Monday, November 24, 2014

Keep On Moving

So, I’ve bought a house. 19-year-old me once swore to never be married, never have a mortgage and never eat muesli. 19-year-old me is now a ghost. He is as pale and deathly as he looked and was ribbed for all those years ago.

As the new place is smaller and we both have hoarder genes, we had to get rid of stuff before we moved. To some extent we were successful, however the move took about 10 times longer than estimated and we still turned up with a lot of seemingly unnecessary things, such as a million books; a box of assorted cables giving us the ability to connect any computer to any printer going back to, my guess is, 1976; and two cats. Yes, they came with us. I had suggested otherwise, but I was out-voted. Apparently the cats also have a say.

However, the first opinion of the little mites was that they hated the new place. Their immediate reaction was to run out the door and try to make their way back to the old place, just like in those old Disney animal odyssey movies. I hated those movies so I stopped them on the stairwell to save us having to go through all that.

The Dirty Dozen after a 1960s Disney rewrite.

So, while they hid, we piled up the boxes and worked out where everything should go. Where do you put a box of 40 years worth of printer cables? Especially as our printers are on the wifi now, so printer cables would seem to be obsolete. Still, supposing we suddenly had to connect a 1978 model DEC PDP-11 to a Mannesmann Tally dot-matrix printer from 1981? How do you propose we do that without a box of assorted printer cables? You guys haven’t thought this through.

It took 2 days to move our stuff and afterwards we were in that “just moved” state where you can’t find anything you need. There are efficient people who plan their packing and have all the essential stuff to hand once they’ve moved. Apparently. But who wants to meet those people? It’s quite frustrating knowing that in one of these boxes is the cutlery we need to eat our dinner; another box contains the pans required to cook that dinner. We couldn’t even find the cats who we need to complain to us whilst we try to eat. Then you start finding things and you move to that stage where you have almost the right thing, but not quite. After a few days of boiling water in a frying pan and eating everything with paper towels, you find a knife which gets used to do everything: stir coffee, screw together shelves, write notes.

Cubist Home.
Eventually, a sort of normality takes place. You have most of what you need, but missing a could of bare essentials, plus you have located some odd things that you may never need. You might not have a corkscrew, but you have the strange horse-shoe object someone got you as a present that you’ve never quite known what it does. You can’t staple papers together, but you can, of course, lay your hands on an RS232 cable.

Even the cats have emerged and decided they like the new place and feel confident enough to constantly mew for food as is their normal state. The number of boxes dwindles. Shelves appear and are filled with far too many books. Other furniture is assembled and soon the metaphorical welcome mat is dug out of the last box and placed before the door.

A new home is made. Everything has a place, even if it’s on the floor in the storage room. The cats mew their contentment by asking for more food. Being ignored, they trot off to play with their new toy, a mouse cable for a Babbage Difference Engine. We’re pretty sure we won’t be needing that anymore.

Some cable.

Thursday, November 06, 2014

L'aƩroport et la haine

I always used to love hanging round airports. I would always leave plenty of time to have a stress-free journey in and time to watch the world of airport life. Everything you have in the real world is in airports, just on a smaller scale and more expensive. There are people from all walks of life, except the very poor, all about to go somewhere for some reason worth the time, effort and money of travelling there. There is also a subtle air of panic because many of those people are running late and most of them have some vague sense of impending doom.

But I might be done with airports. Or maybe I'm done with Schiphol. Or maybe I'm done with killing time in the B gates area of Schiphol. It's hard to tell at this moment.

As I sit here, mustering thoughts, there is a constant barrage of announcements from a very proper Dutch lady and a girl who seems to be from Essex and occasionally a German man and a lively woman from Spain. They all seem to be having a competition to try and annoy me by announcing the same thing in as many different languages as possible.

In this day of personal communications there is no need for announcements. Everyone has a phone and the airlines probably have most people's numbers so don't annoy everyone, simply call Mr Bladeblah and tell him he is delaying the flight and to proceed to gate suchandsuch or you will offload his luggage. You can even email him a gif of the luggage guys rummaging around the hold searching for his bags.

I'm particularly annoyed because I was on the way to a festival for a show and the rescheduled flight arrives a good couple of hours after we're due on stage for our first show. And instead of the time we'd be getting to meet the other people at the festival and getting to know the place, we'll be stuck in the airport, listening to how much of a dick Mr Blahdeblah is. And when we should be on stage, we'll be sitting in a different airport in a different city waiting for a flight connection.

They have been trying to placate us with vouchers for the unlikely price of 14.95 (vouchers should be whole-numbers, surely). Now 14.95 can get you a very reasonable lunch outside in the real world. But in Airportopia, it gets you a sandwich, drink and a muffin that disintegrates the moment you try to store it anywhere.

And it's not like there is any good reason for al this. The original plane we were hoping to catch was diverted to Brussels due to mist. Not thunderstorms, not hurricanes, not even fog, but mist. I thought most modern planes could cope with mist. But then I don't know how modern Estonian Air planes are. I am now expecting some cut-price copy of a cold-war-era Boeing with a wet sock where the radar should be. Still, I expect we'll get some exercise giving it a push-start down the runway.