And Then There Was One

It’s quiet in the house tonight. I’ve had my family visiting for the past week, and the house has been a bustling hive of activity. Curtains have gone up, the door frames have been painted, fences mended, floors screwed down, power points installed front and back, signs put up, wasps eliminated. And there was also time to sit around the television as a family to watch thirteen hours of graphic violence. Oh, and I also saw Sleater-Kinney, who are indeed still awesome, and Turn Me On is every bit as vital when I heard it in 1997.

I am old

To add to the already full house, I then invited lots of friends to come and visit for a picnic (which was moved indoors after the to-be-expected rains were forecast). That involved a day of cooking, four different desserts and three more people sleeping in the house (though, granted, two of them were smaller people. Smaller people who were impressively interested in Transformers. More of this!).

Now, my family are somewhere past New England, ready to enter Canada and head across Greenland over the Atlantic. To home and waiting cats. The house is quieter, but feels as if my family has finally had more involvement with it, leaving their stamp on almost every room in the house, improving things and leaving me with a list of things to improve. Dad was even impressed with my choice of electric screwdriver.

And so, quiet evening on a long sunny Sunday evening. Knowing that I have great friends and family, even if there’s nobody here right now, there will be somebody dropping by before too long has passed.

(also, if you happen to be that person: I HAVE SO MUCH LEFTOVER FOOD AND I WILL MAKE YOU TAKE SOME)

crickets

crickets

Pun Leaderboards!

It’s been a long week, mostly for reasons I can’t talk about yet (nothing too exciting, just unexpectedly working on something that is currently embargoed), but I have at least just come back from a relaxing weekend where we all died horribly at the hands of an invincible space-cruiser.

(yes, we played Space Cadets again. We’re getting better! This time we got two crystals and died from a warp core breach! Next time, I may even introduce the Jump Drive station to the team…)

I also discovered that Columbia has a better deal on Callebaut chocolate than I’ve ever been able to find on-line, made a birthday cake, used a pizza peel and a steel plate to make pizza, almost drowned in a bowl of bottomless ramen (so good!), and was called upon to explain various bits of Britishness present in Miranda. A good time spent with friends, who just happen to be two interstates away. But! I’ll be back there next week when I go to POSSCON! My car is getting a work-out…

(though the main part of that was explaining who Raymond Blanc is. Oh, and Gary Barlow)

Oh yes, and I inadvertently started a pun competition and a pun leaderboard. I blame the eggsuberance of Easter for that (another point for me!). And then I left, heading back to NC, thinking nothing of the poor people that have to suffer the puns in my wake…

Moving On

Life as a consultant means you have to get used to saying goodbye to co-workers fairly regularly. And you can never be entirely sure how long that’ll be; I’ve worked on a few contracts in the past that have only lasted a few hours (pre-launch optimizations and the like).

But the last contract has lasted over a year, and I’m sad to say goodbye to everybody up in Boston, though it has been great to leave after finishing a major project which will touch most of the teams working at mumble mumble in the upcoming months. Which is something.

I will not miss the flatbreads at the Courtyard Marriott, though. Or the piles of snow all around (still several feet high in places, and it’s almost April!).

The iPhone saga from last week has been resolved with a quick trip to the Apple Store and a shiny new phone. Hurrah!

Crack’d Mirror

Firstly, I can sense a lot more pizza in my life in the next few months. I cooked my first New York-style pizza on a steel slate on Friday, and despite deforming one half of the pie due to a lack of a peel, it was the best home-made pizza I’ve ever tasted and came close to the heavenly taste of IP3. There shall be more.

In less happy news, my iPhone now sports a rather shattered look, having fallen foul of a kerb just outside a Walgreens in Durham. Looks like I will have to pay Apple the $80-or-so stupidity tax in the next week or so to get it fixed. It clouded what was at that point a rather nice Saturday. So if you saw a sad panda in the shape of a British person sitting alone outside Pelican’s eating a sno-cone slowly in the afternoon sun today…now you know the rest of the story.

Finally, after a brief foray into 60s British films on YouTube this evening, I’m fairly sure that around 73% of all British films made from 1964-1974 are incredibly suspect. I knew about I Start Counting, but seriously, what possessed people to make Twinky? couldn’t even make it through the title sequence…

Profiling Ruby

Last Tuesday, I gave a talk at the Triangle.rb meetup on profiling Ruby applications. Would you like some slides? I thought so!1


  1. A few slides were added from the talk, in particular adding an extra flamegraph example. There may be more to come on this front… [return]

Snow Week 2 - Morse Edition. And Brutalism

Westgate Car Park

It’s pretty ugly and I don’t think too many people will be sorry to see it go – as far as I know there have certainly never been any requests for its preservation.

Well, thanks, Oxford Mail. Yes, I know, the car park isn’t all that important in the scheme of things, but you wouldn’t say that if the city was about to pull down one of the Elizabethan buildings. Or a Victorian one. Or even some of the inter-war houses. Of course, the council had already ripped the heart of the park out over a decade ago when it took out the ‘golf-ball’ (where the security team watched over all in a rather Prisoner-esque fashion) and covered up the gaps in an amateurish manner. I’ll miss Westgate, even though I realize that not every building can be saved and a city cannot be trapped in amber forever.

In other news, I have spent the week at home again. Snow and plummeting temperatures once more. As cabin fever set in, I took solace in Inspector Morse and my new friend Bob:

Bob

Bob says hello and that he’d like to meet you all. One by one until he’s finished. Forever.

Tomorrow, back in the office. Providing it’s still out there. Is there anything outside the house? I am suspicious.

Snow Week

Six days without leaving the house! Something of a record. It snowed. And it was cold. Very cold (and just to show I’m not just acclimated to North Carolina weather, it was -19˚C (-22˚C with windchill) on Thursday night. That’s cold even back home). But I had accidentally already stocked up with bread, water, and milk, so there was no reason to brave the black ice.

(I did feel a little bad during daily standup as the team in Boston talked about the hellish conditions they had to endure just to get to their cars)

And, then yesterday, possibly having gone a little crazy with remaining indoors all week, I made five different el Buili courses. Perhaps Parmesan ice-cream tastes better in Spain. And less like feet. Fried tempera potatoes, cocoa crackers with sweetcorn butter, and black sesame microwave cakes worked a little better, though.

Hoping to get back into the swing of things this week; February has ended up being a bit of a Lost Month so far.

Grinding

bean to bar

It’s something you’ve seen on this blog tens, if not hundreds of times before; a small bar of chocolate fresh from its mold. Except this time, it’s not Callebaut or Valrhona chocolate that I’ve melted down, tempered, and reformed in the mold. On Friday, this bar was still just a pile of cocoa beans, which I roasted, pulverized, and turned into chocolate by grinding them down for just under 24 hours. For the first time, I’ve made a chocolate bar almost entirely from scratch, just in the way it was done in the 19th century.

Though I did have a VitaMix to help out. And the melangeur was mains-powered. But still.

A single origin, Venezuelan 60% dark chocolate bar created over a weekend. Tempered and cast.

I feel like I can call myself a chocolatier now.

Snow, Interrupted

This week was supposedly going to be full of wacky adventures whilst being up in Boston for a week. Mounds of snow preventing me from crossing roads, covering up with all the blankets in the hotel room as the temperature goes below 20˚C, and just why I keep on eating the flatbreads from the hotel restaurant next door when I really don’t like them (mainly, that’s because I can’t eat at the Copper House Tavern all week, which becomes more of a problem with the aforementioned snow).

Unfortunately for this blog entry, my flight got cancelled twice, and when it got delayed again on Tuesday morning, I decided that Boston probably wasn’t going to happen this week. So I went home and spent several days living on a self-imposed subsistence diet because I refused to go to the shops in the dark.

(look, I’m working on the driving thing a little still, okay? Plus by the time I get back from work, the thought of spending an hour to two hours doing something that isn’t sitting down and drinking tea is less than fun. I’ll probably be a little better when the evenings get lighter)

And then the fridge failed. Again.

But! This time, instead of me taking a hairdryer to it for two hours, I wanted to get somebody out to either fix it properly or pronounce it dead (as it dates from 2000, I was expecting the worst). While their website is just a stage above Geocities circa 1998, I can definitely recommend Durham Appliance Thrift; they came out the same day I called, fixed the issue, assured me that as it is a mostly-mechanical fridge it’s probably good for five more years at least, and left me with yet another thermometer (I will start losing count soon).

Next weekend: I have cocoa beans now. I have cocoa butter. So next weekend, I’m going to make my first bar of dark chocolate from scratch. There will be samples! Provided I don’t hate it and throw it away before anybody even looks at it, obviously…