Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Christmas Debrief

Did everyone survive their Yuletide stresses and excesses? I hope so: I know some readers of this blog will have been having a more difficult time at Christmas this year than most of us. My best wishes to you -- you know who you are.

I had a very satisfactory spread of loot this year: a book*, a bottle, a video, a pair of trousers, and a new wallet. Oh, and one of those fantasy Oxfam goats. I bought the Prof one of those new, cheaper Kindles,** and setting it up this afternoon reminded me of one the funnier things I saw this year: a sketch on YouTube from the Norwegian show "Øystein og jeg" from 2001 (written by Knut Nærum), generally referred to as Mediaeval Help Desk. It is particularly funny if you have ever tried to help extremely intelligent people -- who really don't enjoy being made to feel stupid -- cope with unfamiliar IT. Both actors play their roles to perfection.

Talking of Help Desks, the IT department at my university have declared a total IT shut-down from 3-6 January, due to an urgent need to replace faulty electrical circuits in their main machine room. As I would have pretty much nothing to do on those four days, I'm taking them as leave, which -- added to the main closure from Christmas to New Year -- means I'm getting an unprecedented two week break this year.

This idea of closing for the week between the two main mass binges seems to be becoming quite normal for large institutions, and probably needs to be questioned (in a very quiet voice, though) -- I know it drives our overseas students nuts, not to be able to access basic facilities like libraries or catering during that time. I suspect it is seen as simply (yet more) evidence of the decline of our godless, hedonistic civilisation into decadence.

If this is decadence, then bring it on, is what I say. Know what? I think I'm in the mood for another mince pie!

* The book was Richard Misrach's "Destroy This Memory". I was grateful, of course, but I've decided that one of my New Year's Resolutions is going to be: No more photobooks which are too big for a normal bookshelf i.e. taller than 30cm or deeper than 32cm. In fact, I may start buying exclusively "small" ones i.e. smaller than A4.

** Myself, I'm lusting after the Kindle Fire, rumoured to be due for release in the UK in January.

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