Brain dead

May. 25th, 2004 05:23 pm
smhwpf: (Giles party weasel)
Was up to 4.30 last night writing one of my assignments. All my own inefficiency.

Then had to get up at 7.45 this morning to be present at the first 15 minutes of the exam for one of my courses.

Somehow managed to get some work done afterwards. Then came home to sleep. Couldn't.

Just now I made myself a cup of tea. Leaf tea, as is my wont, Chinese Gunpowder tea in fact.

As I was pouring it out through the tea strainer, I had this strange sense that something was wrong, something was missing, but I couldn't for the life of me think what.

Then I worked it out.

I was pouring the tea down the sink without the intermediary of a mug.

You really do need a PhD (or two) for that sort of thing.

Fortnuately there was still most of a mug left by the time I realised.

Dilemma

Feb. 21st, 2004 01:30 am
smhwpf: (Devil)
It is 1.30am. Tomorrow I am going to [livejournal.com profile] fluffymark and [livejournal.com profile] the_alchemist's Peter Pan readthrough. I will need to get up at about 10.15 to get there in good time.

I have been trying to get onto a more sensible sleep cycle. This will improve my work and my general lifestyle and ability to get all sorts of things done no end. Things are getting better. I have even managed to get to bed before 2am a couple of times this week.

However, the latest episode of Angel is downloading. It will finish downloading at around 4am. If I then watch it, it will be 4.42ish, and I probably won't have lights out till 5am. I will be dead tired for the readthrough and party, and it will probably put me back on a funny cycle and I will get not much done next week.

Where are you, Resolve?

Listen, moron. Go to bed. Get up a bit earlier. Watch Angel before you go. Don't be a complete idiot.

Oh, all right.

Night.
smhwpf: (Homework)
Fleghflewbleah!

Just finished writing my lecture for today on the economics of Labour Market Discrimination. A subject about which I knew fairly close to diddly squat 48 hours ago. Did most of the reading up on it yesterday and last night. Worked may way through over half a Labour Economics book, and the discrimination chapter of another, found a couple of recent studies on the web, got some recent data, organised it all into some sort of order in my head, and wrote what I think is a pretty good lecture.

I ROCK!

Now why can't I do that sort of thing over a sensible timescale instead of all in a crazy, sleepless, caffeine and alchohol-fuelled rush? (Don't worry, not that much alchohol, just a double of Madeira-wood matured Glenmorangie).

Anyway, gonna catch a couple of hours sleep, go in and do my lecture, then collapse and die.

Bleah.
smhwpf: (Owl)
Hmm... was going to do a meme that I got from [livejournal.com profile] the_alchemist but was taking too long, so saved it... will follow later.

Well, quite a weekend. Met up with my old school friend Geoffrey Lewis, who I'd not seen since I left school 15 and a half years ago. He got back in touch recently, having found me through Google. I'm very Googleable, given my rather singular name.

Reasons we hadn't kept in touch: (1) My family moved to Scotland from Devon in my first year at Uni (2) We're both crap.

Geoff was one of my two best friends at school - Couldn't really pick between them. Sometimes one, sometimes t'other. He's a Tory, so we always used to argue politics. Also played D&D quite a bit.

He does computer stuff now, not surprisingly, been out in Germany several years, now with a new job in London, not enjoying so much, staying with his brother.

We still had plenty to talk about... though... probably a bit diffident first meeting. We didn't really argue politics. We talked about some things we were not too disagreeing on (there are such!). Maybe not wanting to argue on first meeting in 15 years! I know it seems a little strange to think there's something wrong in not arguing! Perhaps I worry I might become too angry about some things these days. Though he was anti the war at least...

Still, t'was a good time, had some good chats, not too much reminiscing actually, more talking about what we're doing now and want to do.

Sunday, met up with a friend in London of more recent vintage, a remarkably brilliant (and attractive) young lady working for a Kurdish human rights NGO. We ended up drinking and chatting way, way too long, as we both had work to do, and I had to get back to Bristol to do it. She's just had a rather heartbreaking break up though (and now it turns out he's marrying someone else, just a few months on), so no romantic possibilities there at present, though I would have been interested. Yeah, I know, I'm a hopeless case. *g*

So, when I finally got home, ended up working till 6am. But at least I got a good night's sleep Saturday night. Last night was another late one, writing a lecture for today... sorry yesterday, tonight also, not quite so bad though. Nearly finished the SIPRI stuff though. Tomorrow. One more country to reference. Early morning teaching tomorrow. Gah, the 9.30 seminar no-one turns up to! Should be in bed. Want to keep journal up though. Surpringly relaxed though, given how early I've got to get up.

Might have put down some profound thoughts, but they have quite definitely left the building.

So, that's all for now.
smhwpf: (Owl)
Well, just finished Brazil, the last of my little SIPRI pieces. :-) (still got to do some referencing. :-() They're much less depressing to write about, they're cutting military spending and seeking influence through trade and moral leadership instead.

Big anti-Bush demo in London yesterday, good to see so many people there - though the weight of numbers meant I didn't even reach Trafalgar Square before having to go off to get the coach back. So missed the toppling. But all very noisy and colourful and good-natured and generally fun.

fairly depressing ramblings on war and Bush etc. )

Anyway, enough of all that. Going to London this weekend, meeting up with various friends, including my old best friend from school who I've not been in contact with ... virtually since we left. (My family moved house from Devon to Scotland in my first year at Uni.) We used to argue politics lot at school, he being a Tory. Also played role-playing games and stuff.Geoff found me at my SIPRI email address with a Google search. So that'll be good, though there's some level of apprehesion of how we'll actually get on after all these years. Still,

After changes upon changes we are more or less the same

Then again there's the question of whether I'll actually be awake when I met him. On which note, better get to bed.
smhwpf: (Owl)
Well, that was catharthic!

They toppled a Bush effigy in the centre of Bristol this evening. Alongside lots of crazy, leaderless impromptu protesting, some of which was good, other aspects I'm not so sure.

No violence. But there was a crowd of people, while we were waiting for the cameras to turn up to film the toppling, just decided to sit in the road and hold up the traffic. Mostly buses. People going home from work.

Now, I'm all for disruption in the right circumstances, but to my mind you ought to be disrupting people you actually want to disrupt. I mean if it was a Reclaim the Streets protest or something, then the object is to obstruct traffic, so OK. Or if you're obstructing delegates to an arms fair, or if you were obstructing the routet of Bush's cavalcade, then yeah, that's actually got some point to it. But in a primarily anti-war protest, what the heck is achieved by obstructing random punters? It's not them we're protesting against! It seemed to be a case of 'we're doing it because we can'. That is, a show of power for the sole purpose of demonstrating that we have that power. Er, isn't that exactly the sort of thing we're supposed to be against?

I did actually remonstrate with some of the people in the road at one point, to no effect. But anyway, there was lots else going on, a Samba band and I think it was the Sheffield Socialist Choir (sounded like), so all fun. And then the toppling, which was noisy and raucous. And possibly just a little hate-filled. They dismembered the Bush effigy and set fire to bits of it. And I can't say I didn't enjoy it. Just not sure if I should be enjoing it. (Catholic!) And the ensuing chant...

George Bush, George Bush, George Bush
Is on fire!
We don't need no water,
Let the motherfucker burn!
Burn, motherfucker, burn!

Again, hmmm...

Then there was the impromptu demo. I decided that was Ok and joined it. Yeah, blocking the road again, but to a purpose, to demonstrate and carry the protest around the city. Seen by lots of people, and only transiently obstructing traffic. Different kettle of fish from sitting down in the road purely to block people, when you could be standing in the main protest off-road.

Anyhows. Round the ring-road we went, and then up towards the M32 out of Bristol. As we neared the M32, again a group of people decided to sit down in the lane going in the other direction, and obstruct the traffic jam. But after a while, the march started up towards the M32, and I decided to turn around and go home. Exact wrong direction for me, and I wanted to see the Scotland match. (And don't I wish I hadn't?)

Some people in the traffic queue behind asked what was going on, and while one was really pissed off, another sounded pleased that it was an anti-war demo.

Holy Mother of God, 4.30am. Bleah. Slept for a few hours this evening (sorry, last night now!), due to short night last night, then spent a few hours on the web digging out Brazilian military expenditure. But thought I should post before retiring!

Ah well, to bed, and more Bush topplage tomorrow in London!
smhwpf: (Worf)
Woah! Another near all-nighter on SIPRI stuff. Well, got my first drafts for Japan and India done, which is good. Still well behind schedule, but making clear progress. Gonna have the last two countries, Brazil and Russia, out of the way by next w/e.

I am writing pieces on military expenditure by some other major world spenders/regional powers (Japan, UK, France, China, India, Russia, Brazil), in the light of US military expansion, for the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) Yearbook, where I worked last year. This year I'm doing it as an outside contributor.

I'm finding it a ...demoralising/desensitising experience in some ways... not sure if that's the best word... I mean, I'm seeking to write essentially from the perspective of decision-makers in the different countries, trying to explain trends in military spending, how much and what they're spending it on, and it means I'm sort of absorbing the assumptions of 'defence' thinkers, getting into the language, the way of thinking, the priorities. The whole view of the world as one where security, influence and wealth comes from military power, and of course the whole set of euphemisms and techy language that veils the fact that what you're talking about is better ways of killing people. Network-centric warfare. C4ISTAR. (Computers, Communication, Command, Control, Intelligence, Surveillance, Target-Acquisition and Reconnaissance). Strategic lift. Deep-strike capabilities. Joint operations. Power projection. These are the sort of terms that gives the military guys and the defence analysts the warm fuzzies.

And, the worrying thing, it's beginning to give me the warm fuzzies too. Ooh, UAVs, or some new aircraft carriers equipped with fighters with long-range strike capability, that's what we need. (Where 'we' is whatever country I'm thinking about at the moment.) Which of course I don't believe at all. I'm pro peace and disarmament. Aren't I? Is there really no other way of living in the world, no other source of influence and national strength than more and smarter weapons? Is suppose what I'm saying is that I'm trying to get into the heads of these people, and I'm not finding their heads a very pleasant place to be.

Mind you, I did come across something that made me smile today, in all places on the website of Indian Defence Consultants:

Indian Iraq war ditty )

Always nice when you find something good where you don't expect it. :-)

Anyway, I ought to get myself at least a few hours sleep tonight. Bleagh, one of these days I'll get onto a more sensible schedule.
smhwpf: (Homework)
Thanks for the welcome everybody, nice to be part of this world! :-)

Bit of a moany post today I'm afraid. Phew, long day. Writing lectures. And responding to complaining students. And not getting my writing for SIPRI done that's due er... by the end of this weekend. Problem course.

Y'see, it's Managerial Economics, it's an Economics course being taught to Business studies students. And last year it was slated by the external examiners 'cos it wasn't anything like what is usually understood by the subject, and this year it was put on newbie little me, in my first proper academic job. First time I've designed and led a course. Not my subject either.

So I had to rebuild it from the start, that was tough going but OK, but then it turned out that the economics the business students had done in the first year just wasn't a sufficient preparation for the course I've designed. They've only done fluffy stuff, no real rigorous economics. They'd changed the first year business modules since the stuff I was looking at. And they haaate the maths content! So they are weeping and wailing. But you can't really do without that if you're not going to teach something so fluffy that the examiners are going to slate it again.

Well, well, have to adjust some way. Tone down the math. But it all kept me working till midnight. (Mind you, I didn't start till half past noon, owl that I am...)

At least the bike's fixed. Been punctured. Fixed it on Tuesday, but didn't check the outer tube, and it repunctured on the way to my 9.30 Microeconomics seminar on Wednesday (not such a problem course), so I had to lock it up and run to the station where I could get a taxi to get to my seminar on time that no-one turned up to.

And, on the bright side, got home tonight without too much of a soaking. There are forecasts of gails, and things were worsening, so I thought about getting the bus, but it was about to leave and I had to go to a cashpoint to get the fare, so I got on my bike, cast off, looked up to the sky and said "Do your worst!"

Then I said "Actually, forget I said that. Kidding. Please. Don't do your worst."

And, remarkably, God was kind. :-)

Well, better get to bed. Gotta keep the customers satisfied.

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