Archive for October 2002
- “I want to live my life so that my nights are full of regrets.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Crackup
- “I want to live my life so that my nights are not full of regrets.” – D. H. Lawrence
“Sometimes it’s better to light a flamethrower than curse the darkness.” – Terry Pratchett, Men at Arms
Tonight is Halloween, a night which means something to most people around the world, particularly the shopkeepers raking in the cash spent on costumes, confectionery, and pumpkins. As with many things, the Irish claim to have invented it, but this time there is something to the claim. Halloween is a corruption of “All Hallows Eve”, which is the Christianized version of the old Celtic Pagan festival of Samhain.
Fireworks are illegal in Ireland, but there is a booming (!) black market, and many thousands are going up in smoke tonight. I’ve got my scanner on, listening to the police and ambulance dispatches, and it’s pretty predictable.
I’ve been off for a day and a half attending briefings on my employer’s upcoming products, and there are a few interesting things in there. Of course, we won’t actually get our hands on the hardware until well after customers start phoning in with problems, since “in this financial climate” we have to “justify all business expenditure”, and even then the request might just get ignored. We know we need the stuff to provide a reasonable level of support to the customers who buy it, but that isn’t enough, apparently.
I meant to provide a more substantial update but, as Jerry Pournelle likes to say, “this day was eaten by locusts”.
Quiet weekend, though last night I did take a walk along the coast, picked up an early Sunday paper, and had a couple of ciders in a local pub. A bunch of women, all smoking like chimneys, were at a table nearby, and one of them shouted something at me as she was leaving. I didn’t catch all of it, but it was something about reading a paper in the pub. Or maybe she was just jealous that I can actually read.
We’re approaching the release of the next James Bond film, Die Another Day. There’s a documentary on at the moment, narrated by Roger Moore, about real-life intelligence operations in history. I didn’t know that the UK actually had an official assassination squad that operated during the last stages of World War II and afterwards, targeting Nazis and sympathisers who were considered guilty of war crimes (but too low-ranking to make it to Nuremburg) and “converting them to His Majesty’s permanent custody”. The program also documents some of the CIA’s many attempts to assassinate Fidel Castro. Interesting.
Also discussed was the assassination of Alfred Herrhausen, the late chairman of Deutsche Bank, by the Red Army Faction (a.k.a. Baader Meinhof Gang) in 1989. They had already publicly targeted Herrhausen, who was then surrounded by a 50-person security detail. They still got him as he was being driven to work one morning, by detonating a satchel full of TNT, attached to a kid’s bike chained to a post next to the road, with help from an infra-red trigger. The bomb had been set up with a heavy copper plate precisely aimed at the side of the armoured car, which didn’t stand a chance. The only casualty that day was Herrhausen himself – a real wake-up call for security organizations worldwide.
The CIA and KGB also worked in chemical and biological weapon development, and we saw some of the fruits of that research this weekend, in “resolving” the hostage crisis at a Moscow theatre. At time of writing the death toll is 118, all but 2 of whom died as a result of an unknown military gas. Heads will roll, figuratively, and perhaps literally too.
Today is the longest day of the year; since the clocks went back at 1am, today is 25 hours long. I’ll need that extra hour of sleep, since tomorrow is a Bank Holiday in Ireland, but I have to work. I could grab a taxi, but I’m going to walk it. It will probably be the last time I walk the coast road, from Blackrock to Sydney Parade, for some time. We’ve had some serious weather this weekend, but the morning is forecast to be clear but windy.
I haven’t had much time to do much of anything since I got back to work. Last night I went out with a bunch of guys from another department, one of whom is heading back to Norway because he was fired. He made the mistake of being caught downloading something slightly dodgy from the ‘Net to his business PC. That started an investigation, and that unearthed some rather more dodgy downloads, including adult material. There are a lot of people doing various slightly iffy things here without complaint, our IT people among them, so it takes something quite serious before this kind of action is taken.
There’s another party tonight, for another guy who’s leaving. He sent a building-wide email this morning about various things, and articulated many of the grievances of the Level 1 (phone support) people here. I’ll drop in for a few minutes, but I’m not quite right after last night…
I’ve just this minute got the go-ahead to move to the new place closer to work, so this weekend will probably be my last full weekend in the old place.
I’m debating whether I should write a combined review of the three Dream Theater concerts I went to last weekend, rather than describe them in this blog. I’ll get back to the topic later. In the meantime, you can find plenty of concert info on the message board starting at dreamtheater.net.
My trip to London went smoothly, with the exception that I picked up a cold which pretty much ruined Tuesday, since I was too tired and aching to do much. I probably picked it up on Saturday, the only day I experienced really crowded Tube conditions, where someone could have breathed on me. I already seem to be shaking it off, so no cause for concern there.
The hotel (Jury’s Inn Croydon) was very nice, if businesslike, no chocolates on the pillows or such. Transport to and from London was less of a problem from Croydon than it was on my previous visits, from Docklands, Wandsworth, or Swiss Cottage. I even tried out the new Tramlink system which links Croydon to Wimbledon and elsewhere. I was sat at the front of the tram, and had a bit of a fright when the tram hit something, smashing into the floor under my foot. The most likely explanation was an animal, probably a dog. The tram didn’t stop, of course.
I’m about to head out the door to the first of three Dream Theater concerts I’ll be attending this weekend. There has been absolutely no publicity here, except for a misspelled entry in the Dublin Event Guide. On TV a few minutes ago: an advertisement for an upcoming Status Quo concert. If you haven’t heard of Status Quo, don’t worry, you aren’t missing much. Suffice to say that the name says it all – the band is a musical cul-de-sac that stopped evolving as soon as it existed. The very antithesis of the progressive band I’m off to hear tonight.
The forecast weather overnight is clear and cold, so I’d better take my warm coat and gloves. I probably won’t have time to type in the morning, so this will be the last entry for a few days, which won’t be uploaded until next Wednesday. I may enter a few lines from the road, though.