Sunday, July 6, 2008

06/07/08 The future of relational databases may involve quantities of red wine ...

Or, of course, not. Sorry about that - reading through my old copies of BYTE magazine (up to 1992 now) for a bit of a laugh.

No sooner had I hit the send button for the last one but Jeremy presents us with more proof - should it be needed - of his anti-electric nature. Saturday night and we headed off to the neighbours for dinner (yes, we had actually been invited, it does happen) with anticipation, as Stéphane does a pretty mean barbecue. Once we'd got on to the digestifs it would've been cruel to keep Jeremy around just to make him listen to obscure and unfunny jokes and the usual convoluted adult conversation so we told him to head back home: five minutes later he was back having tripped the main circuit-breaker, blown a fuse and exploded two light bulbs simply by trying to turn on the kitchen light. And my UPS was screaming blue murder, as it does when there's no power ... I don't know what it is, but career paths involving electricity are perhaps not for him. It may be a bit fetishist, but perhaps a full rubber suit would be a good idea ... (Later update - he's also managed to throw/drop his cellphone into a lake. It doesn't work anymore. Why am I not surprised?)

I also forgot to mention the weather - forgetting my Anglo-Saxon roots, sorry. Bloody foul, is the polite way of describing it. Grey, wet, dismal and cold - kind of like Gordon Brown, really. There aren't any cherries, and those that are taste of water. The strawberries are soggy. The apricots rot if you look at them sideways (and we don't have any anyway 'cos it snowed on the flowers). I think I shall be inspired to write a Russian novel - perhaps not "War and Peace" because it's a bit long and anyway it's been done before, I think - by the BBC - but definitely a few hundred pages in which everyone (have to think about the casting) talks about interesting things that used to happen but don't anymore and what they will do but somehow never get around to (unless that's in the sequel) and nothing ever happens. Ever. Except for rain. And problems with the household staff. And bloody Uncle Vanya - the odd one.

Did manage to gather a handful of girolles up in the mountains with Jacques (after a mountain-goat descent from a ridge through a thicket of head-high nettles and then back up to another ridge, where apparently the mushrooms lay their eggs or spawn or do whatever it is they do) but only just enough to go into a cream sauce with our chicken on Sunday night. Jeremy, poor benighted lad that he is, does not like girolles - nor morilles nor trompettes nor, in fact, any mushroom of whatever variety (he has also expressed the opinion that sweet peppers are the spawn of the devil, but what would he know) - which means more for us and just as well too. Absolutely delicious.

Wednesday night it was off for a raging testosterone-filled evening at Albertville, for a "Tribute to AC/DC" concert. Which was not, in fact, bad. They'd got a swag of French session musicians together with a maniac on guitar (wearing schoolboy uniform - no satchel though) and it came off rather well. The audience was mainly grandparents out for the night with the littlies - with a few notable exceptions, like me - which I suppose shouldn't have surprised me too much. Whatever - it was fun. I really should have taken some earplugs though.

After a bit of a hiatus, we've made it into July. The weather is still foul - we get up in the morning to a rather chilly 26° and during the day it gets up to 38° in the shade on the balcony. Do you have any idea what it's like mowing the lawn in that sort of heat? Thought not. And lest you ask - yes, I do still have to mow the lawn, it's still green and growing healthily. On the other hand, last Sunday morning I went down with the sprayer full of North Korean nuclear goo and paid some attention to the brambles that were working on garden domination. Naturally enough it rained on Sunday afternoon, but I think they're dying regardless. I hope so - my stock of napalm has passed the use-by date and I certainly wouldn't want to get botulism from outdated total herbicide.

We have actually managed a couple of barbecues - it's been sufficiently predictable to organise something that doesn't turn out like the Searle "Non-arrival of the English Grape Harvest" festival. Coincidentally, rosé consumption has soared and I can see I'll have to order in another tanker. Luckily it's cheaper than petrol.

It being July we've now got into the official silly season, and France is closed until the end of August. We'll still be around, panting in the sparse shade - about all we've planned on is heading up to Pesselière for a week in August. And Margo heads off to Rome for a few days around the 14th for a sort of school reunion - I think it'll be the first time that she, Vic and Raewyn have been together since they joined up in Mali about 20 years ago.

Malyon turns up in Paris in a couple of weeks: she is a grown-up, independent and empowered young woman which is just as well as she'll have to hump her luggage from Roissy to Gare de Lyon and then buy a TGV ticket to get down here. Which is not to say that I wouldn't buy her one if I could (in fact I can), it's just that I can't get the actual bloody ticket to her and so it's not much use, is it? I could order the ticket, but she'd need the credit card used for payment to pick it up (that is not going to happen), and the SNCF has for some reason abandoned the system whereby they'd e-mail you your (nominative) ticket as a PDF file which you could happily print out. Quel bummer. Whatever. After making it down to NZ and back, I think she'll manage to get from Paris to Chambéry.

On the other hand, we do have to worry about Chambéry-Glasgow, which is not quite as simple. There is a Geneva-Glasgow flight with Easyjet, but not during the summer - too many moths or something. So it might involve Lyon-Stansted and then change for Glasgow - or alternatively TGV to Roissy and thence direct to the dump ... why can't I just go to some website and get the answer rather than have to work it out myself? My brain is full!

Currently July 6 and it's been persisting down all day, having started at some ungodly hour in the morning and kept up from then on. It's warm enough, but the rain's a bummer. It'll only encourage the grass to grow, which we really do not need. Fortunately it was fine yesterday - I say "fortunately" because otherwise I would have been highly pissed off as the neighbour's BBQ would have been rained out and the fireworks down at the lake would've been damp squibs.

Otherwise there's not much to report: Janet & Kevin came over from Milton Keynes for a few days, which was very pleasant - even if they did bring over photos from seven years ago when I actually had hair (forgotten what the stuff looks like these days, makes visits to the hairdresser a lot cheaper mind you), we had the Fête de la Musique at Chambéry (which was pretty crap this year if you ask me, but still another occasion to sink a few bottles of rosé between friends), and the dog contracted Lyme disease, which luckily got caught before irreversible renal failure and she's once again her usual clumsy retarded loveable self.

Been working a bit from time to time - had to head off down to Grenoble on Friday to Alstom (for whom I've been trying - and apparently succeeding - to fix a few problems with a satellite antenna) to be present at a meeting with them, Thalès Aerospace and the DGA (which is the Direction Generale de l'Armement, or the military pork trough). I made an effort, put on a decent shirt and a tie for once and went "wibble" from time to time. Just so that no-one thought I was asleep. Then we all went off for lunch and I had morue, or salt cod, which may have been a mistake. Because it tastes, basically, of fishy salt, and it requires washing down with heroic quantities of wine. Which is not, in itself, a bad thing unless you're planning on driving anywhere in the next three months.



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