Warning: These are old.
Jubilee weekend is in full swing and bafflingly it is not raining. It always rains on holidays here.
Barbecue at Dick's. Yummy. Fatal error of the night was showing Alan and Justin the Playstation 2, which had them both attempting to mow down innocent pedestrians and spray cars with water cannon. And I thought they were such gentle people...
Ran analog and discovered that since they went up, my Guadec 3 and talks write-ups have been looked at by a whole hundred people. Well, less than that, really, since a lot of that was me trying to correct and validate them. Oh well.
Cleaned all the kitchen to gleaming last night. Even cleaned the grill pan after Alan left it to fester yesterday following grilling bacon (ugh. I hate cleaning fat off things). Came down in the morning to find midnight snack residue all over kitchen. Sigh. Made it all beautiful again. Then for lunch, Alan finished the bacon and left the grill pan full of bacon fat again. Grr.
More IVAR construction on Alan's part. He has one unit completed, and has found an inconvenient powerpoint sticking out behind it. He has heaped all the stuff from the bookcase and the floor onto and into the unit. Let's hope that it doesn't need moving two inches to the left now. When it comes to fitting the next unit in, it might.
Evening involved leaving Alan behind to (presumably) build more bits of room whilst we went to see Star Wars: Attack of the Clones. Alas, I presume I am too late to make all the jokes about s/Clones/Clowns. What a terrible film. Remarkable how similar the Jedi library is to the Long Room in the Old Library at Trinity College in Dublin, mind you. Even had all the statues. Only difference was that all the books were blue :)
At about 8 in the evening, Alan warned me not to fall over the bookcase outside the bathroom. It's moments like this when you realise that pestering him to get something done was a mistake. He has started building the IKEA stuff, without reading my little list of advice from all over the world about what not to do (yes, he did it all), without getting a friend to help, and without locating the spirit level.
I am leaving him to it.
He doesn't appear to have started to move the planks and stuff into his room yet. I foresee this being a long haul.
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IKEA stuff arrived today. The hall is littered with bits of wood. I suspect they're now going to sit there for months, because Alan has yet to clear a shelf-erecting space in his room.
LUG in the evening. More people than usual. Someone has been creative with a bunch of cast-off machines from offices and has apparently got a Linux Terminal Server Project setup in a local church hall with an ISDN line. Several people brought electronics along: laptop, Zaurus, etc. Strange people. :)
Collected tickets for OLS and remembered to order new glasses before we go. I am now down to one pair which need a stronger prescription. Alan is going for an eye-test because he hasn't had one in years, but is convinced that once he starts wearing glasses, his sight will get worse and worse, as mine seems to. Reading a story on the BBC, it seems he may have a point.
The government's transport policy shambles on. This is more than
the transport itself does. The transport select committee came up
with an immortal quote in its report into current policy, too:
skies thinking is no substitute for a considered analysis. Having
gone through several days of equal parts of blue skies with fluffy white
clouds and of hammering down with rain, I think they have a point,
even if they didn't mean it quite like that.
Alan missed all of this because he only got up at about four in the afternoon (missing the rugby, which sounded a much better game than yesterday's). I am not sure whether it was in an attempt to make up for this that he decided to help tidy up a bit, or whether that was necessary in order to make space on the floor to pack up a computer into a parcel (we're getting shot of one: yes! The day is a success for this reason alone).
Alan has discovered he has a cold. I could have told him that. Well, I did. Before he got up. He is now trying to work out how I knew before he did. I am pretending to be smug whilst wondering myself.
Not only did I find a bug today, I found the fix too. I was so
tempted to send a patch, but it's one line in a specfile, and
the diff would have been way bigger than just that line. It would
would have been so much fun to append
Patch attached though.
More games in the evening, the principal one being how to fit the wine and the food over the table spread with the US Patent No 1 game.
Alan has apparently put the lights up on the rack. I haven't seen this yet, but I have visions of a pretty set of fairy lights strung over it, distinguishable from the blinking lights only by their lack of blinking.
Justin and Sharon turned up at about one, and we headed off. We stopped in Cardiff for Justin's favourite sandwich shop (this is an hour away, so a long way for a sandwich) and discovered a great games shop, which sells Ravensburger games among others. Spent far too long debating the merits of different games there, bought some (I am so fed up of Illuminati), and wended our merry way to IKEA.
I am apparently one of the only people in Britain never to have done this before. Britain seems to spend a major portion of its Sundays and Bank Holidays shopping en masse at various DIY shops and garden centres, but we've never been into this. So, for the other person in Britain who doesn't know what this is all about, and anyone from somewhere who doesn't have such a shop, this is IKEA.
It's a well-known brand here which is extremely trendy to buy
(strike one against it), requires a car even to reach (strike two),
and doesn't do mail-order and won't accept returns unless you
take them back to the shop (strike three). The catalogue says
that this is because you can't fully undergo the
via mail-order. (And what is that? Read on..) On the other hand,
it's alleged to be sturdier than some of the other flat-pack
brands (which is where you buy all the bits and follow instructions
in pictograms about how to put them together, discovering critical
screws are missing until someone treads on them half an hour later).
And a whole bunch of people recommended the same particular sort
of shelving to us as good for computers.
So we arrived into some colossal warehouse-sized building,
picked up our pieces of paper, pencils, tape-measures and yellow
Yellow bags are more familiar to me as the colour
code for clinical waste in hospitals, so this was a little
unnerving), and inspected the map. There is one way through this
store, with a few shortcuts mentions to skip parts. You can't
just ramble around: you're supposed to stay on the path. Needless
to say, we did nothing of the kind.
I presume it's because of the aethos of making the maximum use of your space, but nothing was where it claimed. Sofas sat in kitchens. Folding poles for coat hangers fell out of living rooms. Storage space for videos and tapes was inside chairs redolent of seventies sci-fi. We could never work out whether we were in the bedroom section or the storage section. Finally, we reached the half-way point and discovered the price of bottled water in the cafe. Ouch.
Alan had measured his room carefully, and he and Justin spent some
time optimising the possibilities of IVAR shelving. This took ages:
these are people who can take an hour optimising the special offers
for take-out pizza. (This has resulted in anything from twenty free
tubs of ice-cream to more pizza than anyone could possibly ever eat,
so the possibilities with furniture were endless.) They came up
with a beautiful diagram, plan, and list of parts, and then we
had to head back (
Don't leave the path!, remember) to check
it all fitted. It didn't. By one centimetre. Back to the drawing
This accomplished, we had to find our way to the next stage: the lighting. Justin wanted lights. Alan found a frankly disgusting bed that would do for the guest-room which I am resisting like fury. I can't face putting guests on top of a copboard, much as we are desperate to put things away, and anyway, we have a bed already. This was just getting silly.
We found the household items section lying in our way. For the rest of the place, you look at things, write down the parts numbers and the aisle and place in the aisle you'll find them, and carry on until you reach the end, where all the aisles are. In this area, you get a trolley and pick things up here. I was about to load the trolley high with kitchen items and glassware I have no need for at all (you can make margaritas in anything if you're motivated enough, after all :)) just because they were cheap until I realised what I was doing and abandoned them. I was quite scared by this. Sharon and Justin collected quite a few items too, and then we found the lighting. Justin found exactly what he needed, and then found it was out of stock and the warehouse (a warehouse supplying a warehouse) had not sent any for months. I gather this isn't unusual. Alan succumbed and decided he had a desperate need for lighting on the rack, which need he had never hitherto mentioned.
Finally we came to the area where you pick up all the bits for your preferred furniture. You get a low trolley and wander around a gigantic (and I mean this) warehouse and hope all the bits you need are in stock. You have to be fit to do this. I know one or two people who are fit for their age, but their age is somewhat more than mine, and apparently this is a nightmare. I was scolding Alan about bad lifting practices (after care work and nursing training you learn to heed this sort of stuff), but I saw no sign of any equipment that would actually help. You just had to hope you could find a member of staff and wreck their back instead of yours.
Of course what we needed was not there. We weren't missing all of
it: just useful bits. Finally, we got enough to build the
first portion of shelving and queued up to pay for it. At this
stage Sharon looked at her trolley and asked, with an air of
emerging from underwater fog,
What am I doing? I'm putting
this all back. And did. Then, because you couldn't fit
our lot in the car, we went to find the deliveries section.
Where they ran the scanner over every single item in the trolley
again, which seems a bit pointless to me. Can't they link up the
tills and the deliveries section?
Now for the scary part. It was now past nine in the evening. We had spent something like five hours in this place, undergoing (enduring?) the IKEA experience. I could see people with huge huge stacks of stuff and bizarre plastic flowers (I'm all for plastic flowers myself, but they have to dance) and children clutching educational wooden toys and banging them hard (we deliberately picked an off-peak time to go: afternoon on a weekday; it must be madness in school holidays and at weekends) and I'm told that people go back again and again. Where do they find the time? I'm told the crowds are not limited to Britain: Germany even has the splendid word IKEA-Stau for the traffic jams on the roads near IKEA on Saturdays. I can believe this: a lot of the accents were Welsh, so we weren't the only people travelling for two hours to go there.
We recouperated with a meal in Bristol, and then returned home
by one am to await deliveries. That'll be fun. They put morning
into the computer and it seemed to be hard to turn it into
afternoon. By that stage, I just said,
Don't worry, morning's
fine. Unfortunately, that means Alan is unlikely to be up
and in a state capable of helping. (Alan on morning autopilot
should not be allowed near large and heavy objects that weren't
there last night.)
All this for storage. I think Alan should just get rid of all those books he never reads (except the ones I like), and the heaps of obscure sound cards and EBay detritus he had to buy to get the single item in the job lot he wanted, and the print-outs of code from his student days (fanfold paper with dumps of old B code that is never going to compile again). It surely couldn't take as long as this IKEA experience thing...
Especially since once it arrives, we have to put the stuff up.
And that's when we find out whether Alan's measurements (
gives us two centimetres of clearance...) were accurate, or
whether we have just made a very big mistake.
Oh, I worked that out, didn't I tell you?went down a lot better than it might have done.
And he even cooked tea, and packed up two computers to be sent away. And someone helped me in my quest to find examples of aural stylesheets for CSS2. (I wanted to play with stylesheets that were for something other than a CRT with a graphical browser, and was having little luck finding them for aural stuff, PDAs, telephones, even for printers.) So I am happy today.
After watching Alan's meanderings through the house, gave in and helped play Hunt The Passport. Oh dear. Unearthed huge amounts of Stuff which he was supposed to have dealt with long ago. Having swept through my neat piles in different categories and pushed them all into one unsorted heap again, he is lucky he is still alive. Especially because he then found lots of other stuff and made a set of new piles, all over the floor. Not in his room, of course, but downstairs where I can fall over them.
Had a TV dinner for once. Ended up watching cable or satellite or
something. It had more adverts than normal, at least. Far more.
Took the opportunity to play
What is this advertreally saying?
This game is very easy. You look at the advert, and work out what
the people are doing, and then what that says about the people who
buy the product and/or what might happen to you if you succumb and
buy it yourself.
Practically any car advert, for example, shows you that if you buy
this car you will get so lost that you end up parked (well, no. The
word here is
stuck) on a mountain in Monument Valley.
Further, any person who can remember their preferred washing
powder well enough to drop it into casual conversation (as in a good
half of such adverts) stands in grave peril of putting off all their
friends by going through said friends' laundry with comments which
Your clothes aren't very clean, are they?
Except for one brand: if you buy that, someone shows up on your
doorstep and checks your clothes are clean. Various deodorants may
lead to your being stalked by scary people with fixed grins and staring
eyes who persist in giving you flowers they have stolen. Reassuring.
Hours of fun. Well. Minutes, at least. Went back to BBC (no adverts) instead.
The scary thing is that some adverts, when you look at them with a very literal mind indeed, are saying the most bizarre and anti-social things. Apparently the advertisers think we are so busy deconstructing them that the literal meaning won't matter.
After finding only two bugs in RH 7.3, inflicted it on the laptop. Found a different bug on that box. Ouch.
Automaton? Automata? Whatever it/they is/are, I now understand why a regexp can be like a crossword. Linuxchix is so useful at times.
Up to the Tav in the
evening to hear Madra Rua.
Alan happy because they played the Blue Skoda song. The Blue Skoda
song? Well, to the tune of the Wild Rover,
And it's no, nay, never
(thump thump thump thump thump thump! Or clap. Or something noisy.)
No nay never no more, Will I drive my blue Skoda, no never, no
more! Classy stuff, you can tell. Didn't play the one about the
Glastonbury Mud, though.
Bright cheerful weather. Wandered down to the beach past Joe's Icecream. Successfully made saving throw and did not succumb.
Hot, wet and thundering in the morning. Explains why last night
was so airless. Still airless in the evening, when we went out
with Justin, Sharon and Dick for pizza (well, allegedly. I had
cardboard and plastic, myself). After the horrors of the main
course, we went to the 24-hour supermarket for huge quantities
of ice-cream and then back to Justin's for that, coffee, wine and --
oh dear. Illuminati again. The men in the group take this
game extremely seriously: when I first came to Swansea, they used to
play it daily in the bar at lunchtime. For hours. I just like the
silly combinations. I think Sharon is still trying to figure out
which person she should trust when someone explains her choices
each round: everyone else has a habit of telling her,
one's your best choice, because... and conveniently omitting
And besides, it helps me, too.
To bed so late that I seriously considered just staying up through the remaining hours (hour?) of night.
Dick came around for food and a film. Alan decided he had to work.
It's a werewolf film!
Oh god.) Ignored him and went
with Dick. Bumped into a pile of friends at the cinema.
here for Star Wars too?
Um, no... I think I have gone
down in their estimation.
Dog Soldiers (beware, site needs Flash and makes noise happen when you look, ugh) is classic stuff in its way. Take one unit (or something, military terminology escapes me) of British squaddies. Put them in Scotland on a military training exercise. and introduce them briefly to the remains of the other unit in the exercise. Season with vocabulary until it reaches a 15 certificate (or perhaps that was the intestines that wouldn't fit back in), add one zoologist to taste, and leave to stew in a deserted farmhouse until toasted or until dawn occurs, whichever is the sooner. Remember to keep the dog outside whilst dishing out.
In their situation, I would not have touched the soup.
Zulu, with a lot of fun thrown in.
Sensibly, they avoided spending the budget (what budget?) on
transformation scenes and just went for fast dialogue and
obvious set-up scenes. I'm sure there was a cliche they didn't
use somewhere, but I missed it if so. (A window behind someone:
you just know something will happen... A possible way to get out:
you just know there will be a problem...) And the racing the fuse
scene was great.
Players of White Wolf games can have fun spotting the forms,
but any gamesmaster dealing with recalcitrant players by means
of the immortal cow from above (
A cow drops from above. You
are dead.) may want to rethink.
I suppose I might have to see this Star Wars thing, but
I bet it doesn't have so many belly laughs (there is a very
bad pun contained in
belly laughs, btw).
Everyone is wittering on about some silly film that's coming
out. I want to see the werewolf film that's apparently floating
about. The local cinema is a bit weird in its choice of films:
apparently the reason they didn't show Gosford Park was
that it was
too up-market for Swansea. After the indignation
of the local paper, they did show it, but only for a week. But
apparently this werewolf film is not too up-market, cos it's on.
Of course, by the time I get there, it will be this other film,
which is apparently
quite popular (be warned, that's a 60kb page for nine sentences
of story). It is presumably not considered too up-market for
Ooh. I have just discovered how to give links titles. I can see I can waste the rest of the night adding them everywhere. Whee.
Discovered some more about how the big record companies behave over music and rights. If anyone knows of decent music in burn-to-a-CD form which is freely available and explictly allowed to be played to people (public broadcast), I know someone who would be very interested. Must dig out my LinuxTag 2000 music CD and check the licences on that.
Other than that, achieved little useful all day. Didn't even finish the crossword.
Tonight was also a Swansea/Cardiff football (that's soccer to some parts of the world who think they know what a football is) match. Shared the train back with some very tired travellers (the train was late even getting to Cardiff), some very raucous football supporters, and some very burly policemen. Not a fun experience.
As things got louder, the policeman in our carriage suggested we moved into first class. We did. When we got back, the BBC was reporting 20 arrests had been made. Before the game.
Yes, I know there are plenty of football fans who don't cause this sort of trouble. Why do I never get to share a train with them instead? At least this time I didn't have to spend three hours giving a witness statement about the trashing of carriages.
Did the Guardian crossword on the way there and half the Telegraph crossword (found abandoned in first-class :)) on the way back. Felt smug. And the LUG was fun, too. Lots of people to talk to.
storage solutions. For the house, not for computers. Not a meeting of minds. He seemed more used to households which required neat doors to conceal a multitude of clothes which need hanging up; small cabinets with little drawers designed to contain a handkerchief in the guest bedroom; and people who would react with enthusiasm to being told
Very good HDF this: we have to remind clients that it isn't real pine.
Needless to say, we fit into none of these groups. We need great big acres of shelving and drawers and chests. We do not need drawers the size of a handkerchief and a decaying bag of pot pourri. And we probably need real wood. Especially when it comes to shelving books.
Fed the IKEA catalogue to Alan. He digested it for two hours and was last seen wandering the house with a tape measure. The nearest IKEA shop is about a hundred miles away, but I see a train and bus ride in our near future.
Started downloading RH 7.3. Too many machines here, and they all need installing. If they were all the same, I'd look at kickstart, but alas. They are not.
Now I won't have to sit on the floor all the time, but it was much appreciated. I get bored of the floor occasionally too.
Naturally, Alan and I have diametrically opposed ideas on furniture. Ho hom.
Restocked on all the wine we finished last night :)
Alan is presumably not recovered from the lurgy of last week: we got back at around 7pm and he went straight to sleep.
Discovered a national IQ test going on on the BBC to find the nation's IQ. If it's not 100, then what?
Reached for the wine with a feeling of relief. Then Alan appeared,
announcing that friends were coming around for a meal. Right now.
Um. Sharon, Justin and Dick duly arrived, bearing menus for
local take-outs and a copy of Illuminati.
Drank all the wine in the house, nearly took over the world until
Alan foiled us all, watched Dick's attempts to teach Sharon the
rules by explaining
And now you want to do this because it
will stop Justin winning whilst omitting to mention it would
help Dick win, and eventually fell into bed at a ridiculous hour.
Been far too long since we've sat around over a game.
Alan had a fit of cooking today.
Nagged Alan about diary. Will he do it?
Realised we had not booked for getting to OLS. Booked at friendly
travel agents who are getting used to our
Well, suppose we
wanted to change this date/location/travel method? enquiries.
For complicated reasons which seem entirely logical to us, we are
arriving at St John's, which is not entirely adjacent to Ottawa.
And then meandering around before heading to Ottawa later. Haven't
sorted accommodation out, though. Oh well.
The complicated reasons are not unrelated to my discovery that you can go whale-watching there. Also, half my favourite bands seem to be from roughly that area.Well, within a 300-mile radius, at least. (Canada is Too Big: even with a week of travel time we can't get to the west coast. Silly country.)
Bumped into Jim of Madra Rua and Jules of More Music and a variety of other people.
Levellers played lots of my favourite songs, so I am happy. Alan managed to criticise the playlist, the delivery, the sound and the lights, so he was happy.
And the bar was serving wine in half pint glasses. Whee.
Due to visit friends, setting off in the afternoon. Got Alan packed in time for the 1630 train, but couldn't get him out of the house in time. As I was aiming to get out of the house for the 1730 train, disaster struck in the form of a wrecked filesystem on a machine that needed to be working. Alan refused to leave until the damn thing was fixed, and thus began the reinstall, the fsck and the recovery from backups. Or whatever it was. Groan. Eventually got the 2030. Sigh. I sent my apologies for the GNOME 2 release team call I was planning to miss, but I might as well have rung in anyway. Except that Alan requisitioned the phone, too.
Very strange train ride. If Great Western named trains in the manner of Thomas the Tank Engine and James the Red Engine, then we were clearly in something the Bouncy Engine. As we were setting off late, we had to get tickets on the train. From a conductor wearing a letter-A-in-a-circle badge.
LUG in the evening. Finally remembered to lend friends the
uncopyable CD. Friend knocked on door five minutes later:
I had given them the case but not the CD.
We were up too late to see a gallery and a show, but after Alan had rejected the National Gallery, the Mational Portrait Gallery, Tate Modern, and the Museum of London (where I wanted to see the Roman well machinery that Time Team covered), talked Alan into seeing a show. Three matinees seemed available. I'd already got him to one (Woman in Black, highly recommended). Rang theatre for the next one, Cats, which apparently has about ten performances ever left. Gawped at prices. Rang St Martins and booked for The Mousetrap instead: two people for less than Cats wanted for one. It's a cliche, but it has to be done.
Mousetrap was fun. The same culprit did it as ever, but
at least Alan is now free from taxi drivers who shout the
murderer after you if you under-tip. (I've seen it before, so
was already safe.) Trivia for the day: Paul Darrow of
Blakes 7 was in
the thing years ago. Annoyance of the day: Alan guessed (I refuse
deduced) the murderer in the interval. My sister
did this too. Apparently I am just dense.
Trundled back to Paddington to find that supersaver tickets (the only ones anyone can afford) are now not valid until 8pm when leaving London (which they did not say when we bought them). Loitered until first available train back. Found a second Paddington Bear at Paddington Station. Very crowded train. Alan showed off and read email on the train. He wouldn't let me play Aisleriot, though. Boo!
I've been asked for a more obvious feedback route. So there you are! But please note: This should be clear from the above, but: I am not a kernel hacker. I am not an anything hacker. "Is this diary true?" will get answered. (It is.) "I have a problem compiling the brainsplat module under the pre-sliced option terminator; I am using the mutability framewedger on the standard infernalisation build" will not. (Well, it might be answered in a similar vein, but for a real answer, look elsewhere. It's much safer.)