Wednesday, October 31, 2012

weather

the weather reports have been promising rain and heavy winds in montreal that were supposed to begin sometime yesterday and still be going strong. i was surprised to note that the streets were wet when i stepped out this morning, because the weather was cloudy but otherwise quite comfortable.

i waited for the bus - usually one comes every five minutes - and after more than ten my schedule was getting messed up and i may as well have walked. then it began to rain... just at that point, the bus arrived! and continued on straight past us, as it was full.

annoyed, i began to walk. with my nice shoes. noticing the little droplets on them - yes, yes, they're waterproof, whatever - reminded me that i'm supposed to leave them in the office and wear sneakers or boots when travelling. i hesitated after the next bus stop, and just managed to get on board the next bus before it really started pelting down.

...

i'm well pleased with the little coin purse pg found for me, it looks more professional than the one she made and it has a nifty card slot in the back which is quite useful for storing and passing my metro card.

...

my brain's still sore trying to understand why no matter which direction i'm travelling in, switching trains at snowdon involves walking downstairs. i mean, i kinda get it but unless i draw myself a little map it's really not intuitive.

...

my day at work was very comfortable and productive. what's weird, though, is that both the developers (including the vastly senior one) and the qa are all reporting to me. this is especially weird because i'm not officially working yet and because as an entity who isn't supposed to wear hats managing others (and paying attention to their hours) doesn't seem to fit. i'm gonna have a chat with the boss tomorrow to figure out who's responsible for what.

otherwise, the work plan seems solid and i'm progressing well with my duties. i even managed to delegate to the other dudes in a way that hasn't been challenged or whined about. this, to me, is a good start.

...

more positive news for the day - i finally got my paycheck for august! i have one more month left, and then i think it'll be appropriate to write a nice little article about certain companies who rip off their staff and suppliers on a regular basis. it's really not cool.

although, in retrospect, perhaps i should wait until they've given me a good reference :P

...

the sun came out again at lunchtime, and when i left work in the evening it was warm and pretty. heart-achingly pretty, and too good for any camera to pick up. i walked home with spring in my heart, and took pg out for chinese downtown. it wasn't nearly as good as the other place: the great ranking has begun. we enjoyed a great fruit shake and then came home; early enough to get stuff done AND get some sleep.

...

we just finished the vega one taste trial: the natural flavour crashed and burned with pg, i thought i was kinda okay but i wouldn't actually buy a whole bottle of the stuff. so berry it is.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

forgot! health and people

1. we've now tried two of the vega meal replacements; i'm happy with both chocolate and berry, pg was okay with the latter and absolutely *hated* the former. we've got the natural left, and then i'll be getting myself a big 'un.

2. two of the people i met before heading to toronto have left the company. the dev head that i clicked so well with because he apparently couldn't handle being in such a loosely defined and dynamic environment.

start-ups aren't for everyone, i suppose.

the meeting

wow. like father, like son. such incredibly judgemental people, and lacking the faculty for reasoned argument, my little cousin's not only offensive but far too easily offended. someone once told me that if you think the bride's ugly, and the groom's happy with her, you really don't need to mention it to him. they're concerned because pg "isn't pulling her weight" in our relationship; my uncle was downright offended at the notion that i came home from work and she hadn't made me dinner.

and that she spent her day indoors, doing not much. i fail to see how that's any of their business. to quote pg: "so they don't like me".

huh. well, we're certainly not the first family they disapprove of.

---
other than that little episode, i had a supremely smooth day. i got up relaxed, arrived at the office at a reasonable hour, and spent most of the day in the meeting room. after the initial training session (two of us are "new"), us developers got together and ironed out the current state of affairs and a plan for the next week and month. i felt very pleased with myself for directing things in a manner that everybody seems on board with, and tomorrow i'll be wading in all sorts of different responsibilities.

the awkward bit of the day involved my company email address: even though i'm not officially working, our secretary didn't want to fuel any possible governmental accusations by creating an account in my name before my permit comes through. before i left, though, i mentioned it to my boss who thinks it's a horrible idea because it'll definitely raise unwanted questions. we'll see how that plays out tomorrow.
speaking of immigration, we've decided to insure our application by advertising on the government site that k-twang directed me to and then submitting in two weeks. this in spite of the fact that we already have more than enough real life evidence that there aren't enough people like me floating around :P

on my lunch break i paid the bank a visit and discovered that without some form of canadian identification i will not be able to open an account anywhere. i have to see if the landlord of the apartment we're looking at can deal with that. in the meantime, i've been informed that we may have a couple of connections for decent apartments with landlords that'll be happy to have us. the jewish community is strong in this town :)

---
hurricane sandy has caused a fair amount of trouble already; i hope it doesn't get any worse :(

Monday, October 29, 2012

ready to volunteer

until my permit is acquired, i will essentially be volunteering. my job will consist of brushing up on skills and learning the systems, and organizing said permit. that all begins tomorrow.

that kinda makes today my last "holiday". we slept late, because in addition to being tired the bed here is so ridiculously comfortable that it's really hard to leave it. after sending off an email begging my previous employers to sort out my last payments - one really shouldn't have to resort to this - i went out to buy cereal and ate a large breakfast, partially while talking to my mother.

i hope she listened to me.

i read while drinking coffee, then pg woke up, and soon afterwards we were on our way downtown to find vega samples. because we're not buying $40 containers we're not going to consume. it's a shame we took an umbrella with us because it never rained; after the earthquake off vancouver and with hurricane sandy looming we kinda assumed that the weather would be as crap as they said it would.

it was a nice day, biting wind notwithstanding. and the piles of yellow leaves all over the place were beautiful.

we found the store easily, i grabbed an energy bar in addition to the sample packets and while it's a little bit too sweet, it's definitely edible and a far sight more comforting than the regular crap.

we ambled all over the plateau, half looking at apartments and half shopping for stuff for pg's family. on the way we found an amazing gaming shop on saint denis, and i bought oversized gloves*. then we hit sainte catherine but by that time most of the stores we wanted were closed. we found some cool baby toys for her sister's kids, though.

* it was an accident! i swear! i even asked pg to help me and she only noticed that they were too big when it was too late!

we walked all the way back home, mostly discussing israeli housing arrangements (like renovating), and arrived just in time for a delicious dinner and only a few uncomfortable moments with my uncle. it wasn't too bad, i guess.

since then i've been doing all sorts of nothing, including

1. understanding amazon prime and being disappointed by their canadian offering. not because they don't have anything, but because i can't find the relevant pages on their site.

2. being disappointed by netflix offerings.

3. installing the kobo app on my iphone and deciding that darkness really is as awesome as the mongoose says. now i know that pg and i need an ipad. we were thinking perhaps a kindle fire or a kobo, but the ipad has apps for that.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

link catchup

they turned out the lights in the train right before we entered the dark station platform, just in time to make it difficult for us to gather our belongings and extricate ourselves from the car. the baggage arrived on the carousel almost immediately, and so far the experience was 1 for 1 but pg and i both needed to use the bathrooms.

pg couldn't find the ladies (it was terribly marked), and the men's room's designed so that if you use a stall and somebody uses the urinal, you have to wait for them to finish. and the angles all over are such that it makes it very difficult to avoid brushing against fixtures and seats and things :(

the same metro turnstile that had frustrated me on leaving montreal was out of order on the way back :S

we made it home easily, planted our feet, had a decent dinner topped off with my aunt's astoundingly delicious chocolate-marshmallow brownies, and i've spent the rest of the evening / night catching up on a bunch of things i'd filed for "later". that includes sending an email to the landlord of one of the apartments that we liked.

---
amusing:

garfunkel and oates - pregnant woman are smug made me smile. i don't know why.

22 hertz is a canadian band that sounds like it's made of trent reznor. on the one hand, why would anyone want to sound like anyone else? on the other, why wouldn't anyone want to sound like nine inch nails? it's actually good, although i'm not sold on the lyrics. they're a bit... direct.

good to know:

i'm a big fan of cracked.com, and 5 ways your taste in music is scientifically programmed is one of those articles that i'm really glad i read to the end.

here's a government study that shows that a sense of cultural identity is important. it doesn't matter if it's "authentic" or not.

to summarize a couple of journalists' experiences with better place tech: it's not perfect, but it's already more than practical. as soon as any country gets off fossil fuels, it could set up the better place infrastructure and be ready to roll into a transportation revolution.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

totoro-n-to part iv

[aaargh! i missed a blog post somehow. inserting this retroactively.]

---

saturday (20th):

i was feeling weak - it was possibly a protein thing.

in the newspaper i read about the zombie walk scheduled for that afternoon downtown. instead, the family took us for lunch at the local aroma (hah!) which was actually really nice (and they understand protein salads), and then we drove down ilan ramon avenue and continued off into the sticks to witness the turning a weekend too late to really be impressed. it was all very pretty, i'll admit, but not quite like the show we'd been treated to when we left montreal. the videos from the zombie walk were amazing.

i was exhausted by the time we got back, so i had a nap before pg and i were taken to a cousin to eat far too much sushi (well, i ordered the vegetarian options) and play settlers of catan with him and his wife. it was a fun evening!

---

sunday (21st):

TMI WARNING: i always thought that peeing in a dream meant peeing outside of the dream as well. apparently not. i was *very* relieved to discover that i hadn't relieved myself.

otherwise, i dreamed of an honest work ethic winning out.

i ate breakfast, then got stuck into the cic website. i got a little done before k-twang surprised us by arriving unannounced; we pretty much picked up where we left off. we spent a really pleasant day together meandering through downtown [noodles, kensington market with super slow coffee, half an exhibit and the fashion district with sweet potato fries, root beer and a non-dog], capping it off with a visit up the cn tower and eating thai food that made me cry. the drive back home was long,

the one thing that bothered me was at the cn tower: the photos that you take in front of a green screen when you walk in? there's only one way to see them, and that's to have them printed. it's against policy for them to turn the screen so you can get an idea. once they're printed (in triplicate, with magnets) and framed so nicely you're kinda guilted into buying them because otherwise it's your fault that they've gone to waste*. and they cost the most ridiculous amount of money!!! we're not stupid, and we'd paid enough just to ride the elevator.

* just kidding, that's bullshit. it's totally on them and their blatant disregard for the environment.

on our way to bed i discovered that my cousin's wife's into all sorts of crazy, but as i stood there smiling and nodding it dawned on me that she's not harming anyone with her beliefs and that they're as real to her as anything, so why not?

an early night ensued.

totoro-n-to part iii

well, we're on the train back, 3G service is terrible and our train car's wifi is even less reliable, so here i am on a six+ hour trip with my netbook rendered inferior to my kindle and typing this on my phone. joy. at least i'm finally getting around to this post :P

---

wednesday night (17th):

salt and vinegar lays are intensely delicious. i ate most of the large bag - boy, the jokes about the amount of air in them aren't exaggerated - while going through the bombardier career site updating my resume. i must be an expert job hunter now, because i now see why they kept sending me irrelevant listings and weren't interested in me otherwise. oh, twenty-twenty hindsight, you suck.

we got the packing done and hit the hay, worrying because we had absolutely no idea what kind of gift to take with and we didn't want to arrive empty-handed.

---

thursday (18th):

after a hurried start and quick travel, we arrived with time to spare. my blood pressure was up because transferring from the metro involved exiting through a luggage turnstile. the button was badly labelled, and once a fellow passenger had shown me how to operate it (good heavens, you'd think the metro official would have noticed) we could only get it to operate intermittently, and decidedly rude people kept coming through the other way (without luggage, and they could see me!) kept me stuck there with my temperature rising until eventually i just went through a normal gate with my 20kg luggage over my head.

assholes.

we sat at a dodgy diner for toast and orange juice, then slipped my iphone under the qr scanner and boarded the train. via's ticket system is awesome, and everyone should use it. fact.

trains are comfy, far better than aeroplanes, they have power sockets and sometimes even wifi. we took four seats, and were joined later by a sweet woman with her super-cute infant that was super-well-behaved until the train ride went into overtime (about half an hour).

i finished off the previous day's lays early on in the ride, searing my tongue with its flavor and having that burned sensation coloring the rest of my day. that didn't stop me from enjoying my swiss mousse-flavored chocolate:
on the jewish festival of simchat torah, tradition demanded that the kids in our synagogue would be handed giant slabs of chocolate because, well, all the adults were getting stupidly merry with whiskey and the little ones deserved to party too. it was after the handout that my lactose-intolerant self went missing one year, and my concerned aunt found herself running around crazily looking everywhere for me. she eventually found me: i had crawled into a secret space beneath a flight of stairs with TWO giant slabs, and was greedily wolfing them down like there was no tomorrow. my aunt, already flustered, flew back to my mother to inform her that trouble was afoot.

"eh, let him be. so he'll be sick!"


my aunt recounted this story to us a few nights ago, which i'd forgotten, and to tell you the truth i've never ceased to be that child under the stairs. pg was horrified when she looked up at me and the slab had disappeared.

i switched books to david wong - this book is full of spiders: seriously, dude, don't touch it, because i'm finding anna karenina boring.

after an email back-and-forth with the immigration lawyers, i had a pleasant chat with one who then sent me good tidings and some useful info along with a quote. the good news? i qualify for the simplified process. the bad news? approximately $2500 in legal fees.

i slept a bit and read some comics, hung on facebook (what an insufferable timesink!) and then we arrived in toronto. an hour late and with half an hour to go before our baggage was unloaded...

rush hour in the toronto subway system is madness, and my belly was unhappy. it took ages to find a food court with coffee and restrooms, but once we did we were ready to... shop for a gift. pg had a flash of inspiration and we wrapped up a pretty candle in a glass vase. [we discovered last night that they have a vast collection of similar vases stored in the basement. oh, well.]

getting on the right train was easy but we'd have to wait for my cousin who was stuck in a crazy traffic jam that had gridlocked the whole of north toronto. we'd spend another half an hour or so trying to go around it before eventually arriving at the house to pick up his wife and go out for dinner.

when we came home he taught me to use his professional coffee machine and then the ins and outs of canadian construction as i made holes in their wall looking for the source of the rainwater that was leaking into their kitchen. he's an engineer with some very cool toys, that man.

after all that studying, i cut my ridiculous beard down to size and passed out on the very different bed in our plush, elegant guest rooms.

---

friday (19th):

after a late sleep with dreams out of ready player one, we enjoyed a good breakfast followed by a discussion about who should pay the legal fees. i decided to consult with my aunt, and i'm very glad i did that before hinting to the boss that it would be on them. lawyers are an optional extra and the person who's choosing that path is me.

pg and i wanted to head into town, so we stopped for a pretty good lunch at mr. sub - apparently the worst, but not in our experience - and then caught the loooong bus to finch station. there we organized a day pass which is good value for money.

we landed up in eaton center, for clothing and book stores. we headed outside to discover that toronto's downtown can be really pretty (though either my camera was misbehaving or i was on the phone with my mother so i can't prove it). we wanted a snack and drinks but after waiting five minutes in a nice-looking place while some old guy flirted with the guy behind the counter we lost patience and headed back home.

it took two hours to get back home. it always takes at least that, and it's expensive because my cousins live in vaughan, which is kinda the next city over...

we were just in time for a vegan friday night dinner, and i was asked to say kiddush which made me so nervous that i couldn't pour the wine afterwards because my hands were shaking so badly.

i restored my sense of security by constructing a small fortress wall using whiskey, wine, beer and coffee.

we went to bed early, me with sore legs and a midnight pizza dream sensation with distinct acid-like awareness of my mortality.

totoro-n-to part ii

well, we're on the train back, 3G service is terrible and our train car's wifi is even less reliable, so here i am on a six+ hour trip with my netbook rendered inferior to my kindle and typing this on my phone. joy. at least i'm finally getting around to this post :P

---

tuesday (16th):

i definitely didn't sleep enough after lockout. i woke up tired. i walked to the metro in 5º weather. the thought for the morning was inspired by the guy in front of me on the way there: "it's five degrees in the morning, dude, pull your pants up." how can that not be cold?!

i was sans caffeine for the rides to the presentation area, which rendered me practically incoherent, and even the biting wind in my eyes only woke me up while it lasted. having finally remembered to bring my ipod to drown out the egoli tones of the metro, i was disappointed to discover that its battery was drained :(

i would spend most of my day with heavy eyelids, pouring over the documentation for the systems as they exist in an alternate dimension with my technical bosses kid sniffling chunks of snot not three feet away and every now and again surprising himself with a gurgling cough.

two of the french-only speakers surprised me: the first because he's actually possessed of fluent english that he acquired while working in botswana, the second because i managed to communicate with his franglais as he's been employed in south america for half of his career. the second was the IT guy, who also surprised me when he informed me that my office laptop is a touchscreen.

lunch in the cafeteria wasn't quite as expected; i had to choose between beef, cheese or both if i wanted to eat something, and the hamburger and fries turned out to be the most vegan-friendly item on the menu.

*sigh*
it'll be packed lunches for me, it seems.

the other side of lunch was the french immersion thing. i can understand bits of what goes on, and sometimes even get the gist of a conversation, but i've got a ways to go before i don't feel excluded :(

---

the material i read through was interesting and accessible (for me, at least), and at the end of the day i had my first sit-down with both bosses. this turned out to be the *real* interview, the critical one in which the technical boss has to decide if he can work with me.

it appears that he feels he can. my impressions and suggestions were met with enthusiasm, which is precisely not what i was expecting after my chat with the dev head on the same subject.

we closed the day on that excited note that i've almost come to expect from dealing with these people. even the long ride to the station was enjoyable and interesting (a coworker took my advice and watched invader zim in the backseat) and i even had company on the metro.

from the station i pretty much made it home on autopilot, which i take as a good sign. i was suffering a post-radiation headache, but a quick dinner and excited review of the day later, pg and i were on our way downtown to the metropolis to hear alanis morissette playing what is practically a home crowd.

we stopped for an energy drink - the cans here are enormous compared to what i'm used to from israel - and slipped inside with a flash of our qr codes.

---

alanis was absolutely enchanting; she's as magnificent as she was fifteen years ago. she sang all our favourites, some slightly enhanced and her timing just different enough to be fresh. she finished off with thank u: i'd been kinda waiting for that. i was totally high on life by the last few songs.

it was like the last twelve years flashed before my eyes, and then i was standing at the open train door as the indian countryside sped by, and then i was in the metropolis listening to a favourite singer after being accepted into the fold of a company that's going to take me into the next big stage of my life.

---

the only thing that could have ruined the evening were two israeli whoo-girls who perched next to us and were demonstrating how much fun they were having and making it difficult for us to hear the stage. we moved back twenty feet and found ourselves buffered by civilized people, and then everything was fine.

after the show pg spotted a pizza place so we had to stop. i had to taste, and i am happy to report that it was great pizza: worth the bite.

we went home, i scribbled notes for the day, took a shower and put my exhaustion to bed.

---

wednesday (17th):

we woke up late, and i spent my morning catching up with the online world (an impossible task) and discovering reggie watts along the way. he provided good background for the long and laborious task of translating a lecturer's bio from pdf to joomla.

pg and i took a long walk to snowdon, and a shorter one around the area we're interested in living in. we saw five apartments, four decent and two a bit over-the-top, and were forced to communicate with a number of people who speak no english or, which was easier, via proxies. we have at least one option which we're hoping will still be available this week.

we tried to see if it's close enough to the mountain to walk there, but it's not. at least we made a satisfying liquorice run, discovering that finnish liquorice is really, really good.

we attempted coat shopping again, failing for the second time, then returned home with sore legs and too tired to do anything as taxing as standing upright.

alarms were ringing when we entered the house, and the boiler room voodoo we performed would have to wait for ten minutes flat on the couch - which would make all the difference - it eventually worked, whatever it was we did.

the world's longest buzz-cut came next, with us unable to figure out how the beard trimmer worked until it was too late and i'd ended up with a big beard and shaven head. total fail. with hairs everywhere.

other world

i'm still half asleep, i've been snoozing the alarm for twenty minutes because i finally managed to get comfortable. it's pouring outside, and cold, and the duvet temperature is *just* right; the reality of getting up to pack up the holiday and venture outside is just being mean.

magic pony

we got up early enough this morning, after yet another night of sore feet, sweats and bad dreams. i believe that the sweats might have something to do with pg piling extra duvet on me in her sleep.

we walked to the promenade to familiarize ourselves with the place and take a bus; the pseudo-station there is badly marked and confusing and we didn't have a dollar of the exact fare that's always required. it was a sunny, comfortable morning and we walked down to the gas station shop by the next stop, grabbing a couple of protein bars and gatorade in order to break a twenty and returning to the stop just in time to board the bus. we arrived without a hitch at the osgoode station and walked from there, giving up on the trams because they seemed to be taking too long and regretting it because they passed us between stops.

we found magic pony quite by chance, as they'd completely redone their window, but were dismayed to discover that the large totoro plush we wanted costs $120 :(

pg got something crafty, i admired the amazing figures and art, and we braved a tram and a subway to meet up with nystire's brother. his instructions were confusing, but we eventually managed to find him. it was beginning to get nippy and he was walking around in shorts...

we ate at rawlicious, which was an odd but generally positive experience, then missioned for tea until we got him to understand that we didn't need exotic teas before heading to his place for a cup of coffee. a lot of talking got done during all of that, and then we were off north again so that we'd have time to do some quick shopping at eat sum more (the south african specialty store) for the montreal family; by that stage it was really, really cold, it began to rain, and pg was spectactularly underdressed for the occasion.

we braved the weather and got everything we needed, including flowers for our current hosts and a small brolly, then returned home for warmth, a thoroughly enjoyable meal, an exceptionally good dessert, some pinball*, and lots of jovial, familiar and sometimes inappropriate chatter with the family.

* i've been meaning to play on their machine in the basement the whole week: it's a great game, but there's something disorientating about infinite balls and something infuriating about it not allowing two players.

we've basically said our goodbyes, though my cousin's going to take us to the station tomorrow, and we're pretty much packed and ready to go. as tough as the middle of the trip was, spending time with the family was wonderful and the taste of toronto left me with a much better idea of what goes on on this side of canada.

Friday, October 26, 2012

ambling improvement

i got most of the permit stuff done (from my side), and later had a long chat with the self-declared "busybody" who's not only really sweet* but also agrees with my plan for the permit handling. between now and monday we should have everything we need ready. fingers crossed, people.

* she was explaining montreal and trying to figure out if she can help us with an apartment and pg with a job.

the day began at the science museum, which is cool enough that as adults we could easily spend half a day there happily. we then hit downtown to meet [takes over an hour trawling through blog posts to realize that he hasn't transcribed all the canadian entries from 2010. DOH!] supertongue (speaks five languages fluently, talks at least as much as me, and is a loud-and-proud lesbian); it was very exciting for us to meet in toronto again. this time we stopped for a quick bite (that i doggie-bagged and had to carry around until dinner time) and a long walk to the village where we sat down for coffee, with never a quiet moment and even pg getting in on the action: great success!

afterwards, pg and i walked *all* the way back and then hunted for the curiously awesome shop we'd seen totoro dolls in... we didn't find it (we turned back too soon, we found out later) but we did enjoy our walk through toronto's vibier districts. very cool. and quite pretty.

we then took a subway and a bus home, arriving about two hours later, ate, sat with my cousin for a fascinating conversation about audaciousness, professionalism and appropriate responses to a lack of the latter, and then my wooziness caught up with me so we all called it a night.

and i thought i'd just sneak in a quick post before going to sleep...

Thursday, October 25, 2012

aftermath

"better", but certainly not "good". i thoroughly enjoyed watching the importance of being earnest with pg before going to sleep, but then suffered a night of nightmares (involving disturbingly graphic gangsterism, lawyers, losing children under my care, badly run trance parties, a run-in with my brother and medical malpractice) and inexplicable night sweats, only to wake up with a sore belly and that uncomfortably clouded sensation that accompanies the description "sick".

[edit: if i forget thee, oh sore feet at stupid am! that demanded stretching and salt water when i was barely capable of standing upright!]

i hope that in my weakened state i didn't contract anything else :(

the worst part is that i'm not really on holiday... i have a work permit to apply for. now i'm all stressed again, i'm sure that's not positive and constructive for a body that's begging for rest.

totoro-n-to part i

there are two reasons i haven't posted in such a long time: we've been busy, or i've been too tired, or i've been horrifically sick. i'm going to catch up in parts, beginning (as is my wont) at the end.

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monday:
i started my day with a protein shake / meal replacement* and comics - comixology's selection includes at least one french comic (valentine, i thought it might help), the new lookouts and skullkickers, which i've been meaning to look at for a while now.

* herbalife - it has cow extract in it but it seemed reasonable and tasted good

we arrived downtown hungry - it takes a while to get all the way into toronto from where we're staying - and decided to check out the hard rock cafe. just because. in spite of their creepy shrine to nickleback** we sat down, pg going with the fish and chips and myself hoping that the "veggie leggie" would be vegetarian friendly. it certainly didn't taste amazing. at any rate, it was a pleasant place to breakfast and the service was great.

** not a big fan

we then entered a couple of jewellery stores to be overwhelmed by salesmanship and our inability to distinguish value from the merely tacky. not that we don't know what *looks* right. as i tweeted: "omg i have a new nightmare scenario. looking for an engagement ring. i think the shopping is the true symbol of my commitment".

i sat out the rest of the shopping experience in the starbucks, digging into david wong - this book is full of spiders: seriously, dude, don't touch it and totally loving it. i don't even feel guilty about pressing pause on anna karenina.

we were going to do other things - touristy things - before heading back but then realized that it was already pretty late. our return home involved stopping for pizza (i had a bite just to taste, it wasn't good), my walking in front of pg with a shopping bag on my shoulder to protect her from the sun because the next stop was a lot further away than we thought, a long wait between buses, a canadian version of the loud barbarian who sits at the back of the bus and shares all his calls with the other passengers, a quick stop for sweets and then the wrong choice between another bus or what should have been a quick walk home. my iphone's gps wasn't playing nice, and we arrived ten minutes late and sweaty for dinner. at least everyone else was late too, so we could shower and eat respectably.

after a pleasant dinner, one of my cousins informed me about myvega, which i'll be checking out when we return to montreal, and then pg and i turned in for the night.

---
tuesday:

we don't know if what happened next was caused by breakfast or the dodgy pizza, but PLEASE NOTE THAT THE FOLLOWING MAY NOT BE SAFE FOR THE WEAK-OF-STOMACHE AND MAY CONTAIN TOO MUCH INFORMATION. IT'S MY JOURNAL, THIS IS HOW IT WORKS.

pg hadn't been feeling well since a little before dinner, and by the time we returned to our rooms she was already ill and being sick. i sat on the bed reading comics and feeling sorry for her... but i also felt a bit woozy.

suddenly, i guess about an hour later, i felt really, really sick as well. the two of us spent the entire night taking turns becoming intimately familiar with the toilet, and let me tell you that groveling in front of the can is an extremely humbling experience.

on the one hand, i'm glad we're here because our accommodation in montreal is not as forgiving. on the other, if we hadn't been in toronto we might not have gotten food poisoning.

pg started before me and ended before me: i saw daybreak before i was emptied enough to rest, and all i really had to go on was ugly nightmares during the longer pauses between bathroom runs. and to make matters worse, my temperature was all over the place and i was either shivering violently from the cold (fully dressed and under two duvets) or overheating and sweating profusely (even uncovered, although it's pretty cold already so that never lasted too long).

i can't say it didn't feel like a taste of hell. i can't think of a more horrible experience i've had, and it was certainly our worst together.

i was terribly weak from the get-go: there were many times that i had to sit and rest on my way to or from the bathroom, twice that i was very glad that the plastic bag in the trash can next to our bed didn't have holes in it, and it was only late yesterday afternoon that i managed to get myself all the way downstairs for a cup of tea. my cousin organized us gatorade a bit later and that kept us going for a while.

a pity that i couldn't keep last night's meal of three forkfuls of well-chewed dry rice down. it fascinates me that i almost always, throughout the experience, felt much better after throwing up... even if only for a few minutes. after that last time i actually had enough energy to get upstairs and into bed.

---
today:

i *must* have been running a fever, because i think it broke this morning. i showered, had another cup of tea, and took a phone call from the woman in the company who's dealing with my permit paperwork. she started giving me advice on food poisoning before stopping mid-sentence to remark that i already have a jewish mother around if i'm with family so she'll stick to being my jewish mother when i'm in the office :P

aside from an hour or two dealing with that stuff, i spent most of the day resting or reading. in the afternoon i managed some dry toast and in the evening i was all set for seconds of dry pasta and an apple. hopefully tomorrow i'll be back to eating more food than i can list because we only have two more days of toronto left!

so much for our trip to niagara. it's a good excuse to come back in winter when it's all frosty, i guess.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

operatives

smashing pumpkins - ava adore is one of my all-time favourite music videos; aside from being my favourite song of theirs, there's something about the relationship between the lyrics and the listener as it's reflected in the video that pushes all my buttons.

i'm thinking of this because it turns out that pg's never really heard the band, so i *had* to showcase. she still doesn't dig 'em. but i tried, and that's the main thing.

---
last night we strolled slowly through the park in the drizzly cold, and it was marvellous. we then sat down at the 5 seasons for delicious sushi, tempura and teriyaki. i tasted the sushi, but other than that enjoyed gorged myself on exquisite vegan treats.

we watched l.a. confidential when we got home. i think i might've seen it before - perhaps just the end - but it didn't matter. it's as good as they say, smart and classy and engrossing.

my morning mumble:
i'm sweating
not because i'm stressed
i have one job to do today and i'm pretty sure i know how to do it

rather, because i arose to cold this morning
an icy, shivering cold
that kept me under the hot duvet another five futile minutes
and so i skipped out late into the morning wearing my blazer
with coat in hand that i'd hurriedly grabbed on my way to the door
to quickly discover that fourteen degrees doesn't need a coat

and for the heated metro, even a blazer can be too much
---
the metro station i entered was empty; the station i switched lines at was jam-packed. the difference between being barely able to see the metro over the sea of people scurrying to work and walking into an empty car is approximately five minutes. with no shoving. what a pleasure!

i arrived early, and was still warm when i left the metro. i worried that i was running a fever, but in retrospect 14 degrees is relatively warm. i took a walk around so that i'd get to the office on time, but instead of leaving at 9am we would only depart around noon; in the interim, i took a pc and a desk and began studying things. including the organization, which included meeting people. in the first round i missed half the names, by the second i'd gotten them all. it's easy when there're three with the same name, four i've been in contact with by email, one with a classically simple name and one with the same french name as an old friend of mine.

that last one has a b-b-b-b-bad ringtone. i think if i had that ringtone i'd find it impossible not to answer in that voice and tune.

so i didn't have time for breakfast on the way out, but at least the office has an espresso machine. they have a cafeteria, too; it's also pretty sweet in terms of décor and cubicle setup.

---
it turns out that the pseudo-dress code allows for developers to wear jeans and a t-shirt, but if i have to choose between jeans and a blazer i'll go with the latter. i can't tell you why. my mother suggests that it might have to do with my ambition, i think it's closer to an aversion to jeans and the convenience of blazer pockets.

perhaps i'll change my mind some day.

---
trivia for the day: lebanese driving is like all other mediterranean driving. and french keyboards are very annoying.

midway through the day my mother called to harass me about food - i hadn't eaten - and by the time i found an escort to the cafeteria at the location we were at it was closed. i had to settle for a $2.5 twix: the vending machine and i had a disagreement regarding numbered columns so i had to pay twice :(

---
a note on quebec marriage: it's not much of an institution here. more often than not people get together, have kids, and then remain together or not, moving on and having more kids with other partners without anything becoming a big deal. although there are issues with rights - which i agree should have legal recourse - the whole thing is quite refreshing.

---
the walk back, at 16 degrees, did require a blazer. go figure.

i felt good but exhausted when i arrived home. and famished. after pre-dinner and dressing down, we ate real dinner and talked a lot. my aunt and cousin made fun of my enthusiastic description of the fifth element as a fashion extravaganza; we all ate too much dessert (including mouldy fudge, i hope a bite or two isn't going to make me sick) and then pg and i came down to watch lockout. [edit: my mistake! i originally wrote lockdown and that's a different movie altogether]

what an elaborately crap movie. the plot's full of holes, the characters either develop unreasonably quickly or not at all, and the stupidly unlikely is abundant. aristotle would have awarded 'em a razzie.

Monday, October 15, 2012

jumping down

well, we've established that snowdon would be a fantastic place to find an apartment. when we get back from toronto we'll get on that.

in the meanwhile... as impressed as i am to hear that felix baumgartner has succeeded in doing something so amazing, i'd be even more impressed if i could easily find footage of the jump itself (as opposed to talking heads, the balloon going up and a few seconds of the landing)... oh, look! i found it.

awesome!

we settled in to watch my neighbour totoro. what a cute movie! it's so incredibly cuddly, sweet and touching that i almost didn't notice that there was barely a plot and that not much happened. endlessly aesthetically pleasing, so if that's what you're into then it's definitely worth a watch.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

indoors

the cold is here. not the big drop in temperature that we've been warned about, but enough that coats and gloves are necessary even in the afternoon.

we got up yesterday morning to do the shopping. mine was quick and easy; we found a great pair of (skinny?!) dress pants and then a perfect pair of chinos. the former we took later to a chinese tailor, who laughed at the trousers before assuring me that there should be "linkles" above the shoe if i don't want everybody to make fun of my socks. at the fitting rooms my aunt kept asking me what *i* thought of my new clothes... as if my opinion counts!

i then followed my aunt and pg who were looking at coats. i found a seat (why are they so hard to find in stores here?) and paid the price for forgetting my kindle at home by reading lots of facebook and twitter posts that i'd have otherwise ignored.

by the time we left the shops pg and i were *hungry*. that's not a good state to hit the supermarket in. we went past a famous bakery to pick up delicious focaccia bread, and then got dropped off at the tailors. *then* we went to the indian vegetable market (they play awesome traditional indian music non-stop, which is really nice, and as we left an "om namaha shiva" mantra came on that got stuck in my head), and only after that did we finally return home, famished.

we both ate too much focaccia, and i had an apple after that, then some sour worms, then a packet of doritos - i was going to nap after lunch anyway, but now i *had* to... and i woke up with a bellyache...

in the evening i discovered that pg had never seen spirited away.. ZOMG not cool!!! so we watched it. it's such a big, detailed movie - how is it that i've seen it so many times and yet it's still so wonderfully surprising? it's magic.

we slept a lot, and although the day is cold and rainy we're considering milling around snowdon to see if it suits us.

---
important (IMO) tweets from the past 24 hours:

on food and climate change : global warming + irresponsible food policies = disaster. politicians the world over need to be a bit more considerate.

an israeli company has developed tech to recycle sewerage. very cool.

autism? they have apps for that! sounds like replacement parenting, too... we must be heading into the diamond age.

i think i'm gonna eat some worms. this is intriguing to say the least, and definitely worth considering. the perfect nutritional value at the lowest cost.

[edit: forgotten linkage!]
dodgy email warnig: myzamana isn't safe. i didn't click it 'cause it didn't look interesting (and i didn't recognize any of my "friends"), but who knows?

pretending to be gay for a year? self-made man was enlightening, i'm sure this is too.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

details

my aunt, pg and i discussed apartment hunting and furniture. and pg's plans - i didn't realize she's intending to return to canada so soon, right in time to catch the worst of the winter.

good. it's an important hurdle to jump.

i placed an order for all our climbing equipment, then realized too late that my billing address is incorrect so we'll probably hear tomorrow that it's invalid :/

dinner was excellent, we went out to an italian restaurant that's got great atmosphere and really good pasta. BYOB is a license thing, and it's kinda weird. pg and i didn't have much to do when we got home, though. we watched an episode of the raccoons - amusing but childish - and when she went to bed early i got stuck into labelling old posts. it's time-consuming, absorbing and entertaining.

i guess it's time for bed, i've got to be up early to buy decent threads tomorrow...

[an alarm goes off from the boiler room across the passage from our room. it's high-pitched and incessant. waking up my uncle to have him shuffle all the way and then decide that it'll turn off by itself makes me feel guilty. i'm sure this isn't helping pg get some rest]

Friday, October 12, 2012

soul tea

pg's been a bit sick and i'm hoping that it's not contagious.

---
yesterday:

the first meeting with the boss. i got pretty much everything i need, and while i don't have answers vis-a-vis the legality of my employment we're all asking the same questions, so they're going to get back to me on that and we're going to play by the book. in the meanwhile, we'll just get to know each other (and the product) better.

he's a nice guy; not very quick to respond to emails, but i'm sure that we can work around that.

---
here's a summary of important info and useless trivia that i've accumulated over the past day or so.

1. the weather's just beginning to take a dive. we don't know how to dress. wearing a coat over a blazer and taking the metro feels odd.

2. i'm in "nothing" mode and kinda enjoying it.

3. i need to get into the head-space of one who dresses down for weekends, not up for weekdays. as opposed to up for weekends, which is what i've been doing for the past couple of years.

4. i have two tickets to see alanis morissette next week ^_^

5. no pax for me, because i'll be on the other side of the planet for my niece's wedding - maybe you'll have better luck (if you can be in boston).

6. and i'm definitely out of luck on new york comic con. shit! i didn't even know it was happening :(

7. i argued with my uncle about tax incentives, citing wired's article on black market economies. then i checked it before sending it to him, and realized that we're in one of the few countries for which it's irrelevant.

8. i read a funny article on why psychopathy is a useful trait when employed productively. fascinating reading.

9. the world bank has something to say about global warming? wait... it's headed by a man who understands science?! no way!

10. isn't it interesting that the second i accept a job, a bunch of emails arrives from other companies who want to interview me? thank you, murphy!

11. this talk on the next incarnation of wing commander is lacking in style, but redlines on content. it's basically an expression of the kind of game i've been dreaming about for more than a decade. after watching the whole thing (it's long, but there're sections that are totally worth it) i headed straight to roberts space industries to make my pledge and secure my vessel.

that's made me think about the fact that i need to sell my pc in israel so i can buy some serious equipment over here. i wonder if i can get much for it.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

the switch

i can sum up the day with the word "shopping", so i'll just get straight to the point.

at 1pm, i received a phone call from the ceo. they're all satisfied with my submission and they want me on board. he pre-empted almost every question i had or problem i would have raised, we came to a happy compromise on every issue discussed. his legal team will make sure that everything's legit, i have a week to visit toronto and then they want me to get cracking. tomorrow i have to meet with the head of the montreal operations to go through the finer details, but we've more or less covered all the important stuff and it's all very much to my satisfaction.

so here's what it looks like to me: 50 weeks ago (to the day) i lost my rag, and it appears that today was the first day of the rest of my life. after we get back from toronto we're going to look for an apartment, and pg will send me the important stuff when she gets back to israel (which there's not much of) and at some stage i will get in touch with the authorities there to explain that i'm out of the country, indefinitely.

and then my new life begins. i start working, i learn french, i enroll in university to complete my degree (i'm sure that won't be too much of an issue), and i behave like a grown-up at least until i've acquired citizenship.

...

i'd like to take this opportunity to thank the universe for conspiring to assist me and to pray that it continues to do so. i'd prefer if the next few surprises are positive as well, because opportunities like this really aren't so easy to come by.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

why tired?

the house's heating's on... now i'm finding it too warm. and i'm feeling really tired... my aunt cross-examined me because she's concerned. i'm so used to being off-kilter that it's normal, and i was feeling totally crap when i had my blood tested recently and that showed up fine so i guess it's either psychological or it's just my sleep patterns being non-existent.

it would be great if i could somehow know when i should be getting to bed and how much sleep is enough.

...

we talked about whether or not my hunt for work is affected by my physical presence. i can't tell. does it matter that i'm physically here in canada? would it make a difference if i was physically in toronto? because it's nigh impossible to make contact with the people who are looking to hire without an inside connection. and the truth is, sitting inside scouring manpower sites all day is not an ideal way to spend a vacation. or to get to know a city better.

---
pg and i watched american splendor. it's an inspirational movie, and overall it's charming, touching, and somewhere between uncomfortably and amusingly real. the comics look awesome. the bit on revenge of the nerds cracked me up, but not as much as the bit on letterman.

inspirational is not just an empty word, here. i'm inspired to shoot down some caffeine and get back to my comic script. i haven't touched it and i wanna.

twiddling thumbs

well, i spent today wondering about whether or not i have a job and that hasn't helped me find an answer. i called a few times, never got a response, and while a second look at the email i received on the weekend looks promising it seems weird to me that if they wanted me on board they'd let me stew like this.

so i spent a large part of the day sending off my resume. some companies make it really, really hard to present them with the data that's already contained in the simple pdf that i'm happy to attach to an email with a cover letter. if, as i've been told, there's a shortage of software developers, then why is the process so complicated? could it be that the process of finding a job is so tedious that lots of developers simply give up?

i took a walk to find a usb-on-key to replace my old one (it got fried on the way here, apparently) and to do some basic shopping, and the job application after i ate gave me such a headache that i had to lie down for a bit.

i'm *tired*. i hope i'm not coming down with something :S

on the other hand, i've been practicing french on / off for the past couple of days and it's getting comfortable.

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

something to lose?

it's entirely irrational for me to be nervous about making the phone call; they either want me or they don't.

i would have liked a more comfortable morning, though. of course i could have used more sleep, but that's irrelevant when the temperature is really low.

---
so. something positive, and then a phone call: a possible space-junk solution.

thanksgiving

it's *cold*, and the temperature's due to drop drastically as the week progresses. we've got shopping to do, and i have got to learn how to dress appropriately.

---
i went to bed late because i was playing with post labels, and i was woken up by a message from my mom (she has this tendency to send sms'es while i'm still in bed) to inform me that my niece's wedding is planned for march. heck, pg and i haven't even thought about a method yet, let alone a date :P
when i eventually got to my inbox i found a mail from her celebrating thanksgiving by thanking her sister for taking us in. i followed suit by thanking my aunt in person, but i do believe some more flowers are in order. [we don't really have too many ways to show gratitude here...]

---
we got up really late this morning, and i was pleased to hear pg begin playing with duolingo while i ate breakfast. my netbook's acting up, so it took a long time for each individual action (and something like fifteen minutes to convince it to shut down), and i really believe now that the last ubuntu upgrade i performed was a totally bad move.

my cousin took us for a spin around the city to show us the sites. we saw some pretty cool areas, but it was really tough to find a place to eat. aside from that, he drove me crazy the whole afternoon because... my gods, the kid can talk shit. i don't mean inane or arbitrary chatter, and i can't tell if he realizes it or not, but damn, a huge proportion of things that come out of his mouth are just rubbish. it feels like there's little connection between brain and mouth, it's 90% pure prejudice and rough impressions and a demonstrated inability to observe the world around him.

as a rational being i find that offensive.

anyway, we got back, i napped for an hour or two, pg and i went for a walk, we ate dinner, and settled down to watch safety not guaranteed. what a charming, smart movie! we both really enjoyed it.

Monday, October 08, 2012

denial

right, i'm saying it. global warming deniers are in the same boat as hardcore 9/11 conspiracy theorists . seriously? believe what you want to believe, but keep out of the way of science, facts, and those of us who want to deal with reality.

first argument: "so says the people who aren't able to understand the criticisms of the relevant models...
none of the scientific sceptics dispute that they are in the minority... but arguing consensus has never been grounds for scientific debate."

in response to his later claim that i suffer from a god complex:
"here, mister i-have-no-god-complex. you've read so much more... than all the scientists who are making the claims? i don't have to be better read, i don't have to personally be an expert in the field, i need to see that properly peer-reviewed science is being performed. if you're one of those leading experts and on that basis you're making the claim, then show me your peer-reviewed papers. but if not, don't behave like you know everything and that all the rest of us are in denial.

i think we did agree that regardless of whether the models are correct, and regardless of whether we have the resources or not, it's a safer bet to become sustainable. because if we become sustainable, the likelihood of disaster is reduced considerably. if we don't, we're at the mercy of a bunch of people who are more into rhetoric than fact."

...

"and yes, if i dispute a particular approach in a specific journal, i'd expect you to read it. i don't dispute that 97% of climate scientists aren't sceptics... but there is that other 3%... and if you go on TRUST of a journal... that is profoundly anti-science. i'm very happy to change my mind, if someone comes up with a clincher argument... but as someone who has done computer modelling, i have a profound distrust of many complex models. specifically when things like cloud coverage is an UNKNOWN to models at this point.

i have no problems with scientists in the mainstream. i have problems with people in the mainstream who think their beliefs are self-righteously correct, and are not prepared to engage in the debate.

take richard lindzen from MIT for example. many mainstream scientists disagree with him. that's fine. but the majority of them do not call him a fool, requiring psychotherapy and a reality check. that's what your post above is doing. i suggest you read the following article."

is it not foolish to put all your eggs in one basket, and leave that basket in an area that many people have claimed is full of crime even though you haven't seen it for yourself? perhaps the consensus *IS* wrong. plebs like me can't do much about that. but what we can do is react in the smartest way to what is most reasonable to assume.

the evidence is all pointing to the 97%.

i'm fairly certain that this guy will never accept the "clincher" argument because it doesn't matter how valid it is. we need to worry about all sorts of things, but if global climates go pear-shaped then all the other problems only get exacerbated.

ultraviolence

i just awoke from the most horrible dreams in which i was forced to dish it out in order to defend myself from it. assailants were able to turn themselves invisible and freakishly inappropriate things became twisted, nasty weapons.

i'm reminded of hobo with a shotgun. happy canadian thanksgiving!

a real sunday

i have almost 3500 posts online at the moment, and a whole bunch "archived" that i'm contemplating returning at some stage. i haven't labelled a single one. would such a venture be worthwhile? it sounds like something to save for long stretches of rainy days.

---
we got up really late this morning, and moved out fairly quickly. we bussed and metro'd downtown with the express purpose of shopping. i'm really glad i took my kindle with me... i'm now a bit further in (6% according to the kindle) to anna karenina and it's starting to get a little more interesting; still not the mind-blowing literature i was expecting, though.

---
we walked past the cinema and decided to check out looper. the trailer made it look fun, which it most certainly was. and it's bruce willis, whose time-travelling endeavours include twelve monkeys. how bad could it be?

it's brilliant. it's not only a lot of fun, it's also really very clever.

i just realized that i recognized paul dano from ruby sparks; i was wondering why he seemed so familiar :P
(also: joseph gordon-levitt was tommy! i never thought to check after inception. he makes a really good gangster, strangely enough)

---
it was a chilly day and pg and i just went for a pleasant walk through the quiet, dark and even chillier night streets. we definitely need to learn to dress better.

tertiary

this article on banks and universities gets a bit of a rise, but it's only a brick in the grand wall the old world has built to protect us from the new one.

if the internet is free then institutions like universities are going to go the way of the other dinosaurs. universities have become less and less about academic enquiry and education than about professional training and the upkeep of people and places who otherwise wouldn't be able to hack it.

i'm not suggesting abandoning the universities, but the massive bureaucratic black holes which students must test themselves out of really aren't as good a breeding ground for advanced ideas anymore. sure, there are exceptions, but even notable exceptions (like MIT) have been pushing info and lectures online because their livelihood is the research, not the bland and boring teaching of first year students.

i'm plenty glad for my exposure to excellent teachers throughout the classes i've been attending during the past two years, but i'm fully aware that while being physically in their presence contributed loads it wasn't crucial to the experience. we could have done just fine with a virtual classroom and video-conferencing, etc. heck, out of classes of near a hundred students only a handful of us ever opened our mouths anyway, and some of the physical presence was downright detrimental.

and as for libraries, don't get me started. the very idea that not all libraries are digital and open to the public is nothing short of offensive to me. universities have essentially become limiting agents instead of catalysts.

the future of education is in our hands; the internet has made it so. any trade, any skill, any principle can be learned online. any preliminary research can be performed and the real stuff should be available soon. all we need to know, and to teach our kids, is how to climb in, how to separate the wheat from the chaff... so, critical thinking and curiosity. all the rest can be up to the student.

different types of language

this note inspired by a link from nystire:

the english language thrives precisely because it couldn't give a damn about rules. whatever sounds right and makes sense is in. dictionaries and grammar books only define what is essentially a snapshot of the current state of affairs at their time of writing, they're not a law unto anyone except those who mistakenly believe that they should be a law.

software code, on the other hand? too damn right, people who don't follow the (simple) rules should be banished.

Sunday, October 07, 2012

early senility

crap on a stick! i totally forgot the big news that i woke up to this morning. alright, i went back to sleep immediately and only congratulated them later, but i *have* to mention that my niece got engaged today :)

...

i wonder which of us will actually get married first :P

slowdown

the big guys have reviewed my submission already. i've been asked to call them after the weekend (tuesday, because monday's thanksgiving). should i be excited?

---
it was rainy today, and i slept in. eventually i got up, had breakfast, and tried (and failed) to set up the testing environment in linux. then pg reminded me that i hadn't tried using her computer... but it didn't run there either. so i sat back down, made the changes i hope worked, added a couple of finishing touches and then decided that i'd done enough.

what will be, will be.

i then watched we are legion - the story of the hacktivists (see my comments on the subject, please), after which pg and i took a walk in the rain to find the bar with pool tables that we've passed a few times.

long story short, the drinks are expensive (just like in israel) but the atmosphere's cool, the tables cost per game, the radio station was playing great rock music and the tables are just fine. it was all very cosy.

after a few games we came back, stopping for a bite at the 24-hour indian bagel place across the road (i somehow missed the vegan dishes and settled for samoosa-like things) before returning home, eating leftovers (it's a thing, here) and sitting down for dogtown and z-boys.

that was invigorating - it's an excellent and interesting documentary - but now i'm tired. it's a long weekend and i can spend it however i want. i like this.

in case i forget

i'm a third of the way through dogtown and z-boys, and as fun and interesting as it is i have to make special mention of the music. oh, gods, the music is amazing! totally groovy. and gnarly. and radical too :)

Saturday, October 06, 2012

you are legion

i'm now sorry it took me so long to get around to watching we are legion - the story of the hacktivists. i'm glad i read wired's inside anonymous before watching it.

1. hypocrisy
how is it okay for governments to use hacking techniques to spy on their own citizens while simultaneously fighting (and traumatizing) their citizens who actively attempt to defend their rights to freedom of speech and privacy, and especially to protection from governmental abuses, by using those techniques?

i can only understand the greater sentences of hacktivists (in relation to sex offenders and murderers, etc.) as an implicit statement on their perceived threat to their governments. if this is the case, then these governments are most certainly not operating in the interests of their citizens.

2. stupidity
i keep wondering about the absurd attachment some americans have to the literal sense of "the right to bear arms". no amount of personal rifles is going to afford any of them the ability to revolt successfully against a tyrannical government with a modern army.

today, the arms that make a difference are virtual. they are the internet, anonymity, freedom of speech and hacking tools. those are the arms whose right we should fight to bear.

apocalyptic

bellflower is an amazing movie about some really messed up people; full of interesting things and powerful enough to leave one thoughtfully shaken.

whoa.

prior to that i watched my cousin playing gta4: it's just like an action movie only with the driving and shooting sequences drawn out. it's outrageously morally reprehensible in a humorous manner and my only issue with that is that i believe that one should be able to participate in the script and be subjectively reactive... but then it would be an rpg.

anyway, he's a horrible driver and i couldn't keep my mouth shut :$

culture shocker

i have a rational answer for almost all of the bigoted statements, and usually it's enough to bring the line of thought to a halt. but sometimes, well, holy shit. when i stood up against the gay bashing ("what, do you have friends that are fairies that you care so much?!") we found ourselves back at leviticus. i can pull out a few notes from dear dr. laura for that, but tonight the response was the repetition of the word "bullshit", which in this context appears to equivocate to "la la la i can't hear you la la la".

i tried to compare the "abomination" of gay marriage to the sixties attitude towards interracial marriage; the response was a resounding "well, that is *also* an abomination".

and that was the end of that conversion.

...

the real disappointment came from a frightening sentiment from yang, not willing to stick his neck out for a stranger.
now, we must all fear evil men. but there is another kind of evil which we must fear most, and that is the indifference of good men.
- the boondock saints
---
i got up early this morning and ground out an almost-complete product. i was stuck without documentation or a testing environment until the guy finally got back to me in the afternoon, and i guess i'll play with the fragment he sent me tomorrow. i've invested more than enough time in this project.

pg and i took advantage of (apparently) the last day of sun, walking down to subway for what we expected would be a simple fast-lunch. they weren't so hot on the english, though, although they were friendly enough. it took us ages to order and while the food was delicious the experience was less than satisfactory. also, i'm irritated by the fact that every single item, from napkin to drink bottle, has recyclable written all over it but it's all just trashed.

yes, i checked. i'm not just making assumptions.

we decided to head out to the "allez up" climbing wall to see what it's about.

1. it's a loooooong walk, we should've taken the bus. my google maps was messing with me the entire time and that made the long walk longer.

2. the place is MASSIVE, with awesome walls and boulders!

3. we have no idea what belaying is about, so we need to purchase equipment and take a course before we can use those walls.

4. google maps lied about the bus times. on a whim i got us aboard the wrong bus, and we ended up walking a looooooong way back to the metro. we passed a few interesting looking places, though. not a place to live, but not a bad place to visit.

we stopped off at a cute little coffee shop for hot chocolate, and pg and i discussed opening our own because we haven't found any really cool ones yet. i don't know how serious she is, but in my mind's eye i can totally see it happening.

now it's game time. or movie time. or something. doesn't matter.

Friday, October 05, 2012

exploitation

i've now spent the entire day (and i woke up around normal-people time) in front of the computer. that's an entire day that the guy who was supposed to give me access to a testing instance hasn't responded to my email... i've never met the guy so i don't feel comfortable harassing him...

i decided to do what i could. the first couple of hours were mostly wasted (i was barking up the wrong tree), and the rest were challenging but productive. i'm quite impressed with myself, at least. i've constructed moderated chat software that - barring any integration issues - does the job and i feel like i've gone a bit overboard in terms of edge case handling.

and it doesn't look horrible, which is a total bonus.

the only real break i took was for dinner: my uncle was on form and offensive as usual, but at least pg's developing a sense of humour about it so i don't care. unfortunately, though, he caught me after dinner for a long discussion on a topic that totally doesn't interest me.

and when i say discussion, i mean he talked at me. i've been taught that looking bored is rude, so i keep my face blank but to some people that doesn't seem to indicate much. oh, well. he did say some interesting things, at least.

Thursday, October 04, 2012

messages

you're not deep
you're not an intellectual
you're not an artist
you're not a critic
you're not a poet
you just have internet access
i repeat this sentiment a lot, in different contexts. i came across it last night, and scrapper asked if i was being ironic.

the medium is the message
the post is funny, it's not wrong and yet it's not correct either. if we're going to get serious for a minute then it's a profound statement on what easy and ubiquitous access to info and digital tools does: transforms someone who is otherwise none of those things.
all of us plebs who aren't really interested in photography, for instance. give us instagram and voilà! amazing.

you can't really say that someone who's become "enlightened" (okay, a little bit of irony) through their access to vast stores of human knowledge isn't really any of those things, just like you can't say that algernon isn't smart when the therapy's working.

it's totally flowers for algernon.

shaving grace

i got up almost as early as i'd intended this morning, ate a quick breakfast and walked all the way to centre du rasoir. it's a good thing i took my time, because i arrived ten minutes early so i wandered back to the starbucks for a cup of coffee.

it was an incredible morning. [a bit soppy, perhaps, but it's the truth]

i was in the store for all of five minutes, and walked out with a battery operated wahl beard trimmer. aside from being the cheapest, i won't need to worry about which country's plugs i need.

i walked home, still appreciating the day, and then sat myself down to get productive. i can't say as i did too much of that at all... the pleasant surprise of the day was a phone call from a headhunter who'd seen my profile online and was interested in posting me for another cool job just down the road. i'm not sure that we'll be able to work anything out, but i'm glad to know i'm on the radar.

i trimmed my beard, and it improved my confidence. too bad that confidence was all spent indoors. i processed and uploaded a few more photos, tried to figure out if it's worth applying to jobs that want j2ee developers (it's not), and eventually called the ceo to find out what's happening. when i didn't get through to him, i fired off an email letting him know why i was looking for him and that (after discovering that the dev head has been sick) i'm willing to take the opportunity to write another code sample.

good thing i did that, apparently. a short while later he called me back and said that they'd obviously been too vague before. he set me a fairly specific task and told me to be in touch with their guru if i get stuck. all in all things sound pretty positive. and aside from being a challenge this stuff is actually fun!

we walked all the way to the museum of fine arts for the tom wesselmann exhibit. that dude is just incredible.

the plan was to continue to the climbing wall - we had our gear and everything - but after the museum we were both too tired. we settled down at the first of the chinese restaurants i've been wanting to visit since we arrived. the place had that indefinably authentic feel to it, and the waitrons were pretty good. feeling adventurous, i took a stab at general tau's tofu.

i haven't had good tofu since japan. it's delicious, with a soft-cheese texture. i'd have eaten even more if i hadn't thought i'd explode... we took doggy bags. [stops to visit the fridge to grab another couple - why does it taste so good?!?!]

we then walked home, which makes two days in a row of at least 10km. at least we're getting *some* exercise. it's now fairly early, but i'm exhausted. i have a rough idea of what needs to be done with the new code sample, and i guess the smartest course of action is to study and scheme, sleep on it, and get cracking in the morning.

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

almost on the money

at least i know where to begin this post: this evening i called up the ceo for a quick status, and it turns out that the amount i requested is not unrealistic. that means that the only thing standing in the way of a job with these guys is my code sample. it's submitted, and if it's not good enough then that's just the way it is. but i really hope it's enough; i mean it should be obvious that i *get* what they've done.

so now pg's decided on the minimum requirements for an apartment, and i'm in dire need of a beard trimmer.

---
i was utterly exhausted yesterday afternoon, so i rested. i began reading anna karenina, which was very bad timing considering that david wong - this book is full of spiders: seriously, dude, don't touch it was just pushed to my kindle this morning. decisions, decisions...

my cousin introduced me to left 4 dead on his xbox 360; awesome game, but i really, really don't get the controls. i'm a pc gamer, counterstrike (and quake and so on) is my thing. half the time i found myself deliberating over which buttons needed pressing and feeling awkwardly disconnected from the directional sticks, the other half squinting into the darkness trying to discern friend from foe.

i sent off a lot of friendly fire.

somehow, i made it through the level with the rest of the crew, eventually surviving in spite of amusing moments spent running around in circles like a headless chicken as hordes rushed me while the squad took care of business. apparently i function well enough as a decoy :P

my cousin and i then went for a very long walk, some of which was a discussion and some of which an argument. at the end, though, we arrived at a conclusion. he's very ambiguously minded, and i'm very uncomfortable with that. i guess that that's the sound of me facing my own contradictions because it's impossible not to be ambiguous as a human being; however, his desire to keep it that way places him firmly in the irrational camp. which is fine, i guess, whatever.

---
it was hard to get out of bed this morning. i started the day on windows 7 forums trying to figure out how to re-enable an accidentally disabled microphone: it's totally not intuitive and i was totally let down when i discovered the solution (you have to right-click in the area that your microphone isn't showing up). what a waste of time.

i spent the day firing off job applications, with a short break for a rather large leftover lunch. at the approach of the end of the workday, i called the ceo and then sat down with my aunt to discuss how fortunate i would be if this all pans out. it's very exciting.

it was in this frame of mind that pg and i walked downtown to see dredd 3D. pete travis and karl urban are my heroes! seriously, as a huge gushing fan of the comics, the stallone film just irritated me. this? this is a work of art. it's true to form, it's dark, gritty and ultraviolent, it's outrageously fun and its use of 3D was clever and unobtrusive.

we walked all the way home; i don't feel bad about finishing the skittles now.

---
a bit earlier i had a spider crawl over my abdomen as i was seated on the can. not cool. i squealed.

Monday, October 01, 2012

the other side

the good news is that it looks like pg and i are more or less back to normal. just in time for yesterday's exciting news, a realistic job offer from the ceo! when i heard how much i immediately blurted: "well, it's a bit on the low side". when i got back to my pc i had an email asking me what bracket i was thinking of.

i spent some time with godmother considering budgets and things, and quite frankly it's a good offer even if things would be a little tight for a while. i got back to him in the evening with a counter-offer that i hope won't be too much, discussed everything with pg when she returned and it looks more than doable - it looks like a super-win!

now i *really* had to grind. i spent all day until midnight, minus a delicious and festive dinner with family friends who it was a pleasure to see and with whom even pg was immediately comfortable, and after that i was exhausted and simply *had* to nap.

that nap was more urgent than i'd thought, and from an hour later when my alarm went off until an hour after that when pg went to bed, my mind was soaked in oblivion and i was simply incapable of opening my eyes.

a little after i got back to the computer the magic moment occurred: it suddenly dawned on me that i'd spent two days driving in the completely wrong direction. the whole point of their solution is to make development easier, and there i was struggling to put together an old-school web tool inside of their framework. frantic, still confused post-nap, i grabbed a cup of tea and settled in for a last-minute sprint.

at 5am i sent the development head a modified app of theirs with improved comments and a couple of fixes to demonstrate that i wasn't clueless, followed by a note explaining what had happened and a request to use another day.

then i passed out. i woke up around 10.30am, ate a quick breakfast and downed a strong cup of coffee, then got busy trying to do something right. it was quite early on when i took a bathroom break and discovered the hard way that the toilet was clogged: i'll leave out the details but suffice it to say that the next ten minutes were filled with grimaces and outcries of revulsion, and all i could think of was what a perfect sense of timing the universe appears to have.

i wasn't even relieved when i eventually cleared it. just upset.

back to work: at least some of the weekend's grind paid off. about an hour ago i finally zipped up and sent off the code sample, explaining my hack-n-slash approach as a function of wanting to present him something as quickly as possible.

i really, really hope it's all okay. if not, well, i can't say i didn't try and at least i didn't submit my first attempt. it's as ugly as can be and only slightly more functional than the later version.

pg and i had a good leftover lunch, and now i need to figure out what we're doing and how.

...

ah, i spoke to an immigration lawyer today. he informed me that everything i'd understood from the cic website is correct, and that essentially the only way into canada is with a job offer. i asked how much his services cost, and i'm fairly certain that my response offended him. i was shocked at the overall amount (work permit and permanent residence etc.) - $7500?! i mean, damn, it's essentially a service to assist with the formal procedures already in place. he signed off with "i most certainly don't need to advertise myself to anyone and i've actually got way too much work on my desk; have a happy new year and chag sameach".

i was wondering if he wished "happy holidays" to all his clients but then recalled that he knows i'm israeli. hah.