Sinister Dexter

This page written circa 24 January, 2009.

I think the last few months must have been pleasant ones; I infer this from the long hiatus in these pages: It is mostly suffering that inspires creativity. In any case, it seems traditional for me to pen words of reflection when the family leaves me alone for a few days, as in Of Summer, Of Love and From Darkness, Light, so here they are.

Previous episodes of bacheloring were characterised by a period working to reduce the domestic entropy from a high level to a low one, followed by a period of relaxed appreciation of the freedom and quiet once everything is motoring along nicely. This one is the same, but the irrigation pump failed within 24 hours of Kay's departure, and in spite of leaving work before six every day I have just managed to get things ticking over in the garden and the kitchen, day 5 of 9. Now I can enjoy feeding the chickens, checking fish tanks and incubator, picking peas and basil, having a martini, and typing or watching. For the record, I miss the company, but enjoy the quiet, think about kids and Kay, but appreciate the autonomy, and it will all be over before I can get to discover if I'd prefer this being alone permanently, or miss the family terminally.

Before Kay left we watched the entire first season of Dexter, the serial killer you are supposed to like. Since being alone I have watched The Da Vinci Code, Top Gun, some Star Trek TNG, and some Sex and the City. All of these were much easier to watch. Watching the whole 12 episodes of Dexter in a row was hard work. In Clockwork Orange the ultraviolence comes in occasional, exhilirating bursts, like listening to the Hallelujah Chorus, but in Dexter it is a relentless, business-as-usual kind of bloodshed. Violence is a rush for Alec, but a means to a satisfying day at work for Dexter. You can get swept up with Alec, but after a while the best you can say about Dexter is that he made a good choice of victim. Perhaps psychopathy is like autism, a little can be good, a lot is not.

Much of my time at work in these last 2+ years has been towards getting the resources to do research, to do what effective academics do, namely put together a group of people to run with your ideas, and publish papers with your name on them. Getting any kind of liftoff on this has been near impossible. Yet, starting in 2009 I have a PhD, an MPhil, two Science Honours->PhD, and so far 3 1st-class BE students, one from the gifted student's program who is 2 years ahead of his peers. One of the Science Honours guys is an absolute steam train, having his PhD topic sorted before he started, in December, the other is so autonomous he is often ahead of me. Another MPhil and 2 honours students express interest. At this point I should have shut the door with a slam, but I just could not resist the idea of testing PIC versus Atmel ultramicros by making competing AI slotcars. Extending the liftoff metaphor, I think the solid fuel boosters just cut in, so I am comitted to a ballistic ride. I am kind of hoping that not all of the 159 current enrollments in first-year electronics turn up, as we have only facilities for a maximum of 120, and this year we decided to run Mechatronics in the very same lab at the very same time, to build the excitement.

And speaking of easy and hard... if you had the time and inclination to write a pot-boiler, would you do it on your cellphone? I doubt it. Nevertheless, "cell-phone novels" seem to be quite a big thing, written on and intended to be read on the miserable little screen of your phone, according to this New-Yorker article. Nothing much to do with your life? Thumb-out a best-seller.

It never rains but it pours, but pouring can be good. I prefer a full life, moving between extremes beats plodding. However, the lifestyle has to have the capacity to cope with the deluges, a low-entropy default state, so you don't get caught up and washed away. That is what I miss the most from this side.

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