Wednesday, May 30, 2012

spit-retake

right... umm... a very big nothing just happened. timing is everything. tonight has been...

how interesting - and enlightening - it is to have one's reflection revealed suddenly in a mirror, and to discover that it's incongruous with one's self-image.

high stress low stress

i'm not sure i slept enough to have my head made highly-scratchable by surprise tax forms, self-employed pension payments and apartment insurance.

1) if the tax issue can be deferred to another day, it shall be deferred!

2) the problem with self-employed pension payments is that they'd have been a much better idea if i'd begun them myself years ago. now all of my previous employers' "deals" have just complicated matters...

3) i haven't had enough time / energy to do enough research to find another insurance company. buggers probably rely on that.

i've been on hold for so long that i can't get the muzak out of my head :(

bad practice

so... i kinda meant to do some quick posting and then go to bed, and instead i got distracted by my google extension...

---

today was really tough, and i spent a lot of it yawning. 8am classes are an exercise in sadism.

returning to work was chilled, things seem alright, and i came home early to get some rest so that i'd have energy for rollerblading. that was fun, and while it wasn't as much exercise as i *should* have gotten, in this heat it was really sweaty going...

*sigh* summer...

i really don't wish our freud / lacan professor bad health, and i'm sorry that she's been unable to teach classes a few times the past couple of weeks, but that doesn't stop me from being happy about "ugh wednesday" having less "ugh". so i get to wake up late-ish, and our heaviest course ends this week, so i guess the remainder of the semester is looking more relaxed.

Monday, May 28, 2012

executive discount order form ii

did i have a conversation with someone about unsolicited subscription offers?

so... that wasn't enough.

Once again I am receiving special offers and subscription invitations from
you. I'm am becoming extremely angry. Please stop spamming me.


this time, in addition to an apology, i got this:

The following has now been implemented, so to remove your details from our mailing lists, please visit:

http://bwso.businessweek.com/r/bwo_o.asp

and complete the required 'opt out' form.


i hope it works, but i must admit that i'm startled to see that they didn't completely ignore us last time.

quick breather

seminar paper: finally ready for submission! minus format tweaking on a campus computer because i use open office. just to simplify things, i just now re-read the email from our lecturer, and discovered that we have another month (as opposed to two days) and are invited to consult :)

i think i deserve a drink / i feel like i could use a drink / i would drink if i didn't have to get ready for early class tomorrow morning. yep, i'm about ready to see the ass-end of this semester and put some sleep-time into my schedule.

---

it usually takes less time to gets words published on urban dictionary, but... i can now officially label myself a supplementarian - or even a technovore :)

and you can, too!

---

once upon a time i had this wild idea for changing to nature of input. ru55 sent me a link yesterday to something that takes us one giant leap closer - my p5 is now completely irrelevant, but i suppose that's not the end of the world. i'd say "at least i didn't invest too much time in it", but that's only because i didn't really have the time for it at all.

Friday, May 25, 2012

european illiterati part i

wednesday:

while hurriedly sorting out the last of the packing, a muscle in my back spasmed. not a great start with a four-hour flight ahead of me. passport photo fail: the security agent at the airport took half a minute of staring at me and my photo before quizzing me on my details. i'm me! and any schmuck can memorize someone else's id...

---
[a heart-pounding moment occurred soon after we passed through passport control.]

---
the flight did wonders for my back and neck, and i got off the plane feeling ten times worse than when we boarded. aside from finishing this month's wired, i got started on achy obejas' days of awe (for class), which begins with one of the most inspiring post-modern takes on the bible i've ever encountered that added wonderful fuel for the non-shakespearean thesis i'm cooking in potentia. considering i've a meeting with the graduate advisor soon, the timing is perfect :)

"welcome to zurich, take an alfa romeo": the car pg's mom was upgraded to by the rental company is just too damned slick. aaah, europe.
so my first impression of zurich is a gorgeous, spacious converted attic bang in the centre of the city's hot-and-happening, with an incredible view over the river and surrounded by churches. poor us! my second impression is of the air here... that olfactory sense of nature whose appreciation is built in to my capetonian genes.

the first illiterate lunch was delicious (old school restaurant, traditional and traditionally beautiful decor and manners), but awkward, and what followed was none-too-exciting milling about the shopping district. on the way back home we bought stupidly delicious liquorice (called goms), and i rested: it was terribly hot by the time i woke up, and i was feeling even more drained and suffering half-dream half-hallucinations. it took a while for me to get out of bed and shower, by which stage i was feeling much, much better.

in the quiet of the night i finally got somewhere meaningful with my seminar. i was right about the effects of being disconnected!

---
thursday:

we all slept relatively late, and i woke up to discover that i do, in fact, have internet access. so much for my seminar :P

pg's father took us out for breakfast, where i was fascinated by the simple elegance of a nutella croissant (well, gipfeli, but they're similar enough). pg and i then spent the day wandering, up to the university and down to the lake, then into grossmünster before heading back for lunch. the new waiter fumbled our already off-balance illiterate lunch experience (actually, in this case i was reading the menu correctly and he screwed up, which made me feel better :P ), but the food was as excellent as it was costly and we left satisfied. i then returned to nap, very much aware of the almost constant sirens...

pg and i did some very expensive supermarket shopping in the evening, and were planning on eating our meals on a park bench but walked out into rain... friendly rain, though, a pleasure to walk home through. after dinner, i spent the evening trying to resize / optimize pdfs (the tools available all seem to suck, though), and got tiny bits of my seminar done without actually getting anywhere...

we walked randomly until we found a nice little plaza with a cool cocktail bar, enjoyed the wonderfully cool night drinking and milling about silent, dark alleyways, then came home and got into bed just as the clocks struck midnight.

[continued...]

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

useless

french class was alright.

my short back-and-forth with aeroplane was really exciting.

a really bitchy teacher refused to vacate our class after her lesson before (how professional), so we ended up in a classy, comfortable conference room with internet. on the one hand...

i came straight home, and...

... i don't know what i've done this afternoon / evening / night. it's been an absolute whirlwind of nothing, mostly unproductive; even packing for our flight tomorrow* was minimal effort and so doesn't really count towards "productive behaviour".

* we're off to switzerland for a few days. i might post. i might actually get my seminar finished if we don't have internet access.

we didn't even go rollerblading. loading pg's mp3 player has been a nostalgic trip that's given me an excuse to shuffle my ipod around, does that count?

i'm totally on this

i've just read making sense of ebooks, after trying unsuccessfully to find a copy of a book already purchased by our lecturer. i'm now clued up regarding fair use, so i know that legally that's not okay... but i can't purchase an electronic version for my kindle because i don't have an american credit card, and i don't want to purchase the google books version because that entails installing various bits of software on different platforms (i'm not sure my netbook could handle that), and i won't be able to read it on my kindle.

so what's the solution? some day, we're all going to look back at this period of history and laaauuuugh. this morning i had a chat with aeroplane, who i've been discussing producing a graphic novel with: we have agreed on a general plan of action:

publishing houses pay producers upfront for works that they think will sell. much like chicken-and-egg record labels, not only is this gambling but it gives them major influence over what exists and what gets into people's faces through pushy promotions.

with the world moving to digital, and physical bookstores beginning to look like archaic labyrinthian temples to tree-killer worship, the costs of reproducing has dropped dramatically (to zero) and the only real cost that remains is the production itself. fortunately, there's an app for that.

most creative endeavours are commercial ones, and the bottom line for any artist is whether or not their work will be appreciated enough to make them, if not fabulously wealthy and famous, enough cash to settle their bills and get on with the next project. publishing houses used to be the barrier to that upfront cash, but now there are other sources.

as aeroplane repeated: "artists can't eat pencils". if we can't convince enough people to cover our expenses before we've begun, and we don't have personal capital to shed, then we probably shouldn't be producing this until we are wealthy enough that we can "for art's sake".

and when it is produced, as much as we hope to see a continuous stream of cash, there'll be no point in withholding goods that cost nothing to show. if it's a work of art, it carries a Great Message. the Great Message will be free, try-before-you-buy, and donations will be accepted. the work will immediately be placed in the public domain.

DRM is so pathetically last-century. as is copyright. we can only beat this from the ground up. artists: UNTIE!

[edit: so i figured, after all this ranting, that i'd try buying the google ebook anyway. and they don't allow middle-eastern purchases either! don't be evil, google!]

don't touch anything

after a lesson spent torn between the lecturer and the storyboard i've begun writing, i ate a fast lunch and went to work. aside from a couple of hours spent playing with a new debugging environment and harrassing the visiting microsoft rep, i was told to go home before something breaks.

so i won't be going into the office tomorrow ^_^

i spent the evening writing my first chrome extension - it's so easy! so why the heck is the only extension i could find for google bookmarks broken? mine's already fully functional as a replacement for the one that broke, but aside from wanting to add a couple of things to it i'm holding back the release until i've made it prettier :P

that was the primary distraction from my seminar paper. which was the primary distraction from my french homework and class readings. oh, boy...

topical insanity

i upset a couple of someones with my comment yesterday regarding psychiatric labelling.

you know it's a scientology campaign, right?
no i didn't know that it's a scientology campaign, and i find that so ironic my head might explode. their trick is to show people that they need help because they have normal traits.

my label as dyslexic was what saved me and allowed me to break free of the shackles that held me down and allowed me to succeed the way i feel i have done this far and will do in the future. ... it's not so clear cut as saying "labels limit kids" and that's it.

dyslexia is not a disease, it's a different mode of functioning. there are advantages to dyslexia, but it's a very difficult thing to integrate with our industrialized education system. the problem is with the system, not the person. you're right, the label is not the problem: i was thinking in context only about psychiatric use of the DSM.

PTSD or 'shell shock' as it was once known, absolutely exists. PET scans show hypertrophy of the amygdala in individuals placed in prolonged periods of stress such as a war zone and this in turn heightens their autonomic 'fight or flight' response. people with true PTSD develop anxiety behaviours that are disproportionate to the eliciting stimuli that effect their ability to live, work or experience any quality of life. as with any condition that leads to the same, sufferers of PTSD need a combined approach of medication and cognitive behavioural therapy to allow them to have as normal a life as possible.

all traumas require drugs. from simple analgesia to vasoconstrictors/vasodilators and plasma expanders, as a trainee trauma surgeon i have not as yet had a patient under my care who has remained, or even wanted to remain 'drug free'. what people suffering from either condition don't need is guilt from an uneducated, ill-informed palaver that makes them feel guilty for accepting help.


yes, once someone's suffered trauma for a while they might need drugs to control the physical effects of that stress, but the underlying cause for (mental) trauma needs to be dealt with on a psychological level. just throwing drugs at people doesn't help, which is the predominant mode of psychiatry. i was sure i'd written it, so i apologize for somehow missing it, but trauma sufferers need and deserve a lot of TLC and should in no way be made to feel guilty whatever treatment they require. that's totally not what i meant.

"PTSD or 'shell shock' as it was once known, absolutely exists" - i never claimed otherwise

"all traumas require drugs" - seriously? including the little traumas? because people have traumatic experiences all the time, it's part of life. i'm sure you're thinking of physical traumas. people experience little traumas every day. your last statement is something i disagree with. human minds are incredibly powerful things, and the use of drugs should be minimized for "stabilizing behavour/emotions" if used at all. i'm not talking about something like bipolar disorder (which regrettably was mentioned in the video, and i forgot about that until now - i think that's much more complicated), but my point is that psychological issues need to be dealt with psychologically.

again, if someone wants to take drugs to chill out, that's cool. if the trauma has begun to develop physical symptoms, then those can be treated but not as the primary focus, because the root cause is psychological. but the kinds of drugs psychiatrists usually hand out are scary as hell. living in a society which thinks that if your life's difficult to face you should take drugs instead of changing something is disturbing. therapy doesn't need drugs to work if it's the right approach.

anyway, scientology-driven or not, psychiatry is a terrible practice. meds for PTSD symptoms are definitely okay, but psychological therapy is the only way to deal with the trauma itself.

the idea of "normal" behaviour and emotional range is itself insane. every person responds differently to life, and the world is a mess. an interesting mess, with good stuff all around, but a mess. being strange is okay. taking drugs is okay too - but being prescribed drugs on the basis of a DSM listing is outrageous. and that's all i was trying to say. taking anti-psychotics or other weird shit in order to be normal? that's what my fight is. i'm not against the soldiers, i'm against the war.

[in retrospect: why the heck would anyone have to feel guilty for TAKING drugs? my issue is with kids having drugs forced down their throats by clinicians and parents who don't know what normal is any better than anyone else]

[also: being called an "uneducated, ill-informed palaver" totally made my day :/ ]

---

in defence of psychopaths: because i just read it and it's appropriate

Sunday, May 20, 2012

half-fish

today was...

... after a tough night and wake-up, making french class really difficult to get through even with two cups of coffee. the teacher caught me mid-yawn with a question, i'm *really* glad i knew the answer :P

... the first time the entire semester that we've discussed shakespeare's sonnets in our class on shakespeare's poetry. and not *just* freud or lacan. *and* i had something awesome to do as we did focus on psychoanalysis: i began storyboarding a graphic novel. it was fun!
65 panels down, and that's something like 4% :)

... the first time a couple of us were finally organized enough to begin digitizing the english department's archives.

... a super-fast hurried lunch before leaving campus for work. philip roth is amazing (the human stain).

... a relaxed day at work, right until things got hairy and my world turned into a hollywood bomb countdown sequence: scr discovered the cause later. in microsoft sql, WITH(NOLOCK) doesn't really do what it says on the tin. except for the bit on the tin that explains that they're planning on ignoring it. a massive rewrite is required.

... urgently trying to get home in time to take pg out for her birthday. it's one thing to have to wait at least thirty minutes for a sardine-packed, smelly bus during rush hour, and having to push and shove to get on. it's quite another for the bus to drive up, half empty, and just carry on as if none of us exist. it's even worse when that happens twice.

public transport in israel: the best possible promotion availble for the auto-industry.

... arriving home in dire need of alcohol. then moving out to ze sushi to happily gorge ourselves in celebration.

... sending out a really important email to a potential employer.

---
personal fish consumption is severely limited: this advice goes with this advice, one shouldn't eat more than two cans per week.

just saw this video on psychiatry. the top angry response describes PTSD - that's not a disease, that's trauma. and trauma doesn't need drugs either. ‎(well, trauma might like drugs, but that's not useful resolution)

ill-ness

the week began with me feeling ill, and ended with me feeling much worse. there's nothing like beginning the new week with a restless night and a headache.

---

tuesday:

discovered that all the work hassle was caused by a giant screw-up on microsoft's side that not even our "off" code was responsible for. on the plus side, we learned how to use linq properly. read: perform manual disposals every time, as opposed to trusting in closing braces.

it would take all of the work-week to upgrade all of the services and sites accordingly.

quote for the day: "morning is too early for serious libation" (our visiting professor)

rollerblades: the five minute super-roll to get to the meeting point on time was killer; overall it was a tough exercise run and some of it with dizziness.

---

wednesday:

t'was a beautiful morning, and for once during the week i wasn't feeling tired... until the lessons began. four hours of freud. w00t.

i went down to the cafeteria for coffee, and a charming girl without a decent proximity sensor muscled in to "just quickly pay" before i could order. she fumbled so long that my coffee was ready before she was, and i slipped the barrista a twenty and waited for my change.
"take your coffee"
"i gave you twenty"
"i gave you change"
...
"you, " she pointed at the girl next to me, "you payed with a credit card!"
"oh! i'm so sorry..." and she returned my money. i don't think she looked particularly embarrassed.

quote of the day: "trauma is the experience of existence". to go with my "a life well-lived is a catastrophe": apparently i mis-remembered, and our professor didn't call me a pervert for that comment - she was apparently very specific about saying "that's perverted" and "but you're not a pervert", so now i've been labelled neurotic because i subconsciously want to be considered a pervert. *sigh*

after a good salad lunch, i continued into the beautiful day. i didn't manage to nap on the bus (although i needed to), the work grind was relaxed (or i was too tired to be stressed), at least until the headache: then i was woozy, broken, had a mini-blackout...
i was wasted :(

my second attempt to nap on the bus failed too... i stopped at home just to drop off my bag, then bussed to the creative writing group.

"if you don't like it, it's free" said the guy i bought dinner from. yeah, right - of *course* i'm going to tell him i don't like it. i wonder if that ever happens? it's not a very convincing sales pitch, in my opinion.

the avengers happened, and i went straight to bed afterwards.

---

thursday:

the important bits of thursday were a bad salad lunch, creeping exhaustion, the unfortunate experience of not having done enough of the readings for class, napping in the library, a great anime screening, a surprisingly mentally ready kinder when we finally met for me to explain to him the mess of the men in suits (2009 / 2010), a final touch of work for the week followed by an impromptu gaming night, fluxx making us wonder how often pirates used to lose their voices and thunderstone keeping us going until 1.30am.

---

friday:

i managed to make an early-morning meeting at azrieli in which future international employment was discussed. on the way back home, a guy i used to serve with stopped me on the street to ask me what i'm doing.
"really? literature? i thought you were more practical than that."
"nothing's more practical than words, my friend. what are you studying?"
"communication."
"really."

after returning home with a massive helium balloon for pg's brother's birthday, i had the best nap followed by the best wake-up: you know those rare moments of rested, physical peace? i really didn't want to move at all.

we watched the 1927 version of the jazz singer, which was educational, and then did the family dinner. i was completely wiped out and went to bed early.

---

saturday:

i woke up early, ate breakfast, passed out, woke up tired again.
a day of seminar writing and email clearing, a nap interrupted by the caretaker of my apartment (there's a leak, and nobody knows where in the building it's from), and a failed run:
the brain is a vastly complex organism - who do i call when temperature control gets out of whack? i stopped when i realized i was on the verge of passing out, needed ten minutes to sit and cool off and then had to focus and walk really slowly to get home.

that all came on the heels of a moment wherein i was considering uplifting house music: the late 90s gave us purely instrumental electronic music that has not resurfaced since, and it was as fantastic as it was short-lived.

after eating fast and showering i took pg out for birthday drinks (to a cool bar next door), but hit my absolute breaking point on the way back and went to bed early. and it didn't help.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

the avengers

okay, i've now seen the avengers (in 3D). blah blah blah awesome blah blah brilliant blah joss whedon blah blah...

HOLY CRAP THAT'S ONE OF THE GREATEST CINEMA EXPERIENCES I'VE EVER HAD. joss whedon is even more my hero now, and i've been waxing lyrical about the cabin in the woods for weeks.

3D, 2D, whatever - go see the avengers. i think i need to do that again, seeing it on a regular screen will only remind me how insanely brilliant that was.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

mid-insight

i'd gotten a couple of really important sentences written down, and had just realized something important about sonnet 12 when scr called with good news - microsoft had finally (almost twelve hours later) gotten our azure database accessible again. we spent the next two hours tentatively running, tweaking, and testing, and eventually gave up when the system hit the same damned brick wall. and nobody from microsoft was around to help us, so we'll have to wait until they get back to us again.

lesson one: murphy was right. and i'm tired; i'm not being paid enough for this shit.

lesson two: if you're thinking of using azure for critical business applications, don't. it's an unfinished product with no support.

Monday, May 14, 2012

dis-something'd

now that i've had a taste of what the first two days have to throw at me, i don't suppose anyone would mind terribly if i started the week again? i'm sure i could do better.

---

i woke up yesterday morning feeling ill. sore, totally exhausted, and persistently distracted. i'll make do with the following notes before getting back to my seminar paper:

1. sitting in front of a fellow student who coughed and hacked the entire lesson when i was already feeling out of sorts, and then pulling out an enormous virology book that i had to deliver to the library for someone.

2. aging icons - shit, i didn't even notice these things. until now.

3. i have bought a blazer. the shopping experience wasn't too bad, but i don't think i would've managed without pg.

4. "chooka" in the ramat aviv mall is a horrible place to eat lunch. expensive, tasteless, and the service sucks.

5. my work is in an unhappy place. it began with miscalculating the number of permutations required for the aggregation i've been doing (at least that part wasn't my fault) by an order of 5, and is currently in the dumps because we managed to break an azure database. the experts are apparently working on it right now (it took a couple of hours for our "critical"-flagged call to make its way out of the indian call centre)... and we have no backup. i always thought that moving to the cloud meant paying for somebody else to take care of that shit :P

6. my private student needed another lesson, and i spent two hours trying hard not to shatter his confidence. it turns out that what they'd learned in class was utterly useless; he didn't understands the critical basics of web development, such as the difference between a browser and a website :S

7. angel is weird. i watched the muppet episode with pg last night, and this evening i walked past the tv when angel was playing squash with a demon. *blinks stupidly*

8. i spent the morning sorting papers and rotating the wheels on my rollerblades (stripping and dumping my old ones as well). instead of studying, writing my seminar or working. *and* i arrived at the clinic too late to sort out travel insurance. at least i managed to get that done on my way home.

9. i was completely dysfunctional by the time i got back home, and hoped that watching last action hero would help. i'm not sure it did, but it's a damn fine movie! a lot more intelligent than i'd expected, a lot of fun, and i'm shocked to note that it was released almost twenty years ago...

neither pg nor i had the energy to go out and exercise. at least i've gotten a few sentences in on my paper... now to continue. how do i do that *and* get some sleep???

Sunday, May 13, 2012

the week in a blink

it is now just past midnight, signaling the end of the weekend. it was a fantastic weekend. i learned that turning on the ceiling fan can be usefully employed in killing mosquitoes, my body had time to reconfigure itself after thursday's solid run, i finally solved a crazy problem that i'd been working really hard on all week, i got some of my seminar paper done, and this evening was taken up by good games of citadels and thunderstone, exquisite dinner at one of our locals (with a terrific eighties playlist providing atmosphere), and pg finally completely convinced to get the heck out of this country with me*.

* the last bit's a bit of a bummer, but at least the results are positive.

movies watched this weekend: imitation of life and chronicle. the former is incredible, the latter was kinda cool but i've pretty much had my fill of american high school flicks.

wednesday and thursday were long days, wednesday being a day blown on israel's seat of corruption (i'll have to put together a separate post to discuss the experience) after two hours of sleep and during an intense heat wave; that was followed by a fun creative writing workshop and a visit to ric and his mother who were in tel aviv on holiday.

i wonder how much wednesday's trip to parliament influenced the dream in which i somehow ending up watching zombie porn narrated by marilyn manson which became a cool video game that i got physically sucked into with truly scary intelligent, running zombies.

i had an astounding insight into poetry's place in culture between wednesday and thursday, and it's lent new colour to our classes on the topic. after another interesting lesson (the new course), we had a guest lecturer from prague discussing autopoesis. the first half was bland and boring, and i only found out at the end that i'd fallen asleep at some stage, and obviously :$
the second half was absolutely fascinating.

i rushed to work to deal with an emergency that turned out had nothing to do with me and everything to do with the lack of proper development process. instead of working, i spent an hour or so discussing politics and parenting with one of the team leaders, and later had my ideas and opinions reshaped when i watched jonathan haidt on the real difference between conservatives and liberals. i strongly advise watching it. i warn you that it raises a lot of questions.

---

i read an article today that we can all learn from: radicals can be defeated. the lack of awareness of the complexity of israeli / palestinian relations outside of this country is horrifying. trying to explain to someone who's heard only bad about one side and doesn't want to hear the truth is a nightmarishly difficult task :(

---

i'm going to quote moonflake, who was a part of a team effort convincing me that a lot of my statements regarding marriage have been misdirected:
i would agree that religious-social recognition of marriage as the sole definition of the thing is definitely so last millennium. since civilisation separated church and state and instituted state laws for things that used to be determined by the church, there have been more ways for people to recognise their commitment to one another in a formal and protected way - interestingly SA gets it more right than most, including the UK. some countries and societies still have a way to go though, especially those where church and state is still entangled. but i can understand why someone would still want to get married rather than enter into a civil partnership. the tradition does have meaning for people, and much of the ceremony of it all is about the meaning you as a couple attribute to it. some brides want a big white wedding, and others don't. it's the freedom to make the choice that's important.

perhaps my opinions on marriage have become coloured by living in a country where the religious / social element is first and foremost and civil marriage isn't possible. fine. i am now officially behind gay marriage without reservation.

in fact, i've begun reconsidering my position vis-a-vis my shared status with pg...

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

perfect.

going to bed at 4am to get up at 6.30am? fantastic. nothing like discovering some of sql's special, undocumented features in the middle of the night :(

it wasn't wednesday

waking up at stupid o'clock three days in the week totally throws me off. i thought today was wednesday, so i was all relaxed. until i was really late, and it was only miraculous bus timing that got me into class fifteen minutes after it had begun.

it took me a few minutes to stop being completely lost :P

after class, i took time out for a long, pleasant breakfast with pg at the nearby mall, then casually made my way to work. i stopped at the entrance for a ten minute phone call with my insurance company, who refuse to communicate via email because they record their phone calls and emails can be deleted. that doesn't sound logical at all.

while i was talking to them, a small marble slab came loose from the wall i was standing next to and fell on my foot.

i walked into the office, set down my bag, fired up my pc and was about to make coffee when my phone reminded me that i had class in fifteen minutes - godsdammit, a schedule change mid-semester is really confusing!

i rushed back to campus, almost taking a cab until i discovered how much that would cost. usually i won't even pay for buses that aren't covered by my student card rates, but today one came past as i arrived at the stop and i made an exception, managing to get to class just fives minutes late.

sometimes, the buses outside of tel aviv don't suck.

during a break, i received word that pg's sister had just given birth - awesome! my blood-nieces and nephews are all grown up, so now that my sister-almost-in-law's a mommy i get to be an uncle with a more traditional age gap :)

during that break, i also had lunch. the noodles were awful.

after class, i walked and talked a ways with my professor. parting was supremely awkward: i mean, i couldn't leave the dude hanging for a knuckle-bump...

i took off to work, and the first two hours were consumed with arguments over intra-office communication and knowledge management. of which there is very little. eventually i even managed to get my boss to agree to allow the developers to develop automated testing procedures...

*sigh*

i know so much about how *not* to manage a company it's ridiculous.

i bussed home, ate home-made sushi in front of an episode of hellsing (pg chose it), and then worked a bit before strapping on blades for the evening roll. it was a great evening weather-wise, not very social but the route was magnificent and we had fun. now that i've showered and chatted with my mum, it's really late, i have work to do AND i have to be up stupid early again...

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

thanks, bank!

on the one hand, it's nice that while they were releasing the block on my account (that i didn't know existed) so that i could make a transfer the woman on the line wanted to help me stop getting paper mail and start getting electronic mail instead.

on the other, the fact that the bank's website is internet explorer only for some of its functionality is ridiculous. what ancient technology!

and the idea that i have to remember ANOTHER password because the mail is encrypted? one that's as stupidly restricted as everywhere else, so that i probably won't remember it?

please. the stuff i get in the regular mail isn't encrypted, and it's no less safe than gmail.

Monday, May 07, 2012

oh, happy day!

so i got my money this morning, began the day with a fun class, and after much head-breaking at work finally got things going. even if i'm not completely sure how.

in addition to this, i received my final grade for the course whose final paper i wasn't proud of. i was certain i'd need to resubmit, but my overall result really doesn't justify it. so i'm two for two!

now i just need to keep it together for the *gasp* five courses i'm currently taking. in all fairness, while it's tough and is loaded with material it doesn't quite make it to as tough and as much reading as last year's five-at-a-time. if i can hold the fort for the next month, i'll have pretty much completed the two year master's in one, not including the four mandatory hours of non-literature studies and a thesis, which i think is going to be a lot more fun than hard work.

oh! also in the good-news department, i have drummed up some enthusiasm for our martial arts group ^_^

i came back early-ish, ate, went shopping with pg, and then ran. properly ran, although i only managed to keep the great pace until the halfway mark. when i slowed down, my lungs got weary and i developed a stitch, and it took me a fair distance (and a couple of walks) before i could get back to something decent. at least overall my time was respectable.

all in all - it was a good day. now to get as much done before midnight, because tomorrow's an early one...

and there was much rejoicing

or, i smiled inside even though my facial expression didn't flinch. after more than a month of high stress, my money has finally been deposited and i am now going to be okay. at least until next month.

---

i had other stuff to do this morning, but i focused instead on finding out if i'm drinking too much soy milk: a lot of the internet says otherwise, so it's good that michael greger does what he does. even amusingly interesting, sometimes.

smoother start

my week began with a relaxed, easy french class. that was followed by a cancelled psychoanalysis session that made my morning.

i called orange to discover that the last representative had not delivered, but this one claims to have (great, now i'll have to check again next month). at least i know that aside from paying off my phone, i have no more contractual obligations and i can go somewhere else at whim.

it was a tough day at the office; microsoft's sql doesn't support the things we need and so i've had to rewrite tracts of stored procedure to strings that i then execute dynamically. the problem is that it leaves me without debugging or planning capabilities, and so everything i'm doing is based on vaguely hoping that all of the complex stuff that i've had to put together will somehow, magically work.

i left on an uncomfortable note, disappointing the boss by telling him that i'm unable to provide an accurate guess when i can't see where i am.

i came home in time to exchange unpleasantries with pg - she seemed to be in a mood - and then nystire arrived in time for pre-drinks-with-the-old-section coffee. we arrived at ilka at 7pm, which the sign outside proclaims as the beginning of their happy hour, and were informed that the bar would only be open from 7.30pm :/

which is when everyone else began to show up anyway.

---

it was an interesting evening, the worst of which was accepting the breakdown of my theory that improved public transport would reduce housing prices in the city. apparently the housing prices are ridiculously high all over the country, including the undesirable areas.

that makes me uncomfortable.

---

i came home early as part of a compromise; pg and i strapped on our blades and took off to traverse our park routes at high speed. it was a pleasant evening and fun exercise.

after showering, i began putting together a group that nystire and i had begun planning earlier (we want to start private martial arts training sessions in equipped gyms), made a few edits on my seminar paper and gave time estimates for all the outstanding tasks for work.

now i do believe it's time for bed. or reading myself to sleep: uncle tom's cabin is the text i need to read for tuesday, and it is a great read.

Sunday, May 06, 2012

an image of an evening

i read a bit, then passed out.
i read a bit, then went for a long, fast-paced walk with pg.
i read a bit while we ate, after i returned from grocery shopping.
i got distracted for a short while, and have now decided it's time for bed.

in short - i have had a decidedly unproductive weekend. good for the spirit, not so much for anything else...

Saturday, May 05, 2012

probably saturday - part ii

[... continued]

later, pg and i needed to do some midnight snacking: covering the lentils with fire sauce made them far more interesting. i had a quick chat with my sister, which turned into a conference call with her daughter and ric's mother - it was girls-only shopping-induced hysteria, to which i quickly said "good night" before resuming my studies. i had a lot of theoretical texts to wade through, and i got most of it out of the way.

---
thursday:

did i get plenty of sleep? not enough to sort me out. our first class has begun to bother me, not because it's not social and entertaining and not because we aren't learning interesting things, but because we don't seem to be focused on the course topic and that's kind of what i'm most interested in hearing about.

the first class of the new course (what we lost in the number of weeks we make up for in the number of hours per week) was interesting. the lecturer's cool (if a little too cool sometimes), and i once again find myself the only guy in a class filled with girls (same story with one of last year's classes). i feel a bit outnumbered and there are feminists about... but so far, at least, we seem to be off to a good start.

---
in the hour between class and the anime screening, i stopped by wr with intent to chat - he's been in hiding for months. he was occupied with smoking and strumming his guitar, and very defensive when i asked how things were going. when i finally got an answer out of him, i found myself very disappointed:

he's been studying for many years, dragging out his (undergrad) degree with various excuses (some quite justifiable), and the last semester was supposed to be his final one wherein he discharged the only requirement remaining: a seminar paper. he was in almost every class, sitting next to me, sometimes paying attention and sometimes not... but there's no way he walked away from the course with nothing. hearing that he hadn't handed in anything on tuesday shocked me. it's one thing to hand in a sub-par paper, but nothing???

life is short, you only get one, and making mistakes is part-and-parcel of living. but if you're making the same mistakes over and over again, you're doing it wrong. unless you don't want to succeed in whatever you're attempting, in which case by attempting it at all: you're doing it wrong.

---
we had a good anime screening, even though i missed a few minutes here and there when i couldn't keep my eyelids open. read or die's "special operations division" amused us greatly.

...

thoughts on the bus to a private lesson: this living life shit is tiring - and i'm not sure if this even counts as "to the fullest" - how did i survive this week?!

the private lesson on web development: i came away with a handful of cash and feeling like a fraud. i mean, everything's documented online. the kid seems to have (more or less) a handle on things. i showed him stuff he didn't know, and gave him a few important pointers, but really? most of that he could have gotten with a google search.

---
friday:

having entered sweet oblivion a couple of hours before, i woke up at 3am to make sure that my fellow students (in the new course) had access to the movies we have to watch before tuesday. while handling the stuff that was going to take a few minutes, i came across a set of funny animal videos. i usually don't post those, but this one actually made me laugh out loud so i have to share it.

i returned to bed to have horrible nightmares, but an otherwise great sleep. it was free-comics-day friday! and little did i know, i wouldn't be out there acquiring free comics. i began the day watching the man who shot liberty valence (one of the assigned movies), absolutely enthralling, and it was just about over when pg came in to tell me her sister's water had broken and so we headed off to the hospital to pay her a visit.

why are hospitals signed so badly? we must have blown half an hour wandering the halls trying to find the right division. nobody could help us, and i'm not sure if it's like this world-wide or if it's just an israeli thing. sure, you don't see this sort of thing in the movies... usually in the movies, when someone's in a rush to see someone else in the hospital they find the room with no trouble at all. you never see them running through the hallways, half-crazed and out of breath, harassing anyone in sight in a desperate search because they might be too late to witness the miracle of their child's birth or to receive the awe-inspiring, heart-warming final speech...

in spite of having tons to do, i spent the rest of the day either eating or sleeping. i needed that.

probably saturday - part i

[post divided retroactively]

i've just given up on the work that i had to do - it's far more complex than i originally thought (and i originally knew it would be far more complex than my boss originally thought) - and i'm about ready to tackle other things that i'd rather be doing.

concerns for today: seminar paper rewriting, tons of reading, perhaps a little more sleeping, and fretting about the fact that my salary hasn't come in yet (now that my employer's finally paid, the freelancing organization's being dodgy).

*sigh*

---
tuesday:

it began with a doubly difficult wake-up after getting to bed so late...

the bus ride was horrible. "to where?" the girl in the middle of the bus spat, and pg an i had to push past her to get to the plenty of room at the back. someone getting up early -and hurriedly - pushed past me just as the driver slammed on the brakes for a hard turn (that's the experience we pay for), and while i managed to catch myself it was at the cost of jamming my wrist backwards against a pole. after that i found a seat, and woefully nursed my wrist to the horrible twanging noise screeching out of the headphones of the person sitting in front of me.

french class: i was wasted, but it was enjoyable and productive nonetheless. i can't seem to stop being enthusiastic about actually learning stuff from someone who cares to teach it.

i spent a half an hour or so putting the finishing touches on my dummy paper just in case the advisor actually bothers to read it in spite of its status as mere placeholder. i was surprised by raindrops as i stepped out, wondering if my paper had brought the weather to ultra-weird. that's a joke, of course. but the weather remained weird throughout the week, switching between overly warm and cool and generally foggy.

i ate lunch at home, then carried off a chair lake gave me during one of our last encounters to give it to someone i studied with last year on my way to work.

i was broken by the time i arrived at work, at that point of exhaustion where work and hallucination were blending. and bad pressure from the boss made me gag. so i left as soon as i could, stopping only to sit with nystire over coffee and discuss practical future plans. i only realized later that i've been a bit of a jerk regarding his military trappings: if a man is happy with where he is or where it looks like he's going to be, then nobody has the right to judge him. not even me.

it wasn't quite rush hour when i left, but i still got good snowboard practice most of the way home.

i napped (kind of), ate, cleaned my wheels, then joined the rollerblading group. i'd missed the rain of mud from the sky, and the conditions were comfortably cool even though they were excessively dusty: by the time i got home my eyes were feeling sticky and my sinuses and chest were stuffed.

---
wednesday:

on my way out the apartment i realized the extent of the mud-rain: all of the cars that had been out in the evening were (and still are, days later) completely covered in ick. yet another reason private car ownership isn't all that.

the morning's weather was perfect, and it felt like i was still in bed even though my eyes were open and my legs were reduced to falling one in front of the other. total dream-state - but it wasn't nice passing out in front of the professor. also, to make matter worse, i demonstrated the worst timing ever: "at least in the previous lessons i was able to get on with other things" isn't very ambiguous, and i said it *just* as she walked in :(

...

"a life well-lived is a catastrophe," i volunteered at one point, in response to a bunch of statements for which that seemed the only logical conclusion. "you're a pervert!" exclaimed the professor, with a smile on her face.

...

back at the office, starting the work day with lunch with the guys. the unprofessional with whom i usually find myself arguing with (and usually with the same reasons behind the argument, he's not much of a critical thinker) brought jack thompson to mind. that resulted in my note on videogame violence.

on the bus home, i was catching up with penny arcade. when i felt cold, i stopped reading to reach into my bag and pull out my penny arcade hoodie, and was smiling about that when i suddenly registered that i was wearing my penny arcade t-shirt too.

i had a quick nap, ate well and was super-tired when i left for the creative writing workshop. it's usually fun, but this time i presented the text i've been working on during my boring classes and i was extremely pleased with the feedback i received. i like seeing people touched by my work ^_^

[continued...]

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

videogame violence

here are some pieces of data you might find interesting, in lieu of my regular posting*:

loads of poignant statistics

myths about gaming

i do kinda feel bad about jumping on the guy so defensively, in retrospect all he did was speculate idly that gta would cause violent real-life behaviour. the problem with blaming media influence is that
  • that's not how psychology works
    • catharsis is good and banning things that bring about catharsis is not
    • human psychology is far too complex to point toward any specific input as causal
  • it removes the responsibility of parents and society
    • someone who has difficulty differentiating between fantasy and reality has a problem that does not need to ruin things for the rest of us

and i guess jack thompson turned any speculation on the topic into a potential raving attack.

* delayed until after i've done my homework and finished my project for the week. probably saturday :P

ugh wednesday

right - i'm calling it "ugh wednesday" until the end of the semester. i don't know how i manage to get up so early for four straight hours of psychoanalytical suffering. i'd drop both courses if i wasn't already "over the hump" :(

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

paper trails

the return to shampoo has made my hair seem less substantial and more fragile. more pleasant to the touch, but it's annoying to manage (relatively) frizzy hair.

...

i have made some interesting progress on my paper tonight. but i am concerned that it's really late and i have to be up really soon :(

---

here's an interesting op-ed: do we pray to the same god?

indeed interesting, yet slightly demagogic... don't you think?

what an interesting attitude - just because it is, doesn't make it wrong.
the problem when you have two sides to a real-world debate, and only one side is willing to consider the other's point of view, you get a clear winner. and that winner is not the side that's open to new ideas.

as an optimistic person i must point out that the article depicts quite a gruesome picture which made my insides turn.

you're not the only one whose insides are turning. have you read about the european ghettos? you may be smart, likeable, and otherwise normal, but when your religion forces you to behave in a certain way and allows no leeway, none of who you *really* are matters.