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Thursday, October 26

Dear Google,

No, sorry. You don't get to control language. Language users collectively do that, and part of the beauty of language is that the only control is completely distributed. I realise that the Académie française has failed to learn this lesson over a much longer time than you've had, but I used to expect better of you.
posted @ 11:39 PM -

My computers are laughing at me

I tend a small flock of computers. Four of them hang on the wall, and on a good day they work for me. On a bad day, they crash. I'm having a hard time figuring out why they crash, because it's a relatively infrequent (every week or two) intermittent fault, and when one goes down somehow the whole group goes down. So I'm now running some stress tests in the hope that I can force a crash and figure out how it happened, only there's a catch: the damn things are refusing to crash.

I can almost hear them chattering amongst themselves.
That'll show him. He'll think twice before swearing at us next time.
Bloody ingrates the lot of them. I brought them into this world, toiled over them for hours, and this is all the thanks I get.
posted @ 10:04 PM -

Wednesday, October 25

I do stuff, really

Work's been a bit depressing lately. I thought I had some good, positive results in hand and was beginning to get excited about finally being able to write and defend a research proposal, but it all turned out to be rubbish. I went to Bloomington to meet my advisor, and within 10 minutes of us sitting down for the serious meeting he noticed a mistake I had made some months ago. I'm still working on figuring out quite how bad this really is, but it's possible that all the positive results were just a side-effect of the error, so... um... oh shit.

So to help take my mind off work, it's time I blogged about various fun things that are going on.

First of all, the trip to Bloomington was in all other respects enjoyable. From a work point of view, I'm making an effort to meet lots of people face to face, so that if I ever find myself approaching academics at Indiana, they actually know who I am. One of the nice things about that place is that there's actually a large department I fit into, unlike at Case (or most universities, to be fair). Obviously not living there reduces how much I can benefit from that, but I do my best to make the most of it. It also helps that I have a wonderful host there—a friend-of-a-friend who is fast becoming a friend in his own right—and that autumn is exactly the right time to be in the midwest. Oh, and the majority of the airport/airplane experiences were actually pleasant; Alaska Air/Horizon Air has the distinction of being the only airline I actually like for domestic flights.

It's lovely having free time, though I am still getting used to it, just like Melinda. On Friday I had a lovely evening doing very little; just sitting in our defiantly orange easy chair with a cat and book on my lap and the fire going. This was forced on me by having a cold and wanting to make sure I'd be up to hiking the next day, but it really was a nice way to spend an evening. Must get back into the habit of reading books that are not work... I was enjoying doing exactly that a year ago, but for a few months the wedding consumed our free time so I stopped.

On Saturday I refused to let a very minor illness stop me from hiking, not least because the weather was glorious. The stereotype about Seattle always raining is unfair, but it's less unfair in October than it is May-September, so from now till Easter we really have to take advantage of the nice days whenever they are. Stef, Ben, Melinda and I had a grand old time hiking up Squak Mountain in blue skies. And I do mean up. We intended to hike to a viewpoint that was not the highest point in the State Park, but missed our turning. So we ended up at the peak, then hiked down and back up to the vicinity of the viewpoint, but managed to completely miss it, so we did a lot more climbing than intended without actually getting anywhere that allowed us to see across the valley, but it was all fun anyway. And good exercise - I only recently realised that round here the lowland hiking season overlaps the upland ski season, and I think that realisation will help me start the ski season in better shape than before.

Then there was curry last night, with the Seattle Expat Brit Meetup Group, which was lovely. I heard about this group a few months ago, but hadn't made it to any of their events yet because they always seem to clash with something else I'm doing (that group must think I have a much more exciting social life than I really do). I was also a bit hesitant because expat culture can be a bit of a sad bubble; on my travels through Asia I encountered a few clumps of British expats who were really disturbingly eager to pretend they were still in Britain, and I would never have left if that were how I wanted to live. But this lot don't seem that way. I wonder if it helps that there's no real language barrier in this country, so it is that much easier for a British expat to make local friends... anyway, whatever the cause I didn't see the things I have disliked about expat culture elsewhere, but did find a nice friendly group of people who do have lives and don't hide from local culture, but appreciate the chance to sometimes not sound different, and talk to people who know what Maltesers are.

And finally, there are a few things I'm involved in organising. I've had small roles in producing Seattle's Dorkbot gatherings for a while, but only since the wedding have I been willing to commit much time to this. I'm 'curator' for next week's meeting, which basically means that I'm doing most of the co-ordinating this month. It's been a bit stressful because we found out at rather short notice that our usual venue wouldn't be available, but I'm quite proud of what I've put together, I've enjoyed the majority of the work, and as long as we do find a backup venue (which tentatively we have found - I just need to confirm some details tomorrow) it will be a good night.

And finally finally, the Brits meetup inspired me to start a group of my own. All through last winter I was saddened by how few people I could go skiing with, and how few opportunities I had to ski without having to drive a 100+ mile round trip in a single-occupant car. Then I had a look around meetup.com, and noticed that there are 40 skiers and 27 snowboarders interested in meetups in the area, many of whom are looking for people to carpool with to the nearby mountains. So I decided to start a group of my own: the Seattle Skiing, Snowboarding and Snowsports Meetup Group. In half a day we're already up to 8 members, so I'm hoping that given a few days for people to notice it there will be enough of us to start organise reasonably frequent ride shares, and maybe the occasional charter bus trip.

So yeah. Though I'm working pretty hard, life is not all work work work right now, and that's a very good thing seeing as work is getting me down at the moment.
posted @ 11:32 PM -

Wednesday, October 4

Environmental optimism

There's a post about environmentalism over on my work blog that I just thought I'd point to from here because it may interest people who don't want to wade through the majority of my work posts.

If I'm not sure where to put a post, I'll always put it there and point to it from here, so that the work blog remains a cohesive thing that I can show to prospective employers without having to direct them here.
posted @ 1:04 PM -

Monday, October 2

Hey, look over there!

So, we're married, and we're back from our honeymoon. Actually we got back almost two weeks ago, and even after the killer jet lag we've been back into a normalish routine for about a week. I just haven't got around to blogging about any of it yet, because I've been preoccupied with photos. Speaking of which, there are a number of photo sets worth looking at.

First of all, thank you to all the contributors to the Flickr group we set up. It was lovely coming back from the honeymoon and having all those pictures to look at already.

Then there are the professional photographer's pictures, which we're very pleased with indeed. We're not completely finished with this process—there will ultimately be a printed album and a set of high-enough-resolution-to-print photos online—but there is a set of proofs online if you fancy a look.

And then on to the honeymoon. It was, of course, wonderful. Melinda has posted her whole set of honeymoon photos, and I'm working on mine. So far I have finished the sets for Iceland and İstanbul. Ephesus, my parents' house and an abandoned village are on their way soon.

I should make myself sit down and write about the wedding and honeymoon, if only because I know I'll appreciate having that to read in a few years' time, but for now I'm finding the photos much more appealing than blathering in text.

Update: And shortly after I made this post, Dunc uploaded a set of photos from the stag night.

Update 2: The Efes set is now complete.

Update 3: The last two sets are online: my parents' new house at Yalıkavak and the abandoned village at Sandıma, meaning the honeymoon pictures are now complete. If you prefer, you can view the whole lot as one oversized set.
posted @ 11:14 PM -
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