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May 2016
 

The Bellinghman
Date: 2011-09-29 10:30
Subject: Public Service Announcement
Security: Public
For those of you who are more used to autumn in Cambridge, MA than in Cambridge, Cambs, we would like to point out that the current weather is not typical. Please don't think that this will continue.
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The Bellinghman
Date: 2011-09-08 18:23
Subject: (no subject)
Security: Public
The definition of a Libertoonian - someone who screams 'Marxist censorship!' when the person who is paying for the server refuses to host his rants.

Why do they think everyone else owes them a living, and yet think they owe nobody else anything?
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The Bellinghman
Date: 2011-08-31 12:20
Subject: For immediate release
Security: Public
Tags:awww!
Following the announcement of Unicorn School™: The Sparkling and its first four followups by Hugo-award winning SF author Charles Stross, we are excited by the rumour that the sixth book in the franchise will be written by fellow Hugo award winner Peter Watts. In a heavily coded announcement on his blog, Watts appears to announce that he will be involved in producing Unicorn School™: The Squid, his own inimitable take on Paranormal Romance, one where the paranormal is from HP Lovecraft and the romance is Hentai, and in which he builds on his previous development of vampires as seen in his novel Blindsight.

Should this be confirmed, we're sure that all fans of the franchise will be delighted by the news.
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The Bellinghman
Date: 2011-08-11 20:10
Subject: Sorry
Security: Public
I appears that I need to apologise to the north half of Royston tonight.

... whyCollapse )
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The Bellinghman
Date: 2011-07-05 16:01
Subject: Short range WiFi
Security: Public
I note that ECMA has published a new spec for a short range wireless link: ECMA-398

It's very fast: 560 Mbps

It's also very short range: a few centimetres

More a contactless docking cradle than a WiFi network replacement, methinks.
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The Bellinghman
Date: 2011-07-05 11:55
Subject: Choice lost as near-monopolist buys rival
Security: Public
Bad news - just as I start using them, I see that Amazon has bought The Book Depository

ETA: Link now demangled (remind me not to use double quotes in a title attribute)
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The Bellinghman
Date: 2011-07-04 14:23
Subject: Happy Birthday
Security: Public
Happy birthday and Bon Voyage to crazyscot.

I'm not sure whether 'many happy returns' is applicable to someone fleeing to the opposite side of the world, but enjoy the day as much as you can.
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The Bellinghman
Date: 2011-07-01 16:27
Subject: Hugo novels
Security: Public
Tags:books, hugo awards
So I've worked my way through the novel shortlist, and I've a pretty good idea that I will be actually marking 'No Award' above one particular book. If it had been a physical volume, I'd have thrown 'Blackout' against the wall. After 150 pages, Willis still hadn't engaged me one way or the other.

All four of the other volumes are worth reading. I'm putting 'Feed' in fourth place, because I disliked the setting and I exceedingly disliked Grant doing one particular thing (and I can't even begin to discuss what she did without extreme spoilers). However, although it was at least 100 pages before I got over that initial dislike, the story did affect me emotionally and I will probably go buy the second book at some stage.

In third place goes Jemisin's 100,000 Kingdoms, which I enjoyed but found slightly less memorable than the rest.

Second place goes to Bujold's Cryoburn which is yet another Miles Vorkosigan story. However, it does posit interesting questions as to what would actually happen if cryogenic freezing of people became widespread. It does suffer slightly from the 'the whole world is the same' effect of the examined world, but it's allowable for all that. This takes place on a different planet because it needs that separation for it to work politically.

And first place goes to McDonald's The Dervish House, in which he takes on near-future Istanbul and brings a city to life so well that I now want to go there. It rightly received the BSFA award, and I'd consider it a worthy Hugo winner too. Oddly enough, I suspect that if it gets beaten, it'd be by Feed.

(And just how, please, did Mira Grant/Seanan McGuire get last year's Campbell for Best New Writer, yet already have 6 novels in print, and another 2 already ISBNed?)
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The Bellinghman
Date: 2011-06-27 14:43
Subject: When Wikipedia goes wrong
Security: Public
Today's front page article on Baconnaise contains a table listing the supposed nutritional values per 13g serving.

It would appear that a serving contains 0.08 kCal of energy.

It also manages to contain 9g of fat (a figure not surprising in anything like a mayonnaise, which is after all a way of consuming flavoured emulsified oils).

Something that manages to be both mostly fat, and almost free from calories? I don't think so. I think it's not 0.08 kCal, I think it's 0.08 MCal, or 80 kCal, three orders of magnitude higher than quoted.

ETA: Oh dear, it was all too much for tisiphone, so you'll have to look back in the history to see what I was on about.
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The Bellinghman
Date: 2011-06-27 13:44
Subject: autopope should stay away
Security: Public
Tags:weather
It's now 32.5C in this corner of southern England. And there's also a reasonable humidity index - not enough to be positively oppressive, but enough that it can't be termed a dry heat.

Yes, that's 90.5 Fahrenheit. And we don't even have the heat island excuse that London could use.

In other news, we're probably not going to be available for feorag's potential trip darn Sarf, since we're likely to be over at Silverstone again next Sunday. We can't really put it off to the following weekend, since there's a Formula 1 GP taking place that day, and we have no desire to get caught in the traffic.
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The Bellinghman
Date: 2011-06-27 10:11
Subject: Evolving etiquette #2
Security: Public
We walked past the newer 'shrine' on Saturday morning, and had a closer look. I now have another question. Why do people put in them what they do?

a) Flowers. OK, that's what we expect - they're a symbol of the fleeting nature of life.

b) A reproduction road sign, for Stamford Bridge. OK, that has meaning, the dead teenager was a Chelsea fan.

c) Cans of Red Bull and bottles of Lucozade. Hmm, well, there is a long history of libatory drinks, and given the driver was apparently drunk, alcoholic ones would have been inappropriate.

d) A shrink wrapped ball of string.

Yes, you read that right. A ball of string, still in its polythene wrapping.

Perhaps that last one just fell out of a shopping bag while the owner was laying something else.
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The Bellinghman
Date: 2011-06-23 15:15
Subject: Automated religion
Security: Public
Tags:lessons for life
Oddly enough, if you email me and you mention 'God', every Bayesian spam filter I've got will drop your message into the spam folder.

No, I've not told them to do so. It seems they're bright enough to recognise that ostentatious pretence to being devout is the most effective sign of a scammer there is.
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The Bellinghman
Date: 2011-06-23 11:14
Subject: On evolving etiquette
Security: Public
One thing that has appeared over the last few years in this country is the 'flower shrine' - a spontaneous laying of flowers at sites associated with unexpected deaths, particularly road accidents.

Three and a half weeks ago, a toddler was struck down and killed by a car on Kneesworth Street here in Royston, and a stack of flowers appeared strapped to a nearby lamp post. Perhaps because it was in town, and thereby easily accessible, or perhaps because it was a small child, or perhaps because the victim and family were well known by the people nearby, the stack was particularly massive, forming a pyramid about six foot in height.

(Parenthetically, the family appear to be of Malaysian Chinese origin, so incomers.)

Today I saw that the flowers were gone.

Is there an accepted period during which flowers are left? Is it till the funeral has happened and there's a grave available? At what point does the council feel it right to take the left flowers away? Who feels they are permitted to lay flowers? Can anyone do it? Who feels they are required to lay flowers?

***

In a somewhat sad sequel, there is now a large arrangement of flowers on Melbourn Street, and workmen are repairing the lights of the pedestrian crossing there. This appears to be due to some teenagers losing control of their car early Monday morning after being asked to stop by the police. We didn't even hear it, despite being only a couple of hundred metres away.

(The two streets named are both millennia old, considerably pre-dating the town which was founded at their crossing point. In Roman times, it would have been a major but remote crossroads, with no water supply anywhere near.)
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The Bellinghman
Date: 2011-06-22 17:10
Subject: Distraction Club
Security: Public
Just a note for those that don't follow Twitter that tickets for the next Distraction Club night are now on sale

https://www.wegottickets.com/event/124263
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The Bellinghman
Date: 2011-06-22 11:12
Subject: Decline and fall
Security: Public
"What's the point of a tablet"

"OK, it's nice, but I wouldn't have a use myself."

"Ooo, shiny!"
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The Bellinghman
Date: 2011-06-21 13:27
Subject: Vindaloo? Cool!
Security: Public
Tags:cooking
Last night, I started preparing a vindaloo curry. I made up the sauce, and added the meat, and today it is cooking slowly in a low oven.

What I left out of the recipe was the cayenne. So it'll be interesting to see how well it works with the only heat coming from ginger and black pepper.
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The Bellinghman
Date: 2011-06-20 17:19
Subject: Something rotten in Zurich
Security: Public
"As a consequence of Mr Warner's resignation, all ethics committee procedures against him have been closed and the presumption of innocence is maintained," said a Fifa statement.
How very convenient for FIFA. If FIFA manage to persuade all other accused to follow the same path and say the same, then they can pretend that there's no corruption within the organisation at all.
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The Bellinghman
Date: 2011-06-20 10:23
Subject: OK, why?
Security: Public
Royston is a small rural town. If it wasn't for the A10 actually passing through the one-way system, we'd see little traffic indeed. And one feature of this rurality is that the occasional agricultural tractor features among the vehicles in the centre of town.

But I would like an explanation of why, coming out on to the A10 this morning, I was to witness one tractor doing a U-turn around the roundabout at the end of our street. And why, my having followed said tractor the kilometre out to the leisure centre roundabout near the A505 bypass, it then did another U-turn to head back into town again.

(I was tempted to stay and see whether it just kept shuttling back and forth along the A10 between the two roundabouts, but I had to get to work.)

ETA: it looks like jon_a_five and silly_swordsman have it between them: there's a tractor dealer down a side road halfway between the two roundabouts, so someone doing a quick road test matches the path.
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The Bellinghman
Date: 2011-06-16 10:11
Subject: Happy Birthday
Security: Public
Many happy returns to mpk. Let's hope this next year is a little less exhausting for you.
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The Bellinghman
Date: 2011-06-09 16:14
Subject: Technology
Security: Public
When modern technologies manage to work together correctly, it's really rather nice.

I'm currently listening to MP3s on earpods while I program. A moment ago, the music briefly muted, and a quiet little burble sounded in my ears, causing me to look down. On the status line at the top of the screen, an incoming message from Scan Computers scrolled, telling me they've just dispatched my order. It's about 200 minutes from the time I ordered, and it'll be with me tomorrow.

A combined phone/MP3 player/camera/converged device can be so much more effective than individual items. Oh, and kudos to Scan for their habit of sending me an SMS as well as an email when they complete an order.
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The Bellinghman
Date: 2011-06-09 13:47
Subject: Ouch
Security: Public
Idly wondering how much it would cost to park in Cavendish Square for the next Distraction Club, I've gone off and got a few quotes.

It charges on a per-day basis.

£34.00

I think that the Cockfosters option is easier and cheaper.
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The Bellinghman
Date: 2011-06-03 23:11
Subject: Roast beef
Security: Public
Tags:cooking
Today, I cooked what might be the best roast beef I've ever eaten. And it was quite simple.

It was a boneless rolled rib roast, about 1.6 kg. I just heated the over to its highest possible temperature (270C in this case), and placed the meat in, on a rack over a roasting tin.

After ten minutes, I turned the oven down to ~70C.

And I let it cook for the next nine hours.

Before taking it out of the oven, I checked how hot the core of the joint was. 69C.

I then kept it warm (about 60C) while I then cooked the rest of the meal - roast tatties, steamed asparagus, and gravy.

The meat was delightfully tender, and full of flavour. There were pretty well no juices in the pan at all, it had all stayed in the meat.

I think I like this oven.
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The Bellinghman
Date: 2011-06-01 14:30
Subject: Kitties
Security: Public
They've been with us for three days now, and they seem to be settling in quite nicely. Last night they slept on the bed again, and they seem to be quite sanguine about bedquakes as those huge humans turn over. Saki is the more adventurous one, but Toto is catching up. The pair of them quite often wander around with their tails as rigidly up as they can get them, which is a good sign that they feel secure.
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The Bellinghman
Date: 2011-06-01 14:26
Subject: Happy Birthday
Security: Public
I note that with the advent of summer, it is also mizkit's birthday. Many happy returns to you, and may you achieve all you set out to do this coming year.
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The Bellinghman
Date: 2011-05-31 12:23
Subject: Kitties
Security: Public
Tags:cats
For those who follow me, but not bellinghwoman, here is her set of pictures of the Kitties

Last night (their second with us) we gave them freer run of the house. Saki decided that burrowing under the duvet with us was a good idea - this appears to be something imprinted into the DNA of Abbies. Toto is somewhat less brave than his sister and didn't do so, but the pair were to be found on the covers this morning.

They definitely approve of the main staircase, which has a narrow ledge outside the bannisters along the upper landing such that when the stairs bend through 180 degrees, this ledge provides a perch above the lower steps from where they can see into the hallway and kitchen. It's an ideal place for them to sit and watch the world.
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The Bellinghman
Date: 2011-05-31 11:50
Subject: Things you don't want to see
Security: Public
Having popped out to go shopping at Tesco not long before it closed on Sunday, there was some curiosity from those in the carpark there as the local police helicopter flew over and hovered a few hundred metres to the south.

And on departing with my goods, I decided to take the route home that uses the road into the town centre, rather than the one that goes round the bypass (there's usually very little in it as far as travel times are concerned).

Coming over the railway bridge by the station, I was suddenly faced by what appeared to be a sea of flashing blue lights. Six police cars, the road closed, and definitely not a good scene.

According to the news, a man in his 60s, driving a red Mazda, had struck two small children, killing one of them.

I strongly suspect that someone at the White Bear pub will have seen something - it was a nice day, and that pub has tables out the front by the road.
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The Bellinghman
Date: 2011-05-27 13:14
Subject: Friday night - it must be Oxford!
Security: Public
We'll be in Oxford this evening - probably from about 20:30 or so.

Anyone going to be around?
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The Bellinghman
Date: 2011-05-26 14:19
Subject: Latest kitty pics
Security: Public
Tags:cats
Toto Saki

Full sized pictures behind cutCollapse )
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The Bellinghman
Date: 2011-05-18 11:01
Subject: Arsonist running
Security: Public
I see the draft route for the Olympic torch has been published.

It looks like we'll be able to stand at the end of our road and watch it pass in about 14 months time. The straight line walking route from Cambridge to Luton passes Royston, and it only adds 4 minutes to the walking time between those places for it to actually come down the A10 into the town centre rather than go round the bypass.
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The Bellinghman
Date: 2011-05-03 15:24
Subject: My great aunt was sold to Australia
Security: Public
Or rather, one of her portraits was.

I just noted that my great aunt was responsible for translating some of the works of Colette into English.

(Rather appropriately, she also 'lived in sin' for decades. I met her only once, when she was already in her seventies.)
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The Bellinghman
Date: 2011-04-27 10:37
Subject: On courier companies
Security: Public
Kudos to the Scan Computers/DPD pairing for telling me not only that the item has been despatched, but that it is due for delivery in a particular one hour slot, thus allowing one not to have to wait in all morning for something that's only coming much later.

Slight confusion that the slot is 15:24 to 16:24, but I'll assume that's working on a 15:54 ETA +- 30 minutes, and 15:54 is the expected time based on which deliveries are going where today.

Oh, double kudos for both emailing and texting me with this info.

ETA: and the couriers have apparently just been, right at the start of that time slot. Truly excellent. There might be problems with the goods, of course, but the delivery is A+++.
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The Bellinghman
Date: 2011-04-26 15:00
Subject: Waaah!
Security: Public
Play.com have changed the release date for the Samsung Galaxy S II - pushing it back till the 3rd of May from the 29th of April.

(That the 29th of April is a bank holiday, the following two days a weekend, and the 2nd of May also a bank holiday is NO excuse!)

Oh well, still earlier than the previous 6th of May date.
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The Bellinghman
Date: 2011-04-20 17:29
Subject: On the weather again
Security: Public
Just what is it with this weather? It's touching 22C (72°F) here. This really isn't typical April weather - we're running 10C above what we'd expect.
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The Bellinghman
Date: 2011-04-18 10:32
Subject: Book delivery
Security: Public
Yay! Got book 5 of mizkit's Walker Papers. Also the first book of Kage Baker's Company series.

(We have later volumes of both series. About ten later in the Company case.)
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The Bellinghman
Date: 2011-04-17 17:32
Subject: Gratuitous Pussy Shot
Security: Public
Kittens
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The Bellinghman
Date: 2011-04-15 10:25
Subject: Whale Fail
Security: Public
Oh noes - Twitter is down! How will we cope?

(OK, OK, so only briefly.)
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The Bellinghman
Date: 2011-04-13 17:30
Subject: Cool
Security: Public
Oh, that's cool!

The standard text entry box in this here Java seems to understand Arabic somewhat better than the underlying OS (Windows XP) does. It's actually going a character left when I press the left arrow key.

(Oh, but it fails when I do Ctrl+Left and Ctrl+Right, jumping words right and left respectively. What a shame.)
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The Bellinghman
Date: 2011-04-13 15:33
Subject: Quick selling
Security: Public
I see that membership of the 2012 Discworld Convention has already reached the half century (excluding guests and committee).

Pretty impressive for 90 minutes. At this rate, it will be sold out before tomorrow evening, but I expect it to slow somewhat.
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The Bellinghman
Date: 2011-04-13 13:37
Subject: MG
Security: Public
The first new MG for 16 years has rolled off the production line in Longbridge..

No, BBC, not 16 years. The first MG ZT, for instance, came out of Longbridge ten years ago in 2001.

(No, I don't think this is a terribly exciting car, but I wish it well, if only because it helps the parts supply for pre-existing MG models.)
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The Bellinghman
Date: 2011-04-13 13:23
Subject: Bit late, but ...
Security: Public
Yesterday, in a sudden fit of enthusiasm, I planted some daffodil bulbs.

Yes, I know, it's rather late, and there's no way they'll do much this year, but who knows, next year they might.

How many? Oh, I didn't actually count. 25 kg of bulbs in an almost continuous layer.

(They'd been sitting around waiting for my tuit for way too long. In the end, it didn't take very long.)
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The Bellinghman
Date: 2011-04-11 14:49
Subject: X = B
Security: Public
The forthcoming C++ standard has just been submitted to ISO for balloting.

We might even see a new standard published this year, replacing C++98.

(The title is because this iteration was nicknamed C++0X, in the expectation that it would arrive sometime in the range 2000 - 2009. When it slipped past 2009, it was quickly ret-conned to be a hex value.)
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The Bellinghman
Date: 2011-04-11 11:51
Subject: Good times
Security: Public
I have a phone on pre-order. (Because it's not been released yet.)

Today, I note that the advertised price has dropped £40. And on checking my order, that price drop also applies to existing orders. This is good of the supplier, because it saves me cancelling and reordering at the new price.

Also, the sun is shining.

Last night, I booked a hotel room for the 27th of May, in Oxford, being the Friday night before the Write Fantastic do. Anyone here fancies meeting up for dinner or whatever, perhaps at Chutneys or similar?
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The Bellinghman
Date: 2011-04-08 17:19
Subject: Cars
Security: Public
  • The bad: the car failed to start on Wednesday morning, so I walked in to work
  • The good: it had started Tuesday evening, in the station car park - it would have been a right royal pain if it had failed to start there
  • The bad: although it started Thursday morning (my having bought and applied a battery charger), it failed to start Thursday evening
  • The good: it's not too far to walk home, and the evening was nice
  • The bad: even with jump leads from bellinghwoman's car, it failed to start this morning
  • The good: the garage sent its technicians round to get is started, and with a jump pack, they got it started and round the corner to the garage
  • The bad: the battery required replacement
  • The good: it was under warranty (new last November), so it was free
Extra good - the replacement rear discs that I need have come down in price since last year.
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The Bellinghman
Date: 2011-04-08 16:37
Subject: A tradition of writing
Security: Public
Thanks totamaranth, I've been reading some of the works of Joan Aiken recently. Last night, I started A Harp of Fishbone and other stories.

I'm thinking that if I had encountered almost any of the stories therein that I've read so far, and been asked to guess the writer, I'd have plumped for Neil Gaiman. There are a few differences, but mostly due to the era in which she was writing, which is probably the early 70s - late enough for decimalisation, but early enough for prices to be somewhat low by today's standards.

These are stories more for grown ups than for children, and I think that shows the problem that Aiken may have had: her most celebrated works are probably The Wolves of Willoughby Chase and its successors, which are set in an alternative history where the Hannoverians lost. They started to come out in the early to mid sixties, and for those of us that encountered them, they were some of the best children's literature of the time. I may have tried to read this book when it came out - if so, I think it would have deeply disappointed me, because I would not have got them at all. Hope for example, concerns a spinster central character with a love affair lost 30 years in the past. I suspect that Aiken got tagged as children's literature in a way that Gaiman hasn't, to the possible detriment of her more adult work.
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The Bellinghman
Date: 2011-04-06 13:00
Subject: The Distraction Club's inaugural night
Security: Public
Music:The Ukelele Orchestra of Great Britain - Live In London 2
On Tuesday night we attended the Distraction Club in the Phoenix on the corner of Cavendish Square in London (a block or two away from Oxford Circus). This is something that Mitch Benn has apparently been wanting to do for a couple of years, and last night he finally did it.

details as I remember them - possible mistakesCollapse )
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The Bellinghman
Date: 2011-04-05 14:44
Subject: More NotW
Security: Public
Tags:popcorn
Oh lookie, a former news editor and the current chief reporter of the News of the World have now been arrested over the phone hacking scandal.

(Anyone know if there's a low-carb popcorn?)
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The Bellinghman
Date: 2011-04-04 02:43
Subject: On whiskies
Security: Public
Downstairs, on the cabinet in the living room there are three bottles, each containing a whisky from a different country.

Not one of them is from Scotland. Or Ireland. Or Kentucky. Or Tennessee. Or even Canada or Japan.

(Not that I object to a Yamazaki Single Malt.)

What I have are a Welsh Whisky - Penderyn.

An English Whisky - the rather tasty youngling from the English Distillery Company.

And the newest arrival, found in a shop in Gare de L'Est in Paris: Whisky de Lorraine.

It's interesting, and it's definitely a whisky. But I have to say, I don't like it as much as the other two.

(For those that wonder, I do have a whole bunch of whiskies in the dining room.)

I'm still trying to find a bottle of a Swiss Whisky I once saw (named Swisskey, IIRC).
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The Bellinghman
Date: 2011-04-03 23:55
Subject: Slightly obsessive fan ...
Security: Public
While in Basel for Fasnacht, we spent a lot of time wandering the streets and alleys taking in the atmosphere. At one point, wanting a coffee, we looked around for the nearest suitable place, and found this place.

Interesting features include not only the odd gold disc around (well, we're all used to those, aren't we?), but slightly more outré accompaniments. Such as one of Madonna's corsets.

We were amused that not only did they have the usual signed guitars, but they'd worked out what to do with drums, hanging them from the ceiling.

More impressively, upstairs featured large paintings by and of rockers, including one large one by Ronnie Wood.

And signatures on most of the items, to one 'Andy', the owner, whose personal collection all this memorabilia was.

It's nice to see it done personally, rather than the generic Rock Café corporate take.
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The Bellinghman
Date: 2011-04-03 18:03
Subject: Weather
Security: Public
Hmm, I think we may be having the first thunderstorm of the year. Ah, the signs of spring
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The Bellinghman
Date: 2011-04-02 01:09
Subject: Network speed
Security: Public
So why does telling the router to drop and restart its ADSL connection get it back up to about 6Mbps download speed from somewhere around stunned slug speed?

No, the signal strengths didn't appreciably change before and after.
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