July 2001

Cup of Soup

Sun, Jul 1, 2001


Happy birthday, you big old country...

Tues, Jul 3, 2001

Quite the fun long weekend I had. Kevo came up to visit, and we had an interesting few days. I hope I showed him a good time, in an entirely heterosexual manner, of course. A summary of what we did, in classic Kevo-bullet style:

  • Met Saba of CWD fame at a resto after work
  • After realising I was terribly late, sprinted to the train station to meet Kevo, who was 20 minutes late anyway
  • By pure coincidence, I met another friend from back home at the station
  • Squished five people onto our little ledge of a balcony, decorated with music and Christmas lights to watch the night traffic
  • Ate breakfast out in the blinding sunlight
  • Saw a show at the Jazz Festival, where we got absolutely drenched by the rain, and eventually took shelter in a Music World, where we moistened their inventory
  • Sloshed over to a restaurant for dinner, where we witnessed a patron cop a feel of the waitress, who later turned out to be his girlfriend
  • Saw another, better show at the Jazz Festival, where we got drenched a second time
  • Meandered over to Isle Notre Dame to catch Portugal's showing at the fireworks competition
  • Rented a movie to watch that night, and got absolutely drenched for the third time that day
  • Stayed in Canada Day morning playing video games because we already felt too much like prunes and didn't want to get drenched yet again
  • Spent the afternoon drinking beer on the balcony in the sweltering heat
  • Saw a concert at the Old Port featuring the likes of a really cool DJ and Nelly Furtado, followed by the second pyromusical show in two days, complete with "happy face" fireworks
  • Froze our asses off watching said concert and fireworks show
  • Had a really big and really good Sammich for lunch at Santropol
  • Spent the few remaining hours of Kevo's visit out on the balcony yet again, drinking more beer, enjoying more sunshine, and watching more fine ladies walk by
  • Fired up the barbeque for another evening's balcony enjoyment

All in all, a very good weekend.

Sun, Jul 8, 2001

Working on the weekend. Boo.

This Friday is a big day. For one, it's Freedom Day, and it's also the day that the IOC votes on a host city for the XXIX Olympic Summer Games in 2008. GO TORONTO!!

Mon, Jul 9, 2001

UW has insisted upon making my life difficult. I have for several years planned a specific set of academic goals including a Computer Science major, Software Engineering option, and Combinatorics and Optimization minor. Even before enrolling in school, I insisted upon taking the Computer Graphics course (which is short-listed in the SoftEng option). To my dismay, I have discovered that the all-important graphics course will conflict with a required SoftEng course next winter.

Now, I have to schmooze with a professor or two to get them to give me a permissable conflict. If they would do it right the first time, I wouldn't have to waste my energy (or my worry) on this. I would much rather be worrying only about the T.O. Bid, convincing my boss that I'm being productive despite spending all day at CWD, and finding a hot date for the weekend.

Tues, Jul 10, 2001

Kudos to JP Pretti, one of UW's CS advisors, for responding to my distress call and fixing the schedule, resolving my nasty course conflict.

Wed, Jul 11, 2001

There was recently a discussion on CWD concerning what people miss about home when they've been living away. There were several responses from people that live all over the continent, and I thought I'd share my response with you.

By Sane Person Undercover (Spu) on Thursday, July 5, 2001 - 10:44 pm:

I miss Mississauga. I miss my friends back home. I miss my Dad's ever-expanding garden, and spending a sunny afternoon in the shade of the grapevines, listening to the birds and watching the squirrels steal our apples. I miss inline skating down the empty streets of the suburb late at night, breathing the fresh air, and feeling alone in the city, as if the landscape was laid down especially for me. I miss the patches of forest placed randomly among the hordes of housing, restaurants, cinemas, and shopping malls. I miss being twenty minutes from the bustling city, and yet five minutes from a wide expanse of emptiness. I miss having an old hag of a mayor that you simply love to pieces because you know the city would never be the same without her. I miss going to the park and sitting on the beach at the edge of a Great Lake, watching the shore curve away in the distance, and seeing Toronto's skyline glimmer on the horizon. I miss my home.

I miss Toronto. I miss the bustle and excitement of the nation's largest city. I miss being in the most diverse city on the planet; a microcosm of the world, where every city block is home to the widest variety of people and languages. I miss the beautiful skyline; the gentle slope of the skyscrapers slowly receding away from the financial core, the gleaming white of SkyDome, and the smooth, sleek elegance of the CN Tower, standing tall and proud as a landmark of the city. I miss the Maple Leafs, with whom we've celebrated in victory, and remained faithful in the years of defeat. I miss the immensity of a downtown that stretches for miles, the 5th largest population on the continent, 3rd largest English-theatre community in the world, and a host of artistic, cultural, historical, and sporting institutions and festivals. I miss being in a city so large, yet feeling so safe, with a crime rate lower than many of its smaller brothers across the country. I miss a city that looks so grand, yet I know that the best is yet to come.

I'm still in Montreal, but there are things I know I'll miss after I'm gone. I'll miss living in the centre of the city, so close to its excitement and attractions. I'll miss the beautiful women, who seem so numerous here. I'll miss sitting in restaurant terraces, savouring Jardin Nelson's crepes, and enjoying the shade of Santropol's forested garden, attempting to finish what remains of a really big sammich. I'll miss the balcony BBQ, the three or four of us squeezed on a little ledge, beer in hand, waving at the ladies passing by, Canadian flag blowing in the wind, and the Sun setting over the mountain. I'll miss being downtown, on my own without the burden of parents or school, living off of a sense of freedom.

SPU, if only people were better at appreciating these things while they still had them.

Thurs, Jul 12, 2001

Tomorrow's a big day. The 13th is Freedom Day, so 24 hours from now I will be released from the financial shackles of school. Good thing, too; my wrists were starting to hurt.

Tomorrow is also the day of the host selection for the 2008 Summer Olympic Games. I've been following Toronto's bid very closely for about a year and a half now. The Toronto presentation takes place at 3:45 in the morning Eastern Time, and the vote begins at 10:00. Keep your fingers crossed... GO TORONTO!!

You might have noticed a slight change with each cup of soup. Through some nifty magic, you can now link directly to any cup of soup - present or past - through the use of that handy little icon.

Fri, Jul 13, 2001

Great work IOC. You've proved to us what you're all about.

Toronto comes along with one of the greatest bids ever seen, a plan by athletes, for athletes, and a plan of certainty. It was a bid that shouted the Olympic ideal to the highest peaks and promised to make them a reality.

You heard that decree, saw its values plastered all over the Olympic charter, smiled and said "I don't give a shit."

You traded sport for politics. You traded a games that would cater the athletes for a games that would cater the politicians. You traded a land of peaceful diversity for a land of human rights atrocities. You traded the Olympic spirit for the untapped monetary wealth that China had to offer.

Congratulations. You've told China that it's OK to enforce policies through terror. You've told them you can win anything by throwing all your money at it and forcing your people to accept it. You've given them a free license to continue doing everything that thousands of people have been protesting for years.

Great work IOC. You've proved to us what you're all about.


"Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!"

Wed, Jul 18, 2001

When tremors of instability ripple through a community, there is little you can do but hold on tight as the shockwaves blast through. Never let go, or you may never catch hold again.

When the initial quake subsides, all you can do is hope that those who have departed will choose to return, because they will always be welcomed.

Quote of the day:

Hehe, SPU just gave me a mental image of Hazel McCallion standing with her hands on her hips, tapping her foot, and George W Bush standing in front of her looking sheepish.

"Sorry, Ms. McCallion... yes, yes, all those poor caribou... of course, I was never really going to... okay, I guess we won't have a missile defence shield after all..." - Kenny B

Hooray for Hazel!

Fri, Jul 20, 2001

Have you ever heard of the X10 camera? It's a nifty little wireless camera that you place nearly anywhere without people noticing. Their internet adds promote uses like a baby monitor, front door security, nanny cam, etc. What was strange about their adds was the visual component. Along with the text and a picture of someone holding the camera - showing off its small size - there would invariably be a photo of an attractive woman.

Now why, you may ask, would they have that picture there? Not too many ideas will be tossed around before the issue of spying comes up. Apparently, this practice has become rather common; so much that X10 has changed their adds to address the issue. Their adds now state in large letters "Quit spying on people!" followed by (in smaller text) "(We never told you to do that!)"

They changed the photo, too. Now it portrays the back of a topless woman under dim light.

Do I hear mixed messages?

Sun, Jul 22, 2001

On Friday night I took the roommates out for a Freedom Day dinner - a week late, but better than never. We got dressed up in our finest, and I treated them to a meal at a fancy restaurant. It was a good thing that I was quite generous with the budget, or else that meal would have pushed Freedom Day ahead a while.

Yesterday, I spent most of the day waiting. The venue for all this waiting was La Ronde, Montreal's amusement park. It seems very odd to pay $32 to wait in line at rides, wait at the gate for friends, wait in line for more rides, wait in line for food, and wait in line for more rides. Perhaps park directors should come up with better ways of entertaining guests that are waiting in line, because that's what they do most of the time. Frankly, the current lineup situation at amusement parks isn't very amusing. You can only be entertained by the repetitive grafiti and interesting locations for storing gum for so long before you wonder if the ride really is worth all the wasted time.

The best grafiti we saw was a scrawl that was an exact copy of the warning sign reading something like "This area is under video surveillance; grafiti will not be tolerated". The best ride was Track 1 of Le Monstre; a good old-style rickety wooden coaster. The best amusement was watching the people on a coaster two trains before us. When they returned to the queue house, the people in the back were laughing, and the people in the front were horrified. It turns out that someone in the front row had vomitted, and the people in the few rows behind him were drenched in it.

While we were there, we saw France's presentation at the fireworks competition. Previously, I had wondered why people would pay money to see fireworks when you can watch them for free just a slightly further distance away. That question was answered about half a minute into the presentation. Pyromusicals are absolutely awesome. All the low fireworks just in front of you and the large ones right above your head all in synch with music is an incredibly powerful experience; absolutely beautiful. The show finished to the Riverdance theme, with the sky so filled with golden fireworks that it looked like it was going to rain down upon us.

Tues, Jul 24, 2001

I have discovered a "cure" to obesity. Once again, the solution lies in your perspective. Instead of weighing yourself in kilograms or pounds, weigh yourself in carats. That way, the heavier you are, the more valuable you feel.

Thurs, Jul 26, 2001

I learned a couple of interesting things the past few days.

One was about the state of Germany between the two world wars (courtesy of my history course). Germany was in such terrible financial trouble in 1923 that by autumn, inflation was so high that you could sell your house in the morning, and with the money you made from the sale, by the evening you could buy a fountain pen. That just boggles my mind; imagine living in such financial vulnerability that anything you earn becomes practically worthless within an hour or so.

The other thing I learned dealt with physics. You know how when you drain water, like in a sink or a toilet, it flows counter-clockwise in the northern hemisphere and clockwise in the south? Apparently, that's a myth. The effect that causes that phenomenon is so weak that it only affects long-lasting systems, like hurricanes and ocean vortices. Just to make sure, I drained the water in my bathroom sink three times, and got it to spin clockwise and counter-clockwise, and drain straight down.

The fact that the myth isn't true doesn't surprise me very much; whenever I thought about it I doubted how such small forces could have such a drastic affect. What makes me wonder is how could so many people be so wrong about something that was so simple to verify? How can a myth like that spread when all you had to do was go to the bathroom to prove that it didn't work?

Then I wonder how I didn't find out for myself a long time ago. Well, really, when's the last time you stared at water falling down a drain? Who cares? It's something so trivial and so unimportant that the myth got spread around so far and barely anyone even bothered to question it.

It makes me wonder what other sorts of things we blindly accept when we shouldn't...

Fri, Jul 27, 2001

I have recently discovered ZUG. Oh my, what a riot! Be sure to visit the pranks section, particularly the Campbell's Soup message. Oh, side-splitting fun!

One quote from the most disgusting prank ever: "Until that night, when I took a trip to the bathroom to meet the baker. Friends, the creature that emerged from my insides was borne in the pits of Hell and reared in the suburbs of Detroit."

Sun, Jul 29, 2001

I watched "Seven" last night, 'cause I hadn't seen it in a long time. What an incredible movie. "Only in a world this shitty can you even try to say these were innocent people and keep a straight face. But that's the point. We see a deadly sin on every street corner, and every home, and we tolerate it. We tolerate it because it's common; it's trivial. We tolerate it morning, noon, and night." Aside from the horrific killing spree, he's perfectly right.

Among the teenie bopper flicks, cheesey romances, and plotless action movies that Hollywood produces, there are a few gems with some actual substance that work they're way out into the mainstream. Just like classic novels, there's always someting to be learned from these works, though I wonder if many people actually take it to heart. There are probably a host of people that simply nod their heads, say "yes, very deep" and then forget what it was about before they finish their popcorn. If individuals could use their heads and actually learn from these things, then society as a whole would be a little more dignified. People will learn from the school of hard knocks, but it would be much better if they could also learn from the school of soft touches.

It's certainly preferable to learn from the movie "Seven", rather than to have its story happen for real.

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