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For anyone who cares, the author in question is Carol Berg. I'd just read an excerpt from one of her novels after Zhe told me that he borrowed a book of hers from the library. The following conversation ensued.

: there was far too much exposition in it though, and i really hate it when authors come up with arbitrary units of measurement to make hteir world feel more foreign

17:38 Zhe:
i would prefer if authors used metric units of measurement
 Zhe: like
17:39 he wielded a huge sword of 95 cm
 me: actually i lie, the excerpt i read before was also in first person
  lol i don't mind imperial that much
17:40 at least we're somewhat familiar with both imperial and metric
 Zhe: that's true
 me: whereas i don't have any idea what a quant is and it just makes one more thing you need to explain to me before i can start appreciating the parts of the story that i care about
17:41 Zhe: u sure it's not a real unit of measurement?
 me: considering that she defined it immediately afterwards, almost certainly not
  apparently its the length of a knucklebone
  or somesuch
 Zhe: to make it extra difficult, they should use a logrithmic unit if measurement for lengths and weights
17:42 me: or obsolete ones like links and chains..
 Zhe: or to the power of some irrational number
  like e
 me: his sword was 3 times the golden ratio phi in units
17:43 or the new way they like to measure metric, in terms of vibration of caesium atoms or whatnot
  or the amount of time it takes light to travel X distance
 Zhe: or in terms of mythical creatures that they themselves invented
17:44 like "it would have taken a gobberwookie three seconds of the fourth moon's lunar time to travel it's breadth
 me: heh i think you're onto something
17:45 i had to wait thrice the fourth moons orbit before meeting her
17:48 Zhe: i had to wait thrice the eclipse of the third and seventh moon, whereby the third moon has an orbital frequency 1/pi of the second second moon, and the seventh moon had an orbital frequency of 1/e of the fourth moon, and the second and fourth moon eclipses when the jabberwokkie migrates across the great plains of elih
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Allow me to introduce you to the concept of structure. This is where if your essay aims to discuss a single main point, going off on huge tangents mostly unrelated to the main topic and endless anecdotes that belabor the point are not good strategies for getting said point across. I shouldn't need to check back every couple of pages because I've forgotten what exactly you were trying to argue. You are a shining example of how not to write essays.

Lots of frustrated glares,

Bah, I say

Nov. 28th, 2008 11:53 am
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I now present to you the saga of the dealings between me and one of my lecturers this semester, who just happened to be the lecturer in charge for two of my three subjects.

Day One of Semester: I miss the first lecture of my class due to being at the hospital. I then head to uni so as to try to attend my first tutorial for the same subject, arrive 15 minutes late, and then about half an hour later get a call from my mother telling me to get my ass back to said hospital. I don't attempt to talk to the lecturer due to not wanting to break down in front of him.

Day Two of Semester: I email the lecturer explaining my circumstances and basically just asking in advance for leniency about possibly missing classes.

Days Three to about Two Weeks Later: No reply from lecturer. I conclude that he's an asshole and I'm on my own, but screw him, I'm gonna pass his subjects despite his bastardry.

The Next Day: He replies, and he's all warm and understanding in the email, and apologetic for not reading the email sooner. I take back my above conclusion.

Some Weeks Later: I talk to him about lodging a Special Consideration Form in regards to death certificates and so forth, he says to lodge it and then at the end if my marks are dodgy he'll see about offering me some kind of supplementary or something.

Rest of Semester: I never actually get around to lodging those forms. I also never get around to writing my final essay for the harder of his two subjects, because it's wanky philosophy of language stuff which would be hard to get motivated for even under the best of circumstances. Which these are certainly not.

A Week after Semester end, during the middle of the Exam Period: I get a call on my mobile from the lecturer. He verifies with me that I didn't hand in a final essay and then offers me an alternate essay, where I do the same exercise but analysing a different paper instead. I gratefully accept and he tells me to email him and he'll send the paper back as an attachment.

I email him the next day, and then again about a week later. No reply. I know by now that he's bad with email but it seems like a cruel joke of sorts to offer me an alternate assessment and then not actually give me a way to complete it.

Two or Three Weeks Later: Course marks are out. In desperation I email him one final time, being careful not to be accusatory but basically asking what the hell is going on and can I do the alternate assessment or not. He replies the very next day with the promised attachment.

I think I've learnt a valuable lesson about not taking any other courses given by this guy. I really do appreciate that he gave me a second chance, but it's uni policy that communication should be able to happen via email. It just drove me nuts that he's so damn unreliable at it, and in several ways I would have preferred to just fail the subject and be done with it rather than having this hanging over me.
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Because there's a couple of random Asian dudes sharing a computer next to me, and the second guy is sitting way too close to me. I can't concentrate on my assignment because of this guy sitting partly in my personal space. Grr
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You know what really gets me? It's the way people are so damn stupid when it comes to being attracted to others. See, there's a mistake that almost everyone makes at least once. If they're unlucky or stupid then they'll repeat the mistake many many times, and if they're particularly moronic, it's a mistake they'll never stop making.

The mistake is this: If a person isn't attracted to you in the first place, then no amount of being a really good friend and hanging around them all the time is going to magically cause them to become attracted to you.*

It's something I've been guilty of myself in the past. When I was a young lass straight out of high school and out in the wide world of university, I developed a massive crush on this guy. Over the next year or so I did my best to be the perfect friend to him. I'd provide company if he was bored, anything he found interesting I would also be interested in, I'd go out of my way to visit him, I even attended a couple of his lectures with him. I never actually asked him out or admitted my feelings to him, but he made it fairly clear he wasn't interested in me, even going so far one day as to ask me for tips about this girl he was kind of interested in. I helped him of course. I couldn't help myself. And then he got a girlfriend(not the same girl as the pervious sentence) and I spent the next few days wanting to die, because despite knowing we wouldn't be together there'd still been that chance while he was single. And then after those few days, because I still liked him so much, and because I considered his happiness to be more important than mine, it was back to being the perfect friend. Back to offering advice and being there all the time and basically just giving myself up to whatever abuse or friendship he cared to heap on me, knowing there was no chance but unable to ignore the irrational part of me that screamed that if I was just good enough to him then maybe one day he would see my devotion and return it. He never did of course. He never even had an inkling of my attraction to him until much later when I was over him and told him about it. These days we're still good friends, but I don't think we would be if we hadn't had enough other friends in common to carry us through our fights, and if I hadn't been able to be his friend even while he was with this other girl.

This leads to the corollary: If you know (in your mind, not your heart) that there's no chance, then you shouldn't be hanging around in the vain hope that they'll one day see the light and realise that you're their one true love. By this I don't mean that it's impossible to be friends with someone you're attracted to. But you do need to be honest with yourself. If the primary reason you have for hanging around is because you're attracted to them, then you need to reconsider your position.

A simple test to see whether you're hanging around for attraction's sake:
1) Do you spend a much larger amount of time thinking about this person and how to be a good friend to them than you would for your other friends? Especially compared to your friends of the gender you are not attracted to, since there's absolutely no chance of getting attraction confused with friendship in their case
2) Do you put up with whatever this person does to you/wants from you? ie If they're having a bad day do you act as their stress dummy, if they need things done do you act as their personal slave, if they're sad you act like a clown for them, etc.
3) If they got into a relationship with someone else would you be predominantly happy for them or jealous/angry/miserable? Honestly

If your answer for the first two questions were 'yes', and your answer to the last was closer to jealous angry misery than bittersweet happiness, then telling yourself and others that you're happy with being 'just friends' is a lie, and you need to think about whether you're comfortable living it, and what's going to happen when the other person inevitably drifts away or finds someone they're attracted to.

I think part of the reason the situation crops up so much is because of the company I keep. We have good nerdy boys attracted to nice nerdy girls, neither of whom have that much experience with the whole dating thing. So the guy makes his feelings known, either directly or indirectly, and gets knocked back. But then the girl can't help but feel sorry for the guy, because he's put his heart on the line and she's just not into him, so she compensates for the guilt by treating him a little nicer, letting him be the friend he so obviously wants to be. In turn, the guy sees this softening and can't help thinking that he's in with a chance, if he can just get close enough to her and is always there and available for her then maybe she'll turn to him when she's ready. This is where the 'nice guy' myth comes from, and the reason why there are so many bitter men ranting on the Internet about how girls say they want a nice trustworthy guy who can be a good friend to them but then they ignore their nice guy friends who are attracted to them to go have sex with outlaw bikers instead. It's not that girls don't want a nice guy. But once they've made up their mind about whether a guy is attractive to them or not, then no amount of being friends and demonstrating 'nice guy' qualities is going to lead to attraction*.

*Massive addendum: It IS possible to create attraction where there wasn't really any before. But it requires a particular and deliberate way of acting and a lot of luck (there has to be a spark for it to work on, some people are immune to the tactics, and all sorts of other factors). And unless that way of acting is the way you normally act, or very close to it, then it's back to considering whether you're comfortable living a lie**

**A guy recently offered to change himself for me. I was horrified and tried to explain that if a girl ever takes him up on that offer then he should run in the opposite direction very quickly.
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The time was 8am. The actors, a 12 year old girl and a 40-ish ballet teacher. The weather on that day was, to put it lightly, brisk. The teacher, bundled up in jacket, scarf, and all manner of other clothing looked at the girl, standing at the barre wearing nothing but the standard-issue leotard, tights, and canvas ballet shoes, and shivered internally. "Aren't you cold?" she asked. "Nope!" came the cheerful reply as the girl pushed her insteps against the floor in an attempt to increase their flexibility. The girl's ballet exam was just a month or so away. She and the teacher were in the church hall on a Saturday morning for a private lesson to work on her technique. The teacher looked at the girl again. No sign of shivering. No visible awareness of the temperature. The teacher sighed. "You must be cold!" she said with just a hint of questioning. An innocently blank look was her only answer. She took the only option left available to her. "I think there are some leg-warmers and a crossover in the Lost Property. Wait here." Minutes later, with the girl properly attired for the weather, the class finally started.


And that is a much-expanded version of the story I always tell when trying to illustrate my apparent indifference to the cold, the time my teacher (who's Welsh by the way, and so should be more used to the cold than me) refused to start a ballet class until I put on some warmer clothes. In reality it's that a) I warm up very quickly when doing any form of physical activity, b) I have a peculiarity of liking to have my arms free and my hands uncovered when doing said physical activity, so I either don't wear long-sleeved tops or push the sleeves up, and I very rarely wear gloves of any sort. It's probably a holdover from all those years of doing ballet with completely bare arms. c) It's not that I don't feel the cold, it's that in typical INTP-ish fashion I find it easy enough to ignore the discomfort as long as it's not actually impeding me in any way (so if I'm actually shivering or my hands are starting to go numb I take it as a signal that maybe I should be wearing something warmer). Having said that, this winter has almost been too much even for me. The new flat is so cold that sitting around playing PS2 causes my hands to go numb after a couple of hours, and gloves just don't cut it. And yesterday at work it was cold enough that I didn't have a whole lot of feeling in my hands for most of my shift. Last Sunday morning saw the AGL temperature display in Bondi Junction saying 3 degrees Celsius and the cold certainly had enough bite for me to believe it. One of the older ladies at work decided I must be British because apparently I have a hint of an accent and then of course there's my seeming to be completely acclimatised to the cold :)

Number of people so far this week who've asked me "Aren't you cold?!": 5 (average of 2.5 per day)

If I get asked a few more times I think I'll start making up reasons that are more interesting than "I don't feel the cold that much"

  • It's against my religion, the Frosterians, to avoid being cold
  • Cold is a myth perpetuated by fundamentalist conservatives who want to see everyone cover all exposed skin
  • I don't believe in the cold
  • I'm trying to lower my immune system in the hope of catching an exotic disease and making medical history
  • I'm starved for attention, being asked whether I'm cold is the only interaction I get all day
  • My jumper got eaten by a migrating polar bear on the way to work
  • Yes I am cold, wanna warm me up? *wink*
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You may (or may not) have noticed that I stopped posting to LJ almost overnight, and then started again with a few extremely short posts. Well, the reason for this is that I ran out of IP quota at uni due to viewing too many webcomics, and now I a) have no gmail or msn access at all, and b) all my non-uni sites run extremely slowly. I could buy more but I've decided that it would be better for my productivity if I didn't.

Also, I'm only posting this because I'm unmotivated at uni and I need to procrastinate. And oh god how I hate Perl CGI scripting right now. And life in general really. Bah.

1 Ling test on 5th June
3 Assignments due 8th June (databases, microprocessors, software construction)
1 Assignment due 12th June (Ling)

then 3 days to study before my first exam :\

I'm having a wah, what are you gonna do about it??? huh??
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My tutor for Software Construction is a moron. Not only did he take forever to mark our assignments (and I use the word mark very loosely here), but then when teh results were finally released I saw that he hadn't reversed any of the results that the other tutors had reversed: (background: The lecturer in charge of the course tested for a number of things not covered in the spec and was ridiculously strict on the automarking guidelines). So now I need to write him a polite email asking him to look at them for me when really what I want to say is something along the lines of YOU LAZY MORON FIX MY AUTOTESTS FOR ME OR I WILL KILL YOU. Ahem.

At work this morning one of the guys left early because he didn't feel well. He told me that he couldn't find our boss and to pass on that he'd left for the above-mentioned reasons. The following conversation followed between me and my boss.

Me: Hey, [the guy's name] left early because he wasn't feeling well
Boss: Why didn't he find me to tell me?
Me: He tried!
Boss: Where was I?
Me: I don't know O_o

Cos ya know, if any of us knew maybe he would have found you..

From the bus on the way home I looked out the window and saw a guy walking with his kid. What made it special was how the kid was wearing a harness with a leash attached, held by his father. I would say more here but I really do think the image speaks for itself.
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I know I've ranted about this before but it's a recurring theme in my life, so wah.

I REALLY REALLY get annoyed when people ask me to explain stuff when I know there's nothing wrong with their intelligence and ability to work it out themselves. Reading the first line of an article and asking me what it means, when a quick scan down the page shows the context/explanation is just fricken lazy.

In a similar vein: Asking me to do stuff when it would actually be more convenient/efficient for everyone involved for you to do it yourself except you're too damn lazy to get off your ass.

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You know what I really hate? At the moment, many many things. But for now I'll confine myself to these:

1) Arts essays. What I really really hate about Arts essays is that it's not enough to have your own opinion. It's not even enough to have you own opinion and have read a bunch of other texts that back you up or disagree with you. No, you have to not only waste hours of your life painstakingly referencing every text you read that may have contributed a single thought to your opinion, but you're expected to quote extensively from them to prove that you've read them.

2) Bugs in code that aren't immediately obvious. If I make a mistake in my code, I expect there to be flaws in my output. Heck, I can even deal with the program coming to a grinding halt. What I HATE dealing with are mistakes which almost work. It confuses the hell out of me to be seeing output that works BUT also outputs a whole lot of other stuff which shouldn't be there. Horribly flawed output is much easier to deal with because it tends to give you a much better idea of what it is you're doing wrong. but slightly flawed output? Maybe you forgot to increment something somewhere. Or maybe you're trying to reference a string when you should be referencing an array. Or maybe you have your comparators the wrong way around. It varies from language to language. But boy does it piss me off.

3) Coincidentally getting sick just as you're about to enter a heavy assessment period, aka WEEK OF HELL. I think this is the strongest evidence yet for the non-existence of God. I mean, who would do that?
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Alright, global warming. Now, I don't think that global warming in itself is bullshit. I think that in all probability we are fucking up the climate by production of fossil fuels etc etc. No, what's stupid about global warming is a) The arguments about it have all been the same for the last how many years? And people are only paying attention to it now.. In addition to this, just now I saw some program on the Discovery Channel (Foxtel is awesome) which had a scientist spouting off on how to fix global warming. His answer: More sustainable energy sources, less people, and a bunch of other stuff that I didn't hear because I was too busy being incredulous. The first argument I've already heard a million times in relation to climate change/global warming. But I would love to hear how we're supposed to fix the problem by causing there to be less people. How would he like us to do it? Maybe we could kill off everyone about the age of 60. Maybe we could just do it by ballot or something, everyone who gets a prime number gets executed, no questions asked and no exceptions. Or combine the above two and kill off everyone who has a prime number for their age, no exceptions (I'm looking at you, two and three-year-olds. It's for a better future damnit) . Maybe we could just go into some third world country and kill off the population there, cos no one really cares about them anyway, right? Maybe we could only allow certain people to have kids, or impose a one child policy on all of Earth, although then it would still take about 50 years before we would see any effect, by which time the population pressure would no doubt have caused the Earth to become uninhabitable, cos we need there to be less people *now* damnit. Or heck, maybe we should just let all the serial killers out of jail and let them do the job for us, although serial killers are notoriously unstable and probably wouldn't be able to keep up with the birthrate, let alone get around to serious depopulating. Feel free to come up with your own suggestions for how to save the planet by causing there to be less people on it*. Regardless, it's one of the stupidest plans I've heard in a while. Kind of like saying that the solution is for everyone to willingly become Amish and live simple lives and be kind to eachother and stuff like that.

Oh yeh, you know what's stupider than trying to fix global warming by causing there to be less people? Blocking out the sun. And besides, the Simpsons got there first, and showed how only evil people want to do that.

*By the way, as a longterm solution to many of the world's problems I would seriously advocate better population control. I'm just panning it now because as a fix for global warming it seems too longterm and infinitely inferior to all the other shorter term solutions like finding more sustainable sources of energy and then actually putting them into use rather than commissioning 10 year studies into how much they'll cost and whether they'll really help etc etc.

Now how am I stupid you ask? Well, sit back and I'll tell you a tale..

Today I went out with a friend and her friend. We met up early, which meant I basically rushed to get there from work, and the weather was atrocious, the typical Sydney overcast humid heat that I hate with a passion. So anyway, by the time we finished our shopping trip (yet another reason for my frame of mind. Shopping ranks right up there with visiting the dentist as one of my favourite pastimes. But since I need to buy things to wear occasionally I try to put up with it with good grace) I was hot and bothered and tired. This combination led to my sitting in the university library, too tired and unwilling to face the heat to leave, but also rather hungry. After discussing the situation over IM for about half an hour, I decided that since I wasn't in the mood for any of the known and available foods in Randwick I would try somewhere new. This led to my traipsing around Randwick, and this was where the stupidity really came in: I am socially anxious. It's a problem, but one that I try not to act on very often. As in when I catch myself feeling anxious over something trivial and stupid I usually tell myself to get over it and then go do that thing just to spite myself**. Anyway, I must have considered every single possible food place in Randwick at some point or other. But every time I approached some kind of eating establishment that had a sit-down area (especially when the sit-down area was empty or mostly so) the idea of actually going in and approaching the person behind the counter would prove too much for me to bear and I would pass the place after a single timid glance inside. All in all, from the moment I decided I was too hungry to go home to eat, to when I finally walked into the chicken shop (which I'd been to numerous times before, incidentally), it must have taken me at least an hour. All while headachey and starving. And all because I couldn't override my social anxiety long enough to go inside and order some food.

** You mean you don't have these spirited arguments with your neuroses? How boring..
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You know what I really hate? I hate the way I seem to have this sign over my head telling people to approach me in public and ask me random crap. I AM NOT AN INFORMATION DESK. I don't even like other people all that much. I'm sure there are millions of others out there who would be much happier to meet a complete stranger than me. And yet you approach me, and ask questions that I usually have no idea of the answers to.
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I have decided that rather than wasting everyone's attention span by bitching constantly about all the things that annoy me, I shall consolidate them all into a single weekly post, and this post shall be called the Ranting Swede Column*! So if you don't like reading my rants feel free to skip anything with a Ranting Swede title.

So first on the agenda is the commercialisation of Bondi Junction. It used to be that you could wander through the Bondi Junction mall and enjoy the sounds of people going about their lives, random birdsong, etc. And the bus station used to be nice and quiet and restful. Well, now they have a GIANT SCREEN installed in the mall with tv blaring from it at this horrendous volume. Just to clarify folks, this is a GIANT SCREEN in an outdoors mall. And the bus station now feels the need to 'entertain' us with whatever crap music they've decided we like and to plaster huge Nike ads (which incidentally advertises the iPod shuffle at the same time - very sneaky if I say so myself) all over most of the available surfaces. I liked the area better before it sold out :(

Second and third on the agenda are the usual work-related rants.
What kind of moron leaves a bottle of vinegar (with the lid only placed on top of the bottle so it LOOKS like it's closed) on the top shelf of a supermarket? Believe it or not, Coles employees do not enjoy getting their hair and shirt drenched in vinegar. Nor do they enjoy smelling of vinegar for the rest of their shift. Grrr.
And then there's still the guy who's decided that I'm attractive despite all my efforts to convey my complete lack of attraction towards him. Major annoyance there but not much I can do about it and still keep a decent working environment. His latest technique includes trying to impress me with his work ethic. This only makes me worried that when he finally gets the message that I'm not interested he'll turn back into a lazy bum, at which point I'll start ranting about my coworkers being lazy :p

Last on the agenda we have people who refuse to make choices. This is kind of ironic actually since I'm supposed to be of the personality type who stereotypically never make their minds up about anything, but one of my pet peeves is when a whole lot of people stand around discussing what to do and waiting for someone else to make a decision for them, or for some magical groupthink thing to happen, or something like that. Actually, I have no idea what they're thinking when they do this, because I'm usually the person who gets impatient and does the mental equivalent of flipping a coin and picking an option based on that. It's my need for efficiency at work I think :) Standing around wasting time because we're all being polite and/or indecisive is just so damned inefficient. And it reinforces how this whole socialising group "let's stand around talking about our feelings to make sure nobody gets offended when we finally make our choice" thing is just not me, since the bigger the group gets the worse this behaviour tends to get and the more impatient I get

/end rant

* The Ranting Swede is a character from the ill-fated Cartoon Network series Sheep in the Big City, which I always considered to be the spiritual successor to the Rocky and Bullwinkle Show based on the 'variety show' format of the cartoon. Anyway, the Ranting Swede segment always involved this one character having a good ol' rant about completely mundane things, so it seemed like a good name for my bitch-about-the-world post


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