Content tagged Life
I don't really keep up with the various Linux conferences that happen now and then, but I certainly follow various free software planets, which generally filter the good stuff out for me anyway. Something that slowly made it through my filters recently was Karen Sandler's keynote address at the Australian Linux Conference, where she, unsurprisingly, talked about the importance of FOSS software. The part that was surprising, though, and really hit home for me, was when she started talking about her internal defibrillator.Apparently, Karen has an abnormally large heart, in the physical sense. She is at risk of suffering what her doctors called "sudden death," which means she could simply die with no warning. Luckily for her, there is a great treatment in the form of the internal defibrillator - a small device that can be wired directly into her heart that will issue a shock to restart her it if she suddenly, well, dies.
I'm going to take this moment to urge you to go watch the video, it's a bit long, but listening to her talk about her own heart is going to do more for you than I can manage.
For those of you not watching the video, there are two scary parts. First - when she talks about being at risk of sudden death. The second is the sequence building from her cardiologist not knowing much about the device he was offering to implant to the point where he hangs up on her in frustration. His frustration came from her desire to see the code running on the device he wanted to put in her, the company's unwillingness to show her the code, and his lack of understanding about why that's important. If you're wondering why this sort of thing is important at all, it's because this machine is wired to her heart.
What we put into our bodies...
When we go out to dinner somewhere, we expect to be told what's in our food if we ask, we expect to know what's in the drugs we take, so why shouldn't we expect access to what's in the devices implanted in our bodies?
Let me phrase it another way. A company makes an electric heart that you need because yours was stabbed like Jean-Luc Picard was in Star Trek. You get it and want to know what makes you tick, and they tell you that your heart is their intellectual property and you're not allowed to know how it works. Furthermore, you're not allowed to modify it, open it up, or see its source code. There's a well-known bug in it? There's a firmware update? You might not get it if it doesn't make money for the company. You want to install it yourself? That might be illegal depending on the time of year and what phase the moon is in.
When Karen told her story, her concerns were that she couldn't check the logic of her device, herself, nor could she have a friend or consumer-advocacy group do it. Four years ago, when I started writing this, that was where the story ended.
Things that come out of our bodies
A few weeks ago, I came across this article, which I thought might be a bout Karen, again. I opened it, hoping to read more about her and, hopefully, what progress she had made. Instead, I learned about a brave, new person taking up this baton, because the same problems were still around. It turned out that, on top of Karen's original concerns, people were now taking data from Marie Moe's device and refusing to give her access to it.
At first, as I read that they were collecting the data, I hoped it was available to her. Wouldn't that be cool? I could make graphs of my heart rate, if I had that data. But they seemed to think that the data was theirs. Her doctor seemed to be too busy to help her get at it either, which isn't surprising. To me, this feels like going into the doctor to get the results of your blood work and being told, "I can't show you the numbers, but your cholesterol is fine. The company owns your iron levels, but you aren't anemic."
There's an old maxim that is often forgotten or ignored that you don't own anything you can't take apart. Warranties are nice, but when farmers can't repair their own tractors you start to see why user serviceable parts, even skilled- or trained-user serviceable parts are important. In a world where any data that's collected is often sold and firmware updates come twice a year and stop as soon as the new model comes out. People with implants are at an ever greater risk of losing control of their body parts RoboCop-style. Malfunctions happen, and a thriving, open community is a great way of keeping the process more transparent and hopeful for everyone. I would hate to have a malfunctioning defibrilator in my chest and have nowhere to turn, once the company tells me it's outside warranty or the like.
I like to tinker with things, I own. An important part of deciding to buy any given device is that I can tinker with it, take it apart, install whatever hobby OS on it I like, &c. I'v generally been delighted by my Nexus 4 phone, which I've had for perhaps two and a half years and is my favorite smartphone so far!
Recently, though, Google stopped providing android updates for it (well, I think they'll still security patch Lollipop for a while) when Marshmallow, the sixth food-version, came out. I always like to poke at the new things in life, so I started looking around at my options and saw that there was a Cyanogenmod 13 image for my phone. CM goes by their own numbering system, and 13 corresponds to 6 in the official android versions, which is the latest. I had played with Cyanogenmod a few times over the last few years and so I felt pretty comfortable trusting them with my phone.
On top of trying the new version of android, which seems fine, but hasn't really blown me away with anything new, I also tried unlocking my phone's LTE modem. It seems the n4 shipped with an LTE modem which isn't turned on by default because maybe Google never got it properly tested. Some people got it turned on, though, so it's possible to upgrade your data connection considerably! It was like getting a new phone!
Unfortunately, I also had to seek out and install some Google apps. I'm finding Google increasingly irritating, recently, both in their apps and that they called me for an interview, screwed up the scheduling, then the programming language they were interviewing me about, then let me try again in the right language, and finished up by never responding. Mostly, I would seriously suggest the F-Driod repository of FOSS apps, but I need to install the Google Play Store for my banking app, many things I need for work, and I also make heavy use of the Maps app. So, I bit the bullet and installed Google Play using the Open Gapps project.
For a couple weeks, I tolerated the nightmare of continual modal popups from Google Play Services that informed me that it had stopped. Over and over again, it stopped. In the middle of typing words, it stopped and interrupted me. While trying to get directions, it stopped and never figured out where I was. While trying to find emails, it stopped and got confused. It was really annoying, but it tended to happen in terrible, agonizing bursts, so I could still function. I was busy adopting a dog and being an adult human, so I tolerated it.
BUT THAT ENDED TODAY
I finally sat down and got it fixed.
I tried a billion forum posts that suggested combinations of wiping partitions and dances around blood-spattered stone circles, but that wasn't really useful. I know that most of those things are essentially Skinner boxes, and so I try to avoid them, but desperation makes fools of us all.
I had avoided hitting the 'Report' button on the error dialog, because, on the stock android version, this brings up a wall of legal text about how Google is going to pack up as much data as it wants and ship it off to their servers when you submit the bug report (disclaimer: I never read that and have no idea what it really says, I'm just tired of accepting legal agreements). On cyanogenmod, though, the data will be shipped off to a bunch of friendly hackers (in the best sense of the word) who I don't know, but trust to care more about my privacy than Google, for some reason. I didn't submit the report, but being made by hacker-friendly people, the CM report dialog shows the Java backtrace of the problem. This was the most helpful information I'd gotten so far, and it informed me that the problem was
com.google.android.gms missing android.permission.ACCESS_FINE_LOCATION
But I had given Google Play services that permission!
Eventually, I found an issue that seemed to address it on the Open GApps issue tracker, that contained these commands:
pm grant com.google.android.gms android.permission.ACCESS_FINE_LOCATION
pm grant com.google.android.gms android.permission.ACCESS_COARSE_LOCATION
and that was it. No problems, yet.
I hope that this saves someone all the hours it cost me!
Sarah and I took off from work this past week, which I'd been meaning to do for a while now. You tell yourself you'll take a break when you finish a project and then it goes on for four months and then you say, 'enough.'
We took a few days to recover and relax at home, in Queens. Because sometimes it doesn't feel like we get to use our home that much. We didn't want to just sit around at home for the whole week, though, and Sarah found something that involved the term "vegan brunch," and I was sold.
We spent two nights at the Catskill Animal Sanctuary, which is a nice, vegan BnB that's attached to and supports a rescue sanctuary for farm animals. I haven't really had the opportunity to spend a lot of time with other people who don't eat animals. I had a friend in high school, knew one or two people in college, and otherwise haven't really had too many around. I could do with more people around, period, but the proportion of veg*ans has been historically low. It was nice to have someone else asking me not to put anything not vegan in the fridge. I can do that. That's the way I live, too. It was nice not to be the weird one for a few days.
The first night, we had vegan pizza at the Catskill Mountain Pizza Co. in Woodstock. There were a bunch of people crowded around the bar, watching the baseball game and most were wearing different hats. It was was open and friendly and felt good to be there.
The next morning, we took a tour of the Sanctuary. Goats are delightfully weird and were easy targets for petting. I also got to hold a rooster.
Jailbird was rescued from a meth lab. Some of the chickens were boiler chickens -- the kind that are bred for ovens. They grow so fast and big that they have a fraction of the lifespan of their not-engineered-for-food brethren, and joint problems to boot. The same goes for the pigs and cows. Another popular origin story was the pig who was supposed to be a cute little pet and grew to normal pig size. Some were re-rescued from animal shelters for cats and dogs, where people had left them.
One downside of being around vegans is the popularity of anti-science and, specifically, anti-vaccination. It seems like people come to it from different directions, but it always saddens me. It's strange to discuss with people older than me how terrible the old diseases are. How their unvaccinated children put others at risk; including others who have compromised immune systems and can't be vaccinated, even if they want to be. I think on some level, I see it as a sort of social pact. Sort of like how we try to be polite to each other and don't set each others houses on fire. Putting everyone else at greater risk like that falls into that sort of category in my mind.
People keep telling me that when I become a parent, my whole viewpoint will change. I don't imagine becoming a parent will make me so constitutionally different from who I am that I wouldn't vaccinate my children.
Later that night, we explored Saugerties, which was another little town in the area. We got some yarn for a knitting project I'm going to try and walked out a lighthouse on the Hudson. The lighthouse was also a BnB. It was a little disappointing and the path was soggy.
There were several stores that had vegan options and I was super happy. I had a vegan ice cream sandwich, which I posted about earlier, and we had tasty soup for lunch and dinner at Rock da Casbah, which was very friendly and provided a tempeh burger and vegan mac 'n cheese.
An animal sanctuary is a place that raises a lot of questions. Questions like: 'What do you do with the sheep wool, that you have to cut anyway?' and 'Have you seen a rise in goat/chicken/duck rescues as part of the modern homesteader movement?' and 'What sort of relationship can we aspire to with animals?' They're tough questions, but I missed having real tough questions in my life. They're things that make it feel more meaningful. The real hard problems in my day to day life have been dealing with other people for too long, and it filled me with hope and aspirations for what my life could be.
Thanks for reading.
It's been exciting doing something I've done for so long professionally. Octopart is a small team and it means I have a lot of freedom to work on things I think need work, but some of that is a bit disorienting, especially as someone working in the field for the first time. It's hard to know what expectations are in any situation, but people are trusting me to do what needs to be done and I'm working the confidence to believe my decisions about that are correct.
I also haven't really worked in Python before. It's always nice to learn a new language – especially with such a defined project – so that's been a plus. I am surprised again and again by how different languages handle importing files/packages/modules and how often it feels magic, weirdly difficult or some other sort of uncomfortable. Lisp has the strange duality of packages and ASDF systems, which aren't the same thing but often effectively are. Python has it's own difficulties, but in many ways is simpler. You pretty much just use paths with dots replacing slashes for folders. I'm not sure I'm a huge fan, but that's probably more stylistic than anything else. Even though python has a command line REPL and more sophisticated tools like IPython, I miss SLIME when I'm working in it.
Really, I miss lisp, generally. One downside of working in programming is that I have little enthusiasm left over after work for looking after my own projects. Hopefully, I'll get better at that in time. In any event, go check out Octopart if you're into electronics and let us know how we can make it more useful. It's made by a lot of nice people who care about what they're doing.
I was reading Blaster Nation, today (all of it!) and it made me miss my friends. So I set up a mumble server and a Google Calendar, and we're going to see if we can play games together, even just randomly, but also in some planned state.
In my mind, it could be something like twitch, or steam, or maybe really it should be like meetup for playing with friends.
Maybe that would be a fun project?
Most importantly, I feel like it's a good life choice. I miss doing physics, but the universities have made it such a horrible environment to work in, it's not worth it to me, anymore. I'm happy I get to keep problem-solving in programming and, if I'm lucky, I'll find a job that uses my considerable skills in debugging and engineering.
The Job search starts today and I'm confident it will give me a fuller life than a career in Physics was offering.
There was a pretty impressive array of machinery represented, although, from what I've read of makerspaces, it was probably pretty run of the mill. 3D printer, laser cutter, …. the usual.
One thing that we saw that I've never heard of before was a knitting machine. It was a long line of hooks that the knitted piece hang on. You slide a piece back and forth across and it somehow automatically knits! Apparently, they're also programmable, which is nice. Unfortunately, though, it seems most are programmed with punch cards and the woman operating it claimed that they predated modern computers!
Hopefully, we'll manage to make it back for their Tuesday night open house to work on something. It was nice being around a bunch of people working on projects.
A great problem in any job is orthodoxy. I see it everyday in myriad ways at the University where, despite nominally being all about the future (students, research, etc.), we really do the same things, uniformly, over and over.
A few moments ago, I head a colleague talking about a class she is a teaching assistant for. All I head was someone asking if it "would work with three people," and her saying, "Well… probably not." This particular conversation is not important, but it's an example of something that happens a thousand times a day in this building alone. I'm certain of it!
We make many snap-judgments in our hectic, university lives. How to grade, how to teach, how to assemble experiments in vacuum environments. A good deal of these things are simply based on prior experience; things which haven't necessarily been taught, just picked up. A lot of these things have never been thought through. Some of them don't even make any sort of sense when thought through. Some of them make sense but don't hold up to scrutiny.
I would like to work in a place where people say, "I don't think that will work, but let's try it anyway."
I think it implies that people have enough time to explore, that they are supportive enough to want to explore your ideas, and that they are open to the possibility that they are wrong.
I dislike the capitulations that seem to be required of any statement today, but I do concede that these moments of support and understanding happen – but only occasionally. They should happen in far greater numbers, though.
First, dealing with office staff is always frustrating. As a foreigner, even from the US, it was a mess of people not telling me what I needed to do in time. I still laugh thinking about the email that came out a week or two before classes from the international office explaining how to put off coming to school for a term because they hadn't really told people in time to apply for visas.
Getting my study permit was something I got done well in advance and, consequently, without much help from the university at all. The SIN was another one of those things. Sarah and I biked out to the service Canada center on a hot day and arrived sweaty, carrying our stacks of documents, only to find that Sarah, who doesn't yet need a SIN because nobody is paying her anything, could get a number, but I – the reason we were in the country in the first place – hadn't been supplied the right paperwork by the University to get mine. There were a number of other small things as well, but that was the one that required the most physical effort by far.
I'm now slowly being won over to the idea that the university might actually care about some of us, but they certainly didn't show it at all until long after I'd arrived and started attending classes.
Now that I'm here, though, it's nice to be teaching a little (as a Teaching Assistant) and good to have some things to think about during the day. The minor office snafu's keep coming (I wasn't given a key to the room I TA in yet), but we'll iron them out and hopefully I'll have less and less to ask of confused people in offices as time goes on.
There are people from a lot of different countries here. It's hard to tell how much is the university and how much is Kitchener-Waterloo generally, because both seem to be fairly diverse. The grad students from India have commented that they can get some of the same food as at home since there's such a large population with Indian heritage here.
After our year in Evanston/Chicago, I think we're doing a pretty good job of setting up a life here. Making new friends is hard, and takes a lot of time. Sadly, I don't really get to see the other grad students much other that at lunch, which I try to make the most of. Hopefully, some of them will be friends, and perhaps someday, we'll make it to Food Not Bombs here in Waterloo or in Kitchener, closer to home, and meet some people there, too.
Hopefully, a week from now I'll get up at my Aunt and Uncle's in East Lansing, Michigan and start out to the border with Canada. Hopefully, later that day, Sarah and I will move into an apartment in Kitchener and start setting up a new life there for a few years.
Chicago has been a rough nine months. I pushed for moving here because it seemed like I was going nowhere in New York. I had gotten work at two colleges there as a lab assistant in shitty conditions with decent pay and then with great coworkers and very little pay. I was at the end of my rope and thought there was nothing more for me there, that I could never afford to live there and would be back in a parents house or living off of Sarah forever. Then I moved to Chicago, where nobody was interested in hiring me for anything more than one tutoring gig that lasted about two months.
Financially, it would seem, I moved to Chicago to burn money.
Luckily, though, there were a number of upsides. I got to meet a lot of nice people mostly Northwestern students but a bunch of great people from Roger's Park community organizations like Food not Bombs, who are doing awesome things in kitchens and gardens and on the streets!
It's given me some hope that I can still make new friends and try new things, and I'm hoping to bring those feelings with me to Kitchener and my new job and my new school.
Here's hoping I see everyone again soon.
Nobody likes to talk about Anarchism these days, and people who use its lexicon are usually buried in the media, as the recent Occupy movement was. It's an immediate red-flag, and I know I intentionally avoid using words like "revolution" and even calling Anarchism by its name because I think people will just shut off and stop listening to me if I say them. I find this sad, and I'm sadder still that I self-censor in this way, because there are important things to say, that I care dearly about, which use these words.
What I mean to say is that I really appreciate both the content of Andy's posts and how he chose to write them. it makes me feel a little braver, a little more comfortable with something that is part of who I am and what I believe, and safer bringing it up in public.
You can find the introduction here and the first part here.
And for something fun and related, here's some Chumbawamba!
I met up with my guides around 11, and we made it down to the south side, where the McCormick center is located by a not before 12:30, when we finally made it into the hall.
It was enormous in there.
I have never seen so many little action figures, toys, and comics in one place. Not to mention the art, which was all sorts of styles I don't get to see enough, sporting all permutations of popular game characters and styles. There certainly was no want of things to buy.
Some of it was really creatively done, but I think in retrospect, with the afterimages of star trek medallions faded from my eyes, a lot of it was crap based on popular shows and comics. This is probably just my mental image of the event not lining up with what it actually was supposed to be, but I would have loved to see more original work there - less of the industrially produced story and some of the greater breadth of storytelling that has been gaining fame in comics lately.
Even the panels had a lot of a corporate feel to them. The first one I visited was on role playing and tabletop games, and what was supposed by the three panelists to be new and exciting in them. They did have a few honest suggestions, which I'm hoping to look into, but after the first run through the panel died the death of industry talk and made up business speak that I hated when I worked at SAP.
The second panel, though, was on censorship and comics, and was far and away the most interesting thing I witnessed that day. There, I heard about rulings as recent as the 80's, when an artist was told he was not allowed to draw - complete with random house checks by the police to make sure he hasn't been drawing. The artist was Mike Diana and the comic that landed him in trouble was called boiled angel. An earlier comic battle was back in the 50's, when Bill Gaines testified in downtown NYC that horror comics were not obscene and should be allowed to be sold as they were. Unfortunately, public opinion was against him and led to strict rules on what could be printed in comics for decades. The speaker was from the comic book defense league, and was a great speaker.
Finally, to end on a question, it was exciting to see all of the costumes at the show. People obviously took a lot of time to design and make them, and it was fun to have superheroes and demons walking around, but there is obviously a gap between the genders in skin shown and body parts on display. I certainly have no problem with anyone wearing a revealing costume, I just worry about the double standards that are obviously there somewhere, and I hope that gap will close somehow in the near future. We need more brave men in sexy costumes, I think!
While I'm excited about the future and the work I'll get to do, I'm now faces with for months until I go, and what to do in that time. Certainly don't of it is to breathe a sigh of relief that I have a job waiting for me, but after that congress the doubt and uncertainty.
Having not worked for a while, I feel anchors about going back to a work environment, even one as open as academic research can be. When you've been unemployed a while, you go out less, because you can't afford to eat out, or go out for drinks, and so you see less of other people as a result.
Can I still deal with criticism? How long will it take to get used to working with other people again? I know these problems will sort themselves out, but there's still doubt and fear even now as I'm happy to have a chance to do science again, something I thought was slipping away from me.
Fear and doubting aside, realizing how much socializing can cost was disappointing, as was realizing how few ways I knew to do it. Lately, I've been spending more time trying to think of good ways of guttering people together with less of a buying things aspect, and I'm hoping to have more game and movie nights, as well as language practice nights in the near future.
Today I finished my first foray into home appliance repair! Apparently, the most common point of failure by far for rice cookers is the thermal fuse, which seems to be hidden along some wire inside the cooker.
I found mine in a piece of plastic shielding near the edge of the casing, presumably where the 142 degree tripping temperature would indicate a serious problem and stop the machine from seeing things on fire. Thankfully, a YouTube video had all the answers, and, having located the little device, it was a simple matter to get another from my local radio shack and replace it tonight. Now I'm watching its lights flow again, and it's starting to steam. So, as long as it doesn't catch fire, I think I can count my first repair a success.
It's empowering to be able to fix the machines that work for you. I find myself hoping that something else fails soon so I can learn how to fix something else as well!
I do think many of my classmates jumped off the Physics ship as soon as they got done with college. But I know I've felt rather lost in the last year, which feels like it has been far longer, with some significant help from my research adviser, Kiko Galvez, in terms of names to talk to and introductions, but by and large, the year feels like a random walk experiment.
Now, for the second time since I've moved here, I've made it a month into a research job only to find out that I'm not on payroll at all. I'm hoping to sort it all out next week, when the person in charge of payroll gets back from vacation, but there's always the fear that there won't be the money to pay me. If communication was so good as to put me in this position in the first place, I'm rather afraid that someone didn't check if they could hire me at all. At my last research position at Columbia, I suspect that's what happened, and why, two and a half months into my time there, I was finally handed a contract which said I wasn't allowed to work more than three months.
I have yet to see a physics job advertised. Excluding schools looking for visiting professors, that is -- something I'm wholly unqualified for at the moment. This leaves me with little choice. I can't find jobs online, and e-mailing professors has been an utter and complete failure (I have received exactly zero replies) so I will take things up another step and simply go and demand work. This is my plan.
Tomorrow, I will descend upon New York City with all the confidence and self-assuredness I can muster and go door-to-door.
And now, as with many of these posts, I'm too tired to continue coming up with things to type.
I finished that trilogy, and moved on to more -- what I believe is called the Hand of Thrawn trilogy, for reasons I assume I'll find out -- and thinking about them today, I realized something, or remembered it. There's a race in the book, the Noghri, that end up being bodyguards for Leia. This follows well established sci-fi tropes of loyalty based races and slavery, but the thing about the Noghri that makes them so important is that they are silent and deadly killers. Ever vigilant, they are never mentioned in the same sentence with words like 'stressed' or 'tired' and it gives them the air of superbeings.
They may yet have some weakness other than a sort of naive sense of honor, but for the moment, they seem unstoppable -- cunning, quiet, reliable -- and it makes me think of this assumption I had as a kid. The first thing I thought of was how I used to (used to?) like designing spacecraft. Imaginary Star Wars style things that had thousands of laser cannons and torpedo bays and special shield systems with some clever idea I'd just come up with, and that they were probably indestructible. You could beat all comers in them, hands down. Then I thought about that feeling, of security and sureness, and how absent it was now.
I definitely used to have a sense of absolutes. That's what a lot of Star Wars was built out of, the well-demarcated good and bad (not the EU necessarily, just the movies), and I think that's something that's gone away as I got older. Between not being able to become quite the person you imagined, or finding out things about the world that are more complicated than you expected, and just general rational learning, it's pretty hard to ignore how varied, complex, and lacking in easy judgment the world is.
This is, of course, not to suggest that Zahn writes such simple morality plays. His characters are interesting and grow and change, sometimes predictably, but not stupidly by any means, and I quite enjoy the books. It has, however, made me notice how differently I feel about the things around me from when I was little. There's so much t juggle in this adult world - where to live, how to get food and who to know and how to spend time with them. I also don't mean to suggest that such things are absent from the world of children, but how I approach them now has none of the easy, clear delimitations I remember.
I think it's given me a much better image of what I hope to avoid in the next place I live. For one - I'd like someplace where it seems nice to walk outside. My neighborhood here is not only in the middle of nowhere, but doesn't look friendly. I'd also been thinking that a city would be nice, and perhaps it would, but living in a rickety place really doesn't make one feel good.
Mostly, though, I think the real lack of people around me has had the most profound impact. Only at work do I have people around me with expectations and habits of their own, so only there do I really have a structure. At home I can really do whatever I want whenever, and often that means not getting to bed as often as would probably be healthy. I'm also just starved for human contact.
The lessons I learned today are two-fold: Never go to a set of 5-minute talks. You will not remember anyone who spoke (ok, maybe one or two) and 5 minutes of talking means nobody gets to explain anything. Also, they will go over 5 minutes trying, but still not really manage to talk about much, and you won't want to listen because of all of the other talks lined up after them. Those were some of the dullest 4 hours I have lived through, my friends. Wow.
On the brighter side, I am doing work now! It's a lot nicer than sitting in a cubicle all day doing nothing. Now I read books and articles, and try and make octave do math. I'm even getting plausible numbers! Today, I also experienced my first research group meeting, which was new and neat. Getting a bunch of people together who are working on a common project and hearing ideas, suggestions, etc, was rather exciting, and certainly made me feel more a part of something. I think a lot of people come in and out of the group, so people don't really go hugely out of their way to welcome newcomers, which makes sense, but didn't make me feel very at home very quickly.
That said, everyone's very friendly and accessible, and it's fun learning new personalities and seeing how they interact. Unfortunately, I don't think I'll be writing much about my day to day research, as sharing what I'm doing is discouraged, but I'm already looking for the next thing to do and I'll make sure there are no problems sharing it. That's what science is about, after all.
It's been pretty strange moving into a city all alone. I only managed to find an apartment here two days before I moved in, and I was pretty lucky for that. That said, I'll probably have a roommate soon, which will be a little different. Especially since I don't get to choose who. The apartment feels sort of middle of nowhere, although I'm pretty close to the Matt's Brewery, not that that means I get free beer or anything. It's hard to express, though, how strange being here alone is. I'm very glad I know some people nearby, and that my friend Dan was able to come up yesterday. The first night was pretty lonely. There are so many new places to learn, grocery stores to find, neighbors to meet or become comfortable with not seeing, parking arrangements to sort out.
So far, the job hasn't been great either. I had my first day today, and felt like I got nothing done. I wasn't expecting much, but today was something especially dull. I spent all day trying to get my security badge, but was behind other people in line until late in the day, when everyone who could sign my forms had, apparently, gnone home. So, I needed to have people escort me all over the building, because I wasn't allowed to be un-chaperoned. I even needed someone to walk me to the bathroom.
That aside, I'll be glad to be doing some research work, and look forward to meeting more of the people, because so far, the scientists have been exceedingly nice.
It's been pretty interesting being out, since most people are know are still in it. I get lots of conversations that start with "What do you think about... oh wait, you're not on facebook, so you probably haven't seen..." Apparently a friend of mine was awarded a Fulbright recently, and I just found out today because she announced it on facebook. It's the sort of thing that makes me wonder whether I made a right choice. I know how much time I wasted refreshing the page and only getting news about people from high school I don't care about, who post far more than anyone I do care about. I like to think that was a failure of facebook in interpreting and selecting information, but now I'm still out of the loop on a lot of things. There are some people I don't have e-mail addresses for, and might not be able to easily contact at the moment, but hopefully I'll collect information from mutual friends and be able to get in touch with people when the need arises.
In what I like to think has become a reflexive exercise for me, I find myself thinking, what was it that I didn't like about facebook, and can I find something that is better. I don't really know anyone who uses microblogging software, indenti.ca being the notable FOSS option there, so there seems no reason to start. Maybe I just need to send out this blog to more people, and hope they'll check in on me from time to time, or add me to an RSS aggregator.
Reflecting in a different way, this is yet another way I've willingly limited my interactions with other people. I don't eat meat with them, I don't go on facebook with them, etc. I hope it makes other interactions more meaningful, instead of just cutting people off.
So, on the first day of classes (the 17th of January, this post is slightly out of order), I had the good foresight to take my camera along for the day, and since it was hideously cold everything was very clear and there were some interesting light-effects with snow in the air and whatnot. There was a cloud hovering over the stream that runs through campus that you could walk through and not see people a few feet away.
Right now, I'm having difficulty getting WordPress to upload images, which is, apparently, some permissions error I'll have to resolve. I'm sure it'll get sorted out and I can show you all pictures of food I cook and whatnot.
Time to go find a good theme and generally hack about!
There comes a point in every semester when the overwhlming lack of sleep and the number of large projects build up and reach a critical point of no motivation. It's a rough time for many reasons but, more than anything, I find it frustrating because of how hard it is to dogood work during. I'm currently involved in preparing a talk and paper about my own research, pulling together ideas for a final paper for my Latin class, and trying to divine through augery what to do for the final project of the one liberal arts core classes I have have left. Most of the things I'm doing I rather enjoy at this point in my education, which makes me all the more upset when I just don't have enough time/sleep to devote to them.
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