My Usenet posts
Had an interview Thursday; it wasn’t quite as successful as the one on Monday, but I’ll see how it turns out. Could be interesting, though if I get it, I’ll be using Windows every day, boo hoo hoo.
Friday, I went and drank Guinness to celebrate that I could, then came back and watched Monty Python until the wee hours—my sisters sent me the movies as a birthday present. I also swore a little at the XEmacs lists and the difficulty of convincing people that shipping with a mail client that can’t handle non-ASCII nor attachments as the default is stupid and if our policy means we can’t change that, then we should change our policy. :-)
Yesterday, I bought and watched the movie of The Name of the Rose, which wasn’t amazing, but I have seen worse. Jean-Jacques Annaud doesn’t have the affection for the Middle Ages, despite all its flaws, that Eco does—there’s a stereotypical French attitude since the late 1800s that regards the normal human condition in Europe prior to their revolution as unremittingly hell on earth—which much of it was, but a decent proportion of it wasn’t, as is the case with living conditions in the world today—and Annaud seems to have internalised this. So while, with the book, the life of a Benedictine monk, full of contemplation, learning, debate on the workings of God, the rhythm of the day and the seasons, seems to have its attractions, in the film you see much more of the old men and unreasonable authoritarians, nothing of the rhythm of the place, and Valentina Vargas, who comes from outside the monastery, is much, much more the most attractive aspect of the story. And the monastery is oppressive and dysfunctional much more than it is anything else.
I’ve started Italo Calvino’s Wenn ein Reisender in einer Winternacht, having finished Eco’s Gesammelte Streichholzbriefe. Some day soon I’ll start reading German authors in German, I promise :-) .
I had an interview this morning near Hallesches Tor U-Bahn station, and when I came out of the building, it was 1 PM, and I didn’t have quite enough for the U-Bahn back to Turmstraße. So I started walking, looking for an ATM. Within a few minutes, I came to Checkpoint Charlie, found a map, and realised I wasn’t that far away at all from home. So, I kept walking north, until I got to Friedrichstraße station, on the Spree. I followed the river left until I got, pretty-much, home, past the Reichstag and along the Insel Moabit, in some of the finest weather I’ve seen so far this year—still not uncomfortably hot, as it’ll get in July and August—all in all, over an hour’s walk.
And it felt fantastic—I haven’t done any sort of exercise in months, so that will have made some difference, but I’m sure that the interview seemed to have gone well will have contributed. I’m still slightly buzzing from it, and I’m about to cook myself a good meal, eat it with some good wine that’ll cost around €1.70 a bottle, and then have some good coffee and send some email to people I like. Life is the ѕhіt, man.
Dave’s travel diary at http://www.lesinge.org/ seems like he’s having fun, too. Fantastisch!
Right, news—I got back, early Friday, from five days in London with my friend Adam, during which time I caught up with lots of people I hadn’t seen in entirely too long. The British Museum is much too cool, and huge, and full of everything you might possibly be interested in, and it’s all laid out in a way that makes it look even cooler, in an amazing building.
The British Library is in a less amazing building, the really exotic stuff is laid out in a way that doesn’t really promote them that energetically, but what is there is pretty stunning too. Beatles’ lyric sheets—I think I saw “Yesterday” and “In My Life” in a couple of paragraphs, on the same sheet of paper—a Gutenberg bible, a first folio of Shakespeare, an awful lot of amazing stuff.
Went to the Finsbury Park mosque, but didn’t quite manage to get to talk to an Imman. Ah well, next time. (Not that there’ll be one—see below.)
The best food I had during the trip was in a restaurant with Aisling and Tamara, and aaaggh, I can’t remember its name. But it was cheap (in a London context), the food was excellent, and the service was good. Plus the conversation was excellent—Adam was so charmed by Aisling that he’s taken to saying “bless him” at intervals since, and everyone was fascinated by tales of a town in Wyoming with a sign saying “Population 4” where the four had been crossed out and replaced by a one. As Adam describes it, lots of the western US is socially something else.
Caught up with my cousin Martin and my friend Chantal, too, and it was really cool to seem them both.
Despite all the excellent people, I’m not so into the city itself. Eye-wateringly expensive, the tube is always packed, the food is bad unless you go and look energetically for good food, or pay even more of a premium, ugly traffic patterns meant I spent Thursday night in zombie mode in Stansted because the coach from the city centre took twice the advertised time, making me late. But it was interesting to go somewhere I hadn’t been before, as it always is, especially with a lifetime’s exposure to British media.