Wednesday, November 24, 1999

24/11/99 Humble Pie & Other Subjects

Well, the big news over here was that the French team lost against the Australians. On the other hand, they weren't actually expecting to win against the All Blacks, so it wasn't too much of a let-down (and rugby is definitely a minority sport here anyway, played only by garlic-munching thugs from the South) and they didn't feel obliged to lynch the coach and cut the players into small bits with blunt rusty axes, which is, as far as I've been able to gather, more or less what happened in NZ. And Massey University set up a grief counselling crisis cell for depressed students during their finals? Get a life!

Winter's come in about a week earlier than usual - at least by our rather primitive measure, which is whether or not it snows down where we are. Started yesterday and kept up quite heavily today, so there's about 15cm of snow down in the garden, the trees occasionally go "Whoosh! Slither!" as a branch gets tired of holding up so much snow, and right now it's stopped and there's a glacial wind fresh from Siberia which means that the slush on the road will be nicely frozen for tomorrow morning. As if I didn't have enough problems getting home tonight. (As, let it be said, did Margo - the BMW is a right pig on snow. Needs a couple of 40kg sacks of cement in the boot.)

Great whoopee next week as the radiators finally arrive on Monday: on Tuesday the plumbers actually put them in and finish off the last little bits of the installation. With any luck the central heating will be functional in December. It'd better be.

It's now Monday next week - when the radiators were supposed to arrive - and as you can of course guess they haven't. Friday, they're now promising. The snow is deep (about 35 cm) and crisp and even, and looks like hanging around a while as it's definitely not the sort of weather you'd want your pet brass monkey to go out in ie bloody cold. Tonight there are no clouds in the sky, a full moon and it must be about -10 out there. More snow forecast for tomorrow.

Of course there's the usual chaos on the roads, mostly caused by the freight lorries which try to go through mountain passes before the snowploughs have had a chance to clean them up a bit, then of course they jack-knife on the snow and then the snowploughs CAN'T get through - then we have the edifying spectacle on the evening news of truck drivers moaning about how they can't get through to Italy or wherever because people haven't been doing their jobs and keeping the roads clear. Having been overtaken by at least 40 lorries doing 110 on Thursday night, when I was lumbering along at 80 due to the snow, I can't say I have much sympathy for them.

A handy tip, incidentally, for winter driving in the continent - do NOT take the autoroute when it's snowing. It is usually clearer than the nationales, but IF there's an accident and you get stuck there's no way you can get out - just have to wait until it's cleared up. And that could take some time - they're still working on the A7 from Chambery to Marseilles, which was blocked by snow last night.

Succumbed to temptation and bought a Palm V (two, in fact, one for Renaud, one for me) today. About two weeks back Renaud said he WANTED ONE as a NEW toy, so I thought I'd better check the things out. I must admit that I thought it'd probably turn out to be some sort of executive fiddle beads, but I borrowed an old one from Jean-Gilles and after a week I was hooked. The address book is handy - it's all in the mobile anyway, but when someone rings me and asks for so-and-so's phone number I can't give it to them 'cos I'm already using the phone. So it's nice to have the numbers somewhere else. What'd be good would be able to synchronise the two lists, what's in the mobile and what's in the Palm.

The calculator doesn't have a hexadecimal function so it's of no earthly use whatever, and I haven't yet figured out how to make the e-mail work, although when I finally get the proxy server at the office working correctly that will doubtless be no problem.

But what really makes it useful is the notepad. Once you get the hang of writing on the little beast it really is simple, and it saves me an enormous amount of time bringing out the big notebook, flicking through it to find an empty page, writing my notes ... and then, back at the office, trying to find all the notes in my big notebook concerning some particular contract. If only for that, it's worth the money.

Now I just have to overcome my aversion to spending money long enough to buy two portables with 17" screens, sufficiently equipped for Windows NT, decent-sized keyboards and built-in ISDN modems, and I'll really be able to work anywhere. At the moment I'm still lugging the office machine back and forwards between office and home, as there's no way I'm going to pollute the home machine (which is working nicely, thank you, and will probably do so as long as I don't install any more Microsoft crud on it) with SQL Server and as at any rate it's only a poor 133MHz Pentium I it'd take me at least an hour to execute a query.

Anyway, we're all well, if a bit on the chilly side. Tess rufuses to go outside unless she absolutely has to (ie is kicked out) and I can't say that I blame her. Margo is much the same. Jeremy doens't seem to worry too much about the temperature so long as he can play with Lego - or watch the cartoon series of Godzilla. Great way, incidentally, to get him showered and clean - "You can't watch Godzilla until you've had a shower. Godzilla is on in 5 minutes." 4 minutes, 30 seconds later, he's clean, damp and sweet-smelling and sitting in front of the TV.

As for Malyon, it seems that she's settled in very well - got her yellow belt in judo so I expect that when she gets back here corporal punishment will no longer be an option - I've no wish to find myself lying on my back with her elbow in my throat. It's bad enough sitting in the armchair with Jeremy bouncing on my lap.

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