Eiron’s Archives 04

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What can be done ? Well of course you could swab down the keyboard with a good dose of 100% alcohol before using it – but I can’t vouch that it wouldn’t damage the mechanism, or at the very least take the paint off it. So I suggest instead that you insulate yourself from the problem with a good pair of surgical-quality latex gloves.

You might also consider other possible common-property sources of bacteria and viruses. For example door knobs, coins, surfaces in washrooms, etc etc. So, it may well be prudent to keep the gloves on at all times when you are ‘out and about’.

Don’t forget though that one of the most likely places to find pathogenic bacteria is of course . . . on other people. So, if you want to maintain a higher than normal level of cleanliness, you could keep your gloves on too when, for example, the prospect raises of having to shake hands, or, indeed, when engaging in any other skin/skin contact scenarios.

Perhaps try and persuade your friends to wear them too ? Why not start a club support group ?

Dear Lvbci_3254

Well, I am very glad indeed to hear that you are considering growing sub-tropical orchids as a hobby. As it happens, I myself am an orchid breeder. Your geographical location however – Jokkmokk – wouldn’t perhaps be the most likely place to spring to mind as suitable for a budding Orchidaceaeologist . But, given the right equipment, that is to say, heating, lighting and a supply of suitable nutrients, I see absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t be able to grow the basic breeds – say Paphiopedilums or Phragmipediums – in Lapland.

In fact, I think you stand considerably more chance of success than someone trying to breed, say, Reindeer in Indonesia.

Dear 55BigLowe

Yes, of course, it was one of the earliest enigmas thrown up by the possibility of time-travel. As I’m sure you are aware, Einstein’s views about the structure of space-time ( almost all of which still hold good today ) do not in any way preclude the theoretical possibility of travelling either forwards, or backwards, in time.

But, as you correctly point out ( as many others have done ) if, at some time in the distant future we become sufficiently tech-savvy as to be able to construct a time-machine ( specifically one that goes back into the past ) then – Where are all the tourists ?

The manifestly obvious lack of visitors from the future does not though, in my opinion, in any way ‘prove’ that time travel is not possible.

There are a number of other possible explanations.

Firstly, we may have already wiped out the entire human race and indeed all life on Earth well before we got around to inventing a time machine. Or, it’s possible that such a device might be able to specify which year to go back to – but not where in the universe. Some scientists are presently claiming that the laws of physics allow us only to choose when-but-not-where, or where-but-not-when – if you follow my drift.

I have a simpler explanation though. If you were a time-travel-tourist, why in heavens name would you choose to come back to now ?

I’m sure there will be some rather more attractive temporal locations in the brochure . . .


Comment from reader Schneewinkel

In your reply to 55BigLowe’s question “Where are all the tourists?”, you say “it was one of the earliest enigmas thrown up by the possibility of time-travel”… but was it always so? Perhaps such a tourist (with a strong sense of ironic humour) introduced the concept to a timeline that had missed it ?


Dear PakTheMAx

I don’t have the faintest idea where the phrase ‘ The red carpet treatment ’ originated. And, as you asked, ‘ Why red ? ‘ Good point. Why not blue, lime-green or orange ?

I can tell you though that the colour red for a carpet is not the most ‘democratic’ of hues. It appears red only because the quantum-mechanical properties of the compounds from which it is made tend to absorb all wavelengths of light except red. The red light is reflected thus giving the impression that it’s coloured.

In my opinion a truly democratic carpet should equally reflect all hues – and so should be white. But there are practical considerations – viz. in the real world, it would be unlikely to stay white very long.

So, I suggest instead another democratic carpet-colour which absorbs all wavelengths equally.


I can divulge that, over the years, it’s actually become quite a habit of mine to give my guests the ‘ black carpet treatment ’ when they arrive at my villa. And, if I may say so, it looks extremely stylish as well.

No-one has yet complained, and I can’t remember the last time I had to clean it.

Dear zooPhyte99

Yes, I too have heard rumours that, fairly recently, soldiers in high-temperature conflict zones have hit upon the idea of using the highly absorbent resins commonly found in feminine-hygiene products to alleviate unpleasant sweating under their helmets.

As you might imagine, this is purely an ad hoc stopgap measure, and the military would very probably be glad of the assistance of an inventor such as yourself to help them find a more permanent solution.

I myself have no ideas on the subject. It’s not something I have paid much attention to in the past, and I must say that I have no intention of aiding, in even the smallest way, anyone’s ‘war effort’.

Their helmets can stay sweaty for all I care.

Nothing personal.

Dear LiloSili

My editor doesn’t allow me to give specific financial advice through this column – but, in general terms, no, I would not encourage you to invest any significant portion of your hard-earned savings in Hydrogen-futures.

My reasoning runs thusly. Hydrogen is very light. It is very difficult to keep ‘bottled up’ so to speak. It consistently leaks away at the earliest opportunity. It is indeed one of the ficklest of substances. So it can hardly be thought of as a sturdy investment can it ? Why not go for something solid, heavy, and inherently very stable ? Say Granite-futures instead ?

Dear Ynot_Hawaii

Yes, it’s true that the probabilities of unwarranted visual cyber-snooping are increasing by the day. But I do think that you might perhaps be unnecessarily distraught regarding possible covert surveillance of your good self via your computer’s webcam. Anyway, rather than worrying about potential disadvantages, why not exploit it ?

Instead of slumping there in front of your computer and operating the mouse in your pyjamas [ OhPurleese . . . Ed. ] , why not dress-up for the occasion ? I have done the same for many years when I sit down with a glass of port to listen to BBC Radio 4 on my Radiogram. I always put on a smart blazer, and sometimes even a bow tie. In short, I make an occasion of it !

So, if anyone really is snooping on you – give them a show ! Use it to your advantage ! Think of it as free publicity !

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