Archive for December, 2010

Yesterday, having finally caved in to gentle pressure from Habiba to exercise more, I went with her to the modest gym she attends near Wangsimni and joined up for a month. I once went to a gym as a teenager with a friend (who subsequently developed the body known, in popular parlance as ripped), but apart from that distant memory, such halls of exercise have been strangers to me (although, of course, I did do taekwondo for a while here in Korea). Habiba showed me round the machines and recommended a few things to do.

By the end of our hour, I felt pretty enlivened and not suffering at from the experience. Today, I felt a little sore, but nothing terrible; nothing nearly as bad as my thighs when I first started taekwondo. And we went again. I read while I did six kilometres or so on an exercise bike. Still haven’t finished Moby-Dick.

For much of the day, however, I’ve been preparing to leave the country this evening for a week in the Philippines. I changed a load of money at the bank, packed, cleaned up at home. Soon, I have to head out to meet Habiba at the airport bus stop. After we arrive in Cebu in the early hours of the morning, we’ll be taking a ferry to Tagbilaran on Bohol Island (hopefully – the Philippines is a Christian country, but it’s also Asian; I’m guessing things won’t close down as much as they do in the west). From there we’ll have to get to our hostel on nearby Panglao island, probably by taxi.

I’ll post some pictures from there as soon as I can. I hope everyone enjoys their holidays, whatever they do.

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I learnt from QI recently that the Japanese honeybee has a partly ingenious, partly scary way of dealing with hornet scouts investigating their hives. A lone scout sniffing around a honeybee hive can be a harbinger of doom – a full-on hornet attack against a beehive is like a platoon of terminators tearing through a shopping mall. The first video here demonstrates the latter point, the second illustrates the former. They both have some terrific, cinematic visuals.

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(In the words of the Faith No More song.)

The last few weeks I’ve been working full time-ish on my RPG system. Up until this week, anyway. Over the past couple of weeks, my laptop had been getting more and more annoying in the mornings. I would put on the previous day’s edition of PM (or The Week in Westminster on Mondays) and then prepare breakfast. Then, when I came back to check e-mails and stuff, the thing had pretty much frozen. The radio programme still played, windows would open and close, but nothing would load. The only solution short of waiting an indefinitely long time seemed to be to switch it off and on again (the age-old solution to most computer problems).

It did it again on Monday, and I got angry and delivered a short, sharp tap to the machine. Not a huge blow, but when I rebooted Windows wouldn’t start. And when I got my installation CD out to repair or reinstall, it didn’t go well, either.

It was a pretty stupid thing for me to do. Not just because of the results or potential results, but because of the lack of results. I was treating my computer like a sensible being (ie, one that is able to sense), one that would modify its behaviour in response to physical chastisement. But then again, the cause was also in large part because of a computer’s inscrutability, the lack of information or clue as to why machine froze like that. It wasn’t too long ago that I reformatted and reinstalled the operating system to stop such lack of performance.

Computers are pretty complicated devices, but it’s easy to take them and their unfailing efficacy for granted. Browsing the internet, running applications is what I have a computer for – why can’t it do what it’s supposed to? Who would drive a car if it crashed as often as a computer?

Another thing that makes me feel vaguely stupid and yet also vaguely proud of the incident is the sense that my computer deserved what it got.

Anyway, it all worked out fairly well in the end. I took my computer to Yongsan, to the large building behind the station but connected to it by a raised tunnel thingy, where the Fujitsu Service Centre is. I’d been there not too long ago to have the DVD-R drive replaced. This time they replaced the 110 GB hard drive with a 300 GB one for ₩110,000 (about £60) – and gave me the old one in a little plastic wallet. I got the memory upgraded from 1 GB to 2, from one of the many computer stalls/shops in the main I’Park mall while I was there.

Then over the next couple of days, I had the pleasure of downloading and installing all the main applications that I use, as well as copying over all of my information – which I’d previously backed up. The most tedious part of this was waiting for the Windows Update updates to update before I could install Vistalizator to change the language of my Korean Vista Home Premium to English. My suite of programs include OpenOffice.org, Google Chrome, Paint.net, Skype and μTorrent. A couple of changes I made to my line-up were exchanging AVG Anti-Virus and Zone Alarm for Comodo Internet Security and installing Synaptics Gesture Suite, which allows Mac-style two-finger scrolling and better-than-Mac-style spiral scrolling.

Things are running pretty smoothly for the time being. We’ll see how long it lasts before the digital red mist descends once more.

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In the most recent episode of the wonderful Big Bang Theory, Amy, Sheldon’s friend-who-is-a-girl (ie, girlfriend; Amy is like a female Sheldon, possibly more Sheldon-like than Sheldon), was having drinks with Penny and Bernadette when one of Penny (numerous) exes walks in with a delivery for the bar. Amy experiences some disconcerting physiological phenomona – namely, she gets a bit ‘excited’ when Zack says hello to her.

The following is from Amy and Sheldon’s conversation at work the following day (she’s dissecting a human brain while they have lunch):

Amy: Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to take my temperature.

Sheldon: Are you monitoring your circadian rhythms in order to identify your periods of maximum mental acuity? I did that one summer. [wistfully] Ah, youth.

Amy: No, I experienced some distressing symptoms last night, so I’m checking my vital signs every hour.

Sheldon: I’d be happy to create a chart and participate in a differential diagnosis.

Amy: Oh, that sounds like fun.

Sheldon: All right. What were the symptoms?

Amy: Elevated heart rate, moist palms, dry mouth and localised vascular throbbing.

Sheldon: Localised to what region?

Amy: Ears and genitalia.

Sheldon: Interesting. Not body parts that usually team up.

Later …

Sheldon: Possible explanations for your symptoms are – in descending order of likelihood – hyperthyroidism, premature menopause, hosting an alien parasite, or – and I only include it for the sake of covering absolutely all bases – sexual arousal.

Amy: [beat] Where would I have picked up an alien parasite?

Later …

Amy: Let’s look at this logically. I have a stomach – I get hungry. I have genitals – I have the potential for sexual arousal.

Sheldon: A cross we all must bear. You know, in difficult moments like this, I often turn to a force greater than myself.

Amy: Religion?

Sheldon: Star Trek.

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The Flickr photo set is here.

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I’ve been looking at creating slideshows for my blog, and the best I’ve found so far has been Slide‘s product, which is incredibly easy to use and to embed here on WordPress. Here’s a slideshow of pictures from when I visited Jungangtap (central tower or pagoda) Park near Chungju with Habiba, her brother Vakil and her friend Cybele.

The Flickr photo set is here.

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