First sighting of Parallel Processing

Up at 6:30. Yes. The showers are in full effect with my room-mate and neighbours, so I go to the Ballroom and Tai Chi until the Sitting. Then I Sit. On my return to the room, I shower, squeegee the shower and go to breakfast, which is a fair stab at a strategy. This strategy involves a single, snaking queue. On the long journey I’m handed a bowl of dry oatmeal with raisins in it to keep me company.

After Breakfast, I wash my underwear, th deep blue sleeveless shirt and a new black longsleeved t-shirt thingy and hang them on the line behind the House to dry. It looks like being sunny today, so it’s entirely possible that they might.

Then there’s Inaugural Meeting Part Two: the L2s, Kitchen Team and Staff, then Robert did an introduction to the Practise of Doing Nothing, then there was an intro to Alexander Technique, which I skipped, instead sweeping the stairs outside the Ballroom and then working on the Bach Chaconne in the room. Next door someone else begins to practise it too. But faster.

Then Lunch. First Zum sighting of the season.

After Lunch, back to the Bach for a while, then put my two penn’orth into the Serving Table Issue: the Parallel Processing Idea, but rotated by 90?, so that the two queues enter and leave at different points. It’s a million to one shot, but it just might work.

Tea. No dulce de leche today. First sighting of Parallel Processing at the T&C Station. Not without hiccups.

Bach, sweeping the top corridor (w. Luis C in the closing stages) and retrieving my washing from the line (dry). Quiet time: I take the Powerbook into the garden and read from it.

Dinner. First test of Rotated Parallel Processing. Apparantly a success. Second Zum sighting. A lot of good questions, a lot of useful and important answers. And dessert, too. Or at least fruit. Or at least quarter of a banana with topping and biscuit added, to push it dessertwards somewhat.

After Dinner, I assist with the copious washing up while the tables are moved from the Dining Room to the Ballroom to make space for the Big Circle at 9:30, which involves circulations and thrakking in seven and eleven, with fives thrown in for the fun of it.

After this, I assist with the replacement of the tables, and then write up to this point waiting in the Ballroom to see if Yellow House can contribute jolliness, or at least a tune or two, to the procedings.

I still no very little repertoire. No one wanted to leave the circle. Or perhaps the circle didn’t want to leave us.

a palpable sense of Course-ness

Up at six forty-five and in the kitchen by seven, then spend the next hour getting breakfast ready. It’s still in the negotiation stage of learning where things are and how best to do things. Open the doors at eight, finally get to eat at eight twenty-five and as I’ve taken a mouthful of cornflakes, Silence descends. I get to swallow the cereal and take a sneaky sip of coffee.

After breakfast we complete the kitchen and I get back to the room at 9:45, write a couple of emails regarding a wee work work problemette that arose last night and write the first paragraph of this. Then a shower before a meeting about the Level Four AAD.

I return to the bedroom and practise for an hour then I need to lie down until Lunch.

During Lunch, Silence sidles in until a number of participants sidle in and displaces it. During the meal I feel a palpable sense of Course-ness taking hold of me.

After Lunch I work on the Guitar, send emails for people, read and nap until tea-time, which involves dulce de leche again, although I almost don’t get any. I’ve noticed that the Argentinians spread Dulce de leche the way we spread Marmite. Odd, that. Whereas I don’t spread it at all, I just balance a huge chunk on the biscuit. Also no matter how small a bit of biscuit I take, it always splits.

AT 17:00, Martin introduces more of the Bach Chaconne we’ve been working on AAD, then back to the bedroom to play some more. I buy a new pick from Martin.

Dinner is delayed until 19:15. Now we are almost all here, the room is full, the silence very powerful. The House Rules, or most of them, anyway, are introduced, and translated into Spanish by Fernando.

The Inaugural Meeting is at 21:30, the Level 1s introduce themselves. The rest of us tomorrow morning. Rise is at 6:30, so I’ll to bed soon.

the idiosyncrasies of my memory

Up at just after seven (I allow myself a couple of rounds of the snooze button); then to the Ballroom for the Sitting, taking my quilt and pillow with me. I still get terrible pins and needles in my leg. It may take some working out here.

Then I shower (the shower floods the whole bathroom, which suggests to me that it’s not terribly well thought out. It may be very well thought out indeed, but I doubt it. I fetch a squeegee from the cupboard in the corridor) and then go to breakfast.

After breakfast I wash up and then, returning to the bedroom, practise the guitar and look at applying C mixolydian with a flattened 6th. Long story. Sounds very good though – a very similar flavour to harmonic minor, though not minor, so not, I suppose. I’m not a musicologist per se. Something begins to arrive. Then there’s a house meeting.

I move tables and chairs with Mika.

After the house meeting I see whether what arrived has stuck, but it hasn’t. This is often the case – something arrives, leaves again and in looking for it I find something similar but different. I probably ought to record everything, but the idiosyncrasies of my memory are part of the process.

I’m on time for Lunch. I mention this because it’s so rare at the moment. I’m out of sync with the meals somehow. Sit with Fumihito and Arnaldo.

After lunch a bit of reading, then another House Meeting. Then back to the guitar. During the afternoon, Robert arrives.

The other arrangement of the tables is much better, at tea chat with Jorge arrives and we begin to work on the piece that Arnaldo introduced to me on Saturday (or as it feels to me, months ago). I find it hard to absorb stuff into my fingers. Also playing the new piece over and over to get it to stick.

We are half an hour late for dinner. A new low, I think. I’m so used to dinner being at 7:30 that I ignore the possibility that it might be at 7:00, like it always is on courses. I need to work on my relationship with time.

After dinner I wash up with Claudia and Luis C, which takes some time, and then I discover I’m on breakfast tomorrow, return to the room and play the new piece and Arnaldo’s piece (or such of it that I can remember); although my fingers are tired and not behaving.

I trip to the kitchen to check out the lie of the land reaps some benefits, then I write this and post it.

Sera interesante.

I wake up at 6:00 when the alarm on the watch goes off. And, for that matter, at five minute intervals after that, as I’ve not worked out how to turn the snooze off yet. I do manage it, but don’t know how. I shower, pack and go down and eat breakfast (coffee, medialunas and dulce de leche, so not the healthy option). Vinka comes down and joins me, then she goes of to get bits and pieces and I go to the internet cafe next door to post an email to a client, to point out that I’ll be the tiniest bit incommunicado for the next couple of weeks. "Ah," I think, "I’ll just post this before he gets in." Then I realise that it’s almost lunchtime in London.

I check out and pay for the room, then we wait for the bus to pick us up (with Alberto at the wheel) and take us to Lunlunta.

This house is huge. Relatively luxurious bedrooms (pairs of twin rooms, each pair sharing a bathroom). We gather and have a first meeting outside in the sunshine, then I go with Ignacio and we clean pans and mop the floor. They have an interesting, though not ideal, system of mopping here that involves a very wet mop, a squeegee and a drain in the floor. Hmm.

I look around the site and take a few first photos. On transfering them to the computer I discover that there’s a bit of something on the lens (although conferring with V, I discover that it is in fact on the sensor, which is worse). Now all I can see of yesterday’s photos and todays is this black blob. Chiz. Then some reading.

I am in a room with Jorge, who speaks as much English as I speak Spanish. Sera interesante.

I miss the beginning of lunch. The table-setters-out have gone for monolithic, which appears to be a popular configuration on the first day. No doubt tomorrow we’ll go for horse-shoe. Perhaps not.

After lunch (pasta with carrots and carrot salad) I do more reading and find myself falling asleep a lot. Tremendous torpor.

The sound of twenty or so people getting their chops in order fills the air.

I almost miss tea altogether – there’s not really a schedule for meals today, so I can only tell they’re happening by the lack of the sound of people moving around and playing guitar.

With Martin’s help I log on to the internet: there is a telephone line. Hurrah!

At 20:00 I move tables with Ignacio, and at 20:30 there’s dinner – pizza and salad. Again there’s some uncertainty as to the timing, but this time I’m in at the beginning.

After dinner, V books my ticket on the return bus and gives me a briefing on the Future Perfect tense in Spanish, then I take some long exposure photographs in the dark. Something potentially profound, though not at all original, about time and duration and photography enters my head.

I assist Alain in his connection to post the diary, then write this, now I’m posting it and soon I’ll be in bed.

I’m not smuggling any fruit in the guitar

Up a lot later than yesterday, and a lot vaguer too. I write diary entries for the last three days, then shower and pack. Susi appears and begins to make breakfast, then Vinka arrives and we eat it.

General preparation until 15:00, when we leave to go to the bus station (sadly having to leave our sandwiches behind); then onto the bus. It sets off through the Chilean countryside, which I’m enthusiastically taking photos of, all the time acutely aware that if someone were as interested in snapping roadside trees in Oxfordshire, I’d think them slightly unbalanced at least.

There is a soundtrack of South American and 80s rock. Probably the last place I’d expect to hear Bon Jovi, though now I think about it, I have no justification for that prejudice.

The road leads up into the Andes, which are even pointier from below than from above. There’s one famous road that winds up like a ribbon. Looking down, the view is especially impressive. On rocks along the road are written dates and names, presumably of people who miscalculated the hairpin bends. I realise that this bus journey is, statistically speaking, probably more dangerous than the Skyrider that I was too cowardly to ride on.

At the top we spend a long time (though not, apparantly as it can be) in customs. This is probably the most stringent customs I’ve ever been in, even tougher than Lubeck airport. Still, there’s coffee and hot cheese rolls available. After the customs officers have identified that I’m not smuggling any fruit in the guitar we get back on the bus and are given very sweet coffee and a complimentary roll plus chocolate-biscuit-with-dulce-de-leche-in plus chocolate piece combo. The customer care on a bus across the Andes is, therefore, infinitely better than that of Ryanair. Just saying. Cheaper, too.

Leaving the customs shed, night has fallen, which makes the view less easy to gawp at. Instead we’re given Spiderman II in Spanish (obviously). It never ceases to amaze me how unnecessary the dialogue in movies is.

At the other end we’re collected by Andres and Mika and taken to the hotel and then we go to the Internet Cafe next door, which is where I am now. Again, (obviously).

Bed next, probably. Have to be ready by nine tomorrow.

I have no explanation for this.

Up at 7:00, Sitting. The luxury of my body thinking it’s a lot later than it actually is. Obviously it depends what one means by actually. I make coffee, Susan tells me how to turn on the hot water and I have a shower.

At about 9:45, Vinka and then Arnaldo arrive and we have breakfast, after which Arnaldo, Susan and I go for a walk, looking around the town, including a look in the courtyard of La Moneda.

Returning home, Arnaldo and I work on guitar for a while – a piece of his – and then have coffee, with which I eat more manjar cake, as may become an addiction for me.

At 5:30 I go with Vinka to a mall where we get supplies for Lunlunta – socks, shower gel, knives, the usual stuff. In the supermarket there’s a large gentleman with a Casio keyboard playing popular songs, while two people dressed in plush pig costumes cavort around. I have no explanation for this.

Then we catch a cab to a restaurant where we eat dinner with Bill and Susan. A fine dinner and a lot of conversation later we get a bus home. Tired (the downside is that my body now thinks it’s five in the morning); I go to bed.

the only word that comes to mind is "pointy"

I wake up at about 7:00, which is when they decide that the lights should go on. Breakfast is given and consumed. To me, Buenos Aires looks like quite a square city from the air, but I haven’t had enough experience to have a conclusive opinion.

We land at BA airport, I wave to Hernan and Mariana who are getting off the plane, and go into the transfer lounge to wait for my plane to Santiago. I realise I’ve packed my Argentinean pesos in me main luggage, so I don’t have a cup of coffee. Back on the plane, slightly spruced, and a flight over the Andes. These are very impressive, but the only word that comes to mind is "pointy". Very pointy. With snow on them. So much for my travel writing career.

Land at the airport, go through passport control (of course I’m an alien here. More so than everywhere else, that is) and wait for Vinka to collect me. Cab to her flat, via a cake shop, where I get a piece of manjar cake. Hello, flat. Hello cake. I crash out on the bed, while V goes out on an errand, wake up to find V’s flatmate Susan working on the computer. Hello, Susan. Back to sleep, then a shower and feel more awake.

In the evening we buy tickets for Mendoza, go on several other errands and have dinner in a large cafe-style restaurant. Bed eventually.

I choose to fall asleep instead.

Up at 7:00, tai chi, sitting, then coffee.

A package arrives in the post from Gerard: a book called Gurdjieff: The Key Concepts, which I think ought to be my reading for the journey.

The morning is spent doing packing.

I go out to the shops, but getting there realise that I’ve left my wallet at home. I take this as a sign that I probably don’t need to do that shopping at that moment.

Juan produces a very fine soup for lunch from the freezer, then I get off to the Airport on time, which is nice, and the tube and train get me to the airport on time, which is nicer. Check the suitcase and guitar in. Security seems less intense than in L?beck airport, probably because they have less to do there.

Duty free offers up no especial goodies, other than a toy bus for Vinka.

The planes are delayed into Germany owing to a combination of a massive computer failure in the Lufhansa network and bad weather. This adds a level of drama to the procedings. Eventually get on the plane. Nothing to report, really, other than that the coffee was quite nice.

At Frankfurt, I find Hernan, Mariana and S?r Fritz and we board the plane to South America together, though then moving off to different seats.

It’s a lot more comfortable than Aerolineas Argentinas, if anyone’s looking for travel advice. Although if anyone is looking here for travel advice, they may be in trouble. Food and coffee are served and eventually videos are shown, beginning with a girl’s version of Big, only available in Spanish and German. I choose to fall asleep instead. Every time I look up, the film’s changed. The Stepford Wives and Raising Helen are quite difficult to tell apart, for some reason. Harry Potter less so.

This always stresses me out, for some reason.

Up at 7:00, Exercises, Sitting, then coffee, washing up and uploading files for Scholastic, then off to Walker, where I Maisy all day. I leave an invoice for the last few months’ work. This always stresses me out, for some reason.

Back at the flat at 8:00. Juan is out, so I do simple preparation for tomorrow, washing clothes, coordination with Chile and watching an old Simpsons episode.

(The login aphorism today was Where we’re going is how we get there. If where we’re going is how we get there, we are already where we’re going. This is someone with experience of the British Railway system.)


Mendoza came onstream this morning, for me anyway. I got up at 7:00, did Tai Chi exercises, then sat, then showered and drank my coffee, then washed up. A fair amount of morning activity right there.

Into Walker, further Maisying. At lunchtime I walked to the local music shop and bought two sets of electric strings and a top G for the Steinberger.

I’m startled to find myself tidying the desk I’ve been working at. I may even have left it in a slightly better state than when I arrived. Slightly.

Home at 7:30, dinner and a long chat with Juan. I ought to have done some work for Scholastic, but it’s little enough to leave for tomorrow morning. Soon, washing up and bed.