Monthly Archives: August 2011

Whose account? TalkTalk gets confused

It’s that time of month when, instead of emailing me my phone bill, TalkTalk emails me to say that my phone bill is ready and would I please come to their crappy web-site and log in and download it.  (I’ve written to them to complain about this.  Would you be very shocked it I told you that they never replied?)

Today, the login took a bit longer than usual, which have me time to spot this piece of brain-damage on the pointless interstitial page:

Too perplexed by the whole “Your Account” / “My Account” thing, TalkTalk have clearly just thrown up their hands and decided to throw in all the possessive adjectives they can think of.  “Your My Account” indeed!


Let’s Kill Hitler (Doctor Who series 6, episode 8)

[A revised and improved version of this essay appears in my book The Eleventh Doctor: a critical ramble through Matt Smith’s tenure in Doctor Who.]

Oh, I have been looking forward to this for so long …  The title alone had me salivating: the juxtaposition of the causal “Let’s” with the history-changing “Kill Hitler” is pure Who, capturing in three words the programme’s unique blend of the light-hearted and the profound.  Only Doctor Who can switch between the two so constantly, seamlessly and effortlessly.

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Folk music: Chloe and Silas hit it out of the park

My quest for what I’ve been calling folk music but might more accurately be described as “singer-songwriter” music got a big boost last Sunday night.  I went again to the Forest Folk Club, less than ten miles from where I live, and where I played my own first tiny set a couple of week previously.  The evening’s main act was Chloe and Silas, and they were superb.

Exactly what I’d been looking for.

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Oh, Lord Vader!

Thank you, thank you very much!  Don’t forget to tip your waitress!

One million hits

Some time the last half-hour, this blog passed the milestone of one million hits.  I’d like thank all of you who’ve visited in the last eighteen months and made it possible.

A much more important milestone is coming up soon — 5000 comments.  (We have 4913 so far.)  Amazingly, I don’t recall having had to delete a single one, with the exception of a few transparently obvious spams.  No-one has been abusive or offensive or just horribly stupid.  The quality of discussion here is fantastic, and I’ll always be grateful for the community that’s accumulated despite my terrible lack of focus on any one subject.

Again — thanks to you all!

Building a model railway, part 2: track and hills

Last time I covered how we planned the layout of the new railway.  I made the last step look rather easy: having got the broad-brush of the layout right, it still took a lot of tweaking with different radius curves, putting in and taking out short straights, before we got the various elements to sit sufficiently straight and parallel without too much strain on the connectors.  But once that was finally done, the next step was to glue down the parts of the track that were to be at ground level, and weight them with heavy books until the glue dried:

(This picture and the next are taken from the “east”.)

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British folk music update

Last month, I asked for recommendations of modern British folk singers, because I find that so much of what I listen to (Dar Williams, Richard Shindell, Paul Simon, Joni Mitchell) is American.  [And, yes, I know that Joni is Canadian; the point is, that’s not British, and I am.]

I wanted those recommendations in part because I am starting out as a minor-league folk singer myself, and I’d like to find more songs to sing that are a better match for my own situation in life, rather than — for example — songs about long-distance truckers driving through the night in the American mid-west.

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Building a model railway, part 1: planning the layout

Last time I showed you our old model railway.  In designing the new one, we had several constraints to honour.

First, we needed to be able to physically fit the new railway into available space.  The old one is 135 by 95 cm, and by pure coincidence it turns out that the space we want to put the new one into is the same size, plus maybe one or two cm in each direction.  So we made the new one exactly the same size as the old.  Here’s a sketch that I made of the old layout:

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Building a model railway, part 0: our old railway

As I write this, we’re on our all-too-brief summer holiday.  (This year I only get a week with the family, as I have two palaeontology conferences later this year that eat up too much of my annual leave.)  We’re taking the time at home this year, to avoid all the packing-and-travel hassle, and spending part of the time building a model railway.

Here’s one we made earlier:

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A Good Man Goes to War (Doctor Who series 6, episode 7)

[A revised and improved version of this essay appears in my book The Eleventh Doctor: a critical ramble through Matt Smith’s tenure in Doctor Who.]

It’s been just over two months since the first time I watched A Good Man Goes to War, the finale of the first half of Doctor Who, Series 6.  At the time, I wasn’t quite sure what I made of it, so I didn’t write my review straight away, wanting to give it time to sink in, and also planning to watch it a second time.  Now, with the second half of the series scheduled to start in less than three weeks, the time has come for the reassessment.

So I watched it again tonight, and the verdict is in.

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