Monday, 30 October 2006

rundown on being run down

I got run over this morning. It sounds worse than it was. I was on my bike going through the roundabout near the cemetery, turning left, coming from left of screen, indicating and all like a good nerd, and a girl driving from the south apparently didn't see me (y'know, I'm only 6'2") while entering the roundabout. She wasn't going too fast, but she got me pretty good, and I pretty much went arse over tit. I stumbled off the road, to check myself, but other than some bruising on my left leg, didn't seem to be hurt. The girl stopped to see if I was alright, needed to go see a doctor or anything, and if my bike was damaged, but I waved her off. I was a bit shaken, so I walked for a while then got back on and rode the rest of the way into work.

Getting into work, I noticed that my watch face had been smashed, which really pissed me off, since the watch is a very nice mechanical automatic I inherited from my grandfather. The hands had stopped too, which was really worrying, but apparently only because they were being blocked by some pieces of glass from the lens.

Now, come lunchtime, my knee (other knee) is hurting a bit, and I reckon I'll have a pretty nice bruise by tomorrow.

I suppose that from a certain point of view I've been lucky. Between St Lucia and Rennes, I've been commuting to uni/work for a quite a few years and had never had an accident until now.


My ambitious tradition, begun last week, of trying to work on the weekends, continues. I put in about 5 hours each on Saturday and Sunday on my development tasks, and made a whole lot of progress until running into a fairly troubling bug in Kermeta on Sunday evening, fortuitously at about the time when I needed to be preparing a chicken and zucchini quiche in any case.

In between times I managed to negotiate the changing time zones in both Europe and Australia and talk to both of my sisters: Lee on Saturday and Em on Sunday, bringing me into a comparatively rare state of up-to-date-ness with all of my immediate family.

In hindsight, what I didn't manage to get done on the weekend was leaving my apartment for any length of time. I'm not too worried, though, since I got a little social contact Friday night with a trip with Liz over to Manu & Erwan's for dinner. Liz drove in her new car, and we engaged in a bit of Tiger Woods 2006, as well as a nice pot-au-feu courtesy of Manu.


Congrats to Will & Anna, who got married in Brisbane yesterday. I used to work with both of them, and they both rock!

Wednesday, 25 October 2006

time on the wing

Its hard, and not a little alarming, to believe that almost a week has gone by since my hope-filled account of mounting progress last Thursday. Since then I've sat down to implement my plans, with mixed success. The original plan was to finish off the little task last week, but it ended up dragging out until yesterday, a regrettable but not shocking slippage in the context of software development tasks.

In the interim, and on the advice of Mark, I sat down on Saturday morning and put in a determined 2-3 hours on my thesis document. I had previously downloaded and fiddled a little with the provided template, to the tune of 26 largely empty pages, but this marked, in my mind at least, the first time spent on the thesis. Significant things happened. I checked it into CVS, ensured that I have working writing/editing environments both at home and at work, and cut-and-pasted my SoSyM paper in as a chapter. That this ramped me up to 42 pages is nice, but what's nicer is the feeling of having dipped my toes into the stream and, for now at least, not found the current to be insurmountable. In addition, having it at hand and in some psychological sense begun, I can now record those high-level decisions I make in my implementation endeavours as jottings in the relevant chapter in my thesis, rather than on some random scrap paper floating on my desk.

Thursday, 19 October 2006

so much time, so much to do

I had a meeting with my supervisor the other day, trying to work out a few things, like how I'm possibly going to finish my thesis even with a 3-month contract extension into next year. Its all a little daunting, this business of making plans for more than 5 months away, particularly when it pretty much depends on my working like a crazy man starting now and running right through.

In any case, its been a good week to date. I talked code with the engineers, and although they were unable to offer me the resources I was after, at least it helped me to clarify in my own mind what needed doing. Tuesday I met with Jean-Marc and afterwards button-holed Mark to talk about an algorithm problem I was having. I needed him as much as a sounding board and sanity check on my ideas as much as anything, but in any case it was very productive. Yesterday I was planning on going for a drink with Liz, so worked pretty hard through the day to salve my conscience in the event of leaving in decent time, but she pulled out, leaving me working through til 7 or so. At that point, I proposed beer, and Mark, just out of a teleconference, proposed pizza, so we went and had pizza and beer.

Friday, 13 October 2006

lager, lip reunited

When last we left our not-so-intrepid anti-hero, lager and lip remained adrift. This morning the nectar hit home.

Yesterday morning I tried in vain to call the école doctorale to see whether they had accepted, forgotten or lost my request for a fourth year. Failing to succeed to establish the secretary's continued existence, much less the status of my entreaty, I gather a posse of two, and rumbled down to accost said villain. We found her hiding in the photocopy room and beat the signed form out of her using nearby empty toner cartridges. That achieved, we issued a collective war whoop and accelerated on, tsunami-like, to the scolarité to demand instant and irrevocable enrolment. Such was our accumulated wrath, the poor creatures had little choice but to accede. Word leaking out ahead of our arrival made the cashier very accomodating, to the extent that she didn't blink when presented with a 3rd-party cheque (required in order to circumvent previous idiocies of an unnamed generally-societal french banking institution).

(See my ac- verbs and despair).

Episode next, today. I got into work early - and I mean rooster early - to get my photocopies done, then rode out to the prefecture for the cruellest step of them all. Unfortunately, I was not alone. About 40 or so of us were queued outside the front door at 5 to 9, and by the time I got my ticket I was 26th in line for the étrangers desk. Thus it was that at 10:40am I was summoned, and despite a little "proof of your scholarship" curveball, I walked out a few minutes later clutching a récépissé de demande de carte de séjour in my hot little hand.

Wednesday, 11 October 2006

many a slip between lager and lip

My carte de séjour (residency permit) runs out on Saturday, and renewing it depends on re-enrolling at the university, which process was available to me as of Monday. Of course, re-enrolling depends on having a letter signed by Jean-Marc (who was away last week), and the director of the école doctorale, who was mysteriously absent yesterday. To complicate matters, when I come to re-enrol, I will have to pay up, which ideally is done by cheque. Of course, my chequebook ran out a couple of weeks ago, and the bank has screwed up the delivery of a new one. Its all a mess, and I hate it.

In other news, Franck had his soutenance (thesis defense) on Monday, so he's now Dr Fleurey. He's the first of three PhDs due to finish up this year. Number two is Jacques, who submitted his document yesterday, and will likely defend in early December. Number three is me.