Sunday, March 30, 2008

Junk to the left of me, junk to the right of me

and everywhere there was junk. By which, of course, I mean that my shipping arrived, and now I need to figure out where it is all going to go, and I can barely move for all the stuff lying around in piles.

Apart from all the stuff I shipped over that is probably going to go straight under the bed or into the cupboard under the stairs, there is of course some useful stuff. Strangely, it's the little things that I've been missing the most, like having a bed-side lamp so that I can read in bed and then just turn it off without having to get out of bed again.

This weekend I also had my cousin visiting from the USA. Yesterday was typical English weather, grey and cold and windy and dreary and depressing, but today was just perfect. I was walking around in just my tracksuit (which as you may know, is also about what I wear in Cape Town in summer), and very little wind. We just wandered around town looking at things and had lunch at a nice Italian place right on the Cam.

Monday, March 24, 2008

My God, it's full of snow!

On Saturday when Mike came to visit and it snowed, I thought that would be it for the year. It turns out that was just a warmup (if that's the right word) for the real thing on Sunday:

Saturday, March 22, 2008


So, Mike came to visit for the day, and managed to pick the one day this year that it actually snowed. We started off looking around town a bit, came back to my place for lunch, and ended up watching TV all afternoon because the weather just looked too dicey.

This is what the view out my window looked like:

And here's me earlier in the day in front of King's, bundled up against the weather:

And no, we didn't go out and make snowmen or throw snowballs. It was a rather soggy, unpleasant sort of snow, not to mention the howling winds. A bit of a disappointment really, but I guess one should except such things from the English weather.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Craziness in America

Craziness in America item #1: flights to the Topcoder were going to require me to leave Heathrow at 8.30am. Subtract 3 hours that you need to be there before your flight: 5.30am. Subtract 1 hour on the train from Cambridge and 1 hour on the tube: 3.30am (assuming the tube runs that time of day, otherwise it's a bus). Subtract 15 minutes to get to the train station, 30 minutes to get ready at home, and another 15 minutes slack time, and it's not even worth going to bed.

The good news is that I've managed to get it changed to an 11.15am flight. That's still not great, but it's sane, and if I spend a night with a friend in London it starts to look downright decent.

Craziness in America item #2: NVIDIA are making sure they stay in touch and had one of their managers talk to me just to touch base. He said it took him ages to figure out how to dial my number because he never makes international calls. Somehow that's just so stereotypically American I had to laugh.

In more topical news: no plans to go away for Easter (unlike just about everyone else I know), but Mike is coming up from London to visit for a day, and then a cousin of mine from the US is coming to visit the following weekend as part of a business trip. And my shipping has arrived in a warehouse somewhere, but I can't get at it yet because I have to pay more money due to some weasel-words in the contract about currency fluctuations and the fact that the rand has lost about 15% of its value since I left.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Las Vegas (again)

So, for those of you who wonder what mischief I've been getting up to on Saturday nights since arriving in the UK, the answer is... trying to take over the world. No, wait, I mean... programming. In fact, taking part in the 2008 TopCoder Open.

I had a less than stellar round today, but still managed to place 19th, which is enough to put me through to the semi-finals in Las Vegas in mid-May. If you've read my previous posts, you'll know that I found Vegas to be as tacky, lurid, and gambling-obsessed as it looks in the movies, so I'm not so keen on the location, but the contest itself is always fun. They've expanded it again this year (48 to 72 algorithm finalists), which I think might be a mistake as even with 48 you don't really get to know everyone, especially since difficult language groups tend to form cliques (Russian, Polish and Chinese for example - in fact there are precious few native English speakers (looks like probably one English, one Aussie, one or two American and me this time), although the Dutch are usually fun and this time it looks like there will be at least four of them.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

I can't be bothered to think up a title

Right, I couldn't be bothered to think up a clever title, because it's almost midnight on a week night. The reason I'm still up at midnight is that I've just been to see The Bank Job. It doesn't have anything terribly surprising in it (people rob a bank then run into problems afterwards), but a decent way to pass an evening. There was one line I liked particularly, when they were digging a tunnel into the vault:

"I've just got one question. What are we going to do with all the dirt we dig out?"
"That's all planned for. We're going to dig another hole over there and bury it."

So, go see it if you have a chance.

Other news? I bought a HDD/DVD recorder, although I probably won't have much to record because I don't have a decent TV guide like the one that comes with DSTV in SA. Even on the internet I can't see more than about 2 hours on a page, when actually what I want is a list of all the movies and series that are on for the month. But at least now I can play DVDs on the TV instead of my laptop. And in theory the ship with all my stuff should have made port around today, so in a week or two I should have lots of furniture. And Saturday is the last online round of the Topcoder Open, so assuming I do okay there I'll be off to Vegas again in mid-May.

Right, I need a cup of tea and then SLEEP.