On one of the counters in my bathroom, I have one of those peel-away calendars with a daily saying from the Dalai Lama. I started it in January, 2005 and I was peeling away dutifully for a few months. The current date showing is May 17, so it is exactly one year since I stopped.
I have come to think of that as the time that "the wheels came off" in terms of routine and scheduling. It's not clear to me that things have eased off too much, or at least not until this summer.
I've posted approximately three times in this space since then. Fortunately, I've had a chance to catch up at some point with all the people I envision as readers, but I thought it might be nice to outline what I have been up to, after all.
Good ol' UBC is gearing up for the new year. I was just at the SUB, and they've put automatic sliding doors on the main entrance. Really threw me. I had some Pi R Squared and that was normal, then I noticed those lovely couches in the conversation pit were all gone (maybe they clean them every year?).
On my way home, when I was at that corner of Thunderbird Res near the tennis bubble, where the road is currently a very cozy two lanes due to construction, this massive turquoise Girls Gone Wild bus rumbles by. I . . . am speechless.
So I bought this iBook. After hearing about Macs for some time now from the likes of Tim, and making extensive fun of them . . . it had what I was looking for and the Bookstore price last week worked for me.
And yes, this OSX is really that great; it has all this stuff I wanted (eventually it will be used for thesis writing, and the all the integrated Unix stuff is excellent - sort of like Linux that isn't flaky but that I also didn't have to set up at all).
As it turns out, I made this switch in the same week as some famous programmer guy, which also turned out to be the same week that Apple announced its big plans to support Intel hardware.
I realized today that, as I was moving time zones very frequently this time last year, and living in Saskatchewan the two years prior (wearing my Great Western Gold t-shirt in protest), I haven't lost my hour in springtime for quite a while now.
I guess most of you are used to it but . . . dude.
I'm sure you will all be delighted to learn that the Quilchena Park Rangers (my soccer team in the indoor league) finally tasted victory last night with a convincing 10-2 win. It turns out the winning team gets a free pitcher of beer, which was very nice to collect.
Will there be more updates? Yes, soon enough.
After about a two-week break from basically any sunshine (including a solid week of rain), we got a sunny day here. I spent a lot of my time outside squinting, but it was great.
I have joined a new soccer team, made up from the guys from the Sunday pickup game I've been attending (well, not for a few weeks I guess, and the snow is putting a damper on things). The Quilchena Park Rangers, named for the place where we play Sundays, had their first showing last night. The indoor arena is somewhere in Richmond. The pitch is a wacky fake grass with rubber dirt bits. The other team has clearly played a lot of indoor soccer before. The score was 16-4. Ouch. But we have nowhere to go but up.
I was late getting to the game, which may surprise my dinner companions from earlier in the evening. As the Jetta is busy in the shop (a less fun update is to some) and I had the wrong number of a possible ride, I opted for the bus. Everything was going swimmingly as I hit Richmond in time for the last bus on the route I thought was going to work out (I had left home in a hurry, and as it turns out, could have spent more time figuring out the bus route).
The 301 Newton Express was on time. You may have heard about the drunk bus driver who got busted in Vancouver a day or two ago. The guy driving this bus was at least that. I asked if the bus would stop at my destination (a big sports complex). "WHAT CITY?" he exclaimed (there was just one rider, a woman, on the bus at the time, so it wasn't exactly noisy). "NEW YORK CITY?!?" he slurred/screeched, as I was answering "Um . . . Richmond?", which is, I might add, where we were. After that, he either decided I was too irritating for asking a question or could not hear me through his drunken haze.
A few more people get on at the next stop. The driver inexplicably refuses to let them pay, making some sort of guttural sound and shooing their hands away from the payment box. One of the guys swaggers on, winks and gives the woman "the guns", and wishes some other dude a nice nap (there are now a total of five people).
Officially one of the creepiest bus rides I've been on.
Despite the thick mud caked on the windows, I was able to make out the sign for No. 4 Road, and knew this was a far walk but we were almost there. Then the city turned to highway, and suddenly we were hurtling along with this wacko at the wheel, and Vancouver started to seem very far away. In fact, even Richmond was getting quite far away.
The next stop was near an overpass where you can go to Annacis Island. There is a warehouse there, a Toyota dealership is in view, and across the highway a clutch of new townhouses, yet to be occupied. And that's about it, apart from the various onramps and offramps. There is no bus to transfer onto. I have no idea why anyone would ever get off at this stop.
The good people at Richmond Cabs were able to track me down, and get me to the game only a little late. I felt like a tool.
All three I know of were discussed in the car on the way to Cypress for my first try skiing there (not to mention my first shot at night skiing; not my favourite maybe but it is less crowded): the one we were going to (admittedly more of a mountain), those of Insane in the Membrane fame, and those surprising elevations in Southwest Saskatchewan (there are others, believe it or not). Granted, I'm sure the original Cypress probably has its own hills of some sort.
In any case, it is really something to have a ski hill, in fact, several ski hills, that close to Vancouver, with a really excellent view of the city to boot.
I've posted pictures from the Thanksgiving outing to Seattle. If you are from Saskatoon, you might recognize some people in the pictures.
Well, it's been quite some time. To catch you up since the August activities:
- Moved back to Vancouver, into a lovely condo on campus.
- Started a PhD program in the UBC Department of Mathematics.
- September: settled in, visit from Dave, passed my qualifying exams (phew), more visits including my cousin Joe for the Beastie Boys concert, time flew by.
- October: Seahawks game with some of the Saskatoon boys for Thanksgiving, joined a choir to get back into singing.
- November: finally started to catch up to school, more visitors, second article accepted for publication.
- December: nice end to the term, Christmas concert with the choir, fun holidays on the Island with the family, including a great visit with some of my cousins.
That's the very quick recap. Some of these things you will be hearing more about (like the choir, and of course school) in the coming weeks.
If you haven't looked at my gallery site lately (I have been bumped to the last page in the recent shuffle), I have added some more of the trip pictures, and less than a year late in most cases.
After a siginificant negative reaction on the part of many friends, I have, as of today, my very own ADSL internet service at home. It was not the peer pressure so much as I wanted to try out this voice-over-IP service (Bri's been using it for a while). I'll let you know how that turns out . . .
One thing that has been keeping me unproductive for the last few days is this online boggle game. The interface is pretty slick, but make sure to read the browser requirements if you're not using Mozilla or Firefox.
Thanks to one of those call-in computer help shows I saw recently, I found one of the more useful Windows utilities I've seen in some time: CutePDF Writer, a freeware program that lets you print to a PDF file.
The official paperwork went through today, and I am now the proud owner (well, technically leaser from UBC or some such) of a condo on campus. I'm very excited about having one place to live for a few years instead of this bouncing around I've been doing. I've been in Saskatoon for the last month and a half, the longest I've spent in one spot since last year, enjoying the usual festivities. Lately, though, my mind has been preoccupied with the upcoming move back to Vancouver and starting school again. Should be fun . . .
And of course, the usual promise to write more often and give updates.
After taking the long way back to Canada, I've been in Ontario the last few days, mostly staying with Laura in Guelph. It's been great seeing Laura and Brian and being back in Canada so far. I've also managed to work in dinner with Evan and Veer (certainly not an everyday occurence), as well as lunch with Grant who met me in London from Windsor.
I fly out to Victoria tomorrow, and will begin the process of sorting out all my stuff (including pictures, finally) and figuring out a study plan for the rest of the summer; there will be a lot of mathematics to learn before September.
June should be fun as I've got plans to see people I know all over the country.
Well, hello there from Canberra, Australia. I've had an excellent Easter weekend here with my buddy Daz. Maybe I'll squeeze in a summary, but not tonight.
So I've landed safely in Australia, my last stop on this trip. I'll be back in Canada in a little over a month now. Hard to believe, but I've got lots to do before then anyway.
In the news, I've decided to return to UBC to pursue a PhD. The money situation didn't work out for England, which made the decision easy, but in any case, I'm excited for my return to Vancouver. Obviously there will be more about this in the coming months.
Oh, and I've added a few updates from the last month (retro-dated for Ben's continued irritation - cheers, mate) in Asia.
I have been busy touring around, and am just now getting the time in front of an internet-connected computer to update this journal and the gallery. Thank you all for your patience (well, most of you have been patient), and I'll hope to have more up soon.
A quick recap of recent events:
- The Italy tour at the end of October. Basically, all the entries for the second half of October are now available.
- A trip to Paris the first weekend in November, with Bri.
- Visitors in November; we show others around Bordeaux, now that we are experts.
- Another exciting ride through the Pyrenees, with our primary goal being the Dali museum in Figures, Spain.
The car has been returned, so we are not quite as mobile. The plans for the near future are to head up to Paris and prepare for the rest of the family to visit in December. We have our apartment until December 20th, at which time I'll be heading off for some travels with Laura (my sister, for those that have forgotten or don't know) before winging away to sunny South East Asia in mid-January.
This is after the fact, but I just wanted to say congratulations to Adam and Erin on the birth of their son, Anson.
If you are a terribly bored antiflux user, you may have noticed that I now have a gallery of my very own. It has been sitting more or less empty, but now contains some of the pictures I've taken in the last couple of months. I could try to put everything up at once, but I have a ton of pictures already, as well as being behind in getting this log up to date (and filling in missing entries before I forget completely what happened which day). I'm also told that this creates "buzz". So I'm getting in a big update today, and will have to add the rest soon. This may be helpful to those of you reading at work, as you will have a little something each day instead of a bunch of distractions all in one day.
You may want to review some of the old entries, especially those talking about Geneva and Barcelona. And they now have pictures to go with them in the gallery. My suggestion is to look at the September entries, then the October entries, until you are caught up.
France is still treating us well, but we are heading to Italy for a week, leaving tomorrow. Driving in Italy is supposed to be very exciting . . .
On a rare weekend spent in Bordeaux, Brian and I took a day trip with a
couple of his co-workers, Claus and Sepan, to the famous (surely you have
all heard of it) wine region of St. Emilion. There is St. Emilion
proper, which includes the old town built up around the hermit Saint
Emilion as well as the surrounding vineyards. The first part of our tour,
however, was on one of the sections of St. Emilion known as the Satellites
of Saint Emilion, three subsections that claim a slightly different
set of microclimates and hence different wines.
We showed up and were directed to the wine museum in the town, provided
some nice wine glasses (which would be of great use later on), and given a
brief introduction to the region. Next, it was off to the church square
which had several tents set up that housed local producers of meat,
cheese, preserves, and of course wine. It was a little strange as they
had loud radio music in the square, and Eminem (uncensored, as is the
French custom) was playing when we first got there.
We booked in for a wine tasting workshop. The handouts were quite useful,
and I learned a lot in the hour or so we spent there (this is in contrast
to my three companions, who had all opted to take a wine course for hours
a week the past three weeks). Basically, I now understand a bit about
what is going on with the sniffing and swirling and whatnot associated
with wine tasting.
What followed was a lot of wine tasting in the square outside, and a few
samples of the locally produced food. Brian also talked a bit of shop
with the beef people, learning a bit about the differences in the cattle
industries in Canada and France.
The town of St. Emilion, Claus assured us, is really something to see, so
we took a break from downing wine to pay it a visit. He is right. The
place is a UNESCO World Heritage site, meaning the town is preserved to
look "old". We didn't get the official tour, but resolved to come back
for it, and instead wandered through the cobblestone (rougher than usual)
streets among the many wine vendors. There is also a tower with a great
view of the town and surrounding area, as you can see in the pictures.
Before heading home, we went back to the first town for some more wine. I
was driving, so I had to limit myself to little tastes, but the others got
to drink up while conversing with the actual producers.
This was a quiet day, with some recovering from the driving blitz of France over the previous four days. I sent my NSERC application in electronically, and faxed the pages requiring a signature, with hard copy to follow. Kind of disappointing; as Tim would wonder, when will we finally have this digital signature ability available?
As a side note on faxing in France, there are help-yourself fax machines here at the post offices. You pay using your phone card (Télécarte), which you need to make regular phone calls anyway (almost no pay phones accept coins anymore).
Well, the weekend is over. Yes, ok, it was over yesterday, when I had a decent chance to recoup after the long drive of the night before and also to make a lovely stew - some of you may be surprised to learn that I've been doing quite a bit of cooking in my time here.
This afternoon, apart from updating this thing and catching up on some email (5 days away; that hasn't happened very often in the last . . . 7 years . . .), I'm getting an NSERC application ready. Given my track record (0 for whatever) with them, it's not the most exciting of tasks, but I have to apply anyway. Who knows, maybe they will like me more with an MSc and some submitted publications.
And just when you thought things were calming down here, Dad arrives tonight for a visit of a week and a half or so.
I updated the log today with stuff from the last couple of weeks. I don't have a good method of adding pictures just yet, but hopefully Bri and I will cook up some system soon. In the meantime, he has added a few in his log.
I also sent out a mass email today, with a brief update and mainly to point people here. If you didn't get it, email me and I've apologize profusely and put you on the list in future.
I have added a new category, Europe, which should contain all my posts in Europe regardless of other category (I'm sure the finnicky among you will alert me if I miss something). So you can click on that link on the right, or on the September 2003 link, to catch up. New entries will of course show up on the main page.
Again, the post date reflects the date something happened, as opposed to when I posted it, so if you notice that you haven't seen anything new for two weeks despite the post dates, that is why.
Tomorrow, Brian and I gain new mobility as we pick up our brand new Renault Clio for road trip purposes.
I tried a new internet cafe today and was not especially impressed (the
trials I face . . . ). The connexion went down at one point, but the main
issue was that I couldn't switch the keyboard to English. I know some of
you have written me on foreign keyboards, and complained about various
discrepancies, but I have to say that the French keyboard is really quite
bad. At the least, this is a country at a severe technological
disadvantage in the interet age since you have to hold the Shift key to
make a period symbol. Symbols in the top row do not require a Shift
(numbers do instead). The left and right parentheses are also about six
keys apart, probably a handicap to any French programming in Scheme or
other Lisp derivatives. And before I leave this topic, I don't know what
would ever encourage anyone to switch the letters "q" and "a", taking "a"
from the home row and putting "q" there. There, I said it.
My other main surprise at the behaviour of what you might call an old
civilization is the unfortunate doggie doo situation, which will be the
subject of a future entry.
I leave it to Erin to describe the Bordeaux tour. You may be interested
in some pictures here; I'll get mine up eventually.
I slept through the night, finally, after only a couple hours of nap
yesterday. That was after my first sampling of our new cereal,
Frosties Choco, a version of Frosted Flakes (it has the
tiger and everthing) with a chocolate coating. Roughly half of the
available cereals in the supermarket here are chocolate-based, whereas I
would say that back home about half the cereals are just sugary. Like
alcoholic beverages, this cereal has its chocolate content listed as 9%.
So you can get fairly jacked up on this stuff (mind you, we're not coffee
drinkers), but it was at the cost of yesterday's mid-morning crash. I'm
expecting to develop a tolerance by the end of the month.
Around noon, I am picking up Erin at the train station. I haven't really
seen much in the way of touristy sights in Bordeaux, but I"m expecting
we'll get some in today.
I've been having trouble getting my sleeping schedule right . . . sleeping
during the day, waking up around 5am with no chance of getting back to
sleep. When I think about it, I guess I have been hitting a number of
time zones recently. A month ago, I was in Halifax, followed by Saskatoon
for a week, BC for a week, and now here.
Today's wine purchase, at a whopping 3.50E, has given us a new frontrunner
in the cheap wine contest (we've been managing a bottle per day so far).
The supermarket has an extensive selection in the sub-4 Euro range.
Brian had the clever idea to order the empty bottles on the shelf so that
we know which ones we like best.
Tonight was laundry night, mostly for Bri, but I got a few things cleaned
in preparation for my week away in Switzerland. We're prety sure that we
read the sign correctly, that the place closed at 22h, but the woman who
worked there came in around 21h, cleaned up, and told us that it was ok we
stayed, even though it was supposed to close at 9 (?), but would we mind
making sure the door was closed firmly behind us so it would be locked up.
I suppose we look like a couple of trustworthy foreigners or something,
but this is not a scene I would expect to see played out in any city in
North America . . . maybe a small town, though I suppose this area has a
bit of a small town feel in the way the shops are all modest in size.
So, here's the plan.
Hang out in Bordeaux this week. Try to figure out where I am in this
city. Possibly even have Erin visit later in the week.
Head to Paris on the weekend to see Nicki and boot around there.
Next week, I'm off to Geneva, Switzerland for a conference commemorating
Sturm's bicentennary. It actually lasts from Monday until Friday (school
starts a bit later in the fall here, so I guess people can make that sort
of scheduling). I will be meeting up with my supervisor and taking in the
two-part conference; some history of Sturm's life and work, followed by
more of a proper Sturm-Liouville Theory conference.
. . . in this case, referring to an International Driving Permit. I picked one up today from CAA in anticipation for my time overseas.
It has some practical use other than being a driving permit; I've heard that some places it can be used in place of a passport as collateral.
But I may actually need the driving permit part quite a bit in France as it looks like Brian and I will be short-term leasing a car (sort of like a long-term rent, I guess) to boot around in.
Well, hello everyone. I'm now based in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and will be for about a month. I'm working out here for the same boss I had the over a number of summers for my last few co-op terms in Saskatoon. He's moved out here to take over as Dean of Science at Dalhousie University.
If you would like to read about the trip out here (a long drive), I've retro-dated a series of entries from earlier July.
The last week or so has been a blur of unpacking many, many teapots. But things are settling in. One of these days, there may even be mirrors I can shave in front of . . . how vain I've become.
And if you want to know what things were like just before I left Saskatoon, here is a shot from the final barbeque at the house where I lived for the last year:
I've had a chance to talk or computer chat with a number of you, but I don't know who's gotten which details, so here's an idea of what I'll be up to for the next little while.
My job this summer takes me to Halifax, Nova Scotia. We're leaving this weekend and I'll be staying for four or five weeks. I'm sort of a moving assistant to get my boss installed at his new position at Dalhousie, and in particular I'm making sure he has a smooth transition with all his various computer files and projects. I'm also working on programming for web based math courses, which some of you may remember as my old job for this same boss.
Then later in August I fly back to Saskatoon, finish up any necessary business (maybe play in a soccer game or two), and take my car and remaining stuff (computer and clothes, pretty much) out to BC to see the crew out there and drop off said stuff with my parents.
In September, I'm heading to France. My brother is working at one of the universities in Bordeaux, and our plan is to live together and get in some traveling when he's got time off. As for me, I'll see if I can find any tutoring work. I've learned that English is basically required as part of a degree in math there; ideally I'd be able to tutor some math in English, which is of course my specialty.
The first scheduled event for my time in Europe is a math conference in Geneva in mid-September. It's all about the mathematician Sturm (this year is the 200th annniversary of his birth), and includes both a history component as well as a number of talks about Sturm-Liouville theory (the area which provided the topic for my thesis).
Once Bri is gone at Christmas, I'll be on my own. Possible destinations include Thailand (I'll have a couple friends there) or Australia, once I've got Europe out of my system (and spent enough money).
One concurrent plan for the next few months is to look at what might be a good place to go for a PhD. I'm planning to start such a program the fall after I return (that would be September 2004, I guess).
Yesterday, I toured the Candian Light Source (CLS), probably the biggest science project in Canada of recent years.
It's basically a particle accelerator (a synchrotron, to be specific). But while in traditional particle accelerators, you're interested in getting particles up to great speeds and smashing them into each other or into other things, this machine takes a different approach.
One of the byproducts of turning atomic particles to keep them going in a loop at relativistic speeds is a whole bunch of energy in the form of light. So rather than smashing the particle into something (in this case, they're using electrons because they of their very low mass), you can just send tap into this at the point where the particle stream turns, and you get a beam of very intense light. So I guess you've just swapped a particle beam of, say, electrons for one of photons.
As it turns out, there are all kinds of things you can do with a really intense beam of light. These include high-resolution medical imaging, very fine etching of surfaces (like when you want to build nanobots), and determining protein structures.
Yes, yes, it's been a while.
Last night's foray into the local pub yielded a great sampling of beers:
- Beck's Dark, a tasty dark cousin to the usual light Beck's. My favourite of the evening.
- Monty Python's Holy Grail, pretty good, certainly worth the novelty value. It is one of the few beers you will find that claims to be "brewed over burned witches".
- Speaking of novelty value, how about knocking back an Aass Classic from Norway? I'll leave the jokes up to the audience . . . shouldn't be too hard for you.
Found written on a bathroom stall:
What if the hokey-pokey really is what it's all about?
Has anyone seen that show Clone High? If you've got Teletoon, I'd recommend it. The premise is that a secret government organization has cloned all of these famous historical figures to make an unstoppable clone army. The series finds these clones as teens, playing out classic high school dramas (tongue in cheek, though) under the watchful eye of their mad-scientist principal and his sweater-vest-wearing Mr. Butlertron robot butler.
With the recent surge in warm weather (again; it is supposed to be spring, after all), the thoughts of young men have turned to soccer. It's time to lace up those boots and shove some kids.
After a decent showing by Sybian Athletico in Division 4 indoor soccer (top half, baby), our team is heading back outside with our sights set on the Division 2 crown, this time as Sybian 1860. There are still two divisions above us (Premier and Div 1), but they have linemen, making three referees instead of just one, which does not favour our exciting style of play.
I will be co-managing the team, handling the exciting administrative end of things while my colleague will be covering the coaching responsibilities. If you're going to be in Saskatoon (ha), make sure to come check out one of our games. If nothing else, we'll make some jokes and probably yell at the ref.
One Easter weekend activity I haven't done for a long time but is the tradition at my aunt and uncle's is to decorate eggs. If you haven't done this before, basically you hard boil a bunch of eggs and buy these dye kits with various colours. Mix the dye with water and vinegar, then you can leave eggs in the mixture to make all sorts of colours. Drawing on them in crayon prevents dye from reaching the egg because of the wax, so you can add patterns or what have you. When all the eggs are done you polish them with a little butter to shine them up.
I'll try to get ahold of a picture of the finished product.
Then of course you eat the eggs over the next week, preferably with some salt.
Just when you thought it was safe to switch from winter to summer tires . . . it had started by 11pm last night. It's been snowing since then. Looks like we'll have to cancel tomorrow's soccer practice . . .
It not often that I get some joint BC-Saskatchewan news, but I heard about this last week. The University of Saskatchewan Students Union (USSU) made up these posters
featuring BC Premier Gordon Campbell (Louis' is the campus pub run by the USSU).
You may be interested in some of the ensuing political fallout. The premier himself was pretty cool about it, though, saying that if it helps stop drinking and driving then it's ok with him.
This weekend, we sample the local scene once again. Tonight's destination: Overdrive, arguably one of the most popular bars in Saskatoon.
To get you somewhat of a picture of the clientele, I have this buddy who's . . . well, let's say made it comfortably past first base on the dance floor there. On a more recent outing, he made a new lady friend, and they hit it off so well that they headed back to her place for some quiet time. They were "getting intimate" to the point where it was time to track down a condom. She went to her secret stash and after a brief serach exclaimed "Hey, new box!" at which point (though the haze of booze and what is probably some form of SARS we've been getting here) my friend draws a mental line and puts a cap on the evening's activities.
Perhaps they should call it Overrdrive.
With the current high today of 1 degree Celsius, this marks the first day in . . . months (?) that the temperature here is above freezing. I've been walking around outside in a sweater all day enjoying it . . . no jacket, no gloves, no scarf . . . excellent.
It is not that fun to talk about the weather all the time, but this winter really seems to have gotten to me. It's time to start looking for a warmer climate.
Today's dilemma: what to do when Ski School and Ski School 2 are on two different channels at the same time . . .
My mind has been blown!
After nearly a week of -30C (-40C with wind chill!) weather, my poor Jetta did not make it through the night and could not start this morning. I made it through last winter without using the block heater, but it appears I will have to start plugging it in if I want to get anywhere (alternatively, I could walk and subject any exposed skin to fast-acting frostbite).
To all of you in warmer climates, I would suggest that you stay there; I am on my way.
The people I was housesitting for went to the Dominican Republic. Apparently it is quite the classy tourist destination, particularly for Europeans as the Mediterranean is getting prety crowded.
Compensation for my services included a copy of Cyptonomicon, which has been an interesting, if somewhat geeky (like that's stopped me before), read.
Also included: a bottle of Barcelo 151 proof rum. Rum is good and cheap down there (this litre was about USD$5). I forgot the bottle in my car for the last couple of nights, meaning some time spent in -20C temperatures, but don't worry, it didn't freeze on account of it being 75.5% alcohol. I am currently tendering suggestions for what to do with the stuff.
I didn't give much in the way of holiday updates, and unless you have been following the scarcely documented story that is my life for the past several years, you will not have heard a farm story.
My parents run an emu farm. If my brother ever starts an antiflux log, he might tell some of the more disturbing tales. But I should mention this ramp we built over the holidays.
Emus need shelter. On Vancouver Island, the weather is nice enough that they don't need fully enclosed barns or heating or anything like that. But they are provided with some sort of roof in case they notice they are milling about in the rain.
One such shelter is a converted semi-trailer container, which in this case has a door in the side and doors in the back. A floor has been built in the front two-thirds of the structure, which gives it a second level about four feet off the ground. Possessing no real ability to climb, the emus would be unable to reach the second floor of these deluxe accomodations. So we built a ramp.
The work crew consisted of myself, Brian and Dad. Or the three, I am the least skilled at (among other such handy things) carpentry. My job mostly involves carrying things to the site and holding fence while nails and screws attach it to the ramp.
The result was a ramp that will last for generations. The boards used are about fifteen feet long, two inches thick and the total width is about three feet (comfortable for emu and emu farmer alike). Fencing lines either side in case of slips or panic (emus panic sometimes). "These fucking emus live better than I do," Brian exclaimed at one point. We only hope the emus use and enjoy the ramp.
Tonight's activities involved a trip to the local liquor store. As it turns out, every liquor store (they are government-run here in Saskatchewan) assesses its stock at the end of the calendar year. Then, a week later, they sell of their extras, discontinued products in particular, for low, low prices. I would recommend that anyone who lives near a government-owned liquor store in, say, BC checks this out as a possibility.
It snowed here a week ago. About 8" worth all in one day. I am currently housesitting, so I had shoveling obligations at that house. But my roommates were still away for the holidays at that point, so I also had shoveling to do at the other house. My rough estimate (I had time to think about it, obviously) is that I moved about 600 cubic feet of snow that afternoon. Whew.
No need to worry, though; it hasn't really snowed here since. Instead, we've had a nice sprinkle of rain during the day for the last couple of days, which leads to scary, scary ice after when the temperature drops below freezing after dark.
Sometimes I wonder what daily life might be like when you don't have to plug in your car (to keep the engine warm enough to start) at night or scrape off the windows every time you want to go anywhere. Next winter, I plan to find out. I will miss the fun of sliding around corners, though, which makes a trip to the store seem like some sort of rally car race.
Happy New Year everyone. I suppose I'm a little late on that, but I'm sure you've been managing just fine.
Today, as some of you know, was the World Junior hockey semifinal game between Canada and the USA. I watched it at home with some friends, completing the experience with a Bubba of beer (see below). The plucky (and thuggy) Canadian kids managed to pull off a 3-2 win in a close game. Good stuff. And we all got to feel that particular glee that Canadians derive from a hockey victory over the Americans.
As any Canadian knows by now (thanks to an exhaustive marketing campaign), the Bubba is a 5L mini-keg of Molson Canadian beer. I'm not really a fan of the stuff, but I guess I am a fan of their promotional campaigns. That Bubba commercial has a certain charm (and even includes a guy taking a ball hockey ball to the crotch), and I've had an "I am Canadian" t-shirt for years. Gifts from this Christmas added a pair of boxers to my collection. Now if only I could stomach a reasonable quantity of their beer . . .
Speaking of which, we followed up the game with a trip to one of the local pubs that has a bunch of imported beer. Tonight's selection for me included a big Scottish beer named Lia Fair, the Jamaican Red Stripe, and some Super Bock concoction from Portugal. I am now several beer closer to sampling the whole menu (though I'm probably only at about 20 out of 50 or so beers).
I didn't get a chance to post about one of the more ridiculous items I read this week. Jim Pankiw, an MP (Member of Parliament, as in one of the people who helps to run Canada) for one of the Saskatoon ridings, distributed a pamphlet to his entire riding letting everyone know, on the cover in big red letters, that we need to STOP (stop sign) Indian Crime. The (mis)information inside provides statistics that the Star Phoenix (Saskatoon's news paper) "won't print", basically some bar graphs and pie charts, representing in red native people as a percentage of population and percentage of prison population, and other such inflammatory data (from 1991 no less).
Jimbo brags elsewhere in the pamphlet about how is liked for his ability to "tell it like it is".
The back page shows a picture of a Canadian soldier at the Oka standoff (I'll let you kids look that one up yourselves), face to face with one of the protestors, with the caption reading: Indian terrorist confronts Canadian armed forces.
Now I know what you're thinking, this is just some nut who wants to be in politics. No, this is a man in his second term of office who will be running for a third. The story is that his riding is about half rural, half in Saskatoon, the rural section all voted Reform, and the city split NDP and Liberal (you might say "a vote for Bodnar is a vote for Pankiw"). You may also remember him from the Alliance Party fiasco where he was one of the people to get booted from the party. Hopefully his chances will be worse as an independent, since no other party will touch him. But I also hear that the riding boundaries will be redrawn, so that they are all-city and all-rural, so who knows . . .
Some of you will be happy to note that the last of the recent mathematics-based thread has expired from its front page spot. I will continue these if anyone is interested, but I'm sure you are all too busy eating fancy dinners, traipsing off to Quebec, or being offered drugs at London's finest clubs.
And, in case anyone was wondering, my recent lack of posts could be partly blamed on my recent purchase of Neverwinter Nights. It is fun, though I have become a bit of a snob in terms of video games in that I only like those that allow you to play with other people. I spent a lot of time trying to outsmart my computer at various games when I was younger, and it is just better to have the help of friends or have them as the opponent.
There was an extensive power outage in Saskatoon the other day. It snowed quite a bit that day, which may or may not have had something to do with it, and the East side (that is, the side of the city on what is roughly the East bank of the South Saskatchewan River) was devoid of electricity for maybe three quarters of an hour. What confused me was that it started when I was leaving the house, so I didn't know until I hit a couple traffic lights that didn't work, followed by the bank I was trying to find not being open. After driving around and discovering the extent of the outage, I went downtown (on the West side) for my business.
What I thought was cool was going through all those traffic lights that I usually use, but that had of course turned into temporary four-way stops. I think with the usual traffic flow, people are more agitated (trying to beat lights and make left turns in time) than when everyone has to take turns. Anyway, that was what struck me, all of these people just taking turns.
An update to the whole squirrel picture fiasco:
Long-time reader and former roommate Michal, spurred by his own curiousity, has discovered an even better picture to be used in the squirrel beer story. If you are new, this would be a good time to check out some of the archives anyway (especially since new content seems to be lacking at the moment).
A job taken with the sole intention of staying only for a limited
period of time (often one year). The intention is usually to raise
enough funds to partake in another, more meaningful activity such
as watercolor sketching in Crete, or designing computer knit
sweaters in Hong Kong. Employers are rarely informed of intentions.
-- Douglas Coupland, Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture
Ok, ok. We'll take a break from the math for a while, and move onto something arguably geekier.
Did you ever play that collectable Magic: The Gathering card game? My roommate recently unearthed his old cards, and we've been checking it out. Turns out they are alive and well. Not as much as a few years ago, but new series are still being released. We've even bought some cards from the new series to add a bit to our games. A bunch of friends of mine here used to be quite into it (they would enter the occasional tournament and such).
For those who don't know, you collect these cards to construct a deck to play the game. The deck contains lands (sources of magical power), creatures to fight for you, and spells. The players take turns, building up their reserves and casting spells at each other or on the creatures. The game is over when one player has been "hit" too many times by the other's spells and monsters.
The problem, though, was that the company would release a new series every few months (they still realease one a year), and the cards got progressively more powerful, so you had to keep buying to remain competitive. Some tournaments tried to counteract this by providing players with a random bunch of cards to form their decks, so that it was more about strategy than the biggest bankroll.
As the little calendar at the right resets to a whole new month's worth of numbers to be highlighted with posts, I'd like to take a moment to welcome all of the people reading this log that have arrived from outside the cosy antiflux environs. Since this thing finally hit the search engines (or at least, such is my theory), I have received, much to my surprise, comments from "out there".
One such comment really reminded me that this writing does not exist exclusively for the reading pleasure of a few close friends, but is really available from all of those places data lines now reach. Wacky.
I would also like to mention that, in addition to this category business I mentioned a couple days ago, I have tried to enhance the way the archives may be viewed. Most people won't notice any changes, but at least Tim has, so that is enough for me.
If you would like a news update, I got drunk on imported beer (mostly European in this case) Friday night, added a bit to the Stone Mason site yesterday, and watched Spiderman on DVD last night.
I will be adding a new installment in the mathematics saga soon, for those of you still interested. I've got a lot of ideas about what to say, but I've been trying to figure out a reasonable order of presentation.
As you might have guessed, I've got nothing to write about today (actually, I had sort of a plan to write about how impressed I was with the photocopier today, but that seems kind of sad). So I figured I'd pass along greetings to our neighbours to the South. Enjoy your day of football and over-eating, we can barely remember ours at this point.
To celebrate, my roommate and I are eating leftover turkey burgers. Truly festive.
For those of you who are still interested in reading it, Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series continues this January with its tenth book.
Many of you know that I despise this "new book every two years" strategy, since I don't trust him to finish the story (I think he's aiming for fifteen books or something). I've stopped at about the seventh book, and will start over if and when I know there will be an end. The reason being that it is a lot of work to keep track of all the characters and factions and whatnot (by the seventh book, there is a whole lot of whatnot).
Saw 8 Mile last night. Not too much to say about it. If you paid attention to the previews, you will get what you expect. Except that Brittany Murphy is somehow sluttier.
Please remember . . .
In Flanders Fields
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
-- John McCrae
I went out for my (second) cousin's birthday last night. His sister and their mutual friends got him a selection of gifts from one of the local adult shoppes. These included erotic dice, erotic lottery tickets (scratch-and-win variety, where "the big prize is YOU!") and this erotic novella, The Unwilling Stewardess, featuring a picture on the cover of a man encouraging the (presumably) stewardess in question to, well, let's just say she doesn't seem too willing.
What was kind of interesting about this book is that it claims to be some sort of "classic", and has been reprinted any number of times, the most recent copyright being held from 1994 (it was previously published under the more telling title Raped Stewardess). I can only assume that such a story appeals to enough people to make it popular in the abscence of the usual methods of advertisement, such as print media, any kind of commercials, availability in regular bookstores, or even word of mouth (what, like you're going to tell people you thought this was a great book in your bookclub?).
I took my car in today to have the winter tires put on (yes, that's right, you can have a whole extra set of tires for winter), and killed time by wandering around the mall. After grabbing some (much needed?) shaving and washing products, I started looking in clothes stores.
I ended up buying a sweater and some pants, but the weird thing I noticed while trying them on was that the change rooms had those ashtrays where you can flip them up so the ashes dump into a cup underneath. They were set into the little bench (which also had a cushiony seat) in the change room. I can't even understand why you would let people smoke around your clothes that they don't own yet, because that makes for all kinds of accidents waiting to happen. And how do you have so much time that you would even want to or need to smoke in there? Fascinating. Of course, the ashtrays are no longer employed for thier intended use, and now just hold disposed clothing tags.
So I went to see Jackass: The Movie with some friends tonight. It is all the wise-cracking, crotch-punching, anal-lubing mayhem you might expect from Johnny Knoxville and his gang. Following in the tv-to-movie footsteps of shows like South Park, this is basically a longer, less censored Jackass episode. I won't ruin any of the "good parts" for you, but I will say don't go in on too full a stomach; the camera is pretty jerky and you might see some things that make you a little queasy.
To round out my evening of mature-yet-juvenile content, I also checked out the new Grand Theft Auto: Vice City game for PS2. It has all the charm of the previous version with all sorts of cool 80s music and looks. It's a nice switch to do the big stunt jumps to Flock of Seagulls.
I co-manage an indoor soccer team here in Saskatoon. There is a big facility with four indoor pitches and a city league.
Indoor soccer is an odd game. It combines all the ball-kicking and ruthlessness of soccer with all the board-ramming and ruthlessness of hockey. The pitch is not quite as big as a hockey rink, but has boards in that fashion. The boards are useful for passing off of, getting ridiculous rebounds (the goal is set into the wall), and smashing people into. As in hockey, the game is played 5 on 5, with substitutions on the fly, and a penalty box. The ball is only called "out" if it hits the (high) ceiling or lands in one of the benches, which makes for a much quicker game with fewer stops.
If you would like to see how we are doing (our record is 1-1 after last night's loss), you can check here and look for Sybian Athletico in Men's Division 4. I would post the link to the team web site, but the site has grown into somewhat of a monstrosity that is way more offensive than anticipated. Among this log's audience of which I am aware, I imagine it would probably only appeal to Urbanski.
As most of you reading this will know, it was time to "fall back" last night. But what you may not know is that Saskatchewan is one of those few places in North America where Daylight Savings is not used. I believe the reason has something to do with farmers, who form the main opposition to the time change (and to most things around here).
So if you live West of me, it is now even an hour later here when you call. And if you live East, it is now an hour earlier when you call. Not that any of you call . . .
I realize updates have been getting more sporadic. I've been a bit busy lately, partly due to my upcoming litigation, which I'd rather not carry on about right now (don't worry; I will post any Matloack-style courtroom debate). I've also had a bit of a cold this past week, which left me in no mood to brag about or make fun of anything. You could also blame it on a general log malaise that seems to be affecting all of the antiflux crew.
Anyway, welcome back, dear reader. I'll try to post more, and try to keep yous guys updated on my trip to the US (have I not mentioned it yet? Keep your eye on this space, then).
via fortune -o:
"I have a box of telephone rings under my bed. Whenever I get lonely, I open it up a little bit, and I get a phone call. One day I dropped the box all over the floor. The phone wouldn't stop ringing. I had to get it disconnected. So I got a new phone. I didn't have much money, so I had to get an irregular. It doesn't have a five. I ran into a friend of mine on the street the other day. He said why don't you give me a call. I told him I can't call everybody I want to anymore, my phone doesn't have a five. He asked how long had it been that way. I said I didn't know -- my calendar doesn't have any sevens."
-- Steven Wright
I'm having trouble thinking of things to write at the moment, but until I figure something out, let me recommend the film Supertroopers, which I think a lot of people missed back when it came out. It is the creation of a comedy troupe named Broken Lizard, sort of like Brain Candy from an American Kids In The Hall group. The movie is quite excellent meow.
If I am just way behind on this and you have all seen it, then feel free to chastize me in the comments.
Thanks to Jameel for bringing this to my attention. I can only hope Tim's housewarming (that I regretfully cannot attend) leaves him this way.
The finest description of a hangover in English literature is accredited
to Kingsley Amis' wonderful campus novel Lucky Jim:
"He lay sprawled, too wicked to move, spewed up like a broken spider-crab
on the tarry shingle of the morning. The light did him harm, but not so
much as looking at things did: he resolved, having done it once, never to
move his eyeballs again. A dusty thudding in his head made the scene
before him beat like a pulse. His mouth had been used as a latrine by
some small creature of the night, and then as its mausoleum. During the
night, too, he'd somehow been on a cross-country run and then been
expertly beaten up by secret police. He felt bad."
The following is an article from the campus newspaper here, The Sheaf (get it? It's a homonym . . . I hate you people). Reminds me a bit of the 432 back when it was fun to read in class: not polished, but entertaining. Mind you, this paper is paid for by everybody, not just wacky Science students, so they are much less likely to print the word "fuck". Anyway, thanks to Adam for pointing it out.
Creed Changes Their Name to Pearl Jam
The gross-looking singer of Creed announced to reporters Sunday that the band had officially changed their name to Pearl Jam. “We’ve been in court for months trying to get rights to the name,” he said. “We discovered that there is actually another band somewhere with the same name, oddly enough.” The gross-looking singer of Creed spoke of the relief when the court battle was over and they finally claimed the rights to the name. “I was starting to get worried, thinking we’d have to change our name to Pearl Jam-X.” In related news, the gross singer of Creed is in court changing his name to Eddie Vedder, “I like the sound of it, I like how it rhymes with ‘better’. Vedder is better, teehee teehee.” He has a single due out next Friday - it’s a cover of Last Kiss.
I officially entered the lifestyle of a sports gambler this weekend with my $2 Sport Select bet on the NFL. Imagine my surprise to find out that I am pretty good (read: lucky) at this, and all of my games yesterday ended in wins (the team you choose has to score at least four points more than the team they beat), albeit in the last minute of play in all cases. In case you are interested, I was pulling for San Diego, Green Bay and New Orleans.
Tonight, my favourite Tampa Bay Buccaneers helped the Rams continue a sad, sad start to their season. And I win $60 for their efforts.
Today was E-Plant day here on the University of Saskatchewan campus. This is one of the big events during "Hell Week", the week of engineer events.
The two most visible groups of students on campus here are the Agriculture students who sport blue coats, and the Engineering students in their red jackets. At some universities, I understand that the engineers are the only noticable bunch, but the Ag program here is large enough to provide somewhat of a foil for them.
During Hell Week, some member of the Ag Student Society Executive (often the president) is kidnapped and boozed up by the Engineers. On Friday at noon, the victim is duct-taped to a large "E" on top of a red pole (see below). The geers march to the small rise just in front of the historic Thorvaldson building (it's maybe a 3' elevation, a hill by Saskatchewan standards) and "plant" the pole in the middle of the hill. Hence the name, E-Plant. The geers proceed to link arms and bunch around the pole, chanting all of their three or so songs.
The Geers prepare the "hill".
Meanwhile, the ags are painting themselves blue and finishing up plans of attack. Their task is to liberate their fearless and drunken leader from the pole. Once ready, they march across campus from their building to the site.
The Ags part the crowd.
The Ags now have 20 minutes or so (there are some sort of official rules . . .) to try to get their exec member back.
And when I say try, don't think that I imply any measure of success. In all of the years they've been up to this, the Geers win every time. Consider: they have the advantage of higher ground, and often soak the hill in dish soap to make it very difficult to run up. They are also strong as a group, while the Ags can only try in small groups. And the Ags never win, despite creative efforts like throwing mattresses on top of the crowd to climb over. This leads to acts of frustration like throwing buckets of manure on the Geers during the attack (the Ags do have access to such things, though the throwing of animal feces was eventually declared illegal in the rules . . .).
To quell the concerns of several audience members, I would like to point out that I was not an active participant in the squirrel-beer-cozy-turned-wedgie-wrestling-match incident. I was there with some other friends, and we left when things got their ugliest. Of course, they got uglier later when one of the people involved grabbed the first scrap from the atomic wedgie and put it on as a bandana.
Really, that is enough about other peoples' underwear for one week.
So, to repeat, I was not involved in any skinning or other modification of any squirrel.
Antiflux users will likely be well-acquainted with the lovely fortune message at every login. It is how I came upon this Saskatchewan-themed limerick a few weeks ago:
There was a young man of Saskatchewan,
Whose penis was truly gargantuan.
It was good for large whores,
And for small dinosaurs,
And was rough enough to scratch a match upon.
One of my favourite "it happened to me in Saskatchewan" stories occured a couple summers ago.
There is a national park called Waskesiu about two hours north of Saskatoon. Parents of a buddy of ours had a cabin up there, and (when they weren't around, of course) we would go up and basically get drunk for a whole weekend at the lake (which incidentally is not an atypical Sasakatchewan experience).
One weekend, a couple friends and I arrived early in the evening to find a few people already at the cabin, including a guy that ran a local shop and two guys who were working/toking all summer in Banff, and had just driven in stoned earlier that day. We caught the three of them enjoying the results of what they termed "Project Squirrel".
The guy staying in Waskesiu happened to be fairly woodsy, and led the team in trapping three squirrels, making one apiece. As it turns out, if you skin the squirrel and kind of scrape out the inside, but leaving the neck and head intact to have sort of a squirrel version of a bear rug, you can duct tape the pelt together in such a way that it wraps around a beer bottle with the neck of the bottle sticking out of the squirrel's mouth.
This squirrel shouldn't be drinking;
it should be insulating.
The successful crew were already putting their new beer cozies to use, and the ensuing conversation was something like:
Them: "Hey, try this out! The whiskers tickle!"
Us: "Dude, this thing kinda smells . . ."
Them: "Yeah, we didn't have time to cure them or anything."
Us: "Uhhh . . . I'm going to go wash my hands now."
After this bizarre display of Red Green gone wrong, we proceeded to drink into the night. The show later involved the same guys in from Banff and our host, atomic wedgies, and force-feeding of underwear pieces from said wedgies. Which our particular crew kind of bailed for (anyone female had already cleared out based on earlier antics). But that is another story, I suppose.
To the many friends I've made out in BC and elsewhere, my repeated visiting and even mentioning of Saskatchewan has been met with (at best) confusion, and (more commonly) ridicule. What is my fascination with this place?
Among other things, I was born here. When I'm talking with my parents about recent goings-on, they'll throw in a memory every once in a while that occured at the same place as I was. Every once in a while, particularly at the university, I wonder what life was like for them here. It was a different time, to be sure, but I'm the same age as they were in the middle of their time here, going to the same school, buying beer at the same offsales, and freezing through the same winters. Well, I think it's interesting.
After some time spent in tiny Hudson Bay, Saskatchewan (it's a town, not the large body of water in this case) and Olympic host Calgary, Alberta, I had acquired a couple siblings and ended up living here for what turned out to be some curcial years of social development. Nothing particular happened, but I made friends that have lasted since our move to BC ten years ago. I made a point of visiting at least once a year, and then took the opportunity to work here for a summer during my time at UBC. Three summers later, I was back here for a Master's, and I've got maybe another year left until the next big move.
So what's so great about this place, anyway?
It's big enough that it's got all the things you need for a city (not everything you might want, like say big concerts that aren't limited to Elton John, but that is another matter), but small enough that you can get anywhere quickly and often see people that you know around. There are maybe ten high schools here, so when you meet someone near your age, there's a good chance you'll know somebody from their school, or at least enough about their school to make fun of them.
If you're looking for serious clubbing, this is not the place for you. Peronally, I'm happy with the local pubs (I'd recommend The Black Duck or O'Shea's if you happen to be downtown), since that is more my thing. I've also been known to check out the local music scene (Stonemason, anyone?). In my experience, though, when I mention Saskatoon and somebody came here for a conference or some other unintended visit, they say they had a great time.
Hmmm . . . what else . . . as noted above, there is a univeristy here. The campus is pretty, and the school is well respected in a few major areas, like vet med, and the big one, biological/pharmaceutical research, which will only improve in scope with the opening of the Canadian Light Source. The math department here is a little low on grad students (They have trouble attracting Canadian students from outside the province; I am the first in a few years), which means that I've got a supervisor all to myself and plenty of office space.
Well, that's enough to get you started. I'll try to think of some Saskatchewan stories for another time.
Good evening, and welcome. If you're lucky, there will be something to see here at some point.
But not tonight.