hirez: (dissent)
Today, being the Sunday before a bank holiday and thus the sort of day where one should be eyeing up a hangover, either departing or lumbering over the horizon, we got up early and went to the shops.

Everyone else in Bristol seemed to have stopped at home for the moment of hangover crystallisation or for the ceremonial calculation of an upcoming hangover's potential.

I have no idea what the SI unit of hangover might be.

The bloke who owns the farm shop (Mike. An actual farmer.) had some theories about Bank Holiday People that he had plenty of time on which to elaborate.

People who pitch up early are steamingly hungover and aren't fit for anything but staring into space and gibbering quietly. They just want breakfast. (Which is why the shop bit was deserted) But buy the time you get into the early afternoon of the actual bank holiday, you get the people who've had to spend an extra day with the rest of the family that they go to work to avoid. If they're turning up at a farm shop that lives where NE Bristol peters out into countryside, then they've not managed to arrange going away for a weekend and are going to be in an extra foul temper with themselves and the people they go to work to avoid, with whom they have had to spend an extra day. So they take it all out on the staff.
hirez: (dissent)
The thing I was going to write yesterday, but mutated into whining about IP addresses, turned out to be slightly deeper than I expected.

For reasons of retro, or perhaps for reasons of 'These are the things we have lying about' the washing line isn't a collapsible hurdy-gurdy (as Pa named all things that went round and round) like modern people from the seventies have to hang their bri-nylon outside so as to catch all the instant sunshine provided by a WE.177C free-fall thermonuclear device.

(Is is perhaps coincidence that people wore fewer nylon undergarments as CMOS logic became more popular?)

No. We do not have that sort of thing because our back garden is a nuclear-free zone. The front garden is handy for the front door, so is often at home to my Alpha-particle-emitting key fob. Which has been glowing quietly for at least twenty years.

So in our nuclear-free garden we must keep something that is not of the seventies and will not remind people of such things lest they have a march and make a right mess of the strawberries, the careless CND bastards. Thus the washing line is held up by a pair of what I'm fairly sure are scaff poles. They've gone a lot rusty and the hammerite I applied about a decade ago is beginning to flake off as the rust blooms outwards like spaceship fungus.

The one nearest the house has also been leaning at more and more of a drunken angle since the thing that was holding it upright no longer works.

There is an unknown length of RSJ (I-beam to everyone else) concreted into the garden, and it would be at an ideal height to bark one or other shin upon, were it not set in line with a low wall that holds up the alleged rockery. There is (or was) a very rusty V-bolt more-or-less pinning the bottom of the scaff pole to that RSJ, with the rotten remains of a lump of wood that was originally providing some squidge to tighten the V-bolt against.

It had all rotted out. A week or so ago, I poked at the thing with a stick, worked out how big the V-bolt was, and realised with something of a sinking feeling that I was setting a chain of events in motion when I toddled upstairs to order replacement bolts off the internets. I had also decided to buy myself an angle-grinder as a present, because, well, angle-grinder. Also because the existing V-bolt was single rusty lump and there wasn't enough WD-40 in the known universe to free off its nuts. (ooer, etc.)

The replacement V-bolts arrived on Saturday morning. The sun was bright and the air was clear and I peered at the things as they sat on the table, wishing for an excuse. I thought that I might as well inspect the old V-bolt again, since I would need to find a lump of wood in the shed to replace the rotten section. I waggled the pole back and forth, experimentally. Then thought 'Oh fucking bollocks to everything' and hauled at it. It lifted right out, which was tiresome. I scraped out the weeds, earth and rotten wood. The bottom end of the scaff pole came out next. It had completely rusted out, which is why I was able to move it at all.

I was committed now.

I dug out a junior hacksaw (I have several, but can only ever find one at a time) and cut away the rusty bolt. At some point, silly-sod the previous owner had performed some more concreting and made it impossible to replace the V-bolt, so I attacked that with a bolster until there was enough elbow room. In the shed, where I have been clearing space, I found the right lump of wood to squidge between RSJ and scaff pole.

I had the thing back in place and bolted firmly upright before I really knew what I was doing.

If there's a take-away from any of this, it's that I have some difficulty diving into projects that I'm not entirely sure about. 'Some difficulty' in this case probably also parses as 'sinking feeling and nameless dread, why not go and waste the afternoon on social media instead?' which is no real way to run a railroad.

The upside to some of this is that I obviously have collected enough random bits of wood that they're starting to come in very handy indeed. And also that there's the start of enough space in the shed/garage to be able to think small thoughts without having to go outside to change your mind.

Comedy gold

Mar. 1st, 2014 03:29 pm
hirez: (Hand-staple-forehead)
(Which should probably be the new name for Bitcoin)

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=7295190

Via the splendid and contra-rotating @cstross - http://www.antipope.org/charlie/blog-static/2014/02/schadenfreude-1.html


It transpires that MtGox was pretty much the modern equivalent of '10 PRINT "STEVE IS ACE", 20 GOTO 10'. Although this time, rather than learning from that first foray into code and deciding to write a web-framework like most children, this one also (re)implemented DNS and SSH in PHP.

I have watched people re-implement nameservers in MFTL for, oh, about two decades now. Thus far, most of those efforts gain no traction because the people running the kit that supports $protocol can spot a bad idea heaving to at quite a distance.

(Also news-servers, mailservers... Basically whatever protocol that is currently 'popular' will have some half-bright sort who doesn't completely understand the problem space pitch up and decide that his (and they are very much mostly 'his') approach will be Better.)

That said, I have cheerfully abandoned Bind and Sendmail and Imapd for the much less shitful alternatives.

And, for comedy value and likely proving my own point by accident, I have crufted bolt-ons for The Puppets that do things no sensibly organised, er, org would ever want to do ever. Largely because hierarchically structured organisations are terrible places, and we should not allow our infrastructure-as-code to model that behaviour.

'Central database'? Get fucked. Workers self-management also extends into the tooling we use for our jobs.

Update: Ye Gods... http://blog.magicaltux.net/2009/09/10/pinetd2-next-feature-to-come/
hirez: (tank)
... And we're back with a belting day at #Leveson. Couldn't happen to a nicer bunch of vicious shitebags. Currant-Bung? So it would seem.

Jenkins Jenkins shoddy Ruby Jenkins. Too many Peason warnings. Yar boo, etc.

Last week I stood up and demonstrated the Brain Interface to the assembled splendid types at Bristol Dorkbot. There followed two days of being knackered and hating everything. I think this is why I don't get out much these days - it's just a little too wearing.
hirez: (Default)
What is this fashion for ending a paragraph with the phrase 'End of.' ? It makes you sound like a stroppy wanker.

See also 'don't talk to me about...' and 'I don't want to hear about...' Honestly, if you wanted a set of verbal tics that would indicate a conversation with someone would involve trying not to yawn while they went on and on and on about things they find irksome, those would be an excellent start.

I'd like an Android version of that JobsPhone conversation-measure, please.
hirez: (safety chicken)
Several years ago, [livejournal.com profile] jarkman and I recorded the noise made by a sack of hammers, so that there would be a reference should anyone go 'Bloody hell that thing sounds like a sack of hammers...'

It was not as exciting a noise as one had been led to believe, though I still have hope that the reference sack of spanners will prove more interesting.

This weekend, we discover that Pitch isn't all that black.

I suspect that there are many more poor similies out there to be discovered.
hirez: (Challenger)
This is utter genius.

Will we find that (say) Firstbus build something quite as simple and obvious? I suspect not.


This, on the other hand, is a quite remarkable example of irony-fail.
hirez: (Sweep alcohol)
I really dislike feeling stupid. It feels like a continual sliding window of not-opportunity that means I think things like "I'll get around to that when I can think a bit better and give it my full attention." Which means not much word-progress and I need to read someone's recent output but I'd like an hour where I could at least keep my eyes open long enough to give it good value.

On the other hand, 'The Jennifer Morgue' is really rather good. If somewhat messily confusing in places. Perhaps I should not read while half asleep.

The point of this is to write down the sentence 'You aren't going to be handed that window of opportunity, so you're going to have to carve it out of your life yourself.' so that I understand it properly.

Jayzus. It'll be to-do lists next.

Illustration of the depths of my thickness no.1: http://www.martin-woodhouse.co.uk/index.html
I felt sure I'd dumped this on LJ at some point so I wouldn't have to spend yet another half hour fiddling about with Gurgle and my clearly broken brain. You may guess exactly what has transpired between the time of posting the original and this update...

I swear.

On the other hand, the Python works, the migraine's gone, pater's new PC works (probably. Modulo an ancient install of Eudora and late-model XP security modes failing to get on entirely. It's remarkable how unconducive to getting things mended someone else's space can be.) and I don't look a complete cock in that tweed jacket.


And. And.

The Supersuckers, as pointed at by one of Richard or Aaron, are playing in Bristol next month. The 14th from (probably bad, given the rest of this post) memory. Might be a laugh, especially if they play the Jackalope thing.
hirez: (Challenger)
Play loud.

(More here.)

"We had to back it off to 1000bhp because at 2000 it was dangerous."

Well, that's ok then.

Bonus extra-ludicrous picture: A diesel rail.

Next up, traction-engine racing live from the Tri-State Winternationals.
hirez: (Challenger)
Bum. Well, I guess I alway knew that the 900 had a limited lifespan. However, it's still a bit of a sod to discover that it'll likely need 1.5 times what I paid for it spent on fixing the corrosion and the next set of things that will break.

I'd like to be the sort of chap who'd restore the beast properly, but if I'm brutally honest I don't have the money or the skills.

Oh well, if it passes the MOT in July, that'll be an extra bonus level. Otherwise I'd best look at getting the 9000 back on the road, or finding some other vehicle to fill the classic-shaped void. Lord alone knows what, mind.

Probably another 900.
hirez: (Challenger)
Blee. [(c) Dr. O.]

Some infection or other is doing its level best to sneak up and render me stupid. However, I shall defeat it via the power of a warmed-up metabolism that seems to run best on strong tea and fresh raspberries.

(I was in Sainsbury's last night, post-gym. Always a dangerous time to buy anything, since endorphins makes a chap cheerful and extroverted and all the fresh things smelled extra wonderful. Mmm. Leeks. And random Belgian beer, which didn't smell of anything much more than glass and pricetags. But the raspberries, oh god the raspberries. Sod chocolate, give me a punnet of fresh ones and I'll hoover the set down before you can say 'Five daily portions'. Strawberries are nice, in a kind of prosaic everyone's friend way, but good raspberries have that tiert edge that makes them less popular. Good.)
[/Alasdair]

Infection-wallah can't be working that well, since I've been making old code work on new kit in a state of not thinking about what I'm doing too hard, otherwise it won't work. Ha!

So anyway. Was in Forbidding Prices. (not through choice, too many comics and figurines, not enough books. However, I suspect that part of the skiffy market is determinedly Long Tail, so high-street anything is going to be mostly first half of SFX rather than second half of Interzone.)

Still, came away with a free Batman comic (Ebay! $Ching! Apparently! Which makes me feel slightly guilty, since the people who crowded round to admire when I won the thing were nice at me. Not a cat-piss bloke in nasal range. I feel like I'm betraying the enthusiasms of a basket of kittens.) and a recent M(M)S. (So that's a second night of frankly bloody unnerving dreams wherein my subconscious seems intent on explaining just how much of a fuck-up it thinks I'm making of my life. Jayzus. When you wake up in the morning and have to spend about ten minutes separating reality from dream-based paranoia, just so you can face getting out of bed, something is clearly very wrong. I may not know much about fashion, but I do know that I'm not going to attack an ex-housemate with a brick over the issue of rivets in jeans. Or indeed want to dynamite a scary house that doesn't exist anyway that wasn't built next to a place I've not lived since 1986. All a bit previous. I'm supposed to be on my side.)

P. reported that over in the figurine section, some small child had taken to a model of the Colonial Marine spaceship from Aliens (or similar) and its parents were carefully explaining that it wasn't a toy for playing with.

Which of course is monumentally fucked up. Of course the blasted object is for playing with. It's for running round the garden going 'Wooooooosh!' and taking imaginary voyages to the pirate planet hidden on the dark side of the apple tree to do battle with the killer clockwork robots. It's certainly not for keeping in a box on a shelf by some balding fuck with a companion set of (boxed) Stargate 'action' figures.

The whole 'collectible' market/concept can piss right off, frankly. It's been noted in journals[1] that collecting anything is likely 'an attempt to impose order and meaning on an otherwise random and uncaring universe'. I can see collecting pictures of industrial buildings. In that the fun and adventure is the act of travelling hither and yon, looking for strange examples of water towers or acid vats, but miniatures of Star Trek knives in lovingly crafted presentation cases? Not near me you don't.

Oh, and I'd really like a new Dodge Challenger. Though not in orange.


[1] Sayle, A. Zarate, O. Geoffrey the tube train and the fat comedian. Mandarin. 1987.
hirez: (Laser goggles and raybans)
Ok, that's strange. Stranger even than stopping in on a Friday when all good thirty-summats should be about attempting to recreate their vanishing youths.

There's a sound that I've not heard for about twenty years. The sound of a hod of coal being shuffled into a Rayburn. The coal was kept in... Well, 'room' would be overdoing things a bit, but it had walls, a door, a roof and windows glazed with chicken-wire, so room it shall be... A room in the woodshed complex. At the top end were the huge sections of pine trunk that had been there for ever, since it would take another front-end loader to get them out again. Further down was the cleared area where the chopping block stood, ankle-deep in sawdust and chippings. The open side looked out across the drive and into the kitchen at the back of the house. (Built in 1913, according to the stone set in the eaves, so a couple of hundred years younger than the rest of the place) Located centrally was the coal-room, and on the other side of that was the chicken house and attached run. The whole thing was set into a bank, and as small (and less small) children, we'd pile onto the wavy-tin roof from the copse behind in search of tennis balls, or just to jump up and down on it because we'd been carefully told not to.

One hod was steel and falling to bits. The bottoms and lips of the things have rough lives, since the fastest and noisiest (and therefore the obvious best) way of filling the things is to ram them hard into the base of the coal-pile, lever them upright and shake so the coal clatters to the bottom and repeat until full. The other was newer, sturdier, of Rayburn-colour-matched plastic... And was the one that made the noise I remembered.

The thing about solid-fuel ranges (and indeed gas or oil-fired ones as well) is that you keep them running all the time. The feel and smell of a cold Rayburn or Aga is a desolate and unwelcoming thing. A hodful of coal will keep a Rayburn going all night if you damp the thing right down... And that's what you want to do; it's a lot less hassle to come down first thing to a warm range that just needs riddling out and refilling than it is to have to break out the firelighters and newspaper in a cold kitchen. Riddling? There's a drawer/tray affair in the base of a Rayburn, next to a chrome knob. A cast iron handle with a fork bent at 90 degrees is supplied, which fits into a flange in the knob and allows you to work it in and out about six inches. The rod that the knob is attached to engages in the circular spiral-gridded firebase and levers it back and forth in order to shake the ash and clinker into the tray beneath. That same cast handle can now be fitted into a square loop in the front of the (usually red-hot) tray in order to remove the thing to a place where the clinker can be disposed of.

Adjoining the woodshed was a clinker path that led to a clinker mountain. There was another clinker path going into the copse to the place where the bonfires were.

So what happened was that my mother had some sort of breakdown. As an early teen I was a startlingly unaware sort; if it wasn't on the Peel Programme or in Practical Electronics, I just wasn't interested. Dad had a farm to run and small brother wasn't quite tall enough to be able to carry a full coal hod in each hand. Thus it fell to me, in a surly and non-understanding teenage way, to keep the Rayburn going. And that was kind of the routine I went through each morning before beetling off to school and again last thing at night.

The point is that the sound of a coal-hod being emptied into a Rayburn - a kind of rumbly-stuttering white noise intermingled with a hollow plastic clattering to shake the last lumps out - from a couple of rooms away, means that someone else is keeping the place warm tonight, and that's a good thing.

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