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Below are 20 journal entries, after skipping by the 20 most recent ones recorded in Rayner's LiveJournal:

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Wednesday, March 4th, 2009
1:51 am
One of my earliest childhood memories.
I have very few memories of the most impressionable, formative years of my life. A scattered handful, however, occasionally surface, and this is one of them.

When I was a little toddler, I had a jack-in-the-box. But this wasn't the jolly, smiling, bouncy toy you're thinking of. Oh no.

On pressing the little button on the front of the casing, the catch would click open and a low, moaning wail would shudder from the innards of the box. The pitch rose to the squeal of a bird being devoured alive as the lid very... slowly... crept... open, the shadows within revealing a limbless, swollen-faced mockery of the human form squirming from its prison. My parents tell me they tried introducing me to this infernal device more than once, and every time I burst into tears and ran away.

Other children had alphabet blocks and teddy bears. I had a deformed screaming homunculus in a box.

[EDIT]: The diabolical contraption has a web page.
Tuesday, November 11th, 2008
3:17 pm
People who argue about the Monty Hall Problem really get my goat.
Monday, September 15th, 2008
6:14 pm
If A. A. Milne were a financial journalist

A news story on today's Yahoo Finance - possibly through being typed in a hurry - described the world's stock markets as "tumbley". I thought this was a charmingly whimsical way of reporting billions of pounds of losses.

The next step was, of course, this:

A Bear Market of Very Little BrainCollapse )

I am sure someone out there can write a better attempt than that. Anyone feel up to it?

Thursday, September 11th, 2008
5:37 pm
The Large Hadron Collider has a webcam.
Sunday, June 15th, 2008
3:49 am
Blue eyed dressed for every situation...
So. Yazoo are back together for a reunion tour, 25 years after they split up. Alison Moyet, she of the unmistakable husky voice. Vince Clarke, he who is the synthesiser-geek half of Erasure. Much wonderfully bouncy synthpop. There is practically no way it can fail to be awesome. I intend to go. Who else is interested?

Their last UK date is at the Hammersmith Apollo, this Thursday night. So if you want to come, speak up now so that I can get tickets on Monday.

(I know there is at least one person on my friends list who would like this. Come on, it's worth flying several thousand miles at short notice, right?)
Friday, June 6th, 2008
2:51 pm
Tomorrow I'll be on a 20-mile sponsored walk along the Thames Path to raise money for BLISS, the charity for improving the chances of survival for premature babies.

It's in support of BLISS to commemorate the organiser's two nieces, who were born last year at just 25 weeks, and who are both deeply missed.

We are walking from Hampton Court to Windsor, with a lunch break at the ten-mile point in Chertsey. You can sponsor us by going to http://www.justgiving.com/blisswalk. Any and all support is welcome and very much appreciated. If nothing else, sponsor me for getting up at some horrible hour of the morning to get to Hampton Court by nine o'clock.
Tuesday, March 25th, 2008
6:47 pm
I saw this sidebar ad for plastic surgery today.

So... did she only have enough money to get one of them enlarged, or something?
Monday, March 24th, 2008
8:15 pm
Computer clearout, part 1
If you want any of these things, please comment. They are free to anyone who'll take them away.

Also, does anyone have any spare SCSI cables lying around?

Mini Tower PC:
AMD K6 266MHz processor
Gigabyte GA-5AA motherboard with AGP, PCI and ISA slots.
64Mb RAM
CD-ROM and floppy drives
No hard drive or graphics card (I can probably find a hard drive somewhere if you want one, though).
AT case

Bay Networks Advanced Remote Node (model CV1001004). Two 10Mbit Ethernet ports (RJ45 and AUI connectors). Three 44-pin serial ports. ISDN BRI S/T module. DB9 serial console. DB9 modem port. Has a 32Mb PCMCIA flash memory card. 1U rack-mount case. Front bezel keeps falling off. Came out of a skip and I have no idea what I'll ever need it for.

Four 1Gb IDE hard drives.
Two CD-ROM drives (IDE).
Four 3.5" floppy drives.
3.5" to 5.25" mounting kit, for putting a floppy drive or similar into a 5.25" bay.

Yamaha sound card (ISA slot)
10/100 Ethernet card
Sound Blaster Vibra16 sound card (model CT4170).

11 IDE cables, various lengths
5 floppy cables, various lengths
A couple of CD audio cables (the ones that go from a CD drive to the sound card).
2 KVM cables (I think - they've got male PS/2 connectors on each end, anyway).
Modem cable
Phone extension cable

Heat sink and fan (from a Pentium 2, I think)
Small pair of PC speakers
Mouse pad

Bag of broken stuff: hard drives, motherboards, expansion cards, RAM, floppy drives, etc. Maybe you can use them for spare parts or in a craft project or something.
Wednesday, March 12th, 2008
6:15 pm
Friday, March 7th, 2008
7:06 pm
Overheard on the train
"...he put the stuff on his ear, like. That was before he caught fire..."
Tuesday, March 4th, 2008
1:19 am
The knob-enlargement spammers are getting more and more surreal:

Many men suffer from a smaller than average manhood, but finally, you can change that

To hell with mathematics, now everyone can be above average!

12 more inches aint so bad, dont you think so?

Twelve more inches? Either standards have gone WAY up, or I'm getting spam intended for elephants.
Wednesday, February 27th, 2008
11:40 pm
Chilli chicken + poor chopstick control + eyes = FAIL

Dumpster-diving two oscilloscopes on the way home = WIN
Monday, February 25th, 2008
9:44 pm
I wonder if hobbit parents tell their kids, "Eat that up, it'll put hair on your feet".
Thursday, February 7th, 2008
10:12 pm
A few years ago, I found a Creative AWE64 sound card in someone's garden. It was covered in grit and mud, and the connectors were mottled with rust. It looked like the kind of thing that gets dug up on Time Team.

So—as many of you will already have guessed—I took it home, rinsed it off thoroughly under the hot tap, poked it with cotton buds until no more gunk came out of the headphone socket, and left it to dry on a radiator. Then I put it in my big box of bits and promptly forgot about it.

Today I plugged it into a PC. It works perfectly. When these people make sound cards, they make sound cards.

Current Mood: impressed
Sunday, December 23rd, 2007
11:40 pm
A discovery
It is possible for something to be simultaneously a good and bad idea.

For example, if one has a cold that is so bad it causes a constant stinging pain somewhere just below one's eye sockets for thirty-six maddening hours, one might eventually be driven to try snorting Ultra Chloraseptic spray. It has benzocaine in it, you see.

  • Burned like a Tabasco sauce enema for about 30 seconds. There was running in circles, and strangled screaming.
  • Worked well enough to make me repeat the action on the other nostril.
This is not forbidden on the warning leaflet, but that might be for the same reason that doors do not have warnings to say "do not slam this on your head".

The cold is, however, now getting better.

N.B. Nothing I post should ever be construed as medical advice.
Sunday, December 9th, 2007
3:11 am
I am getting Viagra spam with the subject line "Your family".

Insert "your momma" joke here.
Saturday, August 4th, 2007
8:52 pm
For the sake of completeness
Eighty-one users are interested in 'unique interests'.

As of now, exactly one user is interested in 'non-unique interests'.
Tuesday, July 31st, 2007
1:57 am
I was walking home from work this evening, through a grimy back street in London, doing that sort of gazing-dumbly-at-the-pavement zombie shuffle that comes with just wanting to go home and eat something.

Paving slab. Paving slab. Paving slab. Paving slab. Drain cover. Paving slab. Bollard. Paving slab. Paving slab. Paving slab. Skeletal tail. Paving sl... skeletal tail?

I stopped and stared. It was, I think, part of a toy plastic dinosaur skeleton. Just a headless, limbless half of a ribcage, trailing a sinuous tail of ridged vertebrae. At first glance, the deathly grey-green bones resembled some emaciated rodent or monstrous centipede; a mutated, Gigeresque abomination spawned in the ancient sewers oozing far below the streets. One could easily imagine the floodwaters forcing a legion of these cadaverous, eyeless creatures to the surface, scrawny and maddened with hunger, to seek prey in the cold orange twilight of the city.

I considered taking the grisly thing home and photographing it, but decided that it would simply not have the same effect in any other setting. I contented myself with lurking in a doorway and watching sober-suited businesspeople almost step on it before goggling in alarmed disbelief and trying to work out whether it was going to scuttle up their legs.
Wednesday, July 18th, 2007
2:18 pm
Another random memory from when I did tech support: a customer who kept referring to his web browser's popup blocker as the "blockup popper".

I had this mental image of some kind of giant sink plunger that you'd violently apply to your Internet connection when it wasn't working fast enough.
Saturday, July 14th, 2007
9:37 pm
I went shopping for clothes this afternoon. One of the shops had jeans labelled 'Parallel Leg'.

I checked, and the legs definitely met at the top.
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