The everyday blog of Richard Bartle.

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5:56pm on Saturday, 30th April, 2016:



It's good to be back in the UK, albeit for only one day before I head off again. I get to see questions like this in The Guardian:

along with answers like this:

I don't know much about nature, but I'm pretty sure badgers aren't cloven-hooved.

Maybe it's a devil badger?


4:08pm on Friday, 29th April, 2016:



I don't care about the odd angle, the fact that most of the landmarks are covered in scaffolding, or the crane straddling the bottom of the picture. I climbed 303 steps to bring you this photo, so you're getting it whether you want it or not.


10:30pm on Thursday, 28th April, 2016:



Woohoo! Loot!


8:28pm on Wednesday, 27th April, 2016:



It's not every day I get a note telling me I'm cute!

Ignore the printed words at the top of the paper. The printed words at the top of the paper are unimportant.


9:45am on Tuesday, 26th April, 2016:



Here's my impression of a button:

Moral: don't go to sleep on a train with yout arms folded while wearing an overcoat.


5:18pm on Monday, 25th April, 2016:



I'm off to Munich tomorrow, returning on Friday. I'm giving two talks and a workshop, plus attending a PhD supervisory meeting, but I do have some free time to look around the city (I've never been there before).

I guess this would explain why the weather forecast for Munich is predicting snow on Wednesday.


11:53am on Sunday, 24th April, 2016:



It's my wife's birthday today. She's the same age she was last year.

I had a hard time getting her a card. There seems to be a trend these days for cards that say "To my beautiful wife" or "To my gorgeous wife" or "To my lovely wife", as if I might want to make a distinction between this particular wife and my wives who aren't beautiful or gorgeous or lovely.

In the past, they all used to say "To my darling wife".

I just got her a non-wife card with a Dalek on it.


9:30pm on Saturday, 23rd April, 2016:



I've been doing some genealogy over the weekend.


So it goes me, my dad, his dad George Bartle, his mother Laura Cooke, her father Edward Cooke, his mother Caroline Haviland, her father Richard Haviland, his father Samuel Haviland.

I was disappointed to learn that Samuel Haviland was the base-born son of Jane Haviland. There are base-born people in my wife's family tree, but this is the first one I've found in mine.

There are three possible candidates for the Jane Haviland who is Samuel's mother. It gets complicated here.

Jane #1 is the daughter of Richard and Susanna Haviland. Jane #2 is the daughter of Francis and Mary Haviland. Jane#3 is the daughter of John and Mary Haviland. Let's call Jane #3's father John#1.

Jane #1 and Jane #2 are cousins. They both descend from John and Jane Haviland. Let's call their grandfather John #2.

John #1 descends either from John and Susanna Haviland or from John and Elizabeth Haviland. Let's call these John #3 and John #4.

John #3 is an uncle of Jane #1 and Jane #2 and his father is John #2.

John #4 descends either from Richard and Ann Haviland or John and Sarah Haviland. The same is true of John #2. Let's call this John John #5.

So, John #5 is the son of yet another John who is the brother of Richard. Both are sons of William and Katherine Haviland. William is a son of John and Allice Haviland.

The upshot is, I know I'm descended from this John Haviland — I just don't know the exact route.

So, this it turns out that this John Haviland isn't just a regular villager. He's the Rev. John Haviland, the local rector. His genealogy is fairly well documented.

The Rev. John Haviland is the son of Matthew De Havelland, the son of William De Havelland, the son of James De Havellande, the son of James De Haveilland who was the mayor of Poole in Dorset in 1494. He in turn is the son of Thomas De Haveilland, a jurat (magistrate) in Guernsey who was knighted for recapturing the castle in Jersey from the French in 1457. Thomas's father was probably one William De Haveilland, but that's where the trail runs cold. There are other figures bearing the name further back (Robert, Baron De Haviland in 1130) but the links in the chain are missing.

So through finding I'm descended from a base-born Samuel Haviland, I now know I'm descended from Channel Island aristocracy.

OK, so it's well over 20 generations ago, but still...


7:32pm on Friday, 22nd April, 2016:



I spent the day marking final-year project reports. 10% of the marks are for "writing quality" and 20% of the students have a "specific learning disability" notice saying I shouldn't mark down for poor writing quality.

I'm going to have to read the marking guidelines to see what happens here...


5:53pm on Thursday, 21st April, 2016:

A Little Unfair


The reports of the death of Victoria Wood on TV and the radio this morning kept referring to her as being one of Britain's "best female comedians". While this is true, I think it's a little unfair.

I remember around 15 or 20 years ago there was a survey done of comedy promoters to find out which acts they would most like to book. It was discovered that there were only three comedians whom promoters felt could fill any venue anywhere in the country: Ken Dodd, Eddie Izzard and Victoria Wood.

Victoria Wood was indeed one of Britain's best female comedians, but she was one of Britain's best comedians full stop.


4:13pm on Wednesday, 20th April, 2016:

Beep ... Beep ... Beep


I was waiting in the foyer today to pick up would-be students for interview. The reason I was waiting was that the initial talk overran and it threw the whole schedule out. This meant I had to spend ten minutes listening to the constant beep ... beep ... beep of the fire warning alert.

This beep is intensely annoying, but of course it's designed that way to attract attention. Unfortunately, it gets none. There's a sophisticated fire alert system installed, and here's what it says on the display:

So there's a panic alarm going off in the Careers Centre on level 4 (which is "ground" level) of what is officially designated the mathematics department.

Yes, there is. This is because the people in the Careers Centre have opened a door which is alarmed. They don't hear the constant beeping, but anyone entering Computer Science is subjected to it. They're not panicked, they just opened a door they wanted to be open that isn't supposed to be opened except in emergencies.

To turn off the alarm, the security officers have to reset the system. That means there's no fire alarm coverage, so they have to evacuate the whole building while they do it. Last time they did it, we lasted beep-free for almost a whole day before someone in the Careers Centre opened the emergency door again because they wanted to get out onto square 2 without having to walk ten paces to the door they should be using.

This always happens. I'm pretty sure that Security has given up in despair.

Meanwhile, if there were an actual fire and someone opened an emergency door in an actual emergency, no-one would notice because we're all so used to the damned beeping that we'd think it was just the Careers Centre beep that's been beeping ceaselessly for the past three months.


8:51am on Tuesday, 19th April, 2016:

Jumbo Signs


I saw these in Colchester the other day:

I guess there's a reason they chose elephants.

Last time, it was giraffes.


10:16pm on Monday, 18th April, 2016:



This crow was jealously guarding the paper tissue it had found. Unfortunately, it couldn't get all of it in its mouth so it wandered off.

It's like my younger daughter with candyfloss.


1:12pm on Sunday, 17th April, 2016:



The sleeve we put over our rotary clothesline outside has worn out so we got a new one.

It seems that exposure to the elements may precipitate a fading effect in the pattern.


3:53pm on Saturday, 16th April, 2016:

Not a Novel Name


The latest weird name I've come across, given to a kid at the dentist's, is Novella. The first three letters are pronounced as in "nova", rather than "novel". At first, I thought her mother was saying "No, Bella" but latter she asked at the receptionist when Novella's next appointment would be.

It's probably a common girl's name in some part of the world that I've just insulted by my ignorance of it.


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Copyright © 2016 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).