Monthly Archives: February 2004

The hair toss is key

Hair is a very odd thing.

I know that’s not really enough. But it’s true.

I’m going to try to avoid observations like: “well it’s dead but we find it attractive”.

Well obviously, rather than avoid them completely I’d rather mention them like I’m not making the observation while still feeling able to actually, you know, mention it.

Hair styles are very cyclical I believe. It’s true in women’s styles and in men’s.

In women’s fashion the ability to do the hair toss is paramount. And in second place is the ability to be different. But only just. It seems that at certain points, and we’re in one now, hair is pretty evenly split (and I’m not talking about split ends – bada boom) between long and short. We have lots of short hair around, and lots of long. But slowly but surely the long hair is starting to win out because of the tair toss. The hair toss is key.

People really like it. Women like to do it. Men like to observe it.

At certain times however too many people can do it. And do it they will. And once everyone is doing it it starts to be less exciting and so it seems to be that people restrict themselves from being even able to do it. And everyone gently shifts to the shorter cut. Well not quite everyone. Some people stick with the longer cut, maybe they use a pony tail to hide it but it’s still there. In fact the pony tail is perfect for the hair toss because all you need do is to untie it and naturally you get the whole hair toss effect without any need to even exert your neck muscles.

For men there’s a whole different thing going on. For a long while it was cool to have long hair, sophisticated to have a decent amount of hair, odd to have clipped hair and a bit sad to be bald.

But something interesting has been happening over the last few years. I think the key trend is that the ad executives who have been in charge since advertising became properly professional have reached middle age. They’ve reached middle age and have started losing their hair. Suddenly having very short hair is cool. Hair so short that a small bald patch is hardly noticeable. This may not be a coincidence.

Now over this time I have resisted all calls of a change in hair style. Before my cousins told me I needed to grow my hair if I wanted to look cool. And now I should be cutting it shorter.

There doesn’t seem to be much that’s sensible about hair.


It’s Thursday! It’s February! It’s Monopoly time!

Or rather not. In an article the other week my mathematical skills were called into question. I made the claim that the number 7 was the most likely number to come up on the combination of dice. People have claimed to me that this is faulty logic because if the dice are random then there is no way they could conspire to give you a more likely number. But they do and they can. Here’s a handy table which proves it all for you:

Dice 1 Dice 2 Total Possible Totals Occurrence
1 1 2 2 1
1 2 3 3 2
1 3 4 4 3
1 4 5 5 4
1 5 6 6 5
1 6 7 7 6
2 1 3 8 5
2 2 4 9 4
2 3 5 10 3
2 4 6 11 2
2 5 7 12 1
2 6 8
3 1 4
3 2 5
3 3 6
3 4 7
3 5 8
3 6 9
4 1 5
4 2 6
4 3 7
4 4 8
4 5 9
4 6 10
5 1 6
5 2 7
5 3 8
5 4 9
5 5 10
5 6 11
6 1 7
6 2 8
6 3 9
6 4 10
6 5 11
6 6 12

See! Maths is fun!

The goose bumps

It suddenly becomes very cold.

All those things happen when it gets cold.

The clichés.

The hair raising up off of the skin.

The goose bumps.

And the less clichéd.

The hardened nipples.

The retracting penis.

“It’s getting cold.”
“Yes”, he lies, “I hadn’t noticed.”

Why lie?

They both think this at the same time.

She pities his faux-macho.

And he pities something worse. Not the label, but himself.

The note I wrote was stranger in the background

A situation has arisen simply because of the opacity of my own notes again.

The other day I wrote an article about being in the background of other people’s photographs. (The people at the next table are taking a picture).

The reason for my confusion stems from the note I wrote to remind myself to write the article. The note I wrote was “stranger in the background”.

When I first read it I truly thought I was trying to suggest that people who were in the background tended to be stranger.

Well, maybe they are. Who am I to say really?

They wanted me to ruin their picture

Writing Friday’s article (The people at the next table are taking a picture) reminded me of something. I was once walking along a bridge in London and I stopped because a picture was clearly being taken in front of me. If I had kept going I would have been in their shot.

I stood, waiting, and looked around the place. Along the river was St. Paul’s. Suddenly I realised that the people on the bridge wanted my attention.

At first I thought that I might be being asked to help take a picture but no! Something quite different was being requested. They wanted me to “ruin” their picture. They wanted me to walk through it.

As they saw it, it couldn’t be a real portrait of London without a couple of natives wondering around in the front of the shot. I, of course, was happy to oblige.

The people at the next table are taking a picture

The flash is blinding but it has nothing to do with you.

The people at the next table are taking a picture.

I wonder if they, like me, look at pictures years from now and think about the lives of the people in the background.

This player is the strongest

In today’s monopoly column I am going to talk about the importance of the trade. The trade is key for survival in monopoly. It is very rare for a player to go around the board and simply collect a set, unless there are only two players taking part.

You need houses and hotels to move the game forward but you aren’t allowed them until you have a complete set. So what are you going to do?

Now some players won’t trade until all of the property has been sold to the players. This is just one of the tactics used while, as it’s known, slowgaming. This practice can sometimes be difficult to deal with especially if you have several slowgamers at your table. However if successful deals are struck without them they may quickly cave to protect some kind of position.

It does sometimes happen that one player at the table has one set already. This player is the strongest. And by sets here, and in the rest of the article I am talking about development property not railroads or utilities. These other types are referred to as ballast and come in handy as we will see later.

Triangulation deals are key and if you pull one off then you may well win the game.

In a straight deal all the angles will seem obvious. It can work when both of you have two properties from a set in which each of you have one property that the other needs. Then you will both be getting a complete set. Then you can use some ballast to equal up the values of the sets.

This is all very well but the best situation is to do a deal like the one above but in which the ballast is being a potentially developable property.

Then you complete this set by making a deal with another player.

This is a risky strategy but, potentially, it is very advantageous. One of the key pitfalls are that the second player feels you have already become two powerful from the first deal and therefore won’t do a deal which leaves them with only one set, but you with two.

They may very well be right not to do a deal with you. It’s a difficult set of odds to compute. But at the same point that the deal is made you may very well be offering them the chance at second place or coming last.

A pizza muffin

“Who wants a bagel?”
“Not me.”
“Why not?”
“Because bagels are for breakfast.”
“Not really.”
“They are for me.”

There is an uncomfortable silence.

The person who is clearly in charge of food production starts up again, “how about a muffin?”
“What kind of muffin?”
“Well I was thinking of a pizza muffin.”
“A pizza muffin?”
“Yes. You take a muffin and sick ketchup, cheese and oregano on it.”
“Oh you’re talking about an English muffin.”


“I love you. You do know that.”
“It’s just… I don’t know how to deal with you. I mean, what do I do?”
“I don’t know?”
“You see if you don’t know…”
“I don’t think I’m supposed to know. If I know how to fall in love with myself then I would probably be a horrible arrogant bastard.”
“Look. I’m not that. I don’t think.”
“No. No! I don’t think you are. The ‘well’ was about better knowing how to deal with the whole business. I’ve never had to before I’m not ready. I don’t know how.”
“Surely you must.”
“No. I really don’t. See the thing that confuses me more than anything is that I don’t think I’m doing anything different now than at the beginning of our relationship. But you are reacting to me differently.”
“You know I can’t tell you what it is.”
“You could.”
“I could. But it wouldn’t be working properly if I had to. I’m sure you’ll figure it out.”
“Well I better had.”
“Yes. Why do you want to bother?”
“Because I love you.”
“Well there you go. That wasn’t so hard was it.”


“Good night.”

There’s a pause. A second where there isn’t enough movement to constitute the actual business of going to bed. The business is key, and everyone different. The turn over. The eyes closed pretend blissful smile. The over ridiculous stretch.

They know each other’s patterns. They know what would happen if the words “goodnight” had been said in the way that those who originally used the word had originally framed it. And this wasn’t that small it. It was IT. IT with a capital I and a capital T.

IT didn’t stand for anything. IT was something.