Follow the reluctant adventures in the life of a Welsh astrophysicist sent around the world for some reason, wherein I photograph potatoes and destroy galaxies in the name of science. And don't forget about my website,

Saturday 14 May 2011


Some considerable time has passed since my previous post, and now we live in a Brave New World where we don't have to worry about electoral reform at all. Phew, I'm glad that one's out of the way with. For a minute there I thought Britain was about to do something sensible. Oh well, better luck next generation. At least Nick Clegg is looking very silly, which is at least slightly comforting.

That's right ! I'm recycling pictures from my own blog out of sheer laziness !

In other news, Jabba the Hut has won immense popularity in Scotland*, seemingly - as far as I can tell - by telling ridiculous lies to the electorate about how great Scotland is. Which is a pity because there are quite a lot of truths he could tell about how great Scotland is, but never mind. In yet more dramatic developments, Osama bin Laden has been shot dead and buried at sea (but not necessarily in that order given how much the official story keeps changing).

The most promising conspiracy theory so far is that he was probably distracted by watching two extremely rich people get married, which seemed to turn even the most cynical journalists' minds into some sort of rose-tinted glue. I don't quite get why watching two strangers with more money than taste take vows to keep on shagging each other (lest some almighty being smite them with thunderbolts) has this effect on people. Why is it that the only thing we as a nation can rally behind is a bunch of inbred accidents-of-birth putting on a cheesy Disney-esque show ?

I digress, but only slightly. For, having received my social security number, I proceeded with all haste to acquire not one but two bank accounts and buy at once a television, amongst other things. Television ! Sweet nourishing T.V. ! Full of HBO and BBC America (a.k.a. "the wedding channel" but I'll forgive them for also showing Top Gear and Dr Who). Among the other things was also something of the highest order of magnificence, the exalted name of which I barely dare venture to contemplate, lest the precious thing should fade like morning mist back unto the ethereal Amazonian vapours from whence it came.... a kettle. It's been over 7 weeks since I last gazed upon such a noble visage. Finally a semblence of civilisation hath struck itself fast unto my blessed abode !*

* That's what you get for reading Coleridge, but we'll get to that.

It's a Proctor Silex. Not sure what the name means, but I'll bet it involves an evil villain bent on gaining control of the Romulan Senate.
Acquiring the social security number was the easy part. Getting a bank account involved more of a culture clash. For instance, names. The Spanish naming convention is... odd. Something about their surname being their second to last name and having their mother's maiden name in there somewhere. All I know is that it took a rather long time to convince the bank lady that my middle names are only middle names, not my last name. Then I had to persuade her that when I said I wanted to cash a cheque, I did not mean I wanted it converted into cash on the spot (which is illegal).

As I mentioned I eventually ended up with two bank accounts. One of these is a checking account. It does not come with a cheque book and never will. The other is a savings account. It is instant access and has an interest rate of 0.3% per year, so how that helps anyone save money is beyond me. Just to add to the weirdness, the savings account comes with two cards - one I can use in ATM machines and at the store, the other is a Visa debit for buying stuff online, which is why I needed the second account. Buying stuff online is what the 21st century's all about... that and terrorism anyway.

Which, in the final assessment, meant I was at last able to cas... I mean, deposit... my accumulating pay cheques, watch Battlestar Galactica on blu-ray and have a nice cup of tea. And read The Independent on my Kindle. Although if I were in a normal, stable (we'll get to that too) job I'd infinitely prefer enough books to cause a massive disturbance in L-space, this is hardly practical here. Bookshops are few and remote, and the last book I bought on Amazon took 3 weeks to arrive by air mail. Presumably Amazon are now shipping via Zeppelin, or, possibly, carrier pigeon. Whereas on a Kindle books are delivered at relativistic speeds (in fact the proper arrival time is zero)  whilst still being on a printed page (it literally is electronic ink).

No wonder it took so long - there are no roads across the Atlantic.

As the diligent reader will have ascertained, there is much other news. Watch this space.

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