Tuesday, 18 October 2011
Sunday, 16 October 2011
Friday, 14 October 2011
18 December 2003
OK, this is an experiment. Maybe it will give people (friends, one would hope) an insight into what the hell I am up to, most notably in the field of Chemistry which causes me to do odd things and go to odd places.
I have a job. Not a proper one, as my mum would say, but nonetheless a real, pay you money to work here, kind of job. Huzzah. Until (and probably beyond) March 2006 I shall be looking for the OH radical all over the place. "How?", I hear you ask. Simple. I shall be responsible for the maintenance, operation and upgrade of the FAGE instrument, which uses LIF to detect OH concentrations. Which is what I was doing (kinda) in the lab in Philadelphia, but in future I shall be driving round in a truck and taking measurements in the field. Why? Well, chemically OH is very important in the atmosphere, primarily because it is responsible for breaking down pollutants via
R-H + OH -> H2O + R.
where R can be more or less anything, but in particular tends to be some hydrocarbon (i.e. natural gas, petrol, benzene, dioxins [OK, not a hydrocarbon], nitric acid [not a hydrocarbon either], HFCs and other organic pollutants). R. then reacts with other things (primarily oxygen) and ends up being broken down into mostly CO2 and H2O. This tends to be a good thing. Clearly the amount of reaction occurring depends on the amount of OH present, which is why we want to measure it.
OK, that is what I will be doing in Leeds, and around the country (maybe even the world).
Lets see how long this journal lasts, shall we?
Friday, 7 October 2011
So, we come to the end of our journey with the ball that inspired it. And this final article throws up a number of questions. What is a 'Chinaman'? Who bowls it? Why are are you telling me this?
(A Chinaman isn't this, but that is very funny, and cricket related, so you should take a look.)
'Puss' Achong was a West Indian bowler of Chinese extraction whose unremarkable career would have passed without much comment, were it not for the fact that one day he threw in an unexpected delivery to English batsman (and here I confess to resorting to Wikipedia) Walter Robins. Robins was expecting SLA (which was Achong's stock delivery) but Achong (who must have been practised this sly delivery in the nets) bowled one out of the back of his hand, in the same manner as a leg spin bowler. Since he was a left-arm bowler, the ball turned in the opposite direction to the leg break, clean bowling a flummoxed Robins. Legend suggests that looking back at his shattered stumps he uttered the immortal phrase, "Fancy being out to a bloody Chinaman!" And the sobriquet stuck.
And in essence, that's it. The Chinaman is the mirror image of the leg break. It's left arm wrist spin and it turns from off to leg, rather than leg to off (like a conventional leg break).
So who bowls it? Well, the answer is, not many people. Like Achong, Johnny Wardle (yet another brilliant Yorkshire bowler) was an SLA who opted to throw in the occasional Chinaman to bewitch his opponent. But Wardle's Test career was nothing like Achong's. Indeed, it was nothing short of brilliant. It is still a mystery to me how such a talented bowler could only have played only 28 Tests (even he was up against Laker and Lock for a spot in the team) but in those 28 he took 102 wickets at an average of only 20.39 runs per wicket. That's better than Laker, Murali, Warne and, pretty much, everyone. Wardle has a decent claim to being the best post-war spinner though SLA (and yet another Yorkshireman!) Bobby Peel's 101 wickets at 16.98 will take some beating!
In more recent times, Paul Adams (whose bowling action has been likened to a 'frog in a blender') and Brad Hogg have had modest success bowling Chinaman. (Here's are great video of Hogg bowling, which includes 'conventional' Chinaman, more than one wrong 'un (googly - note how the batsmen often fail to spot, or 'pick' the googly) and flipper). Brilliant one day batsman Michael Bevan was known to toss in the occasional over of Chinaman (men?).
Why so few? Well, like leg spin, Chinaman is hard to master. Of course, It's useful to have a googly (and despite unpopular misconception, a Chinaman's googly is called just that - a 'googly'. The Chinaman is the stock ball - the mirror image of a leg break) but the disadvantage of a stock ball that breaks towards the (right handed) batsman appears to have led the majority of left-arm spinners to opt for orthodox SLA, rather than wrist spin.
I can think of one other Chinaman bowler. And fittingly for the last word in this article and this entire series, he was the greatest cricket player of all time. Originally picked primarily as an SLA bowler, he developed into one of the greatest batsmen the world had ever seen, a top notch fielder, a left arm fast bowler of prodigious talent, and he developed a Chinaman as well. He was the great Sir Garry Sobers, and as Garry Sobers cannot be surpassed as a cricketer, it is here that we end this series.
Thursday, 6 October 2011
Wednesday, 5 October 2011
Cricket is many many things but it isn't sexy. Well, not unless you count Botham trying, and failing, to get his leg-over. And of all the things in cricket that aren't sexy, the term 'slow left arm' is perhaps the drabbest. Even 'rain stopped play' conjures images of a mass exodus to the bar.
The physics of it is simple enough. Your left hand is a non-superimposable mirror image of your right. Therefore if you bowl finger spin, in exactly the same way as you bowl off spin, but with your left hand, the ball will rotate in the opposite direction when it leaves your hand, and when it pitches it will spin the other way. And for some reason, this style of bowling is known as slow left arm orthodox. Or SLA for short.
Tuesday, 4 October 2011
Monday, 3 October 2011
So. Spin bowling.
Hold your hand (either one will do) palm up in front of you. You can rotate your wrist (I hope) in two directions, clockwise and anticlockwise. If you were to throw a ping pong ball at a table, while rapidly rotating your wrist, you would impact spin on the ball, and when it hit the table, it would deviate from straight. (This is no idle experiment - Bosie invented the googly while doing this exact thing, but more on this in Part IV). If you were to rotate your wrist in the opposite direction while releasing the ball, if would spin in the opposite direction (in theory). Given that you can twist your wrist either clockwise or anticlockwise, and that you can bowl, in theory, with either your left or right hand, I hope you can believe me when I say that there are 4 different ways of bowling 'spin'.
(I ask for Iverson and Mendis to excuse me. I'm not going to get into the Carom ball)
Sadly, I'm not going to teach you how to bowl. If you want to do that you really need to consult someone who can actually play cricket. All I can promise is that by the end of this little series of articles you will understand the differences between off-spin, slow-left arm, leg-spin and chinaman, hopefully illustrated by videos of some all time greats, and the King of Spain.
Tomorrow (ish). Part II - Off-spin!
Friday, 30 September 2011
Tuesday, 27 September 2011
"The next station is Old Street. Change at Old Street for Moorfields Eye Hospital."
"This is Canary Wharf. Change here for Docklands Light Railway. This train terminates at Canning Town"
Saturday, 27 August 2011
So, I dug out the old notebooks. "There's bound to be something there the public want", I though to myself, "Probably enough for a novella or maybe even a collection of witty short stories".
- A 'to-do' list from when I worked at the University of Leeds. I note th
at most of the things to-do were not crossed out, suggesting that they in fact weren't
- A short PERL script called "Sub random_link"
- A long list of bands and singles. Not sure what the purpose of this was. Probably bored in a lecture
- A large number of unfinished letters, most of which were due to be transcribed to email but never made it
- A sudoku
- Some fantasy cricket teams (what sort of person creates these, and what sort of person admits to this on his own blog?)
- Matt black finish on cell lids
- Details of the time and location of appointments from the horrible, horrible time when I was flat-hunting in London and had to meet with people who then judged whether they wanted to live with me or not
Also an airship
and a house
Tuesday, 21 June 2011
Wednesday, 15 June 2011
Monday, 11 April 2011
Saturday, 9 April 2011
Sunday, 27 March 2011
Monday, 14 February 2011
Friday, 28 January 2011
Have just discovered Kanye West, thanks to Kate. So def. not cool at all. Would have been cool in about 2003. But anyway, on 23rd Nov 2009 I wrote some stuff about albums. Well, clearly I missed The College Dropout
Wow. Quite incredible. Buy it.
Monday, 3 January 2011
(Warning - All children are different. If you have/are planning to have a child, none of this may be remotely relevant. But it may still be dull)
So, if you've ever had to conceal yourself from a Raston Warrior Robot, you'll know how hard it is to stay perfectly still for what seems like a very lobg time, terrified that the slightest movement will cause catastrophe. Such is trying to get Fergus to sleep.
Getting Fergus to sleep is pretty much our sole obssession these days. Indeed, I'm not looking forward to going back to work tomorrow as this involves getting up too early, trying not to wake Fergus, going to work, possibly working, coming home to a frazzled Kate, saying hello to Kate, saying hello to Fergus, feeding Fergus, bathing Fergus and then trying to get him to go to sleep.
The saying hello bit and the bathing bit are good fun, but don't last all that long before the going to sleep bit begins. Which is where trouble starts.
Fergus really doesn't like going to sleep. He likes sleeping. He's been known to sleep for 7 hours without waking. He'll usually give you at least 3, and in the middle of the night he'll usually drop off immediately after a feed. But in the daytime, when he's meant to be napping for at least 4 hours, and in the evening, when he's meant to go down at some early hour, he has a pathalogical aversion to dropping off. Even the slightest suggestion that you intend to do a bit of gentle rocking and shssshing is met with a tantrum, and if you place him in his crib before he's totally, absolutely and completely asleep, he gets very cross indeed. And even if you do succeed in getting him down, there's a fair chance that he'll wake up an hour later and get very cross indeed.
I'd never imagined that being the parent of a baby could be so full on. For Kate, it's basically a 24 hour minus whatever he sleeps job. Of course, she gets less sleep than him, because she has to get him to sleep, and make sure he's really asleep before putting him down. This can take an hour. In the daytime, she has the time to take a shower and sometimes eat breakfast before he needs to be played with, taken out for walks (the only way he manages to nap in the day), fed, changed, taken for another walk, then played with until dad gets home. For me, work is a break, and I don't have to get up in the night (well, most nights I don't) but the hours between getting home and going to sleep are probably 75% trying to get Fergus to sleep.
Not that either of us regret having him, as he's bubbly, engaging and friendly (when not tired). But it's harder work than either of us had ever imagined.
At some point, I guess, he'll get used to going to sleep on his own. At which point I'll be able to go down the pub again!