Aristillus

A large crater to dump my thoughts

Archive for March 2013

Goodbye, reader

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Since September 10, 2008 you have read a total of 80,236 items.

Goodbye, reader. We had some fun times, you and I, but we both knew it had to end eventually. Still, we had a good run; 4.5 years is practically a lifetime in the internet world.

I’m taking my subscriptions out of the cloud, back to something self-hosted. Frustration with the quality of desktop RSS feed readers was what originally drove me to Reader. Hopefully the rest of the RSS world has caught up in the last five years, and I will not lose my ability to use multiple devices or have reasonable performance.

Written by aristillus

March 23, 2013 at 14:22

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In The Waiting Line

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Dear people of England,

I know all y’all have a big obsession with queueing. The art of people in lines is your thing, like we Dutch are in charge of bicycles and being stoned. Everybody in the world has to queue sometimes, but nobody else can (or would bother to) boast about the skill, variety and finesse with which they do it. And while us foreigners are annoyed with being in an orderly line of grumpy waiting people, you seem to be almost excited about the prospect.

Anyhow, can you please tone it down a bit for the rest of us ? A single line or one queue per register is okay. Queues are optional; there is no need to create an artificial one if customers are being helped immediately (I’m looking at you, local Waitrose). If you have a sign in your store that says “We are using a double queueing system”, then perhaps you’re overdoing it. If you have three people managing a queue for the two registers in your bank, then perhaps you need to rethink your staff assignments. Panic and chaos will not ensue. Not immediately, anyway.

It’s true, there are few things more exciting than experimenting with queues and different queuing systems. As a software engineer, I am well aware of this. But please do your experimenting in private – perhaps in some sort of club? –  in your spare time. Or maybe you can have ceremonial queues on national holidays? Whatever, just don’t bother me with it.

Written by aristillus

March 18, 2013 at 01:08

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Major

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Despite my strong opinions one way, the whole vaccination debate has always been fairly alien to me. Like most children in the Netherlands, I was vaccinated when I was young. Besides that, neither the supposed side-effects nor the actual diseases they prevent were actually affecting anybody I knew. Until a few weeks ago.

Sometime in the late eighties, when I was four, I was treated for tonsillitis. On an afternoon roughly a month after I had returned from the hospital I suddenly refused to drink anything, and indicated I had a sore throat. My mom wasn’t sure what to think of this and so she took me to the my GP, who also had trouble finding out what the problem was. Her eventual conclusion was that I was probably just being a royal pain in the arse. So we returned home, undiagnosed and with an increasingly annoyed (and annoying) me.

Towards dinnertime I was getting more and more agitated and short-breathed. In a panic, my mom rushed me to the hospital with the help of a neighbour. When we arrived there – I was having trouble breathing at this point  – I was immediately rushed into the operating room and put on a respirator. Shortly later I was diagnosed with epiglottitis. If it hadn’t been for my paranoid mom and our neighbour-with-car who happened to be home (my parents are carless hippies) I might not have survived.

I have only recently become aware that epiglottitis is almost always caused by Haemophilus influenzae type B, for which a vaccine is available. Since the mid-nineties, children in the Netherlands have been vaccinated for it. My life-threatening conditions and extended hospital stay probably would not have been necessary if I had been vaccinated, too.

Written by aristillus

March 9, 2013 at 21:00

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Clapham

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It’s week four of my relocation, and things are becoming more routine. I’ve abandoned my optimistic plans to be at the office before 10. Most of the boring and tedious bureaucratic nonsense has been dealt with – I’ve got my UK bank account, health insurance and pension plan set up.

One of my impulse buys this week – the local HMV has lots of good stuff on sale since it is closing down – was the Pineapple Thief’s 10 Stories Down. Strange coincidence then, to come home and find that it features a song titled Clapham – named after the area in which I found an apartment the day prior.

I’ve thought long about where and how to live. In the last couple of years I have shared a flat with friends and strangers and I’ve lived by myself. Flatsharing has been fun, and I’ve been fairly lucky with my housemates. But I’m now in my late twenties and I already spend most of my day around other people – lots of them. I have less tolerance for flatmates who need me to wear pants in the house during the spare moments I’m at home every day.

So I’ve decided on a 1-bedroom apartment, about 20 minutes from the office. It’s not big by any standard, but it is close to public transport and the high street and it is mine alone. It’s got a bed, a bathroom, a washer and a sofabed for visitors. Part of me objects to spending such a ludicrous amount of money on rent, but I guess that’s the price of living in London. I’ll still have to ditch some of the stuff I took across the channel with me since I won’t have space for it, but that’s okay. If I haven’t had a need for something since I packed it up 4 months ago, I really don’t need it that badly.

Written by aristillus

March 6, 2013 at 00:07

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Reading update

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It’s been a while. Unfortunately my time for reading these days seems to be limited to the 30 minutes I spend on the tube each day.

Love in the time of cholera by Gabriel García Márquez

Garcí­a Márquez describes the tragedy of life-long unrequited love.

A well written book, as you would expect from the writer of 100 years of solitude. It has all the nice little details that make the story come alive. I found it hard to like the two main characters; they’re both selfish to the extreme, obsessive and Florentino combines that with an almost catholic form of self-mortification. Yep, seems fairly realistic.

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

Together with 1984 this is perhaps one of the two 20th century novels about dystopian societies. Huxley paints a picture of a world in which there is bland, drug-aided happiness, eradicated of any expression that might upset the delicate balance that is keeping the populace calm and drowsy. The book heavily features eugenicist ideas and narcotics, which is understandable considering the time in which it was written. These days, what Savage calls the Brave New World seems a lot more outlandish than the world ruled by Big Brother in 1984.

I’m not sure which of the two I would prefer: passionate but suppressed or dozed and happy.

Written by aristillus

March 4, 2013 at 02:13

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