Ottawa doesn't love Bush

Interesting article about Bush's visit to Ottawa and our relations with the US in recent years. Pretty funny and good recap. I had also promised a summary of how Canada's elections and political system works but I just don't have time so I'm going to direct you to Elections Canada's site. Back to the grind...


long long weekend

Thursday was US Thanksgiving so we headed over to Johnny's for a potluck for all of us orphaned Canadians here. Boy did we end up with a lot of food, my stockpot full of homemade mac and cheese with bacon and smoked ham didn't help. Other dishes included crab, mushroom risotto, fish wraps, turkey of course, stuffing, candied yams, and pumpkin pie. Yummy. I gave thanks for having friends who know how to cook.

The next morning we headed up to Tahoe in a huge pimp mobile (GMC Envoy) rented by Songco and Denny. Somehow we got cursed by the bad traffic fairies because we sat on a one lane freeway for about 1/2 an hour as they cleared some huge accident that stopped traffic going both ways. I think we left at 2pm and got there at 8:30 or so. Cecil had left two hours after us and mysteriously beat us there by about 1/2 an hour. Go figure. I still don't believe people can get to Tahoe in 3.5 hours. That must be a myth. Luckily Denny's Me First and the Gimme Gimmes CD saved the day. Actually that link is not to the particular CDs we had in the car but the mp3 on that page gives you a taste of what they're about. They sing songs from the last 3 to 4 decades including "Somewhere over the Rainbow" and "Nothing Compares to You" really really fast with a punk flavour. It's really hilarious.

Anyways we finally arrived at James' cabin, had a huge buffet at Harrahs, and gambled. Well they did. I'm poor. Simon won enough to cover the trip for both of us minus twenty bucks or so. The next morning there was a big snow storm (would've been nice if it happened the day before) which shut down roads and several lifts and gondolas. That sucked. You can't really maneuver when there's too much snow in big messy mounds and there's wind pelting snow at your face in subzero temperatures. I was wet to the bone and freezing my ass off by lunch so we took the shuttle back after lunch. First time I was the first of a group to get off a mountain but I was getting cramps in my legs from the cold and dampness and shitty conditions and getting maybe a couple hours sleep the night before didn't help my mood or stamina. I was getting annoyed by the huge crowds and the stupid design of the runs and stuff too. Oh well. It was still kinda fun to be in the company of friends in someplace different.

Guess the highlights of the trips were playing games in the car and generally getting out of the city to hang out with good friends and eat huge amounts of fatty fooods shamelessly. Coming back was nothing short of hell (aside from more fun game playing in the car). We left Tahoe at 6pm or so. It took us 2 hours and 30 minutes to travel 15 miles. The hold up? Idiots pulling over to get chains put on and then (15 miles later) taken off. We stopped in Sacramento for dinner with Denny's sister (Denny with lighter skin and long hair) for about an hour at Elephant Bar but still didn't get home til 1:30 am. So minus the dinner, it still took over 6 and a half hours to get back. In that time we could've driven fromVancouver to Whistler (AND back, ie roundtrip) three and a half times, or flown to Vancouver from SF and driven up to Whistler (with time to spare). I dunno. I think I'm going to be a snob and only snowboard at Whistler and local Vancouver mountains from now on (unless I find money to get to Utah or Colorado). Tahoe is just too much trouble for a really mediocre mountain with ridiculously unpredictable conditions. Maybe we can make our next road trip someplace warm.


I miss my health plan

So I learned something new again today about how health insurance works in this country with the shittiest health care ever. I finally got around to calling my doctors office about a line item on my bill that said "you needed to get authorization" (i.e. from Blue Cross for them to cover this expense). It was for 90 bucks. I kinda had an idea what this was and I was right. After I got my mole removed and biopsied and all that stuff I had to get the stitches out and the area checked. In passing I asked the dermatologist if those freckle creams you get at department store counters and drugstores really work. He looked at my face for a half second, checked off a box on my patient file and without asking me, wrote up a prescription for some prescription strength freckle fade cream...and his doing that costed me $90. Seriously, all I fuckin wanted to know was if freckle creams work. I did not ask that he look at me or write me a damn prescription. But you cannot undo his looking at my face. That "examination" was the part filed under "preventive care service" which is not covered.

Incidentally, I took the Rx to the drugstore just to see how much the cream would cost anyways-- $129. I figured I really was not rich or vain enough to pay for it and threw out the RX, but at the time I didn't know I had already paid $90 for the examination of my 3 or 4 freckles. Fuck.

In Canada the last thing the doctor always said (Dr. Angie Hutchinson the best doctor in the world ever), do you have any questions you want to ask me? Here, do not assume it's OK to just ask questions because they might cost you $90 each. Costs me freakin 4.5 hours to make that much money tutoring.

Something tells me it's time to go home to that place where mat leave is a year long, health care is dirt cheap, public schools are good, the leader is intelligent, the citizens are generally liberal and people don't run around with guns. Shitty weather is starting to sound not so tragic afterall and those high income taxes are feeling like they actually paid for worthwhile stuff, like schools and healthcare.


fate and destiny

Do you believe in fate? Christians believe in working hard, being good, and praying a whole lot which suggests that what you make of your life is up to you (and the cooperation of "God"). With all the suffering and devastation in this world I'm really not sure how those folks keep up their faith. I know the black plague way back when actually caused a lot of people to lose faith and the church, in turn, lost power for a short while. Buddhists on the other hand are about accepting their circumstances, being good (so you can come back better in the next life), and dealing with the suffering that fate has dealt you. It's sometimes hard not to believe in fate. Although I don't believe in palm reading, anyone looking at my hand would see it's a huge fucking mess of lines all over the place. My hands look like they belong to an 80-year-old and many believe that means I'm destined for a hard life where nothing comes easy. I'm too scared to see a psychic because to an extent I think some of them are legit and I don't think anyone would have anything good to say for me. You can call it pessimism or you can call it believing in fate. I guess if you really believe in that strongly, you wouldn't be terribly motivated to do anything. Hmm.



I go to the library by my place four days a week to tutor and for whatever reason, it's one of the few places where I can think clearly. I can almost elevate my mood to good just by being there, kinda like when I go to Trader Joe's to see all the really really really friendly cashiers. It made me wonder for a while if I should've majored in library science or something I would never have considered, just so I could spend my work day thumbing through books, helping people find stuff, reading to kids, sitting around, directing volunteers, rebooting computers...y'know, relatively painless stressfree work with good benefits. Hmm, I guess any regular job with decent pay and minimal thinking would be kinda nice right now. I'm poor and think too hard. I need to be rich and think less.

world record

I think I might've set a new world record today for sitting in one place and staring at the wall. Too bad there's no witnesses. Lack of motivation to work on my term projects has progressed into complete immobilization. I have to go out and tutor today but it's becoming difficult to fathom how I'll even get out of my pajamas and out the door. I couldn't even get up this morning. I felt sick and exhausted when I woke up after a series of night terrors. Not too sure why I'm blessed with those. Just fabulous. I think I'm going to go boil myself another egg. Then start on my paper. Maybe.



Hypothetical situation. OK OK so this is actually a true story and as usual I get the short end of the stick at the end of it.

Say you were helping a girlfriend to get herself out of a relationship where she was being constantly cheated on. Say the fucker cheating on her even flaunted his new catch in front of her and all her friends (much to her embarrassment). Then the girlfriend decides to take him back out of desperation despite all his dishonesty, and tells him about all your advice to dump him. He then blows up and threatens to kill you and also chop up the body of another friend who also encouraged her to dump him. The girlfriend, now happy to have her cheating bf back (some women are gluttons for abuse), says nothing in defense of you or other friends who encouraged her to leave him. So death threats and graphic descriptions of mutilation from the cheating bf continue as she stays disturbingly silent. At this point the girlfriend is no longer a friend of yours because she obviously hasn't a clue what a friend is if she sells you out after you spend countless hours being her informant and counsellor.

Now fast forward. It's been a year but nonetheless there were no apologies for the death threats or his threats to cut up bodies etc. Now your own real friends, if they were really good friends, would be out to have this guy's head on a stick, no? Well one of my so-called friends still hangs out with this motherfucker and he and the stupid gf are at his bday right now. What's worse, my other so-called good friends and BF! are at the party too, probably making small talk (and pretending nothing happened) with that psycho and his stupid chump of a gf right now. Tell me would you not consider it disrespectful of your friends to make nice nice with a guy who threatened (literally) to mutilate you and another close friend? If anyone fucked with a close friend of mine, I'd have their head and there's nothing else to it. I wouldn't go pretending nothing happened, that is for damned sure. Why are people so concerned with not ruffling feathers? Learn to cut bait for Christ's sake. You don't have to be friends with everyone on this God damn planet.

Lesson learned, fuck helping people. They don't appreciate it and you just get fucked in the end anyways. As for "friends" hanging out with people who threaten to kill you? Guess loyalty and respect are no longer virtues. Those two are at the top of my list but not everyone else's apparently. If respect and loyalty aren't at the top of your list, don't ever consider yourself a friend of mine. I don't take part in superficial friendships.

Anyways, now I'm at home doing buttfuck nothing by myself while my "friends" and "bf" are out at the bday party of the so-called friend who hangs out with a guy I really should've reported to the police last year after the 10+ emails threatening my life. Yeah I never come out the winner in a difficult situation. I have a newfound appreciation for people who deliberately remain friendless.


going out

I just turned in a couple huge projects so in theory I probably could go out tonight as long as I don't ruin the next day with an all night rager. But really I have no desire to leave the apartment. Don't really feel like there's anything to celebrate. Would kinda rather lay on the couch all night, eat some soft boiled eggs (my favourite comfort food) and lament the pathetic state of affairs that is my life. Seems like everything I do comes at the sacrifice of something else. In class discussion yesterday, a woman who has a few children was commenting on how people wait so long to have kids these days at the risk of having complications and fertility issues. I was thinking because our lives are a fuckin mess until our thirties (if you're lucky). Anyone with an ounce of ambition has to spend time going to grad school for 2 to 6 years or more, pay off loans, deal with moving around the country, recover from job lay offs etc etc. Marriage, let alone kids, is too much of an ordeal. Another woman mentioned she is not quite thirty and everyone else in her lamaze class is around 10 years older than her. I guess that is, in a sense, reassuring that I'm not the only one with a life that will be messy and unsettled at least for the next 6 years but still... Why does ambition have to get in the way of other things?

Diversity Report Card

I wish they were able to cover more than just the major networks but this is interesting nonetheless. Read the full article:

APA Media Coalition Releases TV Diversity Report Card for

Asian Pacific American Media Coalition
18, 2004

Los Angeles, CA – Today the Asian Pacific American Media
Coalition released its annual report card for 2004, grading the four major networks on their diversity both in front of and behind the camera. The report card assesses the networks’ efforts in providing Asian Pacific American actors with opportunities to work in primetime scripted and reality programming; and opportunities for APA writers, producers, directors, and executives. It also considers the degree to which APAs were given opportunities through program development deals and procurement. Finally, there is a grade for the networks’ commitment to diversity that recognizes that recent investment in diversity initiatives may not have had time to produce results.


I hate A&F

Abercrombie didn't want to tarnish its white All American image with nasty Asian and Hispanic people (sarcasm) --> class action lawsuit --> $40M settlement. Good but...

I'm still steaming over the t-shirts with the slanty eyed buck toothed people in rice farmer hats who couldn't pronounce Rs, while parents groups are pissed about their line of thong underwear for girls 7-14. Someone in marketing and diversity at A&F needed to get fired yesterday.

Abercrombie settles race case for $40 millionTuesday, November 16, 2004 Posted:
6:37 PM EST (2337 GMT)
LOS ANGELES, California (AP) -- Abercrombie &
Fitch Co. has agreed to pay $40 million to black, Hispanic and Asian employees
and job applicants to settle a class-action federal discrimination lawsuit that
accused the clothing retailer of promoting whites at the expense of minorities,
lawyers said Tuesday...


cramming in a speech

I have a ~20 page annotated bibliography and a 2 page proposal for my interviews (with import models...this won't actually happen til next semester) due this week and somehow I decided it'd be just fine to volunteer myself to sub in for someone at Toastmasters and deliver an 8-10 minutes speech. What the hell was I thinking. I guess it was because I had something to rant about when I offered to do the speech. I haven't had time to write it and will prolly just have to wing it. So please help me out. I get really pissed about people perpetuating archaic myths about gay people because I know enough of them to know it is bullshit and hurtful. For example, this 21 year old who has probably never met a gay person in his life mentioned that he hates it when they pretend they're not gay and just act friendly in order to get closer to you in a conniving sort of way and then hit on you once they get their foot in the door so to speak. That is the biggest crock of shit I ever heard. Had he not been the friend of someone I know, I would've laid the smack down. Anyways, I don't understand why so many homophobic rejects think that gay people are out to trick and molest straight people. In any case, I'm going to spend my 10 minutes at the lectern presenting and busting this stupid myths in a speech called "straight not narrow." If anyone else has any suggestions to add to my yet-to-be-written in a mad ass hurry of a speech, please comment.


weird request

I am doing a media criticism project and need to do a values analysis. I'd like to find at least 3 web sites of amateur import car models. Criteria:

- she has to be an amateur/wannabe model, meaning she has never been paid for a modelling gig (it doesn't matter whether she is aspiring to be paid or not)
- I'd actually prefer if she has no aspirations to go professional but just likes the idea of import car modeling for fun/personal expression
- site needs to be her own, not a page on a modeling agent's/promotor's site (e.g. no exoticus pages)
- I'd prefer if she developed the site herself (versus paying a web designer) but OK if she didn't

please leave me the urls in my comments section.

Nepalese food

Went to Little Nepal on Cortland for dinner. Never had Nepalese food before but the menu looked basically like a mix of Thai and Indian dishes. I had the tandoori lamb which was way overcooked and dry. Apparently everyone else's dishes were great though. I think I'll give it another chance just because the service was great, the place is super clean and the decor is nice.


It doesn't rain much here but when it does it comes down in buckets and people on the highways don't slow down and find themselves in 5 car pile ups. I would like to not be at the bottom of one of these pile ups, so pleeeeease slow down!

Speaking of rain, I've booked my flight home. Dec 19th to Jan 9th. Goals include snowboarding as much as possible, seeing friends, eating sushi, renewing my passport, and avoiding those organically enhanced brownies and cookies from hell.


Hyphen Magazine blog

Hyphen has launched its own blog. Full of interesting and timely tidbits from the brilliant editorial staff. For example, the author of The Rape of Nanking recently committed suicide. Rather tragic news but news that I probably would not have heard about otherwise because it is simply not possible for me keep abreast of news and current events, complete my moutain of homework, and keep the apartment from turning into a dump, all while maintaining some semblance of sanity.



It's 4.41 pm and I'm still in my pajamas hammering out a paper. I haven't been outside and haven't seen or spoken to another human being since Simon left this morning. Gotta head out to tutor soon and then back to the paper and hopefully to bed at a decent hour so I can get my ass out of bed by 7.15 am. I think this is an indication of what my life is going to be like til this semester is over. Thank goodness for IM or I wouldn't have any form of communication with another human all day.

It's pathetic really, when I'm in a shitty mood, that I look for things on the web to make me laugh. This kinda made me chuckle. http://www.sorryeverybody.com not as funny as the narcoleptic dog but funny nonetheless. Ah poor Rusty, I think I've seen this video more times than I've seen the South Park movie now.


one of those days


So I get a letter in the mail today that reads like this:
We regret that we were not able to name you as an initial winner of one of
the BEA scholarships. However, you have been selected as an alternate recipient
should one of the primary winners be unable to accept their award (and it does
happen). Given the intense competition, you are to be congratulated on achieving
alternate status. This is, in itself, high praise of your demonstrated
abilities. We will let you know if there is any change in status, which could
take place at any time up to enrollment for the Fall of
2005. Thank you for taking the time to apply. You may yet turn out to
be among this year's scholarship recipients.

I find it hard to be happy about being an alternate, like I am waiting for someone to default on a technicality or drop out of school. I'd feel bad about hoping for the misfortune of another student. This fucking sucks. I need money and scholarships are hard to come by especially since most of them are reserved for citizens and/or people with really unique backgrounds e.g. children of parents from whatever union or company, people tailoring their education for a specific career in something like radio broadcasting or scriptwriting etc. I'm going to buy a damn lottery ticket. This added to the stress of having more homework than is physically do-able given my time constraints AND not really knowing where life is going to take me in the next 5 years is making life really un-fun.

narcoleptic dog

OK some comic relief from all this politics and shit. Check out this video of Rusty the Narcoleptic Dog http://www.milkandcookies.com/links/8653/ I got hooked on watching this over and over and over.



Sorry Songco and Blogger TS for all the emails, I got the turn off comments feature working, there seemed to be a delay in refreshing my page.

I'm going to keep the comments turned off until all the crazy people cool off and go away. It's not like they're going to change my ideas and opinions and I don't care to hear their bullshit about my evil liberal views and those of my peers, posted below.

I don't go on conservative blogs telling the writers how wrong their values are and how they should adopt my beliefs. People believe different things and have every right to believe them and blog about them. Go preach to people whom you might actually be able to sway. Honestly, you'll be more effective. You're wasting your time with your tirades here.


spoiled votes caused Kerry's loss?

I don't know what to say but WTF is wrong with this country?

"Bush won Ohio by 136,483 votes. In the United States, about 3 percent
of votes cast are voided—known as “spoilage” in election jargon—because the
ballots cast are inconclusive. Drawing on what happened in Florida and studies
of elections past, Palast argues that if Ohio’s discarded ballots were
counted, Kerry would have won the state. Today, the Cleveland Plain
Dealer reports there are a total of 247,672 votes not counted in
Ohio, if you add the 92,672 discarded votes plus the 155,000 provisional
ballots. So far there's no indication that Palast's hypothesis will be tested
because only the provisional ballots are being counted."


aftermath (updated)

I am so disappointed in American voters who thought it would be a great idea to keep this monster in office for four more years. Let me tell you, especially my Canadian readers, that not all Americans are proud of this. Some comments heard around school today, mostly from the other grad students and faculty and my friends at Toastmasters:

- how's the real estate in Canada?
- I am so jealous that you are not American
- next thing you know, Bush is going to invade North Korea and no one is going to help us out
- with Bush in office, the whole world is going to hate us more than they already do
- I almost cried on the bus this morning
- my friend and I cried when Kerry conceded (this seems to be a theme)
- it's Kerry's image, we'd have had a better chance if it were Edwards running instead of Kerry
- this is surreal
- I'm wearing all black today and would've worn a veil if I could find one
- people in the cities tend to vote Democrat because we discuss, critique, deconstruct the media messages. we get a variety of media with different viewpoints and conclude that Bush is going to jeopardize the future of this country; the rural folks just get TV and church
- the west coat and northeastern states should just break off and form a new country without all those motherfvckers in the middle and south

I honestly didn't realize, being in this Bay Area bubble, just how conservative and misinformed most Americans are. I can sum up the events of the past 48 hours and what I've learned about American politics in one word - scary. If I can't stay on the west coast or perhaps in Democratic east coast states, I think I will be ready to pack up and go home where I don't have to fear lunatic right wing conservatives.

Those wondering how Canadian politics works, hang tight, I will post something on that when get past some homework I need to do. The basic difference is that we don't have a bi-partisan system, we get to choose from several major parties (working left to right) - the New Democratic Party (NDP), Liberal (my party), Progressive Conservative (PC), Alliance (formerly the Reform Party). There are also some small players like the Green Party but they typically don't get more than a few votes just to make a statement. I am by no means a political expert. I take an interest only at a level that I feel any good citizen should. Anyways, more info when I get a chance.


election day

Don't forget to vote today. Probably one of the most important presidental elections in a long while. I was just watching MSNBC and they are keeping track of calls from voters who have issues, questions and complaints about the whole voting process. Apparently Republicans in S. Dakota have a history of using threats and scare tactics to get the native indians to vote in their favour. They hang out in the polling stations and talk in a threatening tone about the negative consequences of voting democrat and have also been known to walk around copying down their license plate numbers just to scare them a little more. In addition to that, several Republicans were recently charged for illegally notarizing applications for absentee ballots. At least this was reported in the media. With this and the whole Florida scandal in 2000, it's a wonder people still have faith in what this nation calls a democracy. Somehow, the words freedom and liberty don't come to mind when I think of the nation's first people being threatened in a parking lot outside a polling station in S. Dakota.

not at all vague

I was helping to check out some jobs for my cousin who is now in between jobs (as of last week). He's currently in Nevada volunteering for http://www.actforvictory.org/ canvassing door to door getting people to vote (with a slight Kerry slant, yay!) . I would've readily joined if I wasn't buried in homework.

Anyways, I was helping to look for VLSI Design Engineer positions (if you know any, please leave a comment) for him and came across a post from Intel. Companies used to be pretty vague about their visa policies and took it on a case-by-case basis, or restricted visas only to engineers. Well Intel certainly leaves nothing open to interpretation. Check this out:
Intel hires qualified candidates who are authorized to work in the U.S.--
that is, authorized to work without restriction as to a particular employer.
This includes U.S. citizens or nationals, U.S. legal permanent residents,
temporary residents granted legalization under the Immigration Reform and
Control Act of 1986, asylees, and refugees. For foreign nationals who do not
fall in one of the above categories, we limit our hiring of persons
requiring visa sponsorship or individuals currently on a non-immigrant
visa (e.g., H-1, J-1, L-1, F-1, B-1, TN) to candidates at the MS and PhD
levels (or those who have equivalent work experience) who are applying
for positions for which there is a demonstrated shortage of qualified
U.S. candidates

Pretty detailed huh? In any case, I'm going to do a plug here for my cousin. Here's a quick copy and paste from his resume. Please let me know of jobs that suit him. He's got 4+ years experience and, no, I haven't a clue what any of this means. I'm just happy to have abandoned the tech industry altogether:

· Successful experience in RTL design, validation, and methodology including use of Verilog HDL, VCS, Virsim, Signalscan, Perl, SPARC assembly language, LEDA, Verplex
· Extensive experience with silicon lab bringup and debug including use of Lecroy and Tektronix oscilloscopes, logic analyzers, DMM
· Functional knowledge of digital interfaces: Serial I/O modules (UART, I2C, SPI, IR), IEEE JTAG standard 1149.1, SDR and DDR SDRAM
· Experience in a broad range of project activities working closely with other groups' engineers for lab bringup systems issues, ATE test vector program, software and customer applications support of hardware features, mixed-signal issues, DFT, as well as working with EDA vendors



It's that time of the semester where I realize I have, in total, about 50 pages of writing to do between now and 12/16. This makes me panic and it hurts my head to think about it. Bigger problem than that, next semester is my last semester of classes. The one after that is supposed to be focussed on my thesis only. That means, I need to know exactly WTF I'm doing with this thesis. It also means that it's getting late to be searching for grants and scholarships to fund this horribly expensive career change. Finally, this all means that my program is coming to an end soon and my PhD program applications will be due in about 11 months. Which means I ought to know where to apply and where I'll be comfortable living for 4 years starting Fall 2006. This is way too much for my little brain to handle. I don't know why the path I choose is always full of uncertainty and instability, totally inconsistent with my personality. On top of all this, I'm way too fucking old to be running around like this. I wish I could pick a place to live and be happy and just stay there.


No homework got done this weekend. Too busy running around in our costumes. Went to a great party at 111 Minna on Saturday night. Today, thanks to day light savings, we were able to watch the Exorcist at home, hit golf balls, go for dinner at Joy Restaurant (mmm stinky tofu is really starting to grow on me) AND take the BART up to the Castro (SF's gay area where Halloween is a huge big deal) to see everyone parade around in their costumes. There's certainly less chaos in the Castro now that there are security gates, cops, performance stages and the whole nine yards. Whereas in past 30 years (pre-2002) the whole city would just run around Castro street drunk in elaborate costumes. When I went last in 2001, beer bottles went aflying as a fight broke out near me. This year was more tame but the costumes weren't nearly as creative. As usual though, there was the one naked guy walking around who really should've kept his private parts private.

Most commonly heard comment "hey they're iPods". NO, we were NOT iPods dumb asses. We were iPod billboards/advertisements. Apparently there were a couple others like us but I didn't see them. We did see a guy wearing a box that was marked up to look like an iPod though. My favourite costume on Castro other than our own was a group of people holding up squares, rectangles and T shaped blocks cut out of cardboard. The were moving the shapes around in an attempt to be Tetris. It was pretty funny.