2008-03-29

Irregularly Scheduled Update

Hurrah, the school semester is almost over. This will be my last semester on campus. I actually need one more German course that I hope I will be able to take via distance ed. from the University of Waterloo, and then have my degree conferred unto me in October.

Responsibilities left to me include a 5 page paper for Trends In Distributed Information Systems and a paper assignment in Databases. I have had a very slow start to to-day, so I will have to surrender part of my night to this.

I keep having things to write about and feeling I haven't the time. I used to make the time, as this was a desirable method of procrastination. I have more preferred methods of procrastination. Oh well.

Tech Tidbits

An update on Belladonna: she refuses to boot up again. Now that I know that a problem still exists in the current configuration, I can try replacing the hard drive and seeing if that will repair the issue.

Tourniquet II, my old desktop, has been resurrected at my father's home, and I set it up, connected it to the Internet, set up a dynamic DNS hostname for it and an SSH server, ensured it would connect to the Internet on boot without having to log in (silly Network Manager), and enabled firewalling, filtering all except port 22. Then, I decided I didn't like runlevel 5 and changed it to runlevel 3. Sure, X doesn't come up anymore, but I forgot that the SSH server was only activated for runlevel 5. I tested that the machine still connected to the Internet (by SSHing into my school's network) but failed to SSH back :( Ah well. I'll be visiting home again next weekend before exams (likely to do my taxes). I am really interested in having a remote server that I can use. However, I can't rely on my father to troubleshoot any issues (he has never even used a computer's keyboard before) beyond pressing the power button. Sigh.

Teachers and Scripts

I am a TA for CIS*1200 at my university. It teaches first year students how to use Office applications (hopefully to good effect), and how to build cursory web pages (via a combination of Microsoft Web Expression, HTML, and JavaScript). We have spent a lot of time (3 weeks) on JavaScript and the learning process is quite painful. I wonder whether this relates to the nature of the instruction they receive, and whether it is appropriate. I didn't know much about computer programming when I took CIS*1650 in first year, but it didn't prove challenging. Two of my good friends later took it at my recommendation and they both enjoyed it, one taking the follow-up course CIS*2650 the next semester. We TAs are also under instruction on how to assist. There are some ... stylistic choices that are being enforced for managing cheating that I don't think are appropriate. The assignment that they've had to do and the non-human resources they've had to help them are ambiguous and confusing.

I have helped quite a few people gain the insight they need to complete their assignments, and while it feels rewarding, it begins to wear me down, seeing the same systemic issue again and again and not being allowed to fix it at the source. I am quite happy with how much effort a number of the students have put into it. Someone called them ``keeners'' which I think is supposed to have a negative connotation, but I don't think it applies to them (let alone that it should be negative). Interacting with them (and the rather large class in general) has helped my social skills, I think. I am much more comfortable presenting in front of large audiences now (well, drama had gotten me half-way there in high school). I think I can also help people without actually doing the work for them, or seeming too condescending. I very much like helping people, but want to do so in non-repetitive ways. I hope to never do tech support :)

A very nice effect of helping people beyond satisfaction for me is self-esteem. This isn't very nice, but when I can confer assistance onto someone else, this means I have succeed somewhere in life and am not "lagging behind". Sigh me.

Medicinal Uses

The man whom I call my best friend attends medical school. I now like to say, when giving amateur advice on medical concerns is ``I'm not a doctor, but my best friend is.'' I suppose he is not yet, but that won't stop me. I can also assert things about animalia, stating ``I'm not a zoologist, but my girlfriend is.'' Tee-hee. Authority via acquaintance. I haven't seen my medical friend in a while, and haven't communicated with him much either. I tend to drift between best friends, using the term to classify the person who best provides friendship at a given moment. Tee-hee. I may not get to see him for another 2 years given my current plans, but more on that below.

An Adventure Begins, Fatalism Be Damned

Will my father survive my absence? I wonder quite a bit. I am not very concerned. As my girlfriend points out, despite his age, he is in very good condition (note how I refrain from using ``excellent''?). Also, and not to be callous, he will die eventually, and I can't postpone life to wait for it (which I expect will take multiple decades, anyway :) Anyway, the absence that makes my mind wonder about such consequences in time is my great Westward Adventure. I have gone to B.C. before and now I go again, but it is only a stop along the road this time. A long stop, but still. I head to New Zealand in pursuit of graduate studies.

I am not sure how things will work out. Whether I will be accepted into a graduate programme. Whether I will be able to afford tuition, let alone the flight. Whether I'll be able to work in between, so that I can raise the necessary funds and whittle away my student debt. My girlfriend comes along and shares in the academic quest. In medieval fashion, our adventure begins in April and we don't expect to arrive until December, regardless of the air speed velocity of a swallow, laden or not. The first leg is on the cheap (you always pay more for the second), and we fly cross-country via Greyhound. (This journey will be the inspiration behind the preconceived G21.)

Are these plans tentative? Well, we're betting a few hundred dollars that they're not, as we purchased our tickets to-day (for BC, as we cannot afford NZ quite yet). Employment must still be found, accommodations acquired, and a new way of living prepared. I'm going sparse (on my person, Flesherton will bulge with my history of acquisitions). 5 days worth of clothes, not a full week. A violin. A 11.5" tablet. A camera, its bag wither batteries. Keys, a swiss army knife, chopsticks. Identification and a much lightened wallet. Keys? For what? Alright, one less thing. Except for the clothing and violin, all my life will be carried in a little, spiffy and new satchel at my side. Steal it and you steal me- I hope you don't mind vegetarians.

Incidentally, my sister will get to see me again while my father won't. My brother? Due to his surprise pregnancy, I hope to not have to return for his wedding (it likely being postponed). Good bye Spade. I will try to run with you a few last times before the end.

A Near Miss

It hasn't quite hit me, this ending of University. I think that, had certain opportunities been taken, had I been more diligent about a few things, I would already miss it much more. But I do not. I will miss Vlad a bit, but hope to meet up with him again past 2010. The ``elevensees'' have a somewhat analogous group here. A year behind, and easily impressed by `gdb' :) Actually, I think it all maps quite well to the end of high school (except I enjoyed high school more at the end). Guelph wins for my girlfriend's presence, though :).

Particular professors? I never made very strong bonds. My best professors were not the type I could really associate with outside of class, even in an academic capacity. High school teachers were much cooler for that. Perhaps if I had gotten more involved earlier on, I would have developed stronger attachments. Ah well, there's always grad school.

The city? I began to appreciate it more since dating my girlfriend, but it's been winter here, and it's not easy enjoying it through the bitter cold. I won't have much winter for the next two years at least, so I suppose I should do what I can to maximise my experience with it :) Housing? I haven't had a very enjoyable arrangement in almost a year. I mean, I enjoy living with my girlfriend, but I have had massive issues with the cleanliness of the kitchen. The place before had coldness. The place before that what was the Waterloo Wastehole.

I was frequently told that my years at University would be the best of my life. I am glad to say I expect to have many greater ones to come.

Back to the Future

So, there is a lot I hope to do before death. Make my girlfriend smile. Again. And again. And again and again and again. Contribute to open source. Contribute to the world. Be of use. Be of the world. I will write on this when I have more time, when I should not be writing portions of my paper. Au revoir.

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I am aeronautical, vanship-style.  I am olympic and mythical.  I rest on my laurels.