June 30th, 2003


C# update

I skipped over control structures and Boolean logic (which I'd covered 6 times before leaving University, in Maths, Physics, Philosophy and Computing (at least 3 times)) and went straight on to Exceptions, which I'd not encountered before. Suddenly I was taking in new things and *pow* I'm enjoying myself again.

I've now covered "Overloading Constructors" and am on to "static Methods and Data" which I've not seen anything like before. I'll take this one to bed with me, I think..

Night all.

Off Work

Sitting at home today, waiting for the plumber to arrive. We're finally getting our bathroom installed, which will get it out of our living room.

When he turns up I'm then going to (after making him tea) head dow to B&Q and pick up tiles so that when the bath has been removed we'll be able to tile all the way down to the floor. The shower unit will then go in to that corner.

The toilet and basin are both being changed too, and we're assuming that they'll both be fairly quick, as otherwise we'll be toiletless for a while :->

I'm only taking today off, and we're trusting them with a key tomorrow/Wednesday as we simply don't have the holiday time.

Plumbing update

Plumber arrived half an hour early.

Plumber was given the wrong instructions ("Bathroom Suite being replaced" and so doesn't have any shower tools with him)

So today, apparently, we lose our bath and basin and tiles, and tomorrow we get the new tiles going in.

Realisation number 237 - if you take out a bath and put in a shower, your old carpet is no use at all - we're going to need some new carpet...

Oi, Guy, wanna put your newfound carpet-laying skills to good use? I'll be extraordinarily grateful!

(and no, Hugh, I'm not avoiding asking you, I just know that you're completely run off your feet at the moment and if I take you away from home any more Meredith will forget what you look like.)

Bloody Bureaucracies

So, I moved house recently, and that means sorting out council tax for my new place. they sent me a request for the final 2 months of lastyear, so I knew they knew I lived here, and I waited for the forms to come through telling me how to pay by direct debit for this year. And waited. And forgot about it. And received a demand for all £1059 in a lump sum.

So I phoned them up and explained I'd never had the direct debit letter, and they were very understanding and sent me a direct debit form to fill out, which I did.

And then last Friday I got a letter through telling me they'd be taking £150 out each month for the next 6 months, which was just fine.

And then last Saturday I got a letter with the words "Final Demand" on it for £1059.

So I called them today, spent 10 minutes on hold and discovered that their computer systems are down and that without them they can't tell me anything.

They expect the systems to be back up again by midday...


More fun and games

So, I picked up a load of tiles (going for the slightly more expensive ones, on the grounds that I'll have to stare at them for the next 5 years) and some grouting/sealant, and then phoned for a taxi (tiles being heavy as fuck). When the taxi arrived I got into the taxi and he passed boxes of tiles in to me. At which point my phone range, or rather I realised it had been ringing for at least a 10 seconds. So I continued to accept tiles with one hand (ow), grabbing for my phone with the other.

I just missed the call as the driver passed me the last box and checked my "missed calls" list as we drove off. It wasn't until I was carrying boxes upstairs that I realised I had no grouting. A quick call to the taxi driver ascertained that he didn't have it either.


As it happened, the plumber left me a note telling me he couldn't find the tap, which he'd need first thing tomorrow. So I rang Erin and we remembered that Ikea had always been out of the model we liked. So back to B&Q I went again (grabbing Hugh on the way for company), where I discovered that they'd found and kept my grouting container, bought a tap I could live with (£40 versus the £99 the one I liked was) and brought them all back home again.

Sigh, another hour and a half gone...

Bizarre dreams

I was visiting my parents and they asked me o take a look at something. They were being mysterious, which as my friends will know just makes me more curious. So I set down and the pass me a strange block with word inscribed on it. I turn it over a few times, and realise as I'm doing so that the words are different every time I turn to a new side, no matter how many sides I turn to. Cue strange hallunicogenic effects all around me as part of my brain becomes unlocked.

Something near me (I don't remember what) began to vibrate in place, and I realised that it was doing so under my control. I was able to move things by the power of my mind. The rest of the dream is a blur of strangeness, with me learning that this was a hereditary secret I was let into. I remember at one point I was practicing flying a knife about, lost control and embedded it in Mum. Who laughed, pulled it out and the wound healed by itself.

I woke up with a strange feeling in my brain, and spent a good thirty seconds trying to move things by mind control alone, before giving up and getting a drink with my hands...


Mandarin speakers use more areas of their brains than people who speak English, scientists said on Monday, in a finding that provides new insight into how the brain processes language.

Unlike English speakers, who use one side of their brain to understand the language, scientists at the Wellcome Trust research charity in Britain discovered that both sides of the brain are used to interpret variations in sounds in Mandarin. "We were very surprised to discover that people who speak different sorts of languages use their brains to decode speech in different ways; it overturned some long-held theories," said Dr. Sophie Scott, a psychologist at the charity.

Using brain scans on volunteers, Scott discovered that different areas of the brain are used to interpret words and intonation.

The left temporal lobe of the brain is active when English speakers hear the language but Mandarin speakers use the left and right lobe, which is normally used to process melody in music and speech.

Intonation is important in Mandarin because it gives different meanings to the same word. The word "ma" for example can mean mother, scold, horse or hemp, depending on the tone.

"We think Mandarin speakers interpret intonation and melody in the right temporal lobe to give the correct meaning to the spoken word," Scott said in a statement.

She believes the research could provide insights into what happens when people are forced to re-learn speech comprehension following a stroke.

"It seems that the structure of the language you learn as a child affects how the structure of your brain develops to decode speech. Native English speakers, for example, find it extraordinarily difficult to learn Mandarin," Scott said.

More here