My not-much-of-an-excuse is that I am now back to about 90% health - more or less able to go about my daily business, but still sneezing, sniffing, getting headaches and doing the usual "miserable cold" thing. Many sympathies to all those who have experienced likewise recently.
We've had snow in Middlesbrough; a covering that melted within a couple of hours on the 27th and 1½"-2" that stayed for two or three days at the end of January. (Yes, I partly attribute my cold to a cavalier attitude to the snow. Getting out of wet clothes after being in the snow good; getting thick, warm dry ones back on afterwards better.) Fortunately, temperatures in Middlesbrough seldom drop more than five degrees below zero, so we have the sort of temperatures at which snow can be fun.
The remarkable thing about the big snowfall is that so much of it happened very quickly; I went in to watch a film (the film of Cowboy Bebop - not a bad film, but I napped briefly in the middle) with the ground dry and came out to a remarkably thick covering. Snowfall in Middlesbrough is traditionally slow; this fast burst was most remarkable and it was rather a shame to miss it by being indoors. Sleeping during a film is embarrassing, but I also had a quick doze through part (just before half-way) of Return of the King two days later. D'oh.
So I have a slight headache now and will postpone this overnight here. In fact, I've jumped the first post I want to make (a review of my time in the South), skipping instead to the second or third. (Thursday 5th: still a headache, bah.) I managed to read three books on my trip to the South; not a great start for "50 over the year", but not disastrous. (Haven't really felt up to reading recently, though.)
(No, let's spin the book reviews off into their own post.)
* Chess: Britain's Nigel Short has hit rare form, with 7.5/9 to come joint first of 152 in the Commonwealth Championship and 8/10 to win (1st alone of 87) Gibraltar's GibTelecom Chess Festival. He was top seed in both cases but still performed very well in a situation where he does not have the best reputation for ripping up lesser lights to quite the extent he should. (Some of his games were great fun to follow, especially one where he tripled his opponent's pawns. Nigel is particularly good at using a scrambling king as an offensive weapon, which is risky and so rare.) Little David Howell got some good draws with GMs (including one with 2633-rated Vladimir Epishin!) and he has all the good results he needs now to be crowned an International Master. (He just needs to get his rating up high enough, which - at this pace - will be just a matter of time.) Not exactly Magnus Carlsen, but still not bad.
* Boston trip: I applied for free return flight tickets to the USA before my trip away two weeks ago and was sent in return... another form asking all the same questions again along with a few new ones. Le sigh. I still hold out hope of getting the free flights yet and at least it won't be quite so cold when I get there. (I hope!) nehp folks, any particularly good times to visit Boston between now and the end of April, excluding the start of April? Same rules as before.
* wwwwwwwwwwwwwww now has a sibling, 777777777777777, as discussed. All-the-sevens has so far apparently only been used to vote in one poll. How strange, but in a good way.
* University: I applied to do a Database Systems course, but only two other people want to do the same module as me. Accordingly, it looks like we're all going to have to do the module on a sort of classless distance learning basis. Hmmm, not so good, but at least considerably better than outright cancellation of the module.
(Let's spin a TV review off into its own post, too.)