Monday, 23 May 2016

It was 20 years ago today...

… that my first dated item appeared on my website: a review of Clannad’s 1996 tour at the Cambridge Corn Exchange, attended a week earlier.

Back in 1995 I was working for Logica UK, and they started allowing staff to have webspace.  I took up their offer, and decided to start a review site, to learn about the web (it was new in those days!), and to keep an online review journal.  I fiddled about with the pages for a while, adding a few reviews, then, on 23 May 1996, I started date-stamping them.

To date, I have 434 non-fiction book reviews, 844 science fiction reviews, and 75 other fiction reviews: an average of 5-6 a month for those twenty years.  I also have nearly 200 SF film reviews, and over 70 SF TV show reviews.

When I moved to the University of York in 2002, I took my website with me, and it continued to grow.  Being an academic, I also use it to keep a respository of my publications; there are about 240 of those now.

What does the past look like?  The oldest backup I can find is from October 1999 (on a CD: remember them?), when my front page looked like:

October 1999 front page


Today, it looks like:

May 2016 front page

In the intervening time, I have modified the site to use CSS.  But, actually, there hasn’t been a major change to the structure, just additional content.

So, check back in 2036 for the next 20 year update…

Saturday, 21 May 2016

Volvo 1; pheasant 0

a different pheasant, but just as suicidal
While I was driving home down the A1 yesterday evening, a pheasant walked right out in front of me, and so I hit it.  I know enough not to swerve in these circumstances (there were other cars around me, so swerving could have caused a nasty accident), but it wasn’t a fun thing to happen at 70mph, for me, or for the pheasant.

There was no big cloud of feathers visible in my rear view mirror, unlike the last time this happened.  I continued for about a mile to the next service station, and pulled into their car park, to assess the damage.  I looked at the radiator grille, and saw a pheasant’s head behind it, and a large tail feather sticking out. Great.

I tried to open the bonnet, but failed.  It seemed stuck.  I couldn’t tell if the car was safe to drive, or if the rest of the pheasant was doing something nasty in there.  So I phoned RAC Accident (mobile phones make life so much easier), and said I’d hit a pheasant, and didn’t know if the car was safe to drive.  They put me through to RAC Breakdown.  I explained again.  They said I needed to speak to RAC Accident.  I said I’d come from there.  They checked: yes, it counted as an accident, not a breakdown.  I was told that my “RAC accident and breakdown” cover only covers breakdowns; although the cover says “We’ll rescue you if you’re involved in an accident”, I was told this rescue would cost me a £165 callout charge.  Hmm.  I said I’d try another option first.

So I phoned Volvo Assistance, which I get as a complimentary deal because I pay a lot for the car to be serviced at an official Volvo dealer, which helps maintain its resale value.  They were much more helpful.  Although the assistance usually only covers a maximum 50 mile trip to home or a dealership (I was 75 miles from home at the time), because it was a Friday evening, they said they would take me home if necessary.  A breakdown truck would be with me within the hour.

The breakdown truck arrived within 15 minutes, actually; he’d been nearby on the road when the call came in.  He got out of his truck and looked at the head-and-feather combo in my radiator grille.  He tried to open the bonnet, struggled a while (somewhat to my relief, as I didn’t feel so stupid at not managing it myself), but eventually managed.  My sort of Volvo has a large gap between the radiator grille and the radiator itself; this was currently full of very dead pheasant.

The pheasant had smashed straight through the grille, breaking it and the surrounding fascia (which had buckled up, making it harder to open the bonnet), but was stopped by the rather more substantial radiator itself.  The breakdown guy removed the pheasant, in a cloud of feathers, to the amazement/amusement of a couple of other people in the car park.  He inspected the radiator, and said it was a bit dented (and covered in feathers), but still whole. He had me start up the car, and poked around to check there were no problems: the radiator didn’t start leaking or anything, and there appeared to be no other damage to working parts. He declared the car safe to drive.

I offered him the pheasant, but he declined.  He completed some paperwork, I signed a form, and off he went.  I continued on my way too (also declining to take the pheasant), and arrive home safely, although somewhat later than planned.

After I had been on the road again for about ten minutes, I realised that I am definitely not a digital native.  I took no photos of the pheasant, either inside the engine, or after it had been removed; it never occurred to me, despite me having my phone in my pocket.  I did take a photo of the grille this morning, though:

broken fascia, smashed grille, and internal feathers: there goes my no claims bonus.

So, Volvo (nearly) 1; pheasant 0.  Also, Volvo 1; RAC 0.


Wednesday, 18 May 2016

attempted murder




[if you don’t get it, here’s a clue]

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Monday, 16 May 2016

minor major

I really love listening to music.  But I can’t play an instrument, or sing in tune.  In fact, in school my music teacher thought I must be tone deaf, so flat was my “singing”.  They decided I wasn’t:  I can identify tunes and songs.

Lately however, I’ve begun to wonder.  There’s this thing about redoing tunes from major to minor key, or vice versa.  The comments always say, “that’s weird”, “that’s horrible”, or even, “that’s unrecognisable”.  Hmm.  I’d say, “that sounds a little different from usual; is it a different recording?”



Check out the original Google+ post for the interesting comments on this.

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Friday, 13 May 2016

magentic rolling

Magnets are cool :-)

I particularly like the “action at a distance” moves near the end.



[via BoingBoing]

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Thursday, 12 May 2016

my lifestyle


(well, more like one copy of each title, actually...)


[via Allie Brosch, and X All The Y Meme Generator]

For all my social networking posts, see my Google+ page