coda

There are a great number of strategies for avoiding jet lag. A girl at the bar tonight recommended Melatonin, and my mother-in-law studiously adjusts her sleep cycle by an hour every day leading up to the trip. Phil and I have another system altogether: never leave your native timezone. We’re physically in Edinburgh, and having a great time, but we’re still sleeping and waking as though we were back on the east coast of North America. As a side effect, we don’t see really any of the 7 hours of “daylight” available at this time of year, but I think we can live with that.

The fireworks were, as Eric predicted, “stonkingly amazing”. I’m sure my pictures turned out not at all, but I won’t be forgetting them any time soon. Especially because we were close enough that we actually got firework debris raining down on us. We overheard some people — no doubt Australians — saying that the only better fireworks are to be found in Sydney, at this very time of year. So now we know where we’re going next year.

I have kissed at least five times as many Scottish women in 2003 as I did in 2002, and we’re only a few hours in. Bodes well!

It’s now well past midnight, and Phil and Chris are going to play a little Age of Empires. I’d play too, but my laptop won’t talk to their laptops, and we can’t figure out why. Ah well. At least our sleep cycle won’t be disturbed.

Happy New Year!

blue skies squandered

I was right, and I didn’t stay awake very long after dinner. Long enough to discover that our plane-patch, while awesome and clever, wasn’t enough to get around this bug. So went to sleep, exhausted, hoping I wouldn’t dream about it.

I have no idea if that worked or not, because I don’t remember my dreams, but I did sleep quite well. Phil and I are still working, and Chris is off at a wedding-related party somewhere. He looks very dapper, and when he gets back and wants to be a slob with his friends, I hope we’ll be able to oblige.

I think there was some blue Edinburgh sky today, but before we realized that we were witnessing a weather miracle, we had worked the afternoon away. Ah well. At least we got the primitive version of my Most Hardest Test Ever passing.

I think we’re going to see the new Bond movie tonight, with martinis in hand. It’s no torchlight procession, but everyone has to celebrate in their own special way. (The post-procession fireworks last night were amazing, though. I’ve gotta come back for Guy Fawkes Day — Chris says it sounds like the Operation Desert Storm reunion tour.)

We didn’t make it to the movie, and we didn’t eat until like 01:30, but we did pass that Most Hardest Test, and we’re now hot, hot, hot on the trail of the remaining recovery tests. Phil is spitting out bug reports at me from the other side of the living room, and I’m giving him a new tree to update a few minutes later. We are in the groove, and the weather here is nice this time of year. Chris is finding us some wacky music, and all of the sudden, holy hell, it’s 5 AM. We’ll sleep when we’ve passed these tests!

We’re going to sleep late again, but when we wake up we will be able to bask in the sweet glow of every-test-but-14.

never gonna get it

The red-eye is a great way to fly east. I get to sleep through the compressed night, which means that the flight seems shorter, and then I’m that much cheerier when I have to deal with airports and customs and immigration and security and taxis. The only way to go, if you’re flying east and your schedule at all permits it.

It sort of falls apart, though, when one spends the majority of the flight being a complete hacking machine with one’s boss. We made a great patch, and it worked basically the first time — I could tell you all about how this was the first time I’d touched the low-level filesystem, and how Phil and I had to figure out the inode allocation system from first principles, and so forth, but I won’t because the punchline is all that matters: we are very smart people, and you should feel lucky to know us.

We are also very tired people, and fighting to stay awake. Phil has promised me twelve whole beers if I pass three tests tomorrow, but I don’t think that’ll be enough motivation to keep me awake that long after we get back from dinner.

in hot pursuit; fleeing the jurisdiction

Phil and I had a very productive day. He knocked a pile of tests down in a flurry of performance-testing blows. I fixed up enough of my embarassingly-naive multi-client recovery code — hey, it’s tricky stuff! — to do some multi-client recovery testing. Good times, good time.

Then, of course, I ran into a classic case of invariants-that-aren’t, and Phil and I went into planning-only mode. We’re going to hack like demons on the plane, for which we must leave shortly. This is my first trip off the continent, so I’m quite excited. I’d be more excited if I could find my coupons for lounge access, but this is the terrible life I leave.

rinse and repeat

My day was spent rebooting computers, fighting with them to make sure that they started up properly, running a quick test (usually less than a minute, once the machines were all up and happy), spending minutes-or-maybe-an-hour scratching my head at logs, typing a little, and then doing it all over again.

It’s not a bad way to make a living, but it is a pretty darned bad way to visit with your family. Tyla’s contingent trotted back to Ottawa today, and my mother and sister are still around, but there’s basically no way I’m going to spend quality time with them tomorrow. Bah.

Phil’s here now, and we watched some hockey, and did some of that first-paragraph dance. Making some progress, fixing some hard bugs — it’s pretty satisfying, but it would be a lot more pleasant if we had another day or three for it, instead of just tomorrow.

attention split like a cheap infinitive

I got up pretty early this morning, because the cold hand of fear was clenching my heart. I have miles of recovery left to go before Lustre Lite can be put to bed, you see, and the debug logs are lovely, dark and deep. Phil was terrified about this stuff as well, as any good manager should be when I’m the long pole on a critical deadline, so I sent him a status report in the morning. It was pretty explicit about all the things that are needed to make Lustre Lite recovery sing and dance.

Happily — nay, joyously — Peter had enlightening news. It turns out that for the Lustre Lite acceptance criteria, recovery just has to hum tunelessly and shuffle its feet. That, my friends, I can do. I might even, if I’m just a little bit clever and a little bit more lucky, manage to get this test limping along by the time Phil gets to my place tomorrow evening. I shouldn’t say that sort of thing “aloud”, because I really can’t cope with any more shame as regards this particular piece of software, but here we are.

I dove into that, while the various women in my life scattered to malls and museums. I found some great bugs, and Phil found some great solutions to them, and we’re really trucking now. Coop’s Lustre-independence grows by the day, so even if I really screw up this coding thing I might be able to get CFS to keep me on board as a recruiter.

It’d been a few weeks since I last read The Volokh Conspiracy, and I found this gem about infinitives and prepositions. Sweet, sweet internet.

Coop’s Buffy CDs are great hacking music, if you’re into that sort of thing.

And no, honey, I’m not hiding from your family, even if your mother did almost open up our save-until-2014 port today. It’s all Phil’s fault, I swear.

(Confidential to Jacob: this is the part where you either tell me you’re joking about the ticket pricing, or you at least shut the heck up where my wife can see. Are you new?)

the sweet tastes of victory and orzo

Tyla and I have some weaknesses. We have financial management skills that would make Greenspan weep hot tears. We’re not very good at the whole Christmas card thing. On any given day, it is almost certain that one of us will forget a meal.

But never let it be said that we don’t throw one mean Mister Falcon of a Christmas dinner. I was most nervous about the orzo casserole, because I’d never cooked it before, but Coop and his lovely wife steered me oh so right. Everything was pretty much perfect, right down to the timing of dish completion, and I’m a little worried that I blew all of next year’s kitchen luck in one shot. Maybe I just had some extra saved up over 2002? Heaven knows I didn’t cook enough this year.

The rest of Christmas was also pretty great, from the near-infinite gift exchanges and cookie overdose to the Buffy viewings and Chester’s fanatical devotion to the destruction of wrapping paper. There are lots of people who don’t celebrate Christmas — and they usually have better reasons for abstaining than I have for participating, all told — but I hope everyone gets a chance to have some family-rich day like today. I know that not everybody can, but I still have a lot of hope.

We had Joan grace us with her presence at dinner, which was very nice. She’s great company, and I was thrilled that she could join us. I hope she had a good time too; our families can be a little overwhelming.

Tomorrow, the sisters are going to shop until someone loses an eye, and I’m going to work on recovery. That it still doesn’t work well enough to pass Lustre Lite grates on my very soul, and when Phil gets here on Friday it may begin to cause more tangible physical distress. (I’m quite serious about the soul-grating thing: I’ve been having nightmares about it, I think, though the fact that I never remember my dreams clearly makes it hard to pin the blame conclusively on my huge bug list.) I might go into the office and take some of Coop’s Buffy CDs for encouragement — if Tyla will let them out of the house. Maybe I should rip them tonight.

Unsurprisingly, the wire I’m waiting for didn’t show up today, so Tyla will be able to cause only limited damage to my plans for eventual retirement. Not a bad silver lining, really.

And to all, a good night.

Mom doesn’t think that drop

Mom doesn’t think that drop cloths would have helped, but she didn’t see the knuckle-sized chunks that had already accumulated on the plastic sheeting by the time I left. She can do renovation-shielding her way, and I’ll do it mine, OK?

I’ve been trying, and failing, to find anything to corroborate the story of airport security abuse that I mentioned the other day. It doesn’t help, of course, that not a single name is given in the article — not any of the TSA personnel, not the Director of Aviation at PDX, not the representative of the ACLU who turned his case down because he’s not a member of a minority. I’ve seen enough incompetence at security screening stations to believe that there could be a fair amount of malice hidden there as well, but I’m still a little uneasy about taking Mr. Monahan’s account at face value. You should probably read the word “allegedly” about fifteen more times in this diary entry.

A loyal reader also sends in this proof that “pregnancy” is not a guarantee of innocence. I am all for searching whoever they need to search, even though it means that I always get searched at least once per flight. If the Monahan article had just been disgust that they would dare to search his pregnant wife, I wouldn’t have even finished reading it. The nature of the search bothered me a bit, as described — and it was totally unlike anything I’ve seen or experienced in my many, many searches; screeners have always been very clear about why (“the metal detector went off”) and how (“with the back of my hand”) they were going to touch me at any point — but it was the discrepancy between his description of events and the text of the report that really got to me. I really like checks and balances, especially when civil liberties are concerned, and supervision with the opportunity for the review of conduct and events is a big part of that. (And it might all be bullshit anyway, sort-of-sadly.)

I should wrap Tyla’s present now, and prepare the stocking-stuffer bits for tomorrow morning. The rest of the family will be arriving at some point today, and then I’ll really be into the game. Man, it is so good to be here at home for Christmas.

Coop’s test now works, and we pass it, so yay for everything. His Christmas gift to Tyla and me — first he takes over QA so that I can breathe again, and now he sends us goodies; what a sweetie! — arrived today as well, scarcely 24 hours after he dropped it off at the postal outlet. I think he should go sit back and relax now, because we’re going to be hustling through the next two or three tests as soon as he gets back from Boxing Day shopping.

I booked travel to Boston and the Bay Area, so I’ll be off to a fine travel start next year. I think it’s actually cheaper to fly to Boston and watch the Leafs there than to catch a home game. For shame.

thanks, I’ll have another

I headed into the office at about 11 this morning, better-rested than I probably deserved — I think Tyla and I are both fighting something off, and it’s going pretty well so far — and full of Lustre ambition and energy.

When I got to the office, I discovered that someone had secretly poisoned my grand plans and enthusiasm with a huge pile of suck. Coop and I thought that the construction workers had just “accidentally” kicked the power out again — no mean feat, considering that I had to use both hands to get anything out of that extension cord, but these are trained professionals — but instead it turned out that the power supply had blown. I’m no level 3 CSI, but I think the huge pile of drywall dust and pebbles that came out when I applied a quick gust of breath might be involved. Or maybe it’s just because when they plugged my computer back in after the last interruption they skipped the UPS thing entirely, and I just took the brunt of a surge? I was not really in for an extended session of “why?”, and Fixy got me back on track with a new power supply in no small hurry. He’s such a champ.

The drywall dust, of course, was not confined to the interior of my computer’s case. My laptop case was covered in dust as well, and my laptop, and my keyboard, and my chair and … you see where I’m going with this. I know they had drop cloths, because I insisted they dig them out before standing over my desk with a trowel and plaster, so I have no clue what sort of incredible manifestation of incompetence was involved in the previous days’ activities. (I also had to make it clear to the intrepid saboteurs that they should make a list of all the people in the world with whom they could have an “it’s OK, we’ll be careful” conversation, and make sure that my name appeared dead last. If at all.)

I think the compressed air got most of the drywall dust out of the gaping PCMCIA bay in my laptop. I’ll find out later, when I’m brave enough to try the wireless card.

When it became painfully obvious that “just a few minutes” of ceiling reconstruction was going to turn into several hundred thousand dollars of opportunity cost, I packed up my laptop and headed home. (This was the part where I discovered that someone had helpfully tried to wipe my laptop case off, thereby scratching the living crap out of the front of it.) Once I got settled back at the house, I realized that my fury had been concealing the fact that my eyes had been sanded and left to bake in the sun. Tyla’s eyedrops helped a lot, and then I stopped wanting to call in an air strike on the office. (Seriously, though, guys: drop cloths for invasive drywall work. This is not a lot to ask.)

I’m working from home tomorrow, inlaws or no inlaws.

Tyla was at least as cranky and tired as I was, so I took off to do the remainder of the Christmas grocery shopping by myself. Maybe they have some sort of Stepford Spray at the entrance, but I don’t really care; Whole Foods put me in a wonderful mood.

I got precisely nothing done at work today, and no doubt impeded Coop’s productivity to no small degree. I don’t think he should be worried about his first check-in; I think the test I checked in for mine is still broken. If I don’t do some work tonight, Phil and Peter are going to sober up and fire me. So I either have to hack like a demon, or send them some wine.

(I have no evidence other than my own experiences at Peter’s that they’ve been drinking.)

going it right on the wrong side of the 401

Because Tyla is hoarding our computrons, and because sleep calls gently to me, I must provide only a brief description of the day’s events. Happily, a day like today needs little said about it.

We had a perfectly wonderful pre-Christmas with Dad and Lisa and the girls (including Steph). The girls seemed to quite like their new Game Cube, and Dad and Lisa were appropriately enthused about the cookbook. (Giving a cookbook isn’t like giving deoderant, we decided. They’ve been Bittman fans for years, by proxy, and just didn’t know it.) Dinner was great, even though Lisa let me make the gravy. “Is it supposed to look like that?” From the mouths of babes….

Now we’re home, with our lovely gifts in tow, and I’m going to go to bed. After a nice warm bath, it’s the only reasonable choice.

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