Dec 29, 2004
I suppose this view is cynical, but at least to me it's not such a surprise. I know that most people are more or less self-interested -- I know I am. So it's hardly immoral to give something more importance that affects you directly. Still, considering that 30,000 lives were lost in Bam, I think it deserved a mention.
And now, we're hearing that the Asian death toll is 44,000 (my God!) because of Indonesia's losses of maybe 25,000 and Sri Lanka's (almost) 19,000. I'm seeing stories of people from all over the world, famous and obscure, being caught up together in this disaster. This is brutal and amazing, that all are levelled to the same ground in the maelstrom, from supermodels to football stars, to the German chancellor himself.
And to add salt to the considerable wounds, Asia will almost certainly have to implement, at the cost of perhaps millions of dollars, tsunami and earthquake early warning systems or the tourist industry will never recover. Paradise on Earth will forever be on the lookout for death from the sea.
Dec 15, 2004
In about a minute, maybe, the spider turned itself to `stand' on the ceiling of the case, upside-down. I then turned the case upside-down, to put the spider right-side up again. It went crazy! It started running about inside the case for about ten or twenty seconds, then slowed down and hung itself upside-down again.
I put it upright again. And again, it went crazy, skittering about madly, and then finally putting itself upside-down again. I did this several times, and each time it responded in exactly the same way.
After a while, I have to admit, I got bored (I'm not Richard Feynman :-). So I let it go on the balcony outside my bedroom. Immediately Yaman squashed it under his sandal. I shouted at him some more, then gave it up. He's totally determined to wipe out all of insectkind, it seems. (Yes, I know a spider is not an insect, but an arachnid. Yaman doesn't care.)
Dec 12, 2004
Then he started describing all the troubles he'd been having in Dhaka after losing the video store job -- looking for a job, supporting the family, and so on. And still I stood there like an idiot letting him talk on. I don't know what spell came over me -- was I uncertain as to whether he had really recognised me? Was it because he spoke some English as he told me about trying to get a job at a club in Gulshan? Was he going to ask me for a job?
Then I got a call from my mother, and I decided to get going. So I told him I had to go, implying that my mother had told me something I needed to do in a hurry. He kept on talking, finally getting to the point -- would I lend him some money, he would never ask me normally but he'd been having trouble recently and also suffering ill health -- he showed me his left arm, which had discoloured patches on it. That was when I started kicking myself (figuratively speaking) for staying to listen so long.
He was saying, maybe I could lend him a hundred taka? Maybe even fifty? I told him I didn't have anything, I would have given him something if I did have it, but I didn't. I lied, I did have some money on me, two hundred taka, but I would never give away money to anyone I met on the street.
He seemed very reluctant to let me go. I left him behind, feeling like a total idiot.
Nov 18, 2004
Lately on Linux, I've been trying out the Xfce desktop environment, and I have to say, on my RAM-deprived PC (128 MB), it totally kicks ass. It's fast, clean, minimal, but it looks incredible, especially with the GTK+ Smokey-Blue theme.
I've also been setting up a mail system in Linux that uses MrPostman to download all my Hotmail messages from the Hotmail site, classify it into different categories using POPFile, and deliver it to my electronic mailbox. It's working pretty well so far, and POPFile is getting more and more accurate in its classification. My only problem is the lack of mail to download and test the setup! But what the heck.
Finally I've got a mail system that comes about as close as I've ever gotten to my own POP account with an ISP.
Nov 3, 2004
What I mean is, people start talking about Bush and Saddam and Osama and Iraq. The old story. Then someone goes, `Oh, I'm behind Kerry 100%.' And the other guy is `Absolutely, me too.' And they're both (moderately) happy. But then guy no. 1 says something like, `And you know, Bush did such-and-such and you could obviously see that it was wrong.'
Now this is a very innocuous statement because these guys are definitely on the same side, right? Wrong! Guy no. 2 gets all riled up at this point: `It's ridiculous! Can't you see that such-and-such! And this-and-that!!! And on top of everything else, ...'
Then guy no. 1 gets worked up as well: `But that was absolutely wrong! Bush should've gone to the United Nations and blah-blah-blah!'
Guy no. 2: `But don't you see, he says he did go! And that they gave him permission to blah-blah-blah!'
Guy no. 1: `What the hell are you talking about! Are you a Bush supporter!'
Guy no. 2: `I thought you said you supported Bush! Otherwise why were you arguing about him!!!'
Oct 23, 2004
and fingerprint is:
B57F D9D9 FFA1 A18F 9876 7512 5999 7722 D864 3D69
If this post has caused you a headache so far, sorry! I just like the idea of playing around with digital signing and encryption.
Oct 9, 2004
My favourite episode so far has been the one where Sam got fired. He was labeled the `wild man' of the men's team, and he had openly admitted to Mr Trump that he had not earned the others' respect -- but he seemed to think that was their fault. After he was fired, he stared murderously at Trump. Hadn't anyone told him when he signed up there was a possibility he would get fired? Trump probably increased his security detail after that!
Yesterday night's episode was interesting because Nick folded when he didn't approve of a business tactic the others were using to get the customers in. They had set up Kwame at a desk giving out autographs -- `Get your autograph of Kwame Jackson, Wall Street [grunt]', as if he was a celebrity. In retrospect, it seems like what Sam tried to do in the first episode selling lemonade to a guy for a thousand dollars -- `I guarantee that if you buy this lemonade, you will have an experience that you will remember.' Kinda bending the rules of the show, but not quite. The implication was that after the show aired, all the contenders would become well-known to the public.
Anyway, Nick said he didn't approve of the tactic and wasn't going to be a part of it. But he didn't really do anything much at all. He just hung around outside and chanted something like `Coupons, coupons'. Carolyn was right when she pointed out he had looked like he was dying. Nick should have stuck up for the team and the team leader no matter what he thought of the tactics. And in any case he certainly didn't come up with anything better.
As for the women ... they focused on liquor and won. Heidi was very impressive selling the drinks. She capitalised on the male `macho' complex, urging them to down the shots. It was excellent. I don't know if you could say whether they went too far when the started drinking as well. Maybe that was a mistake, but they beat the men, which was the goal, so....
As for the whole `Shooters Girls' thing, small T-shirts and all, I think Trump and Carolyn were wrong to caution them about using sexuality. It should be obvious that their goal, and all their incentives, pointed at beating the men any way necessary. It was just business. If Trump wanted to see what they would do if they couldn't use sexuality as a tactic, he should have put them in a task which neutralised it -- e.g., negotiating with a woman, or in a highly scrutinised corporate environment. I don't know.
On a side note, I have to admit that for the most part I'm very erratic with my blogging. It's just that I just don't say anything if there's nothing interesting going on.
Sep 7, 2004
So I would sit in the barbershop, which was spotlessly clean, and cool and dry, and have the accoutrements of the haircut put on me. First came the universal inner towel and white cloak. Then, unique (as far as I could tell) to this barbershop, one of the Filipino barbers, they were young chaps, would roll out some length of plasticky cloth, cut it off at the end, and wind it around my neck, holding up the white cloak. This was probably to make sure no hair fell in through the cracks.
Then would commence the snip, snip, snippety-snip. And voila, we were done. I think once or twice after a cut, we would go to a nearby public library, which to my great regret I didn't spend more time in.
Later, we moved to Sharjah [Sharjah and Dubai are cities in the United Arab Emirates]. So I actually became a teenager growing up in Sharjah. But anyway, when I was still a pre-teen, by that time I was trying to throw off the tyrannical yoke of my mother and her enforced mushroom cut. She thought it was cute, but by that time I had developed enough sentience to realise it was ghastly. OK, it was really more suited to the Western or Filipino kids, but by then I couldn't really pass for either, so I decided the best cut for me would be a fully natural cut -- in other words, just let it grow however it will, and trim it if it starts getting uncomfortable. And to this day I've kept to that style.
So anyway, back then, I was this kid in Sharjah, trying to outgrow, literally, my mushroom cut. And there were a couple of barbershops pretty close to my place. In fact, probably there was one in the next building. Finally, shortly before I turned twelve, I managed to get there alone and gave strict instructions to have it cut evenly. I was quite pleased with the result, but my mother was noncommittal at best.
Still later, we had moved to another house in Sharjah, on another street. And there was another barbershop on this street, and I used to get my haircuts there from then on. This one had nice black leather chairs -- rather like I car's, I thought. Once, on my way to the place, I popped open and started drinking a bottle of Pepsi. Then when I got there, I had to wait while the barber was finishing with another customer. In an accident, I clumsily tipped the bottle of Pepsi and it spilled. Now what I should have done was let it all spill onto my lap, because I was sitting in a leather chair. And I knew that. But in a reflex action, I had opened my lap, and most of the Pepsi went on the leather.
The barber was mad. He went nuclear, really. He was a youngish (well, late thirties) Iranian guy, and he had a temper. He started yelling at me. Luckily my father showed up and it was exit, stage left. And no haircut that night. And I didn't go back there for some time, for good measure.
Actually the one thing I appreciate about those haircuts is I got into the habit of getting a standard `medium-length' cut which just about any barber can do, so it doesn't take me long to describe what I want when I have to go to a new barbershop. And that's great because I hate describing how I want my hair cut.
Sep 2, 2004
When you say you're an atheist, you come to the problem of what you think will happen after death. Most people obviously think their souls will go on `living', thus preserving their consciousness and their memories and experiences. And I automatically put myself against this when I say I'm an atheist. But I do accept that when I die, that will be it, the end of the universe as far as I'm concerned -- no soul, no afterlife, nothing but the void. And I accept that. It doesn't depress me terribly because, and I know this isn't the secret of eternal bliss, I'm not terribly obsessive about such things.
I do like to think of myself as a philosopher, but not really a seeker of spiritual truth. What I'm more interested in is a sort of sociological perspective of human civilisation for the past ten thousand years. Somewhere in all of human history there must be the clue that helps us to deal with the advances our civilisation is making as we move to the next level. Or perhaps it is present at the macro level as the patterns fall into place.
All I know is there are some things that are terribly wrong with our civilisation as it is, and we are all too stuck in the human mindset, the one we've had for the past ten thousand years, to put our fingers on it. We need to get out of this rut to make the advances we need to live up to our potential.
I think of myself as a liberal, having been influenced by Isaac Asimov, Harper Lee, Philip Pullman (His Dark Materials), Anne Rice, Carl Sagan, Khushwant Singh, Voltaire, and many others I can't think of right now. I am more or less totally liberal in attitude. And I think the basis of that is a kind of fierce tolerance of others, their behaviour, their attitudes, meanners, customs, whatever. For the most part, people don't want to get in my way, tell me what to do, and so on. And I love that and I act exactly the same way. Let everyone live their lives as they will, as long as they don't tell me what to do.
Finally, on a personal level, I have this attitude which I have decided to adopt of complete imperturbability. It's a kind of attitude where you're polite and somewhat kind and maybe even generous but you don't let anybody push you around, and you never get angry -- and even if you do feel anger, or pain, or whatever, you don't let them see it -- because you don't let yourself get hurt by anything anyone says. If one becomes totally insensitive to negative criticism (but not constructive criticism), derision, you know, all kinds of negative attitudes, I think one can find the world a much easier place to live in.
What I mean to say is, I have a very simple measure of whether somebody is trying to hurt me. Are they making fun of me, spreading lies about me, etc. etc.? Then they're not hurting me. Are they coming after me with a knife? Then they're going to hurt me. It's that simple. OK, maybe it's not, but for the most part I can deal with people by simply refusing to let anyone hurt me with words. The way I look at it is, all that's coming out of their mouths is shit at 60 wpm [words per minute]. But even then, try to understand where they're coming from, never let them feel that you're disturbed by them, but rather that you understand how they feel, but you don't feel the same way, and you simply don't care what they think. And the best part of it is, this will drive them nuts!
This is my favourite maxim: `Don't suffer fools gladly, but gladly make them suffer.'
Aug 27, 2004
So I called up Faisal and indirectly asked him what he thought of a Gmail account. He was interested but for the life of him couldn't figure out why I was asking these silly questions. But then he's probably used to that from me by now. As an aside, if I were called up and asked what I thought of Gmail, I'd probably make the connection immediately and expect an invite, but what the hey.... :-)
So, having assured myself that he would appreciate the benefits of having a Gmail account, I sent out the invite and congratulated myself on my wise decision.
Today, I signed in to Gmail and what should I see but 6 -- not one, but six -- invitations that I can give out to friends. Yikes. Sue me, but I think I'm running out of friends to invite. Nevertheless, I think I'll try. Alia could probably use the storage space, given her volume of correspondence, and Marvin, now that I come to think of it, could probably be persuaded to part with Walla for Gmail. Actually, I think I'll just email them, so there.
Now, I've finally finished Karen Armstrong's `History of Islam' -- not that it was huge or anything, but rather because I took a rather long hiatus to read other stuff. Dadiamma could never figure out why Dada leaves a book unfinished to start another one, and then finishes the first after the second, but I think that like me, he gets bored with one book after a while, no matter how interesting it is.
Anyway, Armstrong said something about why Muslim women might want to veil themselves from head to toe -- even though that is not required by the Quran -- that reminded me of my own affinity for my beard even when it was criticised roundly by both friends and family. Part of my rationale for the beard was, I don't care how I look to the rest of the world as long as I can have my way. Or, screw the rest of the world, I don't give a damn what they think. Or even, screw the rest of the world, I'll keep the beard just to irritate them!
So my being like that, I can certainly appreciate why some women might subscribe to the veil. It might irritate people, but I can appreciate the black irony of that and congratulate myself (!) for it.
This might sound shallow after the last paragraph, but I've come to realise that the most important thing I can ever learn is how to put myself in another person's shoes. In another word, empathy. The master's disciple may have concentrated on anger management, but I think if you understand the motivations behind people's actions, you'll find it a lot easier to control your temper. Now if only I could drill this into my head with a chainsaw. But no, it will probably take many years to fully absorb this idea.
Aug 20, 2004
Meanwhile, this may come as a shock to me (!), but other people aren't as interested in my beard (or lack of one) as I might be.
I called up the Malaysian High Commission to ask about their student visa procedure and it turns out they have none. Monash U. will actually be doing all the work on my behalf, arranging my student pass. Then they will send it to me and wait for me at the airport. That's pretty much it. The lady at the High Commission explained it to me in excruciating detail. I was afraid I would grow old and die listening to her rambling on about the process.
In other news, I've come across some videos of Richard Feynman's QED (quantum electrodynamics, oh how I love those two words) lectures -- the same famous lectures that were compiled into the book Dada bought. I'm going through the videos one by one now. Feynman is an incredibly rich and interesting character. Witty, smart, and sophisticated, he's like the Indiana Jones of theoretical physics. I'd like to see a movie about him. Russell Crowe's A Beautiful Mind proved that thoughtful movies could be made of scientists. And Feynman is such an interesting character even if you leave aside his scientific achievements -- his days as a barfly, artist, raconteur, immersion tank experimenter, marching band player in Copacabana (Brazil) would make incredible fodder for a movie.
If they did make a movie on him, Matthew Perry would be perfectly placed to play him in about ten years' time, I think, if he (Perry) takes care of himself. I think they have the same facial structure and Perry's sense of humour would only help him. The only problem that might come up is Perry's voice. At the least he'll have to go through some practice to make it sound deeper. Might even try catching a cold :-)
Aug 15, 2004
I decided to grow a beard a few weeks after the A levels ended because I didn't really have much else to do and I was getting tired of shaving every other day. So through the past month I haven't touched my face with a razor, letting it all just run wild on my face. I've discovered some very interesting things about the way it grows, including the places where it doesn't (beside my lips, if anyone is interested).
I knew it could get itchy, having kept various forms of facial hair before; but then it also got sticky and dry, seemingly sucking all the moisture out of my skin. Then I got into this phase where I kept stroking the moustache and/or the beard continuously. Actually, I'm not sure I've recovered from that yet. I discovered that I don't have to worry about little bits of food getting stuck to it, but that now whenever I drink water some of it always ends up in the hair somehow.
I've also realised that all this hair makes me look more indigenous, more Bangladeshi really. In the past people have been confused as to where I'm from, and I guess this brings my appearance into a familiar level for most people.
Of course, most people I know have been vehemently against the beard (big surprise :-). Mummy and Nano have been against, Daddy, Yaman and Nana have reserved their judgement, and friends -- for the most part -- have been against. I tell them I just want to look a little different for a while, and I'll get rid of it sooner or later.
And finally, today looks like the perfect day to do it. The hartal before the concert. If the barber shop is open, that is.
Jul 29, 2004
[NOTE: NOT FOR KIDS, READ AT THE RISK OF BEING OFFENDED]One of the funniest blogs I have ever seen. I'm classifying it as a blog even though Maddox (the author) doesn't mention `blog' anywhere on the site because it follows the general blogging convention, chronologically ordered, `article'-style posts on the same page/site. So, Maddox, has a hobby: maintaining a blog wherein he criticises possibly anything and everything that comes to his notice. These include such diverse topics as Honda civics, The Matrix revolutions, and George W. (suprise surprise :-) Bush. The main themes of his blog seem to be criticism and ridicule, which I admit I quite enjoy because I have something of a cynical streak myself.
Now, Maddox has received quite a lot of mail from readers, and has posted some of them on the site, with replies. It seems people just can't get past the fact that he is criticising things, and that he should stop. This seems to me absolutely analogous to the American right trying to take Howard Stern off the air because, they argue, he is `offensive to listeners'.Now, my point is: if people don't like what is being said, why the heck do they read it/listen to it? They don't have to. Maddox or Stern aren't taking over their radios/computers and forcing the drivel down their throats. They can easily tune the radio to another channel, or go to another website.
It seems people have this tendency to proactively take offense at things which they come across, even if they themselves aren't directly being insulted. For example, Maddox isn't going to people's homes and telling them what to do; he is posting his own opinions to his own website -- and people are subsequently emailing him and telling him he is wrong/a dipshit/an asshole/whatever.
Jul 27, 2004
But Gmail is the first I've ever experienced that's so ... well, nifty. And the conversation grouping feature is a masterstroke.
The only thing I don't like about Gmail (here it comes!) is its poorly-integrated address book. Sure, you can import contacts from your local CSV files, but after you have set up the contacts, you can only email one person at a time from the contacts window. And in the message composition window, there is no mention at all of any contacts you might have.
Uh, scratch that. It turns out as you start typing anything in the To: box, a little window listing possible email address or name matches is popped up for you to choose from using the arrow keys and then Tab or Enter. Nifty!
But an earlier gripe still remains. There's no way to quickly select (i.e. with check boxes or some such method) a whole bunch of contacts to mail to. And I haven't seen any mailing list facilities. That is, no way to create a contact that sends the message to multiple addresses.
All in all, though, I feel I'll really come to appreciate Gmail's power as the emails accumulate in the account and give Gmail a chance to show them to me in an organised manner.
Anyway, a couple of days ago I was watching Nick Lachey and Jessica Simpson's show on MTV (Newlyweds, I think), and thinking about how married couples interact with each other. Well, actually I got to thinking about that later, because I was taking in the antics of Mr Lachey.
It was Valentine's Day and Mr and Mrs Lachey were getting ready for their romantic evening together in, ahem, different ways. While she bustled around the house setting up the dining and watching the Italian chef prepare the meal (main dish: lobster which the chef snapped in half with his bare hands while she looked on in horror), Nick drove off in his apparently newly-delivered Ferrari to do some golfing with someone who could only be his brother. (Aren't they in the same band together?) Drove off to golf, mind you, in a Ferrari. Dressed in slacks and other casual wear. No. My brain cannot digest this.
In the evening, they had their romantic evening -- at home, with background classical music performed by a hired mini-orchestra. Gifts and kisses were exchanged. Love was affirmed. All so musy-mushy it made me want to cry -- thinking a time might come when I'll probably have to do this stuff.
I know I'm no way near ready to get married. First off, I'm only 19. But that's just physically. I just cannot cross that gap yet to do what married couples have to do, I'm not mentally ready. And I can't see how I will ever be. I just don't have the patience to finesse a woman into telling me things in more or less straightforward fashion. But in the future -- who knows? I've come a long way already in terms of patience and getting some control over my emotions. I just hope I keep some kind of a grip on reality when I have to act soppy or romantic or whatever.
But back to Nick and Jessica. While I was watching the show I wondered why in the world the husband left his wife at home on Valentine's Day to go golfing in his new Ferrari with his brother. If I were him I'd do something like go off to Paris for a couple of days and stroll around the parks and cafes and whatever. Then again, when they signed up to do the show they might have agreed not to leave the country or something, I don't know.
Then as I saw that they had planned all along to spend the evening at home together, I realised that Nick had needed to go off for a while to prepare himself for what lay ahead. I can totally understand. I'm a guy. I guess everyone gets ready for something like this in their own way. Probably Jessica's way was to do what she was doing in the house. Cooking a bit, decorating, setting up.
It can't be easy for two adults to profess their dependence on each other. Not everybody can make it look as easy as Chandler and Monica do.
May 18, 2004
I've decided to drop the idea of joining the undergraduate course at Monash and instead get into the Monash College diploma course. This one-year (or thereabouts) course will put me in the second year of university well prepared to handle the undergraduate course. It'll give me more time to prepare and finish with my A levels because it starts in October. Which, incidentally, means I get to spend my summer here. Woohoo! And Monash College is cheaper, class sizes are smaller, and Fareha foresees no problems for me.
In short, I'm incredibly glad I noticed this. If not for a series of entirely coincidental events which happened right after one another, I would never have. Which makes me wonder about these so-called `coincidences'.
More time here also means I'll be able to spend some time learning to drive and maybe take a training course in multimedia or Java programming (my preference). Maybe even play the guitar a bit more, who knows?
The only thing I have to worry about now are the Economics A level units next month. After they're over, I'll finally be able to relax.
May 16, 2004
It's hard to go to university one small step at a time.
Typically I go to sleep around 23:30--00:00, and get up around 08:00. That's about eight hours of sleep, which is all I need. Of course, sometimes I get more and sometimes (rarely) less. Back in 2002, I had these bad nights where I couldn't close my eyes because it felt so uncomfortable, and spent half the night fighting to keep them closed. Then there were the nights I'd jerk back awake if I managed to drift off to sleep -- every damned time -- thus effectively getting no sleep for two-thirds of the night. Then, of course, there were the total brain breakdowns, where I felt like my concentration was getting continually shorted out by fuzzy random static. Not a good feeling, boys and girls. Thankfully, it's very rare.
Something interesting: all mammals dream, and no one knows why. Wonder what cats and dogs and the like dream about? I suspect it wouldn't make much sense to us. But it would be cool to `see' it (if that is even possible).
May 11, 2004
I got home to find my blog pretty much OK again -- last year's deleted stuff gone for good, and the new content and design viewable to the general public. I guess a few hours were all it took.
Yaman had a good haul from Erfan and Wahid Dada/Ruba Dadi. He's all set to order some more comics from Amazon.
I wonder how much influence I had on him in terms of getting him to like comics and books in general. He likes basically all the comics titles I do, but is much more selective when it comes to books. I'll read pretty much anything new I come across -- at least until I get bored. He'll look at the cover and decide on the spot whether to read it or not. He's into fantasy/sci-fi as far as I can tell, but not in a big way. Sure he's crazy about Asimov, but hasn't found out about Arthur C. Clarke or any others. (Harry Potter: yes.)
He also has different taste in magazines, or at least in one case -- Wisden Cricket. True, I've read some of the articles in one or two of them, but have not felt any compulsion, like I usually do with, say, PC World or Wired.
Also, he hasn't shown any interest in computers per se, beyond as gaming machines, or in programming. He also doesn't understand (or claims he doesn't understand) why someone would consider programming more fun than playing a (computer) game. What he doesn't realise is that it is perfectly plausible for a puzzle drive to manifest itself as a desire to solve programming problems.
May 10, 2004
I've always wanted a home page -- but Geocities makes for small fry and home pages are transient at best, boring at worst. (And I'm not talking about the ones that are dedicated to a specific topic -- those are usually OK insofar as their audiences are concerned. I'm talking about the `here I am!' pages that are put up as a rite of passge into the web.)
Anyway, getting back to the topic -- I guess this is as good a home page as any I've ever made. True, I didn't design and build it from the ground up; but in exchange (?) I'm getting all these advanced capabilites -- readers posting comments, individually manageable posts and blogs, and links to some great content (others' blogs -- there must be thousands of people doing this, and at least hundreds of interesting people).
One reason I think I didn't latch on to the whole idea of blogging is maybe that I couldn't get into the mindset of sharing my private thoughts with the world at large. But then, nobody's forcing me to do that. All I have to do is share some of my thoughts that others might find interesting; things that I'm doing in my spare time, perhaps. Things that pass through my mind. And boy, am I spoiled for choice when it comes to that. Did I mention I usually have trouble starting to sleep at night because of the variety of thoughts and ideas crammed in there?
I sometimes wondered how much information the brain can take and store, whether it is limited (seems likely) and whether, like Sherlock Holmes, I should have limited my intake of knowledge of all kinds of subjects over the years. Well it looks like it's a little too late to go back now, so I'll just have to settle for turning myself into a jack-of-all-trades :-)