Life at work still has its ups and downs. I have been given the chance to be mentored by someone I hold in very high regard but my immediate management is still a constant source of frustration. My associates are wonderful people and I want to do my best for them but they know I am not 100% happy. As of Friday I have been at the same grade for >3 years and no guarantees of change in the near future.
The job possibility on the east coast has upped their offer but their circumstances are less secure and the Nebraska INS office is still moving too slow (currently processing Sep 2002) to give me any reassurance. I have been though another telephone interview for another very nice west coast job but I know there are a lot of people out there competing and so I am not holding my breath. I made myself extra miserable by playing with Google maps and remembering that I used to live here. I then took some virtual trips up to Point Reyes and then down the coast to Pescadero Beach and across the peninsula to I280. I enjoyed getting the road lost in the trees and finding that Google's images include both summer (golden brown fields) and other (green and cloudy) pictures. There's also a few non-seamless junctions where a road runs to the edge of a tile and then leaps wildly to the left or right. But still...
Nothing new on the music front. I've been cycling some old favourites through the CD player on the way to work. No new books and no inclination to look for any. For films I am still relying on my colleague. Zhiwen is a big fan of Feng Xiaogang and started me with 《天下无贼》 which is darned good. I knew I had seen Rene Liu before but had to look back to find that she was the star of The Personals. In my mind I also kept mixing Li Bingbing up with Chiaki Kuriyama, if only because they have the same long fringe (U.S. = bangs). The latest fillum has been 《手提》 (or 《手机》) which is also fairly challenging. In the meantime I enjoyed the inimitable Zhang Yimou's 《十面埋伎》.
What else? My town was under a "boil your water" order for a couple of days because of supposed bacterial contamination. I also picked up the new spectacles which are very comfortable. Cute optician lady thinks she'll be able to fix the older ones (why did I wait so long?).
I have been doing some cool stuff with scripting. Out of habit and comfort I wrote the first attempt in Perl. When I was looking back through some older code I was shocked to find a bunch of cool things I had done in Python a couple of years ago. I had completely forgotten about that. I didn't realise that my memory was so bad. I am using Spotfire and JMP and they are good but their proprietary nature makes me feel dirty.
For reasons I'll keep to myself I spent some time in genuinely quiet meditation today. It started as a "sit and think about this scientific problem" period but then I realised I hadn't done any true quiet sitting in ages. I need a Quaker to come around and force me to be still ("relax dammit!"). Am I so wrapped up in myself lately? Why am I trying to hide? Hmmm... Just read the previous paragraphs and you'll wonder why I am not completely catatonic.
One weekend trip I made while house-sitting at Scott's was for my eye test at the place recommended by my colleagues. I was initially put off by the crowd in the barn of a building but later found that they were all one big happy family. Despite my earlier information I did have to undergo the mydriatic treatment. Naturally, as before, the sun decided to shine and thus afterwards left me wandering in traffic until I could drive again (yes, I have seen Gattacca). I also have to say that no two opticians (U.S. = optometrists) have used the same kind of eye exam procedure. At heart these are some strange kind of ritualised psychological torture where deranged people can make you do unnatural things while hinting that it will improve your eyesight - "When do these two line up?" "Which of these is fuzzier?" "Which is best, number 2 or number 2?" "You are wrong! You have failed so I am going to give you these opaque eye covers and everyone will laugh at you!". The most interesting part of the visit was meeting the Spectacles geek. In many ways he reminded me of the Comic Book Guy from The Simpsons. When examing my old glasses (the noocleer scientist version) he was able to give me their entire history and, in so doing, mock their utilitarian nature. I should be receiving my new specs in a few days. These are probably not as leet as my old ones but they are made of titanium.
kepe is so blogged.
I'm back. I spent last week house- and pet-sitting for Scott and his family who were away on Easter vacation. They live about 35 miles north of work, about 50 miles north of me, so I lived up in Cheese Land for the duration. Apart from Friday evening, when the rain lashed down, the commute wasn't bad at all. Scott had stocked the fridge with beer and has a medium-huge DVD collection (even excluding those owned by his kids) so it was more like a vacation. The downside was being woken at 5:30 am each day by the cats yowling for food and then taking the dog, Gus ("prince of flatulence, king of drool"), out for his morning constitutional. Gus also demanded a regular rubber bone tug-o-war and wrestling match each evening.
I had to attend the local church in Racine for the Easter service. This turned out to be considerably more well-to-do than my local hang-out. Uniformed ushers kept the mob in order and I felt rather underdressed. The choir was well drilled, although probably not quite as good as ours (we have a professional opera singer in our ranks). They performed a nice rendition of Vivaldi's Gloria in D. Thankfully they stuck to the first (Gloria in excelsis Deo) movement as if they'd continued to Et in terra pax I would have started daydreaming about the ending of Runaway Train;
"No beast so fierce but knows some touch of pity. But I know none, and therefore am no beast."
The odd thing that was that the choir were supported by a couple of trumpet players so it sounded more like "Cake plays Vivaldi".Not much else to report here. Zhiwen is still trying to improve my listening comprehension and because I had raved so much about 《苏州河》 she loaned me 《美人依旧》 (a.k.a. *Fei*) which also stars Zhou Xun (also in 《荊軻刺秦王》 and 《十七岁的单车》). I was surprised to find that it had been directed by Ann Hu as the style was so different from 《西洋镜》. I didn't like the current fillum very much as the plot was annoying although it did partly redeem itself at the end.
At Scott's I watched We Were Soldiers (good) and Ferrous Primate (mediocre). I then re-watched Galaxy Quest and Ice Age.
The new manager is gradually approaching the end of the honeymoon period so the mutterings are starting. There have been a few good things happening but basically they are trying to recreate the same structure as in their last position at $HUGEPHARMA so meetings a'plenty and a new policy that means that all communications to the rest of the company have to pass through them. They are also demanding one day a month be entirely devoted to a meeting intended to keep them abreast of all the projects. The first one will be on Tuesday and will actually take two days. We just don't have the time or the number of people to cope. Hopefully compromises will be made. The industry-wide shake-up means that jobs elsewhere are in shorter supply. I have received some replies but things are moving very slowly.
What is keeping me interested at the moment is my attempt to automate the unautomateable. I tested some scripts that managed to generate an intelligent summary of a heap of information that would have otherwise taken weeks to do. I also received praise for using some rather novel algorithms (actually they were more like formalising how I approach the subject when I do it manually). The eventual aim is to provide the functionality through a web page.
J.P. II R.I.P.