Life is good

Life is good right now. You will seldom hear somebody as generally negative as I am say that, but there you go.

This Friday, I will be having dinner with several wonderful friends at Chez Panisse in Berkeley. (in case you want to be jealous, here is the menu). On Saturday, I'll be hanging out at a friend's barbecue in Mountain View, and on Sunday going to dim sum in San Francisco's Chinatown. Incidentally, dim sum is one of my favorite communal meals--I think there's something to be said about the intrinsic goodness of putting food on wheels. Think about it--the felafel truck, New York pretzel vendors, the Good Humor man... After seeing more friends and hanging out/relaxing, I fly to Boston and see more wonderful people.

So yeah--my term is done. I survived. As you can probably tell, I'm pretty giddy with sleep deprivation. I have cloistered myself at home for the past five days, working flat out on this project (simulation of heat and moisture tranfer at a basement using the WUFI 2D finite element software package. Woo.) Taxes are done--$30 at H&R Block. Strongly recommended--a real relief to get them taken care of without much effort on my part, especially considering the complexity this year (income in two countries).

Anyway, here's a perfunctory photo for this blog post:

Actually, I do have a related story. As I was walking to get my taxes done, up the steet, I saw a duck start to waddle across. The first lane of traffic stopped, but I could see what was going to happen next... this BMW comes flying by in the next lane. Duck disappears under the car; big explosion of feathers. Oof. Poor duckie. I looked to check out how bad the pate smear was... and there goes duckie, booking it back to the sidewalk (well, as much as a waddle could be considered 'booking'). It looks like he lost most of his tailfeathers, but no obvious injuries. I looked at him, and said, "Man, you are one lucky bird." Something that made me smile that day.


Snow?! WTF!?

It's snowing up here. That's after several days of short sleeve weather this month--I've already taken down the storm windows.

I am going to go eat some oatmeal now--seems like the most rational response to the situation.

Still working on that final paper. Unfortunately, to make an analogy to a cycling, I think that I have finished a really long flat section, and I'm looking up at the big hill at the end. I really don't like hills.

Still need to finish taxes too. Getting on a plane in four days. Man... this semester really needs to be over. I'm looking forward to a bit of downhill coasting.



I am currently making headway on this final report, which is the last thing before my semester is over. It is slow, but there is definite progress.

In the meanwhile, for your entertainment, I thought I'd show off my latest impulse buy while browsing through the clearance bins at the supermarket.

C'mon--how can you possibly resist 2 liters of hot pickles for $3 Canadian? I now possess the Strategic Hot Pickle Reserve. I will pump them underground for storage, for recovery in the event of a national hot pickle crisis.

Man... this semester needs to be over.


Oy my tuchus...

Went on a long bike ride on Saturday, hence the title of this post. Beautiful day for a ride--short sleeve weather, lots of sun, some wind to fight against but not ridiculous. About 1-1/2 hours of riding each way. I had the annoyance of needing to fix a broken front derailleur cable, but fortunately it broke early in the ride, so I could head home to do repairs.

I rode down to Cambridge, Ontario, to the University of Waterloo School of Architecture--they moved a year ago to a renovated mill building on the Grand River; it's about a 25 km/15 mile drive from Waterloo. Some information about this move and the new building is available here.

Cambridge (or properly, Galt--three cities unified to form Cambridge in the 70s) is a very nice town, at least down by the river. I guess it's distinguished from many cities I have known, in that its defining feature is a river, as opposed to a superhighway. It has a somewhat European feel, I think, looking at the architecture and infrastructure. I am somewhat embarassed to admit, however, that "European" is linked in my mind to, "could be a set for a World War II film." To wit (photo I took below):

War Documentary Narrator: The village of Srbdryc, shown in a 1938 photo, held a road bridge over the Mrgdv River critical to the Allied advance. Although spared by intial shelling, fierce house to house fighting resulted in the destruction of most of the city center. Lead elements from Patton's 3rd Army engaged the defenders on 23 September, 1944...

Enh... this is what I get for having watched a movie about Hitler's final days (Downfall (Der Untergang)) on Friday. Actually, I was quite surprised that the theater was practically sold out--that many people wanted to see a Hitler movie on a Friday night? Yeah, sounds like a perfect 'date' movie to me...

As for other updates, I'm still not making progress on that report I need to finish before the end of the term. Grr.


Two down, two to go.

Well, I think I have all of my U.S. taxes in the bag. This leaves two more returns to fill out (Canada Revenue and Ontario), but at least they're not due until the 30th. The returns were not as painful as I expected--not to say they were easy--it sucked trying to figure out where on a 1040 to declare my paltry Canadian graduate student stipend, even with tax software. The IRS taxes income earned abroad if you were not a full time resident in a foreign country, basically--I think I'll be exempted next year. But it reminds me of the Monty Python skit in which a banker suggests levying a tax on 'all foreigners living abroad.'

Anyway, a nice surprise from completing my taxes was finding out my IRS refund was twice as large as in recent years. That's probably the result of working 8 months, then leaving for graduate school, while my withholding rate was set for 12 months of income (and the commensurate tax bracket). Especially nice since nowadays my earned income other than stipend roughly matches my dental expenses.

I so desperately want to be done with this semester, and for it to be summer. Weather last week was 'sit on the patio and drink beer with friends' nice. There is a whole lot of interesting research that I want to work on--stuff I can really sink my teeth into, and feel some accomplishment. But I need to finish a final project/paper for my class.

Also, I have a big pile of travelling this summer--and for a change, none of it's for work! I am definitely starting to feel guilty about taking advantage of the open graduate school schedule. Then again, after I graduate, it will probably be back to the few-weeks-a-year-of-vacation life, so I guess I'll enjoy it while I can.

  • San Francisco Bay Area (just hanging out after the semester ends; April-May)

  • Boston, for mentor/former boss's black tie 50th birthday (early May)

  • Ottawa, for a conference, and hanging out at Chief Grad Student's family's lake cottage (May)

  • Montreal (road trip with psycho security guard), to Boston (for two weddings; late May)

  • Probably New York to see my parents, while I'm within 300 miles (June)

  • Seward, Alaska (conference and vacationing. Yay frequent flyer miles.) (June)

  • Yet another Boston trip (conference) (early August)

You can probably see why I'm looking forward to this summer. Man... I wonder if I'll actually get work done?


Oh no, not another dental posting

WARNING: The following blog entry contains graphic descriptions of a tooth extraction procedure, followed by a photo of the extracted tooth. Reader discretion is advised.

So I have this tooth (lower rear molar) that has been nothing but trouble--a large filling, intermittent pain, a root canal, still intermittent pain, a gum boil that needed treatment with antibiotics--I detailed the root canal procedure earlier in my blog.

Anyway, the tooth had been especially sensitive to pain recently; I took a close look in the mirror, and... whoah... the whole thing was cracked. I could actually catch my fingernail on the edge. Yikes.

So I got a dentist appointment; he agreed that it needed to come out. Extraction actually went really smoothly--I was in and out of the office in a bit more than half an hour. The roots were conical (all pushed together), as opposed to splayed, which made it easier; all came out in one piece. I apologized to the dentist that his efforts on the root canal went to waste--he appreciated that sentiment a lot.

The rest of the day was mostly uneventful--some soreness, treated with Advil. There was the unpleasant experience of huffing and puffing up a hill on my bike, while trying to keep my teeth clenched on the gauze on the socket, and my nose mostly stuffed up by allergies. I was worried I would be waking up on the sidewalk, tangled in my bike.

It's mostly a relief to finally have that tooth out--I figured it was never going to be quite right. Also, the concept of root canal treatments bothered me a bit--"let's build a treehouse in this dead, filled-in tree!" The crack had propagated all the way to the root (vertical crack)--there's no way to recover a tooth in that condition. But it's a bit sad that I maintained a piece of my body poorly enough that it had to be removed.

The plan is to have an implant installed there in a few months (man... if I had two teeth to treat like this, I'd have no end of fun talking about 'my implants' in public). In the meanwhile, it's soup and ice cream for the next few days for me, while the socket heals up.

Oh yeah... I promised gory photos. Here ya go.

In the previous blog posting, the picture showed the big-ass filling on the top; the crack ran around the perimeter, and fore and aft from there. The light orange is the gutta percha used in the root canal treatment (i.e., where they drilled out everything alive in the tooth). The dark rod is the applicator (I think that's what it was called), put in during RCT. The pink is, um, I think chunks of my gum or the ligament holding the tooth in.

Incidentally, my repaired camera came back today--all done under warranty by Minolta. Yay.