Sunday, March 27, 2016

The Old Man And The C ...

Which is a good way to start off a Hemingway pastiche, which would have to begin with the ungrammatical elderly one saying something along the lines of "A consonant, you say? They are all the same, the letters, you sleep with them and they are all the same. When I was young it was good, you could even sleep with the letter Z after some rum, and it was good. But the letters today, they are shit"

But quite frankly, I can't be arsed.

Well, at least I managed to beat my way through the indignant old hags who try to push their way into the line ahead of me, and get some asparagus before it all disappeared. And having, as one will, a filet mignon de porc in the fridge, I turned that into picatta sauce madère, and with the asparagus boiled up in a syrupy mix of water, butter and sugar, and some steamed baby potatoes, it all went down very nicely.

Especially followed up by something which I shall call tarte girasol, which involves baking a disk of about five layers of buttered filo with sugar and cinnamon between the layers, then arranging neatly-sliced pears, fried in butter and sugar on top to look vaguely like a sunflower, and popping the whole lot back in the oven for ten minutes. At the end of which you have but to dribble a vanilla custard over it and serve.

It has been a busy week, and I have spent more of it than I like to think doing something I intensely dislike, not to say loathe: just Reading The Fscking Manual. It would help if this were not, at least in part, a work of fantasy. (Basically, it is in fact a tissue of truths but some bugger's gone and cut holes in it, and then embroidered it with fibs and whoppers.)

So don't go asking me how to go about programming a PIC18F87K22 microcontroller by bit-banging, for the answer may not be fit for polite society.

Also, we have got ourselves another dog. No, no, don't go calling the ambulance for we have not - yet - taken leave of our collective senses: she is but a house-guest for ten days.

Nestor, a lovely sort-of Dalmatian, and sweet-tempered as they come. Although quite capable of keeping our two firmly in line. The main problem is that she has never been taught how to walk on a leash - which causes some difficulties, and a bit of entanglement (luckily, not quantum) at times. Whatever, we live with it.

As you go through Moux, past the signs that sternly forbid either begging or trotting and then past the pharmacie, you will notice - if you snap your neck round 180°, for it is invisible if you come from the East - a marble plaque up on the wall, in memory of les enfants de Moux, lachement assassinés by the Germans back in 1943. Noble members of the résistance.

Except that I bumped into old Charles the ex-vigneron the other day, and he took some pleasure in recounting what he swears is the true tale that he got from his father, which is that the Mouxois in question had defied the curfew and were up in the bar drinking with their German pals: sadly, when "last orders" was called they stumbled out into the street and then ran like hell at the sight of a couple of troops on motor-bikes, en route from Carcassonne. The rest is now (revised) history.

Whatever, Margo's up around Montpellier with the dogs for a couple of days so I is stuck here on a rainy Sunday with things I really ought to be doing. So far I've been out for a couple of walks, bogged up a few bits of skirting-board with plastic wood before sanding and touching up the paintwork, and vacuumed my office - twice. It is not easy to get motivated and twiddle bits in an FPGA when it is gray and dismal outside. (Mind you, as I write I can see that the base of my desk lamp is a bit dusty: maybe I should vacuum yet again ...)

On the other hand, I could always grit my teeth and get down dirty and just do this stuff for the SNCF, but quite frankly I simply cannot be arsed just at the moment.

For years now I've used a trackball rather than a rodent because I can't be buggered mousing around: what with age and everything, after ten hours of that my shoulder and elbow are giving me merry hell. The only problem with them is that after a while they do tend to get kind of grunged up over the years, with sweat and dead skin cells and breadcrumbs, and eventually you have to replace them, if only for hygiene's sake.

I have evidently arrived at that point, for the left button now generates spurious double-clicks just when you don't need one, so it was obviously time to go look on the rueducommerce website for a replacement: I have a Logitech but Microsoft used to make really nice ones, so I thought I'd check out what they had on offer. Sadly, no trackballs - but plenty of mice, and this one here rather caught my eye. As the blurb said, it's stable and solid, and I doubt I'd have problems with anyone trying to nick it surreptitiously off my desk.

Sadly, I have no need for a user-interface device that requires me to stick a ream of A4 into it before use, so I passed on that and went on to order the Logitech alternative - it is much smaller but might turn out to be noisier because it is only dot-matrix: we'll see how that works out. Well, in fact I am actually seeing how that works out right now, because despite having ordered it late on Thursday and seeing, on the Friday evening, that it was "awaiting collection by la Poste", it got plonked in the letterbox today. (Worked first time, no drivers to install - I am waiting for something Bad to happen.)

By an odd quirk of fate, Rick and Mary had a brilliant idea Friday night, and one of the unfortunate side-effects was that my alarm went off at 7am and I found myself at the market at place Carnot in Carcassonne around ten to eight, which is rather earlier than usual. But it was actually rather pleasant: the sun was slanting down over the roofs, the old hags had only just started to emerge from under the rocks with their bloody trundle-along caddies (and gods help you if ever you get in their way, for they have scimitars mounted on the hubs, and in any case they are capable of giving you such a look if you manage a quick sideways kick ...) and there was, at that hour, an abundance of asparagus available.

And I managed to make it back home before nine, and it was as I was sunning myself like an old lizard out on the terrace with a coffee and a cigar that the letterbox went "clonk" and therein was my parcel, which I wasn't actually expecting because according to the website it was scheduled to arrive on or about April 1st - not really a good date and I was actually resigned to its finally turning up sometime in June.

So much for instant gratification, all I had the time to do was remove the little box from its cubic metre of packaging before heading off to Gruissan, and more specifically "La Perle Gruissanaise", which is - as many of you will recognise from the name - a place where they sell seafood.

For this was the brilliant idea: at this place - which supplies most of the Narbonnais restaurants, I guess - you may turn up with bread, salad, whatever else you like, then go in and order. So long as it's shellfish. They take your money, give you a ticket, and about ten minutes later you go back in and pick up your platter ... so we went there for a lazy lunch in the sun.

Then you go and sit at one of the many picnic tables they've installed outside, at the end of one of the moles at the entrance to the étang de Gruissan, and sit in the sun and eat and drink your litre of fresh white wine and watch the boats go past and the light playing on the waves, and talk about Chaucer and Ogden Nash and whatever else comes to mind because, let's face it, it's a lovely day.

So Margo scarfed her oysters, feebly screaming mussels fresh from the sea, and I munched on my lobster with crusty bread and aioli (not garlicky enough, but never mind, that's just me), and I reckon that there could be worse ways to die.

1 comment:

  1. The Old Man And The C

    I was expecting more complaints about curly brackets and 0-anchored vector indexing.