Monday, March 31, 2014

errands

the weather is stunning! clear skies, warm sun, only a slight breeze and still cool. if this could be the whole spring, with summer only *just* warm enough to leave sweaters at home i'd be really stoked ^_^
as it is, i've just opened all my windows for the first time since i got back from south africa. very, very nice!

why are there so many *things* that need to be done? i had to remember to dump the recycling, go to the bank, walmart and the pharmacy* and then on to the further supermarket to sort out rent and purchase items the closer supermarket doesn't stock. as good as it was to have an excuse for a good walk in the fresh air, i've got shit i need to focus on!

* though i found out later that the further supermarket stocks dental floss too, so that was unnecessary.

at least i used my time well when stopping for coffee on the way. today's topic is encryption. considering the level of my math i usually find the details distasteful and they're kinda important...

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oh, and while clearing my email this morning, i found neil gaiman on scaring children. brilliant as usual.

and an article on facebook and vr. and one on yoga and relaxation that seems sensible.

the laziness continued

oh, wow. it's sunday night. like, the hours have just been whizzing by since friday - i've been really motivated, but only by all the wrong things!

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friday:

i played about an hour of fallout and invested some time in figuring out what the bank advertisement in the metro was trying to say with its image of a child playing on a console and the single word "tripper" scrawled above his head. that was how i found the québécois / french dictionary entry. useful!

i did some reading while running laundry, then suddenly the afternoon was over and i'd just been half-asleep all day. i went out to meet vfmp and his brother and discovered that the snow had turned to rain. i was not impressed. the metro seemed warmer than it's been in a while, so that was uncomfortable too...

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the guys were laughing at me for my attitude towards violence in games. i can't do better than refer you all to penny arcade and tell you to look at their issues with jack thompson. i think this recent post on the subject sums things up nicely.
the discussion was about child-killing. it bothers me that i can play a game that will let me murder people, innocent or not, as long as they're not children. let's assume that we agree that killing people in general is wrong, and that without me going into a lengthy diatribe we also agree that killing in games is okay if it's context-appropriate and the game is suitably rated for mature audiences. in this case, what kind of message is a game that says "go ahead, kill everyone, but pull the trigger on a kid and nothing's gonna happen" sending? considering the fact that that sort of programming is incongruous with any believable reality, any player attempting to kill a child is certainly going to notice... and he's going to pay attention... and he's going to think about it.
it is my view that the only logical conclusion is that if killing adults isn't censored then it must be okay to do so in real life. you're welcome to argue this with me in the comments below, but do us all a favour and think carefully before you start typing. thanks so much.

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vfmp was being weird about dinner and mustwin was cooking; the two of them started fighting and in addition to making me feel awkward for a while it took me right back to my own experiences with problematic flatmates. gods, i'm so, so glad that i'm living alone. seriously. i can't deal with other people's shit.

at least the unpleasantness came to an end, and we all went to randolph pub ludique to celebrate a friend of theirs' birthday over alcohol and boardgames. it would take more than an hour to get a table, so we went looking for somewhere to sit in the meanwhile and we stumbled into manga-thé next door. what an awesome little tea shop! it's an impressive manga library and they have some games too, though you have to order tea if you want to play. oh, no! good tea!
we played forbidden island*, which is a fantastic game that's as simple to get into as it is entertaining to play. it's also relatively cheap, so i'm now trying to decide between the physical game and the ios app. the latter has a lot of advantages...

... i contemplated buying hunter x hunter translated into french; they have the entire collection and the story's complete! but i haven't read the last five or six books, and at $15 a pop i'm thinking that maybe i should just go and sit there, drink tea and read their copy instead.

* now known to our little group as "get the treasure before you drown with honour"

soon after we finished a game (winning!) we were informed that our table was ready. we were all so excited about playing co-op games (because mustwin is vicious about winning and we wanted the birthday boy to not be on the losing side) i'd been talking up arkham horror. it's a great game, but damn that was a bad call :(
it's way too complicated to play without at least one expert, by the time we were kicked out for closing we'd managed a single round and most of the guys were not impressed. we'd had a fun evening overall, but it would've been even better if we'd picked something else. mega fail, all on me.

we all went back to vfmp's place where the brothers put on street fighter vs tetris. i think we were all too tired for that, i got a ride home and practically fell into bed.

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yesterday:

i played feed-catchup in the morning, the results of which are linked at the end of this post. i chased that by playing some ftl: faster than light. i thought i was in control, but i wasn't. in fact, i've been obsessed by this game the entire weekend and i've devoted hours to it. the thing is, it's not about winning, but learning how to win. and once the soundtrack's stuck in my head...

weird french moment: reading a sign that says "désespoir" and thinking that despair being "from hope" makes sense, because you can't despair if you didn't have hope first. i took the metro to bnw's and when i wasn't napping i was thinking of an interesting twist on p2p protocols that i'm going to explore further this week.

bnw and i went over the comics for a while, and her husband suddenly interjected with a bit of pragmatism that had us arguing heatedly for a while. he had some interesting and valid things to say, i think by the end he understood where i'm coming from; i'm not sure how bnw feels but i do know that i'm not willing to hold the project for any one person who can't or won't put in the hours. i'd love for her to be the primary illustrator, but if she's going to work slowly then i'm going to find other people. i need this thing to happen.

we watched the wind journeys, which is a wonderful film! it's slow, but not boring, the music is the central theme and is very strange and interesting in its own right, the cinematography (or photography or whatever) is astounding.
even so, towards the end i was as sleepy as if i'd been in a lecture during the officer's course, massaging my temples until they hurt in a vain effort to keep my eyes open. to make things worse, i was suffering from rls - my feet were in pain and there wasn't a damn thing i could do about it.

the movie ended just before the last metro - i ran all the way (fortunately, that's not far) and hurried down to the platform only to find that i still had five minutes to go. oh, well.

when i got home, i brushed my teeth and went to bed. it was during the former action that i discovered which tooth cracked a couple of weeks ago. it wasn't the one that was hurting, it was the one that was subjected to the root canal treatment. it's broken in an ugly way and i really don't know if i should be doing something about it now or waiting until i have medical insurance again.

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today:

i got up early and played ftl until it was time for my yoga instruction. this morning's snowstorm was crazy and i was kinda sorry i wouldn't be going snowboarding...

the room we worked in last week was occupied but we were allowed in to the hot yoga room - it's obviously a perfect space for yoga, and we were amused when we realized that even with the doors open and the systems off it was still really warm in there. i recorded most of the lesson (my phone ran out of space after fifty minutes) so that i can do some of the exercises at home during the week and it was a really good class - tough, interesting, and i felt sooooo relaxed afterwards that i walked in to the main area of the gym and turned around and walked right back out because i didn't want anything to tense up and ruin the perfect comfort i was experiencing.

i wasn't as giddily euphoric as last time, but i still felt terrific.

after showering and eating lunch i shamefully got sunk into ftl, i'm not kidding when i describe it as addictive and it only gets more so the better you become.

i was on my way out to the supermarket when i realized that i hadn't closed the door properly when i returned home. ugh! everything seems to be in place, but i'm really embarrassed to have done something so... well, i guess that tells you how relaxed i was after yoga :P

i thought i was going to get serious after i got back but the night's been filled with this, online dating and random shit. it's now late, so i'm going to get into bed and start tomorrow on the right foot.

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linkage!

and just like that, an oft-mocked industry of people finds reprieve. through a teenage font-messiah.

well done, universe, well done.

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rule no. 1: don't be an (_*_).

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jim breuer on heavy metal for children

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a friend of mine has written a post titled "inertia" in which he explains that he's finally on the same page as me regarding consumerism and career motivation :)

...

i hope that this crazy shit is what facebook's planning on doing with the rift it just bought

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oh, man - i thought i was gonna skip to the important bits of maysoon zayid's ted talk, but she caught me in the first few seconds. amazing!

Friday, March 28, 2014

super lazy

some days... it's been snowing, but it's too late for me to do a full day at saint sauveur and so i'd rather be productive instead. but then i received my activation key for shadowrun online's beta which is opening on monday, which i'm super-stoked about! opening steam saw me compulsively opening ftl, though. i don't know why but i simply couldn't resist. after a fairly quick game i closed it, but i kinda want to open it again. i really shouldn't, but there you go...

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i printed out a few more pages and then went to the mall to submit my documents for the tax returns. i began by getting lunch: the chef seemed quite incompetent, and freakishly clumsy so i figure he was drunk or something. but the tofu came out perfectly! i stared at it from the beginning of the process to the end, and have arrived at the conclusion that getting the right texture has to do with starting with the right product. so regular supermarket types won't cut it. good to know.

i hunted for the h&r place for a while before giving up and calling their helpline. the website's store locator gives the mall address with a mall store number, and in brackets says "(bay #1607)"; the store number wasn't visible on the mall's map nor was the name of the office. on second inspection, the "store number" is the address of the mall itself so that was silly of me, but the bay reference? that meant that it's in the department store "the bay". oh! oh, i see. totally obvious.</sarcasm>
so i walked through the bay until i eventually found them. hidden in a corner. apparently "office" covers "temporary desks with a couple of dividers set up amongst clothing lines".

the woman there didn't speak english and so advised me to make an appointment with the "specialist" who does. that whole conversation took place in french and wasn't too bad. it's funny, but when she said "tuesday" she was trying to be helpful, but francophones often confuse tuesday and thursday so i had to double check that the date was correct. only, for some reason i couldn't remember the word "mardi"... nice one, brain. nice one.

i sat down at the starbucks to continue my research, and i'm excited to say that i've come across a couple of very exciting pieces of the puzzle. gods, there's so much work to be done! i climbed into it when i got back home, but i'm going to need to de-prioritize or i won't get my interview and french prep done...

music for the day: rev - amusia has been providing the soundtrack for the last day or so and i'm still in love with those beats! couldn't stop bouncing :)

i shopped on my way home, and felt like a total idiot because i get a $10 discount if i go over $75, i hit $72 and there were people behind so i didn't think to stop and rescan a chocolate slab or something to make up the difference. dammit :(

i was totally clumsy when i came home, for five minutes everything i touched landed on the floor and i was so not impressed. maybe whatever the chef had was contagious. i spoke to my mum and finished the mac hall volume, then went to the gym for kickboxing. it was a good class, though i lost the battle of my shins versus my partner's shins. i gave some kid a five minute taekwondo lesson with homework, then got dragged into a debate on nutrition that went on and on and ended with a very brief argument about monsanto and gmo and drugs (not connected). in retrospect i shouldn't have gone down that road.

i put on kevin hart: let me explain while making dinner. that's one unfunny dude! it kinda bothers me when so many people are laughing hysterically at him just being an asshole.

i watched amélie, i think it's only the second time i've seen it in its entirety. what a wonderful film! *that* is a rom-com i can get behind. it's clever, it's fun, it's charming, it's different.

i received a message from a girl i might meet next week and was amused to be notified that fp was using the dating service too. so... i guess that's over, then. i feel kinda odd about neither of us saying anything.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

upper morning

okay, so after a good night's sleep i woke up to a couple of messages from pulse apologizing for last night, confessing unprompted that her instructions should have been more precise and explaining that her phone had died. so it was the universe making a fool of me, not her... an easier pill to swallow, and i'm glad to be rid of that "twilight zone" feeling.

i finally previewed eminem's new album on itunes. some of it's pretty good, some shamefully bad. not on my list of must-haves.

i've finished reading this month's wired: the features are all interesting, but the pieces that are particularly exciting are on sailing drones and theranos's blood tests. good stuff!

my next task is to collect proof of everything i've spent on "charity" this past year - probably not that much, i don't think humble bundle purchases really count - and then head off to get this tax monkey off my back. speaking of monkeys, i've been reading mac hall: volume whatever on and off and enjoying it immensely. i'm glad i didn't shell out for the really expensive version. [to be fair, you can read it all for free at machall.com, but i feel the commentary was worth throwing them some cash]

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thought for the day: i realized this morning why i don't like capital letters. for me, they're just regular letters wearing button-shirts and ties. totally not my style, unless i'm trying to get or keep a job through them.

what would jesus do?

it's gonna be weird writing this while i'm feeling so incredibly lonely that i don't actually feeling like sharing with anyone... i'm writing in my journal and exposing it to the world at large. rational behaviour?

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i shaved before i left, which meant a quick shower (i always manage to get little hairs on me, that's one disadvantage of using beard trimmers over blades) during which i wondered about this article on immersion improving cognizance that i read last night: aside from archimedes' discovery, apparently women do their best thinking in the bath. so it kinda makes sense...

it was so cozy on the metro, and i was so relaxed. as if i haven't stopped being relaxed since sunday's yoga lesson, like something really did get aligned properly and an emotional artery unblocked.

it's really cold tonight. absolutely freezing, primarily attributed to a mean wind that's been slapping everyone around since the late afternoon. pulse told me the place was on sherbrooke, google told me rachel. i decided to walk from mont royal station past rachel and on to sherbrooke. first, that's a much longer walk than i'd expected. second, google's definitely wrong. third, i couldn't find it on sherbrooke, either. we were supposed to meet at 8.15pm; i called at 8.20, and then at 8.30 and both times heard it ring until i got through to her answering machine.

how would you feel?
i sent a message with my frozen fingers briefly explaining what i'd been through and ending "... i'm going home. bon appetit!"

i pressed "send" and then realized that that could be construed as majorly passive-aggressive. then i thought about it some more, and figured that it would be appropriate nonetheless. i mean, what the hell? you invite me out to dinner, to a place which apparently isn't so easy to find, without specific directions and without making yourself available?

i feel like i've been made a fool of. whether by pulse or by the universe in general, i don't know. but i'm decidedly upset by this. i feel like shit; for this i skipped boxing? am i the asshole?

i didn't feel like stressing over dinner so i headed to la panthère verte at guy-concordia to sit and somberly eat a falafel. the traditional techina dripping out the bottom of the pita seemed to be mocking me.

i've returned home and i'm feeling sad. i've felt like this before, for sure, but right now i'm feeling it pretty keenly. i have friends and family here but i don't feel like it. i love it here and i've been extremely fortunate and all but i guess tonight's incident has sparked off some latent homesickness, and by home i mean cape town.

...

the only positive in all this was the violinist i walked past. there're a lot of homeless about tonight, but this dude was sitting on a corner in the freezing cold playing beautifully, and i tossed him a doubloon for his troubles and was glad to have been there to do so.

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while writing this i was listening to the radio, with a francophone interviewing an anglophone speaking in french with an atrocious accent. gods, i don't ever want to sound like that :S

required reading

what an odd day! and it's not over yet, but my boxing time has been cancelled so i may as well share what's on my mind right now...

1. pulse invited me to dinner with her friend who put my resume forward. she then informed me that "her friend" will be coming too, saying that she didn't want me to be surprised. does that mean that she meant "boyfriend"? i'm not sure how i feel about that, but whatever. it looks like a nice place to eat and it's a good excuse to meet someone who i hope will soon be a co-worker.

2. my yoga instructor noticed that i don't distribute pressure on my feet correctly, and suggested that i try using toe separators. so i went to the pharmacy to buy some, but being an uninterestingly straight male i didn't even know what to look for. the woman who helped me was shocked and amused that my girlfriend or wife would send me out on such an errand, and i didn't feel the need to correct her :P

3. i went to the ups store to print out and photocopy all the documentation i'll need to take to the guys who'll handle my tax returns for me. doing the math, if i don't get back more than $120 none of this will have been worth my while.

4. i was next to starbucks so i sat down with a large coffee to work on my comics. while i was learning that there's a rather lengthy book in middle english that i'm going to need to read from cover to cover before continuing*, something made me look at my phone and register, too late, that my netbook's clock was an hour behind. curses!

* i just realized that there's an important character who'll need to be defined well, even if he'll only appear in two panels of the first issue

so i missed boxing, i don't even have time to go and wail on the bags for a bit before going out. not the end of the world, but still...

... in completely different news, i haven't spoken to fp in more than a day and even then it was a couple of basic sms updates over a span of about three days. i get the feeling that whatever we had or didn't have has petered out...

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

side notes

bureaucracy and technology don't mix: why healthcare.gov almost failed

america's higher education system is failing?

alright. it's time to acknowledge that we're seeing the beginning of the end of the industrial age.

improvement

i just discovered two very cool things:

1. it's great that i wrote down all my french exam score details, because i just looked through them again and realized that the one thing that i got right is oral expression! i was too stressed out by the other results to register that... it means that i only have to retake the listening exam, the evil computerized one. so while i'm going to keep working on my expression by talking as much as possible, my primary focus can be watching french movies, listening to the radio and continuing to read harry potter. i've had the results for two days now and i've finally just relaxed about them :)

2. i just stumbled across something online that states unequivocally that the guy from my boxing class is right, i won't need to re-apply for a caq... which means that anyone who wants to employ me will only have to wait three weeks instead of two months. excellent!!!

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i wrote something complicated yesterday and got so stuck into debugging it that i didn't notice the hours fly by - suddenly it was 6.30pm and i rushed off to the gym for kickboxing. it's weird that winter conditions are still on but the gym is lit by the evening sun as if it were summer already. i like this!

the class was excellent, i was really careful not to take any damage to my ankle because i was planning on going snowboarding today. right after the class i kicked one of the big bags a couple of times, and i think i clipped something weird (the bag might be damaged) because i got agonizing pain for my troubles... oh, man :(

i headed to p.m. for their glorious general tao tofu, and i got up about an hour later completely stuffed and ready for bed. i'd told vfmp that i'd come over for a bit, but as i approached the exit of his metro station i realized that with waiting for the bus i'd only be able to be there for about fifteen minutes... sod that, in that state i simply turned around and caught the next train home.

i got up at 5am but really wasn't feeling the snowboarding vibe. i wasn't 100% certain of my leg and i must've spent about twenty minutes just contemplating my decision to stay in - on the one hand, i always regret missed opportunities but on the other, if i'm not in the mood i guess i'm not in the mood. besides, if i'd gone i might not have made the aforementioned discoveries so soon :P

while my leg is definitely feeling better, my nose is a bit tender. at first i thought it was from my training partner hitting me in the face with the thai pads every now and again. he's a big guy and rather aggressive, so while i wasn't happy that he took me by surprise the incentive to get out of his way was pretty high and after a couple of swipes landed i actually made an effort to evade.
now i think the tenderness is simply from me still having to blow my nose a lot.

i can't wait for real spring and hay-fever season to begin :/

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

grinding gears

the rest of sunday was entirely arbitrary, including watching the good wife and going to bed late. that was followed by my decided lack of a jump-start in the morning.

i found the guy i met on friday and got my resume through to him, and he's promised to hand it around to people he knows in the industry. very cool!

i finally completed reviewing that book. i felt mean by the end, and wrote as soothing a cover letter as i could. i felt such a relief at that being over!

i spent an inordinate amount of time completing the application form for the job i'm interviewing for; i have two weeks to prepare, which i think is plenty. i was expected a surprise "come in tomorrow" kind of thing.

i finally headed downtown to get my french results. i stood staring at the list, noting all my achievements... except for one score that was good, it was all close, but not close enough. i have a lot of work to do. so i guess that my next two weeks are now going to be focused on algorithms and programming AND french immersion.

it was a great time to head to the french conversation meetup! the place was packed and there was really only one seat for me. i took it, and tried to strike up a conversation but the two men nearest me weren't actually interested in hearing what i had to say. the one guy is a bit slow and doesn't listen, the other is an old kazakhstani who doesn't come for practice, but rather to learn french. so whoever he corners isn't practicing, but teaching basics. and he's boring. and he keeps interrupting if you try to talk or listen to anyone else. ignoring him doesn't seem to work. he spits a lot. at one stage he actually grabbed my arm while trying to make a point.

i left early, frustrated, and i'm not going back. fortunately i have friends i can converse with. maybe i'll find a stranger who wants to trade english for french like before. gods, it only takes one asshole to ruin your whole day :(

fortunately, boxing last night was excellent and put me in a good mood again!

i tried watching aurore, but in addition to the disc skipping i kept getting lost. maybe i'll try something else.

i couldn't finish dinner, and i suddenly felt exhausted before midnight and went straight to bed. i tried waking up early this morning, but no dice...

Monday, March 24, 2014

zen and martial arts before snowboarding - part ii

[... continued]

today:

the ideal sunday sleep-in! it was beautiful, i eventually got up with a slack face and huge bags under my eyes. i had coffee and chatted with SxS (who's having a seriously rough time) until i was running late for my first yoga class.

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once upon a time nixon tried to teach me yoga and had the completely wrong approach. today corrected that, we began a program that's targeted to my leg flexibility and neck / back strengthening. it was a tough hour and she made me work hard. she warned me beforehand that i might find myself becoming emotional in a good or a bad way, and i was completely shocked to walk out of the gym feeling incredibly good and slightly euphoric!

...

i visited godmother for a chilled cup of coffee, then returned with plans to do some studying and perhaps work on my comics. i ran laundry instead, played a bit of fallout and posted this all while eating myself out of house and home. now i think i'm going to do the starbucks thing, shop, and maybe *then* be responsible. because today has been an absolutely magnificent sunday to complete a wonderful, wonderful weekend that closed a seriously exciting week.

^_^

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today's post was brought to you by interactive noise - dont kik no line. groovy tune!

zen and martial arts before snowboarding - part i

what a crazy weekend! i'm gonna try to fit this post into as short a time as possible so that i can get something done today. it was supposed to be a study day...

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friday:

after four hours of sleep i popped awake seconds before my alarm sounded. i quickly prepared and left for the mountain. i finished reviewing the book on the metro, then spent half an hour in the bus terminal in a zombie state. the hour or so sleeping on the bus wasn't bad at all, but the few minutes i spent trying to use the toilet on board were a nightmare: the bus driver was being really aggressive on the accelerator and brakes, and at one point i found myself forced against the soap dispenser for about ten or twenty seconds and by the time gravity switched to me holding my weight with the top of my head pressed to the opposite wall my back had been soaked.

the words that popped into my head were "die in a fire", which i immediately regretted as the bastard dying in a fire might include everyone else on his bus...

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what a wonderful friday morning! the weather was excellent, the conditions excellent and there were barely any people on the slopes. i enjoyed a groovy morning but my legs were stiff and sore from thursday night's kickboxing. i only tried hitting the moguls once, because i was too tired to handle them properly and switching was an effort... but it didn't matter, i was having great high-speed fun without all that :)

my cafeteria french had improved slightly, lunch was delicious. i tried to study some discrete maths but experienced a profound exhaustion that saw me slipping in and out of consciousness in the warm sunlight streaming through the windows. eventually i felt ready to go out again and had a perfect afternoon! all the time on the slopes was amazing and even riding up the lifts was awesome, it felt like chilling on a bench in the summer with a beautiful view. very cool.

when i returned for a quick break i found the area outside packed with people sunning themselves and decided to join them. it was so warm that i lay back on one of the chairs stripped down to my t-shirt, and when i closed my eyes i felt like i was lying on a beach in twenty degree weather with a cool breeze; boy, was i ever surprised to look at my phone and find it telling me that it was only one degree! the first week of spring in canada meme is totally accurate :P

i would've stayed, but after about ten minutes i remembered that i didn't have any sunscreen and i didn't really want to get burned.

the last runs were crazy, i kept choosing paths that kept me totally high on adrenaline and i had a few fun wipe-outs. on my last ski lift ride i tried responding to the guy next to me in french but he pitied me and switched to english... he was intrigued that i'm interested in aerospace, told me the name of the company he works for and told me to get my resume to him. nice!!!

...

après ski after a long day: beer and maths don't mix. instead, i spent the hour relaxing cross-eyed or playing another crime solved, then enjoyed a chilled walk through the now-melting snow to the bus. the sunset was perfect, the day had been glorious ^_^

i could neither sleep nor concentrate on the make-out bus - i was surrounded by cute couples - so i spent it staring out the window and thinking lightly.

big dinner. tom segura: completely normal is hysterical, and highly recommended. jasper redd: jazz talk not so much. fp came over and we watched three episodes of firefly. it was awesome.

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yesterday:

i was exhausted and a bit sore from the day's exercise, so i probably shouldn't have invested more time in another crime solved before going to bed.

after a week of horrid sinus issues i'd finally had a clear few days; i was *not* impressed to suddenly find myself stuffy again. i medicated before going to sleep, and woke up with my nose and throat both disgustingly uncomfortable again. i medicated some more, and since then i've been kinda okay...

fp picked me up in the late morning and we drove through to morin heights. the driving conditions were awful, and the long drive was mostly a bit awkward. one would expect that after a week or two of dating that that wouldn't be the case. just saying.

morin heights is cool, but a bit crowded on saturdays. their facilities aren't as good as saint sauveur's, either. their lifts suck, they're aggressive and frustrating and it's far too easy to end up on a stranger's lap :$
having said that, there was more snow there than i've seen all winter and some of the slopes are really, really great! overall, we had a fantastic time and the only thing that detracted from that was us talking so much during a break that we missed out on quite a few runs. not that that wasn't enjoyable, though, so it was really all good :)

...

i barely had time to shower and eat before skipping out again to go to badger's album launch. i got in just in time for the first song, after which i wondered into the depths of club soda to see if anyone would recognize me (it was dark). after a while vfmp and his boyfriend rocked up, just as the second song began.
seeing badger singing on stage was very strange; in my head she's the woman who's teaching me how to fight, and the juxtaposition is jarring.
we were enjoying badger's groovy lounge (very 80's), and suddenly there were a bunch of people close to the stage who started dancing. vfmp's boyfriend dragged the two of us down to join them and i spent the rest of the performance feeling very conspicuous indeed.

anyway, it was a nice vibe and a fun evening. we didn't stay for the afterparty as it was a bit too "lesbian disco" (disco's cool, but the songs the dj was playing really weren't our cup of tea) so we said our hi's and goodbyes before missioning to aux vivres for a delicious and entertaining end to the evening. i was completely bombed by the time we got on the metro to head home, and by the time i arrived i simply shambled into bed.

[continued...]

Friday, March 21, 2014

a couple of first steps

the biggest news of the day? i made it through yesterday morning's phone interview. awesome! so i have reason to keep my head down and continue to study hard. i also have a couple of fun ideas to explore that the interview inspired, which is cool.

the second biggest? i interviewed this morning with an ex-co-worker's partner who i thought was just a recruiter, but it turns out her firm actually employs developers in order to contract them out - which is what i was doing in israel, essentially. they're excited about my resume, and if i interview successfully with any of their clients they'll make me an offer. sweet!

the third biggest? my french results are available. i was going to go and get them but the metro broke down so i'll have to go on monday.

because in a few hours i'm going snowboarding. and then on saturday again with fp. awesome ^_^

---
yesterday:

as i walked out the door i remembered a mistake i'd made during the interview, which i'd continue to be concerned about until hearing that i passed. i was asked a question and i gave an intuitive answer without doing the full calculation. i told the guy that that's what i'd done, and that if i was off i'd do it the hard way. he told me i was right, and i quipped "good guess!". why did i say that? what if he hadn't understood that i was joking?

i ate in one of the underground food courts downtown, the indian curry was delicious but the service experience was grating. the girl didn't tell me that the till wasn't working until after she'd served me, and then she didn't have reasonable change. i told her exactly what i thought, and i was relieved when she bothered to warn the next customer before taking his order.

lit crit: over lunch i read a story that, while not perfect, actually floored me. it was such a wonderful concept and the end was so well executed! unfortunately, the next story is as awful as the previous is good, and as a fan of the pirate genre i'm actually finding it offensive :@

i found the french results for the previous exams, and as soon as i saw that they keep them posted for a few weeks i relaxed. i returned home for a short rest (playing another case solved, i do that a lot) before going to the gym.

i arrived early so i used the opportunity to work on the heavy bags as a warm-up. the boxing class was good, after which i was sore and ready to load up on empty carbs with newk'd and co at the weekly art / beer / music thing at foufounes électriques. only newk'd was in hospital with food poisoning, so that didn't happen. considering the kind of junk he consumes, it's amazing that he only gets food poisoning once or twice a season and not once or twice a month :P

when i informed fp of tomorrow's snowboarding plans i was most pleasantly surprised by her suggestion to go together on saturday. very, very cool indeed. and if she has a car we could go to morin heights - my boxing coach will be there, he says it's much better than saint sauveur during the day.

i chatted with k-twang, which was fun, and watched masters of the universe.

---
today:

i slept really well, requiring a second round after initially getting up. it was wonderful! i continued reading the shitty pirate story to the meeting with the recruiter. i didn't dress up, but i didn't dress badly either; i thought it was going to be a relaxed meeting with a friend of a friend. it pretty much was, but if i'd known that she was also a potential employer i'd have made an extra effort...

oh, well. the meeting was excitingly positive anyway.

i came home, had a big lunch while watching once upon a time. i'm most of the way through the second season, it's not bad but a lot of it feels forced.

after a quick nap i focused on sorting out taxes. i went through a bunch of records, then made a call to a company that handles these things for a fee. the woman who answered doesn't speak english, so i tried in french. the first couple of sentences were alright, but then... i know what i was saying was correct, but i was saying it so slowly and carefully that she stopped me and went to find someone else to speak to me in broken english.

not so good for the confidence.

my mom conferenced godmother into our skype chat and so i gave them both my news, then headed out to get my french results and go on a not-a-date. just as i was leaving i received a surprisingly direct love letter from sq. i don't know where to file that in my brain. between fp, sq, pulse and the non-date i kinda felt like i was juggling four women. strange.

after the metro failure i went to the area the non-date would be in, stopping at cafe juicy lotus for lentil soup and the biggest news of the day. so lots of messaging while trudging through the never-ending pirate tale until it was time to go to melk. i can see why i've never noticed the place before, all hidden away in a corner. godmother's friends' daughter was working there, so that was amusing. it's a small cafe and their coffee is really good. they have almond milk!

i think everyone could hear that i was on something like a date :P
the girl i met was interesting, but not that interesting. certainly not my type. we talked about all sorts of odd things for an hour, then i rushed off to get to the gym. which i arrived at late anyway, so instead of missing half the advanced class i worked on the heavy bags and joined the beginner's later.

one of the boxing trainers - the guy who organizes the fight nights and wants me to get in the ring - was poking fun at me for hitting the bags so hard.
"look at that anger! why are you so angry? it's because the bag's black, isn't it?" (he's black)
"no, dude - it's because that's the colour of my heart."
boy, was i proud to hear that come out my own throat without delay!

so i warmed up well, really pushing my body with a few different sets of exercises - striking and conditioning - then entered the class. i worked with a guy who's been out of commission for a couple of months, and i retrained his kicks and his uppercuts till he was hitting me seriously hard: the only reason i asked him to hold back a bit was because i didn't want to get injured before tomorrow :P

i was amused later when he called me "professor" - i may not be a good fighter (i've been called "robocop"), but i definitely "get" the theory (regarding technique) and it looks like i'm pretty good at teaching it.

i was really proud of myself for managing the final cardio sets at the end of class! the funniest part of the class was one of the new guys getting flustered when i pointed out to the jolly moroccan that he's the same body type and has the same style as dhalsim. it's awesome watching him :D

---
facebook's underlying issues are becoming a serious problem. they've pretty much reached the point where the benefit to everyone being on it is outweighed by their shitty filtering. i think it's time for everyone to move to google+. or for someone to create an alternative.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

quick linkage and omgthatwasawful

thanks, vfmp, for putting the idea of watching masters of the universe again into my head. i just spent an eternia in plotholia... i couldn't stop watching out of a sense of morbid fascination.

1987 called to say that hollywood was filled with really, REALLY shitty writers. but look at that cast!

---
to make up for that brainlessness, here are forty-five tips for men. most of them are appropriate for women, too. very wise.

---
do you think that microwaves are bad news for nutrition? just in case, check out raw vs cooked broccoli and best cooking method. nuked my worries in as long as it takes to cook something decent :)

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

québéc vs israel vs me

at the end of 2000, i left south africa and arrived in israel. israel had been doing alright politically, but within a month of my arrival the second intifada broke out and things went crazy. everyone became increasingly paranoid and aggressive and the palestinians i'd been living with were forced to leave their studies and return to their side of the border. the country's been on a downward spiral since.

at the end of 2012, i left israel and arrived in québéc. québéc's been amazing until then, but within a week of my arrival parti québécois came into power and tensions have risen to the point where many people have either left the province or are considering it due to the "language oppression" and, lately, religious and cultural oppression.

i find it interesting that both countries (québéc is a country, for all intents and purposes) are dealing with similar issues: they want to protect their cultural and linguistic identity. israel needs to be a refuge for jews facing persecution, and although it prides itself on being a democratic state its democracy can never be allowed to alter its jewish roots or everything would have been for nothing. québéc needs to be a bastion of french and francophone culture in canada, so it's kinda the same thing albeit not as extreme.

both of these countries have a significant immigrant population. both of these countries speak languages that are out-of-sync with the americanized globalized future we're all hurtling towards.

1) in order to participate in the new global village it's important that everyone can speak decent english.

2) in order to protect one's cultural identity it's important that the spoken and written language are dominant.

the thing is, israel has been wildly successful with regards to language and culture. hebrew went from a "dead" language to a relevant modern one, in spite of its population being largely immigrant. the reason for this is that anyone who immigrates is offered language instruction in a variety of methods and environments, but nobody's forced to speak hebrew and a lot of immigrants can get by just fine with english, russian or arabic. if you're an immigrant, you do what you like and in whatever language you like, nobody will "oppress" you or refuse to engage you because you don't speak the same language.

but your kids? your kids will go to school where the language of instruction is hebrew. between the schools, the internet and entertainment media they will hopefully learn decent english as well, but it's very rare to find people raised in israel, even recent immigrant children who've only been subjected to a year or two of israeli schooling, who don't speak fluent hebrew. and once you speak decent hebrew, you'd be silly not to take advantage of it in that environment.

in québéc, immigrants and non-francophone natives are forced to communicate in french; even though language instruction is available, it's complicated. if you're francophone, your kids go to french school and if you're anglophone, english school. so everyone's kids are isolated and none of them end up bilingual. adults, who have a harder time learning new languages, are harassed, technology companies - or any company that's not entirely local - need to continually deal with frustrating translation issues. tourism becomes a problem, as do all "international" events.

montreal, the only bilingual region in québéc, is not only an incredible mix of cultures but is also the most economically viable.

...

i guess what i'm saying is that being defensive is justified, but being exclusive isn't. they should't divide over language, they should unify with it! this is a magical place filled with wonderful people, there's really no need for language police or racism.

personally, i love both languages and i want to be fluent in french as well.

also, i have very bad luck when it comes to moving.

on preparation - round i

my phone interview is over. i feel like it went well, i *HOPE* it went well and if i did screw up anything it was probably by not having any questions when he asked if i had any questions.
or by misunderstanding a question about recursion, stacks and references that saw me confusing him until i eventually expressed the correct answer.

anyway, it really wasn't bad, and now it's wait-and-see time. and practice-some-french and keep-playing-with-algorithms-and-data-structures and looking-for-work time.

---
i was going to read discrete maths until i fell asleep (not much of a challenge, to be honest), and couldn't find my kindle in any of its usual spots. panic set in, i tore through my apartment and was on the verge of giving up and heading to the metro station where i'd last held it for sure when i found it carelessly left beneath a stack of random shit.

damn.

just then i received a response from a message i'd sent to a friend about the latest humble bundle. she didn't understand how it worked so i explained it to her, and then realized that there're a couple of things i want and i'm perfectly happy to give a little money to charity in order to get them.

i paid using paypal, and decided that it was time to increase my password's security. only... paypal doesn't accept passwords of more than twenty characters. wtf, paypal? why doesn't everyone know this?!

last night was just another in three or four that i've had lots of vivid dreams, though i don't remember much of them afterwards. i'm obviously learning shit, though. keep it up, brain!

i prepared for the interview by doing laundry and taking a deep nap, and now i'm ready to chill for the afternoon. and pray. perhaps i'll pray a little. i really want to have gotten through the screening process.

overflow

i'm getting ready for bed. there's tons of stuff i haven't touched, but so much that i have... i can't believe how much i have and haven't used over the past decade or so. i remember weird shit, and i've forgotten some things so drastically that i can't make heads or tails of where i stand. well, i'll find out tomorrow morning, i guess.

i feel like i have computer science coming out my ears. but i haven't segfaulted yet, so i'm positive ;)

---
paris forces half the car owners to use public transport in order to relieve excess smog.

crazy!

but it's nice to know they understand what to do. not as well as the spaniards, though...

pre-screening

aww, man. i ate at cafe juicy lotus today. they had a delicious quinoa-based vegan pizza, but i wonder if the woman was mistaken and there was cheese under all those veggies because i've had the most horrific headache since i got home. now is not the time, i've got my screening interview in the morning :(

---
i forgot to mention that on my way out of the gym last night i tripped over army brat's tog bag that she'd left just around a corner. this wouldn't be interesting except that i walked into it with my cracked toe, which was finally healing and is now back to really sore :(

i woke up early this morning, in time to catch a majestic sunrise, then proceeded to spend my day studying with the occasional distraction. a constant over the last couple of weeks has been another case solved - it's just like 10000000 in terms of its grip, and oddly enough it has the same underlying mechanics. the story's pretty cool, though, and there're some levels i want to revisit because they contain some cool easter eggs.

i met up with newk'd at cafe juicy lotus to go over the basics of filling out tax returns. the tax bureau's envelopes are insanely complicated to open! i spoke to aota to clarify something that didn't seem right and it appears that megaman forgot to do something that may or may not be to my benefit in the long run. a lot of other customers were speaking hebrew, which was pretty weird. between today and the last time i spoke to pg, i'm amazed at how much french comes out when i'm trying for hebrew!

---
i've been feeling crap since i got home, i hope it's not serious. i'm struggling to wrap my head around things that really aren't complicated and i couldn't even nap. ugh :(

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

my girlfriend's boyfriend

http://girlfriendsboyfriend.com/ - i just saw this on netflix, mike birbiglia's cross between stand-up, spoken word and romantic comedy is just mind-blowing!

...

and now i'm going to get back on schedule.

i really didn't like gattaca

i mean, it's got a decent premise but it's boring. having said that, the reveal in the water did make an impression. i was just thinking about it after getting back from boxing, the protagonist's attitude is pretty much how i approach training. my oxygen efficiency wasn't good, but it was definitely better than last week. i hit the bags so hard and for so long that i developed a stitch, and then did impact with the stitch, and still had to do 100 pushups, 100 situps and 25 burpees after that. the stitch remained until shortly after i finally finished with them.

it's st paddy's tonight. after a late night last night and boxing tonight, there's no way i'm going to celebrate. hopefully i'll still be in montreal for next year's parade.

Monday, March 17, 2014

ear-poppingly fast

my entire system is on holiday, which isn't particularly helpful right now but it's a result of enjoying an unbelievably good weekend. which began on friday. and will hopefully end by the time i've written this :)

---
friday:

thursday night's sleep wasn't as bad as wednesday's, but it wasn't amazing either. i woke up approximately two minutes before my 5am alarm sounded, and i had to get my shit together quickly if i was going to take advantage of the amazing snowboarding conditions.

i totally got my shit together :)

i'd loaded my kindle with some really good discrete mathematics books, and used my time on the metro and the buses to pour through them when i wasn't getting a little bit of shuteye (the back half of the bus on the way there was filled with happily snoring people, it was really cozy).

what a ridiculously beautiful early morning! it was cold, but absolutely stunning.

the bus took the shorter route that i remembered from last season, which was nice but weird. [or maybe it's because i've only taken the early afternoon buses this season? hmmm...]

the entire length of my walk from the bus to the slopes i struggled to keep my earphone cables from pulling, and when i arrived i realized that i'd closed my inner jacket on top of it. d'oh!
then when i went through my gear to get ready, i discovered two other sets of spares that i'd packed for the previous times - i was wondering where my other socks and sports shirts had gone! d'oh!

some metrics that i wrote down before heading out:
up since 5, it's almost 10.
-16 celsius. 2 hour bus ride instead of the usual 3, plenty of snow and it's still all smooth (unless that's because it's icy, i remain optimistic).
enjoying my first coffee of the day, half of the two french conversations i've had so far made me out to be a complete asshat, and the other involved figuring out how to get sugar into my cup.


as i finished writing that i got milk inc - inside of me [hah! i've never seen or heard the full version before now] stuck in my head and that set the tone for the next few hours. which were awesome, my ankle handled switching just fine, the conditions were great and i really enjoyed myself.
the running nose i was sporting wasn't out of the ordinary, so that was good too.

when i returned to the cafeteria for lunch i was pleasantly surprised to find vegan friendly pasta options! their pasta stand is new, not overpriced and delicious, so my packed peanut butter sandwich (i'd consumed the hummus one as second breakfast) could be relegated to evening snack :)

---
once upon a time i had a calculus exam on the sunday morning after infected mushroom and yahel were playing the ostrich farm near eilat (my first trance party in israel, i don't think i've told the story here and i probably should), so i took my books and kinda studied during the after-party on the beach.
on friday i was refreshing discrete maths on the slopes in preparation for a job interview. feels about right, like fifteen years have passed and nothing's changed!

except this time i think i might pass :P

---
so the conditions before lunch were excellent, but they were nothing compared to those after lunch! a snowstorm hit, and the rest of the afternoon was absolutely perfect ^_^

except for my shitty ankle giving me trouble, but fortunately it was mostly okay and didn't interfere with what i was doing.

ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED: SWITCHING

not exactly like a pro, but good enough to catch a little air with confidence. launching over a steep drop at high speed is an insane rush, and landing opposite makes it even crazier! so that was this season's goal - next season i'll be attempting properly stupid things in the snow park!

i do hope friday wasn't the end of this one, though. i want more...

---
it was strange to be leaving for the bus while the sun was still up. it was a gorgeous, golden sunset, i picked up tea from mcdonald's and brilliantly burned my lips due to my impatience...

the discrete i went through on the bus back was a bit of a headache but i discovered that i do recall some fascinating shit from my first degree. i also napped a bit, which i desperately needed...

i got home, found two envelopes that looked like my french results, showered, scarfed down a frozen dinner and left to meet fp for a second date. for the first time this season i wore my iron fist sweater, which on the way there was too warm and on the way out not warm enough :P

we met at brutopia, which was far too loud so we walked to kafein. a bit of a dodgy dive but the electro was excellent and we had a great time.

---
saturday:

we slept at her place, and it was early afternoon when i eventually went home. my sinuses had been griefing me on / off and my legs - omg, my legs were *so* sore after the snowboarding and i hadn't thought to stretch afterwards :(

the first thing i did was check my french results... nope, those are tax forms. dammit!
i caught up on comics for a bit, then decided i was too exhausted to think and tried to nap. but i wasn't tired enough to nap. i needed to go shopping before the fights so i took my netbook to starbucks on the way. i churned out a couple of exciting panels (it's weird how much effort can go into a single panel script for a translation work), quickly ate at subway when i realized i wouldn't have time to make dinner myself, shopped, chugged a protein shake (i don't dig subway's veggie patties) and then went to the sports bar.

across from me on the metro was a father holding an instruction manual trying to show his kid how to transform his optimus prime toy. i couldn't stop smiling, i wanted to take a photo but it didn't seem appropriate.

i arrived about forty minutes late and i was *still* the first there! there was general hockey madness going on, i missed most of the prelims and that included alex garcia who i really wanted to see. vfmp and his boyfriend (they seem to be good, so that's cool) joined me just after ufc 171 was underway.

overall, it was a really exciting night!

*** UFC 171 SPOILER ALERT ***
diego "the dream" sanchez was really entertaining! apparently he was suffering from food poisoning, i'm not sure if that explains his french stewart face as he entered the ring but the reason we were laughing was his pre-fight trash talk, the only thing missing was finger-snapping and when he was announced we all heard "the queen" instead of "the dream".
hendricks vs robbed lawler (you see what i did there?) was so exciting that i actually found myself yelling at the screen. that was some crazy, crazy shit!
*** END UFC 171 SPOILER ***

---
sunday:

i enjoyed a decent night's sleep, i was supposed to get up early to join godmother for breakfast but it took me an hour of snoozing before i was able to drag myself out of bed. and then i missed the metro, and the bus... delaying everyone's breakfast and scoring myself a ten minute walk in the beautiful but icily cold and windy morning air.

breakfast was great, but ended on an awkward note because godmother was shocked that i'd even think of contacting the recruiter for my shitty interview to tell her that they could learn a thing or two from the company i'm currently interviewing for. by the time i got home i was ready to send her a message informing her that she was right, that is a bad idea.

i spoke to pg, who found your first snow hysterical and accepted my poetic license (the cookie thing never really happened). so that was cool :)

i entered a debugging nightmare, which wasted a lot of my afternoon. i think it's time to familiarize myself with eclipse's debugging tools as opposed to abusing the console.

i was contacted by a most intriguing girl from the dating site, who's so much so that i'd like to meet her regardless of romantic intentions. fp's now all up in my head-space but this girl seems like she could either blow me away or become a good friend. that's a weird thing to think based on a profile, a message and a phone conversation, but there you go...

i'd been thinking of fp with reservations, but a lot of those reservations melted away when she came over last night for dinner, invader zim and firefly.

---
today:

it's 3.20pm, i've done nothing but post for the past couple of hours. i really need to grind now.

Friday, March 14, 2014

hermitage

this is super weird. i got up early this morning and spent the entire day stuffing around with an exercise. i'm not making good time, but i guess that's what being rusty's all about.

at least my breathing's been a bit better, though i'm still a bit uncomfortable. i haven't used my humidifier since this morning, and i'm wondering if that's got something to do with it...

i'm gonna take a break, then maybe do a little more before bed. tomorrow's supposed to be fantastic snowboarding weather, so i think i'll take the opportunity to go in the morning. i can't believe we're at the end of the season already :(

---
my mum's been given a clean bill of health! i'm decidedly relieved :)

---
EDIT: oh, and i finally watched this after joe rogan tweeted about it a while ago: one step beyond - the sacred mushroom. it's delightful!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

shallow breaths

i'm amused no end by the fact that i can't get stellan skarsgård out of my head. the guy who coached us yesterday strongly reminded me of him.

...

i had an absolutely horrible night last night, even after taking meds it was a struggle to breathe. at around 4am i took additional meds, after comparing the two boxes with blurry vision to make sure i wasn't doing something stupid. i did get some sleep after that, but it wasn't great and it ended at 6.59am when something set off our fire alarm.

what a fantastic way to wake up.

once everything settled down i tried studying a bit more, but not much was going in. i fired off an email asking to postpone my interviews until monday, and was offered a date more than three weeks from now. won't they have filled the position by then?! i got them to bring it forward to next week.

the great thing is that i have direction and motivation to prepare for this interview, but it's really good for me in general; if these guys don't pick me up after all this, somebody has to!

experience + refreshed cs knowledge = win.

---
after what my sister told me about my niece and her new husband... i'm wondering if i should sent her this.

wednesday tuesday - the wrackening

i just spent hours struggling with a sample problem that these people have used in interviews before. actually solving the problem took a lot longer than i'm comfortable with, but coding it? shit, that took hours! it's been so long since i played with java, with bitwise operations, with actual brainteasers that demand clever algorithms...

... i don't remember when last i enjoyed coding so much. if i'd really been asked this in an interview i would have bombed, the practice is definitely required.

---
yesterday:

i spent most of the day studying. in the evening i did some shopping and when i returned found myself mysteriously and frustratingly uncoordinated, but with a partially formed acupuncture in my head.

i hit the gym for kickboxing, looking forward to getting a good workout before going on a date. the warmup was good - really good! i was actually comfortable with the jump rope. that never happens. the shadowboxing wasn't bad, and then i partnered up with a big dude and took the first turn drilling. i was awesome for about two minutes. then i had a problem.

i wasn't getting enough oxygen. no matter how deeply nor how much i breathed. i tried to keep going, and i'd been working with really high intensity, but i became dizzy. i rested a short while, resumed, then realized that my brain function was actually slowing down. that was scary, i sat down and that was the end of the class for me. it explained my earlier coordination issues, too...

so, sinusitis. we meet again. my oxygen starvation is as bad (if not worse) than when i had bronchitis, but the irritating cough i've had for the last few days really hasn't been bad enough to justify this. what the hell???

i made my way back home, suddenly aware that my upper back was hurting. not a good week for my body to fail me. not a good week at all :(

i had a quick dinner and then headed out to the date. my head was still a little fuzzy but i figured the coffee would make up for it. only, that makes perfect sense for the period after i've had the coffee. before, though, i managed to forget the girl's name and when she walked in, turned and looked at me... i wasn't sure it was her. all recognition systems failed, and when she told me her name i wasn't certain that we were meeting the right people. what are the chances of two (essentially) blind dates at the same time and place?

i remained motionless, staring at her smile from about two feet away and squinting my eyes in as puzzled an expression as i could muster. after an awkward amount of time had passed, i offered her my hand and joined her at the counter. later, when i checked her photo again, i was surprised at myself for not having recognized her but simultaneously relieved to find that she's actually put on a bit of weight since it was taken. it suits her and excuses my initial response... a bit.

anyway, we sat down and started talking. the conversation flowed as well if not better than sunday's date! she's attractive, too, though in an unusual way. we talked until one of the employees threatened to lock up with us still inside.

after saying goodnight i went home, and fell into bed feeling slow and stupid.

---
today:

i woke up much, much worse. i could barely breathe, my throat was sore and clogged and the duvet was too much heat. i eventually dragged myself to the computer to work through some more material but my mind was still on a delay. and then suddenly it was time to get going, but my mother had convinced me to dress nicely and i needed shoe polish so i rushed to the pharmacy to buy sinus meds and a kit. the kit cost about R200. it's shoe polish. for shoes i don't like wearing that go with clothes that i don't feel comfortable in.

society :(

i thought i would get there early but i actually arrived just in time. the hour i spent there (with a couple of other candidates) was very pleasant. i was overdressed. i ruined a run-through of a sample question because my idea of a "brute force" solution was already optimized, but i missed out something important that resulted in a bug. so that kinda sucked. good thing today doesn't count!

on the way out the other candidates and i were chatting and one of them told me i'd impressed him. we're all vying for the same job, but he's already got a good one so i told him that if he beats me to the punch i'd appreciate an opportunity to replace him :P

perhaps i shouldn't have given him my card. i got paranoid afterwards and it took me a little thought to realize that there's really not much bad he can do with it, even if he was the type to resort to sabotage.

i made a big lunch, finished watching the guild season 7, then crashed. not for long, but i was incapacitated until i re-medicated.

i got up when sunday's date messaged me to ask if i wanted to go for drinks tomorrow night. so the good news was that my assessment on sunday was wrong, the bad news was that i'd have to do something about it today.

swak.

i don't know if my response was tactful enough or offensive, but she thanked me for my honesty and wished me luck so i guess i got the message across.

...

right, so one problem solved, i've scheduled an interview for whenever so i have some serious preparation work to do, i've posted this, and it's 9.30pm and i don't know where my day went.

huh.

at least i know that this weekend and the following monday / tuesday will be awesome snowboarding weather! so that's happening, regardless of how the interviews go.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

quick burn monday

i tried to wake up early this morning. i guess i succeeded, but it required a snooze or two. i was so comfortable! not even sleepy, just... comfortable.

that turned to discomfort as soon as i got up, my throat's screwed again. this sucks. and my stomache wasn't too impressed with me either. i felt a bit woozy most of the morning.

when i walked past my calendar i was horrified to discover that i'd written down my mother's surgery date correctly but remembered it wrong! i remembered tuesday, by the time i sent her a message she was already prepped and didn't know what day it was. either, my aunt gently chided :$

i played with java and algorithms until the cleaning lady called me to tell me she'd be bringing a few french movies to vendôme metro for me, so i headed down there to meet her. she told me she'd been the victim of a rather sophisticated phishing attack this weekend, and while she's dealt with the credit card fraud her computer's still compromised. i told her what to do and i've offered to help her re-install her system on the weekend... at least she appears to have learned her lesson :/

i returned, ran laundry and continued practicing, then went to the language meetup. gods, the more i spoke the more difficult it became and i ended up feeling utterly useless. ohshitohshitohshitohshit.

---
i picked up some flowers and took them to godmother's, where we had a really nice dinner. delicious, and uncle hate was mostly being pleasant. my aunt in cape town kept trying to call me on skype when only my phone was logged in (i don't allow calls on 3g, and it only alerts me when i get messages), so godmother explained all the details and it sounds like my mom's all clear (crossing fingers anyway). i'll get to speak to her tomorrow, at least.

the one thing that bothered us both is that my mother didn't tell us anything earlier. my mother's always saying how silly it is not to discuss things when one needs support, and suddenly she's guilty of the same behaviour? but then godmother said that yin had told her that she'd probably behave the same way, and i guess that's true of me too to a degree.

---
during the afternoon i'd been speaking to pulse, and after dinner i went over to her place for a cup of tea. what i understood from the bus driver's rapid-fire french was that if i want to know when to get off i should keep my eyes peeled. thanks, buddy.

the half hour i spent with pulse was nice, but i feel friend-zoned. that's not a big deal, but i found myself a little too self-conscious while we talked.

the snowstorm i walked out into was unbelievable. mesmerizing, i was listening to tool and watching the flakes spin like little disco balls in the street's light in swirls like a screensaver that could have been an underwater scene or a space one. i had to keep forcing my attention back to the street so that i wouldn't miss my bus.

it was chilly in the metro. i've never noticed the giant vents above the tracks that stream air from an area visible through giant glass panes - tonight that air was cold and we all had to stay covered up.

i've done some more reviewing of my friend's book because i was reading on the metro. there's nothing more frustrating than a fantastically good set of ideas executed with less than fantastic commitment. some of the issues are so ridiculous that it just seems like he got lazy, as if he knew what he wanted to say and got bored trying to share it coherently. i wonder if i'll ever be invited to critique him again after this...

---
at godmother's, we watched a bit of the news.

the situation in ukraine is really sad.

the malaysia jet is still missing, but it's not the first to disappear mysteriously. what the hell? shouldn't we be doing something to fix this?

snowden's still on the run for protecting the americans from themselves but speaking to sxsw? cool, but sad too.

ah-ha! a positive drug story. colorado reaping the benefits of legalization

Monday, March 10, 2014

distractions - part ii

[... continued]

about halfway through the night i registered that the boxing ring was set up in an emptied swimming pool. awesome!

the first fight was a bit weird, because after all the show of the pre-fight ceremony the guys barely moved. i expect people who weight 40lbs less than me to be quicker and more intense than me, not slower.

in one of the fights a combatant was doing a kind of mma hand-waving thing that's entirely inappropriate for muay thai. his opponent was so much better than him that in the middle of a round he made fun of him by doing the same hand motions. it was bizarre.

one of the fights was a kid we've all seen at the gym but who none of us have seen sparring. he trains with his shirt on, so we were all shocked when he stepped into the ring looking like he'd been drawn in a comic book. huge pecs and tiny waist, but he'd obviously been skipping leg day. friends don't let friends skip leg day.
his opponent was obviously high level and super-aggressive, and i was blown away by how quickly this dude recovered, figured his shit out and proceeded to dish out punishment. he didn't look like he had it in him!

one of the fighters i was really looking forward to was the guy who took our class a couple of weeks ago, and we were disappointed because while he did a good job, he barely used his legs! it turned out later that his opponent was so tough that after one or two kicks he understood that they'd be totally ineffectual and so he focused on the guy's face. that's hardcore, it's not like there could have been a significant weight difference.

the jolly moroccan: he had a good fight, but i was expecting fireworks. it was exciting, but not as exciting as i expected :(

the last couple of fights on the card were great, and really brought the night to a close on a good note.

...

i travelled most of the way home with one of the guys i train with, and we talked non-stop until parting company. i ate and watched freaks and geeks, then went straight to bed.

---
today:

i slept late and woke up still really tired. i broke another glass this morning... one of the new, thicker ones. dammit :(
at least it didn't shatter.

i started posting and suddenly found myself running late for my date! and of course, there's nothing like running late and then just missing the metro. fortunately, even with the combined transportation delays i was only fifteen minutes late.

---
the date:

it was immediately apparent, and i mean within a second of seeing her, that she's not my type. we met at myriade, a small connoisseurs coffee shop near guy-concordia, and the coffee was AMAZING. after sorting mine out i sat down across from her and we began chatting; for the first few minutes all i could think about was whether i should be cutting the date short instead of wasting our time. after a few minutes, though, i started trying to find her attractive (nonsensical, i know), because i really, really wanted to. to justify that, neither of us noticed the three hours that flew by as we discussed psychology, society and culture, the academy, performances, politics and language... she's interesting and engaging and awesome!

i hope we can be friends, and by that i mean that i hope i'm wrong about the look she gave me when we said goodbye - a look that i read as a hurt "shit, you're not into me". i feel really bad about that.

---
otherwise, it was a beautiful afternoon and well spent! i didn't have much time to rest before the poetry slam, so i settled on watching the guild while hurriedly eating. season 7 is available on netflix! sweet :)

the crap news, though is that the filling that's been giving me trouble since the dentist had his way with it? the one that i haven't been able to eat with? well, i felt and heard something crack today, and now it's sensitive to everything. *LONG STRING OF EXPLETIVES DELETED HERE*

...

i rushed off to sign up, arriving late but in time. i met a couple of other poets and we entertained each other non-stop. horseman, newk'd, newk'd's girlfriend and friend showed up soon after everything began, and i must say that it was quite a relief to have support :)

---
i went with preacher. apparently my performance was spot on, except for the very last word... it's like they keep shouting in the gym: "finish strong! finish strong!" - fail :(
but shit happens.

i didn't make it to round two, unfortunately - i guess the judges didn't like my style, but what was really moving for me was the rest of the audience's reaction; to know that there were people that i actually managed to touch to the point of yelling and cheering mid-performance, and to get such a warm response from random strangers afterwards was amazing! ^_^

i could yell "i was robbed" until i was blue in the face; i know how hard it is to judge and how subjective it is, and i'll just have to hope that my attempt next month manages to blow them away.

---
newk'd and girlfriend and i went to aux vivres for dinner, eating and talking until they kicked us out. i've spent a little time on another case solved, and now that i've posted i'm going to hit the hay. i need to get cracking on my interview preparation in the morning.

---
this article on time management covers me and distractions.

this old lecture on vegans and heart disease is still relevant. long, but full of interesting information. if you want a summary, though, eat ground flax and take b12 supplements.

Sunday, March 09, 2014

distractions - part i

i watched the last two episodes of freaks and geeks last night. how does a series go from "harmless fun" through to "insanely brilliant" so quickly?!

and then just end???

i may have narrative closure, but i feel like i need to re-watch the whole thing. i really am sad that it's over.

---
friday:

i installed eclipse to play with java - which i haven't touched in a while - and did that for a while. i did some more of the book review, hitting a short story that's absolutely wonderful but suffers such a huge plot issue that i've actually offered him big suggestions; i hope he's not too offended :P

i went shopping, and was pleased to discover that using the points card i've already earned myself a $20 discount. that card *is* worth it.

boxing class was good, i partnered with a guy i know who's really tough and experienced and we worked particularly well together. when it was time to go hard on the punching bags, i was letting it all out and that included my breathing; "totalwaste, shut up!" shouted the coach, "you're not even hitting it that hard!"
that pissed me off, the combination of being told that and the possibility that he might be right. i hope he was wrong :(

impact was a treat, we both consistently scored solid liver shots but were both supportive of each other. and that dude hits hard, that did my confidence some good.

a couple of us talked about work until late, i rushed home for a quick dinner and headed over to vfmp's. on the way i set up two dates, one for sunday and one for tuesday, which was cool. then i got off the bus two stops too early and felt like an idiot. at least the weather was comfortable :P

we watched a decent episode of house of cards and played a great game of carcassonne, but there wasn't much conversation and i got the feeling his heart wasn't into it.

when i got home i felt lazy as usual. i totally spaced out playing another case solved (i really am addicted, its meta-game is really that good), then used book reviewing as an excuse to consume lots of junk food before bed.

i went to bed with a big toe really hurting. the air's been really dry in my apartment the last few days and it's messing with everything; cracked skin's no fun :(

---
yesterday:

it was a gorgeous, warm-ish, sunny day!

i enjoyed a slow, late wake up right until i realized that i needed to rush to get to la panthère verte on time :$
bnw and i went over the script, everything looks good and she's ready to rock. awesome!

we sat there long enough for two coffees and lunch, about a third of that time involved the comics and the rest talking about everything. she and her husband are going through a weird phase and i really hope they get their shit all sorted out...

the girl sitting about a metre away from me for most of the afternoon looked so remarkably like pulse that it was uncanny. i caught her eye once and she didn't respond to my smile, so i assumed it wasn't her but i couldn't shake the feeling that it was and that she was pretending not to know me... the only explanation for that being that she thought that bnw and i were on a date. when she went to the washroom for a minute i asked her friend if she's who i thought she was, and her friend gave me another name. it was enough to make my head spin!

i didn't try the maple taffy on our way in to the metro, but i really must. apparently, spring has arrived :P

i was completely bombed on the metro, i was slipping in and out of consciousness until i got home.

---
i spoke to my mum, and the more i think about it the less patient i become to hear good news from her post-op. i'm sure she'll be fine, but i think i finally understand what she goes through whenever something happens to me. we're really far away.

---
i sent a message to pulse regarding the earlier non-incident, and was surprised to find myself in a long, really positive text conversation. we talked about all sorts of things, to the point where it just seemed right to invite her to the slam tonight. she said she might come, which would make things super dramatic if today's date goes well because if it does i wouldn't not invite her to the slam too! i'm laughing at myself right now, i think this is hysterically stupid of me.

ssso got in touch with me on facebook - it's been more than nine years! how good friendships disappear... it was nice to catch up, though.

i went to watch the jolly moroccan fight last night, and discovered that muay thai fights have been banned or something so these were all defined as amateur exhibitions...

[continued...]

Friday, March 07, 2014

quick linkage

manybooks.net has free ebooks. LOTS of them. in whatever format you desire.

...

funny or heart-warming, or both: 30 nice things is worth scrolling through!

...

6, 10, 11, 14, 20, 23, 25, 30, 34, 35, 36 are the ones that made me laugh :)

positive start

okay, so... i slept beautifully - so much so that it was really tough getting out of bed - and traded rather pleasant messages with pulse, which is kinda weird but whatever. i didn't know what to expect at 11am, so i was a little nervous... but the call i got was simply to explain the interview process and it doesn't sound like anything i can't handle. plus, unlike the disaster interview i did a short while ago, i'd actually have a heads-up on what's expected of me.

so i know which skills to brush up on. the same ones as last time. that's cool.

...

i just stopped posting this to speak to my mom, who's just informed me that she's having an operation next week. i pray everything'll be fine.

---
this response to anti-vaxxers is excellent, though i could have done without the drunken typos... but penn and teller at the end of the page? i love those guys.

drawing blanks

okay, i'm ready for a (relatively) early night. chris porter: ugly and angry is unbelievably funny, the second half was even better than the first!

---
i slept terribly last night. i woke up to a message from comixology explaining that due to their servers being hacked we'd need to reset our passwords and change any similar passwords on other sites or services. well, it sounds like they weren't particularly diligent. i'm not impressed.

i spoke to a recruiter today and he seemed kinda enthusiastic. we'll see.

the cleaning lady came in after lunch, and we talked for a while about immigration politics and taxes. apparently i need to file my taxes soon. oh, shit. newk'd's pretty good with these things, i'm very glad he's willing to help me...

i wanted lunch but our subway doesn't do falafel, so i took a metro to another subway. or a subway to a subway. egads. anyway, it was good and while i was there i read this wired article about silicon valley that makes a very good case for social responsibility.

i then returned to my local starbucks to work on my comics. i got some good stuff done, excitingly so!

---
while there my mother messaged me to remind me that it's been eleven years since her brother passed away. i started responding and got emotional, then erased what i was writing because i realized that it was for me, not for her. i don't usually get emotional about death, but eleven years ago when i found out i cried like a baby, and today i was taken by surprise to be tearing up in public.

---
horseman arrived and i packed up, we walked the icy, icy walk to the metro and headed to la belle province - an uber-dodgy diner. as we completed ordering some old guy came up and began harassing us for not buying the delicious muffins that were on sale, because they're delicious *and* the proceeds go towards the children. how heartless could we be? he himself claims to be diabetic, so if it's important enough that *he* risks it then we should feel obliged. or heartless.

he was so up-in-our-faces about it, i actually expected things to get physical. people, man... people. i suspect he was just attempting to flirt with the disinterested teen behind the counter.

horseman and i talked about all sorts of things in french, then i headed back to hit the gym. jiu-jitsu felt a bit slow but eventually i got the basic techniques of the day. kickboxing began on an aggravating note because the class dumbass (i've mentioned him before) made a comment about israelis invading and stealing palestinian land. he wouldn't shut up when i told him to, and was shocked to discover that i'm an israeli. one of the guys is a palestinian refugee, his family having left in '48, and we couldn't just let it all slide...

... fortunately, the two of us share some of our views and we presented the mess together to the clueless who were interested. once that was off our collective chest we got into training; it was a particularly tough beginner's class and i was partnered with a first-timer. so it was up to me to teach him the basics and i spent some time with him on the bags afterwards. he's a football player, once he gets the kicks he'll be fine :P

...

after showering, i watched a couple more episodes of freaks and geeks and the better it gets the sadder i get that there's only one season :'(

that's it. that's my day. now to climb into bed and hope to wake up refreshed for tomorrow morning's telephone interview. or whatever it's supposed to be.

Thursday, March 06, 2014

over my shoulder

being appreciated for my poetic efforts is, without doubt, one of the most intensely gratifying experiences. i made a comment the other day about having fans, but today began with an sms from vector saying "i just wanted to say that i was profoundly moved by that third piece you sent me. signs in the dead night."

i sat staring stupidly at my phone's screen with the biggest smile on my face, unsure of how to respond and even less sure how to take something like that.

on my way out of training i was talking to a couple of the guys i've become friendly with recently, and i mentioned slam poetry. after attempting to describe it i offered them a sample, which visibly shocked them; "that was inspiring, man", repeated one, and the other's apparently coming on sunday to see what else i've got.

shit, that feels good ^_^

---
last night i went to vfmp's to watch house of cards but... that's wasn't on the cards. he and his boyfriend may or may not be breaking up, so we talked for a while and then watched an episode of parks and recreation before i had to leave. it was all rather depressing, and i tried to be as supportive and intelligent as i could but there really aren't rules to these things :(

...

i let my netbook linux upgrade before going to bed, which was a mistake as it took forever. i used the opportunity to continue critiquing my buddy's book. on the one hand, i have a lot of things to say, but on the other the quality overall is pretty good. at least i'm being entertained! and unlike other literature i don't fully approve of, i actually do have an opportunity to influence the final output. at least when it's done i won't be able to say "damn, didn't anyone proof-read this?!" because i'll know exactly what went into it :P

i slept alright, my back and neck notwithstanding - they weren't really bad, but they were annoying and i spent most of my day worrying that i was going to do something to put myself completely out of joint. i think boxing helped.
during a period of tired restlessness, i lay in bed thinking about the kind of crap i put up with as a student. one item stood out in particular.

---
i played a lot of soccer as a kid. i was never very good, but i enjoyed it, mostly. even then, i understood the value of teamwork; perhaps that's where i learned it. playing a defender and always finding myself the only player between the opposing strikers and our goalkeeper because everyone else wanted to be a hero was supremely frustrating, but i never gave up. gods, i could fill chapters with soccer horror stories but two of my last experiences actually involved me scoring goals in school matches. the announcement from the first of them still haunts me.

it was an away game, and i somehow managed to take the ball across the field all the way to the opposing goals. i'd just crossed the penalty box line and found myself facing off against one of their defenders. unaware of any other options available to me, completely engrossed in the moment, i took the shot. it deflected off the defender's shin and sailed smoothly past their keeper and into the goal.

for the first time in my eight or nine years playing school and club soccer, i had scored a goal under match conditions. this was a fantastic moment, and was met with enthusiastic cheers! i was so excited! for once, i'd contributed in a noticeable way, as opposed to my usual thankless job in the background. let's not kid, nobody gives a shit about defenders.

friday morning, school assembly. the captain stands up to announce the results. i will never forgive him for this:
"
and totalwaste scored an own-goal."

he was trying to play it down because he didn't like me, and rather than admit that i'd done something positive he went with my causing the other team to score an own-goal - intentionally or not, his statement did not include certain crucial details. unfortunately, not only is that absurdly petty but it's all the rest of the school would believe, and my victory turned sour as i became the subject of ridicule for being such a loser.

i'll also never forgive the sports master / coach for not correcting him. bastards.


---
speaking of personal history, there was this girl in eighth grade when i was in my final year; i was good friends with one of her teachers and someone in class had caught her scribbling something about liking me. she wasn't one of the cool kids, and the next time i walked in to the class to say hello everyone got silly and tried to humiliate her by letting me know. her teacher and i took one look at each other and decided to play along; i made a point of flirting with her and that shut everyone up. even though she was too young for me, i didn't have to pretend too much 'cause she was a sweet girl and was definitely going to be good-looking given a couple more years :)

it embarrassed her at first, but a day or two later when i passed her in a corridor she'd visibly gone from zero to hero - we'd made her! and it stuck - i'm smiling widely now just thinking about it...

anyway, when i got onto facebook in 2007 and started reconnecting with all my school buddies, she was one of the first people i looked up. i had to know what she looked like! but i couldn't find her.

until today. someone connected with me on linkedin and i looked through their connections to see who else i'd know - and when i saw her name my heart skipped a beat. then i grinned, and nodded, because i was totally right.

---
i spent most of the day dealing with my lack of attention span. seriously, i'm driving myself nuts - i can't focus on anything. the good news is that the project i'm working on is practically writing itself - the things i thought would be difficult? done. now i'm learning the ins and outs of leap's frames and hopefully i'll have an approach in mind soon.

before training i started on the second harry potter (in french). my kindle asked me to review the first, so i obliged... and afterwards saw that practically all the reviews on amazon are by people reading it to improve their french. no francophone readers? seriously? that's kinda odd.

training was alright, i finally met an illustrator i'd been told about and she's going to be in touch soon. i'm in two minds about linking to her webcomic (i'm still awkwardly in the closet regarding my blog's anonymity), but it had me laughing hysterically at her caricatures of the guys we train with (they're bloody accurate, i wonder if the guys themselves have authorized them) when i wasn't being amazed by how much we have in common!

i was chatting with one of the guys after training when the coach called me over to teach. so far he's been asking me to handle the first-timers, but this time he wanted to do that himself and have me take the rest of the class for fifteen minutes. that included guys who've been training longer than me... it started awkwardly, and a couple of them were convinced that i was teaching them something wrong: i explained my logic, and i felt light-bulbs turn on as they warmed up to me. by the end i was doing rounds and correcting, with one guy in bad french, even, and someone even approached me afterwards to ask me questions.

that all felt pretty good.

i rushed home to shower and go out to buy dinner, making it just in time, then put it together giggling to chris porter: ugly and angry which is brilliant. i ate watching a couple more episodes of freaks and geeks. it's bothering me that the series is going to end.
not cool, world, not cool.

---
this article on quebec language policy is quite worrying. i really hope things don't devolve here...