Sunday, October 17, 2010

The snow is nigh ...

All alone again: Margo and Karen have headed off to Milan for this big salon thingie. Sounds as though the Italians could teach the French a thing or two about organising pissups in breweries (or an orgy in a brothel, if you prefer - that translates better into French). There are apparently two big exhibition centres at Milan, about 15 minutes apart, and they both have the same name. So the possibility of some confusion would seem high. Assuming that you are confused, you'd think that when, at the exhibitor's gate, they scanned your barcode, big warning lights would flash up on the computer and they would tell you that you're not at the right place. Apparently not, for according to Margo they wandered around for an hour before someone eventually said that they were not where they wanted to be. (And it's probably just as well that Karen speaks fluent Italian, which is in fact why she's there - to look after poor Margo.)

Whatever, they eventually disovered their mistake and got to the right place (only two hours later than planned) to find that parking was, even by Italian standards, worse than dismal. German mobile-homes with caravans trying to get into the exhibition parking, half a kilometer of backed-up traffic all honking enthusiastically behind ... and they they were told that they had to park on the other side of the street anyway. What fun. Especially lugging all your stuff across a busy 4-lane boulevard and up three flights of stairs ... at least the worst that happened to me today was having WinCE not wanting to include one of my drivers in the build, and I was kind of expecting that because it hadn't played up for over a week.

You may have heard that we're suffering strikes at the moment, occasioned by our dwarf president's proposed reforms on retirement: I cannot say that having lots of retirees on strike really draws attention to itself, as almost by definition they don't do a damn thing anyway, but having the public transport workers go out as well was noticeable. A hell of a lot more traffic on the VRU, which meant diving off and going through twisty side roads to get to the office on Tuesday.

More importantly, and definitely more annoying, I have discovered that there are apps that will not install under Win7 64-bit: including some of my development tools. B'stard. This means that I'm going to have to keep the desktop machine running for a while yet, which was not really in my plans.

And on top of that there's a bit of maintenance to do on the TV computer. One of the external hard-drives died the other day: one of those with about 500Mb of TV series on it, not all of which we've had the time to watch. As I plugged it into the USB port I heard the sad "clunk-clunk-clunk" of a desperately seeking drive head and said to myself "that's one dead disk", but much to my surprise, once I'd managed to pry open the case (shame about that, one of the nice Porsche Design jobs from LaCie), extract the disk and plug it into  the only spare IDE slot on my computer, everything was still there! So I suppose the USB/IDE interface fried, which is kind of unusual.

I have two other definitely dead USB drives lying around (or rather had: I've just now chucked them) that once had Hitachi Deathstar disks in them (do not, ever, buy one of those or you may well wind up regretting it: I've had a 100% failure rate so far) and I'd hoped to be able to reuse one of the housings, but unfortunately they had neither IDE nor SATA connectors but some silly thing with which I am not familiar, so that definitively screwed that idea. So I am going to have to excavate the TV PC from its niche, open it, and stick the drive in it. Probably profit from the occasion to give it a good vacuuming whilst I'm about it, I suppose. Can't hurt.

The other lesson I should probably draw from this is not to buy LaCie gear again. I've bought four: two with the Deathstars which died suddenly just out of warranty, the one with the fried guts, and another one which is still - cross fingers - working. It has all my backups on it, so I hope it keeps on doing so. But as I'm not a particularly trusting person, I think I shall go out and buy yet another little WD 1Tb job, and back up my backups. Just to be on the safe side. (Oddly enough, the really cheap no-name one I got from Rue du Commerce years ago, with Ethernet and USB interfaces, is still working like a champ. Full to overflowing - only 500 Mb - but never a hiccup. Go figure.)

Forgot to mention, not that I want to make you jealous or anything, but how does roast shoulder of lamb with gratin dauphinois and carottes vichy sound, followed by tarte tatin? (Which, incidentally, sounds better as "Tarte tatin, tarte tatintin, tarte tatintin ..." performed to the Star Wars theme - or maybe that's just me.) Should you be wondering; tarte tatin is just upside-down apple pie. Now there are those who will make this with flaky pastry: this is heresy and an abomination, and I'll have no part of it. In the spirit of full disclosure, I will say at this point that I make the caramel in the pie dish itself: no farting around with a saucepan and trying to get the last drops of molten but rapidly hardening golden caramel out. And there's a stall at the market that sells Elstar apples, which I'd always thought to be pretty crap but I've since revised that opinion, as they are in fact quite delicious: crisp, juicy and just a bit tart. Great stuff for a tarte tatin.

And we had a small feast on Saturday to celebrate Sophie's and my birthdays: she's the 5th and I, as you may recall, am the 8th. Should have got round to it last weekend, but what with one thing and another that didn't happen. And in fact we had not one, but two. I turned up as usual at lunchtime, and we enjoyed ourselves so much that we decided to repeat the experience that evening. So I brought Jeremy along with a couple of popsicle lobsters and the makings of a curry for the boys.

I suppose I really should know better by now than to expect that to have been enough. There were five of us after all, with Sophie's friend Séverine, and it rapidly became obvious that something had to be done so I was banished to the kitchen to whip up a chocolate soufflé. Which disappeared in its turn. As did, I'm afraid to say, vast quantities of wine.

And right now it's a gray, depressing Sunday evening, and there's a light dusting of snow up on the Arclusaz, at about 1100m. Emphatically not good: lit the old woodburner in the kitchen, and I shall have to order in some more diesel for the heating. (Shall have to pay for it too, which is another problem.) Still, we've had a good run with the weather, so I suppose I can't complain too much. Good luck with yours, by the way.

Anyway, gotta go: there's a chicken roasting in the oven that needs my tender attention.

1 comment:

  1. Roast shoulder of lamb - piffle :) We is eatin' home-made pasta with nice chunky tomato-&-bacon sauce! Nets & David finally persuaded us that a pasta machine was Just What We Needed, & I have to say, it's heaps of fun plus tastes heaps better than the commercial stuff. Even the 'fresh pasta' one can buy at the supermarket :)