i'm a crazy welsh person (who grew up and lives in switzerland)

Monday, March 31, 2008

The Moment

This is it. The moment I've been waiting for. The moment I've been working towards, hoping for, praying for for the past five and a half years, never really daring to believe it would ever actually happen.

I've printed the three mandatory copies. I've just finished binding the third copy. I walk the length of the hall to my supervisor's office. I've walked past it. I go back one door. No. Still the wrong name. I turn back again. Two doors down is Felix's office. That can't be right. I must still be too far. I reverse direction a third time.
This time I peer carefully at each door, I know it's one of the offices along here, I've had weekly meetings here for the last six months!

Finally. I've found it. I knock. I walk in and hand him the three copies. We speak. Who knows what, I am lost in this fog.

I have completed my master's degree. It's here. The moment I've been dreaming of. And yet, for the last week or so it's been a moment I've dreaded almost as much as I've desired it. No, not because I haven't found a job yet. I'm fine with that. I have a job at McDonald's for as long as I need it. No. That's not what's been scaring me.

What now?

Not 'Where does my life go from here?'
Not 'How should I spend this week?'

These questions will work themselves out. I have plans, even some answers. It will all be fine. As long as I get past...

What now? What RIGHT NOW?

I have spent the last two weeks, no, more, at the computer. Not a single day in the last 20 that I have not been here at this desk at university, working on this project. I haven't slept properly for months. I haven't been drinking coffee, I even managed to wean myself off Red Bull and I only started drinking tea by the pot this last week. Even so, I am seriously sleep deprived. I have a stabbing pain all down the right side of my head. It's been my constant companion for the
last few weeks. I don't think it was here before. It's hard to remember.


I'm relieved. I can feel it deep down, where I've locked it away for fear of its enormity. If I let it out, I'll be overwhelmed. I can feel my heartbeat in the back of my neck.

I'm serious. What do I do? Help me!

If I let go, what will happen?

Yesterday I thought when the time came I would feel the need to run up and down the streets like a mad thing shouting 'I win! I win!'

Yesterday I thought when the time came I would feel like jumping out of the window and flying away. (Exhilaration could be a dangerous thing)

Yesterday I thought I would feel like lying on the floor and crying.

Today I just feel the need to lie on the floor and never get up. Ever.

I feel numb. And yet not numb. This state I'm in... it's beyond my ability to express it.

I know there is only one way to escape this state. I have to let go. I have to let myself think about the fact that after five and a half long years I have completed my degree. I must accept the relief, the joy, the recklessness, the exhilaration, no matter how dangerous. For surely this is worse.

I move my head to look through the window. I observe the movement as if from outside myself. Surely this is worse.

I'm scared.

basic sums

in 8 hours and 20 minutes i have to hand in my master thesis in electrical engineering (and i'm going to make it if i don't get distracted again) (oh yes, and if the computer finally coughs up the last set of results i need desperately). one would assume someone who's made it this far could do elementary sums. such as 4=1+3 for example. but no. not i... (me? i don't thinks so. who knows? Dr. Grammar, but right now i really don't care)

anyway, i had to make copies of my project definition (i don't know, that's how leo translated 'aufgabenstellung'). i need four copies of it. so off i went to the photocopier. made one copy to make sure the machine was working ok. it was. 'right, i need three more copies then,' i say to myself. four copies, that's what i need.

sorting them out on the desk just now... hmm, why are there... oh. oopsy...

well done vicky ;-)

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Sunday, March 30, 2008

yahoo search for 'girls in thongs'...

and my blog appears twice in the top five! i guess three times now with this post as well ;-)

i was procrastinating again. my results don't look good and i can't decide how to present them. so i was suddenly overcome by the urge to see what my blog traffic's been doing recently. my favourite page is 'recent visitors by referrals', i love to see how people have got onto my blog. and today i found a gem of a referral :-D

yahoo search results for 'girls in thongs'

how utterly random is that?!

well, the poor guy was obviously disappointed with the lack of visuals of frolicking thong-wearing honeys, he didn't stick around :-D

haha, that's just made my day! what a laugh :-)

[edit: it seems i no longer appear in the top 5 listings. not even the top five pages. i'm devastated! ah well... ;-)]

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Thursday, March 27, 2008

childish thesaurus searches

our utter knackeredness has degenerated into childishness:

out of boredom i followed the link for booby,
from there to boob,
which lead to a discussion of the word tit (it's a type of bird!)
and then from there to whether you can call someone a tit or if it's always twit,
and from there finally to a search on git

time to go home yet?javascript:void(0)

[edit: ooh look, a random addition to my post! i like it. brain:void(-1) ]

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hallucinating algorithms

i'm currently describing all the different algorithms i originally researched. for most of them this means going back and rereading the whole chapter in the book cause i can't remember anything more than the name. now it turns out, not only are some of the algorithms easier, more interesting and possibly more efficient than my at the time completely overtaxed brain could take in, but i actually managed to hallucinate an algorithm!

in my main table which i used to make the decisions which algorithms to implement and of which i'm supposed to be giving a quick description of every single algorithm (sorry for that sentence, i'm distraught....) i have a nonexistant variant of my main algorithm! it doesn't exist!

i've found the book i must have hallucinated it from, but seriously, the version i wanted to implement is not there! in fact it makes no sense whatsoever! buggrit!

ok, so this could mean i have an algorithm less to explain. but on the other hand it means i have to tell h (my supervisor) i hallucinated algorithms. sorry, didn't i mention, there's a second unconfirmable algorithm. 2 out of twelve, that's 16.66666666% of my algorithms that DON"T EVEN EXIST!!! oh yes, and let's not forget the other one that's not actually an algorithm, but a form of implementation that can be applied to pretty much any division alg...

oh dear...

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simple thesaurus search

dani, (the guy sitting across from me finishing his master thesis) just ran a search on synonyms for 'simple'. he was a bit surprised at the results. it's such a great list of insults that i just had to check it out:

dimwit, doofus, nitwit, half-wit - a stupid incompetent person

dingbat - a silly empty-headed person; "you would be a dingbat even to try it"; "yet here he was with an upper class dingbat who just happened to be married to his sister"

boob, booby, pinhead, dope, dumbbell, dummy - an ignorant or foolish person

fool, muggins, saphead, tomfool, sap - a person who lacks good judgment

changeling, cretin, half-wit, idiot, imbecile, moron, retard - a person of subnormal intelligence

i particularly like the second example usage for dingbat. wtf?

check out the full list at the free dictionary :-)

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survival is everything

i've survived the presentation! hurrah! the beginning of the end! and i mean end in a good way :-)

i don't seem to have embarrassed myself too much. my supervisor helpfully pointed out afterwards that you could tell i was nervous. next time tell me something i don't know... other than that and the fact that i forgot to label the axes of my time-area plot because the results only turned up half an hour before the presentation and i was so stressed, he said it was ok.

damn, i'm glad it's over!

i got here at 7am, my brother tim got me up at ten to six (thanks thanks thanks tim!!!), managed to fix the slides and stuff in the following two hours, all the while chanting 'calm, calm, i'm calm' with a 'shut up vicky, you're making yourself more nervous' thrown in every now and then for good measure...

now i just have to finish the report in three and a half days. 92 hours and 20 minutes to be precise. i'm still missing rather large chunks of it and keep thinking of more stuff that needs to be added :-(

ah well. i'm off on my lunch break at the moment, i can never work properly right after giving a presentation, have to wait for the nerves to calm down... so glad my legs worked when it was my turn to get up there. wasn't convinced they would ;-) and my stomach rumbled right at the end of the previous presentation! but luckily it restrained itself during mine. can you imagine?! ;-)

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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

presentation tomorrow

two minor problems:
a) the results aren't available yet, even though i've got the top 5 processors at the department synthesising like mad.

b) i've sat here staring at a blank slide for the last 10 minutes trying to think up some personal conclusions. the only thing that came to mind is 'i wouldn't do it again'. so i've decided to rename the last slide from 'conclusions' to 'conclusion' and finish with 'i conclude.' see how they react :-)

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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

about presentations

ok, ok, i'll get back to work in a mo! but these posts on presentations caught my eye. i have to present my master thesis the day after tomorrow, you know...

i started off on brazen careerist: presentations 101: its about you not the powerpoint

which lead to guy kawasaki: the 10/20/30 rule

and presentation zen which seems to be a blog all about presentations. i haven't really looked at it yet. maybe before my next presentation ;-)

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i'm being good, i really am

... i've been here since 8.30 am (the train was delayed cause of the snow, i'd have been here earlier otherwise) and working hard. but everyone needs a break now and again. it's lunchtime...

i found this fun blog the lisa show, which has a link to this really weird but fascinating page We Feel Fine. It collects feelings from blog entries around the world and and kind of sorts them by location, age and gender of author, weather at time of post... how bizarre.

well, lunch time is over, but i'll probably go back to it again some time

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Sunday, March 23, 2008

cursing my master thesis

Behold, thou shalt become as popular as a boil on the king's backside, thou offspring of a squashed cockroach!

looky: biblical curse generator at ship of fools


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SATTA : souveränes Auftreten trotz totaler Ahnlungslosigkeit

SSKM : selbst schuld, kein Mitleid.

DAU : dümmster anzunehmender User

PEBKAC : problem exists between keyboard and chair (userfriendly)

LART : local user attitude readjustment tool

FPGA : fucking P*** G**** arsehole

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my night

i'm a moron, there's no doubt about it! after having a temporary lapse of insanity and actually getting some work done, i have now spent all night at the computer playing games and listening to music on youtube... because i sleep too much anyway? you complete idiot vicky!

anyway, to horrify and offend anyone reading, here's the list of the music i listened to:

i think that about covers my crimes last night ;-)

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Saturday, March 22, 2008

working hard

i've been a very good girl today. i had to work at mcdonald's (the last time before i hand in my project, thank goodness!) and i was planning to take the evening off afterwards and relax. but i managed to convince myself to come to uni and draw two block diagrams i'd meant to do yesterday but not got round to (too much blogging, i guess...)

i only meant to be here for an hour or two and now it's been four! i just managed to finish the last block diagram in time to realise the tram just left and if i leave now i'll be waiting at the station for half an hour :-(

but at least i managed to get three new block diagrams done! woohoo! and i found some stuff to optimise in the code for one of my algorithms. on the one hand that's a good thing, cause hopefully now the one that's supposed to be fastest will actually be fastest! but on the other hand it means i have to re-synthesise everything which puts me back a couple of days again! bah!

anyway, i'm going home to relax in front of the tv. i don't care if i need sleep, i can't sleep anyway until i relax a bit ;-)

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Friday, March 21, 2008

what am i doing here?

it's a bit late to ask that now, 10 days before the due date of my master thesis, but why am i studying at the ETH? seriously. i'm not the studenty type. ok, the drinking-loads studenty type, i guess so, but the studying-hard-to-learn-stuff-and-get-a-good-degree type? seriously NOT ME.

so why? i guess cause i could and it sounded interesting. you know. it was interesting, actually. i do like learning about stuff, but not actually studying it.

take the second year exams for example. about 40% fail and have to repeat, so it's a big deal. i remember turning up for one exam and as usual everyone was having the big 'i've been swotting for this one eight hours a day for the last fortnight and i still don't know everything! how much time have you been putting in?' discussion.

my contribution was 'i managed to get my minesweeper highscore down to 92 seconds! yay!'

that's the kind of student i am. what am i doing studying engineering at the top technical uni in switzerland? :-s

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i should be writing my master thesis like mad. but i've got stuck and am surfing the internet instead. i've joined a new network: Twenty Something Bloggers. Typical ;-)

in my search for a suitable profile picture i stumbled over this old example of my infinite specialness that i don't seem to have posted:

my phone can take panoramic pictures and standing in the bar at the top of the guiness store house in dublin i decided to try it out. after carefully reading the instructions (really carefully! twice!!) i took the three pictures. and then declared my phone was too useless to stick them together properly. would you believe it took me about ten minutes to realise i'd taken the pictures in the wrong order...

i'm never going to be able to tell the difference between right and left.

ooh, i did post about it, i just didn't put the picture up...

so, back to describing division algorithms and drawing block diagrams :-(

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Tuesday, March 18, 2008

13 days left and counting

i've found it again. the will to live and finish this stupid master thesis, i mean. so, no i didn't quit :-)

in fact i had quite a successful day today. it only took me about three hours to fix everything that got screwed up yesterday... ;-) what a horrendous day! and to top it off i had a match in the evening.

i left uni practically in tears (every now and again a couple managed to escape, so i'm not sure it counts as 'practically', more 'actually'). i was on the train to the match when i realised i was an hour early! thank God (seriously, it was definitely him!) it was the match in erlenbach, which is the next town from where i live. so i was able to just go home for an hour and recover (i live 5 minutes from the station and the trains run on time every fifteen minutes, this is switzerland *g*)

the recovering started with spending a minute or two lying face down on the bed howling into the pillow. sometimes you just have to. once i was bored of that i read a couple of chapters in the bible.

i don't know what would have happened if i hadn't had that hour of grace, but it wouldn't have been pretty! the thought of getting on court was one of the reasons i was leaking. seriously, at the best of times i'm pretty much out of patience with this team, but in the middle of a nervous breakdown? there's no way i'd have made it without storming off in the middle of the match and i knew it.

the coach thought i was kidding when he asked whether i was up to playing middle hitter for the whole match and i said 'well, physically i am...' peter, that was a heck of a close thing ;-)

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Monday, March 17, 2008

loosing it...

i am not going to quit
i am not going to quit!
i am not going to quit!!
i am not going to quit!!!


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Friday, March 14, 2008

is this some kind of a joke?!

pij and i had dinner at the Uni cafeteria tonight. note the capital U in Uni. that's cause i don't mean any old uni, i don't mean the one i go to (the ETH), i mean Uni Zurich (the ETH's much better *g*). right now it's an important distinction, cause you wouldn't get such bizarreness at the ETH ;-)

afterwards i headed off in search of the loo. set back from the entrance i find a series of doors. the first one has a sign on it saying 'MEN A 11' and one of the usual little male figures after the 11. i think 'isn't that overkill, they already said MEN...' and look at the next door. which has a sign with 'MEN A 12' on it. what, the men get two loos?! ok, so where's the women's?

i then realise that the little figure on the second sign is wearing a skirt. is this some kind of a joke?!?!?! it says MEN, why is there a female stick figure next to MEN?!

i'm a little touchy about rest room signs because, speaking from bizarre experience, i am easily confused even when there is absolutely nothing to be confused about.

i thought i'd posted about it, but i can't seem to find the post. maybe it got left behind in my imagination :-s

i've walked into the men's room before after concentrating hard on reading the signs and getting it right, even when the signs simply said 'damen' and 'herren' which shouldn't be too taxing after growing up in swtizerland!!!

so it took me a while to work out that MEN A stands for mensa A not men's loos A. what moron thought that was a good idea? maybe there's a hidden camera there somewhere ;-)

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Thursday, March 13, 2008

yuck, my mouth smells of coffee!

oh dear, i mean tastes of coffee of course. it seems the revolting stuff hasn't even worked!

not having slept a wink last night (seriously, i was up all night, made it to my desk at the ETH at 6.45am (!!!) this morning after finally giving up hope of getting any shut-eye), i felt the need for desperate measures. i forced myself to down a cup of that revolting brew that is really just coal dissolved in water with a fancy name.

it must have been the fourth or fifth cup of coffee since i started my course five and a half years ago now. lets see...

  1. in my first semester i had my first cup of coffee after falling asleep during the first hour of a C++ lecture. the problem was, being unused to coffee, it worked too well and i was so jittery i couldn't sit still for the second hour and left after about ten minutes dragging my friend andrea with me. we probably went shopping :-)

  2. in my fourth semester i had a practical introductory course in VLSI (very large scale integration/integrated circuits). it was four hours every thursday afternoon, where the first hour or two were just listening to some guuy giving a talk. i was knackered for some reason and felt that since there were only ten students on the course it'd be very obvious and seriously embarrassing if i fell asleep during the talk. so i forced down another cup of coffee.

    it worked perfectly. no jitters this time. but it still had a stronger effect than i'd been expecting: it woke me up so completely that when mcdonald's called to ask me to go to work that eveing i forgot that i'd originally been planning to go home and collapse into bed and went off to work where i stayed wide awake and perky until midnight, when i was sent home and finally remembered that my aim for the day had been 'survive until 5pm when i can crawl home to bed'...

  3. i survived until the seventh semester without having to resort to coffee again. then i got stuck second semester project. after pulling an all-nighter i had my third cup of coffee to survive the important meeting the next morning (which was the main reason i'd stayed up all night in the first place)

so i guess that makes today's brew cup number 4. couldn't sleep last night thanks to my brain being on overdrive after having disovered a fatal flaw in the quotient digit conversion algorithm. it's a fundamental flaw, so i'm just screwed. meh.

on the bright side, algorithm number three (radix 4 SRT) is pretending to function. if only i hadn't realised about the fatal flaw i could just carry on happily none the wiser... :-(

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more examples of weird near-irrisistible urges

i can't sleep :-( it's this stupid master thesis, my brain can't turn off (i know it's stopped working properly, but it's still on...)

anyway, i've been thinking some more about these weird near-irrisistible urges. remembering more occasions where i've beaten the urge or given in to it *eeek*

  • when i work the late shift at mcdonald's, at some point this plastic cup full of bright blue liquid appears on top of one of the grills. it looks like some delicious cocktail. or poison. whatever it is, i'm hugely tempted to try and drink it... so far i've managed to refrain, but it's always close.

    i'm tempted to drink the extra-specially strong grill cleaning fluid even though i am aware it would probably do it's very best to kill me. how special is that?

  • another drinking temptation: remember the white stuff? ;-) it's quite a scary memory. it was saturday night, the first week of my work placement in the UK, and my first night out with the guys from infineon. we were drinking outside the llandogger trow (a pub in bristol).

    towards midnight, someone discovered an almost empty wine glass containing some unknown milky white fluid. i know, it sounds bad! but i'm sure it wasn't. the glass was otherwise clean, how could it possibly have got in there?! there was much speculation as to what it might be, accompanied by sniffing to see if it smelt familiar. it didn't.

    eventually james and stuart (i think it was them anyway) got bored of that game and started emptying all the almost-empties on the table into the wine glass with the white stuff. once it was all in the one wine glass, they found that the mixture of various beers, wines and white stuff actually smelt pretty good.

    so i smelled it too. and lo and behold, was tempted to drink it, knowing that there was some undefinable scary white substance in it! d'you know what? i drank it! the whole glass! i did offer the others some (it tasted good too) but they were perfectly happy to let me have it all to myself...

    and i can't even claim i was already drunk, because i'd only had two or three beers... can you imagine?!

  • the emergency brakes in trains. now they're just begging for someone to pull them! surely i'm not the only one who feels that way! thank goodness i've managed to control myself so far, but i do have to take a step back sometimes, just to make sure it's out of arms' reach...

  • and those little hammers to smash the window with in case of an emergency. i'd love to find out how hard you have to hit, and how the window shatters... i'm a very curious person.

i'm plagued by almost irresistible urges that are liable to get me locked up or even killed. help!


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Wednesday, March 12, 2008

proof positive it's time to go home for the night:

i just selected a line of data onscreen, pressed ctrl-c to copy it and then spent a rather long minute confusedly trying to work out where the interface to my notepad had gone. and when i say notepad, i don't mean a basic computer text editor. i mean the physical notepad lying on my desk in front of me. the one you need a pen or a pencil to operate... i just tried to copy-paste to it.

i think my brain's done as much work as it's going to today ;-)

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Tuesday, March 11, 2008

How the fight started...

I rear-ended a car this morning.

So there we are, alongside the road and slowly the driver gets out of his car. . .and you know how you just-get-sooo-stressed and life-stuff seems to get funny?

Yeah, well, I could NOT believe it. . . he was a DWARF!

He storms over to my car, looks up at me and says, 'I AM NOT HAPPY!'

So, I look down at him and say, 'Well, which one are you then?'

. . and well, that's when the fight started . .


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near-irrisistible random urges

i just walked past one of the small lecture rooms where professor loeliger was giving some of the younger stundents a lecture or something with the door open. i was almost overcome by this almost irrisistible urge to poke my head in and start making weird faces at the students stuck there!

is this normal? does everyone get such weird urges?

last week i came home to find mum and dad in the lounge rearranging furniture (as they do) with mum's favourite porcelain lamp lying on the settee.

the urge: to go sit on it and see what would happen...

so i ventured the opinion that the settee might not be the safest of places for a porcelain lamp, someone might sit on it...

dad found this incomprehensible, how could one possibly sit on it by accident (i still think tim (my brother) would, he seems to spend half his time on a different planet anyway). when i mentioned the temptation to sit on it, dad was even more baffled.

mum, however admitted to feeling the same way. so the lamp was moved :-)

the question is, is it only the women of my family who are just generally special, or is this a more widespread phenomenon? and how to find out? hmmm...

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Thursday, March 06, 2008

underwear in handbag

another bad idea. i probably should have learnt my lesson that time when i was working at infineon and couldn't find my badge one morning. i spent ages rummaging through my bag until eventually i started emptying the contents onto the surface in front of security-guard-stuart's desk. i found my badge and began dumping the stuff back into the handbag, at which point i realised my spare thong was lying there in plain view... the horror!!! ;-)

don't ask me why i had a spare (clean of course, btw!!!) thong in my bag, i have no idea :-s

i'm not sure why i've got a pair of pants in my bag today either (again, clean!). and i'm pretty sure nobody noticed them just now when i was looking for my headphones and thought 'must be a glove' and pulled the pants out and waved them around before realising my error...

;-) typical!


Wednesday, March 05, 2008

the dangers of red bull

oh dear. i had managed to kick my addiction to red bull and energy drinks in general. i hadn't had one for months. but i was soooo knackered yesterday, that i wasn't getting anything done... actually, i seem to be slightly ill. but i haven't got time to be sick, so cocadamol and red bull will have to do.

anyway, i have found a new reason why red bull is not good for me in particular. it's bad for your teeth, your stomach etc. that's true for everyone. but i've found something else: it's bad for my eyes! the problem is, somebody as clumsy as i am should only ever drink water.

it's completely normal for me to spill stuff all down myself, whether it's my drink (with or without alcohol!), salad dressing, any kind of sauce, ice cream, toothpaste, anything that'll stick to my clothes, and everything else too... but managing to splash red bull into my eye!!! while i'm drinking normally from a can! how on earth do i manage it? there were absolutely no sudden movements (on my part anyway, obviously the red bull made a sudden unexpected movement upwards...)

why? why? WHY?????



Tuesday, March 04, 2008

the joys of LaTex

ok, so LaTex is great in some ways. it formats everything for you, there's absolute no need to worry at all about what a page should look like basically. and it's great for referring to other parts of the document.

but sometimes it does make you wonder where all the sadistic trolls who develop these things are hiding!!! it's enough to drive anyone to drink!

i've got a table that's too wide, so i need it to go sideways across the page (landscape format). after lots of research and trying stuff i find the consensus is that the followin code should work:


THIS is what my table now looks like:

it's gone all shy! and not just that! it's not rotated at all! not even 5 degrees! wtf?! arrrgghhh!!!

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sometimes i worry...

i got the list of songs for sunday (yay, i get to play the beautiful grand again! *g*) so i opened emacs (an editor) and copied just the song names into a file, then got distracted. quarter of an hour later i suddenly realised i hadn't picked it up from the the printer yet.

i spent ages looking for that stupid list before i realised i hadn't actually printed it yet! how can you be so confuddled?!


Monday, March 03, 2008

didn't get the job...

ah well. i guess it wasn't meant to be. it was probably too much responsibility for me anyway... oh dear, this means more embarrassing interviews. scary. but nobody gets the first job they interview for anyway (i mean normal people, not super overachievers).

if they had offered it to me i'd have freaked out trying to work out whether it really was the job for me, whether there wasn't something much better just round the corner. and i'd have seriously wondered about them if they had offered me the job after the pitiful performance i put up at the interview... it was not good.

so all is well.

but it's still vaguely depressing :-(