Message Of The Day

Sun, 31 Oct 2004

01:33 [zork(~/nutella/Waffle)] cat braindump.txt

Random factoids[1]

[1] My not contain facts.

Current factoids
I have been musing on the idea that histories/biographies are written more by those that want to write than those who were actually there and could give an account of the facts. This was first triggered by my reading a description of the history of date systems (Julius/Sosigenes, Augustus, Pope Gregory, Scaliger/Julius, computer Julian, Lilian and ANSI) at the end of which the author cheerfully admits that the early part of the story may have been made up by historians who found the explanation cute/convenient. I then came across an opinion evinced by a character in Kenzaburo Oe's Rouse Up O Young Men Of The New Age that the current temperament of the Japanese is a "vector" from the post-war era. I find that hard to accept as a vector has a specific direction which should thus mean that the future state should be predictable. The only reason that my mind dwelt on this particular idea is that I have just been watching Mike Leigh's thoroughly excellent film, Topsy-Turvy , set in the classic Victorian era. When watching the scene where (supposedly) Gilbert receives the inspiration for The Mikado I was physically grimacing at the portrayal of the classic British condescending approach to foreigners. Mike Leigh knows what he is doing as he points out that Gordon was killed in Khartoum at that time for doing much the same thing. I am a great admirer of Leigh's work and know that he has an amazing eye for human character. This makes me suspect that the historical portrayal of G&S's lives may have been adjusted to emphasise the sorry states of their wife and partner, respectively. I agree with Oe that the state of Britain during my early childhood in the '60s can easily be traced to Victorian attitudes and that things have progressed along the same lines since. I still hesitate to describe this as a vector as it is more like a series of lines, with each point representing a generation. The '60s are famous for "liberation" but, as I have pointed out ad nauseam there are films like Lindsay Anderson's classic If... of 1968 which reinforce the notion that there was still yet more change to come.

Older factoids
When my neighbour with the kitchen next to my bedroom starts up their dishwasher it screws up the wireless signal. When the neighbour below me starts up their air conditioner it gets even worse.

Finished watching Chushingura. I won't give away the ending but I doubt if there'll be a sequel. Maybe a mad scientist will reattach Lord Kira's head and he'll rebuild his Death Starfortified house. Then the TARDIS will appear and the cybermen will fight with the daleks.

I also watched The Cup on Sunday. Not often do you see the information "Bhutanese with English subtitles". I won't give away the ending but

Glutathione biology is amazingly cool. In my profession, if you are dealing with it then it is bad news for someone but Mother Nature put a lot of thought into it nonetheless. Have you thanked your mother lately?

An office supply company was at the product show at work. I am beginning to think that such companies now see staplers as some sort of macho quasi-weapon thing. You no longer pull the thing open and stick in some staples. You feed it a fresh magazine of ammo, pull back the slide to arm it, release the safety, then squeeze (don't jerk) as you fire your chisel tipped round into that request for more paperclips. I blame Office Space (and Dick Cheney of course).

Wed, 27 Oct 2004

05:06 [zork(~/nutella/Waffle)] cat MySoCalledLife.txt

Work sucks.

No, I guess its not really that bad. Same complaint the world over. Just a few annoying co-workers throwing sand in the bearings, so they'll get noticed. At the last place it was my boss's role, before that it was co-workers. The current fun involves one of the junior management trying for a power grab. They are trying to get one of their associates to take over the work of mine "to help out" as this is the aspect of my work that gets the most recognition. Amazingly our department boss put his foot down (eventually) and halted the stupidity. Yay!

As a break from the fussin' and fightin' today was also school day, so an hour at the "language club". These have improved immeasurably since we lost our "facilitator". Today's teacher was Lucy who has a confusing un-Beijinglike accent and who is awful at pinyin but is great at encouraging us to learn characters. The textbook has very little in the way of character tuition so this is very welcome. I still have to reliably remember 100 so I have a very long way to go.

Anyway, I have the flight booked so I'm off to cousin Mary's wedding in Ballyroan next month. Maybe I'll finally get down to Tullamore to see the mob there. I haven't been in the country since I interviewed at UCC, and UCD before that. Thankfully I caught up a little when Ger visited a short while ago and sundry uncles and aunt descended upon S.F. on some kind of wine tour/debauch. It'll be a similar kind of game when another cousin gets hitched in Mayo in December. The Brother makes the trip over there quite frequently and amazes me of tales of speeding across on various vessels. I used to hate the 9 hour trip on the cattle boat from Liverpool. Ain't the modern world wonderful.

I've been watching Crackingura: the loyal 47 monkeys which I had only previously seen in bits and pieces. It moves surprisingly fast for a 3 hour fillum - much better than the Star Wars nonsense (you need sandwiches and a flask of tea to survive that).

I am reading a variety of different things at the moment. For relaxation I am tending towards Kahlil Gibran. There's some examples of his works here, here and here. He was one cool dude.

[Can I use unicode characters?]

Sun, 24 Oct 2004

01:46 [zork(~/nutella/Waffle)] cat wanderlust.txt

What's the opposite of wanderlust?

My brother and my sister both (each a few years younger than me) have always lived within a few miles of my mother, who lives in the house where I dwelt from age 11 to age 18. When I left for university I thought it would just be like heading for some kind of vacation or training course and I'd be back at home when it was all over. I met people at university who clearly had that mentality and maintained it and now, after all these years, live a few miles from their parents. Before my first term at university was over I knew I, personally, could never go back home. As well as the (small) city of my birth I have lived in two major cities in England (including over seven years in London) and three major cities in the USA. Until I ended up at my current location I never felt especially attached to a particular place (not, alas, the place where I am currently living). I remember passing through a few locales in the USA (Sperryville on the way to the Shenandoah Valley, the eastern shore of Maryland, Gilroy California and southern Wisconsin) where I was suprised to realise that there would be people who were born there, would live there and who would probably die there and would be completely content about the whole thing - never dreaming of Paris or Tokyo or even New York. Until moving here I have been living the kind of life where the breakpoints were dictated externally and I just had to go with the flow. Now (theoretically at least) I am master of my own destiny. What is shocking is to find out just how limited freedom can be.

[To be continued after the Cabernet wears off]

Fri, 22 Oct 2004

06:27 [zork(~/nutella/Waffle)] cat back_again.txt

So, thanks to the surprisingly benevolent landlord I now have (free) wireless access in my abode. I am now able to contact Zorkland after all of these years. Probably time to move the diary here.

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