Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The greatest eloquence seems like stuttering

I gave an interview today, for a persona article in a local popular science journal "Tarkade klubi".

The interview itself took about an hour. What I enjoyed more was the photo session that came after - as me and the photographer got talking - about life in general and women in particular. In the end, the session took roughly 3 hours.. but I think he had some pretty good pictures... and we both managed to get a deeper insight into our problems.

In some level, it is normal - as a good photographer has to know how to get his subjects to open up and expose themselves. Then again, so does a good teacher. It was a learning experience, and a very positive one, as it rarely happens that you get to that level of conversation with someone who is basically paid to hang out with you. But instead of just "doing his job", he took a genuine interest, and was present in the situation not as a photographer but as a person.

To dare to be human. Something to which I also aspire to in my own work as an educator. But it is good to see I am not the only one doing so :)

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Snow Leopard

Went out for a walk around Lake Harku.

First, I went to the beach, where there are a few swings set up. It is interesting but swinging is one of the most freeing and mind-clearing things that I know. Which I really needed. Christmas is a hard time for me, mentally. So, slipping off the swing and landing flat straight into the snow was.. well just what I needed. So much so, in fact, that I deliberately threw myself onto the snow carpet again, and just lay there for about a minute.

The path was snowed in most of the way, so for about half an hour, I was walking in half a meter deep snow where I often sank into all the way up to and including my knee. So it was pretty tough going, but that was what also made it so enjoyable.

Eventually, I arrived at a suburb filled with fairly new buildings, quite a few of which had fairly nice American-style Christmas decorations. I walked around there for a while, until I came onto a road that seemed to reach back towards my home.

I started walking, but pretty soon realized that this path (meant for cars) was also snowed in, effectively rendering that small suburb cut off from the rest of the world. I guess this is pretty common in more remote places in Estonia, but would not have thought Id see it so close to the capitol.

Also - Im currently reading a book ("The Snow Leopard") about an expedititon to the Himalayas. Today really helped me understand and appreciate the hardships that the author describes

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The long journey home

I started from my home in Tartu at around 4 PM. I made it to my home in Tallinn at 10 PM.

What happened? Some accident on the railway last night, as far as I understood. Which to me as a passenger meant the following:

Arrive at the railway station 15 minutes before the train was scheduled to depart.

Then waited 40 minutes in -10 C cold for the train to actually arrive. Needless to say that what little I know of qigong came in very handy.

Then the train arrived. And departed, around half an hour later than scheduled.

And it only went up to Aegviidu, where we had to switch to busses.. which took us to Kose, where we got back on a different train, which finally took us to Tallinn - just in time to miss my trolley so I had to wait yet 10 more minutes in the -10 degree cold.

I would like to say I was productive and got a lot of reading done on the way. Sadly, that is not quite the case. I was somewhat distracted with thoughts about the previous two nights.

It's complicated. Thankfully, I'm too tired to overthink it so I just think about the good parts.

Mmmm... :)

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


I have been asking myself that question a lot lately. Why do I do the things that I do. And for most of the stuff I do not have a clear answer yet.

The only exception is teaching. There the answer is simple:
a) It is doing good to someone other than myself
b) I am fairly well suited for it and enjoy the process
c) Immediate positive feedback

Best example of the last point: I had my students grade all the lectures in my Introduction to Informatics course on a 10 point scale with 5 being "An average university lecture" and 10 being "The best lecture I have ever attended". The worst score any of the lectures got on average was 5 - which means, the worst lecture in the series was still considered "about average" :).

Even better, though. Of the 19 lectures being graded, The three I gave got places 3-5. Second place was just a little off and as for the first place.. well, Tõnu Samuel really is amazing and by far the best lecturer I have yet to meet - at least on the topics I have seen him talk on...

As for some other things, I have some general ideas, but nothing that specific:

Bass playing helps me relax and get my mind off everyday problems.

Taiji does the same, but on a somewhat different level.

Dancing (the course I have been taking) - mostly physical social contact - something which I do not get enough of otherwise, since I have a pretty high need for it which is somewhat hard to satisfy for a single young man mostly looking for a stable long-term relationship (as opposed to "just having fun").

Cooking - well, to please my friends and to get some positive feedback... although, force of habit is starting to kick in with this one :)

My main problem, however, is that I have no answer to "why do I do science?". To pay the bills? It is drifting more and more towards that direction every day. Maybe time is ripe for a change in that respect... either a change in topic (which I have been planning anyways) or a change in career path. Remains to be seen, which one it will be. For now, however, my PhD thesis still needs its last chapter and I have come too far on that to stop so little short of the degree :)

Friday, December 10, 2010

And on the 7-th day he rested

I hoped I would come back from Japan and could take it easy for a week...
Well, one may dream... In any case, it did not turn out quite that way.

I have:

Graded 40 tests for Programming course.

Prepared two lectures for Introd. to informatics course.

Done a lot of organisatiorial work concerning that said course

Programmed a small piece of software to help with musical training.. and tested it on musicians.

Participated in an art project that consisted of short video sketches.

Torn an old scar open.. again. I really should stop scratching it.

Taken an exam I did not have enough time to study for (and the only thing that saved me was the fact it was a take-home exam)

Taken another test myself, without having -any- time to study for it.

Attended a PhD defence and two business meetings..

Created 11 more problems for the make-up tests for the programming course.

And this has been this week (and mostly the past two days). I honestly do not remember what happened with the last one, but I remember it being just as busy, if not more. I think I programmed Sharemind a little, but Im pretty sure there were at least 5 more things.

It seems I have managed to get enough done to have one day of rest this weekend, though.

Thank god for that.

Monday, November 29, 2010

The long morning after

So, I went to bed after being awake for nearly 48 hours. I did not set an alarm clock.

I woke up 17 hours later. My personal record.

Also - oh f*ck, because I had plans for Saturday. To get on top of everything again.
Ah, well, plans change - what I planned to do saturday afternoon mostly got done, just a few hours later, mainly between 1 and 7 AM Monday morning.

At 8 I gave an inspiring lecture about attitudes to first-year students... which came out pretty good, if the feedback is any indicator. I actually got an applause when I finished :)

Then another 6 hours of work and school, followed by an hour of walking, half an hour in meetings and then an hour of dance lessons... and now I am back home.. and counting 22.5 hours uptime again.

My plans of resting this week failed. I have an exam next Monday, in a course I have not attended for over a month. I also have a small thing about Sharemind which needs to be done ASAP, but that should hopefully be a pretty minor thing. In any case, it seems I have my hands full again.

Ah well, at least I have a week of rest behind me, and am feeling pretty good about life in general :)

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Big in Japan

I mentioned a few curiosities in the first post already. Since then, a few more things caught my eye whilst I was there.

Japanese gardens, though very reminiscent of their Chinese counterparts, are usually considerably bigger and somewhat more dense in terms of flora. However, both share a common characteristic - namely, the garden is built around nature, not of nature - so everything human-made is built so as to be in harmony with the natural things (trees, rocks, ponds) surrounding it. The gardens are also planted so as to bring out the essence of nature, so the feeling you get is like walking in the woods... only multiplied 10 times. Serenity cubed :)

Vending machines for drinks (and cigarettes) really are everywhere. Including temples, which usually have small designated rest areas with a few of them.

Recycling is big. Separate trash cans for bottles and soda cans can be found on every other street corner. Sometimes, there is also a separate container for magazines and newspapers.

Normal trash cans (for ordinary trash such as packaging material or food remnants) are often next to impossible to find. Considering this, I seriously wonder how they manage to keep the streets as clean as they do. However they do it, they are doing a good job because the streets are considerably cleaner than in Estonia, or even Denmark for that matter.

The center of Kobe is a designated non-smoking area where even outside, you are only allowed to smoke in certain places. I like the idea, I really do. On the other hand, people are stuill allowed to smoke inside in the restaurants, which they do, but thankfully not too often.

Maps are not always north up, like in Europe, and so one has to be careful when looking at the maps posted around the streets. I saw maps that were south up and east up, but I presume all 4 are an option.

The traffic in Japan is left sided and the traffic laws are obeyed more strictly than in Europe. For instance, people only cross streets at designated places. However, the laws do have certain oddities. For instance, a green light for pedestrians still means you have to watch out for cars that are making a turn onto the street you are crossing as they also have a right to move at that time.

Also, despite the car traffic being left sided, the pedestrian traffic posessed no discernible pattern of sidedness. In airports, they sometimes had signs saying that if you stand on the escalator, stand on the right (so people can pass on the left), but other than that, it was completely random. This seemed odd to me, because the pedestrian chaos is in stark contrast to the usual orderlyness of the Japanese.

Smartphones are indeed ubiqiutous, and so are high-tech toilet seats, but I saw no other clear indicators that Japan is more advanced than either Europe or the US.

Japanese seem to be as fond of Casinos (Pachinko machines) as Estonians are, which came as a complete surpirse to me. Sad, to say the least.

A lot of sweets are green in color. Green Tea taste - very very common. for instance, Ice cream often comes in just two varieties - vanilla or green tea.

Doors often slide rather than swivel. The slide function is often automatic and activated by lightly pressing the handle. Takes some getting used to, because the first instinct is always to grab the handle, not just simply press it.

Most small places do not have any staff that speak english, but they may have an english menu or (more commonly) a menu with pictures or even a stand with plastic models of the dishes. The word "vegetarian" is also in common use, so finding things to eat was usually not a problem. And the food is truly delicious, even in fast-food type places.

Many western food (Italian, French, Indian) places are around, but they usually seem to be locally owned and operated.

Green tea is often free in restaurants - as much as you can drink. If not, then cold water definitely is. At least one of these is brought to the table for you first thing you enter and they usually refill it for you if you empty it.

Coffe is either cheap and tastes like dirt, or expensive but really, really good. Any place calling itself a Cafe usually had the latter. Allen (who had been in the coffee business) confirmed that Japanese have a reputation of buying the highest quality beans they can find around the world.

Both green tea and coffee are just as popular served chilled as they are served hot. Even in high-end cafes they ask whether you want coffee hot or cold, if you do not specify which when ordering.

Japanese are very polite and very friendly. Example. Me and Allen were walking around in the rain, looking for a Kobe beef restaurant. We asked directions from a girl advertising another restaurant on a street corner. a) She did not know where the place we wanted was, so she asked a friend. b) She then took us to the competing restaurant, walking with us for 100 m. c) When we realized that we still had to keep walking, she offered us her umbrella (despite needing it herself as well since she clearly wasn't dressed for the rainy weather). I had a chocolate bar from Estonia with me, so I gave it to her for such kindness :) But seriously, you rarely see something like this in Europe.

Finally - you would think I would be an odd sight for most Japanese, being on average 35 cm taller than they are, having dreadlocks and dressing like a hippie. However, the look that did arouse attention in both India and China somehow seemed completely normal to Japanese. Noone seemed to be surprised by the sight of me or to think I was odd or out of place there. Im guessing its to do with politeness, as it is presumably not polite to stare so they did not do it. Still, I felt kind of strange, because I am so used to getting weird looks, even in Estonia, and I just didn't get any there.

I enjoyed the trip. More than I expected. A lot more, in fact. I made good connections, talked with interesting people, saw multiple incarnations of perfection in both Temple and Garden architecture. Despite the current sleep deprivation phase, I have not felt as refreshed and mentally alert for a very very long period. I hope I can hold on to that feeling, as a lot still needs doing and I have a todo list that will probably keep me busy until the end of February. However, I will try not to get overwhelmed by all of it again, like before.

Or, rather
"Do not try to do it. Just do it!" - Mimic

Time is precious and it's slipping away

I woke again at around 7, had breakfast with Soma and then headed out.

First stop for the day was actually outside Kyoto. Namely, Soma had asked me if I wanted to see the mountains and go hiking (to which I of course replied "yes-yes-oh-god-yes") and then recommended Mt. Kurama to me.

I needed to change trains 3 times to get there and it took an hour just to get there but... It was the most beautiful thing I have ever seen. Words can not describe the place.

If you ever happen to be in or near Kyoto
Just. Go. See. It.

Supposedly it was the peak season to go see it, but the place was relatively quiet and empty. Which is one part of its allure. But trust me, there is a lot more to it. Basically, it is a Temple built on a steep hillside of a 550 m high mountain, with gorgeus architecture and scenic views. But seriously, it has to be seen to be believed.

After coming down the mountain and walking the scenic valley path to the next railway station, I got back into town and headed towards the more usual suspects.

In town, I stopped by a diner to have a quick lunch. I ordered a Set Special, which contained zashimi and tempura, mushrooms, seaweed, rice and miso soup - or in short a good overview of Japanese cuisine. Menu had a note that it might take some time, but it was all delivered to me in an orderly manner and I was finished half an hour after entering the restaurant.

First up, Ginkakuji or The Silver Pavilion, which, unlike its golden counterpart was not silver but just white. As usual, it came attached with a beautiful garden but since I got there at around 1 pm, the place was crowded.. which meant walking the garden path felt like standing in a long and slow-moving queue. Not the way to enjoy Zen garden architecture. Good way to practice your patience, though. Thankfully, it was that slow for only one section and eventually sped up so I did not have to spend too much time there. One of the main sights besides the villa itself is a perfect geometrical cone made of gravel called Kogetsudai, that supposedly represents Mt. Fuji. Seriously - abstract art a few hundred years before the europeans :)

As hinted by the name of the post, I was on a pretty tight schedule. Soma had highlighted a number of temples and I had only 4 hours before they were about to close. Thankfully, most of them lay on a straight path. Bad news was that the straight path was around 5 km. It also turned out to be a bit less straight than originally anticipated.

The first section was called "The Philosophers path", which was a nice walkway along a canal lined with maple trees. Crowded, of course, but not nearly as bad as I feared, as it was still enjoyable. Especially if you walked on the other bank which was nearly empty.

On the other end of the path, Soma had marked I should visit Eikando temple but it was crowded, charged 1000 yen for admission and did not seem all that special so I decided to skip it and head onwards.

Next up - Heian shrine. Got off the path a bit and had to ask for directions twice. Once I got there, the first emotion that overwhelmed me was "Oh, Fuck". The front courtyard was just enhormous. An then I found out that the gardens surround it. Considering I had been walking for 4-5 hrs by that time, "Oh, fuck" seemed appropriate again, this time with a bit different connotation. The gardens were still completely worth it, though.

From now on, it was a straight sothward path, first through the modern city centre and then through a district that constantly had temples and shrines on both sides. I wondered into a few of them, but there were really way too many and I was on a time budget.

At one point, this forced me to ask a group of tourists "Excuse me, could you help me out a little? Im not entirely sure which temple Im at right now". Turned out I was a bit behind the schedule as they had just come from the place where I was heading (and where I hoped I actually was).

In short, I had a quick look into Chionin temple, Maruyama park and Kodaiji monastery. It was a quarter to five, sun was setting and I still had one thing on my list.

Kiyomizudera. A temple with a famous terrace with a 15 m drop that people used to jump down. Japanese version of Russian roulette - if you live, you do the thing you planned, if not, well... then not. Although, jumping down what would be the equivalent of a sixth floor window. Onto a paved road. Seriously? Thing is, a few people actually did survive this. The saying "To take a plunge at Kiyomizudera" is still in use with meaning similar to english "to take the plunge into the unknown" (according to Wikipedia). Seriously - you cannot miss going to see something like that. So I didn't. I arrived just as the sun was setting, which made the place enhormously beautiful.

I finished the temple tour just as the temple was closing. As my legs were killing me by now, I just found the nearest cafe, sat down, ordered coffee and just rested for a while. I then went to the nearest sovenir shop and bought a few things for people back home.

Doing so I realized I was actually running low on cash. I had a conservative estimate for the ticket costs all the way to the airport and I had maximum 1500 yen (200 eek) extra after that. And Japan is expensive, so I had to really watch my costs from then on.

So, I headed back in the direction of the temple.. and saw that instead of being closed, they had moved up the ticket counters to also cover the temple park. And increased the prize for the ticket twofold. It was still less than I paid in the other temples - Kyomizudera was surprisingly cheap, considering most other places I had visited were all 400-600 Yen but that was only 200 during the day and 400 now. So I entered the same temple for the second time, paying double.

For a childrens ticket, as it turned out.. or well, they accidentally gave me the wrong one. Thankfully, the person checking the ticket also thought it had been an accident (and in fairness, I had paid the adult prize) and let me in without trouble. The temple was even more beautiful at night, and so was the park, with the red maple trees lit up in the most beautiful way.

It was 7 p.m. by now and I had to find my way back to the train station to go back to my host, pack my stuff and head for the Airport. I had spent my last spare money on a birthday present for my aunt and now tried my best to ignore all the small souvenir stores and restaurants that lined the path to the station. Not easy, especially considering I was getting pretty hungry already. I was looking around for a place to change money and at some point even entertained the thought of asking some european-looking people if they would be willing to change a few EUR-s I had in my pocket at a rate beneficial to them... but in the end I still overcame my temptations and went directly to my host's appartment.

There it turned out that the tickets were actually a bit cheaper than I first thought and that I also had a few more large coins that I had not noticed before, so I actually had enough money left for a nice strong meal in the railway station. 800 Yen for a bowl of noodles in a fast food place. Bowl so big I would have had trouble finishing it had I not been walking for the entire day. And that was not the first time I got served such a quantity - the portions in Estonia are usually smaller, which does not make sense since Estonians themselves are considerably bigger. The food was good, despite being served at a fast food restaurant again (I was pressed for time, after all).

I arrived in the airport without any real problems, but the ride was considerably longer than I expected. In the airport, I now had 8 hours in the airport, 1 on the plane, 3 more in Tokyo airport, 9.5 in the plane, 3 in Helsinki, 3.5 on the plane, 1 in Tallinn and 2.5 in Tartu before getting home. This sums to 30.5. Fun, as always, considering I cannot usually sleep in busses or planes, and had been up for 17 hours before arriving to the airport already, which means I had 48 hours of uptime with maybe 2x2h of sleep in total.

Sweet insomnia - it only makes what follows that much enjoyable :)

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Welcome to Kyoto

I arrived at the Katsura train station about 20 minutes before the agreed time. I found a place where I would not bother anyone, set my stuff down and sat down to read.

Soma arrived at exactly the apointed time. He was taller than I expected, above average by Japanese standards. We greeted eachother and then set off towards his apartment, which was about 1.5 km away. On arrival I was again surprised, this time by the size of the apartment. I expected something along the lines of a 15 m2 dormroom, but what greeted me was a full 30 m2 apartment - not at all unlike the first floor in my home, even in layout although it did have a separate kitchen. The room was nice, but not the perfect epitome of cleanliness and order like I expected a japanese home to be. Typical student apartment, quite comparable to those back home. One thing I also noticed fairly soon was that it was cold there - maybe 15 C.

After I had set my stuff down into a corner and presented the gifts I had brought from Estonia (chocolate and candy by Kalev for both Soma and Natsuki), he took me to the supermarket to get stuff to eat for the evening and next morning. Thefood isles at the store were... well completely different from what you get in the western world. At least half of the stuff I saw probably cannot be had even in specialty stores in Estonia. We grabbed just a few things and then went back to the appartment.

Soma cooked dinner - rice, fish in soy sauce and miso soup, a pretty stanard meal in Japan. He then helped me plan the next days activities, writing down the place names for the places I should visit as well as the station names for the railway. He also said he would print me a map of Kyoto but can only do so for the next day. I showed him my phone/GPS which had an offline map and said that it should be enough. He agreed :)

Soma then dug out the additional blankets and helped me set up the sleeping arrangements. He himself slept on a matress on a slightly elevated wooden frame (which served the role of a bed) and I got a blanket laid on top of a heated carpet (the floor, by the way, was cold, so the heating did come in handy). Since I had a long day behind me, I turned in and fell asleep fairly quickly.

I woke at around 7, and so did my host. For breakfast, we had the sushi I had bought from the supermarket the previous day. I left the house at around 8, expecting to arrive at my first destination just at 9 when it was about to be opened. This I did actually manage.

Kinkakuji or the Golden Pavilion. Complete with a nice Japanese garden, like all the other temples as well. Supposedly the most visited place in Japan. Frankly, though, I do not see what the fuss is - yes, it is beautiful but many other temples are far nicer. Starting there was probably a good idea though, as it wasn't horribly crowded yet at 9 a.m.

A kilometer down the road was the next larger temple, Ryoanji, famous for it's rock garden. Its normal gardens were also very nice, though. The rock garden was.. a lot smaller than I thought, as I kind of assumed the rocks to be human-sized while in actuality they were much, much smaller. Still beautiful, though. Its amazing how Japanese discovered abstract art hundreds of years before the Europeans.. and in a form so much more enjoyable :)

As I was heading for the next temple down the line, I suddenly noticed a staircase leading up the mountain that was not marked on the maps. Curious as I am, I decided to follow it up. It led to a small Shinto shrine behind which there was a hiking path. Which I (of course) walked. It took me up to the mountains there and I got a first-hand account of the local nature, as well as a fairly good workout (as the path went up and down the mountain range). When I finally exited the woods, I found myself in a fairly rich neighborhood which the GPS claimed to be somewhere between Kinkakuji and Ryoanji. However, it lacked the street map for the area so I just had to use my sense of direction to get back to where I needed to go.

After a while, I found myself at a fast food place I had passed by before, and since it was lunchtime, I entered. Turned out that they mainly specialized in beef dishes, but when I showed them the text "Im a vegetarian and fish is also ok" that I had asked Soma to write up for me, they recommended Udon noodles with deep fried tofu, which turned out to be pretty tasty (although, udon noodles are a bitch to eat with chopsticks). I then set off towards the third temple.

Ninnaji or the old imperial palace. Distinct from the previous two, mainly in scale and featuring vast empty spaces, giving a very grandiose feeling to the whole temple. Fitting for the imperial family, who had been its head priests for centuries. Possibly not as famous as the previous two but definitely worth a visit.

I now headed to the nearest rail station to go to Arashiyama. Only thing I knew about the place was that Soma recommended it. There seemed to be one bigger temple quite nearby the station and then a few smaller ones both to the north and south. In practice, it turned out to be tourist district, where the temples were mixed with gardens, natural woodlands and private manors. I walked about, exploring and visiting different gardens until it got dark, at which point I sat down on a river bank and watched a mountain range, which I hoped they would light up (as the spotlights could be seen all around the place). Sadly, that did not happen, and as it was getting fairly cold, I decided to call it a day, walked to the railway station and headed back to my Host.

He again prepared dinner, this time noodles and rice with mushrooms and vegetables. Both good. I then went to the supermarket to get some foodstuffs to bring back to Estonia with me. Soma then gave me the itinerary for the next day, which promised to be very packed, so I again headed to bed early to be well rested for all of it.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Last day in Kobe

After the conference ended for the day, we were taken to Sake brewery for an excursion. The brewery was pretty cool, but the guide spoke japanese not english and although there was a translator she only translated maybe one tenth of what the guide said.. so most of the time was just filled with waiting. After the tour ended, we were all given some 18% strong unpastorized sake to taste. Others then headed back to the bus to be dropped back to the conference venue.

I was determined to go back to the art museum however. There was a map on which it seemed it was pretty much around the corner. Sadly, it turned out not to be the case and after 3 km of walking and realizing there was still at least 1 km to go and not enough time to really see anything once I get there, I found the nearest railway station, caught a train to the center and just looked around the shopping district and had a cup of green coco - which was actually surprisingly tasty. I then headed back towards the conference center to attend the evening banquet.

The banquet started by the keynote speakers and organizers breaking open a barrel of sake, which was then distributed to the participants in square wooden "glasses" that had IWSEC engraved on them. Fancy. Food was laid out in a buffet style and contained all sorts of japanese delicacies. There was also a concert with a "piano and a soprano" and both the pianist and the singer were pretty good.

They also announced the winners of the best paper and best student paper awards. And I actually won the best paper prize :) When I went to accept it, though, there was a small cultural problem. A real "Clash of cultures", if you will. When they presented it to me, I accepted the certificate and then bowed deeply.. and bumped my forehead against the extended hand of the presenter :P Everyone got a good laugh out of that of course, me included :)

Banquet was just two hours and ended right on time. I left together with Allen again and we walked around the city talking some more. This time we headed our separate ways pretty soon, though.

Walking towards the hotel I realized I should practice my presentation through at least once. As it was late, I decided to leave it for the morning and headed for bed.

So come morning. I wake up at 6.40, go down for breakfast at 7, get back to my room at 7.40 and start with the presentation. The first attempt was pretty horrible but I did not have time for the second as by then I was already running late.

The first talk of the day was about elliptic curves. Complicated stuff by most standards but the presenter (Daniel, who I had met during the coffee museum visit) had put a lot of effort into trying to make it understandable and I managed to follow it all the way to the end. That was followed by two very esoteric talks - one implementing pairing-based crypto on cellphones and another doing software engineering research on security test cases. Then my turn was up.

The presentation actually went surprisingly well. I did not stumble anywhere and finished exactly on time. I got three meaningful questions all of which I could answer and it turned out that even Allen (who has no technical or CS background) had understood the talk.

We then went to the museum with Daniel, first stopping to drop off my larger bag into a locker at the station and then going to lunch before actually seeing the museum.

We soon split up because he had an appointment with a collegue and had to speed through the museum whereas I had plenty of time before my train to Kyoto and could easily take my time. The permanent exhibition was an overview of Japanese modern art (naivism, surrealism, impressionism, expressionism, even traces of op-art and social-realism). Most of it quite good. I especially liked "The shadow" - a painting of a shadow of a little girl that looked just like a shadow should look on the white wall it was hanging on. Or the following picture, named "Mother 1" by Morimura Yasumasa

The other exhibition was about the history of modern art in Europe, featuring Monet, Van Gogh, Picasso and all the other greats of the first half of the last century. Interesting to see up close, but for some reason it somewhat less moving than the permanent exhibit. "Self portrait with a model" by Corinth was the painting that left the biggest impression - mainly because it was shamelessly painted to look exactly like the picture in the mirror would - which was probably unheard of before and even shocking by the contemporary standards.

The museum itself was also architecturally very beautiful, reminding me the estonian national library building in many ways. Especially in that many of the most beautiful places were off limits. Or at least seemed to be so at first glance. After leaving the exhibits I did some exploring and found a completely legitimate route to nearly everywhere I wanted to go. Strange why they should block some passages but not others. There was also a very nice park right next to the museum, so I walked back to the center through that.

In the center I realized I still have 2 hours to kill. I had explored the center on the previous two nights so thought there would really be nothing to do - but after examining the map, I found myself in error - there was a Shinto Shrine 500 m from the station I had somehow overlooked previously. That took care of 40 minutes. Another 50 were spent in the local Starbucks, drinking coffee and watching Ol while my phone was charging. I then grabbed my larger bag and jumped on the train towards Kyoto

Monday, November 22, 2010

I know, I know for sure, that life is beautiful around the world..

I woke up the next day at 7.30, feeling more rested than I have for the past 2 months. I had breakfast in the hotel, which was nice, having a wide choice of things to choose from. Seaweed goes well with noodles, by the way. I then set off to see some of the sights in Kobe.

First of all, Kobe is famous in Japan for its "western-style buildings". Epic fail for an European. Thankfully, there are also a few nice parks and a few museums that were recommended. As the hotel is right downtown, everything seemed to be in walking distance so I just set off to the nearest one, which was a carpentry museum, and was sadly closed. I then headed off to the Art museum, which was some 3 kilometers away, so provided for a nice view of the central city on my way there.

Things I noticed: they have bikes that fold in half and that you can pack up into a shoulder bag. Nice. They also have a lot of footbridges over the roads.. whose purpose is usually completely defeated by a zebra crossing right next to the bridge. Odd.

Japanese restaurants all smell very nicely. At first I could not place the smell, but then I walked by a sewer canal which smelt the same way, and then it hit me. Seaweed.

Stopping a car for speeding is a 5-man affair in Japan. One is 30 m before the others with the spedometer. If he notices a speeder, he notifies the others, who then jump in front of the car and wave it to stop. They often have to run backwards 10-20 m so as not to get hit as the car slows down. Two guys take turns doing that. One guy is the radio operator and one more just sits there and makes notes.

The art museum was really nice on the outside, but it was closed for cleaning on Monday. I will try to return there later on, though. I would not have had much time there anyways, as the conference was about to begin so I needed to make my way to the venue.

Conference itself was... well, as usual. Keynote speakers good, everyone else.. notsomuch. I did make an interesting new connection though - a person who currently runs his own ad agency in US but used to be a senior marketing manager for AOL. He had stumbled into the conference hoping to get an overview of practical IT security, but felt somewhat out of place due to all the cypto in the talks. He was a really interesting person, though, so I spent the rest of the evening with him -- went for lunch, then coffee and walked about the city just looking around, first for a Kobe beef place that also had vegetarian menu (which we did not find) and later just aimlessly to see the city. We talked for 5-6 hours, possibly even more. At some point, we were both just a bit too tired to keep on going so headed to our hotels.

The second day began just the same as the first - I woke up completely rested and full of energy, had breakfast and did a quick round to the Kobe Tower and its surrounding park before heading to the conference venue. In the train I noticed something perculiar - the seats had ads on them and they were for IWSEC, the conference I was attending. And this was not a special conference train but a standard metro train. And it is not a big conference - maybe 100 people, no more.

Again, good keynote lecturer. Talking on a topic quite similar to that which I am to present on Wednesday. So of course I asked questions and approached him after the talk and had an interesting follow-up discussion as well.

The next talks were too technical and I lost interest quickly. During the lunch break I again met up with the advertising guy. Turns out that in the US Kobe beef is very popular but - get this - they generally chop it up into hamburgers and sell 200 $ kobe beef hamburgers. Only in America :P . Conference organizers had received the notification of me being vegetarian and took it very seriously - even giving me special vegetarian soup (despite the normal version also being comletely vegetarian) and then serving me seitan instead of meat. I was the only person at the table who knew what it was. Hat tip to Rita for introducing me to it half a year ago. It was well prepared and quite tasty - definitely better than the batch I had made :)

We then went to the coffee museum, that was supposedly nearby. The advertising guy also owns a small coffee roasting company, so we basically got the equivalent of a guided tour, despite all the wall explanations being only in Japanese. And it was quite interesting to see just how delicate the process of coffee manufacture is and how much care goes into creating quality coffee.

Back to the conference after that.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

... on my way, to Japan

Saturday began with me grading homework for the programming course. Note to self - next time, be less kind to students about deadlines. Thankfully, there were only a few so it took just around half an hour.

My mom sent me all the way to the ship terminal. We still don't talk much (old habits die hard), but things are improving. She still cooks too much for me, but I decided to take a constructive approach and asked her what I could do in order for her to go to less trouble. And I actually got an answer - to just be more specific about what I want to eat when I come. Worth a try :)

Just outside the ship terminal, Elo walked past me. Or well, nearly, before I stopped her. Unexpected - but nice. We had a quick chat, and then both went on the way.

As usual, the trip was through Vaantaa Airport, but this time I decided to go to Helsinki by ship instead of directly flying there. I had not gone to Helsinki by ship for over 10 years. But the ship was just as nice as I remmembered from my youth. I sat in the front atrium cafe, that spanned three floors.

When I went for a coffe I realized that the sea must be pretty stormy, as walking in a straight line was pretty complicated -- which should not usually be the case in a ship that big. My suspicion was confirmed when the ship drove into a way that covered the whole front window (spanning three storeys) uniformly with water.

As I was stepping out of the ship in finland, my phone rang. As expected, it was Mari, an ex-classmate I had not seen for over 3 years who studies Biology in Helsinki and with whom I had agreed to meet up before my plane. The ship was already about 15 minutes late, so I was afraid she would be waiting for me already. Turned out, she would actually also be late, so things worked out. We went to central helsinki, sat down, had a hot beverage and talked about life as a scientist. Halfway through the conversation we switched from estonian to english... and then kept on going, up to the end when she sent me to the airport bus.

I arrived at the airport just in time having to wait just 10 minutes in the Terminal before the boarding. The 9-hour plane ride was rather uneventful - watched two movies, two episodes of Outer Limits, tried to sleep in 3 different positions and failed in all 3 cases -- so about the usual pre-conference plane-ride.

In Tokyo, I first went through customs, which entailed giving your fingerprints and having your picture taken. I then received a very thorough security inspection. They even checked the pockets of the spare pants I had in my backpack. And found an apple stem.. which they seemed to suspect was marijuana. Thankfully, they pretty quickly realized that was not the case, so I was let through to Japan.

I had 7 hours between two flights, so I headed for the railway station to go to Narita-san buddhist monastery - one of the sights very close to the Airport.
There was a nice street lined with small shops and restaurants leading up to the temple, so I got my first peek at the stores already. Surprisingly to me, there were relatively few surprises. "Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer" being played through loudspeakers by 3 different stores was one of them. Ice cream prizes (300 yen or around 40 kr for a small cone) was the second. Other things - like Maneki Neko statues being sold in every souvenir shop or vending machines every 30 meters.. or even a begging Zen monk in white robes and large brown hat - I was somewhat prepared for already, although they still left a somewhat odd impression to me. Everything else was.. well, normal.. exactly what I would have expected. Which I did not expect, as I though of Japan as a Very Odd Place. Odder than China and India (both of which I have seen). Well.. it was not.. or maybe I was just spoiled by the latter two already..

The temple complex was stunningly beautiful. Both the buildings and the landscape architecture. Words cannot describe it. Neither can pictures, but they do a somewhat better job. Everything in its right place. Nothing missing and excess. Just perfect. Serenity. And even the large number of people there did not interfere with that feeling to a significant extent. Perfection.

On my way back, I decided to have lunch and sat down in one of the restaurants. The restaurant I chose had two sections - one western-style, with stools, and another one, with low tables and very low cushion-chairs. I sat in the first part, as I did not want to take my army boots off (which is somewhat of a hassle). I was then quickly given an english menu, from where I picked a bowl of japanese noodles with vegetables. Delicious.

I then headed back to the airport.. which was a bad move in hindsight, as I arrived in the waiting terminal 2.5 hrs before boarding. I had expected a lot of hassle and several kilometers of walking, but everything went smoothly and neither was needed. So I sat in the terminal, watched OL and even slept for 30 minutes at some point.

The second plane ride was completely uneventful. In Osaka airport, everything also went smoothly. I went to the tourist info station and was directed to the bus. Ticket had to bought from a vending machine, but the bus driver was so nice as to wait for me to do so instead of just leaving without me.

It seems using vending machines is unavoidable if you want to use public transportation in Japan. Both railways and busses seem to rely on it extensively. And to the point where even the people behind counters just send you there instead of selling to you directly.

I had a hotel very close by to the center of Kobe, so once the bus arrived, I just walked there. Although Google Maps had recommended I take I train, I suspect it would have actually taken longer if I did it that way. To my surprise, the hotel even had public wifi, so I could send an e-mail to my mom saying I had arrived safely, and, of course, to update my facebook status :P. I then had a thorough wash in the shower and then headed for bed. I fell asleep at around 22 local time.

Oh yes, esoteric quote time:
I'm a bonus track on my way to Japan
And I'm gonna be spread on Internet
- Edguy

Friday, November 19, 2010

You do it to yourself...

This past week I have been pretty much unable to do anything...

However, that was not a real option, so in actuality I have:
Given a lecture on the boundaries of computer science
Attended most of my classes
Went to Taiji (our trainer just had his 3d child, by the way)
Went to the dancing course
Finished writing the Sharemind protocols paper (we found an inconsistency at the last minute)
Went to see a performance by two of my friends
Learned a new song on the bass
Had a band practice
Finalized my planning for the Japan trip
Made provisions for my lectures and tutorials next week.
Created two versions of a Test in programming course.

And Im probably forgetting a few things.

I started packing my bag today at 9. At about 9.30 I realized that I will probably also need my Passport to get to Japan... And I had no clue where it could be. I did finally find it, at 10.00 - which meant I was 10 minutes late to the tutorial session I had this morning with the programming students. Only 10 of the 30 were present, though, so that ended a bit early, allowing me to get my first cup of coffee before going to manage the Intro. to Informatics course lecture...

If I weren't so tired, I would be loving all of this. But for now, I would just like to sleep for... a week?

Maybe after Japan

After the lecture today, I realized I had lost my keys... or rather forgot them at my own room, which had since then been locked by someone else.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Why I love my job

I gave a lecture this morning, (Monday) at 8.15. On theoretical computer science. Half of it was set theory, the other half computability and complexity theory. Complicated stuff by most first year's standards.

And the students actually liked it!!!! Most of the feedback (that actually contained anything) was positive! They thought the stuff I explained was cool... and they seemed to understand it.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


I just watched the first movie where the happy ending would have been three people committing suicide.

Thankfully, it did end that way.

Just REALLY glad I did not watch it alone.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


Introduction to Computer Science course began this week - at 8.15 on Monday morning, to be precise. Promises to be a pretty good year - students were fairly responsive, both to jokes and to questions, even despite the early morning. From the feedback, it also seems that both "Teeviit" and the open doors days do pay off in terms of luring students to study at UT - as quite a few marked one of these as one of the reasons for choosing Tartu.

About a week ago, I decided I would like to go to a beginners dancing course.. (well, actually, I had that planned in the summer already, but I finally realized that if I want to do it this semester, I better start now). So I went and hanged a few ads on notice boards, saying a Young man is looking for someone to go dancing with. No takers, for a week, and I had nearly given up..

This is, until I got an e-mail today. From L. (yet another one, third, I think, although I confess I have lost count) - asking about it and claiming she would be interested. I met her for a coffee just an hour before the course begun.. and very quickly decided she would be just perfect. She is a first year veterinary science student. Very cute.

And just the right amount of attractive - you know, too much and things can get very complicated very fast. And too little - well, the problem there is also pretty obvious - as dancing is something pretty intimate and the course is pretty long...

Anyways - shes a pretty quick learner.. but still has some trouble with sensing the rythm of the songs and staying on beat. To a smaller degree, so do I. The fact that I have mainly been doing rythm exercises with my bass for the past two weeks helps. Immensely. Seriously, I would not want to know what would be happening if I had not. Better keep that up too.

The course seems to be at just the right pace -- at least for a total beginner like me. The first lesson was a tad too slow, but I am guessing they will speed things up a bit at which point it will be exactly right. Teachers are quite ok - although, since there are so many couples (around 15), they do not really have time to correct anything but the coarsest mistakes... Then again, just starting out, it may actually be better, as it is already enough work to get the movements right, even without worrying about posture or the exact step length.

Anyways, I thoroughly enjoyed the first lesson. Looking forward to the next one.

Ow yes. And I shaved.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Day off

I finally had one full day off from.. well, everything. So, what did I do?

Woke up (around noon).
Played American McGee's Alice
Played Guitar Hero Drums
Watched Dr. Who
Prepared dinner
Watched Outer Limits
Played More guitar Hero
Went for a walk (it was at 2 a clock in the night at this point)
Watched more Outer limits.
Went to sleep.

Considering I can allow myself maybe one day like that every two months, I actually consider it well spent. I do need to be alone every now and then.. and if I have more free time, I would probably start to read books at some point. But currently, my brain is just too tired to enjoy that so I needed and did more brain-dead stuff.

The night before was also quite fun. I was almost ready to spend that alone too, until I ran across V. on my way home. Since I hadn't seen him for over two months, I asked him over to my place, where he (as usual) showed me some very disturbing videos.. after persuading me to vote for the Reform Party.

Or well, one candidate of theirs, Silver Meikar, who is pretty much the only politician who actually cares about human rights (i.e. in N. Korea, Tibet, Georgia,...), as he explained. I'm normally leftist, but all things considered, I think I will actually vote for this guy during these elections.

At some point, I asked A. when she would be returning my guitar hero set.. and she said she could drop it off in the late evening. So she did. We then played Guitar Hero III with V. for a little... But then R. and K. knocked on the window... so I made them tea and talked, until they had to leave too.. But by then it was already pretty late anyways so I set off to bed as well.

Tomorrow, I have to wake up at 6, because I have a lecture at 8. At least I am pretty well rested. Still considering whether I should bring coffee to the students... Guess Ill figure it out tomorrow morning.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Decompression period

I think I'm finally done with the Sharemind division protocol. Fixed a memory leak today and also finished explaining how it works to my co-author. Hopefully, no further problems arise and I can concentrate on other stuff now.

A traffic textbook problem arose today, when I was at a 4-way intersection with a car having stopped on all other three directions. Right hand rule would lead to a deadlock, since everyone has someone on the right. There is a solution for this, though?

Well, me, not knowing what it is, and being as suicidal as I am, just drove on.. and was not too far off from being run over.. Thankfully, cars do not accelerate instantaneously.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Old wounds

Two of them got torn open today.

But in both cases, I actually realized something. I am stronger than I was before. Stronger in the sense of better adapted. Stronger in the sense that I have more self-respect. And it is good to know that I still stand by the decisions I made.

Not that it doesn't hurt. It does. But that will pass. And that pain is necessary.

"And the scars remind us, that the past is real" - Papa Roach

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Looking back

The past three weeks have probably been the busiest time of my life.

So what have I done?

Graded 40 tests in the Programming course and failed half of my students :(
Gave a talk at institute days and at the open doors day
Managed to inspire two students to keep on going..
Fixed the schedule for Introduction to Informatics.
Wrote up a homework assignment
Took a test and an exam
Finished programming the division protocol for Sharemind
Did its error calculations.
Participated in a 24-hour programming contest.
Attended two conferences on "science and media"
Attended various get-togethers (collegues, family, friends)
Had a Dr. Who marathon with my now ex-roommate.
Dealt a little with the Thing that Shall Not Be Mentioned
Went to 1 Taiji practice each week.
Played Bass (not as much as I would have liked)
Slept.. not too much but still

The first conference was pretty cool. Met a lot of new and interesting people and also got an overview of what the state of Science in the Media currently is and what direction things are moving.

I was pretty much the only one asking questions, initially. After the first session, I asked Aare Baumer why noone else was asking questions. He immediately interpreted it (correctly) as weltschmerz and recommeneded "Sex, Drugs and Rock-n-roll" as the only viable solution. I kind of have to agree. Never mind it was completely out of context and inappropriate. Needless to say, I like the guy even more now that I know he is completely insane. The Dr. House phenomenon, I suppose.

J. Aavik also gave a pretty good talk.. about science wars and how Guilliotine did not actually fall victim to his own invention, but did have to change his name after the revolution. And about Avoiding Boring People, an idea that Watson (as in Watson and Crick) has been popularizing for quite some time. Most of the other talks were also quite good.

After the dinner, a few people stayed behind talking and when the restaurant started closing, headed on to a nearby pub. Two people from Archimedes, two from Uni. of Tartu Research department, a girl who did her PhD in Canada and then me.

Also, met K. on the conference. Would not have expected to see her there. Then again, I hadn't seen her for over 4 months, I think. Then again, both of us have been busy...

Speaking of improbable meet-ups, I have two more recent cases. In the beginning of the semester, I walked into one of my psychology classes and saw a familiar face - one of the students from previous years "Programming 1" course, a math or stat student. However, since you do not expect to meet your statistics student in your psych lecture, I just assumed it was someone who looked like her. However, I ran into her at the second conference two days ago.. and since she was wearing a name-tag, It was pretty clear she in fact was who I thought she was - and indeed, it turned out that she had found statistics too hard so had switched to psychology mid-semester... and did not regret the decision :) And - of course - you do not expect to see your programming tutor in your psych lectures, either, so she had been equally shocked to see me :P

The second one is a bit different. A. called me just yesterday, as we were watching a movie with Riinu and her boyfriend.. I asked her to come over, which she did. Its kind of weird because we had not seen eachother since mid-summer, and it was usually me contacting her, not vice versa.

Looking back on the previous post. I have noticed one very sad tendency - nearly all of the girls whom I find interesting are just as busy or even busier than I am.. so chances of anything developing are.. well, nonexistent. Especially combined with the fact that I will (with very high probability) be leaving Estonia for 1-2 years next autumn.

Life. One day at a time. Ideally.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Why I love my work - and why I hate it

Some people even experience an entire career to put off building meaningful relationships

- zeFrank (on procrastination)

I love my job. The fact that there are so many so varied things that I can do, the fact that I get to learn all the time and the fact that I get to work with people individually and the fact that I occasionally get to speak in front of a hundred people (yes, I am a bit vain, but as Andi Hektor said today in a lecture - If a person has no vanity, there is just no motivation for him to get in front of people and speak). The fact that I sometimes manage to inspire people or at least make their lives better also helps - considering that even now, I sometimes think myself useless to the society, I really could not imagine my life if that really was the case - I need meaning in my work and giving back to the world is an integral part of it.

At a dinner discussion with Peeter Marvet (Tehnokratt, although he put that job down two years ago because it didn't pay enough) and Andi Hektor, the latter made a crucial observation that in IT, you see a lot of fanaticisim - people willingly putting 48 straight hours of work into something, just because it is fun (a la Garage48). This is seen in other fields too, but it seems much more common in IT - the reason, they conjectured, is that it is hard to disengage from something (inter)active, while most other fields are markedly passive (mostly consisting of routine chores, which often give no immediate feedback). Even in other sciences, the prevalent mode of work is passive - reading or observing, as opposed to doing yourself. The only other field of human endeavor where the same problem applies seems to be art - and indeed, I recently met an artist who seems to be having the same problem...

I do have to admit that programming has that entangling quality. I have been putting 30+ hrs into the division protocol for Sharemind the past two weeks - not because I had time for it, but because I just could not get it out of my head. Same tends to happen with mathematical problems (even simple ones), which also require such an active approach (and indeed, most famous mathematicians are also known for periods during which they did barely nothing else but think on a problem). Both math and computer science require intensive thought to solve a problem, while in most other sciences, at least part of the solution is usually fairly routine (finding subjects for the experiment) or at least requires a markedly lower amount of conscious effort (i.e. putting up lab equipment).

However, this same aspect of the job is also the one aspect which I really hate - it being so engaging makes it very difficult to disengage from it at times. It is very easy to overwork oneself and, more importantly, to use work as an excuse for not dealing with other important things. Relationships, for instance.

It is so easy to fool yourself into thinking that what you are doing in terms of work is more important and that it helps you to become "better" - smarter, more famous, richer - and, while this may well be true, it is also completely irrelevant. It does not matter, how "good" you are (whatever your criterion for goodness is), if you just do not have time for anything else. That goodness becomes self-reproducing - it becomes a thing in itself, disconnected from what is really important in life. Which is dangerous - especially because the person himself usually does not notice this is going on since his own priorities are the things that change. In short, he will start to think that the thing in itself is important as a thing in itself and that it is the most important thing in the world and that everything else is irrelevant.

Which will leave the person completely broken once that illusion is shattered for one reason or another...

If relationships are important to you MAKE TIME FOR THEM, if you can at all afford doing so (i.e. if doing so means you will lose your sustenance and die of famine, that constitutes a valid reason for not stopping. The facts that you will have less opportunities or be exposed to fewer things, do not)

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

A night with an Angel

Spent working and talking...

Friday, October 22, 2010

Sobering experiences

Today something happened to me that has never happened before during my 5 years of studying math in the university. I went to the lecture hall, received the test paper and realized that I did not have the slightest clue how to solve 2 of the 5 exercises. I managed to visibly shock both the professor and my co-students by asking "I don't think I have ever had to say these words before but - can the test be retaken later?". I guess I have become somewhat overconfident in my abilities.. and so has everyone else...

I then went to give a lab session in the introductory programming course. Of 30 students officially registered, only 13 were present (as opposed to the usual 22-26). A student later explained that they had just had their first official course party the day before.. And I almost thought it had been my bass playing which had scared them away.
(I walked around with a bass guitar while they were taking a test last week - I mean, what else do you really do when you have to guard a test?)

In the evening, a friend sent me a message saying she just realized she is going to break up with her boyfriend.. whom she has been together with for the better part of her life. I would be fooling myself if I said I knew how she felt - but at times like these, there really is nothing you can say... just being there for the person is the only thing a friend can do...

4 hours of sleep again. This time not by choice - I went to bed at 11, but got to sleep only at 3.30, after two episodes of House MD and some bass practice (since I really just could not fall asleep).

And it is snowing...

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Estonians really cannot take compliments

Today, at the supermarket, I was loading my stuff onto the belt. There was a lot of it (I hadn't been to the store for over two weeks, I think). A woman came up behind me with just three items, and the clerk called to her saying that she should come before me, sso whe would not have to wait a long time. I relayed the message and the woman got her stuff checked out and paid for just as I finished unloading my basket.

I then said to the clerk "That was a really nice thing you did for that woman".. to which she replied apologetically "She just had three things, so it would not take too long... of course, that was unfair to you and... ". "I genuinely mean it, it was a nice thing you did.. Im in no hurry. No-one with as much stuff as I have could be. So it was a really nice thing you did".. but she still kept apologizing..


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Frantic, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tock

I cant remember the last time I prepared food before this evening. Must have been over a week.
What have I been doing?

Grading tests, writing a homework essay, studying for an exam, programming Division protocol for Sharemind, having a development interview and a medical check-up, preparing and giving a talk on the research groups in UT dpt. of Comp. Sci., attending a party two co-workers threw (and leaving early, sadly), and, most recently, spending two very pleasant hours with a nice girl whose name also happens to start with L.

What I haven't been doing is eating or sleeping properly - two of the things I do not like to compromise on, and haven't had to for a long while. Nevertheless, it is good to know I still can if I have to...

Hopefully, things will get a bit less hectic now. I still have a few things to take care of, but chances are that next week I will at least get back to regular sleeping patterns..

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Some fun stuff

I happenned on the Tartu-Tallinn student bus yesterday.. along with one of my students.
Nearly halfway through the journey, one of my students came to me with his laptop, and asked if he could show me he homework assignment for grading... Of course, I agreed.

Today was my grandfathers 85-th birthday. A family gathering again. Had a pretty interesting discussion with my (not-unwealthy) uncle..

For instance, he described a few of the lecturers from his time in the university. He had to pass an examination somewhere during the term.. so when he went to ask when he could do it, the professor said "I have 5 minutes now. When does the judicial bond end?" My uncle, clearly caught off guard, thought a bit and then replied "On death". Professor said "Well, yes, but that is a pretty gloomy way of thinking about it. For instance, if you are riding in public transportation and you get asked for the ticket, do you really have to wait for the controller to die?"

Also, he had a lot to say on the following topic:

Basically, Swedish baks are actually making pretty good profits on the loans that went bad, since they can buy the real estate back, sell it to their daughter firms who then rent the places out and simply wait for the prices to increase again.. while the poor people who lost their homes are still paying back the part of the dept that was not covered by the estate being resold.

Also, a funny incident about one of the famous people in Estonia A. L., who basically got famous by robbing a jewelry store in Finland and being in jail there for a while for the crime.
Well, one night, this guy is walking in the old town of Tallinn, at a slow pace, whistling.
Thing is, a jewelry store had just robbed about 300 meters where he was walking. A friend of my uncle had just passed the robbed jewelry store and now informed A. of that fact and, as my uncle quoted "he had never seen a man run as fast in suede leather shoes".

Thursday, October 14, 2010

A week

Today was.. well, unusual, even by the standards of my fairly chaotic life.

It started with me waking up at 9, and reseting the clock to 9.30. Then getting up at 9.30, packing up my bass and my notebook and riding a bike to the Vanemuise lecture hall (1.5 km). I then spent most of the lecture working on a small mathematical problem that I had encountered the day before and which urgently needed resolution. And I got it done.

I then took to my bike again and rode to Annelinn (4 km) in search of the 2. childrens music school where my Bass teacher works. It took me 15 minutes to get there, and then about half an hour of riding around there (~1km) to actually find the building (my bass teacher and I had some communication issues - basically, the landmarks I knew, he did not, and vice versa). I had my last bass lesson. He corrected a few thing, but said that I was making pretty good progress...

Back to town again (4.5 km), this time to attend the institute meeting and to answer some e-mails in parallel. The university is doing something pretty idiotic as it turns out - from next year, it will not allow students beyond what the government orders, and faculties have to pay back the money they received for each student that drops out. This may make sense in humanities, but not in natural or mathematical sciences, where 1/3 dropout rate is normal, even in top universities.

Anwyays, back to the point. After that meeting ended, I had to attend a meeting of my research group. The project leader is a pretty cool guy, so that may well have been the high point of my day.

Once that was finished, I had about an hour for actual work. Which I utilized pretty well, managing to write down the solution I had come up with in the morning, leaving the paper in a state where I feel comfortable in putting it on hold for a period of time.

Then to Taiji (2 km). We did form exercises and then about an hours worth of spear/staff training.. And then back to town again (2km), to go watch "The Dissapearing Number" broadcast live in Ekraan. I arrived there, parked my bike and then met up with the co-worker who had suggested the idea in the first place and who had the tickets.. We went in, me still tired from practice and biking.. and bought a packet of popcorn - first food I had had for the entire day.

The production was good. Really good. Best theater I have seen to date, I think... funny, emotional, thought provoking... everything theater should be.

Then got home (1km) and took a nice bath.

So: to sum up:
All day running around
2 hours of actual work
15.5 km of biking and a 2 hour Taiji practice.
1 packet of popcorn to eat for the whole day

A week has passed since me and L. broke up. Still don't regret the decision, but...

I hate being single.

Then again, I better get used to it. Again.

Saturday, October 9, 2010


Of the things mentioned in my life:
The first three problems I managed to outsource.
The fourth will remain in the state that it is.
The fifth is recovering, slow but steady.

Again - I am truly glad I have as good friends as I do, for all of them have been very supportive throughout the past 2 days. I do not regret the decision to break up with L. and in the long run it is probably better for the both of us that way. In the short run, it is still somewhat painful, of course.

Yesterday I went to my other office, where I hadn't been for over two weeks. I noticed I had left one of my guitars there and - as improbable as it was - it was in tune. Which means someone had to have tuned it... It was tuned higher than it should though (the lowest and highest strings were both F# instead of E, and the rest were also tuned a full tone upward)...
Reminds me of the story of three bears (with porridge being too hot, bed being too big and now, guitar being tuned too high).

Met a lot of people over the past 3 days. Most of my close friends in Tartu, including M. and excluding only E., Mi., Ma. and Ra. For instance, I went to a dinner party at L2. and played table tennis with Ma2 (I should really find more friends whose names begin with something other than L or M :P). Also had a jam session with A., who was here for just a week.

Work has suffered though - I have a prototype implementation ready, but I haven't really stated seriously on the protocol itself.

Then again, the night is still young.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


At the moment I have:
A broken door
A broken bike
A broken washing machine
A broken relationship
A broken me

Which ones of these can be fixed, remains to be seen. The plan is to bury myself in work in the mean time.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Theory Days

This weekend I was at Computer Science Theory days in Rakari, Latvia.

Usually, it has been a small conference-type gathering for estonian cryptographers and formal languages people. This year, it was held together with latvian complexity theorists, which explains why we had to make a 3 hour drive to get to the conference venue.

The venue itself was really nice, having small cottages with grass roofs. The sea was also quite nearby. And the weather was great. Only thing that was not so great was the internet connection, which was nearly unusable, since about 50 people were trying to use it simultaneously.

My own talk went pretty well. I talked about Bob and hish Hash... function. And oracles. It was by far the most politically incorrect presentation I have ever given.. so it got mixed reviews.. but it did get peoples attention. One of the questions I received after the talk was "will the slides be available somewhere".

Link for the readers of this blog.

After the talk I went to the seashore. The sun had just set and..


it was magical

to say the very least...

There was a slight red glow on the horizon. And a barrier of sand behind against which the waves crashed.. and stars.. and no moon, and also a mist so I could barely make out the road when going there.

The way back was even cooler - as it had got even darker so I could just barely make out the outline of the path.. and it constantly felt like I would hit my head into a tree branch.

Walking back, I suddelny heared footsteps.. so I slowed and quieted down my own walking. They were moving towards me, but due to the darkness and mist I could not see anything. Then, suddenly, I could make out two small embers, at about belt level.. cigarette ends, as it turned out. They were pretty surprised to see me though, because they noticed when I was only a meter away from them.

Later, I heared another set of footsteps. 6 more people surprised :)

After that, the night was pretty uneventful. Practiced bass a little, had a chat with my collegues and got to bed around 1.

Woke up at around 8. Drank 3 cups of coffee during the morning session

On the way back, while still in Latvia, we were forced to the side of the road by a military convoy.. of around 50 cars.. bearing estonian banners and number plates...

Looked suspiciously like Estonia invading Latvia. Of course, that was not the case, as a later news program informed us that it was the Scoutsbatallion heading for week-long training and assesment maneuvers in Latvia. Still, you do not see a military convoy every day..

Friday, September 24, 2010

Life in general

I have been fairly busy the past month. Planning "Introduction to informatics", working on practice materials for "Programming 1", doing science on the side.

Finally started practicing with the band - and had a few jam sessions with other friends as well. Since we have been practicing a few punk songs, I have started learning to play with the plectrum - not too hard but not as easy as I first hoped either.

Yesterday I had a seminar talk about the machine learning book alluded to in the aforementioned post. About half a third of the staff of the statistics faculty came to see the talk - which was somewhat surprising for me. They seemed to understand what I was talking about pretty well, though. Not sure whether the normal students did though... but Im hoping for the best.

Been together with L. for nearly two months now. We have had our problems but at the moment, things seem to be heading in a good direction. I miss her when she is away, which sadly happens for 2-3 days each week. Thankfully, I have plenty of work to distract me from that feeling :)

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Mathematics as a language

I have been reading a Machine Learning textbook for the past 3 days. It uses a lot of probability theory, something I know the basics of (up to Probability theory II course). I managed to get the gist of what the book was trying to say, but am still somewhat struggling to understand how the proof of the main theorem works and what its implications are.

At some point, my roommate (who is a psychology major and very fond of languages as well) asked me to show her the proof I was reading.. and then instantly turned away when she saw the formulae. So I tried to explain to her what my problem was, in terms she could understand. And then I stumbled upon a pretty interesting and deep analogy:

Mathematics is just a set of symbols used to very precisely say things that would take a lot of plaintext to explain without the special notation. Just a means of precisely expressing yourself. Like the alphabet. However, each branch of mathematics has its own key concepts and terminology (the words) as well as diffent proof techniques (syntax). Different branches of mathematics can, in this sense, be likened to different languages. And different languages can be either very close to eachother (Statistics and Machine learning seem quite like Estonian and Finnish, for instance - they have quite a lot of common ground both in terms of key concepts and proof methods, but they are nevertheless quite distinct, with quite a few things having nearly opposite meaning)

My mother tongue in mathematics is Cryptology, with a slight accent from complexity theory. Reading a Machine Learning textbook for me is akin to reading something in a language I have studied a little (a few years, maybe) but which I am not comfortable in yet - I can make out the meaning of most that is said, but I do not grasp the nuances of the more complex words (ideas) and sometimes get their meaning completely wrong (which happens if you are forced to deduce their meaning just from the context). However, this is a pretty good way of learning the new language, as it forces you into a very deep mode of processing - you have to build up the abstract "big picture" as fast as possible and constantly try to deduce the missing details back from it. Hard, but quite enjoyable, as it makes me feel I am actually learning and very rapidly.

For those who find mathematics courses hard, this analogy might help understand what is going on: you are usually expected to learn the rudiments of a new language, often up to the point where you need to be able to not only understand it but actually "speak" it to a degree by the end. It is not harder than learning normal languages, and as with normal languages, the more different languages you learn, the easier it becomes to acquire a new one.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Don't try this at home

Me and Riinu went to the countryside yesterday to visit her grandparents. Mostly a fun and relaxing trip.

When we got off the train at Valga, we got picked up by her grandfather. Riinu asked if he would drive us to go fetch a bike lock she had left somewhere about 15 km away around a post, when she had left in a hurry a few weeks back. I bet her (a beer) that it would not be there, since she had left it unlocked. However, when we got there, it had been moved a bit but was still there - so I got her a beer at the nearest gas station.

When we got to her grandparents house, we were greeted by their overly friendly dog Sammy. We had sandwiches for breakfast and then watched a few episodes from some TV shows from the laptop before heading out for mushrooms.

I had not went gathering mushrooms for over 10 years. It showed - she returned with her pail nearly full, while mine had maybe only a third of it filled. The forests were really full of shrooms though. Problem was, quite a few of them had worms inside already. Nevertheless, it was quite fun.

We then proceeded to the kitchen to prepare dinner. Mushrooms with garlic, onion and sour cream. Delicious. I did most of the cooking. Me, Riinu and her grandma talked about cooking for nearly 2 hours.

There was also a 5-year old girl there whom I had a brief discussion with. She was very intelligent for her age - could add and subtract up to 10, could read pretty well and was already learning to write with handwriting letters - all that two years before going to the first grade. She was also pretty social and could keep up a fairly interesting conversation :=)

We then went to the other building and watched one more episode of "The Outer Limits" before heading to sauna. They have a very good one - which due to a lot of moisture is already quite strong at 65-70 C. Also, they had a nice pond nearby with cool water.

After a few rounds in the sauna, we decided to call it a day and she filled three pails with water - one cool, one warm and one near-boiling. Problem was, I did not know which one was which.. so I stuffed my hands into the one with near-boiling water. Not fun.

I quickly ran to the pond and held my hands in the cool water for a few minutes. I then returned to the sauna - only to discover that even the front room temperature (35 C maybe) was unbearable to my hands (so I had to water them down every now and then). This was just the beginning, however, as pretty soon all I could do was hold my hands in cool water. After about an hour, I finally decided to call Ma., who is a 5. year medical student. She said I should seek immediate medical help... so we woke up the grandfather and he drove us to the emergency room in valga where they tied my hands up. In the car, I held my hands out of the window most of the time for the pain to be bearable, but that was not an option while waiting in the emergency room, where even the room temperature felt like holding my hands inside a flame. And then they tied my arms up in fairly thick bandages that formed mits - so it got even warmer and even harder to bear. They told me that it was too early to tell how bad the damage was but that I should check back the next day.

We got back and then watched yet another episode of outer limits - on a bed in an unheated room with the door open with me holding my hands straight up above my head (to decrease circulation of warm blood there). Paracetamol was not helping much and it was still highly uncomfortable. I could not imagine how I could get to sleep.

Nevertheless, it turned out to be somewhat easier than first feared. Initially, it was just very cold - as I had to keep my arms out of the sleeping bag and I was essentially sleeping just next to the open door. At some point, however, pain started receeding and I could pull my arms inside the bag and close the door. Next thing I remember is waking up.

Morning went pretty slowly. I woke up Riinu, we had coffee and then just lounged around for a while. Then she made lunch after which we got dropped back to Valga for me to catch a train and for her to do some shopping.

In the emergency room in Tartu, they retied the bandages and told me to go see my family doctor on Wednesday. Since she is still in Tallinn, however, I plan to make due with Ma. and her friend S. who had plans to visit me on Tuesday evening anyway.

All in all - I am very grateful to have as good friends as I have. Riinu helped me out with quite a few things without even asking and Ma. was also very happy to come and retie my bandages Tuesday.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Reporting Bias

Yesterday started off when I woke up at 8.30, after about 5.5 h sleep. This was to get to the first practice session of this semester - first for both me and my students.

As I was teaching first years, I started off with a 20 min lecture about how university is different from high school and what to expect when studying in our faculty. We then started the practice session itself. Since it was the first practice session, nearly everything that could go wrong did - the programming environment was set up a bit wrong and so a quarter of the work plan had to be discarded...

Nevertheless, it was fun. It is good to know that I still enjoy teaching, at least to a degree. It already felt good the day before, when preparing the slides, but actually supervising the session only confirmed it. Also, it seems that my teaching skills have improved markedly - again something that is good to know.

I then spent about 4 hours putting together the course plan for "Introduction to Informatics". Also had lunch with my co-workers from Cybernetica. By the end, I had the lecture plan more or less figured out.

Also, it turns out they are about to terminate my previous work contract with the University and I will be without official status for a few days before they get my new contract filed - which means no access to the teaching side of ÕIS. Should be fun.

One of the project managers in the faculty also contacted me and asked whether I wanted to get famous - turns out the media department is gathering some advertising material about all faculties and when she was contacted about it, she immediately thought of me. That was nice of her:)

At about 4, I went to see "The last airbender" with L. First full-length 3D movie I saw - and I was not too impressed. The 3d effects were quite minimal - only felt them in a few scenes. Also, the movie itself was average at best, although my opinion may be biased because I have seen the cartoon too. What I liked about the latter was that it was hilariously funny. The movie, on the contrary, was very serious and dark - guess thats what you get when you let M. Night Shaymalan direct the movie. Also, I did not like the casting - especially concerning the waterbender girl. And the martial arts scenes with element bending seemed too artificial - a feeling that I did not get from the cartoons.

Also, me and L. sat right next to my neighbor and his three kids. What were the chances of that?

After the movie, I had to get right back to the faculty to appear in the tutorial session for first year IT and CS students to tell them about "Introduction to informatics". When I got there, I realized one of the tutors had actually attended the class before.. but when I got down to actually talk, I was not too sure I had recognized the face correctly.. which led me to say something along the lines "It's a fun course but.... it seems there is no-one here who took it last year to confirm that".

And then it turned out not just one but two of the 4 tutors had actually been there. Which was kind of embarassing. I blame being tired - two consecutive days of less than 6 hrs of sleep.

I did not have much to say so got out of there before 7. Went home, cooked and ate dinner and then went to bed at around 9. Got maybe 1 hr of sleep before a friend of mine called. I have been wanting to meet up with her for nearly a week now (as she has something important going on in her life and could definitely use the support) - so we did. We finished talking at around 1.

And I got up at 6.30 - third night with less than 6 hrs. And I have a full 8 hr schoolday today - thankfully, as a student, not as a lecturer.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

A Battle with Pride and Ego

A battle with pride and ego,
A journey that started long ago.

- Hammerfall

Those who do not yet know. I am 23 and have been writing my PhD thesis for most of this summer. In the past week, I have been finalizing the last paper to go into it - which I do not technically even need as I have 4 publications without it already. In any case, the thesis is practically done. And by done I mean that I could hand it in on Monday, if I wanted to. And I pretty much planned to, because I wanted to defend the thesis before 07.01.2011 - that is, before turning 24 - which would have made me the youngest person to get a PhD in Tartu for at least 20, more probably 50 years.

And then...

I decided to postpone the defence of my PhD thesis to May next year. The thought came to me clear as day on thursday evening, when walking home.

Reasons for postponing:

The pragmatical:

My supervisor has some ideas that would tie up some of the major loose ends currently left in the thesis - adding a lot to the quality of the thesis.

When applying for a postdoc position, it is important to have a good thesis and at least one really good paper on your CV. The last paper is pretty good, but it would be good to have it published too in order to confirm it's quality.

EuroCrypt 2011, one of the three biggest conferences in my field, is held in Tallinn. It is much easier to get a good opponent if I am to defend right before or right after the conference.

Postdoc positions usually start from autumn semesters so there would be no real benefit from graduating sooner. There is a new professor coming to Tartu and I would like to see what direction things take with him here and make my choices accordingly. This means I will want to stay in Tartu for the spring semester.

I get the support funding for doctorial studies for one additional semester (although, my superiors have promised me to match that with a pay increase once I graduate).

I can still take university courses for both spring and autumn semesters.

The emotional:

I do not think I am ready to say my goodbyes with being a student yet. A lot has happened over the past two years. I am not the person I was back then. Quite far from it. Maybe a bit too far, as I have lost my sense of identity. I do not feel I am a student, or a scientist, or a lecturer.. or anything, at this point. I enjoy all three roles but all of them in a different way -- they complement eachother and as such I am reluctant to give up any of them. I would also like a period of more stability to figure things out for myself. And by stability I mean avoid drastic changes, as these usually take a lot of resource to cope with.

Related to the preceding thought - I would like to concentrate on the social aspects of life over the professional ones. I would like to form closer and more authentic relationships with people, emphasizing quality over quantity. That is again something that is hard to do when you have to deal with changes in your professional life.

Also - I feel a bit more secure now about myself and who I am.. and do not really need the ego boost that making some national headlines would bring. Media attention is not always a good thing, anyways...

Still, it was not an easy decision. Not by a long shot. At this point, the thesis really is ready to present, and somehow, the thought that I will not do it still bothers me.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Not a dull moment

I spent most of yesterday reading a book. Have not done that in a while and it was actually quite nice - to just lie in the sun on the lawn and read "French ja Koulu Tarbatus" (which is a good self-parody of Estonians, but also mocks national stereotypes and, of course, semioticists)

At about 4 pm L. called and said she was in town.. til about 6... and she had some stuff to do before meeting me. Still, it was a nice hour and a half.. and I like her more and more with each time we meet :)

When I had sent her to the bus, I called another friend of mine from Taiji class. We practiced a bit and then had a long conversation about priorities and philosophy... that lasted til about 9 a clock.

Walking home, I realized I still had too much of the hot chili left over from the day before.. so I called T. and asked if she wanted to come and help me with it. She was a bit ill and had just started preparing dinner herself, so was not to keen on joining me. So I called another friend - R. - who, as it turned out, was just about to start his birthday celebrations.

Needless to say, I volounteered to bring the food:P

So I went home, packed up my board games, grabbed a pack of rice and some cumin seeds as well as the chili and then was ready to go..

Before I got out of the room, however, my phone rang again and R. called to say there was a change of venue because he had misplaced his keys and could not get into his apartment... happens, I suppose.

The party itelf was pretty small - just a gathering of a few people. I cooked the rice and heated up the chili, then we ate and played a round of Risk.. and then two rounds of Fluxx. The second round just kept on going though, so we just had to cut it short after having cycled the pack twice.

We got to cycle back through pouring rain. Thankfully, the place was pretty close. I got home a bit after 3 and went straight to sleep.

Today - well I spent 2 hours at a doctors waiting room (I did not have a formal appointment, he just said over the phone he would try to squeeze me in somewhere). Mostly spent reading. Got back to the office, called my supervisor - who confirmed that the strange proof seems ok, although some things need to be clarified...

And now I am off again to my other office to see if I have left one very important book there, since my supervisor does not seem to have it.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Just another day

National holiday here in Estonia today. Despite that, I went to work in the morning.. only to realize that besides clarifying the proof I had come up with yesterday, there was really nothing to do for me.

The proof, by the way, is for a VERY improbable result - so it is probably wrong. It is short, elegant and I cannot find the mistake, but it is probably there somewhere.

If it is not, I have a pretty good paper, though :) Anyways, Im hoping that either Swen or my supervisor Ahto is willing to check it and either help me find the flaw, or confirm that it seems sound. However, everything else I write into the article kind of depends on which one happens, so I really didn't have anything else to do at work today.

So I went home, went to the store, hung the clothes out to dry.. and then lay on the back porch and read a book for 2 hours.

In the evening, we had a meeting with our Taiji group. Lasted for 3 hours.. and involved a lecture on esoteric stuff like chi circulation. I am somewhat sceptical about that stuff. Not completely though - there is definitely something to meditation, in terms of both immediate and long term health benefits. How much of it can be explained by just paying more attention to what goes on inside the body, however, I do not know. Some stuff seems pretty far fetched.. not all of it though..

I got back at around 9.30.. and then spent 2.5 h preparing dinner. Another indian dish. Pretty good. One word of advice to everyone though - when the recipe sais "2 tablespoons of chili powder" do yourself a favor and put just one. I checked two recipes, both claiming 2 was the right number.. so I went for it. And - god damn. Otherwise, the thing I made was pretty good, though. Just has this very sharp aftertaste. Seriously - god damn.

L. has been out of town for a week. She told me to work while I was away.. and I have. Most of the things that needed doing have been finished. Miss her. She'll be back on Sunday, though, which is quite soon, thankfully.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


Went to the post office today (to send a birthday card to my grandmother) only to realize it wasn't there any more. And I could have sworn it still was there like... ... half a year ago... okay, that explains it.

Things change, apparently.

Went to the Kaubamaja to buy the postcard and a stamp from there.. only to realize I had forgot to take a pen. So I headed back toward the office and stumbled onto a - guess what - the new central post office. Which I must have walked past 10-20 times by now.

Bought a new postcard from there. A lot cheaper and nicer. Someone saw me slide the old one into my pocket - wonder if they suspected me of stealing... probably :P

Good clean grief you must believe and I ain't no thief. Law abiding and all, all legal.

Grief. Yes, a natural reaction when you lose a friend. When you lose the only person you really could speak to who you knew would listen and understand, without feeling you were a burden for them. I have the required symptoms for a depression diagnosis. Which do trust me, are not fun - unless you would somehow enjoy three weeks filled mostly with apathy, tiredness, sleep problems and inability to feel pleasure.

The manual does state that a month of grief is normal, however... and it is indeed starting to get better. Taiji helped. So do a few other factors. L., mainly. Although breaking the coffee habit probably also helped. Clean for a week now.

Interestinlgy, the mood has been fairly stable. No regrets, really. Nothing obvious I did wrong or should necessarily have done better. Just life - learn to accept the things you cannot change and to try to change only the things you can.

How to get mint cocoa - make a cup of mint tea for yourself. Drink it. Leave for half an hour. Then go get a cup of cocoa. See a teabag floating in the cocoa and realize this is how it works. Tastes pretty good, by the way :)

I was fairly convinced I was way behind on my work.. but now when I actually managed to write up the estonian summary in just a few hours, I may rethink that view. That was the last part of the thesis, by the way. Practically done with formatting too. Only thing that is left is to review the last paper and potentially rewrite it somewhat. If I still have a lot of time left after that, I may actually add another chapter on recent new ideas that my supervisor has been having that would make the thesis a bit more complete. But that is somewhat improbable, since we haven't quite worked out the details yet. We'll see.