Saturday, November 29, 2014

Roman Signs

Out for a walk that took me along the Via Marmorata, I noticed first

and then

I wondered who the next type founder or printer might be, but it was on to electricians: Galvani and Volta.

This Wednesday, out for a walk, I noticed

And there was a Piazza Belli, with a statue of the poet, near where we stayed last week. I had heard of him through Anthony Burgess's novel Abba, Abba. I had a look at the shelves of a nearby English-language bookstore, but though they had a couple of Burgess's other novels, they did not have that one.

And finally, the assertion at St. John Lateran:

Monday, November 17, 2014

Pulling a Punch Line

A store near the baggage claim are of the Rome airport has a handful of signs, about hip high, in the entrance, each with the image of some famous person and a quotation praising books. Some are to be expected, for example Thomas Jefferson's "I Cannot Live Without Books". One did surprise me:

I considered the reasons one might provide only half of the quip:
  1. Not enough space. But Oscar Wilde gets more words.
  2. "Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read" just doesn't work in Italian humor.
  3. The signs are there to encourage one to buy books, not to make one laugh
  4. "All'infuori di" has a logical meaning but not a spatial one, and so cannot be opposed by "dentro" as "outside of" is by "inside of".

Wednesday, November 12, 2014


We are a bit touchy about squirrel sounds on the roof, having had to deal with a couple of intrusions. Several summers ago when one had dug at a window frame we trapped a couple of squirrels and exiled them to Arlington County. Since then, they have contented themselves with digging up the lawn to hide acorns, or digging out bulbs. But we remain on the watch.

This morning, K sent to me out to look for one on the front roof. He was there on the gutter. Presently, he clambered back up the slate at the southwest corner and disappeared over the roof. When I got to the back yard, he was in the holly tree at the northeast corner, about to head down.

For now, I assume that this squirrel is foraging for acorns that have fallen from a neighbor's tree into our gutters. I would find it more restful if he didn't, and perhaps once he satisfies himself that the acorns are gone, he won't. If he looks for storage or nesting space in the attic, he may find himself transported to Four Mile Run.

The other day I thought that I heard woodpeckers at our rake boards. This would have meant woodpecker damage to repair and bug infestation to deal with. Once I opened an attic window, I could hear that the hammering was from a crew down the alley.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

A Busy Neighborhood

For the last few days, a crew of masons has been replacing a neighbor's front steps and walk. Today I noticed also, on my way around the neighborhood,

  • a neighbor's porch ceiling being painted
  • a new driveway going in on Argyle Terrace near Varnum St.
  • a new front walk on Argyle Terrace near 17th St.
  • major work on a house (recently sold) at 17th and Varnum: new windows, new gutters, new floors at least
  • diagonally across the intersection, window replacement on somebody's addition
  • a new brick walk at 17th and Upshur
  • in the alley between Taylor and Upshur, a new fence going in
  • a neighbor's basement cleared out for renovation
Perhaps this work goes on all the time, but on weekdays when I'm at work.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

In Short

We are putting together a leave tracking system for an affiliate, the third leave tracking system that we will have done in four years. I hope that we are getting better at this, not that the first one was bad. In any case, I have made a number of simplifications that render one of the main portions less scary.

But while going through and removing commented-out procedures left over from a prior version, I noticed that the package body runs just over one thousand lines. Further edits might have eliminated another fifty lines. Now, there is a fair bit of white space in that count, a line or two around data structure declarations and subprogram bodies, generally a line before the return statement of any function, and so on. There are not many, not enough, lines of comments, though those will come: our own organization's working version has some comments twenty or thirty lines long, carefully setting out all the errors I have made and corrected. I suspect that the true working payload is about 600 lines of PL/SQL. That's a fair bit.

The largest single procedure is probably around eighty lines, though most of that it is in subprograms, the main portion being around a dozen lines. I am generally satisfied with the structure. Some pieces need to be pulled out to make it easier to accommodate other classes of employees. I'd like to find a better way to handle testing, too.

There remains one other package, dauntingly line, full of procedures or functions written to handle this or that need of ours, and not applicable to the affiliate. I would guess that it is around 1200 lines, and should be nearer 400. We'll see next week.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Not a Bad Halloween

A good Halloween is one on which I recognize half a dozen neighborhood kids, give generously, and turn out the light at 9 pm with a little bit of insurance candy left in the bowl. On a poor Halloween, I see nobody I know, and at 8:30 there are 14-year-old boys on the porch at with not the slightest excuse for a costume. I give them the candy, but I think that they might have exerted themselves more.

Friday, I got home a little before 6, and sat down to carve the jack o'lantern. There have been years when I managed to do this the night before, separate seeds from strings, and roast the seeds. Now I am the only pumpkin-seed consumer in the house, and don't bother. I did have the pumpkin carved, and set out on the steps before it was quite dark.

A neighbor stopped by early on, with at least one of his sons and that son's friends. With the costumes, I'm not sure whether the younger son was there also. A couple of girls stopped by later on, explaining to me that they were not a pair of unicorns, but rather a unicorn and a narwhal: with a closer look at the position of the horns, I could see that this was so. I think one lives on the next block down. The one young neighbor I positively identified is not quite four. She was done up as Snow White, which she had to explain to me, since I haven't watched many Disney movies lately. She had on her wig hair, she said, and her real hair under it.

And there were quantities of kids who certainly are not from the neighborhood. They were, without exception, polite, well spoken, and in costume. A pair of girls, probably about 14, showed up on the porch twice, and were slightly embarrassed to realize that they had done so. Of course we gave them candy again.