Month: August 2010

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In retrospect, the chances of certain events coming together in that specific exact order, and during those specific exact time slots, seems highly unlikely if not impossible. The following chain of events takes place on a crowded train on my way back home from work.

With my left hand I continue to make various movements on the touchpad while at the same time keeping my netbook balanced precariously on my knee. With my other hand, I pick up the Cola bottle with my lower three fingers, and using thumb and forefinger I try to unscrew the cap.

This movement proves a bit too challenging for the anatomy of my hand and its fused metacarpals. At once the plastic cap is screwed off completely loose, and the awkward pressure between thumb and forefinger flicks the cap to the side. It falls to the floor and keeps spinning on its side.

The uncapped bottle is put back down on the narrow mini shelf next to the window. I then bend over, try to reach down and grab the spinning cap which has purposely hidden itself between the other passengers' feet.

At that exact instant, the train comes to an abrupt halt. This jerking motion gives my bending back just the right extra momentum to reach far enough and scoop up the little cap.

At the next instant someone in the adjacent compartment yells, "Did someone just knock over a Cola bottle or what?"

The law of inertia dictated that my uncapped soda-pop bottle should tip over and fall perfectly between the arm rest and the wall. It angles downward slightly so that most of its shaken contents had sloshed out and foamed the poor passenger sitting behind me.

Sorry about that. Oh, it doesn't matter, don't worry about it.

I'm thinking what a mess and see tentacles of amoeba-like protrusions spreading along the floor as the train shifts back and forth. Do I need to clean up the mess? How then, when I don't have anything with me which can absorb it.

Feeling embarrassed, I grab an old newspaper and go about rubbing non-absorbent paper on the liquid. The gesture that I am trying to improve the situation, when in fact I'm making matters much worse, seems to calm down the passengers around me. Though the one guy across from me has this aggravating snicker on his face, though it could be a smile of compassion.

When the train arrived at my destination, I felt very relieved to escape this uncomfortable situation. The soles of my shoes kept sticking to the cement walkway, but after passing through a couple of puddles the stickiness went away.

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I was late and had a train to catch. Because of the heavy rainstorm that night, by morning the subterranean walkway to the platform was flooded several centimeters high.

Nature was challenging me yet again with one of her creative obstacles.

In order not to miss the train and arrive at work on time, I had a difficult decision to make. My quick deductions narrowed down the choices to three possibilities:

  • Turn around and go back up, take a longish detour and make a mad dash around to the opposite entrance to the train station which was still dry, taking five additional minutes.
  • Take off my shoes, then my socks and roll up my pants, wading carefully though the water in my bare feet, which would take an extra minute.
  • Take the dare, make a large leap and just run as fast as I could through the water hoping not to get too soaked, which would result in no delay at all.

Most of the older people had calmly positioned themselves to the side or were reclining on the stairs taking off shoes and socks, while the younger folks were making large leaps and just going for it. A couple people had turned around but were standing in mid-step, motionless with their backs to the water wondering if what they were doing was the right choice.

Being young at heart and not wanting to risk being late, I made two cautious steps backwards, ascending slightly, and not thinking I took the running leap.

This was risky business but invigorating at the same time. It reminded me of the good old days as a kid when running through puddles was so much fun. The great part is that while doing running through the water, you get to splash all of the carefully wading people and soak them anyway.

By the time I arrived in Amsterdam my feet were completely dry, but the adventure remains to this day fresh in my mind.

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Ramble On, And now's the time, the time is now, to sing my song.
I'm goin' 'round the world, I got to find my girl, on my way.
I've been this way ten years to the day, Ramble On,
Gotta find the queen of all my dreams.

- Led Zeppelin, Ramble On

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golf-in-portugal.jpg
My birdie putt on hole 12 just lipped out.

With much pleasure, I played the Gramacho course in Algarve, Portugal three times with half-decent scores of 81, 82 and 84 in the afternoon tropical heat. You would have thought that playing the course more often would have made it easier, but for me it was exactly the opposite.

The greens are often sloped at sharp angles, super fast, with the flag tucked tightly right behind a foreboding bunker, so prepare yourself for difficult chips and many more three-putts than you are used to.

The higher temperature makes the ball fly further, but there's always some unexpected danger around every corner. Bring a couple liters of water with you and rent a golf buggy.

This course offers a challenging variety of holes which do not play too long. However, the smallish greens are treacherous surrounded by huge, deep sand traps which often extend back a hundred yards into the fairway, waiting to engulf even the slightest misjudged shot, of which I found too many.

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First of all the music is chosen at Radioparadise Internet Radio, broadcast over various fixed backbones, bifurcating land-line meshes, and travels through the ether and time ...

... then it enters by Vodafone Connect USB Modem via mobile broadband ...

... is processed by Audacious Audio Player running under Xubuntu Lucid Lynx on my little MSI Wind U100 netbook ...

... finally passing through my Sennheiser NoiseGard PX 250 headphones to my ears.

That's alot of fancy technology doing all kinds of complicated stuff, all the while the train speeding north towards Amsterdam.

In the end after all that processing, preprocessing etc, the music sounds great. As if I had decided to stay at home listening to the normal old-fashioned fixed radio from there.

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Just as in life with its many difficult decisions, when entering the train one must choose between sitting on the right side or on the left side. A correct decision will define the quality of the trip from beginning to end, so it's fairly important that a certain amount of deliberation takes place.

Assuming that there are still enough unoccupied places in the current carriage or in one nearby, the choice is based on a couple of non-trivial though important factors.

The right side of the train. This is the sunny side which is nice if you are seeking some extra warmth on days which are not too overcast, say when the temperature is a bit cooler than usual. There might be a slight glare while looking at the beautiful countryside passing by, especially during the fall and winter when the sun drags its feet a bit lower on the horizon. If reading a book or a newspaper, the extra light makes perusing such literature a more pleasant activity, at least for me where clarity and contrast of black on white is important.

The left side of the train. This is the shadowy side which is better if one is trying to read email on a laptop or on exceptionally warm days when a crowded train carriage can cause one to sweat and huff and puff more than usual. While more pleasurable to sit in the shade during the latest heat wave, most others are thinking the same as you. Meaning that the extra mass of human cytoplasm will tend to collect on this side of the train and make any available seating much more cramped and uncomfortable. Especially if that fat lady who always smiles at you comes and sits next to you again.

The main problem for me is trying to remember which is the right side and which is the left side of the train. In the afternoon, the train travels in the opposite direction as in the morning. So remembering is a bit less obvious than just looking at which side of the tracks you are standing on. The same train might stop several meters further up or even at a different platform. Once inside of the train, searching a while for an unoccupied seat, one becomes confused and disoriented. On hot days vertigo might kick up the dust in your head.

If by chance you are rushed and forget to think about right versus left, then the odds remain fifty-fifty anyway. Just don't think and get on with your life like all of the other normal folks sitting around you.

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Whenever starting another Perl project, the very first command you should run better be the following:

$ module-starter --module=My::Module --author="[your-name]" \
    --email=[your-email] --builder=Module::Install

This provides the developer with a basic environment for writing solid Perl code, e.g. a new directory called My-Module with all the good stuff ready for use:

MANIFEST
README
ignore.txt
Makefile.PL
Changes
lib/My/Module.pm
t/pod-coverage.t
t/pod.t
t/00-load.t
t/boilerplate.t
t/manifest.t

After that it's the following, and off you go.

$ perl Makefile.PL
$ make
$ make test
$ make install

Life couldn't be easier could it?

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Remember the good old days when the word 'urgent' really meant something? When an occasional exclamation mark or two could raise one's attention level like a good kick in the rear?

You would see that word and jump, it was truly an eye-catcher. Got to do something right away, or else! Had it appeared on an envelope falling through your mail slot, you could not do anything else before that important letter had been opened and read very carefully.

Nowadays the word appears everywhere, usually formatted as large bold text, more often than not followed by a series of giant exclamation marks. In order to cast a hook into your eyeball in case you don't notice.

URGENT !!!!!!!!

I don't know about other people or the average human being, but I've become so numbed by word 'urgent' that I'm embarrassed to admit that I do not notice it anymore.

I should be careful. A life or a fortune could be lost in the not so distant future, just because I do not notice how urgent something really is.

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Information

This personal weblog was started way back on July 21, 2001 which means that it is 7-21-2001 old.

So far this blog contains no less than 2291 entries and as many as 1876 comments.

Important events

Graduated from Stanford 6-5-1979 ago.

Kiffin Rockwell was shot down and killed 9-23-1916 ago.

Believe it or not but I am 10-11-1957 young.

Began well-balanced and healthy life style 1-8-2013 ago.

My father passed away 10-20-2000 ago.

First met Thea in Balestrand, Norway 6-14-1980 ago.