Tuesday 07 April 2009

Like Water

Today we were doing personality profiling at work.

It turns out that I'm an ENTJ.

I got 1 for Extraverted.
About 11 for Intuititive.
1 for Thinking.
17 or 19 for Judging.

This moves me from the techies to the leaders.
I had tested INTP all along. So this was more
than interesting.

Apparently I'm now more of a doer than a thinker.
Depending on whether you think this is
mumbo-jumbo or not, it would seem that my
injecting a little discipline and deliberation
into my life has altered my cognitive setup.

Could it be that my actions have altered my
conscience or has my conscience self-altered?

Hmmmm....

Honestly though, I think this is but a
temporary arrangement. As soon as I have
moved on from the pressing need to achieve,
I'll be back to my introverted, perceptive
ways. Mark my words!

When asked myself how I could describe
myself viz-a-viz any object, my response:

I'm like water. Water can become mist, rain,
steam, a river, an ocean. It adapts itself.

When remarked that this means I adapt to
different environments, I responded:

I also get influenced by environments, so this
is both good and bad.

I'm putting this here, because I would like
to ponder on it sometime in the future when
I have forgotten.

(These are my unedited thoughts)

Thursday 06 November 2008

Watch this space

I feel I needs mention that I am
in the middle of a top secret
project.

Or rather - another subproject in my
very own Project Infinity
(kudos to Kopano Matlwa).

I have had to revive the Big One that
started this whole mess - Project I.

Project I is a online personal finance
system. But that's where the sense
stops and the madness sets in.

Amongst other confidential features,
the interface is supposed to incorporate
Ajax and be skinnable.

Surprise, surprise: it is modeled on
social networking and Web 2.0 sites.

It will have (make that - supposed to have) a
widget-driven workflow (don't worry if you'd never
had of that one, just made that up).

And most importantly: it does your budgets.

Man, am I such a genius?

Perhaps not - it is two years later and I haven't
touched the thing yet. It is still a paper-based
pipe-dream.

To be fair, I have had an upheaval or two in
the interim. I also had had to learn every
single technology from scratch (Linux, Apache,
MySQL, Javascript, Python, XML, etc.)
What with coming from a mainframe background
and everything.

But all these are what they are: lame excuses.

Nobody encouraged me to sip lattes the whole day
instead of putting some real effort into
building this thing. And so the blame lies
with me and with me alone.

That brings me to this new headache: Project 2
economies
. By all means
it looks set to take off big time.
We - I have partners on this one - have been
working tirelessly and soon will
produce what I hope will be a killer
business plan.

The flesh however might be weak where the
spirit is willing. Not meaning to sound
fatalistic but one has had to unwillingly learn
the art of estimating probabilities.

I give us 65% chance
of success with a 90% confidence level.
Why 90? I'd say it looks pretty.

I now have to go to sleep. I would
have loved to go on about my magnificent
projects and my oh-so-wonderful brain.

However, this brain has to really teach
itself to wake up at 4a.m. every
morning and to get to grips with the
60+ km epic journey to work.

The same brain has to give thanks for
the blessings and not lament so much.

Even though it feels very much like
divine punishment.

Besides tomorrow is the year-end
function. One has to ferment some
good cheer and humour, you know.

How would I make it through the day
without my dreams?

The ABC* in me

She writes:

THINGS I DON'T LIKE
by Bessie Head

" I am Black
Okay?
Hot sun and the geographical set-up
Made me Black;
And through my skin
A lot of things happen to me
THAT I DON'T LIKE
And I wake each morning
Red murder in my eyes
'Cause some crook robbed me again
Taken what little I had right out of hands
With the whole world standing by
And doing nothing...
Okay?

Oh no.
Today is my day
Going to get back tit-for-tat
All you stole.
Going to fight you till you or I
Lie smashed and bleeding dead
And don't care who dies, You or I,
But going to fight -
OKAY?
"

I write:

Oh no indeed Bessie, oh no!

Today is our day. Today is the day the
Lord hath made and it is ours too. So
today is the day we fight and we don't care
who dies (oh no!).

Let the whole stand back. In fact,
the whole world better stand back! The whole
world better beat it.

We gonna get it all back, and then some.

All of it. All that was wrung from us:
every single thing, dream and hope.

All the time, they have sized us up,
moved and measured us. Poked and prodded
us. Wounded and weighed us.

Ho! He he, they will know us.

They will know us before the day is
through. They will know us as
intimately as a festering sore.
As that nightmare, as that stench
that never goes away.

You will know us or wish you didn't.
"But going to fight -
OKAY?"


*ABC = Angry Black Chick

Everything can be explained by possesions alone(?)

People often ask me: "Why don't you buy a car?"

At other times: "Why don't you get a driver's licence?"

And when they are really desperate:
"Get a learner's licence already!"

People, people, people...

When will you get the point?

Of course, I could get a shiny new toy. That is,
after clearing my debt and passing both the tests.
Not to mention - securing some finance.

But there's a peculiar mechanism in this brain of mine.
You see, we (you and me) would be thinking exactly alike,
except it would send me off the chartered course.

When it finishes it always inevitably leaves behind
unintended consequences.

When you say "car", I hear "materialism".
When you say "house", I hear "materialism".
When you say "degree", I hear "materialism".
When you say "children", I hear "materialism".

As an aside, I went off to an interview recently.
I got introduced to a dream world that looked
so glamourous from the outside in.

I started drooling (not really). I really wanted
it for myself.

It guess I did not exude a certain Harvard
je ne sais quoi.
Ah well you live and man do you learn.

Or perhaps I am being bitter.

To come back to the point at hand: when did
we start defining each other's worth by what
we possess?

When, oh when, did my worth become encapsulated
in accolades and certificates?

And driver's licences?

I have stayed in places where certain possessors
of top luxury vehicles wouldn't dream of staying.
Simply from lack of enough self-esteem.

I have sometimes unthinkingly (sic) made plans
that my peers wouldn't otherwise consider
simply because: "that is not done!"

Of course all this on my part could be interpreted as
hubris. Fair enough I say.

So then, I ask you: what is a simple car to me?

Monday 31 March 2008

Without Further Ado: The Itinerary...

DATE

ACTIVITY

7 April 2008

OR Tambo
International, Departure

8 April 2008

Dubai International, Arrival


Dubai International, Departure


Gatwick Airport, Arrival


Hotel, Luggage Storage


Hyde Park Sight-seeing


Hotel Check-in, Hotel

9 April 2008

London Morning Tour – See Buckingham Palace and Changing of the Guard, Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, Harrods, The Tower of London, The London Eye, Boat Cruise on River Thames


London Afternoon Tour – Scenic Drive of London

10 April 2008

Shopping


Afternoon nap, Hotel


Eating-out


London Night-life

11 April 2008

British Museum, Great Russell street, London, Highlights – Egyptian Antiquities, Rosetta Stone, Greek and Roman Antiquities


Lunch


National Gallery, Trafalgar Square, London, Highlights – Art by Sandro Botticelli, Leonardo da Vinci, Vincent Van Gogh


Trafalgar Square


Dinner, Hotel

12 April 2008

Hotel Check-out, Hotel


London St-pancras, Departure


Paris Nord, Arrival


Hotel Check in, Hotel


Dinner, Hotel

13 April 2008

Paris Day Tour – Notre Dame, Eiffel Tower, Champs Elysees, and the Arc de Triumphe

14 April 2008

Louvre, Paris, Highlights – Masterpieces of the Louvres


Lunch


Montmartre, gastronomical and cultural offers


Dinner, Hotel

15 April 2008

Shopping


Afternoon nap, Hotel


Eating-out


Paris Night-life

16 April 2008


Hotel Check-out, Hotel


Paris Nord, Departure


London St-pancras, Arrival


Gatwick Airport, Departure

17 April 2008


Dubai International , Arrival


Dubai International, Departure


OR Tambo International, Arrival

The Tale of Two Cities

And so I have opted not to renew my
contract (much to my mom's chagrin).
We can't have a bum
(hallelujah, bum again!) lounging about the
house the whole day and doing absolutely
nothing, now can we?

Yes, yes, I know: according to economic
textbooks the unemployed are those who are
willing to work, looking for work, able
to work but cannot find work.

I guess I can't qualify as such, especially
when I'm kicking it in London and Paris.

Did I forget to mention London and Paris?

Oh such a criminal omission, how could I?

Today being my last day at work, I must
admit I'm feeling afraid.

I guess the fear has been there for a while,
ever so present and yet so stealthy (stealthy is
a word, right?)

I feel afraid because I'm throwing myself
out there. I'm saying let my fate do as it
will. And what's not to be scared about then?

Willing to work? For myself for sure.
Looking for work? Nope,
able to generate that single-handedly.
Able to work? Yeah, why not?

Enough of that! I'll have plenty-a-time
to be miserable when I come back.

And now, let me recount my version of "The Tale
of two cities"

It was the best of times,it was the worst of times,
it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness,
it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity,
it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness,
it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair,
we had everything before us, we had nothing before us,
we were all going direct to Heaven,
we were all going direct the other way--
in short, the period was so far like the present period,
that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being
received, for good or for evil,
in the superlative degree of comparison only.


I saw this print in the newspaper advertising return
tickets from OR Tambo International to London Gatwick
4 times a week at R2500 (roundabout) excluding taxes.
I calculated a "reasonable" rate of R3700 inclusive.

So I was ready to brandish my carte de credit.
Imagine my shock and dismay at being told that it was
R2500 plus the additional R3700 rates and taxes.

I was incensed, that seemed like a dirty campaign to me
(I shall not mention names).

Anywho, me being me and letting my heart become
involved, I could not help wanting to go regardless.

And so I said: "F it, I'm going".

Of course I did not say "F" specifically, as that would
be as rude as saying "F***" without the asterisks. But
you get my point.

My mind enjoys such challenges - challenges where
I set, um, challenges for myself. Challenge numero uno -
get affordable flight rates.

But how long am I to stay (say a week)? How will I pay
(er, take out a new credit card)? What will I do while
I'm there (chill out)?

Then the other thought: why not pop over to France?

But France is a different kettle of frog legs altogether
(sorry, couldn't help that, not funny at all,
I know, I know). Therefore, challenge numero 2 -
get a Schengen visa.

Can't tell you how long I had agonised over the visa
issue, convinced as I was that they were going to
reject me. But they didn't (yoohoo!).

And so it is really real! I'm on my way! World, here
I come!

Happy (Not So) New Year

Pheww, time flies!

In about two months time,
I'll be the big 25!

!!11!one!

I will officially qualify for
a quarter-life crisis. Make that -
a full-blown quarter-life crisis.

If I live to be that old, surely
I should count myself bless'd.
Plus, as I always remind myself,
life is sweet.

Sweet as honey and I want it.
I want to live. Life is within me.
Life whispers to me; softly reassures
me; guides and soothes me. Yes,
I want it.

So where did that Time get to then?
Just not so long ago, it was New
Year's Day. I was making resolutions
and wishing so badly for the year
ahead to be different. To be exciting
and more to my taste.

I must say it is shaping up to
that wish. I will recount
as best as I can, in the next couple
of days, some of the excitement
planned by moi for 2008.

Oh I can't wait - I can hardly wait!

Monday 12 November 2007

Once again, me lovelies! Once again!

This is a tale of rediscovery in which the heroine
overcomes her misgivings and lets her heart win
the day.

Friday, 9th November

The heroine has been cognizant of the fact that
she has been playing the coward. She makes the
quiet resolution to enter the tournament circuit
once again after her very long seclusion.

Under normal circumstances an absence that
long spells suicide for anyone's career. However
in her case she senses something is different this
time.

She has changed.

She does not know how it quite happened, or why.
All that she knows is that her heart speaks to
her confidently. And this time around, she is
more than willing to listen.

So this Friday afternoon she decides to leave her
place of work a tad too early. All the preparation
has been done. There's nothing to it but to go
through with the whole thing.

So she goes to the tournament.

Friday proves to be the day in which our heroine
is welcomed back into the fold. In which she
feels her place guaranteed somewhere in this sad
lonely planet.


Round 1:

In which the heroine finds herself with her back
against the wall. Funny, she thinks to herself,
how one's nerves have grown calm. She could
quite remember times when the whole affair
was nerve-wrecking. Somehow defending
positions was now one of her things. Odd!

Although her pieces were confined to her half
of the board the whole time, she couldn't be
more happier than the result. After all, her
opponent had done his best to throttle her
and he was rewarded with anything concrete.

It was only when she got herself into time
trouble and played inaccurately that his
victory was assured.

All in all, a great if not slightly disappointing
start.

Round 2:

In which the opponent blunders his queen.
No need to analyse here, it's a throwaway
game.

Saturday, 10th November

In which there's a change in venue.
In which her helpful analysis of a fellow player's
lost game is acknowledged warmly. But more
importantly - in which the heroine is awarded
an upset prize (a cooldrink to be sure) for
slaying an unfortunate gentlemen the night
before.

Round 3:

In which she faces a female player who is not
on her list of top 10 dangerous females.

Before sounding sexist it is worth noting that
part of the preparation taken in this sport involves
gathering intelligence on one's future opponents
and carefully analysing their respective weaknesses
and strengths.

The heroine imagined it eminently expedient to
compile a list of the strong Women Championship
contenders, which she exorbitantly (exuberantly)
name "top 10 dangerous females". And she did mean
to take that title, whatever it took or be damned.

It would seem that our heroine committed the worst
error of all - that of underestimating the
field. Else, she would have found it infinitely expedient
to extend that list to every other female rated higher
than herself. But no matter, she was given quite the
scare when her knight was trapped very early in the
opening and unceremoniously given the boot.

Because of her (now) strong nerves, our heroine hardly
blinked. Instead, she was deviously plotting
how to snatch victory from the very nose of her
vengeful oppressor.

With the swindle achieved the heroine once again
felt assured of her contending the Ladies title
successfully.

Round 4:

In which the heroine invests heavily in the attack.
She is pleased with herself at the amount of pressure
that she is applying. To be honest, she is not looking
for her opponent to bent under the strain, she
merely wishes to outplay her opponent.

Her disposition and deportment (of late) is such that
she is not happy with causing unnecessary strain.

However, she overlooks something: a very powerful
escape by her opponent. It is now her chance to be put
under pressure and with danger hanging over her neck.

And to her pleasure she performs rather well, even
though as before she loses the plot under time
pressure.

So far it has been remarked that she has been indeed
playing very strongly. She is secretly pleased.

Sunday, 11th November

In which play resumes at the initial venue. It is the
final day and our heroine is somewhat dejected.
While things have gone exceedingly well, something
is nagging her to distraction.

Is it because her creative powers have hitherto not
made themselves felt? Is it because her attacks/ideas
have peetered out without so much as a whimper?
Is it because her board vision was somehow lacking?

Round 5:

In which the herione plays a more "solid" line against Black's
counter-attacking one. She quickly gains material pluses
but unfortunately her vision fails her at a crucial moment.

And it is over very soon.

At this point the heroine feels the effects of her unfavourable
form acutely. She is doubtful of completing the event
with satisfaction, still she has come this far.

Round 6:

The final round in which the heroine is required to make
a decision of strategic ramification, after overlooking a
tactical shot, in which she felt she lacked the insight to
have made.

To her chagrin, the turning point (where the decision was
required) was later pointed out to her by her opponent in
their post-mortem analysis. Proving and convincing her
that she still had a long path ahead of her before she
possessed the necessary knowledge to defeat all but
the most insidious of players.

Her work done, it was time for her to plan for the future.

This is brings us to the end of the tale in which the
heroine looks towards the horizon and contemplates
her turn of luck. All these years, all that time she had
given up on her passion, and to be given what she
had been lacking all along.

Unbelievable, me lovelies! Unbelievable!

Tuesday 30 October 2007

The Chess Bug

Why do I want to become a Grand Master?
or International Master or Women Grandmaster or whatever

1. If I'm going to do it anyway,...

...might as well do it right. Might as well do it all
the way. Might as well go all the way to the top.

By "it" I mean chess, of course.
I have thought of not playing with the
same determination as thinking about playing.

Just as I have put aside thoughts of being a fine
artist back in my youth, I had thought to do the
same with chess. Unfortunately Chess does not
want to be aborted.

As an aside, if I had to have one true talent in this
lifetime it had to be Art. But we won't go into that
now.

2. I know this better that I know most things

I know this better than all the things I know
combined. I know chess better than I know
programming (which I do for a living). I know chess
better than I know senseless trivia, and I know
senseless trivia better than most people - whom I know
- know senseless trivia.

In other words, if there's one thing that has a high
likelihood of working out for me, this is it.

3. I actually enjoy it

Let me rephrase: I love it. It appeals to me on
so many levels. I actually feel like I'll be achieving
something worth achieving and at the same time
moving forward in my understanding and
enlightenment.

I enjoy the fantasy part of it. You assimilate what is
static and with your mind create a phantasm from which
you gleam hitherto unexplored mysteries. Then, you probe
and by sheer mental energy you create, you animate.
Oh...

Please do not roll your eyes, I am after all a self-confessed
Romantic.

4. Vive la Competition!

Chess is definitely one of the most brutal of sports.
I don't know of many players who haven't had their egos
crushed in the most painful of ways.

Over the board play can continue over many gruelling
hours of hard concentration and fragile nerves. Just one
lapse can lose you all your hard work in just one second.

Still we keep coming back for more.

Even when your opponent torments your very soul.
Even when you try to convince yourself that it is not
you physically suffocating, just your pieces in a cramped
position - everything from the adrenalin rush to your
racing heart tells you otherwise.

Even then, do we still keep coming back for more.

Because one thing is for sure - nothing beats winning.

5. Discipline, discipline, discipline...

...plus focus. Wherever technical ability is required
so discipline must follow, else..

My personal wish is to have the discipline that is
required to do what is necessary to see this dream to
a conclusion.

I have dispelled notions that studying alone will see
me there. I'm not against short-cuts per se, it's superior
results which I am after. Superior results however
require discipline.

I just pray I don't stray.

6. Glory, glory, hallelujah!

I am not above desiring some glory. It is a weakness
in me, the weakness of being human I presume.

All the same, one of my quirks is wanting to be
known by my works. But more importantly -
being held in esteem for my achievements.

I don't know how to put it simpler without sounding
conceited.

7. In the company of like-minded individuals
The chess crew is a motley crew. They make IT techies
look like well-adjusted sociable types. If it's their worst
trait, it is also probably their most charming as well.

The thing about calculating, evaluating, analysing, memorising,
recalling, etc. is that Reality starts to shift from outside
and goes inside. And that's when half of the fun begins.

There is immense satisfaction in being in the company of
others who understand what is going in your mind. And
dare I say - approve.

Even in that strange community there's a
stratosphere that every player aspires to -
the grand master stratosphere, the Mount Olympus of
the chess superstars.

I wonder what goes on in there, hmm...

8. Jetsetting

Exotic locales, interesting climes, fascinating faces.

Well, perhaps it is not as exciting, but if you have a
weakness for mystery and adventure, what could be better?

You go, you see and hopefully you conquer.

9. Live and die by your ideas

There's no "design by committee", no vetoing, no
consensus-seeking, no mommy and certainly no daddy:
it's just you and you are only as good as your best idea.

In other words: what's not there to like?

All too many people are just waiting for something or
someone to lead them on to success. Forget that!

In chess if your thinking sucks, your game sucks.
If you don't take care before launching an attack,
the attack will fall apart. If your analysis is bankrupt,
it will show. If you don't know your stuff in-and-out,
it will show.

If you care about what you produce, you will care about
your creative energy. And if you care about your
creative energy, you will care about your self-esteem.

And most importantly: you will stand for your own ideas.

And last, but certainly not least...

10. I want to be a X-master because it is my Siren Call

I am Ulysses. I would rather be tired to a mast than have
my ears filled with beeswax with regards to this calling.

Curiosity vs. Reality 1-0



Wednesday 17 October 2007

The Road Frequently Travelled

To Be or Not To Be.

Or rather "To Chess or Not To Chess"
with due apologies to the Bard.

To chess or not to chess, that is the question;
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune...
the reversals, the blunders, the oversights,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by
quitting (chess), end them.

To resign, to adjourn;
No
more; and by an adjournment to say we end
The heart-ache and the thousand natural
mates
That flesh is heir to — 'tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish'd.

To resign, to adjourn;
To
adjourn, perchance to dream. Ay, there's the rub,
For in that
sleep of resignation what dreams may come,
When we have shuffled off this mortal
chessboard,
Must give us pause.

There's the respect
That makes calamity of so long
a chess career,
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time-trouble,
Th'oppressor's
smirk, the proud King's contumely,
The pangs of
stolen victory, Fischer's delay,
The insolence of
experts, and the spurns
That patient merit of th'unworthy takes,
When he himself might his
exit make
With a bare
Zwischenzug?

who would
Zugzwangs bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary
game,
But that the dread of something after
Chess,
The undiscovered country from whose
boundary
No
player returns, puzzles the will,
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?

Thus conscience does make cowards of us all,
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought,
And enterprises of great pitch and moment
With this regard their currents turn awry,
And lose the name of
chess-free action

By an unfortunate victim of the game

Thursday 30 August 2007

Going Solo

My trip to Cape Town went rather well. I took pics...
went on a wine tour...visited Robben Island...ate seafood...

The normal touristy thing.

I also felt somewhat sad. Such beauty, relaxing scenery,
dire
poverty.

I sometimes think that I am a curse unto myself. Never
quite satisfied with what's in front of me and forever
disappointed with what's over there. But...

I intend to cover the length and breadth of South Africa.

My list includes the Drakensberg, the Karoo, Wilderness,
Garden Route, Limpopo, Kruger National Park, Cradle of
Humankind.

There's a lot to be learnt about the country and her people.

Sometimes I could weep. We have a long way to go.