The more accurate diary. Really.

Warning: These are old.

December 2002

December 31st

Matthew and Danielle arrived early and found themselves co-opted into cooking and the World's Worst Bread. which I gave up on at the proving stage. Dunno what happened. I left it in a sane place to rise. I had intended to put it by the Athlon (heat source par extraordinnaire) until I began to fear that it would be hot enough to kill the yeast. I (of course) blame the recipe. First time I used that one. Panicked that there would be not enough food.

Justin, Sharon and Dick arrived. Conrad and Diana (with Tyler the dog) arrived too. Much eating and drinking but lots of food left over.

Radio 4 has failed me. We turned it on for the chimes of Big Ben and there was silence and then a very apologetic announcer. Bad radio 4, bad! They're obviously having problems with silences: the two minutes' silence on Remembrance Day had a party of chattering schoolkids, and now when they want to broadcast noise they get nothing.

Piled out for the fireworks anyway. To bed very very late.

December 30th

Run to supermarket, run around tidying and washing, run washing machine constantly, and generally tidy up in time for many guests for new year.

Alan put the futon together, but has parts left over. Oops. I spent the night frantically cooking and starting the courses which had to be left to chill and so on. Ended up listening to the World Service because Radio 4 had closed down for the night, and found a world music programme which had decided to devote the night to any music played on accordian or other similar boxes you squeeze music. It was great fun and I am waiting for the playlist to go up on the website so that I can get some of it.

December 29th

Back to Bristol Airport and the train back home. House still standing. Swansea very wet. Mysterious smell pervading house on return. Ooh, look! We have a lake in the cellar again! And this time, the waterproofing means it can't get out because the pump is broken.

Alan spent the night trying to unblock and fix the pump whilst I... um, didn't.

December 21st-28th

In cold and rainy Scotland. Much drinking, talking, laughing, gardening (um), cooking, eating, and watching of videos. Finally got to see The Full Monty and Moulin Rouge, both of which were great fun, and also made it to Lord of the Rings: the Two Towers, which was a bit of a curate's egg: great in parts. Sporadic attempts to solve the remaining parts of the King Williams Christmas Quiz which I and friends have been playing with again this year, trying to gloss all the answers the way we did it last year. Sister managed to feed Alan to can't eat anything more stage, which is quite a feat.

The Scottish Mirror (tabloid paper) seems to be exactly the same as the Welsh Mirror only with a different columnist and TV listings.

Many years ago, the government of the time attempted to bury a report they didn't like by issuing it on a bank holiday and doing such a short print run that when a newspaper ran the findings of the Black report and health inequalities in Britain, there were not enough copies for all participants in the ensuing debate in the House of Commons. (I haven't seen any reports which say this gap has narrowed in the intervening time, depressingly enough.) Strangely enough, twenty years later, another report which the government is not going to like slipped out as a website update on Christmas eve.

December 20th

Off to Scotland to visit sister for Christmas. Sadly, it is cheaper to fly there than to get the train or coach. This is ridiculous. Free whisky as we came off the plane.

December 19th

I appear to be organised for Christmas. This is worrying. I keep wondering what I have left undone. Other than trying to get Alan onto a sensible time-zone, which is not something achievable by mortal means.

Restored most of what I lost from backups; took a new one.

Just realised: haven't put new futon together. Guests are going to have a surprise waiting for them. Do you like puzzles?

December 18th

Finally, the alarm is fixed. Whee. Now we can vacuum up all the dust (honestly, if ever you have builders messing with concrete, concrete dust is way way way worse than plaster dust: make them put up great big sheets before they even think about getting started) without the alarm going off all the time.

Oh dear. For years and years on UNIX I have managed not to type rm *. And now I have done it twice in a matter of months. All I was doing was clearing out the editor-created backup files before -- yes, doing the backups.

I cannot say that Alan's response was a model of helpfulness. Oh well, the backups will be quicker to do now.

December 17th

Waited for the nice man to come and sort the alarm out. He didn't. Rang up. Oh. I didn't send him because I walked past this morning and the house looked empty said the secretary. Argh. Waited some more. No man. Alarm went off again. My head hurts.

Fell asleep in the waiting room at the doctor's. Hope they didn't notice. I don't think they did. They were a bit busy. They have a pile of networked computers. The network was down and they couldn't get at anyone's notes.

Rang into the last GNOME Foundation Board conference call of the year. No more fortnightly calls and hoping someone else will do the minutes. Good luck to the new board.

Oh horror. I have been using these stylesheets for a year now, and only now do I find out that whilst they're valid, they do some stupid things. Ah well. Possibly fixed, and if not, this site works fine in Lynx :)

December 16th

Smoke alarms still going off randomly. And not so randomly (eg: when I squirt this compressed air stuff into them). Alan is still coming to bed at something like four in the morning (apparently). The telephone is breaking, but only when I use it, not when Alan does. And I am coming down with a cold. It can only be a Monday.

December 15th

Some time ago I went through the house collecting stuff to dispose of and found about fifty videotapes to get rid of. Alan found this box today and tried to put them all away again. Sigh. I don't know what to do with them. I suspect they'll end up in the bin. Can you recycle them?

In a fit of putting books back (they just walk around the house on their own, I swear), found a bunch of books from my childhood, including a copy of Kit Williams' Masquerade. This drove me crackers as a child. It was a story with gorgeous illustrations, and if you solved the puzzle, you would find the location of a golden hare which Williams had made and hidden. I never even came close. I knew that One of six to eight sounded like something to do with one of the (six) wives of Henry VIII, but that was on the first page, and after that it just got worse and worse.

Hooray for the web. I knew it had been solved, and I knew that there were suggestions that the original finder had... erm, let's just say he'd used different clues. But today it took about three seconds with Google to find a comprehensive site explaining the answer to Masquerade.

Also in this collection of things my parents rescued for me were now out-of-print Rosemary Sutcliff books and a couple of annuals of the long-gone Misty, a rather strange girls' comic which eschewed tales of school woes or articles on make-up or how to attract a boyfriend in favour of stories about ghosts, reincarnation, sin-eaters, and a girl living in the desert surrounded by salamanders. Clearly I was an oddity in liking this: it eventually merged with a rubbishy comic which was more traditional in its ideas of what appealed to young girls (boys, make-up, school woes), in one of those uses of the word merge which actually means was taken over and disappeared.

People who worry about Harry Potter today would be aghast if they saw Misty.

December 14th

Alan woke on hearing the doorbell at 0730. I slumbered on until he started falling over things (at 0731 or so..)

My mobile isn't talking to me. My phone downstairs is beeping at me. Spent most of the day carting the last remaining phone around in order to catch a phone call from a friend visiting in the area.

Finally located friend and wandered around Swansea. Discovered a well cool shop with lots of bright things for children: meccano, games, kits to create instant artworks or instant nuclear power stations, and so on. Must go back with money sometime.

Obviously it is the season for bumping into people: bumped into another friend at the station.

Returned to find Alan giving a talk via IRC: type stuff in and provide links to the slides on the web.

Really must put the new futon together: but the bits are piled up outside the room it's meant to go in, and I can't get in to take out the things which are in the way. This is going to be fun.

December 13th

Futon delivered. It's in bits in a room full of boxes until we find somewhere for the boxes so that we can put it up.

Two NTL engineers turned up and disconnected things just as I was trying to arrange to meet someone on IRC. Went into town and accidentally ended up at the bookshop. Whoops.

The local supermarket has a sign about recycling printer cartridges. Discovered that they can only do this if they have the right sort of envelope to put them in. They don't. Bumped into Howard whilst shopping. We're getting old. Wow, that was when, three years ago?

To Justin's in the evening for food and drinks and watching the rugby whilst other people did the work. Discovered the different commentaries you can get on this digital television stuff. English, Welsh, none at all or the referee's mike. Llanelli won both the game and the punch-up.

December 12th

Argh. After some days of blissful silence the fire alarm went off again. Perhaps I'll buy some compressed air after all.

Food in town for lunch. Then bought a futon for guests and finally got around to putting the last thing in the bathroom: the shower curtain :)

Evening enlivened by the charming person who decided our back yard was a good place to chuck their rubbish. A gas cylinder. Hissing.

Pondered the council's reaction to a gas cylinder hissing away in next week's bin collection. Tempting, but no. Alan rang the police who said someone would come and have a look and get it moved if it was a danger. Later that evening it had gone. We assume that the police or the firemen or the council took it. Of course, it's always possible that the person who chucked it off their lorry in the first place decided they didn't throw it hard enough and took it back for another go.

December 11th

I think the people at the Cwm Deri wine stall think we are alcoholics. Oh, go on, then, I'll try some of that this time... Really, it's all for other people. Honest. (And I do recommend the vine leaf wine, btw.)

Alan has on the phone with NTL people all day. Our link is back, or something is back, at least. He then came down happily and asked about tea after I had been cooking for an hour. I did not kill him, although sorely tempted. I needed someone to do the washing up.

December 10th

NTL have surpassed themselves. I do not know what precisely they have done, but it was pretty far-reaching.

Resorted to 28.8k modem, which normally handles all our mail, and the super-emergency-ouch-ouch-ouch method of connecting to the net. Recalled why I never used to bookmark pages over about 15-20kb long. Went to the Christmas market (Swansea version) instead. This was not so painful, although I doubt Alan agrees. He got to carry the money and the purchases.

December 9th

Ugh. Winter has finally arrived. I need to find my gloves again.

Snoke alarm has not gone off for two days now. Just as I was about to invest in compressed air to blow at the detectors.

LUG meeting in the evening again. Hic.

December 8th

Piles of paper remain still (although I grant that they are smaller. Alan has also put away a pile of clothes -- including all the ones I sorted for the charity shops (UK-speak for what the US calls thrift stores, apparently).

Alan is coming to bed at ridiculous hours. I have no idea what he's working on at the moment. But clearly it is fun.

December 7th

Help help! Alan is cleaning things around me.

After one room was beautifully tidy and bereft of piles of paper, electronics, small gadgets someone won't throw out, exploded biros and envelopes with important but illegible phone numbers scribbled on the backs of them, Alan has covered the floor with new piles of paper. They are sorted, he says, and I am not to pile them up again. Nor am I to tread on them, tidy up the edges, put them through the shredder, or use them for working out anagrams for the Guardian's crossword.


From past experience, they will now sit there for months whilst I create a new pile of things he's supposed to sort and then they will all get re-sorted into exactly the same piles, and I shall create a new pile of news things he's supposed to sort, and...

December 6th

Alan spotted someone over the road selling off old furniture. We now have one computer chair for him, two of those chairs which get sat next to each other in offices to make a sofa, and a table (which we didn't want, but the others came with it). Amazing how busy that road is when you're trying to cross it carrying all that lot.

Smoke alarm still going off at inconvenient intervals. When you left something simmering on the hob is a good example of when you do not want to hear the smoke alarm.

December 5th

Alan slumbered blissfully though the morning to be woken by me early in the afternoon. Get up! We have to leave in a few hours! I should have known he was not well. He barely asked Where? let alone What? or When did I agree to this?, which would have been by far the most pertinent question.

Eventually realised Alan was not going anywhere and set off to find Justin, Sharon and Dick myself. Headed off to Cardiff to a Star Trek Exhibition at the National Museum. Realised wandering through it that I hadn't been there in ages, and really should go again. After we went through that, there was a talk by the Register's hero, Kevin Warwick, best-known for implanting chips in his arm. I did take some notes, so I might write them up. Someone in the audience fell asleep. (Not one of us though.)

Stayed out to grab food. Returned to find Alan woebegone and cooking out of tins. Poor Alan. Next time, I shall remember to ring.

Something else remembered to ring though. The smoke alarm. At 0230. Uurgh. Clearly we still have too much dust floating around. I am running out of places I can reach with the vacuum.

December 4th

Recalled I had put the procmail log file into ~/Mail/. Opened it. Found 49418 emails. Since August. Perhaps I am on too many mailing lists. I'm certainly on too many spam lists.

Alan managed to track down I Bought A Vampire Motorcycle on (surprise) Ebay a while ago. This is a remarkably silly and extremely low-budget film from Britain whose plot can be summarised in the title. Gory, tasteless, and very funny. Watched it again for the first time in years (and the first time that wasn't someone else's fifth-generation copy, and the lighting isn't noticeably better with the real article) tonight.

Much more fun than email or accounting for disc space vanishing.

December 3rd

Up early to get to a funeral on time. First successful train journey in a while, although I had a few nasty moments whilst sitting on the train that divides and each half goes to a different destination. We were on the right half, fortunately. Saw family again, which was good.

GNOME Foundation Board election results are out. Some people I voted for even got on. Looks a good line-up.

December 2nd

In the evening, Alan decided it was time to put together the remaining flat-packed cupboard/shelves/thing lying about the house. He got halfway through it (doing it in the wrong order) and then vanished. Now I have half a cupboard on my floor.

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 :)

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.)