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

Why?

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, T├Ánu 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.