Busy weekend

Busy weekend

On Friday morning, someone drilled through one of the water main pipes leading via Liberton to the centre of town. A large part of Edinburgh had no water for about 24 hours! Fortunately, although we live near the affected area, we still had our hot & cold running. But when I took the no. 7 bus to work in the morning, it took a detour around the flooded roads (it must have been pretty bad). Instead of going down Liberton Hill, it went down Kirk Brae instead. Friday was a lovely day, and this route seemed so pleasant that I though it would be nice to walk into town this way on Saturday.

And so we did. Although Saturday wasn’t quite as sunny as Friday, it was still warm, and we spent most of the morning taking a leisurely stroll with B in the pram.

There was a magnificent sight about two-thirds of the way down Kirk Brae. We came around a corner of this narrow and steep street, and before us we saw a view all the way to Edinburgh Castle. In the distance, the Castle looked almost like Hadrian’s mausoleum in Rome. A broad, tree-lined avenue seemed to lead all the way up to it, but this was just an optical illusion. But because of the framing of the view (houses on either side of the street) you couldn’t see what lay off to the sides of the avenue. We were free to imagine that the trees stretched out in both directions, and that the road was a straight line through a park like the Villa Borghese. With the warm sun on our backs, it was like we were back in Rome.

At the foot of Kirk Brae we crossed the road and headed for the Royal Observatory. This is one of these places we’ve always been aware of, but have never visited. We didn’t visit it this time either, really: we just walked up Blackford Hill and sat on a bench and fed B. The observatory is surrounded by a nature reserve, and has magnificent views of the South of Edinburgh. People jog, and walk their dogs there. We chatted for a while with a woman who walks her three dogs there every day. B even stroked one of the dogs! (Well, Abi stretched his arm out and rubbed the back of his hand against the dog’s fur. It was still enormously cute.)

Once B was fed and rested, we headed back down the hill (noting the opening times of the observatory, and the fact that they are open for public night viewings in winter). We walked through more parts of Edinburgh we’d never seen from on foot before, and eventually ended up at the Meadows, with a pizza and a couple of bottles of refreshing beverage.

After replenishing our own energy sources, we snuffled around the shops on South Clerk St., and bought some books before finally taking a bus back home. By this time, B’s nappy had almost reached bursting point from all the smelly poo, and we had all got a good deal of sun. B mostly got it on his face. His little cheeks were all pink.

Most of the baby books will tell you that it’s a bad thing to expose their delicate skin to the sun at this tender age. I don’t think it did him any great harm, but he did seem quite uncomfortable, hot, and fussy afterwards. Who wouldn’t be? But this was his first experience of a minor sunburn, and it must have come as a bit of a surprise to him.

The up side of this is that he looks all bronzed today. It looks like he has inherited Abi’s skin colour, and her ability to go from pink to brown in the space of, oh, about two hours.

The down side is that he may still have been a bit dehydrated. Mum & dad & Scott & Ange were all round this afternoon, and B howled his way through pretty much all of their visit. After they left, we checked his temperature with a little colour-coded forehead thermometer, and found that he was slightly fevered. After carefully examining the label and instructions, we gave him a tiny spoonful of Calpol, which is paracetamol syrup for babies. Abi also fed him most of a bottle of water flavoured with apple juice, which he slurped down thirstily. Then finally he went to sleep for about half an hour. When he woke up, he seemed his normal happy self again.

So we’ve survived his first fever!

Also this weekend…

We trimmed the tops of the tall conifers in our back garden, which were blocking out a lot of our neighbours’ afternoon sunlight. Also, they look much tidier now.

And I’ve been installing Linux. Again. Mandrake 8.0, which is a damn sight better than any other version I’ve tried, but it’s still a chore. This is the third time I’ve installed it recently , and my practice of taking extensive notes is now paying off. It gets easier with every try, but there are still so many things that are difficult to configure, that you take for granted when running windows.

For example: fonts. Because Mandrake’s creators realize that a lot of their target audience is Windows users who want to try out Linux, they have included a utility (DrakFont) which makes it easy to import your Windows TrueType fonts and use them in most desktop applications. But will StarOffice make use of these? Hell no. You have to jump through hoops to convert these TrueType fonts to PostScript type 1 fonts, and then make StarOffice aware of the fonts separately.

This is a consequence of the way Linux works: you have choices. On Windows, you don’t have a choice of where you get your fonts. They’re part of the operating system, and all applications just use the standard Windows font functionality. On Linux, however, there are several “standard” ways of doing fonts. Application developers can’t be certain which will be set up on a user’s machines, and so they have to cater for all the different possibilities. Or they can invent a new one. Or they can use an obscure standard, and make users download a third-party tool before their package will install.

Most users really don’t want to be bothered with this–if they can even figure it out in the first place. Linux’s flexibility is its downfall in this case. If you want freedom from a proprietary standard (Windows), you have to put up with a multitude of competing “standards”. You gain the ability to tune your system to your way of life, but you lose the ability to take a piece of software and know that it will install off-the-shelf.

I’m still trying to figure out which way I prefer.