Ooh, a post!

We received a letter recently concerning today's Imbolc Fire Festival, as the procession will be going down our street.  I just had to share an excerpt from it (with place names removed):

Dear Resident,

As you may know the Imbolc Fire Festival will be held this year on Saturday 7th February.  There will be a procession that will start from (PointA), proceed to (PointB) and finish at (PointC).  The procession will be led by 3 'druid' type Characters, with samba bands and stilt walkers mixed with the procession.  Some people will be carrying withy lanterns.  The procession will be followed by entertainment; a fire 'circus' accompanied by the Fox Drummers and a singing group and a short drama, a battle where Jack Frost is overthrown by the Green Man welcoming the sun and followed by a firework finale.

Now, I don't know that much about Imbolc beyond what I read on Wikipedia, but a couple of things stood out as being odd here.  "'Druid' type Characters", right, that fits, as do "withy lanterns".  "fire 'circus'", sure, Imbolc is a fire festival from what I understand.  "Jack Frost is overthrown by the Green Man", well, okay, I understand the spirit of this even if it appears that this year Jack Frost has decisively won the battle as we're covered in a foot of snow.   But, SAMBA bands?!  What on earth does that have to do with anything?!?!

I'm also intrigued as to how the stilt walkers are going to manage on the snow and ice.  Chains on the stilts?  Super-grippy stilts?  Hmm.  Think I might have to dig out the withy lantern and check this procession out.  :o)

I love my village.  It's absolutely bonkers.


Curiouser and curiouser

Hope everyone's well, haven't been around much as I'm very busy getting my head done in by the PhD study.  Today I was trying to figure out how to convolve two functions which each integrate a Gaussian Process with different covariance.  Needless to say, I didn't figure, convolve, or Gaussian Process, although I suspect I may have integrated something.  I'm just not sure what.

Anyhow, weirdness today, other than mathematical:  I received a parcel notice in the post the other day, which I thought was odd as I hadn't ordered anything.  Picked up the parcel today, and it contains two copies of Frederick Forsyth's new book, The Afghan.  Signed.

Now, I haven't read anything by Frederick Forsyth since Day of the Jackel when I was about 16, so I'm fairly sure I didn't order two signed copies.  There was nothing else in the padded envelope, and nothing on the outside except a postmark indicating that the package was posted in London.




Tour Promoters LiveNation have announced that The Police concerts at the MEN Arena in Manchester on Monday and Tuesday this week, have been postponed.

Sting is suffering from a throat infection which forced LiveNation to postpone concerts in Germany and Belgium this week.

LiveNation hope to have a rescheduling announcement shortly.

The postponed UK shows are;

Urk, gah, and ewwww

There is a slug on the loose somewhere in my living room.  I know this because there is a trail of slug slime on the carpet (ewww) that disappears under the ottoman.  This is worrying on two counts:  1) how did the slug get in?  Can they ooze through little spaces like octopi (octopussssessss)?, and 2) there is a slug in my living room and I may have to set fire to either my ottoman or my entire house.

Gah.  I hates slugs, hates 'em.

I *heart* Charlie Brooker

Charlie Brooker's screen burn in The Guardian this weekend is about how we're heading into a new age of Unlightenment.  It is just dripping with scathy-goodness.  It starts off: 
In the 18th century, a revolution in thought, known as the Enlightenment, dragged us away from the superstition and brutality of the Middle Ages toward a modern age of science, reason and democracy. It changed everything. If it wasn't for the Enlightenment, you wouldn't be reading this right now. You'd be standing in a smock throwing turnips at a witch.
Charlie doesn't like to pull his punches:
Maybe you've put your faith in spiritual claptrap because our random, narrative-free universe terrifies you. But that's no solution. If you want comforting, suck your thumb. Buy a pillow. Don't make up a load of floaty blah about energy or destiny. This is the real world, stupid. We should be solving problems, not sticking our fingers in our ears and singing about fairies.

Don't hold back, Charlie.  Tell us how you really feel.  :o)

Unfortunately, I'm going to miss the Dawkins programme on Monday night that Brooker mentions.  Whilst I admire Dawkins greatly as a biologist, I have to say that his (at times) evangelical approach to atheism puts me off.  However, it sounds like he keeps the foaming at the mouth to a minimum this time, so I'm quite interested to see the result.
Mr. Nonsense

Airport security

I've just been perusing Gatwick's website for information on what you can have in your hand luggage these days, as I'm flying to Canada on Monday.  This is my personal favourite from the Frequently Asked Questions list:

"We are transferring bone marrow and stem cells out of the country – can we carry them in our hand luggage?"


Also, you are not permitted to carry a metal nail file on board, but glass items are fine.  I do tend to think that anyone who would attempt to hijack a plane using only a metal nail file MIGHT think of breaking a glass bottle to use as a weapon; after all, it's very effective in the movies, innit?