Monthly Archives: January 2010

Jim at Gym

Liz didn’t want to go to gym, not after last night’s conversation with Barbara. Liz had mentioned Jim, hadn’t she, but she hadn’t meant to. It was… It was just an idle thought that crossed her mind. Why she had voiced it to Barbara last night, she would never know.

Liz had simply asked, “so, do you think we’ll see Jim at Gym tomorrow?”

The problem wasn’t in the question. The problem was that she had no reason to ask it. Well, no reason she could say to Barbara.

Barbara had immediately wanted to know why Liz thought he might not go. And Liz couldn’t think of anything to say. She needed something snappy and quick and convincing. Something like, “well last week he was saying that the instructor had bad breath and he might not come back because of it”. That would have worked because the instructor did have bad breath. Breath bad enough to stun an Eskimo at five paces. Or probably an Inuit these days.

But Liz didn’t think of that. All that kept popping into her mind was “well, with his piles”. Which wasn’t fair because, as far as Liz knew, he didn’t have piles. It was just the only excuse that she could think of. So she didn’t say that. She just left it hanging.

She just wanted to see Jim at Gym. That was all. And he was on her mind. That was all it was. But why did she have to let it slip to Barbara of all people? Did she want everyone to know? Or did she?

Well, that was something to think about.

The Andronov Calendar

Last week in the new Archive section, I hinted that while Dave “wrong about my temperature scale” Gorman wasn’t a fan of my temperature scale, he was a bit more keen on another of my ideas. In fact this was because he had come up with the exact same idea about 5 years after me. He wrote a post on his blog about “his” idea for a new calendar and it was almost exactly the same as mine. So why not read about the original and best new idea for a Calendar?

In fact this post sums it up pretty nicely: http://www.gamboling.co.uk/2007/01/so-pope-hasnt-called-me-back.html

Let me know what you think.

And if you want to know what Dave “I love him really” Gorman really thought: click here

Warming up

It would seem that men and women run at different temperatures. This seems to be a universal truth. I am warmer than Katherine at almost all times. And that’s because, like most girls, Katherine is a radiator. All of her heat is being transmitted outwards.*

So what do we do about this? We turn the heating on. Or we don’t if we’re fourstar. The problem is that this isn’t necessarily the correct approach. Christine complained that is not necessarily the right thing to do because men quite often then go on to make the women feel guilty. Christine would rather put a coat on and be done with it. But if men see a woman with a coat on indoors they would want to turn the heat up to “do the right thing”. But then they have to take clothes off.

In my office our desk is populated currently by three males and one female. And the thermostat has been turned up so the coldest person is warm. This means that we were actually running desk fans while it was snowing outside. Surely this isn’t right? I’m not sure I know what the solution is. But maybe you do?

* The reason for this is that men’s fat deposits tend to be stored in a couple of key areas (mainly the stomach) whereas women’s are more evenly distributed. Added to which, women also have thicker subcutaneous (under the skin) fat deposits as standard than men. This means that the fat is near the surface. And the fat is your insulation. Now it seems counter-intuitive to think that this everywhere insulation is worse. But it is, because more heat is gathered from the outside world than is created by you. So women are insulating against the heat source. Whoops.

Describe the internet in 140 characters?

This is the second of my series of questions for you in the comments, so let me introduce the idea. I’ll ask you a question, like today’s, “Describe the internet in 140 characters?” and you either answer in the comments, or on your own blog and drop a link to the post. So that’s the theory, let’s kick it off…

Question:

Describe the internet in 140 characters.

Here’s my answer:

It’s the greatest confluence of communication, knowledge, power, democracy, crime and hope we have ever seen. It’s the world in a nutshell.

So how would you describe the internet in 140 characters or fewer (check with twitter on character count)?

Where can I go from here?

As we’ve been talking about my mythical travel planning website idea, we’ve had a couple of pieces of feedback.

First my friend Rich, hot on the heels of his converter of the London BBC Weather site for degrees Andronov has made an implementation of the distance to hot problem mentioned in this post last week. It’s really nice and, of course, it shows the temperatures in degrees Andronov as well. Check it out here: http://andronov.rjmd.eu/holiday/

Second, my father has mentioned another really simple thing that is almost impossible to do. He recently wanted to travel somewhere as a quick weekend break and because he wanted it to be easy he wanted to be able to travel from his closest airport. So all he needed was a list of all of the places you could fly to from that airport.

This is something that you can’t get hold of. You could go to an airport website and say, “show me all flights from Birmingham International to Prague” and see if any flights come up. And then repeat the search with, “show me all flights from Birmingham International to Copenhagen” and build up a list that way. But that seems a really inefficient way of doing this.

As I said in my last post. I keep finding different ways that I want to be able to get to the data.

How many top notch restaurants are there in the city? How likely is it to rain? How many museums are there? How many clubs? How hot is it? Are there public beaches? How far away is it? Is it available from my local airport? How much is it?

Each of us has different mechanisms to decide how we go on holiday. We all go through a process. And that’s what I want to simplify here. I want to put all those factors in order of importance to me and then have the destinations which are most likely to work to bubble to the top. So at the moment I want to get some winter sun. I want to go somewhere on holiday in February which is not too far away and has some nice restaurants and a few museums. So say that list above was the complete set of questions, I would put them in order of importance on the screen of my mythical website like this:

Most Important
1 – In February
2 – Warmer than [25 degrees C]
3 – Closer than [Not set – order by this factor]
4 – More than [2] top notch restaurants
5 – More than [3] museums
6 – Less than [£xxxx can’t think of a good number to put in here]
Least Important

So what it would do is bring me back a list ordered in bands. Band 1 would be places that match every criteria ordered by distance from the UK. Band 2 would be places that match the first 5 criteria, but cost more than the limit price, etc.

I think that would be a really neat way of helping me decide where to go. But what other criteria can you think of? Which other questions do you have when you are deciding where to go?

Closing in on reality

There is something about a theory that is hard to accept in the abstract. These things require some element of physical form to enter into reality. My father has leaped into the breach and has started work on an honest to goodness Andronov Temperature thermometer.

Sure, he’s only written the A and the degrees symbol at the top. But it’s a start!

The Andronov Temperature Scale

Thursdays are archive day on Gamboling at the moment. Time to unearth something…

So this week I’ve been remembering that at one point I thought that, once in your life, you really want to get a thing named after you. Dancers get desserts. People who save people who are drowning get a crescent named after them.* But what could I do? I just needed to invent something. And so here is the idea that Genius creator Dave Gorman called, “I’m less convinced by the temperature scale though”.**

The idea is simple, water should freeze at zero, naturally, but it’s far more important to know if it’s going to be warm. So Zero is freezing, 100 is a really hot day, and 50 is comfortable.

If you want to read this, remember you need to read the posts from the bottom up:

Andronov Scale

* Is that right – Ed Harris? [what? ed]

** I’ll tell you about the other idea next week

Distance to hot

I’m not sure if you remember my idea for a travel website but I have been thinking about it some more, and I am pretty certain that there is another problem that needs solving. I have just been trying to figure this out for myself and there seems to be no sane or easy way to do it.

I suddenly, in the middle of the winter, decided that I would like to be warm and get a bit of sun. I asked around and people told me that 25 degrees centigrade was warm. Things would obviously be easier if we were all just using the Andronov Temperature Scale by now. But I couldn’t just say, “lets go to Barbados”. Katherine isn’t a particularly big fan of long haul flights. So what I needed to do was somehow find a list all of the cities with average temperatures in February higher than 25 degrees in order of how far away they are.

Then I would be able to look down the list and decide where to go. I like the idea that there should be lots of ways into the same dataset. What I can’t understand is why I can’t find this information. The information clearly exists out there on the internet. I can type in to google, “what is the average temperature in Valencia in February” and get an answer but that isn’t really what I want. I want this data to be organized properly.

Surely other people must want the same thing?

What was the first film you remember seeing?

This is the first of our series of questions for people in the comments, so let me introduce the idea. I’ll ask you a question, like today’s, “What was the first film you remember seeing?” and you either answer in the comments or on your own blog and drop a link to the post. So that’s the theory, let’s kick it off…

Question:

What was the first film you remember seeing?

Here’s my answer:

I specifically remember watching Star Wars when I was very young. It gave me nightmares. I remember dreaming that I was in that escape pod with C3PO and R2D2. When it flies out of the ship, they look out of round window back at the ship and then it cuts to the outside shot and you can see an exhaust pipe at the back that is big and black. So clearly it made me think that there was no back to the space ship. And that while the other two were holding on, I kept thinking I was going to fall out. I think I was probably about 25 at the time*.

* Maybe it was about five or six. I didn’t watch the film properly for years after.

So what was the first film you remember seeing?

It’s health and safety gone mad

In Stewart Lee’s first series of his Comedy Vehicle, he made the point that a lot of people seem to be getting quite confused between Health and Safety and Political Correctness. I was exposed to this the other night in a taxi. I know you should never take what taxi drivers say to heart, but sometimes it is priceless. I am thinking of pitching to the TV channel Dave a show called ‘Cab drivers say the funniest things’.

It was icy on the night and the driver was getting worked up on his favourite subject of pensions. He’d already had a few attempts at the subject. Now he said, “see this ice? You see all of this ice right? Why aren’t they gritting the pavements? Why do you think they aren’t gritting the pavements? I’ll tell you why. They’ll grit them up here next to the shops. They’ll grit them in front of the shops alright, but not outside your house, oh no. You know why? Health and safety. They can’t grit outside your house can they? ‘Cos if they grit outside your house and they miss one little bit of ice and you find it, you can sue ’em if you slip. But outside shops it’s different because of all the laws. Anyway as long as they all get their pensions I guess it’s all right. I mean, that’s all they’re worried about, not your ice.”

I didn’t really know what to say about this, so I just kind of mumbled something vaguely positive-sounding and hoped for the subject to change. My guess is that they don’t have the money to pay for gritting your pavement. But the companies pay business rates and so get preferential treatment. But… But… There is a strange kernel of interest to derive from all of this.

A lot of people seem to not like health and safety regulations. Partly because they only seem to restrict you. And you don’t notice the times when they save you. It’s like computer downtime or train delays. People’s perceptions magnify the memories of when things go wrong because things being normal is quite literally unremarkable. So the rules seem pointless.

So people say, “wouldn’t it be better if people were to take responsibility for themselves?”. The people who say this are also the kind of people who are sure that all other drivers are maniacs. They say, “people should take responsibility for themselves” as though they haven’t met other people.

There is, I suppose, a point to part of their argument and it is a bit like the grit argument. If you know the whole pavement is icy, you know you have to be careful. If it looks gritted and clear but little bit of ice remains, you might not be as careful and it might be more dangerous. People posit arguments like this about health and safety all the time and I’m pretty sure I see a logical fallacy here.

You want to make people more aware that things are scary so that they take responsibility. That means you already don’t think they can take responsibility for themselves.