Wednesday, June 29, 2011

drying my hair

i don't think i have the energy to do much right now, it's been a physically trying day and an intellectually invigorating one (actually, it was physically invigorating too).

i forgot my sunglasses at home, which is an odd thing to forget in summer in israel. the world is *bright* out there.

---

my meeting with the head of the english department was delightful! i'm going to be their webmaster, and having seen (more or less) the workload i'm pretty certain it's not going to cost me much, unless i get fancy and start writing them automation software in my spare time :D
in addition to that, i went against the advice i was given and proposed our (mine and wordsworth's) ideas for a zero-credit (yet mandatory) orientation course taught by students. the idea was unofficially accepted with much enthusiasm and even a bit of advice, and in the morning we're meeting to set down enough details to present the course formally and secure a lecture theatre. this is going to be fun ^_^

also in the news, there's another scholarship that my marks make me eligible for so i'm going to look into that. i've never been offered anything based on performance before.

---

work: my boss pointed out the problem that had been driving me demented at the end of yesterday, i'd read a certain string a number of times and completely missed the escape character because i'd automatically processed it like a compiler would :P

windows started complaining about maybe being a pirated copy, and it turns out that someone who had it before me installed 7 over the xp that comes pre-installed. as it's a work machine, i can't keep working with a pirated copy, so i spent the afternoon installing ubuntu. the fact that ubuntu has a windows installer that handles everything in the background absolutely blows my mind! instead of staring at self-promotional setup screens, i carried on working until it was complete and then rebooted into a fully functional system. the new version's so slick that there were only two packages i needed that were more than two or three clicks to install. NICE.

---

i ran off to taekwondo, as usual arriving late. there's a poomsae competition on thursday, so i walked into a simulation and did alright. then we started doing fun stuff. she really worked us hard, and i was really ready to work hard, so i went all out. i proved to one of the black belts that a spinning kick's power should come from the back leg, but i proved it a few too many times and stopped only when i heard and felt an awful popping from my knee.

at least i didn't have any balancing trouble. my right ankle usually destabilizes me...

stretching at the end of the session saw one of the younger girls literally standing on my back to push me down; after suffering a bit but getting closer, one of the stronger girls repeated the exercise but with her knee and a fair amount of power behind it. it hurt. a lot. but the satisfaction of staying so much lower than i could've gotten by myself was totally worth it.

---

i came home to shower, tidy up a bit and then host a friend for tea and a chat. i talked a lot. mostly about studies (he's decided to go back to school and matriculate so that he can go to university) and veganism (he's decided to try being a vegan). our conversation led me to put together a summary of why you shouldn't become a vegan.

he left when we had to leave; the rollerblading was fun tonight and the route was really good. and long, too.

i don't know why my wrist hurts, but it does, and terribly. very random. also random: hearing that a certain italian is rumoured, outside of the department, to be a star faculty member. that's messed up.

summary: the vegan hypocrisy

[NOTE: i have since learned a lot about nutrition and a lot of what i wrote here is incorrect. about the nutritional aspects, not the political ones. i'm still unimpressed by political vegans. see nutritionfacts.org]


when you turn vegan, you don't magically correct the way that the animals are treated. i promise. if you care about them, then go for the source and stop lying to yourself that your passivity is making a difference.

is killing wrong? go on, deny your humanity. our existence, specifically the quantity of us on the planet, is what's taking more lives than you can imagine. you're no bloody hero because you started yourself on a diet that at best might cause you to suffer malnutrition. eat a steak, then go do something useful like running a farm that treats its animals right.

or start wiping out humans. you probably want to.

vegan is not a dietary choice - it's a highly politicized world-view

the problem with veganism is that it's rubbish. people do it because it's popular and it makes them feel good about themselves, and superior. being a vegan does NOT make farmers treat their animals better, it is NOT a healthy lifestyle and it IS an aggressive political force that spells big trouble if we continue to ignore the issues.

veganism is essentially a form of homeopathy: the less you do the more effect you have...
people will believe anything that makes their lives easier (or that they *think* makes their lives easier).

there is irony in being against milk extraction when it's necessary for the survival of the cows. is there really such a thing as a total vegan?

some proponents are willing to tell the truth.
here are some interesting points to ponder
in particular, there is much controversy surrounding B12 sources.

did you know that a lack of b12 not only means a lack of energy, but also depression? and can lead to psychosis? most vocal proponents of veganism are crazy enough, thank you very much. this link here is from a "how to be a vegan" website.

---

the following is neutral, useful information on b12 for the whole family:

on b12 absorption

deficiency symptoms and fun facts

b12: the numbers

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fear mongering: heart-disease, diabetes and cancer.

diabetes is not caused by eating meat. there are precisely three contributing factors to developing diabetes: being overweight, not exercising, and aging. if any statistical correlation can be shown then it indicates nothing more than a spurious relation. you see, when you learn how statistics work then others cannot leverage them against you.

cancer? everything causes cancer. there has never been a scientifically run study that shows that meat causes cancer. there has, however, been a rigorous and intriguing study showing that living on a diet consisting of meat, its fat, and NOTHING ELSE has surprisingly excellent health benefits.

we're no longer herbivores, so this makes sense.

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health benefits of humanely raised red meat

the inuit paradox - high fat, lower heart disease and cancer rates

meat CAN be bad for you, but remember: not all red meat is processed meat!

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while we're on the topic: ever heard of PETA? animal rights? did you know that their founding intention is to DESTROY all domesticated animals, because they consider them to be unnatural?

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

stress test: work blues

yesterday:

i didn't sleep very much yesterday morning, but what i got was great. my alarm dragged me out of what i now recall as having seemed to be an epic dream.

the entire procedure at the clinic was way more comfortable than usual, and they've flavoured the powder for the breath test and it's actually quite tasty. between samples, i organized travel insurance. sorted.

i returned home via the post office to do what i should have done about two months ago - redirected my mail. the teller was super-friendly, or perhaps super-nosy, but she seemed genuinely interested in me as an immigrant.
"which do you like more, israel or south africa?"
"you can't compare! it's a totally different world!"
"fair enough. i'll bet the bureaucracy there's just as screwed up."
"that's true of bureaucracy everywhere, it's universal."

i went to my old office for a decent cup of coffee and some tweaking after the overnight tests had failed. then set them again and walked out, amused by the fact that i'm never there very much and yet people still act surprised: "what? didn't you just get here?"

headphones - they're either too short or not long enough. my ipod ones are getting touchy :(

work was harsh - there's usually a lot of trash-talking in the office, and it's all in good fun, but things weren't working for me and i started taking it badly. it was a stressful day in general, and to make it worse mmf told me off on an aspect of the project that, sadly, he was completely correct in his assertion that i messed up. i'm referring to the planning or lack thereof, and the fact that i really should have known better than to begin working without a complete specification.

and now there's a whole section that needs to be done that i hadn't even considered yet :S

---

realization of the day: i'm going to dragonfire. awesome! now i only hope that pg will find something she likes...

---

i was tired and stressed, and three hours of poetry reading for the stanzaviv book launch was a bit much. some of it was great, some a bit crap, but on the whole it was a fun evening that i simply wasn't physically ready for.

i was going to get lots of things done last night, but i "wasted" it by going to bed instead.

a friend of mine sent me most welcome praise for my manifesto, and asked if i'd been exposed to the real value of intrinsic motivation. i may have, but if i did i didn't really remember the details and watching the video is a treat.

---

today:

i'm still tired, but now i'm off to meet with the head of the english department. perhaps i'll be the next webmaster :P [oh, how the mighty have fallen!]

---

suck it, mac users! (wtf?!?? my boss found that one)

Monday, June 27, 2011

poetic justice

it's sunday night (mostly), and i'm fasting, and i've just been disappointed at the cinema - not by the new x-men movie, but rather by its lack of a final ending after the credits. that was a freakin' cool film, and i had fun!

i'm sitting here trying to figure out what order to sort this post in, because i don't think chronological will do my weekend any favours.

---
the studying properly began on friday, and i ended up spending most of the weekend immersing myself in all things british (historically so) and not just shakespeare. i somehow managed to go over almost all of the material, and i remembered pretty much everything, so i guess i did a good job of hitting my target. this in spite of the disastrously hot weather. and getting stuck into abe's exoddus around midnight when i had to be up at 7am for the exam, leaving me going over notes until 2am...

*sigh*

i'm not, however, entirely certain that i'd aimed correctly. my impressions upon walking out of the exam today?
"uh oh" is not the feeling i thought i'd have when i walked out of the exam. [exit, pursued by a bear]
to be fair, i barely slept at all last night because my legs were too painfully stiff for me to relax at all, and in addition to the exhaustion i was seated beneath the ice-cold air-conditioner and i found my nose dripping in response; my lack of tissue paper left me a tad distracted on that score too. frozen, stressed and full of mucous. great conditions for a paper.

the paper itself was great - perhaps a little too challenging, but that's not a real complaint. i don't remember when last i found myself furiously scribbling after hearing "time's up", if ever.

and that was supposed to be my last exam. to make matters darker, i just found out that my poetry professor wants a word with me - i'm pretty certain that means that i cocked up that exam too. this is not comforting at all.

---
the mundane: friday

why is it that when i tell windows to cancel copying / moving (especially when the OS has misinterpreted my clicking on "copy" as "move") it takes longer to cancel than it does to copy the file there and back? that's really, really annoying - especially if it happens when someone's waiting for you.

i have not seen the movie titus. i have only seen the trailer, and the intro sequence. and the intro sequence is bloody brilliant, IMO, and i'm now aching to see the full film.

the language being shakespearean, we switched over to mr nobody.
a) pg recognized jared leto and i didn't, and i wonder if i hadn't put up a mental block after the traumatic experience of watching requiem for a dream because she made the connection easily and i'm usually better at that.
b) it's a great concept, a beautifully made film, but... i don't know. it was entertaining, but not really mind-blowing. i think the report i'd heard made me expect more.

the mundane: today

after the exam i went to my old office.
a) the mail sending i bitched about the other day *did* work, and that's why there were no reports to be found. it was automatically filtered from my inbox... i don't know if i should feel thoroughly embarrassed, or just very embarrassed and angry with exchange + active directory not knowing what was going on.
b) i set a test to run for 24 hours, and my initial impression is that it works, first time. i like the fact that i built in a fail-safe device because it seemed like a good idea, and on my first test got to see it in action.
c) my boss has asked me not to come in to work on thursday, because he doesn't want the ceo to get the wrong impression that his staff are working so much. i'm guessing this doesn't happen a lot elsewhere.

on my way to the new office, i switched the left and right earbuds of my ipod headphones and the sound's better and they don't fall out as easily. are my ears backwards?

i picked up a falafel on the way in - last time i immensely enjoyed it, this time i think it made me ill. i felt horrid and nauseous for the remainder of the workday. positive work experience: having my boss just as confused as i was about something that really should have worked. negative work experience: having mmf suggesting that he could have had an indian do the same work quicker for cheaper. that kinda hurt, even if the work i've been doing is good.

---
he gave me a ride back, and we argued over gilad shalit. i started posting here and then got a little worked up. this is what noam shalit was saying to us a while back; it's something that needs to be heard.

---
i spent the evening sorting papers, and received a very sweet gift (a cute robot with a clock head and clip arms) from pg (she assures me it's not for driving me crazy earlier). this was interrupted by a long conversation with the guy from my unit who's getting married in a week or two, which was actually interesting after the initial awkwardness :P

---
pg met me after the exam, and we hunted up and down for the student travel services. the map is marked incorrectly, i needed to use the toilet, she was in a hurry to get things done before her exam, and eventually things got really intense just as we'd gotten the last bit of useless direction from a random caretaker.

well, it turned out to be good direction but i only discovered that by accident. i'd given up and was crossing the road when i noticed the sign out of the corner of my eye, hidden exactly not where indicated on the map :S
i sat down with the agent, who said some helpful things - especially helpful being that there are no student discounts for mature students. in a country where most people only begin studying at 24, i find that supremely stupid.

i managed to get hold of my cousin, and we booked the tickets. later on, harried between two intermittent conversations with my cousin and my girlfriend (neither of whom was available whenever i needed to speak to them), we eventually managed to sort things out and the tickets are now purchased.

yes, purchased. that means... i'm going home! for a little less than a month, maybe, but it's been so long and i'm pretty excited. i *neeeeeeeeed* this.

who gives a damn about gilad shalit?!

everyone's talking about the cost of trading prisoners being too high; it's a dicey subject, because it's understandable that we don't want to release dangerous terrorists back into the wild where we know they'll strike right back.

let's not talk about the cost of feeding those prisoners. or sheltering and educating them at our expense when our children are forced to run around under fire instead of studying in schools and universities like other kids their ages all over the world. because that's exactly the kind of punishment our taxpayer's money should be viciously meting out to our enemies.

let's talk about the hidden cost that we're paying by not rescuing gilad, a cost that we're paying for every day that he's not returned, paying for with more than just a handful of our lives: as the years go by and no action is taken, our soldiers will become less and less certain that the government who's sending them out is willing to look out for them.

you used to know that you weren't going to be left in the field. now? who knows?

so why should they stick their necks out? and why should their mothers let the army take them away?

i'm not telling you what i think we should do. but i'm convinced that what we're not doing is thinking about the long term effects of this disaster.

and that poor kid's been there for five long years, in which each of his days is probably more than a lifetime of heartache for any one of us. i'm pretty damn certain that our government doesn't give a damn about that kid. and i'm beginning to worry that our government doesn't give a damn about the rest of us kids, either.

hey, big boss men who i didn't vote for: you want to buy my faith in the machine? take a chance on his freedom. you're already paying for it, we're already paying for it, and our goddamned future is paying for it.

c'mon, chiefs. take your heads out of your bums and sort this shit out. if it's by violent means, so be it. if it's by negotiation and compromise, so be it. but DO SOMETHING.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

exam distractions

i've been pretty good today, and gotten through most of the material for tomorrow morning's exam. having said that...

---

the argument of the previous post continued, with the most important (in my opinion, of course) note being the following:
"that's exactly the problem. you cannot "kind of" accept people's rights to freedom in choice of life-partner. either you want to turn back the clock a few hundred years and become an entirely religious state, or take the risks inherent in progressing along with the rest of western civilization.

quite frankly, if we choose the former we don't stand a chance of survival. at least with the latter we *might* survive.

our nation's ability to survive relies, as it always has, on our ability to adapt. the ability to adapt has always been our strength, and right now the israeli inability to adapt is our weakness. which is exactly what i was arguing about the other day, and appreciating"


it looks like my primary argument may have been rendered moot, however, by the fact that civil marriages and same-sex marriages (apparently) performed overseas enjoy the same recognition in israel. so i'm stuck repeating my previous sentiment.

my boss jumped in on the argument, citing the internet argument imperative and asking why i remain friends with idiots. i explained to him that if i filter them out, i also put a stop on my ability to influence.

---

speaking of xkcd, another brilliant strip has spawned an attempt to realize the joke.

speaking of my boos, he's pointed me to xerxes and it's pretty funky stuff.

speaking of comics: WOW.

speaking of... okay, this one bears no resemblance but it's amusing anyway: a response to time magazine calling darth vader a bad father.

---

dammit! the vegans are back. up for debate: whether governments should ban red meat. the article discusses red *processed* meat. it's not the same thing.

red meat is not actually bad for you. quite the opposite. what is bad for you is vegan propaganda. that shit will make you hate yourself for consuming what you need to be healthy by disguising it as the abuse of animals instead of targeting the people who really do abuse animals. check out the health benefits of humanely raised red meat, and then some fun facts regarding inuit diets.

the fact that we may* well be the "semi-aquatic ape" implies that it would make sense for the inuit diet to be the one we're most adapted for...

* apes? water?
aquaticapehypothesis.com
aquaticape.org
a great video
isn't that awesome?! it blows my mind... it would be nice if the theory drew more scientifically critical attention.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

gay rights, new york style

congratulations, new yorkers! now your homosexual community have the right to the same madness as the straight with approval for same-sex marriages... i've talked about this before.

in response to a comment from a friend of mine:
"it's a good thing we don't allow same-sex marriages in israel, it's a jewish country with jewish values. it's bad enough that there are places that sell non-kosher food, we don't need to copy countries like the united states. our differences are what's kept us alive as a nation for thousands of years"

"i understand your position, but i can't agree with it. i don't want to keep the sabbath, i don't want to keep kosher, and yet i still consider myself jewish and this is still my homeland.
gay marriage is not demanding a subversion of the jewish marriage ceremony; what they're asking for is RECOGNITION of their status as a married couple. this has nothing to do with the jewishness of the country.

also - what kept us alive as a nation was anti-semitism. without the hatred of everyone else, we'd have happily assimilated and been no more."

Friday, June 24, 2011

trained out

the print shop closes at 2pm, but by the time i strolled in at 1.45 the dude was antsy, the place was crowded and... i was the second last customer to be allowed in. if he really needs to go at 2pm, and his shop is usually busy, shouldn't he officially close at 1.30 and leave the last half hour for the last ones in on time?

---
tough stretching was the primary focus of the two hours. of note: the kid with the red belt who's been on my nerves since he made yellow belt because he *still* doesn't deserve the yellow one. he's half-assed and full of excuses at every move, as if he can rhetoric his way through a martial art.

to be fair, he's been successful so far.

today i let him know exactly what i thought, and for once i got our instructor's support. she paired us up for most of the training; i'm pretty certain he hates me now, but i think he may have gotten the message. and my message was simple. stop talking shit, do some work.

---
as for my own body - i'm hurting, man. that was tough. a cornetto helped me home (passing a girl i went to officer's course with, no acknowledgement either way), and after a shower i made myself a sandwich and settled in for some gaming to cool down. now - shakespeare.

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my sister sent me a very interesting article on the jewish attitude vs the palestinians' - it's quite insightful.

the tortoise

yesterday:

i bladed to the dry-cleaner's to pick up my un-gummed trousers, which may or may not have been a mistake: it was *hot*. the fact that i took it really slowly didn't make any difference, and until the evening, being outside meant struggling. it's inferno time. hullo, summer, i hadn't missed you.

on the way to work i ran into one of my classmates, from whom i got the sense that my exam went alright and that i've been pronouncing du bois incorrectly :$

the workday was pretty straightforward, the most interesting things being over lunch. after a horrifying discussion over israeli water birth laws, the waitress forced a tip in a really ugly way.

---

water birth: after reading survival of the sickest, i have a new-found appreciation for our species' birthing habits. there is nothing that us humans do that doesn't carry risk; everything causes cancer, food is bad for you, and stepping outside your front door puts you in great danger just as locking yourself inside does.

so it comes down to risk management. you might choose to do something that's really exotic and fun, because although it carries a high risk the reward will justify it. that's how we operate, and that's the way things should be. personal freedom is the right to assess those risks and make those choices accordingly without interfering with others' rights to do so.

back to water births: it has been demonstrated that giving birth in water is the most natural method for us, and that it carries considerably less risk than what we have come to consider "regular" birth. however, our bureaucrats have decided, in their infinite lack of wisdom, that because it carries *some* risk that it needs to be banned. so now we have a situation in which woman in labour are placed in a water tank, but removed at the final stage of the process.

that's just stupid.

...

what else is just as stupid? sumptuary laws. the war on drugs, to be specific. i went to the legalization protest, and there must have been about twenty people there. perhaps the number of people who appreciate personal freedom really are a minority.

these are attitudes, both public and private, that cause me to question my decision to live in this country.

---

i tried to donate blood yesterday. i went through the whole ordeal of filling out forms with information that really, really should be stored online. if i've given blood once before, i should be able to type in my id number, update my personal details only if necessary, and click a few checkboxes for any changes in my status.
instead, i sat for ten minutes harassing the medics to explain things that i'm sure have been explained to me before, arguing the relevance of undergoing surgery at age five, only to finally be pushed into the room with the sister who would go over all the data and inform me regretfully that i wouldn't be able to donate blood because i was in india less than a year ago.

thank you. thank you so much.

---

i came home. i played abe's exoddus. a lot. i died a lot. it was frustrating. pg said, after suffering my outraged cursing and horrified squeals for a while, that that's why she doesn't play these kinds of games. a bit later, though, i finished the damn level - and i finished it well. and i felt *good*. there's such catharsis in the experience, from beginning to end... i cannot help but identify with abe as i miscalculate a jump and see him caught by the slicer and chopped up into little chunks.

---

i finally got the sexyselect working: after much fiddling and searching, i came across a forum post (not on their forum, of course - that one's broken) with two examples. neither of which worked. i have no idea what made me try both of them together...

... so it's now working. i don't know why, but that's good enough for me.

pg and i took a slow meander to buy shuwarma, and i ate an entire laffa and found myself looking for dessert. quite shocking :$
we found dessert in the form of sample yoghurt at the book fair, but that was all we found there. the selections were repetitive and mostly quite boring. we returned to watch limitless, which was a fun movie, and then put ourselves to bed.

...

i woke up late this morning, had breakfast, considered tidying things, decided to study, and instead put together a page of decals to be printed and posted this. now i gotta run.

this is going to be a looooong weekend.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

good show!

two in one week? it's been a while - a LONG while. but hatachtonim (התחתונים) were absolutely incredible tonight. their sound was even better than usual, in spite of (or perhaps due to) a couple of changes (the drummer and the bassist), and even though misha's voice sounded a bit hoarse he still carried it through a great evening.

it was also great seeing some of the guys; it's been a while since we all got together. and botchman gave me a ride home, and tel aviv on a (real) bike is always fun :)

---
the bad with the good, because there almost invariably is... i won't be going back to the sublime again. they're assholes. and not just because they're expensive and have rude waitresses. i arrived late, considering that enough to keep me "on time," only to discover that the previous act was running so late that they weren't willing to let us in for another twenty minutes.

in case we "steal" the tail end of the show? the one they weren't going to see any more money for anyway? so we had to lurk outside, not even able to sit on the chairs that are reserved for those who have paid to get in already? i might've bought another beer to make up for it. now i won't be paying anything for the show i was going to go to next week. or any of them. because they're nasty money-grubbing misanthropes.

---
it was a bit of a "F*" day besides the sublime hassle. [Note: "F*" rhymes with "duck stew".]

after getting into bed a little after 4am, i had trouble sleeping because i hadn't stretched properly after training - this is happening a lot more lately than ever before. it's become a "thing". and coupled with my foot muscles being perpetually tender i'm beginning to become concerned that there's something unusual... *ahem*... afoot. [sorry] F* getting older and being out of shape.

i went to meet wr at his work, which is close to my old office, but as usual he wasn't answering his phone when i arrived and that left me standing outside in the baking heat wondering which way to go. if he wasn't so gorram awful with giving directions... F* heat wave, and F* wr for being so disorganized.

i was in my old office for about two hours, most of which were spent trying to understand an email enigma. F* smtp, F* exchange server, F* active directory. the first told me that my email had been sent successfully, the other two made the mail disappear and refused to tell us why.

thank you, microsoft. [here, "thank" can rhyme with "duck" too.]

so i waited an extraordinarily long time for the bus to arrive, slowly roasting and with energy drained so low that when it eventually did come past it was difficult to extricate myself from the shaded corner i'd settled into. things in heart of darkness have just gotten exciting. i can't stop comparing it to apocalypse now. it's good they're so different :)

i spent the next few hours going crazy with a jquery plugin called sexyselect; its basic functionality works fine, once you've gone through three different forums just to find out how to run it. it breaks the second you try to use the methods it's supposed to have, though. the best part: everything's trial and error; the documentation is *so* bad that reading through it seems to do more harm than good.

it didn't help that my boss couldn't figure it out either. F* jquery plugins.

i got a ride home with mmf, and we had an argument about the existence of god that at first grated on my nerves and by the end had us not-quite-agreeing but in a better place than we'd started.

F* nihilism.

i was still upset over the two work-related F*s, so i had a shot of rum and played abe's exoddus for a bit. i had straddled the new chair (it's a fun shape, pg's sister made it) and was wearing nothing but my underwear, eating doritos and getting totally into slapping sligs and squeaking along with my blind friends in tow... pg's brother was supposed to come pick something up, and when i asked if i needed to put on pants i was laughed at.

but pg's brother didn't come. her mother came in his stead. i would have just said hi and continued playing, but i'd set a playtime alarm and i had *just* shut it off. i couldn't get up to cross the room to put some clothes on, so i sat as nonchalantly as possible and tried to blend in benignly with the background. only she stood in the entrance, and looked right at me. "wow," she said, approvingly.

i stared at her.

she stared back.

after a long moment she realized what was making me feel so supremely awkward, and explained: she'd been appreciating the chair i was sitting on.

---
i read up some things for the shakespeare exam, then made my way to the bus. at least i've now officially opened a book :P

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

burned eggs and dylan

yesterday:

after going to bed at 4am, exhausted (as usual, i don't believe there's any point in attempting to quantify anymore), i was pounced on by a tiggery girlfriend at 10am to make breakfast. the worst part: making the eggs according to moonflake's instructions, and still getting it wrong. i suspect that i may have followed them a bit too literally, though. i've made notes and i'll try things a little differently next time. i'm going to be scientimerrific about it.

---

i went to work, because i was already up, and... after much struggling with a really frustrating problem, having sunk many hours into it, my boss informed me that we were going to do without the upgrade that caused it. we had a chat about bad design - or more specifically, about receiving the design requirements only on demonstration of what we considered to be a finished product - and he explained his recent attitude towards me as "a planned lack of management" in which he intended for me to become familiarized with the relevant web technologies.

so, umm, i guess i'm going to need to pretend that i'm my own boss and handle the entire development process, then.

---

i thought i'd nap before the concert, but i didn't really get a chance. it was only while getting dressed that it really began to sink in... i was on my way to see bob dylan. i started getting really excited.

the buses were packed, the stadium's entry policy offensive*, but we walked in with more than an hour to spare and all we had to worry about was keeping ourselves occupied until it all began.

* no bottles allowed in, even half-litre plastic water bottles of the kind they sell inside at twice the price. and of all the wonderful things they claimed to stock inside, only water, shitty beer, coke, hotdogs and not-quite pretzels were available. that's just rude. it's not like we hadn't already paid an arm and a leg for the tickets, and we're talking half-a-stadium-away tickets, not front row seats.

the music that played until the warm-up acts began was wonderful: 50s and 60s folk, blues and psychedelic. the sunset was gorgeous. the weather was comfortably cool. it was only when the warm-up acts started that we found we were sitting in the seats with the lame crowd, the section that barely demonstrated any enthusiasm. i couldn't figure out what the vast majority of the crowd around us were doing there in the first place - godsdammit! it's bob dylan! the place was packed with cool people, why weren't any of them around me?!

the obese, religious pre-game drunk was loud and offensive, and twenty minutes into the main act he had to be carried off by his friends. the guy next to us tried to deny the laws of physics in his attempt to convince us that the no-smoking rules are ridiculous in an open space (we could smell him most of the time, and he was downwind), and i overheard his conversation with the cheesy dude in front of him and from that was able to determine that they were both righteous pricks. the guy behind me talked loudly into his cellphone for a while (unnecessarily, it was clear that whoever was on the other side was trying to say goodbye), and after that did a good job of spilling his beer on my back.

in spite of all of them... the warm-up acts were excellent, and i enjoyed them. assaf avidan and rickie lee jones. although i enjoyed the former more than the latter his excessive repetition did cross a line at some point, but on the whole it was all gravy.

and then the stage went dark. and then it slowly brightened, and i noticed the massive chicken-head at the back of the stage. we were too far to really see much, and the video screens weren't much help so i don't even know what side of the stage he was on, but no matter how much wear-and-tear there may be on his voice, you immediately hear it's him in his lyrics and in the music. and those were all just... well, bob dylan.

it took me a while to figure out how to describe what we saw last night: that wasn't just some old geezer reminding us that he used to be bob dylan. that was THE bob dylan. wow. the music was hypnotic, and the songs we were familiar with have all been recycled into new forms. his narrative lyrics had me seeing visions of things that i'm going to have to write about someday, and i was completely sober.

until a few months ago, when i heard that he was coming, it never occurred to me that i'd ever get an opportunity to hear him live. a number of times during the concert i thought about the scene in the '60s where michael and sarah go looking for him... for me, the concert was not only about him and his greatness, it was about being immersed in an experience that in essence connected me with that era of which he played such a big role.

i walked out of that stadium deeply moved.

---

we picked up dinner at aronson on the way back. the guy serving us was überweird. their non-dairy pizza is a bit strange, but delicious. we ate it while watching the first couple of episodes of my little pony - friendship is magic. ignoring a couple of super-extra-girly or childish moments, it was by and large pretty good. the style rocks, but i'd have to watch a couple more to see if i really enjoy the plots and characters the way the "bronies" do. i don't think i'd go quite that far.

---

today:

*facepalm*
i just realized this morning that we have a bus stop right next to our apartment that serves all of the primary lines i take. not only would this have helped me a couple of days ago... but it would have made my life *so* much easier during the last three years of my service...

*sigh*

bob dylan... dylan thomas... "i choose to die" from dangerous minds... that was a movie heavy with good ideas.

short work, long lunch, then a rush to return to tel aviv in time for training. i was so tired i needed an energy drink just to get there... and arrived as our instructor was explaining that we were jumping to the university for some kind of video shoot. a long bus ride there to discover that there'd been a miscommunication and that the shooting was pretty much over. so we hung around to show the other gym up before returning to tel aviv.

i was given an interesting opportunity to openly tell our instructor *exactly* what i think she needs to do if she wants more students... and *exactly* where i think she's been going wrong the last couple of years. i know she was listening. she seemed to get what i was saying. i'm not holding my breath, but i really hope to see some changes.

i was going to go rollerblading, but we had dinner and a relaxing evening instead. most of it with our backs to each other between studies and work. i'm feeling good. less stressed. one more exam to go, far less of a workload (of actual work) than i'd thought, canadian family's arriving soon, i think the summer's going to be alright.

Monday, June 20, 2011

definitely... definitely...

definitely time for bed. i've been up all night having fun with jquery. it's been productive.

leaving private car ownership behind

it began with this article. i didn't realize that they're discussing heavily taxing car owners; although i have personally proposed taxing owners on condition that that tax money goes towards improving public transport options.
an argument later with one of my managers and i'm convinced that with the level of corruption in our municipality that might not be particularly applicable.

however, i did have the following argument with a girl from our student union.

---

some of us do not live in tel aviv (i know it is hard to believe) and if you live in rishon or holon you cannot be without the car. read it carefully and you will see that most of the examples that were given were that of artists, yoga teachers and one business. most of us do not lead that kind of life.

rishon and holon are not tel aviv. and if you are coming to the city from there, then it's a good idea to use public transport. and bicycles / feet / car2go when you get here. the point is that city living is a great idea, and if you do live in the city then owning a car is silly.

as for the lifestyle, i'm one of the many people who have real jobs (no, artists, i'm not saying you shouldn't do what you do!) and don't own a car, and my lifestyle is all the better for it. you don't need a car. cars are more trouble than they're worth.

except for trance parties. those are a bitch to get to without personal transport :/


if you had lived in holon you would know that you cannot go out at night without a car. public transport stops at 24:00. the person who wrote this article is so detached from reality outside of tel aviv

umm... who needs a reality outside of tel aviv??? some of us are very comfortable living in civilization. it's not impossible to petition for the bus companies to open night lines between the cities. the fact that holon's infrastructure isn't very good means that those people living there need to do something about it.

as for us... i thought this article was about tel aviv.


there are night lines only on weekends. if you believe that petitions will work so... ah, but right you live in tel aviv ... the place in which reality does not dare to enter

the other way around. the fact that we have a different reality doesn't make it unreal, it's just better than what's outside. and that's why we choose to live in it. reality is subjective, and we all make choices appropriately.

i love living in tel aviv. but israel? no way.


what you wrote is just so sad. it only attests to the existence of "the state of tel aviv," detached from the rest of the country

what's sad is that the rest of the country doesn't think that civilization is a very good idea. i wish we could all get our bums in to gear and leave the primitivism behind... but we don't seem to be a nation of progress when it comes to the socio-political aspects of things.

because we don't want to be educated, we don't want to support arts and culture; we just want personal wealth, new cars and big houses and trips overseas so we can talk about how wonderful everywhere else is.

this IS very depressing.


do you think holon, givatayim, rishon lezion, rehovot, petah tikva aren't "civilization"? and what about the kibbutzim and small communities? please keep in mind that they are the ones who settled here first (i'm talking about the first pioneers on the second and third immigrations) and built everything. i doubt if those that established the fifth immigration would have reached tel aviv if the guys in the third and second had not paved the road for them first

i didn't say that the other cities aren't an important step, what i said is that they're stuck in a point in our history that's no longer relevant. it's time to move forward, to move on, otherwise the work of all those great men and women is WASTED.

we have so much potential, the whole country has so much to offer, and instead we've decided that "we've done enough"

it's embarrassing to have achieved so much, so quickly, and then to have given up and started saying "that's the way it is" instead of "let's do it better". which is what happens in tel aviv, AND NOWHERE ELSE. there's no good reason for this, except perhaps the fact the tel aviv is a place where young people live and perhaps it's our idealism that allows us to evolve.

we're waiting for the rest of you.


i agree with you that we need improvement and change. but i do not think we need to reinvent the israeli experience in tel aviv's image. tel aviv is full of young people who can allow themselves this fantasy that not all of us can have. honestly, i do not know when you came to israel. your idealism and enthusiastic spirit is wonderful and praiseworthy, but i don't think you've been here long enough to understand what's happening here. i would advise you to live a year in the negev and the galilee to work with the communities there and then channel all your energies for the benefit of society as a whole and not just for a very small sector of "haves"

here's the thing: most of israel is NOT in a good state, but without idealism and without actually trying to fix things it's not going to get any better. i think you're simply too entrenched in the old way of thinking to believe in change.

everything is a choice. we can choose to stay right where we are, or we can choose to take ourselves to the next level. the only thing stopping us is the attitude that "this is the way things are", because that defines our reality. in tel aviv, we're slowly breaking that and we are making a difference, and the same can be repeated anywhere. *anywhere*.

but it requires faith, and direction, it doesn't just happen by itself. what you're suggesting is that the more of israel i see, the less idealism i'll retain and the more i'll just accept things and be done with it.

no.

i won't. this isn't about me, it's about us. and i'm praying that enough israelis will leave that backwards, primitive mentality behind and emerge into a new, modern israel. because we can. we did once, we can do it again. and everywhere can be like tel aviv. and everywhere SHOULD be like tel aviv. it would be better for everyone.

unless you think we should be more like our neighbouring countries. i don't think that's what you think.


what's apparent from this article, now that i'm not trying to be nice, is that i'm arguing with the standard israeli viewpoint. things are shit, they're not going to get better, stop dreaming, there's nothing you can do, progress is not "israeli".
i think that's all a load of shit. if that was true, we'd never have managed to get to where we are now.

but the kibbutzim have fallen apart, and a culture of "me first" and the arabic influence with their notion of "respect" are destroying us from within. and in tel aviv, there are enough people who haven't been brainwashed into their chains that things do improve. and instead of looking on jealously, the periphery could make a choice, make a stand, and follow in our footsteps.

attitude is a choice, and it doesn't need money.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

too big to curl up into fetal position

but i spent the morning wanting to anyway. i spent a large proportion of it with a very busy stomache, which i'm guessing goes all the way back to thursday's eat-fest. and the exhausted, sleepless nap wasn't helpful.

i stepped out into a beautiful morning, put my ipod on shuffle and was amused to set off to the american culture exam to simon and garfunkle - america. chances?

according to the breakdown and my estimation of my grade, i should manage a pass for the course without having to do an extra assignment. i really hope that's the case. the problem with a fair test is that i won't be able to bitch and whine about it if i botch, like i did with my mid-term.

i found far more work than i'd expected in my old office... i just want this next project over with already, i've invested so much in it and i still haven't gotten to the core of it yet :(

---

i stopped to shop on the way home, blowing a heck of a lot more cash than i'd intended. special moment: standing by the tomatoes. some old dude entered my personal space from my right. i assumed he was going to shove a hand past me to grab some tomatoes, and i was ready to step aside and scowl at him. but he didn't. instead, his unexpected motions made me turn my peripheral vision on him and i realized, awkwardly, that he had stopped, facing me, and unbuckled his belt. he was tucking in his shirt, playing with his zipper, then he buckled up and calmly walked behind my back as if i didn't exist.

---

it took two missions to clear my apartment. finally. clear.

after a quick shower, i poured myself a drink, played a bit of abe's exoddus, watched one piece with pg, messed about online... now it's time to do some work, i think. and then sleep. like a baby.

---

k-twang sent me a brilliant link to an online explanation of electronic music. well worth checking out :D

exam pressure building

although now that pg's gone to bed, i have iamx playing in the background, and i'm finally finishing the readings for tomorrow's exam. i actually had to quaff an energy drink to keep going...

not including the afternoon's signing, the most exercise i've gotten is getting up from my pc every now and again to (once or twice) stretch my legs or (most of the time) grab a bite to eat. my primary distraction for the day involved (involves) downloading the smurfs from youtube so that we can watch on the telly.

so far we've seen two episodes, and taken one other break to eat sushi with one piece in celebration of the signing and as a show of gratitude to pg for putting in so much effort with the contract. gods, i hate dealing with legal hebrew. i don't know if it was more depressing or gratifying that we all had trouble with the forms :P

---

minor distractions of note:

a volcanic electric storm

realizing that i watched one of my favourite movies in the theatre over twenty years ago. i was reminded by seeing the splash trailer, which i clicked on after seeing the clan of the cave bear trailer, which i showed pg after hitting upon an inspirational idea derived from survival of the sickest - only to discover that she's read all the clan of the cave bear books. i haven't read a single one :P

nystire sent me two links today. the first on anonymous hacking, the second a mind-numbing mega-fail (see the diff for details).

on a related then arbitrary note: a stuxnet diagram and a musical glimpse of jerusalem

Saturday, June 18, 2011

a special moment

we're back, and i have two more trips left to remove a couple of posters i'd forgotten about, a television, a server and a box of electronic trash.

but...

we have signed the contract, and i have handed over the keys.

the down-wedding - part ii

... continued

friday:

a late-ish morning. i need to sleep more, not just lie in bed feeling tired. i started off visiting hardware dude to pick up cheap paint and a roller (that was more expensive than i was hoping), dropped that off at my apartment before bringing over a couple of things, switching from blades to shoes and heading back to clean the air-conditioner and paint. it took me a while to figure out that i have no clue how to clean the a/c, but fortunately i guessed right and ran it until it (apparently) cleaned itself.

painting was quick and painless, washing the roller afterwards was not. i pulled out all the nails and plastered in the holes, dusted quite a bit and then returned home to pick up my netbook and notes and head to coffeeholic for a great lunch, reading for sunday's exam and being exposed to an intriguing discussion of a class-action suit against strauss for producing the cream for their "milky" dessert range using fish-bones. the central issue is that some religious extremists have placed such crazy restrictions over and above those defined by the "kashrut" laws that they consider this mixture of fish and milk to be unkosher.

idiots.

not even the coffee could save me, and i returned for a quick shower and a nap that turned into the sleep of the dead - only pg felt i'd slept enough and made a monumental effort to drag me back from the nothing.

---
i had a quick planning chat with my mum, sat agitated over dinner (i don't know why) and just before we left to the cinema i received an email that astounded me (translated from hebrew):

Hey totalwaste
What's going on.

I wanted to ask
[of your dignity? in your estimation? from your sense of honour?] if possible and I thank [your dignity? your estimation? your sense of honour?] for your material in the English courses:
Shakespeare, Amercan
[sic] Culture, Narrative Analysis and its tutorial, English Culture, Poetry Analysis and its tutorial, Introduction to Theory,

Thanks in advance


i haven't a clue who the sender is - the name on the mail claims "you can only go as far as you push" and the email address spells rubbish. so i don't have a clue who this is, nor what my dignity and honour have to do with anything, nor why they want my notes (or did they really mean material, like reading lists and pdfs?) for courses taken last semester, nor why i should even consider doing them any favours. i mean... wow.

---
pg doesn't remember the smurfs. and i can't find them anywhere. except here. or here, where we can't buy them :/

we watched priest. priest frikkin' ROCKS. i don't remember where i read a review that made it seem like it suffered from crapiplotitus, but that's what i was expecting, not the exquisitely beautiful rendering of a fairly interesting combination of vampire narratives into a gorgeous mesh of comic and non-comic forms.

two previews formed an integral part of the priest experience. immortals looks breathtaking, and the upcoming remake of fright night excites me no end. if i haven't mentioned it before, i saw the original as a six year-old and it absolutely traumatized me, causing me to develop a deep fear of and lust for vampires during my formative years. this is gonna be good :D

---
i just did the math - i'll have earned the cash to travel to south africa only by the month that i'll actually be there. that kinda complicates things :/

the down-wedding - part i

[post divided retroactively]

thursday:

could there have been any advantage to picking the wrong bus when i was already late? perhaps. i wasn't *really* in a hurry, and five minutes walking through and appreciating a city still half-asleep and beginning to stir at 10.45am was heart-warming. and almost tripping over a door, which in my experience is not a normal thing to find in the middle of the pavement, amused me.

a thought occurred: observing israelis talking on the phone, i'm beginning to suspect that a truly israeli cellular phone design would incorporate a phenomenally solid microphone and no earpiece. i think it's redundant here in enough cases to warrant some marketing consideration.

the place we met to study at is in a really nice little nook just off campus. the only people who showed up were myself and wordsworth, and a study group of three that primarily consists of reading notes because the other two hadn't been in class isn't particularly productive. the home-produced tea was delicious, our host's boyfriend crapping us out for putting our bare feet on their new couch was a bit weird.

quote of the day (completed in unison): huckleberry finn's plot was described as "a circular movement from a to b".
"the only movement i can think of that fits that description... "
"is a bowel movement"

i headed off to work, picking up a falafel on the way. this one was cheaper, larger, tastier, healthier and faster than western "fast food". the introduction of crap fast food into israel is a shame.

i had an argument with yogi about market research, which reminded me of nystire's link to let me google that for you. work was, to quote my boss, pretty blah. some jquery functionality that should be incredibly simple doesn't work. and that stinks.

i was totalled by the time i got up to leave, and i rested on the bus because i failed in my attempt to begin reading joseph conrad - heart of darkness. i had barely enough time to get ready before pg and i stepped out smartly dressed into the bright hot late afternoon sun... i had sweat patches on my back by the time we made it to the wedding shuttle.

as the years go by i find myself more and more estranged from certain people that i used to consider my friends. the bus ride had a few of those. it also took a long, long time to arrive. just before arriving, i discovered that i'd sat on chewing gum. in my nice black trousers. frack.

the wedding: substandard. beautiful venue, great food, but both the ceremony and the reception were a little too enthusiastically "traditional". highlights included contemplating the possible correlation between a shy bladder and an unhappy childhood, the sweets table, and the realization that i'd consumed far too much alcohol. fortunately [he says, sarcastically] the return shuttle only arrived at 2.30am so i had plenty of time to sober up for the relentless attack of the "oriental" music over the speakers in the bus. and not the bus driver's, either, but some ars relative of the bride who hijacked the microphone with his cellphone and maintained a stupid grin while refusing to lower the volume until the very end of our miserable journey. i really, *really* wanted to beat the snot out of him. judging by their reactions to the eventual raising of my voice, i think the austrians would have fully supported me.

pg was even more disappointed and irritated than i was after all of that, and tensions exploded on the way home and it took us a sleep before we could talk them down. *sigh*

---
funny story: the guy whose book i reviewed? it turns out he's not just a friend of friends, he's the brother of one of them. it turns out that my assumption that he's "TheThinker" was correct (because it wasn't totally obvious</sarcasm>), and i'm amused that he strongly suspects me but wasn't entirely sure. i was certain he knew. either way, "Listen to me wannabe 'intellectual,'... I would recommend you therapy" after his assertion that he "[does] own a second degree in psychology" is just... well, if you want to read his book anyway, don't say you weren't warned.

[continued...]

Friday, June 17, 2011

legalization

for all of you who are scratching your heads and wondering why, please, PLEASE do yourselves a favour and watch this documentary:

the union: the business of getting high (available on amazon)

even if you don't care about legalization, you'll probably find it interesting and entertaining.

---

the issue of sumptuary laws that have been imposed on the entire western world by american ignorance is a miserable one, and it would be nice if we could all let go of american problems and think for ourselves!

not that i have fantastic expectations... i'm not a huge believer in israeli attitudes when it comes to fixing things that aren't right. but at least we're going to try.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

point breaking

today began with a painful wake-up, a quick review and then rushing off for an early exam. ignoring the embarrassment of spilling coffee beneath my seat when we're not allowed food or drink in the classroom, and the incredible uselessness of the invigilators... i think i had a good exam experience. the sample paper that my manager handed me (from 2004) turned out to be *really* close to what we received, and after struggling to do the sample and then directing my studying accordingly i felt properly prepared for the real thing. four questions out of 24 had me stumped; i should get most of the rest right and we only had to fill in twenty; so that worked out well.

for the essay, i chose sonnet 130 and had a lot of fun with it: i really hope the grader appreciates my turning it on its head.

---

i was reminded of sir ken robinson discussing new paradigms when co-conspirator got antsy with the invigilators for not updating the time on the board. she could have just worn a watch.

---

on the way to the bus, i suddenly remembered something exciting that we heard on the radio on the way to the wedding on monday evening: a country-wide announcement explaining that leaving the engine running is a pointless waste. i can stop harassing people now :)

i'd barely sat down at my desk when i got a call back from one of my pension funds (i have three, theoretically, although one may be closed and the other worth a pittance) to assist me in registering for their website. the tech-support girl was very sweet, even becoming excited when she had to verify my date of birth and it's apparently the same as hers... i had to be very patient with her, though. i could hear her thinking over the phone, i could hear the speed with which she hunted down and killed the buttons on her keyboard and she seemed to have quite a lot of difficulty spelling things. at least she was pleasant.

...

have i, at any stage, mentioned a cunning plan of mine to impose massive taxes on private vehicle ownership and use the proceeds to upgrade public transport infrastructure? i think that might work. with tax breaks for those hauling things as opposed to people, of course.

...

i spent the afternoon in anguish, finally getting it looking right and almost putting on the finishing touches before discovering, to my dismay, that i'd overlooked something in the design. it was a deeply shameful experience, as design is the one thing i keep harping on about and to fail in something whose importance i appreciate so much is miserable. my boss saw the state i was in (granted, the lack of sleep and the other stresses like exams and apartment moving / renting do feature prominently in today's picture) and kicked me out the office, giving me a ride to a convenient bus stop where i spent the remainder of my ipod's battery chilling out before getting on the bus and being blown away by survival of the sickest.

i stopped by the old office for a couple of hours, did some documenting and hacking away before rushing to get home in time for dinner. the final chapters of the book were simply inspirational. fascinating stuff, especially the theories explaining the complexities of human birth. the only problem i had with it was that i couldn't discuss it with pg because i recently read wired's article on the breast milk market and was fascinated by the importance of breastfeeding... she's beginning to worry that there's a pattern in my chatter :P

pg had watched about a quarter of point break, so i joined her for the rest because i couldn't remember any of it. dinner was even better than usual. the apartment still looks like a storage facility.

i worked (reworked) until about an hour ago, achieving the goals i'd outlined at the start of the evening, and i'm now way past being ready for bed. in addition to all the other stuff, like tonight being another wedding, i suddenly realized this evening that my next exam is on sunday.

STRESS.

it's the big one of the three. and i'm not ready :S

---

on religion:
piraro's take
the fear factor

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

in briefs

with damp hair, at 2am when i need to be up at 7am to get to university on time for my exam. i hope i'm ready.

training yesterday was killer - i didn't consume any caffeine beforehand, nor did i bring any sugar sources. she stretched us until we made horrible noises. she made us do mirrors of our forms, which got quite frustrating.

nystire came over and gave me a good indication that most of my random, aged hardware collection is for trash only. we said goodbye with an argument over lulzsec ethics - he suggested that the data that had been released could have been modified to protect the customers. i find that a tad hard to swallow.

my potential tenant came by for another look with another set of eyes - one of the guys from my old office. we discussed my terms, he's happy enough that we've agreed to meet on saturday to sign; this is very good news.

in a celebratory mood, i cracked open a beer on the way to the rollerblading. the route was good but exceptionally long, and after the earlier training my legs were already buggered to begin with. after a great fruit shake (a pity pg's wasn't good), a quick protein snack and a shower, i'm now fairly certain that i'm ready for bed.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

another relief

wow - it took about six days to find a tenant for my apartment... i'm not sure if that's a lot or a little, but i'm feeling good about it :)

hungover study

and no time to post...

yesterday morning: i strapped on my blades and rolled to purchase a standard rental contract, then stopped by the hardware store to replace cupboard handles. the guy there told me that they didn't have, and that i'd have to try in south tel aviv... and only in south tel aviv. good thing i didn't entirely trust him! i found a store less than 200m from there which had exactly what i needed.

i studied a little, worked a little, then went to my old office. i had a good meeting with the boss, who happily authorized my taking a month's vacation, and he was pleased to hear where we're sitting now that i'm back on track. i had warned him not to put me in charge of something as unrelated to my field as setting up a server, but it turned out that that involved massive rewrites of the application code (because the code was so tightly coupled to the production environment) so i guess it was a necessary hell.

i grabbed a sandwich and headed off to the new office; the a/c's still out. it was a hot afternoon. some of the work was fun, some horrifically tedious, and the last exchange was between me and my boss wherein he warned me that if i take a month off they might have to replace me.

swak.

the ride home seemed really long. i scanned the contract and sent it to my potential tenant with a list of the modifications we'll make*, then got dressed and ready for the wedding.

* i've made that all sound really simple. attempting to read the infernal thing gave me a headache; without pg's help, i'd have had to find a lawyer. writing the additions wasn't too tough because the guys speaks good enough english, but it still took a lot of thought...

the drive there was horrible. aside from some aggravating mistakes on my part, we picked the wrong highway and other drivers were having moments around us as well. to make matters worse, we made a wrong turn and ended up on the right highway going in the wrong direction...

the wedding was nice. seeing all the guys i did my completion course with was a mixture of great and awkward. very few of them recognized me with hair :)
the music was mostly good, and by the time the bits that weren't good were played i was already drunk enough to enjoy them anyway.

one of the guys hitched a ride back with us and we chattered non-stop all the way back to tel aviv; pg and i went straight to bed.

...

this morning was slow, and with good reason. at least i didn't have to get up too early :)

the bethesda hack didn't touch me: it's the first time there's been something positive about my not having played fallout 3. perhaps i should get into it once they've sorted out their database encryption.

i missed an appointment that i'd had to wait weeks for - my alarm went off while i was still waking up, and completely slipped my mind :S

after a day of studying, i just got off the phone with mmf who has pretty much authorized my leave. not everything's under control, but as much as can be done to keep my position warm will be done, and i can't ask for fairer than that.

now i have fifteen minutes to get some work done before heading off to training. the evening's already fully booked...

Monday, June 13, 2011

do not disturb, already disturbed

what's israeli to me?

1. stopping in the middle of the only place that it's possible to walk through and completely ignoring anyone who wants to pass by.
2. talking about "those uncivilized idiots" who do just that.
3. exploding in a fit of malicious rage at the aforementioned idiots.

to me, that's israeli.


---

saturday night:

i dragged pg out of the apartment, forcing her to strap on her blades and come with me to the climbing wall because we keep talking about it and never do it. we got there two hours before their official closing time, and were duly informed that that time has been moved forward by an hour and that it wouldn't be worth our while to pay the entrance fee.

buggrit.

instead, we bladed up to tel baruch, which would have been plenty of exercise even without the wind. on the way back, i rolled over a large board that looked absolutely perfect for our roof, and in spite of my being exhausted and already drenched in sweat in the humid heat, i raised it over my head and slowly rolled home. it hadn't yet become too tough to carry when an oncoming taxi flashed his brights, twice, to show me how impressed he was. when he stopped and rolled down his window to tell me how amazing i am, i told him that i'd be even more amazing if he hadn't blinded me with his unsubtle signaling. he kept on talking enthusiastically. like he wasn't getting the message.

after much strain, we got it into the building. the last two hundred metres were absolute killers. we made it up to the second floor before getting stuck, and after explaining to the nosy little old lady neighbour (hmmm, we have a couple of those around here) that she probably couldn't help us too much we shifted around and dragged it back down.

what a waste :(

i went past pg's mum's to pick up the car keys, then returned via my apartment where i packed stuff and picked up the second surfboard. i haven't a clue what to do with either of the boards.

a glass of wine and one piece was enough to get us ready for bed.

---

today:

we woke up *early*, around 5.30, and made the last big move. of *course* a truck was blocking the entrance to our road on the way back. of course, there was no parking anywhere in the area and by the time i'd found somewhere relatively reasonable pg had moved everything upstairs alone.

she tried to get back to sleep while i lay in bed reading comics for an hour before leaving to do some do's. the bank visit was quick, the girl at the tax bureau was surprisingly helpful in spite of their policies being stupid*. the ministry of the interior was less helpful, requiring that i bring pg in person to authorize my change of address. okay, so i *won't* change my address. not my problem.

cancelling the standing order for the electricity bill was easier than i expected.

* if my previously designated "primary" employer still employs me even as they effectively become my secondary employer, until the year's end the tax bureau will continue to recognize them as "primary" employer and will assess the tax accordingly. that's just silly.

---

i'd agreed to meet one of the girls who'd stayed in my apartment to give her the charger she'd left behind, and that agreement was defined as "in twenty minutes". i managed to take a bus home, shop, forget about the meeting, remember halfway to my new home, turn around and walk back to my place... all this within approximately twenty minutes. she then told me that she was already in her car, no more than seven minutes away. seven is a believably arbitrary number, no? so she arrived twenty minutes after that.

this is the girl who claimed that she'd searched her bags and that my camera had been stolen. and who tried to con the bouncer at the last party into believing that i was a dj. somehow, i don't think i can trust her anymore.

---

i stopped at home for a quick sandwich, then took the bus to work.

the a/c wasn't working. the guy who came in to inspect it kept tripping all the power, teaching us the value of working on laptops with docking stations.

we have a secretary now. she seems nice, if a little confusing, and very useful. she knows shit. like all sorts of stuff that secretaries aren't usually expected to know. it's comforting.

---

i received an interesting phone call from the head of the english department. they're terribly sorry, but there's no available position for me as a TA. however, they're offering me a Very Large Bursary to employ my development skills (now very l33t) on the department's website.

i'll be meeting with her after exams to discuss this.

---

what a strange sensation, finally completing the damn project. no great sighs, no catharsis, no weight off my shoulders. it was more like a giant question mark. is it done?

---

another bus experience on my way to the other office: no, seriously, i need help understanding this. i squeeze into the bus, the a/c's off and everyone in the front's unhappy. the back half is EMPTY. i say as much, and all i get back are blank stares and mumbles. is it *embarrassing* to stand where one can breathe? or is there some mythical fart-beast that israelis are conditioned to believe hangs around back there?

---

i didn't hang around the other office too long - most of the hour and a half i spent there was wasted by copying files over our super-slow internal network connections. and then suddenly, without any great fanfare, i tested the application after a minor fix and it all worked. my second win for the day, and still no incredible relief / release.

s'not fair.

---

i showed my apartment twice last night, both parties interested. were they just being pleasant? or did they really like my paintings? i've been warned not to take lawyers as tenants, but the one from yesterday seemed really nice!

after dinner and one piece, we sat poring over a couple of contracts. i've decided that contracts suck.

i got a little studying done, and at midnight decided to take a break and post this. from 00.10:

"wow. i just sent my first ever letter of resignation:
Hi <boss>

I haven't heard from you in a while, and in that time I have managed to find steady work. I regret to inform you that this does not leave any time to work additional hours, so I'm hereby giving you notice that I am resigning our contract. I hope this does not inconvenience you.

Please let me know if there are any problems, and outside the scope of my employment if I can help out in any way I will be more than happy to.

Yours sincerely, and wishing you the best of luck in your endeavours!

<totalwaste>
"

i went to bed when the internet connection went down - fortunately it had resurrected by the time i woke up.

after burning through my comics feeds - how do people survive without smartphones? - i just received a response to my letter of resignation, and it's actually very sweet. now to get busy with tasks.

---

frozen synapse sounds awesome.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

cookies!

it's incredibly gratifying when somebody who seems decent gets really excited about my apartment. i now have two possible tenants to choose from! which means i need to sort out a contract.

and prepare to be able to afford to buy things. like plane tickets. and tuition.

i'm celebrating by consuming the delicious choc-chip cookies that pg made this afternoon ^_^

overheating

it was a hot day - much hotter on leaving the office than on getting there. i bladed home, grabbed a beer and walked to the meeting point for the gay pride parade; my "if i could choose i'd be gay" shirt received compliments and shocked stares on the way.

some of the performances were great, but the lip-sync'ed justin bieber was incontrovertible proof that there is such a thing as a tasteless gay. i found a decent spot in the shade of a tree to drink my beer and wait for two groups of friends who would only arrive after i'd already left for training... i ran into a guy i once served with, and we had a fascinating conversation regarding education policy and tax incentives.

the amount of police - i really don't like policemen in this country, so it's tough to tell if their presence was positive or negative - set me on edge right off the bat, and the high heat and noise levels were really tough to deal with.

on my way out i passed a number of teenage girls taking posed photos of their friends on the side of the road... i guess being a model is attractive because it's a form of aristocracy - you're born into it and all you need to do is sit pretty and not say anything too stupid.

i had a quick peanut butter pre-training snack and tried to nap for half an hour, but my phone kept beeping or ringing. the one call i took was in such a sleepy stupor that i confused the poor guy who wants to see my apartment for the guy i ran into on the bus on thursday, and i was so embarrassed when i realized why i'd made that mistake that i couldn't rest any more: when i'm embarrassed because i've been stupid, my system literally overheats with shame :$

---

training: everything was fine until the second fight, where after trading nutshots (products of badly timed jump-kicks) i received a blow to the bladder - aside from immediately having to find my way the dark, grimy, mosquito-infested indian-style public toilets, i suffered a dull pain for a while and my body's response time went to shit: i was stuck in slow-motion. when i stepped back on the mat i thought i was going to pass out, so i took a break to drink some water and eat a bar of chocolate; then i went back in to fight one of the black belts. it was an interesting fight, but i limped out of it with a damaged ankle and a really sore upper arm (our pads are only effective from the elbow down).

---

i had a shower, gobbled down half a can of dry tuna, did some work and considered some possibilities for next year's courses. then i took a cup of coffee to my apartment to pack things, spending more time sorting than packing and discovering, after half an hour, that i'd managed to drop my cellphone cover on the way over. fortunately, pg had picked it up on her way to her mum's...

i joined them all for a nice dinner, after which i sat antisocially chatting on my iphone, refusing another invitation to the indigo festival and playing logic games, before pg and i left for my apartment to (pretty much) finish the packing.

after dropping off another heavy bag at home, we did some shopping and then watched a couple of episodes of one piece before going to bed. i was zombified halfway through the second episode, so we'll have to watch it again :P

...

i woke up slowly, having installed an rss reader app on my phone so i could catch up on comics in bed. good stuff. i've spent the past hour or two being unproductive, so now it's time to *do* something. it's sad, but the more i have to do the less i get done...

Friday, June 10, 2011

exam time two

i tried reading myself to sleep, but i didn't get much of the former done. i woke up early instead, and sat yawning and rubbing my eyes over indian-american (dots, not feathers) texts. after my experience in india, the irony of the ex-patriots' positions is not entirely lost on me.

i ran into a fellow student on the bus who was full of good advice regarding the september event... what a stroke of luck!

first class: i couldn't bring myself to correct the lecturer whenever she mispronounced the word "caste". ugh.

---

while waiting for second, i addressed my complaints to co-conspirator and wordsworth. i was horrified to discover that they rejected everything they simply didn't understand. big words, like "debauchery," had them stumped - these two clowns are about to begin studying for an MA, and they couldn't just look the words up?! they were online at the time!

---

i shouldn't have lain down on the grass - my exposed legs itched like mad during the next lesson. coupled with my still-sore neck (it's still sore now, even), i wasn't entirely comfortable. the last class of the semester was otherwise great.

the cafeteria noodles were pretty good, and i ate a lot of them while reading wired before heading off the sit with co-conspirator, wordsworth and the head of the english department to discuss poetry courses for the MA.

---

trapped! i sat, horrified, as co-conspirator talked us into a nasty hole. the three of us now have to take a course next year with a lecturer who's a really nice person but a lousy teacher. the worst thing is that no matter how i tried to interfere, the train was already off the rails... to make it worse, the other arrangement converted a BA course to an MA one, and now the BA students are pissed. with good reason. dammit!

---

i took my sore neck to work, and sat fighting with the translation system that i'd thought i'd completed the night before. by the time we left the office it was too late to go to my old one, so i went home. i joined pg for a supermarket run, but we cancelled it on account of the place being totally overrun by crazy people; we had a great dinner at the coffee shop next door instead.

after a quick pirate bath, pg and i dressed up for the 70s and walked to the bus. we waited ages, and arrived at the party well over an hour late...

... which was alright, 'cause practically nobody was there anyway. it was quite a nice evening, in spite of that. we definitely drank too much. us students all banded together for a semester-end talkathon, and eventually pg and i walked / stumbled some of the way and taxied the rest so as to help her brother move into his new apartment at 1.30am.

then we continued home and passed out.

we woke up before 8am, broken, so that pg could go to class. i bladed to work, and am just about ready to get going.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

an end is nigh

i haven't studied yet - i'll do that now. i have *just* finished the work i'd set out to do, and after loads of finicky irritations i'm finally proud of it.

things that didn't contribute to the work getting done today:

1. watching hot fuzz: what a great film! and how nice that the wolfnights branch that's close to us is better than the last one we ordered from - seriously good burgers.

2. waiting a long time for the bus to singer's performance; we eventually gave up and paid for a shuttle...

3. the performance: half of it was so good it gave me goosebumps - the opening was particularly impressive.

while we waited, i discovered what happened to chris corner. he rocks!

now - to the books!

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

first of the last of the first of the return

sunday, monday and tuesday are now over, the first half of the last week of the first year of my return to academia (and other normal human being things). i've been trying to post this for two days now, and i *think* i finally have enough of a moment to get it done...

---

sunday:

i finished reading brave new world on the bus to campus: what a shitty ending to such a great book. the "civilized behaviour" of the final chapter is absurdly inconsistent with their conditioning and censorship, and i was so distracted by it that i think i missed whatever point was being made in the closing scene.

the first coffee of the day was bought from the unhappy people in our building's cafeteria because the coffee machine was bust. i scrawled and pasted a sign saying "i steal coins" and complained later to one of my classmates, who'd had the same experience half an hour earlier but hadn't thought to warn others :S

---

co-conspirator and wordsworth had put together the "poetry offering" that i mentioned briefly on saturday, and what they have produced is a short form of an epic poem covering the academic year. the ideas are cute, but the execution is horrible - a lot of the english is simply bad. they sent me a copy and asked me to go over it; so i did. i invested an hour or so reworking and massaging, and sent them back a vastly more polished effort that makes metric sense and retains, in my opinion, the intended tone.

they asked me to help out with shooting the readings of it, and i was shocked and offended to discover that they'd completely disregarded my version: "we wanted it to be bad," i was later informed. but you didn't tell me that when you sent it to me. and you didn't tell me that until i was being given my line, a decidedly stupid one that i'd hacked out and replaced with something actually funny.

not funny.

---

after an argument with wordsworth about an error that keeps cropping up in his writings, i came to the conclusion that he's either a hypocrite or an idiot. he's a hypocrite if he's constantly giving people lengthy advice on how to write better and not taking advice when he's given it, or he's an idiot for not accepting the word of a well-read native english speaker when he explains why his construct is not appropriate even when factoring in poetic license.

---

i spent the last poetry class writing the first half of my first attempt at a sestina while half-listening to exam advice, then had lunch with pg before heading off to work.

pg asked me if i was organizing tickets for south africa. *BANG*. it's time to make big decisions and figure out how / when to fly...

---

i went to work thinking depressing, cynical thoughts about my inability to affect real change in a country where convincing people to do things that are good for them is a sisyphean task. could it be that for all things political i'm simply the wrong man for the job? i'm beginning to lose faith in this country's potential to become civilized - everything here is one step forward, two back and a little skip sideways just to be difficult. i don't feel like fighting anymore.

i had just decided to accept my salary issues as "the way it is" when i walked into the office and had mmf sit me down to explain all the details: it turns out that it *is* better for me to have two jobs, and because it alleviates my gross costs to the company they're willing to bump up my salary on any months that i don't exceed my net target without interference.

in other words - i'm good. and i'll be even better when i rent out my apartment and have those costs covered.

work was good, even fun, and the drive back with the mmf was instructive and interesting. also, having private time with him outside of the office allows us to close whatever little gaps have grown between us since we studied together...

...

at the bus stop, a man stared at me for a short while before saying something jovially that i didn't quite catch. after two repeats, i finally caught the jist: he was complimenting my trousers. "oh! thank you."

pg suspects that he wasn't as interested in the trousers as he made out.

...

after almost two months urchin finally got back to me with a list of contacts for september's event... i guess i'll begin harassing people next week. i think i'm supposed to be studying and working, too...

pg and i hurriedly posted the notice for my apartment, i gobbled down the spaghetti she'd made with eruca sativa which got stuck in my teeth and made each bite... unwieldy.

the "white stage" was pretty cool, although i enjoyed last year's more. the sound rig outside was absurdly powerful - blasting bigger sound than the student day main stage, so loud that i had to gain about 200 metres' distance before my ears stopped hurting. i was joined by one of the girls in the poetry group, just as a performance was beginning in another building. the girls at the counter didn't make it at all clear that the performance was unrelated to the "white stage", and we had a very unpleasant argument before deciding that it wasn't worth the effort or extra cash.

the first show we saw was very the yellow wallpaper, an amusing story about a woman who shows up to meet a potential husband and has to deal with his mother instead. the second was quite sweet, concerning the relationship between an irritable old bat and her secretary, and we finished off the evening with a lecture on the perception of the torah in its feminine form - there were a couple of feminists in the audience, and the discussion opened up a whole world of possibilities for anyone interested enough.


between shows and lecture we discussed poetry, expression and other strange things. all in all, it was a fun night, from which i returned home on blades.

on the way home, i stopped by a supermarket to pick up an ice-cream. the woman working the counter completely freaked out, i don't think she's ever seen anyone on rollerblades before. it was weird.

---

monday:

i woke up early, painfully (both because i was tired and more specifically because i'd slept skew and my neck was killing me), to show my apartment. "no discounts?" he asked, disappointed. when all the big expenses are included in the price, and you're renting from a student - no, no discounts.

i called up hot and had my subscription frozen - the penalty for cancelled an internet subscription is at least half the amount the remaining subscription would cost you. if i was filthy rich and didn't have higher priorities, i'd definitely start a small provider who provided acceptable service for reasonable costs, and *didn't* try to screw the customer "because everyone else is doing it".

on monday morning i thought that i was taking out the last of my belongings, and mused on how complicated all the little things are...

the bus ride to campus afforded me an opportunity to stretch my neck; i'll pretend i don't know how strange my angles must have seemed to anyone who looked in my direction, and i wish it had helped as much as it hurt.

the coffee machine in our building was still bust, but i had time to mission to the better coffee shop and sit and read grace paley with my back arched while driving my right foot into the corner of the seat next to me for a matching sensation - it's the kind of thing that could make me suspect that there's something to reflexology: right side of neck in agony, center of my right foot as well... oh, wait. the reflexology maps all suggest that the trouble was with my solar plexus. never mind.

by the time i got up i had pins and needles in my leg. i couldn't decide if that was good or bad.

i called up netvision to freeze / cancel my subscription with them, but not only are their cancellation fees far worse than hot's, the woman i spoke to kept ignoring what i was saying so that she could pitch "better offers". in the end, she told me she'd freeze my account and pass on my details to the other division i was having a problem with - the woman who called me up about renewal? she renewed. the bitch.

during class, which was as exciting as usual, i completed my aforementioned epic sestina. i'm really pleased with it. afterwards i met up with the guy from the band from last week, and we agreed to give it a shot and see if we fit.

i do so want to write songs and sing them.

between classes i called netvision back and was mortified to discover that, yet again, they had done what i'd asked them - this time i got through to a guy who at first seemed to understand what i was saying, then screamed at me for being a bad customer while simultaneously (and still shouting at furious pace) telling me how important a customer and his opinions are.

after second class, just as i'd sorted out my lunch, i received a phone call back from the same guy. lunch wasn't particularly good to begin with, but being lectured by "i'm michael, thanks for asking" didn't make it any tastier. eventually he did prove helpful, though. a bit too personal for me, but whatever gets the job done.

on the way to work, an idea began to form...

work was tough, but fruitful. i got phone calls about the apartment - what a way to discover just how odd some people can be :P

the rollerblading group met on monday night because tuesday would be a holiday, and the route was brilliant - although really long. on the way back i decided to roll the entrance table across from my apartment, and it was extremely loud. by the time i realized how disturbing it was i had to choose between irritating everyone on the way, or taking it back and hitting those i'd passed twice :S

---

tuesday:

it was tough getting up early to show the apartment to a woman who didn't arrive. the second woman behaved very strangely. i think she likes it, but she desperately wants to see it at night before she decides. eh?

packing up took a long time - i mentioned earlier musing on the complexities of packing the last things: we moved what felt like half the apartment and there's still a bunch of things left to deal with. i'm definitely going to have to go through all my stuff and start dumping things.

i'm glad i have such a strong girlfriend. after dropping everything in the foyer i asked her to wait for me while i parked the car, and by the time i got back it had all been transported upstairs as if by magic :P

we discovered a decent humus place across the road, then took siesta. after i dragged myself out of bed i did a couple of hours of work, then left for training. i had completely forgotten that the training had been cancelled. swak.

i came back home, set up my computer, and went with pg to carry a giant chair that her sister made for us. we were left with barely any time to shower and dress nicely before returning to her sister's for a big-deal festive dinner.

---

there was plenty of food, even for non-dairy consumers like me. i was really tired, and not particularly interested in the conversations going around. when everyone got excited, it took me a while to understand that pg's sister's mother-in-law had taken her dog outside, and on coming back up the elevator doors had closed with the poor thing still outside.

that's a very lucky dog; lucky because its leash is surprisingly long and was around its belly and not its neck. when they went downstairs they found her hanging from the ceiling, a bit confused.

---

today:

we got home around midnight, and i was broken. we went straight to bed, and i woke up at 9/10am to some frightening sounds coming from behind the fridge. i moved it forward, thinking that gas was escaping, only to discover that the sounds were coming through the wall from the neighbours'. i couldn't put the fridge back because the floor is slightly uneven and i'd shifted it off the tiny cap that was keeping it straight.

so pg's wake-up was a bit bitter; after trying unsuccessfully to replace the cap i found a better solution, but it was too late to have started the day on the right foot :/

it's now more than four hours that i've been up and about, and i've barely done anything of value. time to work. or study.