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!

Monday, November 26, 2012

steadily sorting

i woke up early this morning, and took the opportunity to do laundry. a little old woman who didn't speak english or french was busy down there, so we made do with pointing to indicate free machines. i came back up to eat breakfast, returned in time to transfer everything to the dryer, then napped for the half an hour that the dryer should have taken. i struggled to get up and wait for another half an hour downstairs... a good thing our apartment is close enough to the laundry room that i have wifi access!

i don't know how i ended up reading 2003 comics from penny arcade while trying to catch up to today.

i knocked off items from my to-do list and set about acquiring gloves, pads and a helmet for snowboarding. i searched long and hard online, was consistently disappointed and suffered at the hands of an overloaded little netbook that couldn't handle the number of tabs i had open. i can't say i'm not unhappy with how this machines been operating since the upgrade. it's teh suck.

around 2pm i realized that the mec would be a good option, so i got dressed and walked to the closest stop. it was bitterly cold with an icy wind that punished me for my uncertainty vis-a-vis the stop's location (you can't operate an iphone with gloves on). i found it with only a little trouble and took a couple of fantastic photos while waiting for the bus. those were worth the frosty hands.

the assistant at the co-op was very helpful, and i walked out of there with a helmet, goggles, knee-pads and advice on where to try next. unfortunately, the sports experts* in rockland didn't have snowboarding gloves either. getting to the mall, though? the bright and varied hues of the sky mixing with the grand urbanity of the tangled mess of concrete highways as i walked over them was magical.

* even the third time he pronounced it with a french accent i was lost.

i stepped out into the mall's parking lot and straight into the most exquisite, breathtaking sunset. after consulting a map, i decided to forgo the bus and walk all the way home, which was quite a way. it was rewarding, though: i walked along a great suburban route with the sunset in all its glorious forms to my right and the moon hanging in a lilac sky over my left shoulder. the cold was barely bearable but the air in my lungs and the sense of natural wonder was well worth it.

i stopped at the starbucks because i needed to warm my hands on a hot cup of coffee. i didn't recognize anybody there and i didn't repeat last week's performance.

i came back home to drink pg's wine, stuff myself on the rest of my aunt's lentil soup that yang brought, talk to my mother, watch a few episodes of tiger and bunny, and then decide to go to bed. with that in mind, i've spent the past while adding pages because nicknaming my cousin "yang" has inspired me to rename a whole bunch of other people. and twitter's rendered their feeds inaccessible so i guess i'm off their service.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

otherweb

google's on an important mission, please join them.

unless you want the internet to operate under the same misguided notions as the old world, such as fear and inequality, lack of transparency and the inability of the small man to make a difference, internet regulation is a very bad thing. i've talked about his before.

two summer eyes, or not?

it seems to have been such a full week, and i have been so happily exhausted that i have not wanted and shall not want to elaborate too much. for the past two years i've been reading snippets of jean webster - daddy long legs and i just got through some now, so i wonder if there'll be any tonal creep.

---
wednesday:

at 5.30am my mother woke me with a message; her response to mine was that she'd thought my phone would be set to night mode. as i've unfortunately had to explain to a number of people throughout the years, my phone has no "night mode" because i would absolutely hate to miss anything urgent because i was doing something as mundane as sleeping.

serendipity? shortly after i received a burst of sms'es informing me of the bus bombing in tel aviv from a scared pg.

here's the thing that bothers me in particular about wednesday: israel was preparing to move in to gaza to deal with hamas, whose ongoing rocketing has been tolerated for far too long.
so i'm really impressed with israel's leadership... the day of a bombing they agree to a ceasefire and then don't say a word about the rocket attacks afterwards? if that doesn't give the hamas a sense of victory and incentive to keep on going, i'll eat my hat. witness their post-9/11-style celebrations afterwards.

could it be, perhaps, that anything decisive that could relax a scared nation (israel) might be considered a threat to the political positions of those in charge?

not that i think that netanyahu et al have much to worry about, they'll keep their hands on the reigns for a while longer. it scares me that the world will see hamas legitimacy in this, and then both israel and the palestinians will be in for an ugly ride.

---
note to self: between acclimatization and shirts made with polyester, it's not a good idea to wear a jacket over my blazer unless it's really cold. and the jacket should be removed on entry to the metro station.

i was leaving the hot, packed early rush-hour metro car, wearing my jacket, when i noticed the packet on the floor of the doorway being trodden on by other now ex-passengers. the israeli moment of hesitation passed - could it be a bomb? - and i picked it up and stepped out, holding it up and looking askance at anyone in the immediate area. only one person responded, negatively, and so i found a bench and placed it there. i continued on my way, then stopped when mrs negative indicated that it might belong to somebody still on board.

good idea! so i walked up to the door, looked inside at nobody looking at me, and then realized that i should be waving the packet in question if i was going to get anyone's attention. only by the time i returned with the packet the door closed on me and the train pulled out.

awkward.

[private note about stressing and money and sitting comfortably in three degree weather with the window open, thinking what a beautiful day it was, and showing off by counting and talking at the same time]

i had one thing that i needed to do on wednesday, and i spent all day trying to do it right. after much struggling i realized that the way it's currently implemented isn't subject to any particular rule-set. the "wrong" fix took all of two minutes, and the success was totally unsatisfying in light of the wasted day.

i ate dinner at my aunt's, which was delicious, and i think i upset my uncle a little after he was really rude to me. afterwards, my aunt and i discussed maturity and stress and perspective for the longest time, then my cousin drove me home. he's such an aggressive driver that we had quite the argument on the way; i find it impossible to reconcile the ideas that he's really not a bad guy with him seeming to take pride in behaving like an asshole.

there was still no modem, nor sign of a modem, when i returned home. and thursday was supposed to be internet day.

---
thursday:

i woke up on pg's side of the bed, with my neck stiff and sore because her pillow isn't good for me at all. fortunately i managed to correct it before getting up.

for the second time, i began my day with tabata. it does feel good, although i stretched during the cool-down period and i almost pulled a muscle in my leg :(

---
the big news for the day: pg has all of her results, and they're very good, and she has a degree! now she can decide what actually interests her.

---
on my way out i picked up an envelope from distributel, the guys who were supposed to bring us internets. it was a form that i should have received at least a week before. i called them up to find out what was going on.

when we signed up two weeks before, we'd done so under my name and with pg's card. however, the form we'd received was for mr. pg, which seemed suspect. the support agent informed me that she was not at liberty to talk with me as my name did not appear on the account. when i asked to speak to a manager, i was informed that that would be impossible as my name does not appear on the account. so - a rock and a hard place: no pg, no authority, nothing to be done.

shocked and angry, i approached the secretary and asked her if she had any ideas. she sure did: she picked up the phone and became pg for the day! she gave the agent hell, i got pg on skype at the same time so that we could verify her details, and the three of us convinced the agent to let me do as i please.

the first item on the agenda was figuring out what was going on. as it happened, our appointment for installation was fictitious and upon closer inspection it appeared that the idiot who sold us the service had not only grossly misinformed us, but when he'd realized (apparently at least a week and a half later) that it wasn't okay to have a mismatched account name and card holder he manually transferred the account to pg, *forgetting* to inform us and automatically cancelling our installation.

thank goodness these idiots record all their calls. the agent listened to my previous call, then her superiors did too, and they were all (apparently) horrified and apologetic. and would i please bear with them? the internet would be installed in just another two short weeks.

seriously?! it would take ages to cancel everything, but i semi-patiently held the line and handled callbacks and eventually it was all done, and they were *so* sorry to see me go and *so* hoped that we'd give them another chance. for a company so keen to keep subscribers, they're certainly going about it ass-about-face.

the secretary called bell, told them to hook me up with a discount, and within five minutes the guy had offered me a sweet deal and arranged for installation two days later.

@#!$.

---
i spent the rest of the day putting finishing touches and actually enjoying the satisfaction of success. and then playing with a mac, which wasn't so bad once i got the hang of it. the linux backend makes it less alien.

i returned home really late, too tired to do anything or even eat decently. i overcompensated for the lack of effort (toast, peanut butter and tofurkey: i won't be buying any more tofurkey) by eating more than i needed to.

---
friday:

i woke up early, had a slow morning and ended it with a bad shave*, which would have discoloured my morning if i hadn't walked into the office and been turned into a superhero. i've been told a couple of times that the biggest reason the company wants to employ me is because i speak both tech and business fluently. i justified their faith** in me when i was asked by the boss for my opinion on a topic, and after explaining why the question was badly expressed discovered a serious flaw in the interaction between the company's business model and its core product. the cfo was called in, and he's a wealth of interesting and useful information, and i laid out their options and advised them to put everything on hold until the board makes a call with more than miscommunication to work with.

all that before my first cup of coffee.

* i accidentally clipped too much of my moustache, it looks terrible but i don't want to shave off the whole beard because of it :S

** please, work permit, hurry up and get sorted out already so that i can get to work!

---
it fascinates me that pg, who's so shy and communicates so sparingly, is so comfortable online. verbose, even. and she's got no issues with making use of all the smileys available, and sends long paragraphs of text that are endearingly expressive.

she reminds me of something...

---
friday was spent bonding and exploring lower-level code. it was relaxed and interesting.

thought for the evening: how can nine degrees feel so warm?

i did some shopping, made lentil salad and watched some tiger and bunny. my mom called to talk, and then i took a pre-party nap. i was woken just as i entered that level of sleep from which being aroused doesn't change your state - getting up was tough.

my cousin came over to pick me up and ensure that i wasn't violating some weird dress-code he made up. thank goodness his friend, neuroscientist, was there to balance things out! i told them later that i don't want to go to any party where the likes of me, style-wise, aren't welcome.

there was something eerie about meeting neuroscientist. he's one of my cousin's best friends, he's smart and interesting and educated and really fun to talk to. we have some really odd things in common and my cousin was freaked out by our conversation for most of the night. the talk remained on a high level in spite of the quantity of alcohol i was plied with; i definitely had too many beers in that bar in the village that was playing the quebec take on country music and had strange toilets.

---
saturday:

we must have been in that bar a long time, because by the time we walked into the club it was almost 3am. we'd quaffed energy drinks on the way in, and i'd shovelled down a delicious salt-n-something slab of chocolate while we stood outside and i shivered because i wasn't wearing a sweater underneath my jacket. that plus the music would have been all i needed.

to describe the evening in short: montreal is partying like it's 1997, only minimal isn't quite as crazy as uplifting and there was a higher ratio of guys. but when the music was good (most of the time) it was good, and when it was great (a few songs here and there) it was really awesome.

---
i left earlier than the others, arriving home in time to hit the sack at 7am and waking up two hours later for the internet guy. he was pleasant and professional and we soon had everything up and running.

internet. hooray! i spent the next hour or so listening to mutha, chatting with k-twang and pg and dispelling greatly exaggerated rumours of my planned wedding date.

it snowed beautifully this morning; the real thing is due to start this week. i'm very excited ^_^

my aunt picked me up and took me to the bank, where we opened an account without much fuss. it's an important step and it's finally done.

what i can't figure out is how anybody can immigrate to this country without friends or family. it's nigh impossible to get a job without being here, and you have to have means to stick around until you can get a work permit, and without a social insurance number you're pretty much incapable of doing anything for yourself. something's not quite right with this...

we went shopping (there's a loblaws close to our apartment, and it's got an israeli aisle so we can get non-dairy versions of things we like), and then i spoke to pg for a while, and then i passed out. i didn't sleep for long because my feet hurt, so i spent the rest of the afternoon / evening slowly and steadily doing things. that's as vague as it sounds, some of the things were on my to-do list and some were just because i felt like it.

this has taken me forever to post. i'm going to bed now.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

insuring tomorrow

monday:

i barely slept during the night, between the hydration unit needing a refill and an sms that arrived from pg's phone that i thought indicated that i needed to be awake enough to speak to someone.

only in the evening i received fifteen / twenty messages and it appears that my service provider has been storing and sending in batches. thanks, fido. between that and the huge difference between fido and bell in 3G coverage, i think i might happily switch to the latter.

---
the old couple in the metro
arm in arm,
tall, stately
with well-groomed,
matching mustaches


---

i got to the office a bit late, but in plenty of time to settle in before the developers came in. have i mentioned not disabusing them of the notion that i'm in charge? i held a status meeting and laid out a plan of action, drilling them with the urgency of their work this week and following up throughout the day.

i had a chat with the cfo: in addition to discussing possible personal insurance measures, he talks ski resorts with authority and i'm looking forward to taking his advice!

i had to wait until the evening to sort out my medical insurance, because i didn't think to carry my policy number with me. fantastic. i had to hope that my camscans would be good enough...

i left pretty late, bouncing home with grinding tunes and doing some quick shopping before learning a bit more with michel thomas and making a far-too-tasty-to-be-mine lentil salad. i ate too much.

---

tuesday:

i managed to get up on time, and decided (now that i have an exercise mat) to try out tabata. based on how i felt afterwards i'd guess that it's pretty much as effective as they say, and fifteen minutes in total really isn't a pain.

i was upset at breakfast over reading that international groups of poets are participating in the "evil israelis invade gaza" bullshit. seriously, poets are supposed to be seekers of truth and the tiniest effort to understand what's going on in the middle east would provide anyone with fantastic food for words. i must conclude that these groups have no poets; at the very least none worth reading.

i have to post about my day but i'm tired enough and it's exhausting just thinking about it. in large part this was due to all the israelis pg and i have to deal with - i'd have to deal with them anyway if i was there, but being over here makes it a little bit harder.

the bank convinced me to sign up to get all my communication electronically instead of in the mail, but they're still sending mail. i can't sign my mother up for the same service without a conference call. the companies handling my pension / insurance are all equally incapable of keeping track of where i live and so i've come to the conclusion that i shouldn't trust any of them with anything. i updated the army with my details before i left the country, and they've just sent me another request to update my details. my tenant managed to break the sleeper couch he was entrusted with. after struggling with a real scanner (camscanner wasn't good enough) with a bad french-only interface i sent through emails to my medical insurance while pg faxed them and i've no clue when they'll get back to me.

one day when i have permanent resident status here in the first world (oh please let that day come!) i'm going to uncouple myself from that godforsaken cultural desert and never look back. i will always support israel and it's right to exist, but i will never support how inconsiderate they are. oddly enough, the army shows more consideration to the palestinians than the government and private organizations do to israelis. that's just sad.

to add to that, i developed a headache from stretching myself too thin. you know that feeling, when you have so much on your plate that nothing seems to get done?

i took some friendly advice to go with some very positive feedback [thats a code for me], which was to dance more diplomatically around those who would sell the bear skin prior to shooting the bear. i know i prevented something bad from happening, i just hope that i didn't step on too many toes to do it.

after a long chat with the ceo in which we both kept losing our trains of thought, i sat down to perform a code review whose primary purpose was to introduce the beginner to code reviews while simultaneously retraining the old hand: i appreciate that bad habits are tough to break, and that he agrees with my ways of doing things, but i'm going to keep grinding until he stops over-complicating everything: laziness rules.

after another late night, i came home and produced an even more delicious salad than before*, then studied some more with michel thomas** before writing this.

* i don't know what makes it so tasty: it's lettuce, tomatoes, stuffed olives, cucumber, canned lentils, microwave broccoli and cauliflower, lemon-flavored fish oil, white vinegar, olive oil and himalayan salt.

** he's really something. he makes french easy (from english) and logical and inspires confidence.

now i'm totally bombed.

Monday, November 19, 2012

humid

well, i think i did alright with the humidifier. i wonder if the random paper-cuts on my fingers are from before i turned it on, or if they're unrelated... at least i seem to be generating less static.

my thoughts for this evening all form a single train: how much cool shit would i not know i didn't know if i didn't read wired? most months are nothing short of inspirational, and i think it forms a significant part of my education. this month's takes on kim dotcom, the visions of elon musk and peter molyneux, the medical establishment, material modeling and big irrigation data are *all* electrifying must-reads.

also, i eat too many marshmallows in one sitting. i blame pg for buying by the kilo.

almost nothing

aside from the previous incident*, and a very quick visit to walmart to buy a humidifier**, i've had a very quiet day. it involved reading wired and typing long diatribes using a combination of the two phones. the caretaker never contacted me, so i guess the repairs i'm needed for will have to wait :/

* i think i'm going to stick with iphones. there are two many drawbacks, even if the cool stuff is very cool.

** after researching it online, and pouring over the boxes for five or ten minutes, i'm still not certain how to choose one. i hope the maintenance isn't too much of a bitch.

public phone

i just had the most horrific experience: on an iphone, using skype is like having a regular conversion. i'm playing with someone else's old galaxy to see if i like it, and i don't have internet at home so i came to the starbucks, bought a cup of coffee, and found an unused footstool because the place is PACKED with people using their laptops or reading or whatever. i logged in, accepted a call and kept my voice really low, and i was impressed at how clear the sound was!

only halfway through the conversion i realized that i was listening to the phone's external speaker right next to my ear - there's no option to use the regular receiver. AND NOBODY SAID A THING. until i looked up, shocked, and couldn't sort it out. some dude was really helpful, explained that you *have* to use headphones. so i plugged them in, and i'm still super embarrassed not only because everyone heard my conversation (from the other side) but also because the guy who was reading closest to me got up and left.

awww man... thanks android. thanks for nothing.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

cyberwar from terrorism

so it looks like anonymous has taken up the hamas banner. in addition to other agencies.

they have released personal details for many israelis.

is this misguided hacktivism, or "just for the lulz" terrorism?

shiny

i took the metro to my aunt's, where i sent an email requesting three months of travel insurance for extreme sports: thank you, google transliterate! that's a really clever tool. now i hope i've sent everything they need to the correct address.

my cousin took me to a second hand sports store where they (fortunately!) didn't have anything in my size. he then dragged me to where his ex works, at poubelle du ski. that place is AWESOME!

a really sharp and friendly dude explained how it works there: i can rent the equipment for the whole season for half the purchase cost, with an option to buy if i'm happy with it. as long as i'm renting the equipment it's their responsibility, so anything that breaks they'll replace. and anything that doesn't fit right they'll replace. this is a serious win-win!

once we got that out of the way, he gave me two pairs of boots to try and the second pair not only look like funky space boots, but their laces are arranged well and are easy to manipulate with gloves, as well as coming with clips so that i won't shred my hands when i'm not wearing said gloves. and the board? well, shit. it's a *great* board. and they switched out the bindings so i won't need to play with straps on the slopes.

SORTED.
^_^


we took the gear to my place, and he dropped me off at the starbucks where i sat on their internet with a cup of coffee that lasted a lot of the hour or so i was there.

the -2 / -3 weather took me by surprise when i returned home. it's gone below -5 already: bracing :P

i didn't think about the constant static buildup being related to dryness - i think my yang's right, i really *do* need a humidifier at home. that explains my dry skin, too.

so that's the next purchase, then. in the meanwhile, it's been a long evening of facebook politics and michel thomas' french lessons. i like the man's style.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

net positive

friday:

still a bit down from the previous day, i wasn't quite jumping out of bed yesterday morning. it was a cold morning, but i was overheating on the metro as is almost normal now.

i began the day with a large, complex change and it all had to be done before it could be tested... what a nice surprise to have it all work out first time!

pg called and we chatted for a few minutes, and then i got busy manually translating what i'd failed to automate during the week.

i did a bit of playing with an android device to see if i could reproduce a bug i'd heard of, and i had no luck but got a bit more comfortable with the os.

i had barely enough time to eat lunch before an hour long status meeting began, a conference call to warm the ears and only kind of relevant for me. i opened up minesweeper and clicked mindlessly for a while, then picked up the android device again and started randomly pressing buttons and reorientating it. i was pleasantly surprised when the bug recurred, and that gave me a lead to follow. i think the guys were a little offended when they discovered i'd only been half-listening, even if they did laugh...

... after the call i did some proper, thorough testing, and figured out what was going on...

... and then the ceo contacted me personally to thank me for finding the problem. i felt kinda good about that.

i spent some time trying to hack a set-top box, cleaned up my website a little more, and decided to call it a week. i bought socks on the way home at joe's, a weird store converted from an old metro / train station playing eerie not-quite-pop music.

i had a track from john 00 flemming in my head, which is weird because i hadn't heard any of his music in months at the very least. that prompted me to select my trance music on my ipod, and lo! the first track on my shuffled playlist was a collaboration with john 00 flemming.

i performed a factory reset on the android phone i've been loaned to see if i'd like it: it's a galaxy 1, and it's beginning to get comfortable. there are loads of advantages, but it has some regrettable quirks too...

swype is really neat, when you realize that it takes care of spaces for you.

i went to my aunt's for a huge,delicious vegan-friendly dinner, then went downtown with yang to drink a pitcher of beer at a rock club that hadn't quite warmed up yet.

---

today:

i went to bed late because i was playing with the phone, and woke up early because my bio-illogical clock doesn't know what day it is.

i've done laundry: i was upset because a neighbour dumped my wet washing on another machine when i'd returned just minutes after my cycle was done. i've done ironing, and i think i did a good job even though i suspect that a small mark on one of my shirts might be a burn. i've done shopping, and i've realized that i'm still behaving as if i live in a fast-paced, aggressive society. i need to slow down, and not be so efficient on a saturday.

now for the shopping. snowboard season: here i come.

Friday, November 16, 2012

i wish i could get my head together

mental exhaustion, not physical. perhaps i'm a little ill? it was cold for montrealers today, and i overheated on the way to the office this morning. maybe.

the day was colored by the news from israel: how is it that in the twelve years i've been an israeli, three notable military actions have all taken place when i was overseas, and the american invasion of iraq, two of those while i was on army leave and two of them that i was away for their entirety?

i can't help feeling sorry for both sides, hoping that the israelis manage to establish stability (hah! like that'll ever happen) and that somewhere, somehow, we'll find a solution so that israelis can stop living in fear and start worrying about their own futures.

it shocks me to be exposed to hard line "let's kill all the palestinians" as much as it shocks me to be exposed to left-wing "oh, the poor palestinians, we should try listening to them". violence won't solve anything, but it's less dangerous than believing that there's a world of arabs and muslims that can accept a jewish state.

and of course, pg just landed there a couple of hours ago. not the best timing ever :(

speaking of which, she didn't contact me until she got home and i think i woke her father up looking for her :/

my morning was pretty emotional - another reason for me to be feeling so emotionally knackered - as we finally got all of the application signed and i took it off to the immigration office.

in the tradition of bureaucratic agencies everywhere, the building is under construction and with no clear signs so i began my journey at the customs house, waiting in line for a woman to tell me that i needed the building diagonally across the road. i thanked her and the guard twice, then walked into the grand building.

the security guy didn't speak much english, so he gave me a number to call. after five minutes of my call, which was important to them, not getting through to anyone i returned to the doorman and begged him for another way. he apologized for his french and i told him that i can understand a few words.
"ah!" he said in english, and handed me a paper with an address and 4e written on it. quatr etage i can understand! i thanked him profusely and walked for five minutes, politely following the directions he'd deigned to give me in english.

i entered the less glamorous building and rode the elevator four floors, or five if you count the mezzanine, and strolled up to the big dude on duty behind his glass cage. he was quick to explain that i'd need to return to the lobby to buy an envelope. the lady downstairs spoke not a word of english, but we blabbered and hand-signaled our way to a bargain and she was very friendly. the guy upstairs told me to write CAQ on the envelope and my details and toss it in the mail bin in the wall off to the side.

i tried to read the IMPORTANT - READ THIS CAREFULLY BEFORE SUBMITTING memos that were posted all over the walls sans anglais but failed, and eventually took a deep breath and chucked it in the chute.

i now have naught to do but wait for them to make contact.

an overly friendly crazy woman struck up an awkward conversation when she sat down next to me on the metro; she then shouted "it's liquorice!" at a guy with giant headphones on. she got him to come over to her, and explained that his headphone cable reminded her of liquorice, and wasn't that awfully clever of him?

i returned to the office to wrestle with a perl script whose purpose was to save time transforming a fair amount of data; it was late in the evening by the time i got it reasonably functional and by then it was too late to discover that half the data set was constructed with exceptions and it would've been quicker, easier and better to have manipulated it manually. i left around 8pm, not yet finished.

i wasn't much in the mood to read on the metro, i was thinking about dinner and that i needed to go shopping: when i came in i realized that i had enough to work with and would make up anything missing with a meal replacement.

i'm surprised to discover that lupini beans, at least according to the tin, contain four times as much protein per gram as black beans from the same company. not the tastiest bean, but hidden behind salad and microwave broccoli it did just fine. i'd say i ate too much, even, only here i am polishing off a giant bag of salt and vinegar crisps before i go to bed.

...

they say that snowboard season is open. this weekend i'm going shopping for boots and a board.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

fighting for peace

mark regev makes a good case - on al jazheera, of all places! - but what most of the world doesn't know is that it's not "months" of bombardment we're finally responding to. it's been a continuous thing for years now. i'm disappointed in the israeli government for waiting so long between actions, because it sends a message to the hamas that attacking israeli civilians is totally alright.

oh, wait one moment. responding sends the same message. any westerner who thinks that death is a deterrent for the palestinians is seriously overestimating their quality of life.

it doesn't matter that their average joe thinks, more or less, like you, me, anybody.

it doesn't matter that their pitiful situation can be directly attributed to their leadership (at the mercy of the rest of the arab nations), and that israel is the only country (oh, the irony!) with incentive to improve the palestinians' lot; the hard reality is that the people who count and their representatives are raised with malice and hatred, and put in a situation where they have more to gain by dying (martyrdom, stipends, freedom from horrible conditions) than by seeking peace.

we have nobody we can talk to that can change that. and bombing them occasionally most certainly isn't going to fix things.

crossing boundaries

i just finished watching under african skies (i can watch documentaries when pg's not around) and i gotta admit, it's emotional. also, great soundtrack :P

---

shopping this evening was a nightmare: i don't have a clue what i have the energy or wherewithal to prepare, and trawling the aisles for something that'll pop out at me is inefficient. heck, the only thing i *knew* i needed was soya, and in our supermarket it's stacked with the organics, and not the dairy.

they've got some weird shit in that section, i might get adventurous.

speaking of adventurous, pg wanted to use fish oil on salad but the guy at the health store convinced us that that's... unconventional... i gave it a shot and the lemon-flavored stuff works rather well as a dressing.

taking off

there's something unreal about saying goodbye to pg and returning home alone, knowing that we're not going to see each other until 2013.

---

yesterday:

i was standing opposite the door on the metro yesterday morning when out of the corner of my eye i caught a flash of a half-recognized symbol on a girl's t-shirt as she entered; by the time i'd registered that i wanted to know what it was she had turned around, and so i watched sideways until she turned enough... and was surprised and amused to see the insignia of the IAF, with original hebrew.

---

the morning's surprise was shocking and not pleasant: i booked our tickets ages ago and wasn't really paying much attention when pg said she was leaving on thursday. her father called me on skype to ask when she'd be landing, and when I sent him a copy of the booking i was horrified to learn that we had a day less than we'd planned for :S

i've been working on a website since friday - for which i've constructed a pretty hefty php framework, and by yesterday it was past time to deploy. i punched straight through, eventually making it public in the late afternoon, performing minor tweaks based on feedback that was almost all satisfyingly positive ^_^

i headed downtown to meet pg at eaton center to buy more shirts. when i arrived, i realized that i was in serious danger of passing out: i was weak and feeling delirious. pg remembered the smoothie place that does protein shakes. i'm not sure if the protein or the internal freezing put me right faster, but put me right it most certainly did. a pity the protein was from whey powder :(

on trying on formal shirts in the store: by the time you've stripped off the packaging and unclipped everything, you've invested so much effort that it really would be a shame if the damned thing didn't fit.

we found an amazing game store downstairs, but didn't buy anything as we won't be playing anything together until january; if i do come across other enthusiasts then i'll make a purchase.

we enjoyed a great dinner with my aunt and cousin; he was analyzing the total recall movies so we joined him for the new one, which neither of us had seen.

---

well, colour me impressed! i still love the original, but the new one totally takes it on everything from symbolism and plot coherency to gorgeous cyberpunk visions and a wonderfully perpetual sense of motion that may induce vertigo to go with what the protagonist's experiencing.

the best part is they explain everything as they burrow deeper into the abyss.

---

i was completely beat when we got gone late last night; pg manned up and did the laundry, i passed out. by the early morning i was feeling much better.

---

today:

the sun was shining brightly this morning, but my phone said -5. "it's a trap!", i thought to myself, and dressed warmly. too warmly, because regardless of what yahoo! thinks it was a pleasant morning and i'd stepped out with everything on and closed :(

i spent all morning working with the secretary and the boss to put all the permit stuff together; i think it was a kind of bonding experience. it looks like it'll be ready to hand in tomorrow, and my biggest concern is that although none of the lawyers i spoke to thought it would be an issue, there is the possibility that i won't be able to apply from within canada. it wouldn't make any sense, but the idea is nothing short of terrifying.

i left at lunchtime and caught pg finishing off the packing and fretting ceaselessly. by the time i'd polished off all the leftovers she was ready to go, and we dragged the luggage out and headed downtown.

of course, the bus stop wasn't quite where we'd expected it to be and my phone wasn't engaging with the internet on productive terms, but eventually we came right and caught the (hah!) 747 bus.

it took about an hour to get there. the lack of oxygen was stifling.

self-service check-in is very first-world, and is really very cool. we had a quick and dirty burger king dinner (the salad wasn't actually that bad), and had just enough time to say goodbye before boarding opened.

and then she disappeared through the security door.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

all in

so the big news of the day? the boss explained to me that it's not that i'm asking for something i didn't get; rather they forgot to mention my options when we discussed terms. apparently my package - presuming i get my permit and get working - is quite respectable and will be extended annually based on my performance.

and speaking of performance, i've been informed that they're so far very excited about the potential i'm showing.

good.

---

i got up on time this morning, to a dreamlike (fantasy, for a teenage girl) pink bedroom, what with the sun shining through the red curtains* and the pink punishment sheets my aunt loaned us. what a difference getting up, breakfasting, and dressing in our own space makes! and getting to the office from this side of the city is an absolute pleasure: straight into the metro, and relatively few people. in both directions.

* pg's had me working all evening; she found thick pale-green curtains that we put up instead, and i put together most of the chest of drawers. most, not all, because i was hammering away when i suddenly realized it was 9pm. i *really* hope i didn't annoy anyone :$

the weather today was magic: amazing how only a few short weeks turns 14 degrees from chilly to a warm, pleasant day!

i spent a large part of my day pouring over my work permit and trying to figure out what's where and how it should be phrased. i feel like i'm earning the $2500 i'm saving by not using an immigration lawyer :P

note for the day: i hope it lasts well into my employment, this sensation that reality is bending towards the way things need to be. every time i lay out a plan it seems to fit with what's been done before, or corrects it in a way that makes people say "ah, of course". after twelve years of irrationality, it kinda feels like a dream come true. and i can't get the expression out of my head, that "it is difficult to soar with eagles when you work with turkeys".

pg really outdid herself with tonight's dinner. watching her ironing the curtains was amusing. i can't believe that we have two nights left together before she returns to israel for a month and a half to pack our old lives into boxes and say goodbye.

Monday, November 12, 2012

sunday glory

we watched two movies last night, chasing one awful one with one great one. the awful one was horrible bosses, a pathetically unfunny film about three idiots too stupid to be identified with. right? the great one was zack and miri make a porno, which is absolutely brilliant and very funny in addition to being quite heartwarming.

we bookended the movies with episodes of ao no exorcist and tiger and bunny; it was a tough night ;)

---

i started the day with a slow sunday breakfast reading wired, had a long chat with my mother and then skipped across to my aunt's for delicious soup to see my uncle off. they donated a lamp to our cause, and red curtains, and filled the bag with a hammer, a screwdriver and assorted nails.

it was the most beautiful day outside: the weather was warm-ish and sunny and the colours were all crisp and nothing short of delightful; the kind of day that makes you want to go out and *do* something.

our something wasn't that interesting, but the walks between the dollarama and the vegan store*, the store and the metro, the metro and the supermarket and the starbucks were all gorgeous and spiritually refreshing, even as i became progressively bogged down by the bags that seemed to multiply each time we entered someplace new.

* black bean tortilla chips are delicious, and there's a dairy-free mint chocolate protein bar called nugo that's two thirds the price of the other bars, has plenty of protein, and actually tastes like decent mint chocolate.

i didn't make friends when i sat at the starbucks with my netbook, but there wasn't any space because the shop was overrun by other laptops; at least the party of four i'd infiltrated was kind enough to ignore me as i tried not to listen in too much from the side.

pg called to say she was almost done shopping, so i stopped removing non-friend entities from my facebook news feed (what a timesink facebook pages are!) to hurry next door. i'm not certain i've ever seen pg fill a trolley before, and it was all heavy stuff. and that wasn't all the heavy lifting i'd be doing for the day: when we got home i called the janitor, who not only loaned me his drill and a few other pieces of hardware but made damn sure that i knew how to use it.

i don't know much about being handy, but a drill is something i'm pretty good with. i put up the curtain rails with a minimum of fuss and only a couple of handfuls of dust in my eyes (i was drilling straight up, and didn't close my eyes the first two times i withdrew), and didn't repeat yesterday's cursing of ikea. i'm quite proud of how neat my work is, too.

---

speaking of cursing, there was a large man with tourette's on the bus this afternoon, and it's quite intimidating even when you realize that it's not directed at anyone. some of the outbursts were all too clear, some of them just raving mumbo-jumbo; can't be too easy to live with :(

---

pg made a very tasty and very much complete dinner, and now that i've posted i think i'm ready for an early night.

as i told my mum earlier:
between the weather and the city and our apartment and everything, i'm really, really happy to be right here, right now. life is, even if only for a moment, fantastic.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

ikeaday

we went to ikea, and by the second round i'd had more shopping than i could handle. then we went downstairs for the small stuff; pg was indecisive and i got claustrophobic. my aunt called, because we were already half an hour past our scheduled departure, and the lower section of the building has no signal so between the broken call and my already risen agitation i didn't have the stamina to find the right lamp for our living room.

it's a gorram lamp. i'll make do without for a while.

my aunt picked us up, and came upstairs to take a look... i think she was impressed, but i can't be sure.

anyway, after living with them for so long saying goodbye was kinda weird.

pg spent the afternoon tidying and cleaning (what a job!) and i spent it cursing ikea over two shoddy screws and their requirements of screwdrivers and hammers: wasn't there supposed to be a *thing* that they supply everything you need in the box?

anyway, i put together two more chairs and a front table and i'll get the drawers and curtain rails tomorrow. we're now learning about laundry - that's a lot of quarters, i dunno how i'm supposed to go about collecting 'em - and then after dinner i'll either head out to starbucks for internet or we'll do something saturday night-ish. or just be an old married couple and stay in and read.

---

this building is awesome. it's kinda like a hotel, with long carpeted hallways and good finishings on all the bits that need it, including a wide sweeping staircase and the foyer with comfy sofas and the radio not always playing greek music.

our apartment is really sweet, and in one week we've managed to make it feel right comfortable.

...

this is a serious investment of time and money we've made. i really, really hope it's not in vain. i really, really wanna call this place home.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

calm, dreading a storm

i'm sitting here having breakfast in our living room, it's a bright and shiny morning with sunlight streaming through the window and (inside) it's warm and cosy. our sleeper couch is definitely comfortable enough and there was a glorious moment last night when i turned on the shower and the water took mere seconds to bring to the right temperature and the shower head welcomed me home.

we've slept here one night and already i'm in love with this apartment.

---

yesterday:

i didn't wake up properly, i was trapped in a dream state. not only did i suffer an exhausted slow start, but even post-coffee it was a mission to get my head into gear.

i walked to the station* at two below zero, and was surprised to find how comfortable it is now that i've done -4. if acclimatization is this easy, i'm going to be just fine. as it is, i wore a heavier jacket to come here last night and i was overheating to the point where i had to take off my tuque and gloves.

* thankfully, possibly the last long station walk that early in the morning. not because the walk isn't pretty (another beautiful, sunny morning) and *some* kind of exercise isn't a good thing, but because of the weather that's to come.

the first item of the day was (is) kind of distressing: on the one hand, on thursday evening the ceo responded in what i saw as a favorable manner, but on the other he's sent off the "please talk to him" not only to the deal maker but also to the development head. i get the feeling - i pray it's only in my head - that i've done something irreversibly wrong and that i'm looking greedy. and i really don't want these people to think i'm greedy.

i then found out that there's a
wheel of time graphic novel
, and by that point my reality circuits were totally blown.

in part because the office went from being practically empty to my being there alone, i spent the day in relative solitude, slowly but surely massaging the php site together. i'm *this* far from being done, having invested all my time into constructing a framework that provides reusable functions for everything. and this time i've stored it properly for future use, so hopefully i'll never have to do this again..

just before he left, one of the guys came over to my cubicle with a set-top box in hand, and told me that they'd like to know if i can get their software to run on it.

seriously? shit, i'll tinker with cool toys for fun, you don't need to ask me twice :)

at some point a man came up to me to warn me that all of the systems would be going down soon. i'm pretty sure he said 3pm, and i'm pretty sure my computer's clock said 2pm, and i'm pretty sure that it said 3 by the time i got up to leave. but my phone, and the rest of reality seem to confirm that i only left the office at 4. which would explain the email i got from the secretary at "2.30" telling me that it's probably not going to be an issue :/

the further i get into tim powers - on stranger tides the more captivating and darker it gets. some of those characters are outright disturbing, and not because of their penchant for gratuitous violence.

the guy next to me on the metro was wearing what appeared to be a hard plastic, black ski mask with his hood pulled low. i thought to myself: "cool, i can definitely get away with mine!"
as we left the train, he was walking a few paces ahead of me and suddenly transformed himself into a creepy cartoon figure stalking, and i looked ahead to see that the object of his attentions was a girl in a short skirt and tights walking with her partner. two seconds later he was back to normal, but the show he'd put on was difficult to forget and i'm certain the onlookers in the train were as entertained as i was.

pg and i stopped for fries, decided we didn't like much at fabricvilla**, decided we did like a few items at the specialty supermarket next door (vegan chocolate chip cookies!), bought pg a serious winter jacket from the north face, and burned out my shopping tolerance looking for christmas gifts for the family in switzerland.

** too complicated, if nothing else. what's the deal with people moving with their curtains?! every time you move into a new apartment you have to go through sizing and installing, and there's no guarantee that your old drapes will match your new pad. silly, if you ask me.

dinner was really pleasant, and we talked with my aunt and uncle for a while afterwards before hurriedly packing all that remained of our gear and making our easy and comfortable way home.

---

i woke up this morning at 7am, then crashed for another couple of hours. i've breakfasted, researched different forms of b12 and posted, and am ready to face another trip to ikea to complete the move.

...

during my extended sleep, i dreamed a long dream that ended with a french lesson in which i was forced to put a long sentence together. i think it was alright, but it was a struggle.

Friday, November 09, 2012

nerves of lead

i would consider today successful. but there's just one thing: an awkward moment with a guy in the office brought home the reality of how precarious a situation i'm in right now. here i am establishing myself, we've got a great apartment half-filled with Stuff* and no guarantee that my papers will be accepted. it's one thing to know the risks before embarking, it's quite another to feel their weight when your future's hanging in the balance.

* i may not be materialistic, but there're so many little things one needs to be comfortable.

i can only hope that this country appreciates my worth enough to give me a chance.

---
today my hellish php experience really paid off: i finished off a set of libraries of generic and reusable functions that will make putting together a corporate website a breeze. someone should do for php what jquery does for javascript. in a non-complicated way. it always amazes me that the solutions for php problems are usually more of a hassle than simple doing the workarounds manually.

hopefully somebody will prove me wrong.

i spent a lot of time last night looking for internet providers, and today i called up a number of companies. distibutel is the only company i could find that offered cheap, shitty internet without a cap, apparently at the speeds claimed by the advertising, and with no contract obligations. the only issue is them needing two weeks to come by to set it up :(

i went straight from the office to the apartment, and pg and my aunt had transported most of the stuff and it's looking like home. like a nice home. we put the sleeper couch together, and it's awesome, and then we went to walmart (practically next door) to pretty much close the major round of shopping. the only thing we really need before moving in is curtains.

i explained to my aunt that we kinda need our own space; it's hard to get comfortable when you're not able to designate places for your belongings. i didn't mention that two months without a sense of privacy is less than ideal; not that we're not grateful for the accommodation.

operation options salvage that began last night got off to a better start than i'd thought: i thought the ceo was ignoring my request, and was feeling bad about it, but a couple of hours ago he responded telling me that the boss will discuss it with me. now... to learn what to ask for.

it's late again. beyond bedtime for one who wakes up in seven hours. maybe i'll recalibrate when i'm behind my own locked door?

Thursday, November 08, 2012

optional attendance

question of the day: why do salt and vinegar miniature rice cakes need milk ingredients???

---
i gulped down the vega one this morning, and it was far easier to swallow. i'm not sure that counts as a positive review, but it's definitely better than not getting enough essentials.

four below zero is meaningfully colder than three below. my nose hurt and i thought it was going to be properly red by the time i got into the metro. by comparison, one below in the afternoon was nothing worse than "bracing".

i had a lot of database stuff to do today and instead got caught up in fine-tuning jira. the good news is that the development head is getting comfortable with my processes, and his suggestions are easy to integrate because we seem to be thinking along the same lines. i'm very pleased.

i pitched an idea to the money guy today, and i hope it's valid. other than that, we had a long status meeting in the afternoon after which i introduced myself to the new guy; i'm very excited because it seems that we share a common vision regarding the company's transparency and cultural integration, which i believe is really important.

i met up with pg at the apartment, we put the table together and began on the bed but then ran out of time and hurried back for dinner. she and my aunt went shopping today and organized everything we need except for an internet connection. i'll get to that in the morning (now that i know who i want to call).

---
dinner was surprisingly pleasant, good-humoured and friendly-like, but when my cousin and i started arguing* my uncle decided that i'm an offensive know-it-all and i argue with everyone on principle. talk about the pot calling the kettle black. my cousin and i were using the internets to make our cases while his father continued to mouth off and eventually he agreed that he was in the wrong.

but that didn't matter, my uncle had had a bad day and had been taking it out on everyone else before dinner, so i guess it was my turn after. in the moment of calm afterwards my cousin and i had a serious talk about life, the universe and kak fathers, and i think we're finally on the same team again. as for my uncle, that's three of us that'll be all too happy to get out of here ASAP. pg and i have a bed to put together, and sheets that my aunt has presented us, and the cutlery and crockery that they bought together today, so i guess the internet connection really is the last hurdle.

* the calibration error that shook the world with neutrinos travelling faster than light, which was little more than sensationalism and dodgy science (google is your friend)
* that jellyfish aren't considered a life-form (seriously?)
* that sharks are incapable of swimming under three-foot tall shark nets (google is your friend)

---
i fired off an email to the ceo in an attempt to salvage options that i *forgot* to negotiate, and i hope it's not too late. i hope and pray that my request doesn't cause offense.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

sunday, monday, tuesday

sunday:

picking up the keys to the apartment took a while but was quite exciting as the apartment is awesome, shopping for cleaning products was a drag because there are too many options, and after all that we were tired and hungry. we went downtown for a great thai lunch that would have burned me uncomfortably if my lips hadn't already been scalded the night before. we returned "home" (until we're sleeping in the new pad) for a short nap, then went back to our apartment to do some more shopping. then pg got to cleaning (the apartment might have been handed over in a clean state, but not clean enough for her) while i settled myself on the couch in the foyer with a cup of starbucks, my kindle and more traditional greek music than i really needed. it took three of the up to four hours we'd been warned about for the ikea delivery boys to arrive, during which i was passed by a number of friendly neighbours. i'm totally into tim powers - on stranger tides.

the delivery itself was quick and pleasant.

we were going to put the furniture together, but ikea didn't send us a screwdriver. at 9pm on a sunday evening there were a couple of weirdos on the metro, who made us uncomfortable. when we arrived home we sat down to chat with my uncle and in spite of our intentions being to be brief, he kept going for a long time and we were tired.

---
monday:

there's something magical about a beautifully sunny morning when the temperature's hovering around freezing point. by the time i decided to stop to put on my "tuque" my kindle was like a brick of ice and holding it between my legs was a mistake.

most of monday was spent in meetings, i've been informed that the company will be providing me with a phone* and that hydro quebec doesn't want my money yet**, i'm apparently pretty good at performing jira and svn training, and in a super-awkward moment my laptop battery died in the middle of a presentation.

after performing for a promotional video, i skipped across to the metro to pick up pg and introduce her to the office. our secretary then took us to walmart where i developed a headache from excess shopping, palpitations from having my credit card rejected (i'm overdrawn, apparently) and frozen hands from taking too long to pack the mini cooper. we had to put the top down to fit everything in. i'm not sure how many degrees it wasn't. those heated seats? bloody BRILLIANT. i sat on my hands half the way to the apartment.

after dropping off the stuff we got a ride home, just in time to catch my uncle and cousin having a major fight. that would be repeated at the dinner table tonight.

* i'll take an android, please! also, the timing couldn't be better because my phone bill came and it turns out the fido lady was wrong, my phone is not open to all of canada and my airtime in toronto cost a small fortune :(

** you need an SIN for everything here. even though i'm able to rent an apartment, i can't get a phone call through to the electricity company without one so i can't inform them that they need to make me a customer. huh.

my aunt got back from australia and regaled us with tales (some weird, and some incredibly sad) when my uncle wasn't being a nuisance (mostly by shouting at the dog for being excited that she's back), and then we were treated to our fido account, which pg and i chased with itunes setup issues (in retrospect, we should have signed up over a secure connection) and a really silly argument about logging out of gmail on a cellphone.

my brain was buggered by the time i went to bed.

---
tuesday:

i woke up to the alarm going off, so i automatically turned off the heating and jumped in the shower before there'd be nothing but cold water. then i remembered that nobody's been willing to fix it because the alarm hasn't gone off during the day, so i turned it back on and hoped that the problem would resume :P

we discovered later that someone had been in our room at some stage and opened our window, which explains the chilly morning quite well.

i had vega one again this morning - i've been very good about drinking it once a day. i don't know if i'm doing something wrong, but each day it gets more and more difficult to consume, and leaves me feeling a bit ill. i'm disappointed, and i can't tell if it's the vega itself or if there's some other element at play.

it was three below when i left the house, and this morning was just as fine as yesterday's. i caught the bus to the metro, and there was so much traffic that it took about twice as long as walking would have, but it was a good opportunity to read and i wasn't in much of a hurry.

*** TMI WARNING ***
i rushed into the restroom when i arrived at the office, and chose an available urinal. another man walked right behind me on his way to the next one, and that made me uncomfortable enough to not be able to pee. he must suffer from shy bladder syndrome too, because the two of us stood there for quite a long silence before i eventually gave up and left.
*** TMI WARNING ***

i learned about bulk editing jira cases, and accidentally flooded the bosses inbox with hundreds of alert mails :$
after training the shy console junkie to use the new system (i barely had to explain anything) i spent the day struggling to get a stored procedure running on mysql. it turned out (and was a heck of a mission to discover) that the problem wasn't my procedure and it wasn't mysql, it was the phpmyadmin interface and the php version the website is running, so i had to convert all the logic to php and run it directly. so much for a security layer :S

the good part of the day:

i enjoyed great success with the svn in the morning, and was totally satisfied with the final product of the day. hooray! the ceo called me up on skype, and i haven't spoken to him since he told me that i'm hired: it's nice to be appreciated.

then i left to meet pg at the apartment. there, not so much of a success. the screwdriver she bought was of, let's be kind, inferior quality and had stripped by the time she got most of the first chair on its legs. then we had a long Talk about the fact that she's not comfortable asking my family for things. for anything.

---
*sigh*

and they think she doesn't want any help from them (or that she doesn't like them) because they don't realize that she's *that* shy, and she's uncomfortable with the fact that their ideas of helping and her ideas of helping are different enough that she'd rather go it alone than make them uncomfortable by being really specific.

and *i* know that if she'd just explain things, my aunt at least would be totally understanding. and *i* can't explain things because then pg gets upset, so we can't win.

gods, people can be complicated :S

---
i finally got my pay from my now-previous employers, and received two months together so i'm up more than usual. but my credit status is still overdrawn, and i'm kinda stuck for sorting that out from over here so i can't even draw cash :(

we arrived home for a delicious dinner with family friends which would have been a fantastically fun evening if it hadn't been marred by a drunken uncle who argued with everyone about anything and invested himself so heavily into belittling his son that my cousin and aunt eventually both got up and left the table.

let's just say that there were some moments that made me feel like i was a kid dealing with my own father; i couldn't even bring myself to look at him and any response of mine would have been inappropriately offensive. it's not my house, but it's hard to ignore someone who's being a giant asshole.

pg and i double-teamed my shirt for tomorrow with the iron, and i would've done a whole bunch of other things if i didn't feel compelled to keep this journal. including going to bed early. i'm breaking.

Sunday, November 04, 2012

on the floor

i'm sitting on our real parquet floor eating from a giant packet of salt and vinegar chips. we have keys, the maintenance dude is a really swell dude, we have a view of the swimming pool we'll have access to in summer, and aside from a couple of minor fix-it issues this apartment is even nicer than i recalled.

groovy!

have home, won't travel

at least, i very much hope not :P

we got up early enough this morning to pay a visit to the tailor, purchase a kindle for pg at bureau et gros, and then head out to de la savane, the metro station with the awesome transformer-style giant metal fist through the wall that will from now on be the landmark that tells us we're home.

note 1: it was really, really cold today. we didn't realize how cold until i'd already made the wrong call and decided to wear just my jacket. a sweater would've made all the difference. a ski mask / scarf would've stopped my nose from freezing up. and winter hasn't even started yet.

note 2: when i bought my kindle, i was in south africa. i ordered it online, and two days later a package arrived at our doorstep. i was super excited and well impressed because, well, south african mail is not exactly world-class. pg ordered her kindle from canada, a first-world country on the same land mass as the place where kindles are produced, and only a couple of hours' drive from there. not only was it cheaper to buy it in the local store - no "international" shipping charges - but amazon's estimation was that if we didn't cancel our order it would arrive sometime in mid-december.

that's just ridiculous.

anyway, back to the story. we arrived at the head office (next door to our building), and spent ages pouring over the rental contract. it's pretty standard stuff, albeit refreshingly different from anything we're familiar with. unless you're in default, the law here really looks out for the tenant and it's quite generous.

so we eventually signed everything, and tomorrow morning we'll pick up our keys. the guarantee from my company is good enough that nobody needs to sign surety for us (an issue that k-twang had) and they took a single month's rent as deposit.

we were going to take a bus straight to ikea, but getting to the stop took a little too long (in the freezing cold and wet) so we turned back to subway for a good lunch and reorientation, then tried again. after the bus arrived, the few minutes walking to ikea were directly against the wind and bitterly cold. even inside the building it would take quite a while before we warmed up again.

ikea is ikea; we found a decent (and reasonably priced) sleeper couch quite quickly and moved on to a kitchen table and chairs. we went through the rest of the sections but that was all we were really interested in. we paid for the stuff and then went through to delivery to discover what a mistake having paid was... they can bring everything tomorrow (at a pretty steep cost for so little), but the window they'll arrive in is FOUR HOURS and they refuse to call before, meaning that we'll have to sit in the otherwise empty apartment for up to four hours.

and we don't even know if we'll be sleeping there tomorrow night; that depends on whether or not we manage to find bedclothes and towels.

my phone's not-quite-gps almost got us quite lost on the way home, and then i decided to get off the bus two stops too early, which in that cold and the rain wasn't a good call at all. eventually we made it back to the metro, then back home to dress warmer before going downtown for dinner and a movie.

i burned my lips on the tofu :(
otherwise, the meal was pretty good, and we had time for video games before the movie. pg didn't do so well with house of the dead, and i had a horrible experience with the ac/dc pinball machine (the ball kept getting stuck, not even tilting would release it), but we eventually found something we could both enjoy in dance, dance, revolution. that's a lot of exercise, though!

---
we saw the man with the iron fists, which is made of win. that was a well-told story with great characters and a superb blend of iconic ye-olde chop-sockey and tarantino-esque. the only issue i had with it was that the narration was entirely anachronistic; freed slaves in those days just couldn't have talked like that.

but it didn't matter: it was visceral, gorgeous, and a whole lot of fun.

---
the return home seemed warmer. we played with pg's kindle, which is much cooler than mine (hers is the standard kindle wi-fi, mine is the 3G) and we might have to do a swap at some stage (hers can use the french dictionary, mine not so much).

is that everything? it's been a long day and we have a busy one tomorrow as well.

a happily busy one ^_^

Saturday, November 03, 2012

act casual friday

i got up early (by my standards), struggled out of bed for breakfast and caught the bus to the metro to work. the friday atmosphere was palpable: everyone was more relaxed and chirpier than usual.

botswana (the dude who worked in botswana) came to my cubicle for a chat, and it turns out he's big into skiing. he's a well of exciting information about the snow opportunities that are coming!

i began the day automating an ugly task with perl; it didn't take me too long, and the big boss was well impressed with my efficiency. the two of us debated database design for a while, eventually coming to a satisfactory compromise; by then it dawned on me that the morning had somehow abandoned me.

i took a brisk walk through the drizzle to pick up a few commensal boxes, and returned to have lunch with moonlighter. why do i call him that?

---
because i discovered, during the course of our conversation, that his second job is publishing comics. my jaw hit the table when he shyly told me why he wouldn't be in the office all the time.

so... he's a comic artist, and he's involved with a large group of comic artists, and he appreciates my concept from what little i pitched, at least enough to give it a look and to give me some interesting advice.

what the hell are the chances?!?!

---
a little later, aota asked me if pg and i are happy with montreal. that started a discussion with her and moonlighter that covered winter clothing, ice rain and snow season, including the idea that the extreme cold brings everyone together and that other idea that people here have problems, just not real ones. i mean, shit, that's twice in one day that i've been told that i'll be able to go snowboarding every day after work if i so please.

let's just say that my submission of our apartment application was accompanied by a smile.

i spent the afternoon struggling with a mysql server that didn't want to communicate, eventually compromising (phpmyadmin) and leaving with the most basic of test pages in place and a general sense of what's coming next.

it looks like my experience working with mmf was worth something after all.

i left the office late, having arrived early, but with a sense of inner peace and excitement i walked out into the beautiful, wintery air puffing clouds of breath and sinking myself into tim powers - on stranger tides while psychedelic rock accompanied me on my metro ride home.

dinner, x-men and now... it doesn't matter. i'm happy.

Friday, November 02, 2012

trading

what i just explained to my mother: i'm happy to go to the office, but i'd be just as happy to sleep late *and* go to the office. these mornings are tough.

the secretary was having a bad day today, and it didn't pay to push her buttons. one of the guys might have said "asshole" after arguing with her... the results weren't pleasant. in spite of that, she was super helpful with everything and it looks like our hunt for an apartment is ending with the one we want at a reduced price, and possibly without needing to put down a deposit! we'll see how this plays out, but i'm hoping we'll be moving in inside of a week. pg and i have had enough basement.

the big boss and i hammered out the details regarding documentation: my initial idea to use a wiki turned out to be inappropriate, although it's obviously good for general internal use as a knowledge base. i spent the rest of the day running back and forth between training the qa dude and mucking about with jira and a few other things, all the while keeping up a channel of communication with the developer who's seriously allergic to the office. literally.

it was a lot of skype, basically.

at lunchtime i went through loblows, not giving up until i'd traversed every single aisle (it's HUGE) and eventually finding vega one at list price (pg paid more) and a bunch of vegan microwave meals by commensale: cheaper (at less than $4) and not bad at all. i was pleasantly surprised.

i bought two vega energy bars, thinking that their high $3 price tag was due to their being sold in singles: if you buy the box of 24 online, that's precisely how much each one costs. i understand that it's a unique product, but still...

i feel like the ride home took a long time, and when i got out of the metro it was raining and i thought that perhaps i should wait inside until the bus arrived. i'm glad i didn't, because the line just kept on growing and was soon doubling back on itself - it felt like a line for a disneyland ride, only both the ride and the waiting experience were much suckier.

my cousin spontaneously apologized for his previous remarks when i walked in. i responded with a silent nod. quite frankly, while i'm glad he thought better of it i'm disappointed with him for not having thought before. and i'm still bitter about him being so irrational.

pg and i had a really nice dinner, i had a long chat with my mum and now pg and i have cancelled her kindle order because it would only ship in two weeks and arrive two weeks after that. eh?!?!?! we're in CANADA. that's right next door to the US, there's no excuse.

now to learn a bit of french. mine's horrible.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

too warm

i can barely sleep for overheating. i finally got to bed early and i'm not sure it's doing me any good :(

what dreams i have have been taking place in fictional underground cities that are connected to metro stations. everything comes back to the maps.

home?

it feels like it's been a long day, and only somewhat productive. i'm tired, and i'm going to bed now. just to summarize:

1. pg and i went to look at the apartment we thought we wanted, and were quite lukewarm about it. then we went to look at another apartment, and it's awesome and we're excited and we've begun applying through our connections. hopefully we'll be moving in very soon.

2. my uncle was very pleasant tonight, i think he understands - even if only subconsciously - that we're pretty much running away from him. either way he gave me some good advice regarding my pre-permit behaviour and he made a delicious dinner.

3. the dev guy worries me, but the qa dude seems pretty quick. i'm getting... comfortable in the office.

4. pg went shopping today; she bought an iphone (4) and a pay-as-you-go card. the iphone's chipped out of the box and i think she got jipped on the phone plan (paying incoming calls), so tomorrow she gets to do it all again :P

i gotta get some rest.