Train trouble
Me
pauldormer
I went into London yesterday to see a play.  Turned out that wasn't as easy as it should have been.

Fast trains from Guildford to Waterloo normally take about 35 minutes.  However, I checked the national rail website yesterday morning and discovered that trains were scheduled to take over an hour on that route.  That usually means that the direct line from Woking to Clapham Junction is closed for engineering works and the trains are diverted via Chersey, Virginian Water, Kew Bridge and Barnes.  This turned out to be the case.

The train was a couple of minutes late at Guildford, but then, whilst on its diversion, it came to a halt.  The guard announced that there was a trespasser on the track at Barnes and the power had been shut off whilst the emergency services dealt with this.  The train got into Waterloo about 20 minutes late.  I'd left plenty of time to get to the theatre, but it did mean I had slightly less time than I'd hoped to eat before the performance.

It was quite a short play and I got back to Waterloo afterwards about 20:45.  On a normal day, I'd get the 21:00 and be home before ten.  The 21:00 was up on the board, but it was marked as delayed, as was the 21:30.  These were not only the only trains going to Guildford, they were the only trains going to Portsmouth.  The tannoy annoucements said it had been delayed due to disruptive passengers on the incoming service.  The guy at the information booth didn't know anything about this, although he did know about the trespasser earlier in the day.  Apparently, a woman had tried to walk from one station to the next along the tracks.

The 21:00 finally arrived slightly after 21:30.  It was a long train, so there were plenty of seats despite the crowd trying to get on.  It left about 40 minutes late.  But the Chersey line was still blocked up and the train was delayed even more, getting into Guildford after eleven.  However, at one point the guard did announce that the disruptive customers mentioned at Waterloo was actually a fight had broken out on the train.  Can't see any reports of this on the news today, although there are reports of a fight on a train earlier this week involving bagels, of all things.
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Timing
Me
pauldormer
I decided this week I needed a new notebook laptop.  So I looked around and found something I liked on Amazon and ordered it Wednesday morning.  When I placed the order, it said it would be delivered either Friday or Saturday, and yesterday evening I received an e-mail that it had been dispatched and was due tomorrow, Friday.

So, I was working on my desktop computer just now and an e-mail notification arrived.  It was due today.  Thirty seconds later, the doorbell rang.  One new laptop.

Note to self
Me
pauldormer
Don't watch iZombie whilst eating spicy Thai king prawn noodles.  It's amazing how much shredded brains look like king prawns.

Old technology
Me
pauldormer
I was supposed to be going to a concert at the Barbican tonight but I received an e-mail this morning telling me the conductor has been hospitalised with pneumonia and they couldn't find a replacement at such short notice so the concert has been cancelled.

Leastwise, that's what the e-mail said when I read it in Thunderbird.  But I also download all my e-mails for long term storage using an antiquated text-only program, Ameol, supplied by Cix, my e-mail provider.  The message was in two parts, one in html and the other in plain text.  Ameol displays the text part, which is a notification that a concert has been cancelled that was due to take place on January 5th 2015.

A mystery
Me
pauldormer
About this time of year I take down from my bookshelves a book I read a long time ago and re-read it, a different book each year.  This year I have decided upon Earthly Powers by Anthony Burgess.  It is the centenary of his birth in February.

I bought the Penguin paperback edition not long after it came out in the early eighties and I think I read it in 1985.  As I started reading it last night, a piece of paper fell out.  I'm often leaving till receipts in books.  Waterstone's receipts fade to white very quickly, I've found.  This however was an ATM receipt.  And not from 1985 but from 2005.  (I don't think I even had an ATM card in 1985.)  Apparently, I used an ATM in High Holborn on 16th April, 2005, withdrawing £50.

I was so intrigued I went and checked my diary for that day.  I was indeed London, it was the day of the Science Fiction Foundation AGM.  Also that night I watched a documentary on television about the General Slocum disaster and that may have been the reason I looked at Earthly Powers that day.

The General Slocum was a steamship that was chartered for a church excursion along the East River in New York City on June 15th, 1904.  It caught fire, the life belts and safety equipent didn't work and over a thousand people lost their lives, the worst loss of life in a single disaster in New York City in the whole of the twentieth century.  I first heard about this event as the composer Charles Ives wrote a tone poem about it.  I've never heard it as it's rarely performed and never been recorded but he re-worked the explosion into the 4th of July movement of his Holidays Symphony.

June 16th, 1904 was the date on which James Joyce's Ulysses was set and the news reached the Dublin newspapers that day.  Characters refer to it.

Now, Kenneth Toomey, the narrator of Earth Powers, claims to have had a sexual encounter in a Dublin hotel room that day with the Irish poet George Russell, at exactly the time that Russell is supposedly discussing Shakespeare with Stephen Dedalus at the National Library in Ulysses.  I'm fairly sure that when mentioning that he was in Dublin that day, Toomey goes on to mention other events from Ulysses, including the headlines about the General Slocum.  So I suppose that is why I was looking at Earthly Powers that day in 2005.  No idea why I left the ATM receipt in it, though.
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Canadian television
Me
pauldormer
I have just noticed that it's the same actor, Kristian Bruun, who plays both Constable "Slugger" Jackson on Murdoch Mysteries and Donnie Hendrix on Orphan Black.  Been watching both shows for years and had never noticed that before.

I am convinced that Canadian television is a bit like Danish television.  They only have a limited number of actors and they keep turning up in all the shows.

The Nosey magpie
Me
pauldormer
There seems to be a magpie (or similar bird) around here that has taken to landing on my upstairs window-sills and tapping.  I was sitting on the loo just now and heard a tapping on the window.  Very disconcerting.
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Charger update
Me
pauldormer
Well, I guessed wrong.  As I was coming back from Tesco this morning the postman recognised me in the street.  He had an envelope that was too big to get through my letterbox and he was just about to ask my neighbour to take it.  It was a Park Inn envelope and contained the missing charger.

When I plugged in the netbook and started it up it was showing 20% charge, so I don't think it would have lasted the day.  I also have just received an e-mail from Amazon saying the spare is due to arrive Friday.

Forgetfulness
Me
pauldormer
So, I get home from Novacon yesterday afternoon and go to switch on my netbook computer and i can't find the power connector for it.  I looked in both of my bags.  I know I had it in my hotel room that morning so I guess I must have left it there when I finished packing.  The netbook was the last thing I put in my bag.

I phoned the the hotel who told me that they'd ask house-keeping to get back to me.  There was no phone call as of ten o-clock this morning so I phoned them back and was put through to house-keeping immediately.  They said they had it and would ask front desk to post it back to me (as it is unlikely I'll be in Nottingham again before next Novacon).  So I then had to wait for the front desk to phone me back.  They did after about an hour or so, and said they'd post it, charging the cost to the credit card I'd used to pay the bill.

However, in the interim I'd ordered a replacement from Amazon, thinking that having a spare would be useful just in case I do something like this again.  Meanwhile, last I checked the charge on the netbook was down to 50% and I presume that as Windows computers don't power down completely when you shut them down, there is a constant power drain even on a swtiched off computer.  It will be a race as to which will happen first, the original connector arrives, the new connector arrives, or the battery goes completely flat.  My guess is that all three will happen about simultaneously.

There's a coincidence
Me
pauldormer
In my never-ending effort to catch up with my backlog of books and SF magazines, I'm currently reading an issue of Analog from 2007.  The lead story is Murder on Parliament Street by Barry B. Longyear.  This is a rather fun police procedural set in a future version of Exeter in Devon.  Longyear has obviously done his homework and I brought up a map of Exeter to check his geography.  The story is set near Exeter cathedral and the Bishop of Exeter is even briefly a suspect.  (Parliament Street apparently is the narrowest street in the UK, about 0.64m at its narrowest.)

So, I was intrigued to see on the news this morning that there is a big fire, just across from Exeter cathedral.

Edit:  I see on the news this morning that the Royal Clarence Hotel has collapsed.  That, too, featured in the story.  I even went to its website Thursday night.

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