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This week had a public holiday on Thursday, which is always good.

Other than that...

Work )
Role Playing Games )
Music )
Movie: Wonder Woman )
Cat troubles )
Weekend )

And that was it, more or less. Quite a normal week, really. Execpt with one day off.
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I'm still alive, kind of. Work is eating my brain, and not in a good way. 2007 was pretty insane, but it was also exciting and in a way, fun. This is just running like a fox runs from the hounds. Anyway.

In the months since my last posting, I went to California with Ceridwen, did a lot of roleplaying, spend a pleasant, if jet lagged weekend on choir practise, got drafted into scripting the performace for the choir's next self-organized concerto, we had four performance, I had a nervous breakdown during dress rehearsal, made a bunch of not-very-good cakes, went to two three-day training from work, and feel as if I have not done much to explain where I left all that time, or why I have not posted.

But anyway: Still alive.
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Last time I was on a business trip in Kosice, I wished that I could go there some time when it was warm. I got my wish. )

(Posted Aug 30th, backdated.)
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I didn't pick up the co-worker from the airport, because he had ordered a taxi, and I wasn't too unhappy about it, because it was cold outside and I was in my hotel room, eating pastries and writing.

The following week, the weather became very nice. Work slogged along OK. Wednesday evening we went into town, into a pub with a basement that turned into a disco at 10 pm. Before it had been quite comfy and I had just stopped it with the beer and started with the whisky when the noise began and put an end to all talk, because it is hard enough to carry on a conversation when you do not really know each other and have to talk in English (which half of the party is not very fluent in), even without having to lip-read.

I left around half past eleven and walked home because it seemed completely silly to take a taxi, and it was mild and windy outside. I like windy. I hadn't felt completely safe inside that place, not being able to understand the language always makes me feel very insecure, and it spreads to my whole mood. Outside I felt fine.

The story is now missing only its final chapter, which will tie up the lose ends and set up everyone for the next instalment. I also started picking up some stories from another cycle and tried to decide how finished they were and what else they needed.

I read "Through the Language Glass" by Guy Deutscher, which R___ had given me for my birthday, and "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy", which I liked, and started on "For the Win" by Cory Doctorow, ate pastries with plum jam, and was, all in all, extremely happy with the week.

Friday afternoon, the co-worker had to go catch his plane again, while my train would not leave until 10 in the evening. We went for dinner in a kind of posh place, where I had duck breast (very good) and potato-chestnut-puree (heavenly), and some Czech beer, and then we went to the train station. My bag weighed a ton and I was quite content to let the men carry it.

I got a sleeper compartment to myself again, wasn't tired yet, and spent two hours listening to music and looking out of the window. The sky was full of stars, and close to midnight we were driving through snow-covered mountains. Finally I nodded off. This time, I had switches off my cell phones, and the only thing that disturbed me sleep was that it was a little too well-heated in the compartment, and I could not turn it off.

In the morning, the conductor brought coffee and then we were in Prague.

Prague is so close. One forgets, or one has never learned. In my mind, there is still the shadow of the Iron Curtain, blocking the way. But we passed the old border checkpoints without even slowing down, and at half past 12 I was home.

I am very glad I had that weekend. It would have been very unsatisfactory being abroad and not seeing anything but the hotel, work, and the bus to take me there. My boss said that I had been very frugal, and next time we should see if I couldn't travel first class. I don't mind being frugal, but I don't mind first class, either. And I wouldn't mind at all to go to Kosice again, but if I don't have to go there for business it's maybe a little far. Though R___ might be interested. Prague, Bratislava, some hiking in the mountains, Kosice, and the night train back? Sounds like a plan.

At home, everything was fine. There was a heap of junk mail but no bills. I did a lot of laundry, overslept on Sunday and so spend the day at home instead of hiking in the hills -- fooled by the weather forecast, the rain didn't start until late afternoon.

And now I have a lot of reports to write, not least of them my expense report. Oh, joy. :-S

Now that I am home again, I am going to un-lock the previous posts, here and here.
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I've been in Kosice (in Slovakia) for a few days now on a business trip, goal is to create a twin of the system we are running in the office at home, and get it running. Which is a slogging, two-steps-forward-one-step-back task, not like that "being thrown in headfirst trying to make sense of stuff" that I had in the US. This time, it's the local team who are thrown headfirst into the deep end, after running only a quiet outpost in the shallows for some years.

The work is OK, though I wish the sun wouldn't set so soon (not even Spring equinox yet, plus, being about 10 degrees to the east, sunrise and sunset come about 40 minutes earlier than at home), or I could manage to leave work before 6 p.m. some day. Maybe tomorrow. And even if not, the weekend is upcoming, and I fervently hope that the local guys are less enthusiastic about working on the weekends than my co-workers in California were.

The guys are a little over-protective, which, together with the work, and not knowing the language, is very exhausting. A bus ride and a walk do wonders to clear my brain, being given a ride in a car, not so much. Also it means that I have very little opportunity to use even the half-dozen words of Slovak that I try to memorise.

The weather is cold but sunny. Even the day I woke up to find new snow had fallen was sunny. I'm glad I checked the weather forecast and brought my winter clothes, though! The city is a little broken down around the edges, with big holes in the street and some large modern ruins standing around, there is some shabbiness and broken backyards, but the streets are clean enough for Switzerland, and the old city centre is quite shiny (as far as it can be determined in the dark). There are a lot of German chain stores in the shopping malls, which feels very strange.

My hotel is about 3 km from my place of work, which makes for an 11-minute-bus ride. I leave the hotel at 8 and sit at my desk at twenty past.

But I am tired. I have slept four nights here, and two of them I was in bed around eight and slept straight for 11 hours. The only night I didn't was when the co-workers took me to a pub, and, well this night, so far. I feel that language takes a big part in this. It exhausts my brain, and makes going into the city after work a task, so I don't and let after-work-exhaustion crash me instead of overcoming it with a walk and a cup of tea or some hanging out in bookstores.

Getting here was quite a journey. We were joking at work that it would be faster to travel to India. There is no direct train, no direct flight. If you do not want to fly, you take the fast bus to Prague (a little under four hours), and then a night train, which leaves in Prague shortly before 10 p.m. and arrives in Kosice at half past seven in the morning. A place in a sleeper car is affordable and quite comfortable, and I would have slept well if my damned cell phones hadn't rung every two hours to inform me that I was now entering a different network. Czech, Polish, Slovak, Hungarian, and Slovak again, wtf? Next time I'll switch them off.

I was picked up at the station by a co-worker and driven to the hotel. It's a nice hotel. I have one of the three-star "economy" rooms, which is large by a little sparsely furnished, and as it is on the upper floor, the windows go to the sky. Also, no comfy chair. But it is clean and non-smelly, the staff are very friendly, the heating is efficient, and there is sufficient hot water in the shower. The one thing I sorely miss is an electric kettle.

For Saturday, I plan sightseeing and some shopping, and eat some cake. Sunday, I'll really need to stretch my legs and rest my brain. Current plan is to go to the zoo. After that, have dinner in my hotel's posh restaurant, and at 11 p.m., maybe take a taxi to the airport to pick up a co-worker from home who has to set up another part of the system. Or maybe the guy can manage on his own. But picking him up would give me another excuse to be out on my own and make me feel competent. We'll see.

Meanwhile, Snow is looking after the cats, and she tells me that they are very concerned about the state of things, and very cute while they are at it.
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In my new (part-time) office, the weather always sounds more dramatic than it is. The wind catches at the edges of the building, and the rain patters on the flat metal roof right above me.

I like it, actually. It's very calming.
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Cut for work stuff, follow-up to previous post )
Sunday: Music )
The Rest of the Week )

For the weekend, there's a weather forecast of heavy rain or sleet, and strong winds. I very much hope for it. November was dead boring, and first Sunday of Advent felt like late October, with leaves still on the trees. I can only take so much nice weather, and this November was really pushing it.
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I just had a Zotter chocolate bar, "Für Schlingel" ("For rascals"), which is dark chocolate filled with chopped mixed nuts (hazelnuts, walnuts and almonds) and just enough whole milk chocolate cream to keep the nuts together. Pure heaven.

Unfortunately, Zotter is not making it anymore (*sniff*).

My cold is a lot better. I still have a slight headache coming up from my sinuses, but I can breathe, and think. And yesterday at work I managed to finally finish the Report From Hell, which I didn't manage since April. Hope my tech mangager OKs it and I never have to touch the stupid thing ever again.

Busy week

Mar. 28th, 2009 01:23 am
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Gwydion and I had the party on Sunday, which was, as usual, an extended breakfast/brunch with too many people for the place (especially as the kids wanted one room to themselves, so the adults had to crowd in the living room and the kitchen) and heaps of food. It was fun, and the usual suspects stayed past 6 p.m. and helped me move every single item of furniture in the living room to make place for the new sofas. We discovered lots of discarded cat toys, and dust bunnies massive enough to stampede and cause widespread destruction.

Monday we were playing Werewolf in the evening, and I was very, very tired, had trouble to concentrate, and was extremely miffed, as some moron at work had entered an incomplete list of files for a delivery on Thursday, discovered it late in the afternoon on Monday, three guesses who got to fix their mess before Tuesday morning. So I logged in from home at midnight, did everything in record time, only do discover at half past one that some e-mail I hadn't taken the time to read told me to take my time, they had discovered more problems and it would be fine if everything was fixed by Wednesday morning. Have I mentioned that my job is insane?

Tuesday at 9 am sharp the new sofas arrived and looked very strange in the old room. I was dead tired the whole day, which was not made better by the need to dismantle everything on my desk at work so it could be moved. More rabid dust bunnies, and me in my good clothes. I haven't done that much moving stuff in years, and I hope I won't again. With no computers on my desk, I could at least go home early and catch up on sleep before singing lessons and going to the gym (which was OK.)

Wednesday was a normal day at work, and choir practise in the evening, which was fun. Afterwards I invited Ceridwen over and we had hot cocoa. The weather was raining if it wasn't snowing, as it had been all week, so I drove her home at midnight.

Thursday I had an appointment at the gym to get the settings for the new machines. The trainer was half an hour late, but we still managed to get it done and I did two rounds, went home, showered, then went over to Snow to watch SJA. After that, I tried to work on the story I hope to finish sometime this year, but chapter eight refused to do what I wanted it to.

Today I have sore muscles, but the week was calming down a little and I noticed how out of breath I was. Talked to Snow a lot, about the recalcitrant chapter eight, and found out that it cannot do what I want it to do because I do not know what I want it to do.

I notice pattern and structure very strongly, and dislike having my own writing "out of pace". The story I'm working on is episodic, ten or twelve chapters (not sure yet) over the course of about one-and-a-half years. Every chapter is about 1500 words and happens in one place, over a short period of time, and focused on one character, but contains flashbacks and parallels to the character's history. At the end of every chapter, the character is in the same literal place where they started, but has moved a lot in a metaphorical sense. There is a lot of world building, but it's low key -- this is not a travelogue. The story is (I guess -- it might still surprise me) about running away and running towards. Chapter eight takes the character back to the first place she ran away to (not "towards") in another life, but I get side-tracked again and again with getting her there, and creating scenery. The movement that should be internal insists on being external. Which does not work for the story and does not work for the character, who is rather introspective. And after thinking about it loudly for hours, which Snow patiently listening to my rambling, I think the problem is that I do not know what I want her to discover in that place.

Now I only need to put that diagnosis to good use and make that damned chapter eight work.
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Back at work for one week, and it already seems like everyone has forgotten to pay their sanity bill last month.

Better things: Pictures of extrasolar planets. (BBC, Bad Astronomy Blog).
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Not enough that the office I work in has an unfortunate tendency to smell like an open sewer due to some plumbing problem, now someone has sprayed some kind of perfume all over their desk which smells like a rat died in a bucket of teenager's fruit-flavoured lip gloss.

Want to go home.
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Just applied for overtime. Not sure if that's a good idea...

Gah!

Mar. 28th, 2007 12:58 pm
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Some genius in system administration has just taken all our computers from the domain. Time to catch up on the paperwork...
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9:19 pm: three items on the to-do-list.




...I've been here since 7:30 am.
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I hate it when it's Friday evening, 7 pm, and my to-do list for the work day has six open points ...


... just moved to seven open points.

ETA
9pm: five items...
9:35 pm: two...
9:52 pm: done!
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It's cold again, but sunny. Some trees, probably cherries, are covered in white and pale pink blossoms. The willow trees have a slight pale green shine to them, and some trees which I cannot name bloom dark red among last year's dark red berries, which occasionally leave sticky red splats on my white rental car. The trees in the mall parking lot are crowded by noisy birds again. I hope the weather holds two more days.

Of course, in the office, I neither see, nor hear, nor smell anything of that. The windows are darkened, and two rows away, the computers are humming, people are talking everywhere in at least three different language or yell into their cell phones because reception is bad, and some folks are having lunch in front of their computers and I don't know what it is they are eating, but I know I wouldn't try it. It smells like wet socks and cabbage. Lunch in the cafeteria wasn't much better, it pretended to be fish and chips, but the fish was like the dreaded Schnitzel at the university cafeteria: bread crust surrounding nothing, known as PNP. Only, in this case, it was stale bread. Stale sweetish bread tasting vaguely of fish. Yikes.

Sometimes, when I get out of office in the evening, after dark, the noise from the freeway is deafening. It's everywhere, you barely notice it, until you pay attention and suddenly think your ears are about to fall off. On the way back to the hotel, there is a place where the freeway noise, channeled and twisted by the houses, sounds like wind-blown trombones or pipes. There are no windows that open, neither in the office nor at the hotel, which I guess shouldn't matter much, you wouldn't want to open them anyway because of the noise and the exhaust fumes, but even with the exhaust fumes the air smells of spring and cold and damp and the day's sun and flowers. Before going to bed I put a "later, please" sign out for the room service, who would otherwise wake me at half past eight and the outside air (the door opens to an outside) is like something you want inside, now. Sigh.
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My week and weekend were not especially interesting, which is a shame. Well, the week was interesting, work-wise, for a given value of "interesting" Read more ramblings... )

Go to the links )

BTW, is anyone else getting spam that claims to be an invoice from IKEA?
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I found one of the Gremlins haunting my computer. It's a busy little security agent that occasionally ambushes Perl. After doing so (and proudly proclaiming it in the lower right corner of the screen!) it returns to its cave to digest, and lets a couple of Perl calls pass unmolested. Until next time...

Rantings.

Jan. 30th, 2007 11:49 pm
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Still not sleeping well. Last night I dreamt that I had to copy a hard disk with a Xerox machine. I felt that something was wrong there, but it didn't quite make it into conscious thought, or what passes for it, in a dream.

Work is driving my crazy. I'm doing a lot of scripting again, which I like, but testing the scripts is like shovelling water. With a pitchfork. (Or copying data on a Xerox machine.) For two days now I came in in the morning, ran the version of the script I had gotten to some satisfactory status the night before to get back into the flow, only to have it produce a runtime error. Same shell, same script, same computer: Runtime error. Sometimes renaming helps. Or using an older version. Or copying to another machine, renaming, and copying back. Sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes two identical scripts produce different results. Sometimes something runs -- once -- and returns the error on the next run, never to run again. The error? Always the same one: it's missing a directory. Only, the directory is right there before its very ... whatever a silicon-based life form uses as eyes. I can read data from it. I can start programs in it. It's in the path. It's in the friggin' system variables. Rarely it happens that something that didn't work on first try will on second. And tracing whatever might be the problem through a jungle of interlocking, interdependent scripts written over ten years or more by at least a hundred different developers is something I have neither the inclination nor the time for. Getting one of those ancient scripts to output its usage line without producing a syntax error has taken me five days in October.

In the meantime, when I'm not trying not to yell too loudly at the machine, I have to do the work manually which the script is supposed to do. As we need the script because the task at hand is boring, repetitive, longish and easy to mess up with far-reaching consequences, that doesn't help my sanity a whole lot, either.

Oh, and the book I've just read was boring, and I can't seem to write a single useful sentence. I've been fighting for a whole Sunday with a simple scene, and it's not the scene that eludes me, it's the words, the cadence of sentences. Language problems. Can you believe it? Can you recommend some really good writing in German which is available on the Internet? I do not mean respectable fan fiction or some fantasy with a reasonable good grasp on the German language. I mean something so far above my own skill with words that I want to be able to do something like that when I grow up. (If ever.)

As the words "a whole Sunday" might tell you, I didn't go out on Sunday. It was raining, and I wanted to write something. Hrmpf. Yesterday (Monday) I didn't even try. The Highlander DVD boxes I had ordered had arrived, I had managed to convince my laptop to play them, and spend the evening fangirling Methos. So there.

My teeth still hurt more-or-less, and I had a good panic (does wonders for my blood pressure) when I was checking my health insurance paperwork and found that the foreign insurance seemed to have run out in November. Fortunately (as I found out around midnight with a no-I'm-not-frantic-why-do-you-ask overseas phone call) it turned out that only the paper had gone missing, not the insurance. (Did I mention that I lose at paperwork?) Little wonder that my hair's getting white.

Well, Tiassa has written a letter (in sky-blue ink with glittering silver specks – Tiassa, are you sure you're OK?), and so has my mother. I ought to send them at least an e-mail, if not some postcards in reply, but I'd better wait with that until I'm in a better mood.
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And broken for, what is worst, no good reason. No reason at all.

Friday )
Saturday )
Sunday )

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