Monday, November 22, 2010


On Friday my girlfriend and I picked up the keys to our new flat. It's exciting to have a new place, but there's plenty to do to it to get it ready for habitation (well it is/was [before we started attacking it] in a livable state, but we're doing it up). So far we've stripped wallpaper, painted some walls and started ripping out the bathroom, and this has actually been very satisfying, but it'll still be many a week before things are looking as they should be. Tonight will see the back bedroom walls being set upon with the matt white emulsion.

Aargh-and diagrams

While eating lunch I was browsing the BBC News website and started reading this article by Marcus du Sautoy on how diagrams have aided and furthered our understanding of scientific concepts. All fine.

Recently the BBC have become quite good at providing hyperlinks within their articles (potentially in part due to Ben Goldacre), but in this article they seem to have let themselves down a bit in the choice of links. About half way down the article there is a section about visualising complex numbers - these are numbers that consist of a real part (a standard number between -infinity and +infinity, like 1, 4, 1097890624 or -0.78524385 say) and an imaginary part (a number that is a multiple of the square root of -1, or i, e.g. plus or minus the square root of any real negative number). It describes that you can plot these complex number on something called an Argand diagram, but the link it provides for this is bizarre - true that the linked to page does have an Argand diagram on it, but the rest seems to consist of bizarre pseudo-science nonsense about the nature of consciousness! Now I don't know how whoever was editing the article (presumably not du Sautoy) found that page, but a quick google search for "Argand diagram" provides some slightly more reputable sources that they might have chosen. After noticing this I didn't actually get to the end of the article and instead wrote a comment to get the link changed, so I'll see if that worked.

But, anyway enough petty pedantry for today.

The Leny

This is just a quick (but rather late) post aimed at continuing the documentation of the river's I've paddled. A couple of weeks ago we had a trip to the River Leny - the original plan (made the morning of the trip) was to head to the Tummel (which I've done before), but minibus issues (i.e. its cutting out all the time) meant that nearing Stirling we decided not to risk driving it any further and headed to Callandar and the Leny (luckily on this trip I didn't have to drive).

When we arrived there it was a frosty start and not pleasant for changing or standing about waiting for the guys who'd driven the minibus to the get out to come back. However, it was good to do a new river and this one turned out to be good for an intermediate level trip - we'd been worried that the river might be a bit low, but it turned out to be fine. The Leny's a fast river, with quite a lot of waves trains and some good rapids, but the speed meant that it was important to be able to get in and out of eddys when needed - this was good for me as this is something I really needed the practice doing. The main eddy that really needed making was the one above the Falls of Leny - a grade 5 waterfall that looked particularly menacing. Everyone managed to get out (although we had one swim, after which the swimmers boat did run the falls, but survived) and check out the fall, then a few people went back in and ran it, but I wasn't one of them - I've since read about people being cut to shreds by the rocks in the falls, so was glad I didn't swim down it. After the falls the were a couple more good rapids on which I took a bit of a beating, but stayed upright and in the boat.

It was good fun to get on a bit more of a challenging river, so the Leny rates as one of my favourite trips.