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without analysis there's no reason to play.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

It's all in here.

Since when?

When did I descend into my current state of bouncing to and from fear and relief? Why am I now more afraid to lose at Chess, more afraid to play a game of Go, more afraid to sing the wrong note, more afraid to fail? Why am I living the life of a coward? Why am I so insecure that I'm even writing this post?

Let me sleep on it.

9th NEC Cup - Day 2

Day two of the NEC Cup was great too. Words are inadequate to describe it. Here are some photos instead.


The Pro playing teaching games
Japanese Professional player, Mr. Maki Sakai, 7-dan, playing teaching games

Pro playing teaching games from another Angle
A closer shot of Mr. Maki Sakai playing teaching games

A Tournament Game
A tense tournament game

Another Tournament Game
Another tense tournament game


The event was wonderful, and I applaud NEC Australia and the Melbourne Go Club for organising it so well.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

9th NEC Cup - Day 1

I promised that I'd be a conscientious blogger and do some reporting of this event, but it's almost midnight, I need to be awake at 7:00 am, and the photos turned out badly without the flash.

Here's one which turned out ok.

9th NEC Cup - Day 1


It's been great so far.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Pre-tournament nerves

I'm doing some last minute mental preparation before the big day tomorrow. I'm taking some deep breaths, breathing in, breathing out, emptying the mind, readying the body. I'm getting ready to pounce like a tiger all over my opponent's position. I'm coughing. Wait. Coughing? Ah! In all the excitement I forgot to breathe in again...

Thursday, April 21, 2005

NEC Cup

I've not played much Go lately because of Chess. All that will change over the weekend though, as I head towards St. Kilda this weekend for the Annual NEC Cup. This is one of the biggest tournments held in Victoria, and probably Australia as well. It's being held over two days, Sat 23rd and Sun 24th of April, consisting of six rounds, and up to 15 hours of gameplay in total. It'll be gruelling, it'll be hard, but it'll be fun and rewarding.

Here's a copy of the timetable for any interested parties.
NEC Cup

I went last year as an observer, and had an absolutely awesome time. This year I'm a competitor, so chances are that it'll be even better. I'll be taking photos and staying alert the whole time, so expect a post or two over the weekend covering tournament happenings.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Feeling like a kid again!

Sometimes I feel that being pushed through institutions robs my mind of that joy of learning I had as a child. Today, my mind fought back. A single leaking pen formed the catalyst for an hour of kid-like exuberance.

Imagine a student sitting in a lecture focusing intently on the material being presented. Imagine that this student has a pen, and is fiddling with it in an absent-minded manner. After a while, he decides to look at the pen, and discovers to mild shock that his hands are covered in ink. He sits there for a while, staring at his hands, still half-listening to the lecture, then abruptly he leaves the room, dashing off to the direction of the washrooms.

He returns a short while later, with his hands noticably cleaner, and a smirk on his face. You see him gingerly pick up what appears to be a leaky pen, and grimace as he carefully drops it into the bin. He returns to his desk. After another short interval, you see him tear a sheet of lined paper from his folder quite aggressively. You curiously watch as he proceeds to wipe his hands with the lined paper, and smile as you see ink stains appear as he progresses. He finishes, drops the paper in the bin, and returns to his desk.

Well, suprise suprise, that student was me. I realised today, that if I was still enjoying having a pen leak on me, still enjoying trying to carefully wipe off the ink with make-do tissues, and still enjoying conveying dramatic expressions on my face during the process, that I am indeed still a kid. And a kid need not be serious, need not worry about what needs to be done, need not write off spending time on his hobbies as procrastination, need not be afraid to experiment. And a happy child, happy children, well, they are the best of all! They laugh, and smile, and sing, and bring happiness to the world.

I sang all the way home, and continued at the top of my lungs for around 15 minutes once I'd gotten back. For today, the world is wonderful, and I am content. All because of a leaky pen.

Chemical Engineering Overload

Ivan asks, in regards to my recent post on procrastination, what exactly I am meant to be doing so early in the year, so far removed from the exam period.

Answer: A heck of a lot of Chemical Engineering!

This is the result of two factors, the old Monash Engineering course stucture, and the cramming, "put my head down for two weeks before exams" study style I used (to comparatively unsatisfactory effect) at the end of last semester.

The first factor boils down to having six four-credit subjects a semester instead of four six-credit subjects. Theoretically, each four-credit subject should have less workload than a six-credit one, and this is probably the actual situation. However, I still feel that having the six subjects is more difficult. Since with six subjects, the variety of content is greater, material is considerably harder to mentally link together. As each subject is taught over a number of mostly one hour lectures each week, by the time your mind gets "in the zone", the lecture is mostly over.

As for the second factor, some subjects/topics which I glossed over in first and second year are returning to have their revenge. If any future engineering student or current first/second year engineering student comes across this, the following, which appear prima facie to have no practical relavence may come back to haunt you:
  1. Fourier Series
  2. Taylor Series
  3. Integration by Parts
  4. Integrating Factors
  5. Solution methods of ODEs and PDEs
  6. Grad, Div and Curl
I knew the concepts during the relavent exam period, but now? Back to the books.


With all this Chemical Engineering I've been inundated with, I think I'm starting to develop symptoms of Chemical Engineering Overload, including:
  1. Engaging in Chemical Engineering humour - e.g. bringing up the Ideal Gas law with regards to toilet humour
  2. After a hefty dinner, starting a sentence with "If we assume that the digestive system is a CSTR and PFR in series...." then thinking it would be cool to do a fourth year design project describing the rudimentary workings of the human body as a series of unit operations
  3. Thinking it would be equally cool to put together a small pilot-scale production plant in the garage (Soy-drink, ginger beer or chocolate production were the priorties!)
  4. When I was feeling particularly proud of myself for overcoming my procrastinatory tendancies, saying something along the lines of "Yes! I'm approaching Carnot efficiency"

Really, sometimes I worry even myself.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Politically Active Chess Enthusiasts on Campus!

Using analogies between Chess and politics can be an interesting way of making a point. I didn't quite understand what the point being made here, but I gathered it was to do with the sentiment that we're all just pawn's in Howard's game.

Political Chess

Apparently the black pieces represented the faceless student union members, and as for the white pieces? See for yourself.

I felt kind of bad, as in one game, I had the black pieces and suffered a slow, crushing, but inevitable defeat. Not the best symbolic message to convey at "I love my student union" week. However, I feel that the effect that the Voluntary Student Unionism bill will have on the (non-faculty) clubs and societies at Universities around Australia will probably be similar to my defeat: a slow, crushing and inevitable death.

Chessic Procrastination

I write about procrastination way too much on this blog. I think perhaps that this might suggest to readers that I am lazy. In my defence, I'd like any readers to know that when I procrastinate, I procrastinate hard.

It always seems to catch me by suprise, this peculiar habit of mine. I procrastinate from my University studies by spending 3-4 hours a day studying something else. I have a history of doing this which has stuck since first-semester first-year.

That semester, my procrastinatory interest was GNU/Linux. During semester, I installed Gentoo, had a look at the source code of various programs, and wrote a few scripts in Python to manipulate and display various pieces of information from the web.

Second semester first year and first semester second year, my pet interest was Go. I ended up buying a lot of Go books, playing daily on IGS, visiting Go clubs twice weekly (1 hour transport each way), and teaching the basic rules to anyone who cared to listen.

Second semester second year, I decided to learn Japanese. I'd had a bit of practice before this, as I had studied two years of Japanese in high school. Again, I bought a whole lot of books, did a lot of exercises from them, and watched a lot of anime fansubs. It was interesting, and matched quite well with my interest in Go.

And now? What have I been doing for the last week or so?

I've been working at improving my chess. This has a lot to do with my current commitee role at the Monash University Chess Association as President. Ah, what a crushing blow to my ego it was to realise that I wasn't even among the stronger players at the club. After a string of demoralising defeats, especially to the vice-president (the strongest player by far), I was motivated to improve.

So far, my study regimen has been to start working through Sharpen Your Tactics!, to play "rated tournament games" in Chessmaster 9000, going through Chessmaster's & Fritz's analysis of the games, and to read through Averbach's Chess Endings:Essential Knowledge. I also decided to buy a few Chess training software packages from Convecta through Australian Chess Enterprises.

I'm curious. Do a lot of people out there also like to throw themselves whole-heartedly at a hobby as a means of procrastination? Please share your interesting procrastinatory experiences!

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Carrot-stick elaboration

I thought I might elaborate on the post I made last night, since random ranting on carrots and sticks does no-one much good. I've found my carrot-sticks, and they are push-ups.

Recently, I've been falling into a downward spiral, where I feel guilty because I've been procrastinating, and I procrastinate because I feel guilty (and hence not "in the mood" for study). By making myself do a few sets of push-ups when I'm feeling guilty over my procrastinatory habits, I'm able to break the cycle and free myself from it's evil grasp.

The push-ups help by:
  1. supplying a needed dose of endorphins, and
  2. alleviating the guilt.
This makes me feel much better, and I can study happily.

The push-up thing is not a reward, since I don't like doing push-ups, but it's not really punishment either, since they end up making me happy. For lack of a better metaphor, I hereby dub them my carrot-sticks, and with any luck, they shall support me well.

The Age has an article on another, more controversial type of carrot-stick here.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Never mind the carrot! Where's the stick?

I'm having a little trouble finding either at the moment. Maybe I should be looking for a carrot-stick?

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Convenience Food of the Month: Wonton Noodle Soup!

This is mainly aimed for the time-pressured University students/law practitioners out there.

Wonton Noodle Soup

Ingredients
  • 1 packet of Wonton skins*
  • 1 packet of dried shitake mushrooms*
  • 1 bunch of spring onions (Finely Chopped)
  • 300g of minced meat (I used beef)
  • 150g of deshelled, uncooked prawns (Diced)
  • large amounts of dried Chinese-style noodle
Marinade
  • 1 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 2 tsp light soy-sauce
  • A dash of Black pepper (I prefer coursely ground)
* These can be obtained from your nearest Asian grocery store.

Proceedure
  1. Marinate the minced meat in the marinade ingredients.
  2. Begin soaking the dried shitake mushrooms in hot water.
  3. Add the spring onions, uncooked prawns to the meat, mixing well. (You'll have to use your hands for this. It can get messy)
  4. Dice the dried mushrooms after they have been given suffficent time to rehydrate. Add to meat mixture, and mix well.
  5. Now for the fun part: folding wontons.
  6. Take 1 tsp of the meat mixture, and place it in the center of a Wonton skin.
  7. Wet the edges of the wonton-skin by dipping your fingers in water and running your finger along the edge of the wonton-skin.
  8. Fold two of the opposite corners across, so that you now have a triangle package with filling in the middle. Press together firmly at the edges. N.B. The water should make the two sides of the skin stick together.
  9. Wet, then fold the two acute-angled corners across the body of the wonton. That's it! One wonton.
  10. Repeat steps 5-8 until you have either run out of filling or run out of wonton skins.
Makes 40-50 Wontons.

You should get something looking a little like this:

Wontons

As you can see, I've eaten most of my wontons already, but it's basically the same idea.

The most convenient aspect of these babies is that they freeze extraordinarily well. During the freezing process, they have a slight tendency to stick together, but once frozen, they can be easily seperated by applying force to the body of the wontons. Wontons very versatile, and in conjunction with a good dried Chinese-style noodle, can be eaten for any meal of the day.

Cooking the wontons
  1. Place the required number of wontons in boiling water.
  2. Place noodles (if any) into same pot of boiling water.
  3. Cook with lid on until Wontons float to surface.
Depending on how strong/subtle you want the flavour of the soup to be, you can add a cube of chicken stock, a dash of soy-sauce or a few finely chopped fresh chillies.

The preparation takes around half an hour to an hour, but you'll get many a hearty healthy meal out of this one bout of preparation. Once you have the wontons, cooking takes around 3-5 minutes. Last night's dinner (and though it's hard to tell, it's a bowl):

Wonton-soup

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Need for a suit

Moot court: role-play, dress-up, adrenaline, after-buzz, looks good on CV, what more could a law student ask for? Well, a huge yellow caution sign along the lines of the following might be useful:-

Warning: Legal minds at play
For safety reasons, a suit
is highly recommended.


Shirt and tie just doesn't cut it I'm afraid. I felt like a duck out of water in the same way as an engineer without an RPN calculator, a geek without Unixes, or a college student without p2p filesharing programs might. Now, where's a good place in Melbourne for a student (read: little money) to buy a suit from?

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

AIV Easterfeast Photos

Well it seems referrer logs can help you find useful information.

Here are more Adelaide Intervarsity Easterfest photos. These ones were taken by Brett.

Thanks, guy/gal who landed on my site by googling easterfest Adelaide photos!

Monday, April 04, 2005

Long rewarding day

I'm beginning to see how Ivan, with his many-hour working days is still able to blog so regularly. Today was my first experience at mimicking the seemingly insane hours of lawyerdom. Why, do you ask? Well, if you've looked carefully at the second screenshot of this post, you might already know.

I awoke at 6:00 am, polished off an assignment until 9:30 am, rushed off to the LSS office for 10:00 am, and spent from 10:00 am till 8:30 pm working on the moot problem. Yes, that note to self about finding out about the moot - that's done now. I reckon I've done a good solid 14 hours today of University semi-related work.

It's nice to be able to have a long day at "work", and be able to get home, have dinner (btw, I love my housemates, who left dinner for me), have a shower, blog, and then go to sleep. So far I'm at the blogging stage. Blogging also seems that little bit more pleasant by way of comparison.

I noticed that you don't get much "me time" while reading/photocopying cases, formulating arguments in your head and trying to structure your thoughts logically. Maybe that's why the blog is such a nice virtual home to return to. The walk back from University at night was enjoyable too; dark, quiet, perfect for both introspection, and loud mis-singing of random bits of the Faure Requiem. Did I mention I love my housemates?

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Hit the panic button

Sometimes I feel like I need external pressure in order to perform. It seems my wish has been fulfilled. It's time to hit the big red panic button. Ah! I can feel the adrenaline pumping already.

Twitch, twitch. Time to get a-rollin'.

Playing with new GNU/Linux toys

I've spent the last few days playing around with some pretty bleeding-edge GNU/Linux toys. I've now got beagle and tomboy installed, as well as the OpenOffice.org 2.0 beta.

Beagle is an awesome "personal information space" searching tool. It can index all files you create/download, IM conversations, RSS feed-items that you've read, emails you've sent/recieved; basially any information you've written/seen on your computer. It's really quick too! I type for example transport, into the Beagle Search Tool, and get this in around 3-4 seconds:

Beagle

Nifty, huh?

Tomboy is another cool mono app. It's a note taking application. It doesn't sound very exciting, but this baby has the potential to save me from having to search my room for random post-its. You can highlight any phrase in any note, and create a new note that's linked to the old note. Here's the screenie:

Tomboy

Each red underlined phrase in the note shown links to another note with more information, more notes, etc. This is another amazingly useful application.

As for OpenOffice.org 2.0 beta? Well that's awesome too, but the major reason I upgraded that is because the Fedora Core package for OO.org 1.1x list some GNOME 2.8 libraries as dependancies. I'm intending to play with more cool mono apps (i.e. muine) that seem to require portions of GNOME 2.10. Hence the OO.org upgrade. That being said, installing software clearly marked beta when you need to use it to finish a group assignment for the day after is perhaps not the best idea. Still, so far OO.org 2.0 beta looks a lot cleaner, and seems to load up faster to boot.

I'm finding these days that GNU/Linux is a more comfortable environment for working in. The only times I use Windows now is when I want to play Chess ala Chessmaster.