Shards of Time

Aug. 18th, 2017 09:39 pm
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It's been a strange and disruptive past few days, and one which I am at peace with a certain resilience to stich things together and still have the opportunity for other actions. Initially the most serious problem was the discovery early Tuesday morning that Spartan had crashed. I quickly diagnosed it as a networking issue; the home, project, and scratch directories had all been lost and along with it, every running job screamed and died. As others came on board and I fielded users, we eventually narrowed it down to what appears to be a bug in a Cisco switch that was sending duplicate packets. Congratulations are due to Nhat, NinjaDan, Linh, and Mark M., for their efforts here. Making good of the opportunity we restarted all the nodes with a kernel upgrade as well, which were intending to do anyway, and brought nearly all the partitions online. Overall the detection, investigation, and recovery took the better part of two days, and I cannot help but be impressed by how calm and smoothly the operations ran under such apparent disaster. Arguably the degree of panic in situations like this is an indication of experienced versus inexperienced sysadmins.



The following day went to the hospital to visit Rick and also to see the social worker and doctor to discuss his situation. I signed myself up to pay for his transitional care until VCAT approves my application to receive power of financial attorney in addition to medical attorney. Six months ago he was giving presentations on the admixture of modern humans with archiac hominids, and the peculiar differences between reptilian and mammalian brains. Now, due to rapid onset dementia, he doesn't know what suburb he'd lived in for the past thirty years, the fact he has a brother, or where he was born, and his vocabulary has been reduced to probably less than a dozen words. He'll be spending his days staring out the window or at the television in his room, and that's all there is to it. I'll visit his flat and see if there's any music for him, based on prior studies. It's terrible witnessing such a clever and diverse mind disappear so quickly.

There have been other activities in the past few days. I have preparing heavily for the Isocracy AGM on Wednesday evening which will be addressed by Kos Samaras, assistant state-secretary of the Victorian ALP, speaking on The Reawakening of the Working Class. My own latest written contribution to Isocracy in the past few days has been a piece of the advantages of proportional representation. On Wednesday night we caught up with old university science fiction friend and now Greens activist, Tom S. and friend to see the director's cut of Dark City, the noir SF film which still well holds over the years. Finally, to finish things off last night went to a meeting of Free Software Melbourne at Electron Workshop; whilst it was supposed to be a games night we were distracted by the presence of Margaret Gordon, a documentary maker who wanted to know more about this Linux thing.
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The past couple of days have seen two of my proposed presentations accepted by two difference conferences. One is for eResearch Australasia on andragogical methods in teaching high performance computing, which I'll be helped by an HPC educator from Goethe University Frankfurt, and the second being the IEEE eScience conference in New Zealand on cluster-cloud architectures which I'll receive assistance from the HPC group at the Albert Ludwigs University of Freiburg. In addition, Friday was a particularly good workday as we held a workshop for about a dozen various HPC systadmins from around the university, as part of the massive upgrade to the Spartan system from being a relatively small and experimental system, to one of the most powerful in the world. I effectively have been given the coordinating role for this group and already several good ideas have come out the workshop for improvements and preparations as we integrate a six-rack GPU partition to our existing infrastructure. Apropos I am off to NCI in early September for their HPC course and will be taking the PRACE online supercomputing course to see how they do things.

Yesterday we visited [livejournal.com profile] hathhalla and [livejournal.com profile] ser_pounce for our irregular CheeseQuest and the next chapter of Mice and Mystics, which was not at all successful for the noble rodents. Afterwards played game of Pandemic: Reign of Cthulhu, which we prevented the destruction of the world with one turn to spare - it's notably a very quick game. On returning home completed a review of Hunter Planet which will soon be going into RPG Review. I've just been in contact with the original author about my ideas for rules revisions (most of which I tested over 25 yeares ago) and a new scenario implementing Peter Jackson's Bad Taste. I'm also currently writing a version of GURPS Autoduel to fit with the Mad Max series, all of which are contributions to the now late issue of RPG Review.

It is good to able to return to a moderately normal set of topics in life. Previous posts of deaths, funerals, and loss of cognitive functions have been quietly uspetting, despite a calm personal exterior. About twenty years ago a person, who didn't know me that well, was engaged in conversation about motivation and emotions. He used the phrase 'Still waters run deep' to describe me. I appreciated the accurate encapsulation, and indeed have tried cultivate that part of my character (not always successfully). As an obvious variation, I am certainly not the silent type and express my considered views with some abandon. But it is the considered views that I express. I will either ask a question if I don't know something or I will make proposition if I am fairly certain of something. It is part of my recognition (and I do lay claim to coining this phrase) that deeply considered convictions are better than deeply ingrained prejudices, even if the emotional response is the same.

Funerals of a Feather

Aug. 9th, 2017 11:18 pm
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Last day in Perth was dedicated to spending at Erica W.'s funeral at the Fremantle Cemetery. It was, of course, an opportunity for the living to catch up and express their sorrow at the loss of this marvellous and talented woman. There was, of course, humorous anecdotes, sound advice from the departed, and genuine outpourings of grief. I particularly feel for Lucas, her husband of the past seventeen years, who was very close to her in both the personal and professional sense. A sensitive soul in his own right, these must be very difficult days for him. The celebrant also mentioned that in several locations around the world smaller services were being held in her honour, a tribute to her scope and talent, and finished with a recommendation from the departed: Get weird!.

The day after my arrival in Melbourne was Lachlan's funeral at the Renowden Chapel at the Springvale Cemetery and Botanical Gardens (whoever thought of that combination had their head screwed on right). The inclusion of Lachlan's top-hat on the coffin was a particularly beautiful and sad feature. Again, almost in mirror form, included some frankly hilarious stories and reflection on those deeply honourable features of his personality. As Lachlan was in the habit of calling for birthday drinks, due in around a month, [livejournal.com profile] damien_wise and myself have stepped up to the task of organising one more celebration for this great individual.

It is a curious twist of the tyranny of distance and time that Erica W., and Lachlan S., never met each other. If they did, I am certain that they would have gotten along famously. With similar sensibilities, and quite clearly similar tastes in fashion, I have a mental image of Erica taking great delight in designing an outfit for Lachlan who, true to his style, would have worn it everywhere. I know there is a handful of people who knew both of them (including [livejournal.com profile] caseopaya). But I was the only one who was present at both departures. I feel like a curious trans-Nullabor bridge, a gregarious nature that has been blessed with the opportunity to know the spirits of two kindred individuals who should have met in life but never did.

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