Freesteel Blog » Got the blues

Got the blues

Monday, April 18th, 2011 at 9:57 pm Written by:

Maybe it’s just a series of apparently unproductive days and no way through them.

Two weekends ago on a gloriously sunny day the autopilot took us to Yorkshire for caving, rather than to Anglesey for diving in the calm weather, and I spent every hour regretting it. Becka did a Spectacle-Vespers exchange (it was declared too hard for me) and then on Sunday we went surveying in a flood-prone cave while the others tried to blast some rocks further in (the charges didn’t go off).

Last weekend I was in Cambridge to see my sister get married. During the week my half-brother was in town from his three year stint in Azerbaijan. I am now the proud owner of a database of Azerbaijan Parliamentary election results.

In Cambridge I dropped in on one of the cavers who has been doing some kind of PhD study of a silly lava lake on Mount Erebus. I still can’t accept that people are getting free holidays to Antarctica. Said he stayed at McMurdo Station. Very well staffed with people supporting the scientists, he said. You get infinite numbers of free socks.

I was able to look up the McMurdo on the awful USAspending website and come up with this contract. I think all these other contracts to Raytheon for “Operation of Government-Owned Facilities — Government-Owned Contractor-Operated (GOCO) R&D Facilities” in Antarctica at approx $50million a year probably relate to it. The key line in all these contracts is that it’s

Type of Contract Pricing R: Cost Plus Award Fee

which means that Raytheon can charge back for anything it likes on top of a guaranteed profit. This makes it fun to live on the base because you have Uncle Sam’s unlimited credit charge card. Had the base been run on a fixed fee contract then Raytheon’s profits would have been whatever they could avoid paying out, which would mean the more miserable they made it the more money they would make.

And so we’re home. I’ve just lent out my diving tanks to the club for their Easter trip, so guess what I’m not doing this weekend. Another friend is out kayaking around Hilbre Island during the day and phones me up to tell me about how he has been paddling with porpoises in the Mersey. And I’ve just noticed that HSMWorks has made a new website, illustrated with testimonials from a hang-glider manufacturer, like so:

Hey, I used to do that when I was young. Like in 1993, when everything was innocent.


That’s the year I started writing machine tool software.

Even the Green Party election broadcast is a downer:

It’s all gone horribly wrong. Nothing is working now!

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