marnanel: (Default)
Kit and me

Yesterday, Kit did me the honour of being my guest at the annual CUHaGS St Nicholas' Feast, which was held in the hall at Caius:

Hall at Caius

One of the particularly interesting things about Caius is that there are memorials to famous Caians around the place. There is an oil painting of Stephen Hawking, a stained-glass double helix to commemorate Francis Crick, and a stained-glass Venn diagram to commemorate John Venn.

Also in attendance were a bishop in his robes, a Wing Commander sporting many medals and an impressive moustache, several PhDs in full-dress gowns, and the usual characters. The food was good and the wine was very good. There was a proper boar's head carried in to the Boar's Head Carol; the President then found that nobody had a knife and had to borrow a sgian-dubh from a nearby Scotsman, which was well-suited to the purpose. Afterwards there was much loud singing of carols and other songs; I was rather happy to find myself joining in an impromptu rendition of Dives in Omnia. The end of the evening came too soon, as always, and although several people invited us to carry on to an after-party, we thought it prudent to leave while we were still standing.

A wonderful night, and I hope there are many more to come.


Sep. 24th, 2010 11:42 am
marnanel: (Default)
Oh, many bounds I've beaten well,
And many more I'll drub,
But through this maze I'll take the ways
That lead me to the pub.

Where worries may be left behind,
Where life's despair may fail,
Where peace has smiled on pints of mild
And blessed the winter ale.

Where folk may laugh, where folk may spend
A moment free from fear,
Where smiles may bless a game of chess
Beside two pints of beer.

And in my mind I see the bar,
The beers' familiar names!
The window-seat where old men meet,
Where children play their games!

Where still you'll find a Sunday lunch
On Sunday afternoon,
And God's own pie, denoted by
A number on a spoon.

Oh, many weary miles I've trod,
All filled with life's alarms,
But in my brains it still remains
My local Carlton Arms.

The James

Aug. 15th, 2010 03:02 pm
marnanel: (Default)
The constitution of the Pembroke College Winnie-the-Pooh Society provides that:

The James
XXXVII. There may be, if a candidate present him/herself, an officer called the "James", who shall not be a member of the Committee, and may be voted into or out of office at any time.

XXXVIII. The duties of the James shall be to abstain from voting on any matter, to find innuendo where no others can, and to provide hunny-and-condensed-milk sandwiches once a year at a time which may be convenient to him/her.

The James was mysteriously absent from Meredith Belbin's groundbreaking work on team roles, but I have sometimes thought that more organisations should have their own James. Could your committee benefit from one?
marnanel: (Default)

They have a poster on the wall at Cambridge railway station which says: "Please be courteous to our staff".

The flight left at three-fifteen, which meant I could get a decent amount of sleep and still have a chance to go to LSM.  At LSM the bishop of Port Moresby told us about life in his diocese.  Afterwards I told the priest that I had been made very welcome at his church, and he gave a little happy jump and the thumbs-up gesture.  I also went to the market to try to find an England shirt for Alex, but I think the stall must have gone away, or perhaps doesn't open on Sundays.

We took a train to Stansted and a plane to Schiphol; I sat next to a very polite Dutch child who kept offering me chewing gum.  The flight takes only forty minutes.  The security guard at Stansted demanded to know what the white powder was all over my luggage.  We went out to eat at a cafe in the marketplace, but I left early and slept deeply.

I have had Stuart Davis's beautiful song Windmills and Wheatfields stuck in my head all the while. (I would quote it here, but people would probably complain.)
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This was a game of scratch cricket on Parker's Piece I watched from my hotel room window. The building in the foreground is Hobb's Pavilion.

Rupert Brooke wrote:

For Cambridge people rarely smile,
Being urban, squat, and packed with guile.

Gentle reader, am I urban, squat, and packed with guile?  I suppose I must be.  One thing I have learned anew during the past week is that I am indeed Cambridge people, and will probably always be so.  I feel more at home here than anywhere on earth, even the town in which I grew up.  I am the starfish and this is the sea, and I need to come back more regularly for fear of drying up.

On Friday night I went home by train to my parents' house, where we ate pie and drank beer.  On Saturday morning we went again to see my grandfather.  He seemed somehow older, far more than four days older: his eyes were tired and his speech lacked hope.  He talked to me about family history, and poetry, and the war.  When the others had left he asked me whether I was, in fact, happily married.  There was none of the solemn joking and laughter which usually fills his thoughts; he seems to be preparing to leave.  I told him I would try to be back in the autumn.  "If I'm spared," he said.

Later we went with my grandmother to the Crown in Shillington, where she bought us a very good lunch, and we ate it sitting in the sunshine while we talked.  The ringers in the belltower next to the pub were ringing call changes for a wedding throughout the meal: if you had decided to arrange a perfect meal for me as a treat, you would not have gone far wrong with this one.  I do worry about my grandmother, and how she will cope when her husband is gone.  I'm not sure how I can help.

My mother had kindly washed my clothes when I came back to their house.  I packed them up and returned to Cambridge, and slept for a while, then walked to Churchill where Collabora were throwing a party, with much food and good beer.  I left early and came back to the hotel to get ready to fly to Amsterdam tomorrow.  It seems so strange to be leaving.
marnanel: (Default)

This is a bridge at Sidney, my college. The blue porcupine is one of the supporters on the college's coat of arms; there is or was a drinking society called the Porcupines, but they were apparently banned when the members climbed up on the Master's roof while he was entertaining guests, and vomited down the windows. So the story goes, anyway.

Thursday was spent working on xzibit, and building unit tests. They were very much needed, but didn't directly contribute to getting the system into a demonstrable state. I need to put in some hours on that over the weekend, as well as on the book.

On Thursday night I went to church. It was the feast of St Mary Magdalene, and the sermon was about how Mary didn't recognise Jesus out of context until he said her name. As I was on my way out of the building, someone said, "Marnanel". It was Carys, from my LJ and Facebook friends lists, and I hadn't recognised her out of context.  The coincidence amused me greatly.

Afterwards, I walked to the Carlton to see some chiarkers, drink a good pint of mild, and eat fish and chips. It was a good evening.

Friday was spent on team-building exercises at the Møller Centre, at Churchill.  Afterwards I went home to see my parents and get ready for seeing my grandfather one more time on Saturday morning, which I shall write about in Saturday's post.

It's been a wonderful, productive, and memorable week.  I have many people to thank, including my parents, and Fin and Alex, but I particularly want to say thank you to Collabora for making it possible.
marnanel: (Default)
Corpus Christi playroom
This building is rather near where I work. In the real world, which Cambridge occasionally approximates, I assume it means a theatre.  However, I sometimes imagine that behind that door is a ballpit and bouncy castle kept ready for the relaxation of the students of Corpus after a hard day at their books.

Yesterday, as we were walking back from lunch on Christ's Pieces, the bells at St Edward's started ringing.  It turned out to be a quarter peal of St Clements College Bob Major, which I enjoyed for the next three-quarters of an hour sitting at my desk.  (It was a successful attempt; the striking was a bit off.)  I'm a little regretful that this visit is not going to involve ringing; after work, I heard bells and went to investigate, but they stopped before I found the tower, and did not continue.

Interesting fact about St Edward's: it is, as far as I know, the only Anglican church in Cambridge not part of the diocese of Ely; it reports only to the Crown.  This is known as a "royal peculiar".  [Update: Apart from the college chapels; thanks for reminding me to clarify this, emperor]

Last night was the only night this week I hadn't planned to do anything in particular, and though it's been very good to see people, the break was welcome.  I had dinner at Wagamama's with the Collaborans, though, which included a pint of ginger beer and three scoops of ice-cream.

But I spent most of the evening hacking on work stuff, which might explain why I dreamed about X.  I realised that part of my system isn't working because I'd made the elementary mistake of confusing keycodes with keysyms, so I worked on rectifying that.  I also have some surprisingly dull work to do on the forthcoming book, which involves laboriously applying paragraph styles to several chapters.  Many pages of this still remain to be done sometime today, unfortunately.

I am hoping to give a lightning talk on my work on xzibit at GUADEC.  Today is the last full day I can work on the system (at least, on work time) before the conference, so I'd better use it well.  Tomorrow is a training day.

Tonight, I'm hoping to see some of you in the Carlton.
marnanel: (Default)

This is the churchyard of Little St Mary's, so called because there's another church dedicated to the Blessed Virgin, called Great St Mary's. There was a tabby cat standing beside this tombstone, but he ran away when I took my camera out. LSM is a very friendly high church which has mass every day, but I didn't drop in today because it's during work hours on Wednesdays.

Last night I went to see ghoti, Jon, Bene't and Judith (with Ian and Clare also making welcome appearances) at Relativity. It was so good to see them all again! We had some rather delicious stir-fry, and summer pudding, which isn't something I've had for a very long time. After dinner I played my first game of RoboRally, which Bene't won.

xzibit is progressing rather excitingly, and yesterday I played minesweeper (Simon's version) on an X display other than the one it was actually connected to. Next I have to learn a great deal more than I know already about MPX.

Tonight is the only night of the week when I'm not due to go and see someone. An old friend of mine has turned up living in one of the villages, and I might go out there to see them, but I might also just have a spare peaceful evening when I'm not going anywhere— especially because the second draft of one of my chapters is due tomorrow.
marnanel: (Default)
The motto of the University is Hinc lucem et pocula sacra, "light and sacred drinks from here". Because of this, it soon became customary to represent Cantabrigia, the spirit of the University, as a profusely lactating woman, who is or was known locally as "Leaky Lizzie".  (I read this part in an old book and cannot find a citation.)

In case you think I am making this up, here is a photo of a statue of her which I took this morning.

Yesterday Marble and Psyche came over, and we had curry and talked, mostly about window managers. It was lovely to see them both. Today I am playing with VNC servers; it's appropriate that I've returned to Cambridge, where VNC was invented, to do so. Also, I spent this morning in a crypt.


Jul. 5th, 2010 09:46 am
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It looks as though I will be in Cambridge between the evening of the 17th of this month and the 23rd, whereupon I will be going to GUADEC in the Hague. All the weekdays are ordinary work days, and the main reason I am coming over is to see my grandfather, who is very ill, but if anyone would like to see me on one of the evenings, please let me know.
marnanel: (Default)
Here come Johnny serving hot dogs, burgers,
He's got the fryer at his fingertips,
Here come Johnny saying, I gotta pita,
Fills it with doner and a side of chips.
He's got the cola, he's got the shandy,
Three fifty for the burger, please,
Brown sauce and ketchup if the bottle's handy,
50p for the extra cheese.
And after all the drinking and the nightclubs,
There's a place to calm your stomach from its strife:
He do the van.
He do the van of life.


Mar. 17th, 2010 08:51 am
marnanel: (Default)
I ran an "IAmA" on reddit the other day: I was president of the Cambridge University Heraldic and Genealogical Society; ask me almost anything.  I mention it here in case you'd like to read along.
marnanel: (Default)
  • IT IS RIORDON'S BIRTHDAY.  Happy birthday to the kid who is officially the most awesome kid in the world.
  • The nicest Joule comment ever.
  • Two reviewers in Canada want physical copies of Borrowable: one says they will probably review it and one might review it. One other reviewer doesn't want it because it's self-published. I will therefore be ordering more author copies when my paycheque comes through.
  • The Launchpad people will allow Shavian translations only if we first fix the bugs in Launchpad which are holding it up. Arc does not seem to think this will be a major difficulty.
  • Cambridge University Library "would be delighted" to add Borrowable to their collections.
  • I have just received a (free) review copy of Writing Children's Books For Dummies.
  • I have finished A Tale of Two Guinea-Pigs and thoroughly enjoyed it. A review follows, later today.
  • Did I mention there was a quiz on the Borrowable site now? And the start of a recipe collection?


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