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shadows of echoes of memories of songs
A word in your year
While typing the words "if I don't post this now I never will" I had a sudden sense of déjà vu. Earlier this year than last year, then!

This is becoming something of a tradition (that is, a well-formed lack of imagination).

Last year's resolutions

 Get AND KEEP work, chiark, earth.li and freecycle inboxes under 100

Chiark and earth.li, mostly, yes. Work email, no. Freecycle, I gave up. I think on the whole that's a success, honest. :-}

 Sort out chiark mail to cope with spam

I made SAUCE a bit stricter and whitelisted the stuff I want. It's still not perfect but it's more under control.

? slim my LJ friendslist

No idea. I certainly didn't mean to slim it by offending two people so much that they stormed off after telling me to FOAD. I've taken the really high-traffic blogs off my flist, though.

 Buy no more flatpack furniture after January

Yes! Though I have now bought more just this last week, in desperation at the storage situation. But definitely no more after this January, either. I have blisters already.

 Fix back light and (if possible) lock on bike

I have a flashy LED for the back, and a working lock.

 No caffeine after 8pm on schoolnights

I have really diligently stuck to this; unfortunately I seem to have compensated by drinking more coffee during the day. Um. HOWEVER, I have given up Coke. For the slightly-win?

 Find a choir

I totally win at this. I am now singing with Pembroke College Choir, and was instrumental (ha ha) in starting an a cappella singing group at work, which sang for two leaving presentations (comedy words to well-known tunes, always good) and did a selection of carols etc at the Christmas Party and is still rehearsing now. FOR THE WIN.

X Find an orchestra or ensemble in which to play violin

On the other hand, I lose at this.

X Leave work on time unless I'm actually busy
X Switch computer off every night


On the other hand, different job, all work-related resolutions null and void. Maybe.

 Try to convert every work-related whinge into a positive thing

Hmmm. I think overall I am winning at this. I have certainly done a lot of positive-thinking pep-talk at work for other people recently. On the other hand I have been feeling quite negative about my own role, & thus feeling like a bit of a hypocrite. However (as I have told other pessimists, & as I really do believe) constantly whinging that everything at work is rubbish a) makes you feel worse about your own work, and b) destroys other people's morale, which c) feeds back in and makes everything more rubbish. Basically, there are three (not mutually exclusive) sensible solutions to work-related doom: 1) work to fix the problems, 2) put up with them quietly [perhaps for the sake of other benefits which outweigh the problems, eg cushy hours/salary/location/perks] or 3) look for a better job elsewhere, while bearing in mind that all jobs require you to do things you'd rather not do.


This year's resolutions

The usual mixed bag of one-off tasks and vague directionless self-betterment.


Freecycle a) car, b) vacuum cleaner

The car went from being a Bone Of Contention to an Albatross when it, like the previous car, stopped being worth fixing. I have already phoned a scrap company who have a) promised faithfully that they will phone me back, and b) claimed that we will be fined £50 if we try to cancel after they have made this promise. Re the former, I don't believe them, and re the latter, I think they have less legs to stand on than an actual albatross. WHY does nobody want an old car which doesn't work... ah.

(The vacuum cleaner is fine, but we have two, and only need one.)

Get eyes tested

I suppose it's cheating to post this when I've actually already done it but I did put it on the list long before I got round to posting it! Admittedly I was rather pushed into action by my glasses breaking: a week of wearing the old prescription was quite enough to motivate me to find out about eye-test vouchers from work and book an appointment. I now a) have nice new glasses (designer glasses! from Diesel!), b) have prescription sunglasses, for the first time ever, and c) would like to recommend P B Conway on George Street, Oxford, who were professional, efficient, helpful and friendly.

Reactivate Oxford Union card

Oh, whatever, but, you know, I paid them loads of money back in 1996, and I probably should get round to being able to use the services to which I am entitled, since it won't cost me any more money now.

Get piano tuned

It has been through two house-moves since the last time it was tuned, over 2 years ago. To be fair, it is still in tune with itself (apart from the topmost couple of notes) and only a nano-tone off concert! I have booked an appointment already.

Sort out ISA and/or Find out about overpaying Student Loan

Trying to turn "SORT OUT MONEY" into a SMART resolution, there. I find myself with Enough Money. Clearly the sensible thing to do is save frantically in the hope of being able to afford to buy a house so that when the icecaps melt and we all end up underwater we have more to lose we can feel like proper middle-class grownups and spend all our lives saying 'blah blah mortgage' ... you know, I can't remember why we're supposed to want to swap our four-bedroom house, 20 minutes' walk from the station, for a 1-bedroom flat in Murder Central, Rose Hill (which is all we'd be able to afford). But basically either a) we can save enough to buy something worth buying, or b) we will have loads of savings to spend on, er, pie, or something. Either way, win.

Deal with all remaining change-of-address stuff (!)

Jesus Christ on a bike I mean I moved house over a year ago and some of this stuff is COA from two houses ago. Come on.

Tag my LiveJournal to date

Ha ha! Rebirth of a resolution from 2005!

Two other LiveJournal-related resolutions

This too! But I still haven't done them, and at least one of them is still possibly interesting/relevant/possible, though the username-of-choice has gone now, curses.

Catalogue the rest of our books

On LibraryThing, which goes from strength to strength in terms of usability. We have now catalogued over 1,300 books, and that's probably about ⅓ of the total.

Knit a thing that uses increasing and decreasing
Crochet something
Keep remembering how to make paper-folding stars

I am knitting 1 x dinosaur! It needs lots of increasing and decreasing and suchlike. I am also knitting a scarf, which is non-challenging and is something I want. My mum taught me (again) to crochet over Christmas, and I want to do something with that before I forget how to do it.

The paper-folding stars are a thing my mum learnt from Auntie Mila -- oh look, I already mentioned this -- and I really, really want to preserve that knowledge. It may be that my sole purpose in life is to be a carrier of memes. Ask me how to make paper stars! (In real life, I mean. I don't think I could write instructions down. Nor could my mum.)

Read War & Peace and Ulysses

Before I'm 30. Really. I am 200-odd pages through W&P.

(Incidentally, all other suggestions of Things To Do Before I'm 30 gratefully received. I have less than 5 months.)


Go running at least once a week

I have done more running than I ever thought I would do in my life (given that I never thought I'd do any): a lovely route near parents' home on Boxing Day, a surprisingly hilly route from here on New Year's Day, our usual work route last Thursday, a new work route on Friday. It's strangely addictive, in a kind of masochistic way; and it's doing me a lot of good in terms of general fitness, fresh air, and sociableness with colleagues.

I and some of said colleagues are thinking of going for the Oxford Town & Gown 10k charity fun run in May, but I'm not going to make that a resolution; it's just something to aim for.

Get up in the mornings
Morning pages

Har har. Since writing these resolutions I have revised them slightly to make them a bit more likely:

- get up early enough to have breakfast every day for at least one (working) week
- do morning pages every day for at least one (calendar) week

and added one more to make the whole thing more possible:

- get to bed before midnight on 'schoolnights'.

Basically I am hopeless at mornings. I get into work on time, but I'm basically asleep until about 10am. Getting woken up by noise outside from 6:30am REALLY DOESN'T HELP, but if I got to bed at 11 or even earlier it wouldn't matter so much. I am hoping that trying to keep slightly-more-sensible hours all year, and actually-normal-grown-up hours for two fixed-term periods, might make me a bit less useless.

Stop biting fingers, ffs!

I MEAN FOR HEAVEN'S SAKE WOMAN YOU ARE NEARLY 30 and if you can't find it in yourself to control what you put in your mouth then you really shouldn't be allowed out without a chaperone.

I am always saying that it's just a decision, that one doesn't have to have this mystical quality of "willpower" before doing things like this. Time to walk the talk.

I have actually stuck to this so far.

Spend 4 hours per week (not at work) working at programming

I work with lots of talented and dedicated programmers, some of whom are total fucking geniuses. I am at best a hacky scripter. Basically I have teh 1337 bluffing skillz, am quick to pick up the buzzwords, can Google quickly & intelligently, and have enough basic clue to get me far enough to avoid falling on my arse too often. I don't think I'm ever going to be a great programmer (fortunately there are other aspects to my job!). However I am determined to try to learn things properly rather than just constantly saying "oh yeah JS/AJAX/PHP/XSLT/whatever how hard can it be" and cutting and pasting and filing the numbers off and changing variables and guessing. So: a time-related goal, rather than a goal-related goal, because I think the goalposts are more likely to move with the latter than the former.

Less fruitless faffing on the internet (quantify somehow!)

Har har, verbatim from original NYR notes. Any suggestions (bear in mind that "faffing on the internet" is basically part of my job description, and take the above into account)? What I want to avoid is the soul-draining refresh—alt-tab—refresh—alt-tab—refresh—rinse—repeat.

And so to bed BEFORE MIDNIGHT. Ha. Fear my resolve.

Current Mood: Resolved

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(Deleted comment)
j4 From: j4 Date: January 15th, 2008 11:05 am (UTC) (Link)

OM NOM NOM NOM maybe but my fingers always look chewed and then they end up bleeding all over the place. This is clearly silly.
From: ext_72852 Date: January 15th, 2008 12:11 am (UTC) (Link)
Any suggestions

Well no. but I wrote a couple of cron-combined-with /etc/hosts hacking to only allow me to access facebook, my LJ friends (before I deleted my LJ), gmail, etc for ten minutes every three hours. (& added a popup to tell me when they were accessible) Kind of successful and worked a bit better than stuff like "turning off the interwebs" which only drives you insane every time you want to look something up. With a proxy or something one could probably lock up *.livejournal.com instead of having to do them all individually...

(Then I deleted my LJ, turned on facebook mail notifications and got some work motivation and really being motivated to *do other things* is the only cure for faffing, whether on the internet or off. Not being knackered all the time helps).
j4 From: j4 Date: January 15th, 2008 11:09 am (UTC) (Link)
really being motivated to *do other things* is the only cure for faffing

The problem is that there are so many things I want to do that I get paralysed by choice (and probably fear-of-failure) and end up doing nothing.

I am getting slightly better at diverting faff-energy into useful-if-non-urgent faff rather than just useless crap; I sometimes wonder if the answer is to make sure that notional to-do lists are so long and all-consuming that anything I divert my energy into is likely to be vaguely useful even if it isn't the thing I was meant to be doing.

OTOH the /etc/hosts hacking sounds like interesting faff... :-}
hairyears From: hairyears Date: January 15th, 2008 12:28 am (UTC) (Link)
Staying out of the housing market right now is a good idea. I am dismayed when I hear of friends throwing every penny they have, and more of their income than they can afford, into a depreciating asset with a rising cost of finance.

Running... When I lived in Grandpont, I used to do this invigorating jog through this beatiful little wooded valley for the longer weekend run, going out through Hinksey, over the bypass, up into the woods (the path actually runs down in the valley by the stream, a very pleasant picnic spot), right at Chilswell Farm, past Hurst Hill (I never did get to the top), and back over the peak of Cumnor Hill and down the far side of Westminster College, crossing the bypass at North Hinksey with a useful breather, waiting for a gap in the traffic, then to the Thames at Osney and home to Marlborough Road.

A nice 10k circuit, and you have a good insertion point on Ferry Hinksey Road.

Edited at 2008-01-15 12:30 am (UTC)
j4 From: j4 Date: January 15th, 2008 11:31 am (UTC) (Link)
Sounds lovely! Though I am definitely not yet at the 10k stage. Getting there by May is possible, I reckon.

Do I need a running icon, I wonder.
covertmusic From: covertmusic Date: January 15th, 2008 01:17 am (UTC) (Link)
Programming: pick a project. Doesn't have to be very big or very important, but something you care about - and do that.

I didn't get good - and I think I am these days - at programming until I started doing the backend of websites. It was something I cared about, so it became worth the effort. Programming in the abstract, well, yawn. :)

Oh, and glasses? Pix plz. :)
j4 From: j4 Date: January 15th, 2008 11:38 am (UTC) (Link)
Picking a project is hard. More and more it feels as though everything has been done (which I suspect is why so few people are writing 'software' and so many people are writing glue, aggregating other stuff, reskinning, etc), and my 'ideas' tend to be either so easy/obvious that everybody and his dog has done them a million times better than I could ever do, or so vague/sprawling/huge that I can't imagine them being possible because the knowledge gap is too big. Small, manageable projects would be good, though.

Programming in the abstract: not yawn at all! I'm just not very good at actually focusing down and DOING ONE THING. I am a slave to alt-tab.

Glasses: they look much the same as the old ones, actually :-) but they are lighter, the right prescription, & not falling apart. Will post pics some time though.
From: taimatsu Date: January 15th, 2008 01:24 am (UTC) (Link)
Aaaaaargh I must work out what I ought to be doing with SAUCE. Dammit.

I would LOVE you to show me the paper stars. I will come to Oxford soon and badger you.
j4 From: j4 Date: January 15th, 2008 11:57 am (UTC) (Link)
I found /info/sauce-configexample.text very useful, though I then didn't actually do any of the complicated stuff. I really need to get the "username+whatever" stuff working, but, blah, faff & doom.

Basically though for sauce config I have some email addresses I want to get email from (mostly friends who have trouble getting email through otherwise, or sites which I think will send me mail-that-looks-like-spam-that-I-honestly-do-want) and set SAUCE to "lax" for all those, and then set SAUCE to "normal" for everything else. I get a fair bit of spam but it's down from like 500 a day to more like 50 or fewer a day, which is sort of manageable. There may be an even more violent setting than "normal".

And yes, please do come to Oxford and BADGER BADGER BADGER me! :-)
bluedevi From: bluedevi Date: January 15th, 2008 01:49 am (UTC) (Link)
I wanna see cool new glasses too!

And right now my fingers are bitten to fvck. They twinge. Ow.
j4 From: j4 Date: January 15th, 2008 12:00 pm (UTC) (Link)
Pics of glasses coming soon by popular demand though honestly if I hadn't mentioned them I don't think anybody would've noticed they were different! Every time I get new glasses I think "maybe this time something REALLY different... big Morrissey-esque NHS specs? Horn-rimmed glasses? Little round Lennon glasses? Heart-shaped? Octagonal?" and then I chicken out & get something as close as possible to what I had last time.

(Though actually if they had had octagonal glasses I would have totally gone for those, even though they wouldn't suit my face at all. I have wanted octagonal glasses since 1992, because Loz from Kingmaker had them. 8-)

I need a proper glasses icon. Yes.
hatmandu From: hatmandu Date: January 15th, 2008 08:37 am (UTC) (Link)
constantly saying "oh yeah JS/AJAX/PHP/XSLT/whatever how hard can it be" and cutting and pasting and filing the numbers off and changing variables and guessing

Butbutbut. H. told me about your discussion of this last week and I was delighted to hear I'm not the only one who does that sort of thing. Don't leave me alone here!

But most importantly: what sort of dinosaur?
julietk From: julietk Date: January 15th, 2008 10:19 am (UTC) (Link)
I do it all the damn time. Often of my own code. Some of my code has a genealogy going back to my first attempts at Perl in 2001, which in turn I nicked off Pete.

(If I was better than this I'd put it all into modules & call it "reuse"...)

I also steal vast chunks off CPAN; on the upside at least that is the purpose of documentation, right?

Biting of fingers: erm yes well. Maybe I should stop doing this too. It's OK when I'm knitting, because then I have something to fiddle with instead.

Before you're 30: screw it, you have plenty of time to do things after you're 30. But then I have to think that :-)
(War & Peace: not worth it, IMO. Ulysses: halfway through, very very very slowly, but actually quite enjoying it.)

Edited at 2008-01-15 10:21 am (UTC)
ewx From: ewx Date: January 15th, 2008 09:11 am (UTC) (Link)

Tag my LiveJournal to date

...the kind of thing that ought to be an interesting retrospective activity. But it turns out that it isn't (at least for me).

My conclusion was: if even I don't care about all that old stuff nobody else is likely to either, so find something more useful to do than categorize it.

can Google quickly & intelligently

“An expert is someone who can read the man page faster than you.” Not actually true, of course, but a step on the way.

j4 From: j4 Date: January 15th, 2008 12:17 pm (UTC) (Link)
if even I don't care about all that old stuff nobody else is likely to either, so find something more useful to do than categorize it.

I suspect that what I will actually do is go through & tag all the stuff that is worth preserving outside LJ, so that I can feed that to my chiark pages or something. I think where I floundered when I started tagging before was the optimistic and/or stupid idea that I had to tag everything. But actually like you say the only things I need to tag are the things I might want to find again. Gig reviews, interesting/funny stuff, recipes, that kinda thing. But I will probably have to go through everything to pick them out.

An expert is someone who can read the man page faster than you

I told myself that through all the time when I was considered the "expert" because I could read man pages quickly. Then I started working with real experts. :-}

Doing what I do (read fast, guess intelligently) is more useful for people-and-process management (what needs done, how feasible it is, who's best to do it) than for actual programming. I wonder if I'd be any good at actual management (rather than managing-from-beneath by nudging, stirring, coaxing, suggesting, hinting, politicking, scheming etc like I do now 8-).
tinyjo From: tinyjo Date: January 15th, 2008 09:23 am (UTC) (Link)
Ooh! Is the choir hard to get into? I've been wanting to do something like that again for ages but I fear auditions.
j4 From: j4 Date: January 15th, 2008 12:22 pm (UTC) (Link)
There was an audition for Pembroke chapel choir but it was just "sing back this note/tune" kind of stuff and then a little bit of sight-reading. Didn't take very long & it's hard to feel too scared of a cute floppy-haired 20-year-old student boy. :-D (It helps that it's my old college, too, so I didn't feel too much of an outsider, though it is a bit weird being back there.)

Not all the college choirs require an audition, but not all of them let non-college-members in; not sure what the overlap is! I'd advise poking around on the college websites or asking on oxonians or somewhere.
emperor From: emperor Date: January 15th, 2008 09:40 am (UTC) (Link)
I find breakfast really helps wake me up in the morning. I'm not sure if this is just placebo effect from knowing it gets my metabolism going or not...
addedentry From: addedentry Date: January 15th, 2008 11:46 am (UTC) (Link)
I admonished j4 with "breakfast is the most important meal of the day!" and she rightly asked for evidence. A study by the W.K. Kellogg Cereal Foundation, I suspect.
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j4 From: j4 Date: January 15th, 2008 12:24 pm (UTC) (Link)
Upright-ish, IIRC. It's a Dyson, if that helps. I will check a) what sort it is and b) whether it still works, tonight if I remember. (Would be very handy from my p.o.v. if you wanted it, as then I wouldn't have to deal with teh crazy freecyclers! :)
sion_a From: sion_a Date: January 15th, 2008 01:40 pm (UTC) (Link)
The vacuum cleaner is fine, but we have two, and only need one.

We currently have three in working condition, and need to acquire another one since (a) only one of the three is remotely good at picking up cat hair and (b) none of them have adequately anti-allergenic filtering. Even with one upstairs and one downstairs, that's overkill.

Congratulations on giving up the Coke!
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