In which The Author adopts a new look

As Doctor Who fans everywhere know, we’re due a regeneration on Xmas Day. It’s probably the worst-kept secret in TV, in fact – the odds on Peter Capaldi getting the key to the TARDIS dropped substantially in the week leading to the announcement. It was different in 1966, apparently, when William Hartnell became Patrick Troughton with no advance warning whatsoever. Anyway, here’s some advance warning for you: like the Doctor himself, I’m going to experiment with some new looks for the next couple of weeks.
Since I started this blog nearly six years ago, I’ve been using a WordPress theme named Ambiru. I liked it primarily because it was easy on the eye, simple to navigate, and didn’t demand too much of my rudimentary HTML know-how. However, I’ve been aware that the march of time has left it looking a bit ‘retro’ (to be charitable to it.) Last week, my friend John J. pointed out that the home page had become rather unwieldy, and he was right. It was time for a change of image.
This afternoon I went into the Dashboard and learned that John was on to something. The trusty old Ambiru theme is being ‘retired’; I could probably expect an email from WordPress before long, advising me that I’d have to look for something new.
With this in mind, I’ve decided to try out a couple of new themes over the next few weeks. I apologise now to my regular readers, who were no doubt as accustomed to the Ambiru layout as I was. I’ll need to try and restore the picture of the Goddess, who has illustrated my posts from Day One. Apart from that, I’m going to try and find a theme which is a bit more user-friendly for my readers.
In particular, I want to try and bring the ‘recent posts’ panel to one side, rather than at the foot of the page. John was right when he mentioned that it’s ‘a long old scroll’ to the bottom of the Contents; I’m hoping that a combination of widgets will make it easier to find your way around the more recent posts. I’ll continue to cross-reference my posts as necessary, and I’m going to try and ensure that each link opens in a new browser tab. I also need to tweak some of the YouTube links, but that’s going to be another Work in Progress and will probably take me into the new year.
Please be patient while I try and find a style which is both pleasing and practical. Like the Doctor, it might take a little while to get used to – but I can assure you that it’ll be the same blog with a brand new look.

Order! Order!

In which The Author misses a trick

As my regular readers know, I used to work in a bookshop.
Actually, I worked in several bookshops – I think I’m right in saying that I spent some time in every bookshop in and around Cardiff, except the small kiosk at the University Hospital of Wales, Ian Allan, and Paul K.’s shop in the suburbs. I also spent a couple of years buying and selling books before I had my name on a payslip (see Monday, Bloody Monday.)
Casual visitors to my house are usually amazed by the Cosmic Tigger Lending Library, which has recently spread out of control and invaded the upstairs of my house. I’m lucky in that I can put my hands on any book in my collection. I’ve identified some of the missing items, and so far my good friend Neil R. has found three of them to plug the gaps. We’re meeting up next week for a coffee and a much-needed catch-up. I’d pretty much abandoned the rest of them, though. Even periodic visits to Barbara’s stall (see Up the Amazon…) has produced nothing spectacular. I’ll bide my time and work through the Amazon and Ebay listings until I track the rest of the fugitives down. Today, though, talking to a friend of mine in the pub, I was reminded of some unresolved mischief.
Once again, this happened a couple of years ago, and I wasn’t involved. (That might be a good thing, really, as you’ll see.) After a long session in the pub, Sam B. had meandered as far as Gaz’s house. where Gaz had promptly crashed out. As my regular readers already know, (see The Power of Suggestion), Gaz is a waste of space when he’s had a few beers. I have only a second-hand account of what happened next.
With an unconscious Gaz to play with, Sam decided to introduce some chaos into his CD collection. Whereas my books are arranged alphabetically by author, Gaz’s CDs are arranged by artist. I’ve got literally hundreds of books; Gaz has literally hundreds of CDs. (I remember he asked me one night where would be the logical place to shelve Terence Trent D’Arby. I told him that I’d look in the Guinness Book of Hit Singles and go from there.)
With this enormous canvas to scribble on, Sam decided she’d do the obvious thing – take all the CDs off the shelves and then replace them randomly. She knew full well that it would drive Gaz demented when he wanted to hear a particular song days, or weeks, or months later.
Sam told me about her cunning plan a few weeks later, and I told her she’d missed a trick.
‘I’d have taken the CDs out of the cases, swapped them around, and then put the cases back in the wrong order.’
This extra layer of disorder would form an example of what mathematicians and engineers call Second-Order Turbulence.
It’s also the reason why neither Sam nor I have been invited to Gaz’s house since.