Saturday, 22 May 2010


The title of this page is my age in days, taking account of leap years...

Last Sunday was my 18,263rd day-birthday. Silvia organized a surprise party for me, with help from various friends. And despite having children whose idea of a secret is on a par with a daily news broadcast, I had no idea of what awaited me as I climbed the stairs into the restaurant: Family, friends, colleagues, ex-students, their children, and even balloons. My reaction was not dissimilar to someone choking back the tears... except that I think I may have failed to choke them back - I don’t do ‘nonchalant’.

Amongst the many highlights of the day was my birthday cake. I am including a photo here, though with some trepidation. I’m not entirely sure what that naked woman is doing there! Technically, the cake was sponsored by Elsevier... (with thanks to Debbie!)
Other highlights included the many texts and Facebook messages. And last night we completed the birthday celebrations (a mere 6 days late). Sam had been unable to come to the party (he was braving the Yorkshire Moors in order to earn some certificate or other that attests to his survival skills - it must have been hard out there... he didn’t have his cell phone! It can barely get any worse...). So we went off to a nearby restaurant where a combination of black pudding, pancetta, sirloin, prawns, beer, and a rather fabulous red wine (Argentinian, of course), sealed the deal. There’s a lot to be said for getting to the ripe old age of 18,263.

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

key notes

Originally, this entry described the highlights of my last month. I uploaded it fine, checked it, and proceeded to watch The Mentalist. But not content with the lead protagonist’s insightful solving of this week’s crime, I decided to edit the entry, and that’s when it all went wrong: Somehow when I uploaded the changes, I managed to corrupt the entry. I blame that unpronounceable but ash-filled volcano. So this is Version 2: Highlights of the highlights.
  • Top of the list is my new and very lickable iPad. I used it to give a keynote at a conference in Lund (that’s Sweden, for the geographically challenged). It worked flawlessly. Though I fear it may have attracted even more attention than my talk. Lund is home to some excellent bars that I would recommend to anyone. However, “excellent” is most definitely not how I would describe the Danish/Swedish rail system. Trains were cancelled, platforms changed, and the wrong announcements given over the public address system... I could have stayed in the UK for that kind of service!
  • In close 2nd place are DeLonghi, to whom I gave great fat wads of money today. In return, I am about to receive two PrimaDonna Avant bean-to-cup machines. They are still a rarity in the UK, but are, according to the reviews, fantastic. My lab, and associated colleagues, will no doubt suffer huge increases in caffeine intake, thanks to the equally huge (absurdly huge) discount that DeLonghi gave us. Delonghi: Official sponsors of the Psycholinguistics Research Group at York.
  • In 3rd place is the University of York online credit card payment system, which I have finally, and successfully, bent to my will (with the not inconsiderable help of colleagues in the Finance Office). It is now possible for people to register, if they so wish, for the AMLaP 2010 conference.
And that’s it. This weekend is The Weekend of the Big 5-0. I’m determined to convince myself that life does not start at 40, but a whole decade later. I shall do my best to get through the weekend without too much self-indulgent worry about the ever-more-rapid passing of time. I wouldn’t mind its passing if it weren’t my time that was doing the passing...