Happy Towel Day 2022!

Following on from the Hitchhiker’s Guide Trivia Quizzes I did for Towel Day 2020 and 2021, here’s another to celebrate Towel Day, 25May2022!

The answers will be published later on today (at 22:10:10 UTC) in a password-protected post (here). You can find clues to the password by reading the four posts in the 2020 quiz.

Q1: How long did it take for the ‘B’ ark to make the journey from Golgafrincham to Earth?

Q2: What family relationship is Zaphod to Ford?

Q3: For what serious offense do they tend to lock you away in some planet’s stone age and tell you to evolve into a more responsible lifeform?

Q4: What, according to a poll in Playbeing Magazine, is the hippest place in the galaxy?

Q5: What is Lintilla’s profession?

Q6: When Zaphod slips in the cold and mysterious cave, what expression does he use?

Q7: How many of his audience died of internal haemorrhaging when Grunthos the Flatulent recited his poem “Ode to a small lump of green putty I found in my armpit one midsummer morning”?

Q8: From which planet did Zaphod Beebrox originate?

Q9: How do Ford and Arthur cope with being stranded on prehistoric Earth?

Q10: How late was the Trans-stellar Spacelines ship that Ford and Zaphod find in the derelict spaceport?

Q11: When thinking of ways to describe what Zaphod is making of his life, what phrase tends to spring to the mind of Zaphod’s great grandfather?

Q12: What can you stick in your ear to instantly understand anything in any form of language?

Q13: Who writes poetry to throw his mean, callous, heartless exterior into sharp relief?

Q14: What degrees does Trillian hold?

Q15: What, in the local language, do the protruding upper halves of the motto of the Syrius Cybernetics Complaints Division read?

Q16: Through what three phases does every major galactic civilization pass?

Q17: Which three words are given as examples of those now acceptable in common usage?

Q18: Where was Arthur Dent’s house?

Q19: Which Shakespearean play did the infinite number of monkeys come up with?

Q20: How many small black ships come to visit The Man in the Shack?

Q21: The Haggunenons of Vicissitus III will quite frequently evolve several times over lunch. Why might one evolve into something with long arms that’s incapable of drinking coffee?

Q22: In which sector of open space did the Heart of Gold pick up Arthur and Ford?

Q23: What two names does the captain of the Arcturan megafreighter use to acknowledge the messages from traffic control on the approach to Ursa Minor Beta?

Q24: What is Zaphod’s solution to the situation in which the Vogons attack the Heart of Gold?

Q25: What colour are Lintilla’s little Evening Class pills?

Q26: How long was Ford Prefect on the Earth (the first time around)?

Q27: Who came up with the theory that somewhere there was a planet entirely given over to biro life forms?

Q28: What is the title of the compendious tome by Werdle Sneng, which is far too large to carry but sits magnificently on fashionable coffee tables?

Q29: What is small, yellow, leech-like and probably the oddest thing in the universe?

Q30: What, according to Zaphod, are the chances of falling onto a swutting big bird?

Q31: According to an ancient Arcturan proverb, at what speed does the soul travel?

Q32: Use of what device causes Lintilla to run even though nobody is pursuing?

Q33: Did Arthur Dent’s dog get brushed on the Thursday the Earth was demolished?

Q34: Where did Trillian learn the technique of ‘splitting the flight path tangentially across the summit vector of 9GX78 with a five degree inertial correction’?

Q35: How does Deep Thought describe the Milliard Gargantubrain at Maximegalon?

Q36: What was the fate of the Golgafrinchans who weren’t on the ‘B’ ark?

Q37: When Arthur and Ford find themselves back on Earth before it was destroyed, how far in the past are they?

Q38: How many tourists visit Bethselamin every year?

Q39: How does the Marketing Division of the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation define a robot?

Q40: What caused Arthur Dent’s words to spark a war between the Vl’hurgs and the G’Gugvuntts?

Q41: What has experience shown to be the most effective way of dealing with any Haggunenon you may meet?

Q42: The computer known as the Earth was destroyed before it was able to determine the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything. How long before?

Post your score in the comments :)

Share and enjoy!

Posted in Just for laughs, Phlyarology, Science Fiction | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Get my eBook for FREE, Towel Day 2022

Grab your towel, froods!

Although it has nothing at all to do with The Hitchhiker’s Guide…

On 25May2022† my eBook is available totally FREE!

Just click on this link right here to get it.

If you don’t have a Kindle,
don’t worry, you can use
the Kindle app
or
Kindle for PC

Enjoy!

If you feel that you owe me something (you don’t),
could I ask you please for a review on amazon and/or goodreads?

Reviews of ‘The Eclectic’

If your sense of humour is like mine, you will roar with laughter at some of these gems. The Eclectic is a collection of poems and short stories that take a gentle but firm poke at reality. For example, the trickle-down effect is examined in a goblet-shaped poem, which correctly identifies the main reason our world is in trouble. One hilarious story tells you exactly what had happened to the Titanic, and why. Or you might be interested in the REAL story of King Arthur. I can recommend the productions of a delightfully twisted mind.

Bob Rich on Goodreads 🌠🌠🌠🌠🌠

After you read this wonderful collection of stories, poems and dreams, you will be asking this incredibly original deep thinker to put pen to paper (or finger to keyboard) without delay! Fantastic stuff!

Rick on amazon 🌠🌠🌠🌠🌠


(If you should happen to land on this page on some other day,
leave a comment below or contact me
and I’ll schedule another free day, just for you!)



† The small print: 00:00 to 23:59 Pacific Time – check here for your time zone!

Posted in ... wait, what?, Fantasy, Phlyarology, Science Fiction | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The yarn that got away

Back in 1982, or perhaps it was ’83, I was working on a short story; it was my first real attempt in my quest to ‘become a writer’. I wrote the story on my first computer (an Amstrad PCW), which is long since departed – and my draft story along with it. That taught me a valuable lesson that’s stuck with me ever since:

Always keep backups

† plural – because backups can go walkies, too!

My story (I can’t remember if I gave it a title) involved a young man whose name was Kriston Masters (for some odd reason I recall that well). Kriston woke up one day and was surprised to find an odd box at the foot of his bed. The box was completely black; its surface was incredibly slippery, almost frictionless. Kriston tried to figure out what it was and where it had come from… he discovered some shallow indentations on its surface, stuck his fingers in some of them – and found himself transported in time. The story went on from there: eventually, he reverse-engineered the box and made a copy of it. The tale ended with Kriston using the duplicate box to take himself back in time and space to the bedroom where his earlier self gently snored. Quietly depositing the original box at the foot of the bed, he left the way he’d come.

(Just in case that’s too subtle: where did the original box come from?)

I had plans to expand upon this beginning, back then. It was to be a trilogy:

  • Book One: as described above.
  • Book Two: describes the utter mess of history that Kriston creates during his time travelling adventures.
  • Book Three: how he finally manages to untangle it all and get everything back to normal.

I never made a start on books Two or Three; largely because I could never get my head around how they might pan out. Fortunately, unbeknown to me, the concept wasn’t mine alone; other, smarter, heads had come up with it too…

Here’s an odd coincidence: The wonderful movie Back to the Future was released in 1985, and its sequels in 1989 and 1990. Wikipedia says that it “was conceived of in 1980 by Gale and Zemeckis” (ie some months before I began creating my Kriston yarn). I’m certain I hadn’t heard anything about this work. I can’t even imagine how I might have; I was in the UK, Gale and Zemeckis were in the US. They would no doubt have kept the concept under wraps – and there was no Internet back then to leak rumours and snippets all over the place. I can’t now recall what it was that sparked off the idea for my own short story and its sequels. It might perhaps have been Robert Heinlein’s novella By His Bootstraps, or maybe one of my favourite novels, The Door into Summer

… and here’s another odd coincidence: while searching for an appropriate page for that last link, I happened to notice that Takahiro Miki made that story into a movie that was released just last year.

The Door into Summer (2021) Japanese Movie Trailer English Subtitles
(夏への扉-キミのいる未来へ- 特報映像 英語字幕)

Excuse me, please, I have to go watch that (it’s on Netflix)…

Posted in ... wait, what?, art, Fantasy, Flash fiction, Tech tips | Tagged , , , , , , | 7 Comments

The Anti-Democracy Movement Run Amok

If you read just one thing today, please make it this.

Filosofa's Word

As I lay in bed at 5:30 this morning seeking that elusive thing called sleep, I received an email with Robert Reich’s latest newsletter.  Despite my better judgment, I started reading the piece and there went any hope for sleep.  Peter Thiel’s name has crossed my radar before … he is a billionaire with a net worth of about $4.7 billion who has bankrolled some pretty nasty political candidates, most notably the former guy.  I didn’t know a lot about him, though, and Mr. Reich took care of filling in some gaps … some rather disturbing ones.  Please take a minute to read his piece, for it is well worth your time — just don’t read it at bedtime.


What you need to know about the anti-democracy movement

Who’s funding it, why it’s inspired by Viktor Orban, and what it aims to achieve

Robert Reich

May 19, 2022

Decades ago…

View original post 840 more words

Posted in ... wait, what?, Core thought, News and politics, People, Reblogs | Tagged , , | 10 Comments

Encouraging literacy in memory of Douglas Adams

Towel Day is just over a week away!

Gery Deer, Towel Day Ambassador for 2022, has launched a literacy initiative to raise funds to help improve reading skills.

Literacy is the silver bullet to poverty, ignorance, and socioeconomic issues.

Gery Deer, Towel Day Ambassador

If you live in the USA, you could chuck some bucks to Reading Is Fundamental. If you’re a Brit like me, I’m sure that BookTrust would appreciate it if you slid them a few quid. (And if you live somewhere else, you might want to search for an organisation that promotes literacy in your neck of the woods.)

The value of my own donation was predetermined by a highly esteemed wordsmith (no prizes for guessing who, or what the number was!)

“Tea Party at the End of the Universe” with Douglas Adams and Michio Kaku

Michio Kaku: The thing that I’ve never seen in a science fiction novel is the quest for the meaning of the universe. Here we have Arthur Dent and Ford Prefect being thrust into outer space, hitchhiking their way across the galaxy, encountering a civilization that has tried to grapple with a computer that can find the meaning of existence. Could you explain how you came to that? And then what was the final answer that the computer found?

Douglas Adams: I mean, very often, unless you understand everything that surrounds an answer, you’re not going to understand the answer itself. And in this case, nobody actually even knew what the question was supposed to be. So what happens, just to recap the story briefly, is that they build this gigantic supercomputer.

Of course, I didn’t know in those days that a supercomputer would have to be very small. I visited, a few years ago, a friend who was working at Digital Productions in Los Angeles, where they were working on a Cray supercomputer, which was really quite a small thing; I mean, it would sort of fit in this sort of space, though the cooling plant for it would fill a whole building. And the point is, the speed with which it has to operate, the length of each wire becomes significant. Light may be travelling, electrons may be travelling along it at 186,000 miles per second, but that is actually a little too slow for the computer. So, we now know as computers get more and more powerful, they’re going to have to get smaller and smaller and smaller. But anyway, so I made that mistake.

So, they ask it to calculate The Answer to The Ultimate Question of Life, The Universe, and Everything. And it says, “Okay, it’ll take me seven and a half million years of computation.” And eventually they come back and it says, “Yes, there is an Answer to The Ultimate Question of Life, The Universe, and Everything.” And they say, “Are you going to tell us?” and it says, “Yes, but you’re not going to like it.” And eventually it says, “Well, The Answer to The Ultimate Question of Life, The Universe, and Everything is 42.” And they suddenly realize they hadn’t actually worked out what The Question was. And without knowing that, the answer ’42’ actually isn’t going to help you very much.

But it seemed to me, as much as anything else, I just liked the joke that it was going to be a number and nobody would know what that was. Trying to find what the number was was interesting, because I decided if you’re doing a joke that involves a number, then the sort of knee jerk reaction of comedy writers is to put in a sort of slightly peculiar number, like it’ll be sort of ‘seventeen and three-eighths’ or something, and I thought, no, that’s silly, because here the whole joke is that it is a number, and if you put a silly number in there, it’s going to defuse the joke. So it’s got to be a very, very ordinary number. So I thought, how do you find out what an ‘ordinary’ number is? So I thought, well, the first thing is it can’t be an odd number. Now there is exactly the same number of odd numbers as there are even numbers, but there’s something odd about them. And so I thought, well, it can’t be an odd number, it can’t be a prime number; it’s got to be an everyday sort of number: You know, you can divide six into it, you can divide seven into it; it’s just a sort of ordinary everyday number. And that was, you know, people have speculated, why did I choose that number? It was just the most ordinary one I could come up with.

Michio Kaku: So the meaning of the universe is 42. But, you know, from a physicist’s point of view, this is kind of interesting because in superstring theory, which is supposedly the theory of the entire universe, the magic number is 26; the theory predicts that our universe is in 26 dimensions. However, no one knows why; it just pops out of the equations. Here we have this number, 26, staring at us in the face. And many physicists have commented that in your series the number 42 jumps out, and yet it seems that the meaning of existence does seem to be bound by strange numbers that are actually even, and strange numbers that come at you for which there’s no explanation.

Douglas Adams: Right.

Michio Kaku: Let me ask you a personal question: how is it that somebody who is into comedy writing, somebody who’s into advanced physics, somebody who’s into science fiction came out with that strange combination? It had probably something to do with what happened when you were 15 years of age. How did it all come together?

Douglas Adams: Well, I remember, ages ago, having a talk to somebody who was a researcher in an arcane field in physics, and we discovered that I, as a comedy writer, and he, as a research physicist, did a very similar job. Because there’s something that we both do, which is sifting through all the sort of data, all the information, all the ideas, trying to find things that unexpectedly correlate from here to here, correspondences that are completely unexpected. And this is certainly what you do in comedy writing. You’re trying to see things by shifting some perspective, shifting some variables somewhere that suddenly makes two things that were apparently completely unalike, suddenly appear to be alike and appear to be alike because, in some fundamental way, they are. And it’s always those moments of sudden, rather startled recognition that give you particularly good moments in comedy. And you will see instantly how that obviously applies to scientific research. You’re actually trying to find patterns, you’re trying to find correspondences, things that connect with each other that you didn’t expect to. So I think it’s not unnatural that a mind which has a bent to do one, will also be fascinated by the other.

Michio Kaku: So the serendipity of the scientists, right? The leaps of logic, the fantastic leaps of logic that an Einstein or a Newton would have are also the basic science that comedy writers approach, and crack.

Douglas Adams: Yes. Certainly the way I approach comedy, that’s true; I mean, obviously, it’s different for different people. But, I suppose writing that kind of comedy has also allowed me to just invent, and speculate, with an immense amount of freedom. And it’s something that I’ve always loved doing. And it’s also the thing which is the natural resource of somebody who’s a scientist, the need to invent and speculate about ideas and writing science fiction comedy is the ideal way of putting the two together. And I have to say, though I had to abandon serious scientific training, you know, when I was 15 or whatever it was, and felt very frustrated by that for a long time, something that’s come sort of galloping to my rescue in one way has been personal computers, because I have a house full of Macintoshes and I spend an awful lot of time, apart from writing, doing bits of programming, following ideas and seeing how things work. And I’ve learnt an awful lot from it. My publishers always say that they think it’s a rather alarming displacement activity; it’s a modern writer’s equivalent of sharpening your pencils every morning before you get down to work, and then cleaning the fridge, and then having a bath; instead, I just do it all on the computer.

But I found that one of the things that held me back slightly, when I used to do maths and physics at a junior level, was I was very good at the concepts, but I had sort of number blindness at one level, in that, give me a column of figures to add up and I would never get them to come to the same number each time. And this used to drive me crazy because it was a terrible frustration that I would know, I would have grasped the concept, and not be able to make the numbers work on paper. And of course, if you’re using a computer, you can explore the concepts to your heart’s content because it will take care of the numbers. Now, any mathematician will say to me in response to that, “Ah, but if you if you don’t have an instinctive feel for basic arithmetic, then you’re always going to be somewhat of a limited mathematician”; because all the really great mathematicians have an absolute instinctive grasp of basic arithmetic, and you can’t really do one properly without the other. But there’s a grey area, in which I certainly fall, that is fascinated by concepts and can play with concepts, but kind of needs the machine to add up four and seven and get eleven every time.

(Lightly edited for clarity.)

The transcript above was made with the help of Sonix, which did most of the donkey work for a tiny fee (I did have to spend some time tidying it up). Note that I do not have the copyright owner’s permission to publish this transcript here. I’ve investigated the copyright rules regarding transcriptions (more about that here), and one thing I’ve learned is that it’s no defence to make a disclaimer like “these aren’t my words, no copyright infringement intended.” However, I offer the transcription here as a service to society (especially the deaf community). I do hope the copyright owner won’t object. And I hope that you find this video as interesting as I did.

Posted in Communication, Education, Strategy | Tagged , , , , , , , | 21 Comments

Georgius Piscator: gone, but not forgotten

It was ten years ago today
That my dear father passed away.
Were he still here, and in his prime
He’d walk ten miles to drop a line.

Dad’s Eulogy, by R.

R: Can you hear me talking?
M,C & V: Only in words!
R: Splendid, I shall just use words then.

Ladies and gentlemen, Dad was a great fan of the Goon shows, and you will be delighted to hear that the only quote from those shows has already happened. I am R, G’s eldest son. G’s widow, M, extends her warmest thanks to you all for coming here today to celebrate G’s life.

GFR was born in Marylebone, London on 8th September 1927, the 3rd and youngest child of F & A. He grew up just a stone’s throw from Lord’s Cricket Ground.

Not content just to indulge his love of watching cricket, at the age of 7 his family moved to Wembley. All this was just a disguise of course, as his real objective was the Grand Union Canal just ¼ mile away where he could indulge his passion for fishing. More on that in a minute.

G attended Barham Primary School, as did 3 of his sons later on. He passed the 11+ with flying colours and went on eventually to Willesden Technical College. He left aged 16 to join the General Post Office (later known as British Telecom) as a telephone engineer. He stayed with them for 40 years and retired early, aged 56.

G was too young to fight in WW2 but the war still took its toll as his elder brother and best friend F was killed in action on the last day of fighting in Tunisia. G&M visited the grave several decades later; M still feels that G never really recovered from this loss.

G was called up to the army in 1946 and later served in Trieste, Italy until 1950. Upon his return home he rejoined the GPO and in 1951 having learned there was “a young French lady on the loose” (those are my mother’s words btw) he decided to show her the sights of London, as you do, especially as the Festival of Britain was in full swing.

G&M started going out a lot, especially during the close season for fishing. After 18 months, M went back to France, closely followed by G at Easter 1953, which just happened to be a few days into the close season for fishing. They became engaged and married on 1st August 1953, which is well INTO the fishing season so clearly he meant it. They did however, get the boat back to England 1 day later.

I was born a year later and my brother M in 1957. Soon after this, G joined the Emergency Reserve of the Royal Signals. He was promoted to sergeant and travelled all over the country to check on the fall-out shelters. M thinks he had the easier job compared to looking after 2 young sons. Then C was born in 1960 and V in 1962 so G became president of the Wembley and District Angling Society. By this time we had moved to within 30 yards of the Grand Union Canal; I remember many fishing trips with Dad.

During his working life, G, amongst other things, joined the Viatores (a group of walkers) and became the first president of the Central London Group of the BT International Twinning. After M retired, they moved to F, where they indulged their passion for gardening. Dad had long since given up fishing but did like to go for walks. In F they became an integral part of the local community and I extend my own thanks to those neighbours and friends who helped and are continuing to do so.

In later life, he suffered from dementia and for the last 18 months he has lived at a residential home, to whom we extend our thanks for caring for Dad; he wasn’t easy but he remained a lovely man, the perfect gentleman. We lost Dad a long time ago but there were still little glimmers of him there. Just a few weeks ago we caught him dancing, a slow dance, with a blonde 25-ish lady carer.

I finish with a reading from the book “The Wayfarers’ Journal” published by the Viatores (G’s walking group). Not many people can claim to be referenced in a published work, but G achieved that too. One of G’s skills was in calligraphy and the author, John Lloyd, called himself the scribe and appointed G as his apprentice, or sub-scriber, a pun on the word BT used to use for their customers.


George, Coarse Fisherman
The Wayfarers’ Journal, p123
by John Lloyd and Pat Sellars
(Webb & Bower, 1991)

Now George has quite an interesting line –
Coarse Fisherman. On Iter Thirty-nine
When rain came down all day, he didn’t care,
He just likes being in the open air.
Next time they walked him twenty miles and more,
No wonder that his feet were very sore.
Half-way he had to buy some brand new shoes;
He’d not give up. What! Give up all that booze?
Coarse walking he did readily embrace
Despite the wettest walk on Cranborne Chase.
He dresses like the other vagabonds.
At any rate his clothing corresponds.
That’s not surprising as their walking code
Is that “all men are equal on the road”.
With his calligraphy they’re satisfied
That he is very nearly qualified
To understudy John as a “subscriber”,
Not only that, he is a fair imbiber.
And if you want to know how much, I reckon
He does some thirty miles to the gallon.

George Reynolds
In Memoriam, GFR 19272012

Related: On the way in and on the way out (music at Dad’s funeral).

Posted in Tributes | Tagged , , , , , | 29 Comments

The writings of Chat Qu’éspire

About four hundred years ago, William Shakespeare was born and died in the Aprils of two successive centuries. As I sit here putting the final touches to this post, it’s the last day of this year’s April; the first day of April is known as ‘All Fools’ Day’, and I’m a fool, so it all seems somehow appropriate (in my mind at least; YMMV).

Although I have more than a hundred draft posts at present, all of them require more effort than I can currently muster to bring up to what I would consider to be an acceptable standard to schedule for what’s become my regular Tuesday slot‡. As I’m somewhat at a loss, this feeble, disjointed wibblette (which, rather appropriately, is representative of my current mental state) will have to suffice.

PS May the fourth be with you on the morrow.

So turgid as we are, so dull to sense
Find we no time for any peace to pant,
Nor breathe at all, nor e’en consider
What might occur in strands afar remote.

Chat Qu’éspire AKA me (1960)

So shaken as we are, so wan with care,
Find we a time for frighted peace to pant,
And breathe short-winded accents of new broils
To be commenced in strands afar remote.
No more the thirsty entrance of this soil
Shall daub her lips with her own children’s blood;
Nor more shall trenching war channel her fields,
Nor bruise her flowerets with the armed hoofs
Of hostile paces: those opposed eyes,
Which, like the meteors of a troubled heaven,
All of one nature, of one substance bred,
Did lately meet in the intestine shock
And furious close of civil butchery
Shall now, in mutual well-beseeming ranks,
March all one way and be no more opposed
Against acquaintance, kindred and allies:
The edge of war, like an ill-sheathed knife,
No more shall cut his master. Therefore, friends,
As far as to the sepulchre of Christ,
Whose soldier now, under whose blessed cross
We are impressed and engaged to fight,
Forthwith a power of English shall we levy;
Whose arms were moulded in their mothers’ womb
To chase these pagans in those holy fields
Over whose acres walk’d those blessed feet
Which fourteen hundred years ago were nail’d
For our advantage on the bitter cross.
But this our purpose now is twelve month old,
And bootless ’tis to tell you we will go:
Therefore we meet not now. Then let me hear
Of you, my gentle cousin Westmoreland,
What yesternight our council did decree
In forwarding this dear expedience.

King Henry’s monologue in Henry IV Part 1
by William Shakespeare (15641616)

H/T to Shake’s peer (AKA Doug Jacquier) for the inspiration.

‡ I’m very grateful to Bob Rich† for stepping in to fill the void with his guest post last week (one that I hope will be the first of many). If you, Dear Reader, should feel inclined to lend me a hand in a similar vein, please do check out my post Creating content collaboratively.

† As a gratwise gesture, I would like to direct your attention to a recent appeal by Bob for assistance with a book he’s working on. I would consider it a personal favour if you would follow this link to his post ‘Does this opening hook you?‘ – if you do, please let me know that you’ve done so to allow me to attempt to repay you in some way.

Posted in ... wait, what?, Just for laughs, People, Phlyarology, Poetry | Tagged , , , | 15 Comments

The End Of “Liberty and Justice for All”

This is appalling. The ‘Land of the Free’ is going backwards!

Filosofa's Word

Yesterday, the United States Supreme Court voted to take away a substantial portion of the rights of women when they voted in private to strike down the 1973 landmark Roe v. Wade decision.  We all saw it coming, but I think we all had our fingers tightly crossed that the Court wouldn’t opt to go down this perilous path.  That hope is gone.  What’s next?  Will we lose our right to “equal pay for equal work”?  Will our voting rights be further restricted (working women are already among the groups for whom voting has been made significantly more difficult)?  Will the Court ultimately also strike down Obergefell v Hodges and take away the rights of same-sex couples to marry?  Just how far is this ignominious Supreme Court willing to push We the People?  And perhaps the bigger question is … how far will we allow them to push us…

View original post 661 more words

Posted in Reblogs | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

Too hot? Too cold?

A guest post by Bob Rich

Don’t reach for the thermostat yet.

You can save a huge amount of electricity, gas, firewood or whatever your temperature-control energy source is and yet live a good life.

Let me tell you a story. After all, it is one of my favourite pastimes. In the 1970s, I worked for a research organisation that received funding to reduce staff turnover at remote mining communities in Australia’s tropical areas. Poring over the records soon revealed that there were three kinds of employees: single men, men who left their families behind and took regular breaks to be home with them, and men who brought their families with them.

The first two kinds lasted at the job without much trouble. The culprits were the third kind.

On-site observation showed that the men and children soon got adapted to the heat, but the wives never did. They went from air-conditioned house in air-conditioned car to air-conditioned shops and things. Each time they emerged into the real world, the heat punched them in the face. So, they soon started nagging their husbands to go.

The research team’s solution used the mighty force of greed. The wives were paid to play tennis out in the heat.

Staff turnover reduced.

I remember a second story from my teenage years. One of my addictions was reading, and by 17, I’d read everything in the school library, and in the local public library. This included everything, even encyclopaedias. And there was interesting stuff about Antarctic explorers. One mob were pulling their sleds across the snow and ice — no sissy stuff like dogs for them, they did the pulling themselves — when a heatwave caught them. The temperature rose almost to freezing point, you know, 0°C or 32°F? They were so hot they had to take their shirts off and pull bare-chested.

So, here is the first energy-saving trick: vigorous exercise induces your body to rapidly adapt to any temperature regime. Currently it’s autumn sliding into winter in the Southern Hemisphere, spring springing toward summer north of the Equator. So, it’s an ideal time to get started. Pick the warmest time of the day in the north, coolest in the south, and do vigorous exercise. A minimum of 20 minutes three times a week is good, if your body allows it. The criterion is, work up a bit of a sweat.

By the time the worst of the season arrives, you’ll be able to shrug it off.

The second point is, you don’t actually need to control the temperature of your house. You only need to control the temperature of a few millimetres of air next to your skin. A recent invention to achieve this, perhaps a million years ago, is clothing. That works well in the coolth, while in the warmth we need to learn from the cultures who live in hot climates. Desert dwellers wear long, loose, voluminous robes, and their heads are mostly covered. Think Tuareg, like this bloke below:

Two men riding camels
‘Tuareg’, by Bradley C Watson (Creative Commons)

Mind you, why isn’t the camel dressed in the same way?

In the humid tropics, people live in the shade, like the Dayaks in Borneo. They use evaporative cooling by actually building their houses over a stretch of river.

Another story: when I was a tiny tot, the summer my family spent as Hitler’s guest in the ghetto was terribly hot. My grandmother, the fount of all wisdom, wrapped me in a wet sheet, and this worked so well that the adults also used this trick. Nowadays, you can buy a special cloth that holds a lot of water without dripping. You can wrap this around your neck.

The final tool is something that works for every source of discomfort: equanimity, or simple acceptance. A chapter of my book, From Depression to Contentment (here’s a ‘genius link’ to it), teaches you how, or if you are too poor to buy an electronic copy, you can read the short story Buddhist equanimity is useful.

Last winter, a dear friend defied the lockdown and visited us. My wife and I were quite comfortable, with temperature at 16 degrees C, but I noticed her shivering, so put on the reverse cycle thingie to warm up the room for her. Even in winter, our solar panels squeezed out enough electricity to run it without drawing power from the grid, so it was a zero footprint exercise.

So, there you have it. Save the planet without frostbite or heatstroke.

Posted in ... wait, what?, balance, collaboration, Core thought, Environment, GCD: Global climate disruption, Health, Strategy | Tagged , , , , , | 7 Comments

Earth Day ft. The Candy

Devang told me that he had a special post lined up for Earth Day, and I had intended to reblog it then but it slipped my mind until now. It’s still Earth Month, though… and, after all, every day really ought to be Earth Day! As Devang says:

… don’t wait for Earth Day to bring the change instead, start today to protect the tomorrow.

Oops. I messed up: I deleted the first image in this post from my media library… and can’t figure out how to get it back (as it’s a reblog). I’ve appealed to the WordPress.com Happiness Engineers for help; hopefully they’ll be able to fix it!

[Addendum 27Apr2022]

Having heard nothing in response to my appeal for help, I contacted WordPress.com support again, and found that they had no record of my request. Odd. I explained the issue again, and was told that I would need to upgrade from my ‘personal plan’ to a ‘pro plan’ to do what’s needed. The thing is, ‘what’s needed’ to fix this in actually very simple; just removing a couple of characters from the filename of an image in my media library, to change ‘20220416_084538_0000-2-2.png’ (a duplicate image file I’d uploaded in an attempt to correct my mistake) to ‘20220416_084538_0000-2.png’ (the name of the file that this reblogged post expects; a name to which I have no access in this post itself due to the way ‘Reblog’ works).

The Happiness Engineer I spoke to promised to look into it further and get back to me by email. In the meantime, here’s the copy of the image that’s currently ‘broken’ below:

You may well be wondering why on Earth I should spend time detailing this, and you’d be right to do so. Far, far too much time is wasted on such technoillogical phlyarologisms, there are more important issues to deal with. But, hey, it’s my way :)

PS I wish WordPress would fix the ‘Reblog’ facility. There are soooo many bugs in it that reared their ugly heads after the (forced) introduction of the block editor (one of which is apparent right here in the form of the massive spaces between these paragraphs, over which I have no control).

[/Addendum]

Fat Guy Workout

This image is made by The candy as a sweet gesture

Today is Earth Day and I am bringing you a very special blog to draw your attention to this important day. I will share some facts, that are educational as well as informative.

But, not just that, I also have a poem to share; written by The Candy. This is my first official collaboration and I’m super excited to share her poem with you guys.

Let’s start with something interesting first:

Canada’s Hudson Bay has less gravity as compared to the rest of the world. You won’t float there but you will weigh less there, so if you want to see less weight on the scale without a workout and diet, visit that place.

If we talk about specific places then rainforests are another significant place on the Earth. Rainforest is home to more than 2 million species…

View original post 575 more words

Posted in Biodiversity, Core thought, Environment, Health, Reblogs, Strategy | Tagged , , | 5 Comments