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It's good to know I'm not the only one

It's always good to find that other people are mad in just the same way as you are. I was going to do a bit of photoshopping involving District 9 and Dr. Zoidberg, but I found this so didn't have to.

District 9

Anybody fancy seeing this tonight?

NewCon 5

Apparently NewCon 5 is back in business. No news on the venue yet but apparently the dates will be 9th–10th October 2010.

It's so clever I want to claw my eyes out.

So OS X 10.6 introduces lots of stuff to do with compressed files but Apple want to prevent things going horribly wrong if you do things with those files on an older version of OS X, and they don't want to make the volume the file is on unreadable. So large compressed files are stored in the resource fork, and small compressed files are stored in an extended attribute. Move or copy the files using an older version of the OS and everything will work without a hitch even though you won't be able to view their contents.

Clever, but it still makes me shudder slightly.

Presumably they won't need to pull such tricks if they ever move over to zfs as that won't have to maintain compatibility with older version of OS X.

That's a bingo!

Right, I'm going to go and see Inglorious Basterds at the Arts tonight at 20:30.

Anybody else want to come and want me to book tickets for them?

Inglorious Basterds

Anybody else not seen this yet and want to?

Trains, Parks, Planes, & Screwdrivers.

Train from Whistler down to Vancouver was nice, though not as spectacular as the one to Whistler. I should have done stuff in Vancouver on the Saturday night, I had a recommendation for a bar and things but frankly I was just all holidayed out by that point. Spent Sunday morning going for a long wander round Stanley Park which is lovely on a sunny day. Then off to the airport for my flight back home.

Fast bag drop was anything but, in fact it was so not fast that they got everyone for our flight out of the queue and put us through the Club World check-in instead (sadly they didn't upgrade us to match). Vancouver seems even more paranoid about security than Heathrow, I had to put my boots through the x-ray machine, and they confiscated my glasses repair screwdrivers which I had forgotten were in my bag and which had made it across the Atlantic the other way without being noticed.

The flight itself was slightly frustrating, the Italian couple in my row had filled up the entire overhead locker with their hand luggage before I got to my seat, so I had to hurriedly split mine into a bag of books that would just fit in there and laptop etc. that could go under my seat. Then I discovered my touch screen didn't respond to presses on the right hand side, and occasionally generated them randomly. This was fine as long as you never used the on screen menu, if you did then the film would start fast forwarding or rewinding, or doing something and there was no way to get it to stop. Once I'd worked out how to drive everything from the armrest then things were fine, though I did have to ask the man next to me not to put his elbow on my controls because then even more weird stuff happened.

By the time I could actually watch anything I think my judgement must have gone because X-Men Origins: Wolverine didn't seem nearly as bad as people had said it was.

I feel slightly guilty now about being awkward with the Italian couple at the start because just before landing one of the attendants opened the overhead locker and my bag of books immediately fell out and hit the wife on her head. Oh well, these things will happen I suppose.


So Whistler. It's bigger and more upmarket touristy than Jasper, and doesn't produce nearly as useful trail maps, but it's still an interesting place. Half the inhabitants seem to be unironic extreme sports stereotypes which I find amusing (especially when they talk that way while serving you in the local grocery store), and there's a lot of fairly well disguised building work going on for the winter Olympics.

Spent most of yesterday exploring the trails round Lost Lake (there's about 34km of them in total, I think I must have walk round about half of them) and watching kids try to almost but not quite capsize their boats to land their friends in the water while staying dry themselves. In the evening I had dinner at Araxi which is an extremely nice restaurant with excellent service, very good martinis, an extremely extensive wine list, and the sort of bill at the end which you'd expect to go with those things. Still, it was very nice sitting outside watching the different elements of Whistler's population streaming through the village square while I had an extremely good dinner.

I may have regretted the 3oz martini, and the port, when the fire alarm went off at a quarter to two this morning, but it was quite funny to see just how much clothing people had managed to grab before evacuating. I'd pulled on jeans and a t-shirt, but was carrying my boots, some people clearly hadn't gone to bed yet at all, and at least a couple of people were standing around wrapped in bath towels and very little else, we certainly made an interesting queue at reception as we all waited to get keycards so we could get back into our rooms.

Today I went up Whistler Mountain, walked some of the trails, took the chair lift to the peak (an exciting ride through impenetrable cloud to a peak from which you could see very little other than impenetrable cloud), took the peak to peak cable car to Blackcomb and decided that it was wet and cloud wreathed enough to get the chair lift back down to Whistler. That was an interesting experience because at some points the cloud was thick enough that the wires were the only thing you could see from the chair lift, it's very strange having no idea how high up you are when you're in one of those things.

One thing I will say is that Jasper produces much better trail maps than Whistler does, they may not be quite as pretty but they number all the trails on the map (and on the trails) and they're very clear. The map of Whistler mountain numbered all the trails, but the sign posts mostly used the trail names which weren't all on the map and only sometimes used the trail numbers. Both Jasper and Whistler could learn lessons from the US Parks Service on producing 'realistic' topographical maps, simply marking high points on a trail doesn't really work and overlaying contours on an aerial photo is horrible IMHO.

Montreal and everything up to.

Well, Constitution went well and we even received some nice emails from people saying how much they enjoyed it. I'm not sure when any of them found time to write those emails because the defining experience of Montreal was meeting half the bloody con there again. Also in accordance with prophecy I only got to see the bits of Constitution's programme that I was actually on, Friday was taken up with running stuff, Saturday was the five programme items I'd ended up scheduled in on that day plus nice Vietnamese food with big Ian and little Ian, and Sunday seemed to entirely consist of the auction and Unicon charter reform. I think I made it to Steph's guest of honour thing, but that's about it really. I must go to a con that Clare is programming and I'm not involved in because they sound really fun.

Banking and suchlike took longer than expected on the Monday due to the amount of tea that had to be consumed before simple arithmetic was possible, but it all got done and somehow I managed to get everything I needed clean and dry enough to go into a suitcase, and actually put it there. I'm very glad I ended up stumping up for a taxi to the airport as I fell asleep twice on the way there and I think London public transport would have been well beyond my mental abilities. Terminal 5 is surprising nice as airports go, most of the signs are clear (even if some of the electronic signage could be done better) and it seems to be big enough to do the whole funnelling of people to the correct flight thing. Airport shops are still just as weird as ever though, why sell luggage in the security zone which is too large to be taken on most flights as hand luggage? Who in their right mind would want to buy a Harrold the Bear (don't answer that, apparently it's where a lot of Harrod's profits come from), and why is it so hard to get a good coffee?

Anyway the flight itself was uneventful, and the weather too cloudy to see anything very interesting out of the window. Terminal 5's baggage handling all seemed to work even if half the plane ended up waiting at the wrong conveyor belt for their bags, and I discovered that if I've started with few mental faculties then making it two in the morning (as far as my body was concerned) was an excellent way to make following the signs for the taxi a real challenge.

The sins of the flesh should all be available within walking distance.Collapse )

Lateral thinking means inventing a time machine to deal with scheduling conflictsCollapse )

Hangover or flu, sometimes it's so hard to tell in the morning.Collapse )

Our long national nightmare of film theory, rapture, and aunts in spaceCollapse )

Space telescopes, salads the size of Belgium, and popularity contestsCollapse )

Winding down, excellent lunches, very pleased fan artists, and other sillynessCollapse )

Wow, just wow.

Quesnel to Whistler is an absolutely beautiful train journey even if there is a forest fire just over one of the hills reducing visibility a lot. Saw an eagle catching a salmon in Quesnel this morning, a few eagles and ospreys along the route, some wild sheep, a black bear, and completely failed to get any of them in a photograph.

Oh well.

The British and Aussie contingent on the train did their best to drink all the gin and tonic water they had (we didn't succeed, but when all drinks are included its awfully tempting to start a drinking game along the lines of, "Saw a bear? Get a round of drinks in! Crossed a trestle bridge? Get a round of drinks in! Can't think of an excuse for getting a round of drinks in? Get a round of drinks in!"). Our only real excuse was that as the tour group got relaxed they got loud, and as some of the US guys got relaxed they got loud and talked about DIY, loudly. In the face of that, ordering more G & Ts than the mind can comfortably imagine seems like a perfectly reasonably strategy.

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