May 25th, 2006


Tobacco thoughts

Weird: I'm sitting in a cafe just off Russell Square, drinking a cappuccino and typing. (I'm not sure what I'm doing has yet risen to the status of "writing".) The cafe has a smoking section. That means the whole place is suffused with cigarette smoke. I live in California, where people haven't been allowed to smoke in restaurants or cafes for many years. This experience is odd.

It makes me want to smoke.

I think I mentioned once here that my rate of smoking is about one cigarette every 8 years. That means I'm due. And since I'm in London alone, away from husband & sister for the next day, I can run riot and have that wild cigarette... I probably won't. Sigh.

Before she left for soggy New England, my sister and I were discussing the reason for our difficulty with the change. The obvious difference is the coinage for small amounts; one and two pound coins. The US has a dollar coin, but you only ever see it when you use the stamp machines at the post office and get change. So, any amount under $10 gets paid for with coins in the UK. But that is easy to adapt to. Where we're having the hard time is counting change under 1 pound.

The #1 reason: no 25-pence coin. Units are 1, 5, 10, 20, 50. The typical handful of US change contains these units: 1, 5, 10, 25. Half-dollars exist, but are rare. I have a lifetime of change-parsing habits centered around the quarter as the most important coin. The handful of change in my pocket right now does not include an equivalent. So I'm at sea and count slowly.

The #2 reason: the coin in the size that my brain has been trained to parse as "dime" is actually the 5-pence coin.
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Oh noes! The SIP meme game!

kivrin has the best meme-games:

Pick ten of your favorite books, look them up on, and find the list of Statistically Improbable Phrases for those novels. Pick a few SIPs from each book, list them here, and then have people guess what books they are. (Obviously, using Google or Amazon to figure it out is cheating.)

1. spectating fleet, remote delving, wormhole network, drive signatures
2. iron staircase / Dorothy L Sayers, Murder must advertise, kivrin
3. naked stars, blue fire, command chair
4. drive spines, single pack, castle yard
5. gravity polarizer, fusion tube, cargo pod, monopole source, thalium oxide
6. possessive instinct, fair beard, morocco case
7. hundred orbs, captain grunted, silver orbs, fifty leagues
8. purring voice, little revolver (hard, I'm afraid, but you've heard of it)
9. aged aged man, little golden key, beautiful soup, Lewis Carroll, Alice in wonderland, kivrin
10. loblolly boy, sheeted home, starboard guns

This turned out to be harder to set up than I'd thought, because many of my initial choices for books turned out not to be in print, or not to have SIPs listed on Amazon. And in one case, the title of the book I wanted was the only SIP given for it. Suxx0rz! (It is a freakin' crime that the author of #1 is mostly not in print in the US, because... urg, that would give it away.)

What's interesting to me is that at least three of these books are given away by a single SIP. And in a couple of other cases, I chose not to use total giveaway SIPs.

Answers in the final comment.
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