Tuesday, December 31, 2013

traveling british

wednesday:

i suffered some packing anxiety but i was efficient nonetheless; it's helpful to make lists and handle purchases before the day. i felt a bit silly trying out fez when i wasn't completely done, but then i received an alert from british airways informing me that my flight was to be delayed by three hours.

WHAT?! what a screw-up! so i was ready to go far too early and my otherwise unstressed time visiting family and friends in london would be pressured.

the metro to bus transfer was (unwittingly) perfectly timed. i was made nervous by a woman in the bus putting in or moving around a contact lens while we were in motion. i arrived at the airport and headed straight to a store to buy a tsa-approved lock. at least the plastic clamshell packaging had a little easy-open flap that even *i* could find.

after checking in - handing in my luggage and printing out the boarding pass i couldn't get on my phone - i tried to change us dollars to british pounds. the guy took my money and showed me a number that was higher than i expected: great! odd, but great. he proceeded to give me that amount in canadian dollars.
"i asked you for british pounds."
"i can't change us dollars for you, i have to change them to canadian dollars first."
i gave him a dark look.
"and you couldn't have told me that before? i *have* canadian dollars."
i told him to give me pounds for the canadian dollars. as he turned to do that i realized that he was succeeding in double-charging me for the conversions. rude bastard!
"hey, stop! just give me my damned us dollars back. i'll change them on the other side."

the only good things about the three hour delay were the free subway dinner and a few hours of contemplation / meditation that i sorely needed. and i wrote online dating while i waited, which i'm quite proud of.

airports:

no security problems anywhere. no serviceable wi-fi anywhere. the prices in johannesburg's domestic departures hall are set for international travellers, and that's really, really uncool for south africans.

mariah carey - all i want for christmas is you played EVERY TIME i walked into a men's bathroom. subliminal messaging?

kids:

1. sitting next to the kid's toys by the gate and talking on the phone is not a good idea. a bunch of them decided to come and play and i had to move across the hall. the smallest kid took a shine to me and the bigger kids were taking care of her, which was cute but made trying to converse on the phone a bit of a mission.

2. on the first flight i was sitting just behind the infants' row, and counted us all fortunate that they were all, for the most part, relaxed on the flight. on the second flight, i was sitting IN the infants' row, and the parents next to me were flying with their child for the first time. they were more worried than i was, though, and we were all very grateful by the end of the flight that the squealing had been minimal. also, my headphones block out a good amount of noise :P

food:

the in-flight food i had was undoubtedly the best i have ever tasted in thirty years of flying! i am totally satisfied that i remembered to order vegan meals. they were all delicious and i wasn't forced to compromise on anything :)

sleep:

from wednesday morning until friday night, i must have slept between two to four hours in total. i entered zombie-mode almost immediately, unable to focus on anything like a movie or a book, uninterested in writing or even in listening to music. i kept trying the latter and giving up. most of the time i just kind of stared miserably while my head lolled.

when i *did* manage to sleep, it was at all the wrong times. i'm very grateful that they kept waking me for my meals, though!

health:

my stomache was killing me from just after the first take-off until i arrived at my cousins' in london. i was up and down to he bathrooms with no results, i don't know what the hell that was all about. my second flight was ruined by restless leg syndrome in spite of my repeated top-ups of tonic water. i was not impressed, no matter how much i got up and stretched my legs remained cramped.

overall experience:

in spite of the last items mentioned, overall the experience was really good. the airport stuff was all smooth in all directions, the planes were relatively spacious and the only things to complain about had nothing to do with anyone but me.

london:

the underground was simple and i was surprised at how familiar everything was when i'd last been there in 2004.

on the picadilly line to cockfosters: that's a name they might want to consider changing. just sayin'.

my family: it was great seeing my cousins! i only had an hour or so with them, and they had some friends over. when their kids brought out bread and food, they pointed at a bowl and told me it was a mushroom spread. cool! i put it on a slice of bread and it was excellent. a short while later someone asked how it was made.
"oh, mushroom, ricotta..."
"there's cheese in there?!"

why would somebody describe mushroom AND RICOTTA as just mushroom? does cheese not count? i commented that i wouldn't have taken it then, and was asked about my dietary choices. everyone was cool with my reply that it's for health reasons and was happy to leave it at that.
except for the family friend, who got an angry look on her face as she asked: "what makes you think that being vegan is healthier?"

"if you'd asked me that a couple of years ago you'd have been absolutely right," i began, and proceeded to inform her about the research that's been done over the past years. that sparked a discussion about supplements, and once that was over we could change topic and everything relaxed again. only... when the family friend left, she did so without saying goodbye to me. hmmm.

travelling from there to leicester square i just missed the right train; fortunately i only made moonflake and zenstar wait about fifteen minutes, and even more fortunately we'd be travelling on the tube together for a while so we actually ended up with a decent amount of time for coffee and catch-up. it's so nice to see them doing well and even nicer to hear that we're all thinking along similar lines long-term! :)

that moment when i remembered that i didn't need to pack my nice jacket: *facepalm*

i didn't have time to meet with tpj, so i called him from the airport and we chatted until boarding time. i need to make the most out of the $45 package i took for the uk...

---
"gold-digger" is such an ugly term. i prefer "full-time high-class monogamous prostitute".

---
i was glad to find an indian toilet at johannesburg's baggage claim. the other stalls would have been impossible to change in. i don't know how people change clothes on an airplane.

i arrived in cape town exhausted and feeling grim - like i'd been travelling since wednesday. as soon as i got off the plane, though, i could feel the summer holiday feeling and once i'd gotten home and had a shower i was feeling quite human again in spite of myself :)

there's something about the mother city

i have a lot of catching up to do, and this is not only the first opportunity to do so but it's also the last opportunity to post anything before ushering in the new year with three or four days of absolute insanity!

so let me begin by sharing a sense of where i am right now: it's summer, and it's summer in a relaxed and beautiful city currently populated by people keeping constantly busy having fun or doing as little as possible in every imaginable way. there's an odd sensation that you feel when you land in cape town, something that's not so much a smell as an indefinable sixth sense reminding you that you're in a place where magic is believable. everything's a little slower, a little nicer, a little prettier.

i hit the ground running, while today was meant to be a relaxed pre-new year's one i spent it getting ready (physically and mentally) for the big bang beginning early next morning as we head out for my niece's wedding. let's see how i do...

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

packing up

on sunday night i watched ungrip at sq's behest. i have two things to say about it:

1. WOW. the implications are mind-bending!

2. the comments about the medical and pharmaceutical industries at the beginning demonstrate that this man knows very little about these fields and should keep his mouth shut about them. his opinions on the matter damage his credibility. there is incompetence in the industry, but everyone's working to reduce it - there's no malice and there's no conspiracy.
conventional medicine has been studying the placebo effect for years, it's not exclusively the domain of homeopathy. eating a plant-based diet, exercising properly and living in an earth-ship are all good things to do and they certainly reduce one's risk of disease dramatically, but it doesn't eliminate risk! there are genetic factors and environmental factors to contend with as well. and you might get run over by a bus.

---
monday:

i tried to nap, but was too tired to really wake up. when i realized that i was sitting up and dreaming with my eyes open i put myself to bed instead.

...

it was a slow morning. i took a long walk to print the power of attorney forms, but google's printing services search failed and when i found the office it turned out to be for printing import / export. i was going to go to walmart when i remembered that i live next to a ups store, so i walked all the way back and then to there. it was cold, i was dressed warmly, my body temperature was all over the place.

the printing and the scanning were a pleasure, and i hurried back for online coffee with sq. that was the call when we agreed to go to burning man together. it must be!

i had some shopping to do, i wanted to do it at the rockland mall but stm has cancelled the 100 bus. what?! sod it, i thought, and took the metro downtown. i wasn't sure exactly where i needed to be, so instead of getting off at peel i got off at atwater and walked all the way. i entered the shop and it was christmas mayhem - i'm so proud of myself for not turning and fleeing! i found what i wanted without too much trouble (i was lucky to find assistance) and walked out feeling very brave indeed :)

i treated myself to sukiyaki lunch: how the hell do they consistently get their fast-food tofu so right?

i returned home and horseman came over for amazing tekken. there was a little trash talking, i put it down with my virtual fists.
we discussed taking pride in one's art:

1. you can't get up on stage, share your work with an audience and then say "i did it for myself". then why the hell did you get up on the stage?

2. if you're going to do something, you need to present it and present it properly. even if you know that you've got work to do to up your game. all you can do is make sure that your present work shows your best efforts, respect your audience and make sure that your following work improves upon it. don't be like phil fish who kept restarting fez every time he learned something new [i see now that he finally released it, so i just bought it. the guy deserves a break regardless! and it's on sale right now!]. or like the guys who took over the duke nukem franchise. it's better to put out what you have and then turn the improvements into a sequel. this holds as well for rhymes and painting as for games.

i headed downtown for pre-christmas drinks with the kickboxing crew. serendipity? the jolly moroccan trains in a gym across from where we were going, but had misunderstood and was on his way to another pub on the other side of town. i walked out of the station just as he was walking in and we walked to the right place together :)
vfmp joined us, but nobody else made it so until some girls the jolly moroccan had invited joined us we were three. it was a fun evening anyway, and the last round was on vfmp. he ordered rum for the table, and it's the first time he's had alcohol in years - i'm supposed to keep that a secret, which i find pretty funny.

---
yesterday:

hours slipped by speaking to sq before going to bed. i woke up late - OH NOES! it was christmas eve and everything closes early, i rushed down to the natural store concerned that i'd have to travel without clif builder bars. and i was about to run out of vega one. what a relief to find them open! and to discover two new flavours to boot! i risked an entire box of crunchy peanut butter, but only took a single bar of vanilla almond. which turned out to be a mistake, because it's a great flavour :)

i got home, sq and i talked some more, and aota called me up to plan a jewish christmas dinner. those plans fell through later because her daughter had come home very sick and i'm not risking that one day before flying...

i went out for lunch and travel shopping, the approaching sunset was heart-achingly beautiful. i was thinking about this on the way back: i've been blessed to live in three great cities, cape town and montreal are so beautiful, and with tel aviv all three are filled with the beauty of arts and culture and nightlife that's exceptional for the countries they're located in.

when i got home i sorted out my mobile phone for england - bell's got pretty good deals - and talked for a while with my mum about what i need to pack and what i'll do when there. shit's getting real!

i watched most of the black power mixtape 1967 - 1975, and the footage and commentaries are incredible. i don't think i'd appreciate it as much if i hadn't learned so much american history during my studies.

in the evening, check-in opened and i hopped online and booked my seats. easy, british airways, well done! not so easy: i could download my boarding pass for montreal - london but the pass for johannesburg - cape town is unavailable. wtf?!

i spent a long time posting about the weekend, and was bombed by the time i was done. so i went to bed. now that i'm done posting this, i'm ready to pack. only a few hours to go, and then i'm on my way!

---
the items that i've found interesting or absolutely mind-blowing over the past few days: warning! some of them are pretty damn emotional.

interesting:

companies caring about their employees... and succeeding

health:

cavities versus coronaries
ending the heart disease epidemic
fish and pregnancies (seriously, don't risk this!)

the voice of a child of the anti-vaccine movement

life imitating art:

if only guns shot flowers!

emotional:

wounda released into the wild
iconic lgbt moments of 2013
christmas from beyond the grave

mind-blowing:

goldfish - we come together has 3.5 million views? how have i never seen this?!
viktoriya yermolyeva - master of puppets. on a piano. holy shit!
does holland have talent? this 9 year-old girl gave me the shivers

a good goodbye weekend

i've been separating out the last few days into individual posts, but that's not so simple... so this is just going to cover the weekend. the weekend was incredible! i'm praying that this isn't my last in montreal... what makes me nervous is that even though i'm legitimately here and have permission to stay until 2015, the border officials don't have to let me back in.

but if this was my last weekend, then it's the one that's made the best impression so far. hands down!

---
friday:

once again i enjoyed sleep that can only be described as heavenly.

having arranged to pay aota a visit, i called her up to let her know that i was on my way.
"you don't understand the state i'm in. i can't see people."
"i'm not people!"
i braved the ridiculous snowstorm (it was really pretty)*, had an amusing ordeal at a local coffee shop** and spent an hour or two with her. by the time i left she was feeling much better, so i was glad.

while i was there i sent an email to the cto asking for my job back. he hasn't responded yet, i'm pretty sure that means he's not interested. oh, well. i had nothing to lose.

* i can finally understand people running when it's super-cold! the previous week's temperatures had conditioned us all to much worse, so everyone was relaxed and warm enough.

** the girl behind the counter couldn't find the soy milk.
"us vegans are such trouble-makers!" i joked.
"nonsense! not at all!" boomed the rotund, smiling owner, stepping out to the front from whatever he'd been doing.
an indian man walked in wearing nothing but a sweater.
"did you really go outside like that?" asked the owner.
"i work a block away, it was fine."
i chimed in with my previous observation, and that began a conversation that moved from the weather to accents to south africa, mandela, crime and politics. i was impressed that my coffee was still warm when i eventually explained that i had to leave. while i put my coat back on, the owner came over and put a piece of delicious-looking cake on the table.
"for you, my friend. merry christmas!"
i refused the cake, explaining that i'm vegan. he didn't seem offended but i kinda felt bad about not accepting it... later i'd feel doubly bad because i could totally have taken it to aota!

what a schmuck i can be :(

...

on the way to meet horseman for coffee i walked past a man busking. i tossed him $2 and got a happy clappy christmas song stuck in my head in return :S
horseman and i had coffee, i joined him on his mission to get chinese and then left him for friday night training.

vfmp arrived without gloves, so we did some basic footwork and then joined the jiu-jitsu class. it was a good class, i learned a lot and even more from vfmp's runtime commentary when we continued drilling afterwards. one of the guys in the gym (the guy who farted on me a short while back) warned us that he'd heard a report that we were going to experience freezing rain the next day. after getting home, i checked the weather report and everything seemed fine, snow was predicted. i stopped worrying about it.

when saying goodbye and leaving the gym, the girl wire's into was working the desk.
"sunday's the last day of your membership? but you're leaving wednesday? don't worry about it."
*taps on keyboard*
"you can come in on monday too, if you like," she said with a smile :)

i put on my boots on the mat at the entrance, sitting at an angle with my legs just jutting into the doorway. as i leaned over to tie them someone almost walked into me. i jumped back and apologized, looking up in gsp's face. again?! how embarrassing!

at vfmp's, we enjoyed a decent fake minced-meat and lettuce dinner - i don't usually approve of fake meats, but this wasn't bad and it's high protein. his brother joined us and we played thunderstone.
the game was great, but we realized too late that the barkeep should be bought early on! between that and the town guard the buying strategy got a bit crazy.

i was flattered to hear that vfmp and his boyfriend have agreed that if i have trouble at the border then his boyfriend will marry me in order to get me in. that's the second last-chance offer i've received (aota's was the first), and they've planted the idea of "mail-order husband" in my head :P

...

i stepped out into the post-snowstorm night with solid groovy trance and found it hard to contain the stomping and dancing that's been building up inside and pushing at the boundaries of my body. i can't wait for new year's!

...

i was planning on training the following morning, but on my way home realized that i was tired, it was late and i'd need to drive in harsh winter conditions. i figured that maybe it wouldn't be a good idea.

---
saturday:

i woke up early, checked the weather report. freezing rain, ice pellets, sleet. shit. no way i was going to brave that, so i called up the rental agency and cancelled my reservation. the guy on the phone sounded irritated by he was efficient and didn't give me any grief. i messaged the guy i was going to travel with, and turned in for another couple of hours. the next day i would learn that the weather had actually been easier to drive in than the next day, which wasn't so bad.

*sigh*

when i woke up i decided to hit the gym; if i wasn't going to be able to snowboard, then i definitely wanted to make the most of what remained of my membership! i arrived around the same time as vfmp, but he was doing the jiu-jitsu gi class which i couldn't join. so i watched enough to get a sense of what they were doing and then focused on shadowboxing and the bags. the kid who hits too hard was around, so i asked if he wanted to spar. after the experience [mentioned here] i was feeling really good as i walked out of the gym.

vfmp waited for me while i showered, and we headed downtown for lunch and supplement shopping. the first meal was at liquid nutrition, their protein shake was oddly purple and delicious! the second was at cafe verdure, which has a nice atmosphere and all the food is vegan and gluten free. and also delicious! we even had desserts: the doughnuts were tasty but the texture was weird, the cupcakes were fantastic.

when i got home i decided it was nap-time. i tuned in to a french radio station which soon began a reading of the translated charles dickens - a christmas carol. what a win! and because i'm basically familiar with the story, i understood a little more than i might have otherwise.

i'd somehow scratched my forearm during the day, close to where my elbow is still recovering from the recent damage. the supermarket was warm, as usual, but when i stood in line at the cashier the scratch began to burn, and heat from it spread like fire throughout my body. i left my stuff on the conveyor and rushed to a bench to strip off my jacket and sweater... when i got home i found an old tube of antiseptic cream (expired a year ago) and rubbed a generous quantity on the area. a few more of those over the next day or two and everything seems okay now. only earlier this evening i managed to scratch the other arm in the same place! i don't know what's going on :S

...

there's nothing like pulling warm dry laundry out the dryer on a cold day.

---
sunday:

after talking to sq, i called the israeli tax authority to find out why they think i need to fill out an "annual form" for 2011 if i don't have a "file" open.
"there was some anomaly during that year, so we opened a file for you and we'll close it as soon as we figure out what happened. sorry, but an annual form has to be filled out."
"okay. so how do i do that?"
"sir, i don't care about the what's and why's. you have to fill out an annual form."
"yes, i got that. but *how* do i do that?"
"sir, i just told you. i'm not going to repeat myself."
"you didn't explain a thing to me, i don't understand how to submit an annual report - especially not from outside the country - and i want you to explain the process to me!"
"sir, i'm sorry, i'm not going to repeat myself. have a nice day."
*click*

oh, israel, how i miss you.

...

fortunately my ranting online had an old friend put me in touch with an accountant who seems eager for my business. i've signed and sent him power of attorney forms and i'm hoping he'll come back to me with positive news...

---
after three and a half hours' sleep i woke up, quickly readied myself and joined icarus outside. getting out of my road was a mission and a half with all the snow: first time i've shovelled any! the drive wasn't too bad but we needed to seriously heat up the inside of the car in order to stop ice forming on the windshield. that was kinda uncomfortable :(

my mind was on the morning's conversation all day, and i had paul simon - graceland in my head. we arrived at saint sauveur, i grabbed a cup of coffee while icarus rented his helmet (by now he's paid enough times that he could have bought his own with that money), and we headed out.

1. on the green run, i worked on switching and i'm now doing it at much higher speeds than before. awesome!

2. not as awesome as my last run. i'd had a really fun few hours on the slopes, mostly on black diamonds. for the last run i picked the route that i'd hurt myself on a few weeks ago - this time it was covered in giant moguls. i hit them at high speed, and not only maintained the speed but was navigating them instinctively; my mind was only registering what my body was doing just as i was doing it, and by the time i reached the bottom i turned around to look at what i'd been through, unable to figure out how i'd done it. i was on a serious adrenaline high, and although i'd been thinking of getting in another day before leaving i decided on the way out that *that* is the memory i want to travel with.

it was glorious!

the drive back was a little easier than the one there, and we returned to montreal just about when we'd intended. i posted what followed here.

...

bell's warning message that i'd reached 90% of my data plan was most welcome :P

virtual insanity

the los angeles girl i met online on thursday? let's call her sq (smoky quartz).

we messaged each other frequently until saturday night, when we finally spoke on the phone. we talked for hours. suddenly it was almost 4am and i needed to call the israeli tax authority (half an hour) and get some sleep before waking up at 7.30am.

sunday evening we'd planned to chat again, but between the time zone difference and my being absolutely exhausted i went to bed around 2am.

monday morning (my afternoon) we had coffee together, talking for another couple of hours.

monday night, after i came home from pre-christmas drinks, we talked again for another hour or two.

something she said during that last conversation got stuck in my head, the words ringing in my ears until i fell asleep and resuming when i woke up. while rushing to the health store, i began writing a letter to address what she'd said in the hopes that it would come across as romantic and not push her away. when i returned home she was online, and so instead of messaging it to her i read it out loud instead.

i wasn't expecting literary criticism, which i received, but i was very relieved when she was pleased to hear what i had to say. we agreed to meet after i return from south africa and we continued to talk for another hour and a half.

...

it's very strange to essentially be in a relationship that only exists online; we won't know that we're really interested until we see each other in person and spend real time together. the experience is utterly surreal, like i'm playing one of those japanese virtual girlfriend games. but it's not a game, it's just crazy and exhilarating and engaging!

Monday, December 23, 2013

a totalwaste christmas story

it all started a few weeks ago with the beast's backfist. concerned that i had suffered a concussion, i cancelled a sparring session with one of the guys who's training for a fight in january.

after waiting a couple of weeks so as not to compound the injury, i was going to resume sparring but i kept getting injured in different ways. two weeks ago the coach began making fun of me. in the meanwhile, badger and the jolly moroccan worked with me to improve my game, drilling me on all the basics.

as it's my last weekend, i really wanted to make as much use of the facilities as possible. yesterday i went in and met another boxing coach, an old-school 71 year-old rocky-style instructor and after we got to talking he took a shine to me: he gave me some really interesting advice and then cornered me through a sparring session with the kid who always hits too hard. and i did much better than the last time!

after snowboarding today i went to the gym for a final hour. the guy i'd originally stood up was on duty, and he and a few others were preparing to train late with our regular (abusive) coach. after some bag work (hurt my wrist a little, didn't tell anyone) and some shadowboxing to practice yesterday's coach's advice, i waited to spar. eventually i gave up, misunderstanding the coach and thinking that he didn't want me sparring so i took off my wraps and prepared to watch a bit before going home.

but he did want me to spar! so i got warmed up again, bouncing, shadowboxing and popping my shoulders in time to the awesome old-school hip-hop that was playing while observing the first pair sparring. then it was our turn, me and the guy i'd stood up. we put vaseline on our faces (i've now finally had that explained to me), geared up and got in the ring.

first round: it took me half the round to realize that i was facing a southpaw and that the reason he kept cracking me with his left was because i was stepping into it. so much for strategy! as soon as i fixed that everything changed.

i went three rounds with the guy. i demonstrated ring control, and when he did corner me i gave him nothing. i listened to what the coach was saying - to both of us - and adjusted accordingly. i didn't back up, i didn't let up, even though by the third round i could barely lift my arms; i actually spent a large percentage of the time making contact with his head and gut, surprising him with my new-found ability to close distance while striking and finally using jabs and straights defensively. as tired as i was, during the intervals i kept moving in time with the music, which was good for my breathing and my spirit. by the end of the third round, i wasn't the one with the bloodied nose and feeling disorientated.

i don't feel good about those last two, because i really like the guy. but afterwards we spent five minutes together analyzing everything and advising each other, and i think i've helped him with his fight preparation.

but here's the thing: the coach. the coach was stunned. he had the biggest smile on his face, and his pride filled me with pride.

"i take back everything i said about you, man. you proved me wrong tonight."
he repeated that a few times. and each time, it felt like christmas.

Friday, December 20, 2013

the ghost of christmas future

tuesday:

on tuesday night i tried watching hajime no ippo; it's nice that so much anime is available for free, but the quality of the experience is so bad that when i couldn't find the second part of episode one after two minutes i just gave up. besides, my "standing desk" made my legs tired and i was kinda irritated by the slow eating thing. it's still happening, i don't know what the deal is.

---
yesterday:

i tried not to let my phone snooze, and instead what i ended up doing was snoozing manually and by longer stretches. i think it might be defeatist. either way, the last half hour of sleep was crucial, and absolutely heavenly!

i met up with vfmp and i spent our striking time coaching him on stance and basic boxing. i enjoy coaching. a lot. and i totally empathize with the frustration of having to unlearn bad habits... for the ground half vfmp taught me escape techniques, which have come in handy a lot sooner than i expected! but there was so much cool stuff he showed me and it's so hard to keep it all together :(

after we were done i punched myself out of breath on the bags, and was so warmed up when i left that i needed neither tuque nor gloves and it was -7 :)

the big realization of the morning: it's the last week until christmas! and i'm not ready to leave yet! i haven't snowboarded enough! i haven't got everything i need!

after i got home my french partner informed me that out of desperation (he's having trouble finding work) he's cancelling our meetings for a while. that's a bummer, i'm going to need another partner... speaking of people bailing on me, i was expecting the cleaning lady all day and she never came. later when i asked she was embarrassed to admit that she'd completely forgotten, so she'll be in after i've left. it does make it more appropriate timing for leaving her a christmas gift, and it means that i'll definitely get home to a clean apartment :)

it was a day of gaming and psy trance. i've begun the original fallout, which happily isn't far behind its sequel :)

i headed to hertz to check out their rental options, and walked from the plamondon station. after walking through such a jewish area, with its yeshiva and schools and lots of hebrew lettering everywhere, i almost bumped into somebody and had to swallow an "excuse me" in hebrew :P

so the man at the rental agency had bad news for me, the company raises its prices for the holidays beginning this weekend. but boy, what an interesting man! he's a muslim indian with the most interestingly healthy views on life, the universe and everything, he's well educated and well-travelled, and has some fascinating stories to tell about the different communities living in montreal. not least of which was hearing his skinny on the jewish communities, and hearing him on the phone asking if his customer wanted to daven first and then come pick up the car amused me no end.

we talked for a long time, getting along like a house on fire and neither of us with anything much better to do. eventually, when i left, he offered to try to help me out if possible. nice!

as i walked into the metro saiko-pod tron came on and put a big smile on my face and a bounce in my step. the mood has remained. i don't want it to go away ^_^

when i got home i used the generic car rental site to reserve a car from alamo, deciding to abuse their no-risk cancellation policy by finding out later whether or not the car has enough space for our snow gear.

i spoke to aota for a bit, and was informed that megaman's last day was nigh. her description of the current state of things makes it sounds like a good time to ask for my job back. it's merely a question of tact...

i headed out to boxing, the short jog in the snow had me out of breath but then i managed my longest set ever with the jump rope! my arms hurt a little but boy, was i feeling good about myself :)
i finally understand shadowboxing, and that i've been doing it wrong all this time. when you begin it's about technique, but once you have that down (more or less) it becomes about visualizing your opponent and their moves. that's tough to learn!
it was a good class and badger and i followed it up with excitingly good drills. aside from cutting my toe on something (a callous, though, so it's tender but it didn't bleed) and a bit of pain in my ankle from checking, my knuckles were hurting on each punch - it seems like i've worn through the padding on my gloves. they're really good gloves, so it's kinda surprising (and very disappointing) that they're wearing out after eight months even if i have been using them every weekday and for all the activities. i'm going have to see if there's some kind of warranty, but i doubt it.

the bruise has finally begun to go down! it's left an interesting outline and a sensitive and almost egg-sized lump has been revealed. hmmm.

i watched the men who stare at goats to re-rate it because i'd missed some of it the first time. i didn't criticize it very well, then - it's a good movie, but it has a definitive slant whereas the book smells of journalistic integrity. they also focus on so little in order to provide narrative that you don't get to see any of the really crazy and incredible stuff!

oh, that reminds me - correction: what we saw on monday night was an advanced screening, not a premiere. did they care if we applauded or not?

---
today:

some more manual mega-snoozing.
*sigh*
pg contacted me to remind me that the israeli tax authority is after me - which is completely ridiculous. so i know what i'll be doing at stupid o' clock on sunday morning :(

i picked up my ski jacket and am pleased to report that they did a fantastic job!

my body felt oddly stiff and i walked a lot slower to the metro than i'd have liked. i found alamo without too much trouble and the woman behind the counter was a pleasure to deal with; she tells me that if we can't find a car on saturday that fits our equipment we can cancel with no charge. nice!

i was on my way to eat when i walked past the cinema. and the hobbit was playing. and i thought to myself "why fight the inevitable?"
and i bought a ticket. and had a delicious tofu lunch (i love it when fast food gets tofu right!). and i watched the movie.

*SPOILER ALERT* [highlight the following text to read it]
peter jackson has turned one of everyone's favourite books into a disney ride. it was marvelously entertaining, but beneath it all lay the disquieting sensation of over-commercialization. it's not as bad as the matrix trilogy, of which i couldn't bear to watch the third installment: i'll watch the third the hobbit. but i'm going to re-read the book, too, and i know i'll enjoy the book more.
*SPOILER ALERT*

i wanted to buy a gift card into which i'm going to insert money for the cleaning lady. gift cards are stupidly expensive. like, cost-of-a-meal expensive [fellow south africans: R100]. like, it will constitute a sixth of the total cost of the gift i'm giving. and it's so hard to find an appropriate one! the gift card holders are just tacky.

i got home and spent an hour or so on the phone checking auto-insurance, mobile / internet bills and planning saturday's rental. everything was a breeze!

i spoke to aota, who i'm going to meet tomorrow - she had to fire newk'd today. even though we know it's good for him in the long run, it's not a nice thing for her of all people to have to do.

jiu-jitsu; i didn't totally suck! i joined the beast and a large, powerful spanish guy, and i managed to get most of the steps right ^_^
i didn't do amazingly well with the kickboxing afterwards, but i finished feeling really good: my breathing was *much* better. i hope this is me recovering!

i almost went out for dinner, then remembered that i'd eaten out for lunch and i had perfectly good frozen meals in the freezer. so i did that instead.

online dating:

1) a positive interaction seems to have gone sour after i was asked to elaborate on the current political situation in south africa and i complied. i should save the diatribes for face-to-face encounters, i think.

2) the site is supposed to show me local matches only, not long distance! i'm currently enthusiastically engaging an attractive woman who lives in los angeles. and she's talking about one of us visiting the other after i invited her out without realizing she's far away...

collaborative consumption

if you're not familiar with the ideas and tools of collaborative consumption you definitely need to invest sixteen minutes in watching rachel_botsman - the case for collaborative consumption.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

youtube and ads

okay, youtube just hit me with an even bigger fail than ever before: in the middle of a video it stopped to show me an ad.

youtube sucks. and by extension, google. you suck. aren't you guys smart enough to be ashamed?

i just thought i'd check it out...

... ftl, or faster than light, is a very clever game. i didn't know it was possible to quit and save, so i just kept playing until i died. unfortunately, i was sitting on the couch with the mouse by my side and now my wrist hurts :(

---
i woke up this morning without pressing snooze, i'm not sure it felt better but i guess it was a good thing. i did a ridiculously small amount of work on the comics, performed some housekeeping and eventually headed out into the cold to pick up my ski jacket. i was told that they didn't have the right zip and so it would only be ready on friday - good thing i didn't return yang's! - but then later they called to tell me it was done. i don't get it.

i went to cafe depot for the regular french conversation, and once again they didn't have soya. this time, however, they had no non-dairy alternatives either and the manager informed me that it's a franchise decision. and a giant "up yours" to you too, cafe depot! ignorant bastards, they'll not see another cent from me. come on! i mean, if domino's in israel can get it right, so can anyone.

starbucks, java u and second cup all seem to cope financially with us weirdos who don't want unhealthy shit in our bodies; i went to the java u next door and got what i wanted. unfortunately, their shop isn't heated which is bizarre; my partner arrived and we sat chatting in our winter coats.

pet peeves:

1. icarus called me twice when trying to call me back. if i don't answer the first time, it's reasonable to assume that i have caller id and that i'll get back to you. unless whatever it is is super urgent.

2. newk'd and i agreed to meet at cafe juicy lotus at 4.30pm. i was on my way, underground with no reception, when he sent an sms to confirm. so i only saw it when i arrived and he and his girlfriend hadn't left their apartment yet. wtf? if you have an arrangement, you make it unless informed otherwise. am i off on this one?

cafe juicy lotus is really nice, and it seems that everything they make is delicious. the cooking classes are a bit expensive, though, and while their cookbook is cheaper i'm not sure i'll really go for it. i scanned the lists of ingredients and didn't recognize many of them...

---
on a completely different note, rumour has it that tomorrow will be megaman's last with the company. hah! they finally figured things out.

i hope they manage to recover from the damage he's done.

---
when we left it was snowing again and very cold. halfway to the metro i realized that both my laces were untied and they'd have to wait until i got inside. i love my boots, but this is one issue that keeps recurring that's annoying the crap out of me!

the entrance to the villa-maria station was an overload of humanity; kinda like from 1:10 onwards.

...

right. stuff.

---
there's a girl i know in israel who needs serious help with her medical bills so that she can enjoy some quality of life. in the hope that some of you will find it in your hearts to assist, you can do so here, and also here if you prefer paypal.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

fighting, the cold and christmas spirit

i'm absolutely broken! i definitely need a day (or two) off training. i was feeling a bit weak on the weekend, but even if i hadn't been yesterday's experience would've taken it out of me. so utterly worth it though ^_^

---
leftovers from thursday:

hah! my last post forgot lesson 5: the jiu-jitsu advantage goes to the man who farts when he's nervous. it's hard enough breathing when you're grappling and pummeling and being choked, to do all of that while actively trying not to because your opponent just let one rip before catching you between his legs? "sorry" just doesn't cut it, bro.

---
friday:

on my way to meet wire i went to draw cash, and lurking in front of the atm was loud group of gangsta-wannabes. in front of them was a slow old woman taking forever. one of the guys stepped up when she eventually finished, and then suddenly there was nobody in front of the machine and the guy behind me told me it was my turn. i stepped up and was puzzled because it looked like whoever was using it had abandoned it without taking their card... i asked around, and it turned out that the idiot has simply turned around and rejoined his buddies before finishing what he was doing.

nice.

anyway, i headed down to de l'eglise. what a nice area! apparently pretty cheap, too. i met up with wire who took me to a sweet little coffee shop, we talked for a while and he explained the details of his situation - i don't envy construction workers in this town. when we separated i felt pretty good; my christmas gift was to (metaphorically) teach him to fish, not feed him. hopefully he'll be back on his feet soon.

it was -12 degrees and pleasant to walk in the sun. the metro wasn't too warm, either! i rested up with a little french practice and then went to the gym for sparring. i only had one opportunity to spar, and it went alright; the rest of the sparring was verbal, and i was sorely on the losing end. our boxing instructor's chirps were so good that at one point one of the girls literally did a spit-take while she was drinking water, and i had absolutely nothing to respond with :(

after class i taught two of the girls how to do a muay thai roundhouse. they're both very sweet - it's the girl who "stalked" me once upon a time and the iron-haired woman - and i find it interesting that they were only too happy to stay late on a friday night to work with me, but once they'd basically gotten it i headed off for gaming night. they're just not my type :P

the storm in israel was raging, as were israelis unhappy about their infrastructure and services, and i was amused because while there it was four degrees celsius, here it was the same in fahrenheit. it's funny, but every year i've been there i've complained about the lack of winter infrastructure and this is the first year that my voice isn't there and everyone's angry.

i read my new poem to vfmp and his boyfriend, it got constructive criticism from vfmp and his boyfriend praised it even before realizing it was mine :D

vfmp's experimental vegan spanakopita was excellent, and our game of thunderstone was going well but we began it too late and so i had to drop my hand in order to catch the bus :(
at least my timing for public transport was great. the depths of winter have come early!

---
saturday:

waking up to a dream of being in the air force and needing to pee but the unisex latrines were rows of undivided long-drops were all in various states of "ewww" and there was nowhere to stand. the captain in charge of them refused to do anything about it and in real life i'm grateful for it :P
the weirdest bit about the latrines was the sense of deja-vu, i'm sure i've dreamed about them before.

i slept really late, at some point getting up to close the outer window which i hadn't realized was still open. that was a complicated procedure and ended with me shouting a triumphant "fuck YOU!" at it when i finally slammed it down.

yang has this annoying habit of using facebook messaging for messages that a reasonable person would send by sms. so i assumed he'd installed the facebook messenger app as his primary means of communication, which a) inspired me to install it myself and b) led me to use it to ask him if he had a spare ski jacket for me. he responded in the affirmative, with a warning that i should've used sms for something so serious.

huh.

it was a slow day, and really began when i tried out my post-root canal mouth on a salad. the tooth in question finally seems okay, but the tooth above it seems to have a bad filling... sod it. i'll just keep eating on the right side until i can find a good dentist. instead of all the crazy games i have installed, i burned some time playing the fourth installment of on the rain-slick precipice of darkness, then dragged myself to the french meetup.

it was still a little awkward and uncomfortable, but not nearly as bad as the first time! one woman spoke like she was in a speed competition, and by the end i could understand bits of what she was saying! to make things complicated there were two asians who spoke to me with accents so tough that it took at least three tries each sentence...

from there i went to godmother's to pick up yang's unused ski jacket. awesome ski jacket! i stayed for tea and her incredible pea soup, then went to newk'd's birthday party. picking up beers and coke at the dep was complicated, carrying them along with the jacket and my rather thick volume of bone comics was not only heavy and awkward enough to hurt my arms but after the short bus ride i had a lot of walking to do along desolate roads and that was kinda demoralizing. getting there successfully and without frostbite and cracking open the beers was such a relief!

it's pretty rare that disparate groups of friends get along very well, but the apartment was crowded with people who were all interesting and fun. it would have been a great party even if nobody had pulled out cards against humanity; between the cards and the beers i kept getting the giggles, and at one point it was so bad that i couldn't even read out loud :)

newk'd offered me a blue candy pacifier; apparently there were only five and it was only later that i'd understand how "special" the offer was...

---
sunday:

i walked to the metro with a loud (possibly drunk / high) girl from b.c. who was enjoying the blizzard as much as i was - what fun! unfortunately for her, her last metro had just passed when we arrived and so she went to find a bus while i took my last one home. i had to be up early to go snowboarding...

... i got home, ate a little, and after that and a couple of hours and brushing my teeth twice my mouth was *still* blue all over. aaahhhhhhh... i see what he did there :P

...

the sleep i enjoyed can only be described as "lovely". i got up at 7.30 to start getting ready but icarus sent me a message to say he was unable to free his car from the snow. when i woke up again later it was still snowing like crazy! i decided that mother nature has brought the deep winter forward just for me so that i can make up for three weeks at the beach :)
so i hurriedly packed (this time without blowing a fuse), which involved cleaning out the thermos i'd brilliantly left in my bag the weekend before (ugh!) and figuring out how to adjust for the difference in the borrowed ski jacket's pocket configuration.

i was out the door before realizing that i'd left my ski mask behind - *that* would have been a disaster!

over two hours on the bus, most of which were spent listening to the girl in front of me's conversation*, staring out the window**, sleeping, continuing with paul park - celestis, and playing with online dating and facebook. those last two taught me a couple of things:

1) this amazing video about a homeless dog being rescued makes me very happy indeed with the donation that supertongue asks everyone to make on her behalf for christmas. now that i've given and seen what it's about, i'm urging you to do the same! you can do that here. or, you know, donate to the red cross or whatever. it's all good :)

2) i can handle dating a girl with a missing eye (that's piratey!), but a girl with a prominent mole? heck, no. i've never understood how, in this day and age, people don't just get those damned things cut out.

* alright, so maybe it's impolite to listen to others' conversations but she was talking loudly and it was only after a while that i could be sure that she was using a hands-free and not invisible bluetooth. i was trying to get a handle on her french, she had a throaty voice and a heavy quebecois accent and after a while i decided that i find the combination very sexy indeed.

** i was staring out the window at all the mostly buried cars (whose owners care enough to put up a fight) and the mounds of snow where i was certain others were properly buried... and suddenly i registered that there were groups (plural!) of cross-country skiers treating the roads and pavements like rollerbladers in summer! wire tells me he saw a few in his area too. montreal, i love you ^_^

last night was all about the moguls - the runs were insane! totally electrifying, but fracking EXHAUSTING. everyone i spoke to agreed with me, and there were plenty of non-verbal agreements too. the funniest expression of that was my final descent; just before the last steep, mogul-covered hill we all sat in a long line, just catching our breaths and stretching for the tough seconds to come :)

i was very, very glad that my assessment of last week's rum / coffee / cacao mix was right, once i added actual sugar it was amazing :)

i couldn't get the following out of my head all evening: "riddle: what's sexier than a woman on a snowboard?"
i got chatting to some guy on the lift, and i asked him just before we got off. he didn't even hesitate, and we parted ways with nods and raised fists. the next time i got on the lift i was alone with a ridiculously cute girl on a snowboard, and started chatting with her. turns out she's from montreal and was going to take a taxi back to saint jerome and then a bus, which is a bit crazy, so i told her about my initiative and explained to her how to find the meetup group. an hour later as i sat in the locker room getting ready to leave, she walked in with some guy and i signed to her.

she looked at me funny, and i too-slowly realized that she couldn't recognize me without my ski mask so i was just being super weird. i clarified by asking her if she didn't want to write down the details, and she came over and took one of my cards.
"that's beautiful!"
"thanks! it's one of my own."
"are you a photographer?"
"nope."
i asked if she and the guy she'd walked in with were together, to which she answered in the affirmative. disappointed, i gave two thumbs up and invited them both to join me next time.

i felt like i walked back to the village in slow motion, though i had time for fries and to figure out how to pour water from the iced tea tap at mcdonald's. i left with a minute to spare and fast-waddled / jogged with my board on my back and ice beneath my feet, only the bus was about twenty minutes late so that was entirely unnecessary. it was a long, cold twenty minutes followed by a long, sleepy bus ride.

regardless, i was very sore and tired and very happy.

i had to finish the giant bag of sour skittles because the bag broke and i couldn't put them back in my pocket. first world problems.

i got home, overcompensated for dehydration, slowly got ready for bed and then treated myself to tiger balm; the base of my spine, my upper back, my elbow and my knee were all on fire as i finally put myself to bed.

---
monday:

i woke up battling the infinite snooze, each time to a different dream. my apartment looks like a bomb hit it, i should probably see to that. i went out to drink coffee, work on my comics and shop, on the way passing a classic, almost life-sized snowman that looked like it was plucked out of calvin and hobbes or something. it was so cold and there was so much glare that i couldn't get a decent photo :(

wind chill made today -29 degrees. all i know is that without my ski mask my face kept freezing. the funny looks were just a bonus :P

i made good progress on the comics (character r&d) and carrying the shopping home showed me that i need some rest before returning to the gym. the cashier at the supermarket was awful: she went on this rant about how so many people, co-workers and customers, are mean to her and she just has to smile and take it. i was really uncomfortable for its entirety and i wasn't given much opportunity to extract myself :(

...

in canada, you hurry home so that the groceries don't all freeze on the way.

...

there's nothing like stepping inside with groceries that need to be refrigerated to find that you really need to pee and your bootlaces are knotted.

...

i went to the eye institute for my final checkup and they tell me that my eyes are good, if a little dry. they were as surprised as i was to see that my right eye's doing well; i'm now 100% convinced that doing only the left eye was the right choice.

i found myself desperately hungry after the tests, so desperate in fact that thai express became an option. i was disappointed that the food was exactly as expected. i came home to rest, started posting this and then rushed downtown to join wire and a couple of others from the gym as we'd been invited to the montreal premiere an advanced screening of grudge match.
bottom line: it's SUPER meta, it's a fun film that does an excellent job of picking rocky and raging bull apart and stitching them together with humour ranging from slapstick to highbrow. i totally approve this message :)

[an argument over the phone that i can't actually talk about here. not right now, at least.]

wire sat with me as i made a harvey's veggie burger disappear, and then joined me for a beer while we talked about sports, politics and religion (including the history of al-aqsa, so i was surprised to read this when i got home). he suggested that my lack of appetite after training might be caused by eating badly-timed protein bars, so i'm going to skip those for a few days and see if that makes a difference.

---
linkage!

opposing the american studies association's boycott

oklahoma opens the door to the satanists: the lawmakers sidelined the first amendment, and this is what they're going to get for their trouble. this or a hanuman temple. i'm backing the satanists 'cause i think it's more appropriate, and i ask you to back them too!

and speaking of crowd-funding, mars one is looking to fund their research on indiegogo. check it out here!

airport security: now that we know just how much of a waste of time it is, can't we just drop the charades already and go back to playing "spot the dodgy fucker" instead? it's less invasive and more honest.

superhero cartoon execs worry me. but: screw the networks. indie, indie, indie. producers need to get out of industrialized televised entertainment, 'cause slowly but surely we all are.

Friday, December 13, 2013

ego and elbow

after posting yesterday, i ate an entire bag of salt and pepper chips and a fair share of a tub of hummus. this is only interesting because it came to my attention on my way to the gym that i hadn't finished digesting them...
i napped a bit too; as i've repeated many a time, there's no sleep as sweet as that when you need to get up :P

lesson 1: wear a cup for jiu-jitsu. the guy i partnered with weighs about ten pounds more than me and the drill we were doing involved leveraging a knee on the groin.

we rolled afterwards. i felt like was being rolled into a pretzel.

lesson 2: badger was late for our drill session, but the jolly moroccan was only too happy to oblige. we worked hands and feet (badger was a little angry when she arrived and saw that, i'm supposed to be only working hands) and he was so quick to catch my kicks and put me on the floor that i became as hesitant to throw as i was scared of being hit... but eventually the things he was telling me started getting through and it became more of a game; at which point i started relaxing a bit. badger on the side screaming at me to stop backing up was really helpful, apparently i did great when i stopped that shit.

which is hard for me, because a decade of taekwondo has taught me to back the hell up.

each time i ended up on the floor dealt a bit of a blow to my ego, and it happened a lot. badger actually warned him to chill a bit before i get demotivated... fortunately, i was in full learning mode so that only real ego bruising was my not getting things quickly enough.

lesson 3: badger. i wanna get to the end of the damned montage sequence already! everything she's teaching me is so basic and so important, and even though i'm getting them while we drill i need to be getting them when we're not drilling too!

lesson 4: the damage to my left tricep from boxing the night before and the snowboarding bruise on my elbow were exacerbated by the end of our training. i was forced to stop if i was to entertain any notion of sparring this afternoon, which i definitely don't want to miss! our boxing instructor has been goading me non-stop and it's becoming a point of pride thing. i mean, i won't go if i'm too damaged, but every time i skip it's another week of him being justified in making fun of me :P

the hot bath was good. the icepack on my ridiculously large elbow bruise was good. i actually had an appetite for once, though instead of making salad i put together a microwave meal and toast... i watched a few episodes of once upon a time.... okay, the writing's not up to first season standards at all but it's still fun to watch and i've heard that season three gets better, so i'm enjoying it mindlessly.

...

oh gods, i slept so deeply, so well and so late today!

there's about twenty hours left of the gog.com fallout series giveaway, you might want to see to that. i was upset at first because i already owned one and so couldn't "re-purchase" it, but then i realized that i could simply deselect the one i had :)

thank you, facebook: someone told me i should check out faster than light, someone else mentioned that it was a part of a recent humble bundle, and then someone else sent me a redemption code for it. win!

...

i asked wire where he's been 'cause we haven't seen him in a while, and the answer was he's been out of work and unable to gather the cash for a course he needs if he wants to work this season. i've decided to loan him the cash for the course, to see him back on his feet. he's an honest laborer and a good guy, i feel he deserves a chance. so now i'm off to deliver.

---

i remember how shocked i was when i saw bent because the only story of the holocaust i'd ever really thought about was that of the jews... israel has erected a memorial for the gays killed in the holocaust, and i find that quite touching!

...

speaking of memorials, the embarrassing incident with the signer at the mandela memorial? here's an article on it that's as pertinent as it is amusing.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

fuzzy yet solid

it's been quite a week so far! my eyesight's been a little fuzzy lately.

---
tuesday:

i woke up multiple times during the night, and overall was just feeling uncomfortable. i spent an inordinate amount of time on facebook (and youtube) following the two events of the day: the mandela memorial, and the israeli media taking up arms against gary yourofsky.

1.
a) the behaviour of the crowd was shameful. while the focus on mandela brings zuma's failings into sharp relief, there is a time and a place for everything and the memorial was neither of those.
b) obama's speech was amazing.
c) the sign-language interpreter debacle: it takes either immense cajones or unfathomable stupidity to do something like that. wow.
my sister informs me that "wackhead" interviewed him. i'd love to hear how that went!

2.
gary yourofsky is a complete nutter, he's an asshole and he's full of shit. it's always bothered me that he's invited to speak in universities and other such institutions. having said that, though, a lot of what he has to say is entirely valid and his comparison of the meat, dairy and poultry industries to the holocaust is sadly quite appropriate and there's no need for him to apologize to the jewish people. the "animal holocaust" is even worse if you think about it, simply because the animals are being bred and it's not just a couple of generations being wiped out as a "once off". the animals are born into suffering and suffer their entire lives. killing animals for food is not wrong, but the suffering most definitely is.
the media's attempts to discredit him are absolutely pathetic, puerile and shameful.

i returned to the repair shop at jarry with my ski jacket to get the zip repaired, was quoted $12 and happily left it with them. i used the mission to determine whether it's faster to switch lines twice or to simply stay on the orange; overall, the latter is more efficient but the former is less crowded. so now i know.

tuesday was a day of laundry, naps, family, and french. then i went to the gym for kickboxing. i was still feeling sore from the weekend, and holding the thai pads for badger meant that my bruised forearm got cracked non-stop for about twenty minutes. however! in spite of that, when it was my turn to throw, our instructor was amazed by how much i've improved after a couple of drill sessions with her and was so enthusiastic he made us all work until our arms failed.

i can't tell you how pleased and proud i am; and a little scared now because i can't slide back :)

at the beginning of the lesson i was talking about my snowboard hurts - there were four of us in the class, one a much older dude. "snowboarding, eh?" he said and pulled his shirt over his shoulder. he has a giant protrusion near his clavicle caused by tearing a ligament in a snowboarding accident many years ago. i took one look at that and decided that a little stiffness didn't really man anything :P

the boxing instructor overheard me talking to badger on our way out the gym... "always excuses, huh? always excuses."
i explained to him that this time it just hurts, that won't stop me from sparring :P

i hurriedly showered and rushed to la panthère verte, but was disappointed to find them closed! so i walked as quickly as i safely could to aux vivres, which was going strong: they even made me the cutest little icepack so i could tend to my bruises while i ate! the service was excellent, the food was delicious, it was all good. horseman joined me, we went from there to the open mic night. on the way we decided that we totally agree on his friend's lyrics... i'm not sure if i'm interested in putting my work on the disc he's working on. and he doesn't appreciate criticism.

the evening was fun and the guinness went down well, but too soon it was last call for the metro time and so we left.

---
yesterday:

it was not the best of nights. kinda like the night before. i then started the day trying to convert the list of books i'm trying to sell through pg into a format that could be copy / pasted into facebook. between openoffice and facebook the issues were bad enough, everything took forever and eventually, when i was *almost* done, windows surprise restarted for some upgrades leaving me screaming and cursing helplessly at the screen. even though my recent saves were corrupted when my system finally came back online, i'd already done everything enough times that i got the job sorted out fairly soon afterwards.

of course, nobody seems to be interested now that i've finally put the list up :(

...

i returned to the repair shop on jarry to hear that they hadn't fixed the zip because their repair would likely fail within a few days - i really do appreciate their honesty! i was instructed to try a dry-cleaner, and later my local would give me a reasonable quote so that's done. unfortunately my jacket won't be ready until tuesday, and i kinda need one if i want to hit the slopes...

the speakers on mont royal were playing some seriously creepy sounds. i wondered if they hadn't mixed up the tapes and played carols on halloween or something.

i made up for the previous night's miss by eating lunch at la panthère verte, which wasn't bad but wasn't particularly exciting either. after taking my jacket to the dry cleaner i went to sit in the starbucks for an hour and worked on my comic script. i got some fun stuff done, then headed to the gym.

more and more i'm finding the muay thai classes too heavy on the cardio and too light on the technique. it's good to be in a class that forces me to workout properly, but i kind feel like it's carrying too much weight... for example, we literally just ran around in circles for about twenty five minutes yesterday. ugh.

in both classes, i really tried not to get hit in the head too much. unfortunately, that was an integral part of both of them yesterday; during boxing, one kid was jabbing as hard as he would have if we'd been wearing headgear, and i was so pissed off afterwards that i sat stewing until i was sweating. i want to be good for friday's sparring, dammit! and hitting that hard wasn't the point of the exercise :@

during impact i was being hit pretty hard, and inexplicably relaxed just as my partner landed a liver shot - not cool, brain, not cool at all :(

afterwards i sat stretching my very hurt arm (i'd hit the punching bag hard and at a bad angle) and talking to the guy who'd hit me too hard and the iron-haired women who trains everything (she was chaining muay thai, mma sparring and two boxing classes, that's pretty hardcore). one of the guy's parents is israeli, and after questioning my veganism and my isaraeli experience he blurted: "you're very interesting!"

okay, then. i said.

the woman is a mystery to me: i can't tell how old she is (apparently she's my age, but that's from somebody else) and while she's cute and i think she likes me but i'm not sure if i'm interested...

when the pain in my arm got so bad that i was worried i might faint, i packed up and went home. i had a hot bath and hit the supermarket, then found myself staring at my hands while making dinner when i realized that i was almost enjoying myself. that doesn't happen ever. i ate slowly, but enjoyed it a lot more than usual (when i can't eat after training). after dinner i went to bed.

...

redbull's the art of flight documentary is nice until the avalanche sequence, from that point on it's just sensory overload. i can't tell if liked it.

---
today:

i woke up with a sore throat, which feels fine now, after a decent night's sleep. except for the dream i woke up from, which involved my father forcing me to participate in some horrible occult ritual. i don't know if i thwarted his plans on purpose or by incompetence.

...

linguistic revelation of the day: "aktuali" in hebrew comes from french or german, not english!

not the same thing at all, now i have to strike that word off my list of "israeli-isms" that bother me.

...

i ran into the crazy-flexible girl from the gym on the metro and we talked until i had to get off. she has a really interesting history as the child of a brazilian diplomat, and her career plan was so wise that it took me by surprise to hear it coming from one so young. i'm well impressed :)

cafe depot was out of coffee again, this is ridiculous. i managed to make the alternative last longer this time, though, so that's good - the conversation was good, ended too quickly, and i had chinese for lunch before returning home to do laundry, rest and post. now? now some relaxation and more french before training.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

snowed

and the weekend in summary: after obsessing a little over the girl from friday (pmvn), i eventually realized (maybe i'm somehow wrong?) that she's not interested in a second date. which is a bummer, but it was nice to be excited for a change. i wisely rested on saturday, and on sunday had an absolutely killer day on the slopes! almost literally. it was fun :)

it's been a good start to the week, and i'm just beginning to *really* get excited about my south african holiday coming up - just about two more weeks!

---
saturday:

it was a relaxed day spent indoors doing chores. i finally plugged in my leap controller, played around with it for a bit and then installed visual studio so that i can play with the sdk. the guy who was excited about me sent a mail asking if i had any examples of my work to share - i don't, but now i could tell him that i was working on something that i *might* be able to show him when it's done :P

yang picked me up in the evening and we went out to pj's for birthday beers. overall, the evening was fun! but some of it was annoying, because, well, yang can be a bit of a dick. at one point, though, i was trying to advise him on a stupid situation he's gotten himself into and it took so long to explain to him how ridiculous it is that i had a smile on my face when i finally drove the point home: that offended him, and then *i* felt like an asshole. the difference being that i apologized and was pleased afterwards that he actually seems to have gotten the message.

---
sunday:

i got home and into bed much later than expected, and i was certainly not going to wake up four hours later even if it was for a perfect day snowboarding. i removed the duvet from the slip, which made for a far more comfortable night's sleep, and having been off the penicillin for a day my rash had cleared up considerably. i slept beautifully, took my time, dealt with some important emails (like apartment sale surprises and deciding on what dpi to produce the comics with)... then realized i was running out of time and hurriedly finished getting ready.

only i accidentally overloaded the microwave / kettle / toaster circuit using all three simultaneously (which i NEVER do), fortunately my lunch was edible but i had to boil the water and toast the bread in different corners of the apartment...

big mistake: my thermos was filled with a solid blend of coffee, cacao and rum. unfortunately, i forgot to add unfermented sugar as well... the word "grog" came to mind. it made me say AAAAAAAARRRRRRRRR :)

[ooh! update as i type this, i just got a message from pmvn that suggests that i was wrong. we'll see.]

the bus ride just seems so much longer than before. it's now taking two hours instead of an hour and a half, but that half hour is crazy long! when i arrived, i met the argentinian accountant in the amusingly twee sweater who i'd spoken to before and having satisfied himself that i'm not crazy (good lord, how wrong could he be?!) and that i won't load my thermos with rum when i'm driving he agreed that we should rent a car together whenever we want to hit the snow.

the weather was PERFECT. it was a gorgeous day, and i arrived just towards the end of it. the slopes were half ice and half snow:

1) on the black diamond i kept riding that meant (literally) breakneck speeds and a few rather exciting (scary) near-death experiences after clipping. that happened a couple of times before i decided that my poor body had had enough and that i shouldn't simply hit it with the flat of my board. the last rides (only slightly more controlled, no accidents) were still a heck of a rush.

2) on the red i rode just more than half the time, i focused on practicing switching. until the last couple of runs that meant a lot of crashes, and overall it meant very sore thighs (from trying every few seconds). by the end, though, i was totally confident on both sides; even though i know i've got a long way to go until i have the power to really jump and switch (as opposed to small hops or sliding), i've definitely made progress ^_^

a testament to my productivity: i'm properly battered and bruised all over. "if you are not fall, you are not make snowboard" never felt truer!

if an adrenaline habit is wrong i don't wanna be right.

i arrived at the bus fifteen minutes early so i ran in to mcdonald's for fries. fries! how long should it take to get fries? i don't know what the hell the girl was doing, but it was everything but. it must've taken more than five minutes to get my order, leaving me with less than five minutes to eat them before heading out. i arrived back at the stop with half a bag left, racing against mother nature to eat them before -10 degrees turned them from "pleasantly warm" to "ugh".

the ride back was long, but comfortable. i was dehydrated on arrival, though, but fortunately that wasn't a difficult problem to solve.

...

the new bag is AWESOME! unfortunately, until i got used to it i kept banging the board into things which kinda sucked. but by the end of the day, it had made life so much easier! definitely the perfect gift ^_^

...

on getting home:

1) dentist fail: i still can't eat on left side of my mouth. the more i think of my experiences of the last few weeks the angrier i get with him and his incompetence. i definitely won't be going back.

2) after a hot bath that actually hurt, i had to open a window and lie down next to it. in israel it gets so hot that you lie down next to the air conditioner even though you know it's not healthy. just for a few minutes, before you get really cold, and hopefully the perfect counter-sensation doesn't put you to sleep before then.
in canada, the building heating's so hot that you do exactly the same thing but in the opposite direction instead.

3) i was too sore and too tired for anything. anything! it was all i could do to brush my teeth and get back to bed.

---
monday:

i woke up after just more than ten hours' sleep, incredibly good sleep that i've desperately needed for a while! i woke up to the perfect snowstorm, too, and the combination left a silly grin on my face for hours :)

quote of the day: "i'm a woman and i know that when the power goes out i should check the fusebox," chided the caretaker's wife. yes, thank you, if i could only find the damned fusebox i would've known to do that too :/

french conversations: we both feel that an hour is too short, so we're going to lengthen our meetings. funny, later on vfmp would call me to suggest the same thing about our wednesday morning workouts.

cafe depot was out of soya again, and i expressed my bitter disappointment. the nice girl behind the counter offered an alternative, an espresso with non-dairy chocolate and non-dairy whipped cream. "that sounds good! but does the whipped cream have egg in it?"
three of us poured over the ingredients, and i agreed to the swap. the result was delicious. delicious! too delicious, i finished it in a few short minutes and had nothing to nurse for the rest of the hour #firstworldproblems

i went home, thought about resting, realized i didn't have time if i wanted to buy flowers for godmother. so i headed down and made it just in time; the woman working there took forever, i just kind of glazed over and stared as she performed the arrangement ritual. it came out great...

dinner was really nice, though there were a couple of moments when uncle hate antagonized me or vice versa. mostly it was good, though.

---
right, i've now posted all of this, my eye's are feeling fuzzy and i'm ready to crash. my computer battery's irritating me, but i've just bought marilyn manson - lest we forget and between the music and everything i've written here i'm feeling like life's quite alright.

[edit: oh! and i updated she was standing on the sidewalk under a spotlight in the disconnected darkness , i've been working on memorizing it and the modifications were due.]

Saturday, December 07, 2013

resting for snow

i was planning on posting and then heading out to snowboard, but in addition to the time being inconvenient i really do think i should rest a bit more and take care of some chores so that i can enjoy it even more tomorrow.

pg called me to ask me about something and i found myself injecting french into my hebrew: score!
hearing her say "as usual" when i asked how she is made me happy, because for the first time that she's said that to me i know that her "usual" is actually really good. she's upbeat and positive, and i'm really happy for her!

---
the pro-palestinian propaganda machine calling israel's policies "apartheid" is ridiculous, if you disagree then *please* listen to someone who knows a little about apartheid. on a related note, the american studies association's resolution is incredibly disappointing. i'd have thought that an academic group might do some real research before arriving at a conclusion.

...

i find it weird that i've loved skunk anansie since the 90's (like everyone, i guess), and yet only recently heard because of you for the first time...

happy weekend, everyone.

chemical balancing

how very odd. i went on two dates this week, both of them with very attractive girls. the first was better looking in a conventional way, the second in an unconventional way, and they were both great fun to spend time with. but while the first girl left me feeling lukewarm, the second has properly captured my imagination - i haven't stopped thinking about her since we parted yesterday afternoon! and the funny thing about that is i don't even have her phone number, we arranged everything using the dating service's messaging system.

was the enthusiasm she showed for a second date for real?

---

tuesday:

i received a tip from my developer who was fired the day after i was and contacted a guy with a very cool start-up that's just received second-round funding. his excitement to learn about me and my experience was audible over the phone, and turned to heavy disappointment when i explained to him that i won't be able to work while waiting for the permit to arrive...

... there really should be some kind of interim permit, you know? just saying.

---
a week earlier i'd received a bunch of envelopes from my bank, and after flipping through them i understood that i'd have to send in a consent form before receiving my new credit card. whoops! as i finally sat down to handle that, i noticed that they had actually sent the card! it was just hidden well :P
so i activated the card, absent-mindedly signed the consent form, scratched out my signature on the date column and signed in the correct place, then folded the paper and tried to insert it into the pre-paid envelope i received it with. which was entirely the wrong shape, so i had to perform a complicated little series of folds so i could jam it in. wtf?

---
k-twang had met my mother for lunch the day before, and reported that she was looking amazing - mom, if you're reading this, you have no idea how pleased i am to hear this ^_^

---
after good french practice, i watched the first season finale of once upon a time..., which was fun. my enthusiasm had been curbed a little by warnings of shitty writing in the season to come... i've now watched a couple of those, and while it's not of the same caliber it's also not so bad either.

i met horseman at la pantere verte, and we left for an open-mic night when a friend of his joined us. cool place (though i don't recall the name), the first set was really groovy music! i find it weird, though it was cool, that all those who performed got up and did so while the musicians were still playing. while the effect was excellent, it made it very hard to concentrate on the actual words... although in one case, after a couple of pieces that one girl did it became clear that this wasn't necessarily a bad thing. her performance was great, to be fair, but not so much the content...

the second set's music felt soulless even though it was the same guys! they were playing a style that didn't suit them, i guess. we left early.

---
wednesday:

i went straight to bed, and woke up with horrible night sweats in the middle of the night. it was really unpleasant. it's happened every night since (although i think it's already a little better now that i'm off the antibiotics), it's a yucky feeling and even after showering i just haven't been able to get back to sleep properly. so i've been a little tired of late :(

dream: on the beach, a surprising high tide wipes out our phones. we take shelter, where a coy cute girl makes advances and becomes decidedly less attractive the more affectionate we become.

the morning tristar session with vfmp was good, though it was even tougher breathing than usual. and i managed to hurt my back again: it's becoming normal, i guess at whichever point i "get used to it" my muscles will simply have been strengthened appropriately.

oh! the really sexy kickboxer who i'd seen the week before? the smile she flashed at me as she passed me going into the octagon tells me that she got the message i sent her :) [awkwardness over!]

i had a quick shower before the cleaning lady arrived, then headed downtown for a disappointing lunch that was at least a good opportunity to bone up on bone before the french conversation. takeaway from the afternoon: i need to work harder on my french. i've actually - finally! - started focusing on duolingo, which is amazing if you actually use it, and in addition to the girl i met yesterday pushing my buttons she's francophone and for a lot of the time spoke in french, which is perfect for me :)

i ran some errands and returned to a clean apartment (yay!), rested a bit and played some tekken before going to boxing. the boxing class was good, one of the highlights being body-sparring again with the girl who made me feel shit about doing that, this time not only managing to find my targets in spite of her chest but also coming out on top. i have evolved!

"could you please show me how to dislocate my shoulders to punch?" was not the question i'd meant to ask our instructor, but those were the words that came out anyway.
"what?! why the hell would you want to do that?"
i looked at him sheepishly.
"umm, that's not what i meant - "
"oh, you mean 'pop' your shoulders. alright."
...
"so it's like dancing?"
"exactly."

---
after a quick shower i felt that the skin on my chest and back were irritated. just in case anyone forgot that i'm a hypochondriac, and that i'm perpetually worried about picking up ringworm from the gym, i wasn't happy but i couldn't tell if it was anything serious or not.

---
i hurriedly ate and left for my date without any protein bars on me - how irresponsible! anyway, i was pleasantly surprised to find that the iranian girl with the dodgy profile picture is beautiful, and time flew while we talked. suddenly it was really late and i was on track to miss the last metro home, so we rushed out, she walked me most of the way to the station and i made it *just* in time.

---
thursday:

the night was slightly better, but i was still exhausted and had trouble not sleeping in the dentist's chair. i think he likes me as much as i like him: i'm not sure i'll be going back there again. i hope my teeth are good enough now to last me a while without treatment.

i headed off to mcgill afterwards, with my mouth still anesthetized, to have a chat with the graduate adviser. she seemed nice, but it appears that the university would not be very accommodating regarding my history and i'd essentially have to do their entire master's degree from scratch. not that that would be a terrible thing, mind, but it would be nice to get more than one or two course credits when i've already done more seminars than i'd need.

i can't believe i didn't think to ask them about their phd program! i can't believe that there's a part of me that thinks that that's a serious option.

after a quick lunch i fell into the deepest sleep from which waking up seemed practically impossible. i was woken by a message from my french partner and pretty much sleepwalked downtown. we had a good chat nonetheless, after which i returned for a bit more rest. i sent a nice message to the previous night's date and got a nice one back. i think that's as far as that's going.

jiu-jitsu: i'd spoken to the beast and informed him that i wouldn't be getting back into the ring with him anytime soon, but that doesn't mean i won't partner with him for jiu-jitsu. how he managed to fall on my face during a transition and later knee me (softly, at least) in the head astounded both of us, he was very embarrassed and he eventually made a point of doing all the moves really slowly. after that everything was fine - from his side. from mine, i just couldn't get a handle on things and when firas asked us if anyone had any questions i had so many that there was no way i was going to raise my hand :$

my confidence was blown, and i didn't want to roll afterwards but the kid who usually demotivates me made me feel bad about saying no, so i acquiesced. after a short struggle he had my back, but i managed (somehow) to hip escape and the next thing i knew i was throwing a leg over and had him in full mount! he was almost as surprised as i was, and i suddenly felt much better about myself.

badger was working privately with someone in the octagon and i asked if i could join them for drills; she was only to happy to oblige, and we spent the next hour or so working on counters, stepping with strikes and spinning out. it was AWESOME. and i learned a new punch, the short cross, which is now my favourite :)

when i said goodnight to the kickboxing instructor one of the girls, who's studying to be a yogi, told me she'd figured out which exercises would be best for me for leg flexibility and spent about ten minutes running through them. very cool!

...

the previous night's skin irritation had gotten much worse. i was most unimpressed.

i did plenty of duolingo exercises, then went to bed.

---
friday:

the rash was worsening, and i decided that it was time to see a professional. before that, though, the fire alarm went off while i was on the can and that is *not* good timing! it was a false alarm, too, which made it so much worse :(
the only positive thing that came out of that was getting an opportunity to pay january's rent before it gets uncomfortably hurried (or i forget), so my holiday is now pretty much all sorted out :D

i decided to try asking a pharmacist first. i walked all the way there thinking about what i'd say, arrived, and decided that i am far too uncomfortable with that. i couldn't figure out how to approach the subject, and there's not even a vague sense of privacy. so i walked all the way back to the metro and headed to the clinic. i had to wait for ages - as always - and i slept much better sitting in their chairs than i have been in bed. the doctor who saw me was fascinatingly maternal in her care, she was really kind and quite patient too.

so... guess who's developed an allergy to penicillin? that's right!

i am NOT impressed. but at least that explains all the week's discomfort.

...

i was going to have lunch at subway. ordering in french has become a goal of mine, and i'm *almost* ready! at least now i've overheard someone else say "douze pouces" :P
the guy behind the counter didn't hear me say falafel, and took out the bread and cut it before asking again. they were out of falafel. that kinda sucked for both of us.

so instead i messaged aota and newk'd and asked if they'd like to lunch, newk'd wasn't available but aota joined me at the "usual" indian restaurant. it was really good as always :)

on the way back she shouted something at me that made me smile: "stop saying that you were fired! nobody wanted to fire you, if you hadn't forced <the cto>'s hand you'd still be here. you resigned, and you got a decent severance package anyway."

i didn't have a lot of time for anything other than going early to the location of the second date; i hadn't thought to look it up on a map and so i stopped at the jean talon station to do that before switching lines. that turned out to be an excellent idea, because it was a five minute walk from there and not downtown like i'd thought...

the date was great, as i said at the beginning of the post, she's disarmingly charming and when we parted i had a spring in my step.

i returned home and would have been getting ready for boxing if i hadn't suddenly developed an inexplicable headache; i rested for a few hours until vfmp messaged me to invite me to gaming night. my mission: to bring a female green pepper. i included that in my regular shopping, had a quick shower to counter the fact that i was overheating again (what the hell?) and then headed over.

it was a night of ye olde nintendo games, great dinner and carcassonne. vfmp's ultra-competitive brother was really bitter when i coerced vfmp to shut down one of his farmers; he won anyway and it was all supposed to be in good spirits, but he managed to make us feel bad about it :(

lesson for the night: stm's schedules are just fine, it's the damned "transit" app that's screwy! i left too late to make the metro and had to shuffle around in the cold until an unoccupied taxi eventually came my way.