Sunday, March 19, 2017

Everything Looks Like A Dildo When You're Desperate ...

Or so Beckham said, last time I attended a meeting of the Chambery Anglophone Club And Drinking School (Friday nights, 1st floor of the Café du Théatre, Happy Hour from 18:15), and I rather think I shall just have to trust her on that one.

Incidentally, and just saying, the French still have not managed to really get the concept of Happy Hour. For one thing, sometimes it only lasts 30 minutes - which is understandable enough, given that a full hour of French-persons happily guzzling at half-price would put a serious dent in your profits.

Also, it's kind of random whether you're going to get half-price drinks, or two for the price of one, or - as at the above-mentioned establishment - you can order a standard 25cl beer if you like, but it'll cost you the same as a half-litre. Or vice versa.

From this you may deduce that I've been back up to Chambéry recently and you would in fact be quite right: I have been going up for the past five Fridays to impart of my knowledge to a select group of the yoof. I do this mostly by just sitting down and hoping they'll pick up something useful by osmosis: guess we'll find out if that works in a few weeks, when they will have to sit the exam that I have yet to write.

So anyway, what do you do on a Sunday when you've been off to IKEA on the Saturday? No prizes for guessing, of course you spend it trying to erect flatpack furniture. The handy guides show two smiling asexual figures apparently having a good time doing this, this is not my experience. Especially as the stuff we bought involved vast sheets of glass and handling that does tend to make me nervous.

But at least it's done, with very little blood, and I got around to ripping up the few bits of parquet flottant that the cat had pissed on and ruined, so I guess that's something. Also, it's meant that we've been able - after only three years - to get some of the more delicate ceramics and suchlike out of storage (which is a pretty posh name for a cardboard box, I must admit) and on display, which is an achievement.

Also, I have another four little Allen keys to add to the collection I've built up over the years.

As you've no doubt worked out by now, over the past few years I've been working pretty much full-time for Cla-Val, and recently they decided that it would be nice to have a "Setup Wizard" to guide the brain-dead and the merely incompetent through the process of setting up each bit of gear. I duly did that and sent it off, and the other day I got back a list of feature requests for the next big software package release.

Prominently featured was a request from the big cheese and CEO that all texts containing "Wizard" should be replaced by "Wizzard". I guess the guy must be a secret Terry Pratchett fan, and this would be his little joke. Just because he can. I suppose I should count my blessings that I have not yet been asked to implement a Rincewind function, whereby the gear sidles around a corner before running like hell.

On the other hand, maybe the guy just can't spell. Which would have to be a UU in-joke.

Anyways, over here in our benighted corner of Ole Yurrup Spring has sprung and the omnipresent almond trees are in flower. Soon to be followed by the dreaded savage prunes. We have also had torrential rain - enough to make some roads impassable for a couple of days - and there are still some gardens that are pissing about 10 l/m into the drains.

(For your information and edification, there are a number of big old houses around here that have been built behind thick, three-metre high solid stone walls. Or so you might think, until you realise that the walls are not normal walls - a more solid version of a fence - but retaining walls, filled with soil, and that their lawn is a metre or so above you, as you walk merrily along the road. This is why the runoff comes pouring down from above.)

What does a smart-phone look like when you attack it with an angle grinder? I do this sort of thing so that you don't have to, so here's the answer.

Now it was perhaps foolish of me, but the other day I decided that a couple of my 35 year-old knives needed replacing, having been sharpened often enough that the cutting edge was a full couple of millimetres above the base of the bolster, which makes them pretty useless for chopping. So I ordered another couteau économe and a 20cm chef's knife from the online store where I buy such things, and when they actually arrived it filled me with such elation that I wandered off to Matcol to look at saucepans. Because it's difficult to have too many.

I was innocently poking around the shelves where they have such things and spotted a nice set of three solid copper saucepans with hot-pressed stainless-steel inserts (which in principle means they never need re-tinning), took a guess at the price and dismissed them from consideration because, even if you can't have too many, there are limits ...

And then the Igor guy - who knows me - shuffled out of his cubbyhole readjusting the bolts in his neck and asked something like "What might thir'th fanthy be today?". So I told him, honestly enough, that all I really wanted was another decent-sized pan for making caramel, and he thaid said "It'th difficult to beat copper, they thay". "Quite true, my good man", I replied, "but I have no wish to take out a second mortgage at thith time".

That was my mistake, because he then launched into an explanation as to how they'd been placed there for sale by an itinerant vendor of solid copper saucepans, such as one will encounter in these parts, and how as they had not sold he had reduced the price on his next trip past, and then as they had still not sold the price had been knocked down yet again: outcome was that, once I'd wiped a fine mist of spittle off my lapels I walked out of there with a 700€ set of pans for the princely sum of 95€.

So at least I'm ahead of the game there.

There is, I admit, something that's been puzzling me for some time now, and luckily I have come across the answer: on - where else - the innatübz. Thanks to someone posting up a handy guide for the clueless, I now know that the acronym LGBTQIA stands for "lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex and asexual". In the interests of inclusivity I would suggest that we add a "H" for "hetero" to the end of that, and then I think we'll have everyone covered. (But still, what the fuck is "intersex"? And what's the difference between "gay" and "queer"? Answers on a postcard, please.)

Which for some strange reason brings to mind the committee of twats that wrote the MISRA standard. I have just had occasion to fiddle about with some embedded software I originally wrote for Schneider getting on four years or so ago (seven days pay for two day's work was just too attractive a proposition for me to turn down) and have spent half an afternoon trying to puzzle out why their fecking validator flags what is - according to their rules - perfectly valid code as non-conforming. I guess because their validator is shit.

Got up at dawn's crack this moaning only to be confronted with yet another beautiful day, and as the dogs and I returned from the evacuation exercise we met M. Martinez. He is a short stocky man with a browned face covered in wrinkles and a grin, and some kind of saprophyte that he has trained to imitate a moustache; he has two enormous (but very polite) dogs and an absolutely impenetrable accent. He is also a forager.

We meet often enough, and it's rare that he's not got a bag of something that he's picked up: a string bag of plump snails, or a mass of lactaire delicieux, or - like today - a good kilo or so of wild asparagus. I don't think the man spends that much at the supermarket. Come to that, I don't know if he even has a car: certainly I can't recall having seen him anywhere near one, and he seems to walk everywhere.

But waily waily!! and ohs noes!! for news has reached us that the bar is to close next week. One final Friday evening of drunken debauch, and that's it. Yes, our Dear Leader finally got his way and Ivan and Nadège have been driven out, their places to be taken - eventually - by cronies. We has sads.

Also, we is going to have to organise some sort of replacement facility, because quite frankly these Friday night meetings have become an integral part of our lives. Maybe a popup bar, "Chez Réné" in honour of our glorious mayor, which will - like some sort of moveable feast - appear at one house or the other. Whatever it is, we shall have to do it quickly.

Whatever, I should go start working on my tan.