In the Office

All right: I'm breaking one of my former taboos and posting from work. But, honestly, it's Friday afternoon in mid-July, which means that there's nobody here - when I look around, all I see is actually empty workplaces - and there's nothing to do. Or rather, there are things I could do, but nothing that needs to be done right now. In my first weeks here, I used to dread my phone ringing, now it really makes me happy since it means something unexpected is happening, and sometimes I get tricky questions so I have to do some research before phoning back. It's more stimulating than writing the standard letters I've been busying myself with ever since that day when I was left alone because everybody else was at some conference, and I first realised that there was something I could actually do.

To my defence, I'll also mention that it doesn't seem that anybody else here is getting that much done today. Two of my colleagues went to the midnight premiere of The Halfblood Prince and are a bit distant. Myself, I had an impromptu call from my friend Martina last night and skipped Thai boxing practice in order to sit on the balcony and drink beer with her until long past my regular bedtime. She has an interesting problem that I don't think she's aware of: her dreams very often come true, and they're never what she expected them to be. Actually, when I think about it, several of my friends have lives that work more or less like that, and I've had it happen to me, too. Is there a way to point out that there's a lesson to learn without sounding patronizing?

Red Wine Thoughts

Tuesday evening, on the balcony floor among the potted tomato plants. The sun has sunk behind the tall building at the end of the street, but the bricks and concrete hold the warmth. mr conclusion went on holiday today, to London and Barcelona with a friend, and I’m enjoying some time on my own. On Sunday, I’ll be leaving, too, for a three-day radiation shielding course in Portugal. That’s further away from home than I’ve ever been before, I checked on the map. Right now, however, I’m going to take another sip of leftover wine and tell you three things about work.



Collapse )

What Do You Mean, "It's Not Supposed to Sound Like That"?

Let me share this heartwarming little passage, set in the Napoleon era, with you all! The two characters mentioned are officers in the British navy, Bush one step higher in rank than Hornblower. The former has ordered the latter to have a drink of water before carrying on, since their party has just spent "twelve hours of desperate exertion in a tropical climate".

"On the gun platform they were casting loose the remaining guns, and as Bush descended from the platform he saw Hornblower organising other working parties, snapping out orders with quick gestures. At the sight of Bush he turned guiltily and walked over to the well. A marine was winding up the bucket, and Hornblower seized it. He raised the bucket to his lips, leaning back to balance the weight; and he drank and drank and drank, water slopping in quantities over his chest as he drank, water pouring over his face, until the bucket was empty, and then he put it down with a grin at Bush, his face still dripping water. The very sight of him was enough to make Bush, who had already had one drink from the well, feel consumed with thirst again."

- C. S. Forester, Lieutenant Hornblower, 1952

The Hornblower books aren't very slashy on the whole (the Hornblower TV/movie series makes up for this in abundance, though), but they do have their moments. How many times have we seen the Sexily Messy Drinking trope in movies and soft drinks commercials? And how many times have we read the thirst/hunger euphemism for carnal desire in fanfic?
This page is dog-eared in my copy, along with a handful of other pages containing markedly slashy passages and the one with the, when your mind is soaked in Star Trek, funny line "Shall I warp her down the bay, Sir?".

On a related note, does anybody know any good books, other than Maurice and Death in Venice, with homosexual themes?

No. 35: What Is Your Motto?

I didn't think I had a motto until this afternoon. I'm not completey sure whether it could actually be called a motto, either, but it's a principle that surprisingly often seems to baffle people. It's what you do every day that counts. To me, it's a simple and obvious truth: there's no point in avoiding plastic bags one single day a year because they're bad for the environment; it doesn't make you a good person. There's no need to give up vegetarianism altogether because you don't want to miss out on the fabulous, marinated steak your friend cooks at the annual midsummer barbecue party. Enjoy that steak on that day (and why not the leftovers on the next), then go home and eat beans the rest of the year; it doesn't make you a bad person. Getting epically drunk a couple of times a year doesn't make you an alcoholic, and as long as you keep eating several bags of crisps a day, the occasional martyric salad for lunch won't make any change whatsoever to your weight.

There's two sides to this: firstly, there's too many once-off, conscience-soothing, noncommital happenings that fool people into thinking that they're good people. Of course, there's nothing bad about wanting to be a good person, and possibly those things could lay a foundation for a positive frame of mind in some people, but really: it's what you do every day that change reality. Do you leave the computer on when you leave work, do you drive a car to the gym, do you routinely buy food that comes in triple packagings? That matters infinitely more than whether you turn off the lights for an hour tomorrow evening.

Secondly, where does the idea that being consequent is one of the prime virtues of modern man come from? (There's a question about Most Overrated Virtue somewhere in the Questionnaire, and this is definitely a contender.) Being consequent and staying with your principles whatever happens is not good. Being able to adapt to situations, to see the needs of others, to react to the way things actually are at precisely this moment, that's good. Not blindly and martyrically sticking to the rules you've set for yourself.

(Written on an extremely low sugar level, a long, long time after an unsatisfactory lunch. Don't hesitate to tell me if I'm being too Scroogey about World Earth Hour, but unless there's something I've missed, it's pointless to the bone and the energy that goes into this unintelligible make-believe "action" would have been better spent trying to get people to make changes in their daily lives. Right?)

The Proust Questionnaire

This one comes from Vanity Fair (www.vanityfair.com/magazine/archive/proust_questionnaire) via frescadp . Possibly the most exhaustive meme ever: 35 questions, the answers to which - according to Marcel Proust himself - reveals a person's true nature. This will be a long-time project that I'll hack away at, one or a few questions at a time. The whole set can be found at the end of this post, in case anybody else wants to join the game!

For my first installment, a couple of quick and easy ones.

Collapse )

A Zodiac-based Meme

Hello, all! Yes, it's been a while. Yes, I'm spending my days typing away at my diploma work report (which is the equivalent of a master's thesis). But with half an hour to lunch, my capability of producing intelligent text is limited. Hence, this, found and nicked at shoebox_addict 's place:

Pick your birth month.
Strike out anything that doesn't apply to you.
Bold or italicize the statements that best apply to you.
Copy to your own journal, with all twelve months under a lj-cut.

Collapse )
Nau Nappari

Purr Genius, Indeed

There I was, smug and happy because I'd finallty taken all the courses I needed for my degree and only had to complete my diploma work in order to become an Educated Person. Almost thirteen years after high school, more than six years after embarking on this engineering mission. On Monday morning I took a look at my record, just to savour the sweet feeling of accomplishment.

Collapse )


How To Get Rid Of All Those Books That Litter Your Home - and Get New Ones!

My colleague/fellow diploma worker pointed me to this place: www.bookcrossing.com.

You must all go there! Now! Register all the books you don't want to read again but don't want to throw away because books are a little like living beings! See if anybody else wants to give away that book you've wanted to read for years! Check if somebody has released books into the wild where you live! Check whether there's even a group of people in your city who meet regularly to swap books and talk about them! 

I've registered five books this morning and am planning to release at least a couple of them into the wild next week - i. e. leave them half-hidden in some public place and hope somebody finds them. What a fantastically cool site!

Otherwise, small things keep happening that I want to write about, but then I never quite find the time or motivation to do it. I snap crappy photos with my phone of things that might be fun to show you all, or save for the future, but I never get around to post them. The major thing right now, however, is that the diploma work has suddenly reached escape velocity and I more or less feel that the only thing left is to write up the report, which feels like a trifle. I'm tweaking my weird CV and surfing for jobs and next week I'll write up at least a couple of actual application letters and mail them. Daily I swing between wild hopes of landing an interesting job and despair because the medical technology companies are so few and small and I'm so incompetent. I'm not bored, though.

Jesus Christ Superstar (a. k. a. The Judas Show)

I went to the theatre yesterday, which is a very rare occurence, but this one I couldn't miss: Jesus Christ Superstar, the original recording of which is one of my absolute favourite records, starring Ola Salo from The Ark. I don't know if they're known outside Sweden at all, but The Ark is one of the few "real" bands - with competent musicians who write their own songs and had been toiling forever before their first record came out - you hear on the radio nowadays. I'm not exactly a fan of theirs, but I whole-heartedly support them, and Ola Salo is a classic glam rock frontman who I can't help but love. He seemed like the ultimate casting choice for this Jesus character, and I was thrilled as soon as I heard the news that he was going to do it.

Collapse )