Thursday. At the gym again. After noticing a fuzzy black-and-white photo with names in the changing rooms offering coaching, outside I spot the girl with the kung-fu/water-polo physique supervising another lass among the machines. I ask if she is Adel, the trainer or coach? Posing slightly to show off her gorgeous figure, she keeps a dead straight face and purrs "I'm the hardener". Although that's another normal Hungarian term for gym coach, this cis-male bachelor took due note.
Wednesday. Suppose you could pay people to debate fairly?
Tuesday. Atmospheric snaps of car races taken with an old camera.
Monday. The lawn outside the studio is dotted with small white flowers. Each has five wide petals, forming a spray of almost regular pentagons scattered across the grass. Robin & I peel potatoes and chop onions as Zeno cooks more meals of formidable meatiness. We leave after dusk to drive into Budapest.
Sunday. We reached Robin's house just before dusk last night, finding it empty, playing classical music to itself quietly as usual via the kitchen radio. As I went to bed, found a few wasps were once again exploring the area around the bed upstairs in the studio. I'm woken up several times by a moth or butterfly battering its wings against the glass of the windows I haven't opened for it, bringing back memories of undead lepidoptera at Robin's place. Finally at half past four I step into the main house, enjoy an ice-cold bath, and return to the studio to sleep on the downstairs sofa instead. Wake hours later to the mumbling sound of a horde of insects plotting rebellion. Glance upstairs to see the moth has been replaced by a mass of 60 or 70 wasps wandering around the window frames muttering to each other. Chat to Zsuzsi outside, and her horse Solero tries to tug me a bit on his rope. When he fails to topple me over, he stands four-square to gather his dignity, throws his head back, bulges his eyes, and gives me a haughty look down his long equine nose. I upbraid him for being a naughty Dobbin. Zsuzsi meanwhile is trying to spread some kind of anti-mosquito oil into his legs and flanks. She dodges around his moving form grumbling as the chestnut stallion takes his lordly ease strolling about the lawn chewing random plants. Later in the day back in the studio, Robin, barefoot and dressed only in something like a towel, skilfully removes four window frames and persuades the wasps to fly free, dodging their protests. He and Zeno describe to me however how he failed to dodge being stung by a horse fly earlier in the morning, the second sting injecting enough venom that Robin was briefly seeing extra colours pulsing around Zeno's head like an aura.
Zsuzsi several hours after all this gets into a panic about missing the late-afternoon train back to Budapest which her friend Juci is already on, with their tickets, so I leave with her that second to look after the car once she boards the train. We whizz along dusty, lumpy lanes laid with elderly tarmac past sun-baked yellow trees, Zsuzsi accelerating with girly vigour into the bends on the windy roads. We reach a railway station I have never got off or on at, downline of where she should have caught the train. It's called 'Homok' (Sand). A doubtful boy sits in silence with us on the red-painted bench as we wait ten minutes for the train.
Approaching the farm an hour later, Robin demonstrates how you can fool a dustcloud behind a car by feinting to the left and then suddenly switching to the right, so the silly dustcloud decides to take the left turn and part company.
Saturday. See Boardgame Orsolya at 11am, at the strange mid-floor cafe, downstairs in the mall from where we used to have our lessons, between the cheap silver jewellery stall and the vast, brightly-lit Spar store. I hear about her latest office manager. Get back to flat with time for a cold bath before Robin appears with his car for a sudden trip to the countryside in hot sun. At one point, we're strolling round an air-chilled provincial supermarket: I with trolley cheerily strike up conversations with various groups of alarmed-looking country folk, Robin in contrast speaking directly to food items on the shelves. "It's amazing actually what I don't buy in supermarkets" he remarks at one point to an array of Greek yoghourts.
Friday. Spend a couple of hours trying to find the charming folk a possible primary-school teacher to replace me. Have been trying to slow down time recently, and time seems to be complying. It's been August now for ages.
Today managed some arm training in the cheap techno/rap fitness gym, and note that a girl both curvy yet toned seems to be training a floppy-haired Oxford undergrad who lolls against weights-machine frames while listening to her instructions. Only close up do I see that the male Waugh character with overlong 1930s hair is actually another girl. Trying not to read too much into the tableau, I watch the female trainer with the water-polo/kung-fu physique watching the other female.
Thursday. Present my apologies to the charming folk at nearby primary school, half wishing I could indeed teach their doubtless adorable & bouncy 6-year-olds. Teach IKEA Zita for the first time in a few weeks: her new strawberry blonde rinsed cut with hair up, chunky necklace, and (she claims) soft pink pullover which looks beige indoors under the office lights, change her strikingly. She tells me about her holidays. How a sandy beach without shade on one bank of the Tisza was so hot in the sun, people had to shriek out little squeaking songs of pain to dance across the hot sand before diving in the river. She also mentions a hole in the ceiling at her home, tells me about the lions and the miniature pig at the petting zoo, and relates her maintenance woes with her red motor car. Like all women drivers who own a vehicle (or most?) she has a pet name for her little mechanical companion. I am honoured when she shares it with me. An hour later at her flat, sweet Jessica tells me about her good friend Melissa, describing her as a "Microsoft Licensing Whisperer". She then shows me some bits of US television before we visit her favourite restaurant. In order these short but rather lovely snatches are 'Dream of the 90s' ("Portland's a city where young people go to retire!"); Clarifying for me the term 'lumbersexuals' with 'Dream of the 1890s'; Quizzing the restaurant waitress about Colin the chicken; Then checking the farm where Colin was raised. As Jessica & I enter the Obuda restaurant where she loves the traditional fish soup, the man at the front desk says he'll take just one second to decide - and he does. It takes exactly one second. As he leads us to a table past a group of majestically fat Gypsy musicians taking a break, we pass someone telling his dinner companions "-- so while they were working on the regular fission bomb --". Tremendous energy.
Wednesday. Vital news from the future: I can't be the only person who when number bases were introduced in school maths hoped we could have an afternoon of doing sums in Babylonian base 60. Australian archeologists now rediscover its advantages.
Tuesday. Rather wonderful claim that men build technology firms to replace their mothers.
Monday. At some point yesterday, had the most extraordinary lucid dream. Some sort of after glow lasted for at least an hour after waking.
Sunday. I finish the wonderful 'Confederacy of Dunces' sent to me by kind Amanda. Meant to read it for years, never did, worth the wait. A cartoonish set of characters live in a suburb of New Orleans at some point in the 1960s, and unforgettable comic scenes unfold in the office of a decaying clothing firm, a late-night bar of dubious repute, and a police station where patrolmen 'Mongoloid Mancuso' is punished by his sergeant by being forced to walk the streets in a variety of outlandish disguise costumes. Mancuso's ordeal culminates in several weeks of having to lurk all day in the bus station gentlemen's conveniences struggling through a copy of 'Consolations of Philosophy' by Boethius. Successful farce, alleged by some playwrights to be the hardest kind of genre to write, is usually only seen on stage or occasionally film. This is one of the best examples of farce I've seen rendered as novel. Of course one wonders whether Toole the author was writing himself and his mother into the story, given that his mother doggedly hawked her son's manuscript around after his suicide until it was finally "discovered" and proclaimed a work of genius, as it's now routinely described. Without giving too much of the plot away, more than one character finally achieves liberation from a smothering relationship. Laughed out loud more often than anything I've read for a couple of years.
Saturday. Apparently Pornhub reveals that breasts are no longer fashionable. Probably the same researcher that claims internet searches show more women than men enjoying scenes of sexual violence against women.
Friday. Nice artwork, but will the articles disappoint?
Thursday. More fun ways to confuse self-driving cars. Poor little things.
Wednesday. Intelligent mathematician cheerfully asserts that AI won't work because people aren't clusters of algorithms. Uses slightly odd vector analogy to argue this, but heart & mind in right places at least.
Tuesday. A couple of nights ago, just last week, I noticed that a late-opening bar I pass on the way to one particular night shop had changed its name a few days before. An alert-looking woman in the doorway confirmed to me she was the new owner. It's now named, in hard-to-read gold squiggly lettering on a white disc, 'My Hollywood Coffe (sic) & Drink Bar' but more memorably was named up until a fortnight ago in chunky capitals '--- Drink Bar' in capitals with the "I" of 'Drink' replaced by a glass of red wine. Rather than being a tall I-like flute glass, they chose the type with a U-like round glass bowl mounted on a stem. This meant that every time I walked under it, I read the sign flickering between 'Drink Bar' and 'Drunk Bar'. No longer.
Monday. Meet Levente & Balint for a demo. On the way out someone, at the table-football machine every coders' den has to have, gallantly says my English sounds very good. I say the secret to good English is practise, practise, practise. More laughter.
Sunday. Another book about the ex-homeless ex-meth-addict's cat 'The World According to Bob', inspiring and dreary in turns. A lot of phrases like "with the benefit of hindsight" pepper the pages. Perhaps that's how writer/cat-owner James Bowen speaks. This time there are occasional drawings of the cat, giving the tome a slightly prewar feel. Makes me feel churlish to say it, but another depressing read, even with the happy ending. It's a chugger book to feel good about buying but not actually to enjoy reading. It's one long succession of cat-gets-ill, man-gets-ill, man-gets-thumped, cat-defends-man, man-gets-reported stories which don't link up, but trudge along like the writing. It helps some readers perhaps learn how tough busking or selling a homeless magazine on the streets is, but however special that cat is, one of these books is more than enough.
Saturday. Out with Robin and his barrister/composer friend, Michael. Adorable waitress. Composer shows me on his laptop how Nyman just copies a melody from Purcell. Michael frankly describes Nyman as a shameless plagiarist.
Friday. Article from one of our contributors shows the Russian-hacking claims against President Honey Monster finally falling apart.
Thursday. A Russian group prove in principle a way to defend against brute-force faking of blockchain hashes. Quantum, cryptocoin, all the exciting stuff.
Wednesday. 2 climate-change articles: 1) German group predicts 50 years of climate cooling from an overlaid set of cycles that meets good retrodiction tests; 2) some physicists check 6 planets (Earth + 5) to arrive at a new human-independent theory for planetary heat which also matches known data.
Tuesday. A woman MP in the Labour party claims that left-wing male chauvinists are "the worst". I think I knew that already, but does saying that make me a 'mansplainer'?
Monday. I suppose if enough people talk the panpsychist talk, it might start to sound sane.
Sunday. Interesting dinner with an Ethereum developer.
Saturday. Late afternoon do some Tarot readings for Mate & his girlfriend. In the morning, however, wake out of curiously intense dreams about proliferating trees of possibilities having branches rejoining main storylines, like a kind of basketwork, both bifurcating and regrafting. Had these before a couple of decades ago, but makes slightly more sense this time.
Friday. So not only does President Trump have a time machine, now there's a 19th-century book to explain it all. Steven talks me round!
Thursday. Giving her hot-desking office a rest, Zita & I have our lesson inside IKEA itself, sitting at a desk in the business-decor section like a pair of actors. Groups of shoppers pass us, winding through the warehouse on the squiggly this-way path. I suggest how point-of-sale furniture videos could be revolutionised. Earlier that day, hiding from hot sun, a very productive lunchtime coffee with Levente & Balint.
Wednesday. Merriment until after dark on a main street, seated outside a cafe full of detached car seats. Fahad, Levente, Janos keep pressing beers on me, the scoundrels.
Tuesday. 1) How Uber drivers game the price algorithms; 2) Scepticism over genetic influence predicts for dislike of science; 3) Now there's a "sunken continent" called 'Zealandia'? 4) Some researchers think sperm counts have halved - at least in some countries; 5) Oh, ancient British genes might be Basque after all.
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markgriffith at yahoo.com