Friday, December 31, 2004

The Lord of Dreams

Recently I've started reading The Sandman, by Neil Gaiman. This is a very impressive series of comics, much more than what one normally expects from comics. Many have said it, but it is true that it is very much a piece of literature, regardless of its medium.

In the introduction to one of the collections, Neil Gaiman relates how he was asked to describe the series in 25 words or less. He came up with: The Lord of Dreams learns that all things must change or die, and makes his decision. This is somewhat of a universal truth, and most of us choose to change.

For some time now, I've felt that I must change. I lack self discipline. I don't make plans, and sometimes when I do, I don't follow them (it depends on how much of events I control. Plans to see a movie at a certain time tend to happen. Plans to clean my room today tend to fall by the side).

I have no ambition. I have no grand goal of doing anything by anywhen. I have written (or at least thought of writing) before about how I have no purpose in life, no guiding principle. This is another facet of it. My needs are reasonably simple. An ok place to live, running water, a decent internet connection, food, access to public transport, shops close by, and a bit of spare cash after paying for all of this. These are not huge needs, and they suffice. But in a world obsessed with materialism and capitalism, they can seem a bit paltry. But the urge to acquire just because you can is hollow and unappealing. Similar logic applies to religion. Faith appears irrational and unsupportable, and seems inconsistent and the thing worshiped unworthy of our respect. But atheism, or humanism, or rationalism makes the universe a big lonely thing, with nothing to aspire to but self satisfaction.

I don't communicate much. I never have. At first, it was because those around me didn't respect me, but it later became habit. Solitude is a default ground state. And when I do talk to others, it is rarely about important things. Tonights episode of The Simpsons is not a topic to encourage depth of thought. I like to know what I'm talking about, and if I'm not sure how I feel, how can I talk about it. Some of the times, I can't even find the words. Nearly all communication is by words. If I don't have the words to descirbe something, how can I talk to someone about it.

I find it hard to emphasise with others. I find it hard to understand what their thinking, whats going on inside. I find it easy to ignore the plight of others. I find it annoying when people try to force their ideas on me. I don't want to give money to people like greenpeace, learn that god was an alien, or that Jesus is my saviour. If I want to do that, I'll go to the appropriate people. I don't bug them to support my points of view, so leave me to mine. I find it annoying when people don't understand what I'm trying to say or explain. I get frustrated when people don't know things I take for granted.

I don't get enough exercise. This I'm slowly improving with weekly jogs, but there's still a lot of room for improvement. It's been a long time since I really practised my juggling. About a six weeks before christmas I set a goal of losing about 3 kilos by christmas. I weighed myself a few days ago, and not only did I not lose that weight, I actually put on that much. I'd like to reconcile myself with the fact that muscle is denser than fat, but that I think is just deluding myself.

So those are a few of the things about me that need changing. And now I face a choice. And unlike Dream, I don't think I'm quite ready to accept the embrace of Death. So, now I have to find a way to make changes. I need to work out what the changes I'm going to make are. I need to decide to improve things. This, I'm quite sure, is going to be tricky.

Now is the eve of the new year, and I'm sitting here at home, alone, typing this while listening to The Games. I have never celebrated a new years eve. Years of spendng summers going back home, where very little iteresting occurs at said event have ingrained a habit of staying in.

And so, as is the tradition, I shall make a resolution. In the coming year I will change. And not just change as a response to events. I shall seek to improve myself, make myself a better person, a more complete person. Let's see how it goes.

End Post
Writing time: 37 minutes.

Thursday, December 30, 2004

A new Entry

It's been a while. I've been working at my new job. Up until yesterday, it wasn't too bad. I spent about half my time waiting for a call. Today was different though. Once one call finished, another would come in. Ah well, I guess it's time to earn the money they pay me. My only concern is that it's a short term contract, with a possibility of extension, but currently I don't think the odds of continuing on are that good. The contract included the week before christmas and the aftermath, so I have the impression that this was seasonal work. Ah well, perhaps I should make sure to put some money away while it's coming in. That shouldn't be too tricky, as I've been rostered on for every public holiday, making 5 hours work worth $200 before tax. That should help the old bank account.

Christmas was ok. My uncle came over for dinner and we spent some time together. I didn't get too many presents, compared to previous years. A beanbag, some shirts, some books. Mum's overseas visiting my sister, and apparently I will be recieving some more clothes upon her return. Ah well, all things tend towards entropy.

The tsunami thing in the indian ocean is really uncool. Lots of people dead. Lots of homes ruined. And lots of people who have lost family, homes and now have to rebuild. My sister is currently in Thailand, as is Mum, but their both ok. Still, all those other people are in a really bad position.

That reminds of probably the most impressive thing I've seen about the company I'm working for. They're donating us $100k, plus they're going to match donations made by the employees. This creates a different impression to some of the stuff during training. One video was on how important it was to obey the law and stuff, because all the negative publicity when caught doing something wrong is really bad. Whatever happened to obeying the law because it's the right thing todo. And they've got these four ideals. And for each of them thre is a symbol. One of these ideals is build. and the symbol they picked for build is the impossible triangle (an example is here). The thing they chose to represent build can not be physically be built. It takes a certain type of mind to come up with something like that.

End Post
writing time: 37 minutes

Monday, December 20, 2004

A Change of Location

I've moved this to a new location. The reason I did this was because I had let a small number of people I know know about this. Those people know who they are.

Knowing that those people know, and read this, has stopped me doing what this is about. Self-introspection, reflection and evaluation. It's a personal thing, and as it turns out, something I can't do with onlookers.

So for those few who knew of this, and have found the new location, please turn away. I thought I could share this with you, but I can't. This is nothing against you.

Random strangers I can tolerate. Feel free to peruse, and if you feel inclined, comment.

This may seem odd, wanting random people to read, but not those I know. This is because I need to do this by myself, without the help of those I normally rely on.

End post
writing time: 5 minutes

Saturday, December 18, 2004

World's Best Drunken Pool Story*

So, yesterday training for my job finished, and afterwards a number of those doing the training went to the bar down the road for a "graduation" celebration. And as it happened, there were some pool tables there, so after a while some of us started playing.

Now, I'm not exactly a pro, or even a talented amatuer, but I enjoy playing, and can usually manage to sink at least one ball in a game.

So, at the start of game 1, I had had one smirnoff black**, and was starting on my second. I got the third shot, after the other side sunk one of the orange balls (yeah, I know, the tables were small too), so I go for a purple into a corner pocket. Well, the purple went the wrong way, bounced off the black which then went into the pocket I was aiming to get the purple ball in. Game over. We continued anyway to get our moneys worth. The second drink lasted through the second game, which wasn't all that interesting.

So as the third game starts, I'm starting my third drink in about an hour and a half. The other side breaks and sinks a ball, and my partner on his go also sinks a shot. Then the other side sunk the white giving me two shots, starting from the D. So I look at the table, and I can place the white for a nice shot on one of the purple balls into the side pocket, which I proceed to sink. The whites now lined up for another nice shot, this time into a corner pocket, which I also sink, and another shot is lined up. As I make this third shot, I only lightly tap the white, and before I can stop myself, hit the white again, and sink a third ball. I'm pretty sure that this is a foul, and so give the other side their shot. He then shoots at a purple ball, and my partner calls foul on him. He disputes this, and there is a slight discussion as to who is what colour. As it turns out, I was orange. At this point I'm not exactly feeling too good. Nevertheless, the game continues, and my partner sinks another ball. When my next turn comes around, I manage to sink two balls, this time orange. Some more shots, I think the other side might have sunk another one ball, and my turn comes around again. I sink the last two oranges, and then the black. Victory.

So, a glorius combination of "boy was I doing good", and "how can you be so stupid". It was at that point I stopped drinking for the evening. I also declared my retirement from pool forever, being pretty much unable to ever top that without learning how to sink every ball from the break.

* By "world's", I mean my
** Smirnoff Black is a vodka mixed with some other stuff. about 7% alcohol by volume, with 1.9 australian standard drinks per bottle. The elapsed time for this adventure was between 1.5-2 hours

Writing time: 18 minutes

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Let's see what comes out

I'm almost finished training for my new job. Tomorrow we'll be taking some actual calls, which should be interesting. I'm reasonably happy with my understanding of the computer programs involved, moreso than some others, but the actual talking to people bit will be a bit tougher for me than for the others I think.

I tend to be a man of very few words. There are many reasons for this. One is my tendency to ignore the rest of the world when concentrating on things. Another is a very insular focus. I don't talk to strangers on the bus for idle chit-chat. I don't really do idle chit-chat in general. Also, when I'm in a conversation, I tend to remain quite for most of the time, prefering to listen to what goes on. Most of the time I don't say much unless I feel I have something pertinant to contribute. Depending on the context and subject matter, the amount I have to say can vary a lot. There are some subjects I don't talk about, voluntarily or when drawn out upon the subject. In fact, I have even mangaed to aggravate people by my refusal to talk on occasion.

But now I'm veering into territory I'm not really willing to head into so we'll change pace. Thinking of a new topic. This is tricky. I recently heard that The Goodies will be coming to Australia next year and doing some shows around the place (BBC News), so I shall have to keep an eye out for when that is.

Hopefully it'll be at the Powerhouse, which is a great place and has had many good shows. The Powerhouse hosts a lot of comedy performances, as well as other stuff. Last year among other things I saw there was a one man performance of Animal Farm. One man, a ladder, a bucket, and another guy providing background music. It was quite impressive. The least impressive show I've seen there was a musical remake of Hamlet put into a corporate setting, with the state of Denmark being replaced by the corporation of something or other. My main complaint was that it was too heavy handed in its anti-globalisation message.

That's something I find unpleasant in many groups. I don't necessarily disagree with their message, but frequently I find their inability to accept other viewpoints as not good. As I have put it on many an occasion, I have a fundamental opposition to fundamental opposition. I don't really take seriously people who seem too die hard about their positions. Perhaps it's because I've never had a strong belief in a cause that I find myself unable to accept that others can devote themselves fully to something and just ignore other perspectives. But I'd like to think that the smart way of doing things is to go with what works, keep an open mind, and to be sceptical. Don't just accept every crackpots theory about how standing on your head for 3 hours a day will cure you of cancer, but if he can show you properly documented experimental results that show it works, then give him a chance.

That brings up something that really peeves me. The number of crack pots with all their different remedies, for everything from headaches to backpain, from insomnia to cancer. Most of them have nice looking commercials with people saying how good their product is, but none of them seem to explain how their product works, or provide any sort of scientific evidence backing up their claims. Some of them claim that their methods are beyond science, or revolutionarily different. If their product works, why would they be afraid of letting someone test it under controlled conditions.

Recently I've seen a few adds for magnetic blankets. I'm not quite sure what their meant to do, or how they do it. I've also seen a few guys selling them at the local store. I'm tempted to go up to them one day and ask them how they work. I've got the general plan of tyring to lead them to say that EM fields are somehow involved. Then I'll ask them that "Don't high voltage power lines create EM fields? And don't they cause cancer? So why are your EM fields good when those EM fields are bad? Won't your product give me cancer?" It'll be interesting to see how much I can make them squirm.

End Post
Writing time: 40 minutes

Friday, December 10, 2004

Sometimes good things happen

I was wandering around the web today and found something among the news that doesn't make me despair for the future of humanity. In fact, it did quite the opposite. It seems that the nations of South America are forming their own little mini-EU. Yesterday, the leaders of twelve South American nations signed the Declaration of Cuzco, a statement of intent to unify South America, in much the same way Europe has with the EU.

All in all, I think this is a good thing. Cooperation is a much better way of doing things then bickering, and making it easier for people to trade, travel, and learn about each other is always going to help. I think you just have to look at all the former Warsaw pact nations looking to join the EU shows just how advantageous such a joining together can accomplish.

Working together South America should be able to improve their lot even more. Surely just the advantages of providing a unified front when dealing with the USA should make this worthwhile.

So in this, I wish the people of South America all the best, and hope that it all works out.

Monday, December 06, 2004

Gainfully employed?

Tomorrow I enter the workforce. After a bit of a mess, I have a job. And after the last fiasco, a job that pays wages. It's a bit of an odd situation though, where I'm not actually employed by the company I'm doing the work for. That company pays the company that's employing me, and then they pay me. The only advantage that I can see in the whole scheme is that it may make it easier to get rid of someone if they're no good, without all the hassles of firing them yourself. Just tell the recruitment agency that we don't want that person here anymore and let them sort it out.

So tomorrow I start 9 days of training, 8:30 to 5. And then I work 25 hours a week. The pay is such that it's about the same as what I used to get, so that'll be nice. I'm not quite sure why I'll need nine days of training for the job though. As a customer service thingy, I believe my job is to take calls from stores that offer credit, listen to them explain why their customer should be approved for credit, take all the details, and then tell them if the computer says yay or nay. Surely it can't be that complicated. I just hope that nothing too important was covered on the first day, as I'm sort of a last minute hiree, and the other people starting in the job will be getting a full ten days training.

Hopefully there won't be too many training videos. Who was it who mamaged to convince everyone that an asinine video that assumes the mental capacities of a 10 year old would make a better way of training someone than having someone who knows their shit come in and actually explain the stuff? And then, most people top it off by having some yahoo reading from a bit of paper accompanying the video, who have marvelous contributions to add about how the're unsure of how to use the VCR. Hasn't everyone caught on to the fact that the play button has a single triangle on it and the stop button has a square on it. It's not that complicated people.

Ah well, I'm getting paid for the training, and at a much better rate than my last endevour. In fact, I think the training period will pay off my credit card and pay for my christmas shopping. The situation would be quiite so worrying if it weren't for the internet bil that just went through, or else I'd have a bit more leeway financially. But it should all be ok now.

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Honour without pride, pride without honour?

So, I've taken up a job. It's doing sales work with a company whose management structure greatly resembles a pyramid. And after but one day, I have a problem. I hate it. I thought my soul was being consumed before, but this is worse. Back at uni, one of the contibuting factors was I felt bad becuase I knew what I should be doing, and I wasn't doing this. I had certain obligations, and I wasn't meeting them. While I didn't seem to be able to fix this, I knew it was wrong. With this new job, I hate what I'm doing. When your mantra becomes "Along, not across"* things are not good.

And so I have a dilemma. I've given my word that I will give this company my best, until something better comes along. If I cop out, I break my word. I may be happier, but then I have lost honour. If I stick with it, I keep my word, but I lose some self respect.

So, it would seem that it comes down to which to I value more, honour or self respect. But it's not that easy. If I quit, break my word and lose honour, then how can I respect myself. And if I keep my honour in a way that causes me to become something I don't like, what good is honour.

Perhaps it wouldn't be so bad if I was getting some good money for it. Today, after a 12 hour workday, more if you include the commute, I got a whole $38. Five years ago when I was working at KFC I got better money than that. And I got more time off. That just about pays for my new tie, public transport, lunch and the booze I bought to try and help me spend the evening in something besides misery.

I think that last point is a telling point. Never before have I sought refuge in the bottle. Not even when I felt the greatest pain I think I ever have. I didn't eat for almost five days, but I didn't seek escape. But that was pain. This is if not self-loathing, something akin to it.

I took time off from uni because I was unhappy with where I was. Dole bludging, while not stimulating or challenging, didn't turn me into something I don't like. This does. And I want out.

And so I have the question, which do I value more, honour or pride? And can I have one without the other?

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

A post about a post that's yet to be

The reason I started this blog was to give me a place to vent. Somewhere where I could commit my thoughts to something a bit less volatile than my own mind. As a part of this some of this would be dealing with my past. While this hasn't happened quite as I planned, it's getting there.

One of the posts was to be about my one attempt at romance. I knew going into it that it would be tough. So far I've written about two paragraphs, and that was more than a month ago. Now, normally I'm not all that communicative, but this is a bit extreme.

One part of the delay is that I have a metaphorical deal with pain. I avoid the things that cause it, and it leaves me alone. I know, pretty much everyone does this, but an explicit statement thereof makes things more significant. At least to my point of view. So, when I start to think about the topic, it pushes the limits of this deal.

Then there's the fact that it's a private matter. I've only ever told one member of my family about this, and that was limited to the fact that there was a girl I'm interested in. I don't think there's a single person who knows both sides of the situation. I know I don't.

Why does this sort of thing have to be so tricky? It's a pretty fundamental type of thing. One could almost go so far as to say that it's the basis for human culture. Am I talking about romance or communication?

I'm going to give the post another go later this evening. Perhaps I should have a few drinks beforehand. People say alcohol makes you freer with your words, but I've never found that to be the case. Mainly I get tired, and laugh too much at things.

Friday, November 19, 2004

By god can I be arrogant

I'm an athiest/agnostic. I don't really think that there's some great big god out there watching over us. I have an explanation for this, which follows these lines.

Assume god exists in some form.
Work out what the world would be like if the assumed god did exist.
Compared hypothetical world with actual world.
The real world is not quite like that is it?
Therefore the assumed god does not exist.

Now this is a seemingly simple proof by contradiction, but only recently did I spot something within it that threatens its validity. The problem is that you have to define god. Now, assuming a god did exist, isn't it just a little bit presumptive for me to dictate what form he would take. And so, now I have to add a bit more finesse to the argument.

A simple addition would be to repeat the process for all possible assumed gods. One problem with this though is that it still doesn't rule out all gods. Any god who created the universe so that today it appears the way it is and has then done nothing to affect the portion of the universe we can observe so far will pass the test. But is a god that merely flipped a switch and then gone onto other things really that impressive. Ok, they made a universe and all, but the sentiment there is more a factory working making a watch, not a craftsman putting together a work of art. And is there really any point in worshipping a god who just made a place to live in and then left it alone for whoever to walk in and occupy it. It's not like your going to be rewarded for it.

A christian god should still be ruled out though. It's not like he's been active all that recently. And if he made everything, and is all loving and all caring, why is there evil in the world? And don't cop out by saying that all the evil is due to Satan. Just where do you think Satan came from? Wyoming? No, I believe Satan, and his cohorts, were formerly angels, weren't they? And guess who created all the angels? Why I think it was the one called I am, the big god man himself. So was something whispering in his ear as he made the angels? Are we to have evil beings instead of turtles going all the way down?

I think this boils down to what you want out of a god. Me, I want a god with the following properties: wisdom, power, knowledge, kindness, consistency, flexibility, not necessarily in that order. The way the christian god fails for me is that one can live what many would say is a perfect christian life, raise your kids well, be kind to others, help out those in need, etc, etc, but, if you make the one tiny mistake of not believing in god, well your just out of luck. Apparently the all-knowing, all-loving, all-forgiving god can't let that one slide. And that, kind people, is bullshit.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

It's christmas where?

So we're through November, and christmas stuff is everywhere. I think the first sighting of christmas paraphenalia was in late October. I feel this is a bit too much.

I'm not sure why the stores do this. They know that people are going to buy christmas presents. Well at least all the christians, practising or otherwise. I can understand a sort of getting into the spirit, but two whole months? Prolonged exposure just desensitizes you to it. I get nowhere near as excited about christmas nowadays compared to when I was a little kid. Part of that is growing up, but seeing christmas decorations for two months beforehand, you just get tired of it.

Personally, I'm not going to do anything christmas related until December. No shopping for presents, putting up decorations, etc, etc. No buying of christmas stocking chocolates either.

Of course, this means that in 3 or 4 weeks tv is going to be inundated with christmas specials, all of which have been shown oh too many times. This is fine for the kids, but can we keep normal programming for the rest of us?

Monday, November 15, 2004

The story of a story

About a year ago I started to write a story. I didn't get far. The story was planned to sort of be a bit of a debate about whether or not monarchy in its various forms is good or bad for a society. Thinking back, a lot of my thinking seemed to reflect some of the republic debate here in Australia. The basic outline of the story was as follows

Big tough guy deposes a cruel tyrant. He then proclaims that for 1000 generations his heirs will rule. Over the next 1000 generations the small country (a bit like something from a Conan story) grows into an interstellar empire (not to big, 20-30 star systems) and the ruling family go from being absolute rulers to almost figureheads, a bit like the Queen of England, but with more power in setting the general policies of the government. The problem comes when the 1000th generation dies and a controversy arises as to whether his son is allowed to become ruler.

The general idea was that the story would consist of a number of sort of debates about how the existence of a hereditary ruling family has shaped the culture, and if it has had a positive or negative effect. Various people have different opinions based on their position, experience and outlook. Some of the alternatives looked at include a directly elected head of state in some form or another, the return of rule to the tyrant’s descendants, and maintenance of the status quo.

Part of the problem in writing this is that I'm not too good at dialogue, and as most of it would be discussions between the heir and other people, this is a bit of a problem. The other thing is that I'm still not sure what I want the final resolution to be.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

I wish I had more money

The other day I was browsing a book store and was quite happy when I got to the new releases in the sci fi section. There were three books, all of which on simply seeing, I knew I would read and most likely quite enjoy.

First up was The Art of Discworld. This book feature many wonderful illustration by Paul Kidby of the Discworld and it's many inhabitants. I actually went through the whole thing in the bookstore. All of the pictures are really impressive. The other thing that really impressed me was how much the pictures matched my idea of the characters. This is not always the case. The worst example I can think of is the illustrated guide to the wheel of time. I went through most of that looking at the illustrations and thinking that those aren't the people their meant to be.

The second was The Algebraist by Iain M Banks. Banks is an excellent author who has created a unique world with his Culture novels. While The Algebraist isn't set within the Culture universe, I still expect it to be a good read.

Finally there was the Runes of the Earth. The first book in the last chronicles of Thomas Covenant. Anyone who recognises the name Thomas Covenant shouldn't have any question as to why I want to read this one. The Thomas Covenant novels are a masterpiece. Though dark, they offer insight into belief, reality, sacrifice, service, loyalty, hope, redemption and more aspects of humanity.

So, I've put holds on two books at the local library, and have some good reading ahead.

Job Interviews

Yesterday I had an interview for a job. The job was a telemarketing position. However it was selling to businesses, not interupting people during dinner, so I wouldn't have had to forsake my whole soul. Just a small bit of it. It did mean having to wear a monkey suit, ie good shirt and tie. First worrying thing: it took about 5 minutes for me to do up the top button around my neck. First good thing: I tied my tie first time.

So I go in and talk to the lady from the recruiting agency. She seemed much more keen on selling the job to me than making sure I could do the job. She also gave me a bunch of banking forms and employment stuff to fill in which struck me as slightly optimistic. After a 10-15 minute chat with her, she sent me over to the actual company to have an interview with their guy.

The guy at the company seemed a bit sceptical as to why I wanted to be a telemarketer. Apparently it's not the first choice career of people with degrees in physics and maths and good IT skills. I explained that I wanted to do something different to what I ahd been doing before, and that I had tried for other jobs that are more skilled, but was hampered by a lack of experience, which could partly be rectified by doing some sort of work involving regular contact with people. Motivation and the ability to deal with rejection were factors also brought up.

In the end I didn't get the job. The two spots available went to other people with experience. Ah well. I only really applied because it was something I could do and Centerlink make me apply for 10 jobs a fortnight.

Now the thing that really confused me was the lady from the recruiting agency's reaction to part of my CV. The thing that really impressed her was my career objective. Now, when I was updating my CV, I refered to How to be a Man. This is a well written and honest reference guide to many of the things that are useful to know in regular life. Now, when it comes to putting in a career objective for a resume, aside from saying to keep it short and simple, the authors say "This is the section of your CV which would be called 'fiction' if you were being honest'. Keeping this in mind then, my career objective read

"To become the best telemarker that I can, and to rise through the ranks to team leader and eventually into management".

Now if you saw something like that in a CV, having no other knowledge of the person, just how sincere do you think a statement like that would be? It's just as well that I haven't applied for any other jobs through the agency, or they'd have noticed I want to become the best data entry operator, collections agent, help desk operator and others that I can be. And so I wonder about people who are impressed by this sort of thing. I mean, I have a first class honors degree in physics. I'm half way through a PhD. Surely there is something in what I've previously done that is slightly more impressive than one very insincere sentence intended to curry favor.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Keeping in Touch

Very rarely do I make an effort to continue a friendship once regular contact ceases. One part of this is laziness, another is that I don't really bond well with people, and so I don't have that much invested in most friendships. Finally most of my friends have been at some type of school like setting, so the main commonality is being in the same place at the same time doing pretty much the same thing.

The last time I saw a friend from high school was about a month ago, briefly at subway late on a Friday night. Another friend lives nearby and I occaisonaly see him at the train station. My best friend from high school I haven't seen for a couple of years. The majority I haven't seen since the last day of school.

Something similar is now happening with my friends from undergrad. Most of the people I went through undergrad with have moved onto new places, new universities, new departments, new jobs. A few have hung around, but not many.

So now it seems that if I'm to have more than a few friends I make regular contact with, I'll have to make some more. This I don't do well. Compound that with my recent hermit like behaviour, I seem to becoming even more misanthropic. This does not bode well.

Friday, November 05, 2004

Career Goals

Today, as part of trying to prove that I deserve to get money from the government for being unemployed I had to go to a company who is supposed to help me get a job. There I had to fill out a form that is essentially a resume, and listen to them prattle on a bit. So far their efforts seem to be signing me up to a jobsearch website run by the government. Yay, taxpayers money well spent.

The guy who processed me through there was quite unimpressed with one of my responses on the form. Under career ambitions I wrote
Find a job that doesn't suck away at my soul.
So perhaps it's not the most positively framed career ambition. But it's honest. I think it's a lot better than their example which was along the lines of "to gain experience in the field of administration". What is that about? That's not an ambition. It's a natural consequence of doing administration work. My ambition is to find something to do that doesn't make me feel like I'm trapped into doing something I don't want to do.

Let's try and rephrase that in a slightly more positive mindset
I want to find a job that enagages and stimulates me and encourages me to achieve my potential.
Wow. Now I hate myself. I look like a word wanker who prostitutes language to make it mean things it doesn't. Sure with a theusaurus it might look like it means the same, but it takes two very different mindsets to come up with. It's probably not good that I can do both.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Just how fucked up is America?

Well, The US presidential election is here again, and this time round the bruh-ha-ha will be in Ohio. But in reading some of the coverage on various sites, I've encountered something I find deeply offensive. It's a practise that seems to have no purpose but to try and ensure that those likely to vote for the opponent can't vote.

Apparently in some states the parties are allowed to have challengers at election sites. The role of these challengers seems to be to convince those running the election sites that certain people are ineligable to vote. Just what the fuck is going on with that? Having grown up in a country with mandatory voting I'm offended by this. I feel that it is morally wrong to have people standing by with the intention of claiming that people aren't entitled to vote.

The people doing this aren't neutral, uninvolved parties. If there were some restrictions on who could vote, such as people with volkswagons couldn't vote, and this were enforced by neutral parties, I could perhaps accept this. But the people doing this are members of the two big parties, and just what are they meant to be doing anyway? Do they tell the people running the polling booth that someone who looks like that already voted somewhere else today? How can they honestly expect to make a reasonable claim that someone shouldn't vote.

And that's another thing about American elections. They're not run by neutral parties. They're run by the parties, depending on whose in charge in each state. And that's why you get shit like what happened in Florida last time going on where the person in charge of announcing the official result was the person who ran Bush's campaign in Florida. Surely I don't have to point out that in no sane, rational society that should be acceptable.

Now, I acknowledge that no system of electing a government is going to be perfect, the more I see crazy stuff like this, the more I like the way the Australian system works. Firstly, elections are held on a Saturday, so everyone should be able to get to a polling booth to vote, which is just as well, cause we get fined if we don't. None of this "don't blame me, I didn't vote" bullshit, you had your say and if more people disagree than agree with you, well that's democracy for you. And then theres the ballots. A nice column of boxes, with the candidates neatly aligned so that one can easily and without doubt tell which box is for which candidate. You number the boxes one through to the number of candidates, with the one going to your prefered candidate. No computers, no punchcards, no hanging chads, just paper and pencil. And we manage to get most of the counting done by midnight the day of the election. Counting is done by scrutineers, who while being designated by the parties, everyone on a ballot can appoint a scrutineer, and it's a lot harder to get up to shenanigans with ballots when the enemy is sitting next to you watching. I may not agree with who got voted in, but the system seems better than most.

And now it appears that Howard with his majority in the senate may be planning to mess it up, just so he can keep going. Fuck he's a retard. Just what the fuck does it take to have an electorate turn against you. Last election he rustled up a scare campaign based on outright lies. Snce then he's gotten us involved in a war the most of us didn't support, agreed to a free trade agreement that mainly consists of Australia bending over to be fucked by America, lies to the people on many occasions, and then has the gall to run a campaign based on trust.

At the moment, the fate of the American presidency lies in Ohio, which currently is too close to call. The BBC puts Bush ahead by 150000 votes, as does CNN. FOX has decided that that is enough to give it to old George, but I think I'm going to go with the foreigners with this one. All we can do now is wait.

Well this went on a bit more than I thought it would. I really just wanted to express outrage at the concept of challengers at the polling booths. By god, just who do they think they are? If someone stopped me outside the polling booth and tried to tell me I couldn't vote, just cause they didn't like the look of me, there would be shit to pay. I'd probably have an assault charge against me, but I'd have voted by the time the cops arrived. Even after all this ranting, I want to find someone to bitchslap. Home of democracy, land of the free. What a fucking joke.

Monday, November 01, 2004

An exercise in creative motivation

For most of my life, I've had a bit of a pot belly. Nothing too excessive, but still a little bit more than is optimal. It was there when I was a small kid. During high school it disappeared due to a slightly lower food intake and mandatory exercise while at boarding school, and the rest of my body also growing taller and wider, while the gut remained the same and so it no longer stood out. In hindsight, at the end of high school I was the fittest I've ever been.

Then came university. No one telling me what to do with my time, the freedom to do whatever I want including consuming large quantities of junk food and not to exercise. And so over the first year of uni the gut returned, and has hung around for the next 5 years until now.

Recently one of my friends confronted me about this, and has encouraged me to do something about this. So far my efforts have been to go jogging once a week for 15 to 20 minutes. Not much, but it's a start. I'm also trying to eat slightly better, but apart from my departure from the cult of pepsi several months ago and joining the church of OJ, not much has happened.

The main thing that seems to be limiting my exercise seems to be a lack of discipline. Given the choice of browsing wikipedia some more or going jogging, I'll browse wikipedia. There was a character in one of Terry Pratchett's novels who had refined laziness to such a state that he remained fit as by doing so it was much easier for him to move around and do stuff. This sort of attitude I'd like to develop, but I can't seem to make the long term positive effects outweigh the short term negative of having to go jogging.

This afternoon I did go jogging. Normally my friend comes over on a Monday and we go jogging together. He had to work today though, so that didn't happen. It had seemed as though I was all set to skip this week, but then providence gave me a reprieve. I needed some stuff from the shops down the road. And so I jogged to the shops. If all I need to exercise is an ulterior motive, then perhaps I should engineer some more. This may be a case of the ends justifying the means.

Friday, October 22, 2004

Friday nights a go-go

A couple of years ago I started attending a regular social function each Friday evening during semester. It was organised by the club that pretty much all my friends at uni were involved in. And back then it was good. Each week, I'd go along and have a good time and hang around for hours. The people were good, the activites were good, the food was good, and all was right with the world.

As the years have gone by, the people whose comapny I enjoyed have gone. Some have gone away to do further studies, some have found other activities to do on a Friday night, and so I find myself a remnant of a former age. The newcomers have sort of been tacked to the group, and while the original group was there, joined in and took part and it was ok. But now the entire group is newcomers, and the scene has changed.

It's interesting to look back and see how over time the group has changed. Perhaps part of it is simply my changing perspective and increased insight into how people relate, but the group has changed from one group of friends who got on well, to several smaller groups who tolerate each other and bitch about each other. The quality of conversation has declined, the quality of the organisation of the events has declined, and so forth.

A few months ago at one of these evenings, I walked in, looked around at the people there, and thought to myself "What the fuck am I doing here?" Since then I've started doing other things with my Friday nights, which has reduced the amount of time I spend thinking about how fucked up things have become with this group. For the past few weeks I've been going to some live shows, two comedy shows and a play. These were good and I quite enjoyed myself. But unfortunately these cost money and are new shows aren't on each week for me to go to.

And so this evening, with nothing better to do I once again returned to the group meeting. It was a poetry night. The combination of a lack of enthusiasm and effort on the organisers behalf and apathy from the crowd (I confess, I am guilty of this also) led to the arrival of the pizza after an hour to be the most celebrated event of the night. This was followed by some lackluster conversation, and I left at an early 6:30. In previous years these events could last until 10 at the university, or move onto another location until much later.

I'm not quite sure what the point of this is. Perhaps that nothing lasts for ever. Everything changes. I do know that I'm not going to go to another one of these. Sitting at home playing computer games is surely better than sitting around with a bunch of people I don't like and getting bitter and depressed because of it.

I think part of the reason why I'm not enjoying them is because I am comparing them to what it was like back when I first started turning up. The people who only started turning up this year enjoy them much more than I do.

I hereby resolve to no longer attend Error Bars (the name of the event) and to find something more enjoyable and constructive to do with my Friday evenings.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

More words came out than I thought would.

At the moment life sucks. Nothing in life is particularly bad, it's just that some of the things that used to make me happy no longer do so. This could partly be because I've been doing most of them for a long time. The longest period of time I haven't been doing full time study since I started primary school was between completing honors and starting my PhD. And that was a whole 5 months.

My hobbies haven't changed much either. I don't read as much as I used to, buy I stilll read the same style of books. I spend more time messing around on my computer, but don't do as much programming. Partly due to having less time, and partly because basic isn't found that much on new computers. I've tried to learn c, but never really got into it.

So now, I'm trying to make life no longer suck. I've taken time off from university. However, I don't know what I'm going to do. The problem is a bit like finding the factors of 12707. It's easy to see that 2 and 5 aren't the solution. But removing the known wrong answers doesn't reveal the right ones. Ok, for the example it does, but no example is perfect.

This is part of the attempt. Simply putting the thoughts that go through my head down in some place means that I actually have to think them through. My thoughts tend not to complete themselves, and so leaves me standing still. I hope that by trying to complete them, some sort of resolution can be reached.

This isn't all that I'm doing. Last week I went and saw a counsellor. He seemed to make some very reasonable conclusion based on the little that I said, so perhaps he knew what he was doing. His advice was to be receptive to new things and try new things. Perhaps I'll order something new next time I go to subway.

I'm not really good at doing new things. I'm not good at meeting new people. I'm not good at communicating with the people I do know. In fact, lets just say I'm not good at the whole social interaction thing. This concerns me much more now than it used to. It is one of the things contributing to my less than positive outlook on life at the moment.

Another contributor is the self contradiction that lies within me. I take pride in being different, and yet I want the things that are normal. I see couples and feel bad, because I don't know what that's like. I want these things, but when given the opportunity, I've thrown it away. Part of the reason for this is that I was still nursing the emotional wounds from the first time I tried to start a relationship with a girl. She wasn't interested and I took it hard. This reverted me back to one of my previous mindsets, that life is meant to be miserable, and that solitude, while lonely, is not painful. Now, loneliness is becoming painful, and I don't know what to do.

Why is life so complicated? Why is there no obvious purpose? With some sort of purpose, there would be aims and ideals, and progress could be seen and made. But there is no higher power to make a purpose, and a prupose of my own is just shallow and self serving, and doesn't seem enough. Perhaps this is why religion is so popular, it provides a purpose. But religion asks too much. It asks that you ignore the way the world is, and accept it as they put forward. TV shows do this too. It's called suspension of disbelief. But I don't make life decisions based on the fact the enterprise can travel faster than light. I need direction and there is none.

What the fuck is wrong with me?

Saturday, October 16, 2004

The Chocolate Coated Sultana of the Soul

Chocolate sultanas are really good. Chocolate just by itself tends to get overwhelming on the pallete with too much. Sultanas are nice but tend to be consumed in bulk preventing each sultana being savoured. But the sultana covered in chocolate, now that is confectionary delight. The best of both worlds.

It seems rather dissapointing that I could not think of anything better to write about than chocolate sultanas. Perhaps I should just describe the posters scattering my room. It's just as deep and meaningful.

My life has no purpose. I have a moderate hedonistic philosophy tempered with a little attempt for validation. My recipe for a good life consists of
1) Do whatever you want
2) Don't prevent others from doing point 1
3) Contribute something positive to society
From this I can derive most of the morality I think is right. Murder is out since it violates point 2. Point 1 is mostly intended to be positive things, like spending time with friends, etc. Points 1 & 2 kind of define a zero-sum game. Everyone does what they want. Point 3 changes this so that everyone adds something good to society. Some people may do community work, raise a family, contribute new knowledge, or something.

Until recently, my plan for satisfying point 3 was to de research and so contribute new knowledge to society. Nowadays, I no longer find the prospect of doing research as a career as desirable as it once was. This has been building up for a while. Up until only a year or two ago, I had no plan but to do just this. So now, I need to not just decide what it is I want to do for a career, but also decide how I will satisfy point 3 of my guide for a worthwhile life.

I'm currently giving some thought to volunteering with a charity of some sort. There's a few around that I've considered before with volunteering to help out, but just never got motivated enough to do so. Now, I think I'll do so.

And finally, there are four posters around my room. Above my desk is one with the charge from the start of The Fellowship of the Ring, there's a Kill Bill poster on one of my cupboard doors, a parody of a Pulp fiction poster with Miss Piggy instead of Uma Thurman, and a Yoda poster.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Election Blues

Having just recovered from the federal election last weekend, this week is election week for the university student union. Say hello to chalk writing on every footpath, annoying people interrupting the start of lectures, and more people bombarding you with overly bright paper when you try to go buy some lunch.

I might be a bit more understanding about all of this if some of the groups ever said anything different. Every single one of them wants a union in which the students are more involved, that does more for the students, and won't waste your student fees.

Then there are the groups who have platforms such as the leave Iraq party. Just who the fuck do they think they're kidding. As if getting elected to a university student union gives them any say in the actions of Australia's military.

Another bunch is the hard core lefties. However, I saw one of them walking around barefoot, so they can't be all that bad.

I had one guy come around this afternoon soliciting votes. He offered me a can of coke if I voted for him. There was no rum in it so I don't think it was worth it. Plus he was with conservatives. I'm pretty sure there's something against bribery in the union rules. A few years ago I went around to the various groups asking them what they were willing to give me to get my vote, and most of them weren't very receptive to this. Perhaps I should lodge some form of complaint.

I think I'm going to vote for one of the joke parties. I know most of the people on the ticket, and while they don't expect to win, if they did their response would be 'Fuck, we won. better do the job then', and they'd do the job with none of the bullshit most of the others would produce.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Looking Windward

First of all, the Tolstoy references are all second hand. I like an author who likes Tolstoy, and the names sound impressive but vague.

This is mainly for me to write things I think about. I don't seem to make my thoughts concrete very often, so I'll see what happens. If people come by and read, well fair enough. Surely there's some feature on blogger to look at a random blog.

Topics to be covered are pretty unlimited, and will mainly be things I want to vent about. Whether this is in any way relevant to anyone else, I don't know, and don't care.