The everyday blog of Richard Bartle.

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11:21am on Thursday, 29th July, 2021:



The nearest post office is about 800 paces from where I live. On the way to post a package this morning, it was as I approached around 300 paces that I realised I hadn't brought the package with me.

I regard the fact that it was only 300 paces as evidence of an impressive feat of memory on my part.


9:11am on Wednesday, 28th July, 2021:

Testing Times


I had my eyes tested last week for the first time in several years. I passed (they were indeed eyes).

I'd bee a little concerned that the testing would give incorrect results as I had a small stye on my right eyelid. The optician noted it and said I had blepharitis. I told him it was more likely fungal than bacterial, but he said no, it's blepharitis, and sold me some stuff to get rid of it.

After three days of using this stuff, the stye (which had been going when I had the eye test) got far worse. I stopped using it, but still have a swollen eyelid and some kind of yellow-headed spot on the inside of it (touching my eyeball). I doubt it's dangerous, but it feels as if I have something in my eye the whole time, making it water something rotten.

This afternoon, I'm doing an interview for the No Prisoners, No Mercy podcast (with video). If you see it and think I look as if I've been in a fight, that'll be why.


12:10pm on Tuesday, 27th July, 2021:



This is what happens when a gravel road meets a tarmac road.

The gravel road in question is opposite our house. It's a private road, so the people who live on that street all chip in to pay to have it resurfaced when it needs it. Tarmac is more expensive than gravel, so they use gravel.

This means that any car driving down that road when I'm asleep wakes me up.

I am not a proponent of gravel roads.


8:37am on Monday, 26th July, 2021:

Gated Content


I walked past this gate this morning:

I don't know when it was last opened, if indeed it ever has been.

These are the kind of gates you have in games to allow further content to be added in updates. Reality doesn't work that way, though, or I could pay someone €10 and go through it into some kind of fairy playground.


11:53am on Sunday, 25th July, 2021:

Do it!


I saw this sign when I was back in my home town last weekend.

My guess is that the slogan derives from the Sean Bean Yorkshire Tea advertisement, which captures the county's self-image perfectly. Nothing like it would have worked for any other county in the country, but it's just how Yorkshire is. People in other counties found the ad amusing for poking fun at Yorkshire, but most Yorkshire people are really quite pleased with it.

If you ask people in England where they come from, most people will respond with the name of the town or city they live in, or say "near" a town or city. People from Yorkshire will respond with the county rather than the city, though. Only the people of one other county do that: Devon. I don't know if this is because Yorkshire and Devon are the two largest counties or not, but I was told this fact by a woman at an academic conference back in about 1982, who, upon hearing me answer "Yorkshire" to her question "Where are you from?" stated that she was from Devon and then pointed out our common quirk. Over the years, I've observed that in general it's empirically true, too.

"Do it for Devon" doesn't have quite the same resonance, though.


11:35am on Saturday, 24th July, 2021:

Look In


My wife asked me if I knew the answer to a crossword clue this morning: "Opening cry in Bingo (4, 4)".

She knew I'd know the answer, because my weekend job when I was in my teens was as a Bingo caller. I told her "Eyes down", which of course was correct.

I then repeated the call, with the parts that immediately followed. "Eyes down, look in, your first number".

"Is that 'look in' or 'luck in'?" she asked.

OK, so I'm from Yorkshire. The words "look" and "luck" sound exactly the same in my accent. It hadn't even occurred to me that the word might be "luck", though — I just assumed it was "look". Had I used that phrase thousands of times and been misunderstanding it all allong?

All the other callers were also from Yorkshire, and so also said the word the same way as me, so I wouldn't have noticed if they were saying "luck" rather than "look" — all except one, that is! A young woman called Sandy used to come up from Stratford in London every year to call over the summer. I had to dredge up a memory of her starting a game to listen to how she said it.

The way she said it was "look in".

Phew! That's a relief. It would have been rather embarrassing to have been saying "look in" instead of "luck in" all those times.

In my accent, the vowel sounds in "good luck" are identical. I have yet to discover whether this amplifies the luck given or dampens it down.


1:43pm on Friday, 23rd July, 2021:



Back in the day, guilds in MMORPGs were created when a small group of players found themselves doing the same content, getting along well with one another, and deciding to form a guild so they could hang out together. This can still happen, of course, but by the time most players begin an MMO these days they're unlikely to find themselves in that situation. Worse, even if they do start a guild and begin canvassing for members, they're unlikely to meet with much success. Established guilds will be more attractive to newbies, luring them with fancy guildhouses, freebies, Discord and buffs derived from guild rankings.

The end result is a few large guilds, plus some small but high-end ones that have splintered off, and a slew of small guilds struggling to recruit. Few of them have much of a community spirit any more, guild chat being mainly dominated by a few individuals.

This situation could be remedied by capping the number of members a guild has. Limiting them to, oh, let's say 50 members, would not only give smaller guilds a fighting chance of recruting new members, but it would encourage people to set up their own guilds, too.

What do you think? Good idea? Bad idea?

The last FFXIV guild I was in had over a thousand members. That was grim...


8:55am on Thursday, 22nd July, 2021:



Recently, because I've been doing some consultancy for a company, they sent me a hoodie. It's a really good hoodie, as it happens, but there's one thing about it that I find disconcerting.

Here are photos of the zips on all my jackets that have zips (excluding the orange hoodie that's hanging in my office at university):

As you can see, all of them have the zip on the left (as you wear it; the right as you look at it), except for the one in the lower right-hand corner. That's the new hoodie. For that one, the zip is on the right and the bar you slot into it is on the left.

I don't know if this is some kind of male/female, Europe/USA, non-hoodie/hoodie thing or what, but it unnerves me every time I put it on. Zips shouldn't work like that!


1:19pm on Wednesday, 21st July, 2021:

Goodall 1893


I bought some more playing cards for my collection!

These are by Charles Goodall, dated 1893. They're the "historical" deck, so each suit represents an English royal house (clubs are Plantagenet, diamonds are Tudor, hearts are Stuart, spades are Hanoverian). They're classed as luxury by Goodall, so are quite expensive: two shillings for a normal pack, but half a crown for ones with gilt edges (which mine do). Two and six in 1893 is about ten pounds in today's money.

The deck cost me less than ten pounds, which is nice but may be explained by the fact that it has no box, smells of smoke and someone has written the word "MONK" on the Ace of Spades.


1:55pm on Tuesday, 20th July, 2021:



My last read-through of my young adult fiction novel revealed no show-stopping errors and relatively few minor improvement ideas, which would ordinarily mean that I'd be done with it and could release it into the wild. However...

My post about putting "the" in front of French road/boulevard/bridge/roundabout/arcade/palace names resulted in a full explanation from former MUD2 arch-wiz Henry Mueller regarding when to use them and when not to, and also when to capitaluse rue/boulevard/pont/rond-pont/gallerie/palais (basically, only at the start of a sentence). This led to so many changes that I'm going to have to re-read everything through once more in case I find some other example of French street names that I've missed.

I am somewhat regretting my decision to make the book longer in response to pacing problems, rather than shorter.


10:25am on Monday, 19th July, 2021:



Because we were away at the weekend, we didn't order our usual weekly shopping delivery. This meant that today I actually had to go to Sainsbury's in person.

Today is officially "Freedom Day" in England, when most of the restrictions due to COVID-19 disappear. I was therefore curious to see how shoppers would behave.

The vast majority seemed, like me, to regard "Freedom Day" as short for for "Freedom to Catch COVID-19 Day", and were wearing face masks. There were four categories of people who weren't wearing masks, though:

The shop workers were a surprise, but that may be because a disproportionate number of them are in their early 20s (and therefore believe themselves impervious to all danger). There may be some thick ones, though, as evidenced by a conversation between two of them that I overheard. It seemed that one of their colleagues had been called in to work, so had showed up to clock on as requested, but had cautioned "You do know I've tested positive for COVID, don't you?".

I'm hoping the virus she brough with her hasn't spread as quickly as the news that she'd brought the virus with her.


4:15pm on Sunday, 18th July, 2021:

No More Field


As I was in my home town, I went to look at the field I mentioned last month to see how it was these days.

Hmm. So, it's not the wasteland it was 50 years ago. There are houses everywhere and gardens stretching down almost all the way to the stream dyke. I had to take this photograph by holding my camera above a fence that now runs alongside the viaduct.

The fence isn't pretty, but someone has planted marigolds along its length and those are pretty.

As for what the field used to look like, well a piece of land the other side of the Stream Dyke that used to be nicely mowed has now been left to run wild, and presents a reasonable approximation.

I expect this will be the new field for those children of today whose parents allow them to be children.


8:04am on Saturday, 17th July, 2021:

No Memory


When we got our new bed a while back, it didn't come with enough casters. For several weeks, I slept with only two casters on my side instead of three. Even though the difference was slight, it nevertheless had a slope. I'd wake up close to the edge, if not actually on it.

The bed has a memory foam mattress. When we managed to get the casters we needed, the bed levelled up but the slope remained. As a result, I almost invariably wake up close to the edge, if not actually on it.

Here at my dad's, the mattress is normal and the casters are fine. This morning I woke up in the middle of my side of the bed, just how beds are supposed to work.

I'm hoping memory foam becomes forgetful once it gets older.


4:50pm on Friday, 16th July, 2021:



We've gone up to Yorkshire for the weekend to see my dad. Last time I saw him I was in my 50s, and now I'm 61.

Before coming up, we took Covid-19 lateral flow tests (which we passed, but we knew we would because we'd been revising).

Pro tip for actors who want to cry out of one eye: stick a lateral flow stick up the nostril below the eye you want to cry from. It worked for me.


8:40am on Thursday, 15th July, 2021:



I think we should declare 14th July to be "role-playing game day", like they do in France.

Those flags were everywhere there yesterday.


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