When I was with der Konzern there was this big, big scandal with bribery, executive heads rolled (read: were relocated to safe but less exposed tasks) and whole company went through moral shake-up. Not that it changed anything...
W czasie moich studiów na Politechnice miałem przyjemość mieć wykładowców którzy byli w stanie wychwycić różnicę pomiędzy h i ch. Nie tylko potrafili to usłyszeć, ale ich wymowa była na tyle wysublimowana, że potrafili to też wymówić. I faktycznie ich h i ch było różne.
I tak sie ostatnio zastanawiałem... Czasem jak się nażrę czekolady z orzechami (jakaś Cadbury, Ritters czy nawet polska Terravita) to mam potem w nocy problemy z dziedziny mniemanologi teoretycznej... I tak zastanawiałem się dzisiaj (w okolicy 4 nad ranem) nad różnicą pomiędzy u i ó. Tak naprawdę to pomiędzy nimi jest różnica. Ó jest takie... bardziej z dzióbkiem. Trzeba tak usta wykrzywić w dzióbek. Spróbujcie sami. Takie słowo jak kura... nie da sie powiedzieć kóra... To znaczy - powiedzieć się da, ale to brzmi inaczej niż pierwotna, ortograficznie spójna kura. Kóra to już brzmi prawie jak q-ra. Nie wiem, czy tą subtelną różnicę słyszycie... Rumianek ma u płaskie, twarde i drewniane, pióro już jest z dziubkiem - dłuższe i subtelniejsze... U jest otwarte, płaskie, plebejskie i toporne jak młotek, ó z kolei jest subtelne, szlachetne i dźwięczne niczym ostrze ze stali damasceńskiej... Nie wiem, może nie odkrywam tu Ameryki (nie chce mi sie guglać), ale po prostu uświadomiłem sobie dzisiaj że u i ó to nie tylko problem ortograficzny ale także wymowy ;-)
So we have watched this... Phew, where to start? Do not get me wrong - I really do not mind low-budget movies. But Skyline suffers from so many problems... And this is such a disappointment as this thing actually had such a potential. It starts with Greek's drama unity of action, time and place. Cool. But the script simply wastes the opportunity of human conflict of a couple of people stranded together in stressful situation. There is no play of characters there, no nothing. Bad, unconvincing acting is another story... The ending actually solves no mysteries, gives no answers and actually is no end at all... Really - this could've been really nice thing, but is just a waste of time. Not recommended.
I have been teaching here for over a year now. Initially most of my activities revolved around Japanese Embassy, as said before - I was allowed to use venues for free. Now I am trying to switch my focus towards other facilities that have better resources (read: tatami). Yet as for today - I still am Aikido teacher in Japanese Embassy. This is why i received this:
I knew exactly what I was expecting - there would be an official tea-house sushi with soft sounds of shakuhachi and koto coming from beyond shoji screen, we'd be shouting Tenno heika banzai under Raising Sun flag, there would be Battleship Yamato lurking somewhere in the bushes and the more perceptive of guests would be able to spot ninjas hiding up in the palm trees... Beautiful Japanese women dressed in traditional kimonos would have haiku competition and at the end of the ceremony Buddhist priest would give blessings and fortune cookies to everyone.
Reality was - as it usually is - a bit different. There were many people, most from the diplomatic circles, all ambassadors and attaches and so on. There were Japanese women dressed in traditional kimonos, but in all these crowds it was difficult to spot them. I bumped into our Polish ambassador and got invited for Christmas meeting at her residence. There were Russians (hard to miss them ;-), British, Dutch, Americans, Indians, South Africans and many many others. Our Japanese hosts somehow disappeared in all these crows and - with exception of Kobayashi-san - were difficult to come by.There was short and actually not-so-bad speech from Japanese Ambassador, there was taiko presentation by ten-odd kids, there was wine, nuts, tempura and sushi, and then... I was back to the office.
Last week I found the web page with ranking of 100 of best spaceships in sci-fi movies ever. Of course the list sucked big time as ISD was not included. And the first place was taken by Millenium Falcon - hardly the best thing out there... But to the point.
The list was an inspiration to search for those movies I somehow missed over the years.
The first one was Outlander. Interesting, at moments spooky, logically not very inconsistent. No, not great by no means, but worth spending 90 minutes to watch it, especially if you like Vikings and all that gothic stuff.
Next was Pandorum. OK, this one got me puzzled. I still do not know if the director wanted to create a thriller, horror, mystery, action or psychological drama (with a touch of MPD). Special effects nice, size and complexity of their spaceship beaten only be Death Star, nice chick (with boobs she - sadly - does not show). Twist at the end caught me by surprise (am I loosing it?) and perhaps this is the biggest credit to the movie. Apart from that - average.
So this company has commissioned this commercial, which - I must admit - is not very Kenyan in quality. really nicely done. But for all of you people out there - take a look at the country I live in ;-)
I am old... Perhaps old-ish. But I still do hear difference between CD or FLAC and MP3 (yeah, on my headphones) and I still love listening to music.
The most profound music experience I had when my dad took me to uncle Krzysiek and I first heard uncle's Krell correction - McIntosh. It was dark in his room, the only light were VU-meters of the amp and this funny lamp at the side of the turntable (now I know - rpm control sync). I was perhaps eight or ten and there was nothing in the room but music...
The second time was some 10 years ago. After Busza dumped me I still lived in that huge, cold apartment. Alone. And I loved to listen to a CD or two late in the night after Aikido class... The beauty of this apartment was that my bedroom was so quiet you would not believe. And then I would turn off the lights and listen to the music... And this is when I would lay hands on Beastie Boys album The in sound from way out. And I was there, in this huge, cold and dark room - alone, beaten up, tired and listening to quiet music... Pure bliss... Untill - out of the blue - I heard this funny, quiet but annoying noise. But where from? I turned down the volume and followed the sound... I could not believe it. It was the transport of my Pioneer PD-S 707.
This was - at the time - top notch Pioneer CD player with reversed platter and all bells and whistles. They do not make them like these anymore... Anyway - my point is - listening conditions were so perfect there that I could hear noise made by spinning CD!
To the point.
With modern day broadband - where for reasonable amount of money you get reasonably speedy Internet (even in Poland, but no, not in Kenya ;-) - the physical content distribution actually is dead. Not will be. Is dead. Now. Today. I know that sooner rather than later I will convert all of my 400 CDs into FLAC and move towards a solution that even does not even have a transport!
As I have advocated before - future of music system is a box that would have internal disk (preferably SSD) to store all those FLACs. Something that has real audio output which you can connect to your real amp and - subsequently - to real speakers. There are such systems available today. There are just three major problems with these...
Primo - few systems provide sound quality matching that of CD players like Denon 1510 or Yamaha 2000.
Secundo - most of them have fan. A fan! Why would you spend thousands of Euros on a stereo just to have a fan there? If I do not mind the noise I might as well buy a PC as a source.
And lastly - how do you convieniently browse through all of those hundreds of CDs? Most systems have very bad UI. I would like something like iPad app fro Sonos or Olive systems. Honestly - having been using iPad for 4 months now I see how much it can improve the whole experience.
I have pretty good idea what my dream system looks like. I wrote about it here. It has digital content player which sends digital signal to TacT amplifier and then analog signal is sent to something like B&W 803. The only missing component is the source. There is no product on the market that I am aware of which meets my criteria of functionality, ease of use (iPad app would be the best) with hifi-grade quality...
I have this uncle of mine who used to say that you should not give a man for his birthday flowers for this is not manly enough. He said - give a sharpening stone, set of drills or laser level. I concur. But there is one exception...
This birthday I got a bamboo tree seedling. Awesome. Why? Because it has potential to grow to be a big tree and then you can use it as a target for tameshigiri...
Some years back I was lucky enough to visit Jordan and I roamed all over that the country. But what I was most impressed by was Wadi Rum desert. This just blew me away. Amazing...
So yesterday I watched Lawrence Of Arabia and there were these scenes there shot in Wadi Rum. And I was also there and I remember the silence and stillness and all the rock formations and everything. I miss that place...
I hook it up with iPad AmpliTube application via this little adapter. Played with it and had lots of fun. But then... there is desktop AmpliTube 3 application which is so much more powerful than iPad application. So I decided to give it a try. And this is where I got shocked. Seriously
My Windows machine is Sony Vaio FW31ZJ with 4 GB of RAM and Core2Duo T9550 2.66GHz. Not top-notch turbo kung-fu machine, but still pretty decent. Runs 64-bit Windows 7, Experience Index = 5.0.
In desktop AmpliTube 3 I had like 1s delay - I would play the string (chord) and I would hear the sound over the speakers/headphones like 1 second later. Impossible to play... I did not have this delay with iPad, so I played with Windows controls, played with AmpliTube settings (like buffer size, etc) but was unable to get decent sound without delay... My friend has a Mac and he also uses AmpliTube so I called for help, yet he has no delay at all! So I reinstalled AmpliTube, played with it, fiddled with all the knobs and settings of both application and Windows OS and still got nowhere. I Googled and no help there either...
So for now I gave up on Windows version of AmpliTube but started thinking. If I can not get decent sound on good hardware but can play nice on much less powerful iPad - where is the catch? I see two options:
- Mac OS really is this much better than Windows OS, or
- Windows AmpliTube app really sucks
I Googled again and people did not get so much problems with Windows AmpliTube. So WTF? There is several GB of apps I collected over these all years that say conversion to OSX is a no-no. I hate the UI and general approach that this is Steve Jobs' world, I just happen to live in it. My notebook was scheduled for Windows re-installation this weekend anyway - I will retry AmpliTube on brand new, fresh W7 installation and let you know...
But is it possible that I was wrong all these years, that OSX is the way to go? I have always believed it's all potato-potata, purely personal preference: I like pears you like oranges. But is it possible that I am wrong?
I know it's difficult to compare sad fart of Polish aviation engineers that ended up killing several pilots some years back (yeah, I am talking here Iskra) with a result of famous 100 series fighter jets at USAF. Yet the timeframe if inception would be about the same... One of bastard children of this 100 series airplanes was modification of F104G Starfighter into U2. OK, fine, Powells shot down over USSR while flying from Turkey to Norway, the whole history of Cold War, blah blah blah, but then this. OMFG
Once I had opportunity to work in Berlin for extended period of time and there, in Berlin, I have found Nike Town store where I bought myself long sleeve Nike ACG blouse, red with a slogan Quit your job printed on chest.
This is the blouse i wore when I went to negotiate salary raise with my then-boss. Not very surprisingly I did not get one, so not long afterwards I changed my job profile ;-)
So now someone came up with a long, long story that says pretty much the same. Quit your job.
As I've kept saying since long, long time ago - Nairobi itself is boring. Now at least there is an Aikido dojo, but before then there was nothing to do here in town. So I have always tried to get out of city as much as possible. This is why I got here the tent, sleeping bags, stove and all the knick-knacks you would need while camping.
And last two weekends we went with Ally to Naivasha for weekend camping. That was almost fun. The problem was that last weekend there was this super-luminous full moon and the night was so bright that all the wild animals went just crazy. All those birds, wild pigs, hippos and gods know what else were so loud I did not get much sleep. And then... Early in the morning (judging by reddish sky in the east - about 0500) a monkey went up the tree and pissed on our tent.
I know, I know - some people would pay thick bucks to get pissed on by monkeys in equatorial Africa. I had to wash the tent, and - lessons learned - this weekend I pitched it so that there were no tree branches above my yellow house.
Today I attended meeting with Cisco Senior Vice President Howard Charney. Charming fella ;-) Of course the message is we're not interested in your money, we want to bring the change into the world...
Still - nice presentation ;-)
Is this sign of my age? I follow several artists, I have been following them over many years (this is the age part) and I realized I do not like the direction in which most of them go. Take Tricky or Portishead. I know usually old farts like me listed and stick to music and stuff they consumed when they were in their early twenties, but come on...
Mamoru Oshii. Yup, the very one. Besides making this and then a sequel, he got this idea of this game he tried to sell in Avalon. Fun, but then he got kinda stuck. Just watched his Assault girls. Oops. And while Avalon was fun and had this weird atmosphere of seclusion and alienation and unreal reality with game being more real than real world (really lots of real in this sentence), Assault girls suffer from being just boring. No real plot, bad, bad, BAD acting and not fun to watch. I know Japanese culture is different but I have seen and enjoyed gazillion of fucked up Japanese movies (Casshern, Izo, Samurai Ressurection, etc). I know in 15 years when his Avalon will be realized and commercialized he will be hailed as visionary, but i disapprove of his current gradient. Move on, dude.
So I bought this device, mainy because of this and this ;-)))
Because of that sad fact I had to abandon FLAC audio format, but at the same time gained... m4b. Apple audiobook format.
So recently I went through this and this. Fabulous. Went through this, now I am on Roger Zelazny Amber seies. Read by Zelazny himself. Whoa...
BTW - you know that Zelazny was Aikido balck belt and teacher?
After one month in Poland I am back in Kenya. A lot has happened during my time back home. One week of Aikido when I had the chance to see TKC and all my pals, then Alison arrived and we explored Wrocław. And yes - shopping. Lots of shopping...
We came back two days ago, yesterday was my first day at the office. So I had to drive back home after work. I already hate this place with its uneducated drivers, traffic rules nobody cares about and general lack of structured law and order. This is just traffic that pissed me off, but if you read my earlier posts - this propagates to all aspects of Kenyan life. I miss my home...
For some reasons I do not want to discuss I need to work late hours. Seems like whole Nairobi went to sleep and I am the only up working... Asshole.
Anyway - I was recommended one CD by Barbara Streisand. And it actually is not bad. Phew, who would have thought?
I remember in the good old days, when I worked for Der Konzern there was this huge scandal that some NSN bosses were found to bribe some poeple to get some contracts. Initially it started with something like 200M Euro, then reached (AFAIR) 1.2B Euro. Soon after the scandal was made public the big bosses were sacked (yeah, right - sacked my ass) but der Konzern started to do some damage control and internally it launched some programs to increase morality awareness of the staff. All employees had to go through web-based training on Code of conduct: what is good what is bad, where the thin line lies, the line that divides favours / gifts from bribes, etc.
This week one company here brainwashed all employees on similar topic. I do not even want to go into how bad it was (especially compared to what NSN had done) and how it all started by implying that everyone is a thief, crook and generally person of no morality. Very offending. I know - this is Africa - but I still am learning not to expect too much. Had something like that been done in Europe - we all would sue the company and drive new Aston-Martins.
My point is - there were some decisions made here that from technical point of view make no sense. I am strongly convinced that some money changed hands under the table (it always does ;-). Question is - are they trying to preempt something?
I sometimes get asked (dunno why me?) whether to buy new lens or upgrade camera body. And then I always remember what Dzieko told me ages ago, even before I got myself into photography: Bodies go, lenses stay.
So whenever buying lens remember you'll - most probably - get stuck with it for much longer than with camera body. And always buy the best lens you can afford at the expense of the price of camera body.
There is this movie by Steven Soderbergh on Che Guevara titled Che. It comes in two parts, starring Benicio Del Toro as Che. It's interesting to see what is behind the legend of Che. First part deals with Cuban revolution, second deals with Argentine and demise of Che. Not Hollywood pulp, almost para-documentary. Highly recommended if you are interested in Cuba, Politics, History and Latin America.
You see - I am an engineer (slash) scientist. I know who Shannon and Kotielnikov were, I can even prove Nyquist's sampling frequency theorem. I know different ADC and DAC implementations, I know how different D-class amplifiers work. Damn, I just know that shit.
This is why I want to implement in my Hi-Fi an elegant solution. As all of my music collection is (in one way or another) digital and I would like to use D-Class amp (TacT Millenium - equivalent), I see no need to buy a component which would have additional DAC.
So my previous post was on the first element in this line - source. Then I can hook it up to Tact S-2150 X D (no analog inputs here!) in digital domain and output power signal (analog) to B&W 803, ProAc Carbon Pro (or equivalent). If my source has volume control I can even use cheaper T2. Perhaps I could even buy their DAC and build my own amp? Just wish I had more time...
I have a couple of hundreds of CDs back home, but let's face it - CDs are so '90s. What I would like to have is a digital content source rigged to good quality D-class amp and decent speakers.
I bought PS3 in hope to use it as a source (server), but there are several drawbacks: 1. It is not exactly audiophile-grade 2. Does not support the ONLY hi-quality audio format - FLAC 3. Require a TV
My friend uses Mac Mini, but I would like to avoid Apple products as much as possible. I do not want PC neither. So what can I use? Thing like Logitech Transporter comes to mind (XLR!), but this thing has no storage! What else? There is Olive HD, but have mixed feelings about that.
The second question is - where to get HD content? There are some web stores selling HD (like this and this and this), these days even DG offers FLAC to download. And I still would have to come up with reasonable way to rip CD to FLAC (people in the know say PC-ripping is not exactly the way)
So the deal is like that - you walk the beach in Msambweni and you see a nice shell. Not a big collector's piece, but still something you would like to take a closer look at. But there is a catch... With claws...
And do not ever let anyone tell you that Nikon AF-D 50mm f/1.4 is not sharp...
So we went up Mount Longonot yesterday, and I decided to wear my Teva Terra Fi sandals. And while these sandals are the best thing ever for a kayak trip or something, yet yesterday on the way down the volcanic ash got under the strap and started rubbing into my flesh... So I tried to speed up a bit to get the mountain over with as soon as possible, and then I sprained my ankle. And then I had to take the Tevas off for I was already trickling blood, and then the ground was so hot, like frying pan... that I burned the soles of my feet.
So now I have broken toe (last week), sprained ankle, bleeding blister and peeled off skin from the sole. All in one foot!
As I have twittered I broke a toe. There were some pillows on the floor blocking my way to my suits in my wardrobe so I wanted to kick them pillows outta my way and kicked the corner of the wardrobe with the toe. Some ninja, huh?
This reminds me when it was the last time I had the same toe broken. When I started Aikido back in 1992 I asked my cousin what gi to buy. She told me to get the size bigger than my size because it will shrink. And this thing never shrunk and I kept breaking my toes for two years till I got another gi...
Another news is that after 6 months of going from office to office, bragging, bribing and begging, yesterday I got my Kenyan driving license!
Besides - still looking for the venue where I can expand my growing army of ninjas. I want to have Aikido at least 3 times a week. Have found some places, still under negotiation.
In the new office the IT department installed these huge 50 inch LCD displays. Loads of them. Seriously, in every room on every floor. Everyone sitting at his desk sees at least one of them. You simply can not run away from them. But IT guys connected the monitors to some Cisco machines, and apparently these beautiful displays are of no use for us. Correction: were. Past tense.
And then there was a small power upsurge causing this Cisco machine to reboot and for a second it displayed its IP address and model name. And that was more than enough for Polish engineer. I looked up the model on the Web, and then logged in to it via web browser. Now I can play movies (no sound though) on 50 inch monitor or display every page I want, even this one.
Why? Because whoever installed the damn Cisco DMP 4400 did not care to change default admin password. Proudly Kenyan...
You know - you often hear gossip about stuff happening to people here in Kenya. Mostly to mzungus (read: white), but not only. You know - things like car jacking, side mirrors being stolen in the traffic jam (when you can't open door to run after thief) and breaking and entering, rape, murder and so on...
But yesterday Alison came home and said - I lost rear bumper. I thought - damn, again this black gangsta slang shit... But she meant literally - someone stole rear bumper of our car! But... I mean - how? When? And most importantly - why?
This, second, part should be more interesting. Here I will cover software environment I work in.
OS Unfortunately I am still bound to Windows. I do not use Windows 7 pre-installed by Sony. Not only because there is a lot of so-called crapware but because... Sony tweaks its Windows installation by removing some components which are instrumental for a geek. Like gpedit.msc. Therefore - even though I will loose all these fancy-shmancy Sony shortcuts (like Fn+F2 to mute, etc) I get rid of Sony version of Windows 7 and install my own.
The source I have allows me to install Home, Professional and Ultimate. And you know what? After I looked into the differences I decided I do not need nor want all those extras that come with Pro or Ultimate. I install Home, of course 64-bit version. Which, as it happens - is just the very version I had installed by Sony - no licence breach here ;-)
As soon as I have brand new OS I launch Internet Explorer and download Google Chrome. Once it is installed I am ready for major surgery - I boot Fedora Linux from my USB drive, mount Windows drive and remove following directories:
Program Files (x86)/Windows* Program Files (x86)/DVD* Program Files (x86)/Internet* Program Files (x86)/Microsoft* Program Files/Windows* Program Files/DVD* Program Files/Internet* Program Files/Microsoft* Windows/Cursors Windows/Media
This way I get rid of all Microsoft crapware (like DVD Maker, Photo Viewer, Media Player, Defender, etc, etc, etc) and still have fully working Windows 7 operating system. Interesting thing is even after I physically remove Internet Explorer I still get things like Windows Update working just fine.
Now I can start installing my applications...
Environment It is kind of interesting that it seems I included web browser (Google Chrome) as a part of OS...
I install Microsoft Security Essentials to protect my OS. I remove UAC, remove System Protection and disable Pagefile. Why Pagefile? Because I use system hibernation and MS Windows actually uses both - pagefile.sys and hiberfil.sys as cached memory. So why duplicate, when even in the best case scenario Windows will not utilize more than your physical memory? It just saves me 4 GB of HDD space (yes, I have 4 GB or RAM on all my machines).
I use Rocket Dock and Start Killer to get rid of Windows Start Menu. I have my own set of selected icons and cursors that I insert into /Windows/Cursors, set up my own wallpaper. Then I install old version of Total Commander I inherited as I was leaving Siemens... On the tiny, work-machine I install Rainmeter to have my projects' status on the desktop. I change by boot screen to match my desktop wallpaper with LogonStudio. To install application I use Daemon Tools Lite. Why? Because I have all of them as ISO images stashed somewhere on external HDD encrypted with TrueCrypt.
Applications To access all my Unix machines I employ Ponderosa (Thanks, Mark). Awesome tool (again - to unify my environment I set the same wallpaper in Ponderosa as my Windows wallpaper and as my login screen background)
To rip stuff I use DVD Decrypter. Not much of ripping these days, as all I need is available via net, but you know - just in case.
I used to listen to the music using Bang Olufsen Beoplayer for a really long time - I liked the clean, dark UI. But Beoplayer relies on Windows Media Player so I had to switch to my main multimedia player - VLC.
For picture viewing I use Fast Picture Viewer, which has very clean UI. If configured properly it has no UI at all ;-)
For office work I am forced to use what corporations use. I have version 2007, planning to migrate to Office 2010 as soon as I manage to lay my hands on non-beta copy. Office only on small machine.
Ekhm... Games. I know, I know... I have here old Operation Flashpoint + Resistance. Completed all missions and all campaigns from each possible side. Kinda bored with it, but so far nobody came up with anything better ;-( I recently obtained Operation Flashpoint Dragon Rising, but after initial playing it for a couple of days I kinda got bored and disappointed... It does not have this thing... I have Company Of Heroes with all addons, finished all campaigns and all missions on Expert level from all sides... Also a classic in RTS'es but also done deal ;-(... Recently went through Call Of Duty - Modern Warfare 2. That was fun while it lasted, but now is gone from my machine... Most of games are like logical puzzles - one you know how to solve them they are just boring... Last time I played was when I was stuck at Brussels Airport for the night. Perhaps I am getting old?
Conclusion These steps allow me to use heavily customized Windows environment, enjoy all benefits of using Windows without most of its drawbacks. Some of my friends advocate Linux, others OSX. But I kinda like my Windows ;-)
P.S. I remove Windows splashscreen (run msconfig, go to Boot tab and check No GUI boot). I disable CapsLock key via Sharp Keys, no need to physically remove this damn thing.
No, this is not a joke. Another interesting case...
So the situation was like this - we're sitting at home with Alison, chilling out and having lazy Sunday evening. And then some persistent people tried to disturb us (read: rang the door) so we ignored them. But as some people just do not seem to get the clue - they tried to call us. But we did not want to be disturbed...
So in the morning I see that I got an SMS from my neighbor saying that my car was scratched by one of guests (there's a restaurant down there at my apartment). So I went down and... well, I would not call it a scratch. Just a smudge on the paintwork. In reality - nothing. If I went with this to the paint workshop they'd laugh at me. If it hadn't been pointed out to me I'd not see it myself.
But then... We found out the guy was taken to the Police station where he had to spend the night! I said WTF? I mean - why? So I had to go to the Kileleshwa Police Station this morning to tell them release him. I wasted 2 hours in the traffic just to say I have no grudge against this poor dude.
And no, you can not do this over the phone.
Kinda extreme to put guy into jail for a scratch that even was not there...
I decided to kill my Facebook account. Please do not worry that some cyber-censorship branch of Kenyan Police is trying to off me. I did it of my own free will. And no, nobody is standing next to me with a gun pointed at my head as I am writing this.
So the situation was like that - some subcontractors of one of vendors were asked to go to the BTS site to do some maintenance work. Unfortunately someone spotted them and called cops. And KP (Kenya Police) came and started shooting at these engineers. Three died, one critically wounded in hospital. I mean - you know - shooting with guns and bullets. And I think to myself - what kind of country is this where Police just shoots. No questioning, no warning shots... nothing. Frickin' Wild Africa! And of course nobody was found guilty. T.I.A.
There was supposed to be a piano concerto by Katya Grineva here in Nairobi. As we do not have a lot of such performances we decided to attend. Of course the event started half an hour later than scheduled, or rather - this time it was scheduled half an hour later, just nobody cared to inform the spectators as the tickets were sold. Nobody can organize an event without any glitches - there always have to be fuckups and delays and so on. Proudly Kenyan*...
A part of local tradition is to screw with all spectators further (because delaying the concert by half an hour is not enough) so there had to be those speeches. Generally in the world speech is an opportunity of someone who has achieved something to share his ideas and results with the wider public. In Kenya it is a must to have someone who is totally incompetent but hosts VIP position to boast on how much of a biggest fucker ever he is. No substance, no value, just bullshit...
As the pianist was Russian she was introduced by Russian Ambassador. I have only one thing to say: WTF? First of all His Excellency spoke English with this distinctive Russian accent. OK, this is how they talk, perhaps I am biased by stereotypes and he actually was not drunk. Dunno. But then he goes with his speech about World War Two, military parade to be held in Moscow where there will be - for the first time ever - US, UK and Polish troops alongside Soviet Army... Oops, Russian Army, Sorry Mr. President**... Piano concert and he pulls out WW2 stuff out his sleeve? WTF? But then he goes about the usual cultural international blah blah blah and then he says Chopin was of Russian origin. OK, people laughed, but the amazing thing is - I got the impression that the dude was not joking! During the break we approached him and asked him like - you know - what did you mean? And he goes in Russia we do not say Chopin, we say Żopen. Motherfucker! I am not very patriotic but this was just... too much. Sonuvabitch! For those of you who do not speak Russian - Żopen would be Russian for Asshole. But this reminds me of German attempts to germanize Copernicus. They started by writing in German schoolbooks Kopernicus (which actually makes sense in German not in Latin: Copernicus) and then moved to more subtle sabotages...
After the Ambassador there was Kenyan Minister of Culture and National Heritage. OMG, this guy was funny! He was a parody of a politician! He started off by saying that he's been a minister for 25 years. What? Die already and make room for younger, more efficient people! Then he goes through WW2 (again!) saying that it was Russia who won the war (WTF?) and twice mentioning General Marshall Żukow and his assault on Berlin, that Russia lost 30 Million people during the war and so on. Please point out to me relevance to piano concert, for I somehow missed it. And if you want show off your history literacy at least get your facts straight! And then he tells stories how he went to some rural community and after he left people there started getting married. Eh? And then he brags on how he and his office rely on external funding for building community cultural centre. What kind of minister is he if his main task is begging for money. Again - die already!
As I am not Kenyan (proudly or not) I looked at this and wondered - how much of a parody of democracy and government these people have here? I was slightly annoyed by these delays, I came for a piano concert, not for stand-up comedians. And I was sorry, for Alison sitting next to me must have been ashamed to have such country officials. And then I realized that these comedians of the stage are real people with power. These douchebags and narrow-mminded assholes run this country! Unfortunately this brings us to more serious matters - there will never be a real democracy here. This will always be third world. If former president Moi was a school teacher and after having resigned from presidency he was one of the richest people in Africa... If the President of South Afica rapes women (family's friend ;-) and claims that to prevent AIDS he takes shower after sex... and people cheer for he is so manly. As time progresses I find that most people in Kenya are either corrupt politicians/businessmen making loads of illegal money or totally delusional people. Or both. You can live whatever fantasy you have and nobody gives a crap. People are too busy making ends meet or stealing their country apart. And these behaviors propagate...
On daily basis you do not see these kenyan idiosyncrasies, but after some time around you start noticing them. These people who have power are above the law. OK, this is a joke - there is no law here. But the movers and shakers are beyond any justice. Even if the people of Kenya raise one day to oust them it will only be to fuel interests of another politician. Governments all over the world manipulate theis citizens. But nowhere in such a crude and unsophisticated way. The sad thing is people do not even notice...
Yeah, I know, I got carried away. The concert? There was this fat old (British looking) lady two rows ahead of me who just had to wear all those bangles that rattled and clang with her every move. And yes, she was restless. There were people who forgot to switch off their mobiles. Seriously? There were two or three couples who could not resist whispering, photographers did not care to switch off their camera's beep-beep everytime they got focus... the light operators had to switch off the light after Katya started playing with these loud Thungggs... But the pianist compensated for all of these. Schubert, Liszt, Chopin (sorry - Żopen), Bloch, some Spanish composers and she closed the evening with Ravel's Bolero, which she was able to make interesting! What I am affraid is that all these were pearls among the swines...
* Local slogan, aimed to be equivalent of Teraz Polska. But for me a synonin of all possible fuckups in this country.
The problem with being stranded is that you are detached from your live - family, work, hobbies, etc. But what I try to do is just to chill and relax. I can not really change the situation so all i am doing is... trying not to have any expectations and just accepting the events as they come. How Zen of me ;-)
Have you, guys, seen Imaginarium Of Doctor Parnassus?
The thing with Terry Gilliam (director) is that either you get it or not. And if you get it you can love or hate it. I kinda digg it. Loved 12 Monkeys, Brasil and his other flicks.
Imaginarium? Recommended ;-)
I still dunno what motorcycle I should get. Eventually I will come back to Europe and I would like to have some fun. Now, being a geek, I also would like a bike that not only gives fun but something that also is a statement.
So how about new KTM Supermoto? It's electric! And look how gentle and light it is - almost a cross between a bicycle and SM. OK, comments on the Web are not favourable, but we still have some time before the bike reaches the market in 2011. I guess we'll see what we'll see...
See, this whole Aikido world is - for some reason - very... political. And I, having planted the seed here in Kenya, have been officially unaffiliated with any of the organizations out there. I know my roots, but it was not evident to others. Hence Piotr advised (yeah, another euphemism ;-) to set up a page and clearly state my lineage. Well, here it is... Nairobi Aikikai
But still fascinating... I know, bigger, better and richer (yup, I am talking here at least Tesla-based supercomputing) than me have broken their teeth on this one. But it still is nice to see all of it online ;-)
Just watched Ninja Assassin. OMG, what a crap... Seriously, this pretty much as bad as it gets. Yeah, the other ninja movie of last year Ninja was not much better. Damn, is there really no way these douchebags in Hollywood can come up with something fresh? Seems like there's been nothing since Michael Dudikoff and Sho Kosugi. Well, the only notable exception being this, but this is not US production... Is Hollywood spiraling downwards? Or - more appropriately - dried out?
The interesting thing happens when you have to verbalize certain thoughts or impressions and ideas that you think you grasp. Now that I have started teaching sometimes I try to convey some concept to the students it forces me to verbalize things I feel through my skin, almost on subconscious level. And the process of formalizing these thoughts, ideas, impressions, sometimes feelings makes me understand them better. And this also gives me the chance to revisit them and dwell on them longer. And this changes perspective. So now I am going again through old Classics like Musashi Miyamoto, Kisshomaru Ueshiba, Munenori Yagyu and so on. They say different things now. And all things are not as they seem, but they're not otherwise ;-)
So I was thinking of where the wind will blow and I do have some issues with accepting the direction it seems to be taking me... I kinda see on the horizon the end of my stay here in Africa and I need to evaluate my options on the way forward. And I do have a problem.
It all starts with martial arts. I have been practicing Aikido for last 18 years and - even though I have never used it outside dojo (you hear that, Pmasz!?) - I believe I have the skill set to cope with some combat situations. Hopefully I will never have to.
Here, in Central Africa, the Police force is (a) as corrupted as it possibly can be, (b) foundation of local organized crime /and they do not tolerate competition/ and (c) totally ineffective. I know this sounds crazy but here mindset of people does not allow them to grasp the concept of fingerprint analysis. I am not joking or exaggerating. Watch Fritz Lang's movie M, which showed fingerprints used in Europe 100 years ago. These people here are unable to evem grasp the concept! Unfortunately I know this first hand. So if a crime is not solved on spot - it's not solved at all. I could tell you many blood-chilling stories about incompetency of Police and also their ruthlessness when it comes to handling caught criminal. Why so violent? Because I guess somewhere in their minds they realize how poor is the service they give. The outcome of this situation is that people here simply do not count on Police to serve and protect. Thus this really is Wild West. I do not know if this is commonly accepted attitude here but I - personally - feel I need to protect myself. And here it is not inconceivable that here people take law into their hands. Yeah, also heard and seen a lot of such episodes. And this situation is OK as long as you are willing to face it. As I have written above - so far I did not have to take any drastic actions. I believe if you're smart enough and do not put your finger between door you will not get hurt. But if someone tries - I believe I will be able to retaliate...
In Poland situation is totally different. The Police seems to be top-notch, sometimes almost CSI-level effective, but... the law still protects the offender, not the victim. I have been outside the country almost two years now but I follow the news. Nothing changes. The Brothers turned the country into parody of itself and unfortunately this is reflected in personal safety too. Remember those day when Policemen were afraid to shoot at the bad guys because of the court-martial, paperwork and all the bullshit they'd have to face at the office? Perhaps the situation is a bit better now, but the law still protects the bad guys. The number of examples is staggering. This is one big joke aimed at the decent guys. And unlike Africa - I can not retaliate.
The bottom line? I feel safer here, in Kenya...
Why? Because here in Kenya I have to face bad gyus only. In Poland there are bad guys against me as well as the law.
The question is - who looses what ;-) Just got my hands on newest Massive Attack album. And either them or me, but someone lost it. Again. First - Tricky went bananas, then Portishead released 3 which was so much... different. And now the last group standing proved Trip Hop is no more...
As always - on the roof. I used to do Shindo Munen Ryu (as much as I can remember) but felt I should not neglect Muso Shinden Ryu. So I bought this long carpet I would put on the roof where I can do suwari-waza techniques. And I found I forgot a thing or two. This forced me to search the net for some reminders (as my notes were not sufficient to brush up) and I found this:
I played everything that came along. And then - in mid nineties - I saw C&C. And RTS is what I become to love... till I saw Operation Flashpoint. I was blown away by its realism. And since OpFp nothing was the same. And my gaming went in two parallel paths - RTS and FPP shooters. I went through all of Call of Duty, Medal Of Honor, all Dooms and Quakes and all. I went through Starcrafts and all Diablos and so on. But it all was crap. What I needed was a game that would replicate the feeling I had with OpFp and C&C. When it comes to RTSes I found something best ever - Company Of Heroes. Simply the best RTS ever made. It's going to be seriously long time till someone actually will triumph CoH.
But when it comes to FPP shooters I still was constantly disappointed. The best contender was Americas Army and ArmA, both of which still had something missing... Then there was - recently released - OpFp Dragon Rising. Still not the thing. I play it now, but there is some element missing. Dunno, perhaps responsiveness? Is it my Vaio that's not powerful enough? Dunno, something is wrong...
And just last week I obtained PC version Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. And OMG - this is the best thing ever. OK, it's not realistic, not a war sim. This is just a entertaining game. Highly entertaining. And I love it. Will keep me warm while I wait for truly realistic and fun-to-play war sim shooter ;-)
Read here. Wonder what this means for the whole military? Guess USMC gets a big boost in general, USAF gets cut down on strategic bombers, USN get more support for LCS-esque ships, US Army gets more Bradleys and SCARs. Perhaps even Commanche program would be revived?
Of course this means whole military needs to get more flexible, more mobile. Recon, Green Berets, Delta, Rangers and Seals get increase in numbers... Will it be possible to increase numbers of spec-ops operatives without compromising quality?
Well, there were times I was on the balls of my feet and knew of things before they happened. Now, in remote Africa, I do not follow what is happening up there in the real world. At least not so diligently... I guess this is why I was caught by surprise by this. Damn, I didn't even know the thing exists!
The audiobook I recommended a week ago ends kinda... well, it ends nowhere. Luckily I was able to get my hands on part two of the book - Daniel Suarez Freedom. Also recommended, but only if you were able to get through his Daemon.
Here, in Nairobi, I am pretty much cut off from all interesting stuff. Movie theatres only show big hits, something that will assure revenue. So all I can see is Hollywood/Bollywood shit that carries no real value - just the usual crap with high quality special FX but no depth nor philosophy behind it.
What that means is that if I want to see a fucked-up movie, something outside main stream, I have to resort to alternate means of obtaining content. Just sad necessity.
Today I watched The men who stare at the goats. Not seriously entertaining... But I see it as an inside joke, pretty much on the level of - for example - Heartbreak Ridge. But what was amazing in this movie... Well I was brought up on Star Wars and Philip K Dick. I spent countless hours searching the web for CIA's Majestic-12, FBI's (and Russian) mind-control experiments in '60s and '70s, and so on. And then... Out of the blue... All my military-related sites I subscribe to mentioned The men who stare at the goats and general consensus is this shit was for real. I had to get it... Admittedly you have to understand the movie is based on a real memories of one of the operatives, but ultimately it's up to you to decide what you want to believe in and what you see as pure Hollywood entertainment.
No matter where your line of trust (or paranoia) lies - I really did enjoy the movie with all of its references to many, many facts and fictions. Strongly recommended. And may the force be with you...
No matter what you think of the screenplay of Avatar, its storyline and all - everyone is raving about its breakthrough as 3D pioneer.
Well, people have mixed impressions. Admittedly we do not have 3D nor IMAX cinema here in central Africa, so I just saw 2D version and can not comment on this very subjective 3D perception.
But everything seems to be moving to 3D - now major TV companies threaten us with 3D content, all hardware vendors promise 3D, so it seems like it's almost here (by here I mean: now in the US, not now in Africa ;-). Recently even Blue Ray Consortium defined 3D BR disc standard...
But I do not see it coming and being widely-adopted. Personally I have no need for 3D. And not because I'd have to buy a new TV set, I just... don't see it. For me 4K is the future, not 3D. Whatcha think?