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.