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July 31, 2003

Chris Lyon

My name is Chris Lyon. I work at Microsoft as a Software Design Engineer in Test on the .NET Common Language Runtime team.

I am a Canadian living in the United States, a fact that my friends and colleagues never pass up an opportunity to point oot.

23:23 | About

One Big Rant

This is the weblog of Chris Lyon, Microsoft employee, loving son and brother, boyfriend extraordinaire. This is a place for you to be entertained by my daily rants about home, school, work, and probably you. It's a place for me to show the world that a computer science grad need not be a big geek with no life... I have a life.

I don't want to scare anyone away. This site is not all about computer geeky stuff like Star Trek and C++ and Magic: the Gathering. No, it's fun for the whole family (except young children, parents and the elderly). I try not to insult anybody directly, but you'll find my university career has left me a cynical, bitter, loveless man with little patience for life's little inconveniences. And what better place to put my crack-head opinions than on the Internet?

23:20 | About

Comment Policy

Comments are filtered using MT-Blacklist. If you feel your comment was blocked in error, please contact me.

I reserve the right to edit and/or delete comments posted to One Big Rant. Anyone spamming this site will have their IP address blocked.

23:03 | About


I owe a debt of gratitude to several people for helping me make this website all that it is.

And of course, thanks to you, my loyal readers, for putting up with this self-indulgent tripe.

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The views and opinions expressed on this website are those of Chris Lyon and do not reflect those of his employer. This site is provided as-is, with no warrantees or guarantees. For entertainment purposes only.

23:00 | About


This web site, including all text and graphics, unless otherwise noted, are copyright 2001-2006 Chris Lyon.

22:00 | About

July 30, 2003


I played squash today for the first time since I moved out here. Before that I had been playing regularly with my younger sister, and occasionally with my girlfriend Angela and friend Jen. After planning a game for 5 weeks (I cancelled, my partner cancelled, my partner didn't show up, my partner hurt his wrist), I was finally able to play.

I learned today that playing squash against guys my own age is a lot different than what I was used to. I got destroyed. But I'm not letting it get me down. With weekly squash games along with my new workout regiment, I'll be in shape and back down to my ideal weight in no time.

Ok, you can stop laughing now.

00:00 | Stuff

July 29, 2003

White Men Can't Shoot

Today we all went to a stuffy, hot arena to watch the Exiles' last game. The Exiles are a roller hockey team, whose members include my roommate Andy and two friends Justin and Derek. Despite our cheers and encouragement, the Exiles lost 14 to 3 (congrats to Andy for scoring one of the 3). At least they didn't break their 0 - 20 streak.

00:00 | Stuff

July 28, 2003

Don't Shoot The Messenger

Robert Scoble once again praises MSN Messenger 6. I do like it more than previous versions, but it's still lacking 4 out of the 5 ICQ features I pointed out in February (you can now log conversations). I must admit, the custom emoticon feature is an abundant source of immature fun.

00:00 | Nerd

July 27, 2003

Vegas Vacation


5:00am my alarm went off. No problem, I was awake anyway. I slowly got up, showered and dressed. No, I wasn't planning on putting in a long day at the office. I wasn't planning to go to work at all. I made sure Josh (who spent the night on the couch), and Andy were awake and ready to go by 6:00. That was when Paul and the cab would be arriving to take us to the airport in time for our flight to Las Vegas, Nevada.

The flight was uneventful. Apparently this was also the weekend a graduating class decided to also go to Vegas, so we shared the plane with a bunch of frat boys who thought nothing of getting juiced on a plane at 8:30 in the morning. They turned out to be loud, but harmless (no emergency landing in Utah was necessary).

As soon as I stepped off the plane, I knew we were in Vegas. Slot machines with bright flashing lights greeted us at the gate as we entered the airport. I dropped in whatever change I had in my pocket, but didn't win anything. Little did I know, this was foreshadowing of the next few days.

We grabbed a cab to the Mirage Hotel, where we would be staying. Looking out the car window at the beige ground and bald rock hills, it really felt like I was a different world. The cabbie was a Russian with a thin moustache and huge sunglasses. He told us how he drove a cab during the day and dealt blackjack at night, then recommended some places to visit.

The Mirage is by far the largest hotel I've ever stayed at. They had a huge fish tank in the lobby and a mini tropical garden you had to walk through to get to the casino. They designed the hotel with the lobby at one end and the elevators at the other with the casino in between. I don't think it was by accident. It didn't take long before we were seduced by the flashing lights and the clinking of coins falling into metal trays. We bought some chips and set off to lose some money.

We grabbed a buffet lunch, then Andy and Paul went to the room to study a blackjack strategy guide they got on the Internet (it turned out to not help them much in the long run). Josh and I said nuts to studying and went straight for the tables. We unfortunately picked the dealer who never busts. He was making four- and five-card 21s, and really pissing us off. After losing enough money for one sitting, fatigue finally hit us and we retired to the room for a nap (hey, this is Vegas, you sleep during the day and stay up all night).

After my nap, Paul and I spent some time by the pool. It was easily the largest swimming pool I've ever been in, complete with waterfall and slides. It's the kind of pool that would not look out of place in a water park (but really stands out in the desert). It was about 45°C (115°F) so we cooled off in the water then sat in the shade of palm trees and drank piña coladas.

We grabbed dinner at a teppenyaki Japanese restaurant, then took a long sweaty walk down the Las Vegas strip. For those of you who have never walked the strip, if you plan to do so at night, I don't recommend you bring children along. Standing on the sidewalk are rows and rows of people with stacks of little cards. As you walk by, they flick a card from the pile, snap it between their fingers with a thwap and hold out the card in front of pedestrians. What's on these cards, you ask? Why ads for prostitutes, of course! As some of you may know, prostitution is legal in Nevada (but not within the Las Vegas city limits). So technically these ads are for women who are only strippers but come on, we're not that naïve.

When we got back to the Mirage, the other three guys (Justin, Saeed and Newman) were there. We all walked back down the strip to the MGM to go to a club. We got there around 2:00 am, and there was an hour-long wait to get in. We decided to gamble instead, and I won $10 on the slots, while everyone else watched Justin play craps.

We got back to the hotel around 4:00am, and went straight to bed.


We got up late and went for a buffet brunch. We then went downtown to try our luck at some of the cheaper casinos. We tried our luck at the Golden Nugget, with it's $5 blackjack tables. It was here I learned the meaning of "schooled". I bought $60 worth of chips and won ONE LOUSY HAND! Josh joined me and had similar luck. While I was playing there were two older women behind me watching me play, who, judging by their comments, had no idea how to play (when I was dealt a 12, one whispered to the other "Ooh, that's a good hand!", and when I was dealt two aces, they kindly recommended I double down).

After losing our money, we went back to the hotel, got dressed up and went for dinner at the classy (and expensive) Delmonico Steakhouse. Since I'm not the biggest steak fan, I had the rack of lamb, which was amazing. Most of the others got the chateaubriand, which they enjoyed immensely. I had a bite, and was sent to steak heaven.

After dinner we took a stroll down the strip, stopping to watch the various fountain shows put on by the hotels. The Bellagio's ode to America was most impressive, while The Mirage's "volcano" was lacklustre.

We returned to the hotel, not for more gambling (I was beginning to resent the blackjack dealers at this point), but to see the most flamboyant magic show Vegas has to offer: Siegfried and Roy. For those of you who don't know, Siegfried and Roy are magicians of the highest calibre, conjuring up white tigers and making elephants disappear. But they're more than just magicians; they have a story to tell. They said so themselves: "Don't call us magicians or conjurers--storytellers would be just right."

The show was a lot of fun. I have no idea what the story was supposed to be (something about a cobra-woman, beast-men and a giant mechanical dragon, all calling out "Siegfried! Siegfried! And ROY!" At one point Siegfried ran around the perimeter of the stage, shaking audience members' hands, including mine! "Glad you could make it," he said. Well, I was glad too.

After the show most of the group wanted to go to a club. Remembering the luck we had the night before, Josh and I declined and went back to the hotel. From what I heard, the $35 the rest of them paid to get into Studio 54 wasn't worth it.


Another late morning and breakfast at a deli. I'm always up for a Kosher meal, and the pastrami on rye and matzo ball soup were excellent. We shunned the casinos for most of the day, and explored the shopping centre known as The Forum at Caesar's Palace. There we saw an animatronic rendition of the fall of Atlantis, which was pretty lame, and did a little shopping.

We decided to hit one more casino, to see if our luck would change. By this time all of us were in the hole, Justin had lost his voice from all the yelling he had done at the craps table, but Andy and I had to try just one more time. Surprise surprise, it didn't pay off, and our wallets a little lighter, we left the casino. For the rest of the day we lounged around, enjoying drinks at the bar and relaxing by the pool.

That afternoon, the first group of us headed back to the airport to catch our evening flight home. While waiting in the terminal for our flight, I spied a 5 cent slot machine, and thought, what the heck, and tossed in a buck. That one dollar kept me entertained at that machine for over half an hour. At one point I had quadrupled my money (yes, four dollars!), but since I didn't want to carry around 80 nickels, I just kept playing until it was all gone.

The flight home was quiet and uneventful (my favourite kind of flights). I had a great time in Las Vegas. It's really a place everyone should experience once, if not to gamble, but to experience the city in the desert that never sleeps.

00:00 | Misc Rambling

Fun In The Sun

The company picnic was fun. I ate a lot of free food, and drank a lot of free beer. I didn't get sunburned too badly, but it's obvious that there are spots I missed with the sunscreen. It was the most time I had spent outside in a long time. Once again, I was amazed at just how many people were there. Sometimes I forget how big Microsoft is.

00:00 | Work

July 26, 2003

When You're A Jet

My group of friends is divided into two groups: the West Siders, and the East Siders. I know this probably conjures up imagery of leather jacket-clad greasers, snapping and dancing around each other, but believe me, my friends aren't really into that.

Since I live in Seattle, I'm a West Sider. Those who live across Lake Washington (in Redmond, Bellevue) are the East Siders. Although it's only a 20-minute drive, deciding on which side to hang out is usually a point of contention. West Siders complain that there's nothing to do on the East side, which is suburbia and practically shuts down after dark. East Siders complain about the lack of parking downtown. Since I don't have a car, I have little say on which side we spend time, so I usually let the others fight it out.

I don't know if it's because of the lake in between that makes the trek seem so painful, but usually once people settle on one side, they are very reluctant to move. I'm surprised, considering most of these guys have really nice cars (BMWs, Audis, etc), I'd think they'd jump at any opportunity to drive them.

00:00 | Seattle

July 23, 2003


I'm sorry my Vegas trip story is taking so long. I've been working late a lot this week and can't bring myself to come home from a day spent at a computer, to an evening spent at a computer. Yeah, I know... Bitch bitch bitch. Moan moan moan.

00:00 | Blog

Out Of Doors

It's such a crime to spend these few beautiful summer days indoors. I wonder if they put WiFi access in the dining patio outside my building, would anyone bring their laptops and work outside? If so, would they actually get any work done? I think we all know the answer to that.

Saturday is the Microsoft Company picnic, an all weekend family fun affair, with rides, parades and free food. I went last year and it was a lot of fun. I guess I should remember to bring my sunscreen this year.

00:00 | Stuff

July 22, 2003

Labour Party

One of the things that really struck me when I came to live in downtown Seattle is the number of day labourers standing on the side of some streets every morning. Mostly Hispanic, they stand and wait for people to stop to hire them for the day, presumably for manual labour.

Occasionally a pickup truck would stop and the men would crowd around, hoping to be the ones chosen for the day's tasks. Every once in a while you'll see a car full of tourists stop to ask for directions, or stop because they think the one of the men is waving at them, and would get swarmed.

This really struck me because I have never seen anything like this in Canada. But apparently it's so commonplace here that the city has erected NO LABOR PICKUP signs on busy streets. As one would expect, the signs are mostly ignored.

I don't know whether or not these men are legally in the US or not, but I am sure this isn't what they had in mind when they came to The Land of Opportunity.

00:00 | Seattle

July 21, 2003

Mountain Traffic

I've only lived in Seattle during the spring and summer months, but from what I've been told, the other 8 months a year are chiefly overcast and rainy. As a result, Seattleites relish each and every clear sunny day by spending them outdoors. And on days when they can't be outside, they spend the time idly gazing out the window to enjoy the beauty the American Pacific North-West has to offer. Unfortunately, even Seattle drivers are not immune.

The most direct route to get from downtown Seattle to Redmond (Microsoft) is SR-520, which becomes a bridge to cross Lake Washington. On such clear days, the elusive Mount Rainier can be seen, and like rubberneckers gawking at an overturned car, drivers slow to admire the mountain's majestic beauty. Granted, at times like these, I'm thankful to be in the passenger seat. Unfortunately it also slows down traffic considerably on the 2-lane highway.

If it's a clear day in Seattle, be sure to leave a few minutes early, lest you get stuck in Mountain Traffic. At least the view is nice.

00:00 | Seattle

July 20, 2003

That's me, Herc!

Whoa. I just came across a startling discovery. Newton, the centaur sidekick of The Mighty Hercules is really Pippi Longstocking!

Newton the centaurPippi Longstocking

The resemblance is uncanny! I guess those pigtails are really just a clever way to hide those pointy ears.

00:00 | Entertainment

July 19, 2003


Happy birthday Angela! I'm sorry I can't be there for your birthday (again). I hope you have a good time with your friends and family without me, and I promise I'll be there next year!

00:00 | Stuff

July 17, 2003


Ok, I know I've been neglecting my blogging duties as of late. I apologize. I promise a blogging boon this weekend, including an account of my Vegas trip (that I know you guys are just dying to hear about), as well as some other niceties. Until then, let Ian tease your brain in that way you love so much. I remember seeing this question when I studied for my interview at Microsoft, but I'll be damned if I can remember the solution.

00:00 | Blog

Free Beer

I helped a friend-of-a-friend move today. Usually I would say no, but when there's free beer to be had, you'd be surprised at what I'd be willing to do.

00:00 | Stuff

July 15, 2003

Even Steven

This morning I got a rebate cheque for the CD burner I bought last month. The rebate amount: $20. Today I also had to put a stop pay on my last rent cheque because my landlord somehow lost it. The fee for the stop pay: $20.

If only I had this kind of luck in Vegas.

00:00 | Stuff

July 14, 2003

Fear And Loathing

Yes, I made it back from Vegas with my life savings. I'm going to take time this week to write up a full account, but in the mean time, I'll give a brief synopsis:

00:00 | Stuff

July 10, 2003

Vegas Baby!

I'll be taking Friday off work, and the weekend off blogging because I'm going to fabulous Las Vegas for the weekend. A bunch of friends here decided it would be fun to go to the desert in the dead of summer, and who was I to disagree?

We had a to make a decision as to what show to see while in Vegas, and in the spirit of America and democracy, we voted on it. My vote was for O by Cirque Du Soleil. Unfortunately I was outvoted. We are instead going to see the magical antics of Siegfried and Roy.

I should have some interesting stories when I get back. Until then, have a good weekend!

00:00 | Stuff

By Ray Romano

I'm from NY... I'd rather be in Vegas, 108 degrees, than NY, 80 degrees. You know why? Legalized prostitution!

00:00 | Quotes

July 7, 2003

The Way Home

I took the bus home from work today. It was a bit crowded, so I grabbed a seat near the back of the bus. Behind me sat a young mother an son. I took out my book to start reading silently, and so did she. All except for the silently part. For 20 minutes I was forced to listen to this woman reading Pippi Longstocking (complete with voice effects). More than once the other passengers turned around with annoyed looks on their faces. I ended up putting my book away, since the girlish adventures of Pippi took away from the bleak mood cast by my book of Camus' short stories.

The bus drops me off several blocks from my apartment. Sometimes I choose to walk along 5th Avenue, over which stands the monorail track. Other times I cross it and pass several old theatres made into cinemas or clubs. There's not much else really old in trendy Belltown. And now there's even less. A block away from where I live there stands the remains of an old church, which is slowly being gutted to be made into a condominium.

Being a guy, I wandered over to check out the construction site. The church has only two walls, which are being propped up by big steel girders. I walked over to where a wall used to be and looked inside. Twisted metal and broken pews are strewn everywhere. A yellow backhoe sits where the pulpit once was. It's weird to think that a building that once housed a congregation of hopeful parishioners is now being converted into housing for yuppies. That's progress for ya.

I looked up to where the fourth wall was. It had been flush against the next building, and when it was torn down, it uncovered something really cool. Murals. Advertisements painted directly onto the wall of a building. Not old and faded, but vibrant. Well, as vibrant as one can be, having been walled up for fifty years. One mural simply states "Queen Anne 1317 We always do good work". I don't think that was ever in doubt. The other ad is much more interesting. It's for Albers Rolled Oats. The slogan reads "At a housewife's fingertips". I have no idea why a housewife would need rolled oats so readily. In fact, I have no idea what I would do with rolled oats even if they were handy. Truly these murals are from a different era.

Here's a photo I took, in case you're interested.

00:00 | Seattle

July 6, 2003


Looks like this site escaped the Website Defacement Contest unscathed. I guess my website with an audience of six wasn't worth a hacker's effort.

Monk has an interesting take on when blogs get popular. I like his indie band comparison and his ideas about self-censorship. I personally haven't been censoring much content since I started at Microsoft. Probably because most of what I say isn't important enough to censor anyway.

00:00 | Blog

July 5, 2003

The Intern Wars

Yet another reason I'm glad to be done school and have a job: The Intern Wars.

00:00 | Nerd

Miniature American Flags For Others

Yesterday was a lot of fun. It was an uncharacteristically cloudless day in Seattle, and we spend most of the day outside. As expected, there were American flags on everything. Megan even bought me an miniature flag which I carried around all day. We saw some fantastic fireworks over the bay and had a great time.

00:00 | America

July 4, 2003

Independence Day

Today is America's birthday. Last year at this time, I was working at Microsoft as an intern, and Ang came up to visit for a few weeks. On the Fourth of July we went on a mini road trip around Redmond. We eventually stopped at a small town called Carnation, which was having a big celebration. It was the kind of small town that I grew up around in sub-suburban Toronto, but with an American flavour (like a bluegrass band).

There were flags covering every surface that could possibly be covered. Women had red white and blue ribbons in their hair, and men wore star-spangled shirts. One old man wore army fatigues and an American flag bandana. He started yelling at me when I took his picture, so we didn't stay in Carnation long.

Observation: Americans are much more overt about their patriotism than Canadians, but Canadians are a lot more defensive about theirs.

I let Andy and some other Americans plan the activities for today. Whatever we end up doing I'm sure I'll have a great time. I'll bring my camera and add to my long-neglected photo gallery.

Happy Fourth of July to my American readers!

00:00 | America

Andy's Day

Wednesday night we went out to dinner and karaoke to celebrate Andy's birthday. It was the first time I had done karaoke since I got back from Japan almost two years ago. Surprisingly, it wasn't much different that what I remember. You book a small room with ten of your friends and sit and sing for a few hours. The biggest difference was that this place wasn't licensed to sell alcohol, so I had to consciously suppress my dignity. I busted it old school with Young MC's Bust A Move (at one point in my life I wouldn't have had to look at the screen).

00:00 | Stuff

July 2, 2003


Congrats to Vancouver, for winning the bid to host the 2010 Winter Olympic Games. I just hope I'll be out here long enough to enjoy it. This will be the closest I've ever lived to the Olympic Games since I was negative two years old in Montréal.

Congrats to my roommate Andy for surviving another birthday. For a gift, I let him sleep in an extra 20 minutes before nagging him for a ride to work.

Congrats to Travis, who brought me the one perfect gift from Canada: a tin of Tim Hortons coffee. I'm enjoying a home-brewed cup as I type this.

00:00 | Stuff

July 1, 2003

Terre De Nos Aïeux

My friend Justin has a terrible habit of putting his foot in his mouth, especially when talking about Canada and world affairs. He once claimed that Canada had not been involved in any wars, and until meeting me, thought Canada was geographically smaller than the United States (he went to MIT, in case any of you thought of sending your children there). Here's an excerpt of the conversation we had yesterday about Canada's upcoming 136th birthday.

Me: "Tomorrow is Canada Day."
Justin: "Canada Day?! What's that?"
Me: "It's the anniversary of the birth of our nation."
Justin: "You call it Canada Day? That's the stupidest name for a holiday I've ever heard."
Me: "Oh yeah? So what do you call America's anniversary?"
Justin (chest swelling with pride): "The fourth of July!"
Me: "You're right Justin. That's a much better name."

I can't believe he walked right into that one.

Happy Dominion Day everyone! And thanks to my Mom and Dad for the card!

00:00 | Canada