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March 31, 2003

Ansel Adams He Ain't

My sister and I went out for Chinese at the Mandarin, the largest Chinese restaurant I've ever seen. As we were being seated we noticed a man setting up a tripod and camera. On our way back from our first trip to the buffet tables, we were forced to stop and wait for him to shoot a couple shots of diners stuffing their faces. Since our table was against the wall, we couldn't walk around him without blocking his shot. Completely oblivious to our presence, he took photo after photo of the dining room. After several minutes he walked away, unaware that he had left us standing like morons clutching our salad plates.

Being the petty man that I am, I vowed revenge.

On our second trip to the steam trays, I saw the photographer setting up his camera to get a few shots of the buffet. I placed myself at the closest buffet table to him, then proceeded to heap tons of food onto my plate, all the while licking my lips, or pointing excitedly at the chow mein. I didn't see the flash go off until after I turned away to go back to my table.

I guess I won't be on any Mandarin promotional material anytime soon. That's probably best for everyone involved.

00:00 | Stuff

March 30, 2003

You Can Dance If You Want To

I spent the weekend in Waterloo to celebrate long-time friend and ex-roommate Jen's birthday. Since Jen likes to dance, we went to a local club. Since I don't like to dance, I managed to avoid the dance floor by nursing a vodka and club soda. When it was done, I nursed another. And another. And another. Sure my wallet was empty, but I managed to avoid dancing all night.

We left in high spirits. Jen and Ang had a good time dancing, and I got properly trashed.

00:00 | Stuff

March 28, 2003

Pentium Post-Mortem

My parents got their new computer today. It's a brand new Dell Pentium 4 running Windows XP, which replaces their old Pentium 120 MHz running Windows 95. The old machine had been on its last leg for quite a while now. It would receive occasional loving whenever I came home in between terms at university. Little things like updating the antivirus, or installing the latest service packs were things that extended the machine's life by another few months.

A few months ago the on-board battery died, so the system clock was permanently at 12:00am, January 1, 1980. This didn't prove to be a big problem, except that the web browser would occasionally freak out when web sites would issue security certificates dated over 20 years in the future.

Since I'll be leaving soon, and won't be back to work my magic on the computer anymore, my parents decided to get a new one. I spent all day today migrating documents, bookmarks and profiles from the old computer to the new one. The old computer doesn't have a USB port, so I couldn't hook up my external CD Burner, nor my Compact Flash card reader. I had to resort to floppy disks. Lots of floppy disks.

I expect that with this new Dell, my parents won't be phoning me up when the modem doesn't work, and I have to talk my mom through physically removing, then reinstalling it. Not anymore.

00:00 | Nerd

March 27, 2003

Boycott France!

Thanks to Guillaume for posting the Boycott France email. I only can imagine what millions of Americans are doing without their Dom Perignon and Airbuses right now. If this keeps up, the French economy will be in ruins in no time.

Speaking of which, my sister is a waitress, and she actually had a customer order a "Freedom Onion Soup" last night. I really hope this guy was kidding around.

00:00 | Stuff

Run For The Border

My visa application has been approved. My new new target start date is April 14. That means two more weeks in my home and native land.

00:00 | Work

March 26, 2003

By Massive Attack

Getting a visa card nowadays isn't hard.

00:00 | Quotes

She Usually Eats Dog Food...

Walking the dog the other day, I unintentionally frightened a young boy, who must have been no older than six. He was on his bike, and I was walking on the sidewalk toward him. He turned around and saw me and Zoë, and freaked out.

Kid: "Is your dog friendly?"
Me: "Yes, she's very friendly."
Kid: "Is it going to eat me?"
Me: "I promise you, my dog will not eat you."
Kid: "Then why is its mouth open? It's going to eat me!"

That's when I decided to hurry up and get home before the kid's parents came out with a shotgun.

00:00 | Family

March 25, 2003

Survey Says

Today the moving company representative came to the house to do a "Pre-move survey". She was surprised to see I had no furniture, cars, pets or spouces to be shipped. All I had were a few boxes of books, CDs, clothes a bicycle and my computer. The entire survey took 20 minutes.

I told her that I travel light. She just shrugged.

00:00 | Work

March 24, 2003

Freedom Fries

Congratulations to Guillaume, who recently joined the world of blogging. It's in French, so all you Americans who are boycotting all things French had better stay away.

Speaking of which, I got an email forward yesterday entitled Say No To France. It advocated boycotting all French products and services and even included a handy list of French companies to avoid. I sent this email to Guillaume as a joke, and he wrote back telling me that some of the companies on that list aren't really applicable, like French airlines and engineering companies. Some of the companies listed aren't even French, but Swiss. And who could possibly hate the Swiss?

00:00 | Stuff

March 22, 2003

Public Transportation and Cats

Recently I've had the good fortune of using Southern Ontario's public transportation system. Although it lacks the frequency and efficiency of its Japanese counterpart, I found it convenient and cost effective.

Thursday night I took the bus, subway and train to get from my house to Rick and Vanessa's house in Etobicoke. We (Rick, Vanessa, Brad and Rafi) went to St Hubert for a disappointingly mediocre meal. After dinner, Brad and Rafi went home and I decided to crash there.

I took an allergy pill so their cats wouldn't bother me, but my clothes had somehow attracted cat hair in my sleep, making my runny nose linger all day.

The next day I took the train to downtown Toronto. I was to meet friends Dav and Liza after they got off work, so I wandered about the mall at Union station. I saw a sign for the blood donor clinic, so I decided to drop in. I used to give regularly, but couldn't find the time with my busy schedule. Since I had time to kill anyway, I walked towards the clinic, only to be accosted by two girls with a laptop.

The girls were demonstrating some new wireless technology from Intel, so I stopped to take a look. The demo crashed while I was watching it (yes, I'm that good a tester), so they gave me a pen and a free bus ticket for my time.

After giving blood and a bit of shopping, I met up with Dav and Liza, went for Thai, had a few beers, and I once again decided to spend the night in Toronto. Of course both Liza and Dav have cats, and of course their cats' hair became fused to my sweater, so I suffered form post-cat contact until I got home (via my free ticket).

Who says you need a car to have a good time?

00:00 | Stuff

March 19, 2003

Mr Coffee Nerves

I like drinking coffee. Scratch that. I love coffee. When people ask me what I will miss the most about Canada when I move to the United States, I answer without hesitation "Tim Hortons".

When I tell people that I'm considering buying the Tim Hortons coffee maker, I'm always told to write to Tim Hortons, like those Canadians in Scotland did in that commercial, and the company will send me free stuff.

No. This is what will happen if I write that letter: they'll send me a $1 coupon and tell me to cart my ass two hours north to the border.

My parents make decaf at home, so my sister Alexis and I go out to Tim Hortons for our daily caffeine fix. She gets a Double-Double, and I ask for a single-milk single-sugar. It sounds like a simple order, but you wouldn't believe how many times I've had to suffer through Regulars (cream instead of milk), or what tasted like double, or even triple-sugars. I didn't realize the concept of one serving of sugar was so subjective.

But the other day took the proverbial cake. I went through a Tim Hortons drive-thru and ordered my usual, and was treated to a big ole cup of black coffee. Did they just ignore what I ordered and give me what was easiest to make?

But I can't stay mad at Tim Hortons. In fact, I'm drinking one of their coffees while I'm typing this.

00:00 | Rant

March 18, 2003

Busta Move!

Congratulations are in order for my good friends Mark and Amy who just got engaged. To quote Young MC: "There's one more girl you won't be getting."

00:00 | Stuff

March 17, 2003

Our Fearless Leader

Today is also the day President Bush is going to give his big speech, justifying a war with Iraq. At least our brave and respected Prime Minister has finally taken a position, and decided not to send Canadian troops to Iraq. At least he's finally taken a stand, and no longer sitting on that high pointy fence, with our largest trading partner on one side, and a league of nations on the other (which, by the way, was formed to prevent countries from unilaterally invading and changing regimes in other countries).

So hooray for Chrétien for making a decision! I love him now more than ever.

By the way, I'm aware of the irony of blogging about the war, even though I said yesterday that I wouldn't, so don't bother pointing that out. I'm a liar as well as an opinionated boor.

00:00 | Iraq War

Target Start Date

Today was my original target start date at Microsoft. As you can probably tell, I am not in Seattle, but instead enjoying the slushy spring Southern Ontario offers every March. My new target start date is March 31, but I'm not holding my breath.

00:00 | Work

Luck O' The Irish

Happy St Patrick's Day to everyone who will be getting drunk on green beer and seeing leprechauns in their sleep tonight. Keep reaching for that rainbow.

00:00 | Stuff

March 16, 2003

War Blogging

In a conversation I had with my friend Ryan, he mentioned that he was considering starting a blog, but thought that the timing was wrong. Considering the world is on the brink of war, he felt his inane adventures would be self-indulgent and unimportant.

Welcome to the world of blogging, where the self-indulgent and unimportant are a welcome change from the depressing news of looming war, political strife and economic ruin.

I could sit here and blog about why I disagree with the war, or why I think there are bigger threats than Iraq right now, but as others have pointed out, it won't make a difference. So I let the pundits, who are better educated in those fields, lead the way, and instead write about the curious little foibles of my life that keep you all so entertained.

Can you tell I have no foibles to report today?

00:00 | Blog

March 15, 2003

The Smell of Curry and Wet Dog

Today was such a beautiful day (10 whole degrees Centigrade!) that I decided to take some time away from the computer and take the dog for a walk. The sidewalks were very wet since the warm temperature had melted the rather high snowbanks created by driveway shovelers, and I cursed myself for not wearing boots. Even the dog wasn't crazy about walking through ankle-deep puddles.

It was mid-afternoon, but I could smell the delicious scents of curry dinners being made. One of the nice things about living in a mostly East Indian neighbourhood is that the streets always have interesting and tasty-smelling aromas around dinner time.

I remember my mom telling me that the Indian men in our neighbourhood were afraid of Zoë. I found this hard to believe, considering my dog is scared of the vacuum cleaner. She had never been aggressive to anyone, and only barks when someone knocks on our door. I also found it hard to believe that my mom would generalize an entire ethnic group like that. I found out today that she was right.

I saw grown men trudge through snow, or walk into the busy street to avoid sharing a sidewalk with my dog. One elderly man had placed his lawnchair at the end of his driveway, and was sitting down enjoying the sun until me and "Killer" came close. He actually got out of his chair and hurried to the house until we had turned the corner.

Maybe dogs aren't kept as pets in India. Maybe they're considered vermin.

Then again, maybe they were avoiding me.

00:00 | Family

March 14, 2003

Rest In Peace

First of all, I'd like to thank everyone, friends and strangers alike, who offered their condolences over the past few days. My family and I really appreciated it.

My grandfather had a stroke in the summer of 2001 which affected the left side of his body. A few months later he had another one which rendered him paralyzed on the left side. For the last year and a half we've seen him slowly go downhill, so for the pragmatist in me, his death didn't come as a complete surprise and was almost a relief to see his suffering end.

However in times like this, it's hard to be pragmatic.

On Monday and Tuesday were the viewings. That side of my family is Italian and very large, so most of my time was spent catching up with my uncles, aunts and 16 cousins. Poor Angela must have met over 50 members of my family this week, having to introduce herself and answer the same questions over and over. But she was glad to do it, and I was glad she came.

The funeral itself was on Thursday, and I was one of the pallbearers. This was a new experience for me, and although I was honoured to be given that duty, I don't relish the idea of doing it again.

My uncle gave a wonderful eulogy, and the entire funeral was a beautiful, if not unhappy, ceremony.

But life must go on. I'm just glad I was here for the funeral, and not in Seattle yet. Don't ever let me complain about the long wait for my visa again :)

00:00 | Family

March 10, 2003


My grandfather passed away this morning. I think I'll take the rest of the week off from blogging.

00:00 | Family

March 8, 2003


The party last night was great. There were over 20 people there, all friends from high school, Japan, and Waterloo. I tried to partition my time equally between the three groups, but everyone wanted a piece of Chris that night.

Thanks to everyone who showed up, despite the bad weather. I had a great time, and as most of you could tell, I was moderately intoxicated. I'll just be taking it easy tonight, drinking water and taking Tylenol.

A special thanks to my brother and his roommates for letting a bunch of strangers party in their house. I can only hope to return the favour by having a house-warming party for myself in Seattle, but I somehow doubt everyone will make it.

00:00 | Stuff

March 7, 2003


Despite what I said about mixing coffee and nog, I tried the egg nog flavoured coffee Timothy's offers. It's like a little bit of Christmas in every mug. That and caffeine.

00:00 | Stuff


The latest word from Microsoft is that I should be starting work hopefully by the first week of April. Much like before my trip to Japan, I'm having a going-away party tomorrow. I'm extending the invitation to all my loyal readers who live in Southern Ontario. Drop me a line if you're interested.

00:00 | Stuff

March 5, 2003

From Mayfield to Microsoft: My University Career in a Nutshell

This is a brief summary of my experience attending the University Of Waterloo from September 1997 to December 2002. Sure there are a few things to bitch about... ok, a lot of things, but I had some good times too. I don't expect this account to be a guide for new students, or a nostalgic trip down memory lane for alumni, it's just the story of what one student went though to get a piece of paper with the word "Degree" on it.

September 1997: 1A

The week before classes start in September is called Frosh Week. New students (called Frosh) come to the university and are put into groups based on their area of study. From there they are further divided into teams and perform stupid activities and compete against each other. My team was called Fishbone, and I managed to keep in touch with most of them over my 5 years at Waterloo.

I was living at home in Caledon and commuting to school every day with my girlfriend Angela. Caledon is an hour's drive north-east of Waterloo, and I had 8:30am classes across the board. Needless to say, my performance at school suffered, since I was averaging 5 hours of sleep a night (yes, I realize that many frosh in residence get about that much sleep, but at least they got to party).

I have to admit, coming into university I thought I was some pretty hot shit. I kicked ass in my high school computer science classes and always had good marks. But 1A kicked my ass. I realized that my high school's computer science class didn't adequately prepare me for university CS. For example, at Mayfield, they taught us "C++", but I had no idea what classes or pointers were. This made for a difficult first term.

Waterloo has an excellent Co-op program, and students in Honours Computer Science (like me) were given the opportunity to have 6 co-op terms with whatever employer(s) would hire them. Remember, this was 1997, just before the dot-com bust, so Math majors had a 97% placement rate. I got a job offer from Corel as QA, and I was thrilled.

I didn't get great marks that term, but I managed to avoid academic probation. Some members of Fishbone weren't so lucky, and didn't come back for another term. I vowed to do better next term, and set off to Ottawa.

January 1998: Co-op 1

I moved into my apartment in Ottawa with my boyhood friend Ian, who, although not in school, decided to come up and live with me anyway. This was both of our first experience living on our own, so we made the most of it by staying up late and eating junk food (I put on 15 pounds in those 4 months).

We lived within walking distance of Corel, which was convenient since neither of us had cars. My first week at work I was put on the Asian language team as a tester. I found this odd since I couldn't speak or read any Asian language. I was testing Chinese and Japanese versions of Draw, on a team full of native Asian-language speakers. I didn't realize it at the time, but this was foreshadowing a future co-op job.

A few days later, Ottawa was hit by a huge ice storm, and the city was put in an official state of emergency. Work was cancelled for the rest of the week. Ian and I spent the time exploring the town in its ice-encrusted state.

The next week at work my boss decided it would be best if I switched teams. Apparently there was a Chinese co-op student who could read and write Chinese, who working on another team. We switched, and I became the HTML and Java tester for Corel Ventura 8.

I got an excellent evaluation for my work there, and was invited back in the fall.

May 1998: 1B

Back to school. This time I moved in with Ang, her friend and her friend's boyfriend in a townhouse in Waterloo. This was the first time I had classes in the summer, and I can't say I liked it much. At least campus wasn't too crowded. I did much better marks-wise this term, but it was a struggle. I took a French class, in an effort to restore my once-fluency. I had this Belgian woman as a prof, and she never passed up an opportunity to explain how her French was superior to Canadian French. She even went so far as to claim Belgian French was the "true" French, even truer than France's. Needless to say, I didn't have much respect for her, and she didn't care much for me, either.

Things got a little tense at home too: Ang and I weren't getting along with the couple we were living with, between the girl's whining and the guy's addiction to pornography. Yes, I said pornography. I found boxes of video tapes lying around the house. It felt like we were living at Pete's Porno Warehouse. He even went so far as to ask Ang to use her computer to surf for porn.

At the end of the summer, Ang found a new place, and I went back to Ottawa.

September 1998: Co-op 2

The Ventura team dissolved after version 8, so I was moved onto the Consumer Applications team, where I was QA for Corel Print House (a now discontinued product). I lived in the same building as before, but this time on the third floor with two roommates, Ryan, who also worked at Corel, and Mike, a friend of Ryan's.

Mike didn't know how to cook, and had little interest in learning. He was perfectly content with eating TV dinners all term, so Ryan and I proposed to cook for him if he washed dishes. He agreed, and made good on his end. But like any rational human being, doing dishes everyday for 4 months became tiresome, so Mike's solution: buy more dishes. By the time we moved out, we must have had two dozen plates and glasses for the three of us.

I got another excellent evaluation at work, and an interview to return as a developer. They liked me, so in May I would return to the same team, only wearing a different hat. Now I started to become concerned with my decision. By staying with the same company (a company that seemed perpetually in the red), I may be hurting my chances to get hired somewhere should something happen to Corel. Then again, with my 8 month experience in QA, I didn't feel I could make it anywhere else. So I agreed to come back.

January 1999: 2A

I moved in with Ang and 5 of her friends into what I like to call The House Full Of Girls. There was a mix-up with the room situation, and it turned out that one of the girls who was supposed to leave that term didn't, so I roomed with Ang. This wouldn't have been a problem, except that as a house, the girls decided to charge me equal rent all the same. Let that be a lesson to subletters who don't feel the need to write out a contract. I set up my desk and computer in one of the basement rooms colourfully referred to as "The Dungeon". It had everything but the shackles on the walls.

Living there proved interesting. One of the girls started dating an older man, who no one else liked. She told the rest of us not to mention him to her parents, in case they called. We didn't like being told to lie for her, and luckily the situation never arose. Regardless, her friendship with the other girls suffered and she informed us she wouldn't be coming back for another term.

School treated me to the worst professor I have ever had. The class was Linear Algebra 2. The professor was 10 to 15 minutes late everyday. He spoke so quietly that he needed a microphone, which took an additional 10 minutes to set up. You knew he got it working when his familiar "Can you hear me in the back?" echoed through the mostly-empty lecture hall. At the end of the last lecture he informed us that he did not have time this term to cover the final unit, but assured us it would still be on the final exam.

One of my worst marks ever was earned in that class.

May 1999: Co-op 3

Back to Corel, only this time I was a software developer for Corel Print House. Ian said he would come with me again, so I rented out the same apartment we had in 1998. He backed out at the last minute, so I was on my own (but he did pay part of the rent for the inconvenience).

At work, I was being eased into my new position very gently. Excruciatingly gently. My manager didn't trust my abilities at first (rightfully so), and denied me access to the product engine. So most of the work I did was to the UI and the Corel Co-op web page, known as SLACC, headed by Rafi.

About three quarters of the way through the term, my manager quit (he would be the first of many managers to jump off that sinking ship). Another developer was promoted to manager, and he had no problem giving me access to all the source code. When review time came, he ignored my previous 3 months work, claiming he could only judge me on the work he managed, so I ended up with a Satisfactory review. I wasn't too happy with that, so I asked for a chance to redeem myself. He agreed to hire me back for another term.

September 1999: 2B

I moved back into the HFOG, only this time I managed to get my own room on the main floor. Sure you had to go through the bathroom to get to it, but it was mine.

Courses were brutal this term. Introduction to Numerical Computation was the worst computer course I ever took. It's a course that's required for a degree in math, but isn't a prerequisite for anything, so many people leave it to their 4B term in the hopes that it will be phased out. The course was about spline interpolation, Fast Fourier Transforms, and a whole lot of other stuff I don't remember. Not many people understood that course, but lucky for us the prof gave us practice problems and gave an open book exam. The class brought their practice problem solutions to the exam, and were pleasantly surprised when we found most of the exam questions to be identical, or very similar, to the practice problems. I rode the bell curve to a very comfortable mark in that class.

I also took a film course: The Cinema of Science Fiction. You know you're in a bird course when you do a class presentation on The Planet of the Apes, and your final essay is comparing the slapstick comedy of Woody Allen's Sleeper with the dark tongue-in-cheekness of Stanley Kubrik's Dr. Strangelove.

January 2000: Co-op 4

Since I had signed a year-long lease at the HFOG, I had to sublet my room while I was gone. I subletted the room to a foreign-exchange student from China who signed his name "Geogre". Being from China, he didn't seem to respect women as authority figures, and when Angela asked him for his first month's rent, he refused to pay. Ang phoned me and I told her to have Geogre phone me as soon as he could. He never phoned, but apparently paid Angela in full once he heard I was angry with him. He never missed another payment, but I looked into eviction regulations just the same.

I ended up living in the same apartment that I had in September 1998 with my friend Brian and an engineering student, Matt. Like Mike before him, Matt didn't know how to cook, so we made a similar arrangement. He did dishes, and in return, Brian and I would cook something other than the case of Kraft Dinner Matt brought with him.

Corel, again. This time I was one of two co-op students on Corel Gallery. My previous manager had been promoted, so my direct supervisor was the only full-time developer working on the project. I was given a printout of a dialog and told to implement it. Ok, fine. The problem was, every week someone different would bring me a new printout, and I changed the design accordingly. I ended up covering my entire cubicle wall with these printouts.

In the end it didn't matter, since the project was cancelled. Too bad no one told the two co-op developers, who kept happily working away at it for another two weeks. I only found out it was cancelled by asking the lead QA why no bugs had been logged.

It was then I realized I didn't want to work at Corel anymore.

I got an excellent review, and with no regrets I told them I wouldn't be returning in four months, and wished them all luck. As far as I know, only one person I worked with at Corel is still there.

May 2000: 3A

Spring terms are usually the least busy term of the year. Most of our roommates in the HFOG were home for the summer, and didn't want the hassle of subletting, so most of the house was empty. We rented one room out to an architecture student, and Ang and I had the rest of the house to ourselves.

This was the first term since 1A that I went through the Co-op process again. I touched up my résumé and started applying. I got a few interviews, then, on a whim, Ryan and I applied to a year-long job in Japan for a company called AISoft, a subsidiary of Seiko-Epson. We were shocked when we both got interviews, and even more shocked by the interview questions:

The interview was topped off by a photo shoot, which I'm sure violates all sorts of Canadian employment laws.

Obviously we did ok in the interview, because we were both offered the job. About a week after accepting the offer, I got a letter form my academic advisor denying me permission to go. When I confronted him about it, he admitted to not having my file in front of him, and couldn't give me any reason why he denied me. After suffereing much embarassment (and after instilling much anger in me), he finally agreed to let me go.

We packed our bags decided to say konnichiwa to our future.

September 2000: Co-op 5, 6, 7

I said goodbye to Ryan as he left for Tokyo in September. Why wasn't I going? Because my visa, which had been couriered, didn't make it to my house. It went all the way from Matsumoto, Japan to Brampton, Canada, then they gave up and sent it back. By boat. The Japanese government refused to issue me a new visa until they received the old one, so I had nothing to do for a month and a half.

Fearing I would soon run out of money, I let my dad hook me up with a job at a meat packing company. There I hauled, cut and bagged various pork products until my visa arrived. On October 10, 2000 I arrived in Japan, ready to start my 10.5-month work term.

I kept a separate account of my adventures at Welcome to Matsumoto.

September 2001: 3B

I got back from Japan and moved into a two-bedroom apartment with Angela and our high-school friend Jen. It was difficult trying to readjust to Canadian lifestyle and especially difficult getting used to schoolwork again. Because I had the foresight to take a correspondence course in Japan, I only took four courses this term. I took three CS courses: Operating Systems, Algorithms and The Law of Information and a Japanese course. The Japanese course covered everything I already knew, so it presented little difficulty. Ryan and I teamed up for most CS assignments, since we were a term behind everyone else in our class. We pulled a few all-nighters worrying about memory management in our operating system, and I failed the Algorithms midterm spectacularly. But in the end, I did alright.

In December, in an attempt to procrastinate studying for exams, I used the 5 MB of web space Bell Sympatico gave me to start up a little website, then called Title Goes Here. From that little HTML acorn grew the mighty ranting oak you're reading now.

January 2002: 4A

Same living arrangements as 3B, and this marked my first eight-month academic marathon. Career Services sent me an unsolicited letter granting me permission to partake in another round of Co-op. This marked the first time the university administration did something nice for me (it wasn't quite altruistic of them; they were charging me $400 for the privilege).

In my absence the Co-op landscape had changed dramatically. Gone were the days of dot-com mass hiring, and profits-be-damned attitudes. Instead, employers sought the best and brightest students, experience be damned. Ryan and I figured we'd get more interviews than we knew what to do with, considering our vast experience compared to our peers. We were mistaken. I got only four interviews that term.

On a whim, I threw a résumé into the Microsoft bin. I didn't expect an interview, let alone a job there. Well I got the interview, and it went surprisingly well, so I accepted their offer.

On the school side of things, I took another three CS courses so my last term would be light. This was the last term the rest of our class was in school, so I bid my friends farewell after exams, and packed to go to Seattle.

May 2002: Co-op 8

After much complication, I got my passport and set up camp in Redmond, Washington, a suburb of Seattle. I had two roommates, Ted and Sam (not actual names), both Waterloo students. I got a ride in to work with Sam for the first few weeks, until he tried to rip me off.

Ted went to work early, and got home late, so I didn't see much of him, but he did leave plenty of evidence of him living there, including a bowl ground beef that after three months grew a new coat of fur and started growling at me every time I opened the fridge.

Work was challenging and exciting. I did plenty of activites, and even got to eat dinner with the big man himself, Bill Gates. At the end of my term, my boss told me that I did a good job, and that he wanted me back. I got on the plane to Toronto (via Chicago, of course) knowing that it wouldn't be the last time I would see rainy Washington state.

September 2002: 4B

I finally got to reap the benefits of taking three CS courses for two consecutive terms: I had one CS course and four electives. I furthered my foreign language skills by taking Japanese; tapped my creativity with a creative writing course; learned to design with Science, Technology and Values; and best of all, got to be lectured Economics by Larry Smith, perhaps the greatest lecturer of my university career.

I lived in a townhouse with Ryan, but not Angela, since she needed a year-long lease to complete her second bachelor's degree, and I would only need a place for four months.

I thoroughly enjoyed my last term at school. Partly because of the lighter workload, and partly because of the fact it was my last. I was stressed out about my Microsoft interview, however. I was flown down in November, and proceeded to bomb the interview. But all was not lost (obviously), they asked me back for another interview in January. That left me to study for my exams unencumbered by the thought of bombing another interview.

Exams came and went, and I packed up my stuff to move back to my parents' place to live until I started my career. The day I got back from my second Microsoft interview was the day I found out I successfully completed the requirements for my Bachelor's Degree in Mathematics in Honours Computer Science. It took just over five years, but I was finally done.


In January I went back to Redmond and came back with a job. I guess I can't be all that bitter about university, considering that without it, I would have never met the friends I did, never gone to Japan, never gotten a job at Microsoft, and most importantly, never gotten to do what I've wanted to do since I was a boy: get paid to play with computers all day.

So to Waterloo, I say thank you. It was a rough five years, and we may not have seen eye-to-eye on everything, but it was worth it, and I'm proud to have been one of your students.

And just in case you're planning to phone me to hit me up for a donation, let me save you the trouble: No.

00:00 | Misc Rambling

Snow Job

Mere weeks before I leave to go live in the United States, Canada decides to show me what I'll be missing: snow, and lots of it. Looks like I'll be spending the rest of today shovelling the driveway, but unlike our next door neighbours, I won't stand there and gawk when someone gets stuck in the street right in front of our house; I'll go help out.

Where's Mr Plow when you need him?

00:00 | Canada

March 4, 2003

Glad To Be A Grad

As if the double-cohort wasn't reason enough to be glad to be done school, students are now suing the University of Waterloo.

Check out the website of our Man-on-the-Scene Matt Goyer for complete lawsuit and rodent infestation coverage.

00:00 | School

March 3, 2003

By James Lileks

At some point we all stand in the supermarket aisle, looking at the two varieties of hot dog:

The second one makes you question the first, and eventually you question the second as well.

00:00 | Quotes

Regret To Inform You

I got a letter today from TD Bank Financial Group. The letter was dated February 25, 2003. It stated that although my qualifications are "impressive", they are unable to proceed further with my application for a programmer position.

Confused, I searched my computer for any documents pertaining to this position. It turns out this letter is in response to a job posting I applied to through the university on November 28. Why it took them almost three months to the day let me know I didn't get the job, I'll never know. But I do know it's unprofessional at the very least. Not that it matters anymore.

00:00 | Job Hunting

March 2, 2003

Big Builder

Happy birthday to Angela's second cousin Kevin who celebrated his 6th birthday today. We took a trip down to visit them, and to deliver birthday presents. They recently got a new computer, so we bought Kevin a construction computer game. He took one look at the box, and cast it aside, hinting that he was too old for Fisher-Price games.

"Fine," I said. "I'll play it then."

Five minutes after I started swinging a virtual wrecking ball at a virtual barn, all the kids had crowded around me, begging for a turn. Finally Kevin put a stop to the pleas by announcing to everyone that he was the birthday boy and it was his turn to play. He almost missed his cake, he was so engrossed with tearing down farmhouses and factories.

And Angela thought he would be too old for it.

00:00 | Stuff

Red Red Kroovy

I cut myself shaving today. I took a chunk right out of the top-right of my upper lip with all three blades of my Mach3 razor. It only bled for oh, I don't know, an hour, and left my face marred with an obvious sore that rendered me more hideous than usual.

00:00 | Stuff