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Posts from 01st Dec 2003 to 31st Dec 2003.
Christmas with the family.
   at 23:13 on Sat 27th December 2003
Its been really lovely having just immediate family for Christmas. So nice not to have to rush around and make everyone feel welcome, since we're almost always the people who host Christmas. I've had a relaxing time, just what I was looking for this break.

Thinking about it, I'm actually quite happy at the moment. I got really useful presents this year, and I didn't have to do the fake "Oh, its lovely" trick once. Its really annoying to read other peoples Christmas present lists, so I shant even tell it.

I think the thing that's made Christmas so nice for me this year however, is that I got to see my sister. And she was lovely. I doubt this'll make much sense to most people, but the past half a dozen years at least have been rather troubled and stressful and rather eventful. There were some issues which I'm in no mood to divulge about. But it did end up with me this Christmas enthralled to see my sister happy. She's making a go of life now and I feel much relief.

However, there was one present I didn't get, which I kind of wanted, the Lord of the Rings books. I guess I didn't get it because with family and friends I don't really have a reputation of being a big reader. Couple with the fact I didn't tell anyone I wanted the books, I'm not really surprised I didn't get them.

But I went out and bought the first to have a read. I've managed the Foreword and the three pages so far. I'm quite happy with my purchase so far.

I do hope everyones Christmases are going well and I'm sure I'm not alone in looking forward to the forthcoming New Year celebrations.

That is, if I survive the sales rushes on Monday!

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Do you believe in Father Christmas?
   at 11:36 on Wed 17th December 2003
Before I come back with some actual blog news...
Scientifically Santa

There are approximately two billion children (persons under 18) in the world. However, since Santa does not visit children of Muslim, Hindu, Jewish or Buddhist (except maybe in Japan) religions, this reduces the workload for Christmas night to 15% of the total, or 378 million (according to the Population Reference Bureau). At an average (census) rate of 3.5 children per household, that comes to 108 million homes, presuming that there is at least one good child in each.
Santa has about 31 hours of Christmas to work with, thanks to the different time zones and the rotation of the earth, assuming he travels east to west (which seems logical). This works out to 967.7 visits per second.

This is to say that for each Christian household with a good child, Santa has around 1/1000th of a second to park the sleigh, hop out, jump down the chimney, fill the stockings, distribute the remaining presents under the tree, eat whatever snacks have been left for him, get back up the chimney, jump into the sleigh and get on to the next house.

Assuming that each of these 108 million stops is evenly distributed around the earth (which, of course, we know to be false, but will accept for the purposes of our calculations), we are now talking about 0.78 miles per household; a total trip of 75.5 million miles, not counting bathroom stops or breaks.

This means Santa's sleigh is moving at 650 miles per second--3,000 times the speed of sound. For purposes of comparison, the fastest man-made vehicle, the Ulysses space probe, moves at a poky 27.4 miles per second, and a conventional reindeer can run (at best) 15 miles per hour. The payload of the sleigh adds another interesting element.

Assuming that each child gets nothing more than a medium sized Lego set (two pounds), the sleigh is carrying over 500 thousand tons, not counting Santa himself. On land, a conventional reindeer can pull no more than 300 pounds. Even granting that the "flying" reindeer could pull ten times the normal amount, the job can't be done with eight or even nine of them... Santa would need 360,000 of them.

This increases the payload, not counting the weight of the sleigh, another 54,000 tons, or roughly seven times the weight of the Queen Elizabeth (the ship, not the monarch). 600,000 tons traveling at 650 miles per second creates enormous air resistance. This would heat up the reindeer in the same fashion as a spacecraft re-entering the earth's atmosphere. The lead pair of reindeer would absorb 14.3 quintillion joules of energy per second each. In short they would burst into flames almost instantaneously, exposing the reindeer behind them and creating deafening sonic booms in their wake.

The entire reindeer team would be vaporized within 4.26 thousandths of a second, or right about the time Santa reached the fifth house on his trip. Not that it matters, however, since Santa, as a result of accelerating from a dead stop to 650 m.p.s. in .001 seconds, would be subjected to acceleration forces of 17,500 g's. A 250 pound Santa (which seems ludicrously slim) would be pinned to the back of the sleigh by 4,315,015 pounds of force, instantly crushing his bones and organs and reducing him to a quivering blob of pink goo. Therefore, if Santa did exist, he's dead now.

[Pilfered kindly from]

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Oh, and..
   at 23:40 on Sun 7th December 2003
I got a nice surprise this week.

There was me thinking this was my first year without a calendar. What arrived on my doorstep one morning this week? A chocolate calendar from my parents. I love those two. :-)

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The end of another weekend
   at 23:37 on Sun 7th December 2003
Well I got my coursework handed in, that horrible Operating System. It was about 8 minutes late, but hopefully that won't matter. I also got another coursework done, too. So that ends half of this terms work.

On Friday, I had Tom over from Bournemouth. We had such a laugh making ourselves look really stupid. From the Hobbit (after a large number of cocktails and suitable light headed) we made our way to the Cube. The highlight of the night was sitting, the four of us in a line, on the dance floor. Noone else about. We had the lighting reconfigured just for us and the big screen had the camera pointed on us for about an hour. Lots of giggles.

Oh, and I also got to hug three girls. Wow. Mister Huggable.

I finally dug my huge bag of tealights out and have spent a couple of nights chilling in the soft light of candles. I'm tempted to try out some proper meditation but the noise of our house's network server computer thing is way too loud.

And finally, this evening, we won the Woofage quiz thing on IRC. I was captain of the Orange team and we won by a fair margin, despite having to shake off one claim that we were cheating. Was a good night and I'm quite relaxed and refreshed ready for my last week of University for 2003.

With Phil^ coming from Scotland, the party next weekend at Clares and a few bits inbetween, it looks set to be a good fun time this week.


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A busy day.
   at 23:58 on Tue 2nd December 2003
I don't think my mind has had a day of so much mind numbing thinking since I started University.

Trying to fathom how operating systems do software interrupts (2E) at the lowest level C you can do and a load of assembler too, its just too much. All this bitwise stuff and special registers, stacks and other foul stuff.

But I spent a half hour of my own time after the lecture this afternoon asking questions and it now all makes sense. So here's to a productive coursework day tomorrow.

And then I had to suffer the torment of the last ever Comedy Tuesday of 2003 at Southampton University. The last act we had was wonderful, just my kind of humour. A bloke from Canada who obviously took inspiration from Billy Collony. Rather rather amusing.

What else happened today... Not alot. It just seems this day has taken two days off my life. Busy busy busy.

And I've been thinking today how wierd things are with friends. On IRC and too a certain extent in that place we call real life, noone has anything to say anymore.

I find this with most people, so perhaps its a problem with me that I need to sort. But it just seems so hard to keep in conversation with someone for more than a few minutes.

Perhaps I know everyone too well know, or I talk so much shit that noones interested.

Oh well, its nice not having much to say at the moment, I have so much work to be doing.

Finally for today, moving off at a tangent, I'm listening to Runrig at the moment. Its reminding me of my beautiful, absolutely beautiful, holiday on the Isle of Skye. I don't think I've been as relaxed and felt so comfortable since. Its a magical place.

I'm missing everyone from home, missing everyones kind parents too. I regret not spending the effort to keep in total contact with everyone now.

But here's to gorgeous music.


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