Thursday, December 27, 2007

Sleep is the little death that brings total oblivion

Installed my new-ish mattress and box spring today. They're fairly nice, and at least a bit less worn out than my old mattress.

I'm not sure if I'm going to keep the box spring. I've got a mates bed (and a rather crappy one at that) so the combination makes things a bit on the tall side. I've also discovered that I'm going to need a new set of fitted sheets, as I don't think any of the ones I currently have will fit properly.

I took some pictures for your viewing pleasure. I look like a bit of a slob in the last one, but I was just taking the picture for a height comparison.

Edit: Yeah, I got rid of the box spring, it was just a bit too tall. I'm glad I tried it, though.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Xmas at Mother's

Xmas at Mom and Bob's place went great. I wasn't expecting much loot in my stocking seeing as I already got my 500G External HD, but I was pleasantly surprised!

I of course got a few calendars, some candy, and the usual stocking bric-a-brac (the bag clips are doing a nice job holding closed the bags of candy I got in my stocking at Father's xmas).

Then, on top of all that, I got a fancy new stereo headset with built-in mic so I can swear at people when I'm fragging them in online games, and I also got a copy of Super Mario 64 DS!

Dinner was a delicious roast chicken with lots of trimmings, and I also enjoyed poking at Bob's computer a bit more and of course the wonderful company.

All in all, a great way to wrap up the year!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Xmas at Father's

Xmas at father's went pretty well this year, all told.

Started off the day by taking a trip out to the farm to pick up a mattress and box spring, then on the way back picked up some pre-packed sushi and some sake. Fairly uneventful, but parking was a mess.

Once home we got started on the festivities by replacing the faucet in the upstairs bathroom. I did most of the work, with Father and Andrea lending moral support and handing me the occasional tools. Many pictures were taken, and the project was a success.

Once that was over and done with, we trimmed the tree and ate the sushi and I accidentally poured my (small) cup of sake down the drain because I thought father was pre-heating the glass with water in it, oops! I like my sake cold! Thankfully it was cheap sake and there was plenty more.

My haul was pretty good. I got a Shaw PVR, a bottle of Jaegermeister, and a whole stocking full of candy. Mmmm. More pictures were taken.

Now I'm sleepy and looking forward to tomorrow.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Reducing redundancy

Yesterday I finally managed to get the hang of idling with one foot on my unicycle. It's not quite as difficult as I originally imagined, once I got the hang of using my other foot on the frame to stabilize things a bit.

Still need a new unicycle. I don't think I'll buy this one though, it's a bit on the expensive side.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

It's good to be me

So today I had an interview with Apple for a summer position in the iCal group, located in building IL3 of the mothership down in Cupertino. The interview went pretty well, and they should be getting back to me soon, hopefully with an offer. (For those of you in the loop who are somewhat confused at the timing, the interview was supposed to be tomorrow but got bumped up to today due to a scheduling conflict)

I also just got off the phone with Palm who will be giving me an offer shortly, which should net me somewhere on the order of $5k/mo plus some housing and relocation expenses that I didn't really pay attention to because I was trying to figure out how much that would be per hour (it's roughly $30/hr).

All in all, things are looking good. Now I just need to get that damn J-1 Visa.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Pining for the Fjords

Well, my recently repaired monitor has given up the ghost. No sparks or flames, just a quiet fade to black. I'm thinking that the filament probably burned out. Either way it's not worth fixing again.

Thankfully Bob had an old 19 inch CRT laying around that he kindly donated to my cause, so I at least have a replacement until next year when I plan on picking up a pair of 24 inch LCDs to replace 2/3s of my current crop of screens.

Freedom! Horrible, horrible freedom!

Done my exams for the year. Now I'm free! Of course, I still have to write a paper for Classical Mythology, but that's no trouble.

The exams themselves all went well. I did the 2 2-hour Atmospheric Science exams in 45 minutes each, and took roughly the full 2 hours to do my Intermediate Calculus mid-term. I did quite well on all of them, I think.

Now I get to switch off my alarm clock and sleep! Sleep forever!

Saturday, December 1, 2007

I'm famous!

More so than before, even. A few weeks ago on Quirks and Quarks they did an interview with Gary Taubes where he basically just hawked his new book, and I was not very impressed. I fired off an email to Q&Q about it expressing my displeasure, and then on this week's show they read it on air!

I wasn't quite expecting that, but all the same I'm glad my voice was heard.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Xmas in November

Xmas came early this year, in the form of a new 500G Seagate HD and an external Firewire/USB case to put it in, so now my shiny little Mac Mini has a shiny little backup drive to run Time Machine on! Yay!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

School's out for su^H^Hwinter!

Classes are over for the year. Yaaaay. Now I just need to get through 3 exams.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Little Rocket Man

So today I finally went and did it. I completed the "Little Rocket Man" achievement in Half-Life 2: Episode 2. For those of you not aware, this achievement basically entails taking a small garden gnome from a shack in the beginning of the game, and carrying it with you through the whole game until just before the end, where you load it into a rocket which is about to get blasted off into space.

It is, perhaps, the pinnacle of gaming insanity. And I did it.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Smelly Pinecones

Mmm, superstore is selling the cinnamon-scented pinecones again, so I bought a new bag to put in the bathroom.

Keeps things smelling nice, and doesn't look too bad either. Nice and festive.

Friday, November 9, 2007

A little cheaper this time

So I took my car in for a bit of service this afternoon, though mostly for an oil change. Thankfully it came out quite a bit cheaper than the last time I took it in for a quick service.

I had the washer nozzles re-aimed, got a new valve stem cap put on, got the oil/filter/etc done.

I didn't get the speedo fixed, since in this particular model of car it involves replacing the whole instrument cluster and probably not getting it any more accurate. I'd rather spend the $200 on buying a new set of 10% larger wheels and tires. It's on my list for next fall after I make millions in California over the summer.

I also didn't get the brake pulsation fixed, because it's probably just due to the wheels being bent again, which is another thing that will be fixed by getting new wheels and tires next fall. I'll probably still keep the old rims and put some 10% larger winter tires on them, since slightly bent wheels don't really matter that much for winter driving.

The only other thing on the list for next fall is getting some rust patches patched over before they eat my whole car... Assuming the car doesn't explode before then, but I think that should be fairly unlikely.

Total damage was only $30.34. Sweet.

Monday, November 5, 2007

That fresh from the dentist feeling

... feels exactly the same as any other day. Turns out my teeth were pretty much spotless, even though I hadn't gone for a cleaning in 10-odd years. Go fig! I think there was one tiny little spot of plaque that needed to be chiselled away, but that was it.

No cavities or problems either. At least, no major problems. It seems that one of my wisdom teeth is impacted, but we're apparently just doing a "wait and see" on it for now, which suits me just fine.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Trading stripes for spots

So I upgraded my Mini to Leopard. I must say I'm very impressed, even though I was already using it for 2 months this summer. It does feel a bit odd now that there's some of my code in it, but I guess I'll just have to get used to the feeling.

The only thing that makes me sad is that I can't load it on my G3. Even if it had enough CPU for it, the 6 gig root drive is just too small to hold it all. It'll have to make do with Tiger, for now and forever. So sad.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Testing, Testing, 1 2 3

So I got my midterms back this week, and things are looking pretty decent. I aced Stats and Atmospheric, and goofed up my Calc. Pretty much went as I expected.

I actually managed to do so well in Atmospheric that the prof had me go over the answers to the test in front of the class rather than her.

Other miscellany: I got new shoelaces to replace my unicycle-eaten ones, winter is quickly moving in, HalfLife 2 is a pretty sweet game. That's all I can think of right now.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

You just keep on trying 'till you run out of Cake

I picked up the Orange Box on Friday, and have been successfully wasting time ever since. This is a good thing, because I don't have much else to do this weekend, seeing as there's a bit of a lull between my assignments.

Peggle Extreme was thrown in as a freebie, which is nice because it was a small download and helped kill some time while the other 8 gigs or so got sucked through the glorious series of tubes that is the internet.

Portal was an absolute blast. The only thing bad about it is that it was far too short. It's really nice to see some innovation in the realm of first-person games. I think I'll need to add the Weighted Companion Cube plush toy to my xmas list.

Half Life 2 is a few years old now, but since I never played it back when it was new it's proving to be a real blast all the same.

I haven't even touched Team Fortress 2 yet, and I'm sure it'll be a while before I get through all the 4 halflife packages!

Definitely worth the $50.

Shoelace Malfunction

My unicycle ate my shoelace today.

I think in future I'll tuck my shoelaces into my shoes. Luckily I didn't damage anything else when  fell off.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Twirling, twirling, twirling toward unicyclery

Yesterday I was down at the bike shop getting a few repairs and upgrades to my unicycle. I got the wheel trued, got a quickrelease for the seat clamp, and got a pair of new pedals.

I spent a little time in the saddle this afternoon and managed to pretty much nail idling, as well as rolling into and out of the idle, and also get backwards riding down pretty good, including rolling in and out of it. Sweet! I can also free-mount directly into idling or backwards riding (in addition to the regular forward riding).

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Zombie Monitor

So today I come in from cycling, wake up my G3 and... the monitor isn't working.

Now, that's not to say it wasn't displaying an image; it was displaying it just fine, except about twice as bright as it ought display it, which is no good. In fact, I could quite easily see the retrace lines, which you most definitely shouldn't be able to see under normal operation.

Being the handy guy I am, I went and ate dinner. After I was done my dinner, I cracked open the monitor and re-adjusted the primary brightness setting on the flyback transformer, all while managing to resist the temptation to lick the big red wire (it's important to not lick the big red wire when working inside a monitor).

Of course, what I neglected to do was to check and adjust the focus while I was in there, as the brightness change drew it slightly out of focus. Perhaps if I'm feeling impish some other day I'll crack it open again and give it a tweak. It's not all that bad, really.

I'm just glad I don't have to buy a new monitor right now. All 3 of my current crop of monitors are on their last legs, but they'll hopefully hold together until next summer.

Friday, September 28, 2007


I spent some time out on my unicycle this afternoon, seeing as it's probably going to be the last nice weekend of the year, and practised my backwards riding. It's coming along nicely, but I'm still pretty wobbly and haven't gone more than 10 feet or so. I think with a few more days in the saddle I should be doing ok.

I wasn't feeling 100%, though, and I'm not entirely sure why at this point. I wasn't feeling sick at all, just a little bit out of it. Maybe I just didn't get enough sleep, what with being out partying late last night.

Vancouver Photos

I finally got around to sorting and organizing my Vancouver pictures. I moved them out of the vacation dump and into their own gallery.

There's not any new photos, so if  you looked through them before there's no need to look at them again.

Relatedly, I really need to upgrade my server. Sloooooow!

Party Time

Went to Tyler's birthday party yesterday. Much fun was had, cake was served, and I got to meet his newborn poop-machine.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007


So today in the mail I got my free CIRA 1GB USB drive.

In an interesting coincidence, I was up in one of the computer labs this afternoon checking my email, and I randomly discovered that someone had left their USB drive stuck in the back of the iMac I sat down in front of. I skimmed through the contents to see if there was a "please return this to..." file on it, but all I saw was a bunch of fruity arts-student type papers. Figures.

I dropped it off at the Lost and Found and left a sticky note on the front of the computer, so that should its owner show up in a panic, they'll know where to go to find it.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Too sexy to be legal

So apparently I'm so sexy that I can cause traffic accidents just by walking down the sidewalk. This was proved without a doubt on Thursday afternoon.

I was walking home from the bus, going across Henderson at Hespeler. The cars turning right politely stopped for me (it's a strange Canadian custom, for all you American readers) and I continued across the street to the far sidewalk. Just as I looked up, I saw a car run right into the back of one of the ones that had stopped. Not a hard hit, but a hit none the less.

So there you have it, there's no denying it: I'm just too sexy.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Idling wheels are...

Well, someone's playthings, at least.

I've put about an hour and a half of practice into idling on my unicycle so far and it seems to be coming along well. I haven't got to the point where I can sit there and idle back and forth until the cows come home, but I'm at least to the point where I have some decent control over it.

It's one of the few unicycling skills that I can practice indoors here, so by the time spring rolls around I'll probably be able to idle in my sleep.

I suppose there's some other skills I could try if I get really bored once the snow flies, like hopping. I'm not a big fan of hopping, though; it's a unicycle, not a pogo-stick.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Cycling season is getting shorter

So I decided to take my unicycle out for a spin today. This isn't very exciting, but I wanted to try out the embeddable google maps thing:

View Larger Map

Of course, it doesn't work real well for mapping out a cycling path since it doesn't include back lanes, going the wrong way down a one-way street, going through parks, etc.

Anyway, I went about 3km in total, and took roughly 30 minutes to do it. That's 6km/h if you're counting. Not exactly the fastest mode of transportation. A bigger wheel would help (mine is just a 20 inch).

Tuesday, September 11, 2007


So Just on a whim I counted up my audio CDs today. I haven't bought any for about 5 years or so, and it's always been a little question in the back of my mind, wondering how much I actually spent on all of them in the first place.

Now of course I don't have all the receipts for each CD, so I just took a wild guess that I spent an average of $20 per disc. Multiply that by 70 CDs and that's $1400.

Add to that the 80 or so CDs on my wish list, costing roughly $1600, and that's a whole $3000 in music.

That's a lot of money.

Monday, September 10, 2007

New Kicks

My last pair of Etonics have had a hard life. The inside of the heels wore through, so I had them patched up last year. Then this summer I walked well over 5km per day in them and managed to wear right through the sole. It's time for me to put them to rest.

So mother phoned this afternoon and let me know that the particular model of Etonics I've been wearing are no longer sold, but a different brand has a similar model shoe that happened to be on sale.

As I was going out grocery shopping anyway I decided to take a look. I also apparently decided to get rained on, but that's another matter entirely.

I had a look at the new shoes, and they certainly looked to be similar to my old Etonics. But it occurred to me that my shoe needs have changed over the years, and perhaps I should be looking for something new. Specifically, I've started unicycling.

Now, they certainly don't make shoes specifically designed for unicycling, but they do make shoes designed for skateboarding or BMXing, and the requirements of the two overlap quite a bit. As a bonus, all the skateboarding shoes were on sale for 2 pair for $50!

In the end I took home a pair of Dragons. I don't know why they're called dragons, but they fit and they've got lots of padding and a nice flat sole, so that's all that matters.

Also, on the way home, I happened to run into my old boss at Wheelchair Service of Manitoba (not literally, thank goodness. His van is a lot bigger than my car). Had a nice quick chat with him.

I also got rained on a lot. I wasn't quite so fond of that part.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Fun with math

First off, let's get this video link out of the way.

Now that I've scared you all off, I'll get to the meat of this blog post, which is the oft-ignored 5-function pocket calculator.

I'm sure you're all familiar with what a 5-function calculator is. It's those really simple calculators that do addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, square root and percentage (and if you're paying attention, you'll notice that's 6 functions).

Everyone is pretty familiar with the basic functions. You press "1 + 2 =" and get 3, you press "5 x 6 =" and get 30, etc.

But what about the square root and percent keys? Or those "M+, M-, MRC" keys? Most people might never think to press those buttons, so let's take a look at what they do.

First up is perhaps the simplest key on the entire calculator: the square root key (that's the one that looks like a checkmark). It takes one number as its input, and spits out its square root. Let's try to apply that...

Let's say I want to mount a webcam in the top corner of my wall, but my computer is all the way down on the floor at the other end of the wall, we can use the pythagorean theorem to find out what length USB cable I need.

Since my wall is 12 feet wide and 8 feet tall, we punch in "12 x 12 =" and write down  "144", then type in "8 x 8 =" and write down "64", then we enter "144 + 64 =" and hit the square root key to get 14.4 and change, and resolve never to touch a calculator again because that was a royal pain in the ass to punch in.

But we can do better, if we use the calculator's built-in memory. First, we make sure that the memory is clear by examining the display for a little "M" icon that would indicate a stored value, and we begin. This time, we type in "12 x 12 M+" and the display indicates "144 M" showing us that it has remembered this value. Next we type in "8 x 8 M+", and the display shows "64 M". Next we hit the "MRC" button and magically the calulator shows us "208", which is the sum of 144 and 64. We hit the square root key and get the answer 14.4 and change again! Hooray!

But wait, we can still do better. On most 5-function calculators, the multiplication key has a hidden function: if we press the keys "12 x =" we see that the display indicates 144 without having to enter in the second 12! So now all we have to type is "12 x M+ 8 x M+ MRC" and hit the square root button and magically the result 14.4 is there plain as day!

Moving on, let's say you're out for dinner and you want to calculate what size tip to leave. The cheque comes out to $23.81 and you want to leave a 15% tip. How much money do you leave? Well just whip out your trusty calculator and press "23 . 81 + 15 %" and we can see that we should pay a total of $27.38.

Alternately, let's say you're shopping for a new TV, and you know that your friend can get you an 11% employee discount. You look at a model costing $1199 and you whip out your trusty calculator again, punching in "1199 - 11 %" and get $1067.11. But wait, what about the 13% combined sales tax? punch in "+ 13 %" and we see that the grand total is $1205.83, without the extended warranty. How much did that 11% save us? Punch in "1199 x 11 % + 13 %" and we get $149.04 (alternately, you could punch in "1199 + 13 % x 11 %" and get the same answer).

But let's not stop there, how about reciprocals? Like, what's 1/16th in decimal? As a percentage? Punch in "16 ÷ =" and you get 0.0625, punch in "16 ÷ %" and you get 6.25%. What percentage is 19/32nds? Punch in "19 ÷ 32 %" and we get 59.375%.

It's really worth spending a little time to get familiar with your calculator. You'll find that only having "5 functions" isn't very limiting at all, and you never know when knowing a few calculator tricks might come in handy.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

First day back

First day of classes got off to a rough start when I ended up in the wrong classroom; seems I had written the room number wrong on my schedule! I had to scramble to find a computer with a network connection to get the right room number (twice, as I read the room number for the wrong section the first time) and only ended up 5 minutes late and a bit tired from running around in a tizzy.

Of course, my confusion was compounded by the fact that some classmates from last year were waiting in the same classroom. I thought this was rather odd as I was waiting for Classical Mythology, and these classmates were people I knew from taking Discrete Math. It turns out they were taking Linear Algebra, which I had already taken last year (well, I took Linear I, I'll have Linear II in the winter term).

My professor was glad to see me when I eventually showed up, though, as we had met last year due to the fact that she was teaching the same course right before my calculus course.

The next moment of grief came when I was killing a bit of time surfing web in one of the computer labs and noticed the clock tick over to 11:15. For a moment I thought I'd missed the start of my next class at 11:00, but a quick check of my schedule reminded me that it wasn't until 11;30.

The rest of the day went a bit smoother. Saw a few more classmates during the day, discovered that I'm taking intermediate calc with a few of them.

I also found out that apparently the lab portion of my Atmospheric Science course is somehow vitally important, though exactly what was to be covered in the lab wasn't really elaborated on. I suppose I'll find out soon enough. Apparently it's important enough to even have a lab exam scheduled for it.

Speaking of exams, I was informed that a few mid-term exams wouldn't be happening, all of which happened to be scheduled later on in the December exam period, which means I'll be done my fall term exams on December 6th and won't have to hit the books again until January 3rd.

As for next spring, my exams should be over and done with by April 11th.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

And I named him... Merida

Ok, so I didn't name my mini "Mini Me". I did get it delivered yesterday, and spent the afternoon setting it up (mostly copying data from my old G3 and lugging my old Octane and monitor out of the way).

I posted a few pictures of the experience on my gallery.

There's only one thing I can really say: this computer is awesome!

Only hiccup I've found so far is that the driver for my Kensington Expert Mouse doesn't let my Mini go to sleep, but that's a Kensington problem, not a Mini problem.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Gas Mileage, Vancouver to Winnipeg

Gas mileage for the return trip.

Vancouver to Cache Creek, 327km
20.556 liters for 5.52 l/100k
$23.00 ($1.119/l) for $7.03/100k

Cache Creek to Revelstoke, 296km
20.755 liters for 7.01 l/100k
$23.02 ($1.109/l) for $7.77/100k

Revelstoke to Calgary, 428km
30.023 liters for 7.01 l/100k
$31.04 ($1.034/l) for $7.25/100k

Calgary to Brooks, 186km
15.002 liters for 8.06 l/100k
$15.53 ($1.035/l) for $8.34/100k

Brooks to Swift Current, 325km
23.170 liters for 7.13 l/100k
$25.00 ($1.079/l) for $7.69/100k

Swift Current to Regina, 251km
18.221 liters for 7.25 l/100k
$20.02 ($1.099/l) for $7.97/100k

Regina to Moosomin, 223km
18.204 liters for 8.16 l/100k
$20.01 ($1.099/l) for $8.97/100k

Moosomin to Winnipeg, 370km
22.458 liters for 6.07 l/100k
$23.00 ($1.024/l) for $6.21/100k

Overall, 2406km
168.389 liters for 7.00 l/100k
$180.62 ($1.073/l) for $7.50/100k

That's 33.6 miles per gallon. Again, best mileage in the mountains, go fig.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Classes sorted

I went in to the U today and managed to get all my classes sorted. I got permission to register in Classical Mythology, talked to one of the Geography profs about what all might be in the Atmospheric Science labs (pretty much just 'homework helper' time), and tried and failed to register for the History of Calculus course, as the waiting list for that one is larger than the entire class size. I'm not really too torn up about that.

I also took down a list of all the books I'll need so I can order at least some of them from Amazon. One of them I'll have to pick up in person, though, as Amazon is claiming that it takes them "1-3 months" to deliver it, at which point the class will be half over. There's another one that I couldn't find an exact match of on Amazon, but I'm going to double check at the university bookstore to see if it's just a different edition or something.

I'll happily be able to re-use 2 out of the 3 textbooks I got last year, which is a good thing considering how much they cost these days.

Home, sw-... well, home at least

I'm home, safe and sound. I left Vancouver at 8:30 am local time on Saturday morning, and rolled in to Winnipeg around 2:00 am local time on Sunday night / Monday Morning, with a stop in Calgary in between.

As I expected, Father hadn't cleaned anything in the entire house while I was gone, so everything was completely filthy when I returned... well, filthier than normal at least. I'll perhaps never understand how someone can so completely and utterly fail at the most basic household tasks.

The drive itself went fine, though rather wet for the most part. Drove past some accidents, almost hit a deer, got slowed up by construction in a lot of places, etc etc. The usual drive.

Friday, August 24, 2007

I shall call him... Mini Me

So I went and did it. I can't live another year using my slow-ass G3, so I just ordered up a shiny new Mini (2GHz Core 2 Duo, 2GB Ram) to take its place as well as a new trackball because apparently Macs these days don't come with ADB ports.

Interestingly, this is only the second computer I've ever bought myself new; the first being when I put together my Wintendo back in 2001. I've certainly owned quite a few computers over the years, but when they were bought new they were either family computers or a gift, and when I bought them they were generally used.

So, if all goes well my new baby should come sometime around the first week in September, with free shipping no less!

I should also note that this continues my uninterrupted streak of owning SMP machines going all the way back to my 9600/200mp.

I'm very thankful for my employee discount today.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Ain't no party like a Delgatty party

Did the whole party thing this afternoon with Heather and Adrian, Scott and Elinor, Janet and Jeff, Margret, Gail and the miscellaneous anklebiters and house cats.

Adrian was just coming off a bout of food poisoning, so he wasn't all there, but he did join the party after a bit and I was glad I got to meet him.

Janet, Jeff and Ben are doing well, though Janet is still bitter that she has the most education and makes the least amount of money (though I suppose technically Andrea has stolen that title from her).

Owen is growing by leaps and bounds, and seems to be getting the hang of the whole speaking thing.

All in all it was a fabulous party and a fabulous day.

Spreading the Disease

So this evening I had a little time to kill, so I decided to hop on my unicycle and practice the fine art of stopping and reversing (still don't quite have it down, but I'm getting there).

Part way through my riding a family rolled into the parking lot and was quite impressed at my riding abilities. I did a little bit of showing off for them (nothing too fancy, just riding around) and they were all suitably entertained.

The father in particular showed a great deal of interest, and after chatting for a little bit I managed to convince him to give it a spin. He quite nearly fell flat on his ass, of course, so it's a good thing he was hanging onto the railing.

It seemed to break the ice a bit with the neighbours, and before the night was out about half of them had given it a try, and much fun was had by all.

All in all, I'm really glad I decided to take up unicycling. Regular cycling is fun and certainly a lot more practical, but it's hard to argue with the way unicycling can bring people together.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Life, with a soundtrack

So today was my first day of iPodding it. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the headphones don't really block out much sound, so I was still able to get some warning of the cars about to hit me so I could jump out of the way.

I also found that the headphones were not at all uncomfortable to wear, which is a welcome change from most headphones that seem hell-bent on mutilating my ears in every imaginable way. I also found the headphones quite useful for playing with my DS on the train, as the trains are anything but quiet.

I think this will be a good iPod for me. For general listening, I only really need one button: "play something". The shuffle admittedly has one or two other buttons, but I can forgive it.

The only downside is that it won't be very useful for listening to podcasts, and will be utterly useless for watching video podcasts. I suppose I'll just have to save up for a video iPod next year.

Randomly, it just occurred to me that I got all this nice software in my goodie bag, but my G3 is too old and slow to run any of it. Damnit!

Monday, August 13, 2007

Totally Non-Causal

So it must be RANDOM! And that would just about describe my day today.

It started off simply enough with my thanks-for-being-an-intern goodie bag from Apple arriving. Well, I shouldn't really say that; it started with Andy's intern goodie bag arriving, then an hour or two later mine arrived. Go figure.

My List'o'loot includes: an Apple pen, an Apple water bottle, an Apple note pad, an Apple t-shirt (size small, durr), a copy of Final Cut Studio 2 (all 9 DVDs worth), a copy of iWork (I damn well better get a copy), and last but not least...

A lovely silver iPod Shuffle (1GB)! Awesome!

A little later in the day the randomness continued with a surprise (to me, at least) conference with none other than Tim Bray, who came by to give a talk about how wonderful and marvelous Atom is. (more specifically, the Atom Publishing Protocol)

He gave a lovely talk, and I was able to ask him some very interesting questions. All in all he seemed like quite a nice person.

So all in all, it was a very random day indeed.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Cloudy Sunday

So this morning around 11 I decided to take a little walk down to the store.

My first stop was at Staples. I wanted to see if they might have a cheap trackball there I could use on my laptop. I do love my laptop's clitmouse, but it's not the best input device for long-term use.

As it turns out, they did indeed have a trackball. A single model of trackball. For $80. Not quite what I'm looking for.

It just so happens that across the highway from Staples is an Office Depot, so I decided I might as well pay them a visit too. They also had a single (different) model of trackball, also for $80.

There weren't any other electronics-type stores around, so I stopped of at Canadian Tire and picked up a box of toggle bolts to fix the stair railing here, then went on to Superstore to get some milk, juice, and a sandwich for lunch.

I won't bore you with the details of lunch, save to say that it was a perfectly edible corned beef sandwich.

Once that was over and done with, I made reasonably short work of installing the toggle bolt for the stair railing, then soon after got to work installing Gail's new light fixture and dimmer switch in the dining room. It all went pretty smoothly and I managed to not electrocute myself even once!

I stuck some pictures of the work in my vacation dump gallery (skip to the last page), though if you're reading this a few months from now they've probably been moved to somewhere more sorted.

Thursday, August 9, 2007


I just thought I would link to an article about Numbers, which is part of iWork '08. It really impressed me as a somewhat frustrated spreadsheet user. The minute I started using it, the first thought that popped into my mind was "why haven't spreadsheets always worked this way?".

Macworld's review of Numbers.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

That's it, I'm going to clown college!

I got a chance to show off my unicycling yesterday at Kyle's birthday party. (Scott/Elinor's older kid)

Went rather well; didn't break any bones in front of all the little runts.

I really need a new unicycle though. At one point I wasn't really paying attention and got on it backwards, and I could immediately tell because I could feel that the pedals were bent differently from usual.

Earlier over the weekend I managed to get some more practice in, and I'm proud to say I can now free-mount the unicycle with either my left or right foot. Hmm, would that be pedidextrous?

(And a link for good measure: clicky)

Party Time!

The work I've been doing here at Apple this summer has been in relation to iWork '08. Some other folks in the office have been hard at work on iLife '08. Both are pretty awesome, check 'em out!

While you're at it, take a peek at the new iMacs. I sure wish I had one!

(If you hit the links and still see the old products, just hit refresh a few times for the shiny new ones to pop up)

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

It's a Sign

Last login: Tue Jul 31 13:33:37 on ttys000
I'm just so elleeeet.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Freakishly Large Birds

So this morning I wake up and take a look outside, and there I see my car, sitting there as normal... with a giant white spot on the hood.

I look again and there's no doubt about it. There's a round white spot about the size of a pancake, just on the near side of the hood. I start wondering what kind of giant, mutant bird could drop such a load on my car as I venture out to find...

Well, turns out that it's just a slightly warmer patch on the hood where the dew didn't collect overnight, and so when I looked at it from my window, it reflected the white clouds in the sky, while the rest of the car was matted by the dew and just looked green.

Curse you, physics!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Back in the saddle again

The weather was quite nice this evening so I managed to get some more unicycling in. Turning seems to be coming along well, though it's still a little rough.

As I mentioned in my previous post, I think this unicycle's days are definitely numbered.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Wheelin' It

I'm considering buying a new unicycle. The one I've got now, while basically functional, is leaving a bit to be desired.

First off is the seat. It's basically a piece of stamped steel, covered with a thin (and I do mean thin) layer of padding. This is the cause of some rather uncomfortable bruising on my thighs. Seat technology has come a long way in the past 15-20 years.

Second is the tire. it's not a horrible tire, but it's only rated for 45psi and I prefer running at much higher pressures, like 80-120psi. It's already showing signs of not liking being that overinflated.

Third is the pedals, which aside from being kind of cheap are also somewhat bent, no doubt a result of me falling off all the time.

Fourth is the frame, which is a flawed design that tends to develop stress fractures near the fork ends.

There's not many parts left on a unicycle aside from those, but I should say that the cranks, rim, hub and spokes are doing just peachy!

So, as you can see, it wouldn't be worth while to try to fix all these issues, so I might as well just get a new one.

At the same time, I'll probably also move to a 24 inch wheel rather than the 20 I have right now. A larger wheel is a bit easier rolling, goes further for each pedal rotation, and only sacrifices a bit of weight and maneuverability.

Of course, all this depends on actually having some money to spend at some point.

Yeah, that's vancouver

Been raining all week, haven't had much chance to practice my unicycling or do much else interesting. Just been working, trying to keep dry, etc.

Monday, July 16, 2007


So I rode my unicycle to the train this morning. Worked out fairly well, though I ended up pretty sweaty by the time I got to work.

It didn't end up going much faster, since I had to get off and walk half the time to keep myself from sweating buckets. I think I'll stick to walking until I get my unicycling skill built up a bit more to the point where it's not such an effort to ride it.

I sure wish I could take my bike on the train, it'd be so much easier.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Fun with Youtube

So out of curiosity, I decided to poke around Youtube to see what other people are doing with their unicycles. I quickly discovered they're doing quite amazing things.

I followed a few links around, and eventually came upon some people doing crazy things on bmx bikes as well.

Then I found a video that was a bit of a change of pace.

Yeah, times have changed. What ever happened to those 5-spoke plastic wheels?

Thursday, July 12, 2007

The one-wheeled wonder

So I'm progressing well with my unicycling. This evening I practiced for about an hour, and finally mastered the technique of getting on the unicycle without having to hold onto anything (including the unicycle).

My skill at basic riding is also progressing well, but I'm not very good at directional control yet. I still have to figure out how that works, and then practice it up.

Once that's figured out, I should be ready to ride all the way to the train station every morning, and all the way back every night!

And me without my marshmallows

I passed a rather large fire on the way home from work today. A condo complex was ablaze on the corner of Brunette and Casey, just a few blocks from where I'm staying.

The police had the whole street closed off, there were a couple of busses parked to give the residents somewhere to sit, and there was a whole fleet of fire trucks who were fighting the blaze since mid afternoon well into this evening.

They had also shut off the power to that block, but luckily we're on a different circuit here.

Other than that, the walk home was quite nice and uneventful today. A bank of clouds rolled in just in time to scrub off the heat of the day, so it was quite pleasant out by the time I left work. This is a welcome change from the sweat-a-thons earlier this week.

Oh the sweet airyness

So today at work the fellow who works across from me, Boris, finally got sick of his Aeron chair being a bit too floppy in the reclining function. So, he scrounged around the office and found a broken Humanscale chair and, with a bit of blunt persuasion, managed to coax it back into working order.

Not being one to let a perfectly good chair go to waste, I was quick to trade out my faux-leather board room style chair for the Aeron. After a little tweaing, I managed to get it nice and comfy, and just locked the reclining function as I usually do with my chairs.

So now I have a fancy Aeron chair to keep my butt from getting sweaty as I slave away in the data mines, digging for code.

I feel so dot-com.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Congratulations, Tyler and Angela

Just got an email this morning from Tyler:
We're so incredibly happy to announce the birth of our beautiful Baby Girl, Erica Christine Gunn at 12:44pm on Sunday. She weighed in at 6lb, 5 1/2 oz.

Monday, July 9, 2007


Bob asked me to expand on a few recent blog postings, so here goes.

I'd like to buy a new mac to replace my aging G3 as my primary desktop system. Originally, when I was going to California, I had planned to get a 24" iMac, which would also supply me with a new monitor at the same time.

Sadly California didn't happen, and I'm ending up with a bit less spending cash. The current likely scenario is that I'll not buy anything, but there's at least a possibility that I might get a Mac Mini to tide me over.

Getting a new mac would also allow me to shuffle my G3 over to replace the role of my very nice but very loud and very hot SGI Octane. If I were to get a Mini this year, then next year I could get a shiny new iMac and the Mini could replace my G3 as the replacement for my Octane, so then all of my desktop systems would be reasonably modern, quiet, cool, etc.

As for never flying in the US, it comes down to two things:

1) SFO is a miserable maze of twisty passages, all different.
2) TSA stole my toothpaste.

These two things, along with various other minor annoyances, made the hours I spent waiting around in the airport an utterly miserable and insulting experience. I don't have time to waste away my life doing miserable things, and so from this day forward I'll be doing everything in my power to avoid taking a commercial flight into or out of the US.

Last but not least, the broadband. I thought I had covered this in my previous post, but yes we did get shaw installed here in the house. We set it up with wireless because it wasn't possible to run the cables through the wall to get from where the cable was to where the computer is. Plus it makes it much easier for me to type my blog while sitting in bed. :)

If there's anything else you all would like me to expand on, feel free to leave a comment or drop me an email.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Freshly ground

So today I went out with Jean-Louis and his wife Susan (or maybe Suzanne, it was hard to tell) to climb Grouse Mountain on the Grouse Grind trail.

I made it to the top in 1:30, which isn't too bad considering it's my first time up. My cycling got me mostly in shape for the climb, but my calves and shins ended up suffering a bit, as they're not used as much on a bike as they are when climbing the side of a mountain.

I really enjoyed the climb, and I think I'd do it again sometime. I took lots of pictures, which you can currently find toward the end of my vacation dump album.

Saturday, July 7, 2007


I finally got around to taking some pictures this week. I've put them in a catch-all album for the moment, which you can view here.

More fun with friends

So today I met a friend of mine from Vancouver, Jean-louis, and we had some tasty sushi and bubble tea together, along with his SO.

We might go out hiking tomorrow as well, depending on how things go. I suppose eventually I have to get out and see the sights here.

Work, Work, Work

Work is going well. I'm settling into a bit of a groove and making some fairly meaningful contributions to my project.

I'm still considering if I should bring home a Mac Mini with my discount. It's really tempting, but I've got a lot of other stuff I need to pay for first.

My god, it's full of tubes!

So I'm finally hooked up with a real broadband connection here. Got Shaw high-speed wired up to a WRT54GL loaded with DD-WRT, all locked down nice and secure.

It did give me a bit of grief during the setup until, of all things, I set the clock on the base station. Seems my wifi card doesn't like connecting with WPA if the clocks don't match, which is utterly gay.

Also, I just noticed one of the neighbours is staring at me through the window, from her balcony across the street. Sadly she's not hot. Oh well.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Friends with Benefits

But not that kind of 'benefits'. No, in this case the benefits of friends is free sushi!

On Friday evening, Candy and Ryan (crazy cat lady and programmer, respectively) came up from Gilroy to pick me up in Cupertino, then head over to Valley Fair to pick up Sue.

Ryan circled in the car while Candy and I waited around outside Tarjet for Sue to show up. Then, right in the middle of me doing my tanuki impersonation (don't ask), some smelly mall vagrant approached Candy, and turned out to be a smelly mall vagrant that she actually knew (and wished she didn't. I found myself feeling the same way very shortly thereafter).

He proceded to make an ass out of himself until we noticed Sue trying to sneak past without being seen by the smelly mall vagrant. Sadly (for Sue at least) we managed to flag her down and eventually escaped from the presence of the smelly mall vagrant and in the process managed to rescue another friend of ours, who I think is named Hovard.

Hovard is from Norway, and we had no idea we would be running into him at a random mall somewhere in the bowels of Cupertino, but I'm quite glad we did because he's a really cool person.

The five of us, minus the smelly mall vagrant, all piled back into the car and headed down to Gilroy for some sushi at Ichiban. I was promised naked sushi boat girls, but it turns out that all I got was the Eat Train. I suppose I shouldn't be too disappointed, it was still very good sushi, and Candy and Ryan paid for it.

I ordered the Lava Roll which was very spicy and very tasty, and I also plucked a few dishes from the Eat Train when it steamed past. We all shared our sushi, and I enjoyed a few other varieties, including some very tasty avocado-tainted abominations.

Finally we went over to Ryand and Candy's crazy cat lady house and I enjoyed huffing the allergens for a while. There was much chatting and laughing to be had between us all, and additionally Thomas, though he was fairly quiet for the most part.

That was pretty much it for Friday evening. On Saturday I was hoping to meet up with at least some subset of Candy, Sue and Ryan as well as some other people I hadn't got to see yet, but in the end I had trouble getting anything organized so I just ended up having lunch with Aaron and met a few of the folk he rooms with.

I think I'm really going to enjoy meeting with all my bay area friends next year, and I really hope the Visa doesn't get messed up again or I'll be right pissed.

Also, unrelatedly, I vow from this day forward to never, ever set foot in an American airport again.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Drinking the Kool-Aid

Life is good here in Cupertino. The weather is great, though maybe a bit warmer than it needs to be.

I got to meet a bunch of my friends at Apple, as well as the recruiters who have been helping me and a bunch more folk here and there. I didn't get to meet everyone I wanted to, but given all the other events going on today that's not really surprising.

I also got to experience Steve Jobs's Reality Distortion Field up-close and personal. I have to say that he really comes across as a very genuine guy who wants to, and has the resources to, bring great things to life.

All in all I'm really looking forward to coming down here for a full work term next summer. I hope.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Wasting time at the airport

Whisked through customs by 4:15 for a 5:55 flight that's been delayed until 6:12 so far.

I should find somewhere to plug my laptop in, my battery won't last that long.

Cupertino here I come!

Monday, June 25, 2007

Free sushi!

First day went well. Commute is about an hour, give or take. Half an hour of walking, half an hour of train.

I got free sushi for lunch, so that's always good. Co-workers are very friendly and whatnot. Further details about work are of course super-duper-top-secret, like pretty much everything else at Apple. I'm sure someone has been fired for leaking what kind of pizza Steve Jobs orders for the board meetings.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Gas Mileage and Prices

My highway gas mileage for the trip out.

Winnipeg to Brandon, 234km
18.365 liters for 7.85 l/100k
$20.00 ($1.089/l) for $8.54/100k

Brandon to Regina, 360km
25.552 liters for 7.09 l/100k
$28.08 ($1.099/l) for $7.80/100k

Regina to Swift Current, 250km
20.298 liters for 8.11 l/100k
$22.31 ($1.099/l) for $8.92/100k

Swift Current to Medicine Hat, 223km
20.000 liters for 8.96 l/100k
$20.68 ($1.034/l) for $9.27/100k

Medicine Hat to Calgary, 321km
29.165 liters for 9.08 l/100k
$30.01 ($1.029/l) for $9.35/100k

Calgary to Golden, 280km
17.516 liters for 6.25 l/100k
$21.00 ($1.19/l) for $7.50/100k

Golden to Kamloops, 360km
25.163 liters for 6.98 l/100k
$27.78 ($1.104) for $7.71/100k

Kamloops to Hope, 280km
17.403 liters for 6.21 l/100k
$18.43 ($1.059/l) for $6.58/100k

Hope to Vancouver, dunno yet, haven't filled up.

Total (minus Hope to Vancouver), 2308km
173.462 liters for 7.51 l/100k
$188.29 ($1.085/l) for $8.15/100k

(For my american friends, that's roughly 31.32 miles per gallon)

I find it somewhat amusing that I got much better gas mileage in the mountains than I did on the prairies. Of course, even the lowest mileage I got was pretty good.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Moochin' Wifi

So I'm in Vancouver now, mooching wifi off the neighbours. It's quite slow, but I'll take what I can get.

I'll bore you all with trip stories tomorrow. For the moment I'm far too tired.

Shower and sleep, that's all I care about right now.


Spent a nice night in Calgary with Martin Zimmerman, next stop is Vancouver.

Hit a gopher just outside Moosimin. Not the brightest animals in the world, I must say.

Friday, June 22, 2007

In and out of Brandon

Well, I just spent a lovely night in Brandon with Doug and Judy having a delicious dinner of pot roast and fixing computer problems.

Next stop is Calgary, I hope. Car is running great, highways are smooth sailing, weather is cooperating. I'm sure at least something will go wrong though.

I don't know where I'm staying yet in Calgary, but I'll probably find out around lunchtime if I can drop in at a friend's place there.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

On the road

Loading up, rolling out to Brandon. Not much to say about it.

Here's a tip, though. If you don't want bugs to stick to your car, spray the front with some cheap non-stick cooking spray.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Vancouver here I come!

I got my new job offer today from Apple in Vancouver. Yay!

I can't hit the road just yet, though, as I still need to find a place to stay.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Getting close

It looks like the offer should be in the mail soon for Apple Vancouver! Now I just have to figure out a housing arrangement and everything should be ready.

Apple's Vancouver office is located here.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Moving in the right direction

So, I might get an offer from Apple in Vancouver as early as Friday, to possibly start as early as the middle of next week.

I'm not holding my breath just yet, but it's certainly a step in the right direction.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Less with the falling off

So I practiced my unicycle a bit more today, even though it was way too hot for it (it's about 30c right now). I didn't injure myself even once this time, and I managed to make it a good 20 or so feet at a time.

Still need a few more weeks of practice before I can ride it for transportation, though.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Odds and Ends

Picked up new wipers for the jellybean today (it turns out Canadian Tire does stock the 13 inch ones, they just don't list them on the website), as well as some of those convex "blind spot" mirrors.

You see, my car is apparently designed for stumpy little Korean people. This means that when I have the seat adjusted properly, about 1/3 of the side mirrors just reflects the sides of my car. I stuck the blind spot mirrors there, since I don't think I've ever ran into the side of my own car.

Of course, 1/3 of the blind spot mirrors now reflect the side of my car, but that's ok. The other side reflects the blind spot just fine. I think in hindsight I should have got the adjustable ones, maybe some day I'll upgrade them. (They're pretty easy to remove; just need to slice through the foam tape with some dental floss, then pull the adhesive stuff off)

I was also inspired to add a few things to my xmas list, namely one of those heavy-bottom trash cans for my car, as well as a bicycle pump with a built-in pressure gauge (for my bike/unicycle, not for my car). I'm also tempted to get a new tire and tube for my unicycle, as new tires are rated up to 65psi rather than the 45 that my current one is rated (and I fill it to 75), and the tube tends to leak slightly.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

The good kind of hurt

So recently I dusted off my unicycle and decided to learn how to ride it once and for all. I've had it since I was a kid, but due to a variety of reasons I never really learned to ride it.

I spent a few days getting a feel for the balance, just holding onto something and keeping my balance. Then yesterday, I started moving.

Now when you start out on a unicycle, you generally get your self up on it, balance yourself, lean forward, pedal a half turn, and fall off. I did plenty of that. Luckily when you fall off a unicycle, you almost always land on your feet.

I progressed quite well yesterday, managing to fairly reliably get myself all the way from one side of the patio to the other before falling off.

Now as I said, you almost always land on your feet when you fall off a unicycle. The reason for this is that you're already in a standing position, so when you fall off, the unicycle just squirts out from under you and you're left basically just standing there. Most of the time.

It's the rest of the times that are a bit more painful, and I had my share of those, resulting in my share of injuries. They're all minor though, a few cuts, scrapes, bruises, twisted ankle, etc.

Now it may sound weird, but it actually feels kinda good to hurt. It's been a long time since I've done something that's made me ache the next day. When I'm doing my weights or bicycling it's easy to get to a plateau where I no longer feel the suffering burn the next day, and as a result tend to progress a lot slower. It can be difficult to find a new challenge that puts the pain back in your life.

I think I've found that challenge again.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Go West!

So things are looking up for working this summer. I just got off the phone with Apple in Vancouver (they do the iWork apps there), and they seemed fairly positive. It'll just be a matter of them finding room in their budget to hire me.

Here's hoping!

Monday, June 4, 2007

Retail Therapy

Now I'm not exactly a shopaholic, but it does feel good to scratch a few things off my need-to-buy list.

The first stop was Superstore, where I bought the usual load of groceries, along with a roll of that non-slip drawer liner stuff. I cut it into two pieces (24x20 inches) and laid them out in the trunk of the jellybean so that I wouldn't have to worry about stuff sliding around back there anymore.

The next stop (after dropping off the groceries at home) was Rona to pick up a new pair of safety glasses to wear cycling. I managed to find a rather fancy pair with gel pads and a nifty red frame, which made me happy.

After that it was a quick jaunt over to Zellers. The first item I picked up there was a new blanket for my bed, as my old blanket was starting to get a little frayed around the edges and generally threadbare. The new one is *really* nice; it's a dark blue plush microfiber blanket and it's really soft and warm. It's also about 2 feet longer than my old blanket, which is a bonus as the old one was a bit on the short side.

Next I got distracted in the cleaning supplies aisle, and managed to find, after years of searching, a bottle of Jet Dry Dishwasher Cleaner! Finally! And you'll be happy to know that I ran it through the dishwasher and it cleaned away all the dingy rust staining in the tub, leaving it sparkling and white just like new!

Finally I made it over to the menswear department and picked up some new loafing-shorts to wear around the house, as my old ones were, once again, getting a bit tattered and threadbare.

Subtracting my usual food purchases, I managed to get everything for well under $100 too.

I did forget to pick up new wipers for the jellybean, though, and I was right beside Canadian Tire! Oh well, next time...

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Cycling fun

So Tyler finally managed to get his bike this week, which means we finally managed to get out cycling today. Hurray!

We considered cycling from Lockport to Selkirk and back along Henderson, but it's quite a ways to get to Lockport from Tyler's house, so instead we decided to go from St Germain to St Adolphe and back along St Mary's road.

We made pretty good time, though I had to slow up from my usual pace so as not to leave Tyler in the dust. Wouldn't be very polite to go zipping off into the distance, after all. We had a nice tailwind on the way down, but that meant a nice headwind on the way back.

The weather was great, about 25 and lots of little fluffy clouds peppering the sky providing just the right amount of shade without making things dark and gloomy.

The bike rack worked great for getting my bike down to his place, then both bikes over to St Germain.

All in all it was a great day.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Another no-go

Looks like Micropilot is out, they don't have any more summer positions available.

Dunno what I'm going to try next.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007


Apparently I'm sprouting hair again. Go fig. I hope it stays around longer this time.

Monday, May 21, 2007

That's the end of that

Got final confirmation from Apple today that the Visa is a bust, so I'm officially stuck here for the summer.

Oh well.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Magic Hands

So the other day I was reading the release notes for the latest linux kernel, and I noticed some mention of improvements in the piix IDE driver.

Now, for the longest time my laptop has been having these odd hiccups with the harddrive where it would seem to timeout and reset when reading arbitrary sectors, which was causing a huge performance hit. I was worried that I would have to get a new harddrive, a cost I could do without at the moment.

But then when I was reading the description of the driver improvements, it mentioned that earlier versions were having trouble with random bus timeouts, the exact same problem I was having!

So finally today I decided to give it a whirl, and compiled up a brand new kernel. I resisted the temptation to roast some marshmallows over the CPU for the 45 minutes or so that it was churning away, and then finally installed it and rebooted.


No more HD hiccups! Yay! My laptop is useful again!

Edit: actually, it seems the HD is still being stupid, but mostly before the kernel boots which is an interesting change, and pretty much rules out software bugs. Oh well, one of these days I'll just get a new one.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Another brick wall

CDS is a bust, they require me to have completed my second year of university, which I haven't.

Now I'm going to see if SWAP will let me in. Wheeeeee.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Thus it begins again

So today I got instructions for going through the J-1 process with CDS. I need to fill out an online form (done), then fill out an online application, get a "co-op advisor" at my university to fill out an interview form and sign an unofficial transcript, blah blah blah.

It'll apparently take a minimum of 10 days for everything to get sorted out, assuming everything does get sorted out. That means the earliest I'll be in California is the 27th.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Windshield Washers

So this afternoon I decided to take a look to see if I could get the windshield washer jets on the jellybean to spray a bit more evenly. Currently the passenger side ones spray a bit low/weak, and the driver side ones spray a bit off kilter.

I pulled off the nozzles, blew some air through them to clean them out, fiddled around a bit, but no dice. The one on the driver side is a bit loose so it sits at a slight angle, and I couldn't figure out why the one on the passenger side wasn't spraying as much.

I think at some point I'll just buy a new pair of nozzles. They're really easy to install and remove, and the current ones are getting a bit dry and cracked after 10 years of baking in the sun.

Bit of a setback

So today I got word that my work visa application was declined through AIPT, which puts a bit of a dent in my summer plans for going down to work at Apple.

Apple is still working on getting me down there. They're going to be contacting a different work visa organization (CDS) to see if they can get me through that way.

I've also contacted a local company to see if I can get a Plan B lined up. It won't be the end of the world if none of these options pans out, I'll just sell off some of my stocks to keep me fed until next year.

Needless to say, though, I'm thoroughly annoyed.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

One day your uppance will come!

And that day just happens to be today.

So I was driving home from Superstore down Gateway, and there was some dork in an old toyota tailgating me all the way down. I thought "well, maybe he won't turn down Chalmers", but lo and behold he tailgated me all the way down to Watt.

So I pull up to the red light on Watt with this dork glued to my bumper, and I see behind me that he's pulling over into the cut-out to make a right turn. Ah, finally, I'm rid of him.

But it seems it wasn't his plan to actually turn right. No, instead he pretended to turn right onto Watt, pretended to make a u-turn, and pretended to make another right onto Levis. In reality, what he did was just blow right through the intersection.

I was absolutely disgusted, how some people can think that laws just don't apply to them if they make enough excuses and bend the rules way beyond what any sane person would do.

Then I noticed the next car coming through the intersection, a lovely dark brown Crown Vic, making a right turn onto Levis. In particular, an unmarked police car Crown Vic, turning onto Levis to pull over the dork who just blew through the intersection.

Yup, he got his just desserts. That made me happy. The only sad thing is that I know that it probably won't get him to change his ways.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Visa visa visa

So I finally got in touch with Rick today to get a letter of reference from him. I also got a letter from Sean which was delivered to Apple and forwarded to AIPT this afternoon. Things are looking up on this front.

With any luck, this will be the last detail needed to get my visa completed, and I'm really hoping I'll have it in my hands by Wednesday (fat chance) so I'll be able to make it to California by Mother's Day.

Brothers and Sisters aren't relatives

Today I finally got the title and insurance transferred on the jellybean. It turns out that brothers and sisters aren't related according to MPI, so the transfer had to be made as a complete sale.

That means I had to pay taxes ($160 or so) and I had to get a safety. The latter turned into a bit of a headache.

So this morning around 10:00 I roll on over to AutoCheck to get my safety done. I figure since my car was just in for a full service it should be pretty much just a rubber stamp and out the door. Unfortunately there were two deficiencies, a burnt out marker light, and the front brake rotors were a hair too thin. Ugh.

I went back over to Focus and grouched at them about not telling me anything about the rotors when it was in before. I considered replacing the rotors myself, but it turns out that on my particular model the rotors are press-fit onto the hub so it's a 3 hour job to replace them, with plenty of fancy tools that I probably don't have.

I just let them at it, and it was done by around 4:00. The shuttle driver returned me, with my sister in tow, and we picked up the car at Focus, went back over to AutoCheck to get the safety completed, then back over to Coughlin Insurance to get the title and insurance transferred.

I managed to get things done and home by around 6:00pm, about an hour later than I was hoping, and sat down to a lovely dinner of grilled burgers and oven fries a bit light in the wallet.

I'm at least reasonably happy that I was able to get everything done in one day. Plus I managed to get a reasonably memorable plate number! Yay!

One step closer to hitting the road.

Friday, May 4, 2007

Last day over and done

So the last day at Wheelchair Service of Manitoba is over and done now. All the other drivers wished me well, and I wished the same for them. I only heard a few sniffles over the radio.

I'm gonna miss them, but I have to move on to bigger and better things.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Visa troubles

Getting this J-1 work visa is turning into a complete headache. They keep whining that I don't have enough letters of recommendation, and I keep telling them that the companies I worked for no longer exist.

At the moment I have no idea if or when I'll get this visa so I can finally hit the road.

In addition to this annoyance, I'm also feeling a bit blue that tomorrow will be my last day with Wheelchair Service of Manitoba. They're really a great bunch of guys, and I'll miss working with them. Of course, I'll miss it a lot less when it's back to -40 outside.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Dodge Ram 2500 Diesel

So today I had the opportunity to drive a Dodge Ram 2500 Diesel, through both some highway and city driving.

It was quite loud, which is par for the course for a large diesel. I found it was difficult to judge the speed I was travelling since the seating position is so high off the ground, and the revs ranged from 1500 rpm at 30kph to 1505 rpm at 120kph.

It was certainly interesting to be able to see over minivans, though it was a bit of a pain to have to get out a screwdriver and pick a smartcar from between the tire treads once I got home.

All in all I have to say I was reasonably impressed. Once you get used to it, it's pretty much like driving any other house.

Monday, April 23, 2007

The joys of credit

So today was the day that the Jellybean was to be repaired. And it was. Only surprises were a pair of new swaybar ends and a tierod end, both of which are kind of important.

All told the cost came out to roughly $1090, expensive but well within my means. Or so I thought.

I pulled out my credit card, which I had mentally calculated had about $900 in charges so far (leaving about $1400 of credit) and charged it.


I was rather surprised at this, to say the least. I figured maybe there was a per-transaction limit, so I had the guy try $999 instead, which was also denied.

I was rather put off by this, so the fellow called up the credit card company and handed me the phone. I spoke to the friendly phone jockey who hadn't quite trained away her indian accident, and she informed me that I had over $500 of outstanding charges on my card, thus insufficient credit to make this particular payment.

She read off the pending charges for me, which included a few low dollar amounts that I was expecting, plus an unexpected charge at a "luggage store" for $399.55.

Obviously I haven't bought $400 worth of luggage recently, and my first thought was that maybe someone at the university had copied down my CC number when I faxed in a request for a school verification letter. Those students have sticky fingers!

But the amount sounded familiar to me, and I quickly realized that when I had bought my driving gloves on Friday, the merchant had accidentally punched in one to many 9's, turning $39.55 into $399.55. Oops!

To skip ahead a bit, I called up the store and they were quite relieved to refund me the difference, as they had noticed the charge too, but didn't have my contact info to let me know.

Anyway, back to paying for my car repairs.

Now, the plan was for me to put the bill on my credit card to get the 1% cash back, then when the bill came in I'd transfer it over to my line of credit, then pay it off once I get a cash infusion from Apple.

Luckily I had my credit line account hooked up to my debit card, so I had him enter the amount, I punched in my PIN and... denied, again!

This time it was the daily withdrawal limit to blame, as the amount was over $1000 or whatever the limit is. In the end, I ended up putting $800 directly on the line of credit, and then the remainder on my MC.

What a pain. As a result, I didn't end up changing the insurance over, since I was having more than enough trouble spending money as it is.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Stuff, stuff and more stuff

I picked up some more odds and ends for my trip, today. I got a 6-inch kitchen knife so that I can slice food while I'm on the road; I find slicing to be a bit more civilized than just gnawing hunks off.

I also got a pair of leather driving gloves at The Leather Master (which is much less kinky than it sounds) on Ness ave. They should certainly help me avoid clumsily chipping my nails all the time.

And, to top it all off, I picked up my bike rack. It's a 3-bike receiver mounted rack similar to this older model here.

So, to make a long story short, I'm spending all my money before I make it. At least I won't have to spend so much next year.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Purolator Sucks

So I sent off my room deposit on Sunday, and was guaranteed a delivery date of Tuesday. Turns out the package didn't even leave Winnipeg until Tuesday night, and still isn't delivered as I write.

At least I'll be getting a refund on the shipping charges. Next time I'll just walk across the street and send it UPS.

My landlady has been very understanding, thankfully.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Buying more stuff

So today I went out and bought some more stuff for my trip. I got some tie-down straps to keep the bike rack from wobbling (at some point I'll have to buy the actual bike rack too), some new NiMH batteries for my camera, and a travel alarm clock with a built in calendar and temperature sensor.

I must resist the temptation to buy too much stuff, like cube goodies.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007


Today, father and I (mostly father) fabricated a trailer hitch and stuck it onto my Elantra, so as to mount a bike rack. It went well.

Also, memo to Hyundai: The all-in-one flashlight and tool kit thing is a good idea. Filling the flashlight with alkaline batteries is a bad idea.

Very alarming

I've been looking around for a travel alarm clock lately, but I don't think this one would be a good choice to take on a trip.

Monday, April 16, 2007

An explosion of exploding

Mother just called asking if I have a wet-dry vac. It's not a usual request for her, but I grabbed the shop vac and headed over anyway.

When I got there, I discovered that her hot water tank was in the process of exploding, flooding the basement in the process! Yikes!

I got her set up with the shop vac, turned off the gas to the tank (she had already got the water shut off), and helped move a filing cabinet off the damp carpet.

Quite an exciting start to the week, I should say.

Sunday, April 15, 2007