Friday, February 24, 2017

And speaking of memory

When I booked my flights and hotel tonight, I booked them all for next weekend instead of the weekend after, had to cancel everything and start again, and thought "I'll write something witty about that on my blog when I write about going to this competition..." And then I forgot to mention it. They shouldn't let people with terrible memories go to memory championships, it's a disgrace.

I love Paris in the springtime!

I haven't really mentioned it before, but 2017 for me is dedicated to living economically and paying off the vast debt I accumulated over the course of my last "career break", as I call those times when I spend a year and a half not bothering to work for a living. Because it took me longer than I expected to get back into a proper job that pays me decent money, I've ended up with a lot to work off before I can get back to financial liberty and not need to work any more. But now I'm working for an undeservedly high salary and living in a perfectly nice cheap bedsit down the road from the office, I'm in a position of earning much more than I spend, allowing me to devote huge sums of money every month to paying off my credit cards and loans and things.

And because I really have been good about not spending money to excess just lately, I've decided to reward myself by spending money to excess, and going to Paris in a fortnight's time for the French Memory Open 2017! Blog-readers with good memories (I'm sure there must be some of you who fall into that category) may recall that the first ever memory competition in France happened in 2008, and I was there. Now, nine years later, there's another open championship in that much-neglected-memorywise country, and I'll be there again, along with the cream of European (and American) memory talent!

I've done no training, of course, except for a whole lot of Memory League rapid-fire stuff, but this is deliberate, in a way. Going to a competition, as I've said before, is the best way to get me in the mood to practice for the next competition!

I really must try to see the Eiffel Tower this time. I've been to Paris something like four times before, and never actually seen the thing. For all I know, it doesn't really exist, but since everybody asks me if I've seen it every time I come back home, I ought to make the effort this time round.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Memory sports 2017 is go!

Yes, this year's memory competition season is in full Korea (career), with the weekend's competition in Seoul now completed, and Johannes Mallow the champion - it was a thrilling event, he fought off not just his usual arch-rival Simon Reinhard, but the latest threat to emerge from Ulaanbataar, the sisters Munkhshur and Enkhshur Narmandakh. Six people did a pack of cards under 30 seconds!

I wrote a full account of it, or as full as can be done by reading the scores and everyone's Facebook and Twitter posts, which might appear on at some point in the future. Check it out, I promise it won't contain any terrible puns like the one I started this blog entry with.

Monday, February 13, 2017

I could be the Middle-Aged Memory Master!

An update from the upcoming Korean Memory Championship made me giggle...

"Announcement about Awards and prize.
2017 KOMC have announced that the competition would have 6 categories of age groups.
But we revised a couple of days ago.
To sum up, we concluded that the competition will have 5 categories with binding two junior parts (middle school + high school juniors)
So we have
1. Kids (- 12)
2. Juniors (13-17)
3. Adults (18-39)
4. Adults (40-59)
5. Seniors (60- )
In fact, this action occurred due to the mistaken knowledge of the international age.
As a korean, People think of themselves as adults at the age of 19.
Therefore, a high school student, who is 18 years old, does not think that anyone is an adult in Korea.
However, some countries, not Korea, recognize it as adults from the age of 18.
And as we will have an open memory championships for international competitors, we have to apply age system according to global common sense.
As you know, in last memory competitions, we applied age system like below:
1. Kids (- 12)
2. Juniors (13-17)
3. Adults (18-59)
4. Seniors (60- )
We, organizers thought that it was very unfair to compete between 18 and 59.
So we split the division as young adults and middle ages adults.
Also, we wanted to split Juniors into 2 parts, middle school's and high school's.
When it happened, we concluded that the match just between the ages of 16 and 17 was not reasonable.
And it could be confusing for foreign competitors who have joined to other competitions before.
We have 5 age categories in this competition with dividing the adults category.
(The Junior section is still likely to need discussion forward)
It will be applied to events awards also.
(Gold, Silver, Bronze medals in every events in every age categories)
Your age will be counted as this year minus year of the birth like other memory competitions.
Sorry for confusion and thanks for your participation!
Gyewon Jeong,
Organizer of Korea Open Memory Championship."

I'm still as firmly opposed as ever to the silliness of awarding prizes in memory competitions based on age, gender, nationality and so forth - to my mind, the single biggest selling point of these championships is that everybody competes on equal terms! I think it makes the whole thing just laughable when there's a million different gold medals to be handed out at the end of the day.

But... I'm 40 now. The really good memory people at these competitions are, by and large, still under 40. This would be the perfect time to compete somewhere that gives prizes for these age groups, and then make myself a set of business cards proclaiming myself to be the Middle Aged Memory Champion! I need to do that, and fast, before all my 30-something rivals catch up with me.

Sunday, February 05, 2017

Novel ideas

I woke up this morning from an excessively-detailed dream about reading a book with such an extremely cool final plot twist that I might just have to write it myself. It was a bit vague about details such as the basic plot or setting, so maybe I'll wait and see if I dream those as well before I get to work...

Thursday, February 02, 2017

Organised crime is looking for me

LinkedIn have jumped on the bandwagon of sending me stupid emails - today's has the subject line "Ben: National Crime Agency (NCA), UPS, and British Airways are looking for candidates like you.", and it lists jobs that LinkedIn thinks I'm suitable for, based entirely on the words 'finance' and 'analyst' being in the job description.

Second on the list (after an Executive Director of Finance in County Durham, which is the kind of job for rich people who know nothing about finance but have 'connections', so I don't think I'd qualify on any of the criteria) comes the intriguing-sounding Crime Analyst / Assistant Crime Analyst, with the National Crime Agency in Bristol.

Now, I've never heard of the National Crime Agency, and since I know they can't be the people who prevent or investigate crimes (because I've heard of the people who do that, and they're called 'the police'), I can only assume they're a national agency devoted to committing crimes. A Crime Analyst must be the person who analyses banks and jewellery stores to see how easy it would be to rob them (and an Assistant Crime Analyst must be the person who carries the Crime Analyst's briefcase so his arms don't get tired). I think I'll apply, it sounds like a good career move.

Sunday, January 29, 2017


Just to continue the sporty theme that this blog has developed lately, Federer beats Nadal in the final of the Australian Open? Just as if it was 2004 again? [Okay, technically he beat Marat Safin in the final that year, but I don't intend to let statistics stand in my way. Point is, Federer won in 2004 and again in 2017.] Clearly there's hope for me to come back and win the World Memory Championship in 2017! Assuming somebody organises a World Memory Championship in 2017, obviously, which doesn't seem exactly certain to happen at the moment...

But still, if Federer and Nadal are injury-free and match-fit, this is going to be a great year for tennis, isn't it! That pair, Djokovic and Murray, new bugs like Dimitrov... exciting prospect! And then there's the question of the greatest player of all time, of course. Or, as is trending on Twitter (because old-fashioned blogs that ramble on for pages and pages before they get to the punchline just aren't cool any more, you have to make your point in 140 characters or fewer, so you have to invent acronyms), the GOAT. Complete with emoji of a goat. The official consensus of the internet is that Federer is the goat, but all I can think when I see that is how reassuring this new term must be to good ol' Charlie Brown...

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Up For The Cup

Back in ancient times, when I was at primary school, you could get a special FA Cup poster magazine, that opened out into a giant poster where you could fill in the results of all the FA Cup games, from the third round all the way to the final. It came with little rectangular stickers with the badge and name of each club. Hey, there was no internet then, you had to find something to do with your time. The cool thing was that there were enough stickers for the top division clubs to get to the final, but only enough for the fourth division as it was then to get to round 4. And after the first year, they didn't do stickers for the non-league clubs at all, so if anybody got unusually far in the competition, you had to use a lot of the blank stickers that came with the chart for just that purpose.

This made it extra-special when Telford United got to the fifth round in 1985 - you can cheer especially hard for a blank-sticker team; it just emphasized how much they'd surpassed expectations! And now Lincoln City have done the same thing, so I think they deserve extra commendation, especially since a lot of the people I was at primary school with were Lincoln supporters. In those days they were the closest we had to a local team who were in the league. Come on you imps!