Five-a-Side

Yesterday I played indoor, five-a-side football for the first time in years. It was a friendly 4-a-side match as we didn’t have enough players for a real game of five-a-side football. It was also the first aerobic exercise I’ve done in the past 12 months (other than making the beast with two backs of course).

After just 30 minutes of running around, I honestly thought I was going to puke. I left the sports hall to get a drink in the changing rooms. After a minute of drinking water and leaning over the loo, the feeling of nausea passed, and I was able to return to the match, albeit running a little slower. Clearly I am very unfit. I’m not fit, just don’t do enough exercise. Oh well. I’ve vowed to continue with this crazy sport, and 40 minutes of football each week will hopefully have me as fit as a butcher’s dog. Or something.

Dreamlog – Skanky LEGO

Last night I spent half an hour washing some old skanky Lego I had purchased from a guy at work. It was covered in bluetac and plasticine. Disgusting. Afterwards, the bath was so grim I had to clean it, regretting how much I’d handed over for this old dirty Lego. Now it’s drip-drying on a towel in the bathroom. Much cleaner.

Woke up late, not wanting to get up. It is getting darker and colder in the mornings, and waking up is not a lot of fun. Ever heard of Seasonal Affective Disorder? I think I have a mild dose.

However.

When I stepped outside I felt good. The air was cold, but not uncomfortably so. As I opened the door, a flock of white birds (doves? seagulls? I don’t know) flew over me. I just stood still and watched them for a minute. Then I got in the car, and turned on the radio just as a Radiohead song from their new album started. I felt good.

Geeking out with Winamp

Tired today. For the last 2 days I’ve been playing with Lego until about 1am, and being woken up at 7am by the postman delivering parcels.

Had a bit of a breakthrough at work last night, and finally got something working I’d been trying to do for 3 or 4 days. What a relief. I feel like a psychological barrier has been broken, and now I will work better for the rest of the week. Momentum.

Also playing with hobby programming. I have a Java API for Winamp, complete with a sample applet. The applet is quite neat. People in my office can now see what I’m listening to (currently and in the playlist), control the volume, pause, play etc. Fortunately not too many of my friends annoy me with it too often :-)

Autumn leaves

Where I live it is Autumn now. I am lucky enough to walk past a few trees on my way to work. They were beautiful today. Red is spreading through the leaves, as though the roots are sucking up pints of red food colouring.

I’ve been 22 for 2 days now. It’s funny, when you’re a kid you get so excited about birthdays. This is the first year when I really didn’t look forward to it for days beforehand. Must be old now. I was actually fairly excited at about 8:00am, when I opened some Lego and a good book I didn’t know I was going to get.

Oh well. Now my Degree (Comp. Sci, but of course) is over I seem to have long evenings to fill. I’ve been playing with Lego Mindstorms – last night I built a (quite basic) pneumatic hand. I managed to obtain an air-chamber to hold pneumatic air pressure from a mail-order company. I’ve been buying lots of things from them recently. The air-chamber is excellent. It holds about 40 regular pumps from a pneumatic pump. Tonight, my hand will tidy the floor under instruction from my Palm III.

Went to a party the other day, and my 21 year old friend and his 1 year old baby were there. She is so cute. I gently tickled her feet – she sat very still, just enjoying it without making any noise. Eventually I stopped and she turned around, and reached for my hand. Interaction.

Machine Rooms

I work for a very large IT company. In dark, underground rooms beneath the ground, we have machine rooms. Different rooms contain computers for different purposes. One area might contain a few hundred web servers. Another room has machines used for internal purposes, like software development or testing. We don’t call it a server room – because it’s not just servers in there. It’s a machine room, you see?

The first visit I ever made left me speechless. I stood still, stunned, turning slowly round in amazement. A machine room is a wine cellar for computing power, and has something for all the senses:

The sight of thousands of computers is something to behold. Millions and millions of dollars worth of computing power, laid out in front of me. Some rack mounted, some piled high on top of each other, some perching on the floor, not yet set up. A few monitors and terminals act as windows to the big boxen. Although well ordered, tidy symmetrical shelves can look impressive, I prefer the slightly more relaxed feel of an informally laid-out machine room.

The sound. A machine room produces dozens of different layers of sounds. Firstly, there is silence. No ringing telephones, nobody talking. Next, and most obviously, there is the loud roar of air conditioning. Under the air con are the subtle hums of a thousand fans. Some are bigger then others, and each is slightly different in pitch and volume. Each is individually indistinguishable; you only notice them if you’re really listening. Apparently, one of the best things a friend of mine ever experienced was an emergency power-down in a big machine room.

10,000 fans all slowing to a stop. Silence ringing in your ears…

The smell could exist no-where else. It smells like power, like the future. The air conditioning adds its smell, and a million miles of circuit fills the air with what I can only describe as the smell of computing.

Finally, I love the secret danger of being in a machine room. I always have the morbid fear that a fire might break out near the door, and the room fill with lethal halon. Halon, in my instinctive ‘crocodile’ brain, has connotations as deadly as cyanide. Although the halon they use today is no longer poisonous, asphyxiation is still a risk.

“Minor riot” in Paulsgrove

Yesterday, I discovered I was completely addicted to Gravilux. It is nifty. It runs as an applet, and by changing the size and fiddling with the params, I have been making art for my desktop. Must stop. Must stop.

My project leader is away for two weeks (getting married). This means that I have to manage my own time. Hurrah. I have several things to do, but the biggest of which is still my University project.

In the news, the lynch mob is still running round the Paulsgrove housing estate in Portsmouth (UK). They are demonstrating outside the houses of local residents whom they think are paedophiles. Some of them probably are (or even were), while some of them are not, nor ever have been. This whole thing is the fault of the News of The World, a tabloid paper which started (and then, happily, under pressure from the police, aborted) a policy of naming hundreds of ‘known paedophiles’. This was (IMHO) very very wrong.

  • The list contained factual errors. Mistakes in names, addresses etc. As a result, innocent people are being hounded.
  • Some people have similar names and/or addresses to people on the list. These people are now being persecuted too.
  • OK, so some of the people on the list were paedophiles. They were known to the police, who at least know where offenders and ex-offenders are. By driving people of a community, all you do is displace them to someone elses community, where the will not make themselves known the the relevant authorities. They are driven ‘underground’. This can’t be any better.

Anyway, I used to live near Paulsgrove. I’m glad I don’t now. Apart from the crowds creating noise (and car-fires, and rock-throwing, and the heavy police presence brought in to monitor these demonstrations) I would be embarassed to say I lived in this area, now synonomous with intolerance and hatred.

Dreamlog – Aug 2nd 2002

Very clear and disturbing dream last night.

I dreamed I was moving out of a large, very lovely rented house with the help of my wife. All was going well, until we realised that the large number of boxes outside the front door were already going to fill the small car to capacity. When we found our bikes in the shed, she put a mattress on the car roof as a substitute roof rack.

It was then that we discovered a couple of bulls in a pen in the back garden. One bull was large and aggressive, sporting two large horns on its head. The other was smaller, black and friendly. In fact it looked rather more like a big dog than a bull (but it was a bull in the dream, I’m sure). With no prospect of fitting these animals in the car it was very fortunate that my parents showed up to help us move. They live in the country so I thought they would appreciate the free livestock. They declined though, showing me (by the magic of dream travel I was suddenly in their garden) that they already had 20 or so baby bulls. The word for that is probably a calf, but they really were wire-haird baby bulls complete with horns – although still cute.

I asked my mother what on earth she was going to do with so many little (cute) animals. She said

“Oh, we’ll just sell them to a farm. Either that or rip them up and dump them in the river”

Woke up on my comfortable Pocket Spring Mattress but I feeling a bit queasy.