January 10th, 2006

krazy koati

Facing twenty thousand of your friends

The start of the term, it appears, can inevitably be counted on for at least two things: there will be enormous crowds on every bus and at the food canteens (it takes a couple weeks for everybody to figure out their schedules and when to move around to avoid the crowds); and I'll have to get something at the bookstore and wait through the huge line of people with complex textbook purchases. In this case I just needed a blank notepad to use when lectures start -- one of my classes will be a lecture hall, with a camera-style overhead projector instead of blackboard for notes -- but if I didn't brave the lines today I'd have to brave the worse ones Wednesday morning. Plus there were the crowds at lunch and dinner, and riding the bus. It'll all settle, but somehow I never remember ahead of time that I need to allow extra time and should buy class supplies the week before classes start.

One of the curious side effects from the ``NorthStar Five'' mass transit-attack simulation: when the trains were shut down and passengers evacuated, the turnstiles were all opened, with the intent the interrupted rides were free. But the EZ Link tap card system doesn't quite handle this naturally; passengers have to get their cards reset at a station. And at Toa Payoh there was a delay switching the turnstiles over to emergency mode, and some passengers just tapped their cards for normal exit. The MRT authorities are offering refunds for anyone who did tap their cards to exit, if they file for it by Thursday. I love this problem, for some reason. It's the kind of quirky little cul-de-sac of life that characters in an Arthur C Clarke novel get into.

Trivia: The Eagle-Picher Company of Joplin, Missouri, was the vendor for the silver-zinc batteries on the Gemini spacecraft. Source: Project Gemini Technology and Operations: A Chronology, James M Grimwood, Barton C Hacker, Peter J Vorzimmer. NASA SP-4002.

Currently Reading: The Clocks of Iraz, L Sprague de Camp.