Wow. Funny.

In an email from my sister this evening:

By the way, Mom was curious about the female voice on the greeting of your answering machine. She was wondering if you had a girlfriend.

Um, as far as I know, that's the default Packet8 caller unavailable message. Maybe the voice sounds hot... if somebody wants to call while I'm out and let me know, feel free.

JMD or Jen--you didn't record a voicemail message for me that I don't remember, did you?

Now if Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me offered--instead of Carl Kasell's--maybe Terry Gross's voice on my answering machine, I'd be all over that. Mmmmm... Terry.... :)

But I think this is starting to reflect a degree of desperation on my mom's part. I have to say I find it more entertaining (albeit in a disconcerting way) rather than provoking any sympathy on my part. But on the other hand, I'll readily admit that my mom probably has good reason to grab onto any straw of hope she can find--I sometimes think about how many days go between my talking to an unattached member of the opposite gender outside of a retail or waitstaff setting, and... um... man, that's just depressing.


Yay. My term paper is handed in. I did not do my presentation today (class was split up in half; the rest of us are going next week), but I'm fine with that. All that's left for this term is the presentation, and a final exam.

Some of the presentations were excellent: one was a PhD candidate who did his presentation on ground penetrating radar (GPR) for bridge deck condition condition surveys--he has some experience working for a company that does that. He had a great set of pictures of their calibration procedure: on a truck-mounted GPR unit, they put a plate of metal on the ground under the sensor, then two guys get on the bumper and "bounce" the truck up and down to set up a sinusoidal movement in the unit. Pretty funny.

Some of the presentations, however, were downright painful. E.g., the painfully-quiet-almost-inaudible Asian woman, where you're straining to hear anything. In another presentation, there was a slide showing a graph that I could interpret with a three-second glance--Yes, adding silica fume increases abrasion resistance. But instead, the slowly presenter plodded through, line by line: And... ahh.. we see with sample A, with the, ahh... addition of silica foom, that...

The grand prize, however, goes to the presentation that had an introductory bullet point: Bridge - A structure spanning and providing a passage over a gap or barrier. Um. Dude. We're Civil Engineering graduate students at one of the top technical universities in this country. I think we might have figured that one out already. As one of my labmates noted, "Hey, thanks for that one. Now I can move on to the question that's really been bugging me--does water go uphill or downhill?"

Besides being done with my paper, other things that are making me happy right now:

  • My former boss and mentor (Fearless Leader) is in town for a conference and to meet with my advisor. We'll all probably get to go out to a nice dinner, hang out, and catch up.
  • My laptop power brick showed up yesterday, so BatBook II is back up and running again.
  • Took out the trash yesterday; I think it might be a new record (78 days). If I keep it up at this rate, I'll use 5 trashbags a year.
  • Made one of my favorite sandwiches--a "day after"--turkey with Thanksgiving trimmings (stuffing, and canned cranberry with the ring marks still obvious), with excellent sourdough bread from the local bakery.
  • Bought a new toy! A hard drive enclosure, for my old (30 GB) laptop hard drive. It came with no instructions, but it seemed pretty obvious how it went together--assembled it, and it worked right out of the box. Wow. I love it when that happens. (in case you're wondering, I went for the FireWire option because my laptop is ancient enough it only has USB 1.0).

Not too bad, right now. Just need to finish up the term. Oh yeah, and do laundry, ASAP. I think I'm on my last pair of underwear, and that's after buying new ones on Friday to put off the laundry event. Otherwise, it's inside-out or backwards time...


Must... concentrate... on... tooling...

I have two more days to finish my paper and presentation, and I think I'll be able to pull it off without crazy hours or anything. Unfortunately, that means that my thoughts keep meandering into the future--immediate, near, and far. After Tuesday (paper/presentation due date), I'm looking forward to having time to take care of the dirty laundry stockpile, fix my car, and go out skating. Oh yes, I also need to fix my computer again--this time, it just needs a replacement power brick; something I could diagnose with a multimeter, but still a $75 annoyance.

After my final (December 13th) I'm looking forward to two weeks relaxing in Boston with friends and catching up--just like last year. I think it is when I can return to being myself.

And in the long term, I'm looking forward to moving back to Boston--so much so that I'm spending time wondering, "Will I move or sell the washing machine? Who can I give away my condiments to? Do I need to pick up some more boxes to pack up my things?"

Along those long term lines, I'm wondering what I'm going to do when I return--back to renting, or will the real estate market cool down enough that I might want to consider buying? Should I leave my stuff packed up in storage somewhere, or uncrate it all? I'm sorely tempted to buy somewhere in Somerville where the Green Line Extension might be going in--to quote Michelle Shocked, I would be "waiting for a station like some people wait for a train." The idea of being a single-seat ride away from the MFA, Symphony Hall, and tEp sounds really tempting. (unfortunately, getting to the airport will still suck--three seat ride, if you include the shuttle bus).

Yes, yes, I know the Bay Area crowd is campaigning hard for me, but I haven't been sold yet.

Changing subjects, an amusing anecdote: my mom sent me email checking in on my holiday plans for visiting New York. She wondered if I would be down relatively early, because she wanted to invite me to a party with some of her Japanese social group. She mentioned that a bunch of artist-types would be there, including "people your age." I have grown finely tuned to the nuances of being "set up," especially given that my mom probably thinks I would be happiest with "somebody from the same background." The fact that I was planning on being up in Boston at that time notwithstanding, I reacted with all the enthusiasm of Fredo being invited on a boat ride.

There's a railway siding along my walk to school that's usually empty; I took this shot when they parked a few cars there the other day. Pretty neat how the golden hour can make amateur hack snapshots look pretty.

In other news, the outdoor temperature went above freezing for the first time in a couple of days. We're supposedly getting highs of 55 F/13 C on Monday and Tuesday--i.e., the same temperature I'm keeping my apartment heated at right now. Will be nice if/when it happens.

Okay, back to work, slack-butt.


"Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job."

DENVER (AP) -- Former FEMA Director Michael Brown, heavily criticized for his agency's slow response to Hurricane Katrina, is starting a disaster preparedness consulting firm to help clients avoid the sort of errors that cost him his job.

Wow. I have a new one-liner: "My giving dating advice is about as useful as Michael Brown giving pointers on emergency management... um.. waitasec..."


White Thanksgiving

It's a cold, blustery, and snowy day here--perfect weather for curling up on the couch, reading by the fireplace, and hanging out with friends over a good meal. Unfortunately, Canadian Thanksgiving was last month, so I'm working on a paper due next Tuesday, in my 55° F electrically heated apartment. Oh yeah, and I have to head back to the University a second time tonight, to babysit my experiment.

The trip to Boston took a lot more out of me than I expected. First of all, the minimal sleep I was getting turned my sore throat into a full-blown cold. I got back on Monday, around noon, had to deal with my car, and made a token appearance at school. On Tuesday, class took up the whole morning (to noon), and I mostly sleepwalked through the rest of that day. On Wednesday, I finally finished what I wanted to get running before I left last week. And now, on Thursday, I'm finally getting around to writing.

I guess one problem is that as little as I personally knew FB, the emotional aftershocks are still hitting me. With all the wonderful and fun stories told about him at the memorial, my thoughts keep returning to him, and then I realize: "Crap. I'll never see him again." Highly emotional events are not conducive to buckling down and cranking on "Using Wood Surrogate Measurements to Monitor Concrete Moisture Levels." Instead, my mind wanders to, "Where is my life going, and will I be happy with that?" Not the type of perspective you want when you're trying to get your ass in gear and write.

So anyway, Happy Thanksgiving to everyone! Don't worry--I might sound a little bit down in this post, but I'm not that bad or anything. And thanks to JMD for calling me up from the celebrations in Hopkinton! Hope the fried turkey was yummy this year!


Back to work

Back at the University now; we got our exams and projects back today in class. I did a few points above average on the exam, like I thought, due to whiffing some of the questions. But I got the highest grade in the class on my presentation/case study letter report. However, (1) it was only 5% of the grade, and (2) this is the kinda stuff I used to do for a living--if I couldn't rock at presenting a case study on a building, I should be pretty embarassed.

Anyway, one interesting thing I saw in the hallway was a world map, with push pins for everybody to put "where they're from" on it.

It confirmed something that I thought was the case--UW is heavily southern-Ontario dominated, compared to MIT, which drew pretty equally (or at least with a bit more distribution) from all over the country. The map is pretty cool--it also shows the heavy Indian/subcontinental, Middle Eastern, and Chinese populations.

I proudly put my Boston pin on the board. New York is a pretty strong ancestral home, but Boston is where I'm "from."


Last plane trip this year (I hope)

Logan Terminal E 06:22

You wake up at Seatac, SFO, LAX. You wake up at O'Hare, Dallas-Fort Worth, BWI. Pacific, mountain, central. Lose an hour, gain an hour. This is your life, and it's ending one minute at a time. You wake up at Air Harbor International. If you wake up at a different time, in a different place, could you wake up as a different person?

Narrator, Fight Club

As mentioned before, I took a trip to Boston for FB's memorial service. Often while running to a connection on my business travels, I pass by a gate marked "Boston" and wistfully think, "If I could get on that plane, I'd be at Brehznev's by dinnertime with my friends." Well, this time, I got on that connection to Boston. But to be honest, it would have been nice if this trip wasn't necessary at all.

I was pleasantly surprised by the turnout for the memorial service--the MIT chapel was packed with perhaps ~200 people (standing room only). Folks flew in from all over the country. I had this mental image of a map of the country, and all these animated arrows simultaneously converging on a tiny dot on Comm Ave. I know it is not a big deal in this highly mobile world, but in a sense, it seems logistically amazing that it happened.

At the memorial service, there were readings and stories from family, Teps and other MIT folks, childhood friends, and coworkers. As I have mentioned before, I admired and liked FB, but I didn't know him personally very well. I am glad that I got to hear those stories, at least.

I think all of us have a hint of guilt to say that we enjoyed seeing each other, given the scope of this tragedy. But coming together at a time like this was probably the best way to console each other and celebrate FB's life. I know that I would be terribly disappointed if people didn't have a decent time at my wake--I'd want it to be an awesome big-ass party. Also, as a completely irreverent side note, if people get some 'grief booty' after my wake, I demand a dram of Scotch poured on my grave in compensation.

Car Eit

Well, my travels back from Boston went fine. Until I got out of the airport, sat in my car, turned the key, and heard click. Hmm. Click is not a happy sound. It is a sign, surely, of jumper cables or a tow truck in my future.

Yeah. Suck.

I tried jumper cables at first, but it didn't seem to make any difference. I think it is possible that perhaps the jumpers were not set properly on the 'live' car (it was one of those annoying GM side-terminal batteries that you can barely get a grip onto), or perhaps the battery is completely dead.

Anyway, one bright side is that I got to find out the proper way to tow my car. I knew that an all-wheel drive Subaru is supposed to be towed with all four wheels off the ground (except for short distances), otherwise transmission damage results. And I've always seen those little pairs of wheels on the sides of tow trucks, and wondered how they worked. Well, I got to see them in operation.

Note that this truck is, as you would expect, the current "axle cradling" tow bar setup, as opposed to the ancient "hook and chain" setup (see the Wikipedia article on tow trucks for clarification). Are any of you both old and geeky enough to remember the old hook & chain tow trucks? They had a large rubberized mat or strap that held the front of the car up. I believe that they became obsolete with the rise of plastic (as opposed to chromed metal) bumpers--it was easy to damage them while raising/towing the car.

So the two-wheeled dollys fit one (wheel pair) underneath each (automobile) wheel. There is a bar that goes across, under the car, connecting the two dollys. You lock the frame together, then you use a 5' steel bar to turn a cam on the dolly, thus raising the automobile wheels off the ground (that is the operation being done in this photo). Presto--good to go!

The whole operation (towing back to my house) only cost $80 CAD, which--I thought--was a relatively good price. The tow operator decided to tell me his life story--by the end of the ride, I knew about his history of depression and medication, his growing up in Montreal, his brother with a heart condition, and the office parrot that swears during important phone calls. Well, it was entertaining enough.


More ultra-low bandwidth data transfer; travel plans

Did another bike ride to Kitchener to download our field experiment; I actually computed out the bitrate this time. Given a 464 kB file (=3,712,000 bits, right?), and a 2 hour round trip, that comes out to 515 bits/second. Now that's a "skinny pipe." Which reminds me--I always thought it would be fun to build a network interface card that used tin cans and string instead of unshielded twisted pair, just as a perversion of technologies--call it "Tin Base-T". I wonder which of these two options would be faster?

One reason for the slow bitrate was the weather. I think this was the last long ride of the season--it was cold (high 30's/low 40's F) and blustery today, and it's getting worse this week. Friday's high is forecast as 30 F (-1 C). Yuck. As I was pedaling away at walking speed up a hill, legs completely tapped out, with the the wind pushing me back and freezing me, I was frustrated enough to be cursing the whole effort out loud.

In other news, I have decided to fly to Boston for Frostbyte's memorial service. I will be flying in on Friday night (staying with Bird & Jen in NH), and flying out on Monday morning. I think that many other people have a much greater personal connection to him, but I feel like I really need to go to lend moral support to the Teps (both undergrads and alums), and to genuinely pay my respects.

I figure that its not a secret that Frostbyte's death is now a front-page story in various Boston newspapers ("Drug lab being dismantled; Discovery shakes Fort Point neighbors") (if the link requires a login, try using BugMeNot). It's ugly, and I feel terrible for what FB's family, friends, and the house must be going through. If I had to guess, I would imagine that the police saw bunsen burners and other chemical lab paraphanalia, and said, "Yep, meth lab." If that is the case, I hope that this correction will not be buried below the fold of page B23 two weeks later. On the other hand, I don't know enough about the situation to dismiss what the authorities are saying. The situation could be that bad, which would be incredibly depressing. My apologies if this comes across as "not supporting my brother," but I honestly don't know, either way.



I figure the majority of the readers of this blog are Teps who already know about this, but Frostbyte (Kevin M.) died on Sunday.


I can't say that I was really personally close to him, but I always admired him, his amazing skills in many fields, and his willingness to help out Tep so much. He was one of those people whose email to mailing lists I typically saved: they always contained useful information for later. I guess that we bonded in the work that needed to be completed after Fred Fenning's death--both of us considered Fred to be an amazing mentor and educator, as did many of the 'Teps-who-get-shit-done' core group.


NYT Article: Penguin Classic Collection

The New York Times has an article titled "One Well-Read Home Has Some New Pets: 1,082 Penguins"--it's about a woman whose house in Los Alamos burned down in the forest fires, and she lost her 2300-book personal library.

After that, on her birthday, her husband bought her the complete collection of the Penguin Classics Library, 1,082 books sold only by Amazon.com for nearly $8,000.

Man. That is the kind of gift that I would be happy to spend that amount of money on, versus the whole diamond ring scam. Not to mention how happy I would be ending up with a woman who would appreciate something like that.


Went over to Dan and Daniel's place for an apple pie-making party, and ended up staying for dinner. It was fun, and the pies we both made were extremely tasty. As were the pizza and califlower that Dan made.

It was my first apple pie of the season, which was a nice feeling--yeah, fall has arrived, but there are some redeeming sides to coming home in the dark--pie tastes that much better. In fact, I think it may be the first pie that I've made since I've moved up here--I know that I had to unpack my Apple Peeler Corer Slicer from the box I moved it up in. Incidentally, the device is a present from my friend AJFBS. Thanks A! Let me know if you find a decent wheat-free pie crust recipe, and I'll give it a shot next time I see you.

In case people are curious, I use my mom's recipe for filling, and Chris Kimball's Cook's Bible recipe for crust (uses both shortening and butter). I used Northern Spy apples, which I bought at the Farmer's Market on Saturday. I have to say that it was very nice to transition from plane flights (travelling at 400 mph on my ass) to biking around the Waterloo countryside up to the market. Dry heaving notwithstanding.

And yes, Jen, I realize that the pastry "leafs" are a very "Martha" touch. Honestly don't remember where I got that from, though.


Another Trip, Another Return… waitasec, haven't I said that?…

Just got back from another trip on Saturday morning—-to review and clarify:

Vancouver Trip: last week, eight days, a group of five to seven guys (over the course of the trip); hockey game, restaurant with hot waitresses.
In between: studied for a midterm; took a midterm; left for airport two hours later.
Richmond Trip: past four days, just me and chief grad student, working with a large unnamed corporate client’s technicians.

Chief grad student was working with a nasty cold this entire trip; the techs took care of him and got him a sippy cup and a gallon of orange juice. It was funny. Oh... did I mention that both of the techs are quite attractive women?

The tech holding the package of sippy cups has a Southern accent as hot as Jodie Foster’s in Silence of the Lambs; the other one is a part-time aerobics instructor. They both look good in tool belts, and know how to use them. Rawr. And both have significant others, of course [grin].

As a side note and question--does this fall into the category of raw objectification, or is it come across as a goofy/amusing way of describing the situation? (which was my intent) Also, don’t walk away from this paragraph just thinking, "Bats has it going on for Southern women who wear tool belts." It’s more a combination of competence and intelligence, and the attraction kinda goes along with it.

Once again, we actually had time to see the city, or at least eat in some nice restaurants. The first night was a dinner at a tapas bar called Europa, in the Shockoe Slip portion of town.

On our final night there, we went to a French Bistro called CanCan Brasserie in the Carytown portion of town. I tried their "Pan Roasted Sweetbreads with Acorn Squash Roasted with Crushed Black Pepper, Heart of the Woods Mushrooms, Sherry Vin and Hazelnuts." In case you are not familiar with sweetbreads, they are the pancreas and/or thymus glands of an animal (typically a calf/veal). As Cecil Adams puts it: "They're called sweetbreads for the obvious reason that if you called them thymus glands or whatever you couldn't give the damn things away. The art of euphemism goes back a long way."

I have had sweetbreads only once before in my life, at Anago Bistro in Cambridge, at Leper and Elizbeth's wedding rehearsal dinner. A new experience, and I thought they were pretty good. Given the opportunity, I thought I would try again. I have to say that I was slightly disappointed. The ones from Cambridge were much smaller, and a lot of the flavor is concentrated at the seared exterior of the sweetbread. In contrast, the Richmond ones were larger, so they had a large less-flavored interior. Also, the heaviness/richness of the dish, combined with the concentrated 'organ meat' flavoring made me end up leaving some of it uneaten. Which is kind of a shame, considering how much effort goes into preparing sweetbreads.

Anyway... given my penchant for trying all parts of the animal (including chicken feet) I think that I need to try eating tripe. And brains. Someday. Ghaaagggh... braaaainnzzzz.


Malibu Barbie’s Mid-Life Crisis Car?

Or has Mary Kay switched away from Cadillacs in an attempt to attract a younger demographic?

(This extremely pink Mustang was found at the parking lot near the test hut at the University).

Back on an Airplane (and Thoughts on Air Travel)

I had my mid-term this morning: it was the first exam I have taken in over ten years. Yeah, really. No, it wasn’t a major trauma or anything. But I don’t think I did as well as I wanted to, although I don’t think I did spectacularly badly. I completely nailed some questions, but I totally whiffed some other ones: they remain stuck in my mind and annoy me. I’d be surprised if I did substantially better than average.

And two hours after that, I was headed to the airport:


The flight was annoying: first of all, it was an insanely long taxi on the apron—-we pushed back on time, and didn’t actually take off until half an hour later. We were not just sitting around in a ground hold—-we were bumping along, incredibly slowly, to the runway. I was wondering whether all the runways at Toronto Pearson were busy today, so we were driving to the next airport to see if they had room.

Here you see my delightful window seat. Oh wait, there’s no window. It’s an almost window seat, I guess. Well, at least it’s not that window seat you get at the back of an MD-80, where your entire view is taken up by the engine pod that’s FOUR FEET AWAY FROM YOUR HEAD. (Just try not to think about uncased engine failures).

Anyway, part of the flight attendant announcement was:

The lavatory at the front of the aircraft is reserved for the exclusive use of our Executive Class passengers. Our Hospitality Class [h’yeah, nice euphemism for economy] passengers can make use of the two other lavatories located mid and aft.

Something about her delivery made me want to edit her sentence to: Our Hospitality Class passengers can make use of the damp rag and 5-gallon bucket located in the aft of the aircraft.

Considering how much they are cutting back amenities (i.e., you have to pay for the snacks on Air Canada nowadays), I think I’d be willing to fly military cargo-plane style: sideways facing canvas seats, metal floors, and you provide your own earplugs and parka. I like the idea: call it C-130 Class—it would play the Home Depot role against normal airlines’ Pier One. If cutting back the carpeted and padded finishes reduces ticket prices, I’d be up for it. After all, I am not traveling around in a living room: I am in a goddamn pressurized aluminum tube 6 miles above the ground moving 450 knots. Don’t try to fool me into thinking otherwise.

However, I don’t think much of the rest of the traveling public is going to go for this. Especially the part where they hand you a parachute and yell, “Red light! Hook up!”


Midterm reading

I have a midterm coming up on Tuesday; I am reading the course text, Design and Control of Concrete Mixtures.

It's a little dense.

(Yeah, ~2000 kg/m^3 dense)


Anyway, I think that it might not be a great idea to watch depressing documentaries when you're a bit stressed out and the weather outside is mostly grey-slop-from-the-sky. However, I did end up watching the Frontline episode "The Torture Question" online--about Afghanistan, Iraq, Guantanamo Bay, and Abu Ghraib, and the Administration decisions on loosening the bounds of interrogation techniques. Both interesting and depressing. Some of the information I had heard before, either from the New York Times, or Mark Bowden's Atlantic Monthly article ("The Dark Art of Interrogation") as well as his follow-up piece, "Lessons of Abu Ghraib." (note: those links probably won't show up for people who don't subscribe to the Atlantic. Let me know by email if you really want to read the articles.)

I'm afraid that I'm probably unlike most of my left-leaning friends, in that I'm not sure I can categorically declare 'we cannot let our forces use coercive interrogation techniques, period (i.e., "torture lite".. what a turn of phrase)' from a moral high ground. The canonical 'ticking bomb' scenario (i.e., you capture a terrorist who knows where an armed bomb is planted) is incredibly hard to argue against, in its purest hypothetical form (i.e., you know you have the right person, and you know that he knows where the bomb is). However, the institutionalized use of torture can quickly become a standard method, as Bowden writes:

In certain rare cases keeping a prisoner cold, uncomfortable, frightened, and disoriented is morally justified and necessary; but the danger in acknowledging as much has always been that such abusive treatment will become the norm. This is what happened in Israel, where a newly introduced regime of officially sanctioned "aggressive interrogation" quickly deteriorated into a system of routine physical abuse. (The Israeli Supreme Court reissued a ban on all such practices in 1999.)

More importantly, however, I would argue against use of torture due to its lack of effectiveness. I have heard it termed 'the crack cocaine of counterinsurgency warfare'--it is incredibly effective at first, and then becomes useless, if not worse than that. Of course, the reason is that with each interrogation sweep, you will be capturing people who were just in the wrong place at the wrong time. People who are brothers/uncles/sons of the general population whose 'hearts and minds' you're trying to win. Great.

Second, as the Frontline episode points out, extreme methods result in bad intelligence--even the Soviets, who had few qualms in practicing these techniques, admitted as much. People will say whatever it takes to get out of the interrogation situation.

Hmmm. That was really more than I intended to post about. Back to studying concrete.


Another trip, another return

I'm back from that Vancouver trip: we were out there for eight days total, got done early, and got to leave ahead of schedule. We even had [gasp] some time to see the city, as opposed to the usual airport-jobsite-hotel-jobsite-hotel-jobsite-hotel-airport trip that I'm used to. The work went well, and the client (and other visitors) were impressed by our work.

In addition to going to the restaurant with hot waitresses, mentioned earlier, we went to the Yaletown Brewing Company. It's a brewpub in the part of town that used to be warehouses, and now is going more upscale (read: getting yuppified). But hey--excellent pizzas, and they have a very tasty Brown Ale--good malty flavor, and a very creamy mouthfeel--a bit like Guinness in that way.

Speaking of Guinness, the photo above shows the Lion's Gate Bridge, which was--no lie--built by the Guinness family in the late 1930's. Basically, they bought property on the north shore of Vancouver, and wanted to recoup their investment by having people build houses and move there. I took this shot while a group of us were walking through Stanley Park on a day off. I found this park especially interesting because it is a large peninsula attached to the central part of the city that has remained parkland--it is almost the same size as the downtown core of Vancouver--take a look at this Google Map. I guess that it was declared a park early enough that development didn't encroach on it. Also, I assume it might be like New York's Central Park: not only is it an institution, but there is a lot of money invested in the interface between the city and the park (i.e., having a Central Park West address and view).

Other entertaining items: the client rented a skybox at a Vancouver Canucks game as a thank-you gift to the installation team and some of his subcontractors. First fistfight started less than four minutes into the game--that was a new one for me. The game was pretty good.

Also, I convinced my coworkers to go to dim sum on Sunday morning. The restaurant didn't do carts, which was a bit disappointing, but the food was excellent. Vancouver is a very Asian city, and I noticed, while walking around downtown, that the women there seemed to only fall into two groups: ultra-stylish twentysomethings, wearing faddish clothing, and fiftysomethings who look like they would be at home pulling one of those two-wheeled grocery carts. Perhaps I was seeing a skewed sample.

Weather in Vancouver was crap, as expected for this time of year (cold, dreary and rainy). The weather forecast was: "Chance of rain." "Chance of rain." "Chance of rain." "Rain." At least I made good use of my hat and raincoat. I have to imagine that living in that stuff for months must be pretty soul-destroying. Reminded me of a cartoon that used to be hanging up at Tep:

Caption: visitor to Seattle, shows woman sitting in coffee shop

"I just love the rain--it's so romantic, and it makes the city look beautiful."

Caption: after living in Seattle for three months; same woman in coffee shop, but looking noticeably more frazzled

"I'll take a pound of dark roast suicide inhibitor."

Barista: "Is that for here, or to go?"

"For here."

[BTW--if anyone knows who drew that strip, I'd love to give credit where it is due.]

Anyway, a midterm in four days, and then a five-day trip to Richmond after that. Once again, a sprint-and-coast schedule.