EDitorial ± 30-Jun-2004

Faintly Amusing

So there I was, lying on the floor at work, staring up at the ceiling — hang on an Egyptian cotton pickin' minute, haven't we been here before? Oops, I did it again.

One hundred fully conscious days have elapsed since my little headbanging episode at work, an incident that rightfully provided much hilarity for my fellow office wage-slaves. True, the first few visits to that same gents had brought back some uncomfortable memories, but I'd put The Fall behind me.

Don't look so frightened
This is just a passing phase
One of my bad days
— Pink Floyd, One Of My Turns (1979)

Thing is that I cricked my neck recently, probably as a result of giving the boy a ride on my shoulders in town, and this pain-in-the-neck (not the boy, for once) had spread to my arm. So when I saw that the visiting massage people were on-site in the room next to the coffee lounge, no booking required, I had to give it a go.

During her intro, the nice lady asked about various medical conditions (not me, guv), and did point out that the relaxed feeling I'd experience could lead to a drop in blood pressure. She'd worked the top of my spine and had moved on to my sensitive left arm — most pleasant — before applying the same moves to my right. At which point I began to feel a tad warm: could I have a glass of water please?

Not sure what happened next: thought I was still on the orthopaedic chair; actually I was slumped on the floor, legs wrapped around it, my face wet. Nice lady had returned from the water fountain to find me out for the count. Fortunately her colleague had been present to observe my apparently graceful collapse, doing my best impression of a boneless chicken.

They wouldn't let me go until I'd sat down for a good half-hour with cups of water, numerous biscuits and even a cuppa coffee; felt like I'd given blood. After which I happily walked the 200m back to work, looked busy for two hours, then biked home. Got vertigo? No, just down the road.

Be seeing you!


EDitorial ± 21-Jun-2004

Ks Are Kaptivating

Derived from the Greek kappa, meaning overpriced sportswear, and often popping round to J's next door to borrow a cup of sugar and to gossip about the noises emanating from L's place, today's show is brought to you by the letter K.
That's my family, Kay. It's not me.
— Al Pacino as Michael Corleone, The Godfather (1972)

Not to mention kaccha, kangha, kara, kesh and kirpan:

  • K:
    1024 bytes, which is two to the power of ten — hey, maths can be fun! Its appropriation to mean £1000 was frowned on by all students of CompSci and gave us all something to complain about, providing some consolation for not being invited to any parties.
  • 1K:
    Total RAM of Mr Sinclair's ZX81 from way back in 1981. One of my early Saturday jobs was working at Green's electrical store next to Debenham's in central Ipswich, where I remember the manager telling me the ZX81's best use was as a ping-pong bat.
  • K:
    Central character of The Castle, one of the unfinished novels of Franz "Two Ks" Kafka. As with any new job, K turns up only to find that no-one is expecting him and that he's entered a labyrinthine bureaucracy.
  • Special K:
    Get your bikini body in three weeks: yeah, right.
  • KK:
    Co-founder of the hi-tech and hi-gloss Wired magazine, Kevin Kelly has part of his website at www.kk.org dedicated to Cool Tools. Well worth a browse every month or so.
  • KK:
    Or could be Kevin Keelan, the long time ago not-a-typo goalie from Norwich City. As Google says: did you mean Kevin Keegan? No!
  • 5K (i):
    Gail, after many many years avoiding athletics, ran a 5K race yesterday, the Tesco-sponsored Race For Life. Which I wouldn't have believed even a month ago. Hats off to both her and Sarah-down-the-road.
  • 5K (ii):
    That Paula Radcliffe was also running a 5K yesterday, her first track race for well over a year. Best she could do, poor lass, was to become the third fastest woman ever at that distance. At least she tried.
  • 5K (iii):
    There's an occasional competition held on the web called the 5K, the idea being to produce an entire website in less than 5K of space, which ain't much, with total prize money of 5120 (5K exactly) US cents. Some of the entries are amazingly inventive.
  • KKK:
    See the Coen Brothers' O Brother Where Art Thou?
  • 16K:
    Cue MJ Hibbett: Hey Hey 16K, what does that get you today?
  • 48K:
    Our much-loved first home computer, the Oric-1 (namechecked in MJH's song), had 48K of RAM; more than you could possibly need! Well, enough to play The Hobbit, Xenon 1 and Zorgon's Revenge.

(That's enough Ks — Ed)

Be seeing you!


EDitorial ± 15-Jun-2004

Sweet Nothings

Late Saturday afternoon and I'm preoccupied with adjusting the angle of the chair — my chair — for the imminent opening match of Euro 2004 between Portugal, the hosts, and some other team, most likely from within Europe.

"Dad, can we have a marshmallow?" coo the kids.

"Don't see why not", says I, heading into the kitchen and fetching a chair to reach my big birthday tub o' mallows, 475g of Haribo's finest glucose fructose syrup products.

Offering the pot to Ella, she takes one of the longer ones, observed closely by Rose. Moving to Rose, she hesitates, scanning for the same sort now being consumed by big sister. "Come on Rose" says I, "you've got five seconds", and I begin to count.

We like sweets a lot
But they make your insides rot
So remember it's your body
And the only one you've got
— Animaniacs, Be Careful What You Eat (1993)

Time is shortly up and Rose hasn't chosen, so I close the tub and head off to find Theo, who grabs the first one he can. Then I replace the mallows in their ultra-secure top of the cupboard position.

Game now underway with Figo, Pauleta, et cetera, but doesn't take long before I'm joined by an enraged Rose: "Dad, why didn't you let me have a marshmallow?"

"But Rose", says I, "you could have but you took too long."

"But Dad", says Rose, "that's not fair! I want a marshmallow!"

This carries on for around ten minutes, during which time the groovy Grecians score the opening goal. I then cave in and, removing the first two mallows I find, give them to Theo to give to Rose. He can be trusted like that.

All's well until Rose rejoins us: "Dad, those weren't the ones I wanted!"

"Rose", says I, "does it matter? You've had two mallows!"

"No", says Rose, "I didn't want those ones — I gave them to Theo."

(this story carries on well into the second half but shows my parental abilities in a less than flattering light and so terminates here)

Be seeing you!


EDitorial ± 7-Jun-2004

This Is A Library

Can be awfully difficult in these days of information overload to know what to believe, eh what. Are shoppers using Park And Rides being rendered unconscious by robbers posing as perfume reps but with bottles full of ether? Is it safe to feed rice to pigeons? And can we really be tracked by the metallic strips in our banknotes?

Take these two stories from BBC News online:

  1. "Upturn in visits to UK libraries" (1-Jun-2004) — library visits up by five million in a year
  2. "UK libraries out of use by 2020" (27-Apr-2004) — people will stop using UK libaries in the next 20 years (not 8.20pm, when most are closed anyway)

Going up? Going down? Feels like the Grace Brothers lift.

Not that you'd catch me (a) in a tent or (b) partaking of chicory coffee, but I'm in the first camp. This is entirely due to — three cheers and hats off — the top notch service from Suffolk County Council's libraries, from Aldeburgh to Woodbridge and most letters in between.

Libraries gave us power
— Manic Street Preachers, A Design For Life (1996)

A recent example:

  • from home, I searched the library catalogue for a particular book for eldest, and promptly found it; apparently 20 copies in stock, scattered all over the county, some on loan, some on the shelf
  • still online, reserved a copy, and asked for it to be delivered to my local branch
  • two days later, automatic email arrived: your book is now ready for collection

Ain't that splendid? Thumbs aloft!

If You Take Away With You Nothing Else

Quiet please:

  1. not to mention Sunday opening, free Internet usage, daily papers, and even a comfy sofa at the local branch
  2. shame that the Tintin DVD (vol 4, The Seven Crystal Balls, etc.) is now two days late
  3. never be lairy in Bury library

Be seeing you!


EDitorial ± 1-Jun-2004

To Boulder Go

I've got a vague guilty feeling like a child who's wandered off without telling his parents or legally appointed guardian (a) where he's going and (b) when he'll be coming back. Apologies, y'all, and yes, I should know better.

My excuse? Been in Colorado to attend li'l sister's wedding, hot dang!

Friday 14-May-2004

My longest ever birthday, lasting approximately 31 hours across two continents. Began with a big box of marshmallows and ended at Denny's, across the highway from the hotel, eating chicken soup and French toast.
Best film of the eight or so available in the seat back screen was The Station Agent, starring Fin, a trainchasing little person who just wanted to be alone; recommended.

Saturday 15-May-2004

First full day in the town of Boulder, Colorado, staying at the characterful Boulder Broker.
Best move of the week was to serendipitously stumble across a pedal bike shop and decide to hire two for the week, and so take advantage of the miles and miles of cycle paths criss-crossing the town. Whee!
Best soda consumed was Original Stewart's Fountain Classics grape soda. Got the taste for grape from various USAF air shows in my youth. Ah!
Best unscheduled documentary appearance happened in the Boulder Bookstore, where the handful of people browsing at that time were asked to meet Dr Marc Bekoff, renowned animal behaviour expert. We posed some questions, received some fascinating answers, and were filmed in the process. Which was nice.

Sunday 16-May-2004

Joint best breakfast of the week at the Walnut Cafe: busy busy. Eventually seated for a monster breakfast burrito while Gail had the ranch eggs.
Sustained us for a bike ride along Boulder Creek and up 800ft into the foothills. Hard work at times on the ascent, then whizzed back down into town for some much-needed ice cream at Glacier. Key lime pie milkshake for me; Junior Mint ice cream for her.

Monday 17-May-2004

Having left the kids at home, thanks to a very generous offer from mother-in-law, we thought it would be a cool idea for them to see us (even if we couldn't see them). So we arranged to be downtown at 12.15pm, UK time 7.15pm, within sight of the Art Source live Pearl Street mall webcam. And they saw us!
Best little hike was at the fantabulous Chautauqua Park. Up, up and up on the bikes to 9th and Baseline, then up some more for great views of Boulder and the Flatirons. Love that altitude.

Tuesday 18-May-2004
Wedding day for ELB and NEK, but wait, we need some flowers! One quick trip on the trusty bike to a friendly florist in town, Renegade Rose, and we're sorted.
Slightly surreal moment 1 in courtroom C of the Rocky Mountain Justice Centre, when friends and family are invited to fill the twelve jury seats.
Slightly surreal moment 2 hours later at Casa Bonita, "the greatest show in Denver". All you can eat Mexican food, flame jugglers, secret caves, Galaga, and a mariachi band playing Happy Birthday to the Happy Couple.

Wednesday 19-May-2004

Joint best breakfast of the week at Lucile's — see below — then some serious pedalling to Wonderland Lake. Hiked around Hogsback Ridge in the blazing sun, pausing for sips of bottled water and views back over the town.
Best refreshment came once back in Boulder itself at the Bookends cafe; a bottle of special vitamin water meant to revitalise. Sure did need it. Couldn't help noticing that everyone's laptop has the Apple logo emblazoned on it: my kind of place!

Thursday 20-May-2004

Chickened out of hiring a car, so took the BX to Denver having visited the mighty impressive Boulder public library for some internet access. Only 45mins to the mile high city, then hopped on to another bus in search of Cherry Creek Mall. Upmarket shops, to say the least — Saks, Tiffany, Mont Blanc — and the Apple store. Had my name appear at the Genius Bar, which thrilled me: how sad is that.
Best film on telly, A Mighty Wind, starring those talented Spinal Tap chaps.

Friday 21-May-2004

Checked out of the hotel, and up to The Hill (student part of town) for water, candy and a cap from the shop opposite the local Onion offices. On to Chautauqua for the McClintock trail. School buses and schoolkids a-plenty.
Best open air meal at the Dining Hall, though not the best time for the Visa card to stop working.
Sa(i)d farewell to the bikes, then hopped on the Super Shuttle to Denver International Airport to kill some time writing postcards and eating cookies.

And The Rest
That Lucile's breakfast in full — this is called "pain perdu" and is made up of (from the top, clockwise) French toast, warm maple syrup, egg, spicy sausage and assorted fresh fruit, washed down with coffee and a shared litre of freshly squeezed orange juice. Doesn't get much better though we did struggle to get up from our seats afterwards.

Good to see the kids again back at Heathrow holding up their handmade Mummy, Daddy, Broom signs. Hello again reality.

Be seeing you!