Wednesday, December 29, 2004

I should be much too smart for this, I know it gets the better of me

OK, so hes not a bastard (yet), he called. I missed the call, of course, cos I was in the spa, but I texted him back explaining this fact, and all things going to plan I will meet him in the next couple of days. We have to leave Wanaka tomorrow, stupid smelly work, but thats probably a good thing, given my intolerance of anybody's company for any length of time, even my best mates. Oh dear, this boy has his work cut out for him, really, doesn't he.
This morning I got up and given the brief break in the rain, I decided to go for a bike ride, triathalon training and all that. I had great ambitions to bike up the Cardrona Valley for a bit, but once I'd got into the village up and down all the hills you don't notice in your car, and through to the other side of the village, where it starts to get to be countryside again, I was completely knackered and realising that I still had all those hills to get up and down on my way back to the house, I decided to turn back. Its hard to bike when your legs are shaking. But having done lots of exercise, I'm feeling suitably virtuous, and glad that I went to all the trouble of bringing my bike all the way down here.

I spent a goodly amount of time reading the news articles about the Asian Tsunami. I don't think I can really compute the extent of what went down, and BBC world coming up with estimates of the dead climbing above 100 000 just makes it seem not real. I have no comprehension of it. I am reminded of what Kurt Vonnegut said about the firebombing of Dresden, that it was just too horrific to comprehend, and that if he had to try and understand it, the sheer horror would destroy him. Thats why he wrote Slaughterhouse Five as a black comedy, cos it was the only way he could begin to understand.
I get that now.

Counting my blessings, as we speak.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

You are the best thing thats happened to me, since I fell on my face on Tuesday

Well I did something the other day that I've never done before.
I texted someone I've never met, well not in the real world anyway.
You see, my friend Andrew is happily married, and wants all his friends to be just as sickeningly blissful as he is. Andrew knows this guy through his work, and swears that he is truly awesome, and that me and him would be just perfect for each other.
And, as some of my nearest and dearest, and a few thousand others know, my recent forays into LoveLand have been interesting at best.
So, Andrew supplies this chap's web journal of a trip he took a couple of years ago (on a motorbike, from Argentina to Alaska, thats pretty cool) which includes a few photos, and convinces me to take a look. So, of course I do, and to cut a long story short, I end up texting this chap. Something along the lines of "Hi, I'm the girl Andrew is trying to set you up with, I've been reading your journal, sounds very interesting, now you have my number" (subtlety having never been a strong point of mine).
So, now I'm waiting for him to text back.
Hmmmm. Dum de dum. Doodle doo. FUCKING TEXT ME BACK YOU CUNTING BASTARD!!!!
No, not crippingly insecure at all!
Don't know what you're talking about!

In other news, I am in Wanaka with my best friend Sarah and quite possibly too much sauvignon blanc ( Joking. Like that could happen).
Just waiting for the spa to heat up, so I can dissolve myself in it.
Distract my attention and all that.
Apparently Andrew told this bloke I look like Marilyn Monroe.
I really don't.
Not remotely.
No, not even if you're really pissed.

Thinking about other stuff, tum tee tum....

Have a super New Year and all that crap, won't you.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

People are Strange.

No really, people are incredibly weird. I can go through days and days without that fact presenting itself to me, and its not that I forget that people are weird, its just that sometimes one is confronted by some nut cases out there.
Heres a way to lose a goodly amount of time: Click on the "Next blog" thing at the top right of the page there, and all sorts of stuff comes up. Predominately American blogs, as I discovered, but some people are just a bit funny. There was this one blog that was going on about Jesus, there was one about knitting (not nearly as interesting as it sounds), some teenaged girl was posting pictures of her kitten and over indulging in exclamation marks, and the real clincher was someone claiming to be an agoraphobic (sp?) and waffling on about Kevin Spacey in "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil".
Although that may have been two separate blogs, and for ease of storage, my brain has stuck them together as one.
Who knows.
Pot paging kettle, yes Tim, I beat you to it.
Am preparing myself for becoming the next ship-mate on The Bounty this weekend. Although, given Saturday night being work staff party, I might not move until Monday.
I have been doing loads of research, and have come to some important conclusions; namely 1) I have no idea how anybody got any decent research done in their lifetimes without LexisNexis, Keesings archives or Google; and 2) we should all be thanking our lucky stars that we don't live in the Philippines, cos its pretty rough there. Unless, of course you do live in the Philippines, in which case, I'm very sorry, and hope you know how to fix it.
In unrelated news, I have new hair, and it is fabulous.

(In manner of heq or similar) Song of the day: "Shitlist", by L7.

Monday, December 13, 2004

I can't pretend I don't need to defend a part of me from you...

Has anybody noticed that song lyrics are starting to appear with increasing regularity as blog titles?
If anybody can name the artists of the last two plus this one, they'll get a special prize. And no, it won't be a voucher for an hour of Claire Love.

Today has been remarkably productive, especially compared to the last few days.
I've finished another two applications for graduate school, I started doing another one, but they went and changed the deadline, so now its not due until January 4th. So I think I'll take the rest of the day off. Yay. Might clean up my office, cos it does appear that a bomb has gone off in here. Then I'm off home for an action packed evening of reacquainting my arse with the big blue recliner chair, and catching up on some telly watching, at which I have recently been slack. I've got the last two episodes of Angels in America, plus last night's NY-LON, plus Sunday's NCIS (really fit bloke in that one). I think a Chicken Makhani and a garlic naan is called for.
In other news, I am having a holiday. I KNOW!!!! How am I going to cope with the shock!! Christmas eve is my last day at work, and I don't have to be back until NY eve. So, guess where I'll be? I wonder if a person can dissolve? I'm going to find out when I sit in the spa for four days. All in the name of science, of course.
Six glorious days of no work, I am just so chuffed.
Other things... I still haven't bought any Christmas presents. My dad is particularly difficult to buy for. (Caution: cliche approaching) What do you buy the man who has everything? I mean, everything. He has a plane, for fucks sake. And a tractor, and a ride-on mower. (I threatened to give him a copy of my thesis for his birthday, and he said theres no point, he wouldn't understand it, and would probably give it back. Fair enough, I don't understand it, and I wrote it.)
Suggestions in the box, as per usual.

And just like that, shes gone.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Its not going to stop, till you wise up.

I've finished and submitted four applications for graduate school in the US. Thats four down, five to go. I have to do two more tomorrow. I also have four days to finish the final list for the project. I haven't done any Christmas shopping yet. I have a cold. I still haven't seen Garden State, or the last two weeks of Angels in America. I'm moving house on Sunday. I haven't finished my thesis. My office is a mess. The magic 8 ball refuses to give me any straight answers. I haven't been training for the triathalon. My socks are itchy.
Time for work now.

Saturday, December 04, 2004

Every day is like Sunday...

I'm having some issues here. (warning: major geek fest approaching)
The dataset I'm supposed to be doing, that the project will be based on, and which I thought was complete some weeks ago, is undergoing some "reimagining". Turns out the government goons that are funding the whole thing think that there needs to be more Pacific conflict in the dataset, and therefore I must include Fiji, Vanuatu, New Caledonia and the Solomon Islands. Fine, they've experienced conflict in various forms, and nobody has collected any information on them, so its up to me.
So thats all well and good.
In order to include these countries, I have to change a few rules, so that the dataset has definable criteria for inclusion. Like, lowering the threshold of battle deaths from 25 to 10. Fine, theres Fiji taken care of. Removing the rule that Side A of each conflict must be the government. Cool, there goes the Solomons in the dataset. Change the definition from civil war to internal violent conflict, that way we can include the hostage incident in New Caledonia, and now they're in. Yay.
So now that we've got new rules for the set, I'm going to have to go back through the original set and code every incident in the other nine countries that qualifies as internal violent conflict, which now includes incidences of riots, coups and insurgencies resulting in ten battle deaths or more. Fine.
I also have to recode the conflicts themselves, because the identification codes we took from the PRIO set don't include IDs for the Pacific countries, because they use the 25 battle deaths threshold, and the involvement of the government as criteria. I'm stealing, sorry, borrowing, country codes from Correlates of War, and adding a specific code for each conflict that I'm making up.
Plus a whole bunch of other codes, like subID, type and incompatibility will need fixing, because each new conflict, being that by inclusion is no longer necessarily a civil war, will need to be coded as war, violent conflict, insurgency, coup, riots etc, and will also need to be defined as ethnic, territorial, political or other. Super fantastic.
However, no matter how much I try and bend the rules, I'm absolutely buggered if I can find a way to include Vanuatu in the dataset, given that in each incidence of conflict as far as I can find out, only one person died. If it was, say, 9, then I could just assume that whoever counts these things missed one person, and then I could include them. But the difference between nine dead people and one dead person is pretty significant. (not that I wished more people had died!)
There is also a problem with Fiji. (in that I'm stuck in rainy Christchurch and am not there lounging on a beach with Joey Rokocoko rubbing my feet and feeding me mangoes).
The 1987 coup is highly significant regionally, in that it demonstrated deepseated ethnic tensions, a hangover from colonial times. Nobody died though to the best of my knowledge, which yay is good, but it means that it can't be included in the project, implying that Fiji has no problems, aside from the 2000 coup and subsequent mutiny. Which it clearly does. (One of which being that I'm not there!!)
Thats the problem with this social science business. You can't just include something cos you think it should be there, not like the good old subjective humanities. No matter how much you want to, cos then other people who know more about this than me are going to do all sorts of flash statistical shit on it, and if it all goes pearshaped, then I'm in the poo. Plus there is the chance that the people who make the policy on this stuff are going to use the results of all our research, and I can't have them blaming the next Fiji coup or the failure of the New Caledonian independence movement on me, a lowly researcher.
I know I can fix all these problems, and if I got my shit together I could even have the complete dataset by Christmas. The thing is, I have a meeting at 10am tomorrow to clear this up, and the powers that be want a complete set by then. Its currently 5.20pm, I start work at the restaurant at 6pm, and I'm still in my dressing gown, having spent the whole bloody day trying to finish the dataset.
I was supposed to spend this weekend sorting out my life! Oh well, its waited 28 years to be sorted out, I'm sure one more week won't hurt.
Normal programming will
Poo is a funny word.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Mmmm. Conference.

I've just been looking about on the interweb, actually doing some work for a change, and I came across a conference that is right up my alley, so to speak. Its called "Pacific Challenges: Questioning concepts, rethinking conflicts", and dagnamit, I want to go!!
The fact that its being held in Marseille is entirely inconsequential, of course...
Theres a whole session on political conflicts in the Pacific, and it will fit in nicely with both my thesis stuff and work stuff. Intricacies of intellectual property aside, I think I can impress them with all the fabulous and innovative work I am doing on coding conflicts in the Pacific.
Now all I need to do is find someone to pay for it.
Donations gratefully accepted, c/o Department of Political Science, University of Canterbury.
Cheers, people.