Thursday, September 24, 2009

Superstring theory, HP printer, the missing chef, and Malt Shovel - Brilliant!

Everyday flies by so fast. I'm helping Robin with her book deadline by researching text for dozens of slide examples in a chapter that's being wrapped up. She needs content to put on example slides, so I'm putting together copy she can use to create slides that demonstrate certain design and communication concepts. My favorite so far are the slides for Superstring theory (quantum physics, not the stuff you spray with a squirt can). You know, N-point scattering amplitude and 10D space-time coordinates. Stuff like that. Brilliant!

Another SOHO (Small Office/Home Office) milestone reached today. We've got the new HP printer online and printing. We ran into a snag when we realized that the powered USB hub we bought didn't supply enough power to run Robin' external USB DVD drive, which we needed to install the HP software and configure the printer (her MacBook Air doesn't have an optical drive, CD or DVD). Fortunately, Bonjour was working (Mac's automatic local network detection and connection). Brilliant! And fortunately, I remembered that Macs can share another Mac's DVD drive over a local network. Brilliant!

Robin and her HP (Happy Printer).

The view from our window.

Entering or leaving the flat is a process that only campus security professionals could dream up. Entering the building's front door requires holding your electronic room key card up to a sensor until a light turns green and the door automatically opens. Then touch the electronic card to the sensor on the elevator door. When the elevator sensor light turns green, push the elevator door button to call the elevator. Get in the elevator and push the button for floor 4 (even though we're on the 5th floor). Exit the elevator and go to the locked door that goes to the flat 137 hallway. Touch the electronic card to the door sensor. When the light turns green, open the door. Walk down the hall to our door, touch the electronic card to the door sensor. When the sensor light turns green, turn the deadbolt on the door to unlock it. Go inside and turn the deadbolt to re-lock the door. Brilliant!

Our first day here, Robin's card didn't work properly and she got trapped between the elevator and the hallway door. Her card wouldn't open either one. She banged on the hallway door and yelled, but I didn't hear her. She finally realized she could take the stairs, and walked across campus to find someone who could re-program her card.


After spending most of the day inside, we decided to go to the nearest pub, about a block away, and have dinner out. We walked to the Royal Crowne Pub. We were there several days ago, and the bartender said they don't serve food on Monday or Tuesday, just Wednesday thru Sunday. So we get there and the place is empty except for one or two people. I don't smell food. Robin says (cheerfully and optimistically) "Are you serving dinner?" in the tone of voice that expects an answer like "Of course!" The somewhat grumpy-demeanored bloke says "No." Robin says "You're kidding." "No." "But we've been waiting for two days!" He says "The chef's gone." Robin: "But he'll be back tomorrow?" in a tone of voice that fully expects an answer like "Of course!" He says "No." Robin: "Where did he go?" Grumpy: "He's gone! Disappeared!" Robin decided to take another approach, being a creative and adaptable girl. "Is there any other place nearby?" "The Malt Shovel. Two lights down, turn right, go 150 yards."

The chefless Royal Crowne Pub bartender.

The Royal Crowne still looks like a good place to have a beer, so we'll leave it on the list. The Malt Shovel was just a few minutes away, so we headed that way.

The Malt Shovel

Right away we could tell this was a lucky upgrade in pub choices. Bigger and nicer. Robin asked "What's a malt shovel?" "I'm not sure, but it's obviously the kind of shovel a duck uses" I said.

It was great. Good food with English pub atmosphere and adorable English accents. A fun dinner. I had fish and chips, Robin had Steak Mushroom Guinness Pie. She loved it.

After we order, the waitress says "Brilliant!" When we order coffee, she says "Brilliant." When we pay the tab, "Brilliant!" I guess it doesn't get much better than brilliant. Unless it's "Incandescent!" Or maybe "N-point Scattered Amplitude!"

Waitress and bartender at the Malt Shovel.

A Malt Shoveler rings up the tab.

The Malt Shovel logo. I think that might be malt in the duck's mouth.

Just so you get your money's worth, two more Malt Shovelers.


When we left, the romantic lights of speeding cars on small streets cast our shadow on the pubs walls - as we dove for safety.