2012-10-30

[General] Pumpkin Pie

I've made this twice now, once for a ThanksLiving potluck and once for a Vegan Baking Exchange.  Here are the two recipes I've used.
My crust was gluten-free, too. :)

[Microblog] Space!

Space X success.  Some day, I'm going into outer space!


[Microblog] Transient Triumph

I have longed for an update to GMail's compose for a while, and something beautiful now arrives.

[Microblog] Transient Thought

I probably don't deserve the awesome life I get to live.  I should work on deserving it better. :)

2012-10-29

[Microblog] Transient Thought

Cloud Atlas.  I would like to see this.  Also, Looper, Taken 2, Skyfall, etc.

[General] Portions and relative equality

I cut a cupcake in half yesterday to share with an awesome and within was a Swedish berry which was sliced in to two pieces.  I gave her the larger half, and she questioned it being called a half since it was inequal in mass/volume.  I suggested that there were qualities other than mass/volume that could render these two pieces equal.  They were both units that would provide an experience to each of us, and the volume and mass did not dictate the quality of the experience enjoyed.  There was also conceptual halfness, where there were now items with the concept of being a Swedish berry out of two, and 1/2 = half. 

Today I remembered where else I've thought about this immeasurable equality.  In human rights!  It's stated that all people are equal.   Well, it's stated that "All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights" in the UN Declaration of Human Rights, but sometimes gets reduced to "everyone is equal".  It's a weird concept, equality.  You can probably easily say that not everyone is equally good at all things, or not everyone is equally desirable for you to have around.  Or that some people makes choices more favourable (to you) than others.  But those aren't the cases where equality matters.  Instead, a heinous murderer and my father are both equal because, to me, despite all their differences, they are born with the same core potential, and that they both enjoy the same fact of life.

On an interesting note, here's an inequality that I'm curious about, whether anyone else has considered it.  If you save 99 lives out of 100, that's nice, but if you save the other one life out of 100, that's still just as nice: a life has been saved, and they're not just easily quantifiable; it's a little qualitative.  However, if you save that one life plus one more, that's better!  Does that many any sense to anyone?  Having fewer isn't worse, but having more is better.

[Microblog] Intransient Fact

A friend once told me that the dryers in my apartment were awful and I should use the laundromat across the street.  20 months later, I try myself: yup, still awful.  I wonder if these dryers understand their purpose in life.

2012-10-27

[Microblog] Transient Activity

Spent the day volunteering at an animal farm  sanctuary. Fun in rainy filth.

2012-10-26

[Microblog] Transient Technology

Facebook's message centre is a lot more useful now!

2012-10-25

[Microblog] Transient Thought

SVC is retro fresh!

[Microblog] Transient Word Play

"Those are quite some fowl jowls!" - my friend Rachel when she saw my bird-guest's cheeks puffed.

Dilbert the bird, cheeks unpuffed

2012-10-24

[General] GARGOYLES!

Watch online for free legally!

WHEE!  Xanatos, my brother!

2012-10-21

[Microblog] Transient Thought

My recent motivational motto has been "If not now, when?"  It helps me to not put off things I'd like to have done or should do.  I didn't know where it came from until last week.

[Budo] Funny story on arrogance and humility

When I first encountered iaido, it was on my way to kendo practise at UBC; a bunch of iaidoka were filing out of a room with their hakama and gi on, causing me to mistake them for kendoka, but oh no!  They did not do kendo.  They told me to join them to play with real swords.  I resented that a little and ignored them.

A couple years later, I met a fellow in Ottawa, who did iaido and jodo, and I was not amenable then, either.  Why?  I can barely remember.  I'm pretty sure I felt threatened, largely because my kendo practise had been patchwork.  I think I justified it with kendo's vigorous exercise and actual competition with people, rather than just practising forms.  I think I didn't like how he chose to present it, too, at the time.

I owe that fellow an apology, at least regarding my juvenile evaluation of the relevant worth of kendo versus iaido and jodo.  I cringe when I reflect on all the stupid behaviour I've exhibited over my life, and how vain any attempt to rectify it could be.  At least if I see him at the November seminar, I can apologise in person. :)

[Budo] Chudan!

This weekend I was in Toronto for a jodo seminar.  We had two Japanese hanshi hachidans, Furukawa-sensei and Arai-sensei, come over to teach us Koryu.  We were expecting to learn Omote kata in particular, and have been practising that during the summer, but were surprised when the sensei announced they would teach us Chudan instead.  In theory, we should understand more of Omote before progressing to Chudan, so this was a pleasure.  Consequently, I also had only seen most of the kata once or twice before, and only doing the jo side.  Errors were made.  Hopefully when they come down next time, their lessons will have led to good progress and we can do more refinement than introduction!

I really enjoy jodo and its partner practise.  I often wish I had a regular partner outside of class to do more.  I enjoy the coordination, the motion, the control, everything.

In two weeks, I go to a iaido seminar in Ottawa.  Whee!

[General] Creativity

I used to wonder whether my creativity had reduced itself during my bachelors.  I wasn't creating as many visual and physical artefacts.  Had it just disappeared into virtual programming?  Not entirely.  I think that when I work on systems in daily life, non-technology-related, that's still being creative.  Sometimes there's a visual component, like labels on cupboards in multiple languages, or on the ends of plugs so I know what it's giving power to.  Other times, it's formulas for how to get ready in an optimal fashion in the morning, or how to avoid making a left turn on a bike through a busy intersection.  I think people are less impressed by what they cannot see, though. :)

[General] Can't help falling

I finally purchased a pair of computer speakers.  I've been in the market for about 4 years or so, and I finally purchase a $15 pair of General Electric 2W computer speakers powered by USB.  They're bigger than you might expect, but I prefer the sound through these over my computer or tablet or phone's own speakers.  Now I can't help falling in love with Ingrid Michaelson's "Can't Help Falling in Love".

[Microblog] Transient Thought

Cabbies are totally mercenary, they'll drive anywhere for money.

[Microblog] Transient T-Rex

Walking home in the early morning of Friday, there was a loud, powerful cry from down the street behind a set of buildings. Recognising it immediately, I audibly exclaimed "T-Rex! Run for your lives!"  I noticed a fellow across Wyndham staring at, slightly bewildered. The cry came again, and I understood: it was not a T-Rex in downtown Guelph-it was a Pterodactyl.

2012-10-19

[Microblog] Transient Thought

Newsweek is cancelling its print copy of its magazine at the end of the year and going solely digital.  That sends shivers up my spine. I know many people who aren't comfortable with digital magazines who will now be deprived.  Ah well, it's only Newsweek.

[Microblog] Transient Disappointment

I resent the resemblance of Samsung's product design to Apples. Didn't they just lose a billion-dollar law suit because of this?  Say hello to the Samsung "Air"


[General] Life demands living

It continues.  I just spammed G+ with 360 or so photos from the last 3 weeks, covering these events
  • the ThanksLiving Vegan Potluck I coordinated along with Mike
  • the Boston Summit 2012, where I associated with my GNOMiEs
  • International Suit-up Day
  • the 2012 Animal Welfare Forum
  • Student Volunteer Connections social dinner
  • visit to Flesherton and the bicycle
  • Value Village hunt for halloween costumes (hint: caterpillar from Alice in Wonderland as played by Kyoya from the amazing Ouran Host Club)
  • Baking Exchange, where I gathered 8 great people to help bake a bunch of delicious vegan goods that we then sold, mercenary-style, to raise money for a dog's medical treatment (has cataracts).
And there's more.  I was going to write a lot, but after all that captioning, I'm tired.  So instead, here is a selection of those photos.

Baking Exchange output

Baking Exchange team

Value Village costuming

at the Bicycle with father

Lovely leaves

Dining with SVC

Animal Welfare Forum, discussing evaluating pain

International Suit-Up Day and Fairly Frosted's new doughnuts

Ginkgo leaves

Frost
Dilbert chilling with K

City Hall

Metal McDonalds

MIT's library dome

GNOMiEs at Chocolate

Chocolate penguins

GNOMiEs at the Boston Summit

ThanksLiving Vegan Potluck at Raithby

Our cornucopia of deliciousness

To make waffles
"Life to you is a dashing and bold adventure"
I hope so, bottle cap.

2012-10-18

[Microblog] Transient Torrent

Peep!  An onslaught of posts and photo uploads to come momentarily.

2012-10-15

[Microblog] Transient Shock

The king without a sword- the land without a king!

[Microblog] Transient and Tasty

I just realised I can probably make macaroni & cheese with those new Daiya cheese wedges. O_O

2012-10-13

[Microblog] International Suit Up Day!

Cupcakes and class
Kudos to Fairly Frosted for creating vegan doughnuts, too!

[Budo] Tachi Uchi no Kurai



Yesterday at iaido was Sei Do Kai's last day of Tachi Uchi no Kurai for a little while.  We'll resume focusing on seitei and koryu iai for the next while.  Consequently, I videographed it!  Here is its playlist. Thanks to Pam Morgan sensei Kim Taylor for a great summer in Guelph.

[Microblog] Transient Triumph

Following up with my last quick thought, while PiTiVi still can't meet my basic video editing needs, OpenShot on Fedora 17 just flawlessly allowed me to splice a video into ten separate ones, exporting it quickly and perfectly into compact MP4s.

2012-10-12

[Microblog] Intransient Triumph

You know you must be doing something right when trying to edit a video on Linux with PiTiVi doesn't work any better than last year but that no longer drives you insane.

[General] Music to my ears

http://www.thewildernessofmanitoba.com/

So, the Wilderness of Manitoba just played in the UC courtyard at noon today and I purchased 3 of their albums before their second song finished playing.   (Thank you emusic.)

Because I enjoyed them so much, I'll let my Ontario readers know their upcoming tour dates!


Oct 18APK
London, Canada

Oct 19Maverick's
Ottawa, Canada

Oct 20The Mansion
Kingston, Canada

Oct 26Trinity-St. Paul's
Toronto, Canada







So, go check out their music and if you like it and you live in Ottawa, London, etc, go forth and bathe in the glory of their sound.  A few of their songs remind me of Home by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros.

2012-10-11

[General] Do I stay or do I go?

Laurena is one of my favourite musical artist right now. I discovered her through the VlogBrothers. She's from Quebec and I love her singings. This one is a cover of "The Fairest of Seasons" by Nico.

2012-10-10

[General] Life and decisions

I need to make a few decisions now.  Mostly where I'm going to invest my time and energy going forward.

I've been delaying this for a little while.  I haven't really been sure of what I wanted to do, and I think I might have dawdled a little waiting on the decisions of others (but not too much).

I have a better idea of things I might want now, and I can't pursue them without refocussing, I think.  Mostly this involves changes in what groups I invest in and how I interact with friends.

I need to determine what various groups mean to me and which mean the most.  Friends are a bit different: I have to figure out a way where I can maintain meaningful connections with people while making myself less available.
  • I think I want to do what I can to work in Open Source as soon as possible,
  • and I may want to also pursue a PhD at one of two places.
First, a quick look at the groups and activities I participate in
  • My Masters; my interest in my current work isn't as strong as it used to be, but it's nearing its conclusion, and it will enable more options in the future.
  • Iaido and jodo: this matters a lot to me; it's been great at stabilising who I am and helping me get over problems
  • GSETA: my veganism is important to me, but GSETA's nominal goal is animal rights, and I don't feel like much of an activist; I also don't support the modes of activism that are popular around me
  • GSEC: I care about the environment, but I'm not sure if I can be very effective here; I don't have extensive knowledge on the matter, and I am skilled in other things where I can be more effective
  • Open Source and GNOME: the GNOME community is the one community working in which I feel really comfortable.  Going to two GUADECs and now one Boston Summit have been incredibly and consistently informative on this point.  
  • SVC: I like volunteerism, and I like it's connection to Open Source, but I think this is too broad for me to really thrive in.
  • GSA: politics are of little interest to me, and I don't think an avid representative is strongly needed right now.
  • GPS: I find it interesting, but I mostly participate becaus=e of the people.
  • OCUS: I haven't really been involved in a while, though I miss the people.
So, tentatively, I think I'm going to refocus on my Masters, on GNOME, and on Iaido/Jodo.  I think I'm going to remain active in GSETA, but mostly to facilitate activity and engagement.

One of my concerns is isolating myself and growing apart from new friends I've made across my activities.

So friends are my other problem.  I have many awesome friends.  I don't get to spend enough time with all of them, and too many interactions are very shallow.  I want to correspond more and better with friends abroad, I want to interact with more friends locally, and I want to build deep friendships.  Also, I hate to admit it, but I'd like to find an accomplice.

I am honestly a bit afraid of losing what I've built over the last year.  Of drifting apart from the many cool people I've met and isolating myself.  That said, I'm fortunate that I'm in a comfortable position where I feel like I do have a few deep local friendships which I imagine to be resilient, and I feel like I have distant friends who still care for me.  I hope that becoming a bit more of a recluse so I can focus more on my endeavours won't alienate my friends.  I hope that I'll also have time to still see most people though more casually, and that they won't forget me.  I also hope I'll be able to find time to finally explore possible candidates for a serious accomplice. (Applications welcome, mwahaha!)

So, if you're my friend and reading this, I'm glad you're my friend, and I'll try to be a better friend during my transition.  On the good side, all this rambling indicates growing momentum in new directions and new growth for me. Yay?

2012-10-08

[General] Happy Turkey Day (?)

I'm mildly disturbed by all the references to a Happy Turkey Day on Facebook when it involves eating for pleasure a killed conscious creature.  However, references to turkey remind me of my favourite bird, the New Zealand Fantail, due to the similarities in their tail's spread.  I got to be a bit of a field assistant while in New Zealand helping study them for months, helping them trump the Blue Jay in my life (which I liked primarily because I used to eat a delicious blue ice cream called Blue Jay).

Piwakawaka
Happy Fantail day!

[General] Hostels

I really enjoy staying in hostels.  I've stayed in a number in New Zealand, and stayed in some in Germany, Spain, Massachusetts, Toronto, and Ottawa.

There's an element of risk that I wasn't initially comfortable with but that I now accept.  Initially, it was a bit harder, because I was literally carrying most of my material life with me.  More recently, I've travelled incredibly lightly.  I'm also prepared to not be upset if someone steals my laptop or wallet or passport. :)

In Spain, I made a great new friend who recently mailed me a beautiful letter that sparkled purple!  In Germany, I made a rich variety of friends and went on a few adventures.  In Toronto, I potentially dodged a drug lord.  In Ottawa, I had a fun night in jail.  In Massachusetts, I will sleep.

Next time, couch surfing!

[Technology] Recursion

A friend was asking whether I had a great way to explain recursion.  I had better ways back when I was first learning it, but now it's a bit too implicit.  However, here's an approximation of how I liked to look at it initially.  It's programming centric, in terms of stack frames, but the helpful principle to me was expanding a function as the window into another function, and in particular, into the function of itself.

Recursion note

[Technology] Visitor Pattern

A friend mentioned topics in CS they are dealing with recently.  One is the Visitor pattern.  One of its goals is to keep categories of logic outside of objects they apply to, but which they are conceptually distinct from.  Objects representing animals don't directly care about the logic of saving.   Instead, you get a separate object representing the animal and one representing the logic of saving; this logic-based object is a visitor which will visit the animal to do its work.

How they interact is neat.  They are both passed to one another, which is a degree of coupling I generally try to avoid.  The subject (the animal) has an accept method, which it uses to accept its visitor (the logical object).  The visiting logical object has a visit method, which the subject passes itself to.  The visit method on the logical object then performs its logic on the subject.  Yay!

One of the consequences is a plurality of methods that come into existence to handle the different combinations of subject and visitor.   These blocks of logic are a little unavoidable, so the visitor pattern doesn't really help you reduce the amount of code.  Instead, it just helps you organise it and it simplifies its usage.   Without the visitor pattern, you might have each animal including the logic within its class as methods.  With the visitor pattern, each subject has a trivial function that just passes itself to a visiting visitor that it has accepted.  The visitor will have a different visit () method for each potential subject it might work on, so the subject passing itself to the visitor's visit () helps identify which logic to use.

This vague explanation is elaborated on in this Wikipedia article.

2012-10-07

2012-10-05

[Microblog] Transient Truth

I just pointed out that our bill was missing my salad.  Yay!

[General] Maestro

Today I got to play the part of the maestro in organising and executing a vegan Thanksgiving potluck, and around 30 wonderful people came along. That was amazing.

I came in my fancy attire, a tail coat and a bear button blue best.  (It was a tad awkward at physio.) Someone thanked me for being pretty! I prepared a lot of food for it. The last time I put this much work into Thanksgiving it was to delight a friend while abroad in New Zealand, and it was comparably rewarding today.

So often I eat with others who don't share my perspective on animals, so it was exceptionally wonderful to, for one day, feast with many who do. For most people there, the perspective was the most natural thing in the world and that makes me feel really comfortable. Even some omnivorous friends of mine attended and enjoyed the food and that made me so happy. I really enjoy it when food that I love is received well by others.

I baked two Tofurkys, roasted some vegetables, baked a gluten-free pumpkin pie (which was so awesome it disappeared before I got to try any!), gluten-free chocolate chip cookies, pumpkin biscuits, and gravy! I also brought soy milk and orange juice, vegan cheese wedges (Daiya!) and gluten-free bread, ice cream (So Delicious) a ton of serving utensils, and magic. It was stellar. My co-organisers and Guelphic best friend helped make everything run so smoothly, that I even eventually had time to eat!

Afterwards, a couple friends joined me at my place for Scott Pilgrim and we rocked out with our cups of Earl Grey Cream tea. =)

I am fortunate I get to share so much with such wonderful people.

2012-10-04

[General] Pie traditional

I made a few beloved mini pumpkin pies while in New Zealand when I engineered a kiwi Thanksgiving feast for the benefit of a friend and housemates.  Since becoming a vegan, I have been wary about whether I could create anything so good again. Behold a photo of a masterpiece!  Details later. Also, I have finally used my fancy quiche pan after a year of neglect: ooo!


2012-10-02

[General] Glug glug glug

I've been swimming on Tuesday mornings.  I historically suck at swimming.  I managed to swim to a dock(!) the other month while camping with friends.  That was in retrospect a bad idea, after testing the limits of my swimming in pools.  I can swim beyond that, but I would eventually tired and fail.  I ended up swallowing a bunch of chlorinated water and flailed about a bit after swimming on and off for a while this morning.  (Off being when I have a little floaty thing, though after swallowing water, I did sit outside of the water for a minute to calm myself.)  A more accomplished swimmer from the next lane over occasionally stared at me; either I have an admirer or a critic.  :D

[General] where's the meat?!

Yesterday was my veganniversary!  I celebrated by sharing new Daiya vegan cheese wedges with friends (Cheddar and Jack "flavoured") which are the best vegan cheeses I've ever tried.  (One friend notes "It's not cheese" but who cares!)

Also, it was World Vegetarian Day!  Yay!  (Last Thursday was Hug a Vegetarian Day, so I DID.)  This is Vegetarian Awareness Month!  And on Thursday, I'm helping pull off this:

I hope to make my NZ-famous pumpkin pies for this event.

To quote a friend on their comment from last year, "GO VEGGIE GO!"

[Microblog] The Guild, a season in 4 minutes

At some point, The Guild got really amazing.  Hank Green summarises the last season in 4 minutes with copious clips.

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