I blog when I go abroad, and occasionally when I do stuff in the UK too. There's a nicer interface over here.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Tuesday the 13th

I am having a fucking awful day.

Got up expecting to hear I'm now an uncle, but sis-in-law is going through some kind of never-ending pseudo-is-it-isn't-it labour (written hours ago, and still going on afaik!) that just can't be pleasant. Fingers crossed things are OK.

Ruth had to go to the US Embassy this morning. To get a visa so she's allowed in when we fly to California at the end of the month. A visa for the same fucking passport she flew to the States with in 2007.

The US Embassy in London doesn't allow you to take mobile phones in, nor leave them with security, so she's phoneless today.

This morning, at my work, I attended a meeting where I (along with everyone else present) was told that my job is formally at risk. It's been reported already -- we're going to get rid of 40 staff. That's a lot. It's not company-wide, just in this division/department/whatever you want to call it. We're now in the official consultation period etc. By my reckoning there's a better than evens chance of me losing my job.

Once she got to work, I chatted about it with Ruth, over email. She decided, since she already had a ticket having come up earlier, to come meet me for lunch. But with her being phoneless I couldn't get hold of her when I realised, not 10 minutes after she'd left her office (down in Croydon), that she was going to arrive just as our meeting to discuss the employee representatives for the group was happening. Fucksticks.

She called from a nearby phone box just as I was coming back from getting a Diet Coke. My phone's fucked, which makes the first few seconds of a phone call full of "can you hear me?" bollocks as I struggle with the C key to get the earpiece to work. I just about managed to get the earpiece working and the mouthpiece unmuted in time to hear her say "oh shit, I'm running out of coins, shit, shit". Managed to just about tell her that I couldn't come out for lunch, and went to the meeting.

And then, it lasted just 20 minutes. It was mostly pointless, as our self-organisation had just beforehand been trumped by an official "here's how you elect your reps" letter. Brilliant. But what did happen was people publicising their willingness to stand as reps. I would have stand, and wanted to, but since I've got 8 days off during the consultation period I'm hamstrung and can't. And on that holiday, I'm going to have to try hard to take my mind off the fact that when I come back I might not have a fucking job.

It's only 3pm. There's loads of today left. This sucks.

Friday, January 09, 2009

My name is Darren Foreman, and I'm a software engineer

Good afternoon everyone. My name is Darren Foreman and I'm a software engineer.

There. Phew. Glad that's out in the open. I feel better for having admitted it. Because here's the rub: I don't like software engineering. It doesn't excite me, I'm not passionate about it, it's just a job. And, like most people (I think), I don't particularly enjoy my job.

Software engineering, as a discipline, is about bending a work-to-rule binary slave to your will. When I'm implementing someone else's requirements, it's just translation, from their (in my case) English into my English into whatever language I'm coding in (for me, Python). The satisfaction of getting the end result of some working code is simply the relief of coming to the end of the translation process, and having battled through all the frustrations which ensued along the way. Moreover there is no emotional, social, or human element to the happy ending -- the computer's just doing what it's told, and always does. You haven't had to coax or convince, just tell. It's always frustrating that it takes so long just to tell a computer what to do, but at the end I can at least stake a legitimate claim of power over the bits. I am man, and I have the machine performing for me, mwahahahaha! Well, I'm not interested in power, and so I'm not interested in software engineering.

I might edit or rewrite or write more about this later. With some swearing in it. Or delete it, who knows? But for now this'll do.

Named beers

For quite a while now I have, in certain company, semi-regularly brought up the topic of named beers. That is to say that most beers (actually any alcoholic drink really) have a name -- perhaps yet undiscovered -- which describes them more than just using a number. So more expressively than just "the first beer", and conveying more information than just order. For example, the first beer of the day, if taken at 9am to battle a hangover, is clearly a "straightener" -- whereas if taken at 5pm at the start of what you know is going to be a big session, well that's a "loosener". (If taken at about 1pm on the 2nd day of a music festival, it's normally both)

I think they all end in -er too, or at least I want(ed) them to. I can't remember the terms I and others have come up with in the past, but that's OK, because the reason I'm writing this isn't to publicise them. No, the reason I'm writing this is because today I have brought into work a desk calendar.

The desk calendar is from Schott's Miscellany. It's January 9th, but rather than just rip off the first 8 days I thought I'd have a look at them. This is the entry for Tuesday January 6th, 2009.


In the 18thC, it was said that Belgian laborers spent a quarter of their wages on drink-- on ordinary days they took 6 drams, on festal days more. These drams were named:

The Worm-killer......................5.30 AM The Digester............................2.00 PM
The Eye-opener.......................8.00 AM The Soldier..............................5.00 PM
The Whip................................11.00 AM The Finisher.............................7.30 PM