I suppose this is part of the thirties crisis

Well, I’m not yet thirty. But it started a bit more than a year ago, when I was turning 27, with a hellishly vivid feeling of mortality. (No, not morbid thoughts, exactly. Feelings of mortality. I’m told that’s normal when one is approaching thirties.) Today, I’ve been crying a lot, you could say regretting past mistakes, but more regretting my current inability to move past them.

Professionally, I don’t have that much complaints. It could be better, but it could be a lot worse too.

My demons have always laid on my personal side. In the past 14 years, I’ve made choices. They haven’t always been informed choices, they have sometimes, quite often in fact, been reactions against my own perceptions of my own past actions. I suppose the gist is that I am terribly lonely. I have a couple of people I call friends. My relationship with my parents is in order. But…

When I was younger, I had eyes for women. I was friends with many women. I’m not positive, but there were several, along the years, who probably were even interested. But it never clicked. Perhaps I was just then making eyes at someone much further away and I didn’t see the one sitting beside me. Perhaps, had I, or she, not moved out of town, things might have been different. There was one that I probably almost stalked. I’m not proud of that, and in fact, the shame of that memory is probably one of the things that is holding me back now. In some cases, clearly one-sided ones, my inability to reign emotions properly caused quite a few awkward situations. I remember them, too, with shame.

So I’ve learned to grow a thick shell around myself. It helps in dealing with professionals in the proper manner, regardless of their plumbing. It is ia useful skill. But I notice that the thick shell repels those who clearly would like to know me better (there have been a few; I’m not saying it would’ve ever gone beyond friendship, but even that is out of the question when I’m unable to relate). And when I finally figure out how to get out of that damned shell, they’re long gone. In some cases, well enough gone that I don’t even know their names. In others, it’s just the window of opportunity that has gone. But it’s enough. And it doesn’t help that I have this huge barrel around me which I don’t seem to be able to rid myself of.
And so, I come back to this day. I read Weber & Ringo’s We Few (note that it’s book 4 in a series). Maybe I’m just a sucker for martial romances, I don’t know, but they often affect me. But none has affected me this much before.

I’ve been hurting like hell after I finished that book. The ending is so beautiful that it seems to have opened some old wounds, and I’ve been crying. And I curse my shell, the one that is so useful at the office, the one I took several years to build around me just so that I could do my job properly.

I don’t know. Writing this has helped a little. But I’m afraid I’m going to regret posting this in the morning. (And I wonder how this keeping awake is going to wreck havoc with my teaching tomorrow afternoon.)

New year

Thirty years ago I was not born yet.

Twenty-five years ago I was having an adventure in the student village.

Twenty years ago I lived in a red house (there was no potato farm, though).

Fifteen years ago I started noticing politics. (It was hard not to.)

Ten years ago I was nearly burned out because of both the demands of school and all the extracurricular activities I enjoyed.

Five years ago I was doing my best to graduate to Bachelor’s Degree.

Four years ago I had succeeded.

Three years ago I had just finished my Master’s Degree.

Two years ago I was trying to expand my Master’s Thesis into a postgraduate Licentiate’s Thesis. I eventually got sick of the topic.

One year ago I had just barely lost my first elections and was fretting about getting elected as one of the local district court’s lay judges.

Six months ago I was fretting about going to Debconf.
Today, I’ve been thinking about tidying my room.

In 2006, I hope to graduate to Licentiate’s Degree.

I also hope I will be able to make some good progress in some of my bigger hobby projects. And to teach good courses. Maybe even improve dctrl-tools further.
Happy new year 2006!

Jyväskylän yliopisto lööpissä

Työtoverini naapurilaitokselta Sacha Helfenstein väitteli eilen. Olin kuuntelemassa väitöstä. Se oli siitä harvinainen tilaisuus että väittelijän ja vastaväittäjän keskustelusta ymmärsi jotain 🙂 Karonkkaan en ollut saanut kutsua, enkä ollut saapunut väitöstilaisuuteen riittävän ajoissa, jotta olisin saanut itselleni yhden perinteisesti yleisölle jaettavista kappaleista. Minulta jäi siten päivän uutispommi havaitsematta.

Tänään aamulla Keskisuomalainen julkaisi STT:n jutun. Toinen työkaverini kehoitti vilkaisemaan Iltalehteä. Lööpissä luki Tiedemies kosi kesken väitöksen. Iltalehden verkkosivuilta löytyy STT:n juttu, mutta itse paperiversiossa asia oli kerrottu hieman toisin sanoin. ja todella ison kuvan kanssa.

Sacha oli mitä ilmeisemmin kirjannut väitöskirjansa kiitoksiin kosinnan. Avovaimolle asia oli selvinnyt jossain vaiheessa, oletettavasti väitöstilaisuuden aikana, vaikka itse tilaisuudessa asiaan ei puututtu. Karonkassa oli sitten tullut myöntävä vastaus.

Linkittäisin väikkärin verkkoversioon, jos se olisi tarjolla, mutta ei (vielä?) ole.

Christmas balance

I calmed down for Christmas on Friday. Calmed down is exactly the right verb, as I ended up sleeping through most of it. I slept though Friday, hacked during the late evening and night, then slept again most of the Christmas eve. My father came around six to drop me his (other) gift. It was a book on European history 1600–1800, nice, what I had asked for, for I have this dream of writing something in the 163x-verse some time (though I doubt it’ll ever happen). I had received (and opened) his other gift earlier, which was Star Wreck’s soundtrack (probably better than the movie, though the movie was very good too). Opened also my mother’s package which I had picked up earlier in the week from the post office’s local agent: a Heidi Hautala scarf, a long scarf made by my mother herself, and some writing material. Thank you! I slept through most of Sunday, too.

Advance subscriptions to Jim Baen’s Universe opened also on Christmas eve. Picked up the Titan membership, for even the other membership classes appealed to me (extensive Tuckerization rights, yessss!), they would have posed cash flow problems. So I took the Titan one, hoping that it will help the magazine at least a little. However, I started reading one of the books that came with the advance subscription package, Empire from Ashes by David Weber, and helped me spend most of the time I wasn’t sleeping (of course, I realized later that I already had that book, since it came with the At All Costs hardcover bonus CD).

Today’s minus fifteen degrees, along with the threat that it might actually go below twenty today, made me finally look for my long johns. Surprisingly, my current trousers have been warm enough without long johns even slightly below minus ten; but I knew I’d have to look for the long johns eventually, as a Finnish winter at Jyväskylä’s longitude just isn’t complete without at least a few days of minus 25 degrees. All Celsius, naturally.

All in all, it was a most relaxing Christmas 🙂

Phishing Amazon user data

I’ve seen from several sources messages of the following kind:

Subject: Please verify and update your Amazon account !

Dear Amazon®   member , 

    It has come to our attention that your Amazon account information records are  
out of date. That requires you to update your account information . If you could 
please take 5-10 minutes out of your online  experience , and update 
your account , you will not run into any future problems with Amazon 
online service.                                       

   However, failure to update your records will result in account termination. 
Please update your records in maximum 48 hours.  

   Once you have updated records, your Amazon session will not be 
interrupted and will continue as normal.

      To update your Amazon account information click on the following link: 

        (link suppressed)

 Best Regards ,
Amazon Security Departament                                   

Disregarding the very sound general rule of thumb telling us to distrust any mails that ask us to “reconfirm” our account details at whatever company, this mail is fairly convincing. The greatest clues that this is a forgery are such that Grandma Pihtipudas will unlikely notice them: the mail has been sent to several addresses I know are not registered with Amazon, and the link uses a well known URI spoofing technique.


Strange sounds

It’s ten past nine on a Monday morning. I am usually at work at this time, but not today. Tomorrow’s the Independence Day, and I’m, as usual, staying home for the single work day that this generates.

Suddenly, I hear a very powerful growling sound. It lasts about ten seconds. It is so powerful that everyone in the neighbourhood ought to hear it.

About twenty seconds later, there are a series of equally powerful electric but almost otherworldly jingle sounds. They last about ten seconds.

About twenty seconds later, the general alarm is sounded: a continuous siren first raising the pitch then lowering. It stops after one “wave”.

A relief: it is a test of the general alarm system.

I had read about the sound-based remote control of the general alarm system, but this was the first time I observed it in use. Had I not already surmised that this was going on from the start, I would have been seriously frightened by the strange sounds.

About a minute or two later, while I was already composing this, I heard very faint jingling, followed by a very faint general alarm. Obviously, the system was being tested elsewhere.

Small purgatories and minuscule pleasures

The worst possible condition of a walkway is created as follows:

  1. Let snow fall on it
  2. Use a snowplough to clear it up
  3. Rinse, repeat.
  4. Pack the remaining snow tight
  5. Let the temperature be a few degrees above zero Celsius, then let it fall slightly to negative degrees
  6. Let it rain water.

The result: smooth, wet ice. What we call ‘skull condition roads’ here in Finland. We had that, minus the final rain, and it was very slippery. I was careful, and didn’t fall (but that’s just luck).

In other news, chinese cabbage is very juicy indeed.