On the 30th of last month, I was on vacation in Hokkaido, Japan. One month before that, I had just arrived in Sweden for a short stay between leaving my apartment in Denmark for the last time and my return to Canada after living abroad for just over two years. One month before that was my last day of work at ITU Copenhagen, and possibly my last day of paid academic work ever, after 15 years in the research business. Now I'm in Toronto writing a Web log entry; and one month from today, I expect to be on the West Coast visiting my family for the winter holidays. Five consecutive 30ths in five very different geographic and cultural spaces.
I wrote my previous update on the train back to Tokyo. My trip to Japan was basically over, but I still had a substantial amount of travelling to do.
This is a brief update on what I've been doing since my last posting a month ago, and where I'm going next. I am writing this from Skanör, Sweden, where I've been staying with my friend Steven Baker and his family since leaving my Copenhagen apartment on September 29. I'll be here until October 9, when I fly back to Toronto.
Vincent: So if you're quitting the life, what'll you do?
Jules: That's what I've been sitting here contemplating. First, I'm gonna deliver this case to Marsellus. Then, basically, I'm gonna walk the earth.
- Pulp Fiction
My contract with the IT University of Copenhagen ends at the end of August, and I'll be returning to Canada around the end of September.
On this first day of 2015 I'm writing down some things that are important and that I wish people around me would know. There's nothing here that I haven't said before. My usual pattern is to say something and treat it as settled, because I expect everyone present at the time to remember it once they've been told. But not all of my friends have been paying attention to all of my writings for all of the decades I have been writing, and maybe at this time some repetition is appropriate. I wish I could have ten thousand readers for this and for all of my important postings. I may be lucky to get as many as ten readers. But if nothing else, the exercise of choosing what I want to say today is of some use to me personally, whether anybody reads it or not.
It's New Year's Eve in Copenhagen, and time for another update.
As I start writing this, it is the evening of November 1 and I am sitting in my new apartment on Hallandsgade, Amagerbro, Copenhagen. It'll probably be the 2nd before I can post it, because I don't have the Net here. It sure looks like Rabbi Schlomo Yitschaki was dead right about the tzaraath of houses. Now I kind of want to read the rest of his many volumes of commentaries on Jewish religious law.
Every time I think I've seen it all with regard to Danish excuses, this place surprises me. Today's excuse is tzaraath.
I've been in Denmark just over a month, and I'm pretty stressed. This update is going to be somewhat disconnected. You can get some idea of what my experience has been like by watching the famous Bank Account Man commercial.
As I start writing this, it's Thursday aboput 2pm in Copenhagen, and I am in the waiting room at International House Copenhagen, waiting to apply for a Central Persons Register (CPR) number. I have been in Denmark since Monday morning.
I don't think I have officially mentioned this here on my Web log yet, but here it is: I am moving to Denmark to work as a postdoc in the Scaleable Similarity Search project at the IT University of Copenhagen. This is a one-year temporary position with a possible renewal for a second year.
As I type this, I am in my apartment in Winnipeg, sitting on top of my modular synthesizer in its Pelican case because that is the closest thing to furniture that hasn't been taken away by either the movers or Goodwill.
Here's a quote.
We see a sloppily-parked car and we think "what a terrible driver," not "he must have been in a real hurry." Someone keeps bumping into you at a concert and you think "what a jerk," not "poor guy, people must keep bumping into him." A policeman beats up a protestor and we think "what an awful person," not "what terrible training." The mistake is so common that in 1977 Lee Ross decided to name it the "fundamental attribution error": we attribute people’s behavior to their personality, not their situation.
It's the end of 2011, and I'm writing this from my parents' home in Nanaimo, where I'm visiting over the year-end holidays. If you ask me how this past year has gone, I'd have to say it's been mixed. Some good things have happened; some not so good; and my current situation is what I'd call metastable.
A friend's Twitter stream pointed me at this item on what to say to someone who is sick (with cancer, in the authour's case) and it touched me. It also reminded me very much of some of the things I've read about the experiences of people fighting infertility, and it reminded me of my own experience too. It seems no matter what problem someone suffers, they can count on their friends and loved ones to make personal contributions to the pain with ignorant, clueless, and hateful repeated attacks that masquerade as caring attempts to help. I don't have much hope that my writing about this here will change anything; the fact that not many people really care what I say about such things is itself an example of the problem. But I'm going to write about it anyway, this one time today.
Imagine a young man nearing his 16th birthday, the day when he'll be eligible to get a driver's license. And let's imagine this is before graduated licensing was a big thing, or else imagine that he's maybe a little older and getting ready for the final level of the graduated system instead of the first level, or something like that. The point isn't exactly his age, just that he's about to get to the point where having a vehicle of his own would be a pretty good thing.
Here are a few notes on the current state of my life.
Dream transcript from the morning of May 2, 2009. I posted it in my Dreamwidth journal at the time, and I'm pretty sure I know what it meant because it tied into events in my life at the time, but I felt like posting it again today.
Last time I checked the windchill, it was -44. That's the level where if you go outdoors, you come back encased in a three-centimetre layer of ice, like in that scene from Excel Saga. Inasmuch as I don't have a hyperactive redhead to warm me up afterward, I'm cancelling or at least postponing my plan of going grocery shopping today. If I'm lucky, it'll be a little warmer in the afternoon.
The firewall box does seem to be dead. It's quite possible that some parts of it are salvageable, but it appears that I can also reconfigure the MTS DSL box to do most of the firewalling I would like, and that doesn't cost me anything in replacement parts. Given that I'm already over budget on such things as the movers' fees, and doormats, I'm going to go that route and keep the firewall box for parts. More moving-in notes below.
Lest it be thought that all I do is complain, let's hear it for:
The City of Toronto Solid Waste Management Department, who answered their email promptly and informatively, and didn't give me any bullshit when I showed up at the transfer station with my household hazardous waste, notwithstanding that I was technically in violation of the rules by not having brought a vehicle.
Manitoba Telecom Services' customer service department, who not only answered their email, but actually read what I sent them and showed in their replies that they had comprehended it. I believe this is the first time I've ever seen that from a deregulated monopoly phone company. They also gave me my new phone number, on no verification stronger than an Ontario driver's license number which I'm sure they have no actual way to check.
"Kasugai 抹茶あめ". Since the transfer station is out in the portlands, near T&T, I took the opportunity to make one last visit there. My usual policy is to try at least one new item on each visit, and this time, that ended up being these green tea flavoured candies, which are teh win. They're probably also full of caffeine.
Starting to feel panicky about my move. The movers are coming for my stuff on the 21st. I have about half of it fully packed and sealed, and really, that does leave enough time, because most of the rest is already in boxes that just have to be checked, redistributed a bit, and sealed. My last full day in TO is the 22nd and I'm off on an early plane on the morning of the 23rd. Around the 21st will be when I take down and pack up my desktop machine. After that point I'll still have some access to the Net, but it will be limited, until the first week of January when I hope to have my desktop machine up and running in Winnipeg.
I have to put in the final version of a journal paper on the 16th - fortunately, most of the work for that is being done by my co-authors - and the initial submission of a conference paper on the 17th. That's going to be an adventure. The text is about half written; the experiments whose results will make up most of the rest are not yet complete; and there is little enough time now that it's not clear we will have enough CPU cycles in the remaining days, to actually finish those experiments. I have one co-author on that paper but he's also a co-author of several other papers for the same conference, and it looks like I have to carry the ball on the writing side. I'm due to attend a Christmas party on the evening of the 17th - can't skip, it's career-related - and expect to spend part of it sitting in the corner with my laptop making final edits and submissions. At least the weather has gotten colder. The cold is good for my experiments because it means I can lower the temperature in my apartment and that makes the computer (which is working at its limit without rest) a bit happier. I was having some thermal reliability problems earlier.
I decided the thing to do with the old clothes is to take them to Winnipeg and donate them there. I have the definite feeling that people in Winnipeg are poorer than in Toronto, and a quick check on the Net shows that there are a lot more ways to donate clothing on that end. It means doing the work of packing them, and paying for the shipping, but it also means I don't have to do the work of finding recipients on this end, which would be a type of work I particularly dislike, and would have to be done in a time-frame when my available effort is in very short supply. So once I saw it in those terms the answer became clear.
The dead computer hardware goes out with tonight's garbage. Not sure yet about the scrap aluminum - the city said they'd take it but I have my doubts about whether they'll really recycle it.
I posted a new version of the Tsukurimashou demo. I've added lowercase Latin, numerals, some tomoe ornaments, some punctuation (though Latin punctuation has a way to go), small caps, fractions, and some adjustments to existing characters. Genjimon and I Ching hexagrams are in the code but not in the demo file. Probably no more progress on this until the New Year. I've been putting off doing the katakana, but they are the logical next step.
I sent my novel, Shining Path, to the beta readers and got back comments from some of them. I've been working on the editing, and hope to have it in shape to start querying agents early in the new year.
This is a re-posting of an item that originally appeared on Livejournal.
I think it was "dagbrown" who told me that in Japan, December 25 is like February 14 in North America - it's not so much a family holiday as a couples' holiday, the day you give your lover gifts if you have one, or feel sad and alone if you don't. Maybe he told me that or maybe I just inferred it from the Irresponsible Captain Tylor Christmas episode. Either way, this seems like a good opportunity to post some thoughts about romance in anime. This may contain spoilers for Inuyasha, FLCL, and Saikano, and if you aren't familiar with those series, you probably won't get most of it anyway.
I don't ever want to care so strongly about my problems that I would - even for a moment - hesitate to accept a solution to them for fear of losing that investment.
I also don't ever want my friends to think "Matt is unhappy!" is the problem, and use that as a comfortable excuse for ignoring the reasons I'm unhappy, and my feelings as an easy target for non-solutions that explicitly ignore or even deny the real issues. That's a pretty good reason never to talk about being unhappy at all.