Tag: Eels

In Our Cathedral

There was a time, you forget,
You were losing every bet.
Your hope was shattered,
Your trust betrayed,
But you found a place where you don’t need to be afraid:
In our cathedral…


Settled into the usual routine of dragging the kids away from the TV for breakfast before getting them dressed in time to start some kind of school work around 9am. In theory Thursday is supposed to be a meeting-light day that I’d planned to spend doing some bits and pieces I’d promised members of my team that I’d look at days if not weeks ago; that dream died before it was even fully formed. The morning passed quickly enough with the usual mix of catch ups. I try to take an hour for lunch each day, and have my calendar blocked out to ensure that. Today, however, conspired to keep my lunch break as short as possible and I only managed to snatch 30 minutes with the rest of the family before heading back into what seems to be my role as chief referee between different teams who’ve interpreted the same requierments in entirely different ways.

At one point D pinged me in one of his own meetings because he thought I’d agreed one thing and allowed my team to delivered another and he was getting heat for it. I apologised for the fact that I’d obviously miscommunicated something and then went away, realising a few minutes later exactly what the problem was, pinging him back and establishing that he wasn’t going mad, the person he was talking to was discussing something very different to what D had thought, and no-one was misleading anyone. I seem to be getting good at talking more senior managers down from the edge. Not sure yet if it’s a good thing or not.


Awoke super early for no reason I could discern. Persuaded the kids away from the TV and got breakfast, then started the workday. Nothing much to write home about there other than two meetings, one in which it turns out we’re not going to be held to the June deadline we’d had agreed on our behalf – in fact the implication was that if we delivered by December, no-one would bat an eyelid. In the other I did something that took me minutes but saved the bacon of the team working with a very large and influential hardware manufacturer. Not sure I deserved the praise I got, but, hey, good feedback is good feedback, right?

Took delivery of a batch of meat from Turner and George this morning; cooked the sausages for dinner and they were by far the best sausages I’ve eaten in a long time. I miss working next door to their butcher’s shop. Also in the delivery were ribs, steaks, bacon and brisket, which I’m going to smoke on the BBQ. We’re going to eat well over the next week or so.

Finished up the day kegging the saison I brewed a few weeks back, and putting the Kölsch on tap. My least favourite part of home brewing is cleaning lines and kegs, but it’s done now, And the Kölsch tastes just right; as does the sample of the saison. I’ve named the former Rehana, because she asked, as the latest in a series of beers called The Beer Called <Name>.

Sweet Scorched Earth

I love the way your hair falls on your eyes
And the way the sun hits them as it dies.
There’s poison in the water and the sky;
We’ll hold onto each other if we fry…

It’s you and me forever, together,
For all that it’s worth.
As long as we last on this sweet, scorched Earth


Up at a reasonable hour, breakfasted with the kids before getting stuck into the onslaught of meetings: team stand up, architecture meeting, leadership stand up. A break for lunch before heading into a monthly forum meeting. Finally got time to do some real work come 2pm, before yet another meeting about an architectural change at 3:30. The weather had turned; it was raining most of the day. That had one major impact that I wasn’t expecting – noise. Usually the kids have been letting off steam in the garden, but with the wet they were stuck inside. There were only a couple of times I genuinely couldn’t concentrate on my meeting due to the bickering happening in the rest of the house.

The weather seems to have sent the ant invasion back into hibernation just as the bait stations arrived. I’ve put one down but it seems like we’ll have to wait for warmer weather to return to find out if they’re really gone. This time I remembered to defrost the chicken, so we managed to get to the enchiladas that I’d planned for Monday. The kids still find hem too spicy. I’ll just have to keep increasing their tolerance. I’m not after Pig of Doom levels of tolerance, but being able to add a bit more spice to curries and things wouldn’t go amiss. Kids in bed, collapsed into my chair for the regular Tuesday FaceTime session, which finished up at nearly midnight.


Woke about 6am with a headache. Got up about 7, having somehow remembered I’d agreed to attend an 8am meeting instead of having a family breakfast. From there, and all-hands meeting, stand ups again, before a break for toasted sandwiches for lunch, which I completely failed to help make after saying I would. Oops.

Got some real work done in the afternoon for a change, fixing a problem that would have prevented a new environment from coming online. Finished up about 5:30 then went straight into preparing dinner; the kids have been on Zoom meetings for half the afternoon so J hadn’t had time to prepare anything; I threw pork chops and various vegetables into the oven, which were greeted with less than enthusiasm. Got them into bed late, well after 8pm, at which point I got an invitation to join an impromptu Zoom drinks with some friends and ex-colleagues. I accompanied the call with the alcohol-free hibiscus saison I got from Big Drop. There was something that didn’t taste quite right to me; reading the back of the can later, it’s the presence of Sorachi Ace hops, which always taste like burnt rubber to me.

Dropped from the one Zoom call to catch up with a long-time friend; she had some fantastic news that I’m delighted to learn. We chatted about various bits and pieces for an hour, then called it a night. I’m looking forward to seeing her again in person at the end of all this.

I Could Never Take The Place Of Your Man

It was only last June when her old man ran away.
She couldn’t stop crying cause she knew he was gone to stay.
It was 10:35 on a lonely Friday night.
She was standin’ by the bar,
She was lookin’ alright.
I asked if she wanted to dance;
She said all she wanted was a good man,
And wanted to know if I thought I was qualified.


Slightly less insane day, meeting-wise. First stand up with the newly reformed team took way too long, mostly concentrating on one person who seemed desperate to tell me everything that had happened to his project in the months since he last worked for me. Had a good catch up with the other leads discussing how we’re going to divide up the work that the newly-dissolved team have left behind.

Just one interview today, with the outsourcing company, and unlike the last couple we’ve been sent, this one, while not knowing everything, was competent and obviously had a good understanding of the underlying concepts. Managed to get at least some non-meeting work done for a change, which was refreshing.

After dinner: a bike ride. This one was half an hour at barely above walking pace, mind, because I took Sleeper Jr. along. He had fun, I kept reminding him not to go down the very middle of the road, so we covered a grand total of two miles at a top speed of 8 mph. Was plenty enjoyable nevertheless.


A head-exploding-kind-of-day. Everything started well enough, up until the point that we had a meeting about a project delivery for Monday and I was made to look a complete idiot when someone who’d been reassuring me everything was on track stepped up to admit that it in fact wasn’t. Cue crisis meeting, and I went away and created a godawful monster of a Cloud Formation template to create a work around. The workday was capped with a meeting in which nobody (except my boss) agreed with a plan I’d spent the morning drawing up for an accelerated timescale for a project.

This evening I’d originally planned to be out with friends, first trying my hand at axe throwing and then out for dinner. Instead we had to put up with a virtual meet up. Fun, but not quite the same as a nice juicy steak. Crawled into bed late.


Woke early despite the late finish the day before, then started the workday as I didn’t mean for it to go on: Early, with a meeting! Another one of those days where I didn’t get to spend much time actually doing stuff; meetings about projects, about architecture, about the afternoon’s meetings… Friday’s supposed to be a meeting light day, but it sure as hell didn’t feel like it. The afternoon was mostly taken up by two interviews; the candidates couldn’t have been more different. The first, despite being told that it was OK to say theydn’t know something, waffled and made things up, going on for minutes at a time without saying anything. The second one gave clear, concise answers and wasn’t afraid to admit when we asked a question they didn’t have an answer for. Making a decision on who got invited to the next stage wasn’t exactly taxing.

Today’s been a wet, rainy day, the kind that’s left the kids fractious as they’ve been stuck inside. Hopefully the weather will dry up soon and they can blow off a bit more energy in the garden. Cooked dinner, failed to find the requested bedtime story (Pinocchio) so we fell back to yet another Disney storybook, this time 101 Dalmatians. Found a little time to catch up with some ex-colleagues unexpectedly, which was nice. Finished up the day attempting to get started with X3: Terran Conflict. Think I might stick to the original, even if the graphics are prettier.

I like the way this is going

I like to watch TV with you –
There’s really nothing that I would rather do.
Then maybe we can go to bed,
Get up and do it all again.

I like the way your pants fit,
And how you stand and how you sit.
Whatever seeds that you’re sowing,
I like the way this is going.

It’s been a long time coming, but today we finally exchange contracts and agreed to buy a house in a South London suburb. I’ve got onto the insurance policy to take out coverage for the future Sleeper Towers, and that’s sorted. Completion date? Three weeks’ time. In a spectacular display of karma, the idiot at the top of the chain who’s held things back for so long has been ejected – their buyers are going to rent instead, leaving everything in place. I’ll not go into the stress that was involved in getting our mortgage extended thanks to that particular fool again, but at least it’s out of the way now.

Cue the next couple of weeks – a mad ring around of removal companies, sorting out white goods, packing, throwing out stuff we don’t want / need any more.

The ordeal is nearly over? Hell, no. It’s only just begun.

Mansions of Los Feliz

Well it’s a pretty bad place outside this door –
I could go out there but I don’t see what for.
And I’m happy living here in the dark
On the edge of my mind,
And it’s nobody else’s business.

Now it’s just me myself and the secrets that
Live within the walls
Of the mansions of Los Feliz

The sky is falling!

Like many people in this country I spent much of yesterday evening watching the television trying to work out exactly what the United Kingdom has let itself in for. And, while doing so, becoming increasingly puzzled at the reactions of both pundits and the general public at the news that Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats had agreed to form a coalition to govern the country.

The election on Thursday had just one concrete result last week – no one party had won the confidence of a wide-enough ranging cross section of the country. While the Conservatives could have formed a minority government, the huge risk was that any bill that was in the least bit controversial (as almost all important new laws tend to be) would fail to pass – a lame-duck administration.

What are we left with then? It was clear from the off that a Labour – Lib Dem coalition could never achieve enough of a majority to get anything passed. They’d have  to water down anything or make huge concessions to the smaller parties, causing problems in the long term. There’s probably an element of truth in the complaints from both sides that the other wasn’t taking things seriously enough. There was just too fragility.

So, we’re left with what we’ve got, which has seemed inevitable since the results came in. Grass roots Lib Dems and Tories alike have recoiled at the news. It seems all too easy to dismiss the Liberals as having sold out or the Conservatives of being desperate. And while the parties disagree with each other on a great many things, then at least the things they can agree on will stand a good chance of getting done.

I do wonder if for some Liberal Democrat supporters the news of the coalition has been taken so badly because for so long they have been able to know that their MPs are in opposition and can therefore disagree with anything done by the party in power. A sort of underdog syndrome, if you will. Things from the ruling side will be very different and change will be feared. However, that being said, a fixed-term parliament will help this – grass roots  activists have five years to be convinced.

For me? I’m going to wait and see. A track record in government will make or break the minority party. Whichever it is, it’s going to be an interesting few years in politics.

Rock Hard Times

They told me that I couldn’t come back here again
Took me for some kind of fool.
Said I was doing things that never should be done
But I don’t care about their rules!

As if I cared ’bout the little minds
In the little heads of the herd-
There’s nothing you could dream
Would be more absurd.

The Apple iPad has been released, to much fanfare, and much derision. Personally I don’t have much interest in the device, but I can see the use. Generally if I want to watch television, I’m doing so on a decent-sized screen in my house. On long journeys I prefer to read books, the paper sort. Yes they’re heavier and they take up much more space, but there’s an emotional component to lugging around a lump of dead tree that just isn’t present in an e-reader.

No sooner had the iPad been announced, though, than the Free Software Foundation weighed in with its “Defective by Design” compaign, compaining that the iPad was DRM-encumbered, wouldn’t allow sharing of media and much more of the kind of FUD that I used to expect from Microsoft ten years ago.

Now, before I go any further: I have nothing against the Free Software Foundation. They have done a great many things I find eminently agreeable. This, however isn’t one of them. The aim is lofty and agreeable, I’ll grant, allow any kind of content to be played on anyone’s device. However…

Society just doesn’t work that way. In an ideal world we would all pay for the digital media we consume, be it music, video, software programs, or anything else. Unfortunately this isn’t an ideal world. The sheer number of people who think they have a right to content for the price of pressing the disc / the bandwidth consumed by downloading it is enormous, and growing. Who’d pay for something they can get (not entirely legally) for free? I know of a large number of people, even those who by rights should be able to pay the asking price easily, who will chip their games consoles to play pirated games, download films off the less legitimate parts of the internet and not think twice about it.

The problem is the relative level of social acceptability of piracy. It’s acceptable to illegally download films, to chip consoles to play copied games, and so on. This is the problem. The DRM is just a symptom of this. It’s unfortunate, but the producers of this content need to provide some sort of mechanism to encourage people to pay for it. If it’s easier (and cheaper) to obtain it without payment to the original distributor, a large proportion of people will do so.

Unfortunately while I have every sympathy for the FSF and their campaign to make information exchange unencumbered, I’m also a realist. At present, in my experience, allowing anyone to exchange content freely will result in the return on the investment in said content to be lowered immensely, probably to the point of content costing more to produce than is returned.

My employer spends a lot of money fighting people who counterfeit its products. These are products that are marketed direct to businesses. Anything that will save a dollar here or there is often jumped upon by the people who buy these counterfeits, even when they know that someone else is not getting paid for the work thas has been put in to generate the product in the first place.

So, FSF and its supporters. I’m sorry, but I agree with DRM, at least until it’s socially unacceptable to take someone else’s work without them or their legitimate distriutor getting anything for it. Once you can assure me that the producer of a given work will get the payment they so richly deserve, I’ll be happy to join the ranks of anti-DRM campaigners. Until then, I’m afraid I have to keep living in a world where we need safeguards to make sure that the content is paid for.

As an aside, I recently bought a film on DVD. Rather than the usual “Piracy is against the law” line, there was a simple, short sequence that simply thanked me for supporting the producers of the film by paying for it. I was very pleasantly surprised. I approve of that message.

Apple Trees

We were on this car trip
And I was looking at these rows and rows of trees
All along the highway
I don’t know what kind of trees –
Apples or something.

There were just like thousands and thousands of rows
Of a thousand trees each.
And I picked one tree that I could see
About eight trees back
In this one row in the mddle.

Just one in a billion.
That’s how I felt.

Fresh Feeling

You don’t have a clue what it is like to be next to you.
I’m here to tell you that it is good, that it is true.

Birds singing a song, old paint is peeling,
This is that fresh, that fresh feeling.
Words can’t be that strong, my heart is real,
This is that fresh, that fresh feeling.

Ahh, bliss. As is traditional every November, I’m in the middle of a week off work ostensibly to catch up on my NaNoWriMo word count. This year, though, there isn’t much catching up to do. By the start of this week I was bang on target (and I’m now 500 words ahead, and will probably get some more down before the day is out). I’m satisfying my “primary” reason for this time off, but there’s an important secondary reason.

Since January 2nd this year, I’ve had two short breaks away from work and that’s it. A couple of long weekends away, a couple of odd Fridays (which were spent travelling up north for family reasons) and the strain is beginning to take its toll. So I have ten straight days without having to go to work and it’s bloody fantastic. There’s some stuff that I need to get done, but just doing bits and pieces as I get to them rather than trying to fit them around work and everything else that’s going on, it’s lovely just to do one at at time, no pressure, chilling the rest of the time.

So, yes. Rest is fantastic. A break from everything is just what I needed, and I’m enjoying myself immensely. May my newfound chilled-outness follow me back to work on the 1st.