Nov. 8th, 2011 02:40 pm
morsla: (Dawn1)
[personal profile] morsla
Three years ago today, [ profile] aeliel and I got married in Blackwood. By this time in the afternoon, the service would have finished, and we'd all be packed into Blackwood House, trying to fill the guests with twelve thousand cakes. Like today, it was a grey-sky kind of day - bright enough to enjoy being outside, but with a bit of rain on the wind. In an hour or so, we'd head over to Sault with the photographer, who commented on how the soft light made her job much easier :)

What's changed in that time? Quite a lot, I guess. I'm now most of the way through a PhD that I hadn't really considered starting, back in 2008. We have a house and a cat, and seem far more settled than at any time in history. Work remains super-busy, to the point where I sometimes wonder what it would be like to only work on weekdays, or not work in the evenings.

There are some of you that I don't see all that often these days. That's not really anyone's fault - life changes, people get busier, and we all end up wondering how it's possibly been a year (or two, or five) since we last spoke face to face. I'm still curious, though. What are you up to these days? What's going on in your bit of the world?

Date: 2011-11-08 09:09 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Three years has kind of leapt past in a blur :) I'm pretty sure it can't be more than a year or so since you got married... right?

In my world, things are childwrangling, work and the occasional bit of roleplaying squeezed in. I find myself missing cons, and regretting that while still not being able to be enthused about making the time to go...

Date: 2011-11-09 11:44 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I've also been missing cons, lately - despite actually playing in a few games at Arc. I miss running tabletops, mostly. I really enjoy all the work that goes into making a good one, and seeing how many different ways the story can run on the day.

I'd still like to get a Cthulhu triptych up and running, with [ profile] mousebane and [ profile] miss_rynn - the original plan was for next Arc, but I will have the Thesis Madness until mid-year now.

Date: 2011-11-09 04:54 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I'm also doing a PhD, still working part time but going to stop doing that next year to give myself a bit more free time. I get the "wondering what it would be like to only work on weekdays" thing.

Date: 2011-11-09 11:58 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
How are you feeling about the PhD at the moment? [ profile] aeliel told me a little bit about the topic, and it sounds interesting. I may be developing an unhealthy fascination with other people's projects...

I think trying to only do one major thing at a time would probably end badly for me, but it would be nice to have fewer things on the go so I could spend a bit more time enjoying the journey. Juggling the different jobs (so that more weeknights and weekends can be spent on other things) is something I'd like to get better at.

Better yet, one "real" job that pays actual wages (*gasp*) so that the other things can live on as hobbies... I think that's the dream, right now :)

Date: 2011-11-09 12:32 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Oh, I'm definitely not going to do just one thing! I just want to stop doing my job, since it takes up a lot of my time and energy, and I don't feel like I'm learning much there any more after five years working for the same company. I'm planning to spend a fair bit of my free time making iPhone and Android apps and publishing them on my own, as well as going to startup events to either find an awesome startup to join, or to think of a viable business idea myself. Possibly also doing a bit of software development/optimisation consulting on the side, to find out what it would be like to run my own consulting business.

Basically, I'll have a year (or slightly more, depending on how the PhD goes) to decide what I want to do after the PhD. And the best way I can think of doing that would be to try out a few different things and see what I like best. I'm also planning to apply for an internship at Google next summer, to see what working for a really big company would be like (as long as neither of the startup or consulting options have worked out by then).

The PhD is going pretty well - I submitted a paper to a conference two weeks ago, and I'm working on another one for December. I was feeling a bit stuck in the first half of this year, but I'm a lot happier with my progress now. I'm thinking of going along to some of the #shutupandwrite events, but that will have to wait until next year, since I'm working on Fridays until Christmas.

At work, my algorithms will hopefully be getting used in a live ship scheduling system by the end of the year. On the academic side, I've written up a paper comparing all the different techniques I've tried for solving my problem, which has now turned into two papers. And from that I've found one technique that might be more generally applicable, as well as a few opportunities for integrating my problem with other related problems in the maritime and mining industries. So I've got two possible directions to go in for my final year of research. I'm pretty happy with that, and after writing up these papers, I'm a lot more confident that I'll have enough material for a thesis at the end.

How's your own PhD going? It's been really interesting to read your blog and twitter posts about it, particularly with me thinking about moving into startups or private consulting.

Date: 2011-12-10 05:16 am (UTC)
vass: A sepia-toned line-drawing of a man in naval uniform dancing a hornpipe, his crotch prominent (Default)
From: [personal profile] vass
Do you mind if I pick your brains about martial arts?

I've decided I want to give it a serious try at some point soonish, both for the coordination, the social thing, and to practise discipline. The two big problems are that I'm very large and in very bad shape, and that even at my thinnest and lightest I have a lot of trouble with kinaesthetic learning, and it takes me a long time to learn a new series of movements (for example, it took me six tries to get my driver's license, and that was after years of lessons.)

Is there a particular style that would be better for someone like me? Or a particular school I should approach or avoid at all costs? Or do you know other people who've had similar problems and have succeeded?

I'm not interested in competing at all (now or in the future) and I don't really care if I never spar, but I am quite interested in the idea of grading, just because it would give me a tangible sense of progress.

Date: 2011-12-15 05:44 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Sure - always happy to have my brains picked at :)

You probably want a style that builds on a basic foundation of movements, instead of adding large numbers of new techniques at each level. Also, I would avoid styles that involve jumping around, as they place a hell of a lot of strain on your knees and ankles. From the ones I've tried, both of those would rule out something like Wushu - it's a broad category of (generally more modern) chinese arts and often throws new techniques at you every class.

I also tend to avoid schools that spend a lot of time kneeling (so, most Japanese martial arts) as I can't actually kneel... I have bone spurs below my knees from years of tendonitis, so my knees and ankles complain loudly when I try putting them on a hard surface.

The school I've spent the most time with is Barry Pang's Kung Fu school - I train with them at RMIT, and they also have classes at Melbourne Uni and Swinburne. It could be a good option: you spend a lot of time refining a small number of stances and techniques. The primary style is Wing Chun, which doesn't require a lot of flexibility - it emphasises footwork (side-stepping out of the way), low kicks, and hand techniques. The style is build on a very small number of different techniques - simple to learn, but used throughout all the different levels. The trick is spending long enough practicing them to be able to apply them well.

We have gradings, with 2-3 components per level: five techniques (stepping, sidestep, punch, etc), one or more forms (a sequence of techniques practised in class), and sparring (not done at white belt level). People tend to start out grading once or twice a year, slowing down as they reach more senior levels.

Our sparring is pretty straightforward and non-threatening. It's usually done at the end of the class, and people below a "senior" grade (blue or higher) will only ever spar against senior students. That helps reduce the pressure: the senior has enough control to make sure the junior students can practice what they need to, without anyone getting hit.

Tai Chi might also be a good option, and should have lots of different schools available. It's very good for coordination, but you will tend to gradually add movements to long forms - rather than seeing lots of different things each class. Very few Tai Chi schools will do gradings, though, so it can be hard to see your progress. Could be a good option to start off with, though, if you wanted something low-impact to begin getting into shape with.

The University clubs have been slowly dying out since VSU came in, but there are still a few of them out there and they tend to be cheaper than the alternatives. Most schools have some kind of free class available, and it's worth trying out a few to compare different schools. Some of them will run a beginner's course (with a few intakes each year), but most will take new people throughout the year.

Date: 2011-12-30 12:51 pm (UTC)
vass: A sepia-toned line-drawing of a man in naval uniform dancing a hornpipe, his crotch prominent (Default)
From: [personal profile] vass
Thank you very much for the info. I'm going to give Melbourne Uni's kung fu club a try.

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