October 2000

Cup of Soup

Sun, Oct 1, 2000

Last night, I went to the wedding of one of my second cousins. Although I see Manny probably only one or two times a year, I had much fun and took much joy in one of the greatest moments of his life. Perhape it was the alcohol, or perhaps it was the mingling with uncommitted comrades my age, but I had an incredible time, and long for the moment when I can be in his shoes. I want the kind of woman that will love me for the person I am and for no other reason. Perhaps I want to live a fary tale, but if it comes true, I will be one of the happiest men in the world. Here's a toast to hope, which keeps dreams like this alive and everlasting. Congratulations Manny, and God bless. I can only hope I will gain the happiness that you assured yourself today.

Wed, Oct 4, 2000

I love Mississauga -- it's a wonderful city in which to live, but Mississauga Transit sucks the big one. Firstly, their routes are incredibly winding and messed up such that you have no idea which bus is the best one to take to reach your destination, and secondly, they depart at the worst possible times.

Today, I made the mistake of listening to my mother. It was raining this morning, so instead of biking to the train station, I got a ride in. This is fine and good, except it left me stranded to get home; I was forced to take the bus. The train home leaves Exhibition station at 18h09, and it's about a 25 minute trip to Clarkson, arriving at around 18h35. Bafflingly, Mississauga Transit chooses to ignore the slotted 18h35 arrival time, which is when you would expect a large number of people to want to catch a bus. Instead, one of the busses I could take (the fastest one) leaves at 18h30. The next one, which is about 10 or 15 minutes longer, leaves at 18h33. These precious few minutes forced me to take the third alternate route, which proved heartwrenchingly painful. Normally, I get home at about 18h55. At that time today, I was sitting at Sheridan Mall -- mere minutes away from Clarkson -- waiting for the second bus of my route home. When it finally arrived, it deposited me on a street corner about a kilometre away from home, from where I had to walk. When all was said and done (and a lot of cursing was said), I got home forty minutes later than usual.

If, one day in the future, the offices of Mississauga Transit mysteriously blow up in fiery carnage, please don't turn me in.

Thurs, Oct 5, 2000

Today, I got over a large stumbling block at work. I'm writing a data entry tool, and I had spent the past day trying to solve a problem with it, and I finally got it. The main problem with it was that I had to write the tool in perl, which I am learning concurrently. The whole language looks like it was created as an afterthought. It has lots of cool features and can do many powerful things, but goddamn, it's cryptic! It's been quite frustrating trying to figure this all out. So, I was rather pleased when I finally fixed the problem, and quickly whipped up the rest of the tool, so it has now become quite the nifty little app, and I added perl knowledge to my belt in the process. I made that language my bitch!

Also today, the show Our Hero premiered on CBC, becoming North America's first interactive comedy television series. ExtendMedia developed the ITV application for the show, which can be experienced through WebTV. What I find especially neat is that for those who don't have WebTV (which is most of us), you could experience the same interactivity through "Extend>>TV". Go to the website while the show is on air, and pages will flip giving you tidbits of information, quick polls, and quizzes for prizes! It adds an entirely new element of fun to television; I was quite impressed. So check out the show on Thursdays at 19h30 -- It's pretty funny. Oh, and the lead actress is hot, too! :)

Addendum: If I ever get a dog, I will name him Gromit.

Sat, Oct 7, 2000

It's time I took a stand.

Early Friday morning, I was sleeping peacefully in bed, warm and cozy. I relished in the joy of slumber, while visions of sugarplums and hot naked women danced in my head, and I vacationed in the land of Nod. But then, something happened! I heard a noise. A deep thumping sound. Then a bright light burned my eyes, and the sound of something strange and foreign filled the air! It was . . . a fax machine. At 6:40 in the morning.

For those unaware of my living conditions, I have a "pseudo-room" in the basement of my home, where I moved after extended family joined us in our household. This room only has three walls, and a set of vertical blinds acting (poorly, I might add) as the fourth. Thus, if people come down to the basement, it sounds like they're in my room with me. To make things worse, my uncle purchased a fax machine and a photocopier, which he uses incessantly, and placed them directly on the other side of the blinds, which (inconveniently) is about one metre away from my head when I am in bed, and trying to sleep. So, you can understand that it is quite the unpleasant experience when your uncle descends the stairs at twenty minutes to seven in the morning, turns on the light, and starts sending faxes, while you are feverishly attempting to maintain repose -- to cling to those last few precious moments in your personal universe, where you rule all, naked women follow you wherever you go, and you have as many sugarplums as your heart desires -- before being violently snapped back into a reality of student loans, rainy gloom, and fax machine disturbances.

I don't know what possessed him to send faxes at such an ungodly hour, especially when he's retired, and frankly, I don't care. I've had enough of this faxing/photocopying nuisance. I'm sick to the teeth of it. My offered ultimatum: Move the machines, or build me a wall. Otherwise, I will move them for him, and he probably won't like their final destination.

Sun, Oct 8, 2000

Yesterday, we had the season's first snowfall. It lasted only a few minutes, but there were some significant flurries. It's rather early for the first snow, but I expect we won't see another flake for well over a month.

Some good news, the Maple Leafs won their home opener on Saturday with a 2-0 win over arch-rival Montreal. Yay Leafs! Long-time Leafer Wendel Clark had his #17 honoured before the game to a long-lasting standing ovation. Hey Nicky T, makes your skin crawl, doesn't it? Heh heh heh . . . :)

I succumbed to one of the latest trends, and bought myself a push scooter. After the "e>>lympics" at work, I decided that scooters were a lot of fun, and must get one. So, I explored eBay for a few days, examining the scooter scene, seeing what was being sold, and what was being ignored. I used weight and quality of bearings as the large criteria, and found the best price I could manage. After being outbid a few times, I finally picked one up at $32 US. That's a pretty good price, I would think, but then I fell victim to the common "too good to be true" internet auction curse: the shipping cost is nearly equivalent to the amount I'm paying for the item itself. So, after all expenses are paid, the conversion to Canadian funds is made, and the taxes paid at customs, the final cost will only be slightly lower than if I had bought it at a store. Oh well, c'est la vie . . .

Mon, Oct 9, 2000

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tue, Oct 10, 2000

Why is that whenever I'm riding my bike, the wind always seems to blow against me? It also seems that the strength of the gusts is inversely proportionate to my speed.

Going home today, the wind was blowing south as I headed north. When I turned west, the wind started blowing east. When I turned north again, the winds yet again shifted and blew south. When I stopped at a traffic light, the winds would calm. Whenever I started the push to accelerate, a large gust of wind would blow me back. I don't know why nature is determined at preventing me from getting home, but it tried extra hard today.

Thurs, Oct 12, 2000

Yesterday was a good day at work, I think. I got into full coding swing, and was enjoying it, kinda like the way I did when I was in high school, and had time to code for fun. Sounds pretty geeky, I know, but it's a career, so if I didn't enjoy it, why the hell would I be doing it?

I'm going to be joining ExtendMedia's "Survivor" game. We have to spend a full five days at the office without leaving the building. There will be reward challenges and everything, except the voting. Sounds like fun. I'll bring my inline skates and cruise around the office. So, if anyone cares to sponsor me, please do. All proceeds go to the United Way. I need at least $50 in total sponsorships to participate, so the more the merrier!

Fri, Oct 13, 2000

Something to get you excited: A new feature to Spudles' Cup of Noodles is under development. It will be called "Meals on Wheels: Noodles Delivered to Your Door". I'll leave you in suspense as to what it will do.

Sun, Oct 15, 2000

What is it about me that makes me so forgettable? It's happened too many times to ignore that people have forgotten to inform me of a change in plans, or forgotten that I was involved in the plans at all. It's even happened that I've been forgotten by a group when I was just standing with them moments before. Am I really that dull? I don't get it. Sometimes I think I should follow Succa's idea about a crazy outfit, just so that people would notice I'm still there. Actually, I don't know if that would help -- it certainly didn't work in Ottawa on Canada Day...

Well, in the abscence of anything social to do, I finished Meals on Wheels. Try it out! It's fun and nutritious!

Tues, Oct 17, 2000

Note to remember, lest you put yourself in an embarrassing situation: Some airlines give passengers new socks. The reason for this gesture is that sometimes in flight your feet will tend to swell, not smell. Refrain from confusing these two phenomena and telling your neighbour that your feet don't smell nearly as bad as you had expected, that is, unless you want to tell the story in a television interview later, much to the enjoyment of the viewing audience.

Wed, Oct 18, 2000

I am in a poor mood.

One part of the latest assignment for my distance ed course listed a selection of quotes from antiquity, and we were assigned to name the authour of each passage. Most of these were easy -- the quote would be the last line of an excerpt in the text, and it could be found without a problem. One selection, though, has been the cause of much inner strife. I have read every passage from the covered sections in both textbooks twice, and I cannot find this quote. If it was only mentioned in lecture, I will be very upset, because I don't want to listen to 3.5 hours of that boring monologue just for one line. I will be more upset, though, if it turns out the quote was only printed in an earlier edition of the textbook. Oh, there would be hell to pay . . .

Thurs, Oct 19, 2000

I need another rant.
If you're ever shopping on eBay, don't buy anything from egoods4u. I bought a scooter from them on October 8, and payment was confirmed on the 9th. They claim to ship immediately upon confirmation. Guess when it was sent. Go on, guess...

It was sent today. 11 days later. Of course, it will take well over a week to arrive, if I'm lucky. I wanted to bring the item with me for Survivor -- something to keep me occupied -- but that looks impossible now. So, why is the package so grossly tardy? Here is a summary of our discourse:

Egoods: The scooter was sent through UPS three days ago but was returned because we did not have an invoice, so we will reship it today via USPS.
SPU: It's still there?!?!?! What is taking so long?!
Egoods: It was out of our hands.
SPU: Why wasn't it originally shipped on Tuesday, the 10th?
Egoods: Our shipping personel was sick on Friday.
SPU: But it was supposed to be sent on Tuesday.
Egoods: If you wanted it ASAP, we would have done that at the cost of an arm and a leg.
SPU: I didn't need it ASAP. If it was sent on Tuesday it would have been here on time. Why wasn't it sent on Tuesday?
Egoods: Automated response: Thank you for your request. Due to the high amount of E-mails we receive, we will do our best to answer you as soon as possible.
<SPU bangs his head on the desk a few times>
Egoods: We will refund your money. Please return the item.
SPU: I still want the item. I just want a complete explanation of what went wrong. Why wasn't it sent on Tuesday?
Egoods: .....

You know, it really isn't so hard to say "I messed up. It's my fault." Instead, people too often hide behind the phony "corporate apology". You know, the kinds like "We're sorry we can't take your call", or "We're sorry you weren't happy with our service". You're not sorry, don't pretend to be. If you were really sorry every time something went wrong you would have committed suicide by now from the immense feelings of guilt. Just tell me what went wrong. Did you forget? Did you lose my information? Did you not have the product to begin with? Be honest. I'd rather be upset over somebody's mistake, which I can forgive, than over some mysterious corporate phenomenon that just leaves me in the dark, angry and frustrated. That, I can't forgive.

Fri, Oct 20, 2000

Addendum to yesterday's scooter fiasco: Late last night, I finally got them to admit that the shipping staff forgot to ship my package on the Tuesday. It wasn't until Monday that they realized it was still there. Then, they messed up the UPS package (cross-border issues, I would assume). Now, was that so hard? That's the way to do it -- suck it up and correct it. Don't hide behind the company and blame it on the system. Negligence gets you into trouble. Pride keeps you there.

Everybody convince Crase to change the topic of his essay to "The Art of Foosball". I think it will make a much more enjoyable read, and his prof will reward him for it.

Sun, Oct 22, 2000

Tomorrow, ExtendMedia's "Survivor" begins. I shall arrive at work shortly after 09h00 tomorrow morning, and leave sometime after 16h00 Friday afternoon. Many games to be played, and prizes to be won. Should be much fun!

Watch for daily personal commentaries, and go to ExtendMedia's website to see events webcast live! Reward challenges between 11h30 and 12h30, and evening events beginning between 19h00 and 20h00.

Head cleanly shaved. Status: Silky smooth.

Mon, Oct 23, 2000

Survivor: Day 1

Today, our reward challenge was to build a shelter on the deck that would be capable of withstanding the elements. Using only materials found in the office, we had one hour to assemble our structure, and then others in the company voted on which one they preferred. We split into two tribes (Pagong and Tagi), and set on our task. Our Tagi House was indestructible. Ping-pong table roofing, whiteboard walls, interior patio-lantern lighting and wall-to-wall carpeting. It was the I-pity-the-fool-that-even-knows-what-kind-weather-is-outside shelter. Sadly, though, the Pagong shelter, though unstable and unattractive, was more spacious and got more votes. Thus, we have breakfast duty in the morning. We'll see how they like burned pancakes...

It was a fun first day. After dinner, it was mainly quiet. We watched television, chatted the evening away, and I skated around the office for a while (which was quite fun, since the floor is rather slick; you could get some nifty skids). Since each day is a work day, there will be no late nights for the group. (As I type this, I am the only one that hasn't gone to bed).

The others in the office have the opportunity to double-dare us. If they dare us to do something (like sleep in the shelter), and we do it, the darer makes an additional pledge and the daree wins a prize. I'm hunting for a webcam, so I don't know how far I'll go. Those Leaf tickets are tempting, too...

One day down, four to go.
Shaved-Head Status: Rough, like sandpaper.

Tues, Oct 24, 2000

Survivor: Day 2

Busy day today. Two challenges and province-wide coverage.

In the late morning, we were presented with our second challenge: "Just Dew It". The task was to create a cocktail beverage by mashing a honeydew melon without the use of a blender, mixing it with ginger ale, mint, and salt, and then drinking it all through straws. The first team to finish the whole bowl of the concoction won. As if the difficulty of that task wasn't enough, they decided to add pressure. Spectators surrounded us, colour commentary was provided, and a camera crew from Global Television filmed us during our daunting task. After it was deemed that the straws were too slow, we moved to our hands, and Sim -- using his army talents -- nearly swallowed the bowl whole, giving our tribe a victory!

That evening, Global returned to present the story on the 6:00 news live on site. Their was a short preview during the 5:30 broadcast, and they wanted us doing something in the background for it, so we played volleyball with a beach ball. We were playing for quite some time, nearly half an hour. At one point, the ball was missed and rolled to the reporter's feet, just as she went on air. Perfect timing. All that time waiting, and for the entire 10 second preview, we were standing in the background, laughing our heads off because we couldn't get the ball.

We performed the second challenge of the day while the reporter summarized the event. This challenge was a water-carrying task. One person stood atop a set of stairs and poured water down to his teammates below, who had to catch the water in styrofoam cups and move it to a large vase. Disciplined timing won our team the second straight event, as we filled our vase and moved onto another pitcher well before the others even got close.

We got our first double-dare of the week, and I am quite glad we won the water challenge to avoid it. The design group came up with a $70 pledge to dare the losing team to wear the most God-awful dresses they could find. The words "hot", "pink", and "polkadot" were used to describe them.

After dinner, we drew names from our team to see who would win the prize from the "Just Dew It" challenge: a Kitchen Aid blender. It's quite the heavy-duty brand of blender, and yours truly shall be heading home with it! So, I've got a blender, now for the webcam...

Two days down, three to go.
Shaved-Head Status: Kinda prickly.

Wed, Oct 25, 2000

Survivor: Day 3

Today we had our final challenge. Our task this time was to set up a meeting with certain resources available (for instance, the corporate demo, three ExtendMedia news articles, water, whiteboards, etc). The last task our team had to do was start a conference call, but the second phone in the room was not set up, and we didn't have time to run to another room before the other team arrived with their last item. So, the Pagongs took the last challenge, and evened the score at 2.

This evening we had a lot of fun. We had really good food courtesy of the Liberty Street Cafe, and filled our tummies nicely. A considerable amount of beer was consumed by some of the others, which led to much fun with pool, foosball, pillow fighting, and heckling of American television programs. We look rather familyish. I also got quite a good workout, taking advantage of the cycling machine, rower (2km in 8 minutes -- not Olympic quality, but not bad for a first time), and a good dose of skating.

So, the challenges are over, and there will be a wrap-up party on Friday evening. There is little official to do but survive another two days. It has been decided that the other prizes will be distributed via silent auction available to all in the company, so no free webcam, but I'll probably make a decent bid and see. More money to the United Way, so I guess it's a smart move.

Three days down, two to go.
Shaved-Head Status: Stubly.

Thurs, Oct 26, 2000

Survivor: Day 4

Day 4 was kinda slow, as things are winding down a bit. There were no challenges, so it was very much a work day. I actually got a lot done, and figured out a problem that's taken quite a while to solve. My project at work has taken a significant advancement.

Tonight, we sat around the TV and veged. We watched Our Hero, participated in the chat (Cara Pifko is not single -- very upsetting :) ), and I went to the gym and tried too hard on the rower. Tomorrow, we have our wrap-up, silent auction, and Hallowe'en party. One more night, and then it's back home to my three walls. I'm glad I did this; it was a lot of fun. I've gotten to know a number of my coworkers a lot better, I got on province-wide television, and we helped out people in our community. This is a story I'll be able to tell long into the future.

Four days down, one to go.
Shaved-Head Status: Fuzzy, like a peach.
(Can you eat a peach for hours?) :)

Fri, Oct 27, 2000

Survivor: Day 5

That wraps it up. Over 100 hours at work have passed like no time at all. It was a great time, and I would definitely do it again given the chance. I went in with a pack of necessities, and left with a week's worth of fun, a better knowledge of some of my coworkers, provincial television coverage, tons of free stuff, and the satisfaction of knowing that our efforts have helped out those in our community.

From the six participants in Survivor, we managed to raise over $1800 to the United Way of Greater Toronto. As well, today's silent auction raised an additional $900, so the events were quite the success. Myself, I left with a free t-shirt, video copy of the news report, CDs, blender, webcam, and dinner and a movie for two.

Special thanks to all those who sponsored me for this event. Your generosity will help many people in need.

Five days down, all done.
Shaved-Head Status: Soft and fuzzy; feels nifty. Go on, touch it...

Sun, Oct 29, 2000

Since one of my Survivor acquisitions was a webcam, I have now created a new feature for SCoN -- Spudlevision! Check out the Noodlecam as it's broadcast to the world! You can specify the refresh rate of the image in the sidebar. I'm still tinkering with the setup of this thing, so don't expect it to be operational at all times (in fact, it will only be operational for a short period each day). I'll fiddle with motion detection, and with the camera's position until I'm happy with it. Be sure to read the disclaimer.

Tues, Oct 31, 2000

I finally got my scooter today, and boy am I pissed off. After an unsavourably long wait led to the realization that the item was not shipped expediently, yet another unsavourably long wait followed as it made its long, slow trek across New York to the grand old land of Ontario. I happily picked it up today to find that I've been jipped. The item description claimed a new scooter with ABEC 5 bearings, and this is what I got:

Both wheels have cracked hubs, two of the four bearings are dented and barely turn, and all of the bearings are ABEC 1, not 5 like they claimed.

I wrote them a serious letter demanding immediate replacement of these pieces. They won't stop hearing from me until I get for what I paid, and eBay will certainly hear of the trouble they're causing me.

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