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The life and times of james Hart: his family, his music, life in Luton and his occasional escapes onto the internet.

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Wednesday, 4 August 2004

unexpected tempest

It's been an eventful couple of days; mostly yesterday, though.

Storms had been predicted, but I hadn't believed the weathermen; by three o'clock, the sky had turned to slate, and the lightning show began - the course continued unabated, as did the rain, until just after five, when we packed up for the day, and storm didn't.

The lights flashed a few times - frustratingly the power dipped, so my catch-up of the day's work emails was interrupted at least three times (I was on my laptop, but the battery had run out on the train, so there hadn't been enough charge to sustain it even during the brief outages). I decided to give up, and accompany some of my other colleagues, who had been studying Linux in an adjacent classroom until it all went a bit flakey, back to the hotel.

I don't think I've ever been so close to a lightning strike as the one I witnessed out of the corner of my eye. There's a power substation and a small aerial cluster in the field behind the hotel, and I'm fairly sure one of them was struck by the unignorable flash of light, and concurrent 'zwaaaap' of electrical discharge. It was then, I understand, that everything went dark.

The realisation that the restaurant was probably plunged into as much darkness as the rest of the local area struck me, so I ventured out again into the rain - I still hadn't packed a coat, jumper or wellington boots - to find that my colleagues had been in time to help themselves to platefuls of food before it was cleared away.

Fortunately, someone had found there was a generator at the back of the building, so the lights popped back on after twenty minutes of chatting with workmates about storm-related stories and nibbling on the bread roll that had not yet been removed from my side plate.

The rather pleasant (very, in fact, under the circumstances) chef decided to start cooking to order, and I benefitted from a hot, freshly prepared turkey thing in mushroom sauce and chips. And some cheese and biscuits for dessert.

Once the power had returned and the rain had subsided (only a little), I walked back to my room, and that's where I stayed, trying to get on the internet (I mean, if people are going to leave network sockets lying around on the walls, what can they expect?) and listening to the rather brilliant Paradise Lost In Space radio comedy/drama/thing that I recorded off BBC7 last week until bedtime.

Today was completely different, weatherwise - the sun has returned, and the breeze has been comfortable (thank heavens!) The course is still very interesting - I'm learning all about AES/EBU and how to look at it with bits of expensive equipment. It's the last day tomorrow - I'm definitely looking forward to going home, and having a three-day weekend with the family.

No links today - someone was talking about a tiny PC today that costs less than a hundred pounds and runs off a laptop power supply, but I've not yet found it... I'm fairly glad, because I think I'd probably want one!

Posted by james at August 4, 2004 6:11 PM

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