Sunday, December 30, 2012

historical storm

whoops! i missed a day. and what a day!!! it turns out that waiting for boxing day to buy winter boots was cutting it really close, because on thursday quebec experienced the biggest snowstorm in a really long time.

here's the funny thing: not having a television or radio and never having been in any kind of snowstorm before, i had no idea that i should just stay in bed like everyone else.

i got up, dressed, warmed up mentally to some good house music, and braved the white fury to get to the office. on my way, i realized that i'd forgotten my belt - of all things! i crunched through the already over-ankle-height snow (with a hand shielding my eyes) around the metro station to the clothing store to buy one, but they weren't open. i sighed, and walked back around, navigating around and through snow piles to the doors. on the way, a local walked past: "crazy weather, hey?".
"aye."
there were no footprints leading up to the doors, and the doors were locked. they're never locked. i turned around and struggled back to the metro.

i went home, the short stretch from the metro even more difficult than before, there were unbelievable quantities of snow blowing into my face and i had to run to keep as little contact as possible so that my trouser legs wouldn't get soaked.

---
the apartment was very, very cold. the door that the caretaker has been promising to fix for the last two months was letting in way more cold air than usual (or is that letting out more hot air? it certainly feels like the former, whatever the reality), and in desperation i stuffed tissues into the available gaps (that still leaves a whole side exposing a little bit). then the toilet chamber's chain broke, which was really just the straw to break the camel's back. i found the caretaker downstairs having tea, and he promised to sort it all out "tomorrow". i can hear macbeth saying "tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow" :(

---
i went online just in time to listen in to a completely wasteful hour-long conference call. having been laughed at for my story about the locked door, i made my way back to the office.

"we wouldn't have come back!" i was told. in fact, everyone with a car had just paid for underground parking so as not to get snowed in. i caught some of the news on the telly, and what was going on made me feel pretty heroic for a foreigner.

"what a perfect gift for pg all this snow is," i thought to myself.

soon afterward we heard that laval's public transport had been shut down, and my aunt called me up to say that today was a pyjama day and that i should have been doing the same myself. i wrapped my laptop in plastic bags and a box and took her advice.

i saw snowboarders on the metro. i thought, "hmm, not a bad idea!"
i don't know how they got to where they were going, but if they did, it really was amazing weather for it.

by the time i got home the pavements were rendered completely unusable and there were abandoned cars all over the place. the snow was thigh-height and the short walk back from the metro was really tough.

i kept myself busy until late, going shopping when the storm died down. i had my traditional dinner, watched the one piece episode where they finally enter the grand line, and began relabelling old blog posts.

my thumb started cracking again before i went to bed. all this dryness is frustrating.

dramatic return

pg's back! but the story of her return wasn't an entirely happy one. in fact, it was quite traumatic.

---
yesterday:

i got up slowly, and was supposed to meet with sorter and -someone online, but they were both ignoring me. it turned out that one was sleeping and the other had (usefully) turned skype's notifications off.

i wasted some time labelling blog posts (as opposed to tidying up a bit), and walked out into a beautiful, sunny, warm -5 day without pavement access. i spent my morning playing with css (my favourite, he says sarcastically), chatted with SxS, and enjoyed vegan cookies that newk'd made.

i left early with a smile, for the magnificent weather and the exciting knowledge that pg would be back soon. i helped a little old lady over a snow-pile and onto the pavement, and entered the metro.

egads - it was hot down there! so much so that i was sweating, and had to remove my jacket and blazer. meanwhile, everyone else kept their coats and hats on and their scarves around their necks... what gives?! everyone made me feel like i must have been having a hot flush or something.

---
i arrived about ten minutes after pg's plane landed, and i wasn't sure if i had enough time to find coffee or flowers... so i just stood there and watched the doors intently. i had my ipod going most of the time, but minutes turned to hours and there was no indication of what was going on.

i kept expecting her to walk out any minute.

most people were waiting around an hour or so.

by the time i got to two and a half hours i was losing patience. the thought that pg had somehow slipped past me, not found me and gone home arose, as did my irritation that her phone was off.

what i didn't expect was a phone call from an immigration officer. identifying pg and giving details wasn't a problem, but then i found myself being grilled properly about why we "hid our intent to find a job and settle down" from them the first time. what?!?! as far as we knew, we hadn't done anything wrong. she had all my details from my permit application, and it took quite a bit of explaining while being dressed down.

i'd love to say i kept my cool, but i was panicking and there was even a moment where i was asked a question and my brain froze, leaving me speechless for a few seconds. by the end of the conversation i hoped i'd convinced her that we've been doing everything by the numbers (we have!), and she told me she'd take my words into consideration and call me back.

...

the next few minutes were very, very tense. if they'd have sent pg back, i would have had no choice but to pack up and leave. i had no idea what pg had said to them and i prayed that she hadn't freaked out and said anything that didn't fit - as it was, she used the word "tourist" instead of "visitor" and i had to explain to the officer that english isn't her mother tongue and that either way we'd both thought they meant the same thing to them).

...

she called me back to inform me that they were letting her through, with a stern warning to be entirely open with the border officials in the future (we thought we were!). i was reminded of something that's written on the cic website and that i entirely appreciate: entry into canada is not a right, it's a privilege. and these officials have to authority to deny that entry, regardless of what the government thinks.

about fifteen minutes later a thoroughly harassed pg walked out the doors. we'd dodged a bullet, but my swiss princess was decidedly stressed and unimpressed with her treatment. it didn't help any that it was at the end of a long day of travelling.

---
we both had the blues on the bus home, we got tears instead of the joyous enthusiasm that i'd expected from our reunion after such a long time apart. i suppose my anxiety / relief / disappointment / having been on my feet and alert so long all contributed to my feeling very weak and having difficulty carrying the giant, stuffed, officially violated suitcase.

we got home to discover that the caretaker has done absolutely nothing about our doors or our busted toilet. on the plus side, that gives us an easy enough out with the contract (or do i have to complain in writing?).

my plans for dinner were bust, so i ran out to the supermarket and picked up the first thing that looked alright for two people with little appetite: supermarket sushi (i'm pretty sure it was vegetarian, but i didn't care).

worst sushi ever.

---
today:

we went to bed early last night and woke up late. aside from a few snarky comments about my housekeeping, cooking pasta for lunch and a few episodes of one piece, we did nothing but lay about or, in my case, label old blog posts while pg rested.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

can i see your screen, doc?

wired recently published an article on putting sticker prices on the medical industry; it's a bold move with powerful implications for health care that would affect each and every one of us.

bad science posts all sorts of interesting things, but the letter regarding tamiflu is a great synopsis of all that is wrong with corporations and governments not exposing data that would allow for public oversight.

there are very clever things that can be done when industries are forced to operate with a reasonable level of transparency, but we shouldn't need to hack the system, which is what trotter's referral scanning does. not that that's not a good idea.

proper industry transparency (on trials, not on trade secrets) would also give enough insight into the doings of companies involved in GM. food and drugs should be tested responsibly, and at the end of the day even if the results aren't amazing the consumer (and industry experts) would be able to make smarter, better, more personalized choices, which should be in the industry's interests.

i believe in christmas

i'm sure i mentioned it way back when (while i was researching a seminar paper), but as soon as i read the sermon on the mount i thought "wait a minute... i must be a christian!". to be fair, i said the same thing when i read the communist manifesto, the fascist manifesto, and the futurist manifesto. the fact that i'm an ordained minister of the church of the flying spaghetti monster (in good standing, i might add) and am a non-practising jew who fully ascribes to jewish philosophy prior to the great rabbis (i'm like a jewish hipster) factors in there somewhere. anyway, all of this just to say that while i might not be a christian, and i certainly don't believe in a christian god (or trinity), i can now say that i do believe in christmas. mine was a wonderful, wonderful day, and a large part of it was being surrounded by the infectious goodwill and cheer that those who do believe adopt.

if they would be this merry all year around, the world would be a little better for it.

---
christmas:

the other major factor in tuesday being as wonderful as it was was that i had a great day on the slopes and all the glories of saint sauveur were exposed when the sun came out. it's the first time i've been there without complete cloud cover, and words fail me in describing its beauty. from the icy tips of the trees with the sunlight behind them to the fresh snow contrasted against the varied soft blues of the sky, to the view of distant villages nestled in the mountains made possible by the intensely sharp clarity of the day's air, the experience was one of a seemingly endless series of moments caught in an artist's renderings of a dream of being on the slopes. it was fantastic and stupefying, and a little frustrating because i wanted to share the experience and capture the memories on camera but that would have put my camera at risk (most of the *really* crazy shots were from the ski lifts) or force me to remove my gloves (which wouldn't have been a good idea at a windy -10 celsius).

not that i didn't get any photos at all, but they're certainly not representative of what i could see. funnily enough, most of the time i was enjoying the views through my orange goggles and when i did compare, the tint experience was different but neither better nor worse. ah, and the hour or so that i had my ipod playing psychedelic rock from my jacket pocket might have added to the surreal nature of the day.

my new boots are definitely more responsive, and that made my performance improve dramatically. however, i learned the hard way that they're actually a little bit too small (meaning my shoe size is 10.75 US, and the quarter size in either direction isn't good), so if i tightened the laces properly my left foot would begin to hurt. a lot. like enough to pass out from the pain.

i discovered this because i was totally jamming when the pain started, and was so excited and was so thoroughly enjoying myself that i couldn't bring myself to take break until i absolutely had to. i didn't pass out, but i recognize when i'm on the verge. also an indication that they're too small: i landed off a small jump later on and stubbed my big toe :(

the good and bad that came out of needing to take breaks (fortunately i only got the lacing wrong twice) was that i stopped at avila for a beer and by the time i was finished and had heard enough christmas song covers by artists like enya and bon jovi the lift was closed and the whole place was being shut down. on the one hand, that meant that i had to grab my bag and boots from my locker and walk along the road until i got to one of the two saint sauveur lifts still operational. this was arduous and it was very uncomfortable to snowboard down a black diamond with boots in hand. on the other hand, if i hadn't taken that break i might have continued with my plan to return to avila just before the bus was scheduled to arrive, and by then i would have had a nasty surprise because there wouldn't have been any quick way to get back. and it would have been in complete darkness.

my last runs were excellent, and the walk to the village was pleasant. it was very, very cold, though, and the bus was quite late. the well-dressed local woman waiting with me kept complaining about the cold in french (in both senses), and i kept myself warm by dancing on the spot to dark psytrance.

but the bus did arrive, and we boarded. there weren't many seats available, and a girl towards the back of the bus removed her backpack from the seat for me. i sat down, and she asked me where the bus had stopped, and i told her. she began to talk, kind of arbitrarily, and at some point she said something that made me ask her where she was from.

well, if i didn't immediately switch to hebrew there and then! it took her a slow moment to realize what had happened, and we laughed and spent the rest of the ride talking non-stop. her fellow exchange student (ben gurion / mcgill) woke up after twenty minutes and sleepily asked if she was really hearing a conversation in hebrew; the chances of meeting an israeli on a night bus in quebec are probably pretty damn small. never mind that, she's studying computer science and philosophy, and has a friend who's studying computer science and literature who she can now tell isn't alone.

it was fun, and strange, and very interesting.

---
boxing day:

in order to leave my aunt's house early with yang, i'd showered, dressed and picked up a toothbrush when i got home and then went to sleep over there. i was up at the time he'd told me to be, but he wasn't and his parents insisted that i not wake him. eventually, three hours later, yin woke up, woke him up, and he made a big noise about how i should've woken him up :/

we hit the salomon store first, and the purchase was pretty quick. i'm not sure who did a better job of selling me the boots, yang or the salesman, but they look good, they're super-comfortable and i'm assured that they'll keep my feet warm and dry and will last me enough years that the splurge will be worth it.

the rest of the day was spent discovering that yang is a serious shopper. although between stores was fun, when he wasn't chain-smoking, the shops themselves were a drag. and the people! it was nuts. we ran into a classmate of his with agoraphobia, who comes outside once a year on boxing day in an effort to exorcise it because the crowds freak him out more than his phobia so his related panic attacks are easier to control.

seems legit. those crowds and queues and that level of pushy-and-shoviness on the metro were something else...

we got back to my aunt's where my boots received approval, played guitar hero and rockstar table tennis until dinner, and afterwards yang dropped me and my gear back at home.

where i've eaten and done internet things. and prepared emotionally for getting up early again tomorrow.

---
something positive in the news: in california, at least, the stigma attached to marijuana use appears to be fading. the war on drugs is more destructive and costly than any drug use ever was - ever - and this gives me hope.

speaking of crowd-funding: stick 'n find is a brilliant idea, but i wonder if some of their raging success can be attributed to reading "clean your mess" as "kick your lover out the side-door".

raspberry pi replacing expensive stuff: good for them! it's a noble goal.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

6am christmas morning

well, i'll be - i must've been a bad boy to get such a nice rock in my sock... or i can look on the bright side of the previous bank error in my favour. i just discovered that even if i catch the 7.30 bus the ski pass isn't included in the price.

either i've just been taken for a ride, or i scored a great freebie the first time.

---

i began the day *much* better than the previous two, even if i did suffer an upset stomache that i pray won't bother me again today.

the morning's thought is half-selfless: the area of the metro where the homeless are allowed to spend the night is hard to breathe by, and i wonder if it wouldn't benefit everybody to install hot showers for them.

reviewer's remorse?

kind of. someone involved in one of the projects i mentioned in my previous post contacted me to tell me that it's not cool to point them out like that, because it might hurt their chances. i feel that they've already hurt their chances, and i promised that if they'd fix the reward tiers i'd be only too happy to post an update applauding their efforts.

"well, i don't know how things are for other projects but we're not selling anything, we're just looking for donations."
ah, so don't use the rewards system, then. because the rewards system implies an investment and investments work when the investor gets something back for their money; unless the investors are feeling generous they're going to expect something at least of equal value to their investment.

i don't appreciate the attitude i got back, though, and either way i'm not going to retract my statement. on the one hand, i do understand why they're unhappy. but my point is still valid, it's still well illustrated by their example, and if they don't want to play in the same sandbox as everyone else then they shouldn't play in the same sandbox as everyone else.

---
i forgot to mention something really big from yesterday: airplane shared a comic illustration that was absolutely brilliant, and i commented on it. he responded in a way that made me seriously reconsider collaborating with moonlighter and his friends: he's seen my partial script, liked what he saw, and will hopefully send me a couple of samples sometime soon.

in my excitement upon discovering moonlighter's other profession i dismissed a very important statement of his that sheds a lot of light on their level of professionalism: they don't want me to bring a script, because "the artist should be the one giving graphic direction". that's rubbish. not that the artist shouldn't have influence, but it should be a collaboration, not just pitching an overall concept. if someone of airplane's calibre can bring himself around to my visual concept, then these guys probably aren't a good fit for me.

...

which reminds me, i should get back to working on the script :P

---
i suspect that my last two days' downer was due to loneliness. i joined my cousins for a jolly cup of coffee, and after much chatter and general amusement yang took me downtown to check out the stores. it was a great day and we found everything i was looking for - we know where to go on boxing day.

yin convinced me that it's better to get a nice card and gift late. so i'll do that.

now: another early night. if the buses are running then i'll be testing out my new boots tomorrow.

inflated ego

this is a shout-out to anyone who thinks of using crowd-funding to produce a book or a movie, from someone who's happily invested in a few projects. if the reward tiers don't make economic sense, sane people won't invest.

$25 for a digital copy of a movie? who the hell would pay that much to see it in the theatre?! $5 bucks is reasonable, $10 is understandable. but it doesn't matter how important or interesting you think your project is, that much is ridiculous!

and whoever thinks i'm going to pay $50 to get a chapter of an ebook or even more for the book itself is smoking some really, really good shit. again, even if the book does seem interesting, the reward tiers are totally unattractive.

more power to them if they succeed, but they could have done better, faster, and left a smaller chance for eventual investor dissatisfaction.

Monday, December 24, 2012

to blog, or not to blog

my blogging is not as much about sharing as it is about hoarding precious moments of the past. sometimes i find myself digging through old posts for a reference, and am delighted or horrified at the weird little nothings i noted and promptly forgot. but there's a dark side to my habit, and that's that it's become ingrained that everything that prompts an emotional response gets written down and must be compiled later. it's totally ocd. i thought that twitter would bear some of the load, but when twitter stopped playing well with blogger (and everyone else) that option went out the window.

i have too much stuff to do and plenty of time to do it, if i focus on those tasks instead of trying to juggle all the elements of the big picture simultaneously. on the one hand, blogging helps me by letting me put everything down. on the other, does it really help me? i mean, here i am, on pseudo-holiday, contemplating whether or not my journal is of any practical value to me any more.

---
thursday:

thursday began slowly: you know that feeling when it's cold outside and warm under the covers, and your body's in a perfectly comfortable position and the last thing you want to do is move?

the news of the day: hearing that the big guys all think i'm the bee's knees and will have my back if the work permit application starts dragging too much. that feels good.

after much struggling, it was exciting getting a linux box up and running on my laptop. vmware versus virtualbox? suck it, virtualbox. vmware totally kicks ass.

also, i wrote a perl script to transcribe svn logs into a database, and i was pleased when it worked first time as intended and didn't take very long.

i went to my aunt's for a great dinner; yin had just returned from bc and everyone was in high spirits. her friend brought dessert, decadently delicious chocolate balls. i was the only one who wasn't ashamed to have more than one, and so scored the leftovers when i left :)

zenstar invited me to try out rad soldiers: in the past four days i've become enthralled. it looks good, it plays well, the challenges are fun and the soundtrack gets stuck in your head and makes you want to play some more.

---
friday:

how do normal people pick up dry cleaning between 9-6? i had to choose between getting it on the way to the office or not going snowboarding on the weekend. so if i'd been able to see the future i wouldn't have ventured out in the slush (and then rain) to pick up my trousers.

---
i tried and failed to imagine what doing work that entails digging through slush to enter a manhole must feel like. i briefly watched, and felt humbled.

---
the metro was overheated, and there was a man nonchalantly clipping his nails on the train.

friday was a day of speeches, wishes and alcohol in the office. it was a little disorientating (the latter in particular), but very pleasant. i was invited to interview a potential new employee; he got my thumbs up, and i'm impressed that my inebriation didn't make things awkward :P

we had a christmas lunch at the indian restaurant, and the spicy eggplant was so delicious that i couldn't stop eating. that held me up until i got home, when i pigged out on junk food and watched one piece and passed out.

i slept too long, waking up around midnight to make dinner and go back to bed.

---
saturday:

i woke up early enough to hit the slopes, but was so exhausted that i chose to get back into bed. making such a choice between fresh powder and sleep is pathetic, and i'd pay for it thrice. once, in the actual price which doubles if you're not on the first bus, twice because all modes of transportation were packed. long queues and uncomfortable rides. thrice because, well, fresh powder. there was still a lot of snow when i arrived, but a lot of ice was exposed too :(

and all of that for what? i wasn't feeling good, no matter how incredibly beautiful the day was, and i have to admit that the disadvantages of being alone outweighed the advantages. to make matters worse, my boots didn't sit right and that made everything a lot harder. to make things even worse, when i sat down for a cup of hot chocolate there was a fire drill and we all had to go outside.

my last two or three runs were better (i'd figured out that i needed to redraw my laces each time) and were fun, and i fortunately saw a clock an hour before the bus was to arrive and so i knew to scramble. i had just enough time for the last run, a sandwich, and the walk to saint sauveur's village. i gotta tell you, that village is surreally charming with its quiet, snow-covered streets and cheery christmas jazz music gently playing through synchronized speakers. i didn't want to wait outside (-13 at night, with wind) so i entered the macdonald's and ordered their crap coffee (the good machine was being cleaned), and took it outside to wait with me for the bus.

the relief of getting on the bus home was intense. if you miss the 9.30 bus, there's no fallback, and getting stuck out there would totally suck.

---
sunday:

i got home at midnight, watched one piece and showered and passed out, exhausted. i was too tired to hit the slopes, and more importantly, i wasn't feeling it. i could say the same about today. i feel kinda guilty, but if i'm not in an agreeable mood then screw it.

i stayed in bed late, played rad soldiers and read the new lookouts comic, fell asleep listening to a french lesson podcast, and then eventually got out of bed to talk to pg for a bit.

i left the apartment to take my boots back. the guys at poubelle du ski are heroes! we eventually found boots that fit, or seem to fit, perfectly, and although they're an upgrade the salesman gave me the slip with a wink and told me that if anyone asks i returned the same model ^_^
they're ridiculously purple, but i think i can live with that.

the weather was cold, but beautiful, and i didn't mind discovering that i'd walked in the wrong direction (boy, was i not concentrating) and i eventualy made my way back. i stopped at subway for a sandwich - it wasn't good at all - then dropped off my boots at home, had a long chat with sorter, and went shopping.

the chat with sorter was a bit dark; -someone sent a mail during the week and it basically said that he was investing time in making the code, and the coding process, more complicated than it needed to be and that everything he's done until now is fine as a proof-of-concept but needs to be redone if we want an actual product. sorter was upset with me because my response was less than enthusiastic. i'm deeply disappointed and i hope we can salvage something.

copywriter called me up on skype and i made and ate dinner while we chatted. i'd finally watched the first part of the century of the self which he'd suggested a while ago. i can't recall watching something so distressing and so riveting at the same time. depressingly enlightening. it certainly puts things in perspective, and it's only the first part :(

---
today:

i went to bed early hoping i'd be good for the mountains today, but i woke up feeling uninspired. now that i'm up, and i've talked to my mum (who's also on holiday), and posted this, i'm ready to pay my cousins a visit and do the same stupid christmas eve shopping as everyone else: i have only one gift i'm giving, and i didn't think to buy a card :S

Thursday, December 20, 2012

a short week in review

to summarize, it's taken most of the week for my body to recalibrate after the shock of the weekend. and all i want to do is do it again.

---
monday:

it took half an hour to get out of bed and try out my legs - usually the first pains go into another day of boarding, this time it would be into "the usual". really not as good.
i had a happy morning, but the rest of the day was a bit meh. i tried the salad counter for lunch but was taken by surprise by both dairy and chicken in otherwise vegetarian-looking dishes, and then messed about with a website in frustration because every bloody platform (this time it was android) has its own way of making the web not work for its users.

in the evening i was disappointed to receive positive news too late to act upon it. i spent that disappointment on a fun project and built a really cool little api.

i got home in time to catch the superintendent, who took one look at me, stopped, and said "i know, i know - you're mad at me." i didn't deny it, and he promised that come wednesday he'd sort things out.

i lazily spent my evening clearing email (i really didn't have the energy to actually think about anything), and went to bed early.

---
tuesday:

on tuesday we had serious snow, and waking up was slowed down because i just wanted to lie there staring out the window. it was beautiful, a total white-out.

on the way to the metro hardea - mr f*cker came on and the appropriateness of the lyrics made me smile. well, some of the lyrics. the bit about people on the sidewalk. when i came out the other end, it was even better: dj vimo - arise, and it was all i could do not to stop and just dance in the middle of the street, so excited was i by the crazy snowfall and the beats accompanying "it's a new dawn, it's a new day, it's a new life for me". because, well, in the grand scheme of things it really is.

weird: a connection between two cellphones was only half-duplex, and the other party was talking at length without pause. i tried to interrupt to clarify something, was ignored, got suspicious, and began yelling "hello? hello!" into the phone, and he just kept on going. when he finished i asked if he'd heard me; he hadn't. we switched to skype after the second time.

i hopped in the car with one of the guys on a delivery mission, and couldn't help but take a whole bunch of photos. a couple of them came out really well with instagram filters, demonstrating that one no longer requires any talent to capture something decent.

we drove a lot and didn't get very far: montreal's public transport system is great, but the infrastructure doesn't really support private car ownership too well. i see this as a huge advantage.

on the way, i learned that one can overheat wearing polyester blends indoors, and followed that discovery with wasted coffee. it wasn't a good hour. the rest of the afternoon was pleasant and relaxed, though.

...

sidewalk snow has a way of melting in the most fascinatingly inconvenient and sneaky fashion. no small irony in stomping through the slush to "i am the god of hellfire".

...

another mega-salad. i have reached a conclusion: the magic's in the dressing.

---
wednesday:

i got a late start and added to it with a pre-key-handover tidy. after more banking woes with pg, i delivered my key to the superintendent and was on my way.

my bank, bank leumi, has taken customer service and consideration to its negative extreme. the next time i'm in israel - although i hope that's not soon - i'm going to withdraw every last cent and close my account. those bastards are either too stupid to handle my money, or too thieving, or both.

the first email of the day was about holidays; i was told that according to quebec labour law only certified christians get days off. i'm used to the idf's way of dealing with the different holidays, so that sounded legitimate to me. they laughed, and laughed, and i probably should consider getting revenge.

i began the day with a breakthrough, and working around the latest issues that ubuntu has with self-signed ssl certificates on the server side means no more headache on each of the clients. i celebrated with a big lunch with the art director; my spicy vegetable briyani was a grand idea. just as we were finishing the cto walked in, hurried over to our table and told me he'd like to see a certain proof-of-concept on an android device. i've never developed for android before.

excited, i paid for our meal and we returned to the office (discussing the mass allergy to snowstorms that quite a few quebecois have, and the treatment on ski slopes that justifies missing a day of work) and i began to play. it took a heck of a lot longer to get the damn thing built than it had to get the source code written, but eventually things came right and i was quite excited about my success, albeit a simple one.

after that i completed an interesting api design that i've had sitting in the back of my head, tweaked the in-house wiki a bit, and left the office on a high.

i picked up my keys from the superintendent's wife, and walked in to find... nothing had been done. was he making fun of me?! i left a message for him, and later he came up to explain that they'd taken the keys to make a copy of them for the locksmith, and that they'd do everything soon. fine.

---
pg and i spoke briefly a couple of times today, and she left a short while ago for switzerland. she'll be back in a week and a day - and none too soon. as i've said before, i think: it's not hard to be a bachelor again, but it's undesirable. it has its advantages, but it's a bit surreal and it constantly feels like i've been transported to an alternate reality. i miss her.

ding-a-ding dang!

sunday:

i began the day a bit cold in the nose, and was feeling a chill that made it tough to get out of bed. it was early, and i was hurried, and i was late - packing for my first day of snow in two years was quite stressful. i really should've done it the night before...

once outside i was feeling just fine, but i'd soon discover that a thermal shirt, a sports shirt and a t-shirt was totally overdressing. but that's how cold the apartment was before i left... even on the slopes, at -13 and covered in snow, i didn't need more than a sweater and my jacket.

the beggar who held the door for me as i left the metro station totally earned his two bucks.

i arrived approximately half an hour early, which is fifteen minutes late by the bus company's rules, but there was only a handful of people waiting so it didn't matter. i thought i'd catch some sleep on the two-hour drive (i don't know why it took so long), but i was too excited and the scenery was inspiringly beautiful. everything covered in white, the morning in a perpetual state of breaking dawn; i wouldn't see the sun the entire day.

two of us got off at saint sauveur, neither of us having been there before. the bus driver informed us that he'd be back at 6.15 to pick us up, which was earlier than advertised but we didn't mind. we - myself and the teenage mexican kid, i'll call him doe-eye - found our way to the ski school counter. i wanted to buy a pass, and the woman asked me for my bus ticket, which i thought was weird. i was pleasantly surprised to discover that galland buses *do* have a deal with the operators, and my bus ticket included the day pass!

righteous!!! that meant that including coffees and hot chocolate, my day would cost me half of what i'd budgeted. i can go twice as often ^_^

i picked a locker, padded up and pulled on my boots, figured out how to attach my goggles to my helmet, and went out with doe-eye; we'd both arrived alone, and while it's not a big deal it's more fun to have someone to chat to on the lifts and to share crazy moments. also, in this case, having a kid on skies and less than half my age not quite keeping up was a massive ego stroke.

---
the intro to ministry - jesus built my hotrod is now associated with that first moment standing at the top of the hill, looking down:
"... all of a sudden i found myself in love with the world, so there was only one thing that i could do..."

the snow machines were on at the beginning of the day, but soon real snow started coming down fast and it was heavy for most of the day. beautifully so, although i must say that the orange goggles made everything look a bit... not white enough for my taste.

of the nine hours that i was on the slopes, or eight / eight and a half if we don't count the coffee breaks, half of them were spent getting into the swing of things. there were plenty of slow, awkward moments and in particular i'm not happy with my goofy style. it's non-existent, to be precise. by the second half of the day i'd not only gotten comfortable, but i was beginning to relax on the black diamonds* and started picking up speed.

* most of the runs are black diamonds, and those that aren't suck so we avoided them.

i've done speed before, and usually ended up sailing through the air and landing badly as a result. not sunday, though! i was - or at least, i felt i was - completely in control. my last few runs, theoretically dedicated to getting goofy, were impatiently turned into time trials. sweeping past skiers and snowboarders who appeared to be local, hearing a whoop from the lift that may or may not have been for me, was vastly more encouraging than leading a kid from another snowless country.

i can't quite wrap my words around the sheer ecstasy of speeding full-tilt down long, wide runs at night, each moment demanding utmost concentration both in noting tiny differences in the quality of the snow and ice and in keeping every muscle aligned and balanced just so.

my mother used the term "hooligan juice". abso-frikkin'-lutely ;)

to summarize the day (and night, because we had at least two hours in the dark): amazing, incredible, wonderful, magical, fun, exhausting, and deeply, deeply satisfying.

---
i finally went inside just before 6pm, removed my boots and socks, ate my last sandwich, packed up and dressed down and joined doe-eye by the side of the road to wait for the bus driver. there is no bus shelter and it was cold, and while the first half an hour was bearable the second was not. it didn't help that my shoes weren't good for canadian winter, and my toes hurt enough that i was convinced that i was developing frost-nip. we were very unhappy with the morning's driver, and the bus hotline's representative and the evening's driver had no idea what that was about.

the bus ride back to montreal was warm and comfortable and long. everything was covered in snow when i got back to my neighbourhood, i had a hot shower and did laundry* and ate and drank a beer while watching one piece, then passed out. completely knackered and with a smile on my face.

* it's automatic, when you get home after snowboarding it's usually after a week and you're desperate to do laundry. this was my first day trip, and by the time i realized i didn't have even half a load it was too late :P

so much to tell!

but i don't have to tell all, and i'm going to do this in separate posts. the reason it's taken me so long to write anything down is primarily because i was so exhausted after the weekend that until today i simply hadn't recalibrated.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

quick, before early bedtime

so, umm, i'm actually super-nervous about tomorrow. i'm going to bed now because i have to be up before 5.30 to get ready and take myself and my board to catch the early bus to saint sauveur. i hope i've got everything! this is so exciting!

today was really nice, i woke up late, figured out the transportation, and went to the shops. it was the same temperature as that that i suffered this morning, only i was dressed better, the sun was shining and there was less wind, so the contrast was as sharp as mid-winter versus a pleasant spring day. it was beautiful, comfortable, and lazy.

i checked out the dry cleaners closer to home and took the hannukia in their window as a sign to do business with them. then i visited the supermarket, grabbing stuff that's good for the slopes, and dropped it off at home before heading to my aunt's for soup, tea, exquisite freshly-baked chocolate-chip cookies, and lots of talking. yang gave me a ride home, and after a nap, dinner, one piece and banking*, i'm now sure to spend the night too excited to actually sleep enough :P

* my debit card doesn't have my name on it, so i can't use it for internet banking. weird!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

colder facts

well, the temperature dropped and the wind picked up. -7? i can handle -7. -7 with wind? good lords, i thought i was going to die. it took me way too long to realize that my coat wasn't closed enough, and google maps voided some of the bus timing and i ended up standing and waiting in the wrong place for a while :(

what the hobbit had managed to help me forget came straight back as soon as i got home (i looked at my facebook feed): the massacre in connecticut today. you know, i don't even have an opinion about that. there're so many being flung around and i wouldn't dare to try to frame the reality with anything like an explanation or possible response.

reward

OMG. i don't know what it was like in 2D, or in less than 48fps, but that was a visceral cinematic experience worth the wait! AND there was a screw-up in the middle, so we all had a laugh and received complimentary tickets. AND Montreal's night bus service is awesome.

shit, but i'm really, really pleased with tonight.

it's got ticketses!

wednesday:

something special happened this week, and it began on wednesday. i think it was the realization that i had been too hard on myself and had been pushing to prove something that was over my head and was, in fact, supposed to be.

so began a general de-stress, with the move and the forms and the office integration and snowboarding and everything. i've got much to do and much to learn, and some of it will be fun and some of it will suck, i'll do the best i can and i hope it's enough.

the day: getting comfortable with mac development, enjoying validation when i figured out that the binaries i was working with had been badly compiled and i could tell the supplier in what way, and the satisfaction of getting the junior to see the power of being methodical - i followed the instructions he'd put together on how to install an android development environment: it took me no time! he cleverly didn't follow them, and his system got screwed. we sat on that until quite late.

i checked the laundry room when i got home, and was so excited to find it available that i had already poured the detergent when i realized that i was still wearing a shirt that should have been going in.

*sigh*

i can't recall ever throwing salad stuff out, but in the span of a week (i think) i've not only tossed slimy cucumbers but i had to chuck three mini-heads of lettuce. how very disappointing.

i watched an episode of one piece with a st. ambroise - great beer - and was then too exhausted to do more than crash.

---

thursday:

after an early night i had a late morning. it suddenly dawned on me that i've never transported a snowboard further than a short walk and it seemed to me that not using a bag to protect my snowboard from dings and scratches might not be such a good idea. but bags are either expensive or bundled with other purchases, and i couldn't figure out where to get one.

on a positive note, the shower was upsettingly cold but it warmed up fairly fast - this is good!

mckenna thought for the day: what if soma, the begetter of the gods, is actually a metaphor for the cows?
anyway, the man did a fantastic job of explaining the sacred in sacred cows, making sense of not only religious development but of mythology too. serious and wonderful stuff.

an official response in the morning informed me that as i do not hold a master's degree in my field i cannot possibly be considering a senior anything. *i* think that's quite myopic.

i was in such a hurry to get nowhere that i skipped lunch, and we all scooted off to a demonstration in some very flash downtown offices. i thought the view from the street was magic, but from the twentieth floor? the city is covered in white with its beautiful buildings thrust out into the still air between the packed snow and the pastel blues, oranges and pinks of the sky is absolutely breathtaking.

the coffee afterwards was good, we're all feeling positive and i, for one, am beginning to feel like i know what i'm doing with apple development.

i went to grab dinner and had a long chat with my aunt, who was giving me some very good advice about snowboarding which included the lack of any need for a bag whatsoever. then i ate in the cafeteria and sat down with the junior to help him out...

... i was a bit short with him, and it was late in the game when i realized that he was in way over his head and that i needed to teach him some very basic basics indeed. if i'd have guessed at his level i'd never have left him to the tasks he's been breaking his head over! he's deeper into some of the tricky systems than i am, and last night i was teaching him the beginnings of object-oriented...

-- there are private moments which i have to code and then hope i recall them later. this one involves a call in the dark in which i managed to see something i'd usually miss in real life. that really made me laugh, one of those healthy, unrestrained laughs that have been quite rare recently --

i left the office (late again) with the sensation that the lights are on but nobody's home: i got everything up and running, or at least not crashing, but nothing was actually being done.

i can't figure out the relationship between the temperature and the weather here. when i walked to the supermarket it was -6, and it wasn't cold at all! but earlier i couldn't stand outside for more than two minutes and it's above zero.

the caretaker's wife called me as i was on my way out to tell me to come and get my change from the rent. three warm dollars. why were they so warm? didn't want to know, couldn't not think about it :/

so, super-salad:
flax seed, stuffed olives, olive oil, himalayan salt, vinegar, pickled onions, lettuce, grape tomatoes, cucumbers, mixed beans.
it's weird to me that this was so delicious. incongruous, for some reason.

---

friday (today!)
after another early night, but sleeping badly, i woke up quickly and got moving.

i was focused today, and finally found myself getting right with apple. their development software suffers flaws up the wazoo, but i'm now ready to face qt and xcode. it's gratifying to feel things fall into place on a practical, rather than just theoretical level.

it looks like my first weekend of snowboarding might be delayed another week, but i'm more relaxed about my options and everyone's been super helpful :)

the week ended with a good talk with the boss, and i rushed home to find out when and where i'd see the hobbit. another great salad, another episode of one piece (a cooking competition?!), and chat with sorter and the metro...

... the warm, sleepy metro...

i had to choose between imax and avx, and if i hadn't begun badgering the staff i might've taken the bigger screen over the 48fps. huh!

i've been waiting (typing this) for most of the last hour, and it's time to go in!

i hope this coffee is strong enough. it's 11pm and i'm bombed :P

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

trade offs

yesterday:

i woke up early, then returned to sleep for an extra hour. that hour was warm and comfortable and restful, and it feels like forever since i last was so relaxed. i pulled myself out of bed when the sun was already shining brightly through the curtains, breakfasted, and then discovered that our shower isn't always well-heated.
oh, well. at least it wasn't cold.

-8? the snow and rain had all iced over and while it's a little slippery it's not as tricky to traverse as the previous day. and in the morning sunshine even slush is pretty.

yesterday was a waste of a day, spent trying and failing to "make" open source ios packages on a mac. it gave me a chance to get to know the quiet guy, though, and as unproductive and unsatisfying the experience was overall it was actually kind of fun.

the bad news was pretty bad, though: while i may be exempt from requiring a labour market opinion if i want a work permit, if i don't get one my quick-as-you-like permit will only be valid for three months and will be non-renewable.

so. back to stressing about filling out horrible forms.

the cold evening was pleasant, and i had dinner at my aunt's. it was a pleasant evening through-and-through, and i had the strangest sensation that my uncle's mini-stroke has calmed him down a little.

when i got home, i was inspired to remove unwanted packages from my ubuntu installation, and i really do think that the performance boost isn't just in my head. things like cups and telepathy, if i'm correct, made the most difference.

---

today:

i'd intended to get to bed early but that didn't happen, and i didn't wake up the same as yesterday. i snoozed for about fifteen minutes, got back in that "zone", had breakfast while leumi bank did its bit to make me certain that leaving israel is a good idea, then walked through the beautiful morning to get over here and get comfy with ios development.

so far, not so bad. and i'm feeling surprisingly relaxed about life, the universe and everything.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

the downside

today was really rough. it took me something like four hours to work through an issue that i'd overcomplicated because php is a bastard language that nobody should use ever. by then i had developed a headache through which i found myself having to familiarize myself with mac os, which was particularly frustrating because the mini i was playing with didn't want to talk to the rest of the network and the software i wanted to examine requires old-school linux-style scripting in order to compile.

ugh.

---
i slept in a little this morning, because i was absolutely exhausted. still. my extra time produced dreams that must have been inspired by david wong, and included time travel, extra dimensions, and old songs that were keys to big puzzles; good friends half fighting and half collaborating, and some very random side quests.

my start to the day was slow, but on the plus side i managed to get my beard length right. it's only taken me three months :P

it snowed last night, a lot of snow. but this morning brought rain, and rain and snow together aren't such a good combination. it's time i acquired proper boots. or galoshes. and it's beyond time that i head up to the mountains...

i just realized that i *can't* keep watching the hunter x hunter reboot, because at the rate i'm going i'll finish it before pg returns and then it won't be the same watching it with her. fine. but i gotta say, they really pulled out all the stops on this one ^_^

you may have noticed that i've been wallowing in my house collection of late - i'm seriously missing spyce and pure and unity. they just don't make 'em like they used to.

---
the annual state of the internet is interesting, but in particular the tail end of the presentation discussing asset-heavy versus asset-light. there is a ray of sunlight as the world (at least, the first world) slowly wakes up to the advantages of consuming less and consuming better.

Monday, December 10, 2012

notes at the end

the nurse's post-prank suicide story upsets me in two ways. one, it doesn't make sense (to me, at least) that this was more than just a contributing factor to a pre-existing condition. suicide isn't something that people just sort of do. and she apparently had the family's support after everything came out.

having said that, calling what these guys did a "prank" doesn't seem appropriate. pranks are funny, but i don't see the humour in what they did no matter how ridiculous it may have been that nobody caught on to their accents. i think these guys were just being assholes, and that everyone involved in letting their call through should be embarrassed.

---
i totally missed the whole story of the jewish south african doctor on trial in abu dhabi. my heart goes out to the karabus family: the middle east is a cruel place and the international community should be doing something about this!

because the south african government doesn't appear to care about its citizens' rights.

linkage moment

educational stuff for the week, courtesy of just the facts:

cheap new synthetic skin enables product testing without animals
scientists have created genetically modified cows that produce human milk
ten minutes on human empathy that makes a good case for why we need to move beyond the nation state.

cool stuff for the week:

tool artwork for sale
a real (enough) pipboy! (thanks, nystire)

end of the weekend

[... continued]

---
today:

yesterday afternoon yang invited me to a drum 'n bass party. i arrived soon after midnight. the music was brilliant and the club has a great atmosphere and a fun crowd.

after much consideration (an hour or two on the dancefloor), i've come to the conclusion that if dubstep is the sound of transformers doing the nasty, then the intersection between dubstep and drum 'n bass is that of transformers doing the nasty on a giant, rusty spring mattress in the middle of an enormous construction site while a galactic-scale war is resolved in the background.

an otherwise excellent night ended with a parking ticket and an argument that i'd later regret and apologize for. i really do get too aggressive when i argue, and i really have been re-realizing this for years and i really don't know what to do to make myself aware of it at the time when i can do something about it. at least if pg's around we have a signal, but i (obviously) can't rely on her to be there for me every time.

i slept well, enjoyed a cup of coffee and then walked to the metro, feeling a bit snotty and coughy by the time i arrived.

you know, there's a lot to be said for angry birds space: it's a great game, and it can be played without an internet connection. i enjoy its puzzles almost as much as i enjoy the challenges in hero academy, but if you're not connected then the latter simply doesn't work. which is a bit silly, in my opinion.

i had a much-needed hot shower and got into internet telephony, then passed out, waking up to master conjunctions and figure out that the packaging on the instant noodles lies. they're instant bloody noodles, you don't need to boil water in a pot.

i've eaten well, learned a lot (both french and video streaming), and watched some more hunter x hunter. and i'm just about done posting. and i'm tired. and monday is just around the corner.

---
a few days ago pg informed me that my bank branch in israel has shut its doors and that my account has been moved. what's great is that this happens while i'm out of the country. they've very considerately disconnected my internet banking account and if pg can't get me reconnected i'm going to have a problem... it's like all of the israeli institutions i deal with are conspiring to make my leaving the country all the more attractive.

i complained about this earlier this evening, and discovered that a friend of mine was at the same branch and the move caused a whole bunch of his cheques to bounce. that's really, really professional. well done, leumi, well done.

rocking funky beats while looking sharp

wow, no updates for awhile. i've been exhausted. or busy. or both.

---
thursday:

the day began well, with me totally wanting to rock the funky beats all dressed up for the office. [breaks to rock those funky beats]

i step into the street, and it's minus five, but i'm dressed warmly enough that the world feels just right, its soft, crisp air rolls into my nostrils and forms small clouds as i return it. i turn the corner and the bright morning sun's rays wash over me, i am squinting against its brilliance while with a bounce in my step i walk into the light experiencing that same sensation that accompanies one's arrival at a wide, empty beach early on a warm summer's morning.

---
the morning's video test was successful, which meant that i had something new to learn. having now finally (the last few hours) gone over it all, i'm familiar enough with internet telephony to at least know where to start. and i'm pleased to report that projects like linphone are not only fully functional, cross-platform and open-source but their code is clean enough to be easily understood. hats off to you, sirs and madams*. hats off to you.

* can't be bothered to check

---
after reading the wired article on how our passwords are failing us, i revisited all of my important accounts, changing their passwords, configuring two-step security where possible and deleting old accounts that have cool names but i can't remember when last i checked them. i then constructed a two-step security system to protect an api i wrote. it doesn't matter that that's a very simple procedure to implement, it's look good, dammit!

---
during the day i switched my phone to a bell account. once i understood that porting out a number is entirely on the provider being switched to, everything was fairly smooth. i couldn't have done it soon enough - this morning i received my phone bill from fido and the disconnect between the package they offered me and the costs incurred is jarringly dissatisfying. thanks, fido, but no thanks.

moonlighter came into the office, and amongst other things we talked about my communication skills. apparently, i've unwittingly managed to make the developers feel under pressure; the fact that the cto sold the bear skin and everyone's out hunting bears is beside the point... i've asked that they tell me if anything makes them uncomfortable and i've decided to ease back on my assertiveness. i need to win friends and influence people until i get settled, and perhaps i should wait until i'm actually employed before i get all authoritative.

there were shopping failures, but i can't recall what they were about. and pg and i had been missing each other due to time-zone difficulties for a few days, which was quite frustrating.

it was an early night for me.

---
friday:

i took the morning easy, and spent half an hour with pg on skype making up for the aforementioned lack of communication. just before we said goodbye she blasted alter bridge - metalingus down the line and i smiled at the thought that that was the song that convinced me to buy their albums in the first place.

that began the setting of the tone for the morning, which was furthered by huey lewis - the power of love and the wallflowers.

my earlier grievances with terrence mckenna - food of the gods aside, the man's insights are truly astounding and the evidence he presents seems to be well-researched and is rather convincing. i admit to some bias in the matter, but that doesn't invalidate my support.

the tone that had been set was crushed fairly soon upon my arrival in the office; it seems that the cto and i do not always see eye to eye (not the end of the world), and our awkward conversation was followed by a day in which the site i'd constructed in php repeatedly resisted my attempts to modify one of its base processes in the nastiest of ways. i didn't want to leave without finishing it (not that anybody else would have cared, really), and so i ended up walking out a lot later than i'd hoped.

---
weird note for the day: it might have been one guy or it might have been two. the first odd thing was the toothbrush lying next to the sink. the second, a little later, was the guy standing in front of the mirror stuffing his face with something, and then hurrying out when i walked in.

---
so there i was, waiting in the mall for my aunt to pick me up for friday night dinner with her friends, trying to figure out which wine to purchase. i gave up and called her to ask her advice, which was that under no circumstances was i to buy wine from a supermarket.
okay, then.
she advised chocolates, dark chocolate from the chocolatier that could be served after dinner.

isn't it something? that's the second time i've looked for dairy-free dark chocolate (the first time was in toronto); do vegans here simply not count as a potential market?

---
when she picked me up, she hit me with the news of the day: my uncle wouldn't be coming to dinner because he was in the hospital under observation after having suffered a mini-stroke.

on the one hand, nice to have a warning. on the other...

---
dinner was very nice, although the whiskey went straight to my head so i was a bit disconnected. there were two literature majors present and our hostess had specially prepared vegan options for me. the goodbyes were a bit awkward, but whatever.

i took the train going in the wrong direction, and had to switch at the next stop. but i was still tipsy, so i didn't care. in fact, i wrote a poem. or the beginnings of one that later became life in the love lane.

---
saturday:

i woke up late, and spent the morning watching hobbit week on the colbert show.

i've figured out how comedy central online works in canada. they don't have access to regular short clips that everyone else does, but to full shows with full advertisements that cannot be fast-forwarded.

the internets are broken. i'm watching the same irrelevant ad three times for each of the hobbit interviews that i'm waiting for :(

on the other hand, the streets are well-lit at night and i don't have to worry about stepping in crap on my way home.


it's like all of my complaints have lost their edge over here. they make it really hard to complain: it's not like "this sucks!" or "that sucks!", rather "this isn't perfect! oh noes!"

i would have chatted with pg but i couldn't stop yawning, and i would've had a nap except that pg had asked me if i'd paid the rent. i haven't paid rent in so long that it completely slipped my mind! i stressed, and hunted down the closest atm to which i hurried through the drizzling skies. i almost forgot my pin code for my new card...

i did laundry, repeating others' laundry offences (they'd left their stuff in the dryer for at least an hour before i removed it, and an hour later when i took my things the pile was still there) and losing a single sock in the process. i'm almost certain it's inside the duvet cover and that i'll find it when i wash it again :P

i passed out for a couple of hours and then met with the caretaker's wife to pay the rent. i'll relax when i get my $3 change and it doesn't come with a warning for being a week late :$

---
i've been a gushing fan of hunter x hunter for a decade now, and i've read the manga and loved that even more. for those of you who hated it, i was upset but i can understand that it was too slow going. but. there's. a. reboot. and. you. should. totally. give. it. a. chance.

it's way, way compressed and it's superbly done.

---
duolingo's iphone app is really well made, and between that and the satisfaction from the progress i've been making i'm really having fun learning!

[continued...]

Thursday, December 06, 2012

week flip

i'm cross-eyed and mind-melted and feeling tremendously uplifted from watching "het leven uit een dag". what a fantastic movie!

---
yesterday:

i've come to the conclusion that if it's hot enough to rain instead of snow, it's too hot for me.

on the metro i stood next to a little kid crouched over a giant book of calvin and hobbes, and i wondered how a kid calvin's age appreciates him. i read a bit more of food of the gods, and once terrence mckenna got me considering the transition to agriculture as the fall from eden i got stuck in a downward spiral. his argument is stupefyingly logical and yields so many interesting and compelling implications that i find it hard to focus on any one aspect. i do believe that i need to list this book as a must-read, and i'm still near the beginning.

i sat in on a video conference, presumably to bear witness and nod sagely at appropriate times, but at some point in the middle there was a long pause, and then someone asked me directly what i thought. i kind of fumbled, because they were waiting to hear the answer to a question that didn't make sense. i think i side-stepped well, but it made me nervous.

i've been trying to build something for weeks and i've been distracted non-stop - yesterday, i finally completed it! and it was extremely satisfying. i could feel the stress that the week had begun with simply melt away, as if there was some sort of connection. the art director came to take a look, and i think that was the point where he decided that we think alike :D

i spent an hour with pg's photos, cropping and resizing them so that they'd be just right for photo-quality passport prints. then i hurried home to change and visit the printers at walmart.

did i mention rain? it was raining. it wasn't cold, though, implicit in the previous statement, so i put on my ski-jacket and relatively water-resistant pants, tucked my disk-on-key with the photos into a dry corner and my headphones into my ears, fast-walked to the metro and from the metro to the walmart.

i must have spent forty-five minutes with the guys there trying to print. firstly, my cellular internet sucks and it's even worse when i really need it. secondly, they will print almost any size except passport size. so if i want to print passport size, i'd have to resize the photos to pad them enough and then cut them back down to size afterwards. it was all rather silly.

this seems like a great time to point out one of the iphone's most remarkable flaws: if i close my phone while i'm reading a web page in safari, and i unlock the phone to continue reading that page, safari will attempt to reload it. even if i have no internet connection. that's the sort of behaviour that makes me want to step outside and find out just how far i can fling the phone.

having nothing better to do, and already being in that area, and wet, i decided to locate the dollar cinema. has google maps ever led me wrong? yes. do i have much choice? not really. so i walked under the bridge (it was really beautiful), and found myself in the medical center. google maps said it wasn't there, so i walked south before finding myself too far south even for google maps, and then walked back north to discover that the medical center was the right place after all.

great! he says sarcastically.

i went in through a different entrance and walked around the ghost-mall, never finding a single sign that so much as suggested at a cinema. i hit the dollar store for a couple of things, then headed home. the walk back seemed to take much longer, but that might be because it rained a lot harder and by the time i returned to the metro even my ski-jacket was beginning to soak through.

i'll be honest, though: i did enjoy walking in the rain.

i chatted with k-twang, whose troubles with canadian bureaucracy seem quite intense, and then made dinner. i'm fairly certain the salad would have come out better with cucumbers, but the entire pack was soft and mouldy. ugh. and to think i'd eaten one the night before - perhaps i shouldn't have let the softness slide...

either monday or tuesday the skin in front of my thumbnail split, and it's very much like a cracked heal: it hurts like crazy, and it's lekkerseer, and it's just not healing :(

---
today: wednesday: how the heck is it wednesday???:

it occurred to me this morning that my while my statements that got me into trouble on monday night were valid apropos general psychological troubles, they weren't so valid regarding autism. because autism really is a disease. umm. as far as regular humans are concerned. umm. it's debatable. anyway, i think i need to mention my hesitation to the doctor i was trying to discuss it with when my uncle got upset.

i can tell exactly at what point my day got good - as i was getting ready to leave i was compelled to open the glove box [sorry, i had to]. the gloves cost me more than i expected, but still far less than my old ones, and holy-crap-they're-great-gloves-and-a-perfect-fit!!! that's very, very exciting, by which i mean that i'm greatly relieved that i have such a good excuse to keep them and not regret having to sell them off after all i went through to get them.

i sat with the art director this morning to discuss icon design; the concept art that he produced off my little script was nothing short of astounding, and if the big boys like it i'll get my name tagged as "copywriter". i like the sound of that :)
on a different note, icon design is complicated.

"there aren't a lot of guys like you," he told me.
"well," i responded, "i guess we need to make some more!"

after he invited me out to a great little indian restaurant next door - i ate far too much - aota got focused on my permit application while i essentially backseat-drove. that woman is an absolute blessing, i tell you: after a back-and-forth with all the bureaucrats and my personal information, she discovered that for various reasons i'm exempt from everything except the application that i've already made! win!!!

i might still have to go to new york, but we're not sure, and there's actually the possibility that i'll be sorted out and can start working in one or two weeks' time! hooray!!! now i just need to make a good impression on the officer at the border crossing. i considered taking him doughnuts, but if i was him i'd grab the doughnuts and kick me out.

it fascinates me how, in jobs-speak, i can connect the dots and see how important every little step along my way has been. from the trial-and-error svn abuse that i went through with -someone to the git expertise i gained from the tail end of my last job i have become a repo-master. this is a very good position to be in indeed. also, the junior came to sit and discuss his future plans, which involve running a gaming company. as i've told him, when i have a say in things i'm going to want each developer to dedicate a portion of his time to building apps that we're going to use ourselves, and it doesn't matter if they're tools or games. we kind of got side-tracked and i pitched the idea i've been sitting with for about twelve years now (inspired by neal stephenson - snow crash and johnny mnemonic), and the thing is is that everything is not only doable and has been for decades, but it's now so simple and feasible that it would be silly not to do it!

i spent an hour or two going through open-source solutions to see if i could find anything interesting, established my next goal and then left to come home. since lunch i'd been suffering a bit of a sore belly, and it intensified to the point of agony as i travelled on the metro, then relaxed just before i arrived home.

*sigh*

how is it so late already? all i did was watch a movie and write this!

---
my favourite part of the form i need to return to hydro-quebec:

important information to ensure the safety of our meter readers
your file indicates that you do not have a dog.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

visibly so

the rest of the day sucked, and then there was an hour or so of peace, and then it got sucky again but by that time i'd had a beer and was at least feeling more relaxed about it.

my stressing out was noticeable this morning, and i felt bad about that. i had one thing to do, and a whole of things that kept me from doing it. not least of which being the forms. after spending ages delving into the mysteries of canadian bureacracy with aota, we finally came to the conclusion that what quebec asked of me is totally wrong and that i'm exempt from all of that stuff. we finally narrowed it all down to a single submission. only to discover that the forms for that submission are pretty much identical to the ones driving me and pg crazy since the weekend.

and, get this, i'm going to have to go to new york sometime this week to hand in the forms because that's the closest non-canadian embassy. fantastic! [he says, sarcastically]
at least there's a cheap bus service, run by the hassidic community. that'll put my yeshiva experience to good use.

well, i guess everyone in the office knows my status now. there was a weird moment with moonlighter when i mentioned my only interaction with a palestinian prisoner* followed by a weirder one when aota informed me that he's a total anti-semite, or at least anti-israel. i hope she's totally wrong, or i hope he can see past it enough to give me a chance to open his eyes, even if only a little.

* i lit his cigarette, i guess you can blame me for cruelly assisting in giving him cancer.

another slowdown was caused by the junior developer, who's having a really rough time between home issues and studies. here i am, on the other side of the planet, playing big brother / psychologist. life is weird.

i received a call just as i was heading into the metro, the ups guys had decided to ignore our earlier communication and deliver my gloves to my apartment anyway. the caretaker picked them up, i was going to call him when i arrived but maybe it's better to do that in the morning.

i went by my aunt's place with the intention of having a cup of coffee and chatting, but i arrived so late that i was in time for dinner. the talking really helped, and the dinner was great, and everything was hunky-dory until my uncle got pissed off at me being a know-it-all again. can i help it if i know stuff? i can't tell if he's offended by what i'm saying, or just by the fact that i speak on so many different topics with authority. any conversion can now get to a point where he screams "bullshit!" over anything i say, and that's the end of the pleasant evening.

i couldn't stop thinking about the last thing we were talking about as i made my way home. could it be that that which brings out disgust - as opposed to curiosity - indicates recognition of that which we have suppressed within ourselves? or is it the other way around?

---
learning french: why does "au revoir et a demain" sound like "ooroo fortay adooma" when a french person says it?

Monday, December 03, 2012

garfield monday

can i start today again? i really want to start it again. because it began with me wanting nothing more than to curl up into a ball and hope to wake up with all my papers filled out by the magical form fairy. one shouldn't cry over spilt milk, but i'm feeling a clock's ticking and that's *weeks* i've wasted. how much is my future worth? perhaps $2000 isn't too high a price to pay.

i walked to the ups store to pick up my gloves. thinking i'd be in and out was my first mistake - the woman with the keys arrived late, and seemed to be fairly incompetent. it took fifteen minutes to ascertain that my package wasn't there, and then she called the delivery guys and we found it. it would be delivered sometime during the day.

"can you leave it at the store for me?"
sure, but there's a $25 COD charge.
"that can't be, i already paid the shipping."
that's not shipping, it's customs.

WTF?! so i essentially paid $50 shipping on a $40 item, which will now cost me even more to return if it's not precisely what i want?

fuck.

i walked back home empty-handed and bitter-spirited, picked up my kindle and a bag of my aunt's tupperware that's been accumulating, and headed to the metro, feeling a little better for protoculture's dead or alive cover. is that anthony hopkins' voice? anyway, i swiped my opus card and was rewarded with a red buzz. shit, okay, i tried the other turnstile. buzzed again. wait a second! it's the beginning of the month. fuck. i need to recharge. i could've done it yesterday. or saturday.

okay, pg said the recharge machine is really easy. cool. i stepped up, fumbled until i eventually figured out how to insert my card. easy options, put your credit card in the slot, read the instructions on that screen. visa supported. insert card and remove if blinking. i insert the card card, it blinks, i remove the card, nothing happens. i repeat this a few times, flipping the card. no deal. i repeat the whole process, fail again, there's a crowd behind me. fuck. i go to the counter, wait for a woman who doesn't get that a ticket is good for a single passage. i remember that lesson. my turn. no visa payments at the counter. i go back, one last time, fail again. back to the counter, buy ticket, watch the train come in and miss it by a meter.

there i am, walking down the platform and cursing like one of the crazies.

downer day

i've had a useless day, and distressingly so. i'm upset about the immigration forms that i didn't send in, and simultaneously confused as to why i need to send them in the first place - i'm not a big fan of bureaucratic contradictions.

on my way out to the supermarket this morning (it was a balmy five degrees so i took advantage of the sudden heatwave) i discovered that the slip posted to my mailbox was actually an indicator that my paid-for delivery is waiting for me at the ups store down the road. oh! a pity they didn't make that clear on the slip. and even more's the pity that i only found that out today, because they're closed on sundays.

so i've slept a fair amount, watched a couple of episodes of tiger and bunny (got a couple more left, maybe i'll watch them tonight), came close to failing on quinoa preparation (i'm not good at boiling things, apparently) and stressed over forms. now there's one thing that i've needed to do the whole weekend and have been avoiding (learning new software, i've been waiting to get into the right mode and it's not happening), and then i'm just going to go to bed early.

---
have i mentioned to be or not to be, that is the adventure? because i bought in the minute i heard about it, and since then they've soared through their stretch goals. seems like this shakespeare guy's pretty popular! and they've got a heck of a selection of artists in on it, too.

Sunday, December 02, 2012

!adventurous

let's go backwards, shall we? i've spent almost all day indoors, minus a short excursion to walmart to pick up a few things (almost none of which i found).

i've just watched some more tiger and bunny: i can't believe i didn't have the whole season! now i have to watch online. at least i have internet. it was fun at the beginning, but it's become intense. the story is excellent.

i spent 2.5 hours transferring pages from wikispaces to mediawiki. why the hell did the cto have to choose one of the only wikis that uses a proprietary markup?! what a painful experience :(

i've been practising a bit of french; i'm really impressed with duolingo's new iphone app.

i thought the two girls had made a mistake when they so enthusiastically greeted me when i opened the door. my first encounter with carollers. i said "this is awkward, i'm jewish." then i gave them a couple of bucks to go away - it's supposed to be for a good cause. i was amused, and very glad that they didn't sing for me because afterwards i could hear them singing to the neighbours.

i posted a video that i thought was really good, and it offended tpj. he posted a rant and i responded, and he misunderstood my response and we ended up having a private argument that began with him calling me "a retarded bigot". i don't just give up on people whose opinions i appreciate, and we fought it out, eventually both apologizing but as amiably as we resolved it the whole incident left a decidedly bitter aftertaste.

i had a long video chat with pg. i miss her. as much as the internet can bridge the gap of half the globe, you can't hold hands through a screen.

i did laundry and finally took care of the recycling this morning. i was annoyed to find the slip for my gloves' delivery pasted on my postbox: this is the second time i've suffered this, the first being with a penny arcade delivery. not only did my online payment include postage, but there's a reception charge?! i paid $25 for shipping and the receipt says another $25. as i wasn't here when it arrived i wasn't here to refuse the payment, so unless i'm mistaken (and i hope i'm mistaken) i owe the caretaker money.

that stinks.

---
friday:

okay, now reversing the chronological order to its original direction.

my birthday. facebook is a thing every year, but i've now established that blocking one's wall is a very good idea. a lot of the people i care about sent me private messages, and instead of just a bland wish on the wall, to get lost amongst all the others, each private message was an opportunity to chat and it made the wishes that much more special. i created a status to catch all the lazy wishes, and that made mass responses much easier.

before pg left she hid my birthday present in plain sight - she knows me well - and i woke up to directions. her gift was absolutely spot on; the card for me is the real gift, the physical part is great but the card itself made me smile and laugh and really, really want to reach out and hug her.

*sigh*

i had a super hot shower before getting dressed for the office, and it was one of those perfect showers that it's practically impossible to finish.

i checked the weather report before leaving the apartment. -13. i was sure there was a glitch. i double-checked. same result.

i have to say that -13 in short bursts really isn't different from -1 or -2. but there wasn't any wind... wind chill is evil.

food of the gods is a brilliant book, but some of his ideas don't sit well with me. i totally understand where he's coming from and so can vouch for the quality of his theory based on my own enlightening experiences, but i have no problem integrating all of the language-magic with an objective reality whereas he refers to science as sophistry and the idea of reality as fantasy as antithetical to what we* are beginning to come to grips with. then again, he hints at connections even as he says that, so i guess it could just be signs of the time of writing.

* i'm being an elitist by presuming that the whole world is on the same level as those at the forefront of philosophical, psychological and neurological studies

the art director was complaining that the company doesn't have branding, and that his decisions are by and large arbitrary. we talked for about five minutes, during which i presented him with two different branding concepts. they were both pretty exciting. "you know," he told me, "you should be a copyrighter!"
i didn't mention that i've been studying literature and am an aspiring writer :P

i was sent an invitation to a video conference that went on and on and never really got to the point. it's bad enough that it was a waste of time, but it was mind-bendingly boring and i had other stuff to do. when i finally started getting back into focus, the cto forwarded me an email from wikispaces informing us that our trial period has come to an end. what timing! so i spent the rest of the afternoon installing mediawiki (the easy part), configuring access to it (impossible, there must be some kind of conflict with the hosting company's configuration and i eventually had to do a temporary workaround) and then importing from the old wiki. see my previous comment about proprietary formats :S

two shitty moments for the day:

the first was when aota called to say the immigration agency has contacted her to inform her that we didn't do something really, really important: the website says that the simplified application process involves three forms; it totally neglects to mention that a federal application needs to be made simultaneously. oh, shit. oh-shit-oh-shit-oh-shit.

the second was when nystire's brother called me on skype. he asked me a question that i answered without thinking, only realized then that i was essentially sharing that private sentiment with everyone within a 30m radius. oh, cubicles, you suck.

while travelling to my aunt's for dinner, i was struck by a couple of intense food smells at random points. i was beginning to wonder if i was imagining it but when some kids hopped on the bus and confirmed that it smelled of fish 'n chips i knew that my nose was fine.

dinner was great, the vegan dishes were delicious, and there were a few guests who made the evening loud and fun. afterwards i joined yang and my aunt's friend's kid for a beer downtown. it was cold outside. very cold. but the place we went to served guinness and the music was alright. i think i got home around 1am or so. i was a little tipsy.

---
i'm a little tipsy now, and that's only because i poured a glass of wine as i sat down to post this. maybe i'll go to bed.

Friday, November 30, 2012

speaking of reflections

i said something today that made moonlighter grab his pen and frantically scribble on the pad next to him. within seconds he'd produced a comic likeness of me saying what i'd said, and for all its simplicity it *did* look like me. only not like i see me, because that me had a beard. i might have a beard, too, but not in my head - one's own body-image is a powerful thing.

and then i thought: "wow, these guys have no idea what i look like."

scheduling

i woke up late this morning, took my sweet time, and slipped outside to pick up the package from pg. after all that worrying over snowboarding gloves, my israeli ones arrived first :P

the slipping was pretty literal - a passer-by gave me a friendly warning when he saw me almost see my own ass. the thing about snow and ice and bad boot grips is that you have to keep your centre of balance just a *teensy* bit more forward than is comfortable.

anyway, none of that was important. what was important is that it was the craziest snow i've ever seen - even if that's not saying much - and when it wasn't flying into my face it was absolutely beautiful. if it had been rain i would have said it poured, and i couldn't stop thinking about what a pleasure it was that if too much collected on a glove or the inside of my not-quite-closed jacket i could tap it off or blow it off.

i gotta say, though, it was pretty cold. and a traffic light that takes more than two or three minutes to let pedestrians cross the road is insane!

good news: my two pairs of gloves work well as a single inner / outer. awesome ^_^

the most awkward part of the walk in both directions was carrying the rental agreement, which i was doing because the post office tab explicitly stated that i would need to prove that i live at the written address. for next time, my passport was enough :P

...

it's difficult to express just how heart-warming a walk through the snow with uplifting house can be.

...

the day was long but calm. it's nice to be appreciated. and it's nice to have one's suggestions taken seriously and implemented and feedbacked into good policy. shit, even the kid with zero experience is behaving like a professional. it's like i fell out of the frying pan and landed in a pile of snow.

i came home, disappointed myself by putting both lupini beans and non-mediterranean olives in the salad (both are boring), and have decided that i'm going to welcome in my birthday by opening pg's package and getting to bed early. my gift to myself will be me being here, now, happy. this last year was tough, exhausting, and deeply satisfying on several levels and i can only hope that the next year will be one of consolidation.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

vitamin c time

i can't tell if i'm getting a cold, or if i'm just exhausted. it's been a long week.

i noticed this morning that my hair's just hit that sweet-spot where it makes my beard look like it belongs :)

i checked the recycling bins this morning on my way out, and noticed both bags and loose items. i asked at work, and it seems like it's an issue locals aren't too clear on either.

i'm a little upset with our caretaker. we've been here a few weeks, and he's been promising to fix our balcony door before the cold arrives. i called him twice today, and he didn't get back to me...

on my way out the door, brainbug - nightmare fell out my playlist and i bounced all the way to the metro. the song always takes me back to the first time i heard it. i was dancing downstairs at spyce, and it was darko's birthday - he begged the dj who was about to go on (rob-b, a cape town legend) to play the track as it had just come out... rob-b agreed, and darko dragged me upstairs. i think we danced the two or three hour set on pure anticipation*, and when the intro to the track finally hit, everyone went so crazy that it felt like a bomb had gone off. it's difficult to describe that sensation in words, being overwhelmed, carried and invigorated by an emotional shockwave of pure, sweaty pleasure.

* i kid, the set was awesome.

i spent ten hours staring at my screen, with short breaks for lunch (the first was mine, the second was because aota insisted on buying me lunch), and the extra coffee (aota walked past and handed me a cup of coffee... do i waste a good cup of coffee?) wired me completely. actually, some of the time was spent explaining things slowly on the phone, recalling my helpdesk days, and some mentoring.

i like mentoring.

i stepped out into the cold evening, pulling on my gloves and tuque after leaving the building. it's because i was concentrating on that that i nearly slipped and fell... where the hell did all of that snow come from?!
the city is blanketed, and i didn't see a single flake drop?! not cool :(

but it's a start. i understand it'll melt first before the serious snow comes. i can't wait!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

coasting to sleep

it's hard to listen to terrence mckenna and not be impressed by the man's brilliance. so much more impressive is his writing, at once both academic and invigorating. his blurring of the line between medicinal and psychotropic plants and regular nutrition is subtle, but very clever, and the idea that all of these systems are so deeply interconnected with the animal world is at once obvious and surprising. it's less of a question of "what effect will consuming this have on me" than of "how does this effect play a role in the grand scheme of things".

---
tabata this morning was as meh as i was feeling before i began: i'm still a bit too tired to be enthusiastically making an effort. not that i didn't make an effort, mind. the day was fairly unexciting, although there's a definite sense of making progress. in the evening i found my way to a really cool bar called la casa del popolo. the atmosphere was awesome and the local beer was great, and the place was packed with cool people, quite a few of them comic artists and publishers.

now if only i spoke french, it wouldn't have been so awkward. i finished my beer, bought a book (an opportunity to support the artist and maybe learn a bit), and walked to the nearest metro. dinner at my aunt's was really nice.

one weird thing, though. for me, at any rate. it turns out that for canadians, people who hit the slopes with knees pads or wrist protection are total nerds; it's just not done! everything i've read and experienced to the contrary. well, i guess i'll just be the nerd, then.


---
first-world problems: i can't figure out if i'm supposed to toss all my recycling into the big bins as is, or if i'm supposed to waste plastic to bag it first :S

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

laugh all you want

if polyester is so warm that on such cold days i'm walking with my jacket open, i'll stick with the barely-have-to-iron material.

also, terence mckenna - food of the gods has been sitting quietly on my to-read list for years now; it's really, really provocative and fun too.

bittersweet victory

the old-world institutions really need to give in to globalization and accept the idea that the internets are upon us. why the hell won't paypal israel let me purchase something and deliver it to myself in canada when my visa card has no problem with that?!

anyway, thank you backcountry.com for holding affordable snowboard gloves. i'm shocked that it's so bloody difficult to find them, and glad to hear that they should get here when the snow does ^_^

i *do* hope they fit :P

zonked

i discovered, after consuming my delicious dinner*, that i'd missed a post after we got back from toronto. so here it is.

* i think it's the flax with the fish oil that's doing it. maybe the himalayan salt is helping. the pickled israeli chilis definitely played well too.

---
it took me so long to get out of bed this morning (playing with my blog until late may have had something to do with that) that i didn't have time for shaving or tabata. and they're not the sort of things that can go together, either. i didn't stress about getting ready and leaving, though, and i arrived at my usual hour.

my day slipped by; i met with one of the developers, made helpful UX upgrades to the site i'm building, and found myself guiding a new developer on his first foray into the wonderful world of methodological logic. i was about to write about how it's so nice to work with pure minds untainted with the cynicism of hardened programmers everywhere, but the other dude is very experienced and he's only too happy to listen to what i have to say. and that guy keeps commenting on how different and sensible my ideas are compared to what he's used to.

it's like the singing of angels.

on a different note, the new developer came in sporting a mohawk, and the boss isn't pleased so it looks like he's gonna have to shave it off. just last night i was explaining to my mum that i can't just come in with stubble every day, no matter how much neither of us likes my beard.

i left late and swung by a natural store that the internet had told me stocks nugo bars. cool place, but they didn't. i went shopping on my way back home, ate dinner and would have done nothing but post and go to bed if it wasn't for two awesome things:

1. k-twang informed me that the dollar cinema is right nearby. sweet! i didn't know that it existed until a few minutes ago.

2. to be or not to be: that is the adventure looks amazing. watch the video. watch it right now!