Saturday, 26 December 2009

Newton Day

I spent most of 25 December, Newton Day, appropriately doing some mathematics.

I've put together all my pages of notes on knight's tours to see if I can fit them into a reasonably sized book of around 250 pages. At present it is at around 350 pages, but further selection and editing should get it down to the right size. The pages are formatted to standard A4 size with inch margins, which allows four chessboard diagrams across the page.

The main problem I've had with the whole idea is to get the right balance between History and Theory. I now start with a chapter headed Chessics which introduces the theory, follow this with a chapter on lateral and diagonal movers, i.e. wazir and king tours, and then get to the knight, with more theory and tours by longer leapers and other pieces coming after. I'm not sure I like splitting the Theory section like this, but I do feel I'm making progress.

I had some items on knight's tours back in the first issue of Chessics published in 1976, which is now 33 years ago. I'm rather a slow worker.

Friday, 18 December 2009

In Wintry Mood

This is a photo that echoes the first one that I posted here, on 2 February 2009, of the famous tree opposite my home, with snow on the boughs.

The people in Flat 2, on the ground floor next to mine, moved out a couple of days ago. They hadn't been there for more than six months it seems to me. Why they chose to move I've not found out. A better home for their cats and dog perhaps.

The bin-men seem to have adopted a new method of collecting the rubbish. Instead of wheeling our bins to the dust-cart and emptying them they now seem to take the bags out of our bins and put them in their bin and then empty their bin into the cart. This means that they leave behind any loose unbagged items in the bins. It will probably be up to me to put them in bags to ensure they are collected.

They have left one black bag however that appears to contain human excrement. Not that I've yet looked too closely at it. Why anyone should have put this in the bins I don't understand, nor who has put it out. I suppose it will be up to me to clear this away as well, but I'm not sure how to deal with it; empty it down a drain perhaps? More important to find out who did it and stop it happening again.

All this, and other occurrences, has left me feeling distinctly down this week.

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Zillions of Games

Back in October I obtained a CD from Zillions of Games which I installed on my computer. It enables one to play many different board games.

I've only just got round to making use of it to get back into the swing of playing chess. I was intending to join the Hastings Chess Club, but don't feel that my playing is up to the necessary level. Not that I've ever been much good.

It is possible to download many other games from Zillions. Circular Chess is a variant I particularly like, having played it at the annual championship in Lincoln. Zillions has three realisations of Circular Chess that I have downloaded, and so far have tried one of these. I lost against the computer, but at least the game went to 40 moves.

Friday, 11 December 2009

Recycling, Swimming and Quizzing

On Wednesday. finding I had an accumulation of empty glass jars to dispose of at the recycling point, which is in the car park of the leisure centre, I decided to combine this duty with a swim in the pool.

Despite resolving to go swimming regularly, and it now being free for pensioners like me, I'd not been there for several months. Apart from the bad weather, and sheer laziness, this is because the times one can go swimming and get a clear lane are limited. The only trouble with swimming in the afternoon is that it disturbs the digestion. If I'm going to swim regularly at that time I need to organise my meals to suit.

On Thursday evening I ran a quiz for the Hastings Humanists. Most of the questions were based on a similar quiz I held a few years ago in Leicester. Although I thought many of the questions were quite easy the scoring achieved was only around 1 in 4 or 1 in 5 correct on both occasions. But then it's easy being the quizmaster since you have all the answers written down. Next year, as a member suggested, we could ask people to bring their own questions, and everyone could have a go in turn at being the quizmaster.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Tuning in to TV again

When I moved back to Hastings in December last year (2008) I brought a portable television with me which, in Leicester, received all the channels on an indoor aerial, but when I tried it out here I could get no reception at all. I put this down to the hills and high buildings all around. However, after tidying up and moving things around last week, I tried again today plugging the TV into the outdoor aerial and this time I got Channel 5 (though on Channel 7). All the other channels were still blank.

After consulting the handbook about how to tune in the TV, and some considerable pressing of buttons, now find I can access all the five main channels, though BBC 1 and 2 were the most difficult to locate. Now I shall have to look at the programme schedules to see if there is anything worth watching.

Monday, 7 December 2009

Article on Mixed Quaternary Symmetry

I've completed an article "On Mixed Quaternary Symmetry in Knight's Tours" which John Beasley has accepted for the next issue of Variant Chess. It follows up the work by Ernest Bergholt written in the form of memoranda sent to H. J. R. Murray in 1918 but not published until 2001 in The Games and Puzzles Journal #18.

It is only possible to include a summary of my results in the article, and I will be putting diagrams of all the tours onto my mayhematics website. The idea of mixed quaternary symmetry is to produce tours on the 8 by 8 and 12 by 12 boards that show a combination of direct (reflective) and oblique (rotative) quaternary symmetries, since tours fully in oblique quaternary are not possible on these boards, though they are possible on the 6 by 6 and 10 by 10 boards. Tours in direct quaternary symmetry are not possible on any boards, though pseudotours with this symmetry formed of two or more superimposed circuits are.

Where my treatment differs from that of Bergholt and Murray is in separating out the moves, such as the eight corner moves, that show octonary symmetry. Such moves can be regarded as part of either the direct or oblique sets of moves, but it is not always clear to which of these sets they should be assigned.

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Cloud Scapes

We have had beautiful cloud-scapes over the sea today. I went out in the morning to deliver some notices about the next Hastings Humanists meeting, and walked as far as the Bo-Peep Pub, but unfortunately forgot to take my camera. There were also some seagulls abligingly posed on the promenade railings, but no doubt they will be there to be photographed some other time. In the afternoon I remembered to take the camera. The chosen photo showing the outline of Beachy Head is almost of painterly effect. Earlier in the day the same view was clear enough to show the light reflecting off the white buildings of Eastbourne, and the clouds were bright and all shades of grey.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

December is Here, or has it Gone?

Our tree has now lost all its leaves, but still has a couple of plastic bags tangled in its twigs. This is now back to the way it was when I moved here in December last year.

An invitation has just come through the door "to view proposals for a new development at The College of the Holy Child Jesus" which is the building behind the tree. "Proposals include conversion of the historic buildings into residences, additional new residential development, a new open space facility and enhamced landscaping." The exhibition is open Friday 11th December (1 - 8 pm) and Saturday 12th December (10 am - 1 pm).

I suppose it is still December, and I haven't dropped off into a coma for a month? The date according to the read-out on my BT phone now says it is "Jan 2"!

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Seeing the Sights in London

I'm still feeling rather tired after a visit to London yesterday. The main purpose of the visit was to attend the lecture on "Darwin and God" at Westminster Abbey to mark the publication of Origin of Species on 24 November 1859. A report on the lecture will appear on the Hastings Humanists blog. The free lecture also provided an opportunity to see the interior of the Abbey without paying the £15 entrance fee that is now charged.

In a way the Abbey is as much of a national mausoleum as a church. The memorial to Isaac Newton is in a prominent position on the choir screen at the end of the Nave, and slabs marking the burial places of Charles Darwin and John Herschel are nearby in the left aisle. Poets' corner I didn't get to see. Religious symbols, like crucifixes, that one would see in catholic churches were not prominent. Perhaps one day, when the old superstitions have died away, it will become a shrine to the development of rational ideas.

I also passed some of the time with a visit to the Cabinet War Rooms, the bunkers from which the strategy was directed during the second world war. It now includes an extensive Churchill Museum, but I feel that this gives rather too much of bias to the presentation, placing too much emphasis on the one man, and detracts from the claustrophobic and intensely focused atmosphere of the War Rooms. Much more memorabilia of the other cabinet members and leaders of the armed forces would give it greater authenticity.

I also went down Craven Street, by Charing Cross station, with the idea of visiting Benjamin Franklin's house, but it proved to be closed on Tuesdays. The big wheel, the London Eye, was also a temptation but I think I'll leave that to a clearer and less windy day.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Falling Leaves and Litter

Our tree is now rapidly losing its leaves. Some of the other trees have already lost them all. They are forming piles in on the pavements and in our garden area, blown there by the wind.

There is a supermarket plastic bag caught in the upper branches of the tree that has been there since last year. There are also large lumps of light polystyrene plastic that have been blowing down the hill and cluttering the place up. Where they have come from I don't know. Probably some black waste bag that broke open.

Someone, presumably in one of our flats here, has left an old door-frame in the front garden. It has been there several weeks. It will probably be up to me to arrange for it to be taken away. More recently someone has also left some bits of wood from carpentry work lying about, still with nails sticking out of them. I'd have thought any competent carpenter would know to remove the nails and dsipose of the waste safely. I find such carelessness annoying, especially when it's left to others, i.e. me, to tidy up.

Saturday, 14 November 2009

Weather for Sea Gulls

I took some photos from the promenade trying to give an idea of the heavy seas blown up by the high winds we have had since Thursday Evening. Static photos however cannot compare with a motion picture or the real experience. The sea gulls at least seem to enjoy the gales, perhaps they bring in some fish, but my impression is that the gulls simply like being in the element for which they have evolved to survive. A phrase I claim to have originated is that "Beauty is in the eye of the survivor".

Monday, 9 November 2009

Light and Dark

This is the last photo from my walk that I'll be publishing for now. I thought the contrast between the darkness of the foreground and the sunlit scene of the reservoir beyond was striking. It can obviously be taken as a metaphorical image of someone looking out from a world of darkness, depression or imprisonment to an unattainable world of enlightenment, happiness or freedom beyond. Not that that's my frame of mind I should add!

I've been reading the book The Age of Wonder by Richard Holmes about science at the end of the 18th century when Joseph Banks, William Herschel and Humphrey Davy were active, and also The Lunar Men by Jenny Uglow, about the group that included Erasmus Darwin, Joseph Priestley, James Watt and others. Both reproduce paintings by Joseph Wright. I saw these, by chance, when I was in Derby a year or so ago and happened to pass time by visiting the City Museum, which has a whole room devoted to his paintings. Holmes writes that "Wright became a dramatic painter of experimental and laboratory scenes ... The calm, glowing light of reason is surrounded by the intense, psychological chiaroscuro associated with Georges de la Tour." I'm not sure that I entirely go along with this interpretation, but Wright's treatment of light is certainly striking.

Saturday, 7 November 2009

A Tangled Bank

This is another of the photos I took on my walk through Ecclesbourne Glen last month. It makes me think of the famous final passage in Origin of Species in which Charles Darwin writes "It is interesting to contemplate an entangled bank, clothed with many plants of many kinds, with birds singing on the bushes, with various insects flitting about, and with worms crawling through the damp earth, and to reflect that these elaborately constructed forms, so different from each other, and dependent on each other in so complex a manner, have all been produced by laws acting around us." And he goes on to expound in brief the thesis of evolution by natural selection.

There have been some beautiful sky scapes visible on the sea front over the last few days, particularly on Friday mid-day where there were extensive cumulus clouds out over the sea, silvered with sunlight and in numerous shades of grey, and this afternoon when, looking towards Beachy Head the sun's rays were shining down through the clouds. Until I first saw this effect some years ago I had assumed that artists paintings of sunlight as rays pushing through the clouds were just a matter of artistic convention; but they really were trying to capture the reality. Alas on both occasions I went out without my camera. I must try to carry it more regularly.

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Tidying Up

Tidying up did cheer me up a bit. A bit more progress on sorting my knight's tour material might help. The problem is that I keep changing my mind about what is the optimal method of arrangement. The way it is going seems to be to place emphasis on the different types of symmetry rather than on the board shapes. Thus instead of having a section on rectangular boards it seems better to classify rectangular tours across several sections according to their symmetry, and whether closed or open.

I tried switching on one of my convection heaters last week but it produced too much smell of burning dust. So today I took it all to pieces and cleaned it internally. I'm sure it could be made to come apart more easily. So many screws to take out, and so many pieces, like the wheels, to remove before the actual bodywork could be opened to give access to the oil-filled radiator! Fortunately it all fitted back together again and it is now working OK without the smell. It was all a bit like playing with the Meccano that I used to enjoy as a boy.

There is a central heating system and radiators, which came with the flat, but I'm not at all certain how that works. I use it to provide hot water for washing, but hesitate to use it for the radiators, since I'm not sure how much gas it is likely to use. I expect a cold spell will be needed to stimulate me to try it out.

Sunday, 25 October 2009

Autumnal Attitudes

With the putting back of the clocks I'm feeling rather depressed and autumnal. So I thought another photo of my favourite tree would be appropriate to mark the passing of the seasons. Its leaves are distinctly yellowing and thinning out, but at least the sun was shining which prompted me to take the photo.

I seem to be getting more and more buried in papers. My solution to depression is usually to tidy things up, but I seem to have been tidying things up for years without much result.

Since I installed the new version of P C Guard on my computer everything seems to have slowed down considerably. I suppose it is checking everything more thoroughly behind the scenes, but more probably its just dithering about. It also seems to decide to make virus scans always just as I'm about to switch off. I suppose everyone has got to change over to Windows 7 next.

Sunday, 18 October 2009

Friends and "Friends"

I've been getting a lot of requests on Facebook for people to be Friends, although many of them I've never met. However I recognise many of their names, mostly from the chess and puzzle world, and some I've corresponded with in the past when I was producing my magazines like Chessics and Games and Puzzles Journal. Other names I don't recognise, but usually they are Friends of Friends. After some hesitation I've now decided to accept most of these requests. To keep things in order I've classified most of them as "Chessic Friends" to avoid getting them mixed up with Friends I've actually met from Hastings or Leicester.

Another Friend who has contacted me is an old school friend who was at St Olaves Grammar School in the 1950s. That is Russ Stanfield. He is the only person from that period that I have encountered. I joined the Old Olavians a few years ago and went to one of their reunions, held at the new school buildings in Orpington, but there was no-one there from the same time. They would all now be approaching 70, if they have survived.

I intended to go to Hastings Pier on Saturday to join the demonstration for the Council to do something about renovating it, but when I looked at the clock it was past twelve, and when I arrived there was no-one about. I did manage to go out in the evening to see the bonfire and fireworks display on the beach. It was rather noisy, and I'm not sure what it was celebrating, but it was colourful.

Sunday, 11 October 2009

DNA folds into a 3D Wazir Tour!

According to a recent article in Science Daily, or at least the illustration accompanying it, DNA folds into a 3D wazir tour, similar to the 2D examples shown in my drawing alongside. These fractal-type diagrams occur at the end of a section of my Knight's Tour Notes website on Wazir Tours. For those not familiar with the terminology, a "wazir" is a chess piece that moves just to the adjacent square, like a single-step rook, or as in a king's non-diagonal move. A tour of course is a journey or path that visits all the squares of the board once only, without backtracking over any squares already visited.

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Ecclesbourne Glen

This photo is the one I took before the shadow photo. It is a view looking down into Ecclesbourne Glen. I walked down the hillside to enter the Glen via a gate at the bottom left. There are steps leading down that meet another set of steps going up the hill on the other side. At the bottom there is a narrow path leading down towards the sea. Whether it gives access to the beach there I don't know.

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Casting a Strange Shadow

Feeling the need for more exercise I decided on a long walk this afternoon and made my way along the seafront to the fishing boats and climbed the steps up to the East Hill and along the cliff edge to Ecclesbourne Glen. There I followed the further steps down into the glen and up the other side. The photo above was taken on my way down the steps into the glen. I was surprised to find, when I put the image up on the computer, that my shadow seemed to have grown some sort of catlike tail! Once up the other side I took the route through the woods, ending up at Barley Lane. I found I'd taken 33 photos by the time I got back home. The sun was very bright in my eyes on the way back. On the way through the glen I met a man coming the other way, from Fairlight, and chatted to him briefly about the steps being rather uneven. On the way back our paths crossed again. He said he had come all that way just for his fish and chips!

Friday, 25 September 2009

The Attraction of Puzzles

I enjoy doing the puzzles in the newspapers I buy, both the numerical ones like Sudoku or Kakuro or the letter ones like Crosswords or the Code type where numbers stand for letters, though the latter aren't usually very tricky. In fact the puzzles provide the main reason that I buy papers at all these days.

By far and away my favourite crosswords are those composed hy Araucaria in the Guardian. Unfortunately the other composers in the Guardian never seem to reach the same standard. Not only are his clues always fair, so that once you have found a solution you can tell with reasonable certainty that you have found the correct solution, but he also covers a wide range of knowledge (which is often exhibited in themed puzzles) and is also often humorous.

It is annoying however when puzzles are misprinted, or mistakenly set, so that they have no solution or more than one. I wrote to the Radio Times last week to complain that in two recent issues their Mandali puzzle, which is a sort of maze, had two numerical solutions. They were kind enough to reply and apologise. Unfortunately the Mandali puzzle in this week's issue has at least six solutions! This is just carelessness.

The attraction I find in puzzles I think has to do with the fact that they are soluble problems. There are too many problems in real life that are insoluble and simply frustrating. The only viable approach to them I have concluded is step by step and little by little, and maybe a little amelioration can be achieved.

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Cycling to Eastbourne

Today the need for some exercise that I've been feeling for a while came to the fore and I decided to cycle to Eastbourne. I should have set out earlier but it took a while to persuade myself that it was better than lying around. The decider was that the sun was still shining at ten o'clock and it looked too fine a day to waste. Indeed it was a lovely day, the only drawback being the strong headwind on the outward stretch. I several times thought of stopping short, but once I reached Pevensey Bay it seemed, looking at the map, too short a distance left to call it off there. I went as far as Beachy Head, and had a meal at the cafe below the hill where the South Downs Way starts. Just to prove I did the trip, the photo is of Eastbourne pier taken on my way back. I arrived back at 6 pm, so it was four hours either way. Part of this slowness was due to the headwind on the way out, and due to taking some wrong turnings on the way back, trying to follow the cycle lane markings, and also choosing to walk the bike along the beach from Glyne Gap rather than cycle the heavily congested and polluted Bexhill Road. No doubt I'll be feeling a bit stiff in the legs and sunburnt on the head in the morning.

Friday, 18 September 2009

Autumn is Here

I took this photo of my favourite tree as I went out for a walk along the front as far as the old bathing pool site at the end of Sea Road. I have been thinking of getting out on my bike and going perhaps as far as Eastbourne, but left it too late to do that today. It was a very sunny afternoon. The other pictures I took haven't come out very well probably because the light was too bright and I couldn't see clearly what I was focusing on. The leaves on the tree are starting to turn brown, and some of them may have been shed already. There are a lot of leaves from other trees blowing around.

When I turned on my computer and activated the PCGuard I got a message "Rps: The parameter is incorrect" with no further explanation. Checking it on Google I was led to download a thing called RegistryBooster costing about £20. Whether this does any good remains to be seen. It claims to have cleared up a lot of errors in the Registry, but whether they are really significant or just listed to impress I don't know. Perhaps I shouldn't be so cynical.

Saturday, 12 September 2009

Knight's Tours Again

I've been making some progress in organising my files on Knight's Tours into publishable form. It is taking the form of a series of separate "Studies", each of about 60 pages, covering a particular topic. These are at present: History, Theory of moves, Leaper tours, Knight on 6x6 board, Knight on 8x8 board, Knight on other rectangular boards, Shaped and holey boards, Figured and magic tours. I should be able to make these available in PDF form, if not as a book.

We had two three or four-hour power cuts here over the past two weeks. The first one on Thursday 3rd September 5-8pm was without warning but the other on Friday 11th September 11am-3pm was notified by the electric company EDF. I took the opportunity to give my refrigerator a thorough defrosting and clean. Fortunately I had kept a supply of matches to light the gas, and have a supply of candles somewhere in case of emergency, but not needed on this occasion.

Saturday, 29 August 2009

A Walk in the Park

It has been a lovely sunny day here in Hastings. This morning at about 8 am I went up to Conquest Hospital on the Ridge by bus to deliver a supply of catheters that I fortunately no longer need to the Urology Department where they will be of more use.

Afterwards, instead of catching a bus back I decided to walk, following the slope downhill, along Hillside Road and Parkstone Drive, which came out to Buckshole Reservoir and Alexandra Park. This led me down Queens Road into the town centre to buy a few extra provisions to tide me over the bank holiday.

Finally a walk along the sea front where it was still sunny but quite windy. I arrived home just as the postman was at the door (but for me there was only an advertising circular). I rounded off a pleasant morning with a shower. In the aftermoon I felt quite tired, which however is not unusual now.

I must get out further a bit more regularly. I haven't used my bike for a while.

Friday, 21 August 2009

Euler and Me

As noted before I'm in process of tidying up my notes on knight's tours. One of the sections I've not previously published, as far as I recall, concerns the enumeration of all the smallest knight-tourable boards, at least up to 12 cells. The illustration shows all the centrosymmetric tours on boards of 12 cells.

The first two of these diagrams are not merely centrosymmetric, in the sense of being unchanged by a 180 degree rotation, but are also axially symmetric about the two diagonal axes. The first of these was published by the famous mathematician Leonhard Euler in what waa probably the first scientific paper on knight's tours, presented in 1759. The second is one of my own favourite discoveries, it is the 12-cell tour whose containing rectangle is the largest possible, the 6 by 6 square.

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Cultivating My Garden

This is my "garden" such as it is. A strip of earth behind the front wall of the block of flats. According to the terms of my lease I am "Not to dig up, or cut down, any trees, shrubs or bushes or timber (if any), except with the landlord's prior consent." and "To cut the grass (if any) of the premises with an appropriate garden mower as necessary from time to time to keep the grass in, or bring about, a neat and tidy condition. Furthermore, to keep the patio areas (if any), paths, garden areas, lawns, flower beds, shrubs or bushes and borders (if any) as tidy, weed free and cultivated, as at commencement of the tenancy." So presumably if the garden is initially untidy, overgrown with weeds and uncultivated it should be left that way!

Whether any of the plants in the garden are weeds or were intentionally planted is difficult to say, apart from a few daffodils that came up earlier in the year. Do the millet or wheat-like plants count as "grass"? At what height does a plant become a tree? How tidy is tidy? The terms are evidently just a legal form of words designed to cover every eventuality. It is also unclear how far I as occupier of a ground-floor flat have responsibility for the "garden". No-one else does anything, so it is left to me by default.

Saturday, 8 August 2009

A Touch of Flu

I've had a minor bout of flu over the past week. Whether it was the Swine Flu that we've been warned about I don't know. I sweated out most of it over the Tuesday night, although I'm still coughing and sniffing a bit now. At the same time I had some spots come up, which at first I thought might be connected to the condition, but now suppose must be some sort of insect bites. A little TCP ointment seems to have brought them under control.

The new kettle that I bought only recently tripped the electric power again so I've been boiling water for my coffee on the gas instead. I'm reluctant to test the kettle in case it blows it again. That's the third kettle I've run through in the last year. If they're that unreliable I think I'll look for something else, perhaps a more traditional design.

I also bought two further bookcases from Argos, same pattern as before. However the result is that I still seem to have just as many boxes lying about as before! What is the best way of getting rid of second-hand books? I'm reluctant just to give them away to charity shops. Setting up a shop myself would probably be too expensive, but even joining ABE Books as a supplier is by no means free.

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Another View

I made a slight error in the description of the last photo; the building just visible on the left is not the Mayor of London's office but some other building. The new City Hall is better shown in this other photo. For a photo from a different angle see this one on my Flickr pages. That's not taken with a distorting lens, the building really is that lopsided shape!

The part of the St Olaves building with the small cupola was, if I remember right, used as the gymnasium. There were stairs leading up to a balcony where we changed our clothes. I was never any good at gymnastics, but enjoyed climbing the ropes, once I'd got the hang of it.

By the way there is no missing apostrophe in "Olaves", it is an old form of "Olaf's" so I suppose the e serves like an apostrophe. I would guess it was originally pronounced Olav-ez rather than to rhyme with slaves! The school was solely for boys but there was a companion school, St Saviour's, for girls, though there was never any contact between the two as far as I was aware.

Monday, 20 July 2009

Nightmares and Memories

The photo, taken last year, is of the building that housed the school I went to from 1951 onwards. The building just visible to the left is the Mayor of London's new offices. When I was there that part was occupied by warehouses and cranes and other river-side industry. The whole area has now been redeveloped and is open to the public. There is a large green space called Potters Fields, next to Tower Bridge.

On Saturday evening, feeling tired, I thought for a change I'd have a cup of Horlicks before going to bed. It is supposed to help you sleep well, though I don't usually need any help, since I sleep like a log as they say. However, instead of sleeping well I had a nightmarish dream. It was one of a type I've often had over the years, in which I get lost in a labyrinthine transport system.

Probably some of this goes back to when I passed the 11-plus and was sent to St Olaves Grammar School which at that time was near Tower Bridge in London. This meant commuting every day, catching a bus to Plumstead station, a train to London Bridge ststion, and walking down Tooley Street. How I managed to put up with all that travelling for several years I now wonder.

I also remember we used to travel by train down to Dulwich to play cricket and rugby, since there were no playing fields nearby. This, if I recall correctly involved a change of trains at Denmark Hill, but my recollection is now hazy, but I remember that station for some reason. Later I worked in West London and travelled more on the underground system.

That may account for all the tunnels I get lost in in my dream. There was a curious prelude to the dream in which I was following a crowd of other people down the tunnels and we came to a moving wall which we had to hold onto by our fingernails! Some were falling off into oblivion. At the end when I reached the ticket barrier all I seemed to be holding instead of a ticket was something like a brown postage stamp. The ticket collector however was distracted and I ended up coming out some other way. The police were directing people in the opposite direction but didn't seem to notice me. I could go on, but am not sure I recollect anything clearly.

Some of this may have been stimulated by my recent trip to Lincoln for the Circular Chess. That was a bit complicated, the out journey being via Charing Cross, Kings Cross and Newark. On my way back I missed my connection to Peterborough, due to sitting too long on the wrong platform at Lincoln. No more Horlicks for me for a while!

Sunday, 19 July 2009

Meeting Local Councillors

On Saturday morning about 11am I decided to go along to a meeting of the local, St Leonards area, Labour councillors. Those present were Trevor Webb, Jeremy Birch and one other (Andrew Cartwright ?). It was held in the basement of the Seaspray Hotel in Eversfield Place on the sea-front between Warrior Square and the Pier. I got there just as someone else was leaving and had time for a lengthy chat. I'd met councillor Webb before at the SACRE and HIFF meetings in connection with my Hastings Humanists activities.

I asked about plans for re-opening the Pier, suggesting that it might be possible to open just the front apron while the rest of the structure was being repaired. At present it is owned by a company registered in Panama.

We also discussed the imbalance of Labour representatives on the local Cabinet, which hardly seems to be a democratic arrangement, but is apparently within the rules. I was interested to find that it was the previously Labour-controlled council that enforced the landlords along Eversfield Place to have work done to improve their properties, which at the time I lived there (1994-9) was very run down. There has certainly been a great improvement since then.

Lastly I raised the problem with the seagulls breaking open waste bags and spreading litter about, suggesting that those households who experience this problem, and don't have suitable space for wheelie bins, should be supplied with stronger sacks in place of plastic bags. Apparently such sacks are available.

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Swimming Again

On Friday 10th I woke up early and decided to go for an early morning swim at the baths, about 7:30 to 8:30. I'd not been there that early before, and there were already quite a few people using the pool. I'll have to try to get into the routine, as I've missed out on going there regularly since they introduced free swimming for people over sixty.

The reason I hadn't been swimming in part was due to some bureaucratic problems over getting my card updated for this purpose, since I have neither a driving licence nor a passport, and without them apparently you don't exist. In lieu of these they wanted to see my birth certificate, which like me is now somewhat of an antique, and a utility bill. Once I'd got these all sorted out and took them to the desk however it turned out that they didn't need to see them after all!

I suppose this was a change of policy. Perhaps it followed my letter to the Hastings Observer a month or so ago in which I commented on the policy. However the editor seemed to think, from the headline given to my letter, that I was advocating free swimming for all, because I thought it might seem unfair to younger people particularly if they were out of work.

So far, since moving back to this area, I haven't been for a dip in the sea. I must get round to that before the summer weather ends.

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Robert Tressell Festival

On Saturday evening I went to Concordia Hall, which is in Church Road high up the hill above Warrior Square station, to see a play based on The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists by Robert Tressell. I'm not sure who owns the Concordia Hall, but it is quite large and has a garden alongside. Tables on either side of the seating offered mainly socialist tracts.

I vaguely remember reading the novel many years ago, but evidently didn't appreciate the humour then, unless that was emphasised in this production. There were obvious updates to reflect the current news stories about corruption over expenses. Being near the back of the hall, and the actors not being raised up much, I couldn't see much of the action, but since the characters they were playing were distinguished mainly by the headgear they wore, this was not such a problem.

The story is about a group of workmen employed to decorate the home of a wealthy councillor, and is based on Robert Tressell's experiences in Hastings, which becomes "Mugsborough", in the early 20th century. The local paper is referred to as "The Obscurer", which in view of my own difficulties in obtaining coverage for the Hastings Humanists, seems very appropriate (and reminded me of the Leicester Mercury being known as "The Mockery"; perhaps every town has a disparaging name for its local paper). The performance ended with a rendition of the socialist anthem, "The Red Flag".

There were other events earlier in the day, and more on the Sunday, but I was unable to find the time for these, though a lecture from a member of the William Morris society looked interesting.

Saturday, 4 July 2009

A Quiz Night and Hastings Pier

Last night I went to a Quiz Night held at the White Rock Hotel by a group calling themselves the "Hastings Pier and White Rock Trust". I took part in it as a one-man team and came last with 28 out of something like 92 points, although many of the questions were about television programmes and adverts, which I've not watched. There was a prize, for coming last, of six small bottles of alcoholic beverages. However, since I'm not much of a drinker I passed it on to the next to last team. The first prize winners got six large bottles. There was no mention of any campaign to reopen the pier. It seems the quiz was mainly a way of promoting the hotel bar. So I doubt I'll be joining the organisation. But I hope Hastings Council can do something soon to get the pier open again and in working order. There was an article in The Guardian (G2 22 June) that suggested piers are making a comeback in places such as South End, Saltburn and Deal. So why not Hastings?

Thursday, 25 June 2009

A Study in Light and Dark

Another photo of my favourite tree! The last few days I have been struck by the contrast of sunlight on the walls of the college and the dark shadow of the snaking tree branches at a certain time in the afternoon. This contrast is a result of the angle of the sun at the time, and the shade provided by the now full spread of the oak's leaves. It occurs to me that the midsummer solstice has just past, so perhaps I'm experiencing reversion to old ancestral Druidic worship of sun and oak trees! Atavism isn't it called?

Monday, 15 June 2009

Circular Chess in Lincoln

I went by train to Lincoln on Saturday for the World Circular Chess Championship held on the Sunday at the Tap and Spile pub, returning today. Unfortunately the photos I took have not come out very well, either because the internal views are too dark, or have come out fuzzy due to my bad handling of the camera. This photo taken by Hermann Kok using my camera shows the problem. Despite some enhancement of the brightness, I'm still just a silhouette against the bright sunlight outside.

It was pleasant to meet some old acquaintances from my attendance at previous Circular Chess Championships. I didn't manage to win any games, but think I put up a good fight. The first game I lost to a checkmate, which was apparently a surprise to my opponent as well as to me. The other games I lost with the fall of my flag on the clock. The time allowed is just half an hour for each player, so a game can take an hour at most.

Monday, 1 June 2009

Knight's Tour Notes

I've been making progress in sorting out all my notes on knight's tours, with the idea of putting the material into book form. So far it consists of a mere 75 chapters covering 500 pages! And there are still a lot of files I've not incorporated, plus material not yet put into electronic form. The secret to making progress I've found is to stick to one simple standard layout (A4 pages with 1 inch borders and diagrams with cells 1/5 inch width.) In the past I've tried out numerous different forms, with consequent difficulty in editing them all together. Once I've put everything in it will be time to be more selective in deciding the final contents. It may of course make several books, aimed at different readerships.

On Sunday Radio 3 was devoted to a series of programmes on Haydn, and I listened to quite a lot of them, particularly the symphonies and quartets. His music went well with a warm sunny day. I think he had a sunny disposition.

Thursday, 28 May 2009

Changeable Weather

On Tuesday, the day after the last photo, the weather changed completely, it became wet and windy. This photo was a quick snap taken into the wind and rain, looking in the same direction as the day before, but from the top of the promenade. You can see the sea is much rougher; I could hear the waves pounding on the shore quite loudly from where I live, inland further up the hill. You can no longer see the Beachy Head promontory because of the rain or mist.

On the same day I took delivery of a bookcase I had ordered online from Argos. This replaces one I decided to leave behind in Leicester as too weak to stand the move. It came of course in flat pack form, but unlike the stories comedians like to tell all the pieces were present, and I had no trouble the next day in getting it all to fit together. It enabled me to empty about six boxes of books, giving more room. I'm thinking of ordering a couple more bookcases to complete the job.

Today it was fine again and I was able to get out to do some more weeding that I had started on Monday morning. I'd bought a spade from poundstretchers for the purpose, since I left my gardening tools behind in Leicester not thinking I would need any here, since there is only a narrow patch behind the front wall. However there were extensive weeds in the car-parking area alongside the building. Whether it is really my job I'm not sure, but no-one else has offered to lend a hand.

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

A View from Bottle Alley

This afternoon I went to buy a paper and took a walk along "Bottle Alley" which is below the promenade between Hastings Pier and Warrior Square in St Leonards. It is so called because of the broken bottle glass that was used to decorate the back wall. The photo was taken from one of the semi-circular viewing bays. On the horizon can be seen the outline of what I think is Beachy Head at Eastbourne.

As I walked along Bottle Alley, which is for pedestrians, I was a litle disconcerted to see a car coming towards me! It turned out to be a police car. I suppose only they and maintenance people are allowed to drive there.

Besides the Times I also bought a copy of the Argus to see if it carries any Hastings news, but it mostly covers Brighton and Hove. As it happens there was a small news item about a man found dead at the bottom of Beachy Head. A man from Derby. A long way to come to end your life.

Friday, 22 May 2009

Computer Trouble

After having my kettle blow a fuse, the next day my laptop computer packed up. The enigmatic message "Unknown Hard Error" came up and I could do nothing but turn off the power. When I switched on again all I could get was a blank screen with cursor at the top left. Apparently the fault was in the mother-board. I ended up paying £150for a replacement, reconditioned, computer.

Fortunately I had kept a back-up of most files on a USB stick, and it also proved possible to save the most recent work from the hard disk, so I don't think anything significant was lost. I prefer to use a separate laptop for most of my wordprocessing, rather than the PC that I use for connection to the internet.

As reported earlier I've been making progress in sorting out all my files on knight's tours, with a view to publishing the results in book form. I've also rediscovered a lot of other work on geometry and numbers and puzzles that I'd half forgotten. This could form the basis for several books, if I can find the energy and motivation to complete them.

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Angels and Demons

Yesterday evening I went out to the Odeon Cinema in Hastings to see "Angels and Demons". I enjoy this sort of hokum; the mystery and conspiracy side of it that is, not all the blood and mayhem. The last time I went to the cinema was to see "The Da Vinci Code" about three years ago when I was in Lincoln for the Circular Chess. Contrary to reviews I've read I think Tom Hanks is just right for the role of the symbologist, Robert Langdon. He's not an athletic hero type like Indiana Jones or Jack Sparrow, nor an all-knowing master brain like Sherlock Holmes or Poirot, but just a modestly human academic carried along by crazy events.

This morning when I put on my kettle for a cup of coffee the electricity cut out. It wasn't a power cut, but my neighbour kindly pointed out that there is a device by the door that trips when there is an electrical fault, and just needs to be switched on again. I ended up buying a new kettle. It seems it is cheaper to buy a new one than to get the old one repaired.

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

It's That Tree Again!

At the risk of appearing obsessive, here is another photo of the tree opposite my front door. From the small shoots in the last photo a month ago it now has a full complement of leaves that glow yellowish in the sunlight.

There is occasionaly a squirrel to be seen running along the branches. When the traffic is quiet it sometimes runs along the wall, jumps onto a telegraph pole further up the hill and crosses the road to explore the back gardens.

When I was in Leicester the view from my front windows was just of other houses, so I suppose I appreciate being closer to Nature here. I also try to go down to the sea-front every day if I can, to see what the sea is doing. Yesterday there was a strong wind blowing inland, making the sea choppy and leaving foam on the shore.

Sunday, 10 May 2009

Knight's Tour Progress

I've been making some progress at last with my book on Knight's Tours. I have masses of material but the problem has been organising it in some sensible manner. The trouble is that putting things into historical order starts off quite well but eventually runs into the sand. On the other hand starting from first principles and putting everything in logical order means that the history can only be accessed via a chronological appendix that refers back to the appropriate pages.

The solution I have found is to use the historical sequence as the main structure, providing a series of themes, and to put in more recent developments where each subject first comes up, resuming the historical sequence at the start of the next section. So far it's working out quite well. It produces a series of Sections which I letter A, B, C, etc, with Chapters numbered 1, 2, 3, etc within each Section. A Chapter being devoted to a single narrow subject and covering on average six or eight pages (A4, 11 point text, diagrams with cells 1/5 of an inch wide).

I hope it will find a publisher, but if not I can put it on the web in the form of a series of pdfs. But there's still along way to go.

Thursday, 7 May 2009

Proving One's Identity

I had a letter in the Hastings Observer last week about a new scheme of free swimming for people like me who are over sixty. The editor gave it a heading that suggested I was asking for free swimming for everyone. That might be nice, but in fact what I was arguing was that the scheme is unfair and likely to cause resentment and should not have been brought in, at least in that form.

I was also complaining about the need to produce a driving licence or passport, neither of which I now have, to prove my identity. It seems to me this is just softening us up for the introduction of Identity Cards. In the absence of those documents I was asked to show my birth certificate and utility bills. Why should I have to do this just to go swimming?

Sunday, 26 April 2009

Mathematical Recreations

One of my main interests for many years has been in mathematical recreations, as will be evidenced by my Mayhematics pages, although I've not done much original work lately. However, I would like to get back to doing some.

Recently I have been receiving emails from various people active in mathematical recreations, who are furthering some of the subjects that have particularly interested me in the past. I give here some links to websites showing their work.

The following are investigating magic knight's tours on three dimensional boards, among much else: Aale de Winkel, Awani Kumar, Harvey Heinz and Francis Gaspalou.

I have also heard from Vaclav Kotesovec who is studying leaper and hopper tours, revisiting work done by myself and T. H. Willcocks in my magazine Chessics as far back as 1976. In particular he has constructed a 64-cell closed grasshopper-over-knight tour. It begins with Grasshopper a1 and Knight f6 and ends with the Grasshopper back at a1 and the Knight at b1.

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Green Shoots of Spring

Another photo of the tree opposite my front door shows the green shoots of spring appearing at last. There are also road works going on, but these seem to be all year round.

Some of the seagulls are acting crazy, shouting and dancing in the road, but I've not been able to get a photo of them so far. From my windows I also see a lot of pigeons of variegated colours. I put a query about this on the Dawkins Forum. Apparently this is because they are feral pigeons, descended from domesticated pigeons, whose colours have been selected by pigeon breeders.

Monday night I went to the Hastings Writers' Group. It was submission day for a Mystery story of not more than 2000 words. We read extracts from what we had written, up to a cliff-hanging point where others could start to guess what the solution to the mystery would be. My own story was about the missing portraits of Robert Hooke, the 17th century scientist.

Sunday, 19 April 2009

Astronomy Picture of the Day

The Astronomy Picture of the Day site is one I often look at. Here are two recent and two older images that I particularly recall.

Melk Abbey manuscript c.1490 showing the Ptolemaic view of the universe, pre-Copernicus.

M101 pinwheel galaxy everyone's idea of a galaxy.

In the Shadow of Saturn a view of Saturn's rings, looking back towards Earth, which is just a tiny dot.

Cat's eye Nebula like a flower in the sky.

Saturday, 11 April 2009


Tuesday last week (31 March), I took a walk along the front to Bexhill and back. It was a lovely sunny day with a blue sky and calm sea. Unfortunately I forgot to take my camera. It's much as I remember it from ten years ago, though many more rocks have been put in place to keep the sea at bay from the adjacent railway line. If or when the expected sea-level rise occurs, as a result of global warming, the line will be the first thing cut off.

This Easter weekend, as often lately, I have been spending time listening to the countdown of favourite music on Classic FM, and doing the crossword and number puzzles in the Guardian. The Easter crossword puzzle which as usual is by my favourite composer "Araucaria" was really enjoyable, though I had to look in the dictionary a good deal for words I'd never heard of. His clues are always very fair however, if you have the right answer it is always clear that it is the right answer.

I feel rather guilty at times that I ought to be doing more creative things. But with puzzles you always know that there is a solution. Whereas with more recondite problems you can spend hours and days and months and even years and get nowhere. Perhaps I don't have sufficient incentive, such as desire for fame and fortune, or perhaps I'm just lazy. What would incentivise me to get back to serious work I wonder?

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Kepler's Lenten Pretzel

A 400th Anniversary. One of the figures in the book by Owen Gingerich reviewed last time is Johannes Kepler's diagram, from his Astronomia Nova (1609) which he likened to a "panis quadragesimalis" or Lenten Pretzel. It shows the path, relative to the Earth, taken by the planet Mars during the years 1580 to 1596, based on the observations of the astronomer Tycho Brahe. "Mars repeatedly approaches the Earth, makes a backward loop, only to recede and repeat the process roughly two years later at a spot in the zodiac about fifty degrees to the east of the previous loop. The loops themselves trace round the entire sky in approximately seventeen years during which time Mars itself circumnavigates the sky eight times." Ptolemy and Copernicus (relying on less accurate data) had tried to explain this convoluted orbit as a combination of circular motions in various ways. Kepler resolved the problem by showing that the answer was to use elliptical orbits.

Saturday, 28 March 2009

The Book Nobody Read

This is the title of a book I've borrowed from the local library, and found a good read. It is subtitled "In Pursuit of the Revolutions of Nicolaus Copernicus" and is by Owen Gingerich, a Professor of Astronomy and History of Science at Harvard. The title comes from a comment by Arthur Koestler in his book The Sleepwalkers, which also has a long subtitle: "A History of Man's Changing Vision of the Universe" (1959). This has long been a favourite book of my own. Koestler thought that nobody actually read Copernicus. Gingerich spent years examining all the extant copies of the first and second editions in European and American Libraries to produce a Census detailing their differences and annotations. The books were issued as loose sheets and it was up to the buyer to arrange for the binding, so they tend to vary a lot and can be individually identified. He has often been called in to identify stolen copies that come up for auction. Some examples, that he calls "sophisticated ladies", are made up from two or more damaged copies. Quite a high proportion of the original editions survive, and everyone who was anyone in astronomy evidently had one, and often annotated them. I was always taught never to write in books, but it seems annotated books are of greater interest to historians, so perhaps this advice was wrong!

Thursday, 26 March 2009

Rock-a-Nore Road

Yesterday I walked along to the end of Rock-a-Nore Road for the first time since returning to Hastings. This is as far East as one can get in Hastings at sea-level without walking on the beach. There are warnings of rock falls beyond that point. The photo is of the cliffs towards Fairlight. Before reaching this point one passes the few remaining fishing boats pulled up on the beach, and the famous fishermen's huts. There are also museums and an aquarium and amusement park. It is near here on the area called the Stade that it is proposed to build the controversial Jerwood Gallery. It does seem to me that there is far too much concentration of attractions in one area, while the other end of the promenade, as far as West St Leonards, is neglected.

Friday, 20 March 2009

My Photostream Updated

I updated my Flickr Photostream last night with two photos from the day, and others dating back to October. There are now 51 photos there, nearly all landscape scenes. They are just those that I think are the best ones. They are open for anyone to use, so I don't include photos of a personal nature, like portraits of family members.

I can't take any more photos at the moment because the battery is out of power and I seem to have mislaid the charger, and can't find it despite having looked everywhere I could think of. I dare say if I buy a new one the old one will turn up.

Edit: Fortunately Jessops (the camera shop in Hastings) didn't have a charger of the right type, so I was saved unnecessary expense, because I later found it in a box, nothing to do with photography, hidden within another box. Why it got put there I've no idea! I had the same sort of problem with a pair of scissors last year, but it was months before they turned up - in a box I'd looked through several times. Such is the way of the world - or is it a further sign of the way my brain is going?

Thursday, 19 March 2009

Shopping in Ashford

I've been meaning to get out while the sunny weather has been here the last few days so took the train to Ashford to look round and to buy a lighter coat for the summer. I found on the internet that the nearest Cotton Traders shop was in the "Ashford Shopping Village", which seemed an interesting development, seen in the aerial view from the Google map. As shown in the photo it consists of a parade of shops surrounding a car park and covered by a tent-like roof. So thought I'd look in there to see what their products were like, rather than risk ordering by post. It turns out that it has been rather oddly renamed the "Designer Outlet Village". I tried on some of the Cotton Trader offers, which however seemed different from those in their catalogue, and ended up buying a jacket in the M&S store there. I also walked around the town centre which is well stocked with shops and malls. The road leading there is where their strange new modern art style street lamps are, which have featured in the news recently. Apart from this it is much like most other towns these days.

Monday, 16 March 2009

Essays Transferred

As anticipated, my old ntlworld site has now disappeared from the web. I had already transferred the files on mathematics and chess topics to my mayhematics site. I have now completed the process by transferring the other files which consist mainly of essays and compilations on various topics. They are classified in three sections, Words, Reality and Fantasy. Their new home is:

This was not how I originaly envisaged the layout of the mayhematics site. Maybe I've now got too much disparate stuff all squeezed into one space.

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Hastings Writer's Group

I was at the HWG meeting last night and was most impressed by the quality, quantity and humour of entries to their competition for writing a piece of up to 1000 words "In the Style of" some named author. Those imitated, parodied or ripped off were Colin Dexter, Joanne Trollope, Flanders and Swan, Mills and Boon, Pam Ayres, Proust, Longfellow, Brendan Behan, Damon Runyan, and probably some others I've failed to recall. My contribution was a chess-related version of Longfellow's "Excelsior". The next competition is for a 2000-word mystery story; I must start making some notes of ideas.

Friday, 6 March 2009

In the Swim at Last

This morning I went for my first swim since moving back here. Not in the sea of course, in the baths! I'd bought a "leisure pass" back on 8th February, but have delayed using it for fear of having another nose-bleed. Fortunately that now seems to have cleared up. The nurse who checked my blood pressure (which turned out to be perfectly OK) seemed to think it was just due to a weak blood vessel; but what made it weak? - the bad cold I had in November I suppose. The lockers are now operated by a pound coin (it used to be 50p) but of course you get it back afterwards. The key comes attached to a plastic buckle, and it took me some time to discover the knack of fixing it to one's own wrist. Now I've got to get into the routine of a regular swim, once or twice a week.

Thursday, 5 March 2009

Clouds over Brighton

I went to Brighton on Wednesday (4th March) to attend a meeting of the Brighton & Hove Humanist group, as further reported on the Hastings Humanists blog. In the course of the day I took a number of photographs, particularly of the cumulus clouds that were rising high over the city. This one, taken from the pier, is by far and away the best, although it may give a misleading impression, since it was a bright sunny day.

Besides walking round the pier I also visited the Art Gallery, in the Dome, where there is an interesting exhibition showing paintings in related but contrasting pairs. Since the late trains back to Hastings require changing trains, and I think platforms, at Lewes, I arranged to stay overnight. But the next day I felt curiously depressed, so after a further walk (via Montpellier Road and Seven Dials) came home on the 10:32 Ashford train.

Saturday, 28 February 2009

An Oslo Futon

I left my rather old sofa behind in Leicester, so that since I moved I haven't had any soft furnishings in my living room. I looked round various furniture stores without finding anything similar. Then in the window of a small shop, I spotted an illustration of a thing called an "Oslo Futon". This seemed a rather curious mixture of Nordic and Japanese, but the design appealed to me. It was delivered through my bedroom window this morning, in the form of a flat pack and a roll of mattress, and I spent a couple of hours putting it together. The base is metal and held together with nuts and bolts, rather like Meccano which I used to enjoy playing with when I was about seven. It also folds flat to make a bed. It's possibly a bit large for the room, and heavy to move, but at least I've now got somewhere soft to sit.

Saturday, 21 February 2009

Water down the Walls!

I just noticed, as I switched on the computer this evening, that there was a trickle of water coming down the wall I am facing! On checking with the other flats above I find that Flat 4 has worse damp stains in the same position. The water is apparently coming from Flat 5 on the top floor, and they say it has been reported before to the landlord and agents. I will of course do the same, and would expect something to be done about it reasonably quickly.

I've now transferred all the material I had on floppy disks to my laptop, and backed it up on a single memory stick. So I now have some 200 disks to dispose of (and a Mitsumi floppy disk driver surplus to requirements). Does any one still use floppy disks? Or will I just have to dispose of them to waste somehow?

Edit (9:25 pm): After writing the above, I closed the computer and put on the radio to listen to Classic FM, and it turned out that the theme for Henry Kelly's "Classic Ephemera" programme was - Water! It's a strange thing, coincidence, isn't it?

Saturday, 14 February 2009

First Thing This Morning ...

First thing this morning, around 8:30am, I had the rather surreal experience of seeing lots of quite large spheres floating by down the hill. This made me think of that TV series The Prisoner with the late Patrick McGoohan, who was pursued by a large white sphere whenever he tried to escape. Of course what I was seeing were soap bubbles. Who was producing them, further up the hill, I couldn't see.

As reported on Hastings Humanists blog I have now rejoined Facebook, though I've never got on very well with its workings. All my previous contacts in Leicester, and with family members, will have to be reestablished. Some of the systems seem to have been redesigned, such as having several different Friends lists, which seems sensible. But they still don't seem to have heard of Hastings, or St Leonards on Sea, as existent places, as opposed to other Hastingses in the USA.

There has been a lot of activity here today, with new tenants moving into the empty Flat 2 in the building where I now live. The people in Flat 4 also moved in recently. There seems to be a lot of rapid change. We still get lots of letters addressed to people who no longer live here. I put them back in the post for return to sender, marked "not known" or "gone away", but it takes a quite while to stop them.

Thursday, 12 February 2009

Under the Weather

Monday was wet and windy but the threatened snow didn't appear, at least in this area. When I went out in the evening to the Hastings Writers Group, water was pouring in streams down the hills towards the sea, but it was all draining away and not forming floods. Since thene it has been bright but cold. Nine of us braved the weather for the meeting, at which we were to comment on some manuscripts written by three members. I would have preferred a less formal approach. Filling in a form, I found little to say.

Since I had a bad cold back in November I've been troubled with a series of nose-bleeds, about one a week. After a couple at the week-end I had another minor one on Wednesday while vacuuming the hallway. This prompted me to see the doctor this morning in case it signifies something worse. Perhaps my blood pressure is up due to my efforts in organising the Humanist meeting, or it could just be the cold air. I've not had this before, but I think the amount of blood that soaks into hankerchiefs makes it look worse than it is. The key is to hold the nostril closed until the blood has time to coagulate and block the flow.

Sunday, 8 February 2009

Birthday Reflections

It was a lovely bright morning and I went for a walk, to dispose of some jars and bottles at the recycling centre, and buy a leisure pass at the swimming pool. More pleasant was a walk through the Falaise gardens and along 'Bottle Alley' below the Promenade. There at midday the sun was warm and sparkling off the calm sea. But the forecast for tomorrow is dire; wet and cold and possibly much more snow.

I've been transferring lots of old files, still kept on floppy discs, onto a new (well, reconditioned) laptop. My notes on such things as Knights Tours got into something of a muddle, it being difficult to distinguish which version of any article was the most recent version and which an old backup. My aim is to update my website on that subject and if possible complete a book summarising the most interesting results. Similarly with my other interests.

However, from a practical income-generating point of view, perhaps I should be concentrating my efforts on completing my erotic novel? There is probably a bigger market for that, even though it may be ethicaly dubious. More worthy pursuits don't bring in income, and the rent has to be paid, or I may end my days as a vagrant.

Friday, 6 February 2009

Website Reorganisation

Now that, in St Leonards on Sea, I'm connected to the internet via Virgin Broadband over a BT telephone line I no longer have access to update the ntlworld website that I set up when I had a cable connection in Leicester. Even though these are both parts of Virgin Media they don't seem to be cooperating with each other.

Accordingly I am gradually transferring material from that website to my Mayhematics site. Last week I moved the "Rational Mathematics" section. Today I will be moving the "History of Ideas" and "Science Overview" sections. Later I propose to move the literary and philosophical sections.

Meanwhile I will keep this blog for personal details. I also decided to close down my connection to Facebook, since I found it difficult to operate. I much prefer this blogspot system for connecting people with like interests.

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

An Unproductive Morning with Power Cuts

There was a power cut here 7:45 - 9:15 this morning. Fortunately I still had some matches (instead of the electric spark) to light the gas to make coffee, wash and shave and boil milk for my breakfast cereal. That was the second power cut since I've been here, the other was on Saturday 24 January about 4:45 - 5:30 pm. The cuts affected the surrounding area, but I'm not sure for how far.

I went out about 11:30 intending to get a train to Lewes (as reported on my Hastings Humanists blog) but decided instead to go down King's Road to buy a paper, only to find the shops there all in darkness from another power cut. It didn't extend as far the shops at the bottom of London Road. When I went back for the paper the lights were on again.

Perhaps whoever looks after the electric supplies (National Grid?) are trying to share out the cuts among different areas. Or is this just a poorly connected area?

Monday, 2 February 2009

View from my Front Door

This was the view from my front door around mid-day today. Snow on an old oak tree.
The tree is in the grounds of an organisation called "The Society of the Holy Child Jesus Community".