Heath Robinson Rules OK

2016: where I boot a Linux VM with VirtualBox on MacOS X with a USB passthrough driver so I can hook up a EXT3-formatted HDD and read the data from it, copying to a network share which is back on MacOS X, but actually a mount point to a USB 3.0 pocket drive.

The most impressive part of all the above is that it all works. Although I may need 2 weeks to copy 2Tb of information to the new drive.

I was planning on spending the weekend working on algorithms, digging into Spark 2.0, and being productive. But I watched How To Steal A Million instead and I think I made the right decision.

Oh, also: chamber vacuum sealer-enhanced cookie dough is now a thing.

Under pressure.

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This entry is late, but I had a good excuse for not posting yesterday - I instead spent the day making a roast dinner for friends. I think my Yorkshire Pudding game is getting pretty good at this point:


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(that, of course, is tempting fate for the next time I attempt them)

The Third Man is playing at The Carolina Theatre this week and you should see it if you can. If you think that Major Calloway is perhaps too terribly arch and British, I’d like to point out that the actor playing him had a clause in all his contracts that specified that he would not work on days where a cricket Test Match was being played. NONE MORE BRITISH.

(of course, he’s also in this film, which…well, how that ever got made continues to elude me. Or how come everybody involved didn’t get arrested)

This week, though, this week should be quieter. I am, maybe, just maybe…going to have a Saturday and Sunday all to myself for the first time since…January?

Also, when did it get to be mid-March? I feel like people slipped some extra days by me when I wasn’t looking…

Slight Return

My second trip to San Francisco was shorter, but sweeter. And despite being there for less than five days, I managed to consume more alcohol than the last two-week jaunt, aided and abetted of course by winebratsf. It may have been a washed-out weekend, but it was a fun one.

So huge!

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Now, though, I’m looking forward to getting back to Durham this evening and staying there for a while. We’ll see how long that lasts, anyhow…

Rosé By Any Other Name Would Not Taste So Sweet

“Here, the intersection of the timeless moment is England and nowhere. Never and always.”

“It’s like honey / you can’t buy it with money”

I find myself, as ever, with nothing useful to say.

The Two Hour Stopover…At Home

It has been a week where my world has turned upside-down multiple times, involving four states and the knowledge that very soon I’ll have spent more time in San Francisco this year than my own house. Oh, and I’m currently on a plane to Atlanta.

And yet, despite all that, things seem more stable than they did last week. But that’s probably a story for another time and place. This is the week where I went to Cincinnati, failed to escape from a house where a group of us were trying to rescue a stolen painting before a museum opening, went to the cinema and tried to work out exactly what cartoon character George Clooney reminded me of in Hail, Caesar! (still haven’t worked that out, but it was a fun film nonetheless), finally ate Skyline Chili, and discovered the horrors waiting at the end of April in Pandemic Legacy. All in all, a delightful introduction to Ohio, though I think I am cured of my need to ever try Skyline ever again. I may also have completely wrecked Tammy’s plans to eat healthy, continuing my evil schemes to visit and up the sugar content of all my friends. Bwahahaahaha.


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The fifth plane ride in four days. But a bigger plane at long last! A 737 with big engines and lots of people onboard. But due to canny (or uncanny, depending on how you want to look at it) planning, I managed to get home from Ohio with five hours to spare before the next flight. Same minds would have stayed in the airport and migrated over to the other terminal. However, this is me. Instead, I went home, made a cup of tea (I am still nothing but a stereotype), showered, re-packed, and then headed back to the glorious delights of RDU Terminal 1. It was nice to see the house again, if only for a little while. Unfortunately, my cardboard mountain continues to grow in the absence of recycling pickup:

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I would like to say that after this week, things will calm down a touch…but that appears not to be the case. Atlanta this week, and then a mid-week trip to San Francisco again for work. This, however, does have the benefit of being able to visit winebratsf again, to a) bring chocolates and thus mess with her sugar levels (I’m dedicated to this plan, you know), and b) participate in cocktail making and Gilmore Girls marathons.

After that, though…I would like to stay in Durham again for a while, I have windows to replace and family visiting. Plus, it is almost March. That snuck up on me.

Are You Being Served?

Well, not yet. But probably soon.

An odd week. And likely to get odder.

Finally, Durham

It has been a long time. But I am currently about to spend my second night in Durham for what seems a long, long time.

Meanwhile, we may trace the import of American Prom Culture to the UK to Grange Hill in 1989. Or thereabouts.

(yes, past the Death of Danny Kendall now)

Second week of San Francisco (okay, apparently, I’m legally required to point out that it was Newark, just in case people get the wrong idea) was much quieter than the first, mainly because I was working onsite, but partly because I fell ill around Tuesday evening.

It is nice to be home (in the Durham one, anyway), but I spent most of Saturday in a tired haze, and it’s the end of Sunday right now. A weekend pretty much lost.

But, look on the bright side, I guess: a week in Durham! Complete with a Spark Meetup on Tuesday night, and then a weekend of finally getting back into the Chocolate Room and making the first major batch of chocolates for the year.

Talk Of The Town

It has been an odd week. My one-week trip to San Francisco suddenly became two, with a week-long preamble before the actual engagement. So I have spent the week in a hotel lobby working during the day, and then sometimes braving BART in the evening for a quick trip into the city.

Of course, I’m not quite in San Francisco itself, but Newark, which I didn’t know existed before Sunday evening (natives of the Bay Area point out that is a good thing, and really, I should have remained in that blissful state of ignorance). Exploration of the city itself was therefore put mostly on hold until the weekend.

But what a weekend! Saturday was split into two - firstly, the traditional ‘Ian walks for miles and miles and is then surprised that his foot hurts’ approach. This involved a quick breakfast of macarons, a voyage to Dandelion Chocolate (they have a brownie flight, which seems the most SF-thing ever), a disastrous attempt to visit Costco (on a Saturday afternoon no less - what was I thinking?), a pilgrimage to DNA Lounge, and then the long, long walk to the where I was staying. Turns out that they weren’t joking about the hills. Not one bit.

Having had something of a rest, it was time for the second part of the day. I have a new friend! Winebratsf of LushiousLushes had spent part of the week taunting me with the abundance of dark chocolate digestives in San Francisco, but also suggested that she could show me some edited highlights of the city. Which mainly included gin (Whitechapel), whiskey (Whiskey Thieves), with a brief stop for food and stocking up on spirits that aren’t on the NC ABC list.

Eventually, after a merry night (and learning lots about American whiskey!), I staggered back home . Or rather, continued my week-long foray into the world of ride-sharing. I can see why it’s popular. They gave me $50 of free credit for signing up, and it was pretty easy to get places using it. That didn’t stop me from feeling guilty about it, mind you. I wonder if the geospatial / communications tech could be commoditized and passed around to local taxi companies.

Sunday! Brunch! More walking! And then back to the hotel. With ibuprofen to help my poor foot. Sadly, I had to skip Oakland this time, but hopefully, I’ll be back!

San Francisco


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Brownie flight.

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Did I really just walk all that way? (Yes)

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The legally-required photo of a tram in SF.

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Om nom nom

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Suddenly, Columbia???

I’m writing this from the second gate change in Charlotte airport waiting for a flight to San Francisco, haven been driven up by Tammy from Columbia. Now, my intended weekend was to relax after a rather stressful deployment to Nashville1 and then roll into work on Monday to finish off a project that has been hanging over me for…oooh, about three months.

The snowstorm put a pretty stop to that. Instead of flying home on a leisurely basis on Friday afternoon, I had to rush back to the airport in Nashville on Thursday night…but all the flights to RDU had already been cancelled, so instead I found myself flying to Columbia, SC, to spend a rather impromptu visit (and I think I caused sadness by not having brought any board games with me. So, a note: along with the passport, always carry an emergency board game). It was a fun weekend! Just not the one I was expecting.

And instead of gingerly making my way back to Durham today, it’s San Francisco. My first-ever visit to Silicon Valley. This has the potential to be exciting, but I can’t help but feel that it would have been better if it was next week instead of right now…

  1. ask me sometime about how I managed to avoid re-writing the Spark Thrift Server by writing a one-line Scala function that turns a Spark Dataframe into a Hive DDL string and some hasty Hive Metastore schema changes. It’s exciting! Or…not. [return]