Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Conkers in Brixton

Nothing much to say. Here's some pictures of conkers in Brockwell Park. The tree-stump was nearly covered when I arrived, so I helped out and took pictures. We tried different arrangements...

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

London Cycling

I love cycling in London - how about a cycling blog? Oh yes, there are plenty of cycling blogs.

What do I like? Getting places quickly, parking easily, having something to talk about and feeling smug and superior. I learned from Richard's Bicycle Book in my youth how good it is to have a vehicle you can build, repair and power all by yourself.

There's a lot of cyclists on the road now - I went into town in the rush hour yesterday and was drawn along in a peletton. Cycled back after a breakfast meeting at Claridges to write a story (eBay bought Skype?), then back to town for meetings in the City (with iAnywhere - part of Sybase) and in Kensington (with Netgear to see their toaster like SAN). Then on, via a huge Subway sandwicth, to dance the Morris outside pubs in Fitzrovia (that's near Russel Square.

Some good dancing (England beat Australia today at cricket, so there's an appetite for English men in white, especially as we adpated some dances to irritate Australians). A couple of pints and a tired cycle back home to Brixton.

I couldn't have done that day as easily, or got as much exercise, any other way.

I'm not interested in bikes - I've a rattling ten-speed.
I'm not even very interested in cycling - I'm average speed.

But cycling is kind of central to what I do.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Gardening is Good

What could be better after a Sunday morning in church, than a Sunday afternoon doing things in the garden?

The wisteria is cut back, and a bit more of the garden is dug and weeded. It'll all be lovely, eventually.

Our house is weird because there's about three times as much garden in front as there is in the back. We've put a bike shed in the front, and a bit of lawn at the back.

It does mean that if we actually do any gardening, we end up outside the front of the house a lot - and that's good for meeting neighbours.

So, gardening: good exercise, mystical in the way it connects you to the earth and all that. And, in our house, it makes us sociable.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

I owe it all to Cats in Sinks

Everyone else has been talking about Cats in Sinks. I'll just mention here that, ths blog exists because of Cats in Sinks.

When I visited last week, I wanted to send them this picture. of Mackerel (it must be one of the last pictures of her with four legs - I can't imagine a three-legged cat jumping into this sink!). The only way to contact the site was with a response form. I needed to post this picture somewhere, so I had an URL to put in the response form.

So I start a blog, get the pic ready, and when I go back there today, they've added a feature to upload files. They've had 1700 pictures (watch the site and see if Mack appears!).

So this whole blog is a wasted effort.

Umm, even more than it obviously is....

Relativity over breakfast

I think Ben Goldacre's Bad Science column in the Guardian, sometime gets a bit lost in itself, but he's done a good summary of how media science works. We journalists misrepresent it, and then shoot at the misunderstanding. And no-one ever tries to understand it.

I read that this morning, after I'd tried explaining relativity to my daughter Kitty over breakfast.

Well, Rachel and Hannah leave earlier for secondary school, so that leaves just Kitty from 7.30 to 8.45 (plenty of time to explain relativity, I'm sure you'd agree). And she's eight, so it should be no problem!

She started it: "I'm glad I don't move too fast. Because then I'd go back in time," she said.

We'd just read her the limerick

There was a young lady named Bright
Who travelled much faster than light
She started one day
In a relative way
And came back the previous night.

Not only that, but she had other evidence: "It said so on Jackie Chan," she said.

"But do you know why time goes backwards if you go faster than light?" I asked. "It's all to do with Relativity."

"Oh no, not your science stuff. I want a hot chocolate."

"Here's the deal, you get the hot chocolate after I've told you about Relativity."

So I started in: "If you were on a train going at ten miles an hour, and started walking at ten miles an hour, how fast would you look to a person by the track?"

Speeds add up, we agreed, and then I told her that light doesn't work like that. "If you shine a torch forward, it takes a three-hundred millionth of a second to move a meter, no matter where you look from," So if the train is going at the speed of light, and you're looking from the track, you see light that can't leave the torch at all - even though the person in the track sees it leaving the torch, and going at 300 million metres per second.

That, more or less is the experimental reality - found out in the Michelson-Morley experiments.

And there's only one way to make both those viewpoints true: make time different - and make it depend on how fast you are going. So if the train is going at the speed of light, time stops (And sure, if it was possible to go faster than light, it would go backwards - stands to reason).

She listened, got her hot chocolate, and went off to school, promising not to go faster than light.

And later that day, I'm wishing I could break light speed. After the amount of time I've wasted today (trying to make a Windows 2000 boot disk for a friend if you want to know), I'd like to go back in time. Going back and doing more work would be useful.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Goodbye summer?

A beautiful morning, but we know summer's on the way out.

Not too many more days of sandals.

Tai Chi in the park, and then a swim at the Lido. I love the Lido - it's an oasis of community in South London. Gets a bit hectic on a hot afternoon, but on a bright morning, it's beautiful.

All the usual people are there, swimming peacefully up and down in the sunshine, discussing their lives. A Peer of the Ream, a beatific grey haired lady with a gap-toothed grin. One woman dives in to join two friends: "I'm only doing two lengths." "Me too, then."

The paint in the changing rooms is peeling, toward the end of the season.

There's two extra weeks on the summer season, but it closes the Friday after next.

Next year, the Lido changes management, it will be run by Fusion, a group that runs other health venues in South London.

There's a User group, BLU, which has a meeting on Saturday 10 September at the Lido. What other AGM gives you coffee and cake first, and a swim afterwards...?

Monday, September 05, 2005

It starts here

The children are back at school (tomorrow), my wife is back at work. Things are happening, and it's time to start blogging.