Razorblade Throat

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How do you follow a week like last week? Well, how about getting a car bill for $2,000 bill, falling really quite ill, and travelling 100 miles to go see Los Campesinos! one more time?

Lots of thanks have to go to Tammy for putting up with the ‘ill man insisting he’s probably not going to make it to the morning’, followed up with ‘having to go to a concert with somebody that sounds like a Muppet having swallowed a helium balloon’. In fairness to myself, I really have been quite ill, and I came very, very close to throwing up in the middle of the concert.

(which would have been super-embarrassing as we were at the front, and I’m already the ‘odd guy who sent us chocolates’ and ‘that one who accidentally ordered 111 copies of our live album’. That’s plenty, I think)

I have officially lost count of how many times I’ve now seen LC!. Probably into double figures now, from coast-to-coast in the USA, and all over London back home (with one Oxford date, I think? My memory is not as good as it used to be1). This tour is a little different - no new album to promote, but the 10th anniversary of We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed (the second album that wasn’t, but then was). As that was the album that cemented them in my head as ‘yes, this is my band’, I was definitely up for hearing a bunch of songs that they haven’t played live in the last few times I’ve seen them. But no All Your Keyfabe Friends? Sadness!2

In order to see them, we had to leave the safe folds of Cincinnati and drive all the way north to Columbus, Ohio’s Capital! Which I can confirm is a city. With a few tall buildings. Look, I felt like death and was trying to work inbetween passing out, okay? We did see a food truck! And a bizarre marching band that seemed to march past the hotel for a couple of hours…but that’s about it. Oh, it snowed too! So that’s my review of Columbus. Be aware that the CBD CVSs close really early.

I am now off to hook up a Lemsip IV and take all the NyQuil that exists in the house. Eventually I will feel well again!

  1. “Couldn’t you just search your blog?” Yeah, not really set up for doing that easily any more.3 [return]
  2. I kid. It was a great treat to hear You’ll Need Those Fingers For Crossing once again. Memories of the Electric Ballroom gig where Gareth started singing the lyrics to Kenickie’s Millionaire Sweeper over the start. Reader, I knew I was in the right place. [return]
  3. “Don’t you work for a search company?” Oh, aren’t you funny. [return]

Back On My Beat

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This was a trip back home that was long in the planning and surrounded in secrecy. I had decided to come home anyhow for my grandmother’s 80th birthday last Christmas, but it was only in April when I joined up with my family’s holiday that we started making firmer plans. And that it was to be a secret. I am still a little surprised that we managed to keep it that way right up until the point where I was standing in front of her.

And so I spent less than 60 hours back home, most of which was centred around a traditional family party: hordes of people from multiple generations packed into Granny’s house, completely taking over the street’s parking, and enough food to feed a couple of ravenous armies. Just like it has been countless times before and hopefully many times into the future.

For everybody else, I’m really sorry that I didn’t mention anything or try to meet up with anybody; jet lag and having only about an hour or so free all weekend meant that it wasn’t really possible. But I’ll be back at Christmas as usual, honest!

And now back to the other home, where apparently in my absence, Helvetica Black has taken up residence in her very own hammock, and I have my first Federal election to vote in…


It is a lot quieter this week. Well, except for a cat that was fed an hour ago that insists the lack of food in its bowl is in contravention of its fundamental feline rights, and it is prepared to meow for the rest of the d—WAIT IS THAT A LASER DOT? I WILL CHASE IT FOREVER.

Ahem. Anyway, quieter. But not more productive. It has been a week where I have discovered white hairs, have totally failed to write more than half-a-page, managed to get locked out of my AWS account because I forgot to transfer the Google Authenticator codes before wiping my old phone, and oh yes, I made a really quite fancy lemon tart…only I forgot to put in any lemon. All in all, not the best few days, I’d say.

But! I did get to dress up as a dinosaur and provide the heavy and prehistoric mob backup while Tammy did tarot readings. Unexpected way to spend a Saturday, but a good one!

I have also obtained what I believe is enough sweet-related products to stave off the potential hordes on Hallowe’en. As part of this, I discovered sour Skittles, which can be best described as ‘imagine Skittles coated with weapons-grade citric acid’. Eye-meltingly sour. And yet I just had to eat three packets of them just to be sure…

Introducing…Helvetica Black!

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(rejected names included “Cat (with a K)” and “Caaaaaaaat” (make sure you get all eight As!)

Apologies for the lack of update last week; my family has been visiting! They brought ginger cake, lemsip, and tea. And I obtained a surprise cat! She is settling in, but really does not like the robot vacuum cleaner. Not one little bit.

Although they didn’t go to see Fiona, I did take them to Jungle Jim’s so they could experience the insanity up close. Who doesn’t love a supermarket with its own monorail?

Anyway, I think they had fun, even though the temperature dropped to freezing and their luggage had a stopover in Philadelphia. Bonnie did indeed get to watch all the football on the TVs downstairs, Dad pegged things into pegboard in the garage, and Mum got to visit a market. Oh, and everybody played with that cat, obviously.

It’s a little quiet again, but there’s now a small cat sleeping on the cushions downstairs…

Optimus Benn

Optimus Benn

The British influence on the Transformers franchise is strong.

By Year Six, Cabinet Handles!

In getting myself prepared for next week’s return of Doctor Who, I have to report that, for all how it got a little too convoluted in the ‘middle’, the (chronological) finale of The Many Husbands of River Song and Silence In The Library really works and shows off that when Moffat was on his game, he was very good indeed.

(Day of The Doctor is also a highlight, even if it’s just an excuse to get Tennant and Smith in the same room for an hour while also retconning genocide of two races out of the Doctor’s timeline. Which seems relatively worthwhile. And I’ll continue to yell that Series 531 is the pinnacle of Who until I’m blue in the face)

Meanwhile, I have owned this house for almost a year now, and to celebrate, the house now has toilet roll holders. At this rate, the house will have curtains by the end of the third year. Maybe clearing the garage of cardboard boxes will happen before year five! But let’s not be too hasty.

That’s pretty much all I have right now, so I will leave you with one of the pinnacles of 1970s Top of The Pops.

Living Overseas And First World Problems

Ways to tell I have become a little too acclimatized: the air conditioning has stopped working and it has been Officially The Worst Thing In the World. I’m not expecting much sympathy from people back home who endured weeks of crazy-high temperatures this summer, but eh. Especially during the nights where it turns out the house turns out to retain heat quite well (hurrah for oncoming Winter at least!), and the small parade of different air conditioning firms that have come through and made things somewhat worse.

On the bright side, Autumn officially began on Saturday and the temperature dropped 10˚C overnight. I may have danced a little jig.

Other than that, though, I think it’s been a quiet week, mostly starting to prepare for my family’s visit in a few weeks and sweating quietly in the corner of the bar downstairs. Oh, and hiding from a surprise wasp that just wanted to celebrate the end of Summer with me. The usual, then.

I did, however, succumb to the charms of the iPhone XS. I was planning on waiting until the release of the XR, but then I discovered that it’s is going to be wider than the iPhone 7…and that was that. Initial thoughts are: well, it’s shiny, the FaceID thing is weird but works very well, and the cameras do camera things. I may be getting slightly jaded about smartphones. But the battery is great!

San Francisco And A Murder In The Basement

It is perhaps a bad time to work out that your AC isn’t working properly during a day where you have all the ovens running for over eight hours and almost twenty people in the basement trying to solve a murder mystery. Thankfully, nobody fainted out! And further confirmation that Irish and Filipino attitudes to catering a home event are broadly similar1.

(feelings on the murder mystery summed up: a good night, but we think we can put together a better mystery game where there’s more involvement and things to do for everybody. We have problems. But who doesn’t want a dinner party, a murder mystery, and an escape room set in the 1920s all combined, eh?)

The rest of my rest was occupied by a last-minute jaunt to San Francisco for my orientation at Lucidworks. Feelings on that:

  • The more I visit, the less appealing SF becomes. So good choice on Ohio, I guess!
  • I appear to have picked up a local bar. Why not take a visit to Elixir? It’s not a huge bar, but their collection is sizable.
  • Scouring the local Targets finally resulted in me finding Elita-1, rounding off the figures from the most recent Transformers line that I was interested in
  • (yes, my suitcase was heavier coming back)
  • With the work laptop sitting next to me right now, I’m regretting not getting Space Grey on my personal laptop.
  • By the penultimate day, my appetite for doing anything in the evening tends to zero.
  • I really don’t want to do those overnight flights back to Cincinnati any time soon.
  • Everybody at Lucidworks seems friendly and sharp.

  1. Basically assume that at least five times as many people will show up and make sure to get some extra food on the go just in case you need to feed a passing church congregation. It could happen! Best to be prepared! [return]

Do You Remember How We Used To Live?

One unintended highlight of seeing Saint Etienne in DC on Friday? For the first time in what feels like ages, I didn’t feel like the oldest person in the room!1 The benefit of seeing a band that debuted in 1991, I guess.

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Do you remember?

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I didn’t realize that Bob Stanley isn’t on this tour. I wonder if that’s a new thing or something that has been going on for a while? Still, Like A Motorway is still a brutal slab of a banger. And feather boa for He’s On The Phone! Sigh2

It was also a little odd going to DC and doing absolutely none of the tourist trappings. We have separately done them all before, so there wasn’t exactly a big desire to go visit The Mall or anything. Which I guess makes a lot of sense when I consider that I never really went to see the sights of London on most of my trips, did I?3 So instead of Abe, we went to Momofuku, instead of the Smithsonian, we found a Filipino restaurant in Arlington, and of course multiple bookshops (including Amazon Books, a strange store that inhabits the space of a former Barnes & Noble, just to ram home the point of today’s changed world).

All in all, a good way of bringing my week of ‘gardening leave’ to a close. Oh, and there was this:

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Tammy’s birthday request: a funfetti cake based on the Milk Bar cake (my version throws out the cream cheese icing on the grounds that cream cheese icing is an abomination and must be destroyed. Now, isn’t a nice Italian buttercream nicer? Why, yes it is!). Unfortunately, her other request - macarons with a pear ganache had to be put on hold after all the pears I bought went bad. But they’ll get made! After the murder mystery this weekend. And then there’s the Doctor Who viewing party. And the visit from my family. Sometime…

And now? Well, I’m ruing some of my lack of productivity this week (that book isn’t going to write itself), whilst being 35,000ft up on the way to San Francisco. It wasn’t my plan to go here this week, but as it turns out, the rest of my new team will be in the city for the next few days, so it seemed a good idea to meet them. I will probably regret this decision on the Thursday / Friday trip back to Cincinnati, but I don’t think it can be helped.

  1. This has been a problem at Los Campesinos! concerts, where I often feel like I’m the only person in the audience who didn’t get carded at the bar. [return]
  2. Sarah Cracknell — breaking a million hearts in stereo. [return]
  3. (except for the South Bank, obviously) [return]

News and Things

Right, then. My first bit of news is that I have left Kogentix and I will be starting at Lucidworks in a week’s time! I’m joining a very interesting team at the company, and I’m looking forward to pushing the boundaries of what Apache Solr and Fusion can achieve.

But wait, for that’s not all! The second bit of news is this: I’m writing a book. It is in very early stages right now, but in the middle of next year, Beginner’s Guide to Using PyTorch for Deep Learning should be on the bookshelves. And it’s being published by O’Reilly. I will have my own animal book! It’ll cover PyTorch 1.0 from first steps all the way to production, with a lot of practical hints and tips along the way.1

This week, though, I have a few days off before I start the new job. Which means some writing, a trip to IKEA, baking a cake, and finally to round the week off, a voyage to DC to see Saint Etienne. I am a little sad that I didn’t realize New Order were touring the US again until they literally started tweeting pictures from performances. Maybe next year…

  1. Yes, it’s basically YS’s Tipshop but for deep learning. [return]