blarg?

I’ve just found out that
Geoff
‘s been aging while I wasn’t looking. I won’t have a present
for him until I get back, but Geoff, my man, happy birthday. From
the neck up you don’t look nearly as old as you do from the knee
braces down.

I’ll be getting on a plane in four hours, and I promise I’ll have
photos galore when I get back. In the meantime, a merry Christmas
season to all; I’m sorry I’ll miss Kelly’s party, and though the
time with Masato and Jamie was outstanding, I’m going to miss
seeing Dan, Julie and Mai, so best wishes to them as well, and to
all a good night.

`There is actually a 6:00 A.M. in Saturdays. A.M. Not P.M.

Who knew?

UPDATE: I’m done. I’m so done. Who’d have thought that
after spending most of the term on software related SQLey stuff,
a big chunk of the exam would be hardware?

Not me, that’s for sure.

A few anecdotes for you.

First off, it’s official – I’m an addict.

The headaches I’ve been getting this week seemed to clear up the
moment I went back to two or three cups a day. Headaches are, to me,
unexpected; I have very few functional nerves left in my head and
most of them are on endorphin detail, so when the head starts aching
I’m immediately put in touch with my inner hypochondriac. What
causes headaches? Meningitis? Ebola? Aliens? Rational thought
quickly triumphs, though, and after rubbing down with iodine and
making sure my tinfoil hat is properly grounded I go out to find
a cup of coffee. Trivia: the Gulf of Bothia separates Finland and
Sweden, and the combination of knowing that and living right
allows life to occasionally provide you with a free coffee. And
I tell you, that coffee immediately put my biochemical Feng-Shui
into proper alignment with the cosmos; bang, headache gone. So much
for detox.

I really don’t like the idea of being chemically addicted to
something. Psychological addiction I’ll put up with, ’cause it’s
fun, but this messed-up-brain-chemistry stuff is, forgive me,
unnerving.

Anecdoto Numero Dos: I’m going to have to talk to my Ultimate team
about stacking, cutting and clearing with a very stern voice at our
next game. I was in the Shwa last weekend with my slave-driver of
a significant other, obviously missing the game. I found out upon
my return that two of our players had collided late in the game,
which is not good, a guy and a girl, which is worse, the girl
took the worst of it, which is unsurprising, and she landed hard
and couldn’t get up afterwards, which was double-plus-worse. She
was promptly taken to hospital and diagnosed with a season-ending
“several cracked ribs”, which is incredibly, unbelievably bad,
but when I finally heard this described as “incidental contact”, I
just about had kittens. Cracked freaking ribs. Christ,
I’ve never even heard of cracked ribs as an ultimate-related
injury.

Anecdote the Thirde: Coop
has found work just in time to get his Boxing Day Sale on and maybe
give his obviously-inadequate home entertainment system all those
features it’s been sorely missing, like Mondo-THX, ejector seats,
self-awareness and live ammunition. Really, I’ve only been by his
place once but the sad inadequacy of that system was a palpable chill
in the air, as though the ghost of Betamax were rattling its chains
in the room. It reminded me of the painful strain of peering
at that miniscule porthole of a TV that Shaver and href="http://diminu.tive.org/">Tyla used to own.

Double-happiness-good on target="_top">Shaver for hooking Coop up; Lustre
looks really cool, and I’d go to work for href="http://www.clusterfs.com" target="_top">ClusterFS
in a second if I had a marketable skill. Rooting goes now
to Geoff who despite vague
implications of impending Zen is well overdue for a break. In the
meantime, the fact that Shaver has included both Geoff and I on
a list labelled “smart people” gives me warm, fuzzy hope, and if
those ClusterFS guys ever file a requisition demanding 150 pounds
of angry, caffeinated biomass I expect a phone call.

Confidential to G. S.: Remember, a lukewarm Satori is worse
than no Satori at all.

In the meantime, I have an exam at 9:00 Saturday
Morning
. I have not seen The Two Towers yet. This is
intolerable. And insufficiently italicized. The
next fifty-five hours or so are going to be unbelievably hectic;
Jamie’s in town, we’re hoping to reel in Masato who is also in town,
and we’re hoping to go see LotR:tTT Sunday night. After that, I’m
going to be getting my John Denver on and leaving on a jet plane
for Cozumel, Mexico very, very early Monday morning.

I am deeply shamed by the fact that Masato and I haven’t spoken in
aeons. It’s bad enought that I haven’t seen most of my friends in
bare weeks, because both school and I have chosen the same
month to suck, but I’ve had Masato’s e-mail address written on my
desk in red ink for literally months.

Blarg. Definitely blarg.

A few weeks ago my job was trimmed from three days a week down
to two. I’ve had it trimmed from those remaining two down to
zero; I’ve joined Geoff, href="http://coop.deadsquid.com">Coop and Amy in the ranks of
the unemployed. I had a good run at that job, considering that it
was supposed to be a month-long stint, but I’m disappointed to see
it end; it was the first job I’ve had that’s been right up my alley,
and having a job you enjoy and co-workers you like and respect is
really all I could have asked for. My former boss seemed dismayed
by the whole thing, and told me about some of the things he’d hoped
to have me working on for the next few months; this apparently came
as a surprise to him, too. Still, as when I got the hours cut back
my boss was up-front with it, which I appreciated. He’s going to
write me a nice letter of reference, and he’s offered to hire me
back if and when the money’s available, but understandably couldn’t
commit to anything. Still, having a former employer who’ll say
he’d hire you back in a minute if he had the opportunity is a very
strong recommendation.

That said, I don’t envy the job left for the guys I worked with,
a staff that has just been cut from five to three; the amount of
work to do hasn’t shrunk, and we were running thin beforehand. I’m
a bit leery of the whole thing, really: apparently in the meeting
he had with upper management in which this decision was made,
upper management expressed their desire that the I.T. department
be a revenue-generating part of the company. This is, my boss
and I agreed, ominous – I don’t know how an I.T. department might
meet those expectations and stay an I.T. department, as opposed
to a web-hosting or some other net-service group. It seems a lot
like asking the accounting department or the plumbing to generate
income. But they’re in charge, and people who are in charge have a
remarkable way of getting what they ask for whether it’s what they
actually want, or need, or not.

Though the timing is of somewhat Grinchy, my Christmas will not fit
in the largest of cartoon sleds, nor be towed uphill by the most
muscular of tiny antlered dogs. I’m considering myself fortunate,
as usual – I’ve had a good run, learned some good stuff and made
enough to cover last term’s tuition, with a bit left over to visit
my girlfriend and buy her dinner once or twice.

Update: Sean fended of the academic hordes and defended his Masters’
thesis successfully. Huzzah!

“Oshawa, Then and Now.”

Ok, let me be the first to admit that that was weak. Nevertheless,
I give you the weekend in review.

Via Rail, It turns out, is a vastly more civilized
than Greyhound. I think I’m going to take the train from now
on. They bring you coffee, and if you sit at the ends of the
rail car, they have wall sockets. That’s 120 volts of
blissful productivity, for those of us who can only afford href="http://www.apple-history.com/180.html" target="_top">aging
target="_top">laptops with dying batteries. At the very least,
120 volts of not-so-bored. There’s only so many times you can
read about red-black trees and dynamic programming, cool as they
may be.

For Saturday’s fun, we day-tripped out to Port Perry, a town
that like the previously-visited Picton apparently specializes in
exporting Quaint and importing baby-boomer dollars. I enjoy little
hamlets like this for the food, mostly. Tarted-up farmhouse decor
isn’t my thing but I do like a good apple fritter, and the “village
cafe”-style places in tourist-oriented villages seem to suffer from
the same relentlessly Darwinist economics that confronts the chinese
restaurants in Chinatown; the bad ones die out quickly, and the
mid-to-largeish places are usually the ones that have fought their
way to the top, if you’ll forgive the phrase, of the food chain.

It turns out that in my absence, which was admittedly just the
tiniest whisper of geological time, Oshawa has suffered virtually
no visible change. At least we found nothing wildly different
to do while we were in town – we puttered around briefly looking
for places to see Saturday night but our naive, tourist stumbling
only managed to confront us with places like the “Banshee Cocktail
Lounge and Deli”, no word of a lie. It’s a cocktail lounge, you
see, and a deli, one of a curiously large number of places
in Oshawa whose names end with “and deli”. Neither of us felt like
spending so Saturday night in an “…and deli” anything, so I cooked
a very-acceptable chili dinner, and though we muttered for a while
about going to a movie, we decided to stay in.

Sunday our effort to go out to for lunch somewhere interesting was
derailed by the fact that it was Sunday, which seemed insuperable
at the time. That combined with the kind of traffic that makes a man
wish he could call in an air strike steered us to a very-pedestrian
Boston Pizza lunch, after which we made a pact never to go to
a franchise restaurant again. If I learned one thing in Kingston,
it’s that you can always do better, and usually for about half
the money. That’ll be the next project, I think – “Where To Eat”.

More exams this week: tune in to witness the tension and
bitterness. I’m especially looking forward to the Algorithms exam,
if only because I’m likely going to have to use the sentence “I’ve
discovered a wonderful proof of this, which your worldview is too
narrow to contain.”

She’s gone back to Oshawa. All rejoicing will cease immediately.

Yo La Tengo did pretty well this weekend, though I’m not at all
impressed with Mehmet’s lackluster “slagging” efforts. I wouldn’t
have put that in scare quotes, but the pickings were really that
slim; Andrew did his best to keep up his end, but I just don’t
think he’s got a lot of bad-guy in him. The game was great, though;
we played a lot of fast points, and despite playing the stacked
team that destroyed last week’s opposition 23-3, we lost a much
more respectable 30-19. Yes, that’s correct – in two hours, we
played two full games, and afterwards my body (and indeed my whole
team, I think) was a wreck. I was really happy with the effort the
team brought to the field, though; if I’ve got the choice between
playing on a line of novice players who give their all every point
and a line of athletic, talented veterans who only try when they
feel like it I’ll take the effort over the talent every time,
so I think I’m on the right team.

I hope that the shards of my body that are rattling around loose
right now find their way home and knit or fuse or whatever they’re
supposed to do, and I hope they do it soon. Doctor Arlene, light
of my life, adamantly refuses to do anything medical for me aside
from pointing, laughing and informing me that I shouldn’t have
done that, which is extremely therapeutic for her but for
me not so much. So if anybody knows a chiropractor who specializes
in coaxing wayward knee fragments back into place, let me know.
My own wayward knee fragments seem to be lodged in my shoulder,
so I might be an interesting challenge.

One thing that was not much of a challenge, I found
out on Sunday, was my badly-hobbled ability to run away from
Arlene of the Freezing Hands, with her dread desire to apply her
sub-zero-temperature appendages to my standard-human-temperature
torso and mock my cries of distress. I think they gave her bonus
credit during her B.Sc. for being able to do the liquid nitrogen labs
without using any liquid nitrogen. Damn. This is why I have
to eat so much at Dim Sum – it’s fuel. If I don’t, it’s hypothermia
for sure. Generating enough heat to warm an extra hundred and ten
pounds of Arlenesicle up to a civilized temperature is my only
defense against that woman, I swear.

At this point in the recounting of my various injuries I’m tempted
to say “you should see the other guy”, but in fact the other guy
is an acre of cement-backed synthetic turf, which as of press time
reported no ill effects. I managed to do all this to myself without
injuring anyone else; I’m not sure what that means, really, but a
few more scars is always good, so I’m going to put an X in the win
column and sleep with my knee braces on.

Brief note: those of you who aren’t dial-up lepers should get
yourselves to BWM
Films
, which you might rightly guess to be glorified car ads,
but which are nevertheless the coolest thing of any kind that I’ve
seen in quite some time.

Arlene is here. Rejoice!

More soon, when I don’t have more important things demanding my
attention, but for now, Alex has provided me with this delectable href="http://alex.2y.net/cambodia/index.html" target="_top">link
in which he brings us seasonal tidings of great Cambodianness.

“Yo La Tengo!” is going to be the name of our team. E-mail
suggests that they’re going to be looking to me for guidance which,
considering that I thought “Yo La Tengo” might mean “You over there:
Dance!” when in fact it means “I Have It” in Mexican or American
Latin or something, cannot possibly bode well.

One exam tomorrow afternoon, one Friday night. Arlene will be in
town for the weekend, and I am going to use the long break I’ve
got between Friday night and my next exams being as indulgent as
possible, which could be challenging. I struggle to find ways to be
indulgent with somebody who does not need or want much in the way of
things material. I am the first to realize that happiness does not
come from material goods, whatever the shiny-rock monopolists at href="http://www.debeers.com" target="_top">DeBeers tell you,
but the step beyond that continues to escape me.

EXERCISE: Examine a number of Hollywood
weddings. Compare the size of the ring in carats to (a) the dollar
figures in the prenuptual agreement in millions and (b) the length
of the wedding in months. Which conclusion do you reach?

  • Pre-nups are a spoiled brat’s best friend.
  • Moral fibre doesn’t come from wheatgrass.
  • Divorce attorneys are on and/or up to something.
  • Money can’t buy me love.

(With apologies to
target="_top">Guy Kawasaki.)

Just “doing nice things” sounds like a good idea but for
somebody this important it seems like, to put it mildly, sub-par
compensation. It’s an expected behaviour, at the very least. “Just
being myself” around her not only seems wildly inadequate as well,
but might actually be a bad move given that some people actually
think “Mike’s Just Being Himself” is going to be a chapter in the
next Worst Case Scenario Survival Guide. So that might be right
out too; God knows it makes Mehmet nervous.

“You’re at a party, and Mike’s just Being Himself. Do
you (a) hit him, (b) hit him, (c) A and B, or (d) yell at people
in the street to find a bedsheet so you can jump out the window to
safety? Turn the page to find out!”

I wonder if some monastic order somewhere has figured out some
way to express sentiments for which words are inadequate. Do
they use special, secret words? Better, perhaps latin-er
words? Entirely new, never-previously-used words? I’ll take
it, whatever it is. I’d prefer something that doesn’t involve
flagellating onesself, of course, but if that’s all they can come up
with I’ll take two and figure out of the whipping is tax-deductible
later. Hell, throw in the Robe, Rope and Bald Spot Package Deal
along with it; I’ll be all Om all the time.

Wow. I just got back from my first night of indoor Ultimate at
the Dome, the heated bubble that some industrious folk have put
up over Landsdowne Field and that’s pretty much it: wow. Social
Saturday Ultimate; Team Orange gained the lead, lost the lead
and then closed the becoming-ominously-large gap between the two
scores in the final minute on the way to a somewhat-glorious 15-15
tie with Team Green. It was the first night of Saturday Indoor,
which was obvious from the amount of rust everyone had to work out,
but it was nevertheless fun. Our team seems to range from people
who’ve played a few games and don’t own cleats yet up to, well,
me. And I yam whats I yam, so my teammates will just have to live
with that at this point.

Team Orange, though the search for a better name is on,
is going to be a good team. We don’t all have the same skills or
mindset, by a long way in some cases, but we all seem to be on
the same page as far as effort, spirit and intensity goes. It’s
reasonably clear that I’m going to anchor this team, and Gavin
pulled our only other handler off to another team that was getting
shellacked. But having said that, there’s no reason that this should
be frustrating or difficult – the players who aren’t experienced are
enthusiastic and the players who aren’t natural athletes are running
hard anyway; as recreational teams go, I couldn’t ask for more than
good, spirited folk.

This week, though, is going to be ugly and frustrating and
difficult, and will require the liberal application of profanities,
superlatives and, no doubt, the occasional anatomical or scatological
reference as well. I suspect that somebody at Carleton believes
that Deadline Consolidation is the way of the future – by making
everything due at the same time, we prevent that hazardous wear
and tear on the linoleum that costs the University so dearly.