My miserable attempts at blogging more have once again been overtaken by work madness. However I did manage to find time to update my Goodreads shelves, which may perhaps be of interest to someone somewhere. After falling a way behind on my challenge to read 45 books this year (Extraordinary Popular Delusions & the Madness of Crowds was fascinating, but sooooo long!) I’ve had a burst of catching up and am now one book ahead of schedule! We’ll see what the remainder of the year brings…

Moments of Wonder

On another procrastinatathon through YouTube, I stumbled across the gloriously named “Philomena Cunk” and her Moments of Wonder from Charlie Brooker’s Weekly Wipe. Somehow I’d completely forgotten about this, even though it was only on in 2013 and I found it great at the time, easily the highlight of the show.  It seems like something my friends would appreciate, and the American contingent probably missed out on it too given the strong UK news/TV focus of the rest of the show. So here’s four of the segments, unfortunately the remaining two don’t seem to be on YouTube.

Interestingly Jason Hazeley and Joel Morris are credited as “program associates” for the show. I thought those names seemed familiar, and it’s because they’re two of the people responsible for The Framley Examiner, my favourite ever newspaper/website/book. I’ve owned the book for, ooh, something like 12 years now, and I can still take it off the shelf and find new things to chuckle about in it. There’s definitely echoes of the Examiner‘s absurd humour in Cunk’s ramblings.

Memories of Millom

Although to be pedantic I think it’s Haverigg in the photo. I really like the colours in this. Taken on my old Samsung Galaxy Portal, the first smartphone I had and certainly my first phone with a camera that was anything more than a novelty item.

Was reminded of Millom when I went to a bar in Stratford last week and they had “Duality” by Hardknott brewery on tap. I recognised the name: they used to be based on the same tiny industrial estate as Helpful Books where I worked! Pleased to discover their beer has made it all the way down to London, and still tastes great.

Zen and the Art of RollerCoaster Tycoon

I’ve been rediscovering RollerCoaster Tycoon (2) over the past few days, after a long time away from it.  It was partly prompted by this video analysing the genius of the level design in the original RCT.

Today I played the “European Cultural Festival” scenario, an interesting one where you start with a basic park, divided into five zones themed around different European countries (it’s from the Wacky Worlds expansion pack, and makes heavy use of that pack’s new scenery).


The beginning park is truly beautiful, but haemorrhaging cash when you take it over. There are few big attractions, a surfeit of staff, and path layouts which result in guests constantly getting lost. After a first attempt which was working out to be a miserable failure, I reset in order to concentrate from the start on making the park more manageable for both myself and the guests. This actually involved cutting off the British zone entirely (it was gorgeously themed, but only had one ride and a tonne of twisty little paths). There was so much to be done elsewhere, I hadn’t even re-opened it by the Year 4 end of the scenario.

Even with this I was struggling. My strategy this time had been to keep my loan as low as possible (due to the punishing interest rate) and concentrate on building up smaller rides and lots of shops whilst rationalising the pathing. The Russian section particularly was looking great. I was also keen to try and keep to the themes.


However this hadn’t been enough, and partway through Year 3 I was still well off the goal of 2000 guests. At that point I decided to just go for broke, maxed out my loan, and spent a (relative) lot of money on building my trusty triple launched corkscrew coaster in the French zone.


Not big or clever, but the Tricolore theme made it seem fitting. And what do you know, it started to bring the peeps pouring in. It may sound stupid, but I’d forgotten just how important actually building rollercoasters is in RollerCoaster Tycoon. That in turn meant more guests spending money at shops, and it wasn’t long before I was starting to pay down my loan. Before the end of the game it was below what I’d started with.

So I guess there’s two lessons here, and they can probably apply equally to RollerCoaster Tycoon and to real life:

  • Don’t be afraid to sacrifice things which aren’t working (sorry British zone!).
  • Don’t be afraid to take risks on big projects, sometimes it’s the only way to get the big pay offs you need.


Yep, that pretty much covers all eventualities

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Edit: Someone on Facebook pointed out there would be no items priced at exactly £1, which had occurred to me too. It got me thinking about an interesting quirk of English on display here.

If you were to say “Some of the fish are blue” then that implies nothing about the colours of any other fish. Similarly for “Some of the fish are yellow”. But just conjoin the sentences into “Some of the fish are blue and some of the fish are yellow” and suddenly it’s heavily implied that there are no red fish present. Not explicitly stated, but I would almost certainly read it that way and I guess others would too.