The more accurate diary. Really.

Warning: These are old.

November 2002

December 1st

Up abominably late. Tried to sort some photos out with Nautilus. I have a Nautilus-killing graphics file. Yay me.

Cool programme on in the evening. I'm sure something really similar was on Radio 4 before. All about the history and development of English (the language). Discovered some fascinating facts such as one of the few surviving words from Celtic times (the term brock for a badger) and the reason why we have both sick and ill: one's from Anglo-Saxon and the other's from Old Norse. Also bored Alan to tears bouncing up and down and saying Look! That's Lindisfarne... he's going to say 793 any momemt now... Oooh. Hexham. There's a really cool crypt in the abbey there...

Smoke alarm only went off once today. Whee.

November 30th

Chucking it down again now. Didn't dare check the cellar, but Alan did. Phew. No more flooding.

Spent most of the afternoon cooking, having agreed some time ago that even if we had no furniture for guests, we could still take our turn cooking by cooking and eating elsewhere.

Spent most of the evening eating :)

November 29th

Alan's coat has finally fallen totally apart. About the only piece which is still working (and used) as the designer presumably intended is one of the pockets. Dragged him out to get a new one. Mission was achieved with less pain than usual, largely because I gave him a long list of things you need to get and then said Okay, that's enough after the first.

The Christmas market is here again. It's nothing like the big ones in Germany, but it will do us just fine because it has all the wineries selling their wares...

November 28th

Yes, the smoke alarm went off in the night. Argh. And then again. And then the builders arrived. And it all went cloudy. Indoors, not outdoors. I think I may opt to show Dan around somewhere that is not in the house today.

(Later) We did just that. Lovely bright weather. Also discovered the site of that hotel with the chef who calls Swansea Riojasville. Must go there when someone (else) offers us a meal out :)

Builders departed, swearing it was now fixed. Difficult to tell through the dust storm that is our house now. Depressingly, the dresser looks as though it has been untouched for a century and everything on it needs cleaning again. Smoke alarm kept going off through the night. Wow, noisy.

November 27th

Ooh. The W3C HTML validator has had a revamp. I just found a nice link off it to a trick that I have been using for ages: setting up a bookmark with javascript in it to validate the page you are currently reading. Apparently there is even a name for them: favlets. I actually have mine on the toolbar and I use it a lot. The results are fascinating.

Some chef in a new hotel in Swansea is complaining about the local inhabitants' reluctance to spend stupid amounts of money on eating out. I don't think his complaints are going to cut much ice here. It could explain why I am always boggling at prices elsewhere though.

Onto other matters. The builders returned to cut channels in the cellar so that water would drain into the pump (which is situated at the highest point of the cellar). It has been chucking it down with rain here, so it was not hard to find where the water was coming in.

I had no idea that cutting concrete made so much dust. The smoke alarm went off twice (once whilst I was on a conference call, which met with particular hilarity, as anyone who has been on a conference call with someone in a noisy environment will appreciate) before we switched it to standby continual whine mode. The air was thick with dust so that you could barely see from one end of the hall to the other. The hall with the new wallpaper. Then Dick showed up, and we set off for the LUG, which was to be in the upstairs room of a Cardiff coffee bar/cafe. We had to leave the smoke alarm on continual whine, for fear of re-arming it and having an irate Green Goddess crew called out. (We have another fire service strike, complete with hoax callers crawling out of the woods. This has coincided with another deluge of rain, our road being flooded further down, and much running around for the total of four green goddesses covering Swansea. We didn't think it would be a good idea to be the cause of a false alarm for them.)

Got to Cardiff on the train successfully. Waited for Dan to show up from Oxford, since he decided on IRC that it would be a good idea to visit, explained to him that the last train back home would leave in an hour, suggested that he crash with us (forgetting all about the lamentable state of the house -- whoops) and headed off to the Shot in the Dark cafe. Great place, but small. And the upstairs was booked, and it wasn't by us. As more and more people filed in, coming from locations as varied as Aberystwyth to Bristol, we realised we were overflowing and decamped to the convenient next door pub, leaving a note in the cafe window which I later forgot to take away again.

Lots and lots of people: I believe we hit twenty. (This is good, for us.) Sent round a piece of paper asking what people thought we should do, other than sitting in pubs. Got back a very long list. Someone is going to have to do some organising now.

Back to station for usual train games. Last time we were in Cardiff, we had some trouble playing musical trains.

This time the train was definitely there, but the electronic board could not decide which of several terminating trains it was, nor whether it was going anywhere else. In the end, we asked the guard, only to find that he too had thought it was the Carmarthen train but that he was now no longer sure. Recalling Three Men In A Boat (a century old and exactly the same problems), I offered him a tenner if he would be the Carmarthen train. (Note if his boss is reading this: he did say no :)) Fortunately, a great mass of people all got on expecting to be conveyed there. Some consultation occurred, and we got on. The train got later and later, and the board flashed up more and more contradictory signals. And then we were off.

It was only after they had shut the doors and moved off that the guard came along asking people what station they had actually wanted.

(Really, I think this is because it was the stopping train and they were wondering whether they really needed to stop at Pile and Skewen and so on, but it was somewhat unnerving).

Reached home to find the whine of the I have been deactivated and I am going to wail about it beeper still continuing, but no sign of Green Goddess activity. Phew. Ventured down into the cellar. I have never seen anything like it before. Every surface was white with dust. I had put some bottles of wine in a rack in the cellar a few days ago. They now looked like something in a film: frosted with dust on the tops and untouched beneath. The cobwebs were all coated too. I had not realised quite how many spiders there must be down there. All the webs had grown about three times in width and stretched down in thick white ropes. Quite eerie. I felt like I'd walked into a film. Alan took a few photos of the wine. I don't know how it'll come out.

To complete the atmosphere, we discovered a slug in the kitchen. Alan summoned to dispose of it and the woodlice (after every heavy rain we get this), and we drank one of the bottles of frosted wine to test it. It seemed okay, at least!

Stayed up talking to Alan and Dan for a bit, but their conversation is too hard. Went to sleep, praying the smoke alarm wouldn't go off.

November 26th

Following on from last night, I discovered that you can reach Val's page by looking for three words: TCP, firewalking and women, which sounds like someone's masters thesis. Or a band name if you remove the and.

Stray spam escaped into my mailbox. Addressed to me and Alan (and no-one else), it wonders if I (or he) would like to meet lonely married women. Bizarre.

November 25th

Oooh. Finally, it is not raining when I wake up. Until we go out around nine and it rains on me from a blue sky. Failed completely on the Guardian crossword and it's only Monday. As it gets harder through the week, this is not a good omen. Got five clues. Ugh.

Silly game of the evening on #linuxchix: after discovering that several of us had the top hits for our names, trying to get the top hit without using our names. Dear me.

November 24th

Alan not seen until Very Late Indeed. Conrad makes splendid scrambled eggs. Took Tyler the dog for a walk and discovered a great way to make a dog look woebegone: throw a stick and land it in a tree. Tyler was so unhappy that I ended up on Conrad's shoulders thrashing around in a tree to get the stick out. I dread to think how this appeared to the family further away. They probably think I pulled live wood off to throw for the dog.

Tyler shows no gratitude. He wouldn't chase my stick. He found a gigantic log and decided to drag that around with him. When he is fully grown, this is the sort of dog who will carry trees, I am convinced of it.

Back in the late evening. Train actually started and ended in the right stations. It did make a detour, but it didn't stop, so on average I think this is a success, particularly given the train that jumped off the rails at the other end of the line.

November 23rd

From Finchley to Croydon to hear talks, buy stuff, and meet more friends. My attempts to claim It's all London, innit spoiled by the fact it takes about an hour and a quarter to do this. Admittedly, the slow train from London Bridge didn't help.

When did this London Bridge station happen, anyway? London has a gazillion railway stations, almost all of them listed in the lovely Thomas the Tank Engine where the trains squabble about the name of London station. I had never heard of this one before, and it's got almost as many platforms as Edinburgh Waverley.

Met lots of friends. Bought stuff at cool stalls (yay, I now have all of Shave the Monkey's CDs (and, consequently, oggs imminently :)) Then headed back to Paddington, cunningly avoiding London Transport's campaign to confuse us by making Kings Cross useless, and admired the strange new Jubilee line technique for stopping graffiti on the trains: great glass partitions between the platforms and the trains, so the doors have to line up with gaps in the partitions. (Okay, this may actually be to stop people falling onto the line but the lack of graffiti would be a nice side effect.)

Yay for British Rail (RIP: I just can't keep track of the companies, so they're all British Rail to me). They had the timetables up, and a completely different schedule running. Half the trains to Bristol were not stopping at the right Bristol station for us, so we hung about for an hour to get the one actually going there. About half an hour outside that station, there was a points failure and they took us to the other one instead.

Eventually arrived at friends' house and spent the evening recovering from both travel and the rugby results. Cunningly, we had managed to be in London at the time Wales were playing New Zealand. (You can guess the result. I did. Sniff.) Diana and I gave in early, but Conrad and Alan apparently stayed up until three arguing the relative merits of different cuts of Bladerunner.

November 22nd

Found a gem on the Knowhere guide to Swansea. In the Best and Worst of Swansea, along a lot of exceedingly obnoxious comment, is the perfect description of the weather:

That special rain that only people who live in Swansea know, best described as Torrential Drizzle

That's exactly what I woke up to this morning. To London to meet friends and avoid weather (some hope). Ian has a real proper projector thingy for watching films on. Alan is looking altogether too interested in it.

November 21st

Hahah. Caught him.

Alan is apparently as good at stirring sauce as he is at stirring trouble. This is splendid news. I hate making sauces.

November 20th

Alan has had a fit of being tidy. It's all very strange. I keep hearing vacuuming sounds, or being told the vacuum needs emptying again. He is also wandering around a lot. I suspect he has an interesting bug or idea he is pondering again.

Watched the rest of the silly television programme in hope of seeing Bastien on it. Alas, he's been cut. Clearly his answers were not nearly potentially embarrassing enough.

November 19th

I imagine I did something today, but I have forgotten it all. Alan was not seen all day until the evening, when we thought a friend might appear on a television programme. Watched an hour of very strange television, but no Bastien.

November 18th

I learned a fascinating thing today. If you go to Berlin with a desire to see work by the Bauhaus school, make your interest in architecture very clear. There is a chain of DIY stores called Bauhaus in Germany, too: and asking for directions without specifying can result in your ending up at the equivalent of IKEA. At least, this is the conclusion I reached whilst listening to people in the evening.

Other people's conversations are fascinating. I didn't -mean- to overhear, but they were very loud: other gems included something I am just not going to repeat and some comments about Eurgh! How can anyone eat that?, indicating the speakers do not read the ingredient lists for sausages very clearly (or, indeed, anything involving MRM: MRM sounds far more revolting to me than eating perfectly usable organs, somehow.

November 17th

I have finally realised what multimedia really means. It's nothing to do with things going beep in stereo when you get email and it's nothing to do with sending photos by mobile phone.

NTL (cable provider) decided it wasn't working for most of the day. It led first to my not being able to read comments on the rugby on gwladrugby's boards, and then a film I hadn't seen came on and I wanted to know something about it.

What is multimedia really all about? Why, reading IMDb's goofs page on the net as the the film starts on the telly.

November 16th

Argh. Recurrence of what I think is carpal tunnel syndrome. I had a touch of this a few years ago and the symptoms are annoyingly similar: non-dominant hand, early evening, couldn't even flex fingers. Clearly it is time to stop typing so much, so th rst of ths dry ntry wll b in abbrvtd mode.

November 15th

Had to restrain Alan from wolfing things in the kitchen and remind him we were off out for pizza and a film. Off to the pizza place with him, Justin, Sharon and Dick, in good time, although via a petrol station where the exit turned out to be a car wash. After some reversing and navigation (if we turn up on World's Most Lost Drivers or something, I shall not be surprised), found somewhere to park. Waited half an hour for pizza. Don't know why we bother ordering. We always get the random selection. (And every time we say we won't go back, but it's just too close to the cinema.)

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets is a very long film, although you don't notice that too much. I'm not sure it convinced Dick to read the books. And I could have done without Alan tapping his fingers on my arm in the forest sequence. Uurgh.

Didn't get to see the extra scene after the credits: the cinema dropped the curtain halfway through them. Had to ask the cleaners, but they hadn't seen the film before so weren't too sure. Baah.

(Did Lucius Malfoy really start to say what I think?)

November 14th

A 48-hour Fire Brigade Union strike began last night. And something like three times the normal rate of hoax calls were received in the night. (I exaggerate, but not by much.) What lovely people there are.

The fireworks haven't entirely stopped either.

No idea what Alan is up to, but he finally got to bed so late that I thought it was time to get up.

Headline of the day, from the local paper: Airport Set To Take Off. I have visions of the airport having to be staked down to stop it flapping off in the wind. The army lost an inflatable tank in the last high winds, so you never know. That has since been found, doubtless to the relief of the officer on the radio who appealed to anyone who found it, Please let us know if you find it. You wouldn't believe the paperwork there is if you lose an inflatable tank.

November 13th

Huh. So apparently I can't read info files and grep is not broken at all. I still maintain that the info file is misleading, and just as soon as I figure out how to write info (without EMACS: it hurts my head), I shall finally have something I can send a patch for.

November 12th

Today I broke grep. The worst thing was that I was trying to use something I found in the info file, and when it didn't work I naturally presumed I had misunderstood, misread, or mistyped, and spent about an hour trying various incantations before discovering that no, it just plain wasn't working.

Also discovered that grep on ASCII files is ridiculously faster (on RH 8.0 at least) if you stick LC_CTYPE="C" at the start of the line.

LUG in the evening. Lots of people. Took over four tables.

November 11th

Updated my mozilla to a slightly less old variety and it still crashes printing stuff. Apparently I shall have to build it next. Waah. This is scarier than building a kernel.

Channel-hopping in the evening, I found The A Team on at the Building things that go bang loudly stage and blinked. Were those what I thought they were? Watched the end to see. Yup, they were. In quantity.

I don't know why people think the internet is a bad influence: the A Team was teaching kids how to make petrol bombs in 1983.

November 10th

Yes! Finally! After years and years and years I have finally seen a Blakes 7 episode I haven't seen since it first aired. Or perhaps the original repeats.

The television channel in question has cycled through the four series of Blakes 7 about five times now. Every single time, I have missed one I remember hazily from my youth: The one where Vila is on his own, has to open a door, and goes through.

And now I have seen it and I am happy, and no longer have I to get up at the crack of dawn every Sunday just in case it comes on.

In other news, I found I should not report a Mozilla bug because my Mozilla is too old (it's a 1.2 beta, it can't be that old...can it? Oh dear, it can...); I discovered that some programme on television introduces football with part of Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet (thank goodness for a sister who plays classical music: I sang it down the phone and she got it within about five bars), which seems either entirely apt or totally insane; and Alan finally updated his diary (for versions of update which involve skip two weeks because I forget what happened).

November 9th

Caught up with mail: in the sense of deleting everything I didn't actually have to do something about. Still a lot of email. How did this happen? I'm not supposed to do things: I'm supposed to pester other people to do things, surely?

Much rugby in the afternoon. We were supposed to be going to a folk club in the evening, but France were playing South Africa and Alan had finally finished hacking. Watched the Wales game on S4C instead of on the BBC and learned several new words: pas ymlaen and tacyl uchaf (pardon for the spelling, but the dictionary didn't have these!) which are as bad as they sound.

Out to Carl and Leila's for the first game of roleplaying with the old gang for about five years. Alan stayed to watch the rest of the rugby and missed a large amount of catching-up and alcohol. He also missed the most hair-raising taxi journey by taxi I have ever had in my life: if the speedometer went below fifty miles per hour on the way back, I must have blinked and missed it. It took five minutes to get home on a journey that usually takes twice that. I was petrified.

November 8th

Didn't see Alan for most of the day. Eventually, past six, got bored. Wandered into his room and was ignored. Felt put out. Sat in the computer chair and whirled myself round and round in it. Alan's powers of ignoring people are far too good. Eventually I started being noisy. Oh, stop it. Go away. Boring.

To Dick's in the evening for food. I can tell we are going to have to find some chairs and start taking our turn in this.

Fireworks have not stopped. Where are they all coming from?

November 7th

Alan up, to his disgust, at five in the morning, to get the train to London and speak at some trusted computing do. He kindly left the alarm clock ringing every ten minutes. I think this is revenge for my accidentally forgetting to put the alarm clock back with the rest of the clocks in an attempt to wake him up an hour earlier. (Alas, he spotted this on the first day.)

When he returned at around ten, it took him more time than I should have liked to realise I had managed to move an extremely large bookcase and contents from one place to another, freeing up space for the other shelves to be built.

November 6th

Fireworks are apparently not over. Silly of me to think they would be, really.

November 5th

Ding-dong. It's Greenpeace calling. You wanted your house vacuumed?

A while ago I saw a note that Greenpeace were looking for homes to vacuum. Ever one to put myself out in the cause of the environment -- well, okay, to allow someone to do the cleaning if they want to -- I rang up, volunteered the house, remembered to tell Alan a week later, and today they arrived. It's all part of a project to find out what toxins end up lying around in household dust. Alas, they only had to do two rooms, and reckoned they had enough from those to do a special more complete test. I suppose I should be embarrassed, but when I rang, I was told to leave the floors uncleaned until they arrived, and that was two weeks ago. So that's my excuse. They didn't want to do any more rooms even though I had saved all the rest of the house for them. Alan's computers have never been so clean.

As they left, the people who did our cellar turned up to investigate our complaints that it was still flooding (Hmm. So it is..); and the man who was doing the cupboards also returned, complete with a minion. In the middle of all that, the dust raised set the smoke alarms off.

After this wave of activity, everyone then departed permanently or temporarily except for the builder's boy, who promptly put a knife through his hand...

All of this happened before 11am, and I can't say the day got much better. Pounding headache by twelve, another conference call in the afternoon, and from five in the evening all the fireworks started. So no chance of the headache going tonight, then. It is nearly eleven now and they're still going on. It's Bonfire Night or Guy Fawkes' Night, and we celebrate -- well, that's the thing. We're supposed to celebrate the capture of the people in the Gunpowder Plot and their failure to blow up the House of Lords when it contained Lords, Commons and monarch all together; but increasingly it seems we celebrate the attempt instead.

I like fireworks, but people have been setting them off for a month in advance, and now I'm just glad it will be over soon.

November 4th

(Oh. That's who are...)

In summer we ordered some bits for new cupboards. And then forgot about them. On Friday, they showed up. Today, someone showed up to build them. It would have been nice to know in advance about this. He went off to do another job instead and we spent a merry afternoon unloading articles from cupboards.

November 3rd

Kicked off the monthly analog report. I knew NTK had linked to the diary, but who on earth are and why am I not allowed to see the post that sent three times the NTK hits my way?

November 2nd

More rain pounding down. Between us and town is a road which is on a hill: there is a steep slope higher up and then it starts to level off.

The puddle at the bottom of it spread not only across most of one side of the road, but also across the pavement almost completely. It does this every time we have heavy rain. Had to get past this without being completely soaked by the traffic. It's a pretty deep puddle, and even going through at a crawl, you send water spraying metres.

You can tell the drivers who were thinking ahead or who had been there before: they slowed right down. Others just zoomed down the road (the speed limit seems to be seen as a challenge rather than a rule) and hit the water head on. Unbelievable amounts of water and spray. Half of these then swerved out into the oncoming lane to try to go around the rest of the puddle. Fortunately there were no accidents.

Decided it was time to buy a nice woolly hat (they don't turn inside out in the wind, unlike umbrellas). Returned home and discovered the rugby was off at St Helens (where Swansea play). According to the groundsman, it being high tide didn't help. I didn't know this, but apparently when the tide is in, the ground under the pitch, which is on the coast road, is soaked anyway. This'll be why they call the area a bit further along the Sandfields then. Given that Swansea just lost to Ebbw Vale, they were probably quite relieved not to play today.

November 1st

Goodness me. A Wales international where they didn't lose. I know now that the Welsh for Romania is Rwmania.

Cellar getting all wet again. So nice to know how well the damp-proofing and so on worked.

October 31st

After the wind, more rain.

To Justin's to watch videos. The plan was to watch various horror films, but we all arrived bearing vastly different ideas of what other people wanted to see. Whoops.

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.)