The everyday blog of Richard Bartle.

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11:45am on Tuesday, 3rd May, 2016:



The headlines in the Kuala Lumpur Star are so much more entertaining than in the Essex County Standard.


10:27am on Monday, 2nd May, 2016:



The view from the hotel isn't so great when it rains.

The lightning flashes from the associated thunderstorm were averaging one every four seconds. Quite impressive stuff!


4:46am on Monday, 2nd May, 2016:



Very long-term QBlog readers will remember that I occasionally come across some weird shampoo and soap fragrances in hotels on my travels. This one has peppermint shampoo, cilantro conditioner and rum soap. I particularly wasn't expecting rum anything in a predominantly Muslim country, but it would be a foolishly desperate individual who tried to drink it.

I don't know where I am except that I'm a 5-minute walk from where I'm going tomorrow. I don't know where that is, either. I do know I'm 30 floors up in a very swanky 3-room hotel suite containing a TV screen big enough to play ping pong on.

Here's the view from the balcony:

I wonder how far I could get a paper aeroplane to fly from here?


10:04am on Sunday, 1st May, 2016:

Away! Again!


So here I am at Heathrow. It seems only a couple of days since I was last here. How time flies.

This time, I'm going to Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia, a country I've never visited before. I could have gone when I used to visit Singapore in the 1990s, but the 4-hour queue to cross the border always put me off.

I've just received two texts from the people I'm visiting. One was asking me where I am because the guy picking me up at the airport can't find me, and the other was saying oops, wrong day, see you tomorrow. I feel bad for the driver, but from my point of view I'm glad he came a day early than a day late.

Although I'm flying economy, I seem to have been allocated a seat on the upper deck of the jumbo. That ought to make it easier to get on without having to wait for people to argue over seats and take all the overhead luggage slots. Then again, it's closer to space so I get more cosmic ray damage.

Oh, and by the way, Heathrow Terminal 4, if you're going to have a short-term parking facility, you might consider putting up a few more road signs so users might be able to find it.


5:56pm on Saturday, 30th April, 2016:



It's good to be back in the UK, albeit for only one day before I head off again. I get to see questions like this in The Guardian:

along with answers like this:

I don't know much about nature, but I'm pretty sure badgers aren't cloven-hooved.

Maybe it's a devil badger?


4:08pm on Friday, 29th April, 2016:



I don't care about the odd angle, the fact that most of the landmarks are covered in scaffolding, or the crane straddling the bottom of the picture. I climbed 303 steps to bring you this photo, so you're getting it whether you want it or not.


10:30pm on Thursday, 28th April, 2016:



Woohoo! Loot!


8:28pm on Wednesday, 27th April, 2016:



It's not every day I get a note telling me I'm cute!

Ignore the printed words at the top of the paper. The printed words at the top of the paper are unimportant.


9:45am on Tuesday, 26th April, 2016:



Here's my impression of a button:

Moral: don't go to sleep on a train with yout arms folded while wearing an overcoat.


5:18pm on Monday, 25th April, 2016:



I'm off to Munich tomorrow, returning on Friday. I'm giving two talks and a workshop, plus attending a PhD supervisory meeting, but I do have some free time to look around the city (I've never been there before).

I guess this would explain why the weather forecast for Munich is predicting snow on Wednesday.


11:53am on Sunday, 24th April, 2016:



It's my wife's birthday today. She's the same age she was last year.

I had a hard time getting her a card. There seems to be a trend these days for cards that say "To my beautiful wife" or "To my gorgeous wife" or "To my lovely wife", as if I might want to make a distinction between this particular wife and my wives who aren't beautiful or gorgeous or lovely.

In the past, they all used to say "To my darling wife".

I just got her a non-wife card with a Dalek on it.


9:30pm on Saturday, 23rd April, 2016:



I've been doing some genealogy over the weekend.


So it goes me, my dad, his dad George Bartle, his mother Laura Cooke, her father Edward Cooke, his mother Caroline Haviland, her father Richard Haviland, his father Samuel Haviland.

I was disappointed to learn that Samuel Haviland was the base-born son of Jane Haviland. There are base-born people in my wife's family tree, but this is the first one I've found in mine.

There are three possible candidates for the Jane Haviland who is Samuel's mother. It gets complicated here.

Jane #1 is the daughter of Richard and Susanna Haviland. Jane #2 is the daughter of Francis and Mary Haviland. Jane#3 is the daughter of John and Mary Haviland. Let's call Jane #3's father John#1.

Jane #1 and Jane #2 are cousins. They both descend from John and Jane Haviland. Let's call their grandfather John #2.

John #1 descends either from John and Susanna Haviland or from John and Elizabeth Haviland. Let's call these John #3 and John #4.

John #3 is an uncle of Jane #1 and Jane #2 and his father is John #2.

John #4 descends either from Richard and Ann Haviland or John and Sarah Haviland. The same is true of John #2. Let's call this John John #5.

So, John #5 is the son of yet another John who is the brother of Richard. Both are sons of William and Katherine Haviland. William is a son of John and Allice Haviland.

The upshot is, I know I'm descended from this John Haviland — I just don't know the exact route.

So, this it turns out that this John Haviland isn't just a regular villager. He's the Rev. John Haviland, the local rector. His genealogy is fairly well documented.

The Rev. John Haviland is the son of Matthew De Havelland, the son of William De Havelland, the son of James De Havellande, the son of James De Haveilland who was the mayor of Poole in Dorset in 1494. He in turn is the son of Thomas De Haveilland, a jurat (magistrate) in Guernsey who was knighted for recapturing the castle in Jersey from the French in 1457. Thomas's father was probably one William De Haveilland, but that's where the trail runs cold. There are other figures bearing the name further back (Robert, Baron De Haviland in 1130) but the links in the chain are missing.

So through finding I'm descended from a base-born Samuel Haviland, I now know I'm descended from Channel Island aristocracy.

OK, so it's well over 20 generations ago, but still...


7:32pm on Friday, 22nd April, 2016:



I spent the day marking final-year project reports. 10% of the marks are for "writing quality" and 20% of the students have a "specific learning disability" notice saying I shouldn't mark down for poor writing quality.

I'm going to have to read the marking guidelines to see what happens here...


5:53pm on Thursday, 21st April, 2016:

A Little Unfair


The reports of the death of Victoria Wood on TV and the radio this morning kept referring to her as being one of Britain's "best female comedians". While this is true, I think it's a little unfair.

I remember around 15 or 20 years ago there was a survey done of comedy promoters to find out which acts they would most like to book. It was discovered that there were only three comedians whom promoters felt could fill any venue anywhere in the country: Ken Dodd, Eddie Izzard and Victoria Wood.

Victoria Wood was indeed one of Britain's best female comedians, but she was one of Britain's best comedians full stop.


4:13pm on Wednesday, 20th April, 2016:

Beep ... Beep ... Beep


I was waiting in the foyer today to pick up would-be students for interview. The reason I was waiting was that the initial talk overran and it threw the whole schedule out. This meant I had to spend ten minutes listening to the constant beep ... beep ... beep of the fire warning alert.

This beep is intensely annoying, but of course it's designed that way to attract attention. Unfortunately, it gets none. There's a sophisticated fire alert system installed, and here's what it says on the display:

So there's a panic alarm going off in the Careers Centre on level 4 (which is "ground" level) of what is officially designated the mathematics department.

Yes, there is. This is because the people in the Careers Centre have opened a door which is alarmed. They don't hear the constant beeping, but anyone entering Computer Science is subjected to it. They're not panicked, they just opened a door they wanted to be open that isn't supposed to be opened except in emergencies.

To turn off the alarm, the security officers have to reset the system. That means there's no fire alarm coverage, so they have to evacuate the whole building while they do it. Last time they did it, we lasted beep-free for almost a whole day before someone in the Careers Centre opened the emergency door again because they wanted to get out onto square 2 without having to walk ten paces to the door they should be using.

This always happens. I'm pretty sure that Security has given up in despair.

Meanwhile, if there were an actual fire and someone opened an emergency door in an actual emergency, no-one would notice because we're all so used to the damned beeping that we'd think it was just the Careers Centre beep that's been beeping ceaselessly for the past three months.


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Copyright © 2016 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).