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[ Resources for the Curious | Pat Reynolds ]
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Felicitations! [May. 20th, 2015|01:31 pm]
Happy Birthday, madeline_seb!

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Well, I called that wrong ... [May. 8th, 2015|08:46 pm]
I believe I said before the coalition was formed (but cannot be asterisked to look up): this will be the death of whichever party forms the coalition.

My reasoning was: the LibDems would make proportional representation the condition of coalition.  Both parties would be blamed for the bad things resulting from the recession, but the LibDems, under-represented on first-past-the-post, would take the lesser hit.

I went to the vote, not at all clear what (if anything) the LibDems had done to mitigate the Conservative ideas.  I am worried that this will become clear in the next five years.

So ... given my excellent record on predictions for the next election, here goes!

I realise that my own 'favourite' outcome is actually a hung parliament.  So I am very tempted to suggest this is what will happen.  But I think an 'obvious' coalition will have a fairly easy win.

I don't think it's the next one which will be the new politics.  I think it's the one after that. York Central will be Labour held, again.  Both times.
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Clothespegs+ [Apr. 19th, 2015|08:10 pm]
I have remembered that alitalf (maybe) at one point was working on a kind of digital clothespeg (se my earlier post, or Eastercon for details of analogue clothespegs).  These digital oojimaflips werelittle tags which you could programme to indicate your gender, the gender(s) you were interested in meeting, and level of intimacy you were interested in.  When you met someone who you matched with, I think the tag vibrated.  Or possibly flashed.

Now we are increasingly carrying around phones capable of taking a 'clothes peg ap', this could become a real possibility.  The main downside is that the guides would need to be disciplined and only look at the ap (not at facebook), seeing faces tagged 'Talk to me about the furniture!' BSL: general speil is great!' 'Greek or French language: impressionist paintings' among the approaching visitors. 
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Check, staff, and other words [Apr. 17th, 2015|08:30 pm]
I used to think that check was the best word in the dictionary.  Really.  Here it is:
What a fabulous word.  Starting with the  Persian shāh ‘king’, it turns up in checkmate (the king is dead), chequerboard, cheques (or checks), exchequers, checklists, and so on.

But I now have a rival.  Staff. It has a lovely word-cloud of early Germanic meanings, all related to bits of wood stuck in the ground.  With a slight religious weight to them.  Staff meaning 'people' in English starting with the meaning 'pastoral staff', for example.  And it has a lovely verb 'to staff'.

Staff as a verb should be used much more.  It's a lovely gender-neutral alternative to 'man', which doesn't sound at all 'wrong'.  'I need three volunteers to staff the registration desk at 10am'.  'The office is staffed from 8am to 6pm: outside these times please leave a message'.  I am completely at a loss to explain the continuing use of 'manned' in such contexts, unless it is by people who truely belive that women are incapable of doing whatever it is that you do in your office.
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Penelope Farmer [Apr. 17th, 2015|08:37 am]
Penelope Farmer in conversation with Vulpes Libris (a blog I should read more often)  I enjoyed this for the reminders of all the good books she mentions - noting beats remembering the enjoyment of a book - the slight dissapointment that it has finished has worn off.

I mention it here because I suspect Penelope Farmer isn't much recognised in sf circles (although the title Charlotte Sometimes may ring bells).

he publicity part of the new publishing does seem to be the problem we have yet to overcome.
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A system of clothespegs [Apr. 16th, 2015|08:46 pm]

There was a system of clothespegs operating at Eastercon.  They allowed people who are shy, and won't initiate conversations, but who are happy if someone starts a conversation, those who are having bad days and don't want a conversation with anyone, and those who are having middling days, and can cope with the folk they already know, but don't want to speak to new people, to let the whole world know this.  It was lampooned in the newsletter - see

But I can see it has its use.  As someone with multiple invisible disibilities, the idea of putting on clothes pegs occassionally has a certain appeal.  The tinnitus one will be an invisible clothespeg, but cause a public information statement to be sent to the person at the other end of the phone before they are connected.  A certain appeal ..... while people with disabilities are regarded by even a small minority as being less than human, it's not something to do lightly.

My recent experiences in a historic house have, however, suggested that the coloured clothespeg should be used by all visitors.
white: dear guide, please give standard speil.
transparent, with a little national flag: dear guide, please speak in my national language or remain silent (nb multiple pegs possible) [note to self - BSL, etc. need their own flags]
red: dear guide, please remain silent.  I wrote my PhD thesis in this room and if you open your mouth, I will have to kill you.
yellow: dear guide, please remain silent.  I find guides annoying, but feel obliged to talk to you if you open you mouth.
green: dear guide, please ask me to ask you a question.
orange: dear guide, please ask me to tell you something.
pink: dear guide, please tell me how dreadful Arts Council England are (or other major funding body of your choice).
brown: dear guide, please offer additional sensory experiences

And so on.  It will mean all colour-blind guides are not allowed to volunteer in this capacity, which is a shame...
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Arundel [Apr. 13th, 2015|09:42 pm]
Returning north from Arundel (via Littlehampton), I found that my parents, sister and nephew had visited a decade ago.  Nephew (then 10) had been asked some questions by a Tourism bod.

Q: How did you find Arundel? A: who could miss it????
Q: What is the best thing about Arundel?  A: The pretty girls!

I'm with No. 1 Nephew on the first question.  You come around the corner, and there's the cathedral and that's pretty in-your-face-d*mn-fine, and then there is the CASTLE.  Sussex has a tradition of not obliterating the skirting village/town or moving it off to a respectable distance, but letting it sit down comfortably against the great estate walls, so there is no need to look further for Arundel.

We visited the castle on Saturday morning.  It was due to chuck it down and be cold, but the rain was over before breakfast ended. The castle has fabulous gates.  I wanted to say that it was an 'all mouth, no trousers' kind of place, but once inside had to revise this to 'all mouth and Saville Row trousers'.  I asked ExMemSec to give me Arundel as a birthday present. When he indicated that I should ask for something else, it was the garden designer.  Who I discover is two people: ExMemSec was still not that positive, so I asked for the Canelleto on the right as you look into the Canelleto room.  I'd show it to you, but they don't allow photos.

I would have settled for a Cataloue Raisonne of Arundel, including the Canelleto, but no such thing appeared in the gift shop.  Not even a post card.

I regret not pushing a hefty donation into the Fitzalan Chapel box, as it is clearly run by a separate organisation.  The Trust which runs it has made good efforts to be limited-vision friendly: despite the uneven surfaces expected in historic buildings, I walked round with confidence (English Heritage, come here and learn!).  The same cannot be said for Arundel Castle.  It has a level of poor labelling and interpretation that I've not seen outside volunteer-run my-sister-has-a-photopcopier-at-work-her-boss-lets-her-use-it places since the 1990s, or in 'legacy' interpretation (i.e. things which haven't been replaced for 20 years).  But here there were exhibitions from 2014, which were illegible.  Created by people who don't know the basics of graphic design as explained in Father Ted: things which are far away, are small.  There were also signs written all in CAPITALS.  Signs written not just in italics, but in faux-calligraphy.  Small faux-calligraphy, far away.  As if we didn't already realise 'this place is old'.  Why wasn't it in Latin - people with good eyesight were missing part of the 'it's old, and you can't understand it' experience which people with poor eyesight had.  The kind of Latin used in 16th century Barcelona, just to be sure.
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A bonus Thursday [Apr. 1st, 2015|10:28 pm]
I thought that we were going to be heading south at around 10 tomorrow, and find it isn't til late afternoon.

This is a cause for elation, because I have too much to do (tm).

In the tradition, I give you: the list

BUY EASTER CHOCOLATE FOR EMEMSEC (aaggh! how I am still married, I can't fathom)
Pack for Eastercon
Do 50 mins work for the Heritage Crafts Association
Pack cat vaccination certificates
Contact examiner for RYA VHF course (last heard of 'on a pontoon, near Grimsby')
Get the netbook set up for Eastercon (RYA VHF course software, key documents to work on: business plan, Montserrat heritage  strategy, paper on intangible heritage strategies).

Sort out donation of oral history files for the lovely people at MERL
Contact archivist T
Chase last quote needed for the Tolken Society's Heritage Lottery fund bid
Contact all my partners for the Winston Churchill Travel Fellowship
Contact my Indian friends re WCTF

Bonus points
Pack up donation to museum and send to Museum Director, with polite note about having waited 18 months for their collections manager to send me the transfer of title form after agreeing they wanted the stuff, and my willingness - nonetheless - to record my memories of using said equipment. I will refrain from enclosing my CV and advising the director that I am available for interim collections management work, since he clearly has a derth in this area.

Clean bedside table: I could claim that I am experimenting with creating a laquer from cough mixture, coffee and bio-oil, but really, it's just spillage.

Actually write some of the paper.

Thank goodness for the gift of an unexpected Thursday.
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What is the longest name of a Royal Naval Vessel [Mar. 22nd, 2015|08:08 pm]
Prompted by watching a TV programme about the Dame Rhona something (Australian customs vessel), and studying for my VHS certificate at the same time, I wondered about the length of the name - and the bore of having to spell it out and problem of including it in a call where one is required to repeat it three times - or six, in the case of a Mayday.

That got me wondering about the names of Royal Naval vessels, and a search for the longest one, which I think is the HMS Commandant d'Estienne d'Orves (from the wikipedia listing). Which may be a Free French Navy vessel.

The Falcon in the Fetterlock, on the other hand, is definitely an English Pinnace or row barge. And what a lovely name she has.
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Spreadsheet expert needed [Mar. 16th, 2015|08:14 pm]
For a small project for a Not-for-Profit, I'm looking for someone who can design a spreadsheet for multiple volunteers across the world to input data .... needs password security/individual identification.  If you know someone who likes solving such problems, please ask them to get in touch.  We'll be able to offer a reasonable fee.
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