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Monday, January 14th, 2008
2:01 pm - Melbourne
So here I am in glorious Melbourne. The weather so far has been fantastic, cool and breezy (although they've forecast 37° for tomorrow - yikes!), and I'm having a great time. I'm using Kenna's computer to make this post, with the wireless Internet that the Crown provides - such opulence...

The first day was a little hectic, a bit ache-inducing, but ultimately enjoyable. It took me a while to catch up with Marsha and Kenna, because when I arrived in Melbourne (at about 4 p.m), Marsha was playing a tournament and Kenna was nowhere to be seen, and after the tournament the two of them went to dinner, so I was fending for myself until about 11 p.m. I walked up and down the length of the Crown Entertainment Complex about ten times, and eventually got pretty sore, so I checked my backpack into the cloak room and sat down to play my very first cash game, a $2-$3 no limit hold'em table. And despite a slow start, after putting down a bankroll of $50, I walked out about two hours later with a profit of $168. The hand that I picked up the biggest profit on was really quite impressive, all things considered, so let me tell you about it.

I started with ♣4 4. In a nine-handed game, a small pocket pair is usually worth a call of the big blind or of a small raise, but you really have to catch the third one on the flop to make trips, which is about the only way to make such a small pair playable after the flop. So the fellow in front of me made a minimum raise, and I was happy to call, as did five others.

So the flop comes J 10 4. This is great for me, as I have a hidden set of trips; as I pointed out in my previous entry, having a pair on the board tends to scare people; what happens most of the time with a pair on the board is that most people will check, one player will either make a bet with trips or have a bluff at the pot, and everyone else who doesn't have at least two pairs will go out. Hence, it's better to hit trips with a pocket pair and only one on the board, so that no-one suspects anything. So that's exactly what happened; I raised $10, two players called, and two went out.

The turn, ♠4, is a dream. It's the absolute nuts, and I instantly know everyone else is, for all intents and purposes, drawing dead (someone could theoretically have pocket Jacks or Tens, and hitting a Jack or Ten on the river would give them quads, but I was certain that no-one had a pocket pair like that because they would almost always have reraised me after the flop with high hidden trips). I check, the fellow over the table raises $15, the fellow on my right calls, and I move all in for $31 more, which both of them call.

The river comes 6, which does nothing for me. The other two fellows continue betting into a side pot, and eventually turn up their cards. The one over the table had two pairs, Jacks and Tens, and the one on my right has a diamond flush, which explains why they stayed in - the one with Jacks and Tens had the top two pair after the flop (although why he didn't reraise my $10 bet is a little mystifying), and the other one had a flush draw from the get-go which he hit on the river, and he had a pretty big chip stack, so was able to make a call that was a bit speculative (with one card to come, the chance of hitting a flush is about 17%). I turn over my cards, everyone at the table gasps suitably, and I rake in a pot of $130.

Of course, the next day I had a rotten run of cards, went all-in with pocket Kings, was called by a guy with 8-7 suited (primarily beause he had a big stack of chips), and Chance thumbed her nose at my 4-to-1 favourite status by putting down a flop of 10-4-8-7-8, giving him eightsfull of sevens and tossing me out on my arse. So I lost $50 there; but as Scotty Nguyen would say, that's poker, baby.

So aside from playing, it's been a busy couple of days. Yesterday started out with breakfast, which Kenna and I had at the Crystal Club up here in the Crown Towers; while there, Kenna introduced me to Billy Argyros, Mel Judah and Joe Hachem. I spent yesterday at the National Gallery of Victoria, which is an impressive place - three levels of extraordinary paintings, sculptures, and even a section of Greek, Roman and Mesoamerican antiquities. I enjoyed that, although it was hard going (my back and legs are still sore from all the walking!). Today I started out by going to the gym with Kenna, then to breakfast with Marsha, and we were soon joined by Chip Jett and his daughter Athena. Kenna and Marsha are at the Australian Open today, and I'll be going there later this afternoon, but I stayed around to watch the opening of the main event of the Aussie Millions at 12:30, and watched some of the play for a bit. The field's just extraordinary - I saw Tony Bloom, Mike Sexton and Tony G at the tables today, and plenty of others will be playing tomorrow and Wednesday, when the second and third groups of players go through (the field's been divided into three because there are so many players - apparently more than 800!).

So anyway, that's my update for the moment; I'm going to go and eat lunch, then traipse around to Melbourne Park and watch some tennis.

current mood: enthralled

(6 splats | sling your mud)

Thursday, January 10th, 2008
10:56 am - Pocket Aces really aren't as good as you might think...
...because they're so difficult to play, especially if you hit a big hand. Let me show you what I mean. Cut for length; also cut for technical aspects, since this is a pretty in-depth consideration, and if you don't play poker you might miss a lot of this, or find it completely uninteresting.

A short lesson on playing pocket AcesCollapse )

So after all that, I made a total profit of 7,000 in chips this morning, which is 2,000 over my goal of making a profit of 5,000 in chips each time I play. That can't be bad.

current mood: contemplative

(1 splat | sling your mud)

Tuesday, January 8th, 2008
9:24 pm - The end of the healing process... not
Well, it's been a while since I posted - I figure I should make an appearance. :)

Everything is going well post-surgery. The surgery site has now stopped seeping, and I'm spending my first full day without a dressing of any kind on the site (I've just had a band-aid on it for the last couple of weeks, primarily to stop the scar - which is still rather tender, understandably - from chafing on the waistband of my shorts), and things are going quite well. Just in the last couple of days I've started to get a little bit of ache in my right foot, but it's nothing like it was pre-surgery, and hopefully it's just a sign that normal feeling is returning in that foot, as it's been alternating between slight numbness and pins-and-needles since the operation. I've also stopped getting tired so easily, and while I'm still not as strong as I was before the op, I'm certainly getting close. I'm also on a regime of glucosamine and fish oil capsules to keep up the health of my cartilaginous tissue, and that seems to be working quite well.

So all that's very good, seeing as I'm going down to Melbourne at the end of this week to watch my great-aunt and -uncle play in the Aussie Millions poker tournament! I'm due back at uni on the 21st, the day after the main event finishes, which is great timing for me - I'm also hoping to get out and watch some of the Australian Open, and perhaps visit some university libraries down there to catch up on my uni work (the last four months of inactivity have played merry hell with my work!).

All that's on top of the events of the week surrounding New Year's, which was pretty good, but soaking wet! The one week we go on holidays just had to be the one week when eastern Australia gets atrocious flooding, didn't it? At Ballina, the closest weather station to where we were, several days were recorded when the rainfall was 150mm or more in a day, and apparently some spots on the Gold Coast received more than 300mm in the space of three hours. So widespread flooding and devastation and bridges being washed away, and all this just has to happen while we're on holidays at the beach... Frustrating! Nevertheless, we managed to make the best of it; I spent New Year's at the Brunswick pub, where there were a couple of very good bands playing, and that was a lot of fun.

New Year's resolutions are, of course, a part of any good New Year's celebrations, and so I suppose I'd better make some of my own:

Resolution 1Collapse )

Resolution 2Collapse )

Resolution 3Collapse )

Resolution 4Collapse )

Resolution 5Collapse )

Resolution 6Collapse )

Resolution 7Collapse )

So, happy new year to all on my flist; I hope you all spent it well and safely (or dangerously, if that's your thing)!

current mood: tired

(14 splats | sling your mud)

Monday, December 17th, 2007
4:41 pm - Happy memeage of fun
Have a meme - tell me something about yourselves.

Filched from kassie_opia.

1. Name:
2. Birthday:
3. Place of residence:
4. What makes you happy:
5. What are you listening to now/have listened to last:
6. Do you read my lj:
7. If you do, what is particularly good/bad about it:
8. An interesting fact about you:
9. Are you in love/have a crush at the moment:
10. Favourite place to be:
11. Favourite lyric:
12. Best time of the year:

1. A film:
2. A book:
3. A band, a song and an album:

1. One thing you like about me:
2. Two things you like about yourself:
3. Put this in your LJ so I can tell you what I think of you if you want.

current mood: blah

(1 splat | sling your mud)

Tuesday, December 11th, 2007
3:17 pm - ........
Well, I can't say I've been keeping myself busy, but I'm trying to make the most of my sick leave. The thing is that since I'm not actually feeling sick, but am just easily tired and still not really able to maintain one position for long, my brain's slowly turning to porridge... but never mind.

Things are going well, though. The surgical site is virtually pain-free now; although I'm still getting muscular aches around the site, it's nothing I can't live with, and I'm no longer taking pain medication (I was on paracetamol and codeine from the beginning of the whole business), so huzzah! I can sit and stand for longer periods now, so I'm now able to get around in a fashion somewhat resembling normal, which is good.

In the meantime, I'm spending my time in generally non-practical ways. But I've returned to transcription of the Ubykh tapes I received from George Hewitt; I'm currently working through a series of short phrases in Ubykh, and I can get through eight or ten of those in a half-hour sitting (which is about all I can do in one hit at the moment). They're just short sentences, but since most of my experience with Ubykh has been with textual data up until now, I'm still trying to get a handle on the phonetics... 80 consonants really aren't easy, especially when you can't ask the speaker to simply repeat the word!

I also put in an order this morning for a copy of Slava Chirikba's book Common West Caucasian, a reconstruction of the Proto-North-West Caucasian language. Hopefully I'll be able to include some of the etymological stuff from that in the dictionary (which is not progressing very quickly, but the additional material George sent has provided me with several more interesting example forms and figurative usages - for instance, Ubykh appears to have no simple word for storm; Tevfik Esenç translated the Turkish word fırtına with the Ubykh word bʒa winter!). I'm enjoying that, and maybe soon I'll be ready to move up to the longer texts that have no Turkish translation with them.

I still haven't done my Christmas shopping, though - I'm very, very bad at choosing presents! I'll be heading out sometime in the next couple of days to attempt to buy gifts.

current mood: tired

(6 splats | sling your mud)

Friday, November 30th, 2007
2:54 pm - The back pain of fun
So as it turns out, I had back problems beyond what any physiotherapist could handle. Namely, a moderately bulging disc between my fifth lumbar vertebra and my sacrum, and a sequestrated herniation of the disc between lumbar vertebrae four and five that was so severe that the herniated disc material had actually wrapped around my spinal cord. Both the bulge and the herniation were pressing on the spinal roots of some major nerves, which was what was causing the pain and muscle spasms.

So after seven weeks of lying on the floor for twenty-three hours a day, getting up only to fetch breakfast in the mornings and to go to the toilet - both of which were excruciating - I went to see an orthopaedic surgeon to get his opinion, because at this time we were aware that I had problems with my L4/L5 and L5/S1 discs but were unaware of their extent. I had an episode of muscle spasms at the surgeon's office, which I suspect was able to convince him that my case was sufficiently urgent to be seen to more or less immediately. So he sent me for an MRI scan the next day, and as a result I was booked in by a colleague of his, Dr Labrom, for surgery the following Tuesday, the 20th of November.

The surgery went particularly well, and I'm now completely free of the pain that had me lying on my back for seven weeks. I'm still having some muscular aches and some tightness around the surgical site, which I'm told is to be expected, but all of the pain that was associated with the disc bulge and herniation is gone. Completely.

Thank God for that.

So I'm now back on LJ. I'll have fallen behind on most of your journals - eight weeks spent almost entirely away from the computer will do that - but I'll catch up as quickly as I can.

current mood: more or less pain-free

(3 splats | sling your mud)

Friday, October 5th, 2007
3:07 pm - o_O
The report on the CT scans is in.

I have two bulging discs, one moderate and one severe, at L4/L5 and L5/S1.


I'm now taking two different types of analgesic tablet (with a combined total of four different analgesic drugs) and also high-dose ibuprofen as an anti-inflammatory. Last night I got about two or three hours of sleep, very little of which was restful; fortunately I'm having less trouble lying down today, so with any luck sleep tonight should be more substantial. I have an appointment with a physiotherapist on Monday afternoon, so hopefully that'll do me some good.

So you'll have to forgive me if my online presence is somewhat reduced over the next few weeks; I have to take some time and pull myself together, in a very literal sense. Never fear, I'm still alive, though, and I intend to remain so. But I would love to receive happy get-well emails from all readers, or even just generic emails saying hi and letting me know what everyone is up to. I'm going to be a relatively antisocial critter in the next little while, so drop by in the virtual world and say hello.

current mood: painful

(23 splats | sling your mud)

Tuesday, October 2nd, 2007
9:21 am - Owowowowowowowowowowow
If you knew how long it had been since I'd cried in pain, you'd know how significant it was that I spent the better part of an hour this morning doing just that.

I don't know what I've done to myself to get it, because I didn't play squash last night for just this reason, but I think somehow I've managed to acquire a pinched femoral nerve. While I already have pre-existing back pain, which is no picnic but which at least disappears when I get into the right posture, now my right hip is excruciatingly painful and I am having tics, and pins and needles, constantly running up and down my calf (which is why I'm just about certain that there's neural involvement, rather than just a joint problem). I went to bed at midnight, and despite trying to sleep in bed, on the deck and on the lounge room floor, I got a grand total of perhaps ten minutes of useful sleep as opposed to semi-consciousness punctuated by disturbing hallucinations (I don't think one could quite call them dreams, since dreams only occur during REM sleep and I was most certainly not ever in REM sleep last night) and extraordinary, continuous pain. No matter which posture I chose, no matter how I lay, I couldn't get to a position where the pain was gone, or even significantly lessened; even just lying on the floor, limbs all flat with no weight on any part of my body, is painful. Dencorub, ibuprofen and paracetamol have made not the slightest dent. Aspirin, I wonder?

I've made an appointment with a physiotherapist for tomorrow morning, which was the earliest available opportunity. I'm just praying that there will be a cancellation so that I can get in sometime today, because if I have another night tonight like I had last night, I don't know what I'm going to do.

I did, at least, get two episodes of Scrubs watched this morning, which took my mind off it a little. I think I'm going to put on a couple of movies later, as well. It's not like I can do much else.

Anyone for tennis?

current mood: like I'm being tortured

(11 splats | sling your mud)

Thursday, September 27th, 2007
12:39 am - .......
Okay, so I haven't posted an entry in a while. And truth be told, I'm not really up to posting one now, because it's very late.

Nevertheless, I have a reason for posting this short entry right now. Suffice it to say that I am made of all sorts of win, because thanks to a really rather spectacular run of cards tonight, including back-to-back sets of pocket kings, I am now a four-time national finalist in the Australian Masters Poker league. I managed to finish in fourth place of 72 players, which was a little disappointing, but I had pocket deuces against one caller with a flop of 3-4-5 and no raise pre-flop, so I decided to go all in; he turned up pocket 10s, and I didn't make the straight. Feh.

But this will be my fourth Australian Masters final, and I'm hoping to make top 50 this time. (Well, I'm hoping to win, naturally, but realistically I would be satisfied with a top 50 finish, because that's about the top 10% of finalists and the top 1% of all players in the league.) Plus I'm looking forward to getting a fourth hat. It's no WSOP bracelet, but it's something I'm proud of nevertheless. I was never much good at sports when I was a kid, so in a sense it's nice to find something (even if it is just a card game and not a sport) at which I seem, at least, to have substantial talent. (That sounds really arrogant, but I don't mean it that way; it's just nice to know that one is good at something, and to take pride in one's skill. I wasn't able to do that with most sports.)

current mood: accomplished

(6 splats | sling your mud)

Monday, September 10th, 2007
6:36 pm - WTF
Scientists with an axe to grind shouldn't be allowed to publish papers.

This afternoon I was researching the domestication history of the chickpea. In doing so, I came across a 2006 paper in the journal Asian Agri-History on the complex array of pulses grown and consumed in India: Indian Pulses through the Millennia, by Y. L. Nene. After reading halfway through the first paragraph on chickpeas, I was disturbed that this paper, sent to a presumably peer-reviewed journal, was published with such glaring etymological errors and with such an obvious hidden agenda. Nene questions, with no more backing than glosses from the Vedas and some of the most questionable etymology since Bengtson and Ruhlen, the widely-held view that chickpeas were domesticated in Turkey or Syria, and claims that an Indian origin is more likely. I cite the paragraph here under a cut, plus my own little commentary as we go through. Observe:

Indian Pulses through Specious EtymologyCollapse )

So in short, I now have serious misgivings about trusting either Y. L. Nene or any paper in Asian Agri-History.

current mood: bitchy

(13 splats | sling your mud)

Wednesday, September 5th, 2007
10:30 pm - Graaaaahhhhh
I've just come out of a steaming hot Radox bath. It was bloody fantastic. I sat in there with a good book (Tim Willocks' Green River Rising - an excellent book) and a bowl of lollies, in water as hot as I could stand. I threw my back out again on Monday, and yesterday I could hardly walk, so a therapeutic bath was just about what I needed right now. But now I'm out, and I'm sore again. Dammit! I feel like if I bend over to pick something up off the ground, the top half of my body will just disconnect from the bottom half. I can't even put my shoes on without hurting, for goodness' sake. (But that's still not an excuse for me to start wearing thongs to uni. Or ugboots.) Oh well. I'll get over it.

Random tangent: I'm the official Pippa Deeley fan club. My folks and I quite enjoy watching Bargain Hunt, but it's declined a little in quality since Tim Wonnacott began hosting it, in my humble opinion. But it was a good change tonight to see Pippa Deeley on it, who's very knowledgeable (and extremely easy on the eye to boot, a nice change from the other dealers - sorry Philip Serrell and David Barby!), and seems to lead her team to a profit more often than not. One certainly gets the feeling that some experts are better than others. Michael Hogben, for instance, who sometimes picks pearlers but a lot of the time seems to pick objects that lose large amounts of money.

I'm raving.

Today was reasonably profitable; I learned how to tell the difference between two-rowed and six-rowed barley in the archaeological record. The study of the Old World crops is absolutely fascinating, and I'm loving the learning process. I spent a few days on wheat last week trying to sort out the current positions on its genetics, domestication and cultivation history, and it's very messy, but a lot of fun. Tomorrow I'm going to focus on the legumes (mostly the bitter vetch and the chickpea) and on cotton, and see what comes up out of those.

Anyway, I'm a little tired, and my eyes are getting so that I can't focus on the computer properly without squinting, so I think I'm going to go to bed and get an early night. That'd be a nice change.

current mood: bloody sore

(4 splats | sling your mud)

Sunday, September 2nd, 2007
10:59 am - ..........
Yet again I demonstrate my complete inadequacy with LJ entry titles.

Life's been relatively quiet over the last few weeks. My uni time has been mostly involved in working out the history of the Old World crops - wheat in particular, since it's got easily the most frightening domestication history of any crop I've looked at. Originating not in ordinary einkorn (T. monococcum) as used to be thought, modern bread wheat is a hybrid of an obscure Armenian relic crop, Triticum urartu - so rare nowadays that even Georgian lacks a word for it - with two species of goat grass (Aegilops spp.; the Wikipedia page also informs me that aegilops is the longest English word in which the letters are in alphabetical order. Useful to know for Scrabble). But I'm quite enjoying reading about the domestication history, and it'll be a little disappointing to have to go on to boring things like proso millet, which hasn't appreciably changed from its wild form.


Now an old school friend of mine, Agata, has got me hooked on Facebook, so I've been wasting time on that for the last couple of weeks. I've been very surprised at just how many people I know are on Facebook - old school friends, people from uni, members of my family, my ex-girlfriend... Plus Facebook has a Scrabble application (whee!), so now I have four games running at the same time. Some, of course, are progressing more satisfactorily than others. In playing against Blake I began by playing an eight-letter word (STEELING, for 62 points), and then promptly picked up the rack QURCCTT. If that's not karma, I don't know what is.

On Friday I went to a talk by Michelle Langley, from my honours cohort, about the determination of behavioural complexity in Neanderthal archaeology. It was quite interesting; naturally, being an honours project, its scope was rather limited, and there was a lot of room for alternate interpretation, but I must say I quite enjoyed it. Not so enjoyable was afterwards at the pub, where I and Angela got into a raging argument with another of our honours cohort who was trying to convince us (using the timeless technique of the ad hominem) he could prove that the theory of evolution would never be disproved. Now, I'm a Gouldian evolutionist at heart myself (i.e. I accept the punctuated-equilibrium theory of evolution), but I also am a scientist, which means that I accept the most parsimonious, most explicative and most self-consistent hypothesis that is scientifically falsifiable through observation. To me, the mere fact that we haven't observed every fossil that exists - that is, including all those remaining in the Earth's crust - means that the theory of evolution will never, ever be proven. It may be disproven - say, if we find a rabbit fossil in an undisputably Triassic geological stratum - but it can never be proven. I had serious trouble getting across to this fellow the crucial distinction between something that is not falsifiable and something that has not been falsified. In the end, I just had to give up. It's like debating a creationist: nothing you say is enough to convince them that you're not a sad, ignorant, uneducated village idiot.

So that was the week that was. Oh, and I threw away some of my birthday money yesterday, buying a copy of The Saint on DVD and also my first Terry Pratchett novel: The Colour of Magic.

current mood: sore

(8 splats | sling your mud)

Saturday, August 4th, 2007
12:06 am - cha' mu' chu'
taHjaj tlhIngan Hol! QonoSvam vIghItlhmeH Holvetlh vIlo'be'pu' qaStaHvIS cha' DIS. Hol vIbuSlaHbe'pu'; 'ampaSDaq jIvumtaH, vaj latlh Holmey latlh QeDmey vIHaDnIStaH.

'ach DaHjaj mu'mey chu' nu'anglaw' Marc Okrand. qep'a'Daq qaSpu'. wej qep'a'Daq jISaHpu', 'ach wa'nem cha'nem chaq vIjaHlaH. 'e' vItulqu'.

mu'mey chu''e':

qolqoS n. Core of a group, the essential part of something; essence.
pu'jIn n. Map.

SKI: The qep'a' participants were given two new words today.

jIghItlhqa': mu' «qolqoS» QIjlaw'taH Okrand. DaHjaj tlhIngan Hol yejHaD QIn tetlh chuH ghunchu'wI':

QIjtaHqu' ghaH [Okrand]. latlh mughmeH mu' chup: "essence".

current mood: interested

(6 splats | sling your mud)

Tuesday, July 31st, 2007
10:17 pm - New word for the dictionary
While trolling through a text earlier today looking for example forms, I came across a word I'd not yet uncovered, and that isn't present in either of the previously published dictionaries.

The word is χəʦa, an adjective that appears to mean something like inclement, harsh or severe. Both instances of the word I was able to find in the text are in composition with the word bʒa winter, and so while the word may have wider uses than referring especially to inclement weather, there's no way to be sure. I quote the two examples, for the benefit of the no-one who's interested, along with the French translations as published and my free translations of the Ubykh forms into English:

aʣgʲə akʷgʲə abʒaχəʦanə məʃʷəʦʼəna awqʼaʂawʁaqʼa
en plein hiver, alors qu'il neigeait et pleuvait, tu as demandé du raisin frais
you asked for a fresh grape in a severe winter full of rain and snow

ʁaʁʲamaɕa bʒaχəʦawnə məʃʷəʦʼəna awʁʷaawawəɕ?
trouvera-t-on du raisin frais, quand ce n'est pas la saison, en plein hiver?
will you find a fresh grape during a harsh winter, when they are out of season?

Yet again, I'm shown that there's a lot more work to be done before I can even start thinking about the mere possibility of publication. But as with every time before this that I've discovered a new and hitherto unlexified word: yay.

The back is still demonstrating quite an unusual degree of pain, but I fancy I'm almost getting used to it by now. Hopefully I can wake up sometime in the next couple of weeks and have it completely gone; it's making exercise quite difficult, which is both a shame (as I play squash every Monday night with old school mates) and a concern (as I'm not happy with my level of fitness at the moment and would love dearly to do something about it). Nevertheless, it's just one of those things, I suspect, and I'll just have to live with it while it's here and hope that it goes away soon. It makes sitting at a computer rather uncomfortable, and since my research almost exclusively involves sitting in front of a computer at this stage, I'd like very dearly for it to go away. While squatting down to fetch a saucepan out while preparing tea tonight, I actually fell over from a squatting position because I couldn't whip my arm around quickly enough to stop myself. Quite an odd sight, I imagine, me sitting there on my back groaning and having an "I've fallen and can't get up" moment.

On the bright side, though, our chooks have finally decided to begin laying eggs on a more or less regular basis. Not a moment before bloody time, although I suppose the chill of the last month or so has probably not been conducive to laying; nonetheless, it's quite nice now to have three or four eggs a day, and one hopes that in the summer months we might be looking at even more than that. Collecting eggs is also giving us something to do while the garden awaits the spring. The kidney beans I planted a couple of months ago haven't died, but they aren't yet thriving, either, and even though they were only ever intended to be green manure, it's always nice to have a crop to pick before we plough the things back into the ground. But they're surviving, and the potatoes have also all now sprouted. We're awaiting the next crop of vegetables with very eager anticipation, and once back into the spring we can begin planting the warm-weather crops again, such as beans, maize and zucchini.

On Saturday night was my cousin Anita's engagement party, as well, which was a nice do (although crowded - 150-ish people showed up at their house). Anita's my second cousin once removed, but my family and hers have always been quite close despite the seeming distance of the relationship, and it was wonderful to be able to help her celebrate her engagement. She's marrying a bloke named Jimmi (his spelling, not mine), who seems to be a reasonable sort of fellow - very happy-go-lucky, and I think he'll make a good match for Anita. A bit of a whirlwind - apparently they dated for only around six months, have only been engaged for a few months, and they're getting married in September - but nevertheless, I wish them all the best.

Anyway. I spent today at home, not at uni, so I should make an appearance for the rest of the week, I suppose. I'll be at UQ on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, so any offers for coffee/lunch/other various distractions from work will be gratefully accepted.

current mood: chipper

(10 splats | sling your mud)

Thursday, July 26th, 2007
5:37 pm - Owowowowowowowowowowow
Today was a day of ups and downs.

I've spent the majority of today (and the previous two days) gritting my teeth against the pain in my lower back. Last Wednesday I did a 2.4km run, and the next day I felt like I was going to fall apart at the middle. I'd just got back to reasonable, but stupid me went and played a game of squash on Monday night, and I've spent the last three days paying for it. But whatever doesn't kill you makes you want to die stronger, I suppose. I need the exercise, but not this badly, I suspect. I'm having a little trouble walking, but so long as I don't go too fast I can bear it. I'd much rather lie down, but walking at a moderate pace isn't too bad.

The Ph.D. is somewhat of a bad joke at this point; annotationreadingannotationcommentcriticismannotationreadingscreamingannotationannotationannotationmeetingcritiquedie is getting a touch monotonous. However, I have come across a rather interesting thing in the last couple of days; for some reason the historians talk about increasing population through the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries throughout the Ottoman Empire, but the economic health of the Empire is actually falling during that period; grain productivity, silver wages and labour premiums all fall during the 16th century, and the Ottoman navy was given a thorough flogging in 1571 by the Portuguese at the Battle of Lepanto - so much so that a large number of port cities were disbanded (is that the right word?) thereafter. Yet this century and the 17th are supposed to be the peak of the Ottoman Empire's position in the Mediterranean. What's up with that?

And I had coffee this afternoon with suyongli, the first time I've met anyone from my flist in the flesh (apart from those who I met in reality first, then found ot they had LJs...). Quite a nice afternoon, I thought, and certainly a welcome break from work, so thank you for the couple of hours' distraction!

current mood: sore

(4 splats | sling your mud)

Saturday, July 21st, 2007
4:42 pm - Deathly Hallows
Just finished reading it.

In a word: Extraordinary.

current mood: enthralled

(2 splats | sling your mud)

Monday, July 9th, 2007
4:55 pm - Brrrrr
I'm freezing my tits off. Yeah, yeah, I can hear most of you saying, as 90% of my LJ friends inhabit far colder countries than this. But I'm still cold! It's around fifteen degrees, but it's blowing an absolute gale and I thought this morning that a short-sleeved shirt would be enough for the day. Boy, was I ever wrong about that.

So... this and that. Haven't posted in a while, but that's got as much to do with having very little to say as it does with wanting to post. Uni's still trundling along much the same as it was last time I posted; the weather's still rather cold; I'm still bored. Life's pretty full. Actually, it really is, as the last couple of weekends have been really quite busy. Two weeks ago I went to my cousin's engagement party, which was held out at Mount Gravatt Bowls Club; that was a good night out, and I backed up from the old fogey's game of bowls to go out and play a game of golf the next day. Mark Twain described it as a good walk ruined, but I'll admit I'm quite enjoying it. A mate of mine from high school works at a golf club about 15 minutes' drive from where I live, and it was he who instigated the trip, which was thoroughly enjoyed by all.

Then this weekend I went to a barbeque at Shosh's place to celebrate her birthday (24th, I think), at which jaydeyn_sitari was also present, and drank really rather silly quantities of alcohol. Bad idea. Then I backed up the next day to play another round of golf, this time at the Pacific golf course, also about 15 minutes from where I live. But this was a far nicer golf course than the one we'd gone to the previous time, and I also played a hell of a lot better; I shot 44 on the 9-hole course, and while par was 27, I did reasonably well considering it was the second game of golf I'd ever played in my life. (I also came within four shots of Elliot, who's been playing for several years, which was nice!) And this week I'm going out to see Order of the Phoenix, which comes out on Thursday; the previews have been very good, so I'm looking forward to it. (Deathly Hallows in 12 days, and counting!) Apparently the Transformers movie is also reasonable, so I should probably go out and see that.

The dictionary's progressing well; I've just passed 225,000 words of text, and have finished adding example forms and referencing those I already had, all the way up to ʃ. I still have about 30 phonemes to go, which is about 3/8 of the total, so there's still plenty to do, but I'm gradually making my way towards the end... After doing the referencing, all that'll be left to do is insert the various pictures, change the transcription slightly, complete the English-Ubykh index, put in a half-dozen or so words I'd missed first time around, and finish cross-referencing synonyms, antonyms and semantically related words (as well as polish up a few of the etymologies), and voilà! (Perhaps. I've probably got more than that to do, just I can't remember it!)

(14 splats | sling your mud)

Friday, July 6th, 2007
8:57 am
Haven't posted in a while, and this isn't going to be a proper post anyway, but I'll update sometime either today or tomorrow.

Just writing now to say that Sochi, a city smack in the middle of the ancient Ubykh homeland, has been selected to host the 2014 Winter Olympic Games.

current mood: happy

(6 splats | sling your mud)

Tuesday, June 19th, 2007
11:34 pm - Gobsmacked
Just thought I'd spruik Paul Potts, the winner of Britain's Got Talent and the newest YouTube meme; the videos of him on YouTube have apparently been viewed over five million times.

What I found so endearing was that Potts was a very quiet, obviously shy and humble bloke, and that you could so clearly tell that the three judges had written Potts off as just another wannabe instant celebrity; when he came on and was asked what he was going to do, his response "I'm going to sing opera" was all but dismissed out of hand, and one judge actually visibly looked to another and raised his eyebrows questioningly. Then Potts opened his mouth and began singing Nessun Dorma, and the judges' realisation that they'd pegged him wrong, and that here was a true hidden talent, was just beautiful to see. You must see it for yourself if you haven't already.

The audition
The semi-final
The finals performance

And an honourable mention must also go to Connie Talbot, who has the finest voice I've ever heard on a six-year-old:

The finals performance

current mood: amazed

(11 splats | sling your mud)

Wednesday, June 13th, 2007
10:41 pm - So this dyslexic guy walks into a bra...
I'm wearing a maroon towel around my neck. If you don't know what that means, then it's probably not important to you what that means.

Hooray for Queensland - we've won the 2007 State of Origin series by winning game two of the series tonight, 10 points to 6! Although I will confess, I thought it might go the other way, because referee Shayne Hayne (Shayne the Brain Pain, as we've taken to calling him) made some definitely dodgy calls, especially in the second half. Also, a Queensland player knocked the ball on in the last minute before the final siren, which could have given the Blues an opportunity to score a match-stealing -winning try. Fortunately, that didn't happen. So until next year, Queensland win again!

It's a good thing there are things on the TV of a night these days, because it's starting to get stinking cold. It's about eight degrees outside right now, and of course that's percolating inside, so my toes are getting just a touch numb. This cold and the attendant dry is also very bad for the gardens, as well as for my lips; already I've cracked my lower lip once, and once it splits it's damn near impossible to get it to heal until it gets warmer and more humid again. Every time I smile or open my mouth to eat food I split it anew. Grrr. Although that being said, the dry weather is good for making grass mulch; making hay while the sun shines, if you will. I mowed the lawn on Monday and spread the clippings out to make a hay of a sort, and the low humidity means that it's drying off very quickly, which is good. I'm still not sure how I'm going to go about baling it, but I should get a decent-sized bale out of the clippings we have, then it's onto the garden with it. I've planted out a new lot of beans, watered them well, then covered the whole lot with mulch to keep the water in, so hopefully that will get this lot of beans to grow a bit better than the last lot did. Hopefully. When I get a good mulch from this next lot of grass clippings, I'll be planting something else out in the other side of the beds. Maybe wheat or something else suitable for ploughage-back-into-the-ground. (Not much else will grow at this point, and I suspect I may even have left it too late for wheat. Oh well.)

Oh, and we have chickens now, too. Six of them (apparently the maximum one is allowed in suburban Brisbane); they're not quite old enough to be laying just yet, but they should start sometime in the next couple of weeks, with any luck. The bloke at Ingham's who sold us the chooks said that each one should lay seven eggs a week. Now I know that's a lie, a lie and a dirty lie, since the one-year world record for egg-laying is 361 eggs; nevertheless, we should reasonably expect to get perhaps six eggs a week from each chook, which means we're going to be having scrambled eggs for breakfast, boiled eggs for lunch, and omelettes and quiches for tea with egg-flip and egg-nog to wash it down with, and then have meringues for dessert. Yay! I love eggs, and since the local poultry-and-egg farm closed up we haven't been able to get eggs at a reasonable price and in reasonable quantity, so I'm looking forward to being able to eat piles of eggs again.

I'm sick of uni, too. I had a meeting with my supervisor today, and he told me I'm pretty much on track in terms of desired progress up until this point, but I still can't shake the feeling that I'm still marking time. I do have a couple of other things to chase up, though, such as the use of grain products such as wheat straw, chaff and so forth for purposes other than human food - fodder, building materials, and so on. Let's hope there are plenty of resources about that.

The dictionary is making rather good progress considering I can only really work on it during nights and weekends. I'm up to 523 pages, and I've done a little under half of the referencing and the example forms (I'm up to m, so I still have around forty-something consonants to go, perhaps more). I'm finding some wonderful grammatical structures and new usages that I didn't know existed up until this point, which has been interesting; I now know know how to say I don't know whether he is thin or fat in Ubykh. (It's abˁʁˁaɕ aʑqʼaɕ asəmʨʼan, if you ever need to use it. Ho ho.) It's been a little difficult because when I first started to include example forms I didn't put references in, because I thought there would just be too many examples for me to bother with references - but now that I've changed my mind, I've forgotten where I got some of the examples from. It's most terrible, because most of the words for which I can't find references are hapax legomena anyway. I have the word for waterfall attested precisely once in an example sentence from a published text. But I can't, for the life of me, think what that text might be, and I'll have to comb through all of the couple of thousand or so pages of extant text until I find it and the other few exemplars I have no references for. Bugger.

And in rewriting bits of the generic summary of the language, its features and its relatedness to other languages of the region and elsewhere, I've had to reread some of John Bengtson's stuff on Proto-World Vasco-Causasic, a postulate of his which he uses to link the North Caucasian languages à la Nikolayev and Starostin with the Basque language. Now, I don't profess to be any kind of an expert, but the arguments in what I've read, at least, are the scientific equivalent of a supermarket tabloid. In addition, despite having relatively little experience in North-East Caucasian and even less with Basque, at this point I don't even accept the phylogenetic unity of the North Caucasian languages (although I may have my mind changed once I get deeper into the North-East Caucasian languages), and I find Bengtson's thesis of uniting these groups and additionally throwing Basque into the mix to be altogether too much to handle, especially with the way Bengtson does etymology. The toughest part has been including it in my summary as a published viewpoint. I hate having to critique something negatively and yet couch it in relatively non-offensive words (although some of the other reviews I've read of Vasco-Caucasic and Proto-World sources have been thoroughly unsuited to the sobriety of academia and have been quite astonishing in the vehemence and vitriol they throw at Bengtson's research, and at Ruhlen's stuff also - and, in my humble opinion, it's not entirely without reason).

So anyway. I've had my rant, and it's pumpkin o'clock.

I read Dune again, by the way. Still good.

current mood: cold, but happy

(9 splats | sling your mud)

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