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 Just got round to watching the first episode.  I was amused by this ad that Sky ran immediately before the programme:

Incidentally, I usually record the ESPN Sunday night baseball game off of BT Sports and when I was watching it earlier in the week, I noticed that I could hear the stadium sound system was playing the Game of Thrones theme.  Judging by the timing on the recording, I think they were about ten minutes early for the actual premiere.
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 There was a children's demonstration against climate change marching up and down Guildford High Street this morning.  There weren't very many of them, but they were enthusiastic.
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 About three times a year the BBC organise what they call a Total Immersion day at the Barbican Arts Centre in London - a day of concerts, films and talks dedicated usually to a single composer.  Next month, it's the French sisters Lili and Nadia Boulanger.

If you want to go to all the events, in this case three concerts, a film and a talk, you can buy a Day Pass but for some reason you can't buy these over the net, you have to either phone or go to the box office.

I bought a Day Pass over the phone yesterday and asked for my tickets to be sent by post.  They arrived this morning - in two separate envelopes!  All the tickets for the concerts and the talk were in one envelope, the ticket for the film show was in another.

Incidentally, there is not much music left by either composer.  Lili suffered chronic ill health and died in 1918 at the age of just 24.  Nadia outlived her sister by more than sixty years, dying aged 92, but she mostly gave up composition for teaching, teaching some of the most famous composers of the twentieth century.
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I'm reading Charles Stross's Rule 34 at the moment.  One of the plot points is people dying in mysterious household accidents, often involving household appliances,  One man is killed by his vacuum cleaner.

I wasn't thinking of this when I did the hoovering this morning, until I tugged too hard on the power cord and sent a heavy Dyson tumbling down the stairs towards me.  Only damage to me seems to be a graze on my little finger where I tried to catch it.  The machine appears undamaged.


Feb. 27th, 2019 07:19 pm
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 Just been trying out a recipe for chocolate refrigerator cake.  The recipe specifies making it in a 20cm square tin.  The final instruction is to cut the cake into twelve squares.  
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 I do not believe that before today I had ever heard this phrase, a spoonerism of Nobody's Perfect.

So, I was watching an episode of The Good Place in which Eleanor says, "Pobody's Nerfect."

Having watched that, I then watched an episode of the comedy horror show Stan Against Evil.  And guess what someone on that said!


Life meme

Jan. 27th, 2019 03:10 pm
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Don't usually do these, but I thought I'd give it a go. 

How old are you?


Ever hit a deer?
No.  Don't even drive.

Ridden in an ambulance?
No.  Not that I recall.

Sung karaoke?
No.  Sung in the audience at the Last Night of the Proms, occasionally.

Ice skated?
Taken ice skating by friends at university, and also tried again a couple of years later.

Ridden a motorcycle?
Only as a passenger, and again at uni.  A friend offered me a lift back from the labs to the hall we both lived in.  (This was during the rolling power cuts in 1972.)  As we were going through Headingley in north Leeds, he pulled out to overtake a bus, forgetting that we were right by the bus station, which was where the bus was headed.  We ended up riding along the pavement on the other side of the road, missing several pedestrians and a lamp post.  My friend turned to me and said, "Never done that before."

Stayed in hospital?
Twice.  Tonsillectomy when I was five and a prostate resection in 2011

Skipped school?
Taken on holiday by parents during term time at least once, I recall.

Last phone call?
Someone trying to sell printer cartridges to the Science Fiction Foundation.

Last text from?
Probably O2 telling me of great deals on texts.

Watched someone die?

Pepsi or Coke?
Probably Coke, but I drink colas less these days.

Favorite pie?
Probably mince pies.  The supermarkets only seem to stock them at Christmas, so I stock up and freeze several boxes and eat them through the year.

Favorite pizza?
Never really liked pizza until recently, and no real favourites, but I did have some nice ones in Florence a few years ago.

Favorite season?
Summer.  I'm a warm weather person.

Broken bones?

Received a ticket?
Not for me.  Someone had a car registered to my address for several years and they kept getting parking fines.  Even had the police and the bailiffs round looking for him.

Favorite color?

Sunset or sunrise?
Sunrise, on those rare occasions I'm up for it.


Jan. 16th, 2019 01:05 pm
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Is there any significance, I wonder, in the fact that my newsagents delivered me today of all days a copy of the Daily Mail instead of my normal Guardian?
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According to the Guardian, the comedy sketch Dinner for One is being shown on Sky Arts on New Year's Eve at 18:10.  This sketch featuring the British music hall performer Freddie Frinton (who some may remember from the sitcom Meet the Wife with Thora Hird in the sixties) has been shown on German television every New Year's Eve since 1972.  (Apart from an introduction in German, it is entirely in English.)  I can attest that back when satellite TV had free German channels, every channel showed it at least once during the day.  It is quite funny, too.


Nov. 3rd, 2018 12:00 pm
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 Some years ago I visited the battlefield of Waterloo.  In the bookshop in the visitors' centre I found a book (in English) about the Napoleonic Wars.  I paid for it by credit card.  The price was in Euros, of course, but I was amused to discover that with the current conversion rate, when I received the credit card bill the price was £18.15.

Yesterday I went to see the new film Peterloo, set mostly four years after Waterloo.  Today I did some shopping in Tesco.  The bill came to £18.19!

(Incidentally, despite what they've been saying about how no-one learns about Peterloo at school, I definitely remember hearing about it in history lessons.)
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Am I the only one to be amused that the professor of surgery in this news item is Professor Kneebone?

Edit:  A letter writer to the Guardian had the same idea, and even made the same joke.
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I wonder why Amazon is sending me messages of recommendations that includes  the BBC Proms 2018 Guide.  Its sole purpose is to tell you what concerts age going to be on during the season and how to book tickets.  The Last Night of the Proms was about five weeks ago.
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 I rarely answer the phone these days.  Unless I'm expecting a call, or I'm standing next to the phone and I recognise the number I just let it go to the answer machine.  If I hear a message being left, I'll pick it up.  Usually, no message is left.  And as the phone is in the hall, if the door to the hall is closed and I'm listening to music or the television, I might not even hear it ring.

So just after noon today I was listening to music and in a quiet bit I heard the phone ring.  Didn't hear a message being left (although at that point the music had got louder) so I let it be.

When I finally noticed the missed call light flashing I pressed the play button.

Yesterday I found a message recorded that appeared to be several seconds of office noise and people speaking in northern accents (either Lancashire or Yorkshire, the voices were indistinct).  That call had its number withheld as did the one today.  More office noise, but one voice was more distinct: "Hello? Hello? Fuck off!".

Usually it's me wanting to say that to cold callers (but I'm too polite too).


Oct. 9th, 2018 11:12 am
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 I have a diary that at the bottom of each two-page spread gives a quotation.

Recently the quotation was "Both my marriages were failures! Number one departed, and number two stayed" which it attributes to Gustav Mahler.

Nice quotation, and I even found it on a quotation website:

Trouble is, as far as I can tell, Mahler only married once.  His wife was the famous Alma Shindler, immortalised in song by Tom Lehrer.

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 Those that know me will possible remember I have a tee-shirt with the slogan "No Kangaroos in Austria", purchased at the tourist office in Vienna a few years ago.

This week's Feedback column in New Scientist reports that a kangaroo has been spotted roaming in the vicinity of Kirchschlag in Austria.  What's more, none of the local zoos are missing a kangaroo.

Does this mean I can't wear the shirt anymore?


Sep. 6th, 2018 04:18 pm
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When I got back from holiday nearly two weeks ago, I was slightly surprised that there was no flashing light on my phone answering machine.  Usually there are a number of blank messages from cold callers not wishing to leave a message.

It's an indication of how little I use my phone that I didn't get round to thinking about this until two days ago.  In that time, I had not needed to make a phone call and no-one had told me they'd tried to phone but couldn't get through.  And I hadn't had any cold callers.  And it's not like I've been relying on my mobile.  I tend to switch that on only if I'm going out. 

It was because of my mobile that I discovered the phone wasn't working.  I'd noticed a while back that voicemail on the mobile had got switched off and it was only last week that I worked out how to switch it back on again.  And it wasn't until Tuesday that I though I ought to test that it was indeed working.  But, remembering at this point that the landline had been suspiciously quite over the last couple of weeks, the first thing I tried was phoning the landline from the mobile.  Line busy.

So I went to the phone and picked up the handset.  No dial tone.

The phone is a combined cordless phone and answer machine so I wondered if that was faulty.  There is another extension in my bedroom, but I know there is a fault with that: the bell doesn't sound for an incoming call.  As the phone is right next to my head when I'm in bed, I consider that a feature not a bug.  But there was no dial tone on that, either.

I did find an old handset that I brought from my old place in London when I moved over twenty years ago.  I hadn't plugged it in for at least ten years, so I was not sure if that was working.  But I didn't get a dial tone on that, either.

I phoned BT and they tested the line.  They couldn't detect a fault.  They got me to disassemble the socket to reveal a test socket and to plug the hand set directly into that.  Still no dial tone.  They wanted me to find another handset that was known to be working.  I didn't want to ask my neighbours if they had one I could borrow; that sounded a bit weird.  The alternative was to get an engineer to visit, and if it turned out that it was my handset that was faulty, I would get charged £129.  I reckoned that all three handsets couldn't be faulty in the same way and gambled on the odds that it was the line.

As it happened, after that call I remembered that my Sky satellite box has a phone connection - you use it if you want to order a film from their Box Office service.  The status screen for the box showed the phone line unconnected, which seemed like more evidence in my favour.

The engineer came out this afternoon and the first thing he did was to dismantle the socket again and plug a test phone in.

"Dead as a door-nail," he said.  I was right.

So he traced the phone line back to a box on the wall between my house and next door.  After a few minutes he came back in to say the fault was further down the line and he had to work out where.  He drove off, saying he'd be back.

I did notice whilst he was away that my broadband connection went down.  After a few minutes it came back again and so did the engineer.  And the phone was now working.  Apparently, someone had done a bodge job of connecting the line somewhere and it had eventually failed.

When he'd gone I tested the other two handsets.  They were both still working.  And Sky was reporting the phone line connected.

I haven't had any cold callers, yet.
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 Yesterday I travelled from San Francisco to San Jose.

When I opened my e-mail yesterday morning there was a message from HSBC telling me to log in to internet banking for an important message.  Having no wish to connect to e-banking on an insecure hotel wi-fi system, I'd not brought the HSBC e-banking security device with me so I couldn't do that.  My worry was that they'd failed to take into account that I'd filed a travel plan with them before flying and they were assuming my card use in the US was fraudulent.

I travelled down to San Jose by train - only $10 for a 90 minute ride, which seems a good value.  Mind you, some of my fellow passengers were a bit weird.  I'd fallen in with an English couple travelling to Palo Alto but we were soon joined by a mad woman who was shouting out about how terrible gays were and were a danger to her son.  As I was reading A Very English Scandal about the Jeremy Thorpe affair, I was most amused by this.  There was also a guy playing very loud rock music on some portable device.

So I got to my hotel in San Jose mid-afternoon, unpacked and went to the convention centre and registered.  As I'd spent quite a bit of cash on taxi fares- it cost as much to get from my hotel to the station as for my entire train journey - when I saw an ATM in the convention centre I tried to get some cash.

It wouldn't give me any.

Assuming the worst concerning the e-mail HSBC had sent me, I tried phoning the number on my card.  But as it was outside office hours in the UK, all I got was telephone banking.  I've not used telephone banking for years and I couldn't remember my telephone banking number, so I got locked out.

I also more or less used up all my credit on my mobile, which I usually top up at an ATM. 

I tried phoning again this morning before going for breakfast using the hotel phone.  (The alarm clock in my room plays the sound of church bells as an alarm.)  I had a very long and occasionally confusing conversation with a woman.  Because of the time lag, we kept talking over each other.  One of the security questions was how much I'd taken out of an ATM on Monday.  I had the amount in dollars, she had it sterling, and neither of us knew what the exchange rate was.

Finally she was able to tell me there was no block on the card and her guess was that the ATM itself was faulty.  And, indeed, I've just been able to use the ATM in the hotel lobby successfully.

And that important message from HSBC that I'd received the e-mail about?  She read it out for me.  As I'd reached 65, my card protection details have changed. 


Aug. 10th, 2018 08:46 am
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I flew into San Francisco yesterday, on my way to Worldcon 76 in San Jose next week.

A fairly uneventful flight - I got a lot of reading done - was followed by a two-hour queue to get through US customs.  Apparently two other flights had got in just before us and the queue went out of the customs hall down the corridor when I joined it.

Still, there were bits of amusement whilst waiting.  I watched a small woman trying to change chairs in her booth before opening it up and the chair she was trying to move was as big as her and had no castors.  Then somebody trying to marshal the queue sent a group of people down to the other end of the hall (where US residents had been processed, but they'd all gone through).."Send them to the middle," he shouted.  Then, "Not that middle, the other middle!"  The spirit of the Chuckle Brothers lives on.

 So, having landed just before four, local time, it was nearly six when I got into a taxi, and traffic in San Francisco was bad.  I got to bed after unpacking and having a both.  The Villa Florence is a pleasant hotel, just off Union Square, but I couldn't work out how to stop the air-conditioning from blowing cold air right across my bed.  I woke up in the middle of the night freezing.  I think I've managed to adjust it now.  There's a remote control with instructions that you point it at the unit to change the settings.  I was pointing it at the vent, but I finally discovered this morning that the actual control section is to the left of the vent, hidden behind a wooden lattice.

I was up before six this morning and after going through my e-mail and reading the paper, I went out for breakfast.  I remembered that the last time I was in San Francisco, almost exactly ten years ago, there was a diner next to my hotel that did good breakfasts.  The Villa Florence is in the same block, and I quickly found where the diner was.  There's still a diner there, but it has changed considerably since I was last there.  Still, I went in for breakfast and it was your typical US breakfast - I ordered bacon and eggs with hash browns and toast.  I finished this off very quickly.  I hadn't eaten since before the plane landed yesterday afternoon.  Someone came and took my plate away and I was hoping for some more coffee when a waitress turned up with a plate of bacon and eggs with hash browns and toast.  I resisted the temptation to eat two breakfasts.
dormouse1953: (Default)

Man who died after jumping out of restaurant freezer and threatened staff with knife was a suspected cold-case killer

An unfortunate choice of words.


Jul. 9th, 2018 10:22 am
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I think next door must be having trouble with their drains.  I noticed a large white van parked outside.  I can't read the side of the van, as the hedge is in the way (and I'm not nosey enough to go out and have a look) but the slogan painted on the front of the van is "Number one at clearing number twos."  The number plate is WC04POO .


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