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September 30, 2003

Swedish For Common Sense

I finally broke down and ordered some furniture for the apartment today. Apparently the vacuous emptiness caused by the lack of kitchen table doesn't bother my roommate, but it started getting to me. That and the absence of ceiling fixtures causing the living room to be shrouded in darkness also started bugging me, so some lamps were ordered as well.

Being the trendy, price-conscious consumer that I am, I ordered some Swedish-efficiency-inspired furniture from Ikea. They should be arriving on Sunday, and considering my track record with them, I don't expect any problems.

19:13 | Stuff | Comments (2)

September 28, 2003

The Last Good Weekend

Another weekend of unseasonably warm weather. On sunny weekends from mid-September on, Seattleites proclaim their pessimism with "This is the last nice weekend till next year!" Maybe they're just trying not to jinx themselves for next weekend.

Not wanting to call the locals liars, I spent the last two weekends (each of them beautiful) outdoors. This past weekend I went on a hike to Mount Rainier, the closest active volcano to Seattle (scheduled to erupt sometime in the next hundred-or-so years). In that respect, I guess every weekend we're not covered in volcanic ash is a good one.

23:09 | Seattle

September 25, 2003

Belay On!

After a year of inactivity, I've started up indoor rock climbing again. There's a Vertical World in Redmond and one in Seattle, so I can vary my program. I started last week, and will try to go at least once a week from now on.

After a year of not climbing, my skill on the bouldering wall has deteriorated considerably (not that it was ever that great to begin with). I finished a few V0 courses, but being unaccustomed to the height and forearm strength required, I freaked out at the top of one wall. I had finished the course, but felt too tired to attempt the downward climb. I eventually managed to get down safely, but a tad embarrassed.

If there's anyone in the Seattle area interested in starting (or who's good enough to give me some tips), send me an email.

19:57 | Stuff | Comments (4)

September 23, 2003

Be American... Hire American!

In tech news, the US is cutting back the number of H-1B visas offered by more than two thirds. Now normally the US's immigration policies wouldn't be of note to me, but I happen to be a foreigner on such a visa.

As I looked for more information, I found this website. It's an anti-H-1B visa site, claiming that the visa program "has no serious safeguards to protect American workers from being replaced and is abused to provide cheap foreign labor." Like any other policy, this visa has the potential to be abused.

In November 2001, representative Tom Tancredo gave a speech suggesting that scrapping the H-1B visa would give jobs back to Americans, and improve the US economy. He even went so far as to imply that H-1B holders and other immigrants are terrorists.

Let me tell you something, Mr. Tancredo. If the H-1B visa is abolished, do you really think companies wouldn't outsource more? At least immigrants spend their hard-earned American wages in America and help the local economy.

If you think the only reason high-tech companies are hiring immigrants is because they're cheaper, I think it's worth noting the number of Indian employees at Microsoft in managerial positions. And no, anecdotal evidence doesn't prove your point.

Maybe I'm just an exception to the rule, but I'm not from India, nor am I cheap labour (my salary is on par with my American peers). In fact, it cost Microsoft more money in recruitment costs and legal fees to hire me than to hire an American. What does that tell you?

Oh, and I didn't try to hijack the plane on my way here.

00:35 | Rant | Comments (3)

September 21, 2003


Cheers to Pete for finding the Bill O'Reilly quote for me.

Jeers to me for deleting the first email I was sent with it.

21:41 | Blog

By Bill O'Reilly

And I said on my program, if, if the Americans go in and overthrow Saddam Hussein and it's clean, he has nothing, I will apologize to the nation, and I will not trust the Bush Administration again.

21:39 | Quotes | Comments (1)

September 20, 2003


I had two really kick-ass quotes lined up for the quote of the moment. One was a line from Henry Miller's Tropic of Capricorn about garbage collection. Since my job at Microsoft is to test the garbage collector for the .NET CLR, I thought it witty and appropriate. I had finished reading Capricorn a few weeks ago, but forgot to write down the page number with the passage in mind. I tried flipping through the book to find it, but since the book isn't divided into chapters (instead it's essentially one big 300-page stream-of-consciousness rant), I was unsuccessful.

The other quote was emailed to me by one of the Drunken Monks. It was a great quote by Bill O'Reilly, a right-wing commentator in Fox News. It was from an interview with him back in March. Basically it said that if the US attacks Iraq and finds no evidence of links to 9/11, or any WMD then he would apologize to the American people and never trust the Bush administration again.

If anyone can dig up either of these quotes, you would have my undying gratitude.

19:32 | Blog

September 19, 2003


Every Thursday evening there's a discussion group I try to meet with. I usually have enough time to get home from work, grab a quick bite to eat, then walk to Capitol Hill, which takes about half an hour. The weather hasn't been too rainy of late, so the walks have been quite enjoyable. Capitol Hill is a very colourful part of town with plenty to see. Yesterday I got an eyeful.

For the duration of my walk I was behind a couple, presumably boyfriend-girlfriend. They held hands when they walked, and sometimes put their hands into each others' back pockets. They didn't attract too much of my attention until we stopped walking at red lights. That's when the couple started making out. With each progressive red light, the wilder they got. By the time we arrived in Capitol Hill (were they heading to the same pub I was?) they were groping each other, sometimes leaning against walls or even parked cars for support. I was afraid to walk past them, lest I get unwittingly sucked into their necking session.

Eventually our paths diverged and the couple disappeared down a residential street, and I walked on alone, shaking my head. Some people have no shame when it comes to public displays of affection

18:27 | Stuff

September 18, 2003

Espressos For All!

On Tuesday Seattleites exercised their constitutional rights and voted NO on Initiative 77, which was a 10 cent surcharge on espresso. The money from this tax would go to fund programs for underprivileged children. It sounds kind of heartless of residents to reject paying a dime a day to help needy kids, but the biggest reason I've heard against seems to be that people here don't have faith in their government to spend the money properly.

Considering the enormous amount of coffee I consume, coupled with the inability to vote in this country, I was feeling pretty helpless. I was neither for, nor against the bill. On the one hand, I want relatively inexpensive coffee (although at $2-$3 a cup, it's a poor argument), on the other, I want to get money to the kids who need it. Ah, the joys of politics.

07:15 | Seattle | Comments (1)

September 16, 2003

Here Comes The Rain Again

Seattle has finally decided to live up to its reputation, and became overcast and rainy this week. After a record-breakingly sunny summer, I guess I can't really complain.

What's interesting is how different the climate is on the east side of the Cascade Mountains. On Saturday a bunch of us drove through the mountains to Eastern Washington to pick apples (actually it was more like the center of the state, but to Seattleites, everything east of the mountains is Eastern Washington). On our way to the orchard, I found out Eastern Washington is made up of two regions:

There was such a stark contrast between the two it blew my mind. One minute we're driving by fields of alfalfa and beans (helpfully labelled, at taxpayers' expense, no less), and the next we're in a veritable desert surrounded by deep ravines, petrified forests and a whole lot of dirt. Apparently during the winter while Seattle is being rained on, the east is covered in snow.

I made a mental note to explore this newly discovered wasteland. And this time I won't forget my camera in the other car.

22:14 | Seattle | Comments (2)

September 14, 2003

Two Very Important Questions

Ever since moving here, people have been asking the same two questions:

  1. When are you getting a car?
  2. When are you applying for your citizenship?

And I keep giving them the same answer for both: No time soon.

This answer blows most people away. They can't seem to understand that I get along just fine with public transportation, Flexcar, and the occasional rides from friends. Oh, and I don't mind not paying $2.00 a gallon for gasoline, thank you very much.

And citizenship? Well, since I already pay taxes I don't see what it could offer me. Protection from deportation? Well, I guess. The right to vote in American elections (not to mention the ridiculous number of referenda in Washington state)? Thanks but no thanks. I have enough trouble keeping up with Canadian politics.

15:04 | Rant

September 10, 2003

C'est Chouette!

A few weeks ago, I went to the Ballard Locks and surrounding park. There was some sort of bird show there, with trained professionals handling eagles, owls, and other birds of prey. I could identify the hawk, the horned owl, but then they brought out this ghostly white bird with dark sunken eyes. I suddenly experienced something I hadn't for at least a decade. Here was an animal whose name I knew only in French - une chouette!

Having the majority of my elementary education taught in French (I attended two Francophone - not just French emersion - schools), knowing the French and not the English name for some words wasn't uncommon in my pre-teens. For this to happen in my mid-twenties blew me away, especially considering my French has officially slipped from "sub-par" to "rusty".

This phenomenon left me a little shaken up. It was like a little forgotten piece of my past that had crept up grabbed hold of me. It made me very proud that I had been brought up bilingual, and at the same time ashamed that I had let it slide.

I found out a minute later that the English name for the bird is "The Screeching Barn Owl". Somehow I prefer the French name.

18:30 | Stuff

September 9, 2003

King Of The Jungle

Lion Thumbnail This majestic beast is an inhabitant of the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle. I was at the zoo for a team morale event. I also took some pictures of monkeys and giraffes, but I couldn't resist showing off the lion, being a Lyon myself.

23:08 | Banners | Comments (1)

Where Have All The Bloggers Gone?

Yes, I'm still alive. No need to worry; I haven't joined the ranks of some of the MIA bloggers in my blogroll (Joe, Matthew, Guillaume, where are you guys?)

23:01 | Blog

September 3, 2003

Time Off

I'll be taking some time off blogging while Angela is in town. Check back in a week or so.

14:12 | Blog

September 1, 2003

Goyer? I Hardly Know Her!

Ang and I spent the day walking around Seattle. We spent a good deal of time at Pike Place Market. Since I'm seldom home in the evenings, I don't have much time to cook for myself, so I forget that I live around the corner from fresh fish and produce. We bought some fresh fruit and vegetables, and I made a mental note to learn how to cook seafood once Ang leaves.

In the afternoon we met up with blogging superstar Matt Goyer, his girlfriend Natalie, Ming and a few of their friends and set off to White River to see Radiohead in concert.

Funny story about getting the tickets. A few weeks ago, my friend Graham emailed my roommate and me asking if we were interested in going to see Radiohead when they came to town. I told him in no uncertain terms that I was interested. A few weeks later, I asked about the status of the tickets. He told he hadn't bought any tickets, but was merely asking if this was the sort of thing I would go for. Andy thankfully then took it upon himself to buy three general admission tickets, and I thought the matter was settled. Then I remembered that Sunday was the day after Ang arrived. Now I couldn't very well abandon my girlfriend for an evening, so I sold my ticket to another friend. I came home that evening to an email from Matt, telling me he had two extra tickets to Radiohead, and asking if I and a guest wanted to go with them.

So that's the story of how I ditched my Seattle friends to go to a concert with people I had never before met (in the flesh, that is).

Oh, and in case you're wondering, the concert was fantastic and I highly recommend attending a Radiohead show be made mandatory for a high school diploma.

11:17 | Stuff | Comments (1)