Time sure files when you're having fun: revision. Last week's distributed
(3 days) effort on applied fluid mechanics played a nice prequel role for
Tuesday's theoretical binge on the very subject. I still have nuclear,
particles, and some thermo & solidstate to do. Not that I'd focus on
So my message to you all, who are waiting for my emails: I'm not dead yet! (as said by the dead guy in Monty Python's Holy Grail :) Next week, Monday 12:00 is Freedom. That's potentially the ultimate exam for me ever, but probably not. Afterwards I'll have to think of the future a bit more, though I've already agreed to do some industrial R&D in the summer. After all I'm an industrial style guy from an industrial style town :-]
I've managed to do some proper reading as well. G. H. von Wright has written the meta-ethical treatise "The Varieties of Goodness" and the Finnish edition was a joy to read. Like any decent philosophical text, it offers no fixed answers but triggers plenty of thought. Interesting points arise, such as the meaning of human virtues: they are not ends in themselves, but merely tools for achieving greater good. In the end, von Wright goes on to equate morality with Metta. He doesn't use the Buddhist term but the meaning he is after is fairly obvious, in my opinion. As Jaakko, who kindly lent me the book, said, this is good reading in these post-911 times.
Monday is arguably the kewlest day of the week. Of course the veracity of
my argumentation can be subject to heavy arguments.
Tonight's meditation class promised good when Dharmasiddhi was there after some time. He fulfilled the anticipations by telling us that everyone shall take their turn and lead the start of a meditation. That is, the body-mind scan, the transition from human life to meditative realms, probably the most crucial part.
I was in a group with David, and found that he did surprisingly well, just as any of our regular gurus would have. We found there has to be a fine balance between detail and lack of it: it's harder to gain awareness on vague and large parts of your body, but then again you lose your focus by rambling on individual digits. As my turn was next, I had done some planning, but it seemed the process got a lead of its own. Rather than focusing on separate bits at each time, I noticed my focus fas flowing, and unifying the body quite neatly. I felt quite satisfied when I was told it had worked for others as well.
As the final week of revision is going on, it's exactly the general picture I'm trying to understand. There's just an absurd amount of detail you could study for the General Physics paper, but no sane person would. It's nice to go through the old notes and see how much you can derive on purely general grounds.
9 half-pint samples at the festival, 2 more at Jaakko's place, spelling
mighit mistake as my hands are frozen. More details dependent on the twist
on my sobriety.
Orkney Dragonhead Stout,
Cassels Dry Cider,
Dwan Black Pearl,
Dwan Rich Ruby,
Old Chimneys Military Mild.
End of the festival. It was fun while it lasted, but the selection got really narrow towards the end. No Krieks left, so I tried the Dutch Grottenbier which turned out nice, quite like a Weizenbock but more fizzy. Lauri and Lotta joined me and Jaakko later in the evening, and we left quite early to finish off the night at Jaakko's place with some more ales from an off licence. Can't remember the names but I had one Kriek and one Weizenbock. Jaakko had an interesting CD where "Kullervo Kivi and Gehenna" played Finnish classics - the band was in fact Sielun Veljet.
An excellent week, better spend the next one with some revision. Interestingly, I met Kate at the festival with her lecture notes, she was actually revising chemistry. Weren't we all :-)
As other nights of Finnish pardeying, this one went not without song.
Early in the evening, Jaakko and I discussed the weather, particularly
clouds, and soon we were singing Juice's Pilvee, pilvee. "Pilvee" means
either cloud or dope, guess which one the song's about. Later we also did
Kesäpäivä Kangasalla and Finlandia Hymn, both in neat multi-voice
arrangement. When the discussion turned to Finland's recent decision to
build a new nuclear power plant, I thought it was the most appropriate to
sing the one verse of Moscow Student Song which is about nuclear power:
Ydinvoima onpi vaaratonta
säteily vain maidon pastöroi.
:,: Voimalat ne rauhan on vain renki,
kohta pommit pois jo heittää voi. :,:
Nottingham's Sooty Oatmeal Stout; Girardin Framboise (raspberry) Lambic;
Arran Dark; Bateman Dark Mild; Echte Kriek; Göller WeizenBock.
Those were good beers. Of tonight's delights I must also mention the festival feeling. You might even call it the smell of festivals. It started raining, and we (me with Lauri J. and his two friends) didn't want to go to the crowded tent, so we curled up under a couple of tables. It was cold, raining, my glass was empty, but I was enjoying the Thai curry and it just felt great. Later on we found some space inside. Discussed plenty of socio-political philosophy with L.J. afterwards, fueled with fascinating electronica.
The festival is a heaven on earth, but I need to do some studying as well :-/. Probably return to the fest on Saturday anyway, because life, as we know, is short :-).
<16:56> Can you imagine I spent last night in
Stalingrad of 1942? Not exactly, but I watched Enemy at the Gates which
was one of the more absorbing film experiences. While I have
complaints about the storyline, it was realized quite perfectly. You
got very close to the people and their emotional lives. On the other
hand, I felt the script was a bit simplistic and naïve; perhaps that
was the whole point, to provide a self-contained experience as an
outlet from our rather complex lives.
What's really interesting, is that the Russians are portrayed as the good guys. It's understandable as the opponent is Nazi Germany, but a refreshing change from the usual war films nevertheless. The martial aspect focuses on a duel between the top snipers of each side. Then there's the propaganda of making Vasili (the sniper, played by Jude Law) a national hero, arranged by his friend Danilov, and the inevitable love triange between them and Tanya. So that makes it a bit too predictable, but then again we can enjoy the details even more.
Apart from the story, I must complain on the music (by James Horner) which was clearly plagiarized from the score of Schindler's List (by John Williams). Of course the atmosphere was rather similar and it fit in well, but dude, where's the originality?! Nevertheless, it was good enough a film not to be overly disturbed by these problems.
Today I kicked off my share of the beer festival, with half pint of Bateman brewery's Salem Porter. A nice way to relax in the afternoon. I'm going back tonight and tomorrow, as there are so many interesting varieties. That also means I'm only having half pints. Better for my budget as well. :-)
Feeling surprisingly good from the beer festival, and I'm not even drunk!
That's right dudes and dudettes, I had four half-pints. Probably a half of
my usual pub night consumption. To be exact, I had Felix Kriek, Lidstones
Hebridean Gold, Lidstones Oat Stout, and Bess Brown Perry. The first of
these was probably the best cherry beer I've ever had, and the last one
was interesting as I'd never had strong dry perry before.
I can't stress enough how those festivals are about tasting and experimenting, and not getting drunk. I was delighted to see Cathy and Sam both with half-pint glasses, sampling kriek. Tomorrow is another day for another wonderful quaffables :-)
Love the smell of victory in the morning!
I once mentioned to James that my project is a joke. Guess it was a good one, in fact, it was worth an ALPHA! I'm told one of the examiners at my viva was "amused", and my supervisor (Steve Gull, thanks very much!) seemed to share that feeling. So, even outside /. you can sometimes get Score: +5, Funny!
Seriously, that project was one helluva risk. Dr. Gull was surprised it turned out so well, and so am I :-). This is a Good Thing for this year's total grade, 30% of which is due to the project. Now, where should I go to celebrate? Surely not the beer festival? ;-)
It's raining. Not the best possible thing with the beer festival, so I'm
not going tonight. Fortunately it's on until Saturday. The problem is, too
many ales, too little time. Guess today was great enough as it is. I've
even got back to working [out] after a couple of days in strange mental
The /cause is Audiogalaxy, for at least the following reasons:
Skipped the meditation class? Went to Cafe Scientifique which I mentioned before. A nice public lecture on the (mostly futile) regeneration of the nervous system. It's strange how much the cozy atmosphere (Starbucks at Borders) improves the overall enjoyability. Definitely going there again. Did I mention it was Free? :-)
It was the Finnish composer and musician Kerkko Koskinen who once said
in an interview: I sometimes get drunk simply for the hangover, it's such
a sensitive and creative state. While I don't completely agree, I'm
reminded of the positive emotional state I find myself in the morning
after. Last night out with L2 we had some Tyrkisk Peber, and it
turned out a great idea to chew them with straight vodka. The ultimate DYI
version of NH4Cl·C2H5OH. After we'd
tried out the new Cow pub (not good) our thoughts wandered to ye olde
English pubs and off to Pickerel we went. Their idea of double vodka was
Haven't been too productive today as I installed AudioGalaxy. I've found some great old Finnish pop songs like Kaivollinen Kossua by Lapparit, the 'official' song of Hog Feast. The system is very neat, much much better than OpenNap. It's evil and commercial, apparently funded by ads; the whole interface is on the web. There's a small server to be run in the background, which handles file up/downloads. Registration is no pain. It also seems that certain songs are banned due to copyright restrictions, fair enough.
To summarize some key points about AudioGalaxy:
Last night's sauna experience held a number of surprises. Jaakko led us to
The Hopbine near Grafton Centre. From the outside it looked just like
another corner pub; inside was a spacious non-smoking area, ideal for
enjoying the Thai meals we ordered. They had a couple of real ales on tap,
notably Brains SA which had the sweet, round character that perfectly fits
in with the coconut-flavoured curries. With the Cambridge demands for
bright students, you can never have too many pints of Brains.
We showed off some Finnish kewlitude, as Rudi wanted to buy drinks for a party he was going to later, and we also bought a pint of Budvar to quaff on our way to the pub, as we were all thirsty from the sauna. Then again it was in the neighbourhood of APU school (Finns get the joke) where an obscenity of public drinking shouldn't raise an eyebrow.
The Thai curry at Hopbine was a refreshing experience and not too expensive. As of the fine ales, I probably drank quite quickly, as I'd been without beer since Wappu, and I had the shock of the Jyvaskyla incident to share. In that state, I started to talk about the equality/dress thing with Jaakko. It turned out nice as he had some clothing related incidents to tell about as well. I've got the impression that people think it's cool when a movie star features leather trousers or the kilt, but when an 'ordinary person' dons those fancy garments, he must obviously be gay.
This is further complicated by the usage of 'gay' which, as we know from South Park, doesn't always mean homosexual but possibly something more general that's not acceptable. In any case, the movie star example might underlie the problem of labeling; they are people who work with their appearance, so it's cool for them to dress fancily. But we are academics who work with their brains, so we shouldn't focus on appearances?
The labeling problem is a case of not having empathy: people know they themselves have many sides, but they are keen to label others into simple categories.
Back to last night, where I again showed I don't yet live according to my own principles. I'm almost used to the fact of getting snide remarks about my fashion. So, when walking home I noticed a young lady say: Nice skirt, man! For a second I wondered if she was just fucking with me. But, analyzing the tone of her voice, I realized she was probably being sincere. And it made me feel good for the rest of the walk. It's not surprising that women are more accepting to men's fashion freedom -- after all, women have had to fight for it themselves. And now it's time for us guys to do the same thing! There's nothing to stop that except ourselves. Moreover, I think the women have the right to enjoy seeing men who dress attractively, which with the current business-drone armours isn't happening.
New photo gallery is now public.
There will be more albums in the near future. In the meantime, you should
find many new (i.e. previously unseen) photos there.
Revision is losing some of the fun. Getting a bit repetitive, but at least it's optics where you can play around with FTs. You all know what FT means, right? It's NOT a newspaper, dammit.
Time to face reality. The Quantum Info group at Jyvaskyla has 'split up'
and they are not taking any new students. Makes the life a lot simpler
when your choices are narrowed down to Hobson's.
I didn't really expect this, but I'm very relieved, relaxed and satisfied
after returning the report yesterday. The project itself wasn't
particularly good, but just for that reason it had haunted at the back of
my mind whenever I'd been doing something less productive.
As a refreshing change from many previous project deadlines, I didn't cram the writing into the last weekend. This was partly because the analysis itself wasn't quite finished. Nevertheless I found it OK to work on the content while writing it up :-)
The main surprise came over this morning, after many weeks and perhaps months I felt I'd had a decent sleep. In fact I'd attempted to secure it by triple means: A nightcap from Islay, a bit of Valeriana, and earplugs. The last one deserves more to tell; when moving to Owlstone I thought it would be nice and quiet compared to the city centre. Alas, in the autumn us residents were tortured by destruction work, and now it's spring and birdsong which keep me awake. Though I also had the computer on doing some unfinished downloads of South Park and other cartoons :-D
Now, believe it or not, I'm actually enjoying the revision for the last exam. It's stuff from years 2 and 3 which I did enjoy at the time, and doing it brings memories from those golden years. If you are a Mindcom member you already know my latest excitement with system theory: I finally proved to myself why oversampling reduces quantization noise. As a kewl example I computed, that a 1-bit sound system can have CD quality audio if the sampling rate is 2^(16*2) * 44100 = 2E14 Hertz 8-D)
Well, another important point about revision is that it's not a project that needs deep involvement. So I can enjoy a freer schedule, and probably more leisure time. It's quite casual braintertainment, although the quantization noise is an example where you just have to dive deeper into a concept when it bugs you.
Project writeup nearing its finale, well it better be. In fact it's quite
complete now, but needs the usual sanity-check in the morning before
Installed GCC 3.1. It seems that Mandrake has chosen it as their new system compiler, finally, instead of that überhacked 2.96.xy which I never used anyway. In fact I was interested in the SIMD (MMX/3DNow/SSE/Altivec) support, but it seems it's not yet connected to any huge optimizations (MPlayer compiles fine, but no great boosts). For now, they provide built-in functions corresponding to the SIMD instructions, which could be quite useful. Might play around with those some day.
From compilers it's a short cut to languages in general. I've started learning Toki Pona. It's totally kewl and appeals to the minimalist in me. It's basically the RISC of human languages. I can't imagine much practical use though, but then again, I've learned Perl as well ;-)
Images of Princess Mononoke
keep haunting my encephalic wilderness. Saw that film on Thursday night.
Antti was probably right when he said it's the best piece of Anime he has
seen. I still have many films to experience before confirming his claim.
The fantasy story made strong connections to the spirituality of nature we know from LotR and the like. Otherwise it was a refreshingly different piece of fantasy, set in ancient Japan I guess. The LotR analogy goes further, as the main character Ashitaka certainly brings to mind Legolas. There is a level of allegory in the form 'nature vs machine', but more important is the ecological message: humans should not hog everything for themselves, but strive to live in balance with the rest of nature.
Enough for the story, read more at the above link.. as this is my first Anime experience, it gave a brilliant first impression. The subtlety of motion, even in the most gruesome battle scenes, just isn't found nowhere near any of recent films, even if they boast new levels of martial arts. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is probably the closest you can imagine.
The forest god is a story in itself, and the essential role (s)he plays becomes apparent towards.. The Ending, which is just too magnificent to describe. It was an armageddon turned into sheer beauty.
It was several days ago that I finished reading Iain Banks's The Business
so here's the brief review. I expected a major conspiracy matrix in the
spirit of The Illuminatus or the like. It turned out quite different: a
fairly down-to-earth story in a harsh globalized business, a "good story
well told" and a joy to read.
The story centres on an Kathryn who has achieved a high position in The Business, the global semi-conspiracy. She is pictured as very ambitious, beautiful, spontaneous, and should I say enlightened; the kind of woman that I easily expected from a male SF writer, partly because I've used a similar character myself. At the risk of looking chauvinistic, a woman as a main character adds certain subtleties which soften the jagged plot lines into an enjoyable flow.
The real conspiracy is somewhere behind the obvious, well what did you expect. The structure was strange in that, the starting bits contain many key ideas, then begins the softer mode of introducing the reader to the scene, and other plots evolve from that. Then towards the end when I'd ignored the obscure prologue, it all started to come together. I've seen the similar things in other Banks's book as well; from a surface view, the suspense follows a bathtub curve. I guess if I read it again I should notice a lot more subtleties in the smoother middle bits.
As this was the third Banks for me, it's becoming obvious that his novels are more about the story and less about the plot, than the usual SF/horror/fantasy pieces. I find them harder to read than what I usually do, and slightly less enjoyable; my scientific career with reading and writing research papers isn't very helpful. But at least this means there are many challenges left for me in the literary scene :-).
This delay in writing is mainly because I finally started writing my Levitation report. It's funny how, you've worked on the stuff for some time, done some overall planning, but it only starts to come together when you write it. I've yet to do a project which I could complete first, and then just spend a couple of hours writing it up. This is a familiar experience from all writing. Of course I keep saying I can express myself much better in writing. But often I find, that my mind finds new ways of working while a part of it is typing. Particularly with more 'arts' style writing (philosophical essays) and fiction, I've found I've written some paragraph in a subconscious mode -- then looked at it, wondering where that came from, disbelieving I'd actually thought that way. It's not far from the idea that many writers say: their characters start to live lives of their own.
Is it Sunday today? It sure feels like Monday: woke up early and got work
to do. Except I haven't done any work yet, but that's also Monday mode
:-/. There was the President's brunch kicked off with an aperitif. I
didn't expect much socially, and was disappointed to see only one of my
year (Kate). Fortunately I had lots to discuss with Stefan on CERN and
other summer jobs. The food was great too.
Afterwards I chatted with Apostolo, I mentioned a logic problem I'd found on the net and solved, but couldn't find the page again to submit my answer. He mentioned a different, more difficult one: Einstein's logic problem. I solved it after spending over an hour - I kept repeating a silly mistake, but after realizing that, it wasn't overwhelming. The solution is here if you're interested. This was so interesting that I've mentally discarded the previous problem; also seeing how many logic problem sites there are, I can't bother searching for the one I lost.
To my pleasant surprise, I've just got my SRCF account, in connection with the Suomi community webspace. Thus I've transferred my personal pages there, a fact I much prefer over.. the other place. More importantly, the Wappu pardey pictures are now hosted where they really belong.
Python is just too kewl. Spent
about 20 minutes and wrote a script to accompany the new gallery
system (basically, it converts the images and builds the dir
structure). The whole is now a lot slicker to use than my current photo collection and is readily
working with multiple 'albums'. Of course there's a catch: the new
system doesn't have comments or file info, so there are no files
except the images. And just writing the comments kills the minimalism
and slickitude. You just can't have it too many ways at once.
But then again, do we really need the file info stuff? As I showed the new photos to my friend Apostolo, I mentioned the URL is only temporary and he shouldn't try and use it again. To which he replied: Forget about the address, it's the pictures that matter! So the heck with all the text kludge. While I appreciate knowing the technical details -- my current gallery was inspired by Pekka Saarinen's site -- it may be better to let the art speak for herself.
Olihan wappu. Tästä kun selviän, otan kyllä kunnon kännin!
(Man, what a wappu. I'm gonna need a royal piss-up when I get over this.)
I now realize that saying belongs to yesterday afternoon, just after the picnic. Some pedants may actually say that it was the end of Wappu. In any case, I think the royal piss-up was at the ScanSoc party last night. It feels slightly 'not me' to write about drinking ventures, but then again I do it so rarely this calls for attention.
Rudi and I were surprised to be the only Finns at the free-booze party. Of course we were hung over from the previous party, so it started quite mildly, but in the end I felt like I was more drunk than on Wappu! Yet now, this morning, I don't have a trace of any hangover. Perhaps the narrower selection of drinks was a good thing. Also, I didn't have any straight hard liquor -- thank Bodhidharma they didn't have any whisky.
The name of Bodhidharma comes to mind when thinking about my journey back home. I went to the forest in total misty darkness. Having taken some pics on my way, the camera was in my right hand. Then I hit a tree stump and fell over.. precessing through a complete, stylistically clean somersault which left my possessions intact and allowed me to proceed quickly to walking. In fact the camera would have done much worse in the case hanging on my side. I guess the Ninjutsu lessons I used to take haven't been wasted after all :-). The one thing reminding me of the incident is a nasty-looking bruise in my left shin.
Thus ends my last undergrad wappu. Time for work - organizing the tons of pics I've taken :-)
Jolly W-mas dear chumps and chumpettes ::: it is Wappu. One of the few
traditions that don't suck. Last night at Clare MCR was intended as an
international party, but it seemed the Finnish section was relatively
larger than in last year's 'Finnish' parties. And we got to play Suomi-pop
and quaff the mellow Salmari, after starting off with lots of spumante. In
the morning I didn't feel too well and got to the picnic rather late, but
things got better after some refreshments. Then it was time for sauna,
unfortunately many people had work in the afternoon and only Rudi could
join me. Now I've a couple of hour to kill before a Scandinavian party at
King's and this might even involve some work~ish ;-). BTW there are lots
of pics from last night and today, including the Capping of the Statue,
and I'll serve them probably off Willow in a few days.