From the Beat Poetry as Communications Department

Hi pls look at background at to – it has a BLOCK AFFECT IN THE IMAGE!!! What!?

The complete text (or more accurately subject line, since the client in question is yet to realise that you can type in the “big text area” as well as the “little text area”) of a support email I received from a client today…

Hi pls look at background at to – it has a BLOCK AFFECT IN THE IMAGE!!!

I was tempted to email back something along the lines of “I’m sorry, it’s company policy to only accept emails written in English”, or even “What the hell are you talking about!?” but I bit my tongue and sent a polite request for clarification.

I honestly think some of our clients are using random text generators to compose their emails to us. How else can you explain the fact that they can be perfectly articulate on the phone while their emails resemble second rate beat poetry?

Rather tired and depressed at the moment, which is why there haven’t been many updates lately. Basically just a combination of work stress, health issues (nothing serious it turns out, but very worrying there for a while) and the need to get my tax done ASAP. I’ll pull through it in a few weeks. Probably.


The CPAP Blues

Continuous Negative Air Pressure

I’m doing a CPAP trial at the moment for my sleep apnea. It’s not going very well, which is why I’ve been fairly silent recently. The theory is you wear a mask while you sleep that blows pressurised air into your throat, holding it open so you can breath. That’s the theory. In my case it seems to involve wearing a mask so uncomfortable that I can’t sleep, which blows pressurised air into my throat so I can’t breath out. As a result I’m not getting much sleep, and not up to doing much except the basics (work, eating, trying to sleep etc).

I think I may have to bite the bullet and lose weight. I was working along the lines of ‘get set up with CPAP, get some decent sleep, use the extra energy to exercise’, but it looks like I’ll just have to summon up the energy to exercise without the sleep. I’ve finally got a replacement inner tube for my bike, so I can start cycling again which should help, but it’s still not a pleasant prospect *sigh*.

Current mood – Well and truly fed up.

OMG! Ponies!

How fast can your horse walk?

You know, the Internet may be the greatest information resource ever constructed by the human species, but it could sure use some organisation. I spent a good two hours yesterday trying to find out how far an average person could travel in a day on foot and on horseback (why? you’re not cleared for that! πŸ˜‰

I found plenty of information about how villages in northern England are spaced based on how far a person could walk in a day, and how traffic in central London today is apparently slower than horses and carts in Victorian times, but precious little on the actual distances and speeds involved. I was at the point of tearing my hair out when Wikipedia (the font of all human knowledge πŸ˜‰ came to my partial rescue with articles on the various gaits of horses, and the Pony Express. Some more poking around on the subject of “walk” finally allowed me to come up with some semi-reliable figures which I shall present here to make life easier for anyone else seeking the same information

An average, healthy, human adult can walk or march at about 5km per hour, or 3.1 miles per hour. Running speed is around 13km per hour, or 8 miles per hour. A horse can comfortably trot at the same speed (13kmph/8mph) more or less indefinitely. A horse can gallop at about 40-50km per hour (25-30 miles per hour) but can only keep it up for about 15 minutes before having to stop and rest.

So if we assume that a day’s travel is seven hours, a person on foot can travel about 35km (22 miles) a day. On horseback they could travel about 90km (56 miles).

I suppose I should now prove my calculations by getting a map of northern England and checking if the villages are 22 miles apart. If they’re closer I’ll just have to blame lazy peasants. If they’re further I’ll pin it on long summer evenings πŸ˜€

(Oh, and for the record if you wanted to do it Pony Express style you could conceivably cover about 350km or 220 miles in a day – but you’d need 30 or so horses lined up across the landscape waiting for you and a very tough backside πŸ™‚

Are they still talking gospel to the people? If so, their voices must sound strange…

The Wyrmworld plan for large scale, distributed Civil Defence.

Jericho is turning out to be not bad at all. A bit overwrought at times, but all in all an enjoyable watch. The one weird thing though is as much as I enjoy watching it, it always leaves me feeling all wound up and anxious in the pit of my stomach.

I put this down to my being a child of the 80’s. Back then we were all living under the threat of the bomb. Every moment of every day we knew in the back of our minds that without warning some idiot in Washington or the Kremlin could hit the button and incinerate us all over some stupid point of political ideology. It was there all the time, much like the threat of terrorism today but worse because while a terrorist attack can kill hundreds, nuclear war would kill everyone. So I reckon Jericho freaks me out on some deep level because it’s the stuff of my generation’s childhood nightmares.

I’m still going to watch it though πŸ™‚

Next week is the fourth episode. The adds are terribly cryptic as usual, but I strongly suspect that a wave of desperate refugees from Denver is about to descend on the town, and drama shall ensue. This supposition has got me thinking about how a society could actually cope with people abandoning the big population centers and descending on small towns, and I’ve come up with some novel ideas that I shall now inflict on the world in general πŸ™‚

(On a side note we’re seeing each episode of Jericho only a few hours after it premieres in the States, which makes a fantastic change. The usual lag for American TV is six months to two years. I suspect someone in Hollywood has finally twigged that the best way to prevent torrent piracy isn’t legal action, it’s giving international audiences the ability to see the shows legally without having to wait for ‘ing months).

So, here’s my idea. You put legislation in place (in peacetime so people have the time to get used to it and make preparations) that in a time of emergency every settlement of more than 100 people is legally required to take in refugees equal to 5% of the population (you also provide government funding to help towns get the necessary facilities in place – extra hospital beds, emergency shelters and food supplies, etc). Jericho for example is a town of about 5000 people, so in an emergency it would be legally required to take in 250 refugees. Once those refugees have been taken in the settlement is perfectly within its rights to tell everyone else to move on, and can enforce that right by any means necessary.

Who gets accepted as a refugee is based on a priority system. The highest priority are the critically injured, the chronically ill, the elderly (let’s say over 65), and children under 16 and their parents/guardians. The first 250 (since we’re continuing to use Jericho as an example) of those people to turn up in town are taken in. The rest are given cursory medical treatment, some water, and told to keep on down the road to the next settlement.

To help the settlements taking in refugees cope, there would be a special provision for medical staff, military and emergency services personnel – 10% of the refugee intake can be allocated to these people at the town’s discretion. So Jericho could take 25 firefighters, cops or paramedics (if they’re available) in place of 25 higher priority refugees.

The diaspora from the city would spread out across the countryside with the weakest finding help and shelter almost immediately, and those able to go further going further. The majority of people would end up somewhere safe and have their needs met, and no settlement would be crushed under the pressure.

Now all of this probably sounds pretty harsh, but it’s meant to be. The situation portrayed in Jericho is harsh – a small town about to be swamped by thousands of desperate people seeking food, water, shelter and medical assistance. Incredibly hard decisions would have to be made and then enforced if anyone were to survive. The idea of the laws described above is to take those awful, inhuman decisions away from the townsfolk, give them a clear framework to work with, and provide the right to defend their home and themselves against the desperate hordes that would otherwise destroy them. It would also give the refugees a clear idea of what to expect, reducing some of the panic and violence that might otherwise ensue.

So yeah, that’s my plan for large scale, distributed Civil Defence. Not bad eh? ;D

I’m out of food, so I’m going to go shopping now.

PS: You may well be wondering what any of this has to do with “talking gospel”. Well, absolutely nothing! I just woke up with that phrase in my head the other morning and thought it was too good to waste. I have vague impression it’s got something to do with Al Jolson in minstrel makeup riding up and down a beach on a jet ski yelling at people, but any deeper significance is forever lost in the world of dreams πŸ™‚

PPS: What!? Wikipedia is down! But it’s the source of all human knowledge!! How can I be sure that my links about Al Jolson and racist entertainment practises of the early 20th century are correct?!?

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