Wednesday, 31 May 2006


A first glance out my windows reveals that its snowing. A second reveals that the tree beside, heavily laden with flowers, has begun to unload its burden into the wind, leaving white petals to float past and distract from what I should be doing. Summer is coming.

Tuesday, 30 May 2006


I jarred/twisted/hyperextended/something'd my knee today at basketball. Perhaps I came down and it locked instead of bending, I don't know, but it hurt. I limped/walked/jogged/ran it off, but contesting a rebound it twinged again, so I abandoned and walked back to Irisa. I asked about ice at the cafeteria, but the best they could do was a vanilla drumstick. After 15 minutes it wasn't feeling cold, so I ate it. Far too much chocolate for it to be an effective medical stopgap, I think.

I'm supposed to be playing in chanteloup next Friday, hope this doesn't affect that.

Monday, 29 May 2006

Between countries

In the spirit of May, a month jammed full of weeks shortened by public holidays, I took Wednesday off as RTT to give me a 5-day weekend in Basel with Chris. I caught a couple of trains to Paris and then Basel, leaving Rennes around midday and getting to CH that night. Chris was waiting and we headed back to his place for some swiss bread, french cheese, and australian red.

On Thursday we jumped on a train out to Rheinfelden, just east of Basel, and wandered around there for a while, including across the bridge to Germany for a coffee. It was my first time in that country, and I was struck again by just how easy it is to go between countries in Europe.

This was highlighted in the afternoon. We trained back to Basel, and jumped on a no. 10 tram, which Chris assured me had delights stored at the end of its route. Of course, the 10 has one stop, the second-last, which is actually in France, which meant that in the space of perhaps 3 hours we had passed from Switzerland to Germany, back to Switzerland, into France, and back into Switzerland again. Trippy. Anyway, the delights at the end consisted of a walk up a hill along a track marked with the stations of the cross. Alas, our faith was insufficient, and we made some turns near the end that denied access to whatever paradise awaited the true believers. Typical :) Still, it was a nice stroll.

On Friday it was back to France, on a day trip to Colmar, a small fairly touristy town in Alsace, about 40 minutes ride from Basel. We spent a few hours wandering around the old town, saw the canals and stuff.

Saturday started slowly, and it was after midday by the time we got out. Chris called Anjum, who had bought a new phone, so Chris was obliged to go out and get one for himself, which he duly did. That in hand, we jumped on a train down to Bern, changing in Olten and stopping on the second leg for a walk around Burgdorf, a very pretty, very clean, and above all very quiet little town just outside of Bern, with a nice castle overlooking a river and a newly renovated church. In Bern we made a beeline for Pickwicks and met up with Dave. From there we followed a path I suspect well-trodden by both, to Neal's, Papa Joe's, Les Amis, past Peri and down to Turnhalle. In keeping with tradition, much of the conversation throughout centred on the fairer sex, and it's obvious why. Bern just has a concentration of beautiful women that is above and beyond that of other cities I've been to. Its really not fair.

Ah. Anyway, after all that I caught my trains home to Rennes on Sunday. SNCF did their best to screw me around with delays, but I got there eventually. I think a little time not travelling will do me good at this point.

sport it ain't

Getting back to Rennes after the weekend away, there was a game of boys' basketball on: cadets, I think, which is under 16s or thereabouts. Rennes had apparently won the away leg by 13, meaning their opponents had to win by a similar margin in Rennes. Come the end of the match, the visitors were leading, but clearly not by enough to win by 13. At some point it became noticable that the teams were not trying hard to score, and then the visitors started doing weird things, throwing free throws off the backboard. Finally, someone tried to put the ball in their own basket, in an effort to score points for the opponents, and it became clear that they were trying to tie the game in order to force overtime and try to recover the 13 points there.

Not. Sport. I have never seen anything so ridiculous on a sporting field, and that any coach would allow or worse encourage 16-year-olds to engage in such unsporting behaviour, I find disgusting.

that was the weekend that was

Friday 10 days ago I rode over to Avenir carrying a suit. Any weekend requiring a suit, a sleeping bag and a bike is going to be interesting, and it panned out that way. Strapping my bike to the back of Nono's car, we drove down convoy-style to La Bernerie, kind of near Nantes, behind Sophie and Agnès. People drifted in slowly over the next few hours: Nanou, Sandy, Audrey Dub, Sylvain, Fred, Francois, Erwan & Manu (the stars of the show), and finally Philippe, Liz & Audrey Paug. Once everyone arrived we all got suited up and had a recreated and somewhat tongue-in-cheek marriage ceremony for E&M, complete with curé, choir, vows, rings and hecklers (la populace!). Things went progressively downhill from there. Dancing, drinking and general debauchery ensued until about 6am, and photos were taken that will ruin lives in the future. We collectively crashed at Agnès' place at La Bernerie and Francois' parents' place at Les Moutiers (or something like that).

On Saturday morning (ok, early afternoon), we headed out on bikes past Les Moutiers along the coast. It was blowing a gale, and the rain came and went throughout the trip, but it was a gentle pace, and pretty pleasant. We stopped for a game of soccer with an inflatable ball that was all the more challenging for the force 3 gale in which it took place.

After looping back to La Bernerie, we took to cars and rolled north to Pornic, for a little acrobranche (high ropes, I guess, en anglais). This place was a little more structured than the previous place we'd been, with runs designated by colours a la ski pistes. After just about running through the yellows, greens and blues, they started to get interesting in the red, with a bike ride across a plank, and some more challenging tarzan ropes. 3 of us (myself, Agnès, Liz) tried the black, which was legitimately tough, with a fairly easy climbing wall, a big tarzan, 2 suspensions that really tested the arm muscles, and a snowboard thing. I got through these last 3, but not honestly, relying on my safety line for each of them. It finished off with a 180m flying fox across the river which got some real speed up, followed unfortunately by a zipline ascent, whose hand-over-hand ab punishment finally convinced me I was done for the day.

Saturday night was a little calmer, most probably because people were still gathering their strength after a long friday night out of their trees and 3 hours of saturday swinging between them. Arnaud tagged in for Fred, though, and kept the team effort high, although he paid dearly Sunday morning.

The slow pace continued Sunday, with good recovery activities like a gentle ride down to the beach, and a few rounds of petanque (bocce for some) in a driveway to round out the day before piling into cars back to Rennes.

Wednesday, 17 May 2006


No tennis for this little black duck. I was all keen this morning, but checked my racquet and found its poor little strings broken. I don't know how that happens exactly - I played a couple of months ago and didn't break them! Anyway, its a letdown.

where too much sport...

Basketball last night was good fun. The turnout wasn't enormous - 9 I think - but Sandy came along to help Liz run the training, and probably is better at running drills than Liz on her own, so it was good fun. In the last game of halfcourt I got frustrated with people getting lost on defense and just started trying to score instead of pass, as I usually do. Surprisingly, it worked, and I pretty much scored all my team's points. I don't normally go for that sort of thing, but in some way its nice to know that I can score sometimes.

IRISA basketball got rescheduled to today. Wasn't quite so much fun, partly because we always run the full court, with no subs, and play for between 90 minutes and 2 hours, which is a lot for anyone, and I'm not in the greatest shape. Anyway, it was a bit of a comedown from last night.

Tomorrow's tennis. Franck has blisters and a busted racquet, so its just Seb, Jean-Marie and I. Next week we should be 5, with Franck back and Olivier coming along.

Monday, 15 May 2006

weekend going forwards

Quiet weekend.

Played a bunch of WoW, up to lvl29 now, and starting to feel valuable in the parties I join. My profession skills are getting to the point where the economic game is going to start coming into play, too, and I'm going to have to start buying & selling to earn money for a mount at lvl40.

I booked a train to Basel for Ascension weekend. Looking forward to getting away, to hanging out with Chris, Anjum and presumably some of the other Swisslies. To be honest, I'm also looking forward to getting some reading done on the trains - its 8-9 hours of trains each way, which should let me finish off one of the many novels I have underway at the moment.

Today is basketball day. Probably at lunch with the IRISA folk, and certainly this evening with what I'm lead to believe has become a swelling mob of ESC kiddies. Rumour has it that Sandy has been drafted in by Liz as assistant coach.

It's a busy month in some ways. Away last week for the seminaire, this weekend down to the south coast, then to Basel, and I think there's the basketball tourny at Chanteloup the week after that. And yet, the in-betweens are pretty quiet. There's no hanging out at cafés or friends' houses, no group sessions watching whacked-out manga, robot chicken or bad hollywood films, no big breakfasts at café E. I got a call Saturday night to hang out at a bar and watch the last round of the soccer season, but buses and indifference got the better of me before I got there. The solution, my conscience is screaming, is to knuckle down, finish off my SoSyM revisions, get my coding finished and write up my thesis. It all just seems a bit hard, though.


It was off to Erquy on Thursday for our annual seminaire d'équipe, where we chat about research direction and wander around on beaches. Previous years were at Piriac-sur-Mer and St Jacut de la Mer, and this wasn't too far away from the latter, both of them on the north coast (côte d'armor, armor meaning "the sea" in the local dead language).

So on Thursday morning we had a few presentations from some of the first-year PhDs - JM, Martin & Erwan, and a brief chat from Didier about the state of Kermeta. All very fascinating.

In the afternoon we gathered a bunch of people and went down to the beach for a game of aussie rules. You read correctly. I showed a bit of the anzac day game and tried to explain some basics of the rules, then we hopped into it with a game of 6 on 6 or so on a 60-80m patch of sand with rocks for goal posts. People picked it up pretty quickly, particularly JMJ and Jacques, who had played rugby before, and so could kick a distance, but mostly the ball moved frantically by hand, and there was no positional play. My team got roundly thumped, but it was great fun. Ironically, it was possibly the first game of footy I've played, and I played it in France. There was a little interest, mainly from Erwan, about doing it again sometime, so we'll see if that pans out. After the encroaching tide took away our field, we retreated to a paddock on higher ground and played some European football, proving beyond doubt to everyone involved that footy is an order of magnitude more physically demanding than soccer.

Friday we had more talks, this time second-years - Franck C and Seb - and some chat about more general direction stuff. There was a discussion about custom concrete syntax stuff. Having spent 4 years of my life working on model/syntax standards and tools, I was a little disappointed that no-one has come to see me about this stuff. On the other hand, I've been happy enough to put HUTN behind me a little, and I suppose I can't have things both ways. There was also talk about requirements modelling stuff, which by my reckoning should go pretty well as a future avenue.

Wednesday, 10 May 2006

My favourite song

Right now, and for the last month or so now, my favourite song has been 'Fiction', by the Luckies, off Warmer Corners. One might say its too good to be true.

Written down here, gentle reader,
It seems too good to be true,
But there's a girl in kansas city
With my favourite tattoo.

Oh why would I lie to you?

This was in another century
Somewhere near the summer's end.
The fahrenheit was frightening;
I was awake the whole weekend.
Invited to a barbeque,
I found refuge in the kitchen
Discussing post-war U.S. literature
With a girl whose upper arm read "fiction",

Like it might have been typewritten.

When I asked her its significance,
She said she sometimes took reminding
What she wanted to be doing,
Whether reading it or writing.
I admitted admiration
For both typeface and intent,
And said, more softly, sotto voce,
I knew too well what she meant.

She just smiled and, in a while, she went.

For a time I forgot this ever took place.
She left her bottle on the bookcase.

So though I leave you little option
But to take me at my word,
I assure you, dearest listener,
That it happened as you've heard.
A beer left on a bookshelf
At a byegone barbeque,
By a girl from kansas city
With my favourite tattoo.

Oh why would i lie to you?
Oh why would i lie to you?
Oh why would i lie?

Tuesday, 9 May 2006

Weekend of Warcraft

Another 3-day weekend spent mostly playing WoW. I'm to a level now where instances are in play, and playing a priest, I'm in good demand, so I've been having a fairly good time of it, finishing off lots of quests and generally learning my way around what is a very, very deep game. Partying with Julz, Mick & Paul has been good, but Paul is so far above that a lot of the time there's no real tension to it. Still, being able to voice chat (with skype conferences) between the 4 of us makes a real difference to reaction time. By contrast, the instances I've done with other parties have tested me more, since we've been punching above our weight. We ran RFK last night with a party of 24/26/26/28/31, and it was pretty testing most of the time, running lvl32 elite bosses that seem to come in 3s. That last sentence was probably overgeeking things, wasn't it ...

One of the very few other things I managed to do over the weekend was order some prints of my photos from Australia. I expect they'll arrive either today or tomorrow, and I'll be interested to see what they're like, since its the first time I've ordered prints of my digital photos, and I didn't photoshop them at all.

I have so little to do socially, especially compared to how it was in Brisbane, where it was just to easy to go hang out with people. Fortunately, we have a team retreat Thursday and Friday which should be fun (Aussie rules lessons on the beach Thursday afternoon, weather permitting and participants willing). Then I have a weekend away the week after, and I'm looking at getting up to Basel to see Chris for the 4-day Ascension weekend.

Thursday, 4 May 2006

wigs yo

We saw Chrizzou off in some style, with hair not our own and beverages not of our own controlling. This was a rare calm moment snapped amid the madness.

Myriad apologies once again to those I invited and gave the wrong evening. I'll blame the time difference and run quickly in the other direction before the questions come.

roo at rest

Just before I headed down to Canberra to see Lee & Em, I went with Chris and Anjum to Lone Pine to see some strine fauna, including this chap. My guess is he (she?) was tired from having being chased by human children. In the roo paddock, the ecosystem was reversed, and food chased the eater in the eager hands of smiling kiddy kind.

Mt Castle

Continuing the pictures train, another of our jaunts was down to Goomburra, formerly known to me as Gordon Country, although I didn't make the link until we got there. We drove up a winding track out of the valley into tropical rainforest, wherefrom some short walks took us to spectacular (I reckon) vistas like this one, out to Mt Castle.

mum on highfield falls

One of the sorties I made into the strine wilderness was with Mum one afternoon. We drove out to highfield falls (here), then around past a couple of dams, and up onto a hill to see the view out across the downs. Highfield falls was one of the few wet looking parts, although we got some rain during the course of our tour.

Wednesday, 3 May 2006

the weeks roll by

Great finish to the basketball game Saturday night. Avenir played pretty poorly through the 4th quarter, and were down by 9 with just under 2 minutes to play, but lifted to break almost even. With 5.6 seconds left, Chartres led by 1 and had the ball under the basket in attack, but they turned it over, and Avenir ran it up the other end and scored as time expired for the 1-point win. Very exciting, and a bit of an escape in their last home game. Few drinks after the game, met Liz's mum & aunt who were over for a week. Home about 3:30.

Went and saw the 2s on Sunday, too. They had a win on the back of Sandy hitting 3s through the 4th quarter. Weird vibe with J in the crowd - things have changed there recently, hardly surprising.

Other than that, plenty of WoW over the weekend, including a run through deadmines with Paul, Julz & Mick on Monday. Good craic, and will be even better once we start to get closer to Paul's level. Called Mum & Dad Sunday for a chat.

Played basketball yesterday, pretty crappy time of it. Pretty crappy day all around, in fact. I was grouchy and the world around me seemingly had no problem feeding me crap. Probably need more sleep.