Calendars and an Apology

An explanation of my recent lack of blogging activity and a sneak preview of the 2019 aspi.blog Cornish wall calendar (I will receive the printed versions by September 24th).

INTRODUCTION

The principal purpose of this post is to give you all a sneak preview of next year’s aspi.blog wall calendar. I am also going to explain why it has been a while since I last put up a blog post.

APOLOGY/ EXPLANATION

The reason why it has been a while since my last blog post is that I have had a very busy schedule of late, between work and various volunteering activities, and the one day on which I might have done a significant amount of blogging (Saturday) I lost to illness. I was sufficiently recovered by Sunday morning to do my volunteering for Heritage Open Day at the Bank House and to enjoy some of the experience, though I curtailed things somewhat so as not to set my recovery from the horrors of the previous day back. My opportunities will be somewhat limited during the rest of this week as I will be at the Corn Exchange helping to run an NAS West Norfolk stall for much of tomorrow and will be working Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. 

THE CALENDAR

Here are sneak previews of the 13 key pages of the calendar (not actual size). I decided to make this calendar a celebration both of my pictures and of the fine county of Cornwall…

Front cover

For January we have a picture of Fort Picklecombe:

Jan 2019

February features Brunel’s famous bridge at Saltash:

Feb 2019

For March the focus shifts to the far west of Cornwall, where with the exception of November and December it remains for the rest of the year. This is one of two pictures from a seal colony near St Ives to make an appearance.

March

The April picture is a trio – across the top a view from St Michaels Mount to Marazion, and sharing the bottom a heron at Lelant Saltings and a crab at St Ives.

April 2019

May features a shot of Carbis Bay.

May 2019

June features our second seal picture:

June 2019

July features the seaside garden at St Michael’s Mount, which members of the public can view only from above:

July

August is double-up, featuring a cannon emplacement at St Michaels Mount on top and a panoramic view of the mount and causeway below:

Aug 2019

September is a double up from St Ives showing an old phone box with a an antique Great Western Railway clock attached on one side and a close-up of the clock on the other:

Sep 2019

October features a red admiral butterfly spotted on the descent from St Michael’s Mount:

Oct 2019

November, sharing with July the distinction of a photo taken that month, features the lighthouse picture that is also my desktop background and the reverse side of my personal cards.

November 2019

December, just to emphasise what this calendar is all about features a shot of the Cornish flag.

Dec 2019

Each page of the calendar is 28cm wide and 21 cm high, meaning that when hanging up open and ready for use it is 28cm wide and 42cm high.

India Demonstrate How Not To Polish Off an Innings

Some thoughts on the current test match, some mathematics, some climate change themed links and some photographs from an upcoming militgaria auction.

INTRODUCTION

Although my first and main focus in on the current test match between England and India I also have my usual assortment of other goodies.

SWITCHBACK RIDE AT THE OVAL

When England were 120-1 at one point yesterday it looked like they were making a solid if slow start. India then took control of the game, England finishing the day 198-7, with Jos Buttler looking to marshal the tail in a recovery act (the first time this millennium that an uninterrupted test match day in England has yielded less than 200 runs). When Rashid was out fairly early this morning to make it 214-8 the question was whether the Broad and Anderson could last long enough to see England to 250. Thanks to some crazy Indian tactics the final England wicket did not fall until the total had reached 332, Buttler top scorer with 87 and Broad a useful 38. Buttler was last out when it finally occurred to India that it might not be a good idea to allow him singles at will and set a field that necessitated improvisation if he wanted to farm the strike.

The “tactic” of concentrating all one’s efforts on the tailender and declining to make any effort to pressurise the senior batter is not one I have ever approved of, and today saw one of it’s many ignominious failures. 

Having failed yet again Jennings now surely has one innings left to save his test career. There are seven test matches for England, six overseas and one at home against recently elevated Ireland before the Aussies come calling, and it is those matches which can be used to bed in a new opening pair (it would be a major ask for an opener to make their debut against them) – and I do not see Jennings being one half of that pair. As I was writing this paragraph Stuart Broad picked up the first Indian wicket. Those who read my previous post know that I have my own highly unorthodox solution to the problem of who the new opening pair should be (the driver of the bus I travelled home from work on yesterday, who is a follower of this blog, commented approvingly on the controversial element of this, so I am not alone). 

If, as now seems to be one of two live possibilties (a draw and overall 3-1 being the other) England end this series with the scoreline 4-1 in their favour India will have chucked this match in the first part of day 2. Virat Kohli is a great player but on all available evidence he has precisely no aptitude for captaincy. In thirty years of being an avid cricket follower I cannot recall a finer demonstration of how not to polish off an innings.

TEASERS

First up solutions to the problems I set on Wednesday (all problems in this section come by way of brilliant.org):

WHICH STAR IS CLOSER?

astroproblem

First the answer:

Star answer

The blue star has changed relative position more than the red, hence it must be closer, while all the other stars are so far distant that they have not changed relative position. 

BULLETS

Bullets

The answer:

Bullet answer

Here is Brian Moehring’s solution:

BMbullets

NEW PROBLEMS

31 problem

Here is another problem:

squacubes

LINKS

Three closely related pieces here. 

  1. Richard Murphy brings news of a campaign victory – the BBC has admitted to getting its coverage of climate change wrong and has warned people that it is not necessary to give airtime to climate change deniers for the sake of balance. Here is the end of Murphy’s piece on this:
    Of course I am pleased.

    And massive credit to Rupert Read for achieving this.

    Next the BBC should stop platforming tax deniers.

    And those who will not disclose their funding.

  2. Rise for Climate – this is a new source of information about actions being taken to combat climate change – feel free to visit and sign up for emails as I have.
  3. Anna presents a detailed and very clearly laid out Q & A on the campaign the prevent the building a big new road through Trosa. An English version follows the Swedish.

PHOTOGRAPHS

These pictures all come from our militaria sale that will be happening on September 19th. Disclaimer: one of the items pictured is a relic from one of history’s vilest regimes – I show it because it is a remarkable specimen which has already attracted large amounts of interest.

2
Lot 2 – this dagger is definitely genuine – and will go for a lot of money.

2-a2-b2-d2-e2-f2-g2-h2-c2-i

10
Lot 10, this will be on the front cover of the catalogue.
51
Lot 51

51-a51-b51-c51-e51-f51-g51-d

231
Lot 231
402
Lot 402
406
Lot 406
405
Lot 405

405-d405-c405-b405-a

404-c
Lot 404

404-b404-a404

204
Lot 204

204-a204-b204-c

373
Lot 373
372
Lot 372

372-a372-b372-c372-d372-f372-e

407
Lot 407 – this uniform will bring the cujrtain down on the sale.

407-a407-b407-c

England Selectors’ Ostrich Impression and Other Stuff

Some thoughts on the (in)action of the England selectors this week, some mathematical teasers and a few pictures.

INTRODUCTION

A couple of days ago I wrote about England’s series win over India and presented some problems and solutions. This post is on similar lines, dealing with the actual behaviour of the England selectors and my thoughts thereon.

AN OPPORTUNITY SQUANDERED

England, with the series already in the bag, had a diamond-encrusted golden opportunity to experiment with options to fill gaping holes in their top order. Cook’s announcement of his impending retirement from international cricket should have acted as an extra spur. Instead of which we see very little in the way of forward planning or of experimentation of any sort. Even with the certain knowledge that a new opener will have to come in to replace Cook the selectors persevere with the proven failure Jennings.

Three individuals who can feel more aggrieved than most by this behaviour are Rory Burns (another 90 against Essex yesterday after the latter won the toss and chose to bowl first), Dan Lawrence and Liam Livingstone

In view of Cook’s impending retirement I would have recognized openers at 1,2 and 3 (not a bad approach in test cricket anyway), with a view to the two other openers than forming a partnership in future matches. This is why in the previous post I mentioned Tammy Beaumont, a recognized opener who has been scoring stacks of runs recently. Batting is at least as much about timing and placement as it is about brute power, and that is why I believe (unlike in the case of fast bowling) a woman could mix it with the men even at the highest level, similarly with slow bowling and possibly wicket-keeping (for my money the best user of the gauntlets in world cricket across the board at the moment is Sarah Taylor). A number of the all-time greats of test match batting have been of diminutive stature (Bradman, Gavaskar, Tendulkar, Sehwag, Hanif Mohammad and several of the finest Sri Lankans spring to mind instantly). I am well aware that this super-radical option will not happen, but the alternatives that that leaves with are:

  1. Two brand new openers, neither of whom have any experience of international cricket.
  2. One new opener and one opener who has shown already that they are not actually good enough (Jennings)
  3. Two openers who gave failed to prove themselves (presumably Jennings and a recalled Stoneman). 

Of those three options, none of which massively appeal, my choice would number 1, which might end up working out well, and then the question is who to choose to open alongside Burns (whose case for selection is undisputable in the circumstances). 

Having taken the “ostrich option” re their top order difficulties the only outcome from this game that could be acceptable is not merely a win to make it 4-1 for the series but a win by a massive margin. The timidity of the England selectors means that at least one and possibly two England openers will be starting their careers on overseas tours, with their first home test series being against those well known softies, the Aussies.

PROBLEMS AND SOLUTIONS

I will start as usual with answers and solutions to the previous problems (all from brilliant.org) before offering up some new problems.

WHAT IS THE AREA OF THE QUADRILATERAL

Screenshot 2018-09-03 at 5.08.56 PM

First the answer:

quad answer

The hackers solution is that there are only two really serious possibilites since the shape is a square, namely 67 (giving an area of 289 = sides 17 units long) and 102 (giving an area of 324 = sides 18 units long), and since the question gave one three tries just enter those values for the first two tries (if your first entry does not come up right). Here, courtesy of Jeremy Galvagni is an elegant genuine solution:

quadsol

THE .99 STORE

First the answer:

Screenshot 2018-09-05 at 3.09.42 PM

The figure in front of the .99 part of the price can vary, so all we need to know is how many .99s add up to answer ending in .89, and the answer is 11 (11 x 99 = 1,089, so 11 x 0.99 = 10.89), and the next number of items after 11 that would give us an answer ending in .89 is 111, the lowest price total for which would be $109.89. Thus Marie purchased 11 items.

NEW PROBLEMS

First an astronomy themed problem:

astroproblem

Now a question that has got almost three-quarters of those who tackled in on brilliant, but is not actually difficult:

Bullets

PHOTOGRAPHS

Swimming MoorhenMoorhen on branchTwo MoorhensMoorhensMagpie

Congratulations to England on a Series Win Against the World Number One Ranked Test Nation

Congratulations to England on their series win, a farewell to Alastair Cook who has announced his impending retirement from international cricket, some maths problems and solutions and some photographs.

INTRODUCTION

This is going to be a long post because there is a massive story to cover concerning the cricket in addition to the match itself. I will also be including some mathematical problems and solutions and of course some of my own photographs.

ENGLAND WIN A THRILLER TO TAKE THE SERIES 3-1 WITH A MATCH TO GO

On Thursday when England stumbled to 86-6 after winning the toss and batting I was not expecting to be writing a piece of this nature. England failed to polish off the Indian first innings when they had a chance of a lead. When Stokes stuffed skipper Root (run out 48) it was 122-5 and England led by only 97. Then came another lower order fightback, and with Curran adding 46 to his first innings 78 England set India 245 to win. The match was settled while I was at the Mencap Beach Hut, Old Hunstanton on an NAS West Norfolk day out. As usual the key wicket was that of Kohli, and once he had gone India never got back into contention, Moeen Ali adding four wickets to the five he took in the first dig (he is very much a bowler who likes being at home – 91 wickets at 31 in England, 51 at 52 abroad) to help settle things. In neither innings did England’s top order deliver sufficiently (a recurring problem). Aside from Root’s 48 from his preferred no 4 slot in the second innings, the highest score from an England player in the top four was Jennings’ second innings 36. I am now going to through England player by player.

  1. A N Cook – see next section
  2. K K Jennings – a failure in the first innings, and in many ways a worse story in the second – an opener who gets as far as 36 should be settled in for the long haul. I believe that with the series safely won and the situation ripe for experimentation he should be dropped.
  3. J E Root – the skipper dropped himself to no 4 in the second innings and it took a run out to get rid of him then. 
  4. J M Bairstow – he was sufficiently injured to prevent him from keeping but not apparently from batting, but if he is to play as a specialist batsman it should be at no 3.
  5. B A Stokes – the new, responsible Stokes played well up to a point in this match but in the second innings he overdid the blocking to the point of handing the initiative to India. Also running out the skipper never looks great (save perhaps at Christchurch in 1978 when Botham, allegedly acting on instructions from vice captain Willis to do whatever was needed to up the run rate, stitched up skipper Boycott).
  6. J C Buttler – one of only two England batsmen to have topped the 250 run mark thus far in the series (the other being the wunderkind Curran) and competent behind the stumps.
  7. M M Ali – a useful batting effort after England’s disastrous start on day 1 and two good bowling performances. His mid-match promotion to number three (where he did recently hid a double century for Worcestershire v Yorkshire) shows how desperate England are to find a way for Root to bat at four.
  8. S M Curran – about the only thing the youngster hasn’t done in this series is walk on water! He is establishing himself as a star player.
  9. A U Rashid – a poor match with both bat and ball, but he is too good not be firing again soon.
  10. S C J Broad – a solid match for the veteran new ball bowler. He has now drawn level with Sir Richard Hadlee in the all-time test wicket takers list.
  11. J M Anderson – a quiet match for one of the all-time great swing bowlers, but even though he did not take many wickets he continued to command respect. 

I will end the cricket part of this post by naming my team for The Oval.

FAREWELL ALASTAIR COOK

Alastair Cook, after 160 test matches, the last 158 in sequence (the longest unbroken run of appearances in test history, and not likely to be challenged any time soon) has announced that the last match of this series, at The Oval, will be his international swansong. This marks the end of an epoch not just for England but for test cricket – in many ways Cook is the last true test match batsman, having made his debut before T20 was a really major thing and unlike many who get seduced by the bright lights and big money at tournaments such as the IPL he abandoned short form cricket to concentrate on his test match career. His achievements in test cricket placve him firmly among the greats of the game, and I think he has timed his announcement exactly right, bowing out on his own terms (which he had more than earned the right to do)  and before too many people began to ask just why he continued to be picked. 

On the 2010-11 Ashes tour Alastair Cook had to most successful visit to that part of the world by anyone named Cook since Captain James called by in 1770, and the most successful by an England batsman since Hammond in 1928-9. He played three monumental innings in that series, a match saving 235 not out at the Gabba (also sometimes referred to as the ‘Gabbatoir’ on account of what often happens to visiting sides there), his 148 at Adelaide that set the stage for the Pietersen innings that put Australia right out of that game and the 189 at Sydney in the final game that ensured that the final scoreline for the series would reflect England’s dominance (a 2-2 draw would have been an utter travesty, and even 2-1 to England after a drawn final match would have looked better than Australia deserved).

I have no doubt that there will be occasions in the near future when England find themselves wishing for Cook’s cool head and fighting qualities. It will be hard to get used to an England order without the name Cook at the top of it. 

From this huge cricket fan and devotee of test cricket the message is “Well done Alastair, and thanks for some fabulous memories, especially of the Aussies being humbled in their own backyards”.

THE TEAM FOR THE OVAL

HI do not expect that thsi team will actually be picked (!) but it is what I would do in these circumstances, with the series already won: A N Cook, R J Burns, T T Beaumont, *J E Root, O J D Pope, S M Curran, +J C Buttler, M M Ali, A U Rashid, S C J Broad, J M Anderson.

PROBLEMS AND SOLUTIONS

I begin with the solutions to the two problems I posed in my last post:

AKSHATHA AND DEV

A & D Answer

I give you a beautiful published solution from David Vreken:

Vreken strikes again!

1001 PROBLEM

Here is the answer:

1001 ans

I published a solution to this problem, which although more than half of all solvers got it wrong is actually very easy. My solution:

  1. 1001 is odd, and the only even prime number is two.
  2. 1001 – 2  = 999, which is obviously divisible by three (full prime factorization is 3 x 3 x 3 x 37)
  3. Negative numbers do not apply to these questions as with them no number matches the definition of a prime, but even if they did, 1,003 (1,001 – -2) is composite anyway (17 x 59).

WHAT IS THE AREA OF THE QUADRILATERAL?

This is first of two new problems from brilliant.org for you:

Screenshot 2018-09-03 at 5.08.56 PM

There are two ways to solve this one, the official method and a hack (no bonus points awarded for guessing which method I adopted!).

HOW MANY ITEMS?

Prices ending in 99

Incidentally this question should not be taken as suggesting that I approve of this method of pricing – the reverse is actually the case, I think it is utterly ridiculous and very irritating.

PHOTOGRAPHS

Church, North Norfolk
A church in North Norfolk
Sandcruiser
The new ‘Sandcruiser’ wheelchair at the beach hut.
Shell deposit
A deposit of shells

Hovercraft

Sandcruiser in action
The sandcruiser in action

Wind turbinesLincolnshire

Dolphin kite
No – not a real dolphin performing a record breaking acrobatic feat – merely a flashy kite being flown in the breeze.

No Flying birds

Bentley I
A vintage Bentley (six shots in total)

Bentley IIBentley MascotAA badgeThrough the windscreenDashboard

Amber
Possibly a small piece of amber with something preserved inside it.
fish
there were fish in this shballow water.

A Mixed Bag for Monday

Solutions to my last two maths problems, some sciencey pieces, a petition and some photographs.

INTRODUCTION

This post includes solutions to the problems I posed on Saturday, and a few other things from various sources. 

SPACE STATION DODECAHEDRON

Here is the question as a reminder:

Space station Dodecahedron

Here is the answer:

Dodecahedron answer

Here is a splendidly concise solution from David Vreken:

Vreken route

A VARIARION ON THE MALFATTI THEME

Here is the question:

Malfatti Mistake question

Here is the answer:

Malfatti Mistake answer

In the 19th century Malfatti conjectured that the way to maximise the area of a triangle you could fill with three circles was to fill in the three largest circles that touch specifically two of the three sides. Although he was not alive to be humiliated it turned out that he was not merely wrong, his proposed solution has been proved not to work for a single triangle. The solution that always works is first put in the largest single circle that touches all three sides that you can, then fill in the largest circle you can in the remaining space and then do so again. In an equilateral triangle the difference is small, but in a long thin isosceles triangle it is quite substantial. 

Here is Jeremy Galvagni’s published solution:

Galvagni outdoes Malfatti

SCHOOL REFUSAL SYNDROME PETITION

This on the official site for petitions to the UK government, which means that you have be a UK citizen to sign it. Please click the screenshot below to sign and share it if so minded:

School Refusal

A TRIO OF SCIENCE PIECES

First a fascinating piece from the National Geographic titled “Can Today’s Whale Species Survive the age of Humans” which covers the past and present of the cetaceans and speculates about their future. 

David Quammen, a good writer and a useful scientist to know about if you are planning an A to Z post, has a new book out on the subject of evolution, and Jerry Coyne of whyevolutionistrue has provided a very detailed review of it.

Finally, a letter to the Guardian signed by 60 well known environmental campaigners declaring their unwillingness to debate with climate change deniers, and why they are unwilling to do so. Below is the opening to the letter (please click to visit the original) and a list of signatories:

Guardian letter

signatories

SOME FINAL PHOTOGRAPHS

To finish here are some of my recent photographs:

Sea birdsFlying cormorantBlackbacked gull lands on the waterCormorant and rowing boatCormorant and sea birdsWingspanMoorhenCormorant

 

 

 

A Grockle’s Eye View of Cornwall 7: Walking to St Michael’s Mount

Continuing my series about my visit to Cornwall, with the first of several posts about St Michael’s Mount.

INTRODUCTION

This series has been widely spread out – the trip it describes took place between July 12 and 16. Here is a listing of the previous posts:

  1. Getting There
  2. St Germans to St Ives
  3. A Visit to a Seal Colony
  4. The End of the St Ives Day
  5. Crossing the Cremyll Ferry to Plymouth
  6. Historic Plymouth

Having covered Thursday, Friday and Saturday in six posts we arfe now dealing with the Sunday, my last full day in Cornwall.

THE PLAN

As all five of us (my parents, my sister and my nephew as well as me) were making the visit to St Michael’s Mount we travelled in my parents camper van instead of using the train. We wanted to be underway by eight and achieved this. We were planning to explore St Michael’s Mount in full and then have lunch at an establishment there. Things panned out pretty much as intended. The road journey is a lot less scenic than the rail equivalent, so I am going to recommend unequivocally that anyone else planning to do this use the train – the walk from Penzance (all of which is familiar to me, although we started part way along it, having located a parking place just outside Penzance) is very scenic, while there is a longer walk available from St Erth (inland for most of its duration, instead of along the sea front). Here are a couple of satellite views:

Penzance - St Michael's Mount
The coastal route starting from Penzance.
St Erth to St Michael's Mount
The longer and mainly inland route starting from St Erth. This map also features what is in alphabetic terms the last place in Britain.

St Erth to St Michael's Mount

THE JOURNEY IN PHOTOGRAPHS

This section ends the post, taking us across the causeway to the base of the mount:

View from the van
The only shot I managed to get from the van on the way from Fort Picklecombe to Penzance.

Culvert ICulvert 2Welcome to PenzancePlastic FreeLooking towards PenzanceSt Michael's Mount ISt Aubyn's AbbeyGulls and signal boxView of PenzanceThe line towards St Erthtrack sideWarehouseSt Michael's Mount (1)St Michael's MountBeach sceneMastChurch TowerSailing boatsTrain coming towards PenzanceApproaching trainTrainRear of trainTrain heads for Penzance (1)Train heads for PenzanceAlmost out of viewTrain in foregroundblue plantGWR depotRolling stockThe MountThe abbeyLookingb towards the mountThe Mount IILooking towards the mountCommemorative benchThe Station House, MarazionMarazion station signMarazion stationSt Aubyn's Abbey from Marazion

People crossing the causeway to the mount
A first glimpse of the causeway.

People on the causewayWelcome to Marazion MarshMarazion MarshBird in the nature reserveLooking up at the mount

In the shallows
From Marazion the quickest way to the causeway is straight across the beach, and in the heat walking barefoot through the shallows was the way to go.

St Michaels Mount from Marazion beachLooking across at the mountGullsOutcrop observation point near start of causewayThe mount from near the start of the causewayThe abbey from near the causeway

The causeway and the mount
The causeway.

The mount viewed from the start of the causewayThe Abbey from the causewayLooking out to sea from thje causewayapproaching the Mount

 

Standing Up For Nature

Sharing a number of nature themed campaigns.

INTRODUCTION

My twitter feed today has had many links to campaigns relating to nature, so I have decided to share the featured campaigns here as well. First to set the scene here is…

AN OPEN LETTER TO LEADERS

I shared this when Anna first posted it but it deserves further exposure, and ties in beautifully to the theme of this post (nb all screenshots in this post are formatted as links – click on them to visit the originals). 

NATURE THEMED CAMPAIGNS

  1. Protect Crayford Marshes:
    Save Crayford Marshes

2. Save the trees at Roath Mill and Roath Brook Gardens:
Save Roath Brook Wood

3. Save our Forests:

Save Our Foests

4.Call for an immediate ban on South Africa’s trade in lion body parts:
Ban trade in lion parts

5. Save Gwent Levels:
Stop M4 expansion

6. Save Arundel’s Countryside from Bypass Ruin. This one is a crowdfunder, but since I do not have money to give I am settling for giving it wider exposure:
Stop the Arundel bypass

7. Last but by no means least comes a call to ban the vile practice of trophy hunting:
Ban Trophy Hunting

Hat tip: @team4nature twitter account.