Must try harder

I’m not sure why, but today I remembered that I found out about Microsoft’s decision to underline mis-spelt words in the New Varsity pub just off the Warwick University campus in the Summer of 1995. I was told by Amanda’s fiancé. I was shocked.

I still see it as an affront, an insult to my albeit limited intelligence, an unnecessary return to school days, a similarly unnecessary ridicule of me, the author, in a world where most underlinings invoked by my installation of Word are caused by an incorrect setting of the language (usually CY: Welsh or US: American English). I still have no idea how the language is set.

Quote quote unquote unquote

I’ve always been thrown by the whole quote unquote thing. Not the fact that people are quoting other people—that’s fine. But the fact that their closing quotation marks are always said before the quote itself. So how much of the ensuing wisdom was actually quoted? Does it ever end? Surely it would be more sensible to follow the written standard by de-quoting the quote at its conclusion rather than before it’s started. Quote, it’s just an idea, unquote.


We often have subtitles on our TV. It helps, particularly if the TV is on low. On tonight’s prelude to the Brits on ITV, the following lyrics flashed upon our screen when some lady performed a rendition of Whitney’s Count on Me.

You can c*nt on me through thick and thin…

UK TV’s subtitling on the whole is impressive, but for some of the more up-to-date programming (news, award shows etc.), it seems some automated tools kick in that are far from perfect. Sometimes its results are amusing to read.

BlackBerry lights

Not only does the BlackBerry sport the brightest light in the solar system with the sole exception of the Sun (this fact is yet to be proven but I’m confident of its outcome), its choice of light colours is open to confusion.

As for the former, unconfirmed fact, the green light that flashes when the BlackBerry is bereft of new mail is capable of blinding small children from 50 paces and severely compromising the sight of their parents. Particularly at night. If left face up on the bedside table, the night-time experience is much like having a 747, nay an Airbus A380 (depending on the width of your bed), land in your bedroom, such is the luminosity of its flash. Well, one wing of which at the very least. Unless you and your partner both have BlackBerrys (for that is the plural), in which case I assume it’s like the entire two-winged plane coming in to land, your bed being the start of the runway. You’d have to turn them on at exactly the same time of course, to synchronise their incessant flashing.

In terms of the colour confusion, it’s only when you look away. If you see the BlackBerry flashing out of the corner of your eye, a green flash (no mail) can often be mistaken for a red flash (you got mail). When I say you, I actually mean I, for I’ve not validated this experience with anyone else. I assume it’s something to do with the whole red/green colourblindness thing, not that I am colourblind. It’s just when it’s right at the edge of my range of vision.

Duralex numbers

Among other things, my brother bought us six Duralex Picardie drinking glasses for Christmas which we were given today, not having managed to meet over Christmas. One of them had a chip on the rim (despite their spiel marketing them as chip-resistant), so we left them for him to exchange.

I have no idea why, but I completely forgot to look on the base of the glass that I adoringly inspected for the circled number that identifies each one. He’s since confirmed by text that the glasses do indeed sport the numbers, which makes me yet more giddy about the present.

For those unaware, Duralex glasses were used to hold the water that accompanied my infant and primary school dinners. I have fond memories of them, and always checked the base of the glass to see which number I’d been given that day.

Lies, damned lies etc.

The BBC yesterday reported the Tories’ claim that the number of children in schools of more than 2,000 pupils has trebled in the last ten years, the Tories linking such schools to discipline problems.

It’s certainly a headline grabber, but the truth behind it is unlikely to be as significant as the headline suggests.

Having an arbitrary cut-off of 2,000 pupils defining a large school is dangerously powerful. There were 12,650 such pupils in 1997, rising to 47,540 in 2007. Such an increase could be explained by 18 schools each increasing their register by two pupils, from 1,999 to 2,001 pupils. It’s doubtful that this extreme scenario is indeed what has happened, but the reality is also unlikely to be as momentous as the highlighted statistics suggest.

The injustice of volumes

Yesterday, I pumped up an exercise ball that I bought my wife for Christmas. Much like leaf-sucking, it’s a thankless, seemingly endless task.

The ball pumps to 75cm in diameter, a step up from the 65cm ball we had previously. (I can only measure progress by wrapping something around the ball and dividing that length by two pi. I’m figuring that it would be easier if they’d printed two dots on the ball that would be 10cm apart when the ball was pumped to the right size.)

I’m using the 15cm-long hand-pump that came with the ball. I figured that to exercise the mind while pumping, I’d work out the amount of extra air the 75cm ball would need over the 65cm ball. It turns out that the extra 10cm (15%) of diameter increases the volume by 53%. And when I’d reached a diameter of 60cm (80%), I was only half way through the pumping. Seems unjust.


In December, I received eleven marketing emails from and twelve from A total of 23 in 31 days.

Surely this transcends the line from marketing to spam, no?

The best of 2007

My friend Rob posted his best bits of 2007, kindly crediting this blog as the best other blog. I started putting values against the same list of attributes, but the first three centred around my daughter, so I refrained from continuing for the sake of my audience’s respective (needed?) stomachs’ contents. Instead, I compiled what I consider to be my favourite nine posts of 2007. Here they are in no apparent order:

Roll on, 2008.

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