help me i am in wales


I’m in my hotel room in St. Melons, Wales. I feel lousy and filthy. The trip from Newark to Cardiff is always awful. The seat is barely big enough for me, and I was stuck between my boss and Some Guy. This left me nowhere to rest my head. Immediately after the fasten seatbelts sign went out, the guy in front of me fully reclined his seat back.

Virgin has little entertainment systems built into their seats. There are a few movies, and an SNES. The display is a pivoting LCD screen, mounted on the seat in front in front of you. Unfortunatley, if that seat is reclined all the way, watching a movie is pretty much impossible. Also, as has been the case on every Virgin flight I’ve taken, the SNES controller was busted. Meanwhile, the guy next to me played Legends of Boxing, Double Dragon, Final Fight, and other stuff with no problem.

I could probably go on and on about how much I didn’t like the flight, but you get the picture.

Once we got through customs, we caught the Heathrow Express to Paddington. From there, we took the train to Newport. The train to Newport is supposed to take about two hours, but always takes more like three. Someone once told me that this is because, in light of all the recent railway problems in the UK, everyone is reluctant to take the trains much over, say, 30 mph. I got an hour or two of fitful sleep, but this was way more than I got on the plane. It’s now 1448 local time, or 0948 at home, and I’ve probably had about three hours sleep since yesterday. After the train ride, I’m actually feeling pretty awake. The boss’s getting some sleep between now and dinner, but I think I’ll be OK staying up. I just need a shower.

I’m a little hesitant to actually take a shower, though; the water here is always so hard that, no matter, what, I feel really dry after I shower. Still, better a little dry than dirty. I could use a shave, too.

the buick 8

Gloria bought me a copy of Steven King’s new book, From a Buick 8. I’d been talking about how much I wanted to read it, because the synopsis sounded so Lovecraftian. I finished it on the way to the hotel, and I can say now that it was a very Lovecraftian story, but without Lovecraft’s two-dimensional one-track-mindedness. Don’t get me wrong, I love Lovecraft’s work, but this was much richer. I was pleased by the ending, which was really appropriate. On one hand, I wish King had written more books like Buick 8. On the other, I don’t think there’s much place for other books like it. It’s good because it’s unusual.

life before i left bethlehem

Well, I don’t have a network connection here, so I can’t review what I wrote about last. I know I missed a few days, which stinks, since I was doing pretty well at making daily entries. I’ll just guess.

On Saturday, before the flight, Gloria and I went downtown for breakfast and the Celtic Classic. I’m not big on most of the “fests” downtown, but I got to look at Utilikilts. They didn’t have any on hand in my size, but I got sized, and now I know what to order.

Friday, work was nuts. I tried to complete some relatively major additions to one of my more successful projects, but it became quickly apparent that it just wasn’t going to happen, especially since I was spending a good part of my morning fixing paper jams and resetting accounts. Then, a little later in the morning, we had a conference call with the UK ERP developers. Our guy in charge of getting spec requirements together had sent them his list of requirements, and they ended up saying, “That’s too much stuff.” They got that much stuff, though, because they were unwilling to accept our original requirement (met by our current system) of soft-coded, user-expansible parameters. This means that I’m here in Cardiff for three weeks with no accepted specification for my work. It seems to me like the right way to do this would be to:

  • compile requirements
  • write a spec
  • determine implementation time
  • get it all approved
  • buy plane tickets

Unfortunately (especially for me), we put the last step first, meaning that when the other four steps were fouled up, I was still “stuck” coming here. I use scare-quotes becase, really, there’s no law that says I had to come. Someone could’ve realized that I’d be coming over here with no approved work, and said, “Let’s wait on that.” Obviously, that didn’t happen.

Friday night, Gloria and I went out to dinner at the Apollo Grill, where we were seated next to one of my co-workers. It was a little awkward, especially since the tables were so close together. Also, while I’m on friendly terms with the guy, we don’t have too much to talk about, so it wasn’t the sort of situation where we’d want to get a table for four. In the end, though, I don’t think it detracted from the experience. The food was darn good. Gloria was sick, though, as she’d been all week. By Saturday, she was feeling better. I’ll give her a call before my shower and see how she’s doing. I guess I’ll try her cell phone.


the day that never ends

Well, it’s about ten of midnight, here. Despite a few bouts of sleep since my trip began, I sort of feel like I haven’t slept since Friday night. I was surprised to reach Gloria at home, because I had gotten it into my head that it was Monday. Basically, my internal clock is all messed up. Usually I don’t have much trouble changing time zones, but this has been a weird change.

Around 1600, we got some dinner at the pub. The pub, the Herron March, is just about the only thing in walking distance from the hotel other than the office. I don’t think I can walk to any other restaurants or stores. Fortunately, the food at the pub is good. I knew since last week what I wanted to order, and I ordered it: steak and ale pie. That’s good eats!

Of course, I don’t want to end up eating strictly at the pub and the hotel, so I’m hoping the staying-with-my-coworker thing works out. That should make it easier to get out and do different things.

british tv

The television here sucks.

There are some American shows on a few of the channels. I’ve seen Stargate, Voyager, the Shield, and a commercial for Malcolm in the Middle. Basically, all the shows I don’t want to watch. There are some good documentaries on, now and then, but I’m not ready, on my first day here, to watch hours and hours about the decline of the impartial civil service or the ongoing effects on Brittish Imperialism and its decline. They’re also broadcasting Formula One racing and baseball, for Pete’s sake!

(I’ve just found South Park; I guess that’s OK.)

The quality of the television wouldn’t concern me so much if I had something else to do. I’ve got some books, but I don’t feel much like reading. I didn’t think to install Apache or Debug on my laptop yet, so I can’t do any work modifying it. If I don’t get sleepy soon, I’m going to have to think of something new to do. Maybe I’ll just work on a coff parser from scratch—but that’s dangerous, until mdxi’s done with the damn spec.

For now, I guess I’ll just go back to watching the telly. South Park is featuring a singing turd. Culture!

Written on September 29, 2002