Thursday, January 31, 2013

metro moments

i thought the man sitting next to me was looking at me funny, but then he pulled out his cane and i figured he was simply blind and curious as to who had sat down next to him. then he commented on my mittens, and i responded before we both returned to staring straight ahead and i got into my music. he wished me a good day when he left.

on the way out i saw a woman very busily walking up the down escalator, moving just quickly enough to stay in the same place. another woman shouted at her as she passed her, and eventually the first woman realized that she'd picked the wrong side.

dungeon crawl

ugh. i was up all night feeling terrible for reporting something i haven't reported yet: the more i thought about it, the more i realized that cam2's a really bad fit for a start-up and i can't keep my mouth shut with a clear conscience.

pg was tossing and turning all night too.

i played 10000000 until i could sleep, and am now mid-dream but my alarm's gotten me up.

mail clear

while pg's been feeling unwell (with me in charge, i think it works better the other way around), i've spent the evening going through emails that have been piling up. then i was stopped by a really cool short story about a buffalito that was recommended by howard taylor, and i'm now a third of the way through and really loving it.

and here's some news that's not new but no less interesting for that: bolivia legally protecting nature's rights. i never heard of that before. good for them!

little days

my mother suggests i stop keeping track of the details, but i think that's how this whole blogging thing got started. on the one hand, i should just stop. on the other?

the darkness of the unknown.

---

sunday night:
fluxx in an english pub seemed like an appropriate way to burn the couple of hours between buses. we picked up the last subway sandwich served for the evening (the guy behind the counter wasn't happy to be working until closing time) and returned to the bus station.

---

monday:

the toilets were unavailable, and there was a worryingly long line for the bus. we were most fortunate to board when there were still two adjacent seats available.

i finished the fudge while thinking about not being able to brush my teeth until the morning.

it was a long, restless, uncomfortable bus ride. we returned home under a pink sunrise, and had a proper fight before going to bed; related to the usual miscommunications.

---

it was slow going when we eventually woke up; it was refreshing to walk through the snow to go shopping. the morning's fight was over but i was conscious of the lack of words passing between us.

passing torn bills isn't cool - the indian fast food place we ate at before the movie almost got the jump on us.

---

i don't know what the hell people who complained about django unchained were expecting! it's what happens when a director has the power to transport us back in time to right a wrong, and it's definitely one of tarantino's crowning achievements. it's clever, it's fun, it's beautifully done; there was a lot of violence, but i do believe it was entirely appropriate.

---

in the evening our caretaker returned a key and promised to deliver the rest (uh, huh) while i was on my way to deal with other people's laundry. i really don't like handling my neighbours' undergarments so that i can use the machines and i'm sure they don't like it either.

we ate too much and i wiped out on one piece.

---

tuesday:

i had long beautiful dreams. i find that more and more, i'm sure i've slept enough but when i wake up i'm so perfectly comfortable and still tired and i think that another half an hour or hour will make all the difference, but it never does.

i spent the first couple of hours catching up, then found myself playing with "big man" fire. i need to back off while still saying what i've got to say: i might let you know how that works out.

i spent ages deep in system configuration, and eventually pulled myself out of it to watch the hockey. the game took a lot longer than i expected and pg bailed on the wall climbing, so we did tabata during one of the breaks and it totally buggered me up (i must be doing it right).

ice hockey is on the verge of being an extreme sport, and it's great watching a game when supporting the local team is supporting a winner: go habs!

-warm bodies is to zombies what twilight is to vampires: a pathetic twist pandering to the weak-minded who cannot deal with the essential monster. my opinion is based on the trailer, which i found disturbing. it's, like, super-advanced trolling.

pg didn't really dig detective conan, we booked another weekend in sauveur (this time, a room a *short* walk from the mountain), and i passed out.

---

today:

it was bloody *warm*. uncomfortably so, and a bit wet. have i mentioned no longer being a fan of positive degrees?

i began my day pondering tact and a future that hinges on it. then i received a fax that made me a bit emotional; the rest of my day was spent babysitting - newk'd on personal issues and cam2 on his distinct lack of focus and professionalism.

...

what the hell is up with montrealers?! it's at least six degrees out, and the metro feels like twice or thrice that, yet they're all keeping their coats on!! shit, i was so hot i couldn't put mine back on even when i got outside!

pg hasn't been feeling well today - i had hoped she'd be up for the wall, but i guess it's another night in.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

only the fax, ma'am

i'm putting aside my usual day-to-day to note that this one is very special: i just received a very official piece of paper informing me that canada likes me enough to grant me permission to work here for two years.

in other words, all i have left to do now is convince a customs official that i'm okay and then i can finally start making myself useful, and get paid for it too.

limbo over ^_^

Monday, January 28, 2013

junk and relatives

let this post begin on a sad note, discussing k-twang and our aunt. on wednesday afternoon our aunt and i spoke about the website she wants to put together, and she ranted a little about how unhelpful k-twang was. i thought to myself that it's a good thing she's so tolerant (she really is) as it's nigh impossible for her to put herself in others' shoes. asking a designer / web developer about putting together a site is like needing an apartment and asking a construction engineer or architect when you should be looking for a real estate agent. lucky for her, i said, i'm both an engineer and an agent, and that's how i knew what kind of solution to look for.

the thing is, there's something that's tough to ignore and that's k-twang's (alleged) response to her being along the lines of "i've decided not to take on private work". assuming that's the case, there's no need to say it like that. and an attempt to direct her wouldn't have cost anything.

---

thursday:

i was up early to lie in bed thinking about immigration officials and how i'm going to present myself. and, of course, how i'm going to deal with being on the wrong foot when i'm grilled for the second time. not that we've been wasting time or not enjoying ourselves at all, but we've been in limbo since november and to be turned away after all we've been through would be very disappointing indeed.

not to mention that my initial impressions of montreal weren't wrong: it really is magic.

---

i got up with the name "kurt vonnegut" in my head without recalling who he was, and never having read any of his work. i found some quotes of his, some of which are a bit meh and some of which are very clever indeed.

sometimes "early" means "on time". i may have mentioned this before, but i used to be excessively punctual until i completed the officers' course.

the day felt a little colder - it simply *must* be psychological. that sentiment's reinforced by a weekend shivering in much warmer weather.

sensation of the day: time flies, and automation is awesome when it works properly.
obstacle of the day: php by reference is mind-numbingly horrible and made me feel like i was trapped at the event horizon of a black hole.
lesson of the day: "only one focus" doesn't mean that marketing executives won't unleash surprises.

bets are interesting things. aota organized a nexus 10 and used $1000 hyperbole to describe how difficult it was to obtain. "you're on", i said, and opened a chat session with overclocker to ask if he could get one to me by the end of next week. "sure," he told me.
"how about that $1000?"
"we didn't shake on it."
not that i would have taken her up on it. if i'd thought it through i wouldn't have tried, as i really didn't mean to belittle her achievement and i hope i didn't have any less than humorous effects.

...

there's something special about saying goodbye for a long weekend and receiving a note of appreciation from my hopefully-soon-to-be boss.

---

pg and i headed off to take the accreditation exam, and we were a little nervous about the knots. our examiner was a really friendly guy whose only interest was in seeing that we were confidently competent, and we did fine! no tricks, no tough questions, and we were good to go ^_^

it was crowded until late, by which time we were already grimacing with sore arms and fingers. in the future we'll be arriving later to get a better selection. i was super proud of myself for some of the routes i managed :D

---

observation: it's now 2013, and some of my favourite items of clothing are a freebie troop jacket i acquired as a teenager and double-lined baggy mr price pants i bought before emigrating in 2000, both of which i'm happy to rate for weather reaching temperatures in the "****ing freezing" range.

---

after the wall we treated ourselves to our favourite chinese place, finally remembering to only order one meal (okay, and a starter) that was still too much for the both of us. absolutely delicious.

---

the following incident is still haunting me, it's deeply troubling to see just how far a person can fall and consider just how easy it is to do so. please don't read this if you're eating. a beggar was shuffling around the metro platform on his knees begging, which in itself is decidedly undignified. he then got up to approach two girls standing next to us, but he didn't move on when they refused. instead, he got this pained look on his face and doubled over for a second, after which some pee dribbled from his crotch to the floor. just then a well-dressed black man walked up to put some coins in his still outstretched hand, and told him to pick himself up and get a job: "three years ago i was where you are, man, and look at me; i got a job, and now have a home, a wife and three kids." the veracity of his story notwithstanding, one must question his assumption that this man is in the same position as he was. the beggar threw away the one cent coins and limped away with one hand cupping his butt. i presume that he didn't only piss himself.

---

friday:

we definitely didn't get enough sleep. after super quick packing we headed down to the grand central station, then i thought about the bus not being a train and google maps showed us the way.

getting on the bus was easy enough, and i spent the next hour or so quite disappointed that we'd picked seats that made it impossible to take photos of the majestic scenery.

i spent most of the trip finishing on the rain-slick precipice of darkness (the wrong way) and posting. my belly ached and i couldn't sleep comfortably. i felt exhausted but fine by the time we arrived in toronto, and after stopping for coffee we headed out to discover that it's not easy to get lost in downtown toronto. also, that the toronto underground isn't heated and that's just bloody weird. it's not nearly as cold as montreal, but i was feeling it more keenly :S

friday night with the family was great, minus my pouring far too much whiskey for myself.

---

saturday:

yesterday morning was slow and easy. two items seen on facebook increased my faith in humanity: people are awesome 2013 and j.k. rowling being awesome.

on the way to the bus my cousins took us for a really good thai lunch, and then we said goodbye.

conclusion for the day: niagara is prettier in winter. another google map fail scored us a short walk, but we found the hotel easily enough and the automated check-in was a pretty cool short cut. we got a nice hotel room - it's been years since i last stayed in an actual hotel room! - and we caught the view of the falls at dusk, walking along from opposite the american until the horseshoe, then taking my cold camera fingers to heat up while pg and i enjoyed delicious vegetarian mexican food and drank too much tequila (just kidding! it was a fine amount) at "tacos 'n tequila mexican cantina". we passed through the frankenstein haunted house (the live dude was pretty creepy), hit the house of fudge for double dark chocolate, then returned to our room for an extremely comfortable and elderly early night.

---

sunday:

i suffered violent south african dreams involving matric mates, new weapons tech and genocidal anti-semitism, then one about working on two start-ups with two people who turned out to be friends (this almost brought both down). i woke up to starbucks coffee and fudge for breakfast while snapping pics of the view and filling out more of this post.

for second breakfast i had hot oatmeal and home fries to balance things out, after which we were joined by k-twang and his fiancée for a glorious afternoon of tourism: pics by the falls, the games arcade (we won fingerboards! haven't played with them since we were kids), very funny bowling, an insanely huge indian lunch and air hockey. when they had to go we continued in the same vein, taking a turn on the ferris wheel and hitting another games arcade (i rule at dance dance revolution, pg kicks my ass at pirates of the caribbean pinball). afterwards i realized that we didn't have too many opportunities to get to the bus station left so we headed here; soon we'll be departing for montreal.

all in all, niagara was a silly, fun experience that has no relation to anything and afforded us an opportunity to catch up with family. not a bad weekend at all.

Friday, January 25, 2013

hiking in snow - part ii

so sue me, it's been hard to post this week. perhaps i'll be caught up by the end of the weekend.

---

saturday night:

pg wasn't the only one levelling up on saturday night: in spite of my difficulties looking right i made some strides with my goofy style. i didn't totally suck, at least, which to my mind feels like an achievement.

we had a quick bite (salad) at mcdonald's - we should've had something more substantial back at the slopes but we mistakenly thought we'd find other options - then headed back to the motel through the gentle snow. it was another long after a physically tough day, but i was strangely glad for the exercise and the morning's sore back was stiff but most definitely better. the hot bath was followed by perfect sleep.

---

sunday:

tool's parabol was in my head when i woke up, the words fitting perfectly with lying pre-alarm with pg and just enjoying the immediate, specific, eternal moment that didn't care how much my neck and back hurt.

in retrospect we probably should have taken a taxi to the mountain, but our hike through a real blizzard was as enjoyable as it was tough. we stopped at mcdonald's to warm up and have tea and muffins, and i laughed when we realized that the storm ended just as we'd found shelter.

my arms were tired.

our final stretch to the slopes was covered by an incredible sight: the sky was half sunny blue and half threatening cloud, swirled together in the shape of a giant yin yang. it was magically mystical ^_^

i thought we needed breakfast before gearing up, but the vegetarian portions were all lunch-sized which was just a little much. i think that was the point when i really started worrying about how snowboarding fits into our budget...

we started off by doing all the wrong runs - the greens weren't where i expected them to be (bad signage! bad!) and a cold wind was blowing. it would get progressively worse as the day wore on, and while both of us made headway and the joy of it being such a beautiful day was not at all diminished, constantly dealing with either moguls or ice eventually wore us out and we called it quits about an hour earlier than we needed to.

that did, however, afford us a perfect beer and dinner in the clubhouse. it was warm and cosy, with a dj spinning delightful electro and everything was just groovy.

we did a fast walk to the stop, grabbing mcdonald's tea before the wait, and the ride back was uneventful.

"beggar lane" between montreal's bus depot and the metro isn't a good place to eat an apple.

i researched possible ways of handling our trip to niagara, and gave up and went to bed after discovering that buses are better (and far cheaper) than trains.

---

monday:

monday morning's dreams were chained and interestingly weird. the only one i recall involved pressing charges against spot's mom for assault after telling her the truth about her failed responsibilities as a parent.

---

news for the day: k-twang's engaged! congratulations :)

---

my back was definitely feeling better.

my skinny smart trousers are... well... skinny. i agree that they make me look all grown-up, which is possibly why i just can't bring myself to like them.

in the office, in spite of my not-yet-employed status, i have become the go-to guy for emergencies. also, for pretty much everything technical and in all levels of technical. this is flattering, but it also means that i'm constantly being side-tracked by others' urgent issues, which is exhausting.

i've re-engineered javadoc comments to work in all the different languages that are used by the company, and this has opened up exciting new possibilities! they're only in theory until i get around to writing the parser, but it's useful enough and generic enough that i should probably aim for a public release once it's done.

i walked into the bathroom twice on monday; i remember this because both times it smelled horrible. what does a person eat to leave a smell so bad that it lasts over three hours?!?!

i spent the afternoon hopelessly confused by a partner company's head-breaking coding flaws and being upset over their comments that are not only written in french, but use non-standard accented letters and so cannot be opened properly in most editors. WTF?!

it was a long day with not much achieved. the biggest issue revolved around the suggestion of renting a car for the weekend: to drive or not to drive? pg made the best case, as she doesn't feel comfortable winter-driving in quebec and i can't be relied on for long distances because of my neck.

the other thing on my mind was my hard-lining the new guy; he's a nice guy but i just can't gauge his abilities. half the time i think he's doing fine and the other half i'm almost certain that he's totally lost. i don't want to push him but i kinda need to push him :(

i went straight to my aunt's for a pg-less dinner - pg apparently wasn't feeling well and we suspect that the cold and the weekend's exertion may have had something to do with it.

the food was delicious as always. we ate far too much. yang had invited a couple of friends over and everyone was in higher, louder spirits than usual. my copy of
i draw comics
was waiting for me! finally!

i got a ride to the metro: it was so bitterly cold outside, and so toasty-warm in the metro.

---

tuesday:

in the morning i sorted out our reservations for the weekend, the buses and the hotel. the only really irritating part of the process was clicking the back button to check something and unwittingly discarding my shopping cart of four bus tickets; not only was it a mission to redo all the tickets, but one of them had gone up in price since the original booking and i had to toss in another $30 :(

new shoe blues: were my serious salomons not designed for dancing? i have the exact same problem with my caterpillars, the top of my left foot pushes painfully against the boot with every step. it has occurred to me that the issue might be with my foot rather than my boots.

2.5 phone hours can take their toll on the ears - a number of discussions on skype that devolved into rambling, each following immediately after the other. i'm sure i've mentioned not liking phones before, and skype's not different.

there was one special moment, though, while my hopefully future boss spoke and what i heard were angels singing (i told him this): there's an idea i've been toying with that's really exciting, and it seems like he's had the same idea and will be happy to let me implement it on his infrastructure ^_^

someone asked me to evaluate wordpress, and i'm now embarrassed to admit that i googled reviews and comparisons instead of just downloading and installing it. now that i've seen it in action and understand its plugin system, i'm well impressed.

i was tough on the new guy on tuesday, but i think he's beginning to pick up the slack. i remain cautiously optimistic.

the walk to buy lunch was particularly icy - the sidewalks have been quite dangerous this week. there've been a few almost-incidents where my mind has wondered and i've barely managed to catch myself. also, tuesday was the day the temperature really dropped and it would only improve on friday.

in the office, in the late afternoon, i was overcome by a sudden urge for a vegan-friendly over-sized cookie from the machine. i had bills only, and the machine doesn't do bills, so i explained the need to make change to aota. she laughed at "the cookie monster" and dragged him around from cubicle to cubicle to beg for dimes. we all had a laugh and i eventually got my cookie, but pg was horrified when she heard the story. the next day aota caught up with me while i was eating lunch and handed me cookie money: i was a little concerned until i remembered that i'd bought a loaf of bread for her the day before :P

i spent the afternoon playing with mac scripts (which kind of worked) and lost track of the time. we had a belaying course to get to and i rushed out - then rushed back in again to switch shoes - then rushed home to change and head to allez up with pg.

it was freakin' COLD, man.

pg went from irritable to enthusiastic as the course progressed, it was surprisingly tough to get a handle on the knot but everything else was clear enough. the instructor did scare us all a little by testing us all the time, and assuring us that this would be the mode of the actual accreditation exam.

a couple of climbs and some awesome bouldering later, we were both quite pleased with ourselves.

note 1: rad soldiers' turn time limit sucks. it would be fine if playing a turn wasn't such a chore - there's such a wait for the game to load and then at least three clicks and waits to get into each game, so if i want to play a turn i need to make sure i have the time and patience to do so. the play itself may be fun and the points system is totally sensible, but overall the experience is a drag.

note 2: google maps, do you really think that waiting twenty minutes in the freezing cold (around -20 before the wind-chill) is a better option than walking two blocks to wait two???

note 3: israel's election results demand that i retract all of my previous statements regarding the state of its government. the democracy is alive and well, if the people don't want fairness and responsible governance they have every right to not have those things. pg and i have voted with our feet, and i'm more inclined than ever to be confident in my decision to leave.

note 4: aota has been contacted by the federal government regarding a minor concern over my papers. this is AMAZING news, because it means that they're finally processing them and that we're really getting somewhere!

---

wednesday:

-27 before wind-chill. apparently -40 after. at that temperature it's hard to really feel the difference, except psychologically from concerns over freezing eyeballs (we've heard stories).

i should have said no to extending an already long skype call to include "one more thing". i was already past my limit, and during the next fifteen minutes i think i lost time (i might just have been distracted) twice and was embarrassed to be asked my opinion when i hadn't a clue what we'd been talking about :$

exhaustion, sore eyes and a headache followed. i enjoyed some success with the mac and linux scripts, then left early to do the test. earlier i'd spoken to my aunt and she'd suggested that being outside wasn't a good idea; in the short bursts between the office, the metro and our apartment it didn't seem much worse than usual, but we took her advice anyway and i crashed on arrival. after dinner i did some research into customizable transactional website solutions and went to bed early.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

hiking in snow - part i

it's been a long, exhausting, and pleasurable weekend. now i could use another one to sleep this one off. i'm of half a mind to stop posting to my blog because i'm investing time in details of my life instead of in other things; but this is a habit that's really tough to break.

---

friday:

friday was super-relaxed. i had a short chat with my sister, and got myself invited to a pub to watch a hockey game :)

i finally finished what i'd been working on all week: stupid mac workaround, in order to perform a build using the customized scripts i had to do everything *except* press the button marked "build". the errors qt threw at me became progressively less helpful as i worked through it, reinforcing my conviction that the global software development ecosystem is properly broken.

a positive experience almost made up for all of that: i automated something using microsoft's robocopy: what a cool tool!

having finally achieved my personal goals for the week, and having done a bit of reviewing and coaching while i was at it, i finished my day with a feeling of exhilaration: i was off for dinner and a movie to be followed by a weekend snowboarding!

the reality of being in limbo: i thought pg was getting comfortable, but while she's not unhappy she's not ready to do the things she wants to because everything reminds her of how transient this experience is. until the papers are in order there's really not much we can do about that.

aux vivres is a great place, but a little different from what we were expecting. the food was great, and not too expensive, but we ordered too much and overeating doesn't feel good.

we mistimed the movies and pg didn't really want to hang around for an hour; also, snowboarding. so we returned home and went to bed early.

---

saturday:

not so early with the waking up. when the alarm went off i remembered that we'd be able to stay on the slopes until late so the early bus would entail unnecessary suffering. speaking of suffering, i woke up with a really sore back (and neck, "the usual" even if it's been ages). it griefed me all the rest of the weekend.

i used the time gained constructively by playing on the rain-slick precipice of darkness: it's just too freakin' clever by half, even if it is a linear narrative. it doesn't prevent it from being good.

the snow report for the weekend hadn't been looking so hot, and i'd made my peace with relying on snow machines. boy, was i thrilled to see a surprise 30cm!

we had very heavy bags, although not much heavier than a regular snowboarding excursion, and my back didn't like that. what my back *did* like, and the rest of me not so much, was my troop jacket. i've had that jacket for at least half my life, and while i used to wear it a lot it's spent the past few years filling closet space. it's super-heating ability is properly useful over here! only towards the end of sunday did the temperature drop enough to warrant wearing it, though, and i suffered the excess heat on our walk to the metro :(

pg with her snowboard is simply irresistible.

i had an unpleasant moment at the station when i couldn't find the confirmation number for our tickets in my inbox: in desperation i checked the trash folder and it was there.
1. thank you gmail for storing deleted items.
2. thank you gmail for deleting an item i'd marked as unread. ???

why on earth would the depanneur (kiosk) need my postal code "for statistics"? perhaps i shouldn't have given it to them.

i made a reservation for the belaying course at the climbing wall (finally!) and we boarded the bus. i flipped through a couple of french lessons from a book i received ages ago, then tried to nap for the rest of the ride.

---

the long, hard, expensive way:

it's tough finding cheap places to stay near a ski spot, but there were a couple that fit the bill and seemed to be comfortably close. have i mentioned that google maps has a tendency to miss? well, shit. trudging along in the snow with heavy bags and boards trying to figure out how to cross the damned highway wasn't a lot of fun.

princess pg lets me know when she doesn't like something, and in those conditions letting me know became ceaseless commentary. not helpful.

eventually we came upon a crossroads, with a sign bearing a question mark and an arrow. that seemed to me to be somebody's idea of a joke, but we decided to walk in that direction anyway. the sign turned out to be for an information centre.

"oh, no, that's far away. and from the reports we've had you probably don't want to go there anyway. of course, there are taxis; from here to there won't cost you more than $25."
in my head i heard the sound of $65 being flushed down the toilet. but they found us a place, a much more reasonable distance and quite affordable! at twice the price. and, okay, maybe not much closer?

i don't know. we'd come to enjoy ourselves, not haggle and stress nor get lost. the women seemed helpful, and the motel they sent us to wasn't the first on their list. it was apparently the only one with rooms available, though.

fine, we said, and walked. we took a wrong turn at first because the map we were given was sideways (north is the right edge? why?!) but we corrected quickly, and whether or not it was closer the motel was certainly less complicated to get to.

it was a long, long walk though.

---

at least it was a nice place, all warm and cosy and romantic. we changed into our gear so as to carry as little as possible and walked the long stretch back and then some to the mountain. pg sorted out the season passes and we were good to go.

so:
1. pg was great! she's really getting the hang of it and there were a few awesome moments.
2. one of my bindings almost came loose. the guys at the shop were cool about it and pointed me to the table and screwdrivers outside. my hands needed the hot chocolate after that more than the rest of me.
3. for the first time i understood why clearing snow off your board is important: at those temperatures it freezes properly, and ice doesn't slide. at all. it's freaky and i almost took a nasty dive coming off the lift.
4. there's nothing like big air. by accident. and crash-landing onto flat ice.

to be continued...

Friday, January 18, 2013

minimal resilience

i'm not going to discuss chemical toilets at temperatures around -20. i'll briefly mention a weird minute or two when some bright spark scaled and opened up a fire extinguisher right next to us and damn that's nasty. but that was it for the downers:
the dance floor was massive and packed with happy bouncy people and it's the first time i've been glad to not have personal space.
it was that ideal vibe with powerful minimal backing beats; for those of you who know what i'm talking about when i say "good party", igloofest is really special!!!

although at that temperature, it *is* kinda tough to know if the smile frozen on your face is figurative or literal.

---
wednesday:

apocalypse dreaming, driving with ripley while under attack

and on the third day he accessed the mac. lo! it was a mess and it tattled a tale of moonlighter's bad svn usage. i'd have it out with him the next day, explaining to him in what i felt was in no uncertain terms that when you do a dirty, panicked and hurried change you should still make a branch for it in the svn: i'm beginning to believe that -someone and i have developed the best best practices for svn that exist. perhaps i should publish them.

i booked a cheap (cheaper than bus tickets) motel in saint sauveur for the weekend, so we're good to go!

when the supermarket self service works it's fantastic. when it doesn't, it's not only uncomfortable because there are people waiting and there's nobody else to point fingers at, but because you have to go and wait in another queue which you could have breezed through earlier :(

vmware workstation is an absolute pleasure to work with. switching between a 32 bit and 64 bit ubuntu machine is so comfortable and the installation assistance so smooth that i actually enjoyed the experience!

a moonlighter positive: apparently the presence effect works over skype, too.

---
there was some unpleasantness in the office, and only later i'd discover what had happened.

one of the guys got fired, and this is in a small office where everyone's really close. the guy in particular is, to use aota's word, a gentlemen; decent, friendly, clearly the kind of person you can trust. the thing is, we had an executive visiting from the states who's come from american corporate culture (and, not to mention the specific company by name, from one of the most notoriously back-stabbing corporate cultures in america). after the guy had been informed he was to leave, and while he was (virtually) packing his bags, the executive took it upon himself to harass and bully him while "keeping an eye on him".

wtf?! it's a start-up, the kind of culture in which communication and a sense of value need to be fostered, one in which you keep in touch even with those who've left. even if you don't give a shit about the employees as people, which you should, it's bad business to demotivate everyone.

what was rule no. 1? oh, yeah: don't be an asshole.

---
thought on the way home: all the snow's gone. winter's gonna have to start all over again.

pg prepared a big dinner, after which i was full and exhausted and i called the night early.

---
thursday:

i had lots of weird dreams, the end of which being landing on a beach with the tide going crazy and finding myself trapped between a polar bear and a lion.

another late start - it's harder and harder to get up these days.

the cold wind in my eyes
does nothing to chill the warmth
of a bright blue and white morning
crunching beneath my feet


the new guy uses a lot of paper, gets lost on his virtual desktop and yesterday we discovered that he's been connected to the wrong network which explains all of his access issues.
*sigh*

i also discovered that macs need restarting too. i don't know what that's about. my day was interesting and mostly successful, my mind was all over the place in that style known as "organized chaos". i was quite proud of myself when i left.

define irony: thinking about how the multitasking truism doesn't seem to apply to me and walking straight past the station i was headed for.

poetry is when you make perfect sense
and it's completely incomprehensible
or
is it the other way around?


---
i'm really pleased i made the first igloofest. there're still two days of this one and four more weekends to go, but we're off snowboarding this weekend and one of the next two we're going to visit the family in toronto and niagara.

decisions, decisions.

---
holy crap - the dude who outsourced his job to china? what an asshole. what a genius!

i've been hearing great things about tesla, and elon musk is my hero anyway. but i hadn't heard about tesla's free solar charging stations. to quote overclocker:
if i was the type of person that drives a $65,000 car and lives in California... there would be no second thoughts about this

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

responsiliability

but first, a word on inappropriate behaviour. "academic" behaviour, no less - it's not okay for journals to be keeping papers inaccessible. journals used to be the best way to disseminate information and to ensure it's quality, but now we have the internet and all they do is get in the way. it's unethical, it's primitive, and it should be stopped.

---
gods, i need to get my work permit so that i can comfortably invest in a real computer. this netbook is driving me demented.

---
monday:

the weather has been too warm. i spent the day on long emails and upsetting the cto (i'd been talking to certain people without consulting him), suffering a long and boring presentation (i didn't have the heart to tell the guy i wasn't interested) and discovering that there's a manpower need that people i know might be able to fill.

the new guy worries me, i can't tell if he knows what he's doing or is completely lost :(

something sparked - boredom, perhaps? i don't have anything on my kindle that's really interesting me right now - and i opened my shakespeare app to lose myself in the sonnets again. it's been a long time.

pg and i played a great game of carcassonne (we used the river pieces, they're pretty cool), watched more one piece and then i got seriously stuck in to on the rain-slick precipice of darkness. it was late before i enjoyed kick monday and put myself to bed. that video is fun, but as i said to scrapper, it made me feel good and sad simultaneously. hopeful, perhaps, that a cyberpunk future is nigh.

---
today:

i woke up from crazy dreams into a nostalgic sense of a misty cape town morning; somehow something of the weather outside had seeped indoors and i was reminded of running to school one misty morning, tumbling and skinning my hands properly and having to get a tetanus shot. it was my first (to my knowledge, at least) injection, and i tensed and bent the needle as it went into my shoulder. not an experience to render one comfortable with needles.

it was tough getting up and i was lucky to manage it seeing as my alarm managed to turn itself off :S

the sonnets drove me crazy on the train this morning (and on the way back); i'm getting somewhere but it's really tough to unpack so much into a visual package that's as clear as the words aren't.

the day was interesting. i levelled up on server configuration and was having such a satisfying time on the mac (i keed) that i almost missed dinner :P
the big news of the day was a long chat with the cto and my future employer. it seems i'm making a very good impression and they're not only willing to shell out more cash for me but they're happy to allocate me responsibility to match. i do hope i'm not biting off more than i can chew!

...

ah! the caretaker finally fixed our balcony door. just in time, too, because there's an arctic storm coming.

zomg pg's desserts are decadent. chocolate covered strawberries and raspberries ftw.

Monday, January 14, 2013

the other side of the mountain

pg and i just had an argument that was essentially a rehash of a rather long-running one; the difference being that i think, for the first time, i have finally grasped the breadth of the divide between the way the two of us think. and that has two effects on me: first, it makes me realize how inappropriate my approach to certain things is with her, and by extension with others who i've interacted with with similar issues over the years. second, that her achievements and choices command an even higher level of respect for the simple reason that i cannot fathom doing things the way she would. the effect on her is that she's now mad at me :(

that's the now, but it's really not representative of the weekend. simply put, yesterday's snowboarding was childishly exciting and exhilarating:

1. i'm really proud of pg for her first day of snowboarding, she's already handling way better than i did my first time.

2. goofy really does change one's perspective 180 degrees.

3. the moguls almost killed me. after a few relaxed runs escorting pg and a couple of speedy black diamonds, i picked a black route with a red diamond warning that it hadn't been groomed. i was about three metres in when i realized that "not groomed" meant moguls anywhere between two feet and five feet high, and i haven't done real moguls since 2009 and never this strenuous. the first attempt was an exasperating (literal) flop, but by the second i was switching fairly well and i've got to say that i haven't had so much fun on a board since my trip with the dutch group!

that was some serious adrenaline right there. also, in the warm weather (above zero) i overheated on those runs and came down the groomed section at the end with my jacket open and steam pouring out :P

speaking of my jacket, we only noticed when we left the apartment that we dressed like we were sponsored by salomon: regular boots, snowboard boots, pants, jacket, t-shirt (salomon fsk)... and pg's jacket and bag?

notes from the bus ride: pg needs to charge her kindle before long trips, and all of this month's wired magazine articles are astounding.

this morning was slow because we were both aching after yesterday: i started my day with on the rain-slick precipice of darkness and came to the conclusion that doing the first few levels again is even more entertaining and that there were important things i missed the first time around.

we had a mostly pleasant lunch with my aunt (my uncle's more chilled, but there're still occasional moments) and then rushed off to visit the cathedral in old montreal.

notre dame de grace is a beautiful cathedral presenting an exquisitely illustrated history of christian dogma's dominator culture. the two things i couldn't get out of my head were the narrative of jesus dying so that the demons could run amok and the idea that bureaucrats shall inherit the earth.

everything on the walls and the overall atmosphere of wealth presses all my buttons vis-a-vis the catholic church versus the sermon on the mount. but that's just, like, my opinion, man.

on the way to the dollar cinema we stopped for not-quite-falafel and not-quite-humus, which might not be as tasty as the israeli style but at least it's healthy, and then got to where we were going. it turns out that the last time i looked for it i walked straight past but on the wrong floor - they really should put signs around there.

paranorman is a marvelously entertaining film! totally not for little kids, though. the hysterical cries were annoying but i can only blame the parents.

after heavy shopping we came home for dinner and bed; we had so much difficulty streaming one piece that i eventually caved and paid $10 for a month's premium access. first impression: totally worth it.

and back to the dog box. okay, not really, things have chilled out a bit. but back to the week: i'm feeling pretty damn good about life right now.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

more buck for my bang

i'm going to start with the bit that i still haven't internalized: it's kinda weird news.

let's start with the immigration lawyer: the lawyer costs a bomb even though we paid substantially less than the full fee; at that price she didn't even get to go over our forms. she just sent us a list of things we need to give her to review, and that list included a super-critical form that doesn't appear anywhere on the immigration website. she also told us what we have to write on the envelope. apparently this is an important detail and we'd written the wrong thing. in my defence, i wrote precisely what the guy on duty at the ministry had told me to.

instead of completely redoing the application, we fired off an email to the ministry with the new form and an explanation that we'd fouled up the envelope, what we got in return was a reassuring phone call and helpful instruction. part of the instruction has to do with the salary offered: in order to hire a foreign worker, the company must pay the provincial average salary for the posting / experience level of the applicant.

there was a sensation of "oh, shit" when i was informed that i've accepted (and gratefully so) a lot less than average, and we're talking about enough of a margin that the difference could cover most of a year's tuition at graduate level over here. the sensation wasn't a positive one because everyone up the chain would have to approve the new salary or the entire deal would be off.

i tend to lose confidence in that sort of situation.

and then... relief! i have been given the impression that this will not be a problem. so while i'm not going to be totally relaxed until i actually walk across the border with papers in hand - otherwise they could agree to pay me millions and it would mean nothing - but the outlook on both counts, future employer and the province, is really, really good. it's very exiting stuff!

---
thursday and friday:

the weather over the past couple of days has been a little too warm: here in montreal the word "balmy" is used when the temperature rises above -5. no jokes, i find myself opening my jacket and removing my tuque if there's no wind to bring relief. hands feel the cold if they're not protected, but that's about it. it's been so warm that i've actually opened a window, and slept with just a sheet: wtf?!

on thursday i walked into the office to find the snow / salt stains on the floor cleaned and my shoes neatly placed on a small square of a black plastic bag. how sweet :)

in the office, i've been feeling like my hands are tied. i can't work until i have my permit, and there's so much i want to do and get involved in and play with! it's exciting and pleasurable and frustrating all at once.

in the meanwhile, i've been messing about with my own little projects and one of them involves using curl and jira apis. i couldn't figure out what the problem was, and tried everything, and then suddenly yesterday morning i had an epiphany and realized that the issue was security configuration, not software. this led me through a chain of fixes from which emerged a solution so much bigger, better and easier than what i'd previously planned that i ended my day well pleased with myself.

i woke up on friday morning early for a long skype meeting with sorter and -someone. i was five minutes late, -someone was about twenty. the meeting went better than i anticipated but i'm still left with not much faith that anything's going to happen.

i don't know why, but i suddenly felt distant with pg over the past two days. it's better now, but it was disquieting.

playing through on the rain-slick precipice of darkness on the ipad, even if it's the second time because saves are shared between devices, is nothing short of grand! i'm not a fan of their d-pad implementation, but it's not a big deal. i do feel a bit awkward about the ipad in general, though: between games and wired magazine i'm getting great use out of it, but pg's just not getting into it. at least i know she's got the hang of reading comics.

---
this morning, i woke up three times from three vivid dreams, each connected somehow to the last.
1. i return to sea point with SxS and ru55 from a party on the same morning SxS and i have to fly. i get ready with the help of pg but SxS is nowhere to be found, i'm late for the flight, i can't find my passport anywhere and nobody can help me print my ticket.

2. walking down to an alternate mouille point on a long road. i help an old indian woman (dots, not feathers) and we start talking, then we're walking along a bridge past the most intensely beautiful scene: i look to my right straight up a giant, calm river flowing through a vast, golden city of skyscrapers. i stop to take a photo and somehow i can see below the waterline, where there are giant turtles swimming downriver towards the bridge and then turning sharply to follow it giving me great turning shots, but now when i look up the bridge seems infinitely long and is slowly sinking. the two of us continue hurriedly, i'm holding my phone above the waterline and eventually, when the water reaches my neck, we give up and swim.

3. i'm on a hollywood-like college campus and it's a gorgeous day for skiing, so everyone's getting ready. but i'm having trouble finding my gear.
then i'm with a family and we're getting ready for the bus to the slopes: they've brought me my gear and i'm expected to hurriedly put it all on because the bus is leaving. we're dressing in a glass booth on the edge of a square where some kind of celebration is going on; the announcer conflates new year's with [the weekend? i don't remember] and suddenly the square explodes with a powerful house beat that makes it difficult to do anything but dance like a wild thing. only the younger members of the family get me. we drag ourselves away to find the bus.


---
i caught a link from hido yesterday morning to tri-force Live at ageha 24.03.2012, and i've had it playing while posting this. what a groovy, adrenaline-filled mix!

to quote scrapper on extra credits - god does not play dice: "it's a unique feeling, to hear someone state your own opinion, especially when it's one that you've had such trouble expressing, and when he does it so well."

Thursday, January 10, 2013

metonomy

mcafee's last stand is a fascinating article. not entirely sympathetic, but that makes it seem all the more authentic.

here's the thing, though: the more i think about it, the more i see john as an excellent personification of the united states of america. both in his upbringing (the british / his father), his reaction to the 60s, his manipulation of peoples' fears turning into his own paranoia, and his delusions of grandeur (and wild-west-ness) that lead him to police cultures he knows nothing about.

---
i wonder if reading the article before bed had something to do with my dreaming about being harassed by buffalo while out camping in their territory, and not being embarrassed to admit defeat when a particularly persistent one caused me to flee the area without my belongings. a long story later, we were back home and trying to leave for another camping experience when we were attacked by (another? the same?) one that had apparently been hunting us since the wilderness. this time, it was personal.

thought feeds - part ii

learning to love yourself is the greatest love of all
- whitney houston
i've finished with food of the gods now: it's like mckenna doesn't get it, and then he gets it, all within the span of a paragraph or two. his reference to zombies and christian domination* are excitingly on the mark, especially the latter tying into interior domination that is an essential part of the human condition.

as for the former, it's now even clearer why the popularization of zombies began when it did.

his "modest proposal" almost made me laugh out loud on the metro! he really was a great man, and the world really needs to listen to what he had to say.

* the christian dominator model. islam just takes an already extreme model one step further.

flip

i guess the central item for today was that it was the first time that my future employer has seriously disagreed with me, and it took ages to figure out that we were talking at cross-purposes. pg laughed at me when i told her because she's used to it.

the other item of import is even less positive: i singled out two people (on separate occasions) for their mistakes without giving context first. in both cases my intention was to express that they're not alone in making those mistakes and that that points to a flawed system. fail.

i spent a lot of my day scratching my head and trying to figure out how to translate between command line cURL and its php counterpart. i'm beginning to believe that that my little code sample is fine and that there's another factor at play :/

microsoft! visual! studio!
after much frustration and wasted time, i downloaded an evaluation version of visual studio 2010 ultimate. the installation was smooth and the missing sdk i needed installed on top of that without a hitch.

really?! so express is not the express version?

anyway.

so the day began with long, adventurous dreams involving rollerblades and a certain no-longer-officerness while still in uniform. i woke up early because it was too warm. it continued to be too warm, and even outside at -4 it felt... unseasonable.

the breeze was actually welcome.

speaking of unseasonable - israel's having a real winter, with snow and flooding all over the place. damn.

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

thought feeds

i'm finally nearing the end of terrence mckenna - food of the gods. it is impossible for anthropologists to be more rigorous than speculative, but his argument is well thought out and while it doesn't provide an answer to everything, it does a magnificent job of connecting historical dots and placing humans and our weird ideas in a sensible context.

there's one note, however, that i'd like to make regarding his description of the dmt experience and external intelligence. in order to make sense of the world, we create internal representations based on external stimuli. in particular, we construct reflections of all of the people we've ever met, read about, or invented and interact with those, which explains why we expect certain behaviour from certain people without being familiar with their every motivation: we flesh out characters based on a tiny fragment of theirs that we have perceived through their words or actions, and our mappings are invariably off the mark.

selected components of these character reflections will be expressed as a person's self [i'm not even going to try to use words like "ego" and "superego"] and everything else will be considered "other". so it seems to me that the dmt experience might more likely be an interaction with one's internal other than with an external. in other words, when confronted by one's ancestors, one is confronted by personifications of one's own perception of history.

this confrontation is no less important, no less mystical, and no less authentic for all that it is internal: the human brain perceives and stores far more information than our puny consciousness can focus on, and so we can expect to be shocked, surprised and enlightened by what we've ignored when we go exploring inner space.

that sentiment also covers for our increased ability to communicate - what mckenna refers to as telepathy - because the opening of the gates allows us to capture more from the outside allowing for greater cognitive contamination.

got french?

we've got a positive-yet-unhurried response from the government (that they'll look into my case "immediately") and we've consulted with an immigration lawyer: the latter has suggested that applications not made in the lingua français might be receiving less attention than they should. so... we'll try again.

if i do obtain a work permit i think i will take an intensive course; being able to follow bits and pieces isn't the same as being able to participate in a dialog.

---

monday:

the new guy may be hard to follow, but i can't help but appreciate how he seems to agree with most of what i say.

i spent most of monday wracking my brain trying to resolve a conundrum that i'm certain would have seemed less complicated had i been performing at a higher level... i was quite distracted.

the saga of installing visual studio express continued, as even after getting the installation order correct i discovered that the project required another element that needed to be installed prior to running a service pack.

ugh.

pg and i enjoyed a quiet night of nothing and went to bed early. i was totaled.

---

tuesday:

i'm swimming through the streets of a flooded city avoiding and fleeing sharks.
when i manage to escape i find myself in a large guest-house trying to hide from someone who's coming.
i scramble over a balcony into a friend's bedroom and urgently inform them that we'd been told to clear out before the attackers catch sight of us... but then they're right outside the window torturing another friend and there's nowhere to run.

they take us hostage, threatening us and pushing us around with swords and we're all terrified and certain that we're going to die; but after a while an opportunity arises and out of the confusion we somehow come out okay.
the attackers seem calm, rational and peaceful once disarmed but i really can't forgive them.

a guy i served with confronts me because his daughter's playing violent videogames and i'm shocked that he's blaming me.i tell him to exercise some control.
"WHAT DO YOU MEAN?!" he rages.
"i mean get rid of those games and give her a copy of
[an educational game i used to enjoy], it's amazing."

suddenly we're in the cartoon-style game with animal characters and we go up the stairs; a cartoon bunny comes hurtling out a set of doors into the yard holding an oversized flamethrower and attacks two other animals.


wow - i really didn't want to get up this morning because i was so comfortable. i was still in sleep mode until after my first coffee, which explains how i managed to leave my favourite tuque (cape town taekwondo) on the metro.

i've been developing a relationship with one of the guys in the office; i can't help but be reminded of nemesis. this one has been sabotaging my monitor all day, and i suspect that revenge is in order. that's him and aota.

between my pre-coffee state and definitely feeling woozy afterwards, and yesterday's distraction, i've begun to worry that i may be coming down with something. i'd rather not :(

---

the visual studio installation drove me nuts today: uninstalling in order to re-re-install was rendered impossible by an uninstall error on a satellite package. and if that happens, each package (and there are plenty of them) must be uninstalled manually. i went through the process multiple times until eventually finding a special download package that skips the problem one.

a whole package that exists to solve an issue that - according to google - is only mentioned on one random forum page?? it couldn't have been listed on the express site?!

---

i got techie with a jira installation to enable CORS, which makes me join other forum-dwellers in wondering why that's not enabled out of the box.

i went shopping for lunch and added rather delicious (and cheap!) meal replacements. i'd rather they were dairy free and not just lactose free, but this country's not quite there yet.

i finally remembered to buy hand-cream! and promptly left it on the self-service scanner :/

the new guy introduced me to yii, which looks good but i was too unfocused to really grasp it all.

---

i learned today that my second mum was in worse shapes than she'd been letting on. it saddens me that she felt the need to hide these things and chose rather to suffer them without our family's support. at least hers is taking better care of her now than they did the last time.

---

i was going to go to bed early tonight, but i guess that's not a reasonable plan when there's stuff i feel i have to say.

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

i'm not posting about today

except for this one thing: i just finished labelling over a hundred posts in order to make the blog more easily searchable. by me as well. it's a bloody big mission that's taken days, but it was a specific change that was bothering me; now i can finally focus on something else for a while.

Monday, January 07, 2013

unpausing

it really feels like this weekend was life paused. vis-a-vis my little post revision mission, i've got ten more to get through and then i'll focus on something else.

i napped this afternoon, and woke up breathing heavily after a troubling dream in which the universe was conspiring to keep me on hold: waiting on the phone for a lawyer to help with an injustice and then either being ignored or having the call cut out.

pg and i have had a very chilled day, one of the more indulgent aspects being her melting chocolate for blueberries and kiwi (wow!).

it's been a holiday weekend.

Sunday, January 06, 2013

hair maketh the man

after a tough, restless night with sore legs and feet, i woke up early this morning to wake pg up and drag us both out of bed, but she wasn't having any of it. i wasn't really in the mood either - in spite of it being a beautiful, heavy snow day - so i closed my eyes and dreamed weird dreams. something about being alone in the house i grew up in, and then playing a game with yang and getting physical with some guy who wouldn't play ball - there was spitting, and i woke up feeling bad about my behaviour. then i thought about my work on shakespeare and realized that i needed to find something, so i jumped out of bed, grabbed some hot chocolate and located what i was looking for. and something else that proved helpful.

and then my mind started wandering again. now i'm all over the place, and feeling super-stressed because i've got too much i want and need to do and no idea where to begin. the sensation is so vague that i don't even know if i want to begin at all.

---
friday:

i'm intrigued by the good hair days i've been having since friday - it seems to be at just the right length to work with my beard.

how is it possible that a night can be warmer than the day preceding it?

permit-wise, we're getting desperate to consider using an immigration lawyer. not sure they can help. i really hope we can sort things out.

i've decided that moonlighter is professionally irresponsible. that kinda drops him a peg in my book.

---
microsoft doesn't do itself any favours with their wording, nor their package compatibility: i downloaded a copy of visual studio 2012 express, which is supposed to be free but informs the user that it's a 30-day evaluation. it doesn't say that registration is free. i found a forum post asking about the 2012 licensing, and instead of the microsoft employee explaining that the express user's code belongs to the user the poster was told to contact microsoft legal directly. certain that it wouldn't be, i uninstalled (after ages of the installation locking up all four processors) and installed 2010. but 2010 isn't compatible with the windows 8 sdk.

that prompted me to go through the whole sla on my second attempt at installing 2012, and there's only the usual garbage. dammit. i registered for my free key (really, they could just have said "free" on the alert) and everything was fine, but then discovered that while the sdk is compatible with 2012 it won't run on a machine that's not windows 8.

microsoft: you assholes. again. still.

---
my mum convinced me that it was high time to complain about the caretaker to the landlord; pg later informed me that after two months, he finally fixed the front door and sorted out (kind of) the toilet. now it's just the balcony door that we need to convince him to handle [hah! handle as a verb in both senses].

the reason the toilet's only "kind of" fixed is because the tank cover was on the floor and the caretaker stepped into the bathroom without looking where he was putting his feet and smashed it. he brought in a temporary cover that's too big but a much prettier colour.

---
yesterday:

i don't know what made me feel like singing, but... i think my singing voice is back. i thought i'd lost it ages ago.

it was a warm -8 in the sun and a cold -8 in the shade, but either way downtown montreal was really pretty. we hit the apple store for an ipad. the salesman was friendly but over-explained a lot of things; he did seem to *get* us, though, and we walked out with a non-retina ipad 2. we chased that with too much food at the good chinese restaurant, and then tried to go to poubelle du ski.

i hate google maps so much right now. i don't know of a better service, but the routes that it suggests are often the least convenient and we gave up when it told us that we needed to trek through high snow on a highway pass to get to a station that was further away from both our starting point and our destination than the one we'd arrived at.

we got there eventually, and it was packed and crazy. we waited a while, and then a guy came out and said something in french while looking somewhere else - only after a group of guys responded and he attended to them did we realize that he'd been asking who needs assistance. after pg got her awesome gear sorted out i got claustrophobic and had to go outside.

in addition to reading wired and gaming on the ipad, pg and i played carcassonne and watched great one piece episodes. then i did some more post edits (i'm on a mission) and we went to bed early to go snowboarding.

---
i was very excited by the replicator article, and concerned about standing desks.

also: smeagol vs gollum. genius.

Friday, January 04, 2013

-23 and me

it was a long dream, involving various complications with returning home after a long day.

i was observing a snooty family playing golf, decidedly unimpressed, and one of the daughters called me up to flirt. then her sister began competing with her. things got weird.

after dropping off friends at a theatre group, i hopped on a transport that got lost in winding, badly marked streets with name changes at each building, and narrowly avoided an erratically driven vehicle screaming up to a narrow pass, that vehicle continuing past and slamming into a car parked on the side of the road before reversing and flying off. i decided to call it in, but i dropped my phone and had to rescue it while our vehicle was coming apart. i jumped off to return to the scene of the incident, hunting the street name and eventually finding a local to advise me.

i called the patrician, who was happy to deal with it but demanded to know who had referred me. i wanted to make up a name, but i really didn't want some random stranger to die because of me.


i went to bed early, and it was a long night with an upset stomache. what did i eat?!

getting up when it's still dark isn't cool. but it was cold. -23 outside, and it felt like it. at least i didn't have to be outside for too long.

the bank disaster that occurred a few weeks ago? i'm really glad that pg just happened to be in israel to take care of it. here's another rub: it's a joint account, but between yesterday and today my tenant has discovered that he can't transfer money to it unless he uses pg's name; mine doesn't work. wtf?!?!

today was relaxed, partially due to a comment by aota that the office was too quiet and my responding with an ambient playlist.

i spent the day grilling moonlighter over his failure to take my advice, and sitting with him and a mac fighting against apple incoherence.

firstly, their under-the-thumb attitude to their coding ecosystem is terribly inconvenient, as they don't give a crap about backwards compatibility and happily shut down previously legitimate libraries with unintelligible build errors.

secondly, versions is the crappest svn ui i've ever come across, and considering how much i detest the entire svn ecosystem that's pretty harsh criticism. everything that went wrong and kept moonlighter in the office past home-time made me just a little more embarrassed for whoever participated in its writing.

i've come to the conclusion that mac developers are masochists compared to the rest of the tech world.

---
i got home to a warm meal and one piece. i missed the day's power outage and wasn't outside nearly as much as pg, so i really can't complain (even if our external door still doesn't close properly and our toilet's not fixed yet).

one of the guys was telling me that his window cracked from the cold last night: in weather like this, it's probably not a good idea to walk about with one's mouth open. tough as that may be, with constantly running noses.

Thursday, January 03, 2013

ushering in a new one

the slowdown in posting was due to meta-posting and my taking advantage of the new year's break to do absolutely not much.

---
on saturday night i failed to register for online access to my canadian bank account, and on sunday i called them up, answered all the security questions and discovered that i couldn't register because i'd already been registered. sad that i didn't remember that.

i figured out how to pay the electric bill, and pg and i hit the plateau. it was cold, but everything was breathtakingly beautiful. we found aux vivres easily, but there was such a long queue that we decided to try la casa del popolo instead. sure, they have vegan dishes, but while i was satisfied with my meal, pg and i agreed that the food wasn't amazing.

i wasn't feeling great, and shopping for snowboarding gear for pg was a bit of a bummer. we arrived home much later than intended, meaning that we arrived at my aunt's much later than intended, but there was at least time for a cup of coffee before going out to my aunt's friend's place for dinner.

notes on winter dress:
1. pg wearing my new balaclava - totally ninja. and it really works well with the rest of her outfit
2. my penny arcade hoodie is so warm and comfortable when combined with yang's old coat - it's like walking around wrapped in a duvet ^_^

dinner: lavish. the house is magnificent and everyone was friendly and interesting.

it was a cold, long walk to the metro, though...

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monday:

my stomache wasn't happy on monday :(

pg and i went down to the game store and purchased carcassonne. we would've bought penny arcade: the game - gamers vs evil but they were sold old. on tuesday i'd buy the ios version, it's definitely worth the price. although it probably looks far better on an ipad.

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i don't have a problem with google maps in terms of getting me to a predefined location on the map. i do have a problem with those predefined locations being completely wrong. we travelled into the sticks to end up at the right address, but not at what was labelled on the pin.

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so google maps kinda ruined our plans for the day, and i'm not certain that entering loblaws on new year's eve was a particularly good idea: it was crazy in there.

we wanted to see a movie but we needed to do laundry, and our timing would have been fine if both dryers weren't still running by the time our washing was done. we hurriedly turned the apartment fixtures into an improvised line, i had a quick chat with my aunt* and then we headed downtown.

* you know, it's rare but sometimes my mouth says things and my brain goes "whoa!" - not that i don't love my aunt, but for me saying "love you" at the end of a conversation is reserved for pg and my mother. the awkward sensation as i hung up was only compounded by pg asking if i'd been speaking to my mum, and then laughing at the look on my face.

it was snowing on new year's eve, and downtown was magical. there weren't many places to eat before the movie, so we picked subway (which worked out). pg was playing fashion police, when a group of girls walked out the bathroom and one of them was dressed awfully her jaw literally dropped as she stared in horror.
"maybe she doesn't own a mirror?" i offered, judiciously.
"sweetie," she said, "i don't own a mirror and i don't leave home like that."

skyfall is a fantastic bond movie, it's clever and meta and a whole lot of fun.

the new year didn't start on an entirely good note, though, because google maps and i had a miscommunication and we had trouble finding the metro. dashing through the snow trying not to miss the last metro isn't fun :(

the metro was packed japanese-style. it was madness down there.

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tuesday:

we sorted out our metro passes early in the morning, and then discovered that the entire province was shut down for the holiday so we scrapped our plans and spent the day resting, playing carcassonne and watching one piece.

it was wonderful.

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today:

we got up early enough and took the bus to rockland mall. it was a very cold day. sports experts had nothing of interest, and so we continued on to mec. their jacket selection was confusing in the extreme, but the helpful sales assistant convinced pg to take the same helmet i did and i picked up transformer-style fingerless gloves / mittens which are warmer than what i was using even if not completely warm as such, and pg got her own balaclava.

then we had lunch at rockland, disagreed about the new les miserables movie which neither of us has seen (i suspect i'll be seeing it alone), then waited for ages for the bus home. we did some supermarket shopping on the way, and now that i've paid the rent, we've both bathed (improvised plug) and i've posted this, we're going to do absolutely nothing important for the rest of the evening.

note to self: pg doesn't dig dubstep.

this has been a wonderful few days.

uncle moron

"education is not skills training," i said, in a comment thread belonging to a friend i served with who's struggling to decide if a philosophy degree is a good idea.

"since when?" asked her uncle.

actually, since forever. the fact that people go to university to get a piece of paper to get a job is a by-product of the industrial age, and even during the past century it's been noted that regardless of what you studied you still need on-the-job training, telling us that the master-apprentice system employed by the greeks, the romans and renaissance europe is the only one of any value. and besides the fact that the academy is founded on humanities and sciences (which, ask any physicist, is a terrible degree for getting a job), now that we're in the information age acquiring practical skills is almost as easy as using google.

"i think we agree more than we disagree." [here he responds at length and in a manner that demonstrates that he understands nothing of university education. i'm not quoting him out of kindness, to you and to him, he really comes across as clueless and his arguments are frustratingly irrational]

long story short, we don't agree. education's practical value is in broadening one's horizons and understanding of reality, inner subjective and outer objective. the tools acquired in any degree are invaluable. your examples are highly localized and anecdotal and while i'm sorry to hear that your son couldn't find a job i'm certain that that's got nothing to do with his choice of studies. the university shouldn't be a business but you're right, it is; although that doesn't mean that students can't get an education anyway. there are fields like medicine and law which make your case, but it'll be a sad, sad day when universities start teaching mechanics and real estate agents; those are perfect examples of careers which don't require degrees.

all the humanities are good choices, as are all the sciences. the others are good for specific careers. at the end of the day, you can study what you like and your world will only be the better for it. you can also study what you don't like, and your world will be better for it but considering the fact that life's too short to suffer for nothing and that our global economy is rapidly changing and notions of value and "practical" are no more valid than the entire marketing industry, it is my opinion that anything not personally fulfilling would be a waste.

my point is that everyone who can afford the privilege of academic studies should feel free to choose what seems right to them, one can never know what's right except in hindsight and chasing other people's dreams will hopefully become a thing of our nightmare past. the virtual economy is starting to take off and it has space enough and jobs enough for anyone willing to make the effort.

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

2012: fair, kind and true

2012 was without a doubt the biggest year of my life. shakespeare's three most important words echo those of corinthians 13:13, "faith, hope and love", which sum up the most significant events of the past year.

faith: my freak discovery of shakespeare's hidden-in-plain-sight messages has given me faith in the awe-inspiring power of words, and in myself as an ambitious steward of his.

hope: our most cordial reception in canada, the speed with which we've found ourselves and acclimatized, gives us hope that this was the right move to try. 2013 will let us know.

love: pg agreed to marry me, and travel around the world with me until we find a place suitable for settling down and starting a family.

all the rest is commentary. 2013: may you be even more brilliant.