Thursday, August 24

On getting a free pass

For me, the past 7 days have basically been a gradual reduction in stress levels, and moving of that mental energy to looking forward to the coming few weeks. I had pretty much resigned myself to only getting 5 or 6 of the 7 items on my work to-do list done, and while not best pleased about that, acceptance helps. Meanwhile on the positive side our first out-of-town wedding guests are now airborne, the number of things left to do for the wedding is well within what we can get done in the time, the cat hasn't pissed on a wall in over 2 weeks (I hope I'm not tempting fate), this week's dance classes have been a lot better for my confidence than last week's, and while that's not the whole list of what was causing me stress, the other half is pretty manageable on its own.

So I've been able to stop worrying and look forward to not only the wedding and honeymoon, but also entertaining guests I don't get to see very often and playing tour guide in a place I love. The one nagging downer was remembering that my set of goals for work, while self-imposed, was not arbitrary: it was all setting myself up so that I'd have enough time after the honeymoon to meet the October 15th deadline for next year's Conference in Hawaii, and not having it all done would significantly reduce my chance of making that deadline.

I just got a free pass on that worry: the conference deadline has been pushed back by 16 days, and realistically I'm at most one week behind my intended work schedule.
posted @ 10:39 AM -

Tuesday, August 22

Still busy

Though the last post does mark a genuine improvement, I do still have a lot to do in a few days. So please forgive me if I am particularly short with everyone on email and the phone this week, and don't get around to replying to emails that aren't about arrangements for the coming 4 weeks until after the honeymoon. It's not that I don't want to talk to you; it's just that I'm trying to keep as much of the time that wedding guests are in town free, so I can actually spend time with people who've taken the trouble to come all this way. Really it's just a matter of pushing myself hard for the next few days so I can relax afterwards, and I think reminding myself of that is the other thing that's helping me bring the stress back down to productive levels.
posted @ 6:41 PM -

Psychological crutches that work

I'm still a bit concerned about getting everything I want to do by Friday done, but nowhere near as tense about it as a week ago. A lot of the change is because of a simple self-manipulation trick that I've used to good effect before, but often forget about: writing a long, detailed to-do list in which most of the individual items are small, self-contained tasks. The reason I often don't think about doing this is that initially writing the to-do list can be a bit daunting; in this case, I had one too long to fit on my computer screen as of 48 hours ago. But once it's done, it does help me feel more organised, and not waste mental energy thinking about the tasks at the end of the list before the ones at the beginning are taken care of. And of course it's helpful to be able to watch the list shrink, as a reminder that I am actually getting things done and it is at least possible that I'll meet my targets.
posted @ 6:34 PM -

Saturday, August 19

Dear Hempfest attendees

Might I respectfully suggest that you might do a better job of persuading people to support a change in the law if you didn't act like such a bunch of wankers? I mean, I agree with your cause—I really do think the status quo with regard to marijuana is neither fair nor productive—but when you having your little party down the road from means that my building has to hire security guards to stop people from pissing in our garage, and my normally quiet Saturday afternoon is interrupted by a succession of silencerectomised cars revving in the parking lot and idiots pressing the car alarm button 15 times to keep their cars making noise for as long as possible.... yeah. It neither makes me want to go and join in the event nor proud to stand in the same political camp as you.

posted @ 4:19 PM -

Tuesday, August 15

Things that are causing me stress at the moment

  • The cat's recently acquired habit of urine-marking his territory.
  • Our lack of good ideas about why he does this or how to deal with it (we even took our cat to the damn shrink today).
  • The monotonically decreasing likelihood that I'll actually achieve my work goals for this month.
  • The amount of time that cleaning up cat urine, being paranoid about what the cat's up to, and having to chase people who ought to be competing for my business is taking away from work.
  • Watching my fitness decrease and my belly expand, because I've not been taking good enough care of myself, because of... well... all the above.
  • The time difference that makes it impossible for me to speak to anyone in Europe at a mutually convenient time, ever.
  • Attempting to overcome the deep-seated fear of dancing in public that has been instilled in me by teenage memories of oh you must come up and dance - you can't possibly be enjoying yourself otherwise and that's just not allowed at parties I'd have preferred not to be at. I've actually been quite shocked by how deep this aversion is. We're going to dance classes, and at the same time as enjoying the classes I find them emotionally draining in a way that is hard to explain.
  • When will you finish your PhD?
  • Stupid scare stories about the Green Card application process, because of course everyone else knows better than me and my lawyer.
  • The realisation that it's going to be at least another 6 months before I can spend any time in Britain, and that the Green Card process [based on real information from a good immigration lawyer, so everyone else can STFU] may double that.
  • The latest set of mechanical problems with the shitty bike I bought from the shitty shop in Cleveland and then proceeded to torture by riding it on Cleveland's shitty and salty roads through two winters (oh if only the lovely and dependable steed I brought back from NZ hadn't been stolen just weeks before I was going to take it to the US with me....)
  • Still having 't's to cross and 'i's to dot for the wedding - which wouldn't be stressful without all the above, to be fair.
posted @ 4:32 PM -

Thursday, August 10

Computer security warning

There is a spammer or worm using my email address at the moment. My suspicion is that they are sending malware of some sort, and faking known 'from' addresses to fool people into clicking on attachments. For the next few days, as a result, I will not send anyone any email attachments - if I need to send a file I'll find another way of doing it that makes it obvious that it's real. Meanwhile, here are a few security precautions you should take; some specific and some general:

  1. Have your mail client not automatically open attachments - automatic opening is the biggest risk for this sort of thing.

  2. If mail appears to have been sent from you to yourself, but you don't recall sending such a message, assume it's something bad and delete it without looking at any attachments.

  3. If mail appears to have come from me, and has an attachment, don't open the attachment without separately emailing me first to check that it's really from me - it probably isn't.

  4. If mail has come from anything @ my domain that is not the address I normally use, assume it's bad.

  5. If mail has an attachment that you weren't expecting—especially if it's from someone who doesn't usually send you that type of thing—take the time to check with the apparent sender that it's really from them before opening it.

posted @ 9:30 AM -
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