Wednesday, August 23, 2017

A Hammer Will Usually Do The Job ...

Over the years I've amassed quite a collection of power tools, many of which I have - in a departure from usual form - actually used. Unlike some of the interestingly-shaped silicone moulds in the kitchen, but those will get used at some point, and probably before I'm dead - afterwards would be creepy. Unless they were coffin-shaped, not really the case. (Well, one or two, I'll give you that. But small, and I only have a half-dozen, not really enough. Even with the rather large meat cleaver I have.)

Mind you, it often takes six months from purchase to the actual unboxing (talking about the power tools here, not the contents of a putative coffin), so I suppose I'm lucky that none of them have ever turned out to be DOA because quite frankly I would have great difficulty, after all that time, finding the faded-beyond-legibility sales docket that serves as guarantee.

And now they all live up in the attic, one big happy family in their green plastic Bosch boxes, because I have to put them somewhere when they're not actually in use and let's face it, the bathroom off my office is not really a viable long-term solution. (Only the big Metabo radial saw is allowed to stay out, and that's just because a) it's in what will be the third bedroom on the first floor and so is not occupying otherwise useful space, b) it growls at me gently when I get too close without a plank in my hands and c) it's bulky enough to be too much of a bitch to lug it up a ladder and sling it in the crawl space under the roof. Godnose what I'll do when The Shamblings™ gets finished and I really have to put it away somewhere: cross that bridge when we come to it, is what I say.)

The point is that doing a job of carpentry around here will often involve a number of trips up to the top floor and then up the ladder to get the tool that you thought you could get away without - such as it might be the electric plane, or one or other of the various sanders up there, or possibly the jigsaw - and then, in a completely sub-optimal manner, measuring up (for instance) on the ground floor, lugging the wood up the twisty stairs to the first floor to be cut, taking it back down again to check for fit, discover you're out by 10mm and have to start again ... rinse and repeat.

I'm not bitter, it's just to explain that this is why work gets done in stits and farts in these here southern parts. To finish the terrace I had to drag down the router, the jigsaw and the big jackhammer drill (the radial saw is, as I said, more or less permanently ensconced) and once I'd put all those back I had to get down the circular saw, the jigsaw, a smaller wood drill and a sander to convert a 1950's era wooden bed into a set of shelving (don't ask, involved vast quantities of glue and dowelling but for 10€ the raw materials were incredibly cheap, and I already had the tools) and now I have to replace a grotty chipboard shelf that was retro-fitted to an old commode and also I must put up some boxing to hide some sort of disgusting rusty old girder that holds the first floor up, in complete defiance of the laws of gravity.

Were the gib-board that forms the ceiling in the living-room at the same level between the different beams that run across the room, or even just horizontal, my life would be that much easier: of course the Devil throws up on my eiderdown once more, and neither of these things turns out to be the case. Which means that I shall have to get down the laser spirit level to mark it up, the router to enjolivate the edges of the planks, the jigsaw to do some cuts to fit around the exposed beams, probably the circular saw for some rough rip cuts along the length of the planks, and the plane to finish off. Not to mention a sander or two to get the surface ready for painting ...

The life of the amateur carpenter is emphatically not what it's often presented to be. Mind you, I knew that already, having feebly attempted many years ago to make a doll's house for Malyon (it didn't actually burn down and then fall into the swamp, so I guess I'm ahead of the game there) but hope springs eternal, as they say.

Art, ...
Also, met M. Martinez, the forager, as we were both chucking our rubbish bags into the communal wheelie-bins for the Monday moaning collection, and we exchanged a few words. Well, to be honest, quite a number actually, because I can speak French or English, and he can speak Occitan or French with the particularly impenetrable accent of these parts, so achieving mutual comprehension takes some time and effort on both sides. (Sometimes, to be honest, neither party bothers with the "comprehension" bit. Lips flap, sounds come out, we smile as if something clever has been said, and go our separate ways thinking "WTF was all that about?")

Nevertheless we persevered, exchanged pleasantries, and I now know that he's 72 and still walks about 20km every day with his two huge and very well-behaved dogs: I know also that he owns three houses in the village (up for sale, if anyone's interested and the price is right) plus a bit of land, and that we have been accepted into Mouxois society.

... imitating nature
Or so I guess, for he offered me 100 snails. Along with the recipe. "Not", he said, "les escargots de Bourgogne, which are bigger, mais the petits-gris d'ici, which are finer in taste. You may put them in an earthenware casserole with butter, garlic and cream, and bake them in the oven for ten minutes: un régal." I shuddered inwardly and - I think - persuaded him that this was not my idea of a dream meal, and even if it were then Margo would have a few words to say on the subject, but as we parted he said "But if ever you change your mind, they'll be waiting for you. I normally sell them 10€/100 at Carcassonne, 12€/100 at Narbonne because they'll pay extra, but it'll be a gift." Maybe I should see if Angela and Martin would like some?

The public service announcements around these parts have a sad side-effect. Once in a while the WWII-era tannoy system in the village farts into life and the sparrows that nest in the speakers are much disturbed and there is a great shower of feathers, then there is jovial 50's-style music from an authentic wind-up Gramophone™ before Jerôme down in the underground bunker beneath the mairie coughs and declaims into the microphone. (Sadly, the effect is somewhat spoilt by the fact that many of the speakers can only handle a short time of activity before overheating and cutting out, so his eloquent phrases are not done justice. Also, said phrases are inevitably preceded by "'Allo, 'allo", which rather detracts from the overall effect. Such of it as is audible.)

But the point is that, for instance, this afternoon it was an announcement to the effect that the club de boules were having a grillade this Friday, followed by a concours (and after the food and the copious amounts of wine that will, inevitably, wash it down, I have to ask myself just how many points will be scored and how many ambulances will be called in for concussion, but that's another matter) and ten minutes later, I find myself with "une partie de pétanque, ça fait du bien ..." running through what's left of my brain on an endless loop.

My forehead is no longer blue-green because the bruises have faded with time, and the skin is now thick and calloused thanks to my beating my head against the wall. Sorry, I am going to moan again. Skip it, go down a few paragraphs.

All I'm saying is that I have this system that will - in addition to its own, local inputs, accept values from a remote system and then use them as part of its rule-based logic. Typically, let's say, I have a local input which measures water pressure in bar (0-16) and which does some sort of action depending on its value: this local input may be overridden by a remote value provided that this remote value is at least in the same unit, and its min/max values are compatible. Because let's face it, if your remote value is in tonnes (0-500), trying to use that instead of pressure is not going to lead to pleasant results. At least, nothing useful.

So I trust (that the remote values are correct) but verify (that they're meaningful).

It turns out that this is too strict a requirement: for despite having been assured that the remote systems would use the same units as I, it appears that they will use only SI units and so pressure is measured in Pa - which is not a unit of which my little boxen are cognizant. So I shall just have to grit my teeth, swallow my professional ethics and stick deontology under the cushions on the sofa where it belongs, and remove yet another layer of data validation, and see what the hell happens.

I'm pretty sure that Peter Melhuish, were he still alive, would be objecting loudly, and the sainted F. Codd is doubtless rotating rapidly underground. But maybe no-one knows or cares just why we did that sort of shit back in the day (hint: it was to avoid problems down the line). The dinosaur graveyard is over that way a bit, think I'll go over and have a lie-down.

Normal service is now resumed.

As I sit here mid-afternoon with sweat slowly trickling across my scalp and down my face, for I am in my office on the top floor rather than in the coolest room in the house down-below where - let it be said - it is still 27°, I am reminded the old fridge has finally gone to a good home. For Julian and Batu turned up for a barbecue the other day - gave me the opportunity to use up a swag of the sausages and stuff that I inherited from Valérie when I helped her shift out of her apartment - and it came to light that they'd had a pretty shitty week for the car died, then the washing machine, then the fridge ...

By an odd quirk of fate we had not only a fridge that had become surplus to requirements but also Jeremy's washing machine, which has been lurking in the garage since we apparently bought it off him when he went to NooZild, and little Suzy had come back from her latest voyage so we lent her out as well. We are happy to get a bit of room back in the garage, they are happy to be able to wash clothes and have somewhere to keep things cool, it worked out well.

Also, it seems that they managed to hock off all but a couple of hectolitres of the 2016 for a reasonable price, which means there'll be room in the cuves for the 2017 vintage: and not before time, because with the weather we've been having it looks as though that'll be at least two weeks early this year.

Whatever, we has a posh soirée to go to, best be off. Mind how you go, now.

No comments:

Post a Comment