Category Archives: Humour
I’ve recently moved in to a new flat, and have bought lots of bookcases to store all of my books. Of course, I had the terrible decision to make of how to arrange all of my science books. I mean I could categorise them fairly easily (maths, physics, biology etc), but what order do I put these in?
When thinking of this I thought of the xkcd comic below, and had an idea:
Why not arrange them by ‘purity’? Well – that’s what I did (see below):
I should point out that computing is definitely not purer than mathematics, but it is on the top shelf as that is the only shelf that my fiancee can’t reach, and she rarely (if ever) uses those books. Apart from that though, it is pretty much in purity order…
My fiancee is studying in Lille, France at the moment, and I spent last week with her in Lille, including a two-day trip to Paris. During my time I noticed a number of interesting (or at least semi-interesting) things about life in France:
- Pedestrian crossings are scary! When the green man is shown it does not necessarily mean that it is safe to cross. What it actually means is that you are protected from traffic coming straight ahead, but not from those turning right or left. In practice this means that most foreigners (and a lot of natives) sprint across the pedestrian crossings to try not to get killed!
- The number of bakeries per capita in France is awesome. Within 30 seconds walk from our hostel there were three awesome bakeries. This pleases me very much.
- For some reason nearly every street corner in Paris seems to have a condom machine on it. I have no idea why they need that many machines.
- The street sellers at the bottom of the funicular railway in Montmartre are very pushy. Both times we walked past there one of them tried to tie some sort of piece of string to my fiancee’s hand. Strange.
- The Paris metro has a lot of lines – 15 standard metro lines, plus 5 RER (a sort of express metro) lines. In comparison London Underground has just 11. This means that they’ve run out of colours for the metro map – meaning that you have a number of lines which are similar colours (particularly greeny-olive-brown colours), making it very difficult to tell the difference (particularly in low-light conditions).
- However, the amazing thing about the RER lines is that they have double-decker underground trains (see the picture below). This is awesome.
- The Arc de Triomphe is more interesting than I thought – there is a good exhibition in it about historical events that have happened there. The tomb of the unknown soldier is there, and the flame over it is lit every evening.
- French railways seem to be a mixture of very high-tech and very low-tech. For example, TGV trains are very fast, and work very well, but their departure boards at Paris Gare du Nord are the old-style clicky boards (the ones that click round loads of times to show the right destination and time).
- It’s amazing how much random French I know. For example, the emergency stop signs on all the metro trains have a notice by them saying “… … sera puni”. From the old song Que sera, sera I know that “sera” means “will be”, and therefore not to press the button as I might be punished! Also, trains in France are retarded (actually “retarde”) when they are late, another thing I realised I knew.
(Yes the title is meant to remind you of snakes on a plane!)
Goodness! At this time of year there really are a lot of people coughing on trains! I travelled from Southampton to Tunbridge Wells today, and my journey was accompanied by a large range of coughs and sneezes, from the high-pitched cough of the lady opposite me, to the spluttering of an old gentleman in the corner. Leaving aside the public health aspects of coughing (particularly as a number of my fellow travellers did not cover their mouths when they coughed), I wondered if this could be used somehow to analyse the severity of cough/cold illnesses in the UK.
Proposal: All we need is a few willing volunteers who commute on trains. We can give them tally-counter to carry (they could count on a piece of paper, or in their head, but I’d get terribly confused doing that), and instruct them to count every cough they hear in their part of the carriage. This data can then be plotted on a graph over time, and (if we have enough people), over geographic area, and may provide a useful public health dataset. On the other hand, it may be rubbish! But who will know unless we try…
Unfortunately (well, fortunately for me!), I don’t commute on a train, but I’ll analyse the data if you’ll collect it!
Of course all we need now is to find a way to get commuters to count coughs while still reading the Metro!