DIARY 2004















Fri, Feb 27

<16:25> I've received comments on the positive and neutral slant of these blog entries. As if nothing bad ever happened to me, or I could not be open about my dark sides. There are probably numerous reasons for my blogging style, one being my general optimism of seeing good in every thing. Moreover, the analogy of social situations should prove fruitful, considering I probably avoid exposure to other people when I'm pissed off. Anyway, here is something angsty for today:

I woke up thinking about sysadmin issues at the workplace, which pissed me off considering it's still winter holiday. In fact there is genuine work to do at the school, work of such nature that is best taken care of in the absence of students and colleagues. Installing, updating, and generally fixing up computers. I'll probably go there for an hour or two today, just to clean up a few issues.

Working while your cow orkers are on holiday is an annoyance in itself, but this all reflects my general situation as the admin. Plus it's a socially awkward position, getting all the shit for glitches that were never my fault. I'm sure my experiences also tell that I'm not that good at handling big responsibilities, being more of a tinkerer and thinker.

In contrast, I'm enjoying the teaching even more. In the upcoming period I will teach two courses, both on Linux and the Internet. It sounds like a dream.

But this too has its dark side. Incidentally, I spent last night at Rigorist's place installing Gentoo on his laptop, and we had fun despite we still have some unresolved PCMCIA issues. He paid for my IT consulting generously with some curry and beer. I cd'd /home around 5 am in a mild euphory.

And that is supposed to be a problem? Now look at the big picture. At work I'm the sysadmin and the CS/IT teacher, in my spare time I tinker with machines, be it mine or my friends'. (I have another installation yet to do for Tiikki.) In the remaining spare time I'm on IRC and occasionally read Slashdot and Sektori, and I sing/play in a geek band.

I was supposed to be a scientist or an artist, and now I'm just this computer geek. I don't even know computers that well, I only see them as tools for doing something truly interesting like particle physics. So even for a computer geek I'm pretty pathetic. You might say I didn't have a life, but in fact I'm kind of dating somebody, she's an IT geek :-)

Wed, Feb 25

<02:10> Been genuinely busy for a few days, despite the winter holiday, starting from Saturday when my sister celebrated her 30th birthday. There were some of her man's relatives that I met for the first time, for example his grandpa of nearly 90 years, with whom I had nice discussions on astronomy and other interesting topics.

On Sunday I went from Tampere all the way to Varkaus to pick up some stuff, and it was a nice and quiet evening for a change. I managed to do some reading as well. It was a good thing I didn't have Willow with me, though I did resort to a little IRC using my dad's Thinkpad.

Tuesday's band rehearsal turned out fairly chaotic, none of us were in the best shape for playing seriously, but we had some good experimentation. I even had the trumpet with me, and managed to work out some decent melodies after years of idle time.

One more thing that's been taking my time recently. It's that online encounter of the female kind. We've met a few more times IRL.

Fri, Feb 20

<15:48> A strange event last evening begs for noding. At the bar there was a man next to my table, who started a conversation by complimenting on my hairstyle and coat. He told me he likes leather coats, having several of them. Then he introduced himself as a national socialist, and we chatted for a while auf Deutsch.

It was a little creepy, but fortunately I was on my way out. It was interesting that my delta hairstyle has been complimented on by gay men as well. There was also the synchronicity that earlier that day I'd been thinking of Juice Leskinen's song Osapäivänatsi, which struck a note in me as I tend to behave somewhat differently in and out of school, much like the song's part time nazi. I wonder if this means anything, but perhaps I should just forget about it and consider writing a song called "A Dedicated Follower of Fascism". ;-)

Tue, Feb 17

<02:32> Watched Paycheck, the Philip K. Dick story that I'd been expecting for some time now. I was mildly disappointed by a few things that wouldn't have been there, if it weren't for the director being John Woo. Meaning excessive fighting action, out-of-place humour, and a white dove scene. The story was, of course, wonderful Sci-Fi as we should expect fro PKD, but apparently Woo is not the best-fit director for this kind. There were interesting parallels to another PKD-based film, Minority Report, in both the story and the visuals. In comparison, Paycheck was not quite as good, but still worth recommending.

Going to Hemingway's afterwards, I was surprised by the barmaid asking for an ID. After seeing my driving license, she was baffled in turn, remarking something like 'such an old man you are'.

<19:26> To complete this rather socially packed weekend, I should mention Sunday as well. There was the Alipaine club at Vakiopaine that featured stand-up comedians preparing for their next big night, so this one was free. The big star of the event was undoubtedly Ismo Leikola, but Teemu (of RDKH) also showed some emerging talent. The rest of the RDKH was there as well, and Rigorist challenged be for chess as I'd won the previous game. I checkmated him again :), but there was the slight gloom factor of Rigorist who had a bad feeling about his performance in Kivenhakkaajat that day. However, we both felt good about the game because he had obviously managed to teach me something.

Sun, Feb 15

<20:11> Friday was, in addition to being the superstitious 13th, very close to Valentine's, which in Finland is a little less romance-centred in favour of friendship in more generally. I was notably pleased to receive a card from five secret admirers, students of my past courses. The card was from a series of Druidic tree horoscopes, this one naturally featuring the willow.

In the evening I met up with someone I had bumped into online, for the first time IRL. I believe we both were positively surprised of each other, but given the nature of IRC this was probably expected. We discovered more and more things in common, for example a movie where we'll be featured in background roles (this is of course SW6). Overall I enjoyed her company, and the temporal dimension got airborne. The day turned to Valentine's as we discussed such nerdomantic issues as compilers and conspiracies.

<20:28> Saturday night was the time to indulge in the fine performances of messieurs Numminen and Peitsamo. Rigorist and I were expecting a joint gig, but it turned out Kari had the warm-up role while Mauri Antero was on his 40th anniversary tour. Nevertheless, both sets were thoroughly enjoyable, with Peitsamo and his guitar more on the oldskool blues side and Numminen discordially experimental.

M.A.'s crew included who else but Pedro Hietanen on the keyboard, and some younger and less famous guys on the drums, bass, and... turntables. Now that was experimental. On occasion, the DJ would scratch on Numminen's recordings of the same song that the rest of the band was playing. It didn't always work well, but it was definitely interesting and well in line with M.A.'s previous experiments.

Synchronistically enough, Numminen started with 'On sika kunnossa', and the ending was even more impressive. Me and a few others were requesting 'Dägä dägä' for the final encore. It is originally a silly piece of poetry, but Numminen turned it into a song of dismal beat and industrial overtones, singing first in Finnish and then in Swedish.

That night was quite pleasurable in its own right. But it was my first time seeing those two legends play, a fact which greatly enhanced the experience. :-D

Fri, Feb 13

<14:53> Last night I went to see yet another play, this time in the city theatre. The city had sponsored tickets for its employers for Päätalo, which was not quite a musical but featured quite a few songs anyway. It was the life-story of the Finnish author, told in a childhood/adulthood parallel.

Being something between a musical and an ordinary play, the structure seemed to lack some coherence. The temporal parallel was a nice device, even though I'm used to seeing them already, but it sometimes complicated matters a little too much, given the occasional music mishmash.

This became apparent in the second half where the childhood thread was finished. The plot turned more fluent and enjoyable. As of the actors, there was nothing special about the titular character, but the young Kalle was quite impressive, along with a few minor roles. There are many other issues I could complain on, but given the near-infinite !/$ ratio I won't. :-)

After the play I had a game of chess with Rigorist, which I surprisingly won. It was a rather quick FPS-like session, and I seemed to have learned a few bits from his usual strategies.

(Written at Voionmaa where I'm installing some w98 crud while waiting for the band rehearsal.)

Wed, Feb 11

<03:14> It seems that IRC has started to replace this diary to some extent, which is a shame considering the volatility of irc logs compared to web pages. I'm sure this trend will continue, but of course it's just another communications channel like f2f(TM) talk, a lot of whose content will escape the diary anyway.

On Sunday night I finally inducted Antti the Rigorist to the wonders of screen and irssi. Our channel is #rdkh on IRCnet, probably quiet for most of the time, but it should get better as we drag band members and other friends there.

Tuesday was an outdoor sports day at school, which was not good as I felt like a flu was on its sneezy way. Thus I stayed home, and notified my boss. I feel morally more inclined to go to work when I have teaching to do, so I'll go back today. Besides I feel better already. The outdoor day would probably have made things worse in the long run.

In the evening I went to Minimani to shop for some oriental groceries, and oddly enough the cashier turned out a classmate of mine from the elementary school. We agreed to try and meet up some day. I seem to have erased her phone number, which I got about two years ago as we were planning a reunion. So, Niina H., if you're reading this, try and contact me. :-)

Wed, Feb 4

<00:30> The weekend was a blast, I think I'm still recovering. That wine-tasting evening was pretty enjoyable, and interesting in many ways as it was my first time quaffing up with those colleagues. The place was Sirkka-Liisa's home, where I also got into more technical discussions with her son Janne. Overall a nice family-like feeling remains.

Saturday was the premiere of Kivenhakkaajat in which Antti has the leading role of an angsty teenage boy. I still have a mind to make up on the play, but I certainly enjoyed its overall theme with essential fantasy and naive elements. In the party that followed, I learned from the director that there had been major problems finishing the script, and I believe that showed in the production: the second half seemed somewhat rushed, though I can't say there were any notable omissions or glitches.

Antti naturally introduced me to some of his fellow thespians, including Teemu and Sanna who were interested in our geek band. In fact, while Teemu seemed eager to play the second guitar, Sanna was a little hesitant, but at least she wanted to see us play. On Sunday I naturally felt quite proud as I dragged the two newcomers into the music room of Voionmaa. Things started to look more and more like a proper band. Sanna finally agreed to do the vocals for a few less geeky pieces, which was nice. For example Dingo's Levoton Tuhkimo sounded great now that we had both the guitar and the keyboards, and a decent vocalist.

Apart from the fun of weekends, my working life feels more frustrating than ever. It definitely has to do with my IT admin duties, as it makes the work less well defined. Another thing is my ongoing problem of getting the EPIA motherboard I ordered several geological periods ago. I'm pissed of with the lack of service from Websales, though it's not all their fault of course. Currently I'm waiting for them to return the board that I already got and failed to boot.

The motherboard issue is particularly frustrating when I think of the fuss I'm making over such a little (17cm*17cm Mini-ITX :) matter. I know I should not think this way. On the other hand I have every reason to expect good service when I'm paying imperial craploads of dinaros, and these things usually take much less time. Besides, I have a bunch of cables, tools and stuff along with the case all over my place, just waiting for the mobo to be dropped in any day. Which makes the frustration clearly visible. Grrr. And all this while I'm busy trying to make new friends on the IRC. At least I've managed some yoga and reading today to remind me of my spiritual base.

<22:13> Been a relatively nice day at work, partly I believe due to some good yoga last night. I did some miscellaneous admin tasks with surprising success, though that included increasing pure evil in the universe as I had to do a Windows XP activation. The staff band rehearsal was limited to half an hour due to a student project, but for the first time we had a real keyboardist and I could focus on the vocals.

After all this I was not so surprised to receive a working EPIA-M][ in the mail. The new machine is now running, and Prkl is offline until it gets some spare parts, which can mean a long time. Anyway, the EPIA seems to work nicely, though the noise is a bit too much compared to its reputation — on the other hand the case is still open. Actually I was not that concerned on the current case and cooling, as I plan to make improvements sometime later. As of the X acceleration, the opensource driver works fine, including Xv, but I'll be trying the binary too.

Risto A. Paju