Fuzzy - not just a name, a way of life

Monday, December 19, 2011

The tourist mecca that is the New Jersey Turnpike

When I was young I dreamed of travelling the world. And it must be said that I've managed to live that dream, variously living and travelling in countries in pretty much every continent, from Andorra to Zimbabwe (well, two hours at Harare airport, if that counts).

Today, I furthered those wander-lust goals, by finally travelling to one of those places that you only ever hear of in movies, novels, and the occasional celebrity bio. That's right, today, I got to travel to... the New Jersey Turnpike. To be honest, the Turnpike wasn't the actual destination, but in passing Newark Airport, one can't help but traverse it. It was, um, er, well... underwhelming. The other parts of New Jersey that we passed were interesting (at least to those like us previously unacquainted with the state). The Hudson seems to have some kind of flood plain stretching west from Manhattan, on which the industrious Americans have built a bewildering array of rail yards and warehouse outlets. I got a wry smile out of the real estate signs proclaiming a particularly wet and frozen ditch as the ideal next shopping mall (or maul, as I prefer to think of them).

The good news is, all of this was to further our goal of furnishing our new apartment. Mr. Kamprad's Ikea has of course spread to the tax haven that is Elizabeth, New Jersey, and it was there that we found a few fire-engine red sofas, and all of those cleverly engineered mass storage cabinets that seem appropriate for an apartment the size of a postage stamp.

So that's New Jersey ticked off the list. Only 48 states to go.

Sunday, June 21, 2009


In one of those strange quirks of life, I've been asked to act in an "expert witness" capacity for a technology contractual dispute that's just gone legal. So far, we're up to the bit where I provide sworn affidavits for the case. If I'm lucky, I'll get to appear as the hero in court, where I can say ridiculous things like "The truth? You can't handle the truth!". (Or the better version provided by Kelsey Grammer as Sideshow Bob in The Simpsons, "I deride your truth handling ability! No truth handler you!".)

Of course, it could also peter out in the mundane exchange of paperwork, but it's still an interesting process.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

FA Cup, Scotch and Old Friends

It's FA Cup night (OK, day in the UK, but as with most years, I'm on the other side of the planet - therefore, night). Many years ago, a Scottish friend would always run a scotch tasting night to coincide with the cup game. The best incarnation of this came one year sometime in the 90's, and involved tasting successively rarer, more mature, and much more expensive scotches, all the way up to the penultimate dram. Then, when we were all three sheets to the wind, and ready to watch the big game, Mark (my Scottish mate) "opened" an ancient bottle of something ... decanted it, and gave it to one and all to taste, declaring it the rarest tipple in the land.

We all proclaimed it the greatest scotch we'd ever tasted, and retired to watch the game. It only took a few minutes for Mark to burst out laughing, and dance around the lounge room with a bottle of 100 Pipers scotch, one of the most dire distillations ever created. Mark then took great pleasure explaining how he'd decanted this into the "ancient" bottle, and ribbed us all at our terrible ability to discern decent scotch. Most of us protested that after a dozen other rounds, we were in no shape to deal with his sleight of hand.

I honestly don't remember who won the game that night ... but the memory of being duped with the 100 Pipers remains. Tonight I've opened the bottle of Balvenie myself, to ensure no one has substituted it. It won't take long for me to forget who wins tonight's game, but the memories of the scotch will remain :-).

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Friday, February 13, 2009

Oh please, no!

Word has reach the real world from The Land of Flying Chairs, that MS is opening retail stores. I can imagine entire shopping centres exploding in a cloud of blue screens and red rings of death.


Just, no.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

A new year, blog clean out, and more

Most people make new year's resolutions, but I seem to have been busy making all of mine in the last 3 months of 2008. I've started a Ph.D, been asked to write a second book, and came within a hair's breadth of moving to Ireland. It's enough to cover multiple new years' commitments.

The near-move brought out a latent desire to throw out a bunch of stuff, a la the Zen less is more movement. Previous intercontinental moves have seen me scan countless old documents, paper materials, etc., and then junk the hard copy. This time around, it was a little more hi-tech. CDs, DVDs? Rip em, or consolidate old CDs onto fewer DVDs. This still meant the yearly redundant backup hit 47 DVD's worth of data.

The cleanup also extends to blogs. About 3 months ago, I looked at the 200-odd feeds I read, and made a little script to plot their posting frequency. Turns out about 50 of them saw next-to-no activity in the time, so today is the day of the great blog cleanout. This leads me to a taxanomy to help diagnose imminent blog infarction, chronic blog sclerosis, and acute blog "non-entertainment-itis".

1. Blog infarction, aka sudden death. The signs of this one are obvious. Usually a slightly erratic posting frequency, followed by sudden, usually-permanent silence. The blog is dead. Attempts at CPR and defibrillation might bring the patient back, but this is rare, and even then often is the prelude to a latter, final repeat episode.

2. Chronic blog sclerosis. The hallmarks can take a little while to notice, as sometimes this masquerades as seasonal blog disorder ... i.e. the author taking summer holidays. The trend is confirmed when the number of posts withers from its normal pace, and ultimately only one or two posts a year are seen, perhaps with the markers of I-blogged-this-while-drunk syndrome. One treatment for this syndrome is "comment goading", but the sclerosis can be so pervasive as to affect the authors care factor for even deliberately provocative comments. Look for one word posts like "Meh" as a sure indicator of the condition.

3. Acute non-entertainment-itis. Collectively posting your banal twitters, ass-book profile, or the hideously spotty "week in links" marks you as having this disease. Stop it, you will go blind, and then I'll pour my beer on you when you can't see me. Often seen in conjunction with blog-whoring, a.k.a. milking other people's content for ad impressions, if you're doing this I hope your keyboard give you leprosy.

So having surveyed my feeds, the cull saw 51 sent to the bit bucket in the sky. Adios!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Not some kind of fancy breakfast

Reading some comments on Slashdot today (yeah, I know, that's so yesterday, when I could be reading AssSpace, or SpaceBook or whatever it's called :-P ), I came across the word milquetoast. In the context where it was used, it sounded like an insult, but I thought I might be misinterpreting it. Maybe it was some fancy sort of breakfast, akin to French Toast.

But a quick check of various online dictionaries indicates it's a noun meaning someone who is timid, ineffectual and meek. Taken from the name of a 1920's comic strip character with precisely those traits. So, pretty cool, and I'll be casually using it in conversation to show off real soon now :-)

Friday, October 17, 2008

Bill, is that you?

After fighting through the 30-odd different pages Microsoft makes you jump through to get to SQL Server 2008 Enterprise Edition (my advice is just go straight here http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/info.aspx?na=90&p=&SrcDisplayLang=en&SrcCategoryId=&SrcFamilyId=265f08bc-1874-4c81-83d8-0d48dbce6297&u=http%3a%2f%2fdownload.microsoft.com%2fdownload%2f0%2fe%2f3%2f0e3532ff-d8dc-4ffb-b1ba-84542f08ec1c%2finstructions_enu.htm ), I got a laugh out of the fact it then used a Java app to control the 3GB ISO image download. Hilarious stuff. Please come back, Bill, without your blind zeal for substandard MS technologies, dangerous useful things are happening!