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March 30, 2004


Need some music goodness to listen to while at work? DJ Gareth Lewis has the answer. I like this mix even more than his first, despite the lack of 80s pop beats.

22:12 | Entertainment

Odd Sighting Of The Day

On my walk home from the bus stop, I crossed a downtown street in front of a 2004 Jaguar XK, a particularly expensive British sports car. I turned my head to admire this vehicle, and see what kind of person an XK owner is. Perhaps an older, distinguished gentleman? Maybe a young thirtysomething dot com millionaire? Maybe even an important-looking business woman on her way home from the office?

He was middle aged with a receding hairline and fluffy white hair. Our eyes never met because he was too distracted trying to light his enormous corn-cob pipe.

20:10 | Bizarre Sighting of the Day | Comments (2)

March 28, 2004

No Vacancy

My friend John was in town this last weekend for an interview with Microsoft. We spent Saturday hanging out and walking around the more colourful areas of Seattle, grabbing lunch at a French café and dinner at a Senegalese restaurant.

Sunday I went apartment shopping. Yes, my one-year stint in Belltown is drawing to a close, and as much as I've loved living in the posh trendy club centre of Seattle, I'm ready to move on.

I'm currently looking for a place in Capitol Hill (see any vacancies, Matt?), and I'll keep you all posted on my progress.

You're riveted to the edge of your seats, aren't you?

19:49 | Seattle | Comments (4)

March 24, 2004

And Justice For All

As you may have heard, the constitutionality of the saying the American Pledge of Allegiance in public schools is being challenged in court due to the words "under God".

According to this article in the Detroit Free Press, the Michigan Senate approved two resolutions encouraging the US Supreme Court to keep the Pledge as it is. Senator Patty Birkholz (R) is quoted as saying "We proudly stand up and recite the pledge, showing our allegiance to our country and two-word reference that dates back to the Declaration of Independence".

It's a real shame how politicians know so little of their own country's history.

The Pledge of Allegiance was written for a Columbus Day celebration in 1892, over a hundrend years after the Declaration of Independence, and it did not include the words "under God". Those two troublesome words were added in 1954 to help differenciate God-fearing Americans from Commie Athiests. Really.

I guess no one told Senator Birkholz that the Cold War is over.

19:51 | America , Politics | Comments (4)

March 23, 2004

CBC Movie Review

Undead zombies knock resurrected Christ from top slot (link).

23:18 | Quotes | Comments (2)

March 22, 2004

Monday Meeting

Every Monday morning, our team meets to discuss the plan for the week. Today my manager brought with him four things he doesn't usually bring to meetings:

He asked me to grab some glasses from the kitchen, then had us pour a glass of each of the drinks he brought. He had been in Vancouver last weekend where he picked up the bottles. He noticed how the second ingredient in American pop is high fructose corn syrup where in Canada, it's plain old sugar. He thinks it's because of a sugar embargo, or something. Anyway, our team spent valuable meeting time having a taste test comparing Canadian pop vs American pop. So who's carbonated drink reigned supreme?

American Coke: 3 to 1
Canadian Dr Pepper: 4 to 0

I was pulling for the home team both times.

20:29 | Work | Comments (1)

March 21, 2004

Worst Receptionist Ever

Phone conversation with H&R Block:

Me: "Hi, I'm a Canadian citizen working in the US on a visa. What information do I need to bring you guys for you to do my taxes?"
Receptionist: "Your ID, last year's tax return, and your visa information."
Me: "That's it? Don't I need to bring my W-2?"
Receptionist: "Well of course you do."
Me: "I'm sorry, I've never done taxes in this country before, that's why I asked what I need to bring."
Receptionist: "Well I didn't know that. You should have told me you've never done taxes here."

So I made an appointment for later that evening. When I arrived, I had this exchange with the same receptionist who had taken my call a mere three hours earlier:

Me: "Hi, I have an appointment for 6:00"
Receptionist: "Ok, I have a few questions for you first... (generic tax questions) Are you a US citizen?"
Me: "No, I'm on an H-1B visa."
Receptionist: "Oh... well the only person in the office who can do non-citizen taxes has an appointment now. You'll have to reschedule for next week."

Can I really trust these people to not get me audited?

13:53 | Rant | Comments (3)

March 18, 2004

Career Day

Yesterday I left work early and drove down to Sumner Junior High to talk to a group of 9th graders about working in the software industry, specifically at Microsoft.

I left work at 11:10 to catch the 11:23 bus to Seattle. Unfortunately I missed the bus by mere seconds, and had to wait another 30 mins for the next one. Once downtown, I rushed into my apartment to grab my things and then ran down the street to the nearest available Flexcar. I got in the car, entered my PIN, only to have the INVALID PIN light come on. Great. I tried to start the engine, but the ignition stuck, and the car wouldn't start. After calling their support line, I finally got the car started (and $10 credit for my inconvenience). I was already late, and would be missing my first session. I called and left a message with a student that I would be late. Apparently the student forgot to write down my name, and gave the message that "a guy would be late due to car trouble".

I finally got to the school and gave my talk to a largely receptive audience. There were a lot of questions about XBox and game development (of course). I wasn't surprised that no one had heard of .NET, so it was tricky trying to describe my job in terms they could understand.

I enjoyed giving the talk, and afterwards a student came up to me and asked what he could do now to prepare for a career in game development. I told him to go home tonight and start working on a game. Everything he needs is online, and the earlier he starts, the better his chances.

Unfortunately for me, I don't take my own advice.

07:26 | Work | Comments (3)

March 16, 2004

Back From Lopez Island

As promised, photos of our trip.

A weekend away from the city was exactly what we needed. I took off from work at 4:30, and Teresa drove us straight to Anacortes to catch the ferry to Lopez Island, one of the San Juan Islands, south-east of Vancouver Island.

I had booked a cabin earlier that week, so we drove right there, got into our bathing suits and relaxed in the outdoor hot tub before going to bed.

On Saturday we hiked up Fisherman's Bay Road towards the park. Locals in their cars would wave as they drove past us. After walking along the beach, we went into the village for a malt at the drug store. Can you say small town?

Sunday we walked around Shark Reef Park, and ate sandwiches on a cliff overlooking the ocean. The photos I took can't do justice to the beauty of this part of the world.

Before leaving the cottage, we were sure to sign the guestbook, as guests have been doing since 1999. As we left the cottage grounds, rabbits gathered on the lawn to see us off.

21:35 | Seattle

March 12, 2004

Gone Fishing

Gone to the San Juan islands for the weekend. I'll be back Monday with photos. No empty promises for write-ups this time.

08:00 | Stuff

March 10, 2004

We Don't Need No Stinking Badges

At Microsoft, security is pretty tight. Employees are required to carry their ID badges at all times, and most locked doors on campus can only be opened by swiping one's badge. Often people forget their even wearing their badges, and seeing employees wandering around Redmond in the evenings with forgotten badges hanging from their hips is not an uncommon sight.

I noticed there are three ways people wear their badges:

Attached to their belts.
This is the most common, and convenient way. Most of the scanners on doors are at waist-height, and the badges are on retractable cords, so opening doors is as easy as pulling, swiping, and letting go.
In their wallets.
I guess some employees feel showing off their badges make them look like dorks, so they hide them. When they need to open doors, they either pull out and swipe their wallets (the scanner is strong enough to penetrate even the finest deer hide), or try to swipe without taking their wallets out. The latter is always fun to watch. If the wallet is in their back pocket, they do the 60s dance The Bump with the door jamb, or if the wallet is in their front pocket, they gyrate their groin in front of the scanner, giving quite the show for anyone on the other side of the glass doors.
Around their necks.
This is the least common, and most obvious way to wear one's badge. Beaming with the pride of working at the world's richest software company, these employees carry their badges attached to wide shoelace-like necklaces not unlike how college students carry their dorm keys to the communal shower.

So if anyone happens to see me at a restaurant, or maybe at the mall some weekday evening, feel free to let me know if I look like a dork. You can also tell me to take my badge off.

07:35 | Work | Comments (7)

March 9, 2004

SLACCing Off

The Internet is really good at keeping the past from fading out of our collective memories. For example, I was doing an innocent web search, when I came upon this: The SLACC website. Oh goodie.

SLACC was a student organization started by Rafi, Mark and myself for the Coop students working at Corel back in the summer of 1999. As an organization, we didn't really do anything, but we did have a crappy website.

One day, probably during one of their binges, Mark and Chris decided that the co-ops needed an internal website. Nobody was really too sure what it was to be used for, but it seemed like a neat idea at the time. After putting in a request with HR and Legal, everybody went happily back to school.

I was the "webmaster" for the internal website, but it appears that after I left Corel, someone posted a modified version on Fortunecity, where it was promptly forgotten. Archeologists of the future may one day dig up this site, examine it closely, then hopefully bury it back in the ground.

07:15 | Nerd | Comments (10)

March 8, 2004

You Can Count On The Cplyon.ca Team

I got this email in my inbox over the weekend.

Dear user of Cplyon.ca gateway e-mail server,

We warn you about some attacks on your e-mail account. Your computer may contain viruses, in order to keep your computer and e-mail account safe, please, follow the instructions.

Please, read the attach for further details.

The Cplyon.ca team

Attached was an executable that presumably contained the Beagle worm. Considering I am the cplyon.ca team, I found this email particuarly funny.

07:03 | Blog | Comments (1)

March 6, 2004

Bush Pissed-Off List

President Bush defends his use of 9/11 footage in his campagn. Let's enumerate what groups Bush has managed to piss off since he came into office:

Let me know if I forgot anyone.

16:15 | America , Politics | Comments (5)

March 4, 2004

Doctor Foot-In-Mouth

I went to the optometrist yesterday for a long-overdue checkup. I happened to be wearing my University of Waterloo sweatshirt, and the doctor commented on it, noting that UW has an optometry program.

He then went on to tell me how when he was in Victoria, BC seemed "like being in a different state, not a different country". He then told me jokingly how the US should just invade Canada.

After having me read blurry letters off a chart, he asked what the deal was with "those Quebec people". He dropped the subject when I told him I was born in Québec.

This doctor was of Korean descent. I guess I could have brought up Korea's invasion by Japan, or how the once-united peninsular nation is now bitterly divided, but I didn't.

I figured it was just his way of making conversation.

07:28 | Rant | Comments (3)

March 2, 2004

Supersize This

Ever wonder what would happen if you ate fast food every meal of every day for a month? Sundance Film Festival winner Morgan Spurlock finds out.

I'm interested in seeing this film, especially considering the number of people I see every day who probably do make McDonald's their regular place to eat.

In unrelated news, McDonald's phases out their super sized menu.

21:53 | Entertainment | Comments (4)

Keeping Osama On The DL

I'm surprised this news of Osama bin Laden's alleged capture didn't make any Western headlines (I found it as a substory on Google News). The report was later denied by both Pakistan and the US.

Now I'm no conspiracy theorist, but considering Bush's approval spike after Saddam Hussein's capture, keeping this quiet until the fall would be in the Republicans' best interest...

07:33 | Politics