2012-04-30

Bubbles everywhere

Bubbles at night, bubbles in the UC, bubbles in my mind.  I love blowing bubbles.

The Vagrant Richard

So, I've been waiting to write about this for a while, but basically I think vagrancy is for me.  Don't expect me to drop out of school and start roughing it through life any time soon, and don't worry about warning me that media over-romanticises vagrancy.  While I definitely love the concept of the wandering samurai or transient scholar, I can find non-traditional means to enjoy all the benefits without cursing the natural elements every night.  Mostly I mean that I spend time trying to figure out what's worth having in life, what's necessary, what's desirable.  Also, what I should find worth having, what I should feel as necessary, and what I should desire.

A while ago I settled on the idea that I should be able to strip away all material and conceptual trappings and still find life worth living vibrantly.  Cast away video games, my phone, my computers, the comfort of a cozy home, the comfort of regular shelter (climate considerations have been made), and even the very fine clothes I acquire through the VV Boutique.  I should be able to cast away habits like drinking fine tea and eating cookies and buying tickets for concerts and flights to visit family.  I should be able to do away with them because they all make me dependent on the continuation of inherently unstable situations.  I can afford to have those things while the economy and my position in remains solvent.  If I grow too dependent, I can't be robust against instability, and I can't be flexible in my life.  If I found myself in a job I hated at some point, I wouldn't want my life style to remain dependent on it.

But it goes beyond material and money.  There are conceptual trappings too.  My identity wants more flexibility.  I want to avoid being inseparably connected with concepts such as "Does very well at endeavours" (I need to be able to sometimes fail), or "Is always happy and cheerful" (ironically, I've worked on exhibiting this more in the last year), or "Has misfortune in his life" (I don't really, though some people have felt the need to be overly accommodating".  Don't mistake me.  I want to be effective and competent and happy and let people rely on that, to a degree, but I don't want to let the weight of that make me miserable.  The only conceptual trapping I'm short of passing up is national identity: I don't think I could accept losing my passport, birth certificate or SIN quite yet. :) 

So I don't mean that I intend on throwing all this out!  I just want to be prepared to give up these non-essential items without feeling like the world has fallen apart.  It's already a little liberating and promises to preclude potential sources of stress. =D  It's the potential vagrant's life for me. But that said, I really would like to go on an extended back-packing adventure travelling lightly and embracing the elements.  A month without a home somewhere with a fair climate? :D

Attraction

Recently described as being compelled by a thousand strings towards a person. :)

SANCTUARY!

So, apparently in Canada it's custom that people sought by the law can claim sanctuary within religious buildings if the building's group grants it, and law enforcement won't enter the building out of respect for the religious institution to pursue the individual.  This is apparently used by people who are pending immigration claims to avoid deportation.  I kind of wish there was a secular group that could also exercise such a customary privilege, but I can see why being secular sort of negates the basis of the privilege.  Perhaps there humanitarian focused organisations could achieve it?  Inspired by a May Day potluck this evening.

2012-04-27

Picnics

I hold picnics, but they're always in doors.  I have a sheet instead of a table when friends come over.

2012-04-26

The Horrors and Spectacle of the Future

Hank Green discussed extreme genetic engineering and synthetic biology a little while back on SciShow.  I like to day dream about the future, when genetics are abused to create designer species and modify biology to our heart's content.  Not that that's remotely a great thing.  At least our experiment will probably be isolated to our own planet.  It's weird thinking about the world building up over a really, really long time with gradual change and then in a just a few centuries potentially getting radically rewritten for whim.

Ready! Set! Go!... go!... go?

I take a while to get ready in the morning.  I'm always trying to streamline my life to make it more efficient.  I'm glad, or I'd probably take 6 hours to get ready.   Today, it was only 2.

6 years ago, this is what getting ready meant:
  • alarm awakens me
  • put on pants
  • grab notebook and pen
  • put on quick shoes (loafers, no laces) and grab a jacket
  • run to bus stop
That took about 5 minutes.  I set my alarm accordingly.

Today, this is what getting ready means:
  • hear alarm, snooze
    • hear alarm again, turn it off
    • lay in bed and think about stuff, reflect, dwell
    • realise its an hour or so later (maybe I nodded off again) and rise
    • check e-mail, notices on phone (5 minutes)
  • get out of bed
    • exercise (if I failed to the night before, 5 minutes)
    • use washroom (sometimes showering, brushing teeth, trimming beard, etc; up to 30 minutes)
    • eat breakfast (if cereal, 5 minutes; if other, 20 minutes)
      • do dishes (if just cereal, 5 minutes; if previous day's, 20 minutes)
  • practise arts (varies, sometimes piano (10 min), jodo (15 min), iaido (15 min))
  • get ready
    • dress
    • prepare tea flask (5 minutes, do other things simultaneously)
    • pack bag (papers, laptop, charger (can't forget charger))
    • pick coat (involves checking weather)
    • find headphones, Zelda gloves, phone, wallet, keys
    • put on shoes (Converse, so at least 5 minutes)
  • exit
    • make sure electricals are off
    • lock door
    • run through traffic to just make the bus
So that's about a 2h25m morning. Beat that, ladies!

2012-04-25

Transient Thought

It's a lot easier to pick out plates with a friend.

Transient Thought

I love railroad tracks.

Transient Talk

I love the sun.

Transient Travels

Aaron Diaz is going to TCAF?!  Then I'm going to TCAF!

Feats of strength

I'm not a violent fellow, but when a friend invites me to punch a chocolate bunny still in its wrapper, who am I to say no?  I took two shots.  The first, I just punched straight, and the bunny did not break.  Then I applied a lesson from iaido/jodo, which is to turn your body into a strike, twisting your hips.  Then the bunny's head came flying off, through the wrapper, across the room.  I then went on to defeat two friends in arm wrestling, though one I had to express my kendo ki-ai to dominate.  I am the master of the universe!

(Disclaimer: none of these activities indicate any notable physical strength in me, but were fun to do.)

2012-04-24

Tumblr pain

I continue to revile the unusability of Tumblr.  I have suspected that perhaps I'm just doing it wrong, so I spent some time googling how to do things.  Back in the day, I could just figure things out by fiddlin- wait, I still can!  I'll just blame Tumblr. :)  I am told by UI people that if a user can't figure out how to do something, it's not their fault, it's the UI's.

I wanted to do a photo reply to a post.  I first went to the post, and then looked around and the only option I had was, along the top, to reblog.  I tried to do that, but then the Insert Photo option doesn't let me upload... OK.  Then I googled how to photo reply.  Apparently, you have to do it from your dashboard.  I'm not following the tumblr whose post I wanted to photo reply to, so first I did that.  Then I couldn't find it because the post is a couple days old and I nominally follow a few tumblrs who are very high volume.  So, I tried to find a way to filter the posts on my dashboard, and ... nothing?  I tried to use the search feature and ... nope, that wasn't helpful.  Using the most specific terms in the original post either gave me lots of matches from other tumblrs, or ... no matches, for the most unique term in the post.  OK, their search sucks.  So ... forget it, any tumblrs I care about I actually follow via Google Reader (hooray for sanity) so I just unfollowed on Tumblr the high volume ones, then sifted back through 4 pages of friends' tumblrs posts (I daren't unfollow them!) to finally find the post I wanted to photo reply to.  It finally gives me an icon, and it pops open a file browser and magic.

So, why does it give you different options on how to interact with a post whether you're actually on the post versus on the dashboard, and why is the dashboard, which is apparently the foundation of Tumblr use, so unmanageable, and - oh forget it.  I just hate Tumblr.  It's worse than LiveJournal!

(Disclaimer: I actually appreciate Tumblr and LiveJournal as sharing platforms, appreciate what they've accomplished, and appreciate their communities and cultures.  I just find both to have major failures in usability which definitely limits my usage of either.)

Letting the sun shine

A smile of relief overtook my face yesterday as I was again accepted into the Google Summer of Code.  I'm extending my work from last summer on GXml.  I'll start posting to my #GNOME label again (http://blog.kosmokaryote.org/search/label/%23GNOME) soon if you'd like to follow the adventure. :)

Annoying Twitter and RSS feeds

UPDATE: now I just use http://www.twittertorss.com/

One reason why I dislike Twitter is currently is because they stopped explicitly supporting RSS feeds.  They want you to make Yet Another Account and follow Yet Another Website.  It's one of my greatest complaints with Facebook (delaying message notification e-mails by 15 minutes? but then adding context to Like notification e-mails? but then re-implementing e-mail (poorly)? but then opening up chat using XMPP?)

Thankfully, you can still find RSS feeds for Twitter feeds but you have to do figure out the URL to them yourself.

Method 1:

http://api.twitter.com/1/statuses/user_timeline.rss?screen_name=USERNAME
Try adding that to your RSS reader [1].  Sadly, if I visit it in my browser, it's not recognised as an RSS feed, but it is when I put it into Google Reader.

Method 2:

If method 1 doesn't work for your reader, try this, which is the URL that method 1 gives your reader anyway [2].

Subscribe to:
http://twitter.com/statuses/user_timeline/USERID.rss
where USERID is a numeric ID for a user.  I've been using http://id.twidder.info/ to determine USERIDs from usernames.  (There's also http://www.idfromuser.com but that failed to find several.)

It's bad enough that Twitter's RSS feeds are updated such that tweets get clumped together at a minute mark rather than having their true post time associated with them.  Sigh.

References

  1. http://thenextweb.com/twitter/2011/06/23/how-to-find-the-rss-feed-for-any-twitter-user/
  2. http://sociable.co/social-media/twitter-hasnt-killed-rss-just-yet-heres-how-to-find-your-twitter-feed-rss-url/

Protecting my happiness

I don't usually post links to stuff like this, but here is a pleasant list of 15 habits/things suggested to give up to be happier that I found relevant to myself.  I agree with a few of them from over the past couple of years.  I think if I'd read this when I was younger, it would have been harder to appreciate them.

2012-04-23

Trending

I've found myself drifting away from older parts of my culture.  I used to enjoy browsing through a Chapters and walking through the mall every now and then.  I've found myself feeling incredibly strange and awkward in either recently, though, and realised that I hadn't been in a chapters for almost half a year until last week.  Weird.

Sword transportation legality

By and large, a weapon carried solely for the purpose of self-defence, for instance, is not being carried for a purpose dangerous to the public peace.  Even this is subject to restrictions, however:  the weapon must be appropriate to repel the type of attack reasonably expected, and the wielder must be competent to handle it and use it responsibly.   Thus, for example, carrying a sword around against the possibility of being attacked by ninjas on the streets of downtown Toronto at noon would likely not qualify. - The Legality of Martial Arts Weapons in Canada
Oh really?

Transient Thought

The "cow path" connecting the University and the mall is amazing this time of year.


Transient Thought

Stupid: inviting people over for a DVD showing without a DVD player. 
Stupider: buying the cheapest one at a liquidating Zellers rather than getting used or just borrowing one. :D

Transient Definition

Nominate, v: to nom upon something until it's been ate.

Transient Thought

Snow!  I love these little flakes

Transient Thought

There's nothing more fascist in the world than a granny. - KT

Transient Thought

The world I want to live in is a magical world and I take small steps toward it like dressing up and running through the night.

2012-04-22

Transient Thought

Dancing on the sidewalk to Tullycraft's The Punks Are Writing Love Songs 

Let's Swing!

I've had an incredibly busy week and I don't think I can remember everything that happened, but here's a summary
  • Scott Pilgrim sushi night with friends P, S, and K
    • I went all out and made the fanciest of vegetarian sushi
    • P and S baked a magical vegan cake for me
  • K stayed the night and we played Trauma Team, operating on poor souls
  • filed taxes, got a neat return
    • it got a little emotional
  • celebrated the end of the course I TA
    • students took me out for a pitcher of root beer
    • I briefly visited celebrations at another student's place and learned how to flip a cup of orange juice
  • made cookies for S following her last exam
  • helped a friend with R and got muffins in return
  • celebrated the end of exams with the Guelph Pagan Society: nice people, hard to tell they're pagan
    • shared cookies
    • practised jodo to the pagans' delight with Kr.
  • went to the Farmer's Market for A's first time
    • made fake BLTs for lunch :)
  • went to the GSA semi-formal with P
    • spent half the day floating between thrift shops and Zellers to improve my attire
    • K joined me to help make wraps for us and P before the semi-formal
    • arriving at the semi-formal 75 minutes late, there were only 7 people there!  Eventually, it increased to a more humane 25.
  • Oh, and a lot of time spent on my thesis, finishing up some TAing business, and practising iaido and jodo in advance of grading, trying to relax a bit and writing long letters to friends. :)


amazing sushi!

amazing cake! with smiles



amazing cookies pre-baked

amazing BLT (with tempeh)


 

Progress and Failure


Judgement and criticism can be used to shape and control people, especially friends because they trust and value your opinion.  You can hurt people a lot with it, and I've done that.  It can be hard to recognise when you feel like your criticisms are fair and honest, and when your goal isn't really to control someone, when there's no explicit intention.  Just simple reactions without any sense of their possible impact.

When I'm stressed out and exhausted, I grow impatient and a bit intolerant and more critical and much less fun to be around.  It's not really revealing my true self, because I know in my head that the things I become critical towards aren't meaningful faults or necessarily faults at all.  They're often incongruencies between expectation and reality.  I've worked attentively on reducing stress in my life, not just by avoiding situations that cause it but also by subjecting myself to those situations and just not letting things weigh on me.  Consequently, I don't have critical reactions very often now.

However, last night I did, and it was awful.  A friend expressed something that contradicts some of my principles, ones that aren't used to finding opposition, and I bit.  I failed to explore the context and show understanding, and instead I was cold and deliberative.  So much time working on myself and a fault cuts through it in an instant.  It was followed up with my bad habit of self-loathing, and I'm left wondering on both counts how much people can change, especially as I grow older.  Am I less flexible?  Am I always fundamentally the same?

2012-04-18

Transient Thought

Walked through a cloud of butterflies today.

2012-04-17

Experiments in Energy and Money Conservation

So, if you fill a dryer too full, it will take longer to dry.  But what's the trade off between the marginal increase in clothing quantity and the amount of time taken?  Traditionally, I bring a suit case + a basket of clothing to the laundromat once every two weeks and I wash them in a single triple loader (sometimes that + a single loader) and then dry them in two drying machines.  This should save time, but how much time?  Could I trade a little bit of time to save money and use less energy?  

Normally, it takes 35-40 minutes to suitably dry my clothing when split across two dryers.  (Yes, I am a fan of air drying, but my apartment doesn't support that very well.)  On Sunday I tried putting all my laundry into a single dryer and then checked it every 15 minutes or so to see if it was adequately dried.  In 50 minutes, it was dry!  That's a 25%-42% increase in time, and a 20-29% decrease in spending and energy (if every minute of drying costs the same amount of energy).  Given that I don't really lose time, as I work while it dries (hooray for tethered internet), it makes sense for me to just wait a bit longer and save energy and money.  Hooray!

Transient Thought

Hooray for microwaves!  They encourage me to cook more since I can make use of left overs more efficiently than in a pan.  It also enables me to make better use of my over-sized rice cooker (will I ever actually make 16 cups of rice?!)  Hooray for technology!

2012-04-16

Transient Thought

Yesterday I caught sight of the Purplex Ninja :o

Transient Thought

Does anyone else find it peculiar that we like to celebrate the number of times we've circled around a massive celestial object?  A friend does.

Transient Thought

Last night I enjoyed watching bats fly and sing over the Speed River after an exhausting day of marking and martial arts. :)

Character

Sometimes characters in stories end up in situations contrary to their character and I find three of the reasons why interesting.  Sometimes the writer just puts them in there without a good excuse, and this is unsatisfying to me.  "X would never do Y!  What?  Ugh."  Other times, the writer is a genius and the person's involvement in the situation seems to have been naturally forced upon them from the start, though it may give them no pleasure. These are my favourites, when you can see, understand, and accept the causality which leads to the apparent incongruency.  Then there are the completely contrived moments by the writer, which you can see are purely for the purpose of a specific plot, and where the contrivance even acknowledges the incongruency.  Perhaps the character vocally protests the situation, but the contrivance compels them to participate in the situation anyway.   I think it's the explicit acknowledgement that this doesn't blend with the character that makes this situation tolerable as opposed to characters misbehaving without context, diluting the credibility of their character.

I'm sometimes amused and sometimes annoyed by the third.  In an anime I've started watching, a fairly serious samurai suffers it when his companions force him to surrender his swords into a pot of potential prizes so they can participate in a food eating contest.  (They're quite hungry.)  

Here are some potentially spoiling quotes:
Jin: I'm sorry, but I can't simply hand over the embodiment of a warrior's soul to--
*Mugen swipes Jin's swords and puts them into the pot*
Jin: Hey!
Jin: I am ashamed... Please... Win back my swords...
Jin: My swords... 
Jin: Those swords are my life.
Food commentator Father Ingen: To hell with vegetarianism!



2012-04-14

Apartment Love

One of the things I love about my apartment is its proximity to the Farmer's Market.  I woke up at noon today, when it closes and panicked, "Alas, I have slept through the Farmer's Market!"  Grabbing my wallet, keys, and walking one minute, I was then at the Farmer's Market at 12:02PM and annoyed vendors as they closed for my weekly produce, bread, and vegan cupcake.
this week with vanilla icing

Transient Thought

I was walking home after iaido the other day and I saw the clouds retreat from me.  Yeah, weather patterns, beware my sword.

2012-04-11

Transient Thought

If I can make a tail coat, maybe I can make a kimono?!

Guerillas in my garden

The first episode of Squaresville (dorky web series about a couple of bored girls with revolutionary inclinations) has reminded me to do my part in the to sew confusion and ward off the robot apocalypse by planting stuff in unexpected places.  It is timely, as spring is springing and I have some dehydrating beautiful potato plants that I should liberate


2012-04-10

Tailcoat Saga

It's a little over 5 years since I decided I wanted to own my own tail coat. I have scouted Value Villages across the nation and thrift stores overseas, but alas, nothing (except my amazing parson's coat).   So, I'm going to make a patch work one.  I hope to finish it for Anime North.  It will really unite the principles of hobocore and fancy dress, I think. 

2012-04-07

Recent activities

I've done an amazing amount of work this past week.  I also tragically slept through an important presentation I was supposed to give, leaving me in a bit of limbo.  To help cope, I enjoyed a walk under the full moon and howled, studied in the library until 2AM with a funny friend, watched The Bourne Ultimatum and 21 Jump Street with friends and wonderful students I've TA'd, and introduced a small party of OCUSites to honey badgers, tardigrades (with Sci Show!) and Magical Dream Time

Tomorrow (well, today) is my father's birthday!  I'm going to spend most of the day with him, but there's still a lot of work to do before the semester ends.  Yikes!

2012-04-06

Transient Thought

Able to outrun a bus from the library: as Olympic as ever.

2012-04-05

Extended busy-times

Work, bake cookies for a friend's birthday, work, go play in a bouncy castle with students I TA, work, go eat free pizza at the SOCIS night and talk with former students of mine, work, go to a birthday party at salsa at ebar and learn how to salsa and be amazed at how many people I know salsa, work.  Sometimes I'm amazed at how efficiently I can pack a day.

2012-04-04

Busy times

Life is busy, so I haven't had time to write much, but here's a summary
  • narrowly averted disaster with my thesis professor on Thursday (yay?)
  • baked 7 batches of cookies for a GSETA event covering Thursday and Friday (oh, and banana muffins; people had to guess the relative carbon impact of various foods to get their cookie (no one really loses))
  • acquired my iaito (practise sword) for iaido.   Haven't named her yet.
  • attended karaoke in my hakame and gi (kendo/iaido/jodo attire) following a iaido practise; maybe I could walk around like a strange samurai all the time?
  • new vegan cupcakes at the Farmer's Recipe!
  • acquired SOCIS (Society of Computing and Information Science)'s new t-shirt, in purple!
  • attended a cello concert with a friend
  • all-you-can-eat sushi with a friend, was more than we could eat
  • baked kale chips and cookies for an Earth Hour pot luck (sick of cookies!)
  • went dancing at the Albion for the first time, with friends from the pot luck
  • extra long iaido/jodo practise on Sunday (I'm grading again in May, yikes!)
  • made a new friend who incidentally was formerly a co-president of GSETA (former co-presidents of GSETA are everywhere!)
  • failed to persuaded another CS student that efficiency isn't an absolute concern, and that it's a pragmatic one: 8 seconds for a GUI to load 1000 files isn't actually bad, because that's not a time-critical operation.
  • went to an indian (as in, Native Canadian) taco night and hung out with some friends from kendo (none of us have gone recently, uh oh!)
 That's actually not that much of my time.  Most of my time has gone to working on a presentation for my thesis supervisor for Thursday, which has caused me to postpone and defer a lot of end-of-semester social activities.  I've written here about efforts to mitigate or eliminate the impact of stress, but I started feeling it a little for the first time in a while at the end of last week, which is a little disappointing.  Fortunately, I still have a lot of incentive to protect my life from it, so now I'm just wary. :D

2012-04-01

Flour and sugar

For some reason, for a few years I was buying almost exclusively whole wheat flour and brown sugar.  There was some concept that it was perhaps healthier for the environment or myself.  I still like buying it, but I feel like I can use finer white flour and sugar if I want. :)

The commons

I enjoy working on campus.  I'm told that when you start working in the professional world, there's a large disconnect between you and other people, because you no longer share a context.  I mean, you have co-workers, but building friendships outside of that is more difficult.  I guess I'd like something like a common room but for professionals that was comfortable and not focussed around selling coffee or alcohol.  Something with lots of work spaces, a place where clubs and organisations could comfortably meet.  Somewhere I might like to go to just sit and read but be around other people.

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