Bus number

Is there an integer that is the unique representation of n other integers, where n is greater than or equal to 1? I guess the answer is no. If the criterion is narrowed to a number rather than an integer, would it become possible? Don’t ask why—even I’ve forgotten why, genuinely—but I’m trying to represent sequential bus journeys in a single number. In this scenario, it could be obtained by merely stringing together three-digit strings, left-padding with zeros where necessary, given that London bus numbers are always three digits or less. And these would even be comma-separated, such is our penchant for separating numbers into three-digit chunks. But what if they weren’t?

Separated at birth: Justin Webb & Giles Brandreth

Seeing Justin Webb on tonight’s BBC news reporting on the ongoing Obama/Clinton saga, I could have sworn it was Giles Brandreth.

Amazon UK Schmamazon UK

Amazon UK has recently undergone a make-over. And it’s rubbish

First of all, it’s not logical. When not signed in, it suggests that I sign in, but I have to hunt high and low (and right) to find the link to do so. Once I’m signed in, it now says “Hello Mr..”, the first period probably representing the abbreviation of Mister, the latter being the end of the sentence, having been unable to display my surname. I conduct a search and am presented my results. I’m informed that it’s “Showing Top Results”, but I don’t know what “Top” means. Furthermore, I’m no longer given an option for re-sorting the results, until that is I select a category within which to filter my results; only then can I change the default relevance sort to bestselling, price or average customer review.

And finally (for now at least), its overall feel suggests it’s brought to me by Littlewoods or Argos. I don’t mean any disrespect to either of these brands, but they’re not brands I associate with a slick, professional web presence. All in all, well, it’s just rubbish.


Among others, I have two identical shirts. One has a slightly dodgy button on the left sleeve, you know, that button that closes the gap between the cuff and the mid-forearm.

The other morning, I stood at my wardrobe having decided to go with the pale-blue, double-cuffed shirt. I selected one of the two on offer, but then chose the other one, deciding that the day’s events were sufficiently important to warrant an unblemished cuff-button.

The morning’s drizzle also required a raincoat to be donned.

That evening, while running for an 87 bus having popped to Robert Dyas after work, the shirt caught on a shard of metal on a lamppost on Whitehall, tearing the sleeve to the point that the shirt now resides in the bin. Half an hour beforehand, I’d paused outside work wondering whether or not to go back in for the raincoat, deciding against it given the balminess of the evening.

My question is this: if I’d selected the dodgy-buttoned shirt twelve hours earlier, or if I’d popped back in for the raincoat, would the shirt now be in the bin? Or would I still be the owner of a twin set of shirts? To what extent do tiny decisions in life affect things downstream?

On a much grander scale, if I’d not managed to achieve the B-B-E A-level grades that Newcastle-upon-Tyne, my university of choice, was demanding of me, I would have instead gone to Swansea University, would not have been able to choose a rather niche third-year module that Newcastle had to offer, would not have gone on to study for a Masters in that very subject at Warwick, would not have joined the first company I worked for (for they specifically targeted the Warwick course), and I would never have met my wife who worked for that very company.

For the record, I no longer own any identical shirts.

Sorry little lady

This evening, I shut the fridge door just as my daughter lunged for it, her slipping on the tile floor in the process. She hit her head on the corner of the fridge handle, and I’ve never felt as bad, as she wailed with the shock and pain. I’m so sorry, little lady. X

Bupa 10,000: some more stats

Bupa has published the unofficial results from today’s race. Here’s how I fared.

Overall, I came 511th out of 6,079 (8.4%), I was the 468th male out of 3,266 (14.3%) and came 86th out of 1,135 (7.6%) in my 30-34 age group. (That means 43 women beat me, btw.) My official time was 45m 39s, with 5km splits of 22m 32s and 23m 7s respectively, making my second half 2.6% slower than the first. I certainly felt that.

Run 13: the Bupa 10,000

This morning marked the culmination of the rather lacklustre training of the last few weeks. This morning was the Bupa 10,000.

And my was it wet? It rained solidly for the vast majority of last night, hard rain that continued up to and throughout the race. My trainers and socks were soaked through, long before the race even started.

I headed to the start line quite early, and being in the first wave I was three rows from the very front of the amateurs, watching the pros and celebs warming up just in front. (The only two I recognised were Liz Yelling and the chubby guy that Jack and Vera looked after for a while on Corrie.)

The occasion got the better of me, as I completed the first km in a stupidly fast (for me at least) 4m 13s. I then settled down to a more reasonable pace of around 4m 30s per km as we headed down the Embankment, urged on by the throngs of spectators, their enthusiasm not dampened by the weather. I completely missed seeing the 4km and 6km time checks, but passed the halfway point at 22m 35s. Then the homeward leg, across the slippery cobbles of Leadenhall Market before passing St. Paul’s Cathedral as it chimed for 10:30am. Then on to the Embankment again. I was starting to slow just before 8km, but was picked up (not literally) by a guy running for the Children’s Charity (huge thank you!), and we spurred each other on (he did most of the spurring) until he dropped me (again, not literally) with a hand-slap at 9km. Then a steady last km, neither the 400m nor 200m to go markers instilling any form of energy burst from me.

The skies were noticably clearing as we walked up past Buckingham Palace to collect our bags and twelve-packs of Raspberry Lucozade Sport, a little late for my liking.

My time: 45m 40s. Better than I’d expected given both my inadequate training and the lousy conditions. And I was home and the rain had stopped by 11.45am. Overall: happy and wet. Roll on next year!

Times are a-changin’

My running times are always based on the London-time analogue clock in our living room. (To its left is an identical clock running five hours behind to remind us of New York. That said, we bought it (in New York) long before moving to New York, a sign that we wanted to move there. On leaving the house for a run, I check the time (including seconds) and do the same on my return. There is a very small chance that during the intervening time, my wife plays wih my mind by advancing/turning back the clocks. We’ll see Monday whether I’m actually a sub-30 runner, or whether I’m an hour plus.

Posh and Becks

There are two posh schoolboys on the bus conducting a post-match analysis of last night’s Champions’ League win for Man. Utd. over Chelsea. Forgive me, but I just can’t take anything they say on this subject in any way seriously.

Immigration: in is bad; out is fine

The headline on the front of today’s Daily Express reads:

Immigration soars to record levels.

…with a sub-heading of:

It’s no wonder so many Britons have moved abroad.

It’s interesting to note their stance that inbound immigration is unacceptable, while outbound immigration is understandable.

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