Life is a sequence of things happening. Lately, things have happened.
16th of August, I had my thesis defense, and passed. I was unaccountably euphoric and carefree all day, don’t remember most of it, and don’t think I screwed up anything too badly. I still haven’t got my mind around this all; I will blog about it later. (The faculty council of headbosses meets in late September; then I get my official papers. As for the doctoral hat and sword, no need for either expensive beast before the official mass doctoration (promootio) in about a year. What kind of a sick joke is it to offer postdocs these almost-never-used shiny official regalia for one thousand euros a pop, anyway?)
21st of August, this blog turned six years old. That’s towards the end of early childhood, the age for “learning through observing, experimenting and communicating with others”, and close to the beginning of middle childhood, where children/blogs “make new friends and gain new skills, which will enable them to become more independent and enhance their individuality”.
So, yay. Look forward to that.
Now it’s a Sunday; on Tuesday I’ll start teaching a course in real analysis — mathematics, not some macho branch of psychiatry. “I’ll talk to you while the couch is dropped from a plane into a volcano! Full of sharks! REAL ANALYSIS FOR REAL PROBLEMS!”
Lecturing meaning lectures and exercises: it’s our traditional way to feed postdocs until they get a real academic source of money, or until the Outer Despair takes them.
I’ll also start writing applications — “Hey, fund a foreign excursion for me! This e-mail proves professor Doomsnarl of Antarctica Totally Real University knows me!” — “Hey, grant me money and I’ll give the world gradients!” —- “Please see the attached picture of a cat. If you don’t give me money, and if I had a cat like that, that cat would starve!” — the usual stuff, with an extra dollop of a sly voice echoing from above, saying, “This is a grant which you won’t get, but the Elder Gods of F’kul’tee would like to see more of our people applying for it. Plus you can abbreviate that thing for the Outer Mongolia Camel Sweepstakes application.”
To get my mind out of all this, I went and got the ingredients for lasagna/lasagne, and made it. It was good; wouldn’t go as far as to say delicious, but good. Edible, and then some.
Then, while in the last stages of preparation, being very careful to not mess up the lasagnx, focusing all my care and attention on it — you see where this is going, don’t you? I then bumped my laptop and it fell from knee-height to the floor and bam the screen broke and only shows a less exciting relative of the NBC rainbow symbol. I spent the next five minutes stalking around, gesticulating at walls, saying “No! Aghhh!” in frustrated disbelief.
There are many kinds of failures; the failure due to brain failure is the most Internet-familiar. Then there are failures due to rolling one: something unlikely happens, and it happens to happen to you. And then there’s this: simple stupid clumsiness that leaves you shouting at the universe that you want a redo, you’re not as clumsy as this.
Since the universe has not seen it fit to offer me a load/restore prompt (“What? I didn’t save after the thesis defense? Aghhh!”), I’ll be visiting the computer shop tomorrow. Hopefully my store-insurance is still on; if not, I’ll have them dig out the hard drive and buy a now laptop; if it’s on, I’ll have them buy a new laptop, for me.
Luckily, I was ready for this: the hard drive had been hiccupping in a worrying way for a while, giving an oddly fluctuating number of bad sectors, stealing all my attention as the potential source of the laptop’s destruction — so even if there’s more breakage than just the screen, I’m backed up up to yesterday for really important data, and to a week ago for incidental fluff. Here “really important” means mostly photos and my scribblings, things that cannot be recovered/bought/summoned from elsewhere/The Elsewhere. (Random note: If there was a fantasy novel with a bit of a Germanic flavor to the names and the setting, wouldn’t you totally buy “the Elsevier” as the dark demonic origin-realm of the Big Bad?)
(Related: I haven’t been eager to buy a new computer (that is, a laptop; haven’t had a desktop for years), since the smashed one’s hard drive is 1 TB, and there apparently is no current laptop-compatible hard drive which would be bigger. Right now all the data I have, music and movies and all, is somewhere around 1.75 TB.)
Not to be robbed of my computer time, I dug up the previous laptop, which I had dusted off and installed Lubuntu on about half a year ago. I booted it up, glad for my foresight and intelligence—
And it asked for a password, and I said “Rats!” because I had no memory of what that was.
Since, for some reason, resetting the password was ridiculously easy — for the “boot to recovery mode and mount the hard drive as readable-writeable” values of easy — that didn’t stop me for long.
What stopped me was that the thing kept accepting the new password, flashing the screen black, and then throwing me back to the password prompt. (Different from it just saying “wrong password!”) Like they say at Elsevier, nicht gut.
So then I logged in as a guest, watched some Youtube, ate some lasagnx, and then felt compelled to visit a third working computer to see if the jinx would continue. Thus now I am here at the university, where this computer hasn’t broken yet.
Wait for it…
No, hasn’t broken yet.
Ah well; these lasagnx/computer things totally did get my mind out of university bebotherment for a few hours. So win some; lose some.