharks. He feeds them by hand (with chain mail gloves) and they make that curious "wolfing" motion bulging their gills as they swallow. He pets them on the nose like dogs and pushes them back if they get too inquisitive. They nose about eating tuna and investigating things -- one takes a bite of the camera stick but spits it out again. Another decides to nudge the cannister with the food in it. A third, cheekily, takes a bite out of one of the jacks trying to muscle in, tearing off a bit of a fin as a warning.

For twenty five minutes we are completely surrounded by sharks, behind us, in front of us, swimming over us and to the side. You can look them straight in the eye, but you don't really know if they're looking back. It would be all too easy to reach out and touch them. One bumps my neighbour's camera and he jerks it back in alarm. Then, all too soon, time to surface, we let go of the rope and (a nervous moment for me at least) put air into our buoyancy devices to head back to the surface.

[Caron has some video and still footage of the whole thing but for now you'll have to make do with youtube from phantom divers the company we dived with -- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v9bJlwAIH0Y http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mQNqiK9DC4g&feature=related]
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Tipu Sultan [Jan. 5th, 2011|05:18 pm]
Richard Clegg
Look upon my works ye mighty and despairCollapse )
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When maths goes wrong [Oct. 28th, 2010|04:51 pm]
Richard Clegg
Here are some slides from the talk I'm giving tomorrow. It's not always the case that I succeed with the hard sums I set out to solve. Barbie image is inspired by an icon from easterbunny.

Hard sumsCollapse )
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LIfehacks [Sep. 27th, 2010|10:32 am]
Richard Clegg
Various people posted a list of lifehacks. Here are my lifehacks for people with crap memories. You may say "Steer, you have a really crap memory". Example, the other week I bought a coffee and sandwich in a service station and drank the coffee in the car. Caron said "did you eat your sandwich?" I honestly could not remember. It was at most two minutes previously. It is true that I have a crap memory but you would not believe how crap my memory would be if I did not use these techniques.

4) Bog roll pill reminder -- if you need to take a pill with any kind of weekly cycle (in my case calcium supplements) but you lead the kind of lifestyle that means you might not necessarily remember if you have or have not taken today's then you can make a simple reminder with the end of a bit of bog roll (and possibly blue tack). Cut down the bog roll so you get a simple band. Write the name of the days of the week that you need to take the pill around the band and put it over the pill bottle (if the pill bottle is too small use the blue tack). The pill bottle usually has some kind of directionality (the arrow on the child proof top). Set the bog roll so it indicates the day you most recently remembered to take the pill. You buy days of the week pill boxes but this works as well and costs nothing and doesn't require you to preload the pill box.

3) Name memorisation through constant repetition. I am useless with names. I've never found many of the touted techniques in memory books work for me. One thing that does work for me is in mid-size meetings (10-15 people sort of size) or in lectures if you're not talking 100% of the time (and if it's a mid size meeting you probably shouldn't be) take an idle moments (that you would normally use for sexual fantasies or gazing blankly out of the window) to survey the participants and name them to yourself -- if you can't name some, ask someone else at the next break until you can name them all. This weekend I was running a course with 15 participants only 5 of whom I knew and 1 I had met before. I was able to remember all the names (two of them kept swapping a bit) for all of the weekend. This may seem unimpressive but without this technique I'd probably have remembered only 7 (including 5 I know well and 1 I'd met before).

2) Digitally enhanced memory for appointments with set date/times or mid-long term tasks (need to be completed in days or weeks). The moment an appointment is made enter it in the calendar in your mobile phone (tell the person what you're doing so it doesn't look like you've just stopped the conversation to text). The moment a mid/long term task is assigned enter it in the task list in your mobile phone. Note to people with old clunky phones -- your mobile phone is almost certainly *not* too old to have this functionality. Even clunky old brick phones can do this -- every phone I've owned in the last 15 years can. Transfer the appointment to a task list or paper diary or electronic back up at some point. [Some people do this task with a paper diary -- this doesn't work for me, the diary can't make appointments for next year, can't be backed up, can't make recurrent appointments for birthdays and anniversaries and can't sound alarms when meetings are near]. Mobile phones can set alarms for months in the future using their calendar feature. Online calendar tools can send reminder emails if you prefer that but you can sync them to your phone. I estimate I have about 100 alarms set on my mobile phone currently and a further 100 events "coming up" from weekends away to people's birthdays.

1) Jewellery enhanced one-bit memory for short term appointments with uncertain but short timescale -- this is my favourite because it's so simple. It's essentially a variant of the knotted hanky to remember something but I don't carry a hanky and even if I did I would not look at it that often. Most people have some piece of jewellery (watch or ring-that-you-always-wear is best) that they wear on one side of their body habitually (watch on left hand, ring on ring finger). If someone says "remind me to do X when we get to the venue" or "look out for a cash machine" or you think "must remember to turn the heating on when I get home" -- the sort of task that you can't set a phone alarm for because you don't know when it occurs and you can't put on a task list because you probably don't look at the task list often enough to help. Take you piece of jewellery and transfer said piece of jewellery to the opposite hand. It will feel slightly weird -- you will remember the thing you need to remember. This is only good for short term things (30 minute sort of duration) because otherwise you will acclimatise to having the piece of jewellery on the "wrong" hand/finger. However, if you're like me, the strange "jewellery on wrong hand" feeling will be enough of an impetus to really make you want to complete whatever memory task you're assigned. Despite my really poor memory I can't think of an occasion where I've moved the jewellery and then forgotten the thing and I've been doing this for about five years I think. (Of course I could have forgotten the occasions I've forgotten).
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Damn clashing gigs [Sep. 23rd, 2010|08:04 pm]
Richard Clegg
Because it clashes with BSP and Manics at Brixton I'm selling my ticket to see Swans at Koko on 28th October.
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Scotland the brave [Sep. 13th, 2010|08:02 pm]
Richard Clegg
I've just got back from the wild north. Very wild and very north in this case -- we were in Lochaline on the Sound of Mull, diving and what a great trip.

We dived Capernwray on the way up, the first place I ever dived. It now contains a huge jet plane. We swam through the hold and pretended to parachute jump out. I sat on the tail and pretended I was flying. I reenacted an incident of panic from my first dive involving a fairground horse. At the deepest part we found a gnome garden and a huge pig statue which was using a rabbit vibrator.

We dived the wreck of the Hispania, a small but very intact wreck from the fifties which feels slightly sombre to me as the captain went down with the ship.

We stopped for lunch in the small village of Tobermoray with its brightly coloured houses and tramped through the place in our dive gear noshing on pies and watching the sea.

After dark we donned glowsticks and torches and made a ridiculous dive round the local harbour. The dive was rarely so deep that we could not stand up and our shore cover could see everything we were doing as could gawpers in the local pub. We spent the time searching for "treasures of the deep" which in this case was whatever junk people throw off the harbour, taps, spoons and millions of scallop shells. At one point we uncovered a recent fish carcass with dozens of green harbour crabs climbing over each other to gnaw it. It was a scene which would give Lovecraft a shiver of horror.

We caught scallops, cooked them from fresh and served them in shells in a cream and leek sauce. Nothing like eating something you caught yourself.

Porpoises chased our bow wake on the way back home.

When we got back on the final day the tide was too low to moor and the skipper made up don dive gear and swim to shore. The locals were somewhat amused by a full boat heading past port and pushing all its passengers off the back as I trudged dripping up the steps a man stood gawping at me. I just said "I think we really upset the captain somehow" and went to pack my gear.
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Leading an epic life [Aug. 26th, 2010|04:55 pm]
Richard Clegg
I should be working but I can't help sharing my love of NMAWorldEdition. It is (as far as I can tell) a genuine taiwanese news channel which livens its (fairly straight) news reporting with some slightly over the top animations. I love the contrast of the fairly routine news stories with the animation.

Google privacy concerns:

Ground Zero Mosque controversy:

UK woman sleeps with 5000 men:

I wish I could afford to pay them to animate scenes from my life -- I think it would make my life seem more epic if it were reconstructed using machinima.
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Excuse me I think I'm going to scream [Aug. 24th, 2010|07:19 pm]
Richard Clegg
I really think I'm about to scream.

Yesterday morning, in a weary slump, I leaned slightly forward while taking my underwear out of the wardrobe. This wouldn't be a problem but my underwear is in one of those weird dangling fabric things you put inside wardrobes. I'm not sure what you call those things. The hanging undercrackers of Islington. Anyway, the point is by leaning forward I tore off the final part of the fabric and velcro attachment that makes the hanging dangling thing hang and dangle... instead it turned into a drooping flopping thing. A disappointing start to the week.

Undeterred I decided immediately to buy one and (in consultation with Dr T over an acceptable lunch at the Squat and Gobble) that Argos was probably my ideal place to buy one (his ideal place to buy one is probably Lombok if you can get them made in recovered Chinese walnut). So I argosed it up and with surprisingly little queuing (or human interaction) made my purchase and went home.

Immediately there was slight trouble. I opened the box and there were no instructions in it. Not a problem. A resourceful chap like me can soon put it together -- and so I did. It went together with no problems and I put it in my wardrobe and placed my underwear and t-shirts in it and went to sit down. At this point I found the instructions.

Now, you sceptics might be thinking that I'd put it together wrong. You are wrong. Without instructions I had 100% put it together right. My slight mistake (and I hesitate even to call it that) was to put it in the wardrobe upside down. It wasn't a big deal. It clearly worked the other way up. I could ignore it. It was upside down. It didn't matter, it wasn't a big deal. It was clearly absolutely fine upside down and it would make no difference to its functionality. It remained upside down. I sighed and went to the bedroom to fix it. I took all the t-shirts and underwear out of it, turned it right way up and replaced them. With a weary sigh I put the final t-shirt in place, leaned slightly forward and tore off the fabric attachment which kept it hanging and dangling... instead it turned into a drooping flopping thing.


Sorry, I did say I thought I was about to scream.
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Wednesdays [Aug. 9th, 2010|12:13 am]
Richard Clegg
Poll #1603392 See you next Wednesday

If you (the reader) speaking on a Sunday says "next Wednesday" you mean:

the next Wednesday to come up (in three days)
the Wednesday after that (in ten days)
would never use such an imprecise phrase
am unable to speak hence could not say it (thanks for being so crass as to remind me)
am illiterate and cannot read poll
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Socially networking [Aug. 5th, 2010|03:42 pm]
Richard Clegg
So, I finally got a Facebook, where I'm Richard G. Clegg (unsurprisingly). I resisted at first because I hate the way facebook is so very much a locked down garden. Then I resisted because I was hoping it would all blow over but looks like there's a few years of Facebook to deal with yet. I've not been posting to LJ too much recently not from any particular disenchantment but more because I don't have a lot to say recently. So, to summarise, I have an LJ (this), twitter (richardclegg) and facebook (Richard G. Clegg) on which I'm more or less active and an incredibly neglected website http://www.richardclegg.org. I also apparently have a myspace (I thin kits steer but I haven't signed in for 10 years) and, biggest surprise to me, a LinkedIn account -- didn't know about the last one until I got a friend request the other day. I suspect I signed up some time around the universe cooling after the big bang and then forgot it's existence.

I'm also going to start up a serious work blog as I don't talk about my work that much on here and it would be nice to have some record that I do things other than dive, drink and hang out in disgusting clubs. Anyone recommend some blog hosting software for Ubuntu? (Or general blogging software which will run on linux?)
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London quiz [Aug. 2nd, 2010|11:21 am]
Richard Clegg
Three and a half years since I moved to London. I'm sort of getting the hang of it now. At least I managed to navigate between Caron's new flat in London Bride and work in Bloomsbury without getting lost. To celebrate, here's a short quiz for London people (though the rest of you can have a go if you fancy -- or just complain that this journal is not relevant to people outside the M25 any more).

Things in LondonCollapse )
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Driving round the bend [Jul. 26th, 2010|02:00 pm]
Richard Clegg
More terrifying than the diving this weekend was certainly the "driving in London" aspect of things. Why does anyone drive in London? I hired a car to drive to and from the dive as we had lots of kit to carry. Driving through London is simply exhausting, frustrating, terrifying and for the most part slower than walking and much slower than the tube or the bus. It really was an awful experience. From picking the car up (from a muddy car park somewhere off the Edgeware Road, rather than the easy to locate office off Marylebone) I don't think I had a single moment of feeling relaxed or calm in central London. This wasn't great as the experience began with a drive from Marylebone to Hackney, to Islington and then to London Bridge (I think that is the figure 4) which was a nerve jangling two hours -- the time it takes me to get from London to York by train. The whole time there are cyclists zipping past you with closing velocities of around 20mph (anyone who cycles in main vehicle lanes in london is psychotic and likely to bite your wing mirrors off if you try to actually move your car), people flashing lights, blaring horns and generally indicating hatred. Plus an ambulance or police car tries to pass you every couple of minutes.

This morning I had to return the vehicle to somewhere off Edgeware road which I hoped I would recognise because "it's near that damned great ugly flyover" -- unfortunately, I didn't spot the flyover until all the buildings started to mysteriously get shorter. By that point it was too late and before I could scream in horror I was on some fast moving conveyor of grim faced commuters pounding into the outer darkness and regions unknown (in fact Hammersmith). The journey back surrounded on all sides by mysterious sigils instead of road signs and potent warding "Congestion Charge Zone, abandon hope all ye who enter here" signs (why is a congestion charge zone so scary as a sign -- I think the congestion charge is probably the most visionary and successful transport policy we've ever had in this country but when driving those signs have the same kind of stomach lurch as a mysterious lump found on an unexpected body part).

Long story short, I managed to head back into the city to the muddy car park the whole journey from Islington to Edgeware Road taking only ninety minutes (and hang the fact I could walk it in fifty that's pretty good). This experience will haunt my dreams.
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Into national rescue [Jul. 26th, 2010|12:23 pm]
Richard Clegg
Stop press, worse things happen at sea. Really actually while this is about diving, it was a weekend of high drama.

The whirlybird catches the wormCollapse )
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Applying actual statistics to the subject [Jul. 13th, 2010|07:15 pm]
Richard Clegg
I've written my own improved textual analyser -- this is based on many years of study of the writing of bloggers, journalists and people who post memes about a lot.

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Which author are other people like [Jul. 13th, 2010|04:28 pm]
Richard Clegg
Seems everyone is playing with this today.

Trial texts by Dickens, Lovecraft and Shakespeare were correctly identified but it curiously identified Sonnet 116 "Let me not to the marriage of true minds..." as being like Dickens.

Text: Paragraphs from "How to be Topp" by Nigel Molesworth (aided by Goeffrey Willans) -- James Joyce

Text: House of lords science select committee report on complementary medicine -- H. P. Lovecraft

Text: O2 broadband terms and conditions -- Dan Brown

Text: My writing about computer games and sex -- H. P. Lovecraft

Text: My writing about condoms -- Chuck Palanuik

Text: My writing about multi-tasking -- Stephen King (I should bloody sue)

Text: Gettysburg address -- H. P. Lovecraft

Text: A DIY guide to vacuum cleaner repair -- Stephen King

Text: Potato Junkie by Therapy? (I'm bitter, I'm twisted, James Joyce is fucking my sister) -- George Orwell

Text: Section 47 of the Digital Economy Act -- Issac Asimov (if anything the DEB writer should be offended here)

Text: ZX81 instruction manual -- Stephen King

Text: BBC article about Tiger Woods using new golf club -- Shakespeare

Text: Lyrics to space Oddity -- James Fenimore Cooper

Text: Middle chapter from Moby dick -- H. P. Lovecraft

Text: Lyrics to Wannabe by the Spice Girls -- Issac Asimov (oooh, so nearly right)

Text: Wikipedia entry about Charles Dickens -- Charles Dickens (did have some short quotes by him though)
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Dinotastic [Jul. 6th, 2010|11:47 am]
Richard Clegg

I had to post a picture of this lovely and thoughtful diorama that kissmeforlonger made me the other day.
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Why I love radio four [Jun. 22nd, 2010|11:58 am]
Richard Clegg
Two separate moments of hilarity on the today program.

1) An interview about the possible banning of transfats in school. The spokesman for the food industry said (naturally) that there was no need for regulation, that the industry was moving in that direction anyway and that the reports stating the dangers had been questioned. The interviewer then said "I'm reading Sir Humphrey Appleby's guide to how to stop legislation going through from Yes Minister and he claims you should always say that there's no need for regulation, that the industry is moving in that direction anyway and..."

2) An interview about learning foreign languages. A german spokesman straightfacedly describes English as the lingua franca for world business.
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Stirling stuff [Jun. 16th, 2010|11:34 pm]
Richard Clegg
I am in Scotland where, as it turns out, the sun never sets on the Scots empire... or at least it takes a damn long time this far north and this close to midsummer. I had a very relaxing train journey where I managed to sort out some hard sums which had been bugging me for quite some time. One of those irritating problems where I knew the answer from about five minutes after first thinking about the problem but it took me ten hours of work (spread over about a month) to prove that it WAS the right answer).

I've also been cheered by W. H. Auden. Secondly by his splendidly crinkly face and discovering that in describing his own visage he came up with the phrase "like a cake left out in the rain" later used in the song McArthur Park and also by the B52s but firstly by his excellent poem "No use raising a shout" which I reproduce (probably illegally) the first two verses below.


It's no use raising a shout.
No, Honey, you can cut that right out.
I don't want any more hugs;
Make me some fresh tea, fetch me some rugs.
Here am I, here are you;
But what does it mean? What are we going to do?

It wasn't always like this?
Perhaps it wasn't, but it is.
Put the car away; when life fails,
What's the good of going to Wales?
Here am I, here are you;
But what does it mean? What are we going to do?


The poem continues but I only really like those verses and the ending.

I first came across the poem in, of all things, the intro to a government report on transport policy, in specific in the context of reducing car use and encouraging bus and train journeys which is a marvellously optimistic way to interpret the text.
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Laptop recommends [Jun. 16th, 2010|12:24 pm]
Richard Clegg
Caron is looking to buy a laptop. It's an age since I looked into such things so I don't have a clue these days. She wants something for basic WP and web browsing and watching DVDs occasionally (but it does not need huge screen). She also wants to be able to plug in her regular keyboard, mouse and monitor. I know you can do that anyway but I thought a docking station was a good way to make this easy but now I'm not at all sure they're necessary. The laptop itself does not need to be particularly powerful nor particularly light nor have particularly good battery life -- I do want Windows 7 on it though.

So, opinions from the jury on the usefulness or otherwise of docking stations and a good bottom end laptop. I've always had good luck with Dell kit myself. Indeed my current laptop from work has taken quite a beating, travelled round the world and is still ticking four years on.
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Videos from holiday [Jun. 7th, 2010|02:37 pm]
Richard Clegg
Diving with sand tiger sharks: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZjNjwsWHEaE

My victory roll: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2KL92xdQwDA

Kyle the diveguide with blacktip sharks on a baited dive: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zg53v9OLMFM

Some bull sharks on our baited dive: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ek8pyTfJVrE

Bull sharks and black tips have been known to be a bit bitey in the past to swimmers but sharks almost never attack divers.
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South African interlude [May. 29th, 2010|06:53 pm]
Richard Clegg
I was not sorry to leave Capetown in the slightest, it's a town with little I could find to recommend it and a dangerous feel to it after dark. Simply walking from Long Street (a heavily patrolled tourist street) to a restaurant on the next street, one of the (many) street patrols told us not to go that way as we would certainly be robbed. Generally this confirmed the feeling I had about the city anyway. The tour of Robben Island guided by an ex prisoner was interesting but bad weather meant we couldn't do the Tabletop mountain tour.

Now Caron and I are in a tranquil dive site in Aliwal Shoal famous for some of the best shark diving in the world. The first dive this morning was absolutely amazing, despite an initial contretemps with a diver who managed to nearly lose his cylinder, lose half the weights off his weight belt and crack his head open all on the same dive.

I won't bore you with a list of everything we saw but (links are to pictures) there was a lovely marbled electric ray, dozens of sand tiger sharks (known here as Raggies or Ragged tooth sharks), tiny colourful nudibranchs, the spectacularly peculiar paperfish (also known as a leaf scorpionfish), a solitary whitetip reef shark, a freeswimming Hawksbill Turtle and an enormous sleeping Loggerhead, an emperor angelfish and some of its young a raggy scorpionfish and best of all a hunting dolphin powering through a school of fish. If you're a fan of "finding nemo" we also saw several Gil and Dory.

Once the dive was underway everything was really tranquil. A bit of a surge meant we were fairly zooming through the water but being washed from side to side which when you go with it and let the current take you is actually quite relaxing, like being rocked. It's also quite interesting when it rocks you rather closer than you intended to some harmless but not-so-harmless-looking 2 meter long Sand Tiger sharks (the local name of "ragged-tooth" or "Raggie" sharks is quite apt for the villainous array that they display). The Sand Tiger is a classic aquarium shark but they're not really that sharky looking a shark with a kind of depressed look to them, an ugly hunch back and a droopy looking dorsal. The humble white-tip reef is much more sharky-looking, a torpedo shaped thing of beauty. All through the first half of the dive we could hear the whistle of hunting dolphins. Our dive guide, a comical old Afrikaans called Dick, warned us to look up occasionally when we heard the whistle and sure enough we were rewarded with the sight of a huge school of fish packed together for self defence and eventually a dolphin powering through 15 metres above us.

It tells you something about the nature of what divers are like that we had seen so many Sand Tigers (by the way, they're Grey Nurse sharks if you're an Aussie) that by the end of the dive we were crowding into a cave containing two moderate size specimens in order to see a pair of two centimeter long paperfish, peculiar little creatures I'd never even heard of before this trip. Just as we were about to surface after nearly an hour of diving Dick pointed out a huge old loggerhead turtle resting sleepily on the bottom -- such a peaceful sight. Turtles aren't hunted here and don't seem afraid of divers at all.

Meanwhile on the surface you will hear sardines and rumours of sardines (as it nearly says in revelations). The sardine run is starting early, one of the greatest spectacles of the undersea world. Huge shoals of sardines chased by everything imaginable are making their way slowly up the coast towards us. Alas, rather too slowly as we only have two days of diving left.

Monday we depart for Protea Banks where we've paid for a baited shark dive and are apparently pretty much guaranteed Tigers and Bulls (the sharks, not the animals) which are two of the bitiest sharks around. Unless you're my sister in which case we've paid for a course in advanced knitting and will be in a classroom all day.
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Who oh DIY [May. 20th, 2010|10:18 pm]
Richard Clegg
I thought I'd take the last night before I travel to finish some waiting DIY. Fortunately my dad had idiot proofed the idea of putting up shelves for me. He made some vertical brackets which fitted to the wall, some horizontal brackets which attach to the top of them, some diagonal crosspieces with doweling to make it all strong and some actual shelves to attach. Brilliant. All I have to do is screw the vertical brackets to the wall. I've even had screws provided, no bother. I can have two shelves fitted in my boiler cupboard and it will look great.

I want the ironing board to sit underneath the shelves so I measured it carefully so the bottom of the lowest vertical bracket was just above the ironing board. Initially I forgot about the size of the brackets and had to remeasure for the second (higher shelf) but soon I got the bottom of it's bracket fixed too, about eye level for me... a little high for a shelf but bearable. They screwed into the walls pretty easily and all went up like a dream.

Did you spot it? Did you? If you didn't then you've no right to feel superior to me. I'd measured where the shelves should be to the bottom of the vertical brackets but, in fact the shelves sit on the TOP of them. This means that the *lowest* shelf is about eye level to me. The *highest* shelf is in fact more than two metres off the ground and I could not see what was on the shelf or reach things off it without jumping. Oh dear. It is fixed very securely but you know that does not seem such an achievement. The bad thing is it did not even occur to me until I came to actually put the shelves onto the brackets.

Oh well. 50% of the shelves are up.
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New phone thoughts [May. 19th, 2010|11:05 am]
Richard Clegg
OK, so I'm very much in the market for a new phone. Because O2 consider me a "gold" customer (that is, I spend stupid amounts on mobile phone calls because of gotchas with local numbers, foreign multimedia messages and other things that I think are covered -- "gold" in other words is a synonym for "stupid and wasteful") I can get an upgrade early. Unfortunately, it seems like all the phones O2 offer right now are what technical people call "a bit cack".

I really had my heart set on a lovely N900 -- I've a ridiculous desire for a phone with the Maemo system and having had a play with one the other day, I'd really like one. However, it turns out O2 don't offer them or indeed any phone I particularly want.

Here's their list http://shop.o2.co.uk/mobile_phones/Pay_Monthly/all_phones/all_brands

Now then mobile phone experts (I know I have a few), for my purposes are any of these phones not crap? My current phone is an aging N95 8Gb and while I did like it it's aged enough that I'm starting to hate it. Symbian has really has its day as an OS.

Requirements for phone are:

1) Good camera (not necessarily brilliant but good) and ability to send picture messages.
2) Able to use wifi
3) Can use email (preferably better than symbian does) to an OKish degree.
4) Robust enough to stand up to living in my pocket with my keys.
5) Not massive/problematic form factor for carrying in pocket (probably not blackberry for example).
6) Reasonable calendar and organiser feature (preferably sync to desktop or gmail calendar).

Desirable for phone are:
1) Not entirely reliant on touchscreen (I don't like pure touchscreen interface hence N900 good)
2) Reasonable ways for me to write my own code for it should I want.
3) Good source of free apps.

I was looking at the palm but buying from Palm does seem like violating a corpse these days. Anyone techie got any comments on the usability of the HTC. WTF is an LG POP? Probably the right answer is to wait two months and switch to Vodafone where I can get an N900 free and also buy their SureSignal box -- but I'm impatient for shiny goods.
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Battling on [May. 18th, 2010|11:28 am]
Richard Clegg
Here are the photos from the walk on Sunday.


I really don't want to like Charlie Brooker but I was amused by his geek reference in the last sentence here:

(My paranoia wasn't that far off, as it happens. According to the book Rendez-Vous: The Psychoanalysis of François Mitterrand, at the height of the Falklands war, Thatcher threatened to nuke Argentina unless President Mitterrand handed over disabling codes for the French-built Exocet missiles which were pounding British ships. If that was true, and had actually happened, you wouldn't be reading the Guardian right now – you'd be fighting a giant scorpion to impress the village elders.)

I wish my life involved more fighting of giant scorpions to impress the village elders or I'd settle for more hard sums.

Cut for imagesCollapse )
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The history boys [May. 17th, 2010|02:49 pm]
Richard Clegg
Sometimes you need to clear your head and get out into some vague approximation of countryside and just kind of wander about a bit. Yesterday, childeric led _abby_ and I around a 26km trail from Pevensey Bay to Battle.

Now, when I set off I quite clearly knew that in 1066 the Normans (led by William) landed at Pevensey and went to Hastings and had a battle where King Arthur [EDIT: should be Harold, and the worst thing is, that wasn't even deliberate] was shot in the eye. This led to William becoming king of England. Then there was a bit of a break followed by the industrial revolution I think but that's another story. Our walk was to follow the route they took from Pevensey Bay to Battle.

The point is that childeric would enliven the walk with tales from history. The problem is that, really, having a historian around is not that much use. I mean, for a start, whatever is being asked it "isn't their period" (I think they must be allocated one year each by some central historical body and you're only really allowed to ask them about that year). Even if it quite clearly is their period then historians always introduce elements of doubt and uncertainty into the subject.

Now, after the walk I know that the Normans might or might not have landed at Pevensey (which is inland so, IMHO, makes it pretty bloody unlikely). They quite probably hung around a bit setting fire to things and then may have gone towards Hastings. They probably did not walk along the 1066 trail to Battle despite it being quite clearly signposted. There was quite likely a battle at Battle which is only near Hastings (apparently the Battle of Hastings was fought at Battle not Hastings at all). At Battle (not Hastings) Harold may or may not have been shot by an arrow in what may or may not have been his eye. I feel like I've had knowledge extracted from my brain and replaced by woolly, nuanced fluff. How am I expected to know things about the past when it keeps changing? I think I shall revert to my previous historical policy of impenetrable ignorance.

Still, it was a jolly nice walk and it does me good to doze lightly on a hillside instead of over a keyboard.
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The PM program [May. 10th, 2010|02:43 pm]
Richard Clegg
I'm trying to work but I'm mainly just pressing refresh on the BBC website to see if we have a government yet. Well the result could have been worse but not much. A Lib-Conservative pact would look like a total disaster to me with eroded Lib Dem support (how many people are already "never lib dem again" even before this), not much chance of any actual electoral reform and a very small number of LD MPs trying to claim they are "influencing" policy. Also is it really likely that any kind of electoral reform bill would get through given I reckon many tories would defy the party whip on such a matter. In a way the nicest possible result would be a minority Tory government which would quickly turn in on itself as the Tory party typical habit of eating its young in times of stress. What are the rest of you hoping/fearing from this?
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Telling the waves to roll back [May. 10th, 2010|12:40 pm]
Richard Clegg
This weekend I've been administrating the sea... or rather I have been trying my best to do the fist "two day planned expedition" which is part of my advanced diver training.

Cut for people who are sick of my undersea waffleCollapse )

However, I must say the second day's diving was absolutely bloody wonderful. We got to see the two "wrecks" one of which was the wreck of some D day tanks. The valentines tanks sank in WWII when they were practicing off Poole. Apparently the idea was to create completely amphibious tanks which could cross the channel. They got a few miles in training and are down there today proving a home for crabs, fish, conger eels and an ugly looking lump sucker (which I missed on seeing). Beautiful diving and watching the sun glint off a pod of jumping porpoises reminded me why we go to sea in the first place. Despite the strain on my nervous system it was a great weekend, we got three people signed off as qualified and thirteen people to have a really great dive trip. I just thank god that the next few I'm doing, I'm just being a diver or (assistant) instructor and not an expedition manager.

For those of you who like to see what these things are like you can see a little video of the tanks here (worth looking to the last 30 secs for divers circling the turret) and a picture of a lumpfish/lumpsucker here.

Oh, I nearly forgot, I had to give my best ever management instruction: "There is a lumpfish in the second turrent. Do not poke the lumpfish, she is nesting."
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The revolution of lowered expectations [Apr. 29th, 2010|10:43 am]
Richard Clegg
When I was 10 I wanted to be a professor who studied dinosaurs and fierce dinosaurs at that.

When I was 20 I wanted to be a professor who studied astrophysics.

When I was 30 I wanted to be a professor.

I'm nearly 40 now and really, I'd settle for having my recycling emptied regularly, getting the Natwest to acknowledge my change of address and a replacement loo seat.

Honestly, how hard can these things possibly be to achieve. It turns out I have a non-standard loo of indeterminate manufacture.

Update: thanks to ms_siobhan the loo seat dilemma has at least been mitigated.
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All at sea [Apr. 26th, 2010|05:06 pm]
Richard Clegg
Messing about in the waterCollapse )
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Ave Valencia [Apr. 17th, 2010|12:57 pm]
Richard Clegg
[Tags|, ]

So, I did not really want to come to this Future Internet conference anyway but, you know, there are those things that you've just got to do as part of your job. This ash cloud thing has proved a problem really. There's no shortage of ingenuous plans for getting home but, alas, there's always a critical flaw. The sleeper trains are booked up for days. There's whacky train routes via Barcelona, Toulouse, Perpignan, the moon and so on... all of which are rather spoiled by the French industrial action (which I fully support and the concept of a strong labour union marks france as a civilised nation, but really... could they kind of just settle the dispute today please?). At the moment we're trying to find enough English people to want to go on a bus... yes, a bus from Valencia to London. The problem is that several people want to stop in Brussels which is less than convenient.

I have a flight for tomorrow evening (my original flight was Friday evening) but there seems little chance of Iceland getting its house in order by then. Honestly, Iceland, you don't see Greenland causing this trouble do you? Who knows... it may be time to start learning Spanish.

I would be concentrating on hard sums or being a tourist but it's damned hard to concentrate when there are a dozen foreign language web sites any of which might just think about selling you a train ticket to get home. Current best guess is that my journey home will take around 36 hours if the plane is cancelled. So far, I've checked out of my hotel and checked back in one floor lower. 2 meters in 24 hours. Every journey begins with a step.
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Help I am a prisoner in Europe [Apr. 16th, 2010|11:20 am]
Richard Clegg
Icelandic situation means I am unlikely to be able to use 2x tickets for exciting whizzy boat tour of thames at 15:30 on Saturday and 2x tickets for comedy including andy zalzman at 21:30 on Saturday. Email me if you'd like these -- e tickets and I don't *think* I need to bring my credit card.

Update: Comedy tickets gone. Surely somebody must fancy a free thames rib experience. http://www.thamesribexperience.com/ -- it looks awesome. It's the 15:30 sailing from Embankment with a tour down to Canary Wharf and those boats look super exciting and fast. I'd be heart broken if they just went to waste.

For those interested, I've managed to get tickets on a "not yet cancelled" flight on Sunday evening.
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(no subject) [Apr. 4th, 2010|12:52 pm]
Richard Clegg
Summary of last week activitiesCollapse )
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DIY laughing -- the new adventures of Captain Hook [Mar. 12th, 2010|08:17 pm]
Richard Clegg

Oh my god, it's full of holesCollapse )
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