Category Archives: Challenges

Why does my knee hurt? Someone must know

Five years ago, when I was at the 2010 SVPCA meeting in Cambridge, my knees were very painful. Walking was a trial, and going up and down the steps to the accommodation was pretty awful. I had no idea why my knees had started hurting, and neither did the doctor who I consulted. I also have no idea why they stopped hurting a little later. This whole episode makes no sense, given my generally good health.

sushi1a

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It’s impossible to melt a Cadbury Flake

I discovered by accident that it’s impossible to melt a Cadbury Flake — our son needed to melt some chocolate for school-related reasons at short notice, and the Flake was the only chocolate we had in the house. Although it tastes identical to other Cadbury’s chocolate, it simply will not melt, instead breaking down into a coarse chocolate powder.

Cadbury-Flake-Wrapper-Small

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How to write a song (as told by someone who’s never written a song)

As long-time readers will know, I’ve been singing folk songs in pubs and clubs for a couple of years now. It’s great fun, and I highly recommend it: anyone who can strum a couple of chords and hold a tune really ought to look up what folk clubs are in their area and give it it a go.

But although I’ve built up a repertoire of more than fifty songs now, they’re all covers. (11 Beatles songs, if anyone’s interested; five Dar Williams, three Paul Simon, two traditional, two each by Richard Shindell, Joni Mitchell, Frank Sinatra, Deep Purple and Crosby, Stills and Nash. All the rest are singletons.)

So my dirty little secret is that I’ve never written a song of my own. And in fact, on reviewing what I’ve written on here before about music, I see at least three different occasions when I’ve lamented this.

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How to run 5 km (aging, overweight people edition)

[A quick break from the Heavy Metal Timeline series. We’ll get right back to that after this announcement.]

I am no kind of athlete. Even as a kid, I was a slow runner. I loved football, but I was never a good player. Humiliatingly, I could never think quickly on the pitch, to spot the pass others miss — the one thing I might legitimately have expected to be good at.

MrMen-MrSlowwonderwixi

And now I’m 46 years old, I weigh 104 kg, I have a BMI of 31.3 which makes me clinically obese, and my job is the most sedentary imaginable: I walk the five meters from my bed to my desk every morning and spend all day sitting in front of a computer.

That means that if I can run 5 km, so can you!

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The future of librarianship

I just had this discussion with my Index Data colleagues, and though the conclusion was worth writing up here. My boss, Sebastian Hammer, asked “So what is librarianship about in the 201Xs ?”

I gave three answers: one smart-alec, one practical, and one philosophical.

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Captcha gone crazy

I absolutely loathe Capchas, those stupid type-in-the-distorted-word puzzles that so many blogs challenge you with before they deign to accept your comment. My feeling is that if the site owner feels that strongly about keeping me out, then they can just manage without my wit and wisdom, thank you.

But this one, which I was challenged with just now, really took the cake:

Not acceptable, world!

Help the USA into the 21st century (even if you’re not American)

[This is cross-posted from my other blog, Sauropod Vertebra Picture of the Week. I never cross-post: this is, as far as I remember, literally the first time I have done it. But this issue is so important and so urgent that I am making an exception. Please, please: sign the petition, upvote the Reddit and Hacker News submissions, blog about it, tweet about it, tell your friends.]

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Good news! If you want to read research that was funded by the U.S. National Instututes of Health (NIH), you can. Their public access policy means that papers published on their dime become universally accessible in PubMed Central.

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