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---ARCHIVE--- April 2001
May 2001 (#1)
May 2001 (#2)

28th June 2001
Out with Jeff last night: we went to see Luke Smith do his - really rather excellent, as it turns out - thing for The Dons Of Quixote, at Cargo in EC2. Talked with a cool Australian lawyer: she lectures on law and aboriginal rights in Sydney, and was off to a conference in Budapest next week... I'm not jealous... OK, I am. :-)

Jeff drank the same as me, but - probably from lack of food - was the most drunk I've ever seen him. "Jeff - it's not a crime." :-)

Trying to write letters without smileys is now really difficult - discuss.

Spent the afternoon learning about freeware TrueType chess fonts, most of which seem to have done by a single Mexican guy (and they're pretty good, too). Next stage is to figure out how to convert those to bitmaps: (1) at all, (2) conveniently, (3) automatically. My guess is that I'll have to write a short Windows program to render them to a screen and grab them from there. Dull but practical... :-/

24th June 2001
Back In Time Live (London) last Friday was also a lot of fun, though my pesky hayfever playing up meant that I had to leave several hours (and pints) earlier than I would have liked.

And then experiencing the delights of the night bus system - where they've changed the N77 so that it only goes to Tolworth every half an hour. Funny how three buses in a row stopped at Wimbledon, eh? No - extremely unfunny. :-(

Still, I bought and read a copy of Time Out while I was there - 2.20? Wowza! - and found that the Dons Of Quixote are playing next Wednesday somewhere in EC2... should be fun! :-))

Came home and slept badly. And here's my dream...

I was talking with the barrister who defended Julie and me when SCi tried to sue us for 2.58 million. He was clearly mouthing "Vin De Paille" at me, his eyes wide open. "Vin De Paille!"...

This was easy to interpret - Vin de Paille is a particular wine made in the Jura, by placing the picked grape berries on racks of straw over winter, so as to reduce the water content of the berries to produce a sweeter wine.

So... it meant "hey Nick, you know what *really* happened with SCi, but now you need to wait for a while before it's time to take the next step... but don't worry, it'll be really sweet in the end."

And I know it's true!

20th June 2001, other stuff
Once again, decided that I want to make things (I get this urge every couple of years - I think it's to do with software not being tangible).

...but what to make? Did some research, and came up with an interesting physics anomaly that would (at the very least) be worth trying to replicate, as reported by Harvey Morgan in the Jan 1998 AES-M magazine (pp5-10).

This involves two flywheels (HM used Pb - perhaps they were old cine projector flywheels?) in close proximity (HM used 1/16"), where one is spinning fast (26,500rpm or thereabouts) and the other is unpowered.

What is claimed to happen is that the unpowered flywheel starts turning... in the opposite direction. Which would be a bit spooky. :-/

Now: I think you could do some good physics with this, in that this is a simple apparatus that could be constructed and tested rigorously, at not vast expense (less than a grand?) It's not exactly CERN, is it? :-)

On the upside, Phase Two of the NASA BPP Project will have its second 3-month window starting next month (following the JPC conference. presumably). If I can replicate the original setup in the next couple of months, that should give me a month to construct and write up a proposal for an extension of it (perhaps with a pure Bismuth flywheel, etc)... the whole BPP Project is (deliberately) biased towards engineering and measurements, which would be in my favour.

Lots to think about (as usual)...

20th June 2001
Nick's lyric of the day:-

I can see you wonder if I'll ever change
If normal life is ever going to fall within my range
Well, I'm standing in this cold unfriendly land
Waiting for the waves of time to grasp my hand
For one day soon, I'll catch that surf and
Fly, like an angel on fire!
Fly, like I've never been higher
Fly, with my wings of desire
Fly, back into your heart
As if we'd never ever moved apart

19th June 2001, continued
Scary stuff of the last few days:-

(1) "The Day The Oceans Boiled" / Equinox

This scared the pants off me - I knew there was a missing carbon sink, but the programme made it look pretty definitive that the Amazon rain-forest is it.

But no natural zone could ever absorb man-made CO2 indefinitely... there would come a point of instability where it flips state and starts releasing CO2. 2050 may well be wildly optimistic. Scary stuff.

Neil F was right eight years ago: climate modelling is the new rock'n'roll.

(2) The UFO events in Varginha, Brasil.

WTF is that all about?

(3) The "suicide" of Terry Yeakey in OKC

Terry Yeakey was the first police officer to the scene of the Alfred P. Murragh building bombing in Oklahoma City.A year later, he died in what has to be one of the least convincing "suicides" on record - but don't take my word for it, do a web search to check it out yourself.

I'll be extremely interested to see if this is covered in Charles Key's report on the bombing (due out soon).

19th June 2001
Last night, another dream with a song in it: this time, it was some kind of bizarre singing/enunciation exercise...
I want to eat my poires au point
I want to eat my poires au point (etc)
After that, there was a long section where I was talking with and making/serving tea to my (late) grandmother in her maisonette.

What does it mean? Well: I guess it's all to do with singing. When I was a kid, I was a head chorister: and, off and on over the last few days, I've been thinking about what song I'd choose if I were to sing at an audition. I still don't really know, but here's the shortlist:-
Father And Son - Cat Stevens
Jamaican In New York - Shinehead/Sting
Tease Me - Chakademus + Pliers
Roxanne - Police/Sting I've Been Looking For a Woman - Neil Fox + Nick Pelling
Give Me Wings - Neil Fox + Nick Pelling

Also: I quite fancy ~something~ by Prince, but can't think which track? "1999" - nearly right. "Nothing compares 2 u" - no good now it's been Sineaded. "Kiss" - no good now it's been Tom Jonesed. Someone tell me, please - which decent Prince tracks haven't been covered to death????

I'll probably end up doing "Father And Son" - at least the biggest cover of that was so useless that there's still scope for doing that well. :-/

17th June 2001
Strange end to a dream the night before last: I'm running down a road, late at night, behind a van driven by two slightly drunk young guys. We're going over bumps and potholes in the road: the two guys are singing (at the top of their voices):-
Jumping jack / Jumping Jack
Jumping down the f&*king track

And today, I stumbled across this on the FreeRepublic website:

Asked to give a toast before the prestigious New York Press Club in 1953, John Swinton, the former Chief of Staff at the NEW YORK TIMES, made this candid confession [it's worth noting that Swinton was called "The Dean of His Profession" by other newsmen, who admired him greatly]:

There is no such thing, at this date of the world's history, as an independent press. You know it and I know it. There is not one of you who dares to write your honest opinions, and if you did, you know beforehand that it would never appear in print. I am paid weekly for keeping my honest opinions out of the paper I am connected with. Others of you are paid similar salaries for similar things, and any of you who would be so foolish as to write honest opinions would be out on the streets looking for another job.

If I allowed my honest opinions to appear in one issue of my paper, before twenty-four hours my occupation would be gone. The business of the journalist is to destroy the truth; to lie outright; to pervert; to vilify; to fawn at the feet of mammon, and to sell the country for his daily bread. You know it and I know it and what folly is this toasting an independent press. We are the tools and vassals of the rich men behind the scenes. We are the jumping jacks, they pull the strings and we dance. Our talents, our possibilities and our lives are all the property of other men. We are intellectual prostitutes.

Spooky stuff. :-(

16th June 2001
Managed to tape "Cherry, Harry & Raquel" (1969, Russ Meyer) off Channel 5 last night. Can't wait to find some junk food and get stuck into it... Russ M really is da man, and I think Charles Napier is excellent too (he's looks very young in this film, IIRC).

This morning: went to a factory/mill sale at Textra in Abingdon... very friendly & excellent value (if you're into fabric remnants and end rolls - but not much good if you're not).

Then: drove on to the Church of St Peter & Paul in Checkendon, to see the recently-uncovered mural (dated to around 1330) of the knights on horseback... this was discovered when the church organ was recently moved. It's fragmentary, sure: but the photo on the Net didn't do it justice - it's really nice!

Back home now, & I'm wiped out... just enough time for some fish+chips before I doze off. Enough time for a film...? :-)

14 June 2001
Last night was a Bad Night: serious hay fever, I hate this time of year. My grandfather was allergic to Timothy grass... really ought to look that up, see what it looks like, see if I'm surrounded by the stuff here. (which I probably am>

Lots of thinking going on here... met up with Roslyn T (over from Montreal) for lunch on the Kings Road, which was very constructive. She (and her company) have a set capital-D Direction (which is Oracle data warehousing, interesting top-end stuff, very bottom-line-oriented): but the question is do I want to re-engineer my resume + approach to go parallel with that, or not? Now that's convergence. :-/

Why not export recent entries as RSS 0.9/0.91?
I think that exporting a pitas page's headings (and perhaps the first 1/2 lines as a description) as an RSS file would be a really cool idea. It's a diary AND a newsfeed - kewl!

I guess that the only semi-tricky thing would be making sure links that migrate down onto an archive page get retained: but even that should be fairly straightforward.

So... how about it, pitas people? :-)

07 June 2001
I had a great idea yesterday - why not write a tool (probably in Perl) that converts RSS newfeeds into JavaScript. Stayed up late prototyping it - it worked really well.

Then I discovered that pretty much does all that kind of thing already. Which was a pisser. :-(

However, my approach is much better focussed on JavaScript than theirs (and is built around both the 0.90 and 0.91 RSS standards), so it's probably worth persisting with it. For a while, anyway. :-/

On, Lee took the piss out of me for hedging too much - overusing things like "probably" and "likely". OK, I admit it - I'm guilty of this heinous crime (probably). But it's not really an inflammatory posting style... is it?

Incredibly sad day today. The woman in the house at the end of our (not very long) garden decided to have the tree between us cut down. Julie and I love trees (and the squirrels living in them), so whenever any get cut down near us, it's always quite sad. Especially as it takes all day long to cut down a fully mature eighty-year-old tree. Bah - a pox on them. I really don't understand the mentality - she said it was because she gets wasps... but common sense would seem to indicate that any nearby wasps' nest would be about 40x more likely to be in her or her neighbours lofts than wedged in a healthy tree. And so it proved.

I hate to say it, but the tree-felling is yet another indication that it's time we moved on from here. I don't like the way a lot of people think, nor how they act... but these seem unlikely to change in the near future. We've had 10 years in this house... I'll ring Andy at Stack & Bonner next week, it's time for someone else to take up the reins.

At least the dining room is a little brighter now... no, I can't kid myself that there's some kind of silver lining to all this. It's been a miserable, miserable day. :-(

05 June 2001
Went to see Steve & Luke's band "V8 Pack" on Sunday night. Had a lot of fun, took some photos, should get them back in the next couple of days. Leitchy spent some time telling me how I could be successful if I just gave publishers what they wanted. This is true... but I didn't really do a very good job of explaining that I've simply moved on. Tricky one. :-/

Over the last few days, I've been building a fancy search-engine front-end (in JavaScript). Frustratingly, I wasted three hours on a bug this afternoon... but it was a particularly stinky one...

My routine to delete an element from an array worked in one context but not in another. In both cases, it looked like:-
function MyArray_delete(index)
MyArray = MyArray.splice(0, index).concat(MyArray.splice(index+1, MyArray.length));

...and that was it. Why on earth would it work in one piece of code but not on another... while working in the test code I carefully abstracted out?

The bizarre thing was that it happened on *all* the do-the-same-thing-but-differently variants I tried out. :-(

I eventually found the answer: one routine was having index passed down as a string (ie "5", rather then 5), and this had the effect of causing (index+1) to be evaluated to "51" rather than 6. Ouch

Ah well... got there in the end. :-/

02 June 2001
I'm moderately happy with the treatment so far... but it's glaringly obvious (to me, at least) what the flaws are:-
(1) Little or no character progression for character [A] - her part's too superficial
(2) No build-up to explain why character [L] feels any dilemma about revealing stuff
(3) Too few hints as to why character [J] leads a double life
(4) Character [C] reveals herself too linearly - might come across as too "pat" (and I don't mean "Pat Butcher")
(5) Not really any resolution for character [L]
(6) Character [K]'s resolution may be just a little too hard to believe
(7) Character [J]'s resolution may not quite ring true - his culpability is a tough judgement call.

Maybe I'm being too hard on myself in the absence of any external feedback - perhaps I should bounce it off Mike H, see what he thinks?

01 June 2001
I often recurrently dream of precisely imagined places, with each subsequent dream adding and refining details (and occasionally destroying them). But this is common (I presume): the place is merely a metaphor (structurally, symbolically, etc) for a dilemma or decision I have to make (but have put off), so each of the dreams adds to the metaphoric framework.

And so onto last night's dream (you thought I'd never get there). "I was walking between a set of five (maybe six) free-standing buildings put up in a large field surrounded by trees, connected by tracks that people were walking between: the exit to each building was within other rooms, and always marked "Follow On". Outside, I also saw the wooden frames of new buildings under construction, presumably for a future event (summer festival?). An earlier part of the dream had been in a pub/restaurant, celebrating the end of something (similar to New Year), followed by a bus journey."

Given my situation, interpreting this is simple: the thing that had been finished is (obviously) my 19-year career in computer games, and the dream was trying to give shape to my future path. But that's likely to be in a number of different (but interconnected) areas, which I'll move between, following on, one from the next.

For a while, I've been kind of hoping for a single direction to leap out at me: but, over the past couple of months, have come to realise that this isn't going to happen... like the dream says, it's going to be multiple directions, plus I must make sure to continue building new skill-zones for the following year(s).

If only everything was so easy to interpret... :-/