- got a slightly belated and completely unexpected extra birthday present
- finished Tim Powers' The Anubis Gates, novel 106 for those keeping count
- discovered that Victor Hely Hutchinson created a Handelian pastiche of Old Mother Hubbard.
- learnt that even if Dickens didn't create Christmas, he certainly helped to reinvent it
- found that LoadLeveler multicluster only seems to work if the initial directories of the jobs are mounted on the inbound scheduler nodes
- I've finished book 94, Jaine Fenn's Consorts of Heaven, which I really enjoyed.
- Via 52 Pickup, I've got a new favourite CM moment: when Reid and Morgan push Prentiss into going clubbing with the appallingly misogynistic Viper, her is a sheer joy to behold, "Oh. Oh this is going to suck." But despite that, Prentiss still wipes the floor with her target — "Sadly, I've actually dated people worse than Viper" — and finds the clue that cracks the case. Yay!
- I've finally switched the heating on. It was that or freeze.
- I've set up Time Machine
On the minus side:
- my eye doctor reckons my current sight problems may be related to excessive reading! He wants me to spend more looking at distant things before changing anything.
- the laundry apocalypse is edging ever closer despite, or perhaps even because of, having more spare time than usual. Unless I do something, I'm going to be forced to start wearing old halloween costumes.
- Number of near-miss road accidents caused by someone else? Three
- Number of network drops? Too many to count
- Number of muffins baked? Seven
- Number of caffeinated beverages consumed? Six
- Number of temper tantrums? One-half
- Number of self-inflicted wounds whilst washing up? One
- Number of bean based meals? Three
- Number of poems memorised? One
- learning of the existence of the field of disaster sociology;
- realising that, after the bail out, $9bn to fix the LHC seems like nothing at all;
- successfully completing a particularly nasty sendmail reconfiguration;
- Stephen Hawking rebutting the scurrilous allegations that, if he were British he'd have been killed off long since by the NHS committee for euthenasia, by noting that he is in fact British and that rather than killing him, the health service has played a large role in keeping him alive;
- David Byrne's enthusiasm for cycling; and
- an interview with Dave Gibbons on comics, computers and stuff.
ETA: My sendmail change wasn't completely without incident after all. To get the stupid thing to work correctly, I was forced to chance
netsvc.conf to ignore DNS, forgetting that a couple of the compute nodes do actually have access to the outside world and do actually need to be able to resolve hostnames. Oops.
Firstly a colleague who, on visiting the doctor with his sick daughter, mentioned that he too was feeling nauseous. His wife promptly put him in his place by attributing his condition to the fact that he'd just eaten his way through the entirety of a large pack of wine gums.
Secondly, the suggestion that the best way to reschedule awkward bits of work that involve staying overnight is to ask that they be arranged according to when one's wife is in niddah. Needless to say, the suggester was of the Gentile persuasion and motivated more by missed sexual opportunities than any great desire for ritual purity...
- any morning which features the two piano version of Saint-Saëns' Danse Macabre is automatically better than any morning that doesn't;
- the line between a running top that's supposed to fit like a second skin and one that actually fits like a first skin is narrow indeed;
- Bear's words of wisdom on characterisation are wise indeed and should be read by all, but especially by anyone who has ever read, or has ever thought about writing, a novel of any description;
- that the Naming of Hosts is a difficult matter, it isn't just one of your holiday games; you may think at first I'm as mad as a hatter when I tell you, a host must have THREE DIFFERENT NAMES;
- that tomorrow is going to be busy — I'm supposed to have a briefing paper ready for a meeting tomorrow afternoon and I've yet to write a word of it.
In other news, my return to swimming is going well and, according to the distance counter, I've just crossed the Silverlode and been blindfolded by a group of elves.
Miles to Lothlórien: 44
On the bittersweet side, we started work to decommission the first part of the NEC today. For all its faults it's been a good little workhorse and if certain aspects of it have been slightly disappointing, none of them are the fault of the vector nodes themselves.
On the minus side, my broken finger strapping has been really bugging me but if I take it off, I get quite a lot more pain. Oh finger, when will you mend yourself? And why must you be taking so long about it?
Oddment the second: a conversation with my optician in which they gave my six months worth of contact lenses and told me I had three months to wear them before the next lot show up because, apparently, it's not possible to prevent the next lot turning up in January. I think I might start wearing two pairs at a time.
Oddment the third: listening last night's Late Junction, I can't decide whether the bombarde is the coolest instrument in the world or the most annoying. Whatever, Bataille et Le Meut's CD Bombarde et Orgue is nothing if not intriguing.
Oddment the fourth: via Boing Boing, Palin's crib sheet for the vice-presidential debate.
Oddment the fifth: again via BB, yet more proof, if more were needed, that people are dumb.
As a result, I have gained much wisdom; some of which I now propose to share:
- That Elizabeth Bear's Tideline is quite the most beautiful thing I've read in a while. If you're not wiping away the tears by the end, then you're a callous, hard-hearted bastard with no imagination and an extremely weak claim to person-hood.
- That Neal Asher's The Line War neatly ties up many of the loose ends from his Ian Cormac series of novels, introduces some things much hinted at and doesn't bottle out when the going gets tough.
- That the death of Humphrey Lyttelton is a national tragedy. A period of mourning should be declared, everyone should don a black armband for a week and, in place of a minute's silence, we should have a national one minute's game of Mornington Crescent.
- That Radio 3 showed its class by marking Humph's death with a recording of Hornarama immediately followed by the Gloria of Josquin's Missa Pange Lingua.
- That watching BBC1 in a browser window the size of matchbox still knocks spots off my actual terrestrial TV reception.
- That a panthalassa is a single large ocean.
- That the first chapter or two of Al Reynolds' House of Suns are somewhat info-dense, but it soon settles into a good rhythm.
- That The Wreck of the Hesperus is by Longfellow, while The Wreck of the Deutschland is by Hopkins.
- That when we first encounter Elaine Belloc in Lucifer, she's studying alliteration in the penultimate verse of The Deutscheland.
- That the words of the poem read out in class hint at Elaine's role in the greater scheme of things.
- That the Sontarans are short.
And so, with that, to bed.
The feature on the troublesome private life of Eric Gill was interesting, as was Ursula Le Guin's review of Margaret Drabble's latest. It's also good to get Jon Courtenay Grimwood's take on the latest SF and Fantasy novels which, coincidentally, happens to include my current reading: Justina Robson's Keeping It Real.