Monday, November 25, 2002

Phew! What a weekend. Having belted down an Italian meal in time to get to the cinema in time for Die Another Day, it still didn't start for another 20 minutes. The theatre was full of young people, which for such a creakingly established franchise was unusual. A diverting 2 hours, but the script, especially the dialogue was very flabby, and Bond needs to be more distinct from other action movies.

Saturday - succeeded in creating a Linux Radio VCR in 10 lines of shell script. Neat. Very smug with myself. Accidentally automounted a remote home directory over by / directory. Less neat. Rendered machine unbootable. Had to "Get on T'Internet" as Peter Kay would say to figure out what I'd done. Went for walk round Arthur's Seat with Helen. Dinner, Casualty and too much telly.

The Meaning of Liff defines "duntish" as "Mentally incapacitated, owing to a severe hangover". I was very duntish indeed on Sunday, and succeeded in only some of my work. Then a health-giving walk around a reservoir at the base of the Pentlands with Helen, dinner, and too much telly. Again.

Now reading - Doctor Who - The Crooked World by Steve Lyons, which so far seems to be his best fluffy book to date. It's got a big fat juxtaposition (real people land in cartoon world) with the two paradigms frotting against each other most pleasurably.

Now watching - a sandwich of The Time Meddler and Resurrection of the Daleks. This follows the preceding concoction of The Sensorites and The Pirate Planet. I'm looking forward to resuming the quest for the Key To Time.

Tonight I shall be removing photographic red eye from, captioning, and artistically cropping about 30 pictures of one of Helen's friends. It's godsent tasks like this that justify expenditure on toys like scanners and photo-printers.

Looking forward to the weekend. Marillion are playing Manchester on Friday night and then there's a Doctor Who Fan Olympiad in the same city. What could go wrong?

Thursday, November 14, 2002

It's a Thursday in November. But you can probably tell that from the timestamp. It will be dark when I leave work tonight unless the firemen's strike means that the sky is ablaze with arson. I am ultra paranoid about unsafe electrical devices, but not to the point of switching my TV to 'off' rather than 'standby' as people who visit my home always do.

Currently reading - Doctor Who - The Book of the Still. Diverting enough, but Ebbsy displays a little too much in common with Dave "I'm wierd, me" Stone for me to relax completely. Still a good long lie-in and a hot bath tomorrow morning should see it off. I tend to embark on Who novel binges at this time of year, usually inspired by a biggie coming out that I want to catch up to.

Currently watching - Doctor Who - The Ribos Operation. On DVD this is as engaging as I thought it ought to be. When I last watched on VHS about 2 years ago, it wasn't. The stars' commentary is a delight, as is the score. There is a glut of Doctor Who to be watched at present, with the William Hartnell Box Set (am I alone in finding "Billy In A Box" a little distasteful?) awaiting. The wonderful VidFIRE process means that 10 of these 14 episodes must be viewed on TV and not on my PC monitor. This means a lot of ironing, cheese and wine this weekend. Oh no. What a strenuous obligation.

Currently listening to - White Eagle by Tangerine Dream, Doctor Who - The Savages, and Big Finish Talks Back. It's a sign of my Caledonian isolation that I now have to pay to listen to my acquaintances' opinions.

I fear I have been sacked from Doctor Who Magazine.

Thursday, June 06, 2002

  1. All voluntary motorists are destructive, unhealthy individuals

  2. Motorists are created by Driving Instructors

  3. It follows that if Driving Instructors can be eliminated, then the health of the human race will improve

  4. The British School Of Motoring employs many Driving Instructors

  5. The world would be a healthier place without the British School Of Motoring

Wednesday, April 03, 2002

Some mother-fucking socially irreponsible diseased cunt of a shit left most of a glass bottle in my path as I cycled home last night. My rear wheel passed over it, it exploded, and sliced my rear tyre neatly across. I was racing downhill inches from a rough sandstone wall, so I'm lucky I didn't scrape my face off. This time. I vainly replaced the inner tube, but the new one pushed out like a varicose vein, and exploded after 30 yards. I had left at 6 PM to get home and join a 7:30 teleconference from home, but realised there was no change I would make it to the railway station on foot in time to get a train to Edinburgh and walk home. So I walked the mile and a half back to the office, showered all the road-shit off myself and made the meeting.

This was 30 minutes late starting and failed to engage me in any way whatsoever.

Due to industrial action (or greed, as I tonight think of it), there is no train home from here for another 45 minutes. I will arrive home at around 10:30 if I'm lucky.

So much for my one free night to myself this week. And tomorrow, I have to get my glasses repaired. Unfortunately, in order to get to the optician's I have to get my bike repaired. At a shop which doesn't open until ten. On a working day. I may have flu tomorrow.

I do not think I have ever heard fate quite so eloquently tell me to fuck off and stop being so ambitious.

Friday, March 29, 2002

Americans do understand irony

But they don't understand ""fortnightly", it seems.

The phenomes 'in' and 'en' are becoming one in American English. A sign for the road where I am staying proclaims it to be on "Centinniel Avenue", whereas a note from the cleaner today advised me to place my old newspapers in the "bend" provided.

Thursday, March 14, 2002

Dave's Unix Tip of the Day

If some of the last set of changes to a file you saved in RCS were good, try something like

rcsdiff -e -r1.56 -r1.57 myfile > changes.edit

vi changes.edit (to remove the changes you want to keep)

echo w >> changes.edit

co -r1.56 myfile

ex myfile < changes.edit

ci -l changes.edit

Et Voila!

Sunday, March 10, 2002

Garden of the Gods is one of, if not the most, beautiful places I have ever seen. Today, in perfect weather, was my second visit. I listened to the last two Marillion albums on minidisc and shot about 40 frames of natural wonder. I have had a near-perfect day. Only my precious Helen's presence could have bettered it. America the beautiful, indeed.

Friday, March 08, 2002

My MS Outlook inbox is empty for the first time in three years. I have reached an email nirvana, the IT equivalent of a January detox. What other tasks must I complete before achieving information purity?

Thursday, March 07, 2002

Having taken something to help me sleep last night, I still feel sedated at 10:30 this morning. It's not entirely unpleasant, but I have a nagging fear that were a sabre-toothed tiger to be released in my workplace, I would simply continue to sit here coding. Obliviousness is not an evolutionary advantage.

Wednesday, March 06, 2002

I am happy in my cell. It is simple but all mine. I am worried that when I get home, life will contain too many variables for me to control.

Tuesday, February 26, 2002

My colleague, lunch companion, mp3 sharer, occasional driver home, and fellow Peter Cook devotee, Iain Johnstone died suddenly at home last Thursday night. Cause as yet unknown, it is impossible to digest such a shocking event. Words fail me.
I have been in Colorado Springs for one week, and have worked every day since arriving. I find the focus of being away from such ephemera as my favourite newspaper and radio channel very energising, and feel a genuine enthusiasm for my work and warmth towards my colleagues. This is reciprocated - they feel like old friends, and there were even "welcome back" gifts for colleague E. and mysef waiting on our desks. I am surrounded in my workplace by people and machines I find fascinating and want to learn how to work with.

To a Briton, the scale and form of this place is hard to identify - the sun is turning my skin ruddy while the mountains remain snowcapped and there were even drifts blowing around like smoke from lava this morning. Every few blocks the same names repeat themselves - there are more MacDonalds than in the Aberdeen phone book. I'm eating well - Agilent Technologies' lunchtime burritos and Ruby Tuesday's sublime salad bar being good opportunities to avoid those staples, beef and cheese. And I've consumed 2 glasses of wine and 3 pints of cider (cider! yes! at Jack Quinn's Irish Pub) and no more in the last week.

All this vocational and epicurian distraction leaves little room for immersion in the cultural bivouac I packed, although I was adequately entertained by William Boyd's Armadillo (although it's very much in the Charlie Higson or David Baddiel mode) and am presently being drawn in to The Rotter's Club by Jonathan Coe, which I bought solely because it contains a fictional review of Tales From Topographic Oceans.

Speaking of music, currently on heavy rotation in my brain (and occasionally on MP3) are

  1. Trey Gunn - Raw Power
  2. Suzanne Vega - Songs In Red and Gray
  3. Tony Levin - World Diary (and I've just ordered his other two)
  4. JS Bach - Goldberg Variations
and of course, always, the music of King Crimson and Marillion, men who do it because they're good at it.

I have been saving all my quarters to use in the laundromat at the place I'm staying, and left them in a neat pile in my room. Whoever cleaned my room today assumed they were a tip and took them. Try doing that in Britain.

Thursday, February 21, 2002

Sunday started cloudy and then got rather sunnier. Around 18 hours of G'n'T consumption in great company made for a relaxed day, surrounded by nice people. Went for a meal with a bunch of old on-line friends who are still a bunch on-line friends, but I was acepted back into the fold for the evening, very touchingly. I had around 2 hours sleep, and awoke in my lovely balcony room to find it full of sunshine. Musing on the fact that I was unlikely to be surrounded by so many friends again for a long time, I packed and listened to King Crimson's Waiting Man. A civilized journey to Denver was followed by a generous ride from colleague E. to Colorado Springs

The last two days work have been draining and satisfying. I really wish I worked here. Just as well. Two days down, 48 to go. I miss my Helen, but she sounds happy!

Sunday, February 17, 2002

On Friday, I returned to Universal Studios and conquered my fear of the Jurassic Park ride by going on twice. Having seen most of the attractions before, the stars were the weather and the view of the valley. A better evening than Thursday followed. Saturday was unsettled. I'm not really at this convention with anyone, so there's more time for solitary gym use or outdoor swimming, but it's quite an effort to find someone to lunch with. Throughout the day, I kept returning to my room to learn and practice my turn for the cabaret. By evening, I had delivered it to the mirror around forty times and got it right about once. At the last minute, I decided that my character would probably have a clipboard. I met Dan Freedman from the BBC in the bar, and then rehearsed Papaerback Writer with the paperback writers. Immediately before the cabaret, MC Cornell was having kittens and I wasn't far behind him in the feline maternity stakes. I stayed stage-left throughout, and as requested, composed supposedly witty bon mots for Paul to introduce each act with. He credited me from the stage, which was incredibly nice, as was his tongue-in-cheek praising me to the skies (I'll be reviewing his new play in a few months). I got the monologue spot on, and managed to glance at the clipboard while riding the laughs. My admiration for Ronnie Barker's flair with words and timing of delivery is absolute. The cabaret ran for over three hours and the hotel closed the bar 70 minutes later. But we had a good disco, which was raiding by the local cops who didn't realise it was a private function and demanded all alcohol be removed, including the 18 beers I'd bought at the 7-11! I had to keep sneaking back the the room for a quick chug. Thanks LAPD - you have elevated beer to class A status!

Four hours sleep later, I was in the first panel of Sunday morning. I am getting a cold, probably due to lack of sleep. All the gin and tonics probably may have some impact too. Off downstairs now for the Dead Ringers panel. And a drink.

Friday, February 15, 2002

Shortly after I retired on Wednesday night, the framed Dali melting clocks print in my living room commited suicide, by severing itself from the picture hook and plummeting noisily to the floor, where the glass shattered. This startled me considerably, and I was at a loss to attribute the sound until the morning.

I got a bit weepy when being waved off by Helen at Edinburgh airport. Met some fellow Gallifreyans at the departure gate at Heathrow, and enjoyed a pleasant flight - 51st State being great fun, especially Robert Carlyle's brave but doomed Scouse accent. The journey then demonstrated Zeno's paradox perfectly - the closer we got to the destination, the slower we moved.

Maybe I was just wiped out from the journey, but after speaking to Helen at 2am her time, the night went downhill. One or two loud, pissed-up, or over-flirtatious Brits really spoiled the atmosphere, and the convention not having started, they had an empty canvas to defile. Being quickly brushed-off by a former on-line acquaintance when I introduced myself to him for the first time was a bit crushing, too. However, Maggie Stables is enchanting, and Mark McDonnell engagingly down-to-Earth.

An unsatisafctory night, neither civilized nor riotous, but having the worst aspects of both. Retired at 11pm but woke again at 3:30 and have stayed up to unpack, and am feeling far less unsettled now that I have imposed some order on my lovely large third-floor room.

I think I may press ahead and learn an edited version of one of Ronnie Barker's monologues for the cabaret on Saturday night - Getting Your Wrongs In The Word Order. In the meantime, I am joining a massed visit to Universal Studios today. Just time to go and forage for high-fibre food (a brave objective) and maybe have a swim if it's nice at 8 o'clock. I'm glad to be here. Bath time.

Monday, February 11, 2002

Gosford Park was worth the wait. I look forward to enjoying the parts I didn't follow on second viewing. Cinema still packed. Trudged around Haddington and environs on Saturday. I could live there without being pushed too hard. It's worth it for the funny man on the junction sign who has a no-entry symbol for a head and four roads for limbs. As you approach the junction from different directions he assumed diffent postures. I think he's a distant relative of Bertie Basset.

Cycled in this morning against fierce wind. And the weather was a bit blustery, too. I have still not recovered from 30 lengths of the pool on Thursday. Hope I can find somewhere to swim in Colorado Springs.

I will have enough mp3 music and drama with me to run a medium-sized radio station for a month or two. None of the sodding DVDs I have ordered to take with me have been despatched. Arse.

Monday, February 04, 2002

A full weekend nestles warmly in my memory. Managed to complete both reviews by 2am Friday morning, although Invaders From Mars took some combing on Saturday before being submitted. With a six-week stay in Colorado Springs looming, I'm trying to squeeze in as much quality home time as possible. I managed some passable Indian cooking on Saturday night, as cooking while listening to Loose Ends before settling down to dinner over Casualty is tradition which greatly soothes my obsessive/compulsive soul. I ploughed through 60 breadths of the Commonwealth Pool on Sunday lunchtime, having finally realized that you can use your legs in breast stroke too.

Helen and I attempted valiantly to get in to Gosford Park on Sunday night before giving up and going to Pizza Express in Stockbridge, where the pizzas are getting smaller and less pleasant with every visit ("not as good as yours", said Helen; the kind of bare-faced lie that endears her to me ever more), and we were the only couple without a designer baby. We consoled ourself with another Richard E. Grant appearance, specifically, Withnail and I, with DVD commentary my Paul McGann and Ralph Brown. They talked so much that I'll be able to watch it again soon and find the dialogue relatively fresh. Grant's absence from the voice-over booth is a bonus, since McGann and Brown discuss his nature unselfconciously.

Only ten days left in the UK until April.

Thursday, January 31, 2002

I'm going to have an interesting few months, and will be visiting America again in just over two weeks. I've therefore decided to resume an on-line diary, and I'm glad that there's already a framework in place. Today I have lots of phone conferences during the day. In the evening, I have to finish my review of Project Infinity, and listen to, and I hope, Invaders From Mars which arrived today. I may try and sleep at some stage.