tales from urban dilettantia

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Welcome To Leftovers-Night

This post is like a Leftovers-Night dinner.  You’ll see.

Right now I’m doing some work that involves re-running a model through twenty or so different scenarios, and each run takes around a minute, so I have Notepad up and am using the runtime to write. It feels like a luxury to have some time to start thinking about having a page to fill with words.

I’ve been trying to manage the number of hours I’ve been spending in the office, but even when I’ve been able do that, the intensity of the last month has been something to behold. There’s not much I’m able to say about it in a public forum, but it involves a lot more responsibility and a whole bunch of time-critical work. I’m hopeful October will see a promotion, as I feel there’s a significant mismatch between the level I’m on and the work I’m doing.

Over the past month, the last module of my professional qualification has started up, so I’m studying and involved in a bunch of other things too. I know it’s something I come back to time after time here, but the struggle to manage commitments seems to be something of an ongoing theme in my life. I made a mind-map while I was having lunch yesterday, and even though many things spawned sub-commitments and began to ooze from the edges of the A4 page, it feels better to have the majority of it laid out.

Out of everything I’m doing at the moment, passing the last module of my Grad Dip is far and away the most significant one when it comes to my long term well-being. In part, this is because repeating will be a very expensive exercise, but more because the timing of finishing the course directly relates to when I’ll be free to leave my current employer without having to repay my sizable study debt. ‘Freedom, horrible freedom!’ as they say. (‘I’m the Queen!’ ‘No you’re not!’)

What else? Oh yes, the week just gone has been a shocker when it’s come to mental health – by far the worst in recent times. While horrible, the upside of this has been that I’ve managed to get through it without messing up anything significant, which is quite exciting – my ability to manage depressive episodes has really lifted in the past couple of years, and this is a topic I’d like to write more on at a later date.

Other than that…well. I’ve seen The Mountain Goats, Jeff Martin and Henry Rollins recently. Rollins was doing his Frequent Flyer spoken word tour, and I don’t think I have anything near the articulacy to express how moving and inspiring I found it. The man is a spectacularly interesting human being, and I find much of his discussion around depression, adventure, happiness and human experience to be almost painfully resonant. (I’m selfishly frustrated that he’s famous, because if he weren’t it would be easier to say ‘hey mate, come have a drink with me and we’ll talk about life the universe and everthing’.)

Musicwise, I’ve been obsessing over a few things, mostly relating to recent gigs. Jeff Martin’s Live in Dublin album is excellent, and I would strongly suggest getting it from iTunes if you haven’t already. portabledave has also put me onto The Tallest Man On Earth aka Kristian Mattson, a profoundly Dylan-esque folk muso from Denmark whose new album, The Wild Hunt, I’ve had on repeat. And then there’s the latest Mountain Goats album, The Life of the World to Come, which has this song about the thylacine, the dodo and the golden toad which just about moves me to tears every time, because (like most Australians?) I’m well aware of the heartbreaking footage they’re referring to in the first verse:

The sun above me and a concrete floor below
Scratch at the chain links maybe bare my teeth for show
Fed twice a day I don’t go hungry anymore
Feel in my bones just what the future has in store
I pace in circles so the camera will see
Look hard at my stripes, there’ll be no more after me
Laze by the shoreline while the sailors disembark
Scratch out a place to sit and rest down in the dark
Smell something burning downwind just a little ways
They set up camp and sing and sweat and work for days
I have no fear of anyone I’m dumb and wild and free
I am a flightless bird and there’ll be no more after me

In Costa Rica in a burrow underground
Climb to the surface, blink my eyes and look around
I’m all alone here as I try my tiny song
Claim my place beneath the sky but i won’t be here for long
I sang all night the moon shone on me through the trees
No brothers left and there’ll be no more after me
(- Deuteronomy 2:10)

 

And finally, a few links that I’ve stumbled across and appreciated in recent weeks:

Swooping & Diving

Welcome Swallow

Welcome Swallow

Welcome Swallow

This year, none of my half-drafted text posts have yet come to anything, but I’ll have you know that they’re sitting there in the dusty attic of a hard drive, waiting to be unleashed.

In the meantime, I’ve posted some more birdwatching photos to Flickr, including the Welcome Swallows pictured above.  Wings are exciting; I’m having fun times (and sometimes frustrating times) learning to photograph wings.

My excuse for not having written anything of substance – one of my excuses, anyway – is that I’m buried not only under unpleasant work (Large Accounting Firm has jumped the shark, it really has) but under an avalanche of side projects.

Some of the side projects include doing a triathlon, getting my diving certification, building a barrel garden, harvesting the local laneway/vergeside fruit, looking for a new job, soaking up as much of the summer cricket as possible, and two secret things.  One secret thing is is about tentacles, the other is about maps.

Somehow I think spending time at the beach needs to be on the projects list, but isn’t. It strikes me that this is a terrible oversight.

Links, Many Links!

It appears to be Random Links-I-Like Round-up Wednesday here at The Flying Blogspot, as I have some random linkage for you. Also, it happens that today is a Wednesday.  (Happy Hump Day, hipikat!)

The Voynich Manuscript – I love this mystery and all the theories that have grown up around it.

Light-bulb terrariums – these are so very pretty, and I do have some old incandescents sitting around the the craft room.  Something else for my infinitely expandable maybe-someday list?

The Ultimate Guide to the Minimalist Workweek – a nice reminder for the start of a new work year; while not all of these suggestions can be applied in every workplace, many of them are broadly applicable.

The word ‘snowclones’– although the word was coined in 2004, I only discovered it recently; there’s also a nice list of common snowclones and their sources here.

‘Looking Into The Past’ Flickr gallery – check out the way these images mash up time, narrative and geography; they make me simultaneously want to research and to photograph more.

Facebook Event to Google Calendar button Greasemonkey script – this is a nice, time-saving little script; I found I had to write an extra <br> into the code to get it to position the button correctly.

Infochimps – masses and masses of beautiful public datasets; I’ll post more on the beauty of datamining shortly.

foursquare (and on Wikipedia here) – I bypassed foursquare originally, as it was restricted to specific cities and because I wasn’t seeing the functionality. However the offers similar basic geolocation functionality to BrightKite and (in some respects) Google Latitude but combines this with a focus on discovering the urban landscape and populating the map with useful information about your area.

Flickr


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About

@dilettantiquity is interested in an unreasonable number of things, including the wide and wonderful universe, happiness, well-being, wine, optimal human experience, non-violent communication, complex systems, existential nihilism, rationality, technology, grassroots organising, cacophony, music, creativity, learning and love.