The more accurate diary. Old stuff

Warning: These are old.

November 2004

November 30th

Get a lift to Cardiff with Gareth. Shop til drop. Well, not quite. Shop til accosted by market researcher. Please come and do our survey and have a free cuppa and some vouchers. Go to do survey, then.

Market research has changed a bit. Conducted into room full of dinky little laptops. They play potential new adverts on the laptops, with sound coming through headphones, and I am to tap boxes on the screen, drag the mouse from quite interested to not so interested and give my thoughts and further thoughts about adverts. Asked to relate what I remember from one advert, I remember things that didn't exist. I wasn't trying to be clever or mess up the results. I honestly have no idea where the pattern on the floor came from that I thought I saw, and I put it down as one of the most memorable things from the advert. Now I know why adverts are such rubbish. People like me have said rubbish in the focus groups, honestly believing it was the truth.

And then the thing crashes: Unable to establish secure connection to site. Staff don't know what that means, so give us all our vouchers and we go away again.

Read new book on bus back. By bedtime, have finished it. Sigh. This is why bookcases fill up so fast here.

November 29th

Alan opts to stay home whilst I go to lessons. I return to discover pieces of flat-pack all over the house and mounds of removed packaging surrounding something he has already built. We get one thing up before lunch, a performance involving screws, hammers, a spirit level, the hoover, an improvised feather duster (take one bamboo pole normally used to wave a flag about, cleaning cloth, and parcel tape), the eviction of a certain quantity of spiders, and trapping me inside the cupboard (a state of affairs Alan threatens to allow to endure). Then Alan goes back to work.

So I decide to put up the rest on my own. Hah.

It all has to fit into an attic with amazing sloping walls, and it must therefore have the tall struts in the tall bit and the shorter struts to the side, tailing decoratively off. And the newly-painted walls must not be touched. The struts are 226cm tall (Americans: 7'5"). I am 5'2" on a good day (rest of world: 1.58m).

After an hour, I have wedged two strut things upright by shoving the bookcase, bookcase shelves, and heaps of books around them to hold them upright, and have shelves across them. But to put in the cross-braces, I need Alan to hold something still.

Alan arrives, takes one look, and asks me why I have erected it upside down.

I am very sad now.

Together, we take down and re-erect the whole lot the right way up and screw it together. The whole thing takes about ten minutes. Sniff.

To make up, Alan cooks tea and does one of the bookcases (the other arrived in more pieces that it should and must be changed). He puts a shelf in back to front. I think he is trying to make me feel better.

November 28th

Out to do shopping and back before Alan has even awoken. Highlight of the afternoon is a trip to the Civic Amenity (or something like that, which I call the dump and which is actually the recycling place) to deposit batteries, cardboard, dead lights (I have had it since I was 13, but my lamp has died, and I am sad), rags which are, as they say, not fit for dusters, and Alan's microwave.

Alan is not convinced about this last move, and immediately finds something in the freezer which is microwave-only. He is, of course, the one who bought that.

He only likes the microwave because he cannot plan meals. He claims his body is binary: either not hungry, or hungry-eat-now. I have been trying to second-guess his stomach for years, and am hoping that the microwave-less period will teach him that he'll just have to guess, and tell me an hour before he wants tea, so I can actually get the damn stuff on the way; or do it himself.

Watch yet more about the opening of the Millennium Centre in Cardiff and realise that last night there was a public open-air concert and fireworks there. And we were in Cardiff that night and didn't know. Argh!

November 27th

Oh dear. We need to go and get the missing bits from that Ikea place in order to build the remaining stuff from last time. Yes. One article has been sitting here unbuilt all autumn. By now, they should have the rest back in stock. The online stock-checker claims so. I decide we need some other bits which are also in stock online. Into Cardiff, quick raid on the chocolate department of Howells, drop two people off, then off to the horrible warehouse with the path which must not be left. Grab packages. Grab boxes. Find empty spot where the wooden end-pieces to support it all should exist. Thank you, online stock-checker. We have a saw at home, so get bigger ones. Pay. Take to delivery section. Have it all scanned again. Sigh. Okay, it'll arrive on Monday morning But we're out Assistant looks unable to do anything. That's the only time we have Well, look, it's not that urgent. How about Tuesday? Oh no, it has to go from here within 48 hours.

Go round in circles and eventually lose. One of us must stay home.

Rejoin rest and head for restaurant. They are full. They will not be empty until 11.30pm, next January. Okay, lied about January. Apply science to the problem: get out phone, browse the web to find the addresses of other restaurants we know are somewhere in Cardiff. Come out refreshed (there was a bar), sustained, and so on. Completely fail to realise there was something else we could have done then..

November 25th

Ears syringed. I can hear again. Woo!

Realise the television is now set ridiculously loud. As is the alarm clock. No wonder Alan switched it off. And the radio in the kitchen. And the radio in the bathroom. And the exciting digital bug thing. Oh dear.

November 24th

Miss another class. Supposed to be going to LUG. Get into car of friend. Realise that the faint tap-tap-tap noise in the background is the bass on the car stereo. Realise conversation is going to be difficult. Demand to be let back out again. Sulk all evening.

Alan returns. They have over-fed him so much in Cambridge that he doesn't want any tea or supper. Cambridge hackers, don't do this! It makes tea very difficult.

November 23rd

Alan has completely failed to ring or text or email. He has, however, made umpteen appearances on IRC, even when he was on the train there (except for when he went through the tunnels, obviously). I am displeased.

November 22nd

Welsh lessons would probably have gone much better if I could hear anything. Okay, so ask each other. Telsa, you start. Long pause. Telsa? Groan.

Alan disappeared to go to Cambridge. Goodness knows why. He has been reminding me to make a decision about a Red Hat Christmas dinner and dates for ages. It is a long way to go for a meal, and we have my birthday first and have not organised anything for that either. So perhaps he has given up and gone to the Christmas dinner without telling me.

November 21st

Still can't hear properly. What a boring weekend. Alan is trying to lighten it by asking What? at random intervals, just to make me feel better. How... sweet. I am plotting revenge.

November 20th

Woke up unable to hear. Not a good start to the day. Wonder if this is some sort of divine punishment for playing with present early, but no: this happens often enough that I have a supply of goo to drop in my ears and cotton wool to keep the goo in them. And then I shall go to the doctor and have my ears syringed. In the meantime, this completely wrecked my television plans, which consisted of Try to learn Welsh by listening to the S4C commentary on the rugby. Videoed it so I can listen to it when I can actually hear properly again. And wow. Glad I videoed it. Wales so nearly won. (I do not want to hear that the All-Blacks were having an off-day, okay? I want to hear that they were fabulous, to make up for the fact that however close the game was, Wales still lost...)

Alan is one low rumble, when he remembers to look at me and be in the light. If he doesn't, I can't hear him and thus just ignore him. He is, however, used to being ignored.

The TV, or the Sky box (or whatever it is), or the video, or something in the mess of cables and boxes in the corner, doesn't like the combination of satellite and subtitles, but with my ears playing up, it must be taught. Persuaded Alan to teach it to behave. It promply broke as Spooks started, and I had to hit buttons randomly until it worked again.

And Spooks was utterly surreal. It's a TV series about MI5, but it's gone a bit strange recently. The storyline today involved evil haXXor d00ds, or some approximation thereof. I don't understand how the authors, writers or researchers can get some parts reasonably correct (a large company who should know better have a splendid firewall on which they have forgotten to change the default password; a mathematical algorithm known by the initials of its authors was discovered in the UK before the US) and then get other parts completely utterly wrong (even internally, it makes no sense: it reckons the internet only took off after this algorithm was invented to facilitate secure transactions, but the dates they give for when the thing was invented don't square with that at all, nor with the age of Villain When Finally Revealed; and for the other things, I suppose I had better not put spoilers in before it is shown properly on Monday).

November 19th

The doorbell has been playing up recently. Today it got stuck, whilst being rung. The parcel man looked quite entertained as two frazzled people raced to the door and frantically swung it open before thumping the doorbell. Then I signed for the parcel, and Alan said very rude words. It was not wrapped, and apparently it was intended as my Christmas present and was going to hide in his room for a while. So now I know what it is. So I went to play with it.

It is an electronic toy (oh no!) but it is something I actually like: it is a DAB radio thingy, and it has big blinky eyes on it. And I can record things from the beginning even after they have started. I am not quite clear on this, largely because it doesn't seem to be working quite as advertised, but I am sure I shall figure it out. Computers are one thing, but I refuse to be outsmarted by a radio.

I am not joking about the blinky eyes. Apparently the thing is called the Bug. I presume it's a Bug-Eyed Monster.

November 18th

Rain rain rain. And I have lost my hat. Waah.

November 17th

Buy better screws, and also discover that there is such a thing as a screwdriver which screws round corners. We have some screws where the screwdriver won't fit to do the screwing, because there is something in the way where the screwdriver handle wants to be. Become enchanted by screwdrivers which screw round corners and buy a set. You never know when they will be useful.

Alan spends his lunch hour screwing, hammering (hammering? whatever is he doing?), losing, in turn, every single screw I bought, dropping heavy articles which echo through the house, and generally taking over my clothes rail. And leaves me the tidying up.

Clearly maintaining video drivers is fun. I shall have to think of more things for him to do when he wants a change from stupid tanks.

November 16th

Cadged a lift to B&Q with Gareth to buy a pole and some things to hold it to the wall so that I have somewhere to hang clothes. Informed Alan of intentions. He was aghast at other parts of the plan. (You are not doing that. Am so. Not. Yes, one day we will act like adults, but it won't be when DIY is involved.)

Fitting six-foot pole into a SmartCar is lots of fun. Eventually, we stuck it out of the sun roof. Wished for a flag to stick on the end. Returned and set to work. Interrupted and objected at by Alan. He wants it at a height that won't take his eye out, but this means too high for me to reach. I think he should just not walk into walls. This new height is too high for me to drill safely. Alan is Too Busy to help but somehow gets to do the drilling. I think I have been conned.

Then we find a bulge in the wall which means that we can only attach the rail by two of the three attachment.. thingies. Re-organise so that pieces of wood are in the way and we can put it up. Now we need different screws. Shops now shut for the night. Well, useful shops are. Strange retail centres outside the town with their own car parks are still open, but they don't sell size 6 screws.

Sharon wants to go shopping. Great! Set off to escape Alan and his complete alteration of my DIY plans. Alan comes too.

To Alan's utter consternation, we end up in the pizza place and the bookshop. Bookshop. Telsa in bookshop. Hee. Alan frets. We are only going to the bookshop for cheesecake, he thinks. I buy about six books before we reach the cheesecake shelf. There is one sad piece of cheesecake left. So we go to the supermarket, pausing only so I can buy another book on my way out, buy cheesecake substitutes, and go to Justin's.

Alan has done absolutely no work today, preferring to interfere in my plans. And he is blaming me. Apparently he has just realised he owns some video driver package. This means he has to play that bloody tank game to test it. (He owns that game's package, too, so this is just another reason to play it.) Go to sleep surrounded by drill bits, poles, screws (the wrong size), and dust from the drill. This was not part of the plan.

November 14th

Diner again? This is getting altogether too silly. Went sofa-shopping afterwards. This has been a periodic amusement ever since we moved into this house, largely at the instigation of friends who feel that once you are past thirty (and we are well past thirty these days), it is no longer appropriate to sit on the floor and to expect your friends to do the same. Dunno what they're talking about.

Alas, no more sofa-shopping trips ever again. We have accidentally bought a sofa. Still, it isn't going to arrive for months and months so everyone will still end up on the floor at Christmas.

November 13th

I don't know who started this, but we seem to be spending an awful lot of time at the diner. Not quite sure why, either. Alan missed it through being in bed in the middle of the day again. To put this in context, this happened after I had been in town for three hours and come back.

November 12th

Now the books are all in roughly the right place, the desk the computer lives on has to move. Ths desk comes in several parts. Alan keeps trying to remove parts of it whilst I am using the computer. If it all falls over, there is going to be trouble. I have already reached out to put my coffee down on empty space (I'm sure there was a table here five minutes ago) once.

Out to a Welsh learners' evening. Failed to win the quiz because we didn't know any of the answers, although we did get the Which of the three beers is Felinfoel? question right, so I feel we have the essentials nailed down. Music afterwards (Boys From The Hill) was great: haven't seen them play for years, and now I've seen them twice in a month.

Back at the house, Alan immediately went to the video to watch the rugby. At 1am. Urgh. I mean, I like rugby, but there are limits.

November 11th

Mostly recovered. Not doing anything for half the week (except whinge) means I have managed not to lose my poppy (it is Remembrance Day) for a week now, which is a first. Most years I end up buying about five.

November 10th

Bored. Don't like being ill. Fed up. Bored. Back hurts. Fed up. From the noise you're making complaining, I'd say you're entirely recovered

Such sympathy I get.

November 9th

Sister rang up, having borrowed a set of Fedora Core beta CDs from a friend and inflicted it on her working-up-until-then computer. Very beta. Oh dear. Sister expressed opinions on this down the phone at Alan. Apparently Samba doesn't work on the beta (it works on the actual release, but this doesn't help, because talking-to-internet doesn't seem to work for her either, so she can't grab the fixed package). So she is unimpressed, and it's all Alan's fault. (Actually, it is.) Eavesdropped in entertainment. Alan penitent and promising that this time he will not forgot to send CDs he promised two months ago.

November 8th

No better, but with the aid of copious quantities of paracetamol did make it to see Mark Thomas in the evening.

November 7th

Started feeling very sorry for self in evening, and eventually went to bed before eight. I have caught something horrible from someone or somewhere. Somehow. Bleurgh.

November 6th

Finally stacked almost all the books back. Depressingly, the room doesn't look much tidier.

To the pub to watch the rugby: Wales v South Africa. There have been all sorts of special offers to fill the stadium this year, none of which I have managed to pin down, so it was annoying to realise there would still have been tickets if I had been organised.

I have invented a new drinking game for Wales internationals. Whenever the commentary mentions the number of Joneses in the side, drink. That is the only rule, but it is guaranteed to get you hammered. No, I did not test this. Which, given the evening, was a good thing.

Out to a wine quiz in the evening. Well. It was meant to be a wine quiz, but we had to win the wine first. Rather to my surprise, we did. Hic.

November 5th

Some years ago, friends persuaded me that I should switch from ircii to epic as an IRC client. Some days ago, discovered that these friends subsequently all moved to irssi and never told me. Downloaded it and had a play. Not sure whether I like it or not yet, but some of it is interesting. To switch between the different windows it opens up (which I do not like), you use the escape key and then a number. But I only have ten numbers on my keyboard, and it can make a lot more than just ten windows. So after that, it becomes Esc-Q, Esc-W, Esc-E and so on all along the top row of a (qwerty) keyboard. I think this is brilliant. I have never met this idea before, but it makes perfect sense: just move your fingers down a row. Genius. No idea what happens with Dvorak or azerty keyboards, but since I am not using those, I don't care too much at the moment.

Bonfire night here. Lots of bangs and thumps, but since there has not been a month of practising beforehand, I don't mind. New legislation has come into force about the use of fireworks here. I presume that this is what has stopped the month of fireworks this year. When it's only one night (well, and the nearest weekend), they're fun. When it's a month, with people shooting rockets horizontally down the road, they get very tedious.

November 4th

Aww. What a lovely Alan. Returned back to the house to find that he had shifted the last bookcase for me and almost all of the remaining books. He has left it to me to put them back into the bookcases, but this is a good thing. I have a system entirely my own for organising books. It starts off sensibly enough, and then degenerates into putting two books by each other because I bought those two at the same time, or The Bell Jar next to The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency because the books are the same size and so stack neatly together, giving me space for an extra pile on the same shelf.

Over to Carmarthen for the first LUG meeting there. Lots of new faces or people who have made it to one or two meetings in Swansea but really don't want to trog all the way over every month. Fun. The robot very nearly got banned from the pub, though. Waah.

November 3rd

Up early to catch the results of the election. This time, it was pretty much over by the time I looked. What happened to all those days of recounts? Humped lots of furniture and shelves around. Well, actually, looked on and directed as Alan did. Alan surprisingly good-humoured about this, but then dropped everything (figuratively speaking) because the compile must have finished by now.

That explains why he was so willing to help for a bit, clearly.

November 2nd

Great. We may have another mouse in the house. Dug out the trap from where it was hiding: we haven't needed it for years, but I still found it. If it is still in the house, it is probably down in the cellar. I do hope it can't swim. That would solve the problem.

Considered staying up for the US election results. I usually stay up for the UK ones, and this one looks likely to have quite an effect on Britain overall. Thought about the last one and the days of waiting, thought about the numbers involved, decided just to get up early when they might have some initial guesses, and went to bed early. Was rudely awoken by Alan coming to bed at five-thirty in the morning. He stayed up, it seems.

November 1st

Alan up for lessons at 9.30am. I am shocked. His hours have got more and more NC-like over the last few weeks, and however he achieved this feat I have no idea.

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.)