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2003 (old posts, page 4)

Shorthand

Working in an environment where acronymns are a tradition, if not a religion, I've happily embraced their day to day use. It may well be violating all laws of pronunciation and letter placement, but just think of all those precious seconds I'm saving.

Shorthand in e-mail is a whole other deal. I'm still at a loss at to why people write u instead of you, w/ instead of with, mtg instead of meeting and the like. Can it really take that much longer to type properly? Maybe my inner monologue doesn't work like other people's, but I read w/ as 'wuh' and the sentence never ends up making sense.

Yes, I believe I am a hypocrite.

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High tea at three

Every now and again there are days where so many things seem to align as if orchestrated in some theme. Maybe we start looking for things when suspicion is aroused, it's hard to tell.

Waiting for the bus this morning, bagel in one hand, Starbucks venti mocha in the other, I dropped a quarter in newspaper dispenser on the corner and picked up a copy of the PI (this may have required a third hand, artistic license I believe it's called). I had a fleeting thought of how comfortable and natural it all felt, and that surprised me a little. But I was wearing socks with a Union Jack on them, so it was all OK.

Arriving in to work, I did my usual five minute scan through the front pages: BBC News, The Times and The Sun. Despite what is now becoming an addiction to CNN, I think I watch it more for the pictures, still preferring the British media for content.

Later in the day, someone pointed me to the diary of Moira Redmond, an ex-ex-pat. Most of her thoughts are spot on and made for an entertaining read. Incidentally, I also noticed Ali G is headed stateside. I'm fairly sure the society isn't equipped to handle this just yet, which is such a shame.

All said and done, it makes me happy to see Simon Cowell keeping the side up. High tea at three anyone?

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The power of disinformation

The speculation that Iraq may have stowed weapons on three cargo ships that are currently aimlessly circling international waters has not exactly made headline news. I'm surprised, the networks would usually be pumping this out hourly, right alongside the ridiculous 'TERROR ALERT: HIGH' overlay. Maybe this will pan out into something more, maybe not.

It reminds me of the story of disinformation created during WWII, some of which persists to this day. Carrots improve your eyesight? I think not. To keep the Germans from figuring out that Britain had developed radar, it 'became' common knowledge that fighter pilots were being fed significant quantities of the vegetable to improve night vision, thus creating a plausible yet hollow justification for their dramatic improvement in success rate.

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The perils of winter sports

I made a sad mistake of taking a trip up to Snoqualmie yesterday for a bit of snowboarding. The promised 6" of new snow had evidently melted or met some similar fate, and the surface was immaculately well packed. Feeling a little over-confident for the conditions, I soon came back down to earth, backwards and head first. For a brief moment, it dawned on me how easy to would be to sustain a serious injury, but everything seemed intact and attached so I carried on. Today is a different matter; right now I can only move by head by about one degree in any direction. A lesson learnt.

Last night turned into longer-than-expected, but enjoyable dive bar crawl around town. Imagine my delight on coming across that bastion of drinking establishment entertainment - the Megatouch bar games unit. In two different bars, the Maxx and Titanium models were in constant use, no doubt making the world a better place.

My current physical state leaves me no option but to head to McDonalds for some cheeseburger therapy.

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Oh for more hours in the day

I never used to be able to appreciate why things didn't always get done. Generally speaking, if someone says they'll do something, surely there have to be some exceptional circumstances present for that task not to get done. Not so.

I always saw myself that would deliver as much as humanly possible, and ironically, I seem to be getting better at that. However, the truth of the matter is at some point there is simply too much to get done, which is why you prioritize. Taking a 1 to 4 scale (must do, should do, if there's time, oh well), I rarely see beyond level two. New stuff comes in at all levels, you always take things from the top; the tasks lower down end up being neglected for so long that they eventually get dropped to put them out of their misery.

For a long time, I found it very hard to accept living in this manner, living with an overwhelming sense of guilt. And then I started to think about a newpaper - the morning edition goes out every morning, it always has a headline, and it's always of a passable standard. Some days will be better than others, but the focus (and ultimately judgment) is always on that 24 hour period. The editor can't decide to leave half the pages blank today, in lieu of twice the content tomorrow; instead, he/she must make the best of the situation for that day and start from a clean slate the next.

Fortunately, the relief of this realization easily outweighs the lack of closure it brings. Alas, a misguided thirst for perfection is hard to quench.

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NewsGator

I've been using NewsGator for a while now, and it is far and away the best news aggregator I've come across for my needs; it's great for bringing news right there into Outlook.

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Commiting a war crime by opposing war

I've long wondered about the validity of 'Operation Human Shield', the group of people who've flown over to Iraq to protest US plans to go to war, putting themselves quite literally in harms way. It's one thing exercising your democratic right (if you're a citizen) to protest, it's quite another to go to these extremes.

Now it transpires that the organizers of this little adventure could be guilty of war crimes. This is perhaps an unorthodox interpretation of the Geneva Convention and doesn't really provide a convincing response, instead it neatly provides a disclaimer for some of the inevitable collateral damage.

Effect of their actions on military planning: zero.
Effect of their actions on public opinion: light to moderate.
Effect of their actions on themselves: fulfilling, but perhaps final.

Sorry guys, but I'm not convinced. Yes, there will be casualties if the war begins, but it doesn't mean the fight to stop it is over.

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Change in the name of progress


I cannot say whether things will get better if we change; what I can say is they must change if they are to get better. --G. C. Lichtenberg

It looks as though the future will be a little different to how I perceived it yesterday, given recent developments at work. Suffice it to say that things will change drastically, but that change was not entirely unexpected.

Not one to hide behind quotations (believing those who do so are lacking the words to express themselves), here is my take. Change is great; to rest on what feels comfortable is a mistake. The world around us does not observe the same complacency, and a refusal to accept the inevitable does not avoid it, instead it merely places one in a far less advantageous position to deal with it. Accepting change as the rule rather than the exception is the best preparation for the adventure that lies ahead.

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I'll pay you back, I promise

Last week I applied for a Blue card from American Express, optimistically looking to work my way further into debt. Well, they soon put a stop to that - my application did not score enough points to qualify.

And if they'd stopped there, that would have been fine. But no, they go on and rub it in - I don't have enough credit, I owe too much, I don't have enough bank accounts, and am also afflicted by the non-descript 'number of trades'.

In real terms, I'm no better off than I was a year ago, despite never having failed to pay a bill on time. Where next? Evidently I can't improve my credit without another credit card, and I can't open another bank account without better credit. Despite this marvellous global financial infrastructure, I'm beginning to like the idea of stashing money in a hole in the ground.