Archive for August, 2006

August Blogging Review

16:43 31 Aug 2006

Today is the last day of August, and this is my 31st post of the month. I successfully stuck to it. Now, though, it’s about to get harder, because the microfiction will require more preparation, more effort, more polish, more emotional investment, and more letting go.

I intend to still post some non-microfiction stuff through September and afterwards, although I’m not sure about the frequency of that. It’s still possible that tomorrow I’ll decide to punt the microfiction until next week (in which case I have to post other stuff instead), but I’m going to really try to just start the creative writing tomorrow.

As for the August posts, an overview follows.

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Doing Every Day

17:15 30 Aug 2006

A few years ago I read a book called Undoing Yourself. I probably need to re-read it, and remember that it had a bunch of suggestions for “reprogramming” the self (or structuring your consciousness, if you want to put it another way) that I felt were probably useful (but didn’t get around to actually applying). It also had an intro by Robert Anton Wilson in which he stressed that if you wanted to be good at something, you should do it every day.

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September Blogging

18:25 29 Aug 2006. Updated: 09:46 03 Sep 2006

So far, the plan to post every day in August has gone well. I have a slightly more ambitious plan for September: to post microfiction every day.

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Overheard on Luas

19:10 28 Aug 2006

Travelling from the Connolly stop to the Museum stop, I overheard teenagers in conversation that seemed interesting, partly because they were from a demographic that I would have tried hard to avoid when I was a teenager.

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Types of Driving

17:13 27 Aug 2006

In the few years that I’ve been driving, I’ve noted a number of distinct driving environments, or types of driving. I’m not including weather-based types, but rather those based essentially on the kinds of road involved.

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Some Comics

20:39 26 Aug 2006. Updated: 04:41 27 Aug 2006

I’ve read a ton of comics in the last week or so, and some of them have been amazing.

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Favorite Books of 1997

18:24 25 Aug 2006. Updated: 05:46 23 Aug 2009

Just like the last one, this is somewhat late… although almost a year less so. Because I stopped keeping track of the books I read for most of that year, this list of recommendations is going to be rather short.

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On Happiness

09:25 24 Aug 2006

Happiness is a topic I consider relatively often. Most of my musings about flow, structured consciousness, focus, and so on have the implicit goal of increasing happiness. Over the last few months I’ve come across a few articles on the subject that interested me.

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Favorite Television Shows

19:03 23 Aug 2006. Updated: 17:40 25 Aug 2006

I might not watch television per se, but I do watch shows on DVD, and this is a list of my favorites.

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Favorite Books of 1996

17:54 22 Aug 2006. Updated: 05:37 23 Aug 2009

Okay, so this is a little late… but 1996 is the first year I kept (sporadic) track of what I read, mainly during the time I was living in Berlin. This is some commentary (on the books from that year that I can still remember…).

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The End of the Points Race?

07:06 21 Aug 2006

The Irish Times today has “‘Points race’ may be over as CAO requirements tumble” as its main headline. In Ireland, entry into university courses is determined by Leaving Certificate results. (The Leaving Certificate is a set of national exams that occurs after your final school year). Grades in the various Leaving Certificate subjects are worth points in this system, hence ‘points race’. Demographic changes have pushed the numbers leaving school (and competing for university places) down from about 70000 to about 50000, meaning a much higher percentage of students will get into their courses.

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Trivial Free Will

16:53 20 Aug 2006

I believe in free will, and the ability of the individual to make free choices. However, I do think that there are obvious limitations on this ability, and do not believe in what I term “trivial” free will.

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10:59 19 Aug 2006

My web browser of choice is Firefox, which I prize for its openness, flexibility, and extensibility. Since I do web (application) development for a living, do web (application) development as a hobby, and in addition get much of my news/information from the Web, it’s important to be happy with my browser.

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Web Application Development

09:30 18 Aug 2006

There’s something about it I really like. I’m not entirely sure what that is, but at this point I seem to like it more than other kinds of software development. I don’t think that this is merely because I’ve done more of it than anything else.

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Driving in Ireland

16:42 17 Aug 2006

I did some driving here today, having managed to get myself added temporarily to my father’s car insurance policy. This meant dealing with the whole “other side of the road” thing.

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Email Via SSH Tunnel

07:43 16 Aug 2006. Updated: 14:02 11 Jan 2007

SSH is a secure way of connecting from one computer to another. I use it very frequently to log into the command line of my machines at home. Recently I’ve become more interested in using “tunnels”, or “port forwarding”, and just set that up for email from my laptop.

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A Review of The Glass Bead Game

09:50 15 Aug 2006. Updated: 07:31 26 Aug 2009

Last night I finally finished Herman Hesse’s The Glass Bead Game, after fourteen days of slogging through it. It contributed to his winning the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1946, and has a host of admirers (as seen in the Amazon reviews, for example). I couldn’t stand it.

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Good Writing

08:23 14 Aug 2006

I had a conversation with a friend last night that reminded me of something I have often felt: I have no idea what constitutes good writing.

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Version Control

02:55 13 Aug 2006

I’ve recently begun moving more or less all of my digital documents into a version control system (using Subversion). This sounds a little geeky and esoteric, and is in implementation, but I think it’s something that would benefit almost everyone who uses computers frequently.

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Fear and Trust

12:50 12 Aug 2006

It’s extremely important not to get sucked into a binary “protective government versus evil terrorists” mindset. That dichotomy is false. In truth, the average person in the West is at odds with both the government forces and the people who are trying to blow up planes. Both sides are extremely interested in a fearful populace—the attackers because that’s their point, to make people afraid to try to make them unwilling to continue supporting their governments’ efforts, and the governments because it’s much easier to rule and exploit people who are afraid. And people who are afraid will be much more willing to cede more power to their governments, as we’ve clearly seen since 2001.

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Airplane Security/Bomb Plots

10:32 11 Aug 2006
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No Television

19:30 10 Aug 2006. Updated: 20:38 27 Jun 2013

Several months ago, I posted about unplugging the cable feed from my television to see if that would help me watch less of it. It did, to the extent that I stopped watching television entirely. I just didn’t have enough of a desire to do so, and the few minutes of effort required to plug the cable feed back in was enough to put me off.

Soon afterwards I decided that I really didn’t need to pay my cable company $50/month for a service I wasn’t using at all, and I cancelled the service. So I haven’t watched any television at home since April, and almost none elsewhere, either. It’s around in bars and so on, and when it is there it’s hard for me to ignore it, but I don’t have much of a desire to resume the service.

Sporting events have been the hardest. Anything else on that I want to watch I know I’ll probably enjoy more on DVD (e.g. Lost). Sports, on the other hand, makes most sense live. Baseball season has started again, and the NBA Finals were apparently excellent this year (I really thought that Miami would lose that series, showing what little I know). Then there were the two Nadal–Federer Grand Slam finals, both of which I really would have liked to watch. Especially the French Open. And then there’s the World Cup. I didn’t watch a single match. Which I do regret a little, because I’m sure there was a lot of good football there.

I think it’s better that I don’t have cable. (Which means I don’t have any television at all, since my place doesn’t get an aerial signal.) I clearly don’t miss the sports that much—or I would have made the effort to go watch them elsewhere—and in return I get a lot of time I would otherwise waste. When I do watch things, they’re things (usually on DVD) that I want to watch, as opposed to things I’m watching through inertia.

It’s probably not unconnected to the amount of reading I’m doing, either. Between escapist television and escapist reading, I think I prefer the reading.

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Some Plans for sfmagic.org

07:14 09 Aug 2006. Updated: 10:29 11 Aug 2006

I run a statistics-oriented site for the weekly Magic: The Gathering drafts I play in, sfmagic.org. I started it about two years ago and have been tinkering with it in small ways the whole time, but now plan to make some major changes, including:

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