J. Martin

September 25, 2022

September Sun

Another week went by without blog posts, photo edits, or any other social media activities of note. Instead, I’ve been busy with a thousand other things, among them working on my Clash of Realities presentation for next Wednesday. This week won’t be different in that regard—after several appointments on Monday and Tuesday, I’ll be in C...
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September 18, 2022

A Frantically Quiet Week

Not a lot to tell—I’m back in the world of the living, thanks to a late 2015 21.5″ iMac I borrowed from my university’s IT department. It runs macOS 12.6 Monterey, it’s admirably fast for its age, and the crack along the upper part of the display is practically invisible in night mode. Thus, all I did last week was set up the Mac and c...
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September 11, 2022

Comin’ Apart at Every Nail

This was a terrible week. It started off just fine; my Playdate arrived, and I was looking forward to unboxing and playing around with it over the weekend. But then, Thursday night, my Late 2015 27″ Retina iMac died. I tried what I could—I’m a certified computer support technician, after all—but to no avail. Hard disk, RAM, power suppl...
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September 4, 2022

Slight Sputter at Higher Speeds

I’d be lying if I said it was the most disciplined and productive week ever; the check mark distribution on my to-do list is suspiciously sparse. But at least I continued working on my second edition of Ludotronics. Back in June and July, I rearranged, rewrote, or scrapped a substantial number of passages I felt could be clearer, had c...
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August 28, 2022

Vacation Diary | Wrap-Up

Spending one’s summer vacation at home isn’t the same as going on vacation. At home, you’re not confronted with unfamiliar surroundings, new and different people, or novel activities, and that’s the problem—your overall time-out counts a lot less without a mental time-out from all the things you pursue and think about on a daily basis....
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August 21, 2022

Vacation Diary | Week 3

Not a lot to tell—I’ve been doing my best to relax while climate catastrophe effects temporarily keep the pandemic in check; Putin’s openly genocidal assault against the Ukraine continues; fossil fuel industries make obscene profits from the war and rob people blind; and any common effort toward change in this country that I live in is...
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August 14, 2022

Vacation Diary | Week 2

The second week was more relaxed than the first, and I managed to keep away from almost all work-related activities. I’m so proud of myself! :D Most of the time, I lived on the balcony, enjoying the sun. I also listened to music a lot, which I hadn’t done for ages; a balanced mix of art music and popular music albums that I randomly se...
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August 7, 2022

Vacation Diary | Week 1

The first week was off to a rocky start thanks to another COVID scare—a friend whom my SO had met last weekend called in on Monday to tell us they were positive, which meant checks and being hyperalert to every real or imagined physical irregularity until we could be sure we didn’t catch it after all, which was around Thursday. Things ...
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July 31, 2022

Halting Problem

Officially, I’m on vacation in August. Once again, thanks to the pandemic, I’m not going anywhere except on my new & improved balcony. Third year in a row, Japan’s still highly restrictive entry regulations make it impossible for me to visit my friends there, bummer. And even though I finished the major revision for my textbook’s secon...
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July 24, 2022

An Enjoyable Week

Last week appeared frighteningly normal. The weather had its ups and down, but then got back into the 85+ °F range right where I love it. I wrote, edited, mentored students, celebrated my birthday, went to an indie developer event that was great, and met with friends to eat and drink improbable amounts of gambas and Super Bock, respect...
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July 17, 2022

5 O’Clock

Y’all might have heard about Germany’s €9 ticket for public transportation, which might or might not become a €69 ticket in the future so that poor people on the trains are no longer a hassle. The problem is, and that’s completely unrelated to how many people actually use Germany’s public transportation system at any one time, it doesn...
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July 10, 2022

Snakes and Letters

Last week, after finally getting around to fixing up the balcony, I sat outside every free minute and enjoyed every degree of Fahrenheit. For no particular reason, then, this (slightly abbreviated) quote from John Barth’s The Sot-Weed Factor came to my mind—“Blind Nature howls without, but here ’tis calm—how dare we leave? Yet lookee r...
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July 3, 2022

Heating Up

Where by “heating up,” I don’t mean the summer, which is fine, but Corona incidence rates of 800+, the end of free COVID-19 tests, and the phasing out of most mask mandates around where I live. So far, I’ve been lucky—I attended two events, the Match Me last week and the Indie Game Fest two weeks ago. At the latter, I kept masking up m...
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June 26, 2022

When Everything Everywhere Gets Worse All the Time

Welcome to the world of war, pestilence, red and white fascism, religious nationalism, eliminatory heteronormativity, and the subjugation of women; a world where education is underfunded and terrible, knowledge and understanding increasingly worthless, science held hostage by crooks and charlatans, and information simultaneously contro...
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June 19, 2022

Feels Like Home

I know it’s bad for the planet and the people and everything at this time of the year, but ≥ 85 °F is actually the temperature at which I feel most comfortable and most motivated for work, sports, everything, with a shot of hyperactivity even. I miss the Tucson area, love Singapore in high summer, Tōkyō in August. No AC, please! Each d...
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June 12, 2022

Are You Sure This Is Your Third Wish

After most lecture duties for the term had ended three weeks ago, I’ve successfully replaced it with a grueling writing schedule—between six and eight hours daily, split between Ludotronics (late morning to early afternoon) and Voidpunk (early evening to whenever), with sports, chores, blogs, snacks, and social media stuff in between. ...
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June 5, 2022

Slacking Off a Bit

Last year around late summer/early fall, two pigeon babies hatched, grew up, learned to fly, and left their nest right outside the bedroom window. Week before last, the pigeon parents built another nest at the exact same spot and commenced breeding soon after. Today, alas, the nest was empty. I checked down below; nothing had fallen ou...
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May 29, 2022

On the Cutting Edge of Relaxation

The very moment an entirely reasonable deadline is attached to a task, my brain throws a switch and compels me to try and complete that task in half the allotted time or less. On the one hand, there’s a good rationale to go about it that way—Hofstadter’s Law, for example. Or the experience that it takes 50% of the total time spent on a...
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May 22, 2022

Before Concluding, Let Me Briefly

Last week, I got another booster shot, met old friends, and spent most of my time in interminable meetings. They weren’t bad or unproductive or anything—just interminable. Then again, some individual contributions were strongly reminiscent of this classic Calvin & Hobbes cartoon. Sigh. Students, it must be said, are also often carried ...
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May 15, 2022

What Year Is This?

I surfaced last Friday for my first free day since late March, all the weekends included, after brutal lecture blocks at two universities, bachelor exams, and tons of other stuff I wasn’t able to put off. I celebrated the occasion by chasing a substantial burrito with tortilla chips and a bottle of Corona beer—my first alcoholic bevera...
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May 8, 2022

One More Week

Somehow, my larynx survived another week with 20+ hours’ worth of lectures plus oral exams without collapsing, but it was so critical at times that I switched from black coffee to hot lemon, tea, and honey. That drastically lowered my body’s caffeine levels, of course, which in turn exacerbated a migraine attack on Wednesday to levels ...
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May 1, 2022

Hello *taps larynx* Is This On

Oh great. Last Friday, after 24 hours of lectures that week plus one full day of oral exams for bachelor’s degrees, my voice broke away. I felt like being five minutes away from a full-scale laryngitis—with two more weeks to go at lecture speeds of 20 and 18 hrs/week, respectively, plus oral exams. After that, things will finally settl...
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April 24, 2022

A Train on Speed

My days are not just packed. They are coupled together into an infinite string of railroad cars, pulled by a deranged train engine, screaming along without respite from a clouded past into a distant future. Which reminds me that—at an art exhibition in Basel, Switzerland, a long time ago—I saw H. R. Giger’s original train model that wa...
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April 17, 2022

Rant Ahead

Many of those who pursue an academic carrier, me included, become a bit territorial along the way. That can be a bad thing, of course. You can begin to deny that people outside academia have brilliant and innovative ideas too, including in your own field. You can cease to reflect on yourself and your work and fall prey to déformation p...
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April 10, 2022

I Need a Vacation

Weekend before last, pressed for time for a book proposal I’d promised to hand in by Monday, I worked through from Friday night to Monday morning. That had become necessary because the week before, I’d done something really stupid. I’d taken hydrocortisone prescription drugs for three days to reduce possible middle-ear inflammation. Th...
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April 3, 2022

A Belated Anniversary

After sending off my newsletter last week, the question popped up in my head about how long I had been writing them. A few months, at most; or that was what I thought. When I flipped through them to the beginning and counted, it turned out the number was fifty-four, adding up to more than a year. One year! So while I never missed writi...
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March 27, 2022

Parrots and Putins

If some of your most stridently held beliefs were suddenly publicly supported by, say, Stalin or Charlie Manson, one would think it should give you pause. Like it should give pause to that reprehensible billionaire TERF Queen, who just got a publicity boost from Vladimir Putin. Or all those white Christian evangelical Republicans, whos...
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March 20, 2022

The Trick Is to Keep Breathing

Keeping the entire range of relevant emotions alive in the face of outrageous cruelty and suffering on an incomprehensible scale is exhausting. Over time, it wears you down. Internal strategies kick in—cutting yourself off from the news, adapting a false sense of optimism, convincing yourself that all is lost in any case, creating excu...
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March 13, 2022

Alignments of Evil

For several years, I’ve been following the @RealTimeWWII Twitter account. It live-tweets the Second World War each day as it had happened—from Nazi Germany’s invasion of Poland, September 1939, to today, March 13, 1944, and beyond. All the time, it’s been both eerie and revolting to watch the alignment of bygone Nazi atrocities with th...
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March 6, 2022

Yesterday’s News

During rapidly evolving crises like Putin’s act of terror against the Ukraine, the Russian people, and humanity in general, I habitually read less news instead of more. The reason is that almost every piece of news becomes yesterday’s news right away. To keep up with current events, a few quick checks per day suffice, Twitter included....
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