19 December 2011

monday evening

It's the evening and it has returned: a an uncertainty with writing about my life, my thoughts, or lack of them. And where to write things? I'd like something like Google-plus; letting people subscribe to channels of my writing, but instead, I have to select what circles to put people in, then they either get all of me, or nothing at all... so I'm blogging...blogging has acquired a kind of romance too.

I day-dreamt of futures, as I walk home from work; imagining how life could be. It turns out that it's hard (for me) to imagine a future I really want... or rather it's easy, but a little too fictional when it happens.

Eli eats some pizza.

I got given a phone today, a fancy thing, but I don't have a phone contract, so I can't use it without setting up a contract and paying... I dream of a future without admin...

I also saw this...

car? ...

And, not related, but also something I was thinking about, I'll get married on Friday it looks like... life trundles on!

3 December 2011

dropping time

So I'll not be methodical, I declare. I'll skip and jump about as I please. It's a night I don't care to sleep. I decided today, tonight, to map out what I care for doing. It seems to divide into 4 parts... political/saving the world (kenyersel.org), science/mathematics (mostly graphical languages and learning basic university maths I missed, or just forgot), physical things/movement (aikido, tango, tai chi), and creative/artistic (learning to play music, drawing, poetry).... and... oops... I missed out fun! (for me that's reading, also dancing and socialising and cooking and going to see films). Then I thought about how I'm spending my time, frantically trying to float on the sea of stuff not happening...

But nonetheless, it makes me feel more optimistic. Knowing what I like, and thinking that maybe I could change my life to do it... I daydream of working 2 or 3 days a week so I can spend the rest of the time doing my hobbies...

I then did some catching up on what's going on in my email box, piles of ancient things I've told myself I'll reply to. I 'star' things I want to come back to... the star looks now like a symbol of gilt... but along the way found my favorite thing that happens this time of year, a new song every day from the atheist advent... now I'm smiling and thinking to read a book in bed.

21 November 2011

return to words

I stopped writing for a while; I lost sense of purpose in writing. I felt I was restricting myself in my writing. I wanted to say a lot more, and also less. That wordless cloud has passed. My fear was that it pointless in the onslaught of social media; the fear subsided. Pointfullness is a hopeless struggle.

Anyway, I spent some time recently in Shanghai, where I discovered the building in these photos. 1933 is it's name. A former slaughter house of concrete that makes my mind run wild with sci-fi imaginings. Now full of boutique shops, cafes and random spaces in progress.

I found China (Beijing and Shanghai) made New York feel like a pale shadow of capitalism in comparison. There's a lot of money in China, a lot of action, a lot happening. A strong sense of the country growing, blossoming. Coming back to New York, I found a new affection for this city. It's darkness and brokenness. 

20 August 2011

Saturday in sunday's clothes, more tea

I'm starting to question blogs; why blog in the new age of G+ and Facebook? It's saturday, the sun shines after last nights storm, like nothing happened. I just spoke to Scott on the phone - he is stranded in Newark for the last 12 hours. Elizabeth is making a bag. We ate a brunch of Vietnamese Sandwiches and salad. The dog has recovered from his gastric excesses; the last of his lost poos, we think, have been cleaned up (the mysterious stench from under the bed is no more!). I do a little Quantomatic programming; and plan to have an amazing coffee and prepare the Soho hideout for the arrival of Aleks and Clare next week. Like have transitioned me; and while I still feel oft and on like a frustrated artist reduced to factory work; I'm also finally getting the hang of writing software with the conceptual sludge that is c++. And here's a picture I rather like, from a while ago, when I walked over the Manhattan bridge with Taina... And here's some cushions I saw in a shop of colourful french cloth-things... they made me think of Vincent, and Elham, and Edinburgh, but this time not melancholy. The kettle boils, and I consider the ways a handle can be attached to a bag. More tea...

7 August 2011

missing Edinburgh

I'm missing Edinburgh this Sunday... so I tore into washing dishes, they are all done now. I still feel a bit melancholy; did some chores, wrote emails, fighting the eternal war against admin.

I dreamed of my father a few days ago, he was thin and unwell, desperate to get another hit of morphine. He cared for me, but was also twisted out of society by addiction and desperation.We were in the south of spain, he was on the run; I remember the dry dust and smell of herbs and heat and ruins. When he was fed, he was ok, but when hungry he was agitated, wild, and risk-taking.

I have a Ramadan dinner plan tonight - should be fun and friendly. I think I have a sense of needing projects, and of needing those projects to progress; maybe I should try and be more satisfied with living, and care less about projects... perhaps I'm just falling into my familiar "finally catching up on sleep blues"... this city is a lot more work to live in, and I miss my dear friends from Edinburgh...

But then there are some wonderful things here too... And Simone has just arrived from her boat trip, looking well and adventurous, as well as a little tired from the long train ride from North Carolina. 

1 August 2011

A sunday walk through town

It was Sunday today, I ceased it with unusual indulgence. After a slow waking up, an excursion to eat - the place was good, but brutally noisy - I retreated to Grumpies, where we partook in reading newspapers, and I settled into myself happily again. Then a walk, via various shops. A shop selling colourful pillows; jewelry shops; sex-toy shops, and finally arriving at the cafe where Harry met Sally. Chowing a pastrami sandwich, and discussing the strange little fears that one lives through: mostly I cower under the fear of saying what I want... sometimes so much, that I don't know what I want! Luckily I was advised to eat the pastrami sandwich, some soup, and something resembling hash browns. Past an exciting bookshop on the way home, and it's already tomorrow. Now I'm sitting, doing nothing much, noticing little drops of sweat run down and tickle my tummy... time to sit by a fan or turn on air conditioning, else I'll be a raisin by the morning...

24 July 2011

hot, cold, and chicken soup

New York is hot now, dense, and I have a cold. I'm confused as to how to care for a cold in this crazy heat - drinking hot lemon and ginger tea seems kind of perverse. I drink cold barley water and lament all the things I'm not doing, read up on housing law, and try to catch up on the escalating pile of email, and all the things I've promised to do but not had time to...  but it's not really so bad; Jazz plays in the background and sounds of Elizabeth making chicken soup drift through from her kitchen.

19 July 2011

The sum of their parts

I bumped into the phrase "the whole is more than the sum of it's parts", and I was reminded of how thirsty this sometimes leaves my mind...

Briefly, I think the key observation is that "the sum of their parts" is usually rather undefined. The question is often really about the notion of "sum"...

For instance, consider how 2 * 3 = 6, and 2 + 4 = 6. Addition (2 + 4) and multiplication (2 * 3) are both functions that result in 6, but with different constituents (2 and 4, vs 2 and 3). So the question is then, "what are the parts of 6?". The number 6 can be made by from 2 and 3, but it is certainly more than the sum of 2 and 3 (2 + 3 = 5), so 6 is more than the sum of it's parts!? On the other hand if 2 and 4 are the parts of 6, then it is exactly the sum of it's parts. If 2, 4, 2 and 3 are all parts of 6 then 6 is way less than the sum of it's parts...

The general point being that there is a special relationship between "parts" and "sums". If you use the wrong kind of sum, then you don't get the whole from it's parts. Sometimes you get more, sometimes less. So, if ever someone tells you that something is more than the sum of its parts, it's interesting to ask, what kind of sum? and what kind of parts?

In other news, I went to a Google picnic today, lots of sun, games, free drinks, and super-soakers...

4 July 2011

a trip

There's a kind of squeeky cleanness, and a stiff unhappy look to the people; the painful look of money. Hiding out in a Moroccan cafe after the conference, drinking mint tea, I find myself next to the bravado of x-pat British lads, telling stories of their triumphs. I blank it out; indulge in my programming and tea. Waiting to compile, the evening arrives, clear blue, pleasant temperatures.

20 June 2011

a dog named lucas, lucas phoneless, weekend larks

I've met a dog with the same name I have; a grey 'scotty' dog, big whiskers. More than almost anything else, he seems to love licking my feet - I'm reminded of an approximation my dad's words: "dogs have a delightful disrespect for the disgusting".

Last weekend's blur started with friday night of tense but amusing Hitchcock, in 3D! 'dial M for murder' a thriller/mystery delight; carefully unfolding plot, pulling me to and from a grim murder-minded character. It all ends happily, but I'm still a staggering zombie stunned walking out the cinema. Recovered by way of drinks at an enthusiastic music mad and ball-guided frenchman's loft-like apartment. Saturday rolls on and I make my way to a cheeze-party in Central Park. Cheese, wine and a random guy who makes a mean mojito cocktail throws the party into a slurring, happy, basking in the sun til the afternoon ends and I loose my phone. Amazingly I feel no loss for the phone; a little worry about someone using my phone, but I call up and cancel it and it's like I never had one again.

So I'm thrown back to my days before telephone; even more so perhaps now that I have no home phone either. It's a strange sense, loosing the power of instant communication. But I've ordered a swanky and new smart machine that looks like an Ian Banks spacecraft. It'll take some days to arrive, and then I'll finally arrive into the universe of my work-peers. So, until then, I'm email and silences.

Sunday I dance in Union square. There's a man in a bin watching everyone, and there's another man watching the man in a bin too. I dance on.

11 June 2011

return of the ceiling, my gnome, on a hot hot day

It's been getting hot; the kind of heat that tickles you all over as little droplets of sweat magic themselves all over you, as if you are melting, your body slowly trickling its way home, back to the ocean.

My flat feels like it is haunted by little gnomes. When I'm at work, the sneak in; sometimes they break things: a blind here, a light-bulb there; they stomp about in big boots and leave dusty prints too. But I feel strangely fond of them as they, bit by bit, also magic a bathroom a new ceiling. To be honest it looked more interesting before with the wood and pipes. Just the light is missing now on the white ceiling.

At work, I feel like a gnome, trialing away at bits and pieces, enjoying it more as I find a good pace, and find myself able to contribute. This week has been paper reading, reviewing, and come 5pm, I go to practice Aikido in the furnace, land of foot smells. Then back to work for a little longer, perhaps having some food there. It's been a social time recently too; parties on roof-tops, barbeques, conceptual art in the form of rent-a-burka, and indulgent luxurious lie-ins.

3 June 2011

Zombie rabbits and bathroom ceilings

There's a shop around the corner that, as far as I can tell, caters to the desires of killer-zombie-rabbits...

It's a curios thing, a bathroom ceiling. Mine had developed a bulbous shape which I told the 'superintendent' of our building about. One day a crowd of men came to look at it, "water!" they exclaimed and ran away. A week later, I find I have no bathroom ceiling at all. All I can see now is a network of pipes - big think lead-looking ones, and wires - thin and creeping things. The rest of my flat blossomed in broken glass, blue gaffer tape, and finally a myst of nose-twitching grey dust.

Outside a motorbike with a deep booming motor drums by, and all the cars start a-woooping-and gleeful honking. I'm sitting on my dusty stool, looking up the blinds I've just fitted, and considering spending my evening waving a mop.

Today I got to speak to one of the gods about saving the world. I was pleasantly surprised to find that he was keen - I once wondered if the gods of my new world might not actually care for the lands of everyone else, but anyway, they do! Seeds of rationality bumble into a garden of gods.

Now I hear a ding-dong of a door, mine? Cautiously, I open my door to find a waft of perfumes. No; it is not my door they wait at, but the one opposite... where's that mop?

25 May 2011

a new place and dreams of large cats

I've moved. And the sun has returned. The heat of the city is now starting to thicken. The noises of the refurbishment in the floor above are dampened hammers, and boots - but not so loud that they are disturbing, more like the large explorations of a some strange hungry animal. Last night I dreamed of sharing a small 1 bedroom flat with my father, and one of my sisters who was sleep, and a small but scarily strong leopard. The leopard was waking up slowly as I cared for it, and then becoming curious, and exploring for food.

I the night before, I also dreamed of a large restless cat who I'd accidentally forgotten about, it had been living on a far, in my fathers house, and that farm, with the long neglect, has sunk and become an underground basement. As I descended the stairs, showing a friend my new place, I suddenly remembered the cat, who'd grown lonely and impatient with time... it would be pleased to see me, I thought, but I was also slightly scared and guilty feeling for the years that had passed.

20 May 2011

Moving and raining

A long week of late working late nights, and tonight I'm scraping the little dregs of soul that eeked out there life, pulling them out of this flat. Packing boxes. Boxes boxes, moving offices and moving home. And contemplating where and why people get angry - why do I get angry sometimes? Where does the sense of struggle come from?

Then remembering the delight of the tumbling drumming rain last night... pictures from the corner by my new flat, where I watched the rain pondered buying an umbrella.

14 May 2011

Running, Central park, Harlem,

Today I went running in central park, this is the third time I've been running (in my life); I'm still thoroughly confused about what one is supposed to do. I watch other runners, but they all do different things. We run around the lake, I feel the heat of my body building up, the gradual lazy internal barriers slowly arrive, and then pass as if they never existed. I notice a small stone in my shoe, playing poke-the-heel at random places.

Back to my confusion, it really is much more complicated that I thought. I'm constantly barraged by questions from my body: do I land on my heels, rolling my knee and ankles out? or my toes absorbing weight through my ankles? or try to land with my foot flat-ish; and do I land on the outside of my foot or the inside? in the middle? And that's just a few possibilities for the feet - what about where my feet are placed relative to each other; and what about the hands? the tilt of my body? and my head? and my shoulder? It's like all my body wonders where it should be in the crazy new act to angular propulsion. On my VISA I'm a resident alien - that's certainly how I feel running.

Yesterday, I walked a bit - I visited Harlem - bought croissants from L'Ambassadeur. This looks like it might be rocketing to my favorite bakery/restaurant in New York: I loved the simple human manner of the people that worked there, the west African music, the relaxed atmosphere, the delicious simple french-style fresh bread... and around the corner, a block or two away, we ate dinner in a delicious Jamaican Rastafarian place: "nothing that walk, crawls, swims or flies" was written on the wall. Vegan curries and fried plantain, slightly bitter greens, and brown tofu-like stuff. Wholesome, real. A chess set permanently on one of the tables. Relaxed people at the end of the their day, life is taken more easily, more naturally here. Perhaps I'll move up here in a bit, it's cheaper too, just a commute to pay. 

Oh, and work became exciting this week; a good brain storming session. World domination by argument maps was drafted; founding eyes laid some minutes over it, I snapped a short for the record. My excited rant also caught a fellow to two. I'll cast the net a little wider soon, it's nice to feel that the idea might actually catch fire; I guess I hadn't dared to hope... perhaps a little early still, but exciting nonetheless. Oh, and I've managed to extract a good mathematical problem recently too. Some very fascinating projects and questions. 

Ah, time is upon me - I go to get the keys to my new flat in Soho...

11 May 2011

a new apartment soon; walking some green hills

I'm tired, body aching subtly from Aikido of a couple of days ago, mind warn flat, having spent days pouring through piles of code, striving for understanding where there is little to be understood.

Now I listen to some Portuguese Fado, Madredeus, a transition from melancholy to playful. Reflecting on work, it feels like people work really hard to do easy things, where I feel they should be working to make hard things easy. I feel I've said this before, but I don't know where or when... a deja vu... am I repeating myself?

Last weekend I made it out of the city, went walking with Taina at an idyllic villages that was also somehow consequentially hideous. Still walks outside of earshot of taxi-horns were welcome...

We did hear what sounded like a nuclear warning siren from a 60s film echoing over the hills - maybe from the nearby military base?

Oh! I've got a new apartment, but I'm regretting it before I've even got the keys... the more I think about it the more I think I got a crappy deal... I'll stop thinking about it... I can change in a year's time.

The new place is small, expensive, but in a nice part of town. Yesterday I ate some of the most delicious Greek food I've ever had -  in a tiny place opposite my new flat. It has 4 tables each for 2 people, and one table for three. The tables are all very close. Cosy. Tiny. But soooo tasty... reminds me, at the weekend, a visit is planned to taste the delights of a French-style bakery run by Senegalese formerly from Paris... diversity. New York enjoys serious food diversity.

4 May 2011

bycles and a flat search

At the weekend, I saw cyclists from my window, thousands of them, for hours and hours...

The day before yesterday, I managed to feed myself something I should have thrown away. A new experience of strange stiff pains all through my body, much like having flew. Only lasted one brain-stifling day.

And today I looked at flats, with help from patient Taina and Eftikis, more flats than I was expecting to ever see the inside of in one day. "Exposed brick", a feature of New York apartments, plays a surprisingly prominent role, often as the view:

Tonight, I've been trying to prepare the paperwork... missing details led me on a long chase, eventually arriving at HSBC representative telling me that I should put all my passwords in a single excel spreadsheet, and use MS office to password protect it... I'm pretty sure that is a terrible bit of advice.

Now I've fought my way through the paperwork, maybe I'll have a new place to live tomorrow!

24 April 2011

Sureal and argumentative

People wear a worn look, perhaps it's more than skin deep. "Life is hard", it says. They walk slowly, and it's a tired walk. They fight, in slow motion, to be in this painfully small space. The space here is full, culture squirming to break through the concrete, and yet, mostly, it's just a show, crying for its own emptiness. In the East Village, I came across this...

"Time and space died yesterday."

Last night I met, for the first time in my life, a convicted advocate of pure-capitalism. I knew such people existed; but it was the first time I actually spoke to one. Like an exotic fish, I gaped at the Swedish investment banker. Sadly, we had only just started our discussion before he had to leave. I'm hoping to finally understand this view of the world, what drives such believe? I want to delve under the rhetoric and see what is the implicit rationale he holds. I feel I may need to bolster my collection factoids: we did briefly talk of immigration in Sweden, where I got the impression his view is a stereotype that sketched in fears that Muslims are aggressively evangelical, that they want all women to wear the Burka, and have no interest in anything Swedish, except taking advantage of the social security system - a position I expressed my disbelief for. Fundamentally, his belief seemed to be that economic laws corrupt society and lead it to despotism. And there was me thinking that such laws are a mechanism by which we escaped oligarchy... ahh, some exciting conversations await the next time we meet!

Work-wise, I've been feeling rather incompetent, slow, struggling in slow motion to absurd the sea of acronyms and swamps of endless software gunk. Luckily my manager and colleagues, like a break in the clouds and a fresh breeze, shed a humble light on my predicament, helping me realise that it's normal to be stuck in a swamp, but if I keep clambering through, I'll get to dryer land. Maybe I'll even have the chance to walk a dream of democratic, rationaale argument...

Oh yeah, I've been thinking that "Rationaale", with emphasis roughly "rationAAArle", might be a fun word for my twisted take on rational and scientific: it is being open minded, it is the antithesis of dogma, it is the unification of differing positions by acceptance heterogeneity. For instance, it accepts emotional arguments as emotional arguments. It accepts cultural arguments in light of their cultural momentum. It is the gentle heart of science. It accepts all things by accepting them in their context. It is accepting that all things have context, and that the context needs to be made explicit in order to form a constructive collective reality.

You might have noticed that I'm also using a twisted definition of argument: for me an argument is just a statement of an idea or position; typically towards or against some other statement.

Maybe it's worth being a little concrete: our capitalist is arguing from some beliefs. A rationaale for this position is that he has a model that everyone knows everything perfectly, and that if power congregates, then it will, by some virtue of his image of pure-capitalism, be broken back into something else, saved by economic demand. This is the context, and now we can argue about realisation of this context, or lack of, within the world we see around us.

I guess I think that, fundamentally, we nearly all agree, but on top of this agreement lie layers of confused imaginations. These disconnected intellectual backdrops draw us apart and scare us from each other.

Oh yeah, I spent some time this week writing about argument mapping - perhaps
it shows :)

14 April 2011

of homes and trycicles of the NYPD

The days pass and pass... I returned from Edinburgh and Oxford on monday to a different New York, to heat, to streets covered in flowers and plants, to people dressed lightly, to the flowers finally breaking out among the trees that were previously just grey skeletons haunting the pavement.

It was strange to be back in Edinburgh; the roots I used to feel are no longer there. Maybe it was just lacking my own flat, my own room, or maybe it was not staying in the heartland of my old haunts. I was awed by the emptiness, by Edinburgh's greenery, and by the leisurely nature of its cafe culture.

New York coffee places are largely pumping affairs: eat and begone!

On other matters, worky projects here are starting to properly catch my curiosity, and I made last night to what people here seem to call a "minimal wave" club: an electronic vision of the darkest 80s, stripped bare, and stuffed with groove; the club was preceded by live music aptly called Dark folk from Gent.

Oh yeah, here's a fun thing about modern new york: the NYPD drive tricycles... still makes smile as I get my morning coffee.

25 March 2011

pictures; and things to do...

Some more pictures; I went out to Queens, apparently all the best food is out there, in small unassuming and very local places. They certainly have lots of roads...

I walk past this humble cat very often, always make me happy to see her.

I'm still searching for the noodles and comic place I remember from 2003...

But last night, I went to see some classical music, there I was told of a cigar-bar, a place licensed for people go and smoke cigars and drink whiskey...

Things to do are vastly outpacing the rate I can do them...

22 March 2011

There is a sign that says BUMP

There is a sign that says BUMP.

A man picks up his dog's shit, with his bare hands, and places it delicately by a tree.

Galleries last weekend, some work of Marcel Dzama at David Wirner - chess, war and sex, contrasts interwoven. Then Glenn Ligon (images to words, angry sad reflection on racism) and Edward Hopper (magic painter of light and people) at Witney.

I spend an hour today practicing falling-over, at various speeds, from various heights. The final 10 minutes are the hardest: a strangers holds out her right arm; I stand in front her, a little to one side. She is a blond girl, of medium build with a round face and a kind smile. I place my left hand on her wrist, and then throw myself over her arm, my feet are high in the air, and I'm still holding her wrist gently. I meet the ground first with my other arm, and then my back, finally my legs. Quickly, I stand up, and take her wrist with my other hand, and throw mayself again. Again and again.

A basement, Bar 55, the most hard-worn musicians I've ever seen play their hearts out while I drink whiskey.

It's been a fun week, culture, music, friends, explorations of Brooklyn. Work-wise I'm still frustrated by programming with a pile of sludge (C++), plotting revenge of ML (an almost brilliant language)... also looking forward to visiting Edinburgh and Oxford soon (Don't ask, I can't tell you when, it's a surprise).

16 March 2011

time, time traveling, and psychic puppies on a window-sill

I got home early today, left the office at 17:30, that felt pretty good. But I also had too much coffee, on and off, over the day, leaving me kind of drained and hyper. Now I'm fighting back against the encroaching sea of emails and also tackling a few outstanding electronic chores.

Repeatedly failing to do any exercise is frustrating me a bit. I need to find a way to get to Aikido, I was planning to go at 6am, to the early class, but it's too early for me, if I stay up until 2am as I tend to, then it destroys me. Work typically wraps its ugly arms around me in the early evenings, at the end of which, Aikido is finished; and during the day, I get caught up by... well... mostly debugging shitty c++ programs and dreaming of writing in ML again... Perhaps I can schedule Aikido into my diary and go at lunch-time... new plan!

Yesterday I finished reading the Time Traveler's Wife, a story of beautiful human nature; almost too romanticly-sweet for me, leaves you feeling good as you read it, somehow inspired by the characters, but also a little unreal in the way fate falls out in front of them; I think the sensation of your own fate, looking into your past, can be comforting and intriguing, but when a fateful sensation lurks in your  future, then a delusion is afoot, possibly a dangerous one, I ponder.

Today's observations of New Yorkers: there is an oddly large number of shops selling collections of  rat-shaped hairless tiny dogs. Outside, groups of women gape at the creatures. The dogs look a bit bored to me, but they occasionally pull-off a cute-trick, bite each other, and I imagine, poo on their sterile window-sill once in a while, surely. So, I wonder: what is the link between 24-hour psychic advisers on every street corner, and the puppy shop on every street? Is this some demonic mechanism that traps people's souls in puppies and makes the dogs hair fall off? Or are the psychics pulling a ruse, pretending to talk to the dead, when in fact they communicate with rat-shaped dogs via string and yogurt-cups? the mystery...

11 March 2011

images on the way to work

I wake up, and admire the view...

I walk to work, this is typically what it looks like:

There are strange characters here, like this rat, who hangs about on the side of the street. I often see him on the way to work. I don't know why there is a yellow prong coming out of his nose, it's always there, and today it matches the puffy jacket of a passer-by.

7 March 2011

carnival in queens, alien-heads galore

This weekend, I went to a party in Queens; Astoria. It was the kindly invite of a friend of friend, a Greek carnival party, where wild alien-heads is probably the best description of my favorite costumes. This inspired me to dance slightly strangely - I just got sent this video as an approximation for my dancing... I'm hoping some of the party-people will send me some pictures of the Alien heads and maybe photographic proof of my mad dancing. Getting to the party at 1am meant leaving kind of late, hurray for all night trains. The next two days I lived in space - a floating purgatory where my insides had been turned to saw-dust and sand. Luckily my guest, Conor, who arrived a couple of hours after I got to bed, was in a similar state - he'd just celebrated house-selling before flying here. We enjoyed conversing about teaching, long-distances, loves, this and that, and a sprinkling of type theory things: what is the type-theory of fancy pointer structures and their shape-changing transformations, and how do you describe their inductive shapes?

3 March 2011

The first week at work has been surprising in how unsurprising it has been. Much like Wikileaks - all the stuff you didn't know, but strongly suspected - turns out it's true!

What was a little unexpected was the 'party' atmosphere. Also, people don't overwork like I worried they might. Although I've been working very hard this first week - but I can see it's just the first week. There's a deep river of thought here to run things rationally, and they have the resources to try and make it happen. That feels very good. On the less positive side, I've not come across an interesting concept or idea yet, I'm worried I'll miss academia for that, but I guess it might also be the first week of introductions is naturally administrative. Missing my academic friends in Edinburgh!

I've been making a morning ritual of walking to Grumpy's, reading a little with a cappuccino and croissant, and then making my way into work. A nice start to the day. Sleep has been a little problematic; hard to get the right temperature, constant sirens and horns are also a little unusual for me. I just bought a couple of blankets, and a non-feather pillow, so that should help me avoid sneezing and getting some reasonable sleep. Last night I dreamt. The dream took place in a big white box, with some rocks, and water at the bottom. There was a big hungry green lizard who was chasing, trying to catch, and eat a terrified frog. There was also an aggressive hungry fish taking big bites out of the lizard's body and legs. The lizard didn't seem to notice, he was totally intent on catching and eating the frog. I could feel the mad urgent chasing hunger of the lizard, and also of the fish. I was also very worried for the frog, he was leaping out of the jaws of the lizard, up into the air, and hard against against the plastic of the box, and sliding, falling back down towards the lizard's gaping mouth. Several times the frog lading on the lizard mouth, but managed to push against it's jaws and jump up again. Full of angst, I watched the scene, feeling for all 3 creatures, terrified and hungry. Then, the lizard managed to jump up as the frog was falling, and the frog was caught this time in the throat of the lizard, who hungrily gulped him down. I woke up. It was 6am-ish. I fell back to sleeping shortly after, this time dreaming that work didn't allow me to grow a beard, and I remember feeling terrible about it, scared and shamed because I hadn't shaved, and also frustrated by the crazy requirement. Luckily, when I wake up again at 9, I realise it was just a dream, and the disarray of my facial hair is not an issue.

Sorry there are no pictures this post, no pictures allowed at work, and I've not been anywhere else.  Having said that, I did randomly meet a lovely couple while queuing at a restaurant yesterday; ended up sharing a table and enjoying dinner together, over a kind of Korean sake.  It was very popular Korean place (Woorijip); discussions about ranged from marxism and radical left wing politics, to technological revolution, and the existence of rationality. It was food to my hungry mind, who was aching for some good chat. The Korean place itself was amazing, with 2 tears of queuing, first by the door, then inside at the back. The place has an atmosphere of hot chaos, while outside it was bitter cold. As I watched I realised the bustling waiters who rushed here and there, and directing people to tables, and urgently but gently pushing people out of their way - that these waiters were a powerfully efficient mechanism, they made the place work, they were the blood of the place. It was wild and delicious, and also very homely tasting, not amazing, but good. I loved it.

Also started writing a short story about the life of a conceptual artist... more on that another time. Til the weekend!

27 February 2011

A short, delightfully bitter Capuccino

A short, delightfully bitter Capuccino, and a gentle brioche in the lobby of the ACE hotel; I'm really here for that Stumptown Coffee. The lobby, where I'm sitting, is dimly lit, full of people and the sounds of conversations in an enormous space. Lots of faces highlighted by laptops, brass and black, lamps. A few people trying to read in the darkness. I think I can vaguely here some music behind the echoing conversations.

Yesterday was good, today too; Yesterday started early, then a couple of Aikido classes leaving me feeling glorious. Some drifting through streets, ate the biggest salad I've ever eaten (and I'm a big salad eater, but it nearly defeated me), found a way to get some more money out of my UK account (struggling with my US bank account...), and then coasted my way downtown to explore east village.

Simone's bar, wifi and whiskey!
A bar called Simone provided me with a space to do some programming, eat about 50 olives, and eventually make my way through the biggest measure of Macallan I've ever been poured. A little light-headed, and stuck with my programming, I swayed out to find ramen noodles and lots of green tea. Then I wondered streets following my favourite style of walking random. I came across a charming and swanky little hat shop, villagescandal, walked out with two very different hats that I actually really like, and a complementary scarf. Feeling way cooler I wondered past closed subways, eventually finding a way to get back home. A few hours programming later and I had sorted out a serious chunk of my quantum robot machine - essentially routine programming, but demanding as I wrapped my mind around some friends code.

Time Square today

And now a plan is needed for today... Aikido, or walk in the sun to time square and then central park...

25 February 2011

Man and parrot outside Murray's Bagels
I'm moody today; woke up on the wrong side of bed, on the wrong side of afternoon; struggled to make my way out, anywhere, to just do something. Doing something ended up being getting a bagel, watching a man and his parrot, then a coffee at Grumpy's; which is how I felt before the coffee - it was a good coffee. Going for cocktail and book reading in a bit, or perhaps to see True Grit. The big city blues today are finally wearing off today, as the evening arrives; and as I watch the lights of seemingly infinite cabs make the ant-like way down 6th avenue towards me.

23 February 2011

sighting masonic temples, fortune tellers, and lovingly made burgers

Simultaneously lost for words, and overwhelmed with things to say. Here's a sprinkling of sights...

View from living room window;
masonic hall is the middle building
One thing I noticed today is that the building 1 block away - it is basically in front my of living room window - seems to be a masons guild, it's a big building, openly advertising that it is a secret society...

I realised yesterday, while doing a random walk-about, is that on pretty much every block, there is a fortune teller. I can choose from a variety of palm-readers, a fair sprinkling of tea-leaf readers, also astrologers, people who speak to the dead, and many many more. I guess a there must be a lot of demand for them... there's almost as many places helping you speak to the dead as there are phone shops trying to make you speak to your mobile phone.

There is something else that is on every block as well: a fitness club, usually second floor. One sighting today: a line of men on running machines. I find this alone strange, a line of people running on the spot, going nowhere. But what I've not seen before is that each person had his own 30 inch TV, in front and a bit above his machine. They all showed different channels. The guys were all running, but with their head craned up to watch TV. I guess something shocking must have come on the TV and distracted one guy: he stumbled, falling hand to the floor; but what amazed me was that he was able to keep watching the TV even as he fell over. The running starts and stop, but the TV watching is eternal.

I spent a good part of the last few days wondering about Chelsea, Greenwich Village, and Midtown today - Fiona gave me a collection of New York City Walks; I took my first of these walks today. It was a fantastic architectural one, this is a very impressive city to be in. It's heaped with diversity and there's a totally unashamed attitude to the architecture here, it says "I'm a big f-off building; what you gonna do about it?". It would make a building like Appleton Tower seem like a lost and shy garden shed.

After today's exploration of New York Aikdio, a very friendly experience, I was left with some appetite, and decided to try indulging in local burger. I've never seen a burger made with such love and attention... the way the onions were carefully caressed, the cheese gently layered, and bread rolls precisely placed - it nearly made me cry. Truth be told, I enjoyed watching the burger being made a lot more than eating it - feel kind of heavy and full now...

And it's time to do some washing; turn out I'm not getting my stuff until march; I only brought enough cloths for 3 days... (and luckily one Aikido gi, and my dancing shoes)... I guess I'll have to do some shopping, New York seems like a good place for that... ah yes, must go and get my Aikido Gi now...

21 February 2011

Just arrived to my flat in New York, a 17th Floor on 6th Avenue, the centre of Manhattan. Rather like a hotel; white clean dry walls; it's about the size of my old flat, but feels a little smaller; my stuff isn't here yet, but I am, well, a little tired, kind of emotional. Outside it's just slightly snowy, police sirens sing from the street below, when they pass regular horns holler at each other. Outside my window I can see three large cylindrical water containers on the roof off the building opposite...

Eyes feel kind of heavy... guess I'd better find some lunch, and maybe buy some more cloths...