February 5th, 2012 | Comments Off on dix !

So, according to my own About page, this blog turned 10 today. That’s pretty incredible. Obviously I haven’t been blogging as frequently as I did when I was in high school, but I just can’t quite bring myself to get rid of this thing. It’s got sentimental value, despite (and perhaps because of?) all the embarrassing entries I used to write.

A decade ago, I was whining about the lack of free stable web space, and not-so-subtly dropping hints about wanting to get hosted. Some online quiz told me “You are a DUMBLEDORE to Harry! 1You are kind, nice and a bit crazy. Everyone looks up to you and respects you. You’re basically the nice old guy in the bunch ;D” I was in the middle of my teenage Sailor Moon phase: the song stuck in my head was “風も、空も、きっと” (“The Wind, the Sky, Always”).

I’m listening to it on YouTube again now, because I couldn’t remember how it went… but hearing it again, I think if you stuck me in front of a karaoke machine with this song, I might be able to muddle my way through it. The Japanese language might not pull through though. 😛

Also: I was worrying about a science project. How appropriate.

1 You are kind, nice and a bit crazy. Everyone looks up to you and respects you. You’re basically the nice old guy in the bunch ;D
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October 2nd, 2009 | Comments Off on C’est différent ici.

So I was all excited about no-bake cookie recipes… then I realized they almost all call for peanut butter, which is basically an import food item here. Oops.

It’s the little things that get you. Why isn’t this milk refrigerated, you wonder: and then you see that it’s sterilized, and that the refrigerated kind has only been microfiltered. You see a pay phone and try to find a slot that accepts coins, but there isn’t one: pay phones only accept cards here. You consult your map and see that your destination is almost due north, but you can’t find it because you keep running into dead ends and you can’t orient yourself.

But at the same time, you don’t want to miss home too much, because you’re a continent and an ocean away from where you were born, and this is supposed to be an adventure. So you stroll and you wander, a little more alert than you’d be at home… but you live in a suburb, and there’s not much to see. You wonder if you’ll ever make it here. You wonder if you’ll ever feel like you belong in this city, just a little bit.

Posted in quotidian, ramblings
April 23rd, 2009 | Comments Off on traditionalist

I’m a traditionalist in maybe one sense of the word: I believe in the continued use of Traditional Chinese characters. This is mostly due to the fact that I grew up on Traditional Chinese media as well some some issues I have with the aesthetics of Simplified characters.
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April 9th, 2009 | Comments Off on not even remotely clever

I expect you’re all tired of hearing this, but I’m not a great chemist. I think I’ve been researched-out, honestly. One can only take so many failed experiments before one’s morale drops to abysmal levels. I’m in that abyss, and I’ve been here for quite a while. I can’t actually remember the last time an experiment worked.

My thesis write-up so far is full of the phrase “mixture of products.” “Complex mixture.” I’m worried I haven’t done enough work for it, and so I don’t have very much to write about; what’s more, all the stuff I did try didn’t work. Do you have any idea how unsatisfying that is? “I tried” doesn’t really cut it for something like this; you need results.

A few weeks ago, I caught myself thinking: “Once I’m done this experiment I can go and do what I really like.” And then it hit me: chemistry has never really been “that thing I like.” My supervisor lives to work. I’d rather work to live. Don’t get me wrong; I like chemistry well enough, but I also want to be able to leave work at work and have a life outside of the lab. This is at the core of why I don’t want to go into academia. The pressure to publish and produce results is incredible (at least until you have tenure.)

People tell me that with my French, I can easily get a job in the federal government (let’s ignore for the moment that English is the lingua franca of the scientific world, and any scientific position I find will not require me to use French in Canada). I’ve worked for the government. Not a whole lot gets done. I’m not sure how happy I would be in a situation like that. I know one thing, though, that I haven’t been happy with my research for a long, long time. I think it’s time to move on.

I’m almost cracking now; thesis is due in a week and a half, and I have an exam next Tuesday. I’m not sure how I’m going to fit all of this in, and I’m driving myself mad.

Posted in ramblings
November 24th, 2008 | 1 Comment »

In this post, you’ll find:

  • Career ramblings
  • School musings
  • Music murmurings

(I needed to keep the parallelism!)
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September 9th, 2008 | Comments Off on RArgH rargH

(Yes, that capitalization is intentional.)

The only thing that bothers me about WordPress is the constant update reminders. I mean, it’s good that the developers are working on it and patching security holes and stuff, but I just really can’t be bothered to update my installation every three weeks.

Especially since any non-basic ASCII character turns into gibberish every time I do it. That, and last time, it rolled back my comments to last July. Granted, there have probably been only… five legitimate comments since that time, but still.

I had originally come here to expound upon the wonder that is “Oddray” (the July single of LOVE, aka Fukiko Nakamura, aka ex CORE OF SOUL vocalist) but I’ve kind of lost that train of thought. Still. Happy song. Makes me want to dance.

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September 3rd, 2008 | Comments Off on Google Chrome

Being the Google nerd that I am (although I will admit that I have finally taken them off their pedestal and realized that just having a motto of not being evil doesn’t stop you from… actually doing evil things) I downloaded Google Chrome, their new browser.

It’s slick, I’ll give you that, but I won’t be switching from Firefox anytime soon. There are some interesting features:

  1. Homepage with your most-visited sites. I actually dislike this idea very much. Seriously, I don’t need everyone who opens my browser to know that I am a GMail addict and check it frequently. Sites that I need to visit, I’ll visit–otherwise, this is rather useless.
  2. No extensions. Yet. I’ve been using Adblock (and no NoScript) for so long that it’s weird to see ads on webpages. I think that since it’s a open-source application, this kind of extendable functionality is just around the bend.
  3. Tab control. Reorder your tabs. Drag a tab into a new window. Drag them between windows. Remember those days when tabbed browsing was a new idea?
  4. New download manager! I like it better than Firefox’s–it stays in a “status bar”, but you can call up a full (and searchable) list of downloads if you like.
  5. Best feature for last: Incognito mode. Basically, any browsing you do while in this mode leaves no traces on your computer. It’s intended to rival IE 8’s “Privacy Mode,” I think. Somehow, though, I doubt Microsoft could get away with this little gem:

    You’ve gone incognito. […] Going incognito doesn’t affect the behavior of other people, servers, or software. Be wary of:

    • Malicious software that tracks your keystrokes in exchange for free smileys
    • Surveillance by secret agents
    • People standing behind you

    Cute, Google. Cute.

    (Every time I hear “incognito”, I think of that movie I watched in French class. Yes, sad, isn’t it?)

Posted in ramblings
August 3rd, 2008 | Comments Off on What the bleep did I know. Honestly.

I have just wasted the past two hours of my life watching What the Bleep Do We Know?! I’d heard about this movie sometime after its initial release and got interested because, well, it purported to be a movie about quantum physics. And reality. This was about the time of my Matrix phase, so it seemed like a perfect fit. I never did get to go see it in theatres, but when I saw it on the library shelf the other day…

Well, it seemed harmless enough at the time.

First of all: Yeah, I harp on about misrepresentations of science a lot. I know. I can’t help it. And no, I’m not a physicist. But I have had to suffer through my share of physics-thinly-veiled-as-chemistry courses, which gives me a decent enough base to tell you this:

Most of what is in that movie is complete and utter bunk.

To be fair, it’s not all bad–things like Feynman’s path integral are adequately treated–but it’s the wacko, Rhonda Byrne Secret-like propaganda that gives me the shivers.

Look, physical reality exists. It’s kind of funky that atoms (and by extension, all matter) are mostly empty space, but when a supposedly insubstantial rock hits a supposedly insubstantial you, it still hurts. It’s not because you think it hurts. Frankly, this quantum-new-age-solipsism really, really bothers me. If reality were as simple as willing it into existence, the world would be completely different.

[edit: I will concede that the “observer effect” is not really something I fully understand, but you can’t transpose quantum-scale phenomena into the world we perceive.]

The experiments with the labelled water are actually a perfect example of “You will find what you seek, if only because you’re completely blind to everything else” which is emphasized at length in the first part of the movie. The photos look like snowflakes to me, so I think they’re of frozen water… and you know what they say about snowflakes! No two alike. You could easily find a “Love” snowflake in the “I will kill you” water and vice versa.

I need to look up that Washington, D.C. study which supposedly reduced crime rates by 25%, but somehow I doubt that claim can be substantiated.

But the most grating aspect of the film was the presentation of JZ Knight–channeling “Ramtha”–as an expert. It got to the point where everytime she was onscreen, I muttered, “What are you talking about?” The tipping point was when she talked about how we have wonderful technology these days–“antigravity magnets and zero-point energy”–which prompted a quick, “WOMAN, DO YOU EVEN KNOW WHAT ZERO-POINT ENERGY IS?!” (Hint: it’s not a technology we’re going to be harnessing anytime soon.)

I also have issues with electrons “winking into and out of existence”. Remember, I’m a chemist(-in-training). Despite what anyone else will tell you, much of chemistry is concerned with what those flaky electrons are doing at a given moment. Electrons are the basis of chemical bonds. Chemical bonds define molecules. Molecules define… well, you get the picture. The idea that they just arbitrarily disappear is a little much. If the filmmakers are trying to get the point across that we don’t really know whether an electron is a particle or a wave (hint: it’s both!), they needn’t have resorted to such misleading statements.

Then again, I’m not really sure what the point of this film was. Promotion of positive thinking? Inspiring Rhonda Byrne to write The Secret? Persuading the general population that JZ Knight is really Ramtha, whose theories have been validated by academics?

Scientific accuracy aside, all the random CG sequences were quite annoying, and seemed to serve no purpose other than the wow the viewer (and possibly lull them into ascribing more authority than deserved to the film? Hmmm.)

Anyway. I didn’t know bleep, but at least now you do.

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June 15th, 2008 | Comments Off on vous êtes à la bonne époque

Several notes from the concert last night:

  • I can see why the act at 7 has won Félix awards. He’s got a very rich voice; unfortunately, I wasn’t as able to appreciate him as fully since I was really waiting for those who’d be taking the stage at 9.
  • I think it’s also kind of amazing how any Francophone accent he has completely disappears when he’s singing in English.
  • Fifteen minutes of speeches before the main attraction is not a good idea. Especially when your first two speakers don’t speak French all that well. (The Francophones behind me were snickering–as was I, admittedly, having been caught at this very error once–at the pronunication of “qualité.” En français, on dit “ka”, pas “kwa”.) There was also his infamous “Dansons! Chassons! Mangeons!” (“Let’s drink! Hunt! Eat!”)
  • That being said, the third speaker was able to read the growing impatience, and said: “J’ai préparé un long discours, mais devant cette foule, je n’ai plus de discours.” (Cue cheer from the crowd.)
  • Concerts are bad for me, as I tend to spend way too much money at them. Still, the tickets were cheap–$25–and I only picked up two CD’s and a shoulder bag (and a couple pins….) I suppose this does mean I don’t need to buy a bag anymore!
  • I admire the trust of the lead singer, who stage-dove and crowd-surfed in the middle of the set. This is a big man, too!
  • The bassist had good taste in shirts. It’s a takeoff of the old stick-in-rink Canucks logo, but with a guitar instead of a hockey stick. I can only assume he’s aware of the reference.
  • The kids to my left (and yeah, they were kids, no more than 13 or 14, if that) were a bit annoying. At one point a beach ball was being passed around, and they wanted to over to the side, where they were–so I kept hearing cries of “ici!” and “hé, le ballon!” as well as near-misses as they tried for the ball which remained desperately out of reach.
  • Security was quick! Towards the end of the night, a guy jumped onto the stage and was immediately whisked away by two guards. I didn’t even see where they came from.
  • There was a bizarre call-and-response sequence which I think ended with us chanting “Roberto Luongo”.
  • This was an outdoor concert. I kind of wonder where the residents of the nearby retirement community were yesterday evening.
Posted in ramblings
April 19th, 2008 | Comments Off on Tee hee hee

My three-finals-in-four-days streak is now over, and now I have two-finals-and-a-French-assignment-in-seven-days to look forward to. That being said, here are some more ramblings from me (since when do I do anything else?)

1) Went shoe shopping today and was witness to the most blatant customer-hitting-on-sales-associate incident I’ve seen in a while. At the end of it the poor guy was literally hiding from her and whispering, “Oh, please just leave.”

2) This also implies that I bought new shoes (not from the cute sales associate, alas.) I like my new shoes, a green pair of peep-toe slingback wedges. I usually rag on peep-toe quite a bit, but I figure, ah, I wasn’t a huge fan of wedges either. Very spring-y and really the first pair of non-neutral coloured shoes I’ve ever bought. (Unless you count those pink flip-flops.)

3) The shoe shopping was retail therapy, all right? >_>

4) So Gmail says that many Gmail users don’t archive their e-mail. I admit that I used to fall into this camp and let everything pile up in the Inbox. Hey, it worked in Hotmail, right? I don’t see how heavy users can NOT archive their mail. I’ve grown to like an empty-ish inbox, with the only e-mails sitting in there a kind of to-do list (oh yes, I need to reply to that e-mail, get clarification from that person, think up a witty reply to that Facebook message). It’s handy. And by archiving my e-mail, it’s all still there, satisfying my packrat tendencies.

5) I have decided that there needs to be some karaoke soon. Since I’m kind of tired of singing the same songs everytime I go (no, really–I haven’t bothered to listen/learn anything that might show up at karaoke) I have resolved to learn “GLAMOROUS SKY” and “HEART STATION” so that I can successfully fool people into thinking that I know the words. (…Naturally, this means that no Japanese speakers can come. Or, if they do, they’d do best to either a) help me out or b) keep their mouths shut.)

6) I have been getting up at like… 4:30 each morning. Actually, strike that from the record, I’ve been waking up at 4:30 each morning and not rolling out of bed until 6:00 am. I then catch the bus at 6:45-ish to make it to the library at about 7:30-ish and settle in for a day of studying. Woo-hoo.

7) Seeing everyone’s grad photos and everyone on Facebook is a little… sad. 🙁 I wish I were graduating with everyone else but then I realize that I wouldn’t really be graduating with anyone, since all those people on Facebook are high school classmates and I haven’t seen a number of them in years. Literally. Most of my chem friends are not graduating until next year, anyway, so GRAD 09 FOR THE WIN. 😛

Posted in ramblings