Monday, October 19, 2009

Rings and Things

I spent the weekend up in the Blue Mountains attending Chris and Sam's wedding, where I performed the role of best man. This warped my view of the event because I was hanging about awkwardly worrying about what I was supposed to be doing rather than hanging about awkwardly getting drunk for free, which would be my standard approach to a wedding. Still, it was an enjoyable time and, as near as I can tell, the bride and groom seemed happy about the whole thing.

My time was focused around two main points: not losing the rings and giving my speech. Not losing the rings was an unmitigated success. I handed them over at the appointed time and they were put on the appropriate fingers. People clapped and got teared up shortly after, but I think it was about the announcement of the couple rather than the quality of ring guardianship.

Giving a best man speech is an interesting task, one which I would guess a lot of men have or will go through at some point. Done well it is amusing, informative and just a little emotional, done poorly it is some drunk guy falling off a chair after making the groom look like a dick. Because Chris is actually my friend I aimed for the former and so, despite the urgings of my friends, I went for the "being totally sober" option for the delivery. This seemed to work quite well, and aside from the fact it means you have to keep refusing free beer, I would heartily recommend it. Most people laughed, some people said "aaaawwwwww", everybody toasted, everybody applauded and afterwards nobody gave me the evil eye.

I am now officially not leaving Hobart again in the known future. Maybe something unknown will crop up.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Jiggety Jig

My last few days in Boston, Radix was kind enough to let me stay at his place. This freed up some money to go and check out some museums, or try some famous Boston seafood. Perhaps take a day trip out to Salem, or check out the aquarium. Obviously we played video games and ate at diners instead. It was good fun, so I stand by the decision. And they were incredibly traditional American diners with kawfee, surly waitresses and everything.

After a few days of living the electrohobo lifestyle, it was home time. I took off from Boston near dusk, flew into LA in the dark and took off for Melbourne in the dark. Somewhere around 1am the baby a few rows back finally shut the hell up. Thankfully the lack of leg room and background white noise persisted, otherwise I might have got some rest.

The sun finally caught up with us after about twelve hours. I wasn't asleep, nor had I been at any point, so I took a picture.
Then I ate some oatmeal applesauce cookies. This is the kind of thing that passes for fun on a long haul flight. Luckily, and somewhat surprisingly, my iPod actually managed to get through the entire set of flights without running out of batteries, so I had a soundtrack for my slow spiral into fatigued insensibility. Once in Australia, a helpful Jetstar lady got me on an earlier flight and before I knew it I was back in Hobart. Thus, in a haze of exhaustion, ended my trip.

So that's about all for my travel posts, unless I get some repressed memory thing going on later in the year. From now on it'll be back to regular life, which is less likely to involve Swedish pornography, the Mona Lisa, or Polish squatters. Probably.

Finally, my top five most played albums while travelling, for those who want to be just like me:
  1. Band of Horses - Cease to Begin
  2. The Black Keys - Thickfreakness
  3. Rage Against the Machine - The Battle of Los Angeles
  4. The Raconteurs - Consolers of the Lonely
  5. Kings of Leon - Only By The Night

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

That's 180 California Minutes

For those who may find themselves in a similar predicament, here is a list of ways to kill time for three hours at LAX:

uh... yeah.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

I Count Numbers, Not Nouns

One the great advances of trade was the invention of money. It allowed the exchange of goods for fixed units of value. The process is quite simple: the vendor nominates a price, and the customer hands over a number of (typically) notes and coins equal to the price.

All that is required from the customer's point of view is to look at the values printed on the currency and do some trivial arithmetic until he reaches the right amount. America uses the dollar currency, which can be subdivided into cents at one hundred per dollar. This being the case, America, I have a quick question: what is the value of this coin?

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Electron Deficient Entertainment - American Edition

I'm all out of books, but I think they have some in Boston, just behind all the Red Sox merchandise.

Salamandastron - Brian Jacques. When I was sick I went walking and got exhausted near the Boston Public Library. I went in for a couple of hours and read a Redwall book. It was a weird day.
The Spy Who Came In From The Cold - John LeCarre. I can see why LeCarre got so popular.
A Most Wanted Man - John LeCarre. I'm surprised LeCarre is still so popular.
The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde - Robert Louis Stevenson. It's a pity this story is so well known, as it is very good but the surprise ending is kind of ruined.
Fahrenheit 451 - Ray Bradbury. I really enjoyed this, and the bonus essays were very good as well.
Alexandre Dumas - The Three Musketeers. A very long novel that has a lot less in common with all of the movie adaptations than I would have thought.
Sherlock Holmes : The Complete Novels and Stories Volume I - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. I haven't actually finished reading this yet, but you can't read forty consecutive Sherlock Holmes stories without switching to something else for a while

Friday, October 2, 2009

Next Stop, uh, Still Boston Apparently

This morning I got to explain to a French politics student what a twisted sprint was. It took quite some time, but after a while I think I managed to explain it. Her response?
"And you wanted to go?" Sometimes being a nerd is tough.

One of the reasons I came to Boston was to catch up with the people I know here, but due to unexpected Arkansas, people is now person. Specifically Radix (aka Chris), who used to live in Hobart but decided to move to Cambridge for no good reason. Except maybe that Cambridge is a lot cooler than Hobart if you're into, well, most things. We then met up with Glyph (aka, um, Glyph I guess) and sat around in a hipster cafe for a while. I failed to be very hipster, however, which I need to work on if I'm going to hang out with open source programmers.

Radix and Glyph had places to be, I didn't, so obviously I tagged along. Consequently I got to see a fair amount of what I think was Boston's suburban sprawl. It felt like suburbs, and there can be no doubt that it sprawled, but it may have technically been urban sprawl. Regardless, I have now seen bits of Boston that I don't think show up in guide books. Or maps of Boston.

After a series of events featuring three quarts of milk (no chocolate), an ambulance, deli sandwiches, a forgotten bag and a gas station we ended up at MIT. On purpose. I know it's kind of lame, but I found it cool to be sitting in a lecture room at MIT. I was a bit disappointed that I understood the calculus up on the board as I have always assumed MIT teaches secret special forces calculus. Nevertheless, I got to meet a few more of the twisted development guys and without stroking too many egos, those guys know detailed stuff about specific things. Fun times in all, and it's a nice change of pace to talk to people who can make jokes about Common Lisp.

Things that have been cool in Boston which require little further comment:
  • Harvard campus
  • Cheers
  • 500 Boylston, where Boston Legal is set
  • Boston Common
  • Fast food chains (Dunkin' Donuts, Wendy's, and so forth)
  • Random Ben Affleck film being shot (not as cool as Ben Affleck being randomly shot, but we have to make do)
  • Fenway Park, but for once I got to say Australia has an older bigger one.
I had planned to spend a couple of days in LA, but I have dilly-dallied too long and cannot move the flights. Hence I am in Boston until next Tuesday. I might head out to some other part of New England for a couple of days, or just hang around looking awkward attracting crazies.

I'm Like a Magnet to Them

I present to you the entire conversation of me with a random Bostonian.

Random Bostonian: Do you know what movie they're shooting?
Bice Dibley: No, sorry.
RB: You from Ireland?
BD: No, Australia.
RB: What part?
BD: Tasmania, right down south.
RB: Don't know it. Do you go back home often?
BD: I'm actually just here on holiday.
RB: Oh, right. Where are you staying?
BD: Just at a hostel off over that way.
RB: You can totally come and stay with me if you want.
BD: Uh, no, that's ok, I've already paid.
RB: Oh, alright. Well, I'm going to New York tomorrow on the bus if you want to come. The tickets are really cheap.
BD: I have plans for tomorrow, sorry.
RB: Well, here's my home address in Jamaica Plains, phone number and email address. (while writing them down on the back of a train ticket)
BD: Um, ok. I've got to go, friends to meet in Cambridge. Bye.
RB: See you later.

To answer your first three questions, female, no and about thirty-five. What is the correct, non-dangerous way to say "Leave me alone, you are clearly a crazy person"?

Tales of Boston to follow shortly.