JTA with glasses

Yeah, I know, I know, I’m getting worse

Originally published at Electric Quaker II. Please leave any comments there.

But in my defence this week is 24-carat insane. Most people I’ve not seen, most emails I’ve not looked at and I’m now scared of the time it’s going to take me to clear my RSS feeds, of which no fewer than 257 are clamouring for my attention up in my tabs bar, there.

Er. I’ll get round to emails as soon as I can, and I’ll probably stop snapping at quite so many people once I’ve composed such missives as I’ve Not Had Time To Write. Meantimes, if anybody fancies buying me such alcohol as I can get roaring bloody drunk I might loosen up and bit and stop being quite so twitchy, though I wouldn’t bet on it just yet. GAAAAAAAHHHHH and I’ve got f’king work on Monday again. I swear this bloody rotation is going to be the death of somebody if time dun’t pass fast enough before I bloody finish it…

JTA with glasses

End of another coffee break

Originally published at Electric Quaker II. Please leave any comments there.

But before it fades out entirely, I figure I’ll mention the incredibly vivid dream I got woken up from, because I came out of the whole enterprise looking really awesome (in my head, that is. I don’t imagine it’ll translate so well, but that’s your lookout, not mine). Typically, I’m hazy on the background but there was a duel, and everything, plus generic Regency backdrop, and fancy house. Whole thing was in black and white, though, which is really quite unusual for me. I can’t remember why we were fighting, which is a shame since I’d have liked to know, and I did ask the chap who checked the wadding, but he said he wasn’t allowed to talk to me.

Very nice flinters, is most of what I remember, and I picked the one on the left out of the box because I can clearly remember thinking that I ought to have taken the one on the right instead, though I couldn’t work out why, except it had a different pattern of hatching on the grip. Surprisingly the other chap was weirdly faceless, in the sense that I couldn’t quite make out what he looked like, although I vaguely knew he was a nasty piece of work and was probably the one in the wrong. Very tall thin bloke, blond hair and a black cane, presumably in order to make it clear he was the bad ‘un, but I remember thinking not being able to his features was a bad start to aiming at him… Presumably to save getting a new background curtain we adopted the film-friendly ‘10 paces, turn, fire’ routine, and I think I’d got to about my eighth stride when the sod shot me in the leg from behind, which stung.

Awesomely I improbably executed a very nice spin with the whole extended arm thing (which I’m fairly sure wouldn’t work, I think the balance of the barrel would be wrong given the angle I was at) and managed to get him in the arm, with consequent winning & obvious disgrace for cheating in a duel in front of all the witnesses what had helpfully appeared alongside the bank (of the river. I don’t know why there was a river, but it served for somewhere to put witnesses) I remember thinking he was a fool to cheat in front of witnesses (or, indeed, for either of us to fight anywhere within a thousand yards of witnesses at all) but somebody said his second chappie had told him I’d cheated already and switched the flinters so his didn’t have a ball in it, though I evidently didn’t, since we both got shot. (Did I mention the bit where I was awesome and pirouetting with a leg gone dead on me and still got him square below the shoulder? For I was dead cool, and everything.)

Anyway, he buzzed off to live a new & quiet life in the Foreign Legion, or somesuch Godawful fate, and I got to keep his awesome house, as I recall, which had a fabulous library with tea + cake and a fire… And then we had the traditional fade-to-random-chase routine, obligatory in all dreams since 1697, and I found I’d fetched up in India and was running away on an elephant with an orderly who kept shouting at me. Woke up shortly after, feeling very groggy. I don’t pull out of REM sleep with any grace at all.

Pop psychology interpretations welcome, why not.

(Though personally I’m inclined to put it down as the fault of too much Lovejoy, listening to Moonlight Shadow and (at the end, at least) Flashman. O, and you get No Points for identifying the novel I apparently thieved that library from, though I suppose we should be grateful I didn’t inherit the crazy housekeeper along with the rest of the house. Am assuming the duel-y dude wasn’t Max, hard to imagine him going around shooting people in the leg…)

Still, I’m surprised it’s stuck with me this long, most of the stuff my brain comes up with vanishes before the kettle’s boiled…

JTA with glasses

Sisyphean Spreadsheets and Eterminable Labours.

Originally published at Electric Quaker II. Please leave any comments there.

So life continues. Well, for the most part. I still get not quite enough sleep, but I’m marginally less frantic at the weekends now, so I can at least catch up on it then, except I appear to have misplaced the knack of sleeping past noon, which is a shame.

Work continues, though I am only working another fifteen and a half days this month, as I must use holiday time before my contract ends on the 31st.

I don’t usually talk much about work in places as public as Where the Entire World May google it with a Search Engine, but I am amazingly glad that I saved that time up; the rotation I’m working in now is just soul destroying. I am comparing two spreadsheets, each of which contains a data dump. Sheet 1 is data telling us what electronic publications we had access to on the old system. Sheet 2 tells us what electronic publications we had on the new system last August. I am supposed to do a lot of copy-pasting and check that we’re not missing anything important.

Specifically, I’m checking that we’ve not been missing anything important for the last academic year. Personally, I think if it was both missing and even slightly important, someone may have noticed over the course of the last academic year, but that opinion probably wouldn’t go down too well…

I am the third Grad Trainee this year to work on these spreadsheets - note ‘this year,’ I’ll come back to that in a minute - so this has been going on for eleven months. We started, two hundred and thirty eight days ago with the first publication on the list, 19th Century Music (which files before A, of course, because it begins with a numeral). Just before lunch today - half an elephant pregnancy later - I finished checking ‘Corruption Matters’.

It has taken us eleven months to get an eighth of the way through the alphabet. At this rate, we will not be above half-way before they change the system again, and it’s really quite hard to get motivated under those circumstances; it’s like being asked to bail out the Elan lakes with an egg cup. Assuming the egg cup has a hole drilled in it, and you keep having to stop and compare the content of the Elan lakes with the contents of the Aswan dam to make sure they both still contain water…

What’s worse, is that - I said I’d come to this - it turns out other trainees have been here before us. I only discovered this yesterday: the spreadsheets are from August, I assumed this stuff had only been invented in August. O no, these spreadsheets were only invented in August, but there were old spreadsheets before them. (You know that scene in comics where the people who’ve been lost in the desert, but have been following an ever-increasing number of footprints suddenly realise they’re not on a massive well-used highway, but have been walking around the same dune for seventeen panels? It’s like that.)

Some years ago some poor scunners got stuck in a single rotation for a whole year. For the guys Lending and Library Support I can see that would’ve been awesome, but the poor girl that got lumbered with the antedescendant of this white elephant was begging to be let out apparently, although it sounds as though she got rescued in the end, and we adopted this rotating system, thank God. (If that sounds like it was you, incidentally, that was forever asking Bill to be allowed to do something connected to either the rest of the library, or just to subject support or anything then give me a shout and I’ll see if I can’t confirm that and then buy you a very very large gin.)

It’s crushingly dispiriting, is the trouble. Given the choice between getting paid for this month’s work and walking three times over hot coals and then just getting paid for sitting at home with my feet in a tub of water for the month, I’d honestly take the poxy coals. It’s not like anything I do will make a significant impact on this damn thing, anyway - which is the heart of the problem, really.

I would advise anybody who finds themselves calculating how long it is until they can take their tea break, or adjusting their tea breaks so when they get back to the desk they only have an hour left until hometime, etc., that they should be thinking of changing jobs. I shouldn’t, of course, because I’ll be skint in two months, and a student after that and once that’s done I shall get a job in a library that involves, in any way at all, doing something useful and less interminable than this (cataloguing would be a prime example here, but since I like doing that anyway, it loses some of it’s impact; I’m still trying to learn Bliss in my spare time.)

Urrgh. And that is the end of my tea break. On the plus side, I’m effectively working for a fortnight this week, and it’s not all spreadsheets (because I get Monday mornings and all of Fridays off). Also, more to the point, I’ve got an extension cable for my headphones so at least I can now listen to KUSC while I wonder who’s been drilling holes in all my bloody teacups…

Done having a strop now. Going to find coffee and bemoan the fact the office is too hot.

JTA with glasses

Dear Today

Originally published at Electric Quaker II. Please leave any comments there.

OK, guys. You know as well as I do that part of the reason I go to sleep listening to the World Service is that it means I can wake up to an alarm clock in one ear, and the news in the other.

But, seriously. I was up really quite late last night, and playing both Civ 4 and Left 4 Dead, and that doesn’t lend itself to being woken up by the announcement that the Soviets just landed on the moon, and are massing for an attack on Western Europe. That is possibly the most confusing waking-up experience I have ever had - I wake up very slowly until I’ve got some tea down my neck, and I must’ve been listening for at least a minute and a half before I realised I’d missed something.

Just so you know. Can we at least wait until the planes are in the air before we start telling the barely-awake that the Soviets are using chemical weapons? Or, better yet, just let us sleep. Extra 4 minutes in bed sounds like a win to me…

(I looked for the YouTube clip of the reformation
of the Soviet Union,
but I couldn’t find it.)

Back when I was doing GCSEs, I’m sure they’d dragged Jeremy Bowen out of the Middle East and told him he had to work in a studio presenting Breakfast alongside Sophie whatzerface. I find it kinda awesome that he just keeps going back to the Middle East anyway…

JTA with glasses

‘nother update.

Originally published at Electric Quaker II. Please leave any comments there.

I continue to be crazy busy. It is not all bad, though, for I was able to go to the Gregynog Colloquium, which involved a large number of the Aberystwyth delegation getting merrily drunkish. Also, I entered a charity raffle, buying a strip of tickets for a fiver, and consequently won a not unrespectable digital camera (8 MP, SDHC, 2x AA Batteries - the last means it’s not something I’d buy at full cost, but for £5 I’m hardly about the chuck it up on eBay!) I was pleased about that.

There were massive floods in Newtown. I mean *massive*. Ended up red-lining poor Miriam, in first, with the clutch about two thirds out because 7,000 rpm was the only way to force through the wave of water that was coming over the bonnet and hitting the windscreen while still forcing enough gas through the exhaust that water didn’t back up and smother the engine. Even then she nearly gave out three times. It was more nerve-wracking than Stafford, although if I’d not survived the floods there I might’ve just attemped to push her to the nearest dry ground…

Outside Newtown, though, everything was fine. Rotten little dorp. That said, for those of us who know the incline of the drive at the Uberflat, two days later I got into the car, released the handbrake and, er, went nowhere. Loud clunking noise as we started moving, so I ran her through the carwash and that seemed to fix it; I assume the axles were caked with mud, or something.

Things I have discovered recently:

1. Death and the Maiden is being re-run, starting from the first strip. It is awesome, you should read it. The Sequel is also being re-run from its first strip at the same time. I find this incredibly annoying, because I now have to make the choice between reading both strips at once, or going back and picking up 2 afterwards. Sigh.

2. The awesome Overthinkingit.com, whose recent posts include Episode One Confessional, The Ghostbusters are horrible people and (my favourite of those I’ve seen so far) Belle: Princess, or not Princess, which features an awesome examination of the local political situation around the Beast’s castle.

3. I am in serious danger of ruining my librarian credentials by reading all manner of security books. Admittedly, I’m not too far in, but I’m already at the point where I can see Scheir quoted in Mitnik and remember having read the book that quote comes from a week before. This pleases me, but it doesn’t sit too well with the stereotype. On the other hand, nor does wanting a resolution greater than 8×6, so I’m not too fussed about that.

4. I have probably got a little work next year, which won’t see me rolling in money but, equally, won’t leave me completely devoid of food. I hope.

Anyway, back to it…

JTA with glasses

Hullo William!*

Originally published at Electric Quaker II. Please leave any comments there.

Well, that was interesting. I appear to have recovered from a serious error.

On Wednesday afternoon, as I sat shivering in my office, bundled up in my jacket, and hunkered down in my seat, I decided what I needed was a mug of coffee, so I rose to wander through to the common room, wherein resides an urn.

Except I’d not got past the edge of my desk when Andrew, who sits behind me and does something even more complicated with databases than the local_threshold gubbins I footle about with, asked me in tones of incredulity if I could actually be cold.

Brief investigations revealed that everyone else in Aber thought it was sweltering hot, so I wandered home on’t sick and promptly slept for around 30 of the following 48 hours. Indeed, I still feel sleepy now, although that could just be because it’s a) Friday, and b) completely dead out here.

It interests me, though, because though I’ve seen it happen to other people, I’ve never experienced such a thing on my own. That said, with one commitment or another, it’s been a while since I stopped working before 22:00, and we’ve been going places at weekends, which has been knocking out the days when I normally get some actual rest in.

In all fairness to myself, that’s not as stupid an approach as it might sound: I seem to need to pull in 8-10 hours of sleep a night, which is a crazily large number, so I tend to run along on 5-7, and recharge when I get a chance. Turns out that three intensive weeks & no free time in the mornings is about my limit, though.

So, yeah. Apparently it’s possible for me to BSOD. Cool!

Rejected Alternative Title:
‘Quick! Thump “Esc”!’
Rejected because a BSOD doesn’t seem to let you do that anymore. When did they sneak that change in!?

* Cross-reference

JTA with glasses

/backing music by Jethro Tull, why not?/

Originally published at Electric Quaker II. Please leave any comments there.

Today being the 29th of April, my father would’ve turned 53 today. [In the unlikely event random people are stumbling up against this, I say 'would've' because he's not turned anything since 41 – apparently the Highway Code's suggestion that one should check for oncoming traffic before turning a lorryload of concrete across the carriageway isn't quite such a pointless directive, after all.]. Twelve years is a long time, of course; even if I were inclined to try I doubt I’d be able to give you more than the roughest of character sketches of the man.

Still, it’s not untypical for me to get pensive at all of three points in the year, this one included and, this year more than usual, I’m finding myself feeling introspective. Five’ll get you twenty that this is down to finally having somewhere to head in life, or, at any rate, a plan that extends over a greater scale than my previous range of ‘Do x because everyone knows that’s the thing that happens next.’ Even so, I don’t much care for introspection. It’s so inclined to get in the way of not really thinking anything much.

The bulk of you, I suspect, will have seen that inspirational-sounding quote about how scar tissue is stronger than yer actual regular tissue &c., &c. Of course it isn’t; it doesn’t have the elasticity or something, so it’s less good under strain: less like a wooden oar patched up with steel braces and more like torn blotting paper that’s been prit-stiked back together along the edges. Still, as a quote it sounds good, which is the main thing.

Much like ‘That which does not kill us makes us strong,’ it’s been kitted out to give comfort rather than point out to a chap who’s lost of all your limbs, but not died, will nevertheless find it hard to summon the strength to heft a sack of potatoes; there must be a whole industry out there devoted to thinking these things up. (What, you thought Einstein came up with that whole ‘1% inspiration, 99% perspiration’ without spending five nights tearing out his hair and moaning “Come on Albie! The miniature diary industry is counting on you!!” Yeah, right.)

Anyway, I’ve got a whole welter of the scar tissue knocking about, and I find it mainly leads to character traits that come under the heading of ‘OK in moderation’.

A prime example of this is the manner in which I can be stubborn. To a point, being stubborn is the same as being persistent – you get to go home and say you tried your best & if things didn’t pan out OK, then it’s no fault of yours. Except I default to the kind of stubborn where I try my best and if things don’t pan out then it’s because I didn’t try hard enough; I take failure in the face of impossible odds as a weakness on my part, and I’ll beat myself up about it along the way, which is somehow made worse by the fact I know what a stupid approach it is.

Summer of 2005 was pretty much a case in point, there: there was a time during that particular fight where, in retrospect, I think we were all sunk and we all knew it, except for the pig-headed bastard who kept saying ‘This is not going to happen’ under the impression that if you said it quietly enough the world would just stop holding out on you.

[Tip for Film-makers: If you want to win me over run one of those scenes where the bad guy gets the living crap pounded out of him by someone who's got so angry about the whole thing that they've suddenly got dead quiet, and started breaking people's elbows over their own knees while nevertheless asking really politely. And humming a cheery tune. I promise you at least five “Awesomes!” in the foyer afterwards.]

In fairness, it worked; I think I got some good work done, under the circumstances, but I screwed myself up in the process. When I stopped doing that job in Spring 2006 I spent about three weeks getting hammered on a nightly basis because it turned out I’d wound myself up so much I couldn’t deal with the sudden disconnection from all the responsibility I’d taken to assuming.

Yeah, that’s another one. I take responsibility for way too many things, although it sometimes feels like I can hardly wait to offload it onto some other chump once I’ve got it. Except, not always: I can’t access it on a conscious level, but I’ve decent reason to suspect that I’ve got a complicated ranking system somewhere in the back of my head that sorts out the people to whom I feel a greater level of responsibility than others. Mostly it doesn’t have an effect on anything, least of all how I deal with people on a daily basis, but you should (really, really not) see me when you cross someone on that list: not only will I take it incredibly personally on their behalf, but I can hold a grudge for long enough to make Basalt feel worn down.

Even now, there are people out there that I have never met, and if they introduced themselves and said ‘Hi, I’m Mike,’ I’d say ‘Hey, Mike, nice to meet you’ and we’d probably get along fine and have all sorts of interesting conversations, because nobody ought to be judged by who they used to be (certainly I shouldn’t; I was a complete arsehole for years.) And yet, if Dave were there and said ‘This is Mike. Yeah, Mike,’ I’d lay even money that I’d punch the man in the face while he was waiting to shake hands simply because five, seven, ten years ago he did something that fucked over a person I’d only meet a decade later and if I feel an obligation to someone, I’ll gladly backdate it just far enough to cover past injuries. Or, rather, I’ll automatically backdate it. Doesn’t seem to come with an off switch.

The reason for that, I believe, comes down to a simple fact: there have been times where, through no fault of my own, I’ve failed to stop Bad Things happening, and that doesn’t sit well with my stubbornness. In that sense, pretty much anyone I like is quids in: either I’ll try and pull a shielding-from-the-badness maneuver, or I’ll make life miserable for anyone pissing you about. It is, of course, hard on anyone unlucky enough to get caught in the crossfire (thought it’s ideally worse for anyone in the crosshairs, of course) but it’s been a while since anyone played silly buggers anyway, I’m happy to say.

(Lord knows how many times I’ve polluted this blog with memes, but I’m still looking for one that decides that Which Character I Am is an abominable cross between Ikari Gendo and Malcolm Reynolds. That would be a meme built out of raw Awesome. And dodgy html, of course.)

Happily, therefore, I’m not actively stoking anything right now – and given long enough, I can let things slide. I usually do, in fact, because it’s quite tiring otherwise, and once I’ve burned through the actual anger, I tend to have trouble keeping up enough of a head of steam, though God knows I’ve seen the anger last a few years a head. (Interestingly, it doesn’t seem to be linked to whether the person who actually got done over has done with the forgiving thing. It’d be a lot simpler if it did, really, but instead it seems to run on whether I can still remember how much it affected them. Introduces auto-balancing, I guess.)

But I like to think, on balance, that it all works out OK, and that I’m not, in fact a sociopath. (I am antisocial, mind, but that’s just because I continue to use computer games as a Way Out Of Responsibility, where fixing bad things is just a quickload – or, indeed, a console command – away, and I’m not giving that up in a hurry). I periodically worry that I’ve got a predisposition to be horrible to people I decide I don’t like, but it rarely seems to be much of an issue, thank goodness.

Mostly, the worst extremes of being stubborn, and overzealous and inclined to fret like crazy, I keep in check, and the impression I get is that by balancing them out I actually wind up as a reasonably easy-going (& ideally half-way considerate) sort of person. Or, at least, I look like I’m trying, which is better’n nothing.

Mostly, I hope, I get by OK without being too horrible to people.

Mostly, I think, I avoid writing people off entirely because I fail to make allowances for why they might be acting like that.

Mostly, in fact, I wonder how well I match up to the tracing of a character sketch I last saw done in charcoal more than a decade ago, and which would probably be out of date even if I could remember what the shape of it was.

I’m not certain, but I think I’m slowly getting there. Perhaps if I work on it long enough I’ll fetch up with something that wouldn’t completely disappoint the original artist, hey? It’s always good to have something to try and do tomorrow, after all.

No comments today, folks. I ain’t here to fish.

JTA with glasses


Originally published at Electric Quaker II. Please leave any comments there.

Poured with rain last night; drummed on the windows from around 04-00 to 05:30. News on radio at 8 warned of severe rain warning in Eastern parts of Wales; I assume the storm has passed over.

Drove Ruth to campus to get dissertation printed. Deep pool of water in passenger footwell; at least a third of an inch, spread out over wide area plus, of course, that which was absorbed by the carpeting. Suspect this is more noticable because I removed the protective mat things that were down there (I wondered at the time why there were two, now I come to recollect doing so) because they were damp.

Had hazarded that the damp remained from when Miriam was leaking through the sunroof, but this apparently not the case — suspect leak is getting in through vents. A good deal of sogginess up in the foam around the vent, and trail of water down the wainscoting in passenger footwell. Mopped up with paper towels, though still dampness in carpet, as I needed to get into Law.

The good news, on reflection, is that this is evidently an exceptional quantity of water due to the thumping great storm last night, and the lack of additional matts to blot it up. Must remember to retain a towel in the boot in case of emergencies.

Beyond that, Miriam seems to be running OK. Starting to suspect she’ll want a new battery at some point; on rare occasions where she does multiple short hops the engine can be a bit reluctant to start on the third or fourth time, but she goes alright once she’s going. Look to replace the battery ahead of the winter, I suppose.

Bought a new kettle because the old one was on the blink, and refusing to turn itself off once it reached boiling point. Has righted itself now, though, under the omnipresent threat of replacement, so may as well run it a while longer.

Much news this morning about the spreading Swine Flu. Much concern since we’re a way overdue a major outbreak, but so far it just makes me want to play Pandemic.

Coffee break over: back to work.

JTA with glasses

A highly articulate outburst

Originally published at Electric Quaker II. Please leave any comments there.

I was having an e-mail conversation yesterday, and the subject of people driving everywhere rather than using public transport came up. As the only car driver present on the mailing list, I got asked for my opinion - specifically in relation to my having taken the Park & Ride into Oxford, rather than having tried to park in the city centre, & having started to write a short reply, I found several hundred words had passed.

Most of them, I decided, on re-reading what I’d written, relatively sensible ones.

At this point, I’ll point out I’ve made barely any revisions to this theory - bar my square-bracketed clarification of fare changes, and the re-setting of the line-breaks my gmail account put in this is just what I churned out last night, but I think there might be something there. Lord knows we’ve all got enough money to fritter it away trying to prop up a brassic banking industry, I don’t see why we didn’t ought to get some decent use out of it.

There’s probably a few hundredweight of flaws in the idea; you’re welcome to point them out in a friendly way, but at least it’s not as stupid as some of the ideas out there. (Seriously, I am curious as to where the bad ideas are, here; I admit I’ve kinda planned everything out in Sandbox Mode, with unlimited funds and no fixed deadlines, but still…)

I’m in favour of P&R. Although I’ve driven through Oxford (through a complicated coming-off-the-motorway-wrong scenario that had me trying to plot a route through the centre of the city based on
where I thought the tour buses went after Broad Street. Was dead chuffed when I managed it). However, I still drove to Oxford. From Wallingford. And the X39 is actually pretty damn good - I really like Thames Travel.

Even London - Edinburgh is the sort of thing I might drive, depending on circumstances! If it was at a busy time, I think I’d take the car, because I’d at least get a seat! Other times, maybe not - it’d depend what I was doing after Edinburgh, I guess.

But, yeah. The thing to do is spend a hundred fuckloads of money on the transport network: re-nationalise *everything*, buy back all the land sold under the Beeching Axe, put the tracks back, buy the station houses back and re-introduce full service to all of them (automatic ticket machines will save you a few salaries there, at least) and get into the habit of offering free rail passes to, er, everyone. (Or everyone paying less than the 50% income tax band, say).

Upgrade everything. Electrify the entire network while you’re at it to a) save time in the future and b) free yourself up to put any rolling stock down a line, increase the number of passing places, terminals
and sidings and give tax breaks to businesses that transport anything by rail, including produce (I reckon the distribution networks could cope with running services from local rail terminals instead of local warehouse depots, I don’t really see the difference). Accept that the national debt is going to look like swiss bloody cheese anyway, and bootstrap the domestic rail manufacturing industry to get some trains that’re less than 20 years old running through the provinces.

Bring back First, Second & Third class, [but do away with the multitude of saver fares; either it's off peak or it's a fixed rush hour surcharge of £3, say] and change the conditions of carriage to promise everyone a seat on their service, or they get a £5 voucher for the shop on the train for each 100 miles or part thereof for their journey as specified *on the ticket* - we could print that easy enough.

Then - gradually, over a few years - increase tax on petrol to fund the public transport network, and offer free bus routes to railway stations. No less than every 10 minutes per stop in towns, and aim for
every 30-40 minutes for rural areas. Since the Government run everything anyway, they can sync all the timetables up without (too much) difficulty.

Engineering works no longer mean such severe stoppages, as there’s now *network redundancy* and you can route around them with care. Long-term you get improved maintainance. Schedule for an x-day period, specifying exactly what needs to be done, and at the end of the works, have them surveyed by two independent teams from seperate bodies (one from RailSafe.gov and one from the Dept. of Engineering Works, say). If the works are approved by both bodies as being OK - and *signed
off* by *every member* of the inspection teams, good. If they’re signed off ahead of schedule, give the workers a bonus of £x/day over schedule.

The thing is I *want* trains to be good. But as long as people think they’re supposed to make money, they ain’t gonna. And even people like me will stay in our cars until we can get a fascist party set up, with me in charge…

As Statto said: a highly articulate outburst. So where’s it fall down? Money, obviously, and political intransigence. But where else?

JTA with glasses

I should’ve gone to bed (but the whisky isn’t gone)*

Originally published at Electric Quaker II. Please leave any comments there.

’s been a good Easter, so I’ll start with that. Food & company and a surfeit of neither which gave me some space for a bit of Quiet, which is always a worthwhile use of time, especially around now.

Also, we went out to Cwm Rheidol and hunted Easter eggs. (Our own, of course; we didn’t just show up expecting them to be there already). Slight issue with swathes of the countryside having been inexplicably closed, but we found a space in the end, and it was really quite fun.

Birthdays & Purchases
I’ve turned 24. Which isn’t an especially exciting sentence, let’s be honest. I don’t think I’m due another birthday that feels like it might be important for at least six years, and possibly not for another eighteen; my 43rd will feel creepy, I’m pretty sure, but other than that each year kinda feels the same as every other. I’ve probably said that before; it’s a perennial complaint. (Pause for laugh)

Still, people have been very nice and given me everything from beer to periodicals subscriptions, and Ruth has very kindly chucked me a small pile of cash, with which I’ve bought a microcomputer. Well… yeah, OK, so I’ve technically owned very-very-late-era Microcomputers for years, but I can’t keep track, these days, of what’s a Laptop, what’s a Netbook and what’s a Small One Of The Above, so I’m going with Microcomputer because I know what one of those is.

Anyway, I had been going to get an S101 on the grounds that it’s called an S101, which is Teh Awesome. (Because - as if anyone needs telling - S101 was the directory name for Spellcasting 101: Sorcerors Get All the Girls, the precursor to the fab S201 & S301 by Steve Meretzky. All, quite literally, Legend-ary.)

So, yeah, the S101: it’s woefully underspecced for modern games (but would play old DOS stuff fine; see what I did there?) and I liked the fact it got essentially decentdecent reviews (for something built for battery life rather than speed) and I knew what I’d call it even before it turns up, which saves all that tedious umm-ing and ahh-ing.

Anyway, I’m not getting one of those. I’m getting an NC10 which has better battery life, costs less money, exists in a spiffy blue colour and gets even better reviews.

I’m still going to call it Ernie, mind.

The point to this, however, is pretty much that it can’t do very much, but is small and handy for carting about. Also, the NC10 comes with a closer-to-normal-size keyboard & a small hard-drive which puts it ahead of the rest of the minilapbook genre which seem reluctant to give you space to install anything very much. So it’s portable, won’t do [as much in the way of ] games to distract me [compared to a proper tower] and is easy to type on. If you didn’t know me better you might think I intended to get some actual proper work done next year, no?

If the machine has a downside I’ve not already factored in, it’s that it doesn’t come with 3G, which means if I need Internets on the go, I’ll have to create an unwieldy lash-up from my phone, Nokia PC Suite and a short length of USB cable, but I think I’ll be able to cope. Ruth proposes to teach me SVN-ing, so that’s promising.

I’m looking forward to the Masters, but I’m a little worried about the state of the profession - we had a meeting on Spy Weds. wherein it was revealed that we’ve not got a bean. This was pretty much the case at my previous place of work (although, in fact, their defecit appeared to be even larger), so I’m a little concerned that there may be employers out there who won’t be able to pay me.

But I figure I’m awesome, so they’ll find the money somewhere.

Tech Generally
Went back to Newport on Saturday, and miserably failed to fix the computer there - something very strange seems to have happened to it; it’s in need of a full-re-install, I think. In a bid to save myself an extra trip, I’m going to attempt to guide people there through a re-install. Worst case, I have to go back (which I would anyway, if I didn’t attempt this first), so I figure it’s worth a shot.

I move to SSEL on Monday. Fewer Readers to deal with, more Spreadsheets. At present I’m not really sure how that balances out, but we’ll see how it goes. I have to say I rather enjoyed quite a lot of being in Lending; the Thin Red Line stunt got a bit dull the fifth time it was myself & one other person (normally Annette) holding the fort, but only a little.

Had to work Maundy Thursday, which was shoddy since it was my Birthday, which is shoddy, but I ended up glad I did, as we had a vagueish academic come in and start asking me questions, who turned out to be a Bodley reader, so that was nice. I do miss the old place, strangely. (That is, strangely if you only recall my experience of the place before they got my eyes tested, when I appeared to be of the Fail for no reason I could work out. After I could actually read what I was typing I really enjoyed it.)

Wow, I’ve rambled all over the place again. And Storm Front just looped round, Tell you what: I’ll throw in a few semi-themed headers and push off to bed, how’s that sound?

*Sounds like a song title, dunnit? Well, it would if it started with ‘you’ rather than ‘I’. Something melancholic and slow, I think. Or something very bouncy and fast and miserable as sin. Both good.