hirez: (dissent)
I was going to use the line 'One instinctively knows when something is right', but I'm not a great fan of sherry and its cultural baggage of tiddly aunts and false teeth vicars. I also don't really know where to begin to describe what I'm on about, so I'm just going to make typing like a sir until the thing finally falls out of my head and lands with a spludge somewhere unfortunate. Like social media. That's pretty unfortunate.

The thing I get most out of mowing lawns is a kind of brain-off satisfaction in manual labour. Although actually not, because if you're mowing a useful sort of lawn you'll be using something with a motor and whirling sharp things and you'll either be paying attention to that or looking in the long grass for severed body parts. Also you'll be paying attention to the fuel-air mixture or where the extension lead is relative to the whirling sharp things, where small and darting animals and/or children are at any point, where the edge of any mower-consuming steep drops might be, what metallic and/or concrete objects might be hiding in that patch of long grass and your dogshit radar, largely unused while the Party of Labour were in power, will be on maximum gain.

I think this means that one's brain isn't off, it's just not thinking of bloody Ruby or bloody servers or bloody 'git log -p'. However, I was having fun mowing lawns well before the invention of git, Ruby and the development of the x86-64 server architecture as we currently understand it. Thus it's probably not that.

(What was that horrible 'competitor' to MCA with two-level slots and the requirement to configure each card from its own setup floppy? God. Remember when you had to put extra things in computers to make them do something useful? That was shit.)

I think that there's something quite pleasing about orbiting a patch of scruffy ground with a whirly sharp thing and replacing the scruffiness with an abstract figure within which there is order. Or if not order, then a marked change. Given my background, you may see also grain harvesting or ploughing.

I should also note that a rectangular lawn carefully rendered stripy by carefully going up and down, left to right is absolutely no fun at all. It's just suburban, or posby as Ma would have it.

Ironing's another good one. Also properly indented code and sensibly ordered files. Although those things don't feel anything like as nice.

What I'm attempting to get at is that I have no idea what this thing is or what to call it. It's just a thing that I imagine is Just Me. In some ways, I don't want to think too hard about what's going on, just in case it loses its magic.
hirez: (Radiation)
Well, not the songs, since Fred Archer was 'more popular' in our house than Elvis. I say 'more popular'. I mean 'About as popular as foot-and-mouth'. So that would be something from the sixties that people didn't talk about much, apart from when they'd point at the far end of the field known as 'The Deerpark'[1] which was up the hill from the reservoir that our drinking water came from, and go 'That was where they dug a big pit and pushed all the carcasses in with a bulldozer'.

I didn't know that Elvis had a second career as a crawler driver in sixties Gloucestershire. I guess the private aircraft would have come in handy, what with the touring, the television and needing to be on site early to run a grease-gun over the idler wheel bearings and check the fuel filter.

http://www.wyastone.co.uk/steam-and-harness-recollections-of-power-transport-on-the-cotswolds.html

[1] Because that was where the people at the Big House kept deer. You can tell this because the surrounding walls are easily twice the height of any others in the area.

"Doe, a fire at an aircraft establishment / Tea, a drink with jam and beer."

Whatever it is that is wrong with my head this week (it is sinus-related), giveth daft ideas and taketh away any semblance of concentration or technical aptitude.
hirez: (My name is legion)

It would not surprise me to learn that many children of farming families had birthdays around November-January.

hirez: (My name is legion)

A weeny socket-set for spannering things that are far away, or quite small. A tenner from the shop of American cheapness.

hirez: (safety chicken)
Accidentally one of these. That was careless.
hirez: (Default)

I don't know how to sleep in this bed. it are strange and confusing.

hirez: (Aspirational message)
I dunno. It's like something in my head has shaken loose, or perhaps I had a head full of rubbish that looked like a really bad go at Tetris, and an inspired bout of button-jabbing has slid a selection of 5x1 blocks into the depths of the mess and made it all collapse away under its own weight.

Today a nice man came to hack away at the back of the house and (I hope) repair the bits that I suspect have been allowing the damp in. It's only wanted doing for oh god I really shouldn't be allowed nice things years, and I have never been able to talk myself into phoning the relevant Nice Builder (Jerry, who used to live a couple of doors down and so knows exactly what goes wrong with these houses) because the stupid people that live in my head were convinced that it would cost nine million quid. Because obviously as soon as yer man raised a hammer to some knackered bit, it would fall away to reveal something infinitely worse and the only things left holding up the house would be habit and the wiring loom.

The people who live in my head are stupid bastards who should never be allowed to watch any television programme presented by either Sarah Beeny or Dom Littlewood ever.

The only mild excitement to the morning was when yer man called me outside to look at the gap between the door frame and the lintel, which had been filled at some point by a carelessly cut block of polystyrene foam. He'd already found a length of wood in the garage that would be a better fit and only wanted to know if I'd any plans for it myself. Which, I don't know, felt like he'd already worked out I was the sort of chap who'd hang onto lengths of timber because 'that'll come in handy one day'...

The lintel itself was a sodding great lump of concrete-and-rebar that looked like it had been hacked from a bunker (or Maunsell Fort, as I alleged on FB earlier) and I could probably expect that to fail some time in the next 6-800 years.

So the house is less likely to let the wet in this winter, and the garden, while still something of a concrete wasteland, is now somewhere pleasant to be that I can quietly fill with containers of small trees, fruit bushes and herbs. Which is...

... You know, if you're one of the five people who still pay attention to LJ, that we went to York this last weekend. Since York is not short of fine ales and interesting food, I spent some time sampling both. It has been my experience of the last few years that hangovers have become terrifying and debilitating cavalcades of all the things in my head that are a bit of a worry, in triplicate and in 5.1 dobbly sterelode.

That didn't happen, so in a spirit of scientific investigation I must drink more beer in order to determine exactly how stupid and self-limiting I've been.

(And that, your honour, is the case for the defence...)
hirez: (Happy cycling)
The other week, I was grovelling back through my LJ archive for something else, when I found the set of posts surrounding my attempts to do enough miles to feel fit enough to tackle the Dunwich Dynamo. The short version is that I had a rather good time pottering across Wiltshire in a 100k challenge ride (Still got the cert somewhere) and was looking forward to be able to take part in the Dynamo and the Tour of the Cotswolds the following year.

That remains the longest distance I've cycled, which is hateful.

As far as 'medical' 'science' is concerned there's nothing wrong with me and would I just stop bothering busy GPs with my mithering I should be glad I can ride a bike at all.

That's hateful, too.

Once in a while I forget and go out for a medium potter (out to Hambrook last month on a Sunday evening. It was lovely.) and then spend the rest of the bloody week in a state of paranoia and self-hatred.

In short, cavalcade of arse and ableist entitlement.

(I lied about the hashtags)
hirez: (Trouble with my worms (ii))
My head is filled with work, which isn't much fun even if you're me. Instead I will try to jabber about other things and see what comes out.

[ Time passes ]

Hm. You now that thing where you're staring at a blank input box (on Logjam, perhaps the oldest LJ client available) trying to piece words together, but failing because you've had a distinctly average day at work where you have consistently proven you have no brains to speak of. Yet there you are with a fiction deadline lumbering down the month at you like a BMW driven by Inevitability, so you haul out the laptop and start poking away at Scrivener with the attitude that 350 words of shite is better than no words and rubbish excuses.

Then it's something like an hour and a half and 1K5 words later and you realise that the plot isn't so much back on track as clinging on to a NASA rocket-sled whistling in the general direction of Away and, actually, word count is going to be something of a problem, but from the other side.

Yeah. That.

I was always terrible at observational comedy.
hirez: (irradiated)
Work, right? Filled with things. Many of them falling into the category of 'another fucking opportunity for personal growth', which, um, right. I'd point at my old post about normality and workloads, but whatevs.

[FX: Looks at LJ posts from this time last year. It was all completely fucked, wasn't it?]

Anyway. If you recall, before Christmas we had some weather. This was the Ballardian Wind from Nowhere, rather than the more recent Ballardian Drowned World, and as a cincequonce the hateful Pyracanthus bush at the bottom of the garden took on the sort of stance usually seen in coastal blackthorn bushes. Since it was also massively topheavy with bright orange berries, the only thing for it was to hack the thing back violently and hope that the stumpy remains returned to life when the growing season returned. (They haven't)

Then there was the other sort of weather. Then when there wasn't any particular weather there were things and/or people to go and visit which was lovely but oh crikey hello the middle of March and the garden's still actually a tip filled with downed bushes and builder's waste.

A few weeks ago I bought an incinerator and stored it in the lee of the house to as to avoid the worst of the weather.

I don't know about you lot, but watching someone play a portable harmonium makes me want to start 'singing' Ivor Cutler songs and/or repeating the parts of 'Life in a scotch sitting room' that I can remember. However, given the specific audience, I had to start from first principles and attempt to explain Ivor Cutler.

An entire pyracanthus bush + Buddliea prunings + random garden gubbins can be fed slowly into an incinerator, but it's hot and smoky work and I was mildly disturbed when the alleged galvanized 'coating' on the 'lid' started coming off on my gloves like mercury.

I also said some jolly rude words when I caught the inside of my forearm on the inside of the incinerator and a wedge of skin just shrivelled up and fell off. However, since the job was only half done, I couldn't run indoors to, I don't know, run it under the tap or something. Anyway we don't have plasters that big. Anyway anyway, it's a burn and you're supposed to leave that in the open air.

Later, we beetled off to the Bristolcon Fringe event where there was beer and food and a set of jolly good readings.

There wasn't anything odd about that. Well, not until I ended up deep in a discussion about characters and then realised that I was having no hint of impostor syndrome.
hirez: (Challenger)
Today I ignored a mild hangover and steamed to Cheltenham to do 'manly things', look at the countryside and visit people with an aim to blag mugs of tea.

All of these things were surprisingly successful, in spite of the efforts of two different feckwits trying to bend my car and/or kill me.

The M5 junction between Cheltenham & Gloucester (Left for doomed industry and concrete supplies for the ruination of an otherwise harmless town centre, right for the delivery of multiple expensive computers, 'phone exchange exploitation kit, high end fibre optic gear and sundry data-warehousing requisites) is one of those Ballardian multi-layer things with a no-mans-land roundabout between the M5 in the cutting and the A40 flying over the top. The sight-lines are designed to be poor so you have to mostly stop when transitioning from slip-road to roundabout to slip-road.

The bollix in the people-carrier pulling off the southbound M5 seemed to think that he was in some urban environment where putting yr nose into the traffic would make the oncoming car(s) pull to a halt to allow you out.

This does not work on a motorway junction.

A few years ago, someone tried this on the M4/M32 junction, which is an even worse idea because it's all motorway rather than some nod-wink reclassified thing. To be fair, he had the wit to look utterly terrified as a stream of artics and speeding bastards aimed for his wheelarch.

The bollix on the M5 didn't even seem to have the brains to do that. Instead he pulled out further as I was slowing down and conducting a rapid lifesaver over my right shoulder to make damn sure the rest of the road was empty before steaming across his bow with a cheerful two-fingered wave.

Honestly. In a different life, I'd have t-boned the fucker to prove a point, but I was on my way to visit mum and that would not have been seen as a valid excuse.

On the way back, the bit of M4 between the M5 junction and the M32 was busying up nicely with drivers who'd not worked out if they were supposed to be doing 50 or 70. (The answer being 'yes')

A different bollix decided that an appropriate lane-change manoeuvre would be to start indicating and moving right at about the same sort of time then check that there wasn't a car in the way. Perhaps a blue SAAB 9000CSE driven by someone clairvoyant enough to realise exactly what was going on.

For a laugh, I have the Highway Code open in another window, and a sufficiently Wikipeejah-editor reading of section 163 - You should [ ... ] use your mirrors, signal when it is safe to do so, take a quick sideways glance if necessary into the blind spot area and then start to move out - would seem to show that the letter of the law was being followed. However, immediately before that in the cunningly-titled section 162, we find this - Before overtaking you should make sure [ ... ] road users are not beginning to overtake you.

In short - go and get fucked you horrible, horrible bastards. It is true that one could claim that there's a missing exception in (163) along the lines of 'If there is a car approaching in the lane to your right, abort your current course of action.' On the other hand, the somewhat kinetic teaching moment made available is not always survivable by all those involved...
hirez: (Riiight)
I don't know where to begin with this.

It transpires that the Romans worshipped Cotswold gods. (Even now, El Bat is warming up his sarcasm cannon...)

I dunno that 'Apollo Cunomaglos' is a particularly Cotswold name, but then Tartaglia's produce the best ice cream in Gloucestershire and dissent will result in a shoeing, so, er, stitch that you Oxfordshire bastard.
hirez: (Challenger)
Earlier this arvo I was outside Ma's, pretending to be a bicycle repair-person, when a strange man hove into view in command of a vintage Fordson Major. Strange man turned out to be Uncle Will, showing off his most recently restored tractor.

"Go on," he said. "You used to drive them all the time..."

'All the time' actually parses out as 'on and off in the school holidays when Pa could be persuaded I wasn't going to break any expensive machinery'. Breaking myself was never a consideration. If duffers best drowned, etc.

So after something like a thirty year break I am back in command of someone else's tractor and trying very hard not to reverse it into the scenery or any of the quite expensive cars that are all carefully parked right in the way.

I am also in command of an idiot grin and laughter that you can hear from the far end of the paddock over the sound of the engine.

Only after I have failed to break it or anything around me do I discover that the thing used to belong to grandfather (Will's dad), so I guess that would be three generations steaming around on the thing over time.
hirez: (irradiated)
[ I am logging these with at least one specific tag. At least I think I am. Given the state of my brain, it's hard to tell. Thus you are not expected to respond. Although it is jolly nice when people do. ]

Anyway. Woken at 4am from the folded position by my brain exploding. Which was a bit bleedin' previous.

I think I'm back to what-passes-for-normal now. In that it seems to be the C21st and I'm looking forward to watching Meades on the tellybox, rather than staring balefully at things and wondering about a casual vomit. Well, I say 'staring'. I mean 'not using my eyes too hard because their interface to my brain has basically stopped producing useful output.'

(Note for future self which I will ignore/misplace when this happens again: Give up. Go outside and carelessly observe things in the middle distance. Go for a walk and view the things around you, not allowing your head to remain in any one position for too long.)

On the other hand, I have just found a Stylophone (very old) and a DR-110 (less old).
hirez: Humppa! (Humppa!)
This (as linked by the estimable @tef on the rather less estimable Twitter) was an odd read.

Back in the old days, just before beetling off to HEU and changing my life forever, I used to write C that ran on squitty little industrial(ish) PCs the size of, oh, four Betamax tapes sellotaped together. What that alleged code mostly did was grab serial data off the wire and send it up a modem to another squitty PC somewhere else. What made it 'fun' (FAVO) was that the serial data was destined for a printer, so was sort-of structured by layout on the page (and thus fitted into the boxes on the forms), which made working out which bit meant what a bit of a laugh. To add to the excitement, the data itself had come out of the back of some random pathology lab, so the guesses as to which bit meant what had to be 100% accurate.

Anyway. Before I'd been allowed into the programming room, I'd been set to assembling the immediate predecessors of the squitty-PCs, which were, er, oh hell. 68HC11-based? Something like that. A washing-machine controller with ideas, before all of this physical computing malarkey was cool. They were named the 'Argus programmable modem', which was basically true. Imagine a BBC micro sawn in half and running an integer BASIC optimised for serial comms and wonky data-logging. Because assembling and testing (and repairing) programmable modems became boring after about a fortnight, I started work on some noddy stock-wombling code - about enough brains to warn me or Brian that with a lead-time of (mumble) and an order quantity of (blah) we'd best order a bucket of grommets by next Wednesday - which brought me to the attention of the clever buggers in the coding room. I got the impression that it was a case of 'So, think you're clever do you?'

Well, actually, yes I did. And to prove it I persuaded them to order some toys from the Grey Matter catalogue and thus double productivity.

One of the things was FTPs PC-TCP library (Big green loose-leaf binder, IIRC) because I was convinced that speaking to the bloody path computers as a notional equal was going to be much less painful than Being A Printer. (There's some notional anarchist political wossname in there, which in the context of the tosspot boss and his many ways was radical business.)

The other blokes were less convinced. This TCP/IP malarkey was clearly some untrustworthy, proprietary and fly-by-night protocol and anyway the NHS was going to standardise on OSI/X.400/X.500 so anything else would be a waste...

Probably.
hirez: (Default)
Visited the large shop of American horrors this arvo. It is already filled with objects of a yule-based nature.

(Tangent - there's a 'party shop' a few streets away. Although it's more a deserted hangar where good intentions go to be tortured to death. I've never been inside something like that before, so since I was feeling rather adventurous I wandered in. Then I wandered through, mostly keeping my eyes averted so that I would not become infected by the awfulness, and indeed wandered out at a fair clip ditto.)

One of the objects was an allegedly wooden advent calendar. It seems to me that objects like that are selling an idealised yule-based experience that has only ever existed in the head of a particularly annoying product-marketing executive who has likely watched 'It's a wonderful life' once too often (ie - once).

There were also six-foot 'wooden' 'soldiers' with teeth like meat-grinders. I have no clear idea what those would be for, other than providing the next generation with a valid excuse for hating the yule-based period and thus repeating the cycle of marketing-based hope over terrible reality.

In short: homburg.
hirez: Humppa! (Humppa!)
hirez: Humppa! (Humppa!)
hirez: (Challenger)
For MOT-related reasons, I'm bobbling about in a different 9000 while mine is being fettled by Justyn-who-does-SAABs (and who was pleased to tell me that he'd just bought a mint 9-5 Carlsson for 700 notes. The complete rotter).

It's a CS with the blower set to 'hooligan' and it is very silly indeed.

(Un)fortunately, I am forced to drive it for a few more days because the poor sod managed to crack the sump on mine...

On the other hand, the Youtubes has worked what I'm like (or at least what one facet is like) and keeps presenting me with DieselPr0n. Yes I would like some footage of a Bristol Hercules and/or a 60-litre V12 Paxman diesel. Although I have to say that I've been closer to that one than the camera-person (It is going to be a bloke though, isn't it.) and it's much more impressive when you're nose-to-injector with the thing.

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hirez: (Default)
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