DIARY 2011















Wed, Oct 19

<00:03 EEST> It has been a while since the last post, and it seems like the time to remind the two or three readers, that this diary and its maintainer are alive, if not always 100% well. The first period of school this year is over, and in retrospect it appears to have gone smoothly and quickly. As it should, it being my second year at the school. In some ways, though, life has been somewhat tiring and dull. I have been diagnosed with some persistent allergy that might in part explain the general lack of energy, but so far I have only been prescribed a generic treatment for the symptoms.

Mixed feelings await the second period. On one hand, I can already hear and feel myself being crushed under the workload that is hardest yet to come. On the other, I look forward to doing some experimental science after a period consisting of mathematics only. The increased activity comes at the cost of planning; it is harder to improvise when you need to decide on the equipment on the previous day.

This week being the autumn break, I am trying to find an empty state of non-doing. Trying to be a human being for a while, rather than a human doing, or a human scampering. While trying to plan for the next period, of course (pun intended). Past experience has shown that you can waste a lot of time planning too much, since specs may be changed at the last minute, and you get a much better feel for the course after the first lesson. Perhaps planning is the wrong word, since mostly I am just mentally preparing myself for the workoverload. Lessons will pass in a breeze, no matter what, and it would be nice if something skillful happened during that time.

This year, I have often recalled the feeling I had during the work at Kuopio University a couple of years ago. Going to work out of a sense of entitlement, with zero personal interest. The main difference is that I do enjoy the time within lessons, the actual teaching. But everything outside the classroom, all the 'paper'work, and actually getting to the lessons early in the morning often feels insurmountable. The excitement of teaching keeps me awake for the day, but the rest of the day I often just want to sleep, especially after early mornings.

I believe that many people are simply not cut out to give their best at 8 am, and I am one of those people. In some lines of work, this might soon be obvious to the superiors and the employer. In many cases, it would simply go unnoticed; I am looking at you, the office worker, who casually resumes their morning coffee while sifting through emails for the first couple of hours of 'work'. Perhaps the idea of giving a presentation might sound like demanding work for you — imagine doing that throughout your days, while being socially engaging.

Speaking of changing the subject, the time-honoured tradition of film reviews lives on at the diary. Tonight's entertainment consisted of Freddy vs. Ghostbusters, and if you can forgive the poor sound engineering typical of amateur cinema, it is a nice piece of work. Most importantly, it is short enough to contain the idea tightly. Special effects are surprisingly good, and not overused. I have yet to see the sequel, and given its full movie length, I hope the producers have maintained the pacing.

However, it is last night's film that keeps playing in my head. Or at least Pavane, Op. 50 from Gabriel Fauré, that featured a couple of times in Mr. Nobody. Being the kind that learns to play by ear, the tune has turned out rather tempting for me. The movie itself succeeds in one of my pet peeves, popularizing science in non-SF media. The central topics, the arrow of time and the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics, are both subtly hinted and explicitly lectured on, though not too extensively. Two earlier films easily spring to mind: Butterfly Effect and the Truman Show — the latter perhaps in part due to the eerie similarity between Jared Leto and Jim Carrey. The Butterfly connection is more or less acknowledged in the film; in some sense, the two are different takes on the same underlying idea: What if I had chosen differently? Maybe I did, but in this branch of the many worlds, my choice was the only one and thus the right one.

Risto A. Paju