October 29, 2011

Rain, Books, Maths, Bell Fund, etc


The latest item to be left in the pouring rain was the authors’ copies of the new trade paper edition of FIRE.  In this carrier’s defence, the space under the little roof by the dustbins is not large, and the box was an awkward shape.  Still.  Feh.  However, the knight in her shining raincoat* arrived before the damsel drowned.  I’d forgotten the trade-ed FIRE was due—I mean, I assume it was due.  Publishers have been known to be delayed or to push things back to a later list, but they rarely produce books at random.**

            It can now stop raining till my final box of auction-ordered backlist is scheduled to arrive***, and then it might want to get a head start on the ankle-deep puddles†.   The ankle-deep puddles are doing really well at the moment:  one of our standard hurtling routes is navigable only by wellies†† and I made an effort to be back at the cottage yesterday on time so that my handbellers did not have to stand around in the rain waiting for me.†††

            Speaking of handbells . . . tonight at tower practise we had a progress report on the bell fund, and gobsmackedness was generally expressed‡ at the amount the Days in the Life auction/sale has raised.‡‡  At the moment the bell fund is not only on track, it’s ahead of the game.  Yaaaaaaaay.  Of course we’re also busy finding out that just as the original £10,000 quote was low, the £12,000 it was raised to probably isn’t going to cover it either, so we may not be as ahead as all that.  However I’ve already said that I don’t mind where our—that is yours and my—bell money goes as long as it goes to bells.  There are at least two bell-restoration charities that work within the central council—I know this because we’re eligible for grants from them—so if we end up with money left over when all is said and done I’ll simply plough the Days in the Life money back into someone else’s bell restoration.‡‡‡

            Meanwhile Vicky said that we might consider making up a wish list§ for what might be done if we can afford it.  And Niall’s eyes went to a certain plain wooden cabinet that hangs on the wall of our ringing chamber.  We could get those old handbells repaired and retuned, he said.§§


* * *

* Actually it’s an extremely old, hard-used and beat-up raincoat and the zip doesn’t work any more.  I’m still wearing it.  I’m fond of it.  As soon as it starts getting cold as well as wet I will shift over to my fabulous raspberry pink Goretex coat bought in that dazzling crescendo of serendipity at the end of the season last year.^ 

^ I blogged about it, but I think I’d be sorry to hear you remembered. 

** I have this sudden vision of the entire sales, editorial and marketing departments of this or that megapublisher at one of those epic twice-yearly meetings crouched around a table with two dice on it.^  Or possibly a roulette wheel.^^ 

^ Did you know that slot machines—the one-armed bandits of yore—are now digital?  You don’t get to pull anything?  Hey, what’s the fun of that? 

^^ And the devil plays the croupier. 

*** This one, for once, is not my fault.  The hardback BLUE SWORD was between printings and out of stock when I ordered it back in August or so—which of course explains why it was our biggest bell-fund-sale title.  I had a few copies but nothing like enough.  But they reprinted about a fortnight ago so, barring further postal malfeasance, all is well. 

† I was thinking comfortably that the book depository  http://www.bookdepository.co.uk/ always sends books individually, so they fit through the mail slot in my door.  If it’s going to keep raining, however, perhaps they would like to make an exception.  I am sure there’s an amusing equation to be had out of the penetrability of cardboard to rain depending on the cube root of the hypotenuse of the contents.^ 

^ Because moderation is not my best trick and because the end of January is very soon and because I don’t, in fact, know what I’m looking for+, and because I have been a math phobic for thirteen months short of sixty years++ and I’m waiting somewhat nervously for it to kick in now and would like to get this over with+++, I picked up a book I’d given Peter last Christmas:  PROFESSOR STEWART’S HOARD OF MATHEMATHICAL TREASURES.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2010/mar/18/ian-stewart-curiosities-treasures ++++

Which is a hoot.  Not all of it is puzzles and equations.  The third snippet is about Bhaskara, a twelfth-century Indian mathematician.  After he screwed up his daughter’s marriage prospects, he wrote one of his most famous brain-bending treatises and named it after her:  Lilavati.+++++  As Stewart puts it:  Hey, thanks, Dad. 

+ And thanks to you generous maths-and-hard-sciences folk out there who have offered assistance.  I am compiling a list.  Meanwhile, or in the very very short term, like between now and the end of January, I suppose my generic question is, if you had an elderly hellgoddess, not awfully bright but given to enthusiasms and capable of considerable stubbornness, who wanted to know something about how mathematicians and physicists grapple with numbers and theorems and things (and possibly each other) to Define the Universe, what would you tell her?  

++ Yes, since you ask, I do remember lying in my bassinette and thinking, inchoately, because words were still some months off yet, ewwww.  Maths.  Ewwwwww.  

+++ Arnica at the ready.  Phobias can kick very hard.  I am really going to have to register a protest with the Story Council on this one~.  Which they will no doubt file in the ‘no action’ bin with all my other protests.~~ 

~ But not till after the end of January 

~~ If pressed, some harassed flunkey will probably snarl at me, You said you wanted something in a hurry.  You got it.  So stop complaining. 

++++ I’ve now got the first one on my book depository wish list.  The other book of Stewart’s that, by its description, I really want is WHAT DOES A MARTIAN LOOK LIKE? which is out of print.  Like I need more stuff to read.   

+++++ Nice name.  Hmmmm.   I’m sure, after having the standard life path closed to her~, an intelligent~~, well-educated young woman would want some adventures.  Hmmmm. 

~ Indeed she may have engineered this.  

~~ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lilavati 

†† No I am not going to carry you.  You can jump.   

†††  The little roof beside the dustbins is definitely too small for two people and a bag of handbells.  Not to mention that it’s only about shoulder high. 

‡ I believe ‘gibble gibble gibble’ might be a rough translation of Vicky’s reaction—as tower secretary and all-purposes dominatrix she’s been pretty much single-handedly responsible for the running of the bell fund:  organisation, keeping track of money coming in and money promised, follow ups, resulting reporting to the church and various councils and so on and so on and so on.  She must have a flow chart the size of Balmoral.  

‡‡ I gave a ‘not less than’ figure since I haven’t even booked my appointment with the Tax Man yet. 

‡‡‡ There are at least two local towers I’d be delighted to contribute to the rehabilitation of, so if it comes to that I’ll keep you posted.  It being my name on the cheque I’d be able to assign where it goes.

§ New ropes cost a fortune for example, and there are a lot of really grotty hateful old ropes out there still in service because the tower in question can’t afford to buy new ones.  And no tower puts up a new rope till the old one is at least somewhat grotty and hateful. 

§§ You know he hadn’t even NOTICED that yesterday was the first time I’d got through to the end of Cambridge on frelling handbells without resort to reading it off a piece of paper with the lines on?  Lksdjfhgkjdsfjkliowerunvn&^%$£”!!!!!!!


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