Saturday, March 1, 2014

Tuesday, 2013-10-15

“I suppose our lot in life is to parcel out our bodies, or our brains, or our souls, to earn a living, so as to survive another day”

In the evening I walked around. I choked on the generator fumes from a food cart. I suppose our lot in life is to parcel out our bodies, or our brains, or our souls, to earn a living, so as to survive another day.

Something interesting from <>:

“That world is dead. Of course it’s still here in many ways, and it will take decades for the transition to fully shift, but 20th century consumer culture is done. The icons and dreams of the Baby Boomers are not reflected in their children and grandchildren; Boomers want stuff, Millennials want experiences and relationships. Boomers care about owning; Millennials prefer sharing and access, not ownership. Boomers derive status and identity from their job titles and school affiliations; Millenials derive their status and identity from doing meaningful things that help other people, or sharing creations that bring enjoyment to their friends.”

Saturday, December 28, 2013


2012’s NYI also brought with it the uncertain experience of finding myself in a relationship.  Quantum physics remained on my mind and they mixed into what follows.  (For some more background, see this post: The Quantum Moment).
The course also examined Michael Frayn’s play, Copenhagen.  It describes a meeting between the two atomic physicists, Neils Bohr and Werner Heisenberg, during World War II.  Bohr, a Jew in occupied Denmark; Heisenberg, working with the Germans.  Former colleagues, now separated by The War.

The meeting went badly, and its purpose was never understood.  Why did Heisenberg come to Copenhagen?  To advance the German nuclear program?  To warn the Allies of it?  To try to sideline the development of atomic weapons by both sides?  The play explores this question, Bohr and Heisenberg going through “several drafts of the paper”, so to speak.
One theme of the play, is that decisions—like the particles—can perhaps not be understood until after the fact.  That the act of analyzing and observing them can change them (see the work of psychologist Elizabeth Loftus).
We read the play, and watched the PBS movie version. I find it rather melancholy.  The score behind it is one of those beautiful sorrows that adds to the mood (based, incidentally on Schubert’s Piano Sonata in B Flat Major, D. 960 2nd movement, which Heisenberg briefly plays in the film).  The final dialogue is no less hollowing than Macbeth’s “tomorrow” soliloquy.

We've all felt it, right? The gnawing uneasy excitement, spinning around in our head, our stomach, our chest. You like someone. Do they like you back? Mathematicians might call it a "Nash Equilibrium" (dimming the likelihood of a "yes" answer for them): no one is willing to say anything, because neither is sure of what the other is thinking. Each person thinks they are making the right choice by staying silent. But together, it's the wrong one.
What if the answer is yes? But no one could break the silence?
Then again, what if the answer is no?
Either way, the relationship is going to change forever if you go for it. Do you?

Friday, February 1, 2013

Sunday, 2010-10-17; Magnificent Kotor

Well, today it's off to Kotor. During breakfast the old-ish lady traveler was eating too, and we chatted a bit. I omitted most of my trip when she asked where I'd been, and gave the impression that I was only visiting the former Yugoslav countries.  I didn’t feel like recounting the whole story. This time it was she who gave the line about us all, in the end, being basically the same.

Anyway so this is where it starts to get hectic, until I get back to Zagreb. And then after Zagreb I'm on my own again. This time, so far I've only been alone in Vladimir / Nizhniy (6 days or so), then Istanbul (a week). This part (Split, Dubrovnik, etc., back to Zagreb) will be the longest stretch so far.

The bus ride was pretty nice though I was foolish not to sit on the right side this time. The weather seemed pleasant but it didn't stay that way for long once I got settled in. The hostel itself is nothing special and lugging the briefcase was a chore.  It was hard to find in the labyrinthine old town. I also started to get another damned headache as we went along. Maybe more pressure problems?


I set out for the walls but had trouble finding access to them, and eventually had to ask at the tourist info center. It began to rain of course as I head towards them, but it did mean that there was no one manning the checkpoint. Well, sorry, what do you want me to do?

Climbing the walls was incredible. The only thing more exciting that climbing a mountain, or visiting a fortress, is climbing a mountain fortress! Pity the lighting was so poor, but from time to time the rain and clouds let up. It was impossible to capture the scale of being up in the mountains, though I took a short video clip and thought "Foundations of Stone" would make for a perfect soundtrack.


Thursday, January 31, 2013

Saturday, 2010-10-16; Departing Dubrovnik

Another day of rain.  I looked into my upcoming plans: Kotor, Trebinje, Mostar. It is going to be a tricky ride before I get back to Zagreb mainly because I intend to spend little time in each place and they won't be touristy (being touristy, admittedly, helps for getting around). I realized I was running low on laundry and decided to just wash pretty much everything for the 50 kuna ($10).


I walked around Old Town and visited some of the churches before heading to Fort Lovrijenac. I visited another church on the way back and then stopped at the hostel. After collecting my laundry, eating more cereal, and wasting more time on the internet, I set out and walked around some more. Mike is really getting annoying, or rather, he is the same but I am getting sick of his weird happy chatty arrogance; I can't describe it.

The weather got a bit nicer though it's still cloudy. I went to the Dominician monastery; it was 20 kuna but hardly worth it. It was just like the Loreto or whatever it was in Prague. I then ascended that other nearby hill behind Lovrijenac (Gradac) which had a marvelous view of it, and just relaxed to the sound of the sea beating against the cliffs.


As wonderful as this was, though, could I really spend another three months doing this stuff?

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Friday, 2010-10-15; Dubrovnik from the Wall

IMG_3865Of course today despite my best efforts I got started really late. I should probably stop reading Slashdot so much, otherwise I need to be much more discriminating about what I waste my time on. I took a shower and all that, looked into further destinations, answered emails and messages, and didn't make it out until 1:30. I'd awoken at 9:30 or so. This will be unsustainable when I get back to having a job and such.

I did the walls - it was unbelievably magnificent. I think Dubrovnik is one of the most beautiful places I've visited. Pictures don't even begin to do it justice.  Nevertheless.  I can only imagine how wonderful it is in nice weather. After that I chilled in the hostel for another hour or so.

IMG_3868I went to see if I could see the Fort Lovrijenac (this other fort in the adjacent picture), but it closed at 5:30, just when I got there. I noticed it was nearly sunset and decided to head up the cable car. It was all right, it only left every half-hour so sunset was pretty much finished by the time we got underway. It was a nice view but of course again, pictures can’t convey it.

I bought only a one-way ticket and intended to walk down; I went maybe 15 minutes the wrong way and it took kind of a while to get properly oriented and it was quite dark. I debated the wisdom of descending a hazardous path in the dark but whatever. I realized that I was made for this. I was exploring in the middle of the night at Stony Brook, long before I set foot out of the country.


Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Thursday, 2010-10-14; Dubrovnik and the War


I eventually head out, despite the rain. I made my way upward, partially at least. The view was still magnificent and beautiful. I'm really glad I came here. I can't imagine how breathtaking it must be when the weather is actually nice. I'm amazed at how poorly most of the photos I've seen depict the landscape, showing just a cluttered red-roofed Old Town, which doesn't do justice to the majesty of it at all. I'm glad I took the path I did: as I wrote to Bojana, as I travel down the coast, each place is more beautiful than the last. But unfortunately with crappier weather and more full of tourists.

I had another chat with Mike[1] while I was using the computer out in the hall. This time about QE[2] and inflation. He had what I thought were kind of nutty ideas that inflation was good and that it's just numbers and it doesn't matter.[3] I thought it was quite bizarre; reminiscent of that chat with Denis in Murmansk.

Speaking of money, now I can see from my cheapest month of $xxxxxxx that I am going to be spending quite a lot to make it to January, especially since this was the cheap part. I don’t know that I can sustain two or three months in Western Europe especially with the dollar in the tank against the Euro. Hrm.

I had more crappy bakery lunch, and then saw a sign for a photo exhibition about the war. It was 30 kuna[4] which I thought was a bit steep, but whatever. It was pretty terribly set up, in my opinion. The photos lacked captions; each group had miniatures of many of the photos with descriptions (but in different groups from the full-sized). So it was impossible to see the picture and its description right there. I wonder if it wasn't the point, but I found it frustrating.

I was dismayed that at first it appeared to be just one floor, and that exhibit was about the Afghanistan war. It was a grim reminder at how the country had been shit all over by international interference. And another reminder about things raised in нити[5], I mean these are just regular people born into a terrible position from which they probably cannot ever escape. Like at этажи (photo exhibit we'd visited in St. Petersburg, with more war photos), a reminder of what a god-awful place the world is, as I'm simultaneously reminded of its beauty by my surroundings.

But on the next floor, there were—in addition to more middle-eastern stuff—photos from the Balkan wars.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Wednesday, 2010-10-13; Psychology in Dubrovnik


So today I'm off to Dubrovnik. I took far longer to get ready than I should have, but I made it to the bus station and bought the ticket without issue. It's a shame I didn't make it to Brač (a nearby island to Split, the town where I was just coming from), but oh well.

I continued thinking about psychology on the bus.

I wonder if prosopagnosics are able to see the triangle in the gestalt demo with three pac-man shaped circles[1], and whether they have trouble with other similar optical illusions (two arrows of the same length pointing in and out) and mental rotation. Could they be better at "spot the difference"-type things?