The Bran Report

It's good for parts of you that you'd probably rather not think about.

Friday, September 08, 2006

You win a prize

Yesterday I got a certificate in the post- that is, in the internal university network. It was a certificate proclaiming that "Diabetes Stories: The Oxford Centre for Diabetes, Endocriniology and Metabolism" had won the teaching category of the OxTalent IT awards.

A little digging revealed that I have a doppelganger who does, indeed, work at the OCDEM, and even not knowing anything else I decided that the winning entry was more likely written by him than me.

I've agreed to forward it, but I'm still tempted to keep it, much like one would keep a stone eroded by the sea into an interesting shape: A physical symbol of strange unkowable currents. I'd frame it next to my degree. It could be a testimony to my complicated beliefs about contingency and ignorance.

Also, because I never win anything.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Thursday Morning

Thursday morning is tough. Part of you is saying "Hey, Thursday! That sounds like Friday afternoon!", but more sensible parts are pointing out that, mathematically speaking, 40% of the working week remains.

By being misled into weekend exuberance this morning, you're only setting yourself up for a fall at about 2.10 this afternoon.
Thursday is a mid-week day posing as an end-of-the-week day.

That's why, from now on, I'm going to call it "Wednesday B".

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Facebook is a social network

Seems a lot of people are gettin' riled up about changes on the website Facebook (Which is like MySpace, but withpopped colalrs instead of black eye-liner). These changes essentially amount to tellin' you what people are updating or not, and a lot of folks are bustin' out their most high-falutin language to expound on the nature of privacy and how a website founded on the idea of tellin' people about yourself should allow you to do so in a way that no-one can see.

Personally, I'm not putting to much mental energy into it. I don't get worked up over website that probably ought to keep me awake at night. When there's bile in your belly because someone somewhere is playing with RSS, you probably aren't thinking about fragmentation landmines enough.

The world's is a constantly boiling-over pot of anguish. On the upside, I'm about to get a great night's sleep.

Greasy Tea

I've told you before about Gainda Stores, which is essentially an off-license that also sells milk and cloves of garlic. I like to support them, partly because I've been going there since it was the St. Clement's Post Office, and partly because of the washing token débâcle (Good news: I can now afford to buy lunch every day this week).

Anyway, my milk of choice is semi-skimmed, also known as 'green' or, in America, 'half and half'. In this case, it's half milk and half the weird pseudo-cream that has built an Ahto city at the top of the milk.

I have tasted greasy tea. It's less disgusting than I make it sound.

Is this the price I pay for shopping local?

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Let's Powerise

As I mentioned yesterday, my old bike has given up on me. While contemplating the altrnatives for the future, I was reading the Independent and it gave me a great idea.

When i say "Great", of course, there's always the possibility that it will actually be a "terrible" idea. I make no apologies. That's just the cost of genius.

The thing is, I know I can pick up a high-quality used bike in Oxford for, if I want to push the boat out, about £60. That's one option. What I really want to do, however, is drop another week's wages on the problem and get myself Boots of Springing and Striding.

There are downsides, I'll admit. Like, I have terrible balance and ice-skating (an activity I imagine takes similar levels of co-ordination) I once described as being like a neurological disorder, except that you can stop doing it. I really don't like falling over. I also dislike teetering, and accidentally kicking pedestrians in the face with steel.

And at the end of the day, £220... or 500 American Cruzeros... is a lot compared to the £80 that will get me the finest bicycle I could want.

Sigh... looks like I won't be powerising anytime soon.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Wheels o' Fire

Up until sometime on Sunday, I had a bike named "Wheels o' Fire".

Before the WoF, I had a bike called Stirling and before that, I had The Fleetfoot. (Incidentally, the Fleetfoot is a Anglification of "Velocipede", because I love sullying thingsn with my Saxon tongue. Tell your friends.)

Fleetfoot got stolen by (I assume) a drunkard with very poor taste. I neglected poor Stirling, then took the advice of someone who is not willing to ride a bike into the ground.

I have never knowna bike to fail as spectacularly as the Wheels o' Fire has just done. At 10 am this Sunday. he had a soft rear wheel and brakes that squeaked when wet. Let's do an inventory of what he looks like after a few houes parked on a street off the Botley road.

Gears: The spring part that's meant to keep the chain taunt? That looks really wrong.

Brakes: My brakes are the same, on average. That is, the front brake has flipped dramatically away from the wheel so that it is always off. The read brake has done the opposite, so that is is always very on.

Read tire: So flat that the contact area between tiren and road is, I don't know, a million square millimetres?

Cables: I don't remember exactly where all these cables went before, but this definitely looks wrong, That's some awful Feng-shui.

Had this systems cascade failure happened while I was in the Tesco at the end of my road, I'd have shrugged, accepted it as part of the great story that is life, and reminded myself that I'm moving cross-country in a month. Instead, it happened that I was on the opposite side of the city. If super-flat tyres and clamped-down brakes achieve anything, it stops a wheel turning. I did not push my bike from Botley Road: I dragged it. If anyone should say to you, "Hey, Juan, I'm thinking of carrying a bike through town by putting my shoulder to the seat and balancing the whole mess upside down- what's your opinion?", then I advise you to say "Well, Maryannzebeth, you'll look like a bit of a fool."

So I faced a dilemma. Drag/balance/just hold the back wheel off the ground like the world's most ridiculous/least comfortable game of Wheelbarrows ever, OR, chuck it in the river.

I'm not normally tempted by the dark side like this- especially since the bright young things who come to Oxford love nothing more than to celebrate by leaping off a ten-metre bridge into a one-metre deep canal. Adding a rusty bicycle to that underwater equation- well, it's just not socially responsible.

So, I faced the herculean effort ahead of me like a man and dragged the poor forlorn Wheels o' Fire up Castle Hill. I was set in for the long haul.

After six or seven minutes I saw a bicycle rack populated by nothing but rusted-out and broken frames.

There may be some strange bicycle reincarnation through the medium of spare parts. Attention, world: If you're one of the cycle-shamans who helps this process happen, get thee to Bonn Square. It ain't locked.

RIP, Wheels o' Fire. You served me well.