Sunday, February 10, 2013


It is the Year of the Water Snake. In such a year, rivers burst their banks. Sometimes, when banks burst, the lands nearby suffer floods; however, in the long run, the area may reap a rich harvest.

In another life, I wrote this, which may have some relevance.

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Saturday, February 09, 2013


I have only two watches. One was given to me by my mother on my 20th birthday; the other was given to me by my wife on my 45th birthday.

Both have titanium bracelets; the older one runs on a battery and has a smaller face, the younger one runs on solar energy and has a larger face. I wear both of them in turn, depending on what the day looks like it's bringing.

The older one has had its glass smashed twice, once during a hockey match and once when my newly-bound PhD thesis fell on it. Each of those events marked a watershed in my life; the first marked the end of a period during which I had come to love the first school of my professional career, the second marked the end of a long period as a returned student. I've changed the batteries four times. The first battery lasted more than a decade, but subsequent batteries have not been so long-lived; they don't make batteries the way they used to, I guess. The bracelet clasp is slightly damaged, but still holds. I would never dream of getting rid of this watch.

The younger one has a very secure clasp. It is a solid-looking item, beautiful in a different way. It does good work, and I am also very happy to have it. It might have less history, but it is also my watch, and I will keep it always.

I have only two watches. I like to think of them as different personalities with different stories, who have somehow ended up sharing the same wrist at different times.

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Friday, February 08, 2013


The house in which I live is very much like a school or other complex institution. If you have a chat in the bathroom, anyone can hear it from another bathroom because the bathrooms vent into open air all on the same side of the house. However, you can't hear a thing clearly if you are in any other room in the house.

So it is with institutions of public character. You have to go to the bathroom to hear the juicy stuff. I remember that in the old school, one quirk of the boardroom was that its false ceiling was shared with the toilet nearby. So if you went to that toilet, you could hear what was being said in the boardroom. Since nobody was really banned from using the toilet, you could tell who knew things and you could know things yourself.

But there's a broader sense to all that. Quite often, in-house information transfer is pathetically poor compared to what a determined observer can glean from outside. All you have to do is find the right connections, and where the bathrooms vent their air.

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