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Hippo Birdie

Today is July 13th. For most people this is the day between July 12th and July 14th. For everyone else, they are either using a different calendar, or have a high degree of innumeracy. Or both. For my mother, however, it marks another year passed in her life. Happy Birthday Mum.

Besides, in this fictionalised account of my life, (you’d think I could at least make it a little more interesting, plot-wise, wouldn’t you?) if I didn’t wish Mum a Hippo Birdie, she would never let me forget about it. It may well take the form, “No, that’s alright. Don’t trouble yourself. I wouldn’t want you to put yourself. Don’t worry about me. Never mind that I went through 84 hours of labour for you. I’ll just sit here in the dark.” Of course, she would do no such thing, but I do rather like ascribing the role of Clichéd Jewish Mother to her.

Today on the bus, I was doing a sudoku, and the gentleman sitting across from me asked me what it was (no, he hasn’t been living under rock. He’s an academic, and they are not quite the same thing!) We proceeded to have a lovely conversation over the next bus trip and a half (we were both catching the same next bus), which, as always, seemed to wind up with healthy doses of cynicism and politics. And I put my foot in my mouth once or twice (I denigrated Arts degrees…and he’d done one.)

In the lab today, Edeline asked me what the viscosity of a sample which was supposed to be 250mPa.s was. I looked at it and told her, “That’s not 250mPa.s. That’s about 100.” Long story short. I mean short story even shorter, Smug Mode.

Had another practice talk today. Monday’s was better, but this was still alright, and if I give the exact same talk next Monday, I’ll be fine.

Also, over the last day or two, I read Beowulf. Before reading any further, see if you can guess what how he occupied his time.

Yep, that’s right. When the story begins, Beowulf is undertaking a PhD at Geat University. His project was sponsored by the Danish Manufacturing Concern, and was personally instigated by the CEO, Hrothgar. Hrothgar had been having problems. His company’s viability had been threatened because of a foreign contaminant. After much hard work, Beowulf succeeded, and fulfilled the requirements for his PhD on the project entitled, “On the removal of traces of Grendel from Heorot.”

This gave him the distinction of being the first protagonist in one of my stories to actually graduate. He then did a short-term contracting position detecting and eradicating the source of Grendel. Once this was completed, he returned to Geat university and took up a tenured position.

Meanwhile, the Danish Mining Concern was driven out of business due to rival company Heathobard’s anti-competitive actions.

Over the years, Dr. Beowulf made a big name for himself, eventually becoming Prof. Beowulf. Prof. Beowulf was very good to his people, always giving them credit and helping them develop their careers. He also spent a lot of time tackling the problems himself, and spent much time in the lab working on the problems in a hands-on manner. This shows that he is a fictional character.

Eventually, working late one night, he tried to solve the problem of “On dragons and the numerical decline of Geats.” He was almost successful, and, fortunately, one of his PhD students was also working late and provided some invaluable assistance which enabled the Prof to solve it. Unfortunately, before his successful resolution of the problem, he was testing his hypothesis, and he found a slight flaw which ultimately contributed to his numerical decline by one, although he was still able to see the successful resolution.

And then the Swedes went through and wiped out the Geats, and, once again, we have a story where the protagonist dies. Or becomes a management consultant.

I’m currently reading Adam Spencer’s Book of Numbers. It is entertaining, but I doubt I will *review* it.


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