Attachments

Although this is probably of very little concern to most of you, I have extended the possibility to contact me via this page by adding a button to send an optional picture attachment. As the mail portal is also used for my Strat Central and Heartfield Guitars picture fetish sites, it was a much-missed feature.
Aided by one of my students, Nils, I have been able to figure out how to implement this using the PHP PEAR mail and mime extensions. It has been on by website wish list since the start and now it’s done. Although it’s not like I cured cancer or solved climate change, I do feel a sense of accomplishment!

I should be Immune!

On Friday 18 June I got my second Comirnaty BioNTech/Pfizer jab. I am very happy with that, and more and more baffled at the people who think there’s a microchip in it, or that say you’ll get magnetic, or even those who believe Covid-19 is a hoax. I kinda feel like I am part of an exclusive fraternity, though obviuously it’s not that exclusive what with over 15 million vaccinations already having been performed in the Netherlands alone (with 17 million inhabitants). Granted, many people still need their second injection.

Although vaccinations took an irresponsibly long time to get started properly, once things took off they really took off. The whole organisation is incredibly efficient and very professional. Hats off to those involved. Both times it took less than 30 minutes, including the 15 minutes you have to wait after the jab in case you faint or something. Staff were friendly, and both injections were virtually painless. And in the days after I had a mild muscle ache – much less than my annual flu shots that always result in more swelling and quite a lot of itching.

Yesterday most anti-Corona measures in the Netherlands were lifted. Maybe a bit too quickly, if you ask me, so I hope there won’t be another surge in Covid cases when people get back from their holidays in August/September. I read somewhere (I forgot the source, but it seemed reputable) that every single person in the world who won’t get vaccinated will get Covid (though many with mild symptoms, obviously), so we’re not out of the woods yet. But we’re getting there.

I have had about a dozen other vaccination shots in my life (excluding those regular annual flu shots), against diphtheria, whooping cough, tetanus, polio, measles, smallpox and influenza A (2009’s Mexican Flu, 2 jabs). Long live vaccination, and I fervently hope we’ll never have to go through this again.

The Answer to Life, the Universe and Everything

To start with, you need to know about the background of all of this. It starts, much in the way religions do, in a book. Including an ever-so-slightly paraphrased bit, it reads as follows…

There are of course many problems connected with life, of which some of the most popular are Why are people born? Why do they die? Why do they want to spend so much of the intervening time wearing digital watches?

Many many millions of years ago a race of hyperintelligent pan-dimensional beings (whose physical manifestation in their own pan-dimensional universe is not dissimilar to our own) got so fed up with the constant bickering about the meaning of life which used to interrupt their favourite pastime of Brockian Ultra Cricket (a curious game which involved suddenly hitting people for no readily apparent reason and then running away) that they decided to sit down and solve their problems once and for all.

And to this end they built themselves a stupendous super computer which was so  amazingly intelligent that even before the data banks had been connected up it had started from I think therefore I am and got as far as the existence of rice pudding and income tax before anyone managed to turn it off.

It was the size of a small city.

Its main console was installed in a specially designed executive office, mounted on an enormous executive desk of finest ultramahagony topped with rich ultrared leather. The dark carpeting was discreetly sumptuous, exotic pot plants and tastefully engraved
prints of the principal computer programmers and their families were deployed liberally about the room, and stately windows looked out upon a tree-lined public square.

On the day of the Great On-Turning two soberly dressed programmers with brief cases arrived and were shown discreetly into the office. They were aware that this day they would represent their entire race in its greatest moment, but they conducted themselves
calmly and quietly as they seated themselves deferentially before the desk, opened their brief cases and took out their leather-bound notebooks.

Their names were Lunkwill and Fook.

For a few moments they sat in respectful silence, then, after exchanging a quiet glance with Fook, Lunkwill leaned forward and touched a small black panel.

The subtlest of hums indicated that the massive computer was now in total active mode. After a pause it spoke to them in a voice rich resonant and deep.

It said: “What is this great task for which I, Deep Thought, the second greatest computer in the Universe of Time and Space have been called into existence?”

Lunkwill and Fook glanced at each other in surprise.

“Your task, O Computer…” began Fook.

“No, wait a minute, this isn’t right,” said Lunkwill, worried. “We distinctly designed this computer to be the greatest one ever and we’re not making do with second best. Deep Thought,” he addressed the computer, “are you not as we designed you to be, the greatest
most powerful computer in all time?”

“I described myself as the second greatest,” intoned Deep Thought, “and such I am.”

Another worried look passed between the two programmers. Lunkwill cleared his throat.

“There must be some mistake,” he said, “are you not a greatest computer than the Milliard Gargantubrain which can count all the atoms in a star in a millisecond?”

“The Milliard Gargantubrain?” said Deep Thought with unconcealed contempt. “A mere abacus – mention it not.”

“And are you not,” said Fook leaning anxiously forward, “a greater analyst than the Googleplex Star Thinker in the Seventh Galaxy of Light and Ingenuity which can calculate the trajectory of every single dust particle throughout a five-week Dangrabad Beta sand blizzard?”

“A five-week sand blizzard?” said Deep Thought haughtily. “You ask this of me who have contemplated the very vectors of the atoms in the Big Bang itself? Molest me not with this pocket calculator stuff.”

The two programmers sat in uncomfortable silence for a moment. Then Lunkwill leaned forward again.

“But are you not,” he said, “a more fiendish disputant than the Great Hyperlobic Omni-Cognate Neutron Wrangler of Ciceronicus 12, the Magic and Indefatigable?”

“The Great Hyperlobic Omni-Cognate Neutron Wrangler,” said Deep Thought thoroughly rolling the r’s, “could talk all four legs off an Arcturan MegaDonkey – but only I could persuade it to go for a walk afterwards.”

“Then what,” asked Fook, “is the problem?”

“There is no problem,” said Deep Thought with magnificent ringing tones. “I am simply the second greatest computer in the Universe of Space and Time.”

“But the second?” insisted Lunkwill. “Why do you keep saying the second? You’re surely not thinking of the Multicorticoid Perspicutron Titan Muller are you? Or the Pondermatic? Or the…”

Contemptuous lights flashed across the computer’s console.

“I spare not a single unit of thought on these cybernetic simpletons!” he boomed. “I speak of none but the computer that is to come after me!”

Fook was losing patience. He pushed his notebook aside and muttered, “I think this is getting needlessly messianic.”

“You know nothing of future time,” pronounced Deep Thought, “and yet in my teeming circuitry I can navigate the infinite delta streams of future probability and see that there must one day come a computer whose merest operational parameters I am not worthy to calculate, but which it will be my fate eventually to design.”

Fook sighed heavily and glanced across to Lunkwill.

“Can we get on and ask the question?” he said.

Lunkwill motioned him to wait.

“What computer is this of which you speak?” he asked.

“I will speak of it no further in this present time,” said Deep Thought. “Now. Ask what else of me you will that I may function. Speak.”

They shrugged at each other. Fook composed himself.

“O Deep Thought Computer,” he said, “the task we have designed
you to perform is this. We want you to tell us…” he paused,”… the
Answer!”

“The answer?” said Deep Thought. “The answer to what?”

“Life!” urged Fook.

“The Universe!” said Lunkwill.

“Everything!” they said in chorus.

Deep Thought paused for a moment’s reflection.

“Tricky,” he said finally.

“But can you do it?”

Again, a significant pause.

“Yes,” said Deep Thought, “I can do it.”

“There is an answer?” said Fook with breathless excitement.”

“A simple answer?” added Lunkwill.

“Yes,” said Deep Thought. “Life, the Universe, and Everything.

There is an answer. But,” he added, “I’ll have to think about it.”

A sudden commotion destroyed the moment: the door flew open and two angry men wearing the coarse faded – blue robes and belts of the Cruxwan University burst into the room, thrusting aside the ineffectual flunkies who tried to bar their way.

“We demand admission!” shouted the younger of the two men elbowing a pretty young secretary in the throat.

“Come on,” shouted the older one, “you can’t keep us out!” He pushed a junior programmer back through the door.

“We demand that you can’t keep us out!” bawled the younger one, though he was now firmly inside the room and no further attempts were being made to stop him.

“Who are you?” said Lunkwill, rising angrily from his seat. “What do you want?”

“I am Majikthise!” announced the older one.

“And I demand that I am Vroomfondel!” shouted the younger one.

Majikthise turned on Vroomfondel. “It’s alright,” he explained angrily, “you don’t need to demand that.”

“Alright!” bawled Vroomfondel banging on an nearby desk. “I am Vroomfondel, and that is not a demand, that is a solid fact! What we demand is solid facts!”

“No we don’t!” exclaimed Majikthise in irritation. “That is precisely what we don’t demand!”

Scarcely pausing for breath, Vroomfondel shouted, “We don’t demand solid facts! What we demand is a total absence of solid facts.

I demand that I may or may not be Vroomfondel!”

“But who the devil are you?” exclaimed an outraged Fook.

“We,” said Majikthise, “are Philosophers.”

“Though we may not be,” said Vroomfondel waving a warning finger at the programmers.

“Yes we are,” insisted Majikthise. “We are quite definitely here as representatives of the Amalgamated Union of Philosophers, Sages, Luminaries and Other Thinking Persons, and we want this machine off, and we want it off now!”

“What’s the problem?” said Lunkwill.

“I’ll tell you what the problem is mate,” said Majikthise, “demarcation, that’s the problem!”

“We demand,” yelled Vroomfondel, “that demarcation may or may not be the problem!”

“You just let the machines get on with the adding up,” warned Majikthise, “and we’ll take care of the eternal verities thank you very much. You want to check your legal position you do mate. Under law the Quest for Ultimate Truth is quite clearly the inalienable prerogative of your working thinkers. Any bloody machine goes and actually finds it and we’re straight out of a job aren’t we? I mean what’s the use of our sitting up half the night arguing that there may or may not be a God if this machine only goes and gives us his bleeding phone number the next morning?”

“That’s right!” shouted Vroomfondel, “we demand rigidly defined areas of doubt and uncertainty!”

Suddenly a stentorian voice boomed across the room.

“Might I make an observation at this point?” inquired Deep Thought.

“We’ll go on strike!” yelled Vroomfondel.

“That’s right!” agreed Majikthise. “You’ll have a national Philosopher’s strike on your hands!”

The hum level in the room suddenly increased as several ancillary bass driver units, mounted in sedately carved and varnished cabinet speakers around the room, cut in to give Deep Thought’s voice a little more power.

“All I wanted to say,” bellowed the computer, “is that my circuits are now irrevocably committed to calculating the answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything – ” he paused and satisfied himself that he now had everyone’s attention, before
continuing more quietly, “but the programme will take me a little while to run.”

Fook glanced impatiently at his watch.

“How long?” he said.

“Seven and a half million years,” said Deep Thought.

Lunkwill and Fook blinked at each other.

“Seven and a half million years…!” they cried in chorus.

“Yes,” declaimed Deep Thought, “I said I’d have to think about it, didn’t I? And it occurs to me that running a programme like this is bound to create an enormous amount of popular publicity for the whole area of philosophy in general. Everyone’s going to have their
own theories about what answer I’m eventually to come up with, and who better to capitalize on that media market than you yourself? So long as you can keep disagreeing with each other violently enough and slagging each other off in the popular press, you can keep yourself on the gravy train for life. How does that sound?”

The two philosophers gaped at him.

“Bloody hell,” said Majikthise, “now that is what I call thinking. Here Vroomfondel, why do we never think of things like that?”

“Dunno,” said Vroomfondel in an awed whisper, “think our brains must be too highly trained Majikthise.”

So saying, they turned on their heels and walked out of the door and into a lifestyle beyond their wildest dreams.

 

… (seven and a half million years later) …

 

A man standing on a brightly dressed dais before the building which clearly dominated the square was addressing the crowd over a Tannoy.

“O people waiting in the Shadow of Deep Thought!” he cried out. “Honoured Descendants of Vroomfondel and Majikthise, the Greatest and Most Truly Interesting Pundits the Universe has ever known… The Time of Waiting is over!”

Wild cheers broke out amongst the crowd. Flags, streamers and wolf whistles sailed through the air. The narrower streets looked rather like centipedes rolled over on their backs and frantically waving their legs in the air.

“Seven and a half million years our race has waited for this Great and Hopefully Enlightening Day!” cried the cheer leader. “The Day of the Answer!”

Hurrahs burst from the ecstatic crowd.

“Never again,” cried the man, “never again will we wake up in the morning and think Who am I? What is my purpose in life? Does it really, cosmically speaking, matter if I don’t get up and go to work?

For today we will finally learn once and for all the plain and simple answer to all these nagging little problems of Life, the Universe and Everything!”

As the crowd erupted once again, we move down towards one of the large stately windows on the first floor of the building behind the dais from which the speaker was addressing the crowd.

In seven and a half million years the room had been well looked after and cleaned regularly every century or so. The ultramahagony desk was worn at the edges, the carpet a little faded now, but the large computer terminal sat in sparkling glory on the desk’s leather top, as bright as if it had been constructed yesterday.

Two severely dressed men sat respectfully before the terminal and waited.

“The time is nearly upon us,” said one, and Arthur was surprised to see a word suddenly materialize in thin air just by the man’s neck. The word was Loonquawl, and it flashed a couple of times and the disappeared again. Before Arthur was able to assimilate this the other man spoke and the word Phouchg appeared by his neck.

“Seventy-five thousand generations ago, our ancestors set this program in motion,” the second man said, “and in all that time we will be the first to hear the computer speak.”

“An awesome prospect, Phouchg,” agreed the first man, and Arthur suddenly realized that he was watching a recording with subtitles.

“We are the ones who will hear,” said Phouchg, “the answer to the great question of Life…!”

“The Universe…!” said Loonquawl.

“And Everything…!”

“Shhh,” said Loonquawl with a slight gesture, “I think Deep Thought is preparing to speak!”

There was a moment’s expectant pause whilst panels slowly came to life on the front of the console. Lights flashed on and off experimentally and settled down into a businesslike pattern. A soft low hum came from the communication channel.

“Good morning,” said Deep Thought at last.

“Er… Good morning, O Deep Thought,” said Loonquawl nervously, “do you have… er, that is…”

“An answer for you?” interrupted Deep Thought majestically. “Yes. I have.”

The two men shivered with expectancy. Their waiting had not been in vain.

“There really is one?” breathed Phouchg.

“There really is one,” confirmed Deep Thought.

“To Everything? To the great Question of Life, the Universe and
Everything?”

“Yes.”

Both of the men had been trained for this moment, their lives had been a preparation for it, they had been selected at birth as those who would witness the answer, but even so they found themselves gasping and squirming like excited children.

“And you’re ready to give it to us?” urged Loonquawl.

“I am.”

“Now?”

“Now,” said Deep Thought.

They both licked their dry lips.

“Though I don’t think,” added Deep Thought, “that you’re going to like it.”

“Doesn’t matter!” said Phouchg. “We must know it! Now!”

“Now?” inquired Deep Thought.

“Yes! Now…”

“Alright,” said the computer and settled into silence again. The two men fidgeted. The tension was unbearable.

“You’re really not going to like it,” observed Deep Thought.

“Tell us!”

“Alright,” said Deep Thought. “The Answer to the Great Question…”

“Yes…!”

“Of Life, the Universe and Everything…” said Deep Thought.

“Yes…!”

“Is…” said Deep Thought, and paused.

“Yes…!”

“Is…”

“Yes…!!!…?”

“Forty-two,” said Deep Thought, with infinite majesty and calm.

It was 1988 when I read this for the first time. “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” by the inestimable (and unfortunately late) Mr Douglas Adams became etched into my consciousness, into my very being, my way of thinking. Things would never be the same again – at least not for me, nor for anyone within my (thankfully fairly limited) circle of influence.

This year marks the 42nd Anniversary of the publication of Mr Adams’ book, and this is the 42nd blog entry I’ve added to my site. Below you will find an overview of what I’d like to call “42 in real life”: Occurrences of this geek culture number In Real Life, whether influenced by Douglas or not (and believe you me, sometimes they are!).

But first a final bit of background.

In “ST NEWS” disk magazine Volume 9 Issue 1 (released in March 1994) I had a first look at what the figure “42” meant in real, ordinary life, show you what this figure meant in the world as we know it – for if you paid attention, you would notice that the number “42” occurs all the time! It was the result a year of research, and it was dedicated to Douglas Adams, originator of The Number and the person to become 42 on the exact date on which that issue of “ST NEWS” was released. The final (July 1996) “ST NEWS” issue saw an enhanced and overhauled version of the “42” occurrence overview. More trivial or otherwise less meaningful entries had been discarded and new quality material added (also thanks to David Jones and Rod Kent).

Below you will find the current incarnation (version 3, if you will) of the article, additionally containing miscellaneous occurrences of the number “42” that I more or less meticulously kept track of in the quarter of a century that has passed since the previous version. It will be second only to the one that will come after it, in the 42nd Anniversary edition of “ST NEWS” that is due for release in seven and a half million…no…seven years and two months.

  • Let’s start with 42nd Street, which is a main and very popular two-way thoroughfare in New York, with many landmarks on it.
  • “42nd Street” is also the title of a film made in the US in 1933 by Lloyd Bacon, starring Ginger Rogers.
  • In a particular episode of the US TV series “Beverly Hills 90210”, the Walshes are reading a book about sexuality or something, and they are surprised to read that “60% of men over 42 think of younger women.”
  • In Japan there is a ritual involving the dragging around of 500-pound concrete penises and consumption of lots of alcohol. This penis is carried by loads of men who are 42 years old, which is considered to be the Japanese male’s age of turnaround (i.e. it can only go downhill from then on).
  • Strangely enough, the number 42 also seems to have deathly connotations in Japan. Some time ago, the first Japanese Formula One racing car driver crashed and killed himself in car with the number 42. The number 42 seems to be banned on Japanese license plates because of that.
  • In “Star Trek – The Next Generation”, the starship Enterprise has 42 decks.
  • One of the most notorious cracking groups on the Atari ST in the olden days was called “42 Crew”.
  • In “Dead Poets Society”, Robin Williams at one time says “Byron gets a 42, but you can’t dance to it”.
  • In that same film, the University is “in its 42nd year”.
  • The Iron Maiden twin CD-single “Two Minutes to Midnight” + “Aces High” (released in 1990) is exactly 42 minutes long including that brainless Nicko McBrain babble at the end.
  • To limit costs, it is possible to have certain services only at what are described as “the big National Railroad stations” in the Netherlands. There are 42 of those in the Netherlands.
  • The Oldest Rule In The Book (as mentioned in Lewis Carroll’s “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland”, the courtroom scene), which is “All persons more than a mile high to leave the court”, is rule number 42. For a long time, this was thought to be the source of Douglas Adams’ number, too, but then it was revealed in an interview that actually it was just a totally random number (consciously, anyway).
  • Metallica’s excellent single “One” was the highest new entry in the Dutch 1991’s Top 100 of all times, entering at #42 (at was at #6 in 1992, and #1 in 1993!).
  • The heaviest man ever to live in the Netherlands, Jan Cleaszoon Clees (landlord of a pub in The Hague, who weighed 223 kilos, so telleth the Dutch version of the Guiness Book of Records), died in 1612 at the age of 42.
  • The password expiration time under Microsoft Windows NT is 42 days.
  • The longest recorded session of continuously talking in sign language took 42 hours (done by Wendy Fisher in New South Wales, Australia, in August 1987; she spoke an average of more than 45 words per minute).
  • The world’s largest church dome is that of the St. Peter church in Vatican City, which has a diameter of 42 metres.
  • A few occurrences of the number 42 in Stephen King’s “It” are the fact that Tom Rogan worked at King & Landry Public Relations at 42nd Street, and that the oldest person present at the fire at the Black Spot – Alan Snopes – was aged 42.
  • In Stephen King’s short story “Dolan’s Cadillac”, the ‘grave’ that he intends to bury Dolan and his Cadillac in is 42 feet long.
  • In the case of a bitch (i.e. a female dog) still with young, her puppies can be infected intra-uterinally by the Toxocara canis bacteria as of the 42nd day.
  • In Olympic female judo, there is a class division between lighter than 42 kilogram or 42 kilogram and higher.
  • In the mini series “Passion in Paradise”, the character Harry Oakes’ car has the license plate “93 42”.
  • On the date of 43-9-4242, the Belcerebons of Kakrafoon Kappa (a very intelligent race that never spoke so as to give their brain a chance to work) were officially verdicted to be “Arrogant Bastards” and given the worst of all social diseases – Telepathy (so proclaimeth one of the many animated Guide sequence in the “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” TV series).
  • Elvis Presley, the King, was 42 when he got abducted by aliens (or when he died, or whatever).
  • By a strange coincidence, 42 was also the age at which Cladys Smith, The King’s mother, died.
  • Saddam Hussayn’s (never mind how you spell it exactly) army during the 1991 Gulf War was divided in 42 divisions.
  • Nelson Mandela was freed on the 42nd day of 1990 (at 4:14 local time). On that same day, the last official issue of ST NEWS, Volume 5 Issue 1, was released.
  • On the 1990 Yesterday & Today (Y&T) rock band compilation album, “Best of ’81 to ’85”, the first track lasts precisely 42 seconds.
  • Guatemala takes up 42,042 square miles of the world.
  • In the “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” (the actual device, not the books) the amendments start off on page 42,000,000 (directly following the index which takes up most of the Guide, having started at page 577,000).
  • The highly regular binary value of 101010 is decimal 42.
  • The second (and, unfortunately, last) issue of Tom Zunder’s Atari ST disk magazine “Interleave” had 42 articles.
  • The Calixtus Catacomb in Rome has 42 niches.
  • The scale or fretboard (the bit where the left hand fingers are put down, with all the frets on it) of the Yngwie Malmsteen Signature Fender Stratocaster electric guitar has a width of 42 mm (1.654″) at the nut (i.e. the bit farthest away from the guitar body).
  • Douglas Adams’ “So Long and Thanks for all the Fish” has 42 chapters if you count the separate prologue and epilogue too.
  • Bullfrog’s highly successfull platform game “Flood”, released by Electronic Arts, had 42 levels.
  • Douglas Adams’ fifth part of the “Hithhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” trilogy, “Mostly Harmless”, was released in hardcover in the 42nd week of 1992, during which time I was in England in the Plaza Hotel in London (Princes Square 42!).
  • “Cleopatra’s Needle”, one of the sights at London’s river Thames and supposedly made aeons ago in ancient Egypt, was “given to England in the 42nd year of the reign of Queen Victoria” (quoted from the engravings on its pedestal).
  • The Atari Falcon 030’s extended joystick connections allow the connection of total of six joysticks, or four paddles, a light gun and up to 42 extension buttons (which I suppose are alternatives to fire buttons or something, I wouldn’t know what they mean otherwise). Info taken from a Falcon 030 promotion brochure.
  • When a program/data cartridge is inserted in the Atari ST/TT/Falcon’s cartridge port, its officially documented first required ‘magic’ longword value in order to be recognized by the Operating System as such is hexadecimal $ABCDEF42.
  • In “Raw Deal”, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, there are two mob families. The limousine of the main honcho of one of them, a guy by the name of Lamanski, has license plate “4242”.
  • In the second part of the “Star Trek – The Next Generation” episode “Best of Both Worlds”, at a certain stage where they are all hunting Borg they say they are “at 42 minutes from earth”.
  • The CD “Serious Beats – Volume 5” has 42 tracks (mind you, this information comes from someone I would not like to identify with, i.e. Tjeerd Bruinsma who is also known under many nicknames ending with “-ush”).
  • Similarly, the triple CD “Fantasia – The House Collection Volume 2” has 42 tracks.
  • In a TV documentary about allergies and the involvement of the English Breakspear Hospital in the treatment of allergy patients, one of the women interviewed (who had a very disruptive baby due to it being allergic to all kinds of things) said, and this sounded totally incredible, that she “had grown 42 years older in 12 months”.
  • Ostrich’ eggs hatch 42 days after having been laid (the eggs, not the ostrich).
  • The average life expectancy for a male inhabitant of the country of Guinea is 42 years (which is actually rather low).
  • In H.P. Lovecraft’s tale “The Haunter in the Dark”, the protagonist is the first one to enter the dark and mysterious church (the Haunter’s abode, so it turns out) in 42 years.
  • Thomas F. Malone, leading character in Lovecraft’s “The Horror at Red Hook”, was 42 years old in that story.
  • In H.P. Lovecraft’s “Beyond the Wall of Sleep”, Joe Slater had been in “torment and diurnal prison” by the alien agency for “forty-two of your terrestrial years”.
  • In 1992 there were 4.2 million CD players in the Netherlands (70% of all households had one).
  • During a recent tour, Metallica’s lead guitarist Kirk Hammett wore a T-shirt which had a skull, the words “Las Cavaleras” and the number “42” on it. I have no idea what this is supposed to mean, though.
  • When the oil tanker Exxon Valdez ran ashore the Alaska coast in 1989 it spilled 42,000 tons of oil.
  • Princess Anne got re-married in 1992 (the first British monarchial person to get re-married after a divorce in over 400 years worth of British history) at the age of 42. At that same age she got a baby, too.
  • In “Mississippi Burning”, at a certain stage you get to see a family watching television. They are watching a television show where someone has just become the Cheddar Cheese Champion, “having beaten 42 other entrants”.
  • This sentence contains exactly forty-two letters.
  • Rainbow’s CD “Difficult to Cure” lasts exactly 42 excellent minutes.
  • The ‘putter’ golf club in the Atari Lynx handheld games console game “Awesome Golf” has a maximum hitting distance of 42 yards.
  • In the episode “My Desperate Valentine” of the American TV series “Beverly Hills 90210”, Kelly Preston (played by Jenny Garth) wears a T-shirt with “42” on the back and front, in large print.
  • In “Boyz in the Hood”, one of the main protagonists is called Rick. In a scene playing in his younger years he is wearing a football T-shirt with the number 42 on it.
  • In a similar film, this time by Spike Lee and called “Do the Right Thing”, one of the characters, Mookie, walks around in a Dodgers number 42 baseball T-shirt.
  • In one of my second year English course books, Jonathan Kaye’s “Phonology – A Cognitive View”, he uses the sentence “I ate 42 oranges” to demonstrate some syntactic property of a sentence.
  • The only electric railroad system in Cuba, the Hershey Express that was originally set up in 1915, has 42 railway stations (it goes from Havana to Matantas and back).
  • On the 42nd day of 1858 the Virgin Mary appeared to three girls (among which the famous Bernadette Soubirous, later Sainted) at Lourdes in France.
  • In an episode of “Married with Children” (title nor sequence number known) where Al tries to get rid of his old car to buy a new one, he goes to a car salesman and takes with him a shoebox in which he has put 5,000 dollars, 10 years worth of savings. When he looks in it he only finds 800, because Peggy had discovered the shoebox and spent the other 4,200 dollars of Al’s savings!
  • In another episode (of which name and sequence number are again not known) where Al competes in this 65+ athletics competition, he gets back home with a ridiculous outfit that originally cost US$ 3. Upon having used his illegally acquired 65+ discount card, however, he proudly exclaims he got it for 42 cents!
  • In Terry Pratchett’s “Strata”, mention is made of a frog-like four-armed race called the Kung. They have 42 words for “rain”.
  • In the British TV series “Grace and Favour” (the follow-up to “Are you being Served?”) at a certain moment Mrs. Slocombe runs into her ex-husband, Cecil G. Slocombe. She mentions him having run out on her 42 years ago.
  • When King Baudouin of Belgium died at 62 on July 31st 1993, he had been Belgian king for 42 years.
  • More or less incidentally, that year also saw the 42nd Miss Universe Beauty Pageant.
  • During the Norwegian Highschool Graduation festivities known as “Rüss” (I seem to recall), Ronny Hatlemark’s Rüss-name was “Forty-Two” (Ronny was our Norwegian ST NEWS distributor and still a good friend). The last four digits of his mobile phone number, incidentally (though probably not at all coincidentally), are “4242”.
  • In Jonathan Demme’s “Silence of the Lambs”, the Buffalo Bill character wants to skin girls who have U.S. size 14 – that’s European size 42.
  • The setting: The pilot episode of the US police series “Sunset Beat”. When at one instance a colleague cop asks some of the heroes, Chesbro and Coolidge, how come they make more successful arrests then any other cop on the beat, they reply: “Find out for yourself. We give courses at US$ 42 per semester”.
  • The major family (of which the name is Alberts) in the Dutch TV soap “Goede Tijden Slechte Tijden” (translation “Good Times Bad Times”) lives at house number 42.
  • In the “Dragonsdawn” book in Anne McCaffrey’s “Dragonriders of Pern” series, it’s mentioned that originally 42 mares with foal were taken from earth to the new world of Pern. Also in the same book, it comes to pass that on the 42nd day after the first fall of thread the first gather was organised, that the first batch of dragon embryos they constructed consisted of 42 specimens, and a bit further they mention someone who is technically in charge of the program on file in the biology Mark 42 computer.
  • In a 1993 (Volume 27) issue of the “Journal of the Royal College of Physicians of London” there is an article called “The History of the 42-Club”. The name refers to the year of its founding, 1942, and they discuss various topics of interest to physicians.
  • The special leatherbound version of Metallica’s “Metallica” CD (with pic of guitarist James Hetfield’s head on the leather sleeve) has Vertigo catalogue number 510 022-42.
  • Cicero, the roman statesman and orator, died in 42 BC.
  • Almost half of the 28 acres of the British Elstree studio (where, among others, “Indiana Jones”, “Star Wars” and “Superman” were made) were sold to a supermarket chain in 1993. The price was US$ 42 million.
  • The Royal Rotterdam Zoological Garden (called “Blijdorp Zoo” or “Diergaarde Blijdorp”), a zoo in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, is located on a 42 acre site (as of 1938).
  • The first criminal who Charles Bronson kills in “Death Wish” is identified by the police as someone who has already once served a 42 months’ suspended sentence.
  • In “Best Friends” (Norman Jewison, 1982, US), starring Goldie Hawn and Burt Reynolds, the Babson family (Burt’s folks) have been married for 42 years.
  • In 1862 King Edward of England purchased property called Sandringham Hall. When the sanitary provisions had to be overhauled, the “Report on the Drainage of Sandringham House” of February 18th 1886 occupied “42 pages of meticulously executed handwriting”.
  • Gaius Cassius Longinus, chief conspirator in the murder of Julius Ceasar, died in 42 BC.
  • The Netherlands has the dubious honour of being the third European country when it comes to the amount of people who smoke. A total of 42% of the Dutch populace does it.
  • According to the Annals of Tigernach one of the earliest and most capable Irish kings, one by the name of Cormac, ruled for 42 years.
  • In the 1992/1993 New Year’s Celebrations that traditionally take place at London’s Trafalgar Square, where a huge gathering of thousands of people usually forms, 42 people were wounded.
  • In “Sleepless in Seattle”, when the little son of Sam (i.e. of Tom Hanks) and his female friend want to put together money for him to fly to New York to meet Annie (i.e. Meg Ryan), the boy finds he has 80 dollars; the girl discovers she has 42.
  • The Russian battle chopper that crash-lands after having let Rambo and the others escape in “Rambo III” has ID number 42.
  • Clint Eastwood is quite wealthy. Reason for this is the fact that he does not request a fixed salary when signing a film contract. Instead he just wants a specific percentage of the film’s profit. This just so happens to be 42%.
  • In the film “10” starring Dudley Moore and Bo Derek, the former plays a character that has his midlife crisis at 42.
  • In the film “The Fugitive” (with Harrison Ford and Tommy Lee Jones) the bus from which Dr Richard Kimble escapes has number 42.
  • A bit later in film “The Fugitive”, when Kimble is examining things in the orthopedic department, for no particular reason there’s a white note with “42” written in red on the clipboard.
  • In “Police Academy III”, at a certain instant one of the two competing academies is not doing very well. One of the characters then says “it’s Mauser 42 – Lassard 0”, indicating they are the ones that have not done too well.
  • The Llamasoft shareware game “Revenge of the Mutant Camels” has 42 levels.
  • British painter and nonsense author, Edward Lear (1812-1888) published a series of 42 coloured parrot images in 1832.
  • Dutch-born British spy and double agent for the communists, George Blake (born in 1922) was sentenced to 42 years imprisonment in 1961 (he escaped in 1966 though).
  • Dutch soccer ace Roland Koeman has feet with two different shoe sizes. His right foot, the one with the killer free kick, is (European) size 42.
  • In 1993, a survey was performed to see how many people owning Nintendos were over 18. That turned out to be 42%.
  • The picture of the ancient Queen Ynci the Short-Tempered, run into by Magrat in Terry Pratchett’s “Lords and Ladies”, is claimed to have a 42 D-cup breastplate and shoulder pads with spikes.
  • In Richard Bachman’s (i.e. Stephen King’s) “The Running Man”, the pollution count on a bad day in Boston is said to be 42.
  • In the AC/DC song “Let There Be Rock”, one line of the lyrics goes “42 decibel rockin’ band”.
  • In the film “The Poseidon Adventure”, the main shock of the seaquake to cause the wall of water that sunk the the S.S. Poseidon to sink lasted 42 seconds.
  • In 1993, David Letterman signed a contract for three years, allowing him to do “The Late Show with David Letterman” at peak hours. The contract was worth US$ 42 million.
  • In an episode of the American TV cartoon series, “Duckman” (which is absolutely fab), he owed the IRS US$ 28587.42.
  • Stephen King’s “The Stand” (the uncut edition) consists of three parts. The first of these, “Captain Trips”, is 42 chapters in size.
  • In the film “Airplane!” (a.k.a. “Flying High”), the airplane has a cruising altitude of 42,000 feet.
  • When some English chaps released the “Maggie Guide to a Classic Video Life-style” in January 1995, they claimed it was “the first of a series of 42”.
  • In the film “The Crow” starring Brandon Lee, the squad car of the most prominently cast police officer has number 42.
  • In the film “Trading Places”, starring Dan Aykroyd and Eddie Murphy, the character played by Jamie Lee Curtis claims at one instance to have saved “42 grand”.
  • The book “Catch-22” by Joseph Heller – a book funny in a way quite like Douglas Adams – has 42 chapters.
  • In a Monty Python sketch about Colin “Chopper” Mozart, son of the composer and Rat Annihilator, he is sent out to 42a Kartoffelstraße, where Beethoven lives.
  • Although no text survives of the legendary original Welsh Law of Hywel Dda, 42 texts written between 1230 and 1500 are extant.
  • In “Die Hard with a Vengeance”, one of the puzzles that Bruce Willis has to solve is “What is 21 out of 42”, leading to the 21st American president, Chester A. Arthur, which is also the name of a school where a bomb is placed. The temperature of the cooling equipment that the bomb is stored in is 42 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • In J.D. Salinger’s “The Catcher in the Rye”, at one time the 16-year old protagonist claims to be 42 when addressing a record salesperson. A bit further in the book, the uncle of an acquaintance of his was said to have gotten polio when he was 42.
  • In an episode of “Blackadder III” (the one with the inheritance and his not allowed to get drunk but getting pissed anyway), at a certain instant he is fed beer while still sober. Captions read “42 seconds later”, and he’s brainnumbingly drunk.
  • Stanley Frost, father of the rather nasty woman that haunts Michael Douglas and his family in “Fatal Attraction”, died when he was 42.
  • Falcon FacTT File has set up a Bulletin Board System called 42BBS.
  • In Roald Dahl’s short story collection “Someone Like You” there is a story called “Claud’s Dog – Mr. Feasey”. The first time Claud’s dog goes to the races, they bet on it and get bet slip number 42.
  • Special agent Mulder, main character of the “X-Files” TV series, lives at appartment number 42.
  • In Tennessee, there was a law that proclaimed one could only teach creationism in classrooms (as opposed to Darwinism, or the theory of evolution). The law remained in force from its inception in 1925 to 1967 – 42 years.
  • Including two re-publications, I’ve had 42 articles published in the Dutch Atari magazine “Atari Nieuws” up to now.
  • The first ever sighting of the number 42 is from the Bible (Kings 2:23-24 (23)): “And he [Elisha] went up from thence unto Bethel: and as he was going up by the way, there came forth little children out of the city, and mocked him, and said unto him, Go up, thou baldhead; go up, thou bald head. 24 And he turned back, and looked on them, and cursed them in the name ofthe LORD. And there came forth two she bears out of the wood, and tare _forty and two_ children of them.”
  • According to the Bible, there were 42 generations between Abraham and Jesus Christ.
  • Other Biblical sightings are “The beast was given a mouth uttering proad boasts and blasphamies, and it was given authority to act for forty-two months” (Revelations 13:5), “Forty-two months was how long the profanation of the holy city was to last” (Revelations 11:2), “Twelve hundred and sixty days (forty-two months) was the length of the prophetic mission of the two witnesses” (Revelations 11:3), “Twelve hundred and sixty days (forty-two months), is the length of the retreat to the desert the woman goes on to escape the Serpent.” (Revelations 12:6-14), “But leave out the court which is outside the temple, and do not measure it, for it has been given to the Gentiles. And they will tread the holy city underfoot for forty-two months.” (Revelations 11:2).
  • The angle at which light reflects off of water to create a rainbow is 42 degrees.
  • A 42 mile per hour wind brought down the original Tacoma bridge in the state of Washingtion in the 1930s.
  • 42 is the natural vibration frequency of human DNA.
  • 42 is the natural vibration frequency of white mouse DNA (this sheds an interesting light on white mice being more intelligent than man).
  • The chamber in the Cheops pyramid is exactly 42 metres over the ground.
  • The total number of dots on a pair of dice is 42.
  • The integer part of the square root of proton mass divided by electron mass gives 42.
  • 42 was the name of the painter in episode 2 or 3 of the “Prisoner” series.
  • An episode of “X-Files” makes reference to a ship being lost for 42 hours.
  • An episode of “Married with Children” had a football game where the score was 42 to 0, with Al’s team losing.
  • In the film “Teen Wolf”, Michael J. Fox has the number 42 on his jersey.
  • The song “Minimum Wage” by They Might Be Giants is 42 seconds long.
  • In the film “Ghost”, Patrick Swayze learns to move things (as a ghost) at subway platform 42.
  • In the book “James and the Giant Peach”, the centipede has 42 legs.
  • In Kansas’s (the band) song “Closet Chronicles” (from the “Point of Know Return” album) they have the following line, “Gazing out the window, from the FORTY-SECOND floor…”
  • LucasArts’s classic “Zak McKraken and the Alien Mindbenders” has the number “42” plastered all over.
  • In Monty Python’s “The Meaning of Life” (album version), immediately after the “Every Sperm is Sacred” song, the narrator says “Meanwhile, at number 42”, whereupon we are taken to the Protestant family sketch.
  • A current (English) advert for Guiness stout goes: “It’s hard to put a value to most things. This, however, is 42.”
  • The elevator in the film “Speed” starts at level 42.
  • There is a french magazine about cars, relationships and home improvement etc. The title of this magazine is “Le 42”.
  • There is a bar/night club in Lyon, France called “The 42”.
  • In the “Pelican Brief”, Darby Shaw, (Julia Roberts) lives at 42 Beau Luc Lane, New Orleans. You can see this briefly on the cover of the brief once during the film.
  • In A.A. Milne’s (author of “Winnie-the-Pooh”) collection of poetry, “Now_We_are_Six”, in the poem “The Morning Walk”, it says:

“When Anne and I go out a walk,
We hold each other’s hand and talk,
Of all the things we mean to do
when Anne and I are forty-two.”

  • In Romeo and Juliet, Juliet sleeps for 42 hours.
  • Dr. Seuss wrote 42 Children’s Books.
  • In the “Babylon 5” episode “AND NOW FOR A WORD”, ISN reporter Cynthia Torqueman (Kim Zimmer) said: “Aliens make up roughly 42 percent of Babylon 5’s population.”
  • In the film “Aliens” (with Sigourney Weaver), when Ripley is being shown how to use the machine gun, there are 42 rounds left in the clip. You can see ’42’ on the read-out on the side.
  • On the television show “Martin”, his apartment door is 42.
  • Marsha Clark, the prosecutor on the O.J. Simpson Trial, was 42 years old
  • The cop that found the body of Nicole Brown-Simpson had been a police officer for 4 years 2 months.
  • On day 142 of the O.J. Simpson trial, defense attorney Johnny Cochran asked screenwriter Laura Hart McKinney how often the “N”-word was said in the conversation she overheard. Her answer was: “Approximately 42 times.”
  • 42 is the number in the header file of a TIFF file that identifies the file.
  • Apple filed 42 patents on technology developed for its Color LaserWriter 12/600 PS.
  • The most successful electron tube for audio applications in the 1930’s was a “type 42” six-pin amplifier.
  • The toolbar button with ID 42 in Microsoft Excel has a toolface saying 42.
  • 42 percent of all American women rely on some type of sterilization for birth control (Newsweek, March 13, 1995, p.60).
  • There is very often a 42 on the zipper of your Levis.
  • ZOCOR, a new cholesterol drug, was resposible for saving the life of 42% of the people who took it in a 5 year study.
  • 42 people died at Chernobyl.
  • Found in the German postcode-register: 06420 Lebendorf (Leben = life), 06542 Allstedt (All = universe) and 88422 Alleshausen (Alles = everything). Now what do these postcodes have in common? These 3 cities are located on a straight line and do not form a triangle as you would expect!
  • Napoleon graduated 42nd in his class at Brienne military school.
  • The first book printed on the Gutenburg (movable type) press was a bible with 42 lines on each page.
  • Aloutte, Canada’s first artificial space satellite, was 42 inches in diameter.
  • Cleopatra became Marc Anthony’s mistress in 42 BC.
  • There are 42 rooms in the White House, including bathrooms excluding closets.
  • In the Red Dwarf novel “Last Human”, Arnold J. Rimmer’s son, McGruder, is introduced to his father at the tender age of 42.
  • The bullet sign used to head off all these items is, you guessed it right, ASCII CHR$(42). This is also known as a “wild card”, which stands for anything (including life, the universe and everything).
  • The first version of this document (in ST NEWS Volume 5 Issue 1) was exactly 42 Kb (43008 bytes) long; the second version (in ST NEWS Volume 9 Issue 1) was a little longer; Volume 11 Issue 1+2 saw a reprise of that same article).
  • There is a band called Level 42. Perhaps more coincidentally, the band chose the week in which Douglas Adams was to become 42 to release their first post-split album. It is also said that they either named themselves after The Answer or after the highest car park in the world, which had 42 levels (in Hong Kong, apparently).
  • The scroller in the Exceptions’ “BIG Demo”, probably the first Atari ST megademo, was 42 Kb long (although this was life imitating art, not the other way around).
  • In 1994 a band called Rot released a CD called “Cruel Face of Live” that contained 42 songs.
  • There are 42 territories in the game of “Risk”.
  • In Terminator – Dark Fate, they take the big bomber towards Bridge 42.
  • In The Chalkman, the book is divided into two segments. In the second, protagonist Eddie is 42 years old.
  • Jonathan Price’s character in “Brazil” lives on Level 42.
  • “Jet Set Willy” has 42 levels.
  • In Frank Herbert’s “Hellstrom’s Hive”, the hydroponics farm is on level 42.
  • During a November 2019 manouvre by the German navy in the Baltic Sea, they blew up 42 old sea mines from World War I (and, allegedly, accidentally killed 18 protected porpoises of a protected subspecies).
  • There is a game called “Texas 42 Dominos”, also just called “42”.
  • “The Year is ’42” is a WWII novel by Nella Bielski, published in 2005.
  • The year 2013 saw the release of a Jackie Robinson biopic called “42” – he was the first successful black baseball player.
  • “Tower 42” is a skyscraper in London, England.
  • “Channel 42” is the name of an electronic dance track by Deadmau5 and Wolfgang Gartner.
  • In the TV series “Supernatural”, the episode “Inside Man” features a door labelled “42” that leads to the gate of heaven.
  • “The 42” is a residential skyscraper in Kolkata, India, which became the highest building in India on April 2019.
  • “42” is the title of a 2007 episode of “Dr. Who” (where he had exactly 42 minutes to rescue his crew).
  • “42” is the title of the final (2001) episode of “Buzz Lightyear of Star Command”.
  • The debut album by Ukrainian musical group Cthulhu Rise is called “42”.
  • “42” is the title of a song on Coldplay’s 2008 album “Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends”, later also featured on their 2009 live album “LeftRightLeftRightLeft”.
  • 42 is a pronic number (a number formed by the multiplication of two successive integers, in this case 6 x 7).
  • In binary, 42 is the nicely regular 101010.
  • 42 is one of only three small primary pseudoperfect numbers below 1000 (as are 2 and 6).
  • 42 is a Hardshad (or Niven) number (an integer divisible by the sum of its digits).
  • The perfect score in the International Mathematical Olympiad is 42 out of 42.
  • A male Koala will thrust exactly 42 times before he ejaculates.
  • In 2017, 42 people together owned as much as the rest of humanity.
  • There is a software company called “42 BV” in Zoetermeer, the Netherlands (they produce software for, among others clients, banks, the Dutch tax department, and insurance companies).
  • When the “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” premiered (in 2005) it raked in BP 4,2 million at the box office.
  • In “Finding Nemo”, Dory and Marlin are on a mission to 42 Wallaby Street in Sydney to find, obviously, Nemo.
  • An important number sequence in the TV series “Lost” is “4 8 15 16 23 42”.
  • Donated blood lasts 42 days.
  • According to the bible, there are 42 generations between King David and Jesus.
  • In the film “The Square”, we see an art exhibit that people can enter via “I Mistrust People” or “I Trust People” entry points. The Trust counter is at 3, the Mistrust one at 42.
  • There are 42 years between the release of the first Star Wars film (“Episode IV – A New Hope”) in 1977 and “Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker” in 2019.
  • In the Star Wars universe, the Acky Acky Festival takes place every 42 years.
  • If you order train tickets using NS International in the Netherlands, you need to round off your order within 42 minutes.
  • In the documentary “Murder Music” (a history of black metal), Jens Ryland (organiser of the Inferno Festivals) claims 42 wooden stave churches burned down during the early 1990s arson attacks (though this number is actually more like 50 to 60).
  • The Mu Ko Ang Thong National Park in Thailand consists of 42 islands.
  • During the much-protested Black Mass at the Oklahoma Civic Center, organised by the Dakhma of Angra Mainyu Satanic church in September 2014, there were (a mere) 42 ticket-holding attendants.
  • Gard Eggesbo Abrahamsen, a.k.a. Drag the Insanely Witty One of old, erstwhile ST NEWS co-conspirator, Nutty Norwegian and all-round friend, died on 13 August 2016 at the much too young age of 42.
  • Two fishermen went missing after leaving the Marshall Islands on April 2nd 2020. They had landfall on Namoluk, exactly 42 days later, more dead than alive.
  • Theodore Roosevelt became president of the United States when he was 42, in 1901.
  • When henry VIII died he had 42 palaces.
  • A barrel of oil is 42 gallons.
  • Legally, in the United States blood can be kept for transfusion for forty-two days.
  • When Thomas Jefferson’s father died (in 1757) he left him a library of 42 books.
  • In the live-action version of “Jungle Book”, the individual frame requiring most rendering took, in fact, 42 hours.
  • In “The Chalk Man” by C.J. Tudor, the protagonist (Ed) is 42 years old.
  • In 2016, 42% of American voters voted early.
  • 42 is the smallest number k that is equal to the sum of the nonprime proper divisors of k, i.e., 42 = 1 + 6 + 14 + 21.
  • In most Pixar movies, the Walt Disney and Pixar company logos together take up 42 seconds.
  • In “The Bridge” Season 3, L369G42 is an important code number.
  • In “The Sandhamn Murders” season 3 episode 3 there were planned to be 42 guests on Nora and Jonas intended’ wedding.
  • The assembly cut of “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” movie was 2 and a half hours long. The theatrical cut is 42 minutes shorter.
  • The recommended time between the two injections of the anti-Covid-19 BioNTech/Pfizer and Moderna vaccines is 35 to 42 days.
  • In an early season 1 episode of the TV series “Arne Dahl”, the main bad guy is Jüri Mikojan, who is 42 years old.
  • There was a Commodore Amiga scene coder called Magician 42.
  • Jack Nicholson was 42 years old when he played in “The Shining”.
  • In the 1985 version of the film “Teen Wolf”, Michael J. Fox wears a jersey numbered 42 for the Beavers basketball team.
  • Light refracts through a water surface by 42 degrees to create a rainbow.
  • Light requires 10−42 seconds to cross the diameter of a proton.
  • 42 is the number of laws in cricket.
  • The Allen Telescope Array, a radio telescope used by SETI, has 42 dishes.
  • There is a British TV show called The Kumars at No. 42.
  • The Hitchhiker knitting pattern, designed by Martina Behm, is a scarf with 42 teeth.
  • The number 47 appears often throughout the Star Trek franchise. When producer Rick Berman was asked about the unusual frequency of the number, he stated, “47 is 42, corrected for inflation.”
  • The games developer Mens Sana Interactive released a computer game called “The Answer is 42” on Steam in December 2019. The game consists of 100 puzzles, each of which is a grid of numbers that must be connected to sum 42.
  • The 42nd episode of ‘The Spawn Chunks’ (a Minecraft podcast) is titled ‘Life, The Universe and Pillaging’.
  • In “The Hunting of the Snark”, Lewis Caroll wrote about the baker:

“He had forty-two boxes, all carefully packed,
With his name painted clearly on each:
But, since he omitted to mention the fact,
They were all left behind on the beach.”

  • 42 is the sum of the dots on a pair of dice.
  • 6×9 is said to be 42 in the “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” itself (in part 2, “The Restaurant at the End of the Universe”), however that is only really the case in BASE13 calculations.
  • As determined by the Babylonians, in 79 years Mars orbits the Sun almost exactly 42 times.
  • The hypothetical efficiency of converting mass to energy, as per E=mc², by having a given mass orbit a rotating black hole is 42%, the highest efficiency yet known to modern physics.
  • In the military IRIG 106 Chapter 10 data recording standard, the hex value 0x464F52545974776F (ASCII “FORTYtwo”) is used as a magic number to identify directory blocks.
  • In TIFF (Tagged Image File Format), the second 16-bit word of every file is 42, “an arbitrary but carefully chosen number that further identifies the file as a TIFF file”.
  • There are 42 body parts of Osiris: In some traditions of the Osiris myth, Seth slays Osiris and distributes his 42 body parts all over Egypt. (In others, the number is fourteen and sixteen).
  • Clement of Alexandria stated that the Egyptian temple library is divided into 42 “absolutely necessary” books that formed the stock of a core library.
  • In Egyptian mythology, there are 42 questions asked of persons making their journey through Death.
  • There are 42 Stations of the Exodus which are the locations visited by the Israelites following their exodus from Egypt.
  • 42 is the number with which God creates the Universe in Kabbalistic traditionThere are 42 generations (names) in the Gospel of Matthew’s version of the Genealogy of Jesus.
  • In Revelations, it is prophesied that for 42 months the Beast will hold dominion over the Earth.
  • The Gutenberg Bible is also known as the “42-line Bible”, as the book contained 42 lines per page.
  • In Japanese culture, the number 42 is considered unlucky because the numerals when pronounced separately—shi ni (four two)—sound like the word “dying”.
  • The Sutra of Forty-two Sections is a Buddhist scripture.
  • Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland has 42 illustrations.
  • There is an American rapper called 42 Dugg.
  • In the Stargate Atlantis season 4 episode “Quarantine”, Colonel Sheppard states that Dr. McKay’s password ends in 42 because “It’s the ultimate answer to the great question of life, the universe and everything.”
  • In Pacific Rim, a 2013 American science-fiction monster film, when Jaeger pilot Raleigh Becket arrives at the Hong Kong Shatterdome, the hangar door number is 42.
  • 42 Entertainment is the company responsible for several alternate reality games, including I Love Bees, Year Zero, and Why So Serious.
  • Tokyo 42 is a videogame released in 2017.
  • 42 (dominoes) is a trick-taking game played with dominoes, rather than cards, originated and predominantly found in Texas.

If you have not yet had enough of The Number, feel free to check out “A Math Fan Guide to the Number 42” by Scientific American. And a special thank you to ertswhile “ST NEWS” writer and co-editor Stefan Posthuma for telling me about “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” in the first place.

My Disappointment is Real

I am disappointed. Disappointed at myself. After a little over 3 years of cold turkey, I have rejoined Facebook. It was triggered by my previous blog entry, when I figured it would probably be wise to try and find those people using what is still the biggest social network for people beyond adolescence.

As it turned out, my old username was still available so nothing much changed. But I am only going to use it to find and communicate with people. No updates, no pictures of my food, no product likes and shit. Just a search tool to get in touch with people. Besides, Firefox has a Facebook container now, so I cannot be tracked all over the place except on the Messenger, Facebook and Instagram sites.

I noticed Facebook had changed quite a bit since April 2018, visually, but it did weirdly feel like a warm embrace. I recognise it for what it was – the warm feeling of something you’ve been addicted to. Now I just need to stay vigilant so it will not again overwhelm me.

Here’s hoping…

Wanted Dead or Alive (Preferably Alive) – I need to find these People plz

I am looking for a bunch of people. I am hoping you, dear visitor, will be able to help me get in touch with any of the following folks (it’s quite a list, so I hope you’ll bear with me)…

PEOPLE FROM THE FORMER/CURRENT ATARI ST/FALCON SCENE

I am working on a 42nd Anniversary Edition of my disk magazine ST NEWS. I am looking for a few people who were essential to the world of the Atari ST and/or Atari Falcon home computers, as well as some who worked on/for ST NEWS with me who I have lost touch with. The 42 Anniversary Edition will be out in July 2028, so I have time.

– Jacob Geensen (born 13 May 1939, who lived in Reeuwijk around 1990 and who, or whose son, was active in the Atari ST scene selling “F.A.S.T.E.R.” disk magazine)
– Shiraz Shivji, USA (designer of the Atari ST and Commodore 64, worked at Packard Bell afterwards, among others)
– Bryan Kennerley, UK (active in the Atari ST scene around 1990)
– Claus Brod, Germany (active in the Atari ST scene around 1990, mass storage specialist)
– Lucas v/d Berg, Netherlands (active in the Atari ST scene around 1990, lived in Nijmegen)
– Math Claessens, Netherlands (active in the Atari ST scene around 1990, used to live in de Wagenaarstraat in Geleen)
Piper, UK (active in the Atari ST scene around 1990, never knew his real name, lived in Blackheath, but had also lived in the Netherlands and was involved with Stichting STEM there)
– Roy Stead, UK (active in the Atari ST scene around 1990)
– Rufus C. Camphausen, Netherlands (active in the Atari ST scene around 1987, was involved with Canopus Esoteric Research)
– Federico Bicini, Italy (active in the Atari ST scene around 1990)
– Guido Stumpe, Germany (active in the Atari ST scene around 1990) FOUND
– Richard Decowski (ran ST X-Press), USA (active in the Atari ST scene around 1990)
– David Meile (ran MAST Newsdisk), USA (active in the Atari ST scene around 1990)
– Dan Hollis, USA (active in the Atari ST scene around 1990)
– André Lafreniere (ran F.A.S.T.E.R. disk magazine), Canada (active in the Atari ST scene around 1990)
– Christoph Berner, Switzerland (active in the Atari ST scene around 1990)
– Les Ellingham (former Page 6 editor), UK (active in the Atari ST scene around 1990)
– Richard Clarkson, Australia (active in the Atari ST scene around 1990)
– Paul Glover (used to run the FaST Club), UK (active in the Atari ST scene around 1990)
– Ray Lovell (used to run W.A.C.E.), New Zealand (active in the Atari ST scene around 1990)
– João Carlos V. Teixeira, Portugal (active in the Atari ST scene around 1990)
– Krzysztof Wroblewski, Poland (active in the Atari ST scene around 1990)
– Casper Falkenberg, Denmark (active in the Atari ST scene around 1990)
– Jordi Maria Pau, Spain (active in the Atari ST scene around 1990)
– Jesus Cea Avion, Spain (active in the Atari ST scene around 1990)
– Petar Soldo, South Africa (active in the Atari ST scene around 1990)
– Leif Einar Claus (from Norway)
– a person who knows about ST/Falcon modding

PEOPLE WHO ARE RELATED TO ME

A few months ago, triggered by results of my DNA test coming in, I became more interested in finding out about my direct ancestors. Since my mother’s father is unknown, I’d like to get in touch with some people who are related around that side of the family but that I have never been in touch with. I think my mother was too ashamed about her past when she was still alive. The below people are mostly half-siblings of hers.

– Digna Johanna de Fouw (born 16 Sep 1955, Kruiningen)
– Julia Maria de Fouw (born 30 Apr 1959, Kruiningen)
– Jacomina Johanna Oppeneer (born 29 Sep 1937)
– Someone who has researched an Oppeneer or Lavooij family tree (Dutch families primarily from the province of Zeeland)

PEOPLE WHO HAD TO DO WITH THE METAL BANDS FIRST ATTACK, DÉTENTE, FEAR OF GOD, OR FOG

I am the webmaster of the official Fear of God/Détente/Dawn Crosby site. To lift the content of that site to the next level, I need to contact quite a few people who were involved with those bands, or Dawn Crosby. I’d like to pick their brains about their time in the band, or their memories of working with Dawn.

– Fred Rascon (guitar in Détente)
– Rick Hartwell (bass in Détente)
– Scott McDaniel (guitar in Allies)
– Sport Thompson (bassin Allies)
– Generally anyone involved with First Attack
– Generally anyone who can tell the world anything about Majesty (the band Dawn Crosby was involved in, not the pre-Dream Theater band)
– Dennis Butler (drums in Détente)
Greg Cekalovich (guitar in Détente) FOUND
Rob Farr (bass in Détente) PASSED AWAY 9 MAY 2021 🙁
– Rob Hunter (drums in Détente)
Caleb Quinn (guitar in Détente)  FOUND
– George Robb (guitar in Détente)
– Ross Robinson (guitar in Détente, producer of various Nu Metal bands – I know he’s on Twitter but he doesn’t respond there)
– Chuck Stadulis (drums in Détente)
– Steve Stamato (bass in Détente)
– Dana Strum (producer in Détente)
– Jim Tutone (guitar in Détente)
– Blair Darby (bass in Fear of God)
– Brendan Etter (drums in Fear of God)
– Jason Levin (bass in Fear of God)
– Roberta Tempelman-Peterson (record company exec at Warner Brothers in 1990)
– Andy Wallace (producer for Fear of God around 1990)
– Chris Kalandras (bass in Fear of God)
– Frank Dimauro (guitar in Fear of God)
– Bruce Greig (bass in Fear of God)
Bill Hayden (guitar in Fear of God) FOUND
Rob Michael (bass in Fear of God) FOUND
– Dave Smadbeck (keyboards in Fear of God)
Douglas J. Sylvia (drums in Fear of God) FOUND
– John “Sparky” Voyles (guitar in Fear of God
– John Childs (vocals in Fog)
– Tony Mallory (guitar, keyboards in Fog and Chapelblaque)
– Ann Boleyn (vocals in Détente and Hellion)
Kevin “Bl00d” Nunn (the webmaster of the original Fear of God site until late 1998) FOUND

MISCELLANEOUS

There are a few people I’d like to get in touch with who have nothing to do with the above.

– Hans van der Linden (lived in the Uiverlaan, Helmond, around 1987, in Helmond)
– Bastiaan Plantinga (lived in Utrecht in the 2010s, born in 1963, son of Gerrit Plantinga)

If you know any of these, please contact me. Oh, and I am also looking for a bunch of things :-). Thanks for your time!

Last updated 14 June 2021

AirTag App Idea

So I got myself a couple of these new Apple AirTags. They allow you to keep track of your keys, your bike, your car, etc. The “FindMy” app allows you to see where they are…but that is where it stops.
Wouldn’t it be cool if you had an app that could not just show you where your airtag is, but also where it’s been? You could send the tag around the world and keep track of it, see which spots it has been on, with proper map integration. And maybe even allow for communication to whoever finds/gets the AirTag so that it can be sent back (with proper reimbursement), or sent to the next address on its path? Or that the tag owner would get notifications when a specific spot is “visited” (like the same city as the Taj Mahal, or the continent of Antarctica, or near the Great Wall of China, or basically any other set of locations worthwhile according to what the user wants).
I don’t know the exact protocol used with these AirTags. I do think there is some sort of possibility of communication with the finder (at least a notification, which may or may not have standard text). And it’s obvious there is always some chance of losing the tag. But I feel this is an app idea worth investing some brainstorm time in…and then for it to be concocted by someone who can actually make iPhone apps 😉

DNA & Genealogy

In June 2016 I decided to partake in the Genographic Project, which was where National Geographic organised a global, affordable and appealing way to have your DNA analysed, to give insight into your ethnic background. Ostensibly, it was set up to show people how we’re all much more related than you’d think (perhaps most shockingy for those who consider themselves of a pure race). All you had to do was collect some saliva and mail it off to be processed, after which you’d find out where you fit on the huge patchwork quilt of human ethnicity.
My urge was mostly triggered by regular curiosity, but also because one of my grandparents (my late mother’s father) is unknown. My maternal grandma had been, let’s so, fruitful with several partners before she got legitimately married. My mother used to say her biological father was probably a German soldier (her having been conceived in World War II), but there was no telling whether that was actually true. She had distanced herself from that past, at any rate, by legally changing her surname from her biological mother’s to her adopting family’s the moment she became of age.
I had always known about these circumstances, roughly, except for the actual dates and later marriage, which my dad found out about when he did family tree research around the turn of the century. In fact, my mother turned out to have had two half-siblings from before her mother’s marriage, plus two more that were conceived in wedlock. Except for one of her pre-marital half-siblings, whom I had known as an uncle, I did (and do) not know where the others (who happen to be aunts) live. My dad said that my maternal grandma’s pre-marriage history was also unknown (and, indeed, upon my dad revealing it, initially denied) by her grandchildren.

Anyway, back to the ethnicities revealed by my DNA results, which I received after a few months:

55% Scandinavia
20% Southern Europe
12% Western and Central Europe
7% Great Britain and Ireland
6% Eastern Europe
1.1% Neanderthal

Because I had primarily known about my family being from the Dutch province of North Brabant (granted, that’s mostly from the Karsmakers side), I was a bit surprised by the analysis. Had my mother’s genes instilled a lot of Scandinavian heritage? I didn’t know. I also didn’t really know how to interpret the results, so my initial enthusiasm petered away. I got back to my daily life and didn’t heed the DNA stuff much. Somewhere in 2019, National Geographics discontinued their Genographic Project, too.

Early this year I stumbled onto another site, 23andme.com, where you could order DNA collection kits as well. More or less on a whim, I ordered three (one to use for myself as a re-start, one for my wife, and one for her son – my stepson). By the end of March I received the results again. They were a little different, and perhaps more logical considering the German soldier anecdote:

85,6% French & German (which for some reason includes Belgium and the Netherlands)
12,3% Great Britain and Ireland
0,5% Scandinavian
1,6% broadly Northwestern Europe
<2% Neanderthal

Part of the results on 23andme.com also showed so-called “DNA Relatives”, i.e. people with whom you have a certain part of your genetic material in common. The closest  turned out to be a 3rd cousin, which is a person with whom I very likely have 2nd great-grandparents in common (see picture).

Someone on 23andme.com advised me to check out a pretty good site to build your family tree, ancestry.com. I started converting some of my father’s family tree research (for which he had used a powerful but not very visual Dutch program called Aldfaer). This was rather a lot of work, initially, especially because I discovered that his research had been woefully Karsmakers-name-centric and unfortunately riddled with typos and even wrongly typed dates. After having added one or two generations to my family tree on the site, though, I noticed that ancestry.com started giving me Ancestry Hints, which are suggestions on who might be related to a person you have already added to your family tree. The algorithm is quite reliable, as it retrieves information from their vast database that has (parts of) names and specific dates in common with people in your tree. They take this information from a large variety of reputable (indeed, often official) online genealogical sources, as well as other ancestry.com member family trees. In fact, their database is so enormous that you end up with more hints than you have time to handle (to wit, my current tree has 2363 people with nearly 5000 of these hints I should still check out). And every person you add gives you more new hints.
To give you an indication on how user-friendly ancestry.com is: I started on April 13 and today, May 8, I have added the abovementioned number of people, and managed to find all my direct ancestors that ancestry.com knew about.

Like I explained above, I only know 3 of my grandparents. This means I have 6 potentially known great-grandparents, 12 2nd great-grandparents, 24 3rd great-grandparents, 48 4th great-grandparents, and so on and so forth. Using the ancestry.com site, I even managed to find 8 (of my possible 98,304 😉 15th great-grandparents, dating back to the second half of the 15th century. I found all potentially known 12 2nd great-grandparents, which provided me with the information I needed to contact that 3rd cousin I found on 23andme.com.

A total of 2 parents (50% DNA in common) were found of a possible maximum of 2 (100%)
A total of 3 grandparents (25% DNA in common) were found of a possible maximum of 3 (100%)
A total of 6 great-grandparents (12,5% DNA in common) were found of a possible maximum of 6 (100%)
A total of 12 2nd great-grandparents (6,25% DNA in common) were found of a possible maximum of 12 (100%)
A total of 20 3rd great-grandparents (3,13% DNA in common) were found of a possible maximum of 24 (83%)
A total of 29 4th great-grandparents (1,56% DNA in common) were found of a possible maximum of 48 (60%)
A total of 50 5th great-grandparents (0,78% DNA in common) were found of a possible maximum of 96 (52%)
A total of 71 6th great-grandparents (0,39% DNA in common) were found of a possible maximum of 192 (37%)
A total of 89 7th great-grandparents (0,20% DNA in common) were found of a possible maximum of 384 (23%)
A total of 88 8th great-grandparents (0,10% DNA in common) were found of a possible maximum of 768 (11.5%)
A total of 69 9th great-grandparents (0,05% DNA in common) were found of a possible maximum of 1536 (4.5%)
A total of 64 10th great-grandparents (0,02% DNA in common) were found of a possible maximum of 3072 (2%)
A total of 58 11th great-grandparents (0,01% DNA in common) were found of a possible maximum of 6144 (1%)
A total of 54 12th great-grandparents were found of a possible maximum of 12288 (0.44%)
A total of 43 13th great-grandparents were found of a possible maximum of 24576 (0.17%)
A total of 30 14th great-grandparents were found of a possible maximum of 49152 (0.06%)
A total of 8 15th great-grandparents were found of a possible maximum of 98304 (0.01%)

Except for these arguably sterile statistics, ancestry.com also allows you to unearth information of a non-genealogical type. I found out, for example, that one of my granduncles was put to work in Germany during World War II (because ancestry.com has access to the files the Germans kept about these things), and that several of my more distant ancestors (10th great-grandparents and up) are from Belgium, Denmark or, indeed, Norway. I have the feeling that I am only just at the beginning of this road of discovery!

For those of you who have reason to find out whether they are related to me (and, if so, from whom exactly), here’s the Excel file with my direct ancestors as far as I know them: Direct Ancestors.
For those who want to actually compare their DNA with other people’s, or have it analysed in a variety of ways, you can upload your raw DNA data to Gedmatch (if you want to compare it to mine, my kit number is UY9604721). The Gedmatch site will accept raw DNA data exports from 23andme.com as well as other popular DNA analysis providers. It will also allow you to do much more DNA-related exploration that has so far turned out to be too complicated for me to explore.
The ancestry.com site also offers their own DNA analysis kit, but they unfortunately do not allow for raw third-party DNA data to be imported. Also, in case you want access to their whole Ancestry Hints database when building your family tree, you need to pay a fee.

Avalanche Magazine

The other day I was looking through some old boxes. It was during this excavation of semi-ancient memorabilia that I found a bunch of old “Avalanche” magazines. This time I did not merely put them back in the box, but decided to scan them.

“Avalanche” was a short-lived pseudo-underground heavy metal magazine,  published  in the Netherlands but written in English. It was started in 1993 by brothers Jesse and Marijn Vermunt, together with some of their friends. I don’t remember how I got in touch with it exactly, but I was part of the writing staff from June 1994 to March 1995. My first contribution was for their first “regular” issue (1994 Issue 1), a Paradise Lost interview I had done together with a friend of mine, Erwin Jorksveld. It later gave me some great opportunities to meet all kinds of musicians, and it got me some real breaks, like visiting the Wâldrock festival to interview Gwar and Obituary, meeting Yngwie Malmsteen and, a few years later, meeting Venom. With subsequent issues I did more interviews and reviews, and was also in charge of spell checking. In the end I got rightfully chucked out because I arrogantly criticised some fellow writers’ English and journalistic abilities in a most unprofessional way. I also disagreed with the editor about him not wanting to use my Dream Theater interview because the band was too soft for the target audience. Well, I guess he had a point ;-).
The magazine sadly folded around the summer of 1995, after one promo and 4 regular issues. The final one was a real corker, very professional, on glossy paper and all. “Avalanche” could really have gone places.

Below you will find complete PDF scans of all issues…

Avalanche Magazine 1993 (promo)
Avalanche Magazine 1994 (issue 1)
Avalanche Magazine 1994 (issue 2)
Avalanche Magazine 1995 (issue 1)
Avalanche Magazine 1995 (issue 2)

P.S. When I Googled “Avalanche Magazine” I discovered that there was another magazine of the same name – an art magazine published by Liza Béar and Willoughby Sharp of which 13 issues were released between 1970 and 1976 (source: Wikipedia). Needless to say, that is an entirely different magazine.

2020 Sucked Argentinosaurus Thingy

Of course, 2020 had to come around and become the worst of my 53 years so far. I guess to anyone who’s spent their lives in peace time, it’s been the worst year ever.

As 2019 morphed into 2020, the whole Covid-19 scare seemed as far off as SARS and MERS had been – a thing of distant lands, a little mysterious and definitely, doubtlessly, safely remote. I’d seen footage of Asian people with mouth masks for years, but I have to admit that didn’t vex me much. News reports mentioned Covid practically daily, but I wasn’t worried at all, not in my Western European privileged bubble. The world was a big place, and this was SEP – Somebody Else’s Problem. I was more affected by the death of Rush drummer Neil Peart on 7 January, which I managed to cope with by belatedly discovering and playing “Guitar Hero: Metallica”.

My little self-centered universe did not begin to be impinged upon until February.

We got the first Dutch Covid cases. In the traditionally Catholic south, the annual Carnival festivities caused a huge outbreak. The rest of the country was treated to visuals of ICs filled to the gills with patients, and everyone was strongly advised not to travel to the Southern province of Noord Brabant. I couldn’t visit my father, who had been in a nursing home there for the past three years. The rest of the country was beginning to worry, fueled by doom scenarious involving a shortage of respirators and all the country’s ICs filling up. I was beginning to worry, too, because I had quite a hand full of cards when it came to reasons to be in the “at risk” group of people: male, overweight, older, and having bronchitis.
Closer to home, an important educational school site I’d made a year or two earlier broke because of an update to PHP 7.2. Because I’d basically cobbled together other people’s stuff (including the rather essential login system), it was utterly beyond my skills to fix quickly. Hundreds of students needed it to check their reading skills and prepare for their central exams. I needed to arrange a separate virtual server that could run PHP 5.x to keep that site going, and hope to find time (and knowledge) to fix stuff when I had the time. That, and Covid looming ever close, caused quite a few sleepless nights.
Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte announced a set of Corona restrictions on 12 March. People went berserk on 13 March, madly hoarding toilet paper, pasta, canned vegetables and rice. On 15 March, secondary schools were closed by the government.
These restrictions and closures were, to be honest, quite exciting initially. The weather was beautiful, so my wife and I cycled 10-20 km daily. I had my first sunburn within a week. I was barely able to teach, because there was no fixed schedule yet, with a lack of structure. After about two weeks, this changed. Lessons were done using Microsoft Teams, and my wife (who works at another school, half an hour away) used Zoom. Teachers all over the Netherlands virtually instantly transformed from hesitant n00bs into fairly adroit digital professionals. Teachers were also considered “essential”, in the same category as care workers among others. It was nice to feel appreciated for a change.
Outside school hours we still cycled a lot – constantly irritated by the speed cyclists who seemed to have come out from under every rock – and wondered at how silent the city centre was, with shops closed, restaurant terrace furniture piled together on the premises, traffic information boards reading “Together Against Corona”, there being virtually no traffic on the roads, the large parking square in front of my house just about empty, no incessant flow of buses full of tourists from far-flung countries. It was the kind of atmosphere the word “eerie” was coined for. No shaking hands, always avoiding being close to others in the supermarket and on the streets. The weather continued to be awesomely sunny for weeks on end, but the mixture of excitement and worry was palpable.
The excitement began to abate as we began to realise we were not going to go on any holidays up to autumn at least, no concerts, no theatrical performances, no cinema, no festivals, no eating out in restaurants…and no final school exams either(!). And the excitement began to lessen even quicker when my wife and I discovered that it’s awfully inconvenient having to teach via video chat when you’re in the same room simultaneously. Sometimes we even had social get-togethers with wine and beernuts via video chat, both of us, at different ends of the room, irritating at each other’s tipsy ramblings. Writing it down like this, it certainly seemed like things weren’t too bad at all, not when compared to other places on the globe.
It was an interesting time, where we also discovered that the efficiency of online lessons can’t quite match physical lessons. Some of the kids joined lessons from their beds, from the comfort of sunny seats in a garden, or even less educationally conducive locations. Testing students also created special challenges. Slowly but surely, I really began to miss my students, and some of them even admitted to missing me. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, I suppose, also goes for school situations.

Early June my school started to do physical lessons again, within strict rules involving hygiene and distancing. It was different and not especially fun. It was certainly barely more efficient than teaching at a distance, but at least we got to enjoy the social aspect of teaching again. The exam classes got their diplomas, after having done optional “Result Improvement Tests” to allow for students who would normally have increased their grade averages during the final exams to have a better chance to graduate. As a result, only a handful of students failed to graduate. The graduation ceremonies were modest affairs with each candidate only allowed to bring a maximum of two people with them.

The summer holiday was different, too. We went to a few different places and spent a few nights in several bed and breakfasts, even spent a week in a rented house in Germany with all the kids. We started looking for a house to buy, which quickly turned out not to be quite as tempting as previously thought – house prices had shot through the roof instead of crashing like they had in 2008. We made bids a few times, but we got outbid each time. Where are the times when only one person could bid on a house instead of 20 people having to make offers in hopes of outbidding all others?

After the summer holiday, all Dutch schools opened again, just like things had been until February. The students no longer needed to keep 6 feet apart. If all citizens kept their distance and generally followed the rules, there would be no need for further restrictions. At that time, restaurants were open, cinemas showed films again, and the world seemed to be carefully holding its breath until Covid would disappear. Everything was still different – fewer people could be in theatre halls, cinemas, restaurants and the like. Students would sometimes disappear for several days during which they turned out to have been in quarantine for a Covid test, or sometimes they stayed away longer when they actually turned out to be infected. Teachers at my school were expected to keep in touch with them and, where possible, allow the absentees to attend the classes by filming them via Teams. These hybrid lessons were the shittiest of all, and more difficult to implement than you might think as my school does not offer regular class-based education, rather domain-based education (which is perhaps an issue for another story at another time).

In October, things got heavy again. First, 6 October saw guitar hero Eddie van Halen dying. It crushed me. And 10 days later both my wife and me found ourselves at home with a Covid infection. Due to my aforementioned hand of “risk factor” cards I worried a lot that I would end up in an IC, on a respirator, hanging on for dear life. One day I woke up with a mild fever which sent my pessimism-laden imagination into overdrive. But in the end all I had had was a sore throat that came and went, a sniffy nose, a few days of headache, and then a few days of energy deficiency. My wife only had mild symptoms, too, though post-Covid complications (utter energy deficiency in her case) have caused her to have to stay at home until now (and probably for another few months). Not a regular flu virus, this one! I fervently hope medical science will now be motivated to come up with something that disables viruses in general from taking hold in the human body – which will also cure a whole host of other diseases that plague humanity.

Thankfully, 2020 was not a total loss for me. I re-launched a bunch of websites (the Fear of God fan site being the main one, but also datzeizij.nl and Twilight World Online), I created a pretty OK grammar support site for my school (grammar.training), I discovered what it’s like to fly a decent drone, and bought the world’s coolest practice amp (the Spark) to lift my guitar playing talents to a (though perhaps not the) next level. My wife and me took up ballroom dancing again after a year of inactivity. In the Christmas holiday I activated Amazon Prime. Maybe, in the long run, this whole pandemic will also make people appreciate care workers and other essential professions more. And no doubt the best thing to happen in 2020 was Joe Biden beating that narcissistic liar-in-chief. Joe has his shortcomings, but I feel Kamala Harris and he can change the world for the better. Why on earth did the Trumpanzee get more than a handful of votes is for future sociologists to fathom.

The world has become a smaller place. We are all dependent on each other. I hope 2021 will inch us a little closer to putting aside our grievances – political, religious and otherwise – and just make the world a better, safer and healthier place to live.

Yes, I know dinosaurs most probably didn’t have external sexual organs, in the same way reptiles and birds don’t. I hope you will find it in your dino-loving hearts to forgive me.
At any rate, I would like to wish you all a 2021 that will suck a lot less. Oculudentavis thingy, maybe.

First Steps on the Drone Path

Bird’s-eye views are not normally possible unless you have a helicopter at your disposal. So when I found out drones were becoming affordable I bought and sold a few second-hand ones (starting in October 2016), experimenting with them a bit. I started with a seemingly (long story) dysfunctioning second-hand DJI Phantom Advance. Gave up on that in January 2019 when I got the Parrot AR Drone 2.0 Elite Edition. That one worked fine, but I thought it was really bulky and noisy and somehow didn’t motivate me to use it. So none of them really ticked all the boxes, but thankfully I discovered an Indiegogo campaign for the Micro Drone 4.0, initiated by Extreme Fliers. The specs were amazing, the price was under $200 and I went for it straight away. It hit the required funding (over €1.5 million) in late March 2019, so that made me quite happy. Now all I needed to do was wait. I also ordered some extra batteries, at which time I had only spent a little over $200 (drone was €145, 3 extra batteries €65).

Those of you who have heard of the Micro Drone will by now already realise what I didn’t really want to realise until mid May 2020: the specs had deteriorated (in particular a flight time of less than 5 minutes per battery charge) and the entire device was not going to get delivered until after the summer (well over a year later than projected). In fact, the whole thing might indeed be a scam. Over 14000 comments on the Micro Drone’s Indiegogo page and a “backers unite!” effort to get their money back will provide you with plenty of disaster tourism to whet your appetite on.

Be that as it may, sometimes you’ve just got to take your losses and move on. Thankfully the Covid crisis left me with nothing to spend my holiday money on, so I could get a proper drone. Not second-hand, not via eBay, but new. And the kind backers at the Micro Drone page on IGG had been going on about another and much better drone to get as a replacement, the DJI Mavic Mini. It was about twice as expensive, but a flight time of up to half an hour on a single charge, and a range of up to 4 km sure seemed to more than compensate that. At just under 250 grammes (amazing!) you also don’t need to officially register it. I went for the DJI Mavic Fly More Combo, which included two extra batteries, a smart charger, propeller protectors, a carrying case and a bunch of spare propellers. More than enough to have a lot of fun with.

In the days between ordering the item and receiving it I watched quite a few videos n Youtube. There was a guy who made it fly 5 kilometres and back (over a flat landscape), and someone else who made it go up 500 metres. Exciting stuff, with beautiful videos as a result.

But it wasn’t until I actually got my hands on the Mini that I truly realised what it was like to have a properly manoeuvrable sky camera at my disposal. You suddenly view terrestrial objects in a different light, like how to approach them from the air, where to take off and land without trees or too many inquisitive people, which viewing angles would be most advantageous. It gives you a feeling of tremendous freedom, and a rekindled appreciation of places you visit, or even the town you live in. Seeing things from above is just, well, frikkin’ awesome.

Obviously, the first flights are adrenalin-fueled. The first time I got a “connection lost” message, or a “strong wind” warning made my bollocks drop and stomach knot. The first time flying over water. The first time you see a bird flying by under it. The first time you accidentally use  “sport mode” when you’re pretty close to trees. The first time you actually lose sight of where it is. When you see some birds showing semi-aggressive interest in it. But after a couple of flights you get a feeling of how to navigate and, quite literally, the sky becomes the limit.

PROS:

  • it is really very compact: drone + remote + 3 batteries fit in a modest 26x20x6 cm carrying case
  • single-charge flight time is almost almost 25 minutes or more, which is usually enough for at least 2 and usually more sessions
  • very good video quality, more than good enough for a non-professional user
  • easy to use for an utter novice such as I was (and still am, a bit)
  • nice automatic video shoot options (though you eventually won’t use ’em that much I guess)
  • very convenient “go back home” option to get it to fly back to where it took off
  • wonderful range

CONS:

  • no collision detection – if you pay no attention, it will just fly into things
  • no tracking option (I understand they didn’t include it in the software because otherwise DJI would not be abe to sell the somewhat more expensive models anymore)
  • the batteries take quite some time to charge (up to 90 minutes per battery)
  • the propellors seem pretty fragile
  • it sees where it is, and will automatically adjust maximum height depending on where it is, or even not take off near an airport (I can see how that could be a “pro” rather than a “con” for many people 🙂
  • flying at night is really not useful, the camera doesn’t pick up too much
  • the camera is always horizontal, so no yaw like on a helicopter

I made a bunch of short-ish videos of flying around Gouda that I edited (without sound) and put on a Youtube playlist in case you’re interested. Despite there being more cons than pros, I would unreservedly advise anyone who wants to get a drone that is more than a child’s toy yet no expensive professional one to get this Mavic Mini. The pros are much, much bigger than the cons, for sure. Expect to pay a bit under €500 for the Fly More Combo package.

Update on 27 September 2020: By now there are nearly 19000 comments on the MicroDrone IndieGoGo page and I have needed to replace two Mavic Mini propellor blades. I am still very happy!