Day 12 Presentations, 35mm slides, and windy weather

Probably my worst experience giving a lecture/talk occurred around 1977 during an international scientific conference held somewhere in southern Germany, or maybe Austria. It was a big meeting, and the speakers needed a microphone which was placed round the neck. It was my first presentation and hearing one’s own voice through a PA is always a little unnerving. But, to make things worse, as I prepared to speak and put the mike on I knocked my glasses off. When they hit the floor they came to bits. I really needed the glasses to see the screen and do accurate pointing on the projected slides (35mm in those days) but time was very tight, so I just had to plough on with fuzzy distance vision. Looking back, it all seems rather trivial but at the time I was as nervous as hell. About the only other thing I recall about the conference was sun bathing and swimming by the side of a large lake that had silent, electric, tourist boats gliding past.

The mention of 35mm slides reminded me an old story of an eccentric, practical-joking scientist who had one slide specially prepared which showed his theoretically predicted straight line plot with experimental points all lying above the line. The points were, however, mounted with wax on the slide and as the slide heated up in the projector the wax slowly melted and the points drifted slowly down until they lay on the theoretical line.

Today has been really cold, probably sub-zero after the wind chill is taken into account. My beach/gym visit was particularly cold and challenging running into the wind. It reminded me a bit of the YouTube clip of Felipe Contepomi’s penalty kick which was blown back through the posts. If you have not seen it you should really take a look; it is unreal ( Incidentally, the kick was a 3 point score, the rules apparently state that the ball just has to go over and through the posts, it does not matter if it then goes back!

In past years, we have fed the birds every winter. This year, however, with thoughts of house moving etc we had not put up the feeders. Yesterday, though, I relented in view of the very cold weather, and put three feeders out with nuts and seed. So far we have had just one visitor, a rather ungainly jay attacking the peanuts. It seems that it takes 2 days before the small birds find the feeders; after that they are quite capable of emptying a feeder a day.

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