Vincent Cheung

Vincent Cheung's Blog

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Wednesday, November 30, 2005

These people don't waste any time

Election called on Tuesday. That same day I see a Jack Layton sign on someone's yard (his wife is running in my area and the sign is likely from the last election). Then today, I see the Jack Layton campaign bus on campus along with TV network vans...

This is exactly what we need, politicians putting up wreaths and shit. Sorry, politicians and Santa (or the Holiday Armadillo or whatever) don't mix.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

People spy on me, I spy on them

People do some strange searches. I notice them periodically when I check my site stats. I see for example a number of people getting to my site by Googling things related to sleep, waking up, and alarm clocks, because of my Alarm clocks are bad, wake up and feel better post </shameless plug>. I also get ones related to my posts like "fob hairstyles", "tropicana orange juice", "chinks japs", "harry cheung google", and "tikibar". Then I get ones from perverts, like "a girl & her mom sleep naked in bed", no idea how that search made it to my blog, but I'm guessing that they made it to this post. Who searches for stuff like this?!?!? If it was you, you can leave now. That person was messed up anyways b/c he/she used Yahoo search. Who uses Yahoo anymore?!?!? Unfortunately I don't have his/her IP address, otherwise I could make fun of them more....

Then there are the personal searches. These include my name and maybe someone else's with perhaps a verb thrown in there. People think they're searching anonymously. But they don't know that I can see what they searched for if they got to my page from a search engine. Reality check: every web page you go to can do the same thing. If you search for something and click on a link, that page can see what you searched for in order to get to their page. I figure that if people spy on me, I will spy on them. But it's not like you can really tell who did the search. At best you can nail down that the person searched from say NoNameCity, SomeProvidence and some other clues, but you can't tell who exactly it is unless you get like a search warrant (or whatever you need, like a gun) and get their ISP to tell you.

For future reference if you want to remain anonymous when searching for something, or you're going to a seedy webpage, or you want to get around content filters at work/school/library/etc., you can try Hide My Ass, which is a free web proxy. Just enter the address of the page (eg. and they fake your IP address so that you can remain anonymous. Not that I have anything to hide...

The Great Conspiracy

9/11 - a state sponsored (or at least assisted) act for political and personal gain? And by state, I mean the United States of America.

I found this video to be quite interesting:: The 9/11 News Special You Never Saw

I don't believe everying they say, but I think there is some truth in there and it's nice to see some actual reporting and investigation for once instead of this mindless and naive crap in the media. The video is similar to Fahrenheit 911 in that it takes a view opposed to the Bush administration, but goes at it from a different perspective.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Once you've had good pasta, you can't go back

Recently I've been staying away from those cheap $1 packages of pasta. My recent thing has been Barilla brand pasta. It's a little pricier, but it's totally worth it. It's noticeably thicker, springier, and has more substance in its taste.

Then, after I watched Harry Potter, I went to the St. Lawrence Market as it was just across the street and I hadn’t been in there before. I was quite surprised by all the food that was inside, which was fortunate as I needed to get some groceries. There was a stand that was selling fresh pasta and true to their word, they were making pasta right on the spot. The pasta was soft, not dried out like the stuff you buy in stores. They also advertised the absence of preservatives, so I doubt that it has a long shelf life.

I bought a bag of fusilli and two small tubs of their meat sauce (they ran out of large). It lasted me two meals and set me back $10. I'm not sure what the price breakdown was, but it's more expensive than the regular stuff, but cheaper than in a restaurant and as good as anything I've had in a restaurant.

It was quite tasty. The pasta itself was awesome. It cooked really fast, faster than regular pasta (the Barilla pasta takes longer to cook b/c it's thick and dried) and had a great taste (I love carbs), texture, and feel. I didn't think that their sauce was anything amazing though. I think that my sauce tastes just as good. I don't quite remember the pasta at Marche, or what is now known as Richtree Market, as they have fresh pasta as well.

I don't think I can go back to the cheap pasta. I'd probably get the fresh pasta more often if the market wasn't so far away and had longer hours. I rarely do my grocery shopping during regular hours.

My biggest award ever!

Well, not financially, recognizability, or in terms of how many people I had to crush to win it, but physically it's my biggest award ever! Sure beats all those useless little medals...

CVPR 2005 Best Paper Award

I'm so retarded, and I just can't hide it, I'm about to lose control and I don't think I like it

I grab the can of Pepsi on my desk and throw it back thinking that there's only a smidget left and this way I can get those precious last drops, only to find out that there's more left than I expected and I get Pepsi all over my face and clothes....and I just did laundry....

Who does this kind of thing?.... At least I'm on the right path for one of the Darwin awards....

Missing things in Seattle

I wish I had an ensuite washer and dryer like I had in Seattle. Sure beats having to take the elevator down 25 floors and carrying my laundry. At least I can do all of it in parallel, but it's a bitch when you forget something and you have to go all the way up, down the hall, and reverse to put in the volleyball kneepads into the wash....

While I'm at it, I'd also like to have the dishwasher I had in Seattle as well as a car. It'd be so much easier to get groceries with a car...

Though I enjoy riding on the subway and walking in downtown, minus the black stuff on the kleenex when you blow your nose, but it's WAY better than say.... Hong Kong.

Where do all these kids come from??!!?!!1one!?!!

I went to pick up "dinner" from Subway yesterday. I go inside and there's like a hundred kids in there! Ok, maybe like 8. I was like, no way am I going to wait half an hour listening to these 10 year olds scream and giggle while the ONE guy working there makes all those damn subs. I'd probably have a conviction some sort of brutal, grotesque, violent crime on a minor had I stayed there.

I didn't understand why there were so many kids there. It was almost 8 and it was right beside my apartment, across from U of T campus. Don't these kids get fed at home??!

Strangely enough, when I got back to my apartment. My suitemate and his gf were making dinner and they made extra for me. This was very strange. Never happened b4. It's been the other way around a couple of times b4. Apparently the gf did most of the cooking, but she says that she doesn't cook, which scared me even more. Dinner was actually pretty good.

Then, today, I went to go see the new Harry Potter movie. I quite enjoyed it. I had forgotten some of the book as I hadn't read it in 2 years (back when I was a bum in Winnipeg in the summer b4 grad school and I read the first 5 Harry Potter books in a week - I suffered huge Harry Potter withdrawal after that). I enjoyed it more than the previous (3rd) movie. One guy came with us that hadn't read the books and said that it was confusing and didn't follow it.

Anyways, how does this relate to kids? Well, sitting right behind us were some kids that were talking the whole movie!!!! It was annoying as stupid undergrads knocking on my office door looking for people that aren't there. The kids had obviously not read the books either as they were like, "oh, this and this is going to happen!!" and I was like "no, you stupid sh*t, you'd know that wasn't the case if you read the god damn book, now shut the f*ck up!" Who's idea was it to watch Harry Potter as a matinee on a Saturday anyways? FYI, don't watch kid movies during kid friendly hours.

Oh, and I found a decent cheap movie theatre - Rainbow Cinemas Market Square. Matinees are $4.25 and they play 1st run movies. Regular price is $7.50, which is decent. Though the theatre is pretty old school and small. Not as good as Cinema City in Winnipeg where you can watch a movie on Tuesday for $1.75 (cheaper with frequently available coupons) or $3.00 regular price, though it's 2nd run movies (after the main theatres, before DVDs).

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Freaky duplicate stuffed animals....

I was browsing through my feeds in Google Reader and saw this post on Blogger Buzz about adding personal touches to you blog. Then I see this picture, and I'm like, hey! My cat has that stuffed animal too! Freaky. Though, my black and white cat is much cuter than the one in this picture.

Funny thing about that stuffed animal. It looks a lot like my older black and white cat, and my younger, orange tabby cat likes to chase my older cat and attack her (she's lost weight ever since we got the second cat as she's had to run more). Anyways, my orange cat also enjoys attacking this stuffed animal pretending that it's my other cat :p

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Oh man, it's cold outside...

I just went to go grab a hot dog around the corner from Frankie's (the hot dog stands around campus are awesome), but he was no where to be seen. I guess he had already packed up for the day. Ordinarily I would then just go to Sid Smith and try the hot dog stands there, but it was too cold! Earlier in the day, it wasn't bad, so I was too lazy to bring my gloves and toque for this short trip, which I now regret. The wind just made it brutal...

When did this happen? The other day I was walking outside in a t-shirt (granted just down the street briefly), and today it's freezing outside. Like it's not that bad, but comparing to the other day, it's horrible.

I so need to move somewhere warm. I think I'm losing my Winnipeg tolerance to winter.

I'll probably try again later to get some food when I'm better prepared, but for now I'm settling for a bag of vending machine pretzels.

Monday, November 21, 2005

(Non-porn) amateur videos are taking over

Uploading amateur video onto the web is starting to get pretty big. And of course, as with most stuff on the Internet, this was first pioneered by the porn industry, perhaps the most innovate group on the Internet.

The thing that gets me are that these videos are really cool and entertaining and you'd never see them on TV at least in their full length glory. Aside from America's funniest home videos (again, the full length video wouldn't be there and only "funny" videos would be on that show), the Internet is really the only outlet for distributing this kind of stuff....

Anyways, aside from the fabulous golf video, here are two videos I found today that are jaw dropping and insanely entertaining.

Crazy Christmas light display - My theory is that the guy recently got laid off and is using this as a way to land a job, because it's obvious that he has WAY too much time on his hands and doesn't have a job or life.

Mario unleashed on the marimba - If you have no appreciation for this work of art, just leave now, stop reading my blog, and don't come back.

Update (later that day):  Not sure why this stuff amuses me so much (nostalgia?), but here's a guy playing mario on the piano, blindfolded. Short version, long version, his webpage. Check out the end of the video, he just goes crazy - Super Mario World when time is running out! This makes me want to learn how to play piano.... Hmmm... I wonder how this music will be viewed like 100 years from now, like will it be as cherished as Beethoven? Considered to be classicial music? Some orchestras are actually playing Mario music nowadays....

Superpowers and weaknesses

Nebojsa says my superpower is "to take any algorithm and make it work". My weakness appears to be Civilization 4, which I've been playing way too much ever since I got it on Wednesday, hence the lack of blogs since then :p. I've been a big fan of the series ever since the first one. I like it so much that I actually bought it! That's saying a lot ;)

My whole sleeping schedule's all screwed up ever since I came back. Until last night, I hadn't gone to bed before 6 am. I guess it would be me going to bed at the same time as I was in Seattle, so basically I just didn't change time zones. No particular reason though for staying up so late. Just too lazy to go to bed.....

Civ 4 just made it worse. One day I'm up for 24 hours straight, then next day, after going to bed well after the sun has risen, I'm only awake for 12 hours before going to bed at a decent time. I need to fix this....

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Magic tricks

By popular demand (ok, 1 person), here's a magic trick to entertain you.

  1. Pick the number of days that you'd like to have sex this week (1-7).

  2. Multiply this number by 2, because you'll want twice as much.

  3. Add 5, man you're naughty.

  4. Multiply by 50, because you get 2 weeks of vacation in a year.

  5. Add 1754, no idea what's going on here.

  6. If you've already had your birthday this year, then add 1 for bonus.

  7. Subtract the four digit year you were born (19XX).

What you're left with is the number of days that you want to have sex this week followed by your age. Pretty clever huh? No, but at least my commentary was somewhat entertaining...

Are you a Potentate of the Rose? Check out the Petals Around the Rose game. It's a fun, simple game and can be done either on or offline. Some dice are rolled and you have to guess the score. The answer is always zero or an even number. That's all I can tell you and that's all there is to it.

If you figure out what's going on, then you get to join the exclusive club. The only rule about being in the club is to not tell anyone so that the game can continue to drive them nuts. Best played with a group of people when you can have some keeners get it and then laugh at the strugglers 8-|

I sleep on grain and under geese

It was a rather comforting feeling being back in my bed last night. I like my mattress here. Not too soft. Not too hard. My mattress in Seattle was alright, but I didn't like their mattress cover thingy b/c it bunched up sometimes.

The thing that most surprised me was the feeling of my blanket. I had completely forgotten what it felt like. I didn't particularly like the blankets in Seattle. The bed was like a hotel bed - flat sheet, fuzzy blanket, flat sheet, thin colourful blanket. The housekeeping people also tucked in the sheets like in a hotel. Sometimes I like to sleep with the blankets all tucked in, but other times it feels to restricting. I only now realize, after sleeping back in my bed, why it doesn't feel the same. With those blankets, what happens, especially when the sheets are tucked in, is that you get the "tent" effect. The blankets will cover you, but drape off you very gradually, leaving an air gap between you and the blankets, plus the blankets feel dense and the layers can get mis-aligned.

I have a goose down blanket here. It's thick, but fluffy and light. I use it throughout the year - keeps me warm in the winter, somewhat cool in summer. Lying in bed last night, I really felt the difference. It was such a comforting feeling. The blanket hugged me completely, but was not suffocating as it's light. The air gaps were very minimal as it naturally filled in all the empty space between me and the blanket. Just an amazing feeling.

Of course, I had my pillow with me in Seattle. Anyone that is familiar with my sleeping habits knows that I don't go anywhere without my pillow. Seriously, if I'm travelling anywhere, I take my pillow with me. What's so special about my pillow? It kicks ass, that's what's special about it. What? Ya, that's right, it kicks ass. You're crazy. I know.

I have a buckwheat pillow and have had one for who knows how long, probably like 10 years or something. My pillow is filled with grain. What? Yes. Grain. It's kinda weird, but I love it. I love how it conforms to the shape of my head and neck, provides amazing support, feels great on my head, and doesn't retain heat (the old commerical took a blow torch to the pillow, so I guess it's also not flammable). When I use other pillows now, my neck is usually sore when I wake up. I just got a Duo Bucky pillow a couple months ago to replace my older buckwheat pillow (which was many years old) and it's great. This particular pillow has both buckwheat and millet inside.

The best part of having a buckwheat pillow are the KO's you get when you have pillow fights ;)

Back in Toronto

I got back into Toronto late last night, but was too lazy to blog about it.

I went to Seattle with 2 extremely packed suitcases, each weighing at least my weight. I thought I was going to get my ass kicked by the check-in counter lady, but by some act of god (I don't believe in god, but maybe it's being in america so much that everything has to be about god), she didn't even weigh my luggage!!! It might have been b/c I was late and they pulled me out of the line to check me in b/c the line was long. Anyways, so I had no idea how much I was bringing.

I came back to Toronto with 3 bags, 2 of the overweight and got rapped up the ass sideways twice by the airline. So, apparently all the airlines are now limiting luggage to 50 pounds, instead of 70, which seems so anachronistic (that my friends, is a GRE word!!!). By the law of technology, things should be getting better, faster, cheaper, more efficient, and less polluting, yet the airline industry is reducing how much I can carry! This is not progress! This is proof of America's recent abomination of science! I blame Bush.

So, that's $80 for the extra bag. $25 for each overweight bag. My luggage was 70, 60, and 25 pounds. Yes I could've distributed the weight better (well, it would've been hard considering the size of my third bag). I handed over my credit card for the US$130 bill. Fortunately, Microsoft pays for relocation costs :D

But seriously, the worst thing is that from now on, I'm going to have to travel super light, this includes my upcoming trip to Winnipeg (in the middle of winter) and LA/Mexico (which necessitates minimal amount of clothing). How am I going to pack winter and summer clothes in a single suitcase (won't be able to bring more than 1 suitecase onto the cruise) in addition to Christmas presents (bringing them back to Toronto) all within 50 pounds???!!?!?!? Impossible.

Back to the trip. My flight was direct to Toronto, with a brief stop in Chicago. I'm reboarding the plane, and I see this guy that looks crazy familar, but it can't be him, why would someone I know who should be in Toronto be in Chicago on MY plane? I'm like totally staring him down as I'm standing in the aisle of the plane waiting for the people in front of me to move. He glances back. I'm not sure it's him though, but as I walk past him, I see the mole on the side of his neck and man, it's gotta be him!

Landing in Toronto, the custom's guy doesn't even bother looking at my I-94 visa stuff and just waves me on. My luggage comes out on the wrong belt, but crazy fast. I get outside the baggage claim area and the guy is with his brother (who was also on the plane) and their gf's. I know both JP and Ann from volleyball this past summer. Totally crazy that he was on my plane. He apparently was in Japan and had gotten re-routed through Chicago on his way back.

I jumped in a cab (courtesy of Microsoft) and got home just after midnight.

The thing about high speed internet at home is that you don't appreciate it until you've been on dial-up for a while. Man does it ever feel good! I'm so used to waiting for pages to load. Of course, I had crazy fast high speed at work, but my ports were limited (at least on my laptop) and didn't use my desktop there as much for leisure purposes as I would my home computer.

Oh, in unpacking today, I see this stray piece of paper in one of my suitcases. "Notification of baggage inspection". Apparently they checked my bag. Didn't seem like anything was moved around, so I'm guessing they just popped it open and the dog didn't smell any explosives. That's never happened to me before. I guess that's why they tell you to not lock your baggage when travelling in the US b/c they will break the lock to peek inside (says so on the paper that they "may have been forced to break the locks on your bag").

Monday, November 14, 2005

Working late at Microsoft

Speaking from experience, leaving work at 1 am on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday nights is great in that you completely avoid the rush hour. Plus, with the super smart traffic lights here, all the lights turn green for you by the time you get to the intersection :)

However, Microsoft gives off clear signs that you're working too late and actively discourages people from working late. Usually, the first sign is that the lights in the washroom are off. They turn off automagically when no one's used it for a while. This phenomenon is typically observed around 6 or 7 pm on weekdays. Fortunately, the lights automagically turn on when noise is made in the washroom, which is fortunate for those long occasions in the stall - sounds of struggle keep the lights on.

The second sign that you're working too late is when the building ghosts get restless and play with the lights. This freaked me out the first couple times it happend. The lights would flicker in the evenings. I was quite startled by the power failure, but relieved when my computer didn't shut off. It was as if god him/her/themselves blessed me and saved my computer! I would then panic and quickly save my work in case the god(s) changed hi/her/their mind. Sometimes, the lights would go off for prolonged periods of time and I would begin to wander the halls of darkness in confusion, but then suddenly, as if an act from god(s), they'd relight themselves and I would rejoice as I was blessed with light from the light god(s)!

I later found out that it wasn't ghosts that were playing with the lights, but rather it was an energy saving feature. The light flicker signals the immenent disapperance of light. To save yourself from working in the dark, you must go and flick the switch on the wall in the hallway, which buys you another 2 hours of artificial sun. I have studied this marvel quite thoroughly and it starts at 9 pm on weekdays and runs continuously on the weekends.

Hmm... it's currently 11:50 pm on a Sunday, why the hell do i hear vacuuming?....

Sunday, November 13, 2005

omg, it's not Christmas!!!!11!!one!!!

Why the hell is "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" already playing on TBS??!?!? That's just retarded. Check your calendar people! It's November! Still a month and a half until Christmas!!!! Yes, the movie will get old after airing it 1,000 times this holiday season!!!

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Oh, it's already been broughten!

I've "added" all the "gas", the pedal's on the floor, and I'm in the highest gear.

The game is on. The battle's waging. The clock is ticking. I will emerge victorious!

My eye's on the prize and the deadline's Monday.

Expect this space to remain stagnant until I have more time (next week when I'm back in Toronto). No time to waste. Back to work.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

The greatest video of all time

What is perhaps the greatest video ever made, at least starring yours truly, is now on Google video!

Click here for the video






Battlestar Galactica withdrawal....

Must..... have.... more..... Battlestar Galactica!!! Someone give me a hit!! Anyone?!?! I just want one more episode!!! I'll do anything!!!


Edit (after several hours of counseling):

Hi, my name is Vincent and
I'm a Battlestar Galactica addict.

Having gone through Harry Potter and Desperate Housewives, I moved onto Battlestar Galactica. Watched the mini-series (basically the length of a movie), the first season (13 episodes), and caught up to the most recent episode in season two (episode 10). Unfortunately, no new episodes until January :(

If you've seen the show, you probably know why I'm addicted, if you haven't, then you probably think that only light sabre swinging, dungeon dragon playing, Star Trek obsessed, overalls up to their neck, nerd geek freaks would watch a show called Battlestar Galactica. I was just as skeptical when I first heard of the show. With a name like Battlestar Galactica, you just expect it to be another Star Trek / Babylon 5 / other space nerd show. Well, it's not.

Battlestar Galactica is not about traveling faster than the speed of light, fighting aliens, discovering new planets, or using futuristic technology, the show is all about what it means to be human. The story is set-up through the genocide of humans by our own creation, but soon questions our humanity and reflects on how we live in our current civilizations. The characters make the show and they are amazing and the character development is really deep. The characters are real people. The script is clever and well written.

I implore you to give it a shot. Watch the mini-series. It's only the length of a movie. Otherwise I'll force you.

Also, it's not just a show for guys, to my complete utter surprise, I met several females over the weekend who watch Battlestar Galactica, and one of them is not a techie at all - she works in HR and was not at all impressed by my binary joke.

Here's a wiki about the show. And for the guys (and girls who swing the other way), here's a very convincing argument, my current obsession, Grace Park, who unfortunately does not wear such outfits on the show (for the girls out there, she's quite clothed on the show).

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Played Xbox 360

Oh, and around 3, this girl that's on the Xbox team goes to her car and brings in an Xbox 360 :)

It's not even out until the end of the month! All (zero of) my friends on the "Internets" are gonna be so jealous!!!

It was pretty fun. I was told that I can't disclose any information or share pictures.

Actually the UBC engineer and one of the Waterloo girls are both on the Xbox team and they were like, it's not a big deal to them b/c they play with it every day and see people playing on it all the time. The rest of us were like, hey it's cool and wanted to check it out, but none of us were huge gamers or anything. You know, only 3 people got punched and 1 guy got knifed in choosing who got a controller. The strangest and funniest thing was that me and another guy were playing this one game (can't disclose which game) and the two girls were telling us what to do. It was just the strangest feeling...

Not like they were geek girls, ok, well, everyone there was geeky, but they don't appear or act geeky, like you wouldn't pick them out of a crowd as such. It's cool that way though. Geek is chic.

Careful, you may mistake me for having a life

I picked a great day to go to the Hot Sake dragon boat practice. It was like the coldest day since I've been here (high in the single digits), plus it was raining pretty hard. I don't have any rain or snow/cold weather gear with me here. I scraped together any clothing that was almost suitable for the weather and managed to keep warm. As nothing I have is water proof, what I did was just layer like crazy so that it'd take the rain a while to seep through all the layers :p. T-shirt, long sleeve, sweater, wind jacket, life jacket. Fuzzy pants + track pants. Two pairs of socks + runners. Hat from the company meeting + hood from my jacket. Crappy stretchy wool gloves. Surprisingly, while I could see my breath and anything exposed was completely wet, I was really comfortable. Didn't even notice the rain or cold, but it might have been the pain that drone it out.

I had a good time and the company was really cool. This group of people just doesn't do anything small, which is awesome. 20-something people showed up to paddle in the rain and we took two boats out. It was pretty hard as they were doing like 22 min. of continuous paddling on each side and my muscles don't nearly have enough endurance to do that right now, considering that it was my first time dragon boating. I'm pretty sore today - upper back is pretty bad, my butt has got to be seriously bruised or something, and my side muscles are sore.

They had an end of the year meeting later that day and I crashed the party after the meeting. They had it in one of the peoples' house. I get inside and there's like this massive group of people.... Everytime I see them, it's a big gathering. They have like 40+ people in total, not sure how many were actually there, but quite a bit more than at practice. The group is really cool, it's an interesting mix of people - ranging from around my age to undisclosed ages, good balance of guys and girls, people of all colour, and as typical of my experience here, few Americans :p. A bunch are from Microsoft, but there's also representation from Amazon, Starbucks, and the unemployed. We had good representation of engineering from across Canada too - a girl from computer engineering at UBC, me from comp. eng. U of M, and two girls from systems design engineering Waterloo. Aside from dragon boating, the other common denominator that I see that strings them all together is that they all act as if they're in their 20's :)

Not too late in the evening, we shifted over to another couples' house back in Bellevue. Apparently the convoy of cars is quite typical. We lost some people, but still had something like 20. House party where the people throwing the party actually owns the house, that's new :). There was some indoor volleyball going on :). It was a pretty late party, didn't end until 4 in the morning :p.

The only bad thing is that I only met all these people like a week and a half before I'm leaving. Just as I met some people that are cool to hang out with and fun to socialize with...

Saturday, November 05, 2005

The only people in Seattle are Canadians

Every fracking person I meet in Seattle is from Canada! (frack is from my current tv show obsession and is freely substitutable for it's more common 4 letter word, including all its derivatives)

I went to the University of Washington Huskies women’s volleyball game against Stanford last night with some people from volleyball (Huskies are ranked #2 and Cardinals #4, so it was a good game and the Huskies won). Little did I know that they were going as this massive group of 22 people. I later found out that their connection is dragon boating and I’m going to their practice tomorrow/later this morning. The guy that organizes this volleyball watching is like a crazy fan of women's college volleyball. He knows all the players on all the teams by name and their stats and histories, etc. It's sick. A bunch of these people are pretty regular viewers of the Huskies games, and it’s good volleyball to watch. The Huskies haven’t lost a game this season and have only dropped 3 sets out of like 30 or something. So anyways, after the game these guys (and girls) go to the “Ram” for food and it’s kinda funny because I guess their two reasons for going are because it accepts the Microsoft prime discount card and that the volleyball players often go to this place after the game. We saw 3 of the Huskies players there last night, they were sitting at the table on the other side of the glass from us. Gawking ensued.

Anyways, back to the central theme of this post - I have yet to meet anyone from Seattle!!! The stupidest thing is that one of the guys last night grew up in Winnipeg and graduated from the U of M in computer engineering. C’mon!!! Can I never escape these people??? Then there was this girl from Toronto (ok, Etobicoke) and like half the people were from Canada.

I guess the first sign was orientation when I met this girl from Toronto who ended up knowing some of my older sister’s friends who were in Seattle that were originally from Winnipeg. I met up with all them when my sister was in town. Chalk up a couple more Winnipeggers that I met in Seattle….

Then all these interns. None of them are American. These winter interns are worse because they’re all from Waterloo. When I went hiking at Mount Rainier, out of our like group of 10 or something, there was like 1 American. I went to this Fright Fest thing last weekend - Halloween theme at the local Six Flags amusement park, i.e. haunted houses and roller coasters. Anyways, the Six Flags here blows, the rides are all crap, but that’s because it was bought by Six Flags, not built as a Six Flags. The Six Flags over Texas is still the scariest. My pants are still wet from the longest and highest wooden rollercoaster in the world, which was incidentally my first rollercoaster and I was 10. But now all the rollercoasters are just elevator rides. I digress. Half of our group of 6 was from Waterloo, I’m from Toronto/Winnipeg, that makes 2/3 Canadian. The other two were from the Netherlands. They were pretty cool and I spent most of the evening talking to them. Europeans are cool.

That reminds me, I’m famous to the point of getting recognized on the street! Soon I’ll no longer be able to go to the grocery store without disguise. Ok, fine, that’s not going to be a problem. Anyways, one of the Waterloo guys was like, did you write a cycle stealing program that got passed around? I was like no. Then, I was like, umm… wait, I did write such a program, but I didn’t pass it around. Well, a while back, my supervisor told me to send an e-mail to the HPC (high performance computing) guys about my distributed computing system b/c I might need to use their resources to run some stuff. Apparently the e-mail got forwarded around the group and that intern was from HPC.

I digress again. So, when people ask me what it’s like in Seattle. I answer that it’s quite similar to Canada, but my view is skewed because every goddamn person I meet is from Canada!!!!

Oh wait, now that I think of it, I have met some Seattleites. Of course, from volleyball. Everyone I know I met through volleyball. But these Seattleites do not play at the Pro Club – those are all Microsoft employees and none of them are from around here, and many are not from the States. I’ve gone to a school in Redmond a couple times for pick-up volleyball and as that’s more local, I’m quite sure that at least some of them are from Seattle. At least the kids. There are some guys that I’m pretty sure are high school players, so there, I have met some people from Seattle. Of course, conversion is limited on the court and mostly I’m just screaming for help (the passing’s not so great there).

Irreversible democratic decisions

This topic came up over one of those 2 hour lunches with my supervisor and my fellow slaves here. I don't quite remember how we got onto the topic, but I started educating the Yugoslavian, Mexican (not Mexican’t), and the American about the whole Quebec separation thing. It’s a strange thing because supposedly, if the majority votes for separation in a referendum, then Quebec would separate. The kicker is that there’s essentially no limit as to how many referendums there can be. There’s already been 2 and there’s talk of a 3rd. One majority of “yes” means separation, regardless of how many “no” referendums there are. But once you get that “yes”, then that’s it, there’s essentially no going back. So, in the limit, you’re basically guaranteed to have separation…

Now, is this how irreversible decisions should be made? Repeated attempts at doing something, with basically no consequences of failure, but a success is final. Seems rather strange. If you get a bad sample (i.e. strange voter turnout), then this could skew the results. I guess maybe that’s why Jean Chr├ętien was saying that 50% + 1 vote is not enough…

So, the reason I thought of this recently is the whole digg thing. My most recent attempt at getting onto digg worked, but after appearing on the front page for half an hour, I was unceremoniously removed. There are mechanisms built-in so that stories can be weeded out by the people. Not sure if a story is removed if it gets a certain number of “bad” votes or it’s a thing of say, “if more problem reports (or some fraction) than diggs, then kill”, but once it’s gone, it’s gone (I asked). Now, this is a strange way of dealing with things. People may report the story for the wrong reason or out of jealously or whatever, or maybe you get a bad sampling of the population. But, it’s one of those irreversible decisions handled by some sort of “voting public” where the vote can be done limitless number of times, but once you reach the breaking point, there’s no going back.

Am I bitter? No. Am I disappointed? A little, but I’m over it now. Just ranting about the oddities of the world. Do I have a better solution? Not really, but it does seem like some educated and intelligent higher power, leader (i.e. not Bush), or committee/judge panel should be calling the final shot on things like these.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

My original quote of the day

People don't change, they just become better liars.

  -- Vince

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Jumping higher

The good news is that I'm jumping higher. The bad news is that I hit my head on the ceiling!

Dammit, my head hurts. I'm about 5.5' tall and the ceiling's about 7.5'.

I have to stop doing plyometric exercises indoors :s

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

6 promotions from Bill Gates's job

The great thing about the hierarchy in a company is that it gives you an instant view of your position in the company and your power. It also serves as a great measure of your worth and importance compared to your fellow employees.

For example, I am just a measely intern, but one at Microsoft Research, not just a product group, and I am 6 levels down from Bill Gates (who remains the symbolic leader here, as even Steve Ballmer is below Bill).

This may seem quite far down, but I've seen product groups go down to more than 10 levels, as they're strangled in significantly more hierarchy and faced with more scrutiny from the (many) higher levels.

OOF - out of the office

What's got to be the silliest practice over here is peoples' incessant need to mass mail about their absence from the office.

longish lunch break
I am going to Pro club…

oof for most of AM
Some non-reschedulable errands.
Will show up closer to lunch time.


As much as you like to believe in your own self-worth, no one's going to miss you. There is NO need to mail the whole group. I don't even know who you people are!
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