The Board Games Are Breeding

A a means to take a break from the code I was working on for half an hour (I’m doing some freelance work for SmartData in my spare time, since I left them to go and work for the Bodleian Library, in order to help wrap up a project that I was responsible for at the end of my time there), I decided to go downstairs and do some packing in anticipation of our upcoming house move.

The first four boxes full of board games.

I packed about four boxes worth of board games, and then stood back to take a look at the shelves… and damnit, they look just as full as they did before I started.

I swear that my board game collection must be breeding, somehow. “Perhaps that’s where expansion packs come from,” suggests Paul. Perhaps: but that wouldn’t manage to explain the optical illusion that makes it look like I’ve got four boxes full of games when in actual fact they’re all still on the shelves, unless they’re breeding as fast as I can pack them.

This might take a while.

Finding my Geographic Centre

Have you come across GeoMidpoint? This web service will help you find the midpoint between any number of geographical points. They’ve got all kinds of proposed uses for it, like finding a convenient restaurant that’s equidistant from each of you and your friends, but one of the more frivolous activities you can enjoy using it for is to find your home “centre of gravity”. Put in everywhere you’ve lived (and, optionally, how long you lived there for, as a weighting factor), and it’ll show you the centre point.

I gave it a go. Here’s where I’m centred.

Dan's centre point (the green 'M' pin).

Okay, you think – it’s not so surprising that the centre point is near Preston: I spent over a decade living there. But here’s the quirk: my addresses weren’t weighted by how long I’d lived there. All I did is put in everywhere I’d lived for six months or more, and let these places all have equal weight.

Curious, then, that the centre point comes to within a quarter hour’s drive of either of my parents’ houses, in Preston.

I suppose there are some balancing factors, here: places that cancel one another out quite nicely. The Northern bias of Scotland is counteracted by the comparative Southernness of Aberystwyth, Oxford, and Surrey. The strong Western bias of the many different places I lived in Aberystwyth are invalidated by quite how far East Aberdeen and London are. But still, it seems to be a quirky coincidence to me that the centre point would be so close to where I did most of my growing up, despite how much I’ve moved around.

New Earth, where we'll be moving later this year

This observation comes only a little while after the other Earthlings and I have finished signing the paperwork on what is later this year to become our new home, New Earth. It’s still in the Oxford area, but provides us with some nice things that we’re looking forward to, like more space (something we never seem to have enough of!). And any of you who’ve visited by car will probably appreciate how much more accessible the driveway is…

We’ll be moving this Summer, and in doing so we’ll pull my little green triangle over into Chorley. Better that, I think, than out in the Irish sea, which is where it’d be if I weighted where I’d lived by the amount of time I’d spent there!

All Along The Watchtower

Ruth, JTA, and I have found our way to Earth – our new home, in Oxford – after the most exhausting house move I’ve ever done. Particular challenges in getting things to Earth included:

  • My mountainous quantities of stuff, and in particular the things that I own that are of awkward shapes for packing into a van, such as my bike, collection of wheelie-chairs, and the more-challenging bits of furniture I own.
  • All the subsequent cleaning, tidying, repainting etc. that was required at The Cottage, most of which couldn’t be done until the van was loaded up. Huge thanks to everybody who helped out with this monumental task.
  • The fact that we were also moving most of Paul’s stuff. In order to minimise the number of van rentals we collectively need, we rented a large van and tightly packed into it as much as possible of Paul‘s posessions, too. Which, of course, meant more to load, unload, and fit in, as well as the logistical challenges of picking up things from two different locations and still packing things in a logical (big heavy things at the bottom, fragile things in tight spaces, etc.) manner.
A Very Full Van
  • The journey: wow, it’s a long way from Aberystwyth to Oxford (or, in fact, from Aberystwyth to just about anywhere). Conveniently, it can be just a case of getting on the A44 and heading East until you get there, as Earth is only a stone’s throw away from the “other” end of the A44, but it’s still a trip that drags on and on.
  • That I kept standing on sharp things: while loading the van (without shoes: there was my mistake) I managed to tread on a drawing pin which went right into the muscle at the ball of my foot. While unloading at the other end, I managed to stand on an upturned nail which was longer than the drawing pin by just sufficient to counteract the thickness of my sole, puncturing my other foot, too. I’m now limping.

But that’s only the beginning of the problems.

Paul's room here on Earth looks just like his flat in Aberystwyth used to: full of boxes!

My Sister’s Mystery Illness

Arriving in Oxford, we were all exhausted, so Ruth, JTA and I worked on unloading the minimum possible amount from the van (enough that I’d have bedding to sleep on and that the computers could be stored safely indoors) while my dad and Jenny – who’d been driving the van – went to check into their nearby B&B. Having reached our goal, Ruth, JTA and I sat out in the garden of our new house with a beer each and, exhausted, congratulated ourselves on a succesful day. Unloading the rest of the van could wait until the morning.

That’s when my dad reappeared on our doorstep, looking flustered. He’d just received work that my sister, Sarah, had just been rushed into hospital with excrutiating abdominal pains, and he needed the van back to get up to her in Preston ASAP. Quickly we formed a bucket chain and rapidly unloaded the entire van, without regard to where anything belonged, into the garage, freeing up the van.

So, yeah: the garage is a little full, now.

Oh, and JTA stabbed me in the hand with a penknife. In order to remove those things which were roped-in to the van as quickly as possible, he began slicing through them with his swiss army knife, and, in a moment of ill communication about which of the ropes that I was holding needed cutting, he ended up gouging a big hole in my thumb. Which goes nicely with my punctured feet, making me look like the result of the least-effective case of crucifixion ever.

My dad got away, and my sister seems stable and safe, by the way, although the hospital still aren’t sure what’s wrong with her.

Network Issues

An important part of my unpacking plan was to get my study set up so that I’d be able to get back to my day job – which I’m working at remotely – as soon on Monday morning as possible. It was during this set-up that I discovered that I was completely unable to connect any VPN connections. This later turns out to be a fault in the latest firmware of the ISP-supplied router. For those of you not fluent in Geek: the magic Internet-box we were delivered wasn’t very good, and needs downgrading to make it useful.

Not a problem, I think: I’ll just plug in my old router and configure it to work, instead. Great plan, sure, but unfortunately JTA’s desktop PC didn’t want to play nice with my old router, and took some kicking to get working. Meanwhile, I’d started experimenting on getting the new router working, and before you know it, we’ve had half a dozen different (but similarly-named) wireless networks floating about, all with different passwords and settings, and nobody has a clue what’s going on.

Magic Internet-box one, bottom right, hates me. Magic Internet-box two, on top of it, hates JTA. And yes, that phone does look familiar, doesn't it.

Eventually, we got together an Internet connection that not only works for everybody but follows all of the standards we care about, and not just some of them, but it was one more challenge than I’d have liked when I’d hoped to do a house move without taking any time off work. Which is in itself, it turns out, a silly idea. Next time I undergo this mayhem, I’m taking at least a long-weekend to do it.

I’m sure there’s a lot more to say, but I’d better get back to work! The short of it is: I’m on Earth, and it’s mayhem.

Claire Goes To Pisa

So, last weekend Claire moved out of The Cottage and into her new flat, the top floor of a somewhat-slanted building on Queen’s Road which I’ve tken to calling Pisa. I gather she’s planning a flatwarming party in the afternoon – if you’re on the Abnib Events SMS list, you’ll already have heard about this, and I’ll let you know more as soon as I have it.

For those of you for whom this comes as a surprise, I apologise. I’m aware that in some ways it’s become my duty to keep those of you who’ve left Aber for brighter pastures up-to-date about every little bit of gossip about what’s going on back here in the West, but between all of the things that have been keeping me busy of late – not limited to helping Claire gather all 700 pairs of her shoes, or however many there are (it certainly feels like somewhere in the region of 700), into boxes for her to transport to her new home – I’ve simply not had time to put regular effort into keeping you all up-to-date.

Claire stars in a video tour of her new place, if you want to look around.

To provide answers the questions I anticipate, before they’re asked:

No, nothing else changes. We’re still together, and, in fact, our relationships (already too complicated for some of you, I know) are all still just the same as they already were. I’m still right where I was in the middle of a wiggly W-shaped chain of people in a series of more-open-than-not relationships, with all the same people you’re used to. If you’ve been on another planet for the last couple of years, that is:

Sting (no, not really) – ClaireDanRuthJTA

Yes, everything still happens at The Cottage. Well, everything that already happened at The Cottage: that is – Troma Night, Whedon Night, and the ocassional Geek Night at those times when both (a) Rory is elsewhere and (b) I am not. And, as usual, my door is open for guests just about any time.

So, why the change? That’s a question sufficiently-complex to not be answerable with anything as short and catchy as this blog post is planned to be. The short answer is that Claire wanted some space that was “hers”, as in – hers alone, not something shared with me and, for half the week, with somebody else!

And how do I feel about all this: well, a little poorer, for one – it’s obviously more expensive for the pair of us to have a house and a flat than just a house, especially as this change coincides with a (long-overdue, to be fair) rent increase at The Cottage: we’re both going to have to budget significantly more carefully than we did previously. It’s also a significant change – after six and a half years of living together – that’ll take some getting used to, and it’s sometimes hard to remember that this isn’t a step backwards. But that apprehension aside, I’m still supportive of Claire’s wish to have a place to call her own.

Where Are We Moving?

On Wednesday, 14th December 2005, Claire and I are moving house. For those of you who are allowed to know where we’re going, here’s a map and things [update: link killed late 2006]. You’ll need to answer two to six weighted-value questions of your choice to demonstrate that you actually know us and aren’t just scary stalker types before you get the address, but these have been geared such that most of our friends and family are able to come up with sufficient answers to “get in”. And if not, just get in touch with us and we’ll tell you what you need to know.

Let’s Get Packing!

A huge thank you to Paul and whoever his four unnamed helpers were who helped to pack up a lot of the stuff in The Flat this weekend into a huge stack of boxes. This is an enormously good start, and really morale-inspiring for Claire and I. Thank you.

Now; we’re not ungrateful or anything, but you lot do know we’re not moving for another week and a half, right? We came back, expecting that Paul would have, as he implied, cleared up the kitchen window ledge… and, in actual fact, this is just about the only part of The Flat that hasn’t been moved, disassembled, or put into a box… eek!

But seriously: Paul, and whoever your four helpers are (and I’d appreciate you naming them) – thank you!

We’re On The Move

Always a fan of double meanings.

This weekend, Claire, JTA, Binky and I are going over to the Real Ale Ramble in Llanwrtyd Wells. It’ll be fun. I just have to find some warm clothes and wash them, first.

But we’re also “on the move” in that Claire and I are going to have to move out of The Flat in January. Suppose we’d better increase our househunting efforts, then.

Any suggestions for a “Final Troma Night @ The Flat” themed party would be much appreciated. Get your thinking caps on.

And on that note, I’ll upload this weekend’s Dan & Alex comics and get “on the move”…

Paul In Aber

Paul made it to Aber. Woo and indeed hoo. He, Bryn, Kit, Claire, and I went to the beach and drank beer and ate pizza to celebrate. Then Claire and I took turns in an inflatable dingy and I got soaked as a wave leapt over the side. You’ll probably see their reports of this on their journals, soon, too.

The wiki I was coding got finished. Sadly, only a few of you who read this will ever be allowed to see it, but it’s pretty sweet.

Plothole appeared in the story on Andy’s LiveJournal – he has me drinking tea, which, as everybody knows, isn’t going to happen on account of (a) caffiene being a really, really bad thing for me and (b) I don’t particularly like tea. Have reported this to him and await feedback.

This made me laugh: type Weapons of Mass Destruction into Google and you’ll get this page. I laughed lots.

Spooks

Work. Ho-hum.

Watched two episodes of Spooks at Bryn’s new house. He’s just moved to Aber to start his year in industry at the national library. Spooks is a BBC TV drama series about MI5 agents generally kicking arse. Apart from the enormous holes here and there – like the techniques for following somebody (ride a motorbike behind them for their entire [circular] journey), the unlocked access to a credit rating agency’s database on an open terminal in the middle of a room, and the inaccuracies in the way that certain activities were performed – it’s okay. I’ll certainly have to watch another episode or two sometime.

Later, stood talking with Claire and Kit outside Barclays, a random stranger appears next to us. “Very nice,” he mumbles. Kit turns to him and greets him, perhaps only to find out who the fuck he is. “Hmm… are you three…” he begins, then gestures at the flower pots near the lamp post, “Very nice.” He then turns and disappears.

You know you’ve been in this town too long when you don’t find that kind of thing weird any more.

Roommate

Apparantly I’m acquiring a roommate.

My friend Kit already spends more of his life at my house than at his own. Today I found his electric shaver plugged in in my bathroom. I questioned him about it, and apparently I have a suitable electrical outlet whereas he doesn’t, and this is the only reason, but I’m not so sure.

If he thinks he’s going to get to share my bed he has another thing coming.