Archive for July, 2009


Re-installed CoD4 the other day, for first time since my computer last bricked itself (way back in February or so I discovered it is Not Good for the electric meter to run out at the same time as Windows is updating itself, and when I do a reinstall I things tend to get put back when I want them). All my multiplayer goodies have vanished. Lame. (I had all sorts of cool gubbins with fancy camoflage and nice perks and things, and it’s all gone.) On the plus side, I’m actually more skilled than I look because of this. Snrk. (I shouldn’t be smug, however, because I had a kill:death ratio of around 8:37 in one match yesterday. That probably goes into smaller numbers, if you care about such things, but meh.

I promise I am not saying this to wind people up, but 40 years since we landed on the moon leaves me brimming with indifference. I guess it is nice that we went up on comparatively lame technology, but it happened a long time ago – I think that might be the problem, for me; everyone who can actually remember it seems to see it as a massive thing, whereas I’ve grown up in the age of We Have Been To The Moon, so Going To The Moon doesn’t seem that awesome. That said, I started to understand better thanks to this strip, which actually does make it seem kinda cool. Especially the bit with the steam engine.

Serveral nights this week I’ve not managed to get to sleep until gone 02:30. Yeeeah. That’s going on the list, I fear. Still, it’s in good company; Hollywood Pizza’s been on there for months.

If you do not read PostSecret, I recommend it, for it is awesome, and likewise FutureMe… In consequence of which I’m going to keep an eye on Letters Anonymous, which is knew, and kinda fusiony. Will see how it pans out, might be interesting.

I got (half of) this week’s Piano Puzzler, and am pleased. I never get the composer, mind, but even the tune is kinda a step up for me, plus I got it on the first playthrough. (I was, of course, listening to KUSC, which appears to hand over to American Public Media’s Performance Today for the night shift (09:00 – 14:00ish), which means I keep listening to the Morning Show on my afternoons at work. Confusing stuff, time travel.

The press is full of dead soldiery. It is, of course, very sad that – what is it, now, 19? -people have died in Afghanistan this month, but on the other hand we’ve been out there for a decade, and this is our worst month yet? Jeez, we are kicking arse. It could be considerably worse, you know. I find the fact we’ve got such a very low death toll rather encouraging. Aye, it sucks for the families, I’m not saying it doesn’t. But there aren’t many such families, which is worth remembering…

O, and you’ve probably all heard this one by now, it being a massive hit and all, but if not take a dekko at United Breaks Guitars, about the shoddy treatment of baggage (& customers) by staff of United Airlines, whose shares have – not surprisingly – dropped a whopping 10%. Do not mess with stubborn people is the message there, I think…

O, hey, my break’s nearly done. I wonder if I can nab a mug of tea before I nodd off…

Yeah, I know, I know, I’m getting worse

But in my defence this week is 24-carat insane. Most people I’ve not seen, most emails I’ve not looked at and I’m now scared of the time it’s going to take me to clear my RSS feeds, of which no fewer than 257 are clamouring for my attention up in my tabs bar, there.

Er. I’ll get round to emails as soon as I can, and I’ll probably stop snapping at quite so many people once I’ve composed such missives as I’ve Not Had Time To Write. Meantimes, if anybody fancies buying me such alcohol as I can get roaring bloody drunk I might loosen up and bit and stop being quite so twitchy, though I wouldn’t bet on it just yet. GAAAAAAAHHHHH and I’ve got f’king work on Monday again. I swear this bloody rotation is going to be the death of somebody if time dun’t pass fast enough before I bloody finish it…

End of another coffee break

But before it fades out entirely, I figure I’ll mention the incredibly vivid dream I got woken up from, because I came out of the whole enterprise looking really awesome (in my head, that is. I don’t imagine it’ll translate so well, but that’s your lookout, not mine). Typically, I’m hazy on the background but there was a duel, and everything, plus generic Regency backdrop, and fancy house. Whole thing was in black and white, though, which is really quite unusual for me. I can’t remember why we were fighting, which is a shame since I’d have liked to know, and I did ask the chap who checked the wadding, but he said he wasn’t allowed to talk to me.

Very nice flinters, is most of what I remember, and I picked the one on the left out of the box because I can clearly remember thinking that I ought to have taken the one on the right instead, though I couldn’t work out why, except it had a different pattern of hatching on the grip. Surprisingly the other chap was weirdly faceless, in the sense that I couldn’t quite make out what he looked like, although I vaguely knew he was a nasty piece of work and was probably the one in the wrong. Very tall thin bloke, blond hair and a black cane, presumably in order to make it clear he was the bad ‘un, but I remember thinking not being able to his features was a bad start to aiming at him… Presumably to save getting a new background curtain we adopted the film-friendly ’10 paces, turn, fire’ routine, and I think I’d got to about my eighth stride when the sod shot me in the leg from behind, which stung.

Awesomely I improbably executed a very nice spin with the whole extended arm thing (which I’m fairly sure wouldn’t work, I think the balance of the barrel would be wrong given the angle I was at) and managed to get him in the arm, with consequent winning & obvious disgrace for cheating in a duel in front of all the witnesses what had helpfully appeared alongside the bank (of the river. I don’t know why there was a river, but it served for somewhere to put witnesses) I remember thinking he was a fool to cheat in front of witnesses (or, indeed, for either of us to fight anywhere within a thousand yards of witnesses at all) but somebody said his second chappie had told him I’d cheated already and switched the flinters so his didn’t have a ball in it, though I evidently didn’t, since we both got shot. (Did I mention the bit where I was awesome and pirouetting with a leg gone dead on me and still got him square below the shoulder? For I was dead cool, and everything.)

Anyway, he buzzed off to live a new & quiet life in the Foreign Legion, or somesuch Godawful fate, and I got to keep his awesome house, as I recall, which had a fabulous library with tea + cake and a fire… And then we had the traditional fade-to-random-chase routine, obligatory in all dreams since 1697, and I found I’d fetched up in India and was running away on an elephant with an orderly who kept shouting at me. Woke up shortly after, feeling very groggy. I don’t pull out of REM sleep with any grace at all.

Pop psychology interpretations welcome, why not.

(Though personally I’m inclined to put it down as the fault of too much Lovejoy, listening to Moonlight Shadow and (at the end, at least) Flashman. O, and you get No Points for identifying the novel I apparently thieved that library from, though I suppose we should be grateful I didn’t inherit the crazy housekeeper along with the rest of the house. Am assuming the duel-y dude wasn’t Max, hard to imagine him going around shooting people in the leg…)

Still, I’m surprised it’s stuck with me this long, most of the stuff my brain comes up with vanishes before the kettle’s boiled…

Sisyphean Spreadsheets and Eterminable Labours.

So life continues. Well, for the most part. I still get not quite enough sleep, but I’m marginally less frantic at the weekends now, so I can at least catch up on it then, except I appear to have misplaced the knack of sleeping past noon, which is a shame.

Work continues, though I am only working another fifteen and a half days this month, as I must use holiday time before my contract ends on the 31st.

I don’t usually talk much about work in places as public as Where the Entire World May google it with a Search Engine, but I am amazingly glad that I saved that time up; the rotation I’m working in now is just soul destroying. I am comparing two spreadsheets, each of which contains a data dump. Sheet 1 is data telling us what electronic publications we had access to on the old system. Sheet 2 tells us what electronic publications we had on the new system last August. I am supposed to do a lot of copy-pasting and check that we’re not missing anything important.

Specifically, I’m checking that we’ve not been missing anything important for the last academic year. Personally, I think if it was both missing and even slightly important, someone may have noticed over the course of the last academic year, but that opinion probably wouldn’t go down too well…

I am the third Grad Trainee this year to work on these spreadsheets – note ‘this year,’ I’ll come back to that in a minute – so this has been going on for eleven months. We started, two hundred and thirty eight days ago with the first publication on the list, 19th Century Music (which files before A, of course, because it begins with a numeral). Just before lunch today – half an elephant pregnancy later – I finished checking ‘Corruption Matters’.

It has taken us eleven months to get an eighth of the way through the alphabet. At this rate, we will not be above half-way before they change the system again, and it’s really quite hard to get motivated under those circumstances; it’s like being asked to bail out the Elan lakes with an egg cup. Assuming the egg cup has a hole drilled in it, and you keep having to stop and compare the content of the Elan lakes with the contents of the Aswan dam to make sure they both still contain water…

What’s worse, is that – I said I’d come to this – it turns out other trainees have been here before us. I only discovered this yesterday: the spreadsheets are from August, I assumed this stuff had only been invented in August. O no, these spreadsheets were only invented in August, but there were old spreadsheets before them. (You know that scene in comics where the people who’ve been lost in the desert, but have been following an ever-increasing number of footprints suddenly realise they’re not on a massive well-used highway, but have been walking around the same dune for seventeen panels? It’s like that.)

Some years ago some poor scunners got stuck in a single rotation for a whole year. For the guys Lending and Library Support I can see that would’ve been awesome, but the poor girl that got lumbered with the antedescendant of this white elephant was begging to be let out apparently, although it sounds as though she got rescued in the end, and we adopted this rotating system, thank God. (If that sounds like it was you, incidentally, that was forever asking Bill to be allowed to do something connected to either the rest of the library, or just to subject support or anything then give me a shout and I’ll see if I can’t confirm that and then buy you a very very large gin.)

It’s crushingly dispiriting, is the trouble. Given the choice between getting paid for this month’s work and walking three times over hot coals and then just getting paid for sitting at home with my feet in a tub of water for the month, I’d honestly take the poxy coals. It’s not like anything I do will make a significant impact on this damn thing, anyway – which is the heart of the problem, really.

I would advise anybody who finds themselves calculating how long it is until they can take their tea break, or adjusting their tea breaks so when they get back to the desk they only have an hour left until hometime, etc., that they should be thinking of changing jobs. I shouldn’t, of course, because I’ll be skint in two months, and a student after that and once that’s done I shall get a job in a library that involves, in any way at all, doing something useful and less interminable than this (cataloguing would be a prime example here, but since I like doing that anyway, it loses some of it’s impact; I’m still trying to learn Bliss in my spare time.)

Urrgh. And that is the end of my tea break. On the plus side, I’m effectively working for a fortnight this week, and it’s not all spreadsheets (because I get Monday mornings and all of Fridays off). Also, more to the point, I’ve got an extension cable for my headphones so at least I can now listen to KUSC while I wonder who’s been drilling holes in all my bloody teacups…

Done having a strop now. Going to find coffee and bemoan the fact the office is too hot.