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Unlike the rest of my friends list, I'm not (primarily) going to be posting about Terry's knighthood (although that is nonetheless very good news).

Instead, I'm posting about Wendy Hall, my former PhD supervisor, who has been made a Dame in the New Years Honours list.

Jolly good news, and much deserved.

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It's been a quiet week in Lake Wobegonethe Gark household.

Actually, that's a lie. Got back from Luxembourg on Tuesday night, fortunately with my luggage this time (made sure that I was checked in for both legs, and that my luggage was marked as priority). Also, to those folk who suggested that I carry everything as hand luggage, I checked the maximum size for carry-on on the LUX->CDG leg, and it was barely large enough for my not-overly-big laptop bag.

As it turns out, losing my luggage was a blessing in disguise. My case turned up while I was at Monday's meeting, so I had clean clothes for Tuesday. Lux Air gave me a nifty overnight bag with such practised ease that I suspect that lost luggage at CDG is commonplace. The bag had pretty much everything you'd need if you'd lost your luggage: shampoo, conditioner, body lotion, shaving cream, deodorant, eau de toilette, razor, hairbrush, cotton buds, cotton wool pads, sanitary towels, spare socks, a t-shirt, laundry powder and an LED keyring. My soon-to-be-departed colleague gave me a bit of a ribbing, and pointed out that he travels light with only carry-on, containing a fresh shirt and clean underwear, the necessary toiletries, and his laptop. Of course, he wasn't laughing quite as heartily when he managed to throw a glass of red wine down his only trousers the night before the formal review. Fortunately, due to my foresight in losing my luggage, I had a convenient sachet of laundry powder...

Realised too late that the terminal at CDG that I like is 2F, not 2E (which is hateful), and that the SOU->CDG flights now go into 2E. I may need to rethink my preferred flights from Southampton, especially since the catering in 2E is abysmal (€3 for a 250ml bottle of water and €6,70 for a sandwich is extortionate, even by airport prices).

Wednesday night was out for drinkies and a rather good Keralan curry with [livejournal.com profile] elseware and ex-workmate Jon., who now lives in Bristol. Thursday night saw a flying visit from Neil (who we're seeing quite regularly now that he works in ECS, even if he still lives in Edinburgh), who left us a rather nice-looking bottle of a 14yo single malt from Scapa - I never knew that Scapa had a distillery.

Friday was rather more sombre; Adam Rutherford, one of our first year computer science undergraduates, died suddenly this week, and I attended the funeral with my course leader hat on. Good turn-out from the students which rather overwhelmed his family, who I think were worried that he didn't have any friends at uni (he did - lots of them). Very touching eulogy from his elder sister Claire, also a student at Southampton, and a message from the SOWN folk.

Today was supposed to be productive, but the [livejournal.com profile] garklet is down with a stomach bug. Still cheery, except for the bit when he toddled into the kitchen and threw up over my shoes. Hopefully he'll be able to keep some food down today, but it looks likely that we'll have to juggle childcare on Monday rather than send him into the nursery.

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Things are starting to settle down here in ECS. This morning, we were allowed back into our offices in Zepler, so I've been able to commune with my books again. My umbrella plant is beyond saving, however. I've donated my meeting table to one of the secretaries from Mountbatten who is being rehoused in Zepler, and a bunch of my shelves (most of which are empty) to a professor from Mountbatten who is moving the contents of his old office into the rather smaller office next door to mine. We're only allowed into the building during business hours (0845-1730), which is a fairly powerful incentive not to let work eat into my own time as I did on Saturday morning. The best way to spend the morning of one's birthday is not to get up at 0600 and spend four frantic hours trying to whip a paper into shape for a 1000 deadline (2359 Hawaiian time) which you end up missing anyway.

The rest of Saturday was rather better. [livejournal.com profile] ias made Eggs Benedict for us both (using bought cheaters Hollandaise sauce, but I won't hold that against her), then we went off to Marwell Zoo. The zoo was rather good (even if the lemur centre wasn't a patch on that in Jersey Zoo), and I shall look forward to dragging garklets around it in the future. My top animals in the zoo were:

  • The mighty Capybara. Apparently they're eaten in Venezuala during Lent, being semi-aquatic rodents, and therefore a type of Fish.

  • Patagonian Mara, even though they were lying down and not spronking. [livejournal.com profile] ias's initial reaction was "oh, look at the rabbits" before she realised that they were actually the size of small deer. We then amused ourselves by pretending that they spoke with Patagonian Welsh accents. It doesn't take much, as you may be able to tell.

    As an aside, [livejournal.com profile] ias clearly has a rabbit/South American rodent problem, since she loudly exclaimed "oh, look at the rabbits" while leaning over the guinea pig enclosure in the children's zoo.

  • Prevost's Squirrel, which is by far the most beautiful squirrel I've yet seen.

  • Scop's Owl

  • Red Ruffed Lemurs, Black and White Ruffed Lemurs, and Ring-Tailed Lemurs, even though the latter are quite obviously the hooligans of the lemur world. If they were people, they'd be given ASBOs.

That evening, went out to George's in town for a meal with the usual suspects (including [livejournal.com profile] gnommi, [livejournal.com profile] hobbit_dave, [livejournal.com profile] evildrem and [livejournal.com profile] elseware). Rather a new experience - managed to eat my way through the mezze without being completely stuffed by the time the kleftiko and moussaka came around (the eighth and ninth dishes, if I've counted correctly) by the simple approach of not bingeing on houmous at the beginning, and even had space for some baklava.

Some lovely gifts from people - what looks to be a rather good bottle of wine from [livejournal.com profile] evildrem and J, a Tony Millionaire book from Rich ("It only takes ninety seconds to read, but it's really good", he said, and he's not lying), yummy chocolates from Jules, and a copy of The Usborne Book of the Future from [livejournal.com profile] elseware (I had commented that I'd been looking for a second-hand copy earlier in the week, so he gave me his copy!). The in-laws got me Roberto Innocenti's recent illustrated Pinnocchio and the John Peel (auto-)biography Margrave of the Marshes. If you've not already got the latter, buy it now - Peel's inimitable voice comes through beautifully in the first half, and it's a delightful portrait of the man. I'll certainly never think of the Bay City Rollers in the same way again.

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Well, it's Thursday, and I'm still working from home. The reoccupation of Zepler (the building I work in) has been put off until next week at the earliest - we've been told that there is no firm date. The salvage contractors are in Mountbatten, and staff based there have been told that they'll be able to give directions to the contractors in order to retrieve up to one plastic crate of belongings each. Given the book collections of some of the professorial staff from IAM in Mountbatten, this is likely to be a difficult choice.

For up-to-date news, there's a Wiki giving information for staff and students. I feel a certain perverse pride that, after freeriding on ECS for almost a decade in the form of server space and staff time (*cough*), Thee Temple ov thee Lemur is giving something back. Go [livejournal.com profile] elseware!

[livejournal.com profile] elseware has also done a sterling job with the temporary pages for ECS, which include a set of images that indicate the scale of the fire. The photographs taken from the top of the Zepler building show the extent of the damage to the Mountbatten building quite clearly; extensive fire damage to levels three and four, and some damage to level two. The current thoughts are that Mountbatten will probably end up being levelled and redeveloped, but there's no timescale for this, obviously.

On the plus side, it looks like we'll get our email and file store back today, which will make things a bit closer to business as usual.

ECS Fire

Oct. 31st, 2005 03:35 pm
nmg: (grimacing)

Big all-hands meeting this morning, with senior University management in attendance (vice-chancellor and registrar). The upshot is that the clean rooms are completely destroyed, and that the top two floors of Mountbatten are badly damaged. The fire spread downwind from the clean rooms to the upper floors of Mountbatten (which is a separate building). The comms group on Mountbatten level four have probably lost almost everything, though the damage is less severe on the north side of the building (facing away from the clean rooms) and towards the Zepler bridge at the east of the building. Mountbatten level three has been flooded. Zepler is virtually undamaged, which is extremely lucky (the wind blew the flames north towards Mountbatten, not east towards Zepler). At worst, it'll be a little smoky from the ventilation.

The systems look like they'll be recovered without incident. Zepler will be used as the base for the ECS networks as soon as we have clearance to reoccupy; there's no point in moving servers out of Zepler to Building 1 in order to set up a presence, only to move them back again a few days later. We have daily backups from Thursday night (Friday night's were still in the building), so little data from the main servers will have been lost. People's desktops are another matter. Some hard drives from Mountbatten will be salvageable, depending on location, but those in the clean rooms will most likely be a writeoff.

I've just had news that we're not going to be able to reoccupy Zepler tomorrow, as was originally hoped, and that our systems staff have decided not to try and recover any systems today (they were given a maximum dwell time in the building of one hour, and entrance to the building is strictly on a named-personnel-only basis). So, my mail email won't be back until tomorrow afternoon at the earliest, and maybe not until later. In the intervening time, I'm using my gmail account (ngibbins at gmail.com), and I'll be staying at home tomorrow.

In other news, [livejournal.com profile] ias started her new job in the library here today. Rar.

nmg: (Default)

See this? That's where I work, that is. Fortunately, it's not the building that I work in, but the building next door which holds the electronics half of the department. [livejournal.com profile] ias and I drove up to see where all the smoke was coming from before we actually knew any details. Looks like the School of Electronics and Computer Science has lost the entirety of its microchip and fibre optic fabrication facility, which was the leading such facility in a UK university.

No details yet as to how the fire started, but there were at least sixteen appliances present, from as far afield as Portchester. There had been some reports of explosions, which is unsurprising given the amount of compressed gases used in the building. Advice to local residents (chiefly the Flowers estate area of Bassett Green) is to keep their windows closed because the smoke may be toxic. I'll say - there's some dead nasty stuff used in chip fabs. Wouldn't be surprised if there were radioactive sources as well, come to think of it.

On the plus side, I don't think that many people had offices in that half of the Mountbatten building, but the reports that the fire brigade had been spraying the adjacent buildings (probably including Zepler, where my office is) because they'd been starting to scorch is worrying. The power is out to all of ECS, so I've not been able to get at my email, but we've got good disaster recovery plans for data, and I've thankfully got the laptop at home.

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Nick Gibbins

August 2010

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