Thursday, September 01, 2005

1 September 2005: Back

Back to the desk today, back to applying algorithms by Messrs Kleinberg and Chen to the Citeseer metadata, back to big fat data transformations, web services and the other myriad little parts that there currently are to my PhD research. Also back to the gym, in early training for what hopefully will be a half-decent stab at the London Marathon, back to the steady diet of Z88.3 and KFOG on the internet radio, back to routine. And you know what? I love it.

Martyn and Rob have both moaned about going back to work over the last couple of weeks, but I'm thoroughly enjoying it, far more than I thought I would when I began almost two years ago. The research isn't quite what I thought I'd be doing but it suits me well, and I'm enjoying the teaching far more than I ever thought I could. (Perhaps it's because it gives me the opportunity to prove I know more than my students, although even that isn't always the case.) Gloria begins work today too, at the school up the road, meaning we get to see each other far more often, although I'm at a loss as to what to do with my lunchtimes given there'll be no webcam chats any more. As I write, the sun shines outside and the temperature will be a pleasant 22 or 23 for the next few days. Things are going well, and life seems good.

I say 'seems' because it's hard to get past the news from elsewhere in the world. New Orleans seemed on Monday to have survived the worst of Katrina's wrath due to said hurricane deciding to slow down and turn right instead of smacking into the heart of the French Quarter. Now, though, it's starting looking like something from Bangladesh or Mozambique: hundreds, maybe thousands dead; water and sewage mingling poison in the streets and pipes; mass-scale looting and evacuations. You know something's very wrong when they start evacuating people after the event.

Beyond that, over a thousand dead in the stampede in Iraq caused by suicide bomb rumours. No bomb, but proof that rumours can be even more deadly. And in case everyone had forgotten, there's a famine in Niger that rivals anything seen in our lifetimes, and the World Food Programme is way short of its relief target, having received almost no new donations in the last two weeks, according to Reuters. With the focus of the media currently shifted to Louisiana, it's hard not to fear for the residents of Niger.

And that's the problem when things seem to be going to well at home. We think and pray for those suffering, and I do think that's of value. We give to appeals for the tsunamis and the famines not just to clear our conscience, but because it does make a difference. But life goes on here, just as there, and routine is simply how we go on living our lives. And if we're happy, all the better.

It's just sometimes hard to know what to feel, and what to feel guilty about feeling.

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