Sunday, August 27, 2006

Poor Chrysler: We hardly knew ye...

Man. Who knew putting together a conference could be so tiring? (answer: a lot of people, it's fairly obvious, and I'm probably stupid for asking myself the question). Have just (3 days) been asked to give a 5000 word~ talk on the first night of the conference (friday 8th) on a work/research in progress, and had to give the title off the top of my head. So it looks like I'll be giving a talk on whether or not language is contingent or or conventional (a cheeky jab at Chomsky, through the exclusion of "necessary", I suppose... although something could well be conventional and necessarily so, although that doesn't really fit the bill for universal grammar). Gotta re-read my notes on the matter, and try and fit that particular debate into a presentation on my research interests, and make it seem plausible, and make it seem non-boring... sheesh. I've got work to do (and was not expecting a deadline before the start of term.

In other news, I've finally got the respondents, and the final version of the programme sorted out (lightweight version available here). It's nice to see so many budging academics being so ready to help, and to be able to rely on them for some good quality philosophy I certainly cannot always produce (at least not for such a variety and depth of topics).

Moving on. Got the vacation pictures sorted out.
Click here to see them...

No, I had no idea the arrow was pointing to me at the time. I'm not that narcissistic.

'Tis only a flesh... errrrr oil wound.

The other car (aka "Chickenfuckermobile").

From Newton's First Law: "[...] objects at rest tend to stay at rest unless an outside force acts upon them".
I'm not lazy, I'm a physicist.

My new cousin Liuba and I, demonstrating our obvious resemblance. I've got a PhD in Pout-ology. She's still going for the BSc in Pout Studies.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

A series of (really rather) unfortunate events

Ever get that feeling that everything is going wrong, whatever you do? Well, that sort of feeling is always an exaggeration to a certain degree, except this time that degree is a little smaller than usual.

The setting: Atlantic Coast of France, somewhere between Talmont and Thaims (are these places even on the map?).
When: Errrr, last thursday.

We were driving back from a series of Roman ruins ("Le site du Fâ") in our trust Chrysler voyager (my father at the wheel, me in what the french call "the seat of death", and loads of kids in the back), and we come down at a regular speed towards an intersection where we have right of way, but those having to yield (coming from the left) have little visibility of the oncoming road to the right (and must stop accordingly). Some jerk decided the law didn't concern him, cut us off at a what I'd call a "beyond cruising speed", and the inevitable crash happened, sending us ploughing into our airbags and him, his fat wife and fat kid (seriously) flying into the ditch (180 degree turn and all). Fortunately no one was seriously hurt (a bit of a stiff neck for the next few hours, and some bruises) but our good ol' Chrysler is no more.

Three days later, we're at the beach. My brother had bought one of these cool new skim boards and was playing with it on the sand. My mother wanted to try, my brother gives her the talk about it being more dangerous than it seems and requiring proper stretching, she insists and next thing you know, she's being whisked off the hospital with a severely broken right-wrist (being right-handed), where she still is at this time (having been operated upon sunday night).

Same day, my sister goes out with her bike (the non-motorised kind) to pick some blackberries, only to return with loads of (thankfully non-serious cuts) all across her, having fallen into the blackberry bramble with her bike.

To add some spice to things, there are a few (possibly viral) strains going around the house, with two boys who were visiting the other day displaying symptoms of gastroenteritis (and having seemingly passed them on to at least one or two people), and my sister's friend Margaux having had weird flu-like symptoms for the last week (touch wood that we won't get some o' that).

And to put the cherry on top, I had to whisk off to Paris this (monday) morning to take care of some BUPC-related work (of which there is a lot), and am now going to take the earliest train back down to Saintes, with my laptop and workload, to continue in our summer house (with a crappy 56k connection) and tend to my aching family members.

Other than that (which is a lot) we still manage to have a rather smashing time, with some occasional warm sunny days at the beach, and good food, and good company.

Life could be better, but it's still pretty damn good (which is easier to say when you're not the one with a broken wrist or car to replace).

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Be kind to your web-footed friend

Not that there's any particular need to apologize, but sorry for the stint of absence on my part. I've spent the last few days oscillating between the couch and the router (with occasional jogs in Versailles). Nothing too exciting.

The couch serves the purpose of providing a reading and writing space for my BUPC-related correspondence. Had one hell of a day processing all the submissions (an activity rendered much less painful by my helpful assistant for this task), reviewers, and getting it all to work (hopefully). One of my pet-peeves when I used to live back here (or anywhere, but the french administration and its love of red tape seems to best express this feature) was being impeded in my enjoyment of everyday life by base incompetence. Well, it is now I am on the other side of the fence, in being surrounded by people who not only do their job(s) well, but are keen to do so, that I realize that the opposite also holds to be quite true: it's very soothing to see things go smoothly.

So all's good in that hood. The router thing, however, is another matter. We've gone through quite a few netgears, and I've become well acquainted with the (thriving and friendly) netgear-gone-wrong support community, but to no avail. Fact of the matter is, our phone lines are archaic, and our router is fitted with a crappy over-sensitive Texas Instruments (who make damn good programmable calcs, go Ti89+!) chipset which reboots the damn thing every twenty minutes or so. We ordered one of those nifty Linksys WRT54Gs (that you can tinker with the firmware of) to replace it. Hopefully that'll be less stressful to deal with. Fixing the damn thing just sucks my energy away, meaning I haven't been so good with my reading as of late.

In other news, I had to go to the doctor a few days ago, on my mother's orders, because I've had a tickly cough since June. He put me on 8 different meds (mostly anti-allergic stuff) and wants me to have a blood test... ugh. Hate the damn things. The meds taste like crap too (and I'm not a huge fan of putting all that crap in my body).

But no worries, I can get faulty routers and vampiric needles out of my head for a few days, 'cause I'm a-headin' down south(-west) to our summer home in Cozes, to catch some rays on the beach with my buddies Swann and Eduardo, and his mother Helene (also a good friend). So life's good in the end... I just flippin' hate this 19th-century grade house.

Ooh, and one more thing: I got published again, but this time it's a paper, not a book review (Free e-copy of this edition here. *PDF warning*). Yay.