2012-09-30

[General] Insane Sunday

First I woke up and shared cupcakes, then I rushed to a 6 hour long jodo seminar where we went through almost all the Omote and Chudan kata.  I'm actually getting good at figuring out a kata after seeing it just once (or twice) for the first time.  After that, I ate more cake: moon cake!  It's the Moon Festival every body!

Several of those were vegan and I adored them.  It was hosted by the family of my favourite tea shop: Bon Thé Place, in downtown Guelph.  They are amazing.   So was their tea: Provence Rooibos.  We stayed outside until the moon was visible above the tree line and it was gorgeous.

A pleasant bike ride later, and I'm at a friend's place, a friend whom I ignored for 90 minutes while I talked on the phone to a favourite Vancouverite.  Now, back to work!

2012-09-29

[General] Ghost story

Tonight is the night. Tonight is the night that I chase dancing ghosts through ravines by lantern light.  I chase them over bridges and under boughs to eerie melodies and through chill air.  I'll never catch a ghost, but I might see an archer aiming arrows upwards towards a dragon in the moon.  A moon whose sweet cakes I'll wrap up and carry to friends who least suspect them.

[General] A bit on pets

Doctoctragonapus

Dilbert
I have two pets in my apartment.  They are not mine, but they welcome house guests whose company I am enjoying.  I have reservations about many kinds of pets and pet-owner relationships, but right now I would like to just enjoy these two while they are here.

[Technology] Reliably access an Android device from Linux

problems with file system access
With my Nexus One, I would mount its internal SD card as USB mass storage.  That worked really well, though the phone couldn't access it at the same time.  With a number of more recent Android phones, including my Galaxy Nexus, users are expected to access the phone's file system using MTP or PTP.  That seems to work fine on at least Windows, but it's terrible on Linux.  libmtp and gphoto2's (for ptp) communication with an Android phone is incredibly buggy, slow, and error prone.  Trying to use MTP and PTP with a variety of Linux applications (Rhythmbox, Banshee, Shotwell, GThumb, Nautilus, mtpfs) resulted in my /sdcard/ file system on my phone being wiped out somehow once.  That sucked.  Thanks to Instant Upload with G+, I didn't lose most of my photos, at least.

I have waited patiently for support to come, especially as I don't have time myself to write patches. :D  (My Masters' end draws nigh, though!)  However, it has not.  So, here are a couple other solutions.

wifi
I briefly tried working with the file system over the network, using wifi.  I used SSHDroid and a few other SSH daemons.  Only one sort of worked, and it only worked for half an hour, had an error, and has never worked since (even if I uninstall and reinstall it).  Some of the better solutions want your phone to be rooted, which I've resisted doing for a variety of reasons (which meant a very long wait for Jelly Bean here in Canada).   This isn't great for me anyway, because I don't have a router at home: my phone is my connection to the Internet, and I tether with an unlimited data plan (throttles speed after the first 10GB, no extra charges, hooray for WIND Mobile).

Finally, I've decided to just accept a suboptimal solution: adb.

adb

adb works beautifully, but it isn't as user-friendly or obvious as you might like.  It's smooth, though.

First, get adb from the Android SDK (two steps)

get adb
  • go to http://developer.android.com/sdk/index.html and download the SDK for Linux
  • unpack it: tar -xf android-sdk_*-linux.tgz
  • ./android-sdk-linux/tools/android 
  • under Tools, download Android SDK Platform-tools
  • Now, you'll have adb in ./android-sdk-linux/platform-tools/, you can set it on your PATH if you like so you can run it from any directory.
Now, start adb's server as root so you'll be able to connect to your phone over USB

start adb's server and enable debugging on your phone
  •  cd ./android-sdk-linux/platform-tools/
  • sudo ./adb start-server
    • important to run that as root
  • on your phone, go to Settings -> {} Developer Options -> USB debugging
  • Now on your computer, you should be able to do this, ./adb devices, and see your phone listed
If you check ./adb --help, you'll see a lot of options.  I've only used a few so far to do what I want, but it's been nice.

now to access the file system!
  • in one shell, run ./adb shell, and this will give you an interactive shell within your devices file system.  It doesn't have a complete set of tools (no du, head, less, or more), but it has ls (supporting -l), cd, rm, and rmdir.  I've used this to navigate the system, clean it, and figure out paths for the next step
  • to move files, I've been using ./adb push and ./adb pull.  For example, 
    • ./adb pull /sdcard/DCIM/Camera/ ~/photos/
      • this let me get my photos off at a fair speed (5MB/s) finally; I then used rm in the interactive shell after making sure I wasn't accidentally deleting the wrong things.
    • ./adb push ~/files/music/Sherlock/ /sdcard/Music/
suboptimality

I don't like having to use esoteric utilities on the command-line, and I understand that MTP works well on Windows (and Mac OS X?) but I'm tired of waiting for libmtp on Linux to enable applications to actually do anything with their device.  Hooray for having a solution that is at least smooth and reliable in its operation.

2012-09-27

[General] Urban ecology?

A good friend's good friend is helping run a conference in Toronto on Friday called the 2nd Annual Living with Wildlife Conference 2012.  I'm a little interested in going, because I've been left with a curiosity about urban ecology by a friend, but I can't due to existing obligations with clubs and groups at school for Friday.  Sigh!

If anyone else is interested, there are details on facebook.

[Microblog] Transient Thrill

A friend said they'd like it if I sang more. Not being very good, I was shocked. They totally deserved the cotton candy and Advil earlier.

[General] Sentiment

The Lizzy Bennet Diaries just made me cry a little. =)

[General] Vindication!

I am vindicated!  I had begun to doubt whether my mother had actually boiled eggs inside a plastic bag to get a lovely spongey form of it when I was a child. that she'd then serve as little egg cakes, or cut up into cubes and sometimes used in soup (so great in soup).  No one else has really heard of it, and we all dwell on how well plastic bags boil.  Well, it is true!  A friend next to me has just recalled her own experience in youth with this practise!  YAY!  I am sane!

2012-09-26

[General] That voodoo that I do so well

I did a tarot card reading for a friend yesterday!  It was my first such reading.  I've had a few readings done for me a few years ago and then a few more recently.  That's what happens when you discover that pagans make awesome friends.

I was a bit wary of doing the reading, feeling my perspective on things would limit its usefulness, but I figured that trying could at least be fun.  I like spending time thinking about how things like tarot work.  The experience conveys a strong sense of meaning and applicability to querents (the ones with queries) so it's effective somehow.

I like to think of it a bit like I think of natural selection: of course it works, because it must inevitably work, the universe can't work any other way.  With natural selection, something more fit will generally out-compete something less fit: that's why it's more fit, better adapted to its environment.

With tarot, the Major Arcana represent 21 familiar, easy-to-access and not-too-specific sets of related concepts.  The Minor Arcana are a bit less distinct, but common meanings are established under themed suits.  I've seen two styles of tarot readings: one where there's a layout to the cards, and one where it's free-style.  The layout makes things a bit easier, at least for me doing it for the first time.  The layouts create a framework for interpreting and relating the cards that you draw. 
one such layout: Celtic Cross
From a deck shuffled by the querent (so, the order that cards are drawn are ultimately determined by the querent, though not under their intentional control), cards are drawn into the layout.

The next part is the most fun part: interpreting how a given card and its potential meanings relate to the person's situation given its position in the layout.  Over the course of the reading, a sort of story builds up as additional cards are interpreted.  The amount of information the card reader has on the querent can bias interpretation a little, but I tried not to lead myself down any specific routes.  Avoiding specificity seems key to the reading being useful: the reader doesn't generally know the specific query of the querent (though sometimes they seem to?), so they're relieved of some responsibility over how the reading gets applied to the querent's life.  If the reader pushed a specific interpretation, the perspective the reading give would end up depending on assumptions about a situation that could easily be false and render the reading practically useless.

I'm not stating that it's general enough that a given reading couldn't be wrong because it could apply to anyone, but in some sense, given the thematic nature of the cards (and very-well structured layout, if that's being used), it's hard not to be able to say something useful about a person's situation and query on at least some scale.  Death for example: it can mean endings, beginnings, change, transformation, transition.  It and other cards deal with fundamental components of life experience, so it's possible for them to speak to some part of a querent's life or their query.  I feel like you should be able to find something at some scale, great and terrible or relatively minor but still real.

I feel like the benefit is derived by proposing a framework for a query drawing on elements from the querent's actual life to help them view issues or questions.  I feel like applicability is inevitable.  A combination of knowledge that gets shared or established throughout the tarot dialogue helps provide some specificity and direction.  Yay!

I've seen people do it "free style" without a layout and that's fun, though the one time someone tried to do that for me, they got flustered and sort of gave up.  I think I wasn't really cooperating though, so there was no information for them to advance with.

So, briefly, what I enjoyed about tarot was
  • negotiation of information
  • a structured framework (the layouts) to organise and relate concepts
  • a conceptual framework (the cards) that speak to different areas of living life
  • interpretation of information connecting concepts to a structure
  • cooperation between the querent and the reader to construct meaning
    • despite incomplete knowledge on the part of the reader and a lack of control by querent
I feel like a topic like this should be covered in Information Science.  (My degree was in Computing and Information Science, and I feel like information theory should be covered more strongly; I suppose there's mathematics for that.)

2012-09-24

[General] Community involvement

I am sitting in the Cornerstone drinking an unsweetened, recently-brewed iced tea.  I used to have a dream of being a programmer-thespian.  I would live in a ghetto apartment, and do theatre and freelance programming.  I'd be incredibly happy and Scout Niblett (I recommend her "Miss My Lion") would play on repeat.  This was sort of a plan from the end of high school until 4th year University, when I got the taste for adventure.

In that conception of future me, I was also involved in the local community in hipster ways.  I ended up drifting away from external activity, but over the last year, I've really expanded, on campus at least.
  • I'm on the exec for Guelph Students for the Ethical Treatment of Animals
  • I'm on the board of the Graduate Student Association, representing the School of Computer Science (with one other)
  • I'm on the board of Student Volunteer Connections (representing the GSA)
  • I'm involved in Guelph Students for Environmental Change (alternatively, Genetic Swamp Elevated Coriander)
  • I sometimes assist at Society Of Computing and Information Science events (like the recent install fest!)
Also, previously,
  • I was the graduate student representative to my department
  • I was a regular, involved member of Off-Campus University Students
And a bit less community-oriented,
  • I'm a part of Sei Do Kai, the Iaido/Jodo/Kendo club on campus
  • I help promote and attend some events for Campus Ubuntu (the philosophy, unrelated to Linux)
  • and I'm a GNOME developer, though I slack a lot during busy school time (like right now)
Also, I'm friends with half of the Guelph Pagan Society.  Woah.  Student Volunteer Connections is the activity that has raised the greatest awareness in me of my impact on others.

I'm writing this also a bit to catalogue my recent activities, but also because I'm a member of the Guelph Campus Co-op.  It's an organisation on campus that, among other things, offers affordable housing to students (they own a lot of property!) and operate a textbook and school supplies store on campus with lower prices than the corporate bookstore. 

I've been a card-carrying member of the Guelph Campus Co-op for 7 years now, all through my Bachelors and now through my Masters.  I've historically benefited mostly through discounts on textbooks, but last year and this year I've attended their AGM.  This year was nice because a friend of mine, Chad, who inspired me to transition to vegan, was there and provided vegan cupcakes.  He sits on the board.  Also, I got to reacquaint myself with an old, friendly acquaintance, Cecelie,  It's really nice being able to reconnect with familiar faces from my undergraduate, especially in cases like this when you get to do more than just catch up.

So hooray for community, being involved, making friends, making change, fixing things, fixing myself, and cupcakes!

[Budo] Responsibility

So, I probably won't pursue kendo this semester. I miss the Vancouver and Owen Sound dojos.  I will continue with iaido and jodo though!  We've been preparing for a jodo koryu seminar in October and on Friday Taylor sensei and the senior students were away so... I had to lead the class. O_O  It went totally awesome and in took them through the first four seitei kata. Good time.

[Technology] Money over life

Microsoft apparently burned through $70,000 worth of electricity in 3 days to avoid a $210,000 fee for under-consumption with a data centre's electrical utility.  Ugh.

[Microblog] Jelly Beans

An update on Jelly Bean for my Galaxy Nexus.  It's just wonderful now and makes me happy to unlock my phone.  Gadgets should not make me so happy!  I wonder whether Samsung will always take so long to release new Android updates to flagship phones in Canada?

[General] Being always happy

Is this a reasonable goal?

I don't know.  Most of my unhappiness in the past has originated from a conflict between expectations and reality.  Sometimes I've wanted something so bad that, because it was in fact unachieveable, I'd make myself miserable.  Sometimes, it's possible, the cost in stress isn't worth it.

I've done a great job in eliminating stress and controlling expectations and ambitions this past year.  Hooray!

Another area I'm working on is selective detachment.  I want to be as detached as possible from petty things.  The other day I was cycling on the sidewalk so I could turn left at an intersection by coasting the crosswalk.   An old man yelled "SHOULDN'T YOU BE ON THE SIDEWALK?!" agitated that an oncoming slow moving bike was going to safely pass him by.  It occurred to me that I could be bothered by that, or I could instead just consider why he was agitated by that and whether there was anything I really had to worry about, and there wasn't.  It wasn't worth arguing with him about my concept of personal safety (I don't like turning left at intersections yet) and he didn't need to change.  I just hope it didn't ruin his day.  I don't want to be one of those sensitive people who complain about the world all day.

So, operation eternal bliss is under way.  I expect I'll get depressed a few more times, but I've managed for the past couple of months to be genuinely cheerful and managing my lows by myself, not burdening others.  (Well, there's one friend who has voluntarily listened to a few complaints, but at least I don't expose them to the worse moments. :D)

[General] Training to be good

Something I've not discussed here is much is that I sit on the board of Student Volunteer Connections at the University of Guelph.  As a departmental Director on the Graduate Student Association board, I am obliged to sit on another board or committee, and I am fortunate to have been accepted into SVC.

I've learned a lot on this board so far.  One of the issues we've been tackling are our Mission, Vision, and Values, concepts that help define the organisation as a whole and where it goes.   I'm now also on its Operations Committee where we'll review the organisation's structure and by-laws in light of our MVV work.  Beyond what I'm learning for MVV, I've also been receiving an extraordinary lesson on how to work well with others.

Previously, frustration in group work has led me to be more independent.  I solve my own problems with preferably no help from others.  If I feel I have a good idea, I push to ensure it doesn't get lost.   This behaviour doesn't apply here, though.  This board is filled with excellent and motivated individuals.  We actually want to be there, and I don't need to worry about apathy bringing down the boat.

Something very important to me has been learning how to work with others with perspectives and priorities that differ greatly from mine, and how to do a good job of listening to and supporting them, and accepting their contributions.  I've not always been good at listening to others.

I don't really like it when people take words and assign them seemingly-arbitrary values to teach a lesson.  One example of this that I reluctantly appreciate comes from one of our board members' elementary school days:

S: Sit forward
L: Listen
A: Ask questions
N: Nod
T: Talk about it

"SLANT" appears differently in different places, but sometimes I've been too overwhelmed by life and I've stopped really listening or valuing others' contributions.  I would make conclusions just when they'd started and then be impatient as I waited for them to shut up so I could start offering damning feedback.

Hooray for good group work!

[Microblog] Transient Thermality

EcoGeek is covering super insulating windows.  Having lived on the South Island of New Zealand where I attempted to improve the insulation of my room with layers of plastic over the window, I can really appreciate such innovation.

3°C and damp O_O ;_;

[General] The Name is S

I've recently made a new acquaintafriend named S.  S is not their full name, but it's all I'm typing here.  S is interesting.  S is fascinating.  If you ever thought I was atypical for being vegan, declining to drive automobiles, and generally abstaining from all sorts of common habits, you would have to reconsider upon meeting S.

Here are some fun facts about S that will fail to capture just how delightful an individual she is, and individual is quite the right word.
  • professional dumpster diver; she has almost never paid for her own food
  • has pet rats
  • brings pet rats wherever she goes in her shirt
  • an anarchist running for student government to undermine the system; I think she has a good shot
  • her wardrobe is organised through happenchance, I believe
  • she thinks I'm the crazy one because I was looking for a (living) dragon for a friend
 These mere six points fail to convey what she is.  It seems almost normal, doesn't it, on a University campus, to find this?  Some of those seem normal.  Well, come to Guelph and visit me and I'll introduce you and only then can you understand S.

So, I salute S.  (S is for spectacular, probably.)

2012-09-22

[General] Layers of consciousness

Have you ever considered that the self-aware entity of you that is reading this right now, the one who thinks about moving their body and having it move, thinks about saying something, and having it said, isn't the only you sharing your sensory organs? 

Perhaps there's another you, one that can only sense things but can exert no power over your body, another layer of consciousness that is trapped within you, trying to scream with terror every day to let you know it's there, but you never notice, and it goes madder and madder and madder?

On a random note, my friend Shane has a "happy speed", the speed driving at which leaves him happy.

[General] Sharing and commenting

I miss Google Reader's shared items page.  I used to share and comment on a lot of articles with that.  Now you can easily share things with your G+ stream, but that feels like spam to me.  I want to be able to place my comments somewhere where people can opt in to them.  With G+, I can create a circle and only share it there, but that's not very discoverable, and people have to request presence to it. 

Tumblr has the right principle, but a terrible interface.  There's probably a way to integrate it with Google Reader, though, with Reader's scriptable Send To functionality.  Hmm.

Any bright ideas?

2012-09-21

[Technology] One of the many reason why I dislike Python apps

AttributeError: 'CoreConfig' object has no attribute 'DATA_DIR'
So, on a clean install of GTG 0.2.9, which was released in February, it doesn't even start because an attribute gets referenced before it ever gets instantiated.  Yay.  This happens on almost every Python app I ever use at some point, and why I adore static type checking at compile time.

2012-09-18

[General] Cake and bake

Yesterday it was the birthday of my best friend in Guelph so I went to some wonderful trouble to throw her a surprise party.  I haven't really gotten to throw a birthday party recently and their were hiccoughs, but of the best kind.  Part of this involved baking a delicious vegan chocolate cake. (My home, my dietary rules.)
  • Here are some points,  raspberry preserves were really hard to find in Guelph but I ultimately found some at Market Fresh. I didn't known what they were before this. Apparently they can raspberries preserved in a liquid (what I used) or a chunkier, purer style of raspberry jam.  The recipe refers to its preserves as jam periodically. Using the first style, I put raspberries in after draining excess liquid to avoid making the cake soggy.
  • No soy creamer around, so I used soy milk. The recipe calls its soy milk "rice milk"  at one point.
  • I found that the wet half of the batter was too much for the dry half, so I actually removed half a cup before mixing both together.  I should bake it again and pay attention.
  • The recipe says to bake the cake in two 8" round pans.  I baked it in a 9"x13" (size identified by the b-day girl) instead (then cut it in half once done and stacked it).  This would affect the baking time, but I think that my 350°F for my oven must be hotter than the recipe writer's, as I only had it in the oven for 20 minutes (!)
dragon cake!

origami dragon roosts

[Microblog] Transient Delight

My Galaxy Nexus finally got the Android 4.1 Jelly Bean update, three months late,  the other day, and the weather widget finally updates itself automatically at the correct interval. The widget was utterly useless before for a quick peak at the weather because it wouldn't refresh for hours and I would always have to click through to update it.

2012-09-16

Lost treasures

recently uncovered, perhaps the most important document in my life

[Technology] Xiki, a cool new shell



My friend Anthony just reshared this from a fellow named Paul Irish on Google+ and it's sort of amazing.  Basically, it's like a free-form dynamic shell where output can be interacted with, and where a lot of system functionality and applications are first-class citizens.  The console understands what databases are, what Ruby (and I think he mentioned Python) is, how JavaScript and its DOM work and how to interact with webpages, even manipulating them.

It's a level of interaction I'd like to have at the console level with my system, and not just be restricted to the menu-driven interfaces that some designer thought I would need. :)

[General] Whose line was it anyway?

I got to introduce a friend to the delight of Whose Line Is It Anyway? tonight.  Excellent.

Before that, I accidentally arrived under-dressed to a formal 40th anniversary celebration for the school of computer science at the University of Guelph.  One of my favourite moments was meeting Dr. Ted Swart, who was a former chair of the department.  I was looking at a time-line of events and I saw a photo of him set to the year he became chair of the then-department of computing and information science.  I recognised the name because in 2nd year I won an award named after him for doing well.  It turns out he's 85 now and is fascinating.  After Guelph, he went to Kelowna B.C. and helped turn a college there into a university as an extension of U.B.C.   A friend from high school went to that campus.  I also got to discover that the member of parliament for Guelph, Liz Sandals, studied and taught in the department of computer science here.  Also, a number of current faculty are also alumni.

Another favourite part of the evening was interacting with a number of my favourite students that I have TA'd in the past two years.  There weren't many students, and it was interesting to see which ones were invited.  One of mine even got to go and talk about the current state of the school for students.  It was an interesting contrast to the outlandish stories past alumni told.  Things you to be wild.

Afterwards I had a lovely walk and talk with one of my students and I wondered a little what I missed out on in my undergraduate.  I didn't interact with my TAs on a personal level at all, and I think I probably missed out on some good discussions that would only come about from the difference in experience.

The food was good (photos on G+, as always) and it was a bit cute seeing hospitality students breaking the odd glass they were serving, try to take away someone's food before they were ready, or try to convince me that the mousse was vegan.  (Unfortunately, I "won"; it wasn't :(.)
I could not eat this :(
 This has helped revitalise some of my recently flagging interest in computing.  I also had the pleasure of running into Al Dyer, who was the first professor I TA'd for, even if the class involved teaching MS Office.

[General] Lions, Tigers and Camels, oh my!

Last month when I was driving to Arthur with my father he spotted with his keen vision two camels in a field.  This is bizarre in Ontario.  The next time we drove by, we slowed down so I could take a photo, but they weren't there.  Instead, I discovered the nature of their presence: Tiger Paw Exotics petting zoo.  I am a bit wary of the conditions.

2012-09-13

[Microblog] Transient Thought

Compelled to cycle home as fast as I could, out racing my mind.

2012-09-11

[General] All the busyness

So, in the past week, I've
  • met a girl named Nova and found out her name in another language means "butterfly chaser"
  • visited my father in idyllic Flesherton
  • discovered that the Bicycle (replaces Donabie's/Aggie's) has a half-vegetarian menu and has fair prices
  • placed on swings in the rain (apropos)
  • made my father happy
  • completed watching Ouran Host Club with a friend
  • marinated tofu in "Apple Butter" sauce (contains no actual butter) to great effect
  • made a giant cookie (pizza pan size) and ate the whole thing with a friend
  • ate a jar full of olives with a friend
  • created a new game that I call "star wars" with a friend.  You take a pack of glow-in-the-dark stars (preferably about 25 of various shapes) and you charge them, then you turn off the lights, and you cast them at each other like shooting stars (or shuriken).   I strongly recommend this
  • taken up juggling
  • helped a local birding supply store renovate (we moved all of their store content out into a truck so electricians and recarpeters could work and then moved it back in)
    • I discovered I am strong! (hooray for regular exercise)
    • I really like the staff :D  (a friend works there which is why I was helping)
    • the store, Wild Birds Unlimited, is itself quite awesome
  • cycled up Gordon St.'s big hill 3 times since getting my bike (once a day I've been in Guelph) and generally cycling at the hardest gear (not up the hill yet, that's one below so far).  There used to be encouraging posters on the telephone polls as you went up but they're not there this year; I'm motivated to print and re-post them. :D
  • learned a whole bunch of chudan and omote in Jodo, more tachi uchi no kurai in iaido
  • created a new design for my hometown museum's website (not yet visible)
  • worked in the sun on a bench on my laptop, a lot
  • and probably other stuff!

2012-09-08

[General] Filtering reality

Sometimes there are parts of websites you need to not see.  For many, it is advertising, and people use AdBlock.  For me, it's some conversations on social websites.  I wish I could train my browser to know what to conceal from me.

Facebook does a good job of this.  You can remove your view of all of an individual's activity, and you can train it to show you less of stuff you dislike.  G+ recently added the ability to control how much of any G+ circle appears in your stream. 

LiveJournal doesn't have such options, it seems, and that can be hard when a space you want to visit is also prone to triggers.  It's unreasonable of me to request others change their behaviour to accommodate me, so I've applied my technical know-how to help me filter reality!  Ha!

In this case, I want to be able to interact with a friend and comment on their posts while avoiding other people's conversations.  My solution is get e-mail notifications of posts and to modify my userChrome.css style file for Firefox to not display any comments.  This will let me reply and comment via e-mail! I'm actually quite pleased with the idea of e-mail becoming my commenting system for LiveJournal, mwahaha!

[General] Breaking down barriers

Here are 3 stories of childhood trauma overcome in the last year.

 Just like riding a bicycle

I haven't properly had a bike of my own in a number of years. When I was a wee lad, I was mildly traumatised by falling off my bike when taking a turn with a handful of Oreos. I consequently neither biked nor ate Oreos for a number of years.  Later on, I would borrow my sister's bike that I had grown in to. Tragically, I left it outside one winter and, yes... Later, I would come to borrow a landlady's bike at a co-op job in Vancouver until a car drove in to me at an intersection (I had the right of way; I wasn't hurt, just traumatised).

While in New Zealand, I finally acquired a new bike, a cute purple thing from K-Mart (yes, they exist there), but it was more for a friend anyway, though I'm not sure they recognised that. I couldn't really contemplate riding it myself much, as the roads didn't feel safe there to me, especially given Vancouver.

However, back in Guelph, there are many new bike lanes. I sort of wanted a bike last August while I started exploring my life backwards, but I thought winter was coming too soon. Ultimately, winter never really came and I missed many excellent months of cycling This summer, finances were too irregular to do much, but yes! Two days ago, I finally visited the amazing bike shop Backpeddling on Crimea by the train tracks and have acquired myself a used purple-and-white Raleigh!
My new bike
My calves are a little stiff from all the cycling I've done in the last two days. I've probably cycled more in the last two days than I have in the last 6 years.  I also now get to cycle around Guelph with friends which I've been eagre to do, and had fun with my friend Krystabel taking secret roads through beautiful portions of Guelph.

(Also, I eat more Oreos now since going vegan, since they're like the only standard shelf-cookie that's vegan-friendly. :D  Even if they taste a little gross.)

Swim or die

When I was a wee lad, I was sent to swimming lessons.  There, I was Richard.  The second day, another so-called "Richard" joined, but I was already Richard, so he would be Richy.  The third day, they were calling Richy "Richard" and me "Richy"!  I'm not "Richy"!  I'm Richard!  At 6 or so, I refused to stand for this indignation and righteously left, swearing to never return.  (I also found the exercise there of submerging my face into water fairly traumatic, and earlier in life had hated attempts at bath time to drown my face.) 

After that, I never wanted to swim.  I was forced to take swimming lessons in a public pool in a nearby town, Shelburne, but I refused to actually swim without a flotation device.  Finally, when I was like 10, we were on Manitoulin Island, and there was a pool, and my sister was swimming, and I finally hopped in and swam a lap.  Close to the edge.  Always with safety within grasp.  However, at some point before or after that I was on a tube raft in the local pond and it started drifting near a small waterfall and I couldn't get away!  I got closer and closer and was petrified!  I didn't want to drop my frail body 10 feet onto the rocks below!  My gallant sister swam hardily after me and dragged me back to shore.  It was mildly traumatising.

Finally, years later, more encouragement.  In 2007, perhaps, I was with a friend at the Flesherton pond and I wanted to be a complete human being around her and I felt safe around her, so I swam, damn it, I swam.  It was in water that I could still touch the ground in, but I forced my muscles to drive me through the water and my brain to hold back my consuming anxieties, and I did not immediately drown.  This helped me later when kayaking and canoeing, when my stress would increase greatly due to going out quite far (despite having a life jacket) but at least I could go out there and enjoy the water.  It did not help me while in New Zealand when faced with strong waves on the beaches of St. Kilda and St. Clair, though.

Well, this past year, I've exercised a great deal more than ever before, and with it has come some confidence in my strength's ability to endure extended periods of swimming and to keep me afloat.  (You see, I'm a Natural Sinker as it were, where I've been told that the density of my bone is such that I'm less buoyant than water.)  In the winter semester, I swam in the University pools a couple times, though always sticking near the edge in the deep areas.  I went swimming in Guelph lake a couple times, though never deeply.  (By the way, the lake floor there is much rockier than I recall.)

So, this past Labour day weekend, I went camping with some friends at Grundy Lake Provincial Park and put my strength and maturity to the test by forcing myself to try to swim to a dock.  I have never swam out to a dock before!  They are always in deep water, and I would surely drown!  But Lo!

It's me, ON A DOCK!
In truth, my anxieties were almost overwhelming as I approached the dock, and realised I'd have to modify my movements to be able to climb on to it.  It was near panic.  But I did it twice!  I had a strong swimming friend, Shane, available if it looked like I was going to start drowning.

Ice, ice baby

These two accomplishments sort of go along with my winter one of skating.  I fell down on ice one too many times when I was young and then refused to try skating again (despite dreams of becoming a hockey player).  In 2006, friends wanted to go to Nathan Phillips Square in Toronto for skating.  I got as far as going onto a bus, but when once there someone suggested not doing it because of how completely full it was, I readily agreed.  In 2008 in Vancouver, I first became interested in really learning how, but to be honest, anxieties limited the extent of my efforts to learn and I don't think I even made it to a skating rink, which was unfortunate, as I really wanted to, but at the time I didn't know how to effectively handle stressful anxieties like that.

This past year, though, I finally made it to Nathan Phillips Square, with friends from OCUS, where one friend in particular, Rachel, helped me finally learn how to balance and move on ice.  It was amazing.  I went on to buy my own used pair of skates from Bibles and Missions (a thrift store in the Guelph Eggcetera plaza, next to Lens Mills Store) and skate a number of times in Guelph's new outdoor water pad/skating rink outside of city hall with a variety of friends, even celebrating my birthday on the ice with my friend Ariel.

Traumas

I feel like I've spent a lot of time reversing traumas from my childhood that have proven limiting factors in my later life.  I suppose I didn't really have much pressure to address them while I was young; my parents were a little indulgent and didn't push me to do things I didn't want to, which I'm actually a little grateful for, though it means more work for me now, at least I never felt resentment to them at the time.  There's one other big one I've worked on this past year, but I don't feel comfortable writing about that here yet. :)

I don't want silly things to prevent me from living life with my friends.

2012-09-06

[General] London, Ontario

My cool friend Sara has just relocated to London, Ontario, and wrote a neat blog post about her adventures exploring there.  I am in a bit of awe, as I did not accomplish as much adventuring while there (though I'm sure making up for that in Guelph this year...).

I feel as though if I'd been more optimistic about it, I could have enjoyed it a lot more.

[Microblog] Last Ditch Effort at Anime

To mark the end of summer, I have binged on Ouran High School Host Club with a friend and my mouth is perpetually agape.

2012-09-05

[General] Rememories

I used to create Google Calendar events to mark important days in my past, to remind me in the future.  I've removed a lot of them in the past year as having an e-mail remind of you something almost once a week can be a bit intrusive, but one I missed was for a lantern festival at the Renfrew Ravine in Vancouver.  I'm not sure if I want to remove that one now, or wait until next year.   It's one of my favourite memories of life.  I should find more lantern festivals.

[General] Supporting a voice


I used to be more aggressive when debating topics with friends.  I would present my views with vigor and hope that we might negotiate a consensus after refining one another's arguments, until we had distilled what was agreeable and what we lack information to agree on.  To quote a friend, I could "bulldoze" people, though.

Over the last year, I've done a better job of creating judgement-free environments, where someone can share their feelings or thoughts on topics and feel comfortable, even if I don't entirely degree.  It's really important for someone to feel comfortable when discussing controversial topics if I want them to encourage them to converse with me and express themselves.

I feel like productive discussion is still had.  I don't have to always worry about logical validity.  I can still help refine others' arguments with more than just criticisms; I can help them articulate what they mean and ask them questions about the parts that don't seem right.  I enjoy the consequences.

2012-09-01

[General] Awenda

I am off to Awenda Provincial Park to visit friends for a couple days.

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