Pages tagged “personal”

26 Jun 2023

Long, crustless hypotenuses

Branstonnaise is a new one on me: I’ve just discovered the third high-entropy food product to feature on this blog. It has prompted me to share a recipe for a sandwich. Ultimate Cheese is its name, and Sarah invented it while we lived in New Zealand. It doesn’t contain Branston pickle, but it does contain mayonnaise and another brown, tasty sandwich sauce. Note: the recipe is opinionated re: bread colour and cheese form (sliced over grated).

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26 Jun 2023

Standing up a prototype

24 hours with an upgraded standing desk at home and I’m really glad I went for it. But I wanted to write a few words about prototypes, minimum viable products, and describe my original standing desk for posterity. It started during Covid, working at home for many consecutive days. I made the most ergonomic “normal” desk I could, balancing a laptop on a pile of books to bring it to eye level.

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13 Apr 2022


Inspired by Green Planet, in which some wonderful sped-up plant proliferation is captured, I’ve been working on a little hobby project. My very own “timeslap” (this is Finn’s name for timelapse, and I think it’s a big improvement). I had been looking for an excuse to get a recent Raspberry Pi and try out the HQ camera module. My first idea was to capture the spring emergence of the leaves on the big lime trees outside our house, but a better opportunity presented itself: Mum and Dad have been having their garden “done” over the past few weeks.

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04 Apr 2022


I had at least an hour and a half this morning to contemplate this feature request. Apple, Google, are you listening? Here’s something I’d like my smartphone to do, please: “Good evening. It seems you have travelled away from home at a popular time of year for holiday making, accompanied by your family members, to a well known tourist destination. You’ve connected to a hotel’s wifi and I’ve noticed several transactions from the bar of a licensed premises.

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29 Mar 2022

Nocturnal visitors

Working at my cobbled-together-for-covid-still-totally-fine makeshift standing desk in the kitchen a few nights ago, I was distracted by a peculiar noise. Like somebody with a cold hyperventilating, and coming from the bottom of the thick beech hedge alongside our garden, it was loud enough for me to hear it even though the windows and door were closed. I swung the door open and was astonished to see a long, black and white striped face fossicking along: a badger!

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22 Jan 2022

Adversarial Wordle IRL

I love pen and paper games and I’ve discovered a new one. Wordle is everywhere at the moment. Even Google have added a little Easter Egg if you search for it. Thank you to Hamish at work who introduced me to its daily, self-contained, mentally invigorating joys. First thing to say - Wordle makes a good pen and paper game. Dull parent tip: it’s a good way to get children to practise spelling without them realising, and for a real challenge, play in your head(s).

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30 Dec 2021

Review of 2021: highs and lows

An end-of-year blog post to try and get myself back into the habit of writing again. 2021 has been about the same length as all the previous years I’ve been alive, and has had its fair share of challenges and happy memories. Bird of the year: Golden Eagle Our family’s staycation megatour of the Outer Hebrides in our campervan Beyoncé had a lot of incredible high points. The actual high point was 528m above sea level when we all made it up Tòdun on Harris.

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07 Sep 2021

Sparking a thought

I heard today that someone I work with was struck by lightning! They are fine. A peculiar feeling has sprung up inside me: I really want to know what a lightning strike feels like. Not to the extent that I am going to go out and seek electrocution, for obvious reasons. It’s a mixture of curiosity and awe with quite a lot of envy. Mostly I’d like to be able to tell that story first hand, I think.

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20 Sep 2020

The Mozz law of pricing

When I were a lad studying science I always dreamed of having a fundamental constant named after me, or maybe a unit or a law. Not that my achievements would even register on the scale: I’m certainly not claiming I’ve ever got near Planck, Newton and other such giants. The name of Gauss (Johann Carl Friedrich, that is) kept coming up during my lectures: he seems to have earned quite some naming rights.

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20 Sep 2020

Now with added entropy

I’m currently working my way through this jar to make room in the cupboard for a jar of honey and a jar of tahini. I admit to being slightly perplexed by the seeming increase in items for sale which are just two other things mixed together. Salted butter is an oldie. Admittedly, I couldn’t make salted butter (easily) from salt and butter in my cupboard/fridge, but then I never consume butter in solid form anyway.

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20 Aug 2020

Holiday humbug

I was already feeling the beginning of this curve before spending a couple of weeks on holiday. Given that I have found time to write a couple of blog posts, I’m (hopefully) on the downslope of the second bulge right now.

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30 Oct 2019

I got an e-scooter for my birthday...

…aaaand I’ve broken my ankle. The scooter is great fun, and I whirred to work along the guided busway. I learned quickly that if you’re travelling at over 20 kph without making any effort, October days in Cambridgeshire start to feel cold very quickly. Dug out the big gloves a bit early this year! Iris and Finn keep asking if they can have a go, and are counting down the days until they are old enough (about 2,500 in Iris’s case, if we go by manufacturer’s recommendations).

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03 Mar 2019

Sleep under the sky

Last weekend I had some time to myself, and I made a trip to Norfolk/Suffolk and added a couple of bird species to my life list (goshawk, woodlark). I also took advantage of the crazy-warm February weather to do one of my favourite things: fall asleep outdoors. I’m a huge believer in the power nap. Sometimes, I genuinely think it’s the single most efficient use for 20 minutes, such is the restorative power of a brain reboot.

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20 Feb 2019

Sports mode

Had a great time playing with my friend Aadi’s relatively-new drone in Girton this weekend. Another gadget goes on my wishlist. I was amazed by the amount of tech crammed into such a small package, and in particular at how much angry-sounding power comes out. On a gently breezy day, it hovered with no perceptible movement and was easy to control. We tried out “follow target”, “dronies” (a new one on me) and checked out its maximum speed.

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20 Feb 2019

Roger that, basecamp

If you have children that are old enough to scoot or cycle off on their own, my tip: get some walkie-talkies. Our house has a fairly quiet road out the back, but pavement-next-to-busy-road is the only way to get to either the Rec or the local car park (best place to learn to ride in Girton is the one at the top of Wellbrook Way). I’ve got a couple of Motorola T82s and two Cobra AM245s.

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18 Feb 2019

FaceTime → EarTime

In our house we’ve spent countless hours on video calls to distant family members. Being able to see the other side of a call is amazing: we actually live in the future, right? You can wave at someone hundreds of miles away, show them your new favourite toy, ask them how their garden grows, or - if you’re under six - show them the inside of your mouth. It’s very engaging, but Iris and Finn are completely accustomed to it - so much so, they have come to see a roughly-weekly FaceTime session more like a routine form of telepresence than a call.

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28 Oct 2018

Am I on time?

Is there something which will tell me - while I’m riding a bike - whether I’m on time for a train? Even if I could find the right app, fiddling with a smartphone isn’t an option: it’s already cold enough in Cambridge that I’m wearing gloves on my pedal-based commute. My Garmin Edge GPS offers “ETA”, can be operated with gloves on, can follow a track and offers “training mode”, all of which seems promising.

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22 May 2018

I remain a Northerner...

…sort of. Not so long ago I realised that I might not be a northerner any more (statistically speaking). I have a bit of an accent, I have my dinner at lunchtime and my tea at suppertime, so this came as a bit of a wake-up call! I’ve lived in Cambridge since undergraduate days: it’s the place I’ve spent most time living, and round about now I’m passing the point at which it’s been my home for 50% of my life (so far!

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14 Nov 2017


Christmas pudding is my number one foodstuff. Alongside it, lasagne, haggis, flapjack and pies. Clearly I have a predilection for stodge. We even have a term for it in our family. “Mozz food” has to have a certain density (calorifically and, er, massively). I love to crunch a crisp, to consume a cracker, but when hungry I will bat away these lower density delights in favour of something with a bit of heft to it.

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14 Nov 2017

Beverage bias

The UK version of Amazon Prime Photos just added a seemingly magic set of features to bring it to parity with the US version. My digitised photos - or at least, a private cloud-based copy of them - have been lodged there for a while, since unlimited (photo) storage is an included benefit of the aforementioned subscription service. The new features could loosely be called “AI” - in that Amazon’s computing power has churned over my pixel collection and applied a bit of machine learning: face recognition, object recognition and geolocation deduction.

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13 Sep 2016

I missed my pocket

I’m without my smartphone for a few days after it had a close encounter with some tarmac. I’ve lost a few superpowers: the ability to use Whatsapp and online banking. Most annoyingly I miss the ability to switch the lights on and off in my kitchen. That’s only the case because we were using flic buttons to do it via Bluetooth (after another domestic mishap in which we lost our light switch).

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23 Aug 2016

On the difficulty of deliberate ignorance

If you watch Match of the Day you’ve almost certainly done that thing where you avoid hearing the results so that you can watch the footy as if it were live. What with all the newfangled twitterbook, facewhat, interweb and apps, it’s got more and more difficult to achieve. Sarah and I were particularly challenged trying to keep up with this year’s action in the olympic velodrome. The world of tech fired an early warning shot at us for the men’s sprint final.

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10 Apr 2016


One day this week I had lunch that contained quorn, quark and quinoa. That is all.

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05 Apr 2016

Woodland welcome

Girton recently lost a big tree - I think it was a holm oak. Until a couple of weeks ago it had a great spot right in the middle of the village. Things feel stark without it. It’s going to be replaced - but it will be tens of years before anything comparable has grown up. Out running recently I found this “Woodland welcome” sign. There are some saplings just out of shot but I don’t think I’ve done it an injustice.

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04 Jan 2016

Cousins and carrots

I was delighted to find out recently that us Morrisons have some relations living in the same village as us. From some family checkups over the festive period, it turns out that I share two of my great grandparents with someone who (nearly) shares my postcode. This means that one of Iris’s best friends at nursery is her third cousin. Explaining this pleasant discovery in a friendly kitchen on New Year’s Eve, I was amused to observe that the usual shenanigans went on.

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26 Jul 2015

Being a big kid

A video of me trying something I first saw on Strictly Come Dancing, and showing off, and nearly crashing into someone. The shouts are, I promise, shouts of encouragement and congratulations from the instructor. Flowboarding is fun - thanks for my Christmas present Sarah!

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12 Jul 2015


Twelve intrepid runners completed this year’s g10k race, completing two hot laps of the “lollipop course”. Proceedings were expertly marshalled by the two race officials and race mascot (thanks Sarah, Lauren and Otis). Meanwhile, nobody was taking it easy. Meerkat-style crèche watching kept a handful of heroic grown-up helpers fully occupied while we runners were making our way round the race. Having more runners than last time made it even more fun.

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02 Jun 2015

A metric milestone for Finn

Like big sister, Finn slept through his megasecond. It happened at 2:03am though, so I wasn’t going to stay up for it. An artist’s impression of the event is available below.

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23 May 2015

Morrisons += 10lbs

I am so proud of my wife. We have another baby and his name is Finn Owen Morrison. He seems a placid sort of fellow and likes sleeping during the day and whimpering during the night. I think he looks a bit like big sister did at the same age. Born precisely 1,432,210,581 seconds after midnight on the 1st of January 1970 a.k.a. early on Thursday afternoon. (He has a terrible almost-repetetive birthdate of 21-05-2015.

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11 May 2015

Reinstalling the dolls' computer

I couldn’t live with Windows XP on the computer in the dolls' house. System reinstallation now complete!

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25 Apr 2015


I suspect every parent feels the feeling I have at the moment. Right now, Iris is fast asleep next door dreaming, probably, of the bears that she says often visit her at night and take her to the park. She’s totally fine, except for a bump on the face - exacerbated by her new sunglasses whacking into her right next to the eye. She had a bit of a trapeziuming incident today, after I let her go on “the big girls' swings”.

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01 Apr 2015

Goodbye to an old friend

Dear Sony MHC-2900 Thank you for 20+ years of faithful service. Looking at you languishing in my neighbour’s skip - into which I deposited you with their permission, I hasten to add - brings back fond teenage memories of listening to John Peel, Mark & Lard and The Evening Session late at night. I always wondered why your entire volume range was within the first ten degrees of rotation, even though I could keep turning for at least 270.

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28 Jan 2015

To the Linacre Institute and its students - chapeau!

A good friend of mine set up a charity a little while ago, and I was honoured and pleased to be able to help out when he asked me to help build them a website. The Linacre Institute aims to help talented and disadvantaged students at northern UK comprehensive schools fulfil their potential and make successful applications to the country’s top universities. Students like this are currently very under-represented at Oxford, Cambridge, Imperial College London and elsewhere.

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10 Jan 2015

Geeky review of 2014

From a purely personal point of view, I’d give 2014 about an 8 out of 10. 7.62, to be precise. At the beginning of the year, I began to “Beemind” myself into writing a few sentences about each day and, following the example of my great and wise friend Billy, I rated each day out of ten. Not out of some desire for constant improvement or obsessive measurement (I’m into both of those) but because I was envious of his ability to jump into Evernote and call up any of his “ten out of ten” days in an instant.

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01 Dec 2014

A threatening schedule

Having written code to generate user messages, I know how hard it can be. This email reminder came into my inbox recently and spooked me a bit! “Alert - Make a will” sounded just a little threatening. As it happens, it was a legitimate reminder - I could’ve picked a better title for my appointment, I suppose.

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09 Nov 2014

Tyred of cycling

There are times when cycling is just not cool. Having had four punctures within a week, on the same wheel, I gave up crouching in my garage and took my front wheel to my local bike shop. For this story, it’s important to realise that I have more than one bike, and I used a working one to pedal over, carrying the rogue wheel in one hand and steering with the other.

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01 Nov 2014

A collection of clogs

This photo is a few weeks old, but I’m proud to say on the day it was taken I used every pair for their intended purpose: running; climbing (well, bouldering); er, walking; and cycling. I like to have the right shoes for the job.

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17 Jun 2014

A metahat

A hat with its own hat. Seen in the Hermitage museum, St. Petersburg.

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01 Jun 2014

Weighing up

We returned home from a wonderful holiday with some wonderful friends and found our bathroom scales in the middle of the floor. They came in handy for checking airline luggage allowance on the way out, waited patiently while we gorged on meat, cheese, Campari and rosé wine, and then provided confirmation of exactly what we feared when we got home. Photo album from Villa Novia

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27 Apr 2014

Iris Sula Morrison meets, er, Morus Bassanus

Iris encountered the bird with which she shares a name this Easter and was generally unimpressed. A great, sunny-if-cold few days camping near the Morrison Yorkshire “hood”!

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06 Feb 2014

"Find my friends" to the rescue!

Without another phone and “find my friends”, this photo wouldn’t exist. And my phone would be languishing in the middle of a very wet field in Girton.

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13 Dec 2013

Inverse crowing

While working alone in an otherwise quiet house yesterday afternoon, just as the sun was setting, I was surprised by the sound of a cockerel crowing from the living room. Baby Iris has a toy puzzle with different farm animal shapes, and it uses tiny light sensors to detect the presence or absence of the pieces. It plays the animal sound as each piece is put in the correct hole. As is usual in our house, the pieces were scattered around the room, none of them in their little holes.

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28 Jul 2013

Survival Night 2013

As I needed to air my tent and check my camping stove in preparation for a Scottish expedition, it seemed a good opportunity to think: how would Sarah and I - and Iris! - manage if our house was without power, gas or water? I’ve a fair bit of outdoor kit anyway, but have indulged my inner caveman by putting together a bit of a “survival kit” at home. Checking it over once a year seems like a good thing to do, so Survival Night will become an annual event.

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01 Jul 2013

Only people with shaved legs overtook me

Just back from a wonderful week spent in Soller, Mallorca. There were lots of highlights - one of mine was a bike ride I did from Soller. Mallorcan roads are super smooth (much better than Cambridge), and extremely well engineered - constant gradients up the giddiest of mountainsides. Details like the leg-shaving habits of people who overtake you become important when you’re cycling up passes like the Col de Soller or Puig Major.

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17 Jun 2013

j = 100i

Yesterday Iris passed an interesting milestone with one of her parents' parents. Grandma was (near enough) exactly 100 times Iris’s age at the time of this specially arranged video call. By the magic of maths, although her grandparents' ages span a few years, she will pass the equivalent milestone with all of them in the space of a week. I hope to compile a full gallery - technology permitting. Since it fits so nicely, and because her “turn” came first, I’ve decided to remember this moment in Iris’s life as… a Janniversary.

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12 Jun 2013

Spaced repetition and remarkable carrots

Memories are blurry. Asked to recall our earliest experience, most of us have vague recollections of some childhood incident. Facts, on the other hand, are sharp little points of knowledge. The Battle of Hastings took place in 1066. Alan Partridge’s middle name is Gordon. The capital of Kenya is Nairobi, and so on. Try to recall your earliest memory that could be described as “factual”. I admit to being slightly unusual in this regard (in fact, I admit to being slightly unusual).

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25 May 2013

Starting early

Iris’s first typing. She hammered away on the keyboard until I saw windows starting to open - at which point I grabbed the keyboard back! Here are her first “words”: . gnmnm g n b v hnmjk Not that different from her current speech.

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05 May 2013

Iris celebrates half a lap of the Sun

6 months ago, Iris Sula Morrison entered the world. She marked today (her sexemensary?) by: rolling over for the first time. We missed it! Just turned around for a second, turned back, and there she was. directing a poo so precisely out of the leg of her nappy that all three members of her family had to change their clothing. learning to jump up and down properly in a Jumperoo.

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15 Apr 2013

Two Swallows Don't Make a Summer...

…but my cycling tan is going to bed down nicely, I think. Ouch! Great bike ride yesterday to The Green Man in Thriplow - recommended. I saw this year’s first swallows on they way: presumably they’d been riding the strong winds and decided that the weather had finally got warm enough to cross the English Channel. For the interested, here is some evidence of how windy it was. Cycling downhill while pedalling, you’d normally expect to be accelerating, rather than maxing out at about 12mph.

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18 Mar 2013

Crunching the Cloud

The news that Google Reader is to shut down is disappointing. Anyway, it made me think: “what if Google closed down GMail?”. There’s no indication that they plan to, but I don’t like the idea that it might go away one day. So I checked out a few solutions and have downloaded my email using Gmvault. It’s a script that, once you authenticate it with your Google account, merrily churns away, saving your emails into files organised by month.

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02 Mar 2013

Grey matter

I went for a voluntary brain scan yesterday, at Cambridge’s Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit on Chaucer Road. Having been interested in brains for ages, and after going to their lectures last year during Science Week, it was the natural thing to do. They’re always on the lookout for volunteers. Undergoing an fMRI scan is not a pleasant experience, but it’s really alright. It’s surprisingly tiring to lie still on your back for 50 minutes.

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01 Mar 2013

Another milestone for Iris

Iris passed another milestone this afternoon: 10 megaseconds. It’s a sobering thought that she probably has only two of these decimal events left in her lifetime. I hope I’m around for her gigasecond on 14th July 2044.

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28 Feb 2013

Not a damp squid

Last night an inaugural “memo geeks” meet-up was held. Topics of conversation of course included memory and Anki. Some bullet points on other areas we talked about: “reading” an audiobook is just like reading a book. In the latter, writing is used as a way to transfer ideas from one brain to others. In the former the transfer just uses recorded audio instead. Readers of audiobooks might therefore be expected to encounter words which they can pronounce but not spell.

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26 Feb 2013

Coffee hack

Mmmm, coffee. A subject that generates a lot of passionate opinion, and there are more knowledgeable and more motivated coffee experts than me. I don’t claim that this method is perfect, or unique, or original. Nevertheless here is my cafetière method; for which I assert the following properties: time efficient warms the mug(s) maximises strength of coffee per bean no wasted energy in boiling water avoids water-too-hot-bitter-coffee syndrome Parallel tasks 4tw!

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11 Feb 2013

Rockhoppercam = awesome

Easily the best bit of TV I’ve seen recently. There’s not much I wouldn’t swap for my own Rockhopper Cam. Penguins - Spy in the Huddle

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16 Jan 2013

Pointy-headed reed dwellers

I continue to be intrigued by the capacity of my brain for memorising new things. I wanted to test myself on learning things that’re (essentially) useless (to me), that I wouldn’t accidentally rehearse during ‘normal’ life. Over the past 3-and-a-bit months, in about 7 hours' total study (less than 5 minutes a day), I’ve learned 350 cards. At the beginning of the process, I knew nearly none of the facts contained on them.

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14 Jan 2013

Bank error in your favour

W00t! £10 donated to Macmillan Cancer Support.

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17 Dec 2012

Iris unimpressed by the concept of a metaphoto

I have a liking for photos of photos. It is clearly not (yet) shared by Iris. Sarah’s “photo of a photo being taken of a photo being taken of a kangaroo” is one of my all time favourites (click for full size version)…

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17 Nov 2012

There was a 1 in 3 chance...

…that Iris would be asleep for her megasecond. She seems to partake in sleeping, crying and feeding in approximately equal measures, and pays no attention to other timescales.

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08 Nov 2012

Morrisons += 9lbs 1oz

My wife is amazing and we have a daughter! Iris was born at 20:40:53 on 5th November, which meant that Sarah’s labours were accompanied by the sound of fireworks. I am now enjoying the grammatical conundrums that occur because Iris’s initial matches the first person pronoun. “I and S are in the hospital” now means something different from “S and I are in the hospital.” Henceforth, contextual disambiguation will be required for abbreviated sentences in which I is/am the singular subject.

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29 Oct 2012

Induction by Sod's Law

Sarah and I are waiting for a baby at the moment. I’m certainly excited, but Sarah can’t wait to get on with the whole birth thing! It makes statistics like these highly pertinent: Probably Overthinking It - are first babies more likely to be late?. Highly recommended reading, by the way. There are many traditional methods of “getting things moving” -ahem - but one that only occurred to me recently, I’ve called “Induction by Sod’s Law”.

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