Message Of The Day

Tue, 31 May 2005

04:14 [zork(~/nutella/Waffle)] cat philosophy.txt

It's an empty journey to triumph if you don't plant the seeds of catastrophe along the way

I believe that I have previously mentioned that all the philosophy I have ever needed I have learned from cartoons. So, I hope the lack of that one from laziness is only due to lag (my vote is to dump "Fudge Factor"). Anyway, I am persisting with GEB and am generally enjoying it. I don't buy the notion that there's any kind of common premise but taken as a simple discourse it is quite entertaining (if a little condescending). I enjoyed the Game Theory books more. My main evening read is a selection from the library's big P.K.Dick collection as I need to make the most of it while it is available.

I am no longer lying on the bed with my laptop as I post this. Instead the landlord has installed a few wireless reapeaters throughout the building so, while the strength is "poor", I haven't had to drag my desk over to the door to allow my PCI/PCMCIA adaptered card in my desktop to make contact. Hurray!

As a bizarre coincidence I noticed Mr. Neakums' post on 12 Monkeys after just having returned the library's (VHS) copy for the umpteenth time. My other selections had been the Director's version of Jackie Brown (worth tolerating Mr. Tarantino's rambling to see the very funny alternative opening) and the Director's version of In the Mood for Love. I need to borrow the latter again as I didn't make the most of it. I appreciated them including in the booklet the text of Liu Yi-Chang's Intersection / Tête-Bêche which was the inspiration for the fillum.

Life has suddenly become interesting as I have an interview next Friday in Foster City. I don't know how to rate my chances but it would be perfect if I could land it. Current management have done many annoying things but one heartening thing to hear is that I have done a reasonable job as a supervisor so all of my technicians are considered in line for promotion. That would allow me to leave with a clear conscience.

So, provisionally, I am calling FNICNAFS for the 10th, or maybe I could do brunch on the 11th as the return flight isn't until the evening. I'll be south of BART but I can try and do something with SaMTrans or I'll get a taxi or shuttle. Anyone interested?

Sat, 14 May 2005

18:38 [zork(~/madness)] cat nut1.txt

It lives!

Well, maybe if they're mile-long stilts they can.

18:24 [zork(~/nutella/Waffle)] cat LatestGreatest.txt

Blah blah blah...

After hearing so much about it I finally brought home a copy of Gödel Escher Bach from the library. After three nights of tough reading I have finally made my way through the "Twentieth-anniversary Preface". Since I am a complete know-nothing I can blithely offer the opinion that Mr. Hofstadter has a HUGEly high opinion of himself and his work. I hope that this isn't going to be another ZatAoMM literary masturbation-fest. I am persisting. When it gets too annoying I alternate with a book I found nearby on the shelf. John L. Casti's Five Golden Rules is very readable. He covers Game Theory (Minimax), Topology (Fixed-Point), Singularity Theory (Morse), Computation (Halting) and Optimisation (Simplex). My maths knowledge is too poor to apreciate the details but otherwise the material is quite accessible. After digging into the first chapter I headed straight back to the library to pick up some more books on Game Theory and now I tend to see situations in my life in terms of payoff matrices.

My viewing has been varied. I watched Tim Burton's Ed Wood which is worth seeing if only for Martin Landau's amazing portrayal of Bela Lugosi. He's come a very long way since Mission Impossible and Space 1999. This is another film that Bill Murray doesn't screw up. Having seen one bad film I then plumped for Mystery Men as I had been curious what Tom Waits was up to (and Eddie Izzard?!). Mister sanity made a return when I picked 《千禧曼波》. This was a suprise to see as I hadn't particularly liked 《海上花》 and so didn't know what Hou Hsiao-Hsien was capable of (I have also seen another couple of his films). Obviously a big part of the mood of this one came from Shu Qi's performance but the whole setup was quite spooky. Is there really a "Yubari International Fantastic Film Festival"? (I sure hope so) Yikes! It seems that Pauline Chan killed herself the year after the film was released.

A decision was made to put laboratory workers in our departmnent on a hearing monitoring programme. This is probably because all the labs now each have several mass spectrometers and their turbo pumps can really scream. Even though I only make token lab appearances lately I wasn't exempt and so was tested (sit in a soundproof box with headphones and listen for the beeps). I was pleasantly surprised to find that, despite the heavy metal concerts in my youth, my hearing is actually on the good side of normal. A side-effect is that this means that other people are correct - I just don't pay attention.

I'll leave out any detailed descriptions of what has been happening at work. Suffice it to say that departmental management were all off to another site last week and there was much rejoicing. On the big plus side I had another mentorship meeting with Big Science Guy and he is very interested in what I have been up to (he wants to work on my department's management to tell them to back off and let me do my thing - and since he is a VP he can actually do that). I mentioned that I had been dabbling with some transcriptional network modeling using some of the programs I mentioned here and he became very animated and wants me to look into it all in more detail. I have thus been playing with Dizzy which is quite cool. It reminds me of the simulation side of Winnonlin (and the ODE modules have about the same capability) when specifying microconstants but the stochastic modules are fascinating. It is addictive running simulations of systems with only a dozen or so molecules of reactants. I need to understand how to compartmentalise the reactions (or actually how to shuttle species between compartments).

I still haven't finished reassembling my "spare parts" box. The stamped aluminium plate that covers/supports the motherboard connectors doesn't have a hole for the ethernet port. I need to file/saw/gouge something before I can finally put it all together. Too many of my projects seem to trip embarassingly at the finishing line like this. One stimulus for closure might be that the landlord has apparently decided to fit all the units with airconditioning. I arrived home one evening to find a note from the landlord's agent telling me they had scouted my apartment for locations. There was no comment about the gutted computer with miscellaneous parts, manuals and tools spread over the living room floor. I assume that they must have seen much worse.

Random Thoughts
Life needs tab completion for everything (and grep, of course).
Laptop touchpads are the world's stupidest pointing device (especially when in combination with pointing sticks as you have to crab your hand over it to avoid touching it). They must have been invented by those in league with people profiting from RSI work.

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