Monday, January 05, 2004

I'm listening to All Things Considered on National Public Radio. When I'm around to listen to it, the evening NPR programs are always a high point in my day. At the moment, the major theme in the news seems to be Mars. This morning I heard Kim Stanley Robinson talking about the landing on Mars (he's impressed; his son is not). And this evening, I've heard about the surroundings of the Spirit lander, a plain of small rocks with a nearby depression dubbed Sleepy Hollow. The excitement doesn't end in America, either; as one of the NASA team wisecracked of a European team, Remember how we were jumping up and down, and hugging and crying? It was the same thing, only in German.

Of course, I listen to other stations, too. I found an electronic music program on Saturday night that I hadn't discovered before. And someone in the middle of the dial was playing the Broadway song that goes da da da da in America! -- where da da da da is replaced by words of some sort. I like listening to the BBC, and online stations from Canada and Europe, too. So I decided to get a portable radio -- with shortwave reception as well as FM and AM. It should arrive some time in the next few days; it was on sale from Amazon.

I spent the day listening to the radio and being productive at home. My e-mail inbox is now back to about 30 messages, where there were around 200 before. I've set up an ssh proxy tunnel to my office machine so that I can use the electronic library resources without actually being on campus. I spent time writing, too, but was severely hampered by the fact that I apparently cannot differentiate on a week when there will be a full moon.

Okay. Maybe I just couldn't differentiate today.

I'm actually able to tell when the new moon is because I finally bought calendar's this weekend. They were half price. A calendar of baby animals has been replaced by a calendar of Irish landscapes. I bought a pocket calendar, too; with luck this one will last longer than the one that I got at the beginning of last year. That calendar lasted about a week before it disappeared.

I'm sipping hot water with lime, which goes well with the chill in the air. We've had a few clear, breezy days, and I appreciate the break from the winter rains -- but even if it has been dry, it hasn't been warm. The days are still short, too, so I'm unlikely to forget that it's still winter. But I have my hot mug, and that's all I need right now.

I think I'll go back to work as soon as I'm finished sipping and writing, but perhaps I'll just work for a few hours and then spend some time fiddling with my computer. It has been a while since I upgraded the software on my system, and my temptation to do so is only tempered by the recollection of how much of a time sink upgrades can be. Perhaps I'll spend the time playing with Python, instead. I haven't exactly made a New Year's Resolution to learn a new language, but I've meant to add Python to my toolkit for a while, and now seems like a good time. Or I could try to build nicer configuration scripts for LAPACK and FEAP, if only for my own use.

Or I could continue to work on things that I'm supposed to be working on, I suppose.

Perhaps I'd be better off taking a shorter break and doing something completely unrelated to computing. I have history to read: I'm in the middle of Alistair Cooke's America, and I have The Histories of Herodotus and O'Brian's historical fiction piece Master and Commander in queue.

For the moment, though, I think I will fix myself something to eat, and -- as I've just finished my water and lime -- perhaps I'll have a cup of tea, too.