In spite of last year’s Space Odyssey also not quite panning out as Kubrick and Clarke might have hoped, I had a great year. Sure, it had its fair share of curve-balls, but in terms of personal growth (am I even allowed to use that term? I hope the cliché police are still on vacation) I am most satisfied. My traditional year-end vacation, as per usual filled with family, friends (slightly less than usual due to genetic offspring #2 related constraints), sun, sand, beer and deep thought, helped wonderfully in my subconscious processing (the most important kind) and integration of the past year’s events.
On Monday, I took a stroll in the autumn with genetic offspring #2.A mysterious path in the autumn. mysterious path + autumn = double the pensive power. It was a stroll of somewhat above average duration. As one tends to do during this sort of stroll, I was thinking. Not the modern kind of internet thinking during which one’s line of thought gets interrupted at least three times per minute, but the old-fashioned kind, with stately, fully-formed thoughts of some complexity.
Hiatus: temporarily over. My sleeping patterns are not quite what they used to be, mostly due to the latest manifestation of our little gene pool over here. Added to that, I’ve been really busy. Added to that, work has been throwing unnecessary curve-balls that have done their part in keeping me (pre)-occupied. In the end, a dash of perspective, several extremely wise friends and a generally sunny predisposition go a really long way, so here I am.
In week 40 (that’s Monday October 4 to Friday October 8 for those of you not so much into week numbers) I had the privilege of giving a week-long Information Visualisation course to a group of post-graduate students (a mix of B.A. Honours in either Socio-informatics or in Decision-making and Values Studies) at the Centre for KDD of the University of Stellenbosch in the building previously-known-as “The BJ”. With this post, I want to summarise, extremely compactly, my impressions:
(post summary: I’m teaching in Stellenbosch next week. We have another published paper. Next DeVIDE will have InfoVis. Peter Norvig spouts backyard philosophy on slow email and work-life balance.) This week, yet another Weekly Head Voices Quickies! The handsome and sun-drenched building below, known as “The BJ” to generations of students, is part of the reason for my current posting-diet. You see, next week I have the pleasure of teaching a post-graduate Visualisation course at my old university in the beautiful town of Stellenbosch.
Dear readers, I would like to introduce you to my new friend:Pretty Leifheit kitchen timer, ideal for the Pomodoro Technique. Also the first time I use the macro setting on my Canon. Doh. It is old-fashioned and mechanical. It makes an extremely comforting ticking sound, and then after the 25 minutes of focus-time are over, starts ringing. The ticking is not too loud, and not too soft. The ringing is just the right length.
I probably shouldn’t be spending deadline-chasing time writing this post, but I can’t not, you know? I do have some Sunday pomodoros behind me, so the FNSF (and other involved parties) will probably not mind too much. Also, to shave off a few more seconds, I’ll temporarily switch to the Swimgeek Quick Update-style bullet list. Before the first bullet however, you really have to see the DTV Shredder in action, the vehicle I’ve decided to equip my evil footsoldiers with, right after I manage to purchase a suitable volcanic island and install my evil lair:
Dearest readers, I’m truly sorry that you’ve had to endure three full weeks without any Head Voices. I’ve been in full-on Crisis Mode(tm) for the past weeks, doing my best to complete a number of projects, most prominent of which has been the brand-spanking new TU Delft first year CS course TI 1100-a. During Crisis Mode, all but the most critical of tasks have to spend some time on the back-burner.
(This post touches on one noteworthy good news tidbit from my last week, then secretly waxes nostalgic over Dolly Parton, showcases some cheeky parkour and then, after complaining about my overloaded schedule, raises backyard sociological questions as to the most suitable work approach: Time-driven 9 to 5 or output-driven? Oh yes, its WHV Nerd Index is a reassuring 0/5, so it’s safe for everyone!) I couldn’t come up with a catchy title involving Dolly, so you’re going to have to make do with what I have.
(This post has a point. A very important point if I might say so myself and I’m even skipping the Weekly Head Voices because of it. Please read it, in sessions if you have to, from start to finish. It has a WHV Nerd Index of 0/5 and a Backyard Philosophy Index of 5/5. You can get back at me in the comments.) It turns out that when any normal human being is faced with observations or evidence that oppose their already formed opinions, they tend to ignore or downplay the value of those observations.