The malice of inanimate objects

August 9th, 2014

It’s quite a time since I’ve had a good rant. On this occasion I think no-one could begrudge me. The room I am in has an en suite (or on sweet, as I have more than once seen it written) shower room and toilet. Yesterday I went in there and noticed that I had trouble closing the door when I came out again. I couldn’t see what was preventing the door closing, so I went inside and closed the door without trouble. Opened it, came out, pushed the door closed hard, and click! Then the door would not open again.

I won’t go into details of the various epithets I perpetrated. It took me a good thirty minutes to get the door open again. This left the lock in the state you can see in the picture. A new door will be needed.

Check check

August 9th, 2014

You can’t get very far in learning to play chess without understanding what check means. So for someone like me, who has been playing on and off for 55 years or so, you would think the concept is simple.

If an opponent’s piece attacks your king, move it. If you can’t, or if you can only move to another square which is also attacked by a piece of your opponent’s, then it’s checkmate.

I played chess this week and the first game came down to the position shown above. Actually, there were more pieces on the board, but they are irrelevant to this little tale, so I’ve left them out.

It’s easy to see that white (me!) is in big trouble. But is that true? Can the white king take the black queen? I didn’t know, but my opponent (JDL) was sure that that would be illegal, because the white king would then be in check from the black rook. BUT the black rook can’t move. It is pinned to the king by the white bishop. If it moves, then the black king is in check! WHEW!

To my chagrin it turns out that JDL is right. Here is Article 3.9 of the rules of chess as determined by the Fédération internationale des échecs:

The king is said to be ‘in check’ if it is attacked by one or more of the opponent’s pieces, even if such pieces are constrained from moving to that square because they would then leave or place their own king in check. No piece can be moved that will either expose the king of the same colour to check or leave that king in check.

The very next rule (4.1) is puzzling. It states that:

Each move must be made with one hand only.

I have no idea why.


July 29th, 2014

The dates for the 2015 meeting of the Phonetics Teaching & Learning Conference have now been announced. PTLC2015 will take place at UCL from 5-7 August next year. A link to the conference website can be found in the sidebar.

Up to scratch?

July 16th, 2014

Maidment Mansion is having a new kitchen installed. Here one of the planning committee inspects the new oven.

The Rose Chafer

June 22nd, 2014

We have been enjoying some very fine weather in the far west over the last ten days. Today has been the hottest so far, I think. This afternoon it has been 20 deg C (68 F).

To enjoy the weather a little trip to Carn Gluze aka Carn Gloose aka Ballowal, a place I have posted about before, and which has the advantage of remaining relatively unpopulated even at the height of the tourist season.

When I arrived, I had a stroke of luck. Just where I parked there was an old gentleman, yes even older than me! He was staring at something on a plant. When I got out of the car, he beckoned me over and showed me what he was looking at. You can see the very beast in the picture above. He told me it was a Rose Chafer, also called Green Rose Chafer or Goldsmith Beetle. Wikipedia tells us that its scientific name is Cetonia aurata. I have never seen one before, and without the old guy’s info I would have had no idea what I was looking at, even if I had spotted it for myself.

I spent the next ten minutes or so trying to take a picture of it. It was pretty hard because there was a moderate breeze blowing and keeping the beetle in focus was almost impossible. Finally, I took a few shots holding the plant still with one hand and holding the camera in the other. Of the ten or so shots I took only three were at all serviceable. The one above is the best.