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The everyday blog of Richard Bartle.

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8:58am on Friday, 21st September, 2018:

Blend it

Weird

The environment artist really dropped the ball on this one.



Blend those floor textures!



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11:29am on Thursday, 20th September, 2018:

Competition

Anecdote

I was looking for a restaurant to eat in last night when I overheard the following conversation. It was in English, although the three speakers were Swedish (I assume that the fourth, silent member of the group wasn't).

Man 1 (looking into restaurant): There isn't much room inside.
Woman 1: Oh, I don't think I could eat there anyway, I'm vegan.
Woman 2: No, I'm vegan.
Woman 1 (confused): Well ... we really can't eat there then.
Woman 2: I've been vegan for ten years.
Woman 1: Can't we both be vegan?
Woman 2: Yes, but I was vegan first.

I hadn't realised that being vegan was so competitive.



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8:04am on Wednesday, 19th September, 2018:

Wallpaper

Anecdote

This is the wallpaper in my hotel room.

Over the years, the hotel has built up a collection of old, Scandinavian wallpaper which isn't manufactured any more.



Yes, I can see why.



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8:04am on Tuesday, 18th September, 2018:

A Taste of Home

Anecdote

This new toothpaste I bought to take with me to Sweden is awful. It's nearly as bad as that meat-flavour toothpaste I bought in America that turned out to be for dogs. I don't know if I can stand it for another twelve days.



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2:45pm on Monday, 17th September, 2018:

Winner

Anecdote

It seems the hotel I'm staying in has a reputation to uphold.



My room is in a building that dates from the 1300s, so the hotel must be good given that it's not exactly modern.



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9:53am on Sunday, 16th September, 2018:

Away!

Anecdote

I'm currently seated in Terminal 2 at Heathrow airport, having arrived well in time to be stupidly early for my flight. I'll be spending the next two weeks in Visby, Gotland at the University of Uppsala campus. Yes, when I said I was taking up a guest professor position there, it was actually true.

On this first visit (there will be more to come), I'll mainly be concerned with organising research. The Swedish system is a bit different to that of the UK, in that research and teaching are more differentiated tasks. At Essex University, people try to teach what they research, which is great when it's possible (as it is in my case), but it isn't in fact always possible: you could end up teaching 300 first-years about databases when your research interests are to do with artificial intelligence or formal methods or natural language processing or compilers or pretty well anything else. In Sweden, teaching is mainly undertaken by subject experts who aren't part of the research group; this means you get better teaching, but what's being taught could be quite some distance from what's being researched. I expect I'll be spending some time at the start trying to figure out exactly how the set-up works, because I'm fairly certain it'll be rather more arcane than my present knowledge suggests.

Expect two weeks of typing errors as my laptop keyboard isn't great.

The bloke on the table next to me in the restaurant where I just ate breakfast ordered a beer, a glass of milk and a glass of fresh orange juice, which he drank in that order. His wife had a glass of water.



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12:18pm on Saturday, 15th September, 2018:

Stamped

Anecdote

I have a birthday card to send next week, but I'll be away. I decided to buy a stamp for it today then give it to my wife to post. Here's roughly how the conversation with the Post Office counter person went.

Me: Hi, I'd like to send this to the Netherlands, please.
Her: (Looks at scales) That'll be £1.55 please.
Me: How long will it take to get there? Only it's for a birthday and I want to time it right.
Her: We say a minimum of three working days. (She starts operating a machine to print a stamp).
Me: So I'll be able to hold onto this and post it next week?
Her: (Having trouble with machine) Yes.
(She takes out the printed stamp and sticks it on. I notice a date on it).
Her: That'll be £1.55 then.
(I pay).
Me: Can I have it back, then?
Her: I can just put it in the sack so there's no need to post it.
Me: I want to post it next week, not today.
Her: Fine. (She puts it where I can pick it up)
Me: This stamp will still work next week? It's not time-limited?
Her: (Looking at it) No. You'll need a £1.55 stamp on it.
(She starts peeling off the printed stamp)
Me: That's taking some of the envelope with it.
Her: I have to take it off and put a £1.55 stamp on it.
Me: Can't you just leave it on?
Her: I have to spoil it.
Me: You're spoiling the envelope, too.
Her: Fine. (She takes a black marker and defaces the old stamp)
Me: (Sighs plaintively)
Her: I wish you'd told me this before.
Me: I sort of did...
(She sticks a £1.55 stamp on top of the defaced stamp and passes it to me)

Here is the result.



I expect it'll arrive, but whether it'll be held up because of the multiple stampage I don't know.

Maybe I should post it today, just in case.



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9:15am on Saturday, 15th September, 2018:

Framed

Anecdote

I got those 200-year-old playing cards I bought recently framed:



I think they came out quite well. I didn't have much choice as to what colour to use for the surround, as they only use three (red, yellow, blue) or five if you include black and was-once-white. Black and red were out at they would have favoured one suit over the other. It's not a good yellow (I picked that out in the frame instead). I didn't want to draw attention to the fact they had two centuries of grubbiness on them by using white. That left blue or some non-present colour such as green. I looked at some of the latter in the shop and nearly went with a green as it sort of looked as if they were lying on baize, but I decided on the blue instead as it connected the two framings better.

Needless to say, my wife doesn't see the point of them and doesn't want them on any wall she can see, so I'll have hang them to my office at work.

I'm sure there are some hooks there that have been left by previous occupants of my office, from back in the day when there wasn't an order not to make holes in office walls. I just have to decide where those previously-made hooks will be.



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10:12pm on Friday, 14th September, 2018:

Off Limits

Weird

Looks as if one of our students may have over-indulged yesterday and knocked out a toilet.



That said, this one is officially a "disabled toilet", so I can't complain too much that someone has taken it at its word and disabled it.



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5:29pm on Friday, 14th September, 2018:

A Nation of Lamis

Anecdote

I got a laminator! Now I can laminate my home-made boardgame components so they don't die after two or three uses.



I'm going to need a stronger corner-rounder, though, this is killing my fingers...



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7:26am on Thursday, 13th September, 2018:

Freebie

Anecdote

The IGGI conference sponsor has given out free pens.



I'm trying to get as much use out of mine as I can. There's sure to be an update soon which will cause it to stop working.



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7:39pm on Wednesday, 12th September, 2018:

Graves

Weird

Queen Mary University was built on the site of a Jewish cemetary, some of which has been preserved.



I've seen universities with graveyards in them before, but the size of this one is impressive.

The university is growing and needs more buildings, but is running out of room. It can't construct them on the graveyard, and the land can't really be used as a social area, either.

It's therefore both literally and metaphorically dead space.



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6:26pm on Tuesday, 11th September, 2018:

Green Spaces

Anecdote

I was at Queen Mary University, London today, for the IGGI pre-conference. Walking there from Mile End tube station, I came across this example of green London.



The ducks to appear to be able to swim in it, rather than walk on it, so it's probably not as solid as it looks.



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5:25pm on Monday, 10th September, 2018:

Splats

Weird

We're having a new carpet installed, so took the old one up. These strange paint splats are on the floorboards.



Probably just someone designing a new universe.



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11:57am on Sunday, 9th September, 2018:

Rabbit

Anecdote

We spent a good part of yesterday afternoon walking round carpet shops while clutching a rabbit. The rabbit in question was the exact shade of grey my wife wanted our new carpet to be, so when she saw something close she held up the rabbit and asked him whether it was a match or not. The carpet had to be 80% wool, 20% something-beginning-with-p (as in, there are several artificial fibres beginning with p, any one of which would have done). She most certainly didn't want a carpet made of 100% something-beginning-with-p. This is because she researched the subject to death beforehand and will be seeing weeks of adverts for carpets in her iPad browser as a result.

Eventually, we actually did find something of which both my wife and the rabbit approved.



I'm glad we did. I wasn't looking forward to having to buy 2,800 toy rabbits for their pelts.



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Copyright © 2018 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).