Thursday, August 23, 2007

Cape Town Weather, how I wish I could predict thee

I grew up in the Free State (during a drought, nogal). Now, weather prediction in the Free State is easy. You look up at the sky, shake your head wisely, and say "It's not going to rain today". While the weather will occasionally prove you wrong, your average success rate will be pretty good.

Unfortunately for me, I no longer live in the Free State. Weather prediction in Cape Town is much less simple, and, given the tendency of various weather patterns to hide behind mountains (rather unfairly, I feel), prone to being unreliable.

Throw into the mix that I got my bike back from having a choke cable replaced (which took surprisingly long) yesterday, that my rain suit is (I hope) sitting in my office in Stellenbosch, rather than here, and we have potential disaster. Biased towards taking the bike, I happily looked at the scattered high clouds this morning and said "This looks safe, I'll take the bike". Bad idea. 5 kms on the way to iThemba LABS, and it's raining fairly hard. Bother.

So, having arrived at work wet, and generally uncomfotable, I watched with some relief as the clouds cleared during the course of the day. "At least the trip back will be dry", thinks I. Wrong, wrong, wrong!

I noticed some clouds gathering as we neared the evening, so hastily got some stuff done so I could leave before the rains started. I didn't quite make it. About ten seconds after I locked my office, the heavens opened, and I found myself, minus a rain suit, riding through quite downpour. Consequently, I arrived home feeling decidedly bedraggled.

Of course, just to annoy me, the weather cleared as I entered the Strand, and I spent the last few kms of the trip dripping furiously in fairly bright sunshine.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Musing on the Shipman's Tale

Every so often, the following joke (or variations thereof) winds up in my email.

Bob, a good friend of Bill, calls on Bill's pretty wife Sue one afternoon while Bill is away at work.

Bob tells Sue that he's always wanted to sleep with her, and offers her $50 to do so. She refuses, so he offers her $100. This continues until eventually he offers $500, and she relents. Bob pays the money and they do the dirty.

That evening, when Bill returns, Sue tells him "your friend Bob called today. That man has some strange notions". Bill replies "yes he does. By the way, did he give you the $500 he owes me? He said he'd do a turn around today to drop off the money."

The joke isn't very funny, but it has considerable longevity. Indeed, anyone who's read Chaucer will recognise that this is a simplification of the Shipman's Tale, and there's no reason to assume that the basic joke isn't a great deal older than Chaucer's version.

But it's not the age that interests me (after all, several such situational jokes can easily be traced back to the Greek comedies), but the rather significant change in emphasis between Chaucer and the modern version. In the modern version, Sue is very much the dupe. As a morality play, the moral is at best "don't compromise your principles for money, you'll lose". In Chaucer's version, though, Bob is the dupe. Sue spends the money, and Bob only learns that it's been paid to Sue when he confronts Bill about this, and is then stuck with the fact that, since he never told Sue about the loan, Sue has no reason to assume the money isn't a gift. Chaucer's moral is largely about the flow of information in a marriage.

Which leaves me with the question of when the shift in emphasis happened? Much as I'd like to blame the Victorians (who don't get blamed for enough of the ills of modern society, I feel), I suspect it's a much more recent reworking, but can't find any evidence either way.

Dragonfire 2007 summary

Overall, I throughly enjoyed this Dragonfire. unfortunately, no mugs (although this may be corrected in due course).

Thursday was the Vampire tournament, which was quite fun. I played my Osebo close combat deck. As expected, it didn't do that well, although it did gain me one victory point. The weaknesses in terms of bleed speed and such are obvious, and I suffered some strange draws, but enough bits worked tat I had fun, and successfully ousting someone is always a good thing.

Friday, I had the reasonably unexpected LARP, which I've already blogged about. Having now played in a LARP, I'd approach the next one from a slightly less theatrical perspective, and pay a bit more attention to the gaming aspects.

Saturday was spent recovering from the LARP, so I skipped everything, but on Sunday I participated in both modules. The first ran very long for the group I was involved in, but was rather fun. The second was tighter, and also fun. Overall, good to get some role-playing in (I really need to find some sort of convenient RP group nearby).

So, generally good fun, although the unfilled mug issue does remain.

Saturday, August 11, 2007


So, I played in Simon and Adrianna's LARP, the Grove of Fallen Leaves. It was all very last minute - I agreed to play a little more than 24 hours beforehand, due to a player pulling out.

The first obstacle was actually making it to the LARP. This shouldn't have been an obstacle, except that I had to take my bike in to get the choke cable repaired, and they did not let me know that my bike would not be ready until quite late. However, by use of the less than optimal Cape Town train system, I was able to make it across (relying on Simon and Adrianna's hospitality to work around the lack of trains back until the next day).

The LARP was fun. My theatrical background was probably a it of a disadvantage, since I was more likely to play the character, rather than the game situation, although, given the way the game went down, I'm not sure i there was much I could have done differently to change things.

The LARP suffered from hitting a critical level of mistrust, and, despite trying to play a conciliatory role, the rest of the players were more interested in mistrusting each other than actually resolving anything, which was somewhat frustrating.

Still, overall, I had good fun, which is about the best one can expect out of this sort of thing.

Saturday, August 4, 2007


So, yet another CTPUG down. Attendance was down to the basic core group. I'm not sure why the attendance dropped as it did, as UCT should have been about as accessible as the Bandwidth Barn, but so it goes.

Since Kevin hadn't finished his talk last time, he continued with demonstrating numpy, using a fairly simple compression scheme based on Haar wavelets. While the talk ended up taking rather longer than anticipated, it overall went quite well, I thought, and was generally quite enjoyable. The interactive debugging session mid-way through, while pretty everyone there chipped in (an error caused by missing a copy in places).

After the talk, though, my usual vehicle karma kicked in. The choke cable on my bike broke, wihc, given that a cold wind was blowing, meant I run the battery down trying to get things started. Fortunately, I was able to convince jerith to give me a jump start, and get home OK, but it will make transport an issue until I get the problem resolved. unfortunately, the choke is not easily accessible on the Suzuki, so I can't really work around the problem, although a pair of long-nosed pliers may help (will have to try that during the week).