Archive for October, 2009

Marriage

October 28, 2009

titanic

I’m on my way up to Scotland to attend a friend’s wedding. Ah, marriage. I remember it well. For many it’s the celebration of human unification, the joining of two souls to become a greater whole. For me it was the biggest mistake of my life.

That woman, who shall remain unnamed, made my life hell from the second I said ‘I do’. It truly was the most professional deception in history and one in which I was the sole victim.

Prior to the wedding, it was all “You’re the greatest Charlie, I’d do anything for you. You complete me!” Blah-blah-blah. Damn it, I really hate being called Charlie. Then without warning it was ‘Do this, do that, fix this, fix that, take me here, pick me up from there, wear this, stop wearing that, grow this, stop growing that, bend over, rub this, hold these, cough, stand up straight, stop slouching, run…faster, faster!” ENOUGH WOMAN!!

As you know from previous blogs, we have since parted company. We came to an arrangement whereby we communicate once a year over the telephone, but using morse code. I confess to becoming even bored by this infrequent exchange and one year I left an active heart monitor on the other end of the line, while she blabbed away about her new Greek lover (or possibly her mother’s illness, I’m not an expert in morse code unfortunately).

Aside from these depressingly negative comments, I would thoroughly recommend marriage and just because I utterly regret mine it doesn’t mean yours will also be a seemingly bottomless pit of misery. So if you find yourself in a ‘do I?’ quandary, then I say go for it. Apart from possibly your sanity, your social circle of friends, TV remote, independence, enthusiastic outlook on life and your credit rating, you’ve got nothing to lose.

Advertisements

Mac or PC?

October 21, 2009

mac-vs-pc

Ever since the dawn of man – there will be some who prefer one method, over another. I know during my earliest sexual encounters as a burgeoning teenager, many of my partners preferred to go for the rather straightforward practice of the missionary position, whereas I was always more interested in exploring things from the rear.

Not so dissimilar, is the decision, when it comes to your choice of home computer. As a professor and teacher of science, and also a regular internet blogger, my laptop computer is an essential part of my daily life. With that in mind – as many of you I am sure aware – these type of things fall into two distinct camps. Mac & PC. That’s Apple Macintosh and Personal Computer for those not familiar with some of the more technological terminology I am using here.

For a number of years I have always been a fervent PC owner. My issue with the Mac has always been not unlike my distaste for sports cars. I own and drive a vintage red 2003 Suzuki Swift. It is small, compact, unfussy. It may be lacking in a basic aesthetic grace but I find it performs its given task in a perfectly acceptable, if somewhat functional manner, much like my ex-wife did in the bed. Sports cars are loud, needlessly flashy and prohibitively expensive, and that it a totally unreasonable prejudice I have carried over to my perception of Mac’s.

My loyalty of PC’s however has been tested this week – due to irritation at the constant barrage of windows updates that Bill Gates insists on sending to my computer at the most inconvenient of times. Having recently crossed over to the superiority of Windows Vista as a system, the continual updates I readily accepted came to breaking point only a number of days ago when I went to shut down my laptop and take it with me to the lab, only to have to wait for a number of ‘essential’ updates to download to my computer before I could unplug it.

Of course as a HUMAN – I am not about to let any mere machine be the better of me – no matter how technologically advanced. Although I might add as a SCIENTIST I am more than prepared to eventually make way for our inevitable A.I masters. The one advantage I had over my little laptop friend who now held my time to ransom, was I knew exactly where his button was. All I had to do was hold it for a few seconds and he was helpless not to shut down immediately. (I might add at this point had the computer likewise plied me with Malt Whiskey the effect tends to be much the same).

So I continued about my day – content in my small victory, and happy that whenever I had any kind of technical malfunction, the on/off button always appeared to prove a valuable life raft. This was however until I tried to turn my laptop back on again and the little blighter spat back as me various lines of code and something about needing to CHKDSK – and now there were a number of unreadable files. I was incensed – unable now to update my facebook status, the computer had seemingly won.

I am told by the ‘man in the shop’ that I shouldn’t have turned my computer ‘off’ before it had finished installing the updates – and had subsequently corrupted the hard drive. How could Vista have let me down like this? I would have fired off quite a stern e-mail to that moron Gates had I actually had a computer with which to do so. similar I was going to hand write a letter but now find there is a postal strike on.

So it is Gates gets to sit on his micro-chip throne, continuing to infect our computers with his so called ‘updates’ and we are all held to ransom, all because we chose a PC over a Mac. Well sir I am done. Short of a new improved Windows system appearing, you can call it Windows 7 if you like (best copyright that before someone else comes up with it) me and PC’s are through. I am to embrace the cool, sleek surfaces of the Mac – Alan Turing forgive me….

The Adventures of Grandmaster Human and the Wheels of Steel!

October 13, 2009

saturday-night-fever-thumb-500x386-544

It may come as something of a surprise for you to learn that I am not always all about ‘the science’.

Now don’t get me wrong – I recognise just how important it is the work I do. Both in helping, not only further understand ourselves but also, that person standing over there. However I should put emphasis on just how important it is to be able to relax and enjoy some down time too.

 When I first started out on the path toward scientific greatness, I was all about the work. I worked every hour there was – and well also some there weren’t. And my hard graft has certainly been key in some part, to my success, and my being able to build the Human Institute. But for those first few years work saw me go without weekends, bank holidays, public holidays, ‘religious’ holidays. And only at the point of collapse, at the point of complete and utter physical exhaustion – and unfortunately also at the point when I was in charge of dosage quantities for a new test drug on live volunteers, that I realised that I was going to have to find a more even balance between work and rest. 

Indeed ever since ‘the accident’ I look back now with some sense of relief – that those people didn’t give up their lives in vain. Were it not for them I would not have the balance I enjoy so much now in my day to day routine.

So you’re probably asking how does a Scientist and Professor of my esteemed standing go about relaxing. Well the answer is…dance.

Yes….dance.

I may have the appearance of a bespectacled, rather bookish, though still virulently handsome laboratory type – but I am also something of a dynamite mover! This can be traced back in part to my childhood. Much like the celebrated child retard figure of Billy Elliott I harboured a desire to light up the stages of the world as a prima ballerina. My promising career was cut short early however by my father – a much more practical man who demanded I follow him into the familial tradition of science. (A strange request at the time being that neither family on either side of my parents had ever shown the slightest inclination for the sciences.) Indeed my father’s father was a celebrated theatrical actor and they rarely spoke to each other. If you tried to push my father on the subject he would claim that my grandfather taught at the European Academy of Science in Vienna and had invented gravity.

Of course now in my later years I recognise the folly of my youth – there is no question had I pursued a course into ballet I would, as my father warned, have become a homosexual. And it was only fitting that my childhood dreams be crushed at such a forever mentally scarring early age that I should eventually find my true calling.  

But now in recent years – and far from the ever present shadow of my father – I have discovered the joy once more in throwing yourself round like a loon to a percussive one two beat. After all – all work and no play makes Charles a very lonely boy…

Britain’s Got – The New Cambridge University Lucasian Professor of Mathematics – Factor!

October 6, 2009

stephen_hawking_strippers_paris

So news has come to me this week, that my old colleague, and drinking partner the physicist Stephen Hawking has completed his last day as Cambridge University’s Lucasian Professor of Mathematics. He has held the position since 1979.  Now as academically celebrated as this position is, it is to a much lesser known degree also something, of a chick magnet.

And didn’t Hawking know it.

Believe me, were it not for the university’s policy for holders of the title to retire at 67, he’d still be lording it up in front of us fellow scientists even now. Often would be the times he would phone me and leave messages about his latest conquest. I was always loathed to phone back, in part because you could never tell whether you got him or his damn voicemail.

Still every scientist’s time will come, as the search at the University begins anew for the next Lucasian Professor. Previous holders of the title, founded by MP Henry Lucas in 1663, include Sir Isaac Newton, Charles Babbage, Sir Joseph Larmor, Sir James Lighthill and on a temporary basis for two weeks in the summer of 1984 when Hawking fell ill, the University bent to popular demand and appointed the  somewhat unusual choice of pop singer George Michael, then, at the height of his fame with WHAM.

I understand the selection process has now gone under something of a shake up to reflect our more modern times. After all Hawking was  given the post some 30 years ago. With this in mind I have duely submitted my application this very morning. The review panel chosing the next Professor I am told will consist of four members of Cambridge’s scientific top brass and Mylene Klass.