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September 30, 2002

Photo Time

Last week I signed up to have my grad photo taken. There was a sign-up sheet posted on the wall of the MC building, and I signed up for today. The thing is, I think I signed up for 2:55pm today - right in the middle of my Distributed Systems class. Why would I do such a thing, especially considering I had so much free time during the day? So on Friday I went back to the sign-up page to make sure. It was gone. So I went to the Grad Committee office to find out if I actually made such a brain-dead decision. The guy there told me that the photo guy had taken the page down, and could not be reached. He suggested I show up where the photos are being taken at 9:00am and find out. Yeah... I'll do that. I think I'll just show up at 2:55, miss my otherwise boring class and get some work done in the meantime.

Oh, did I mention the pressure is on for my Imprint news story the same week I have my first midterm (this week)? Remind me again why I volunteer for anything...

00:00 | School

September 29, 2002

By Peter Gabriel

I'm afraid of being mothered
with my balls shut in the pen
I'm afraid of loving women
and I'm scared of loving men

00:00 | Quotes

September 28, 2002

A Lesson We'll Never Forget

Thursday's Japanese lesson provided us with a special treat: a cartoon to help teach us grammar.

Nighttime. A sheep and a gorilla are standing next to a telescope. A single star is shining brightly in the sky.
Sheep: "I want to look at that star."
Gorilla: "I don't know whether or not we can look at the star."
The gorilla looks in the telescope.
Gorilla: "Ah. It is possible to look at the star."
The gorilla sees a man sitting on a chair, on the moon. The man is drinking coffee.
Gorilla: "Someone is there."
The gorilla lowers the telescope so the sheep can see.
Sheep: "Eh..."
The sheep sees the same man on the moon.
Sheep: "It is true. Let's yell out, and he will hear us."
Gorilla: "Hmm. It is very far. I don't know whether or not he will hear us."
Sheep: "Baaaa!"
The sheep and gorilla wait for a response.
Sheep: "No good."
Gorilla: "Good! Whoa!"
The gorilla yells so loud, the words come out of his mouth, fly across space and hit the man on the moon. The moon then crashes into the Earth.
The End.

I think we can all learn some important life lessons from that cartoon.

00:00 | School

September 26, 2002


On Monday, the new Peter Gabriel album, Up was finally released. It's been about ten years since his last album, Us, came out, and I've been waiting ever since. I fell in love with PG's music when I was 6 years old and saw the Sledgehammer and Big Time videos on TV. What kid doesn't love clay-mation and dancing dead chickens?

Angela phoned me while I was sitting in the dentist's chair to tell me the news: Peter Gabriel was coming to Toronto. Sweet! Angela had bought a video of a show on his Us tour (Secret World), and it was fantastic. Revolving stage, cool effects, props, lots of musicians, and most of all, it was clear he was having a great time. So would I pass up this opportunity to go see the man whose music I've loved since I was a child? Would I miss the chance to see the concert I've been waiting for a decade to see?

Of course I would. I'll miss it for a stupid exam for a stupid, stupid course.

00:00 | Entertainment

September 25, 2002

Career Fair

Today was Waterloo's Career Fair. Dozens of companies came to Waterloo to entice new grads and co-op students. I was among the enticed. Although I have a recommendation for hire from Microsoft, that is not a job offer, nor a guarantee for an interview. So instead of waiting by the phone all day, I decided to share my resume with some local, and some not-so-local companies.

I walked out of there with a sour taste in my mouth from some companies (no, I won't list them here), and good impressions of others. I also walked away with countless brochures and a bag full o' loot. I got:

It was weird. Upon inspecting my resume, some people were impressed that I had worked at Microsoft. Others were amazed that I had worked in Japan. Still others refused to take my resume, and insisted I apply online. Yeah, that's why I came here, so I could be told in person to visit your website.

I was under the impression that the job fair was like a mini-pre-interview. You hand them your resume, they ask you some questions, you ask some questions, they take notes and you both walk away knowing a little more about each other and whether or not a job together would be mutually beneficial. Some companies were under that impression too. Most weren't.

You tell me, what company would you rather work for:
Company A: "Let me tell you about our company... Do you have a resume I can have?"
Company B: "All our information is online. Don't give me your resume, I'll just lose it."

Remember, as an applicant, I'm interviewing your company too.

00:00 | Job Hunting

September 24, 2002


I should head on over to the Imprint office today. Why you ask? Because they want me to write news articles for them. For those of you who aren't UW students, the Imprint is the student newspaper, and I've had a beef with them for years. Poor proofreading, weak stories, and "articles" so full of the writer's personal opinions, it feels like a tabloid. Granted, these people aren't getting paid, but I expected more for my $4 a term.

So why are they contacting me? I decided to quit just bitching about the problem and do something about it: I volunteered. I can't wait until I see a front-page story, penned by yours truly.

00:00 | School


I think my monitor woes are due to the poor wiring in this house. Also, every electrical appliance in the basement is plugged into the same outlet, so that can't be good. I notice the picture jiggle whenever someone turns on the TV upstairs.

00:00 | Nerd


It's 9:00am. For any of you who know me personally you would be shocked and appalled that I'm up this early on my day off. Here's why: I have an essay due at 2:00 all about my bathroom. Yup. It's for my STV class and I need to evaluate the design decisions that went into my bathroom.

Even though it's due at 2:00, I have a dentist appointment at 1:00, and I need to fill the tires in my newly-reassembled bike before I can go anywhere. So that's why I'm up at this ungodly hour on my day off.

00:00 | School

September 23, 2002

By Dave Lewis

Could advertising have lied to me?!

00:00 | Quotes

September 21, 2002

19 Inches

I finally gave up and went shopping for a new monitor. I've had my current MAG MX17H for 3 years now, and couldn't put up with the pincushioned fuzziness any more. I bought it one cold January afternoon in 1999 at the University's monthly computer rummage sale for $20. It was 8 years old at the time, and the "AS IS" sticker didn't fill me with confidence. I decided to throw caution and common sense to the wind and bought it. With my friend Ryan's help, we carried the 50 lb monster across campus to Angela's car. Imagine my surprise when we turned it on and found out it worked.

That monitor served me well. But today I bought a new one. A ViewSonic A90F. 19" of crisp display goodness. That is, until about 9:00 tonight.

All of the sudden, the picture started shaking at 1280x1024 at 75 Hz. I don't mean flickering, it's like it's quivering on the spot. It was working fine all day. If I crank it down to 60 Hz, the shaking is gone, but then I have to deal with a crappy refresh rate. So I called tech support. A very friendly woman took the call and after 5 minutes told me the monitor was defective and should be taken back to the store for a replacement.

Great. I hope Staples is willing to come here and pick it up because I'm not carrying this thing over on my bike.

00:00 | Nerd

September 20, 2002

The Joys Of School

Wow, I've been so caught up in the excitement of school that I've neglected my blog. And what excitement! Like my drier than toast Distributed Systems class, or my hand-holding Japanese class. I'm also taking a Science, Technology and Values class, that belongs to no particular faculty. I've had two 3-hour lectures and I still don't know what that course is about.

When I got back to campus, my Co-op coordinator was really excited about the idea of Co-op using Notification Services. So she set up a meeting with me and one of the directors. We had the meeting, after which the director informed me that he, in fact, wasn't in charge of the tech aspects of co-op, but passed my email address along to another director, who he assured me, would know more about these issues.

I finally got an email from this second director, who informed me that Co-op already had a system in place, but he was willing to hear me out (I guess he didn't want to hurt my feelings, even though it wasn't my idea). I described to him what NS does, and how it would be useful. I got an email back saying thanks but no thanks.

And how exactly did I get into this situation? Oh yeah, by going to that mandatory Return-to-Campus Interview.

00:00 | School

Just Like Me

Rafi recently redesigned his weblog. Look familiar? Personally, I think it looks great!

Also, I just noticed on Blogtree, that One Big Rant is a father! Unfortunately, I can't read Swedish, but if any of you do, I encourage you to read Håkan Waara at Nadazilch.

00:00 | Blog

September 17, 2002

Tuesday Is Artsday

Despite the fact this is my last term at UW, this term has been full of firsts:

Since I'm leaving in December, I might as well go out with a bang.

00:00 | School

September 16, 2002

Thunder And Lightning

Ever since I got back from Redmond, Southern Ontario has been smothered with heat and humidity, the likes of which I haven't seen since being in Tokyo. Then, Saturday night the skies opened up and boy did it rain. It rained all evening, took a short break until midnight, then rained all night. Then it rained Sunday. Thunder crashing and lightning flashing. It was then I realized that I haven't seen a storm like that in a long time. Living in the American North-West you see rain (do you ever!), but rarely do you have thunderstorms. Ditto for the interior of Japan (Nagano-ken). And I lived there during the rainy season, when ponds swelled to lakes, and department store umbrella sheathes were plentiful.

Now I'm no meteorologist, but my guess is that the lack of thunderstorms has something to do with the mountains. Storm clouds sit lower in the sky than the tops of the mountains, thus they discharge their stormy contents before reaching the other side. Now here in Waterloo, the closest thing to a mountain is the Math and Computers building (more like a fortified prison, actually), so there's nothing to stop the storms. I guess that's why they call it Waterloo.

I can't believe I just wrote that.

00:00 | Stuff

September 13, 2002

Let's Get Physical

The beginning of the new academic year always brings interesting adventures: spending hundreds of dollars on textbooks (this was a cheap term, only $350); seeing the wide-eyed Frosh (first-year students) wander lost through the Math and Computers building; and of course my favorite, my annual physical at the Health Services building.

I'll spare you the boring, penetrating details, but there were a couple of priceless moments:

Doctor: "You have textbook blood pressure."

Doctor: "Any recent surgery?"
Me: "Yes, I just had my wisdom teeth out last week."
Doctor: "Have you been eating well?"
Me: "Yes, now that I'm back on solid foods."
Doctor: "Why weren't you eating solid foods!?"
Me: "Because I just had my wisdom teeth out."
Doctor: "Right..." (scribbles furiously)

Doctor: "And this... is your prostate's glandular lumina."
Me: (wincing) "Uh-huh"

You should all be happy to know that I'm doing fine. I'm healthy, feeling good, and already overwhelmed with homework. Hooray!

00:00 | Stuff

American Tragedy

Thank God the American Military didn't sweep this tragedy under the rug and give the pilots a mere slap on the wrist. The American media did a good job ignoring this issue (most of the Americans I spoke to in Washington had never heard of this. One even went so far as to say the Canadian soldiers probably deserved it). I'm glad justice has been served, and maybe the US will think twice before dropping another bomb.

Oh who am I kidding?

00:00 | America

September 11, 2002


I guess this is the spot where I should be writing something solemn and introspective on the one-year anniversary of the World Trade Center attack. There's nothing I can write here that will make any of it any better. I'm not American, nor do I live in the United States (anymore), so my feelings are more sympathetic than angry. I'm no political pundit, so any opinion I offer about Bush's plan to retaliate by bombing Iraq would be grossly misinformed.

I do find it interesting how people treat today with such reverence, while November 11th (Remembrance Day) goes by with little notice taken (except for all the plastic poppies). Or December 7 (the Pearl Harbour bombing). I seriously doubt many people will colour their blogs black either of those days, despite the fact those two days commemorate some of the most important (and tragic) events in the 20th century. But that's the hypocrisy in which we live, and I'm as guilty of it as anyone.

So I guess the most appropriate thing I can do is have a private moment of silence, and remember.

00:00 | Stuff

September 9, 2002

Unequal But Opposite Reaction

For every good thing that happens to me, it seems like an even worse thing follows. Take today for example:

Good Thing:
My packages finally arrived, albeit a little banged up.
Bad Thing:
I found out today that the cashier's cheque I brought back from the US and deposited into my Canadian account last Tuesday needs 30 days to clear.

30 days to clear a certified cheque! All the money I have is sitting in my account, but it's on hold until October. So I called up my financial institution and spoke to a very friendly representative who put me in touch with his very annoyed-sounding supervisor. After giving her all my American banking information, she hung up to try to negotiate some deal with her superiors and the American bank.

This story does have a happy ending. She called me back and told me I now have access to one third of my money, and the rest is on its way. The kicker is that I phoned before I got this cheque and asked if there would be any complications depositing it. The representative at the time assured me that there would be no problems and I would soon be on my way to financial nirvana.

The supervisor told me she had no record of that call ever being made. I guess it's another case of some random miscreant answering phones and talking to customers.

00:00 | Rant

They Stole My Teeth!

It's been a long time coming. The removal of all 4 of my wisdom teeth. No, they were not yet coming though the gums, nor were they inpacted or painful, but since my insurance only covers dental while I am a student under the age of 25 I decided to get it done now. My brother's wisdom teeth got infected 3 months after he graduated from college, and had to pay the whole $1500 himself, so I decided I was better safe than sorry. It turns out I'm both safe and sorry.

My girlfriend Angela came to pick me that Friday morning and bring me to the oral surgeon. I had never had surgery that required a general anesthetic before, so I was a little nervous as I walked into the office. The receptionist asked Angela if she would be waiting there for me, or if she would be going out and coming back in an hour. Ang said she would be going out to run some errands, and just like that she was gone, leaving me alone. I heard a faint "Bye Chris" as the door closed behind her. Well, that's encouraging.

I filled out the necessary paperwork, then followed the dental hygienist to The Chair of Pain. She attached electrodes to my body and a pulse monitor to my finger, all the while cheerfully talking about Frosh week and complimenting me on my sandals. Then the good doctor came in. He also made small talk, but of a very technical nature. He asked about my work at Microsoft, how I enjoyed it, then out of the blue:

Doctor: "Do you know who invented the C programming language?"
Me: "Um, no. Sorry."
Doctor: "What about C++?"
Me: "That was Bjarne Stroustrup."
Doctor: "Oh, was he the guy who invented Linux?"
Me: "No, that was Linus Torvalds."
Doctor: "Have you ever used Linux?"

The conversation went on like that while the hygienist attached an oxygen mask to my nose, and inserted a needle into my left hand.

Doctor: "You're not going to fall asleep yet, but these drugs will make you feel a bit weird..."

The next thing I remember was lying on a cot with Angela at my side and a mouthful of bloody gauze. At that moment, I found it extremely important to find out two things:

What drugs did they give me?
A morphine substitute and a valium substitute. Delicious.
What did they do with my teeth?
Apparently what they do with all the teeth they extract: put them in a big ole bucket o' teeth.

I wanted to persue the bucket question, but I had to use the rest of my concentration to walk to the car without falling over.

Ang brought me to the pharmacy to fill out my codeine prescription. She wanted me to wait in the car, but I had other plans. Once in the drug store, I danced down the aisles to the muzak, while I picked out shampoo, razors, and other toiletries. I was feeling great. Apparently I was getting stares from the other patrons, probably due to the gauze hanging out of my mouth, and the fact I let everyone know of the euphoric state I had reached. I bought the items on debit (after only getting declined once), then we headed to Ang's place. I crashed on her bed and immediately fell asleep. Ang, the saint, came in every hour to change my gauze.

A few hours later I actually got up, the euphoria gone, but my face still numb from the novocaine. Ang fed me pudding and mashed potatoes and we watched TV, occasionally stopping to change my gauze and give me codeine.

Two days later, I'm swollen like a chipmunk, slightly bruised and almost out of codeine. I sent my roommate Ryan out to fetch me some more (at least he didn't charge me for the ride to the pharmacy). I'm still in a lot of pain, extremely tired (codeine wearing off every 4 hours makes a great alarm clock), but I'm sure I'll be fresh as a daisy for my 5.5 hours of class tomorrow.

00:00 | Misc Rambling | Comments (1)

September 8, 2002

The Pain, The Pain Of It All

As promised, a Misc Rambling all out my wisdom teeth extraction and the blinding pain that followed, entitled They Stole My Teeth! Damn, I've been in a lot of pain the past few days. I haven't even been outside to enjoy the 30°C weather. I've just been sitting at home in my pyjamas sweating all day.

Actually, I have been doing something else with my time besides munching codeine pills like they were M&Ms. I decided to dust off my Bugzilla account, download the latest nightly build of Mozilla and start helping out again. Since I've been back, I've resolved about 40 bugs. How the project survived without me for so long is beyond me. I feel another rant coming on...

I finally decided to buy my own domain name. Once I get the necessary server voodoo taken care of, you will be able to access this fine weblog via http://www.cplyon.ca/ (don't bother trying yet, it won't work). It's slightly easier to remember than my current 45-character URL, as well as being a little more personal, and a little more Canadian.

00:00 | Nerd

September 7, 2002

By Jose (from the film 12 Monkeys)

You were a hero, man. They gave you a pardon! And whadda you do? You come back and fuck with your teeth!

00:00 | Quotes

Back In The Great White North

Well I made it home safe and sound. My flight home was pleasantly uneventful, except that my connecting flight from Chicago to Toronto changed times, airlines and terminals, resulting in me getting some reading done while waiting for my ride home.

I'm almost completely moved into my new apartment in Waterloo. My subletters had cats, and I'm allergic to cats. They did their best to clean up, but there is still enough cat hair hanging around to form an entire new cat. I've already gone though a box of tissues from the sneezing and the nose blowing and the itchy, watery eyes.

The only things I have left to bring over are the packages I shipped from Redmond three weeks ago through DHL. First, the packages were held up in customs, waiting for me to return to Canada to clear them, then DHL tried to deliver them on Thursday. I moved in a mere 3 hours after they tried to deliver (2:00pm), so I phoned them back:

Me: "Hi I missed your delivery, but I'll be home for the rest of the day. When can I expect you to redeliver?"
DHL: "Sorry, the driver is done for the day."
Me: "When can I expect a redelivery?"
DHL: "Delivery hours are from 10am to 5pm."
Me: "Well, it's only 2pm, why can't it be delivered today?"
DHL: "Like I said before sir, the driver is done for the day."
Me: "But it's not 5pm yet! Fine, do you deliver on weekends?"
DHL: "No. But we can deliver it to your place of work, or leave it with a neighbour."
Me: "That's no good because I don't have a car, that's why I paid you guys to deliver it here. I can't leave it with my neighbours because they're at work between 10 and 5." Truth is, I haven't met my neighbours yet and I don't trust strangers with $4500 (USD) worth of software.
Me: "Fine, keep trying to deliver it until you get me."
DHL: "After 3 unsuccessful delivery attempts we ship it back to the sender."
Me: "But I am the sender! What do I pay you people for?!"

The conversation went on like this for a few more minutes before I got fed up, and told them to try delivering it on Monday, then Tuesday. Since I already have one strike against me, I had better miss class to be here for this delivery.

Right now my cheeks are swollen and I'm enjoying the general fuzziness that comes with taking codeine every 4 hours. I think I'll write a Misc Rambling all about my teeth extraction, for no other reason than the fact I can't leave the house and function as a productive member of society in this state.

00:00 | Rant