Wednesday, 21 November 2007

Tomorrow...

Do you ever feel like you're a piece of a jigsaw which doesn't really fit anywhere? Further, do you ever suspect that the cosmic jigsaw player isn't too bright, and his/her reaction to a badly fitting piece is to bash it angrily with his/her fist?

I did on Monday night. On Tuesday I was meant to be giving a presentation at the Korean National Institute for the Mathematical Sciences. Not my first contact with the Korean Scientific network by any means, but my first real chance to show off what I can do. However, I rather foolishly underestimated the amount of time it would take to make a new presentation -- reasoning that since most of the material would just come from my thesis it wouldn't be a huge challenge. It was clear by Monday morning that I still had much work to do. Still, I thought, a good focussed slog that day would crack it no problem. Something went wrong...

A couple of months ago I had an interesting discussion (with Michael) about the comparison between conceptual time (how much time seems to have passed) and time as measured by a clock or other external device. The jist (I hope) was that the label of regularity we apply to time as measured by external instruments is justified *only* by comparison to our conceptual time. Thus it is false to say that our intuative measurement of time is only as good as its agreement with external instruments, rather it is the other way round. From this point of view the clocks in Korea (and the Earth's rotation, and all the other supposedly `regular' phenomena I encountered that day) were way out. The period from when I started work at 10am and finished at 10pm can't have been more than a couple of hours. I got nothing done. To add insult to injury I started to get a headache in the afternoon (probably a combination of stress and having been hunched unmoving over my laptop) and by the late evening it had transformed into a body wetching, mind bending symphony of... not pain really, there was some pain, sure, my head ached and my stomach grumbled, but much worse was the disorientation. When I looked away from the computer screen I could barely tell whether my eyes were focussed or not, and trying to take a break felt like trying to let go of a rope holding me suspended over an abyss. The whole world was melting. It's scary what the mind can do to itself if overstressed. It was this (rather than lack of presentation) which eventually forced me to cancel the presentation (and Jin's and my outing to Daejeon).

Fortunately my contact at NIMS was very understanding and has rescheduled the presentation for Monday. This time I will finish the presentation in a relaxed manner, with regular breaks for mind-earthing activities and regular exercise -- so far so good. The cosmic jigsaw player's attention seems to have been drawn elsewhere for the time being.

Saturday is Jin's mother's birthday. I am going to knit her a pair of wrist warmers, since she has been struggling with painful and stiff hands brought on by the cold, and because it is more feasible than the alternative present of lots of money. I have noticed that when she goes shopping she has a wonderful way of looking at things presented to her by shop assistants -- suggesting the thought `am I really going to demean myself by purchacing this inferior garment?', even if she really wants it and it's a good deal. I'm sure it maximises her discount but I hope she doesn't use it on Saturday :P.

2 comments:

ned said...

from an expert in the performing arts :-"tha needs to relax , remember when you are relaxed you give the best performance thats its possible for you to give" .
love dad

JooB said...

Yeah I totally understand of those stressed time, it is actually like you said, it's like the whole world is burning and melting. Do as your dad's advice, it works I'm sure. It's Monday today and I think you must have had your presentation already. Hope it went well and hope everything goes well with you in the near future. Take care and keep in touch.