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October 31, 2002

This Is Halloween

It will be a late night for me tonight folks, as I churn out my English flash fiction (5 pages due at 9:30 tomorrow morning). I have a box of 130 mini chocolate bars (which miraculously my roommate Ryan hasn't eaten. It's sweet that he puts the children first.) It's 5:40pm and the trick-or-treaters haven't come out yet. I can't image them having a great time tonight. It's a "spooky" 4°C outside and drizzling.

Angela will be over soon to handle the candy distribution, as I will be in front of the computer all night in a "scary" mood.

Rick and Vanessa (our subletters) have left us a box full of old costumes they said we could wear. Inside the box I found:

Spooky, isn't it?! And like all the furniture they left us, everything in the box is encrusted with cat hair. I guess I could dress up as the "Sneezing Cross-cultural Ninja" and Ryan can be the "Roman God of Hats".

On second thought, why don't I just get this story written already...

00:00 | Stuff

October 30, 2002

Midterm Distractions

Before I head off to write back-to-back midterms (who wouldn't want four hours of straight exam goodness?), here's a few distractions:

Phoenix 0.4 is out. Download. Surf. Enjoy.

Find what Google thinks of you with Googlism. According to Google...

Wow, Google knows me better than I know myself!

In web design news, Meryl Evans has compiled a list of websites that use CSS for layout (instead of tables). One Big Rant is number 809. If you have a website, I strongly encourage you to kick the tables habit and join us in style sheet bliss (I'm looking in your direction, Pete). And for those of you who have done away with tables, go add your site to the list.

And finally, as I was munching on some "Giant Lady Fingers" cookies, I suffered a sudden Simpsons flashback:

Homer: (standing under the Statue of Liberty): "We'd like to dedicate this next number to a very special woman. She's a hundred years old, and she weighs over two hundred... tons."
Man in audience: "This enormous woman will devour us all! Aah!" (jumps into water)
Homer: "Er, I meant the statue..."

00:00 | Nerd

October 29, 2002


A little bit of bad news: Health Services, the on-campus clinic phoned me today. They've analyzed my blood work, and told me my cholesterol is too high. They want me to make an appointment with a nutritionist. Now I'm no huge meat eater; I'll choose chicken or fish over a burger any day. Maybe I should go veggie like Angela... No, I love food too much to do that.

00:00 | Stuff


A little bit of good news: My manager from Microsoft wants to interview me on Nov 16. I'm just waiting for the green light from HR before booking my flight to Seattle.

00:00 | Job Hunting


Congrats to Dav who decided to hop on the bandwagon of accessibility with his new website design. Granted it's not a very crowded bandwagon yet, but give it a year. Especially with all these accessibility lawsuits.

00:00 | Nerd

October 28, 2002

The Man Room

Since moving into our new place, my roommate Ryan and I have been spending most of our time in the half-finished basement where our computers are set up. It was called The Man Room by our subletter, and the name stuck. The walls are wood-panelled, and inside there's a cat hair-infested pull-out couch, our desks and computers, a web server, computer books, and a TV. It's like a nerdy version of Wayne Campbell's basement.

Our subletters (Rick and Vanessa) came to pay us a visit yesterday. I think Vanessa was a little frightened when she saw that I had found a photograph of her, framed it, and placed it on a box at the foot of the stairs. She thought it was a shrine to her, but I told her she was flattering herself. I tell visitors that framing her photo was a stipulation of our lease agreement.

Ok, back to studying. I have two midterms on Wednesday, and writing this entry was my break.

00:00 | Stuff

October 27, 2002

By C Montgomery Burns

Oh, meltdown. It's one of those annoying buzzwords. We prefer to call it an unrequested fission surplus.

00:00 | Quotes

October 26, 2002


And welcome back to my good friend Ian, who flirted with Quixtar (aka Amway) for two days before realizing it's a marketing cult. For once I'm thankful for his tendency to not follow through with something he starts. He now wants to spread the word to everyone about how MLM is bad. Good luck on the crusade.

00:00 | Stuff


Happy birthday Dad!

00:00 | Family

October 25, 2002

The Great American Novel

In other news, I have to hand in a 1250 word flash fiction story next Friday for my Creative Writing class. I think I'll write about a futuristic amusement park where dinosaurs are brought to life through advanced cloning techniques. I'll call it "Billy and the Cloneasaurus."

00:00 | School

Sour Grapes

I got a "Thanks For Applying" postcard from Qualcomm today. Why they picked the slowest manner possible to inform me is beyond me. You'd think they'd heard of email. That's ok, I didn't want to live in San Jose anyway.

00:00 | Job Hunting


Well, it finally happened. Two weeks after notifying Imprint of the factual errors in my story, they printed a correction in this week's issue. "We apologize to our readers and the writers involved." After being told by my editor that story writers have the ability to ignore proofreaders' corrections, I'm surprised we haven't seen more of these apologies.

00:00 | School

October 22, 2002

A Weblog By Any Other Name

Well it's done. //cplyon.ca is open for business. I have moved all this site's contents over, and I will no longer be updating the www.student.math.uwaterloo.ca/~cplyon site, so please update your bookmarks.

So what can you expect from this new site? Well, a new photo gallery and a Google site search are in the works but for now, you can read a lost Miscellaneous Rambling from Japan. Enjoy.

Don't forget to update your bookmarks.

00:00 | Blog

October 21, 2002

The Big Move

Sometime this week I'll be moving this site from my Waterloo account to the new //cplyon.ca. Thanks to Rick for being my new host (if the site goes down, blame him). Unfortunately this will break my permalinks. I'll probably keep the old site around for a few months until everyone has forgotten about it (assuming anyone has actually linked to me. Google doesn't think so).

00:00 | Blog

Sleeping Beauty

I got 80% on my partnerless assignment. I honestly think I would have had a lower mark had I kept her on as a partner. Her original idea was to write it on a device that wakes up narcoleptics. I fail to see how that reduces social isolation (the point of the assignment), but she probably some insight into the matter, being a narcoleptic herself. I guess she could use such a device, considering I saw her fall asleep twice in class today.

00:00 | School

October 20, 2002

Ziggy Zaggy Ziggy Zaggy Oi Oi What?!

So Ang, Jason, Fran and I went to Oktoberfest last night. The girls went off to dance while Jason and I hung around drinking beer and talking. After a while, Jason went to the washroom, and I stood around by the sausage stand to wait for him. That's when this large, dirty man approached me. He was wearing a ball cap with a helium balloon attached to it, and was holding a beer in each hand. When he opened his mouth the sweet smell of pot and booze wafted out. I knew this was going to be a memorable conversation.

Drunk Guy: "You're on the sidelines and I'm behind you!"
Me: "Excuse me?"
Drunk Guy: "If you're on the sidelines and I'm behind you, then what does that make me?"
Me: "I'm sure I don't know."
Drunk Guy: "Do you know what Asimov has to say about people on the sidelines?"
Me: desperately looking for my friends "No."
Drunk Guy: "He says one day they'll come out of the sidelines and into the action."
Me: "Uh-huh."
Drunk Guy: "When will you get into the action?"
Me: "Real soon."
Drunk Guy: "Do you want a beer?"
Me: "No thanks. Good bye."

That's when I spotted Jason and left. I mean, what's Oktoberfest without a crazy drunk reflecting on Asimov and human nature?

00:00 | Stuff | Comments (1)

October 19, 2002

Ein Prosit!

Happy Oktoberfest!

I'm off to get drunk.

00:00 | Stuff

October 18, 2002

Why? Why Was I Programmed To Feel Pain?

I know I promised not to rant today. But then I remembered what this website was called, and decided, what the hell?

First off, update on the whole partner-from-hell situation: she emailed the course staff proclaiming she never received a single one of my 7 emails about how I hadn't received her part. But there's one glaring inconsistency: If she never received the emails asking for the document, then she wouldn't know that I hadn't received it. Given that, why send it to me on Monday night with the "late" subject?

She told the course staff that she would contact me to resolve the situation. I'm calling her bluff. I'll just sit pretty and wait for her to contact me (in the meanwhile, finish the damn assignment myself).

00:00 | School

October 16, 2002

Apology Not Included

My partner did manage to email me her half of the assignment, 7.5 hours late. No reasons or apologies, only a blank email with an attachment and subject line. What was the subject you ask?

"guess we sent it late. sigh"

Note the lack of remorse from screwing up an assignment worth 20% of my final mark. Now marks may not matter to her, but I'm not about to fail a course in my last term at university due to a MIA partner. What's with the "sigh"? It's like she's saying Well, we tried our best, but just couldn't get this assignment done in time.

I like to think that I work well in groups. I understand the importance of how to divide up work, how to prioritize ideas, and most importantly, communication. Unfortunately, when a group member takes off and ignores the only means of communication given to the rest of the group, there's not much I can do. I tried looking her up in the phone book (after emailing her my phone number several times). She wasn't listed. I gave her the benefit of the doubt and waited until 4 hours before it was due. Nothing. There was only one way out left for me: Snitch.

Believe me, I get no pleasure from ratting out my classmates. I probably would have said nothing to the course staff even if she had handed in a mere fraction of the 1500 words required. But abandoning me like that, and subjecting me to late penalties without excuse or apology is unfair and unacceptable.

Resolution: I have officially divorced her as my partner and am going at the assignment alone. I have been given an extended due date and I sent an email to my ex-partner explaining the situation and wishing her luck.

I'm sorry for ranting. I'm sure I'll have something joyful to write about tomorrow.

00:00 | School

October 15, 2002

By Jean Chretien

A proof is a proof. What kind of a proof? It's a proof. A proof is a proof. And when you have a good proof, it's because it's proven.

00:00 | Quotes | Comments (1)

Seething, Blinding Rage

Today at 2:00 pm, my STV assignment is due. Basically it's analyzing how technology can help reduce social isolation among the homeless. We were strongly encouraged to work in pairs. I never liked working in pairs on assignments with people I don't know. You can't assume they care as much about getting a good mark as you do. Worse yet, they don't immediately know I'm always right, and try to argue, only to be proven wrong by my superior sense of logic.

Ok, that last bit doesn't happen all that often, but you get my point.

So I decided to team up with this computer engineering student, who will remain nameless, lest she reads this blog (fat chance) and attacks me with some sort of soldering equipment. Anyway, we had discussed it in class, and divvied up the work. We traded email addresses and went on our separate ways. Last Tuesday she sent me her point form notes. I commented, and gave her my phone number. On Saturday I got an email from her stating that she had lost my previous email and wanted me to reiterate what I had said. Fine. The next email I got from her was yesterday. Here's an excerpt:

"Hi. Did you receive my part? I emailed it on saturday night. I think it had about 1400 words. With 3 illustrations."

But I wouldn't know, since I never received it! So I emailed her back. Three times. No reply. This morning I got desperate. I looked her up in the phone book and called. No answer. Not even an answering machine. That's when my right eye started twitching.

So I called the course marker. When I told her who I was, and explained the situation, she replied with "How did you get this number?" I told her I looked her up on the university website. Apparently I was calling her at her other job. I apologized profusely (even though I had little choice but to call her). She told me that I should have had better contact with my partner. However, I was not in the mood to be lectured on the dynamics of group work. She then told me that she will not penalize a late assignment and sent me on my way. I only hope she wasn't just trying to get rid of me.

There are three things I hate about my university life: group partners with no work ethic, teaching assistants who are too busy to deal with students, and paying $150 for a textbook that the used bookstore won't buy because it's no longer used in any course. But that's another rant.

00:00 | School

October 11, 2002


Don't expect another update from me this weekend, since I'm going home to see the family. It's Canadian Thanksgiving this weekend and I plan to stuff myself full of some good home-cooked food. Have a good weekend.

00:00 | Stuff


Thank you Dav for pointing out this Wired article to me. As some of you know, but no doubt don't care, it brings a little bit of joy to my otherwise cynical and empty life to see mainstream websites use web standards. This site uses them, and I encourage all my fellow bloggers to use them as well (kudos to Pete and Dav. Rafi has the right idea, but still needs a little work).

Speaking of web standards, I have made the switch from IE as my default browser to Phoenix, the slim and sleek browser based on Gecko, the Mozilla rendering engine. In case you're still reading, I highly recommend it if you like web standards, cool features like tabbed browsing and pop-up blocking, and don't want a built-in mail reader.

00:00 | Nerd

October 10, 2002

Political Digression

I guess another good reason to not drive, is to avoid getting shot and killed while pumping gas. My deepest sympathies go to the families of the victims. Especially since the US seems to be so caught up fighting terrorism in the Middle East, that they forgot about their own home-grown terrorists. Maybe they thought they ended domestic terrorism when they put McVeigh to death.

Snipers and bombers keep cropping up in the US, but the government feels it necessary to spend its resources on a war. And during a recession, no less. Does no one remember what happened to the US economy with LBJ and the Viet Nam war? (Ok, I don't personally remember it, but I did take several courses that examined it).

What the hell am I talking about. I'm neither a political pundit, nor do I know what "pundit" means. But I guess that's miracle the of the Internet. Everyone has their own electronic soapbox.

00:00 | America , Politics


As I arrived at school yesterday afternoon, a curious thing happened: my right bicycle pedal fell off. Mildly annoyed, I tried to screw it back on, then noticed the threading in the part the pedal screws into was completely gone. There was nothing for the pedal to screw into. Frustrated, I put the pedal in my backpack and went to class.

Classes ended at 10:00 pm and I awkwardly biked home on one pedal. It wasn't easy, but I somehow managed. All this trouble because I want to be environmentally, and health conscious. Who am I kidding, I ride a bike because I got it for free and I can't afford a car.

00:00 | Stuff

October 9, 2002

Fatty Fat Fat-Fat

According to the Globe and Mail, one of Canada's national newspapers, one third of American adults are obese. Obese doesn't just mean a little chunky, or portly, or slightly overweight. It means really FAT. Scotty from Star Trek fat. The mother from What's Eating Gilbert Grape fat. That girl from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Who Turned Into A Huge Blueberry fat. You get the picture. Worst of all, these people didn't even realize they were morbidly obese.

Now as most of you know, I've lived in the US of A, although the Pacific North-West is one of its most health-conscious regions. Nevertheless, I saw distinct signs that not even Seattle was immune:

And that is why America is the greatest country in the world.

00:00 | America

October 8, 2002

Squash Ball

Off to play squash tonight. Although I'd much rather curl up into a ball and sleep on the cat hair-infested couch next to my desk.

00:00 | Stuff

Picture Page

Got my picture taken along with the group of all 2003 Math Grads. Although I'm graduating this December, I'm considered class of 2003. Whatever. That just means the yearbook I paid for will only have two recognizable faces in it: mine and my roommate Ryan's.

00:00 | School

So Very Tired

Got 4 hours sleep last night. Spent all day in the Imprint office waiting for interviewees who didn't show up. Phoned them, rescheduled, they showed up late for their rescheduling. Got the article finished, then got an email from the Survivor organizer who is worried about the comments some of the contestants made to me, and how the article will paint it all.


00:00 | School

October 7, 2002


Tomorrow I have to go back to the dentist for more X-rays. When I was there a few weeks ago, they took X-rays, cleaned my teeth, then decided that the X-rays they took weren't good, so they took them again. A week later I got a phone call saying they want more X-rays. At first I was concerned about the mounting cost, but then someone pointed out I should be more worried about the extra doses of radiation aimed directly at my head.

At least in this country (Canada) they give you lead shields to cover your sensitive parts. When I was living in Japan, I had the misfortune of breaking my left pinky finger. When they took the X-rays, they had me sit on a little stool and place my hand on a table. They then aimed the giant X-ray machine at my hand, then went and hid behind a protective wall before flooding the room with radiation. I immediately noticed how under the table, directly in the X-ray machine's line-of-sight was my unprotected crotch. I didn't know how to say "radiation-induced sterility" in Japanese, and they didn't seem to understand my frantic hand-gestures, so the X-rays went on as planned.

I wonder how many X-ray induced sterile men there are in Japan. Or, worse yet, sterile foreigners who were just passing through.

00:00 | Stuff

The Cannibal

I saw Red Dragon last night. Good movie. The quality lies somewhere between Silence and Hannibal, and Hopkins did not disappoint. Neither did Ralph Fiennes (pronounced "Ray Fines", for some reason), who played the craziest of crazies. I give it * * *.

00:00 | Entertainment

Vindictive Quote

Yesterday I swung by UW's residence to see the final act in a play we like to call Survivor UW. I arrived just in time to see one of the contestants storm off angrily after denouncing the other contestants as vindictive. Mental note: get juicy quote from that guy. My article will hopefully be done by Wed and in print on Friday.

00:00 | School

October 5, 2002

So Very Angry

Welcome to the high highs and the low lows of Chris' mood swings. Upon a closer reading of my Imprint article I noticed the edited version contained spelling and grammatial errors that the submitted copy didn't. What does this mean? It means a rant about why Imprint angries up the blood.

Update: my editor emailed me and told me he was not responsible for the changes to my article. Someone else changed it without his knowledge. Sorry about that Tim. We'll work together on making next week's issue even better.

00:00 | School

October 4, 2002

Page 7

For those of you on campus, pick up a copy of Imprint and turn to page 7. That's right baby, the whole page 7. The second-last page of the news section. Pure Lyon.

For those of you off campus, I'll post a link when the paper updates its webpage. Keep you in suspense indefinitely.

00:00 | School

Me Write Newspaper Good

So let me reiterate why I decided to volunteer for Imprint, the University of Waterloo Student newspaper. Ever since my first term in September 1997, I have had a low opinion of the paper for several valid reasons. Their lack of proofreading (I once saw the word "student" misspelled), their blatant opinion pieces thinly veiled as news stories (especially stories involving government funding), and the general irrelevance of their articles.

One time I even wrote a letter to the editor to complain about how there were two stories (one by the editor himself) glorifying this artist/women's-rights activist who took her own life, and the life of her three-year-old son. I gently pointed out that killing an innocent toddler negates any good reputation she gained by painting watercolours or having the Miss Waterloo pageant removed from campus.

(I would include links to said stories, but the Imprint web site has a poor search engine, as well as a habit of not being updated. As a type this rant, last week's cover is featured on this week's online issue).

So what did they do to cross the line this time? What did they print to send me into a ranting fury?

Well, as I mentioned above, and in a September entry, I volunteered to write for the news section. My first assignment? Write a lead-up story describing the October 4-6 campus residence Survivor game. Even though Survivor isn't one of the shows I drop everything to watch, I agreed. It would involve a lead-up story, a description of the contestants, and eventually, a story on how it all went.

Well, here's the edited version of lead-up story they printed.

The article I submitted ended the 5th paragraph with this sentence:

"Survivor UW has 16 contestants from all residences, chosen from 55 as opposed to Survivor CLT which only had 13 people sign up."

For those of you too lazy to read the article yourself, this is what they printed (emphasis added to edited parts):

"Survivor UW has 16 contestants from all residences, chosen from 55 as opposed to Survivor CLT where only had 13 people participated."

In the print version of this week's issue, there are head-shots of the contestants plus a few lines describing them. Apparently whoever edited this, thought that "Business Major" was better spelled with two Bs.

Now who looks the fool for this butchering of the English language? My editor? He told me he was unaware of the changes. The head proofreader? It wouldn't be the first time he let something slip (notice how the first paragraph breaks in mid-sentence, and how the president of Wilfred Laurier Student Publications' name changes from "Field" to "Filed"). In fact, I have no idea who even altered my article!

Now the blame falls squarely on the writer's shoulders. They didn't even label me as Imprint staff, just "Chris Lyon - Special to Imprint". Maybe that way they have an excuse to blame me if the article sucks, since I'm not technically part of the staff.

The whole reason I volunteered was to try to raise the bar of quality for this newspaper run by student volunteers. Yes, I know they're not getting paid, and yes, I know they have exams and assignments to do. But so do I! And when I go to the trouble of actually running a spellchecker on my work, I don't appreciate having them add collections of letters that vaguely resemble words, but aren't really English.

So what's the moral here? Never volunteer for anything. No, that's not fair. I've had a word with my editor and we're going to work hard on making next week's issue better. And if things don't get better? Then I guess I'll have more to rant about.

00:00 | Misc Rambling


Today I encountered more than my share of insects. This morning in our bathroom I killed seven mosquitoes. Seven! And our bathroom is not that big. In fact, it's smaller than my office was at Microsoft.

Then, on the 20 minute walk home, I was swarmed by tiny insects (I don't know what they were. Gnats? Mosquitoes? Small birds?). I felt like Pig Pen from the Peanuts comics, surrounded by a perpetual cloud of bugs. Passing motorists must have thought I was either waving to them, or swatting at invisible attackers.

Motorist: "Do I know that guy? I think he's waving to me..."
Me: "Bugs! Bugs! Get them off me! They're in my hair!!"

00:00 | Stuff

October 3, 2002

Furry Fetish

You'll all be pleased to know Ang didn't dump me for my last revealing entry. It wasn't true anyway. She doesn't get me to dress up like a frog (or any other kind of animal, for that matter). Although it may spice up our lives, I choose to leave that to the Furries (if you don't know what a Furry is, I'm sure the bastion of knowledge that is the Internet can help you out there. No, I'm not going to provide a link).

So I can blog about anything I want to, as long as I don't mention Ang's elbow fetish.

Oh shit...

00:00 | Stuff

Beginning Of The End

Today was my first midterm of my last term at university. I'm looking at the final programming assignment the University of Waterloo will be extracting from me: it's 11 pages long. Swell. But it's almost all over. Less than 3 months from now, you'll be able to refer to me as "Chris Lyon, BMath". Either that or "Hey pool-guy, you forgot to clean up some leaves over here!"

00:00 | School

October 1, 2002

The First Of Octember

Bonus points to anyone who caught the title's reference.

With a new month comes a new child blog for One Big Rant: Halfwitted. It belongs to Tim, my editor at Imprint, the UW student newspaper where I'm currently volunteering my time. Tim's weblog is refreshingly honest and open, unlike this one where I hide the horrifying truths about myself that would chill you to the bone. Actually, my girlfriend Angela would kill me if I told you the truth about how she gets turned on when I dress up as a big frog and hop around...

...I'm dumped, aren't I?

00:00 | Blog

Latest Word

The latest word from my prospective employer is that they got the ok to hire more people for January. Just waiting for that final ok to say the full-time interview and all-expense paid trip to Seattle is on...

00:00 | Job Hunting

Love Up

Yes, I bought it, and yes, I love the new Peter Gabriel album. Those of you who want to listen before you buy, you can download a limited-time digital version of the album for free from the website. Check it out!

00:00 | Entertainment