under the circumstances

Let’s get a few things straight, right off the bat. Colorado is really, really, really dry. Like nosebleed-for-breakfast, dehydration-headache-for-lunch dry. Someone ship these losers some humidity, already.

My hotel didn’t have internet bits, but that’s OK. I can feel the email accumulating back in the real world, but since our major development partner‘s labs don’t feature actual internet access, I can’t do jack about it. If someone has a problem with my email responsiveness, someone should stop sending me to Denver on 8 hours’ notice. I’m just saying.

I assumed complete, cosmic control of the test-plan review meeting. Acceptance Criteria Dictator For Life. Good thing, too — there was crack dust all over the original one, but then I guess we can’t really expect everyone involved in developing the system to understand anything about it.

After a four-hour clue transfusion, and a nice long phone conversation with Phil, I’m on a bus back to the Denver airport, whence I will then travel to my hotel. If I’d remembered to install an MP3 encoder on my laptop before I left, I could be listening to my new music now. Or, I suppose, if I’d accidentally stumbled onto a network.

just don’t

5:00. I’m up, and headed to the office for my laptop and whatnot. Of course, the subway isn’t running yet, and won’t be in time for me to make it to the airport on time, so I’m going to track down a taxi. Please don’t get me started.

I just know it’s going to be cold in Denver.

My email response over the next week or so is going to be atypically dismal. Sorry.

suspiciously punctual

I got up at 7AM today, and it’s a Sunday. I’m sure I’ll still manage to be late for climbing — I can waste three hours without even breaking a slacking sweat — but I can feel like a good person until then.

Tyla’s still in bed, because she was up late last night trying to give me nightmares and warring against the anti-Spike legions on the Buffy forums.

And I just realized that I didn’t publish yesterday’s entry. Ah well.

Least anticipated lesson from a reality TV show: Fox vice-president reports that their upcoming “marry-a-fake-millionaire” show will let viewers “find out whether [contestants] are really doing this for love“. In unrelated news, “Who Wants To Marry A Really Sweet Guy?” was cancelled before completion of the pilot.

Climbing was fun, though I didn’t manage to complete any of the 5.8s I tried. Madhava was very impressive, with his 5.10b-ing and whatnot. I went to work afterwards — “afterwards” obviously meaning after lunch, as well — and worked on some tricky locking-replay stuff. Phil helped me, by being smart and making noises into a telephone hundreds of miles away. Yes, he’s that good.

Uh, it looks like I’m going to Denver this week. By which I mean, “for an 8:30AM meeting Tuesday morning”. By which I mean flying out tomorrow night, flying back late Wednesday, hopping on a bus or something to Kingston, and then presenting to a class on Thursday morning. How does this stuff happen to me?

And, to add injury to insanity, I think I’m going to end up flying on Continental. Whichever airline it ends up being, I expect to be able to hear the last-minute ticket drooling when the booking is made.

Minor travel adjustment: Air Canada, flight is at 07:35 tomorrow — I’m going to Denver on 12 hours’ notice! — I get back about 20:45 on Wednesday to catch a 22:00 bus to Kingston. I arrive there at 1AM, and speak to Mom’s class at some point in the morning. Or, at least, that’s the plan. Stay tuned.

And I wanted to see a movie with Alasdair this week!

we can’t rewind, we’ve gone too far

So after I booked my Edinburgh travel, I found Phil on IRC and discovered that he was, in fact, going to be travelling to Edinburgh via Toronto. In addition, he ended up on a different itinerary, such that we shared precisely zero hours of travel, out of our twenty-odd hours of isomorphic vacationing. That sucked.

What didn’t suck is that Travelnow.com — the power behind the meagre throne of cheaptickets.ca — let me void my non-refundable, non-transferable, proctology-grade-change-fee ticket. The nice customer service man sounded apologetic that he would have to charge me the $10 processing fee, but I really, really, really didn’t care. Really. I’d never used Travelnow.com before, but I won’t hesitate to use them in the future.

Tyla has been playing 80′s music all day, while fiddling on the computer, but I’ve now taken it over for a few hours so that I can play Halo with Phil and Jacob. I’m going to get my ass handed to me, but it’ll be a fun ass-handing.

there are root foreign nationals

We had our kernel upgrade and reboot this morning, and it went quite well. Even AFS is working, though it had been my intention to disable and uninstall it, since it had gone a little bit awry. But when, after the reboot, it was just there and working, I decided to let it live.

Then I had to set up the magic networking for the Mozilla FTP staging server, which featured me turning off bitchcake’s networking, while I was connecting over the network to make the changes. Yes, I’m that smart. A lot of swearing was followed by a rapid shower and then a run to the subway station, with a pause when I got there to talk Fixy through saving my butt. (He’d returned from lunch to my frantic begging for server-room assistance.) When I got to the office and actually engaged my “brain”, everything came up pretty cleanly.

Worked on some bugs today, whined about bad bug reports, talked to Phil, the usual. Things are starting to settle down on the storage-system recovery front, so I’m going to be getting back to metadata recovery next week. I’ll have to test on real hardware, because we discovered that my “impossible bug” was caused but a quirk in User-Mode Linux‘s I/O handling, and that will likely mean sharp drop in productivity. I’ve been doing pretty well at fixing bugs by inspection this week, but that’s only because I didn’t have to. When the pressure’s on, it’ll be totally different.

I booked my travel to Edinburgh today, apparently missing a “partial business class” fare — at a slim, slim $30USD premium! — by a matter of minutes. If I hadn’t tried, vainly, to figure out what “partial business class” actually meant, I think I could have nailed it. Ah well.

And on Wednesday evening, I head to Kingston to visit my Mom (and maybe Hilary?) and speak to her first- and second-year classes about some of my software experiences. (Phil said I could go!)

There had been talk of a trip to Denver in the near future, as a representative for CFS at the design review for the upcoming performance phase, but since that meeting is only 5 days away, it’s looking unlikely. Probably for the best.

Looks like I’m going to just miss Aeroplan Elite status for next year. Maybe they’ll be nice and overlook the few thousand miles I’ll be short. (Less than 10%!)

The Penny Arcade guys hadn’t heard of Equilibrium until it opened, and I only came across it in passing — checking out IMDB’s list of Emily Watson oeuvres after watching Punch-Drunk Love, if I recall correctly — but the trailer makes me want to grab Alasdair by the scruff of the neck and march him down to Paramount tomorrow. Not that it appears to have opened in Toronto yet. Bah.

some dissembling required

I did manage to pick up the advent calendar last night, so I got up this morning at 6:30 to assemble it. The box said it’d take 25 minutes, and they were only off by 200%. Tyla seems to really like it, though, so it’s all worth it.

Now I get to go to the office and see my new desk. Maybe I’ll even pick up breakfast on the way, like a grownup. I wonder if Phil has seen my other glove.

My desk was there. My mouse and phone weren’t, though, and my chair was broken. It’s mostly sorted out now.

I installed OpenAFS on bitchcake today, and it didn’t go so well:

<shaver> bitchcake is now a mess of lost afs kernel threads
<shaver> but it doesn’t seem to be affecting things
<phik_> jesus christ!
<phik_> he’s doing this on _bitchcake_?
<shaver> well, I’m doing this on bitchcake
* phik_ swoons
<shaver> zab thought it would be fine!
<phik_> get back to work :)
<shaver> seriously.

<zab> fine? I said fun! :)

I say we needed a kernel update anyway.

Joe isn’t helping.

<joe> Why is afs running on bitchcake anyhow?
<zab> it’ll be fine!
<shaver> hey, look at the time

when two become one, and furious

Tyla had a crappy day today. I don’t quite know why, because I had a crappy day too, and I really didn’t think I could handle having her vent at me, so I refrained from asking.

It’s probably not because our cable is screwed, or because her Christmas lights have blown bulbs in a most analysis-resistant way, or even because she couldn’t find the new bulbs. It’s probably because her husband is a dork and busted her new email address.

For what it’s worth, the wine helped. I’ve almost totally forgotten that I spent my day waist-deep in mediocre-or-worse bug reports. (I’d link to them, but I don’t want to face them again today.) And Tyla’s almost totally forgotten how to speak English (she’s a bit of a lightweight).

Phil had a crappy day too, I think, but then Jacob brought him cookies, so I can’t really imagine that he’s suffering too badly any more. Jacob: I like Oreos.

Tyla and I are going to go out for dinner now. When I come back, I expect a new batch of bug reports to have landed in my lap. With any luck, some of them won’t suck.

Confidential to Alasdair: let’s do something this week, if I stay in town. Also, don’t tape over this week’s West Wing!

the faintest illusion of progress

I didn’t get the expected call last night, and when I called the Toy Shop to ask, I was told that the calendar in question had been paid for, and that I should call back in a day or so. Very disappointing. I did manage to find another place that claimed to have two of them, but it was just closing when I talked to the nice man there. So I was going to go out this morning and pick them up.

First, though, I had a conference call about Lustre testing. Lots of good discussion about the state of various bugs and tests, and I think I got a bunch of the HP testers straightened out with respect to how recovery works. I also managed to cough up some advice and quick patches in response to follow-up emails, so things are looking nicely productive on that front, once again.

After all that was sorted out, I finally got a call from the original person I spoke to at the Toy Shop who informed me that the other person was lying — her words! — and that, yes, I could have picked it up while I was out freezing my buns off last night. Alas. I’ll head over there tomorrow, I suppose, since they were nice enough to hold it for me.

I bought my first Xmas present of the season today, for my friend Deb. She’s not much of a Christmas freak, but she just finished the launch of a new site at work, and is a little stressed. Hopefully this will cheer her up.

My desk at the office has disappeared, a side-effect of recent merger-y events. I will get a new one soon, but for now I will stay at home and annoy Tyla.

My good friend Anatole sent me some very odd, but promising, mail today about this year’s incarnation of a conference he attended in Switzerland last year. Maybe I’ll get to go this year? Only time will tell!

total waste of foresight

The trick to oracular success, of course, is a combination of studied vagueness and liberal application of the Texas-sharpshooter fallacy. But I can’t resist pointing out that, in the frequent words of my wife, “I’m soooooooo smart”.

Apparently McDonald’s didn’t see the full range of possibilities that they were unleashing when they signed up for virtual McDonald’s restaurants in The Sims Online. But I knew it all along. Naomi Klein must be loving it.

I wish I were that good at predicting bugs. Would be more useful today.

Just as I was about to head out to a toy shop, I thought to call and see that they actually had the calendar I sought. They do have one left. It’s on hold for a guy named Alan. If he doesn’t claim it by 6pm, it’s mine!

Of course, this guy could be my dad — in which case his name would properly be “Allan”. I’m not sure if that would change my position on missing the 6pm deadline, but it would sure make for some entertaining conversations at Christmas.

Tyla wants me to find and assemble a second one for her sister, as well, upon which quest I shall embark shortly.

It’s going to be really damned cold here tonight, for Toronto. Seventeen below zero, in our fancy Celcius degrees. Twenty-seven below, with that nasty wind chill stuff. I’m in my long underwear in preparation for the trek to buy toys — T minus 5 minutes until Alan’s right to that calendar expires! — but not everyone in this city is as lucky. So I’ve got the number for the Street Helpline programmed into my cell phone, in the unfortunately-likely event that I come across someone who needs help finding shelter while I’m out and about this winter. Boy, I’m feeling that middle-class guilt pretty seriously right now.

Tyla has a web site of her own, now. I don’t know if we’re going to get a real Alan/Telsa thing out of this, but I guess time will tell.

a celebration of failure

The thing about climbing is that you have to keep doing it. My technique and muscular capabilities degraded a fair bit during the month-or-more that I was absent from the gym, so I stuck to some simpler climbs. For the first time, I was able to complete a climb with a significant overhang component, though, so it wasn’t a total loss.

I’m starting to think that I need tighter shoes, since my toes are basically straight when I put them on, and I have a fair bit of trouble getting good support on the smaller holds. Ken’s new shoes are hella tight, and he’s doing quite well for it. I wonder if MEC will do trade-ins.

After climbing, we ate. After eating, I napped. (We stopped on the way home to pick up this year’s Playmobil advent calendar, but it hadn’t arrived yet. I bet the prices come down pretty quickly after December starts ticking away.)

After my nap, I puttered a little bit with Lustre. Andreas thought he’d found a fix for my impossible bug, but it didn’t turn out to help. We’re now starting to suspect that it’s a problem in how we handle committed-to-disk notifications, which means that I get to spend a big chunk of tomorrow fiddling in the deepest recesses of our filesystem. (I think I can explain the nature of this bug in layman’s terms, but I’m too tired right now, even though I napped.)

I didn’t write a single line of code today.

I also didn’t send email to my good friend Coop, with whom I have not corresponded in a shamefully long time. I’m not coherent enough to do a decent job now, but I might try anyway before I go off to bed.

Tomorrow is going to suck a little bit, because I think I’ve missed my end-of-November deadline in ways that will be a little tricky to conceal. I don’t feel that I was slacking or anything, and there have been a fair number of out-of-my-control issues, but still — I said “the end of November”, and here we are in December, and that stuff isn’t completely done yet. Not a good scene.

We have Zach on our team now, which sure makes the future look brighter.

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