Thursday, March 31, 2005


1.) If you could pull yourself aside when you were 8 years old and impart one piece of wisdom, what would it be?

2.) Describe a relative of yours and/or someone close to you who you find inspiring.

3.) Tell me about a book that you've read over and over again.

4.) What are you going to do when spring is really here? (ie. leaves on the trees)

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

A Helpful Suggestion

There's a new article up on A Helpful Suggestion regarding the current political deadlock in Iraq. Please feel free to add "suggestions" of your own.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Movin' Day

There’s something about moving that really makes you appreciate what you have. Specifically, you appreciate how much what you have weighs, and question what the hell you were thinking buying so much heavy, stupid junk in the first place.

I’ve lived a nomad’s life for the past five years, and have moved roughly once a year. Despite this, I’ve managed to accumulate an ungainly amount of crap. This year, at least, is slightly better than most. I think I only hucked about two garbage bags worth of junk, and donated only one garbage bag of clothing to charity. So progress is being made.

What never ceases to amaze me is how a seemingly tiny room (my place in town was roughly the size of a residence room) can cough up a massive amount of bags and boxes (roughly three truckloads), and then another relatively small locale (the cottage) can swallow said belongings just as quickly.

There is a bit of a sense of clutter to the cottage, though. I knew that this day was going to come, sooner or later. The cottage has been where old knickknacks, books, and magazines come to die for close to thirty years, and it was inevitable that it would eventually start to bulge at the seams.

When the cottage is eventually restored to my mother’s control, I’m going to assist her with some ruthless housekeeping. I wouldn’t be surprised if we could clear three or four truckloads of miscellany from here without anyone noticing. But however will we decide what should go? Can we really say goodbye to the 27-year-old Archie comics? Or the joke book from the early 1980s? Tough decisions lie ahead.

I ate outside today, just because I could. There’s still ice on the lake, but the air was warm enough that I could go outside with just a t-shirt and not instantly freeze. Combine that with a cold beer and some thick burgers, and you’ve got the makings of a good evening.

Tomorrow, I intend to do nothing. Nothing at all. I may, if I’m feeling particularly ambitious, surf the Internet. But if this weather holds, you’ll find me on the porch, sipping a cold beer, and puffing away on a cigar.

Saturday, March 26, 2005


For the past two days, Erin, Jason and myself have done nothing but stuff ourselves with BBQed food, watch movies, and drink beer. It's been pretty fantastic. I think the most abitious thing we've attempted all day is discussing the possibility of a walk. That, and soaking some sausage in beer in preparation for tonight's dinner.

I'm not exactly sure what I'm going to do with the rest of my week off. Tomorrow night is Easter dinner out at my uncle's place, and then Andrea and I leave for Calgary on Friday for my mother's surprise 60th birthday party. Between then, there's not much that I can think of. I need to move the rest of my belongings out of town, and hand in an economics assignment. That's about it.

I've decided to hold off on putting in job applications until sometime after the start of April. I still have one more grad school to apply to, but I'm not even certain if I would take it, if it came up. Regardless, it won't hurt to apply.

It feels like spring's starting to take hold out at the cottage. The lake's still covered by a foot or so of ice, but when the sun hits the porch, you can sit outside without a jacket. It's a pretty good feeling.

I think I'm going to crack a Keith's and watch the end of Titan AE.

What was the highlight of your Easter weekend?

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Shelby Cobra 427 replica Posted by Hello

Unsolicited Education: The Shelby Cobra

One of the questions I snuck in on the Ryan-trivia quiz was related to the car of my dreams. For those of you who have yet to write the quiz, you get a freebie: that car is the 1965 Sheby Cobra 427.

I could quote a lot of statistics involving torque and horsepower to try and convince you to hold a similar opinion, but that's pretty pointless. In fact, most of this post may be wasted keystrokes, as most of my friends and acquaintances aren't what I would consider to be "car people". At this point in the post, I could probably start discussing the mating ritual of the Chinese spotted panda, and no one would notice.

But I won't. I'm going to assume that this is of interest to some of you, or that some of you are really, really bored and are just going to read this anyways.

The brand "Shelby" is actually a reference to a pioneer in Ford history, Carroll Shelby. The man started of inauspiciously enough, as a auto racer who kept a steady day job as a farmer. One of his trademarks was to race in the striped bib overalls that he lacked the time to change out of on his way to the race track from a day of farming.

Shelby was good. Damned good. While his racing career was not always marked by victory (Shelby flipped an Austin-Healey four times in a single race in 1954, breaking numerous bones), he won many of his races (often in inferior cars) and was named driver of the year by Sports Illustrated in 1957. Following some pretty serious heart-related chest pains in 1960, Shelby leaves the racing business and starts a performance driving school.

Around this time, Shelby airmails AC Cars with the idea of putting an eight cylinder engine into a sports car. The name "Cobra" appears to him in a dream. After a succession of Cobra prototypes, the 427 is unveiled. In 1965, the Cobra 427 takes the FIA World Championship, wrestling away a title that's been virtually owned by Ferrari for over a decade.

While the real Shelby 427 is virtually unattainable (an original Cobra can command a price exceeding $400,000), the roadster has developed cult status among kit-builders and replica owners around the world. It's not hard to understand why: the vehicle is ridiculously light and carries an incredibly powerful engine, making it unbeatable by all but the world's fastest supercars.

Based on trials by Factory Five, a major kit manufacturer, their Cobra 427 replica is capable of the 0 - 60 mph in 3.6 seconds. If you want to beat that, you'll have to go for the $600,000 Ferrari Enzo. And with that, you'll shave off 0.3 seconds.

This is not a vehicle that you buy because it has the right brand name on the bumper. These things have no brand name - they are as varied as the fabricators that build them. This is a vehicle that people drive because they have a true love of automotives. Yes, it is ridiculously fast, but with that speed comes a lot of respect. This is not a vehicle that you take for granted. If you do that, it will kill you.

For a bare-bones kit, without engine or transmission, prices start at around $15,000 ($18,000 if painted), and for a completed vehicle (a "turn key") you can expet to pay somewhere above the $50k mark.

From my perspective, a price tag isn't nearly as important as what kind of value you get from the purchase. For those who appreciate a beautiful vehicle as a work of art, it's hard to get better than a Cobra replica. There's a lot of passion that goes into these vehicles. Not to disrespect someone who does an honest day's work on an assembly line at the GM plant, but the replica-builders are typically small operations turning out hand-built vehicles, and they do it with a great sense of pride in what they produce. I find that inspiring.

Project for a New American World Bank

'Nee has put an article up on A Helpful Suggestion regarding the Wolfowitz appointment to the World Bank. It's funny. You should read it.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

This is so high school...

I made a quiz, so you can test yourself on Ryan-related trivia.

Yes. I'm bored. What of it?

Officer, I think I saw the driver who hit me, and his name is Jack Daniels...

Feeling better today. I let myself get properly angry* last night, and it helped quite a bit. Granted, I should probably try and break myself of the habit of drinking bourbon when I'm angry, but it seemed to get the job done. Besides, it was only a glass or two while I had a cigar. Thanks to everyone who offered their sympathies, and to those of you who let me vent over MSN last night. (I think Lang got the worst of it.)

I've heard back from another company regarding the cask of Scotch, and things are looking up. It appears that they have casks available for around 1000 pounds stirling, which is negligibly more than the other company was asking. What's more, I might be able to get a better known brand, such as Macallan or Glenlivet. More to follow on that later.

For the nerds out there: anyone know of any good data streams for stock market data? I'm looking for text files to parse for a neural networking project.

* Being slow to rile, "angry" for me consists of me making snide remarks.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005


Having convinced myself that I wouldn't hear from Carleton until the end of the month, I wasn't expecting much when I pulled up to the postal outlet. Despite this, there was a fair chunk of stuff in the mailbox. My spirits raised when I saw a package, then lowered when I saw my mother's handwriting. Nothing against her, but I was hoping the package was from Carleton.

But there was something from Carleton. A lone, slim envelope.

Anyone who's ever applied to anything can tell you: big is good, thin is bad. This was no exception.

I'm feeling a little bit lost right now. Not as bad as I thought I'd feel, but there's still a sense of drifting aimlessly. I'm not giving up. Not by a long shot. But that was the school for my program, and I didn't get into it. I'm not really sure if any other grad school is going to cut it, after that.

Tonight I'm going to apply for work with CSE. I still have graduate applications out, but they're all in the United Kingdom. As much fun as that'd be, I want to go to Ottawa.

On the bright side, I have all summer to figure this out. I just don't want to have to pack it in and go home.

I like what I do. I'm good at what I do. Why can't I find a permanent job doing it?

Work has confirmed that they won't be calling me in over my vacation time. I'm off work until April 4th, at a bare minimum. For those of you who have some time free and want to go grab a pint and catch up, you know where to find me.

Man of Leisure

I've been exhausted the past few days, having burnt the candle at both ends since Wednesday. When I've worked over the weekend, I usually get to take a few days off, but this time around they needed me to open the building on Monday and Tuesday. It's not particularly demanding, but it adds about another hour on to your day.

As of 4 pm this afternoon, my contract will be completed. Any and all work that they ask me to do from this point on will be at my discretion. I'm not really sure what I'm going to do with all of this extra time. I doubt that I'll fall down the path to boredom, as I did in mid-December.

Not this time. Not with the weather like this. I can still remember the pure, unadulterated joy I felt in sprawling out under the sun, beer in one hand and book in the other, listening to music on my porch. If this weather continues the way it has, that's what April has in store for me.

I talked to the fine people at the Norman Patterson School of International Affairs, who informed me that the results would be mailed out to everyone at the end of the month. So I can breathe easy for a few days, at least. I'm still planning to check my mailbox on the way out to the cottage tonight, but the absence of word is no longer abnormal.

Although the Tremblant trip was cancelled, one valuable lesson was learned: I can get a room virtually anywhere at any time, if I go through bed & breakfasts versus conventional hotels. Without a word of a lie, every hotel and condo rental agency was sold out by the time I got to them to plan the trip.

After three minutes on Bed and Breakfast Canada I was able to find between five to ten places that suited my needs and offered a good price. And a double bonus to those of you out there who disagree with supporting heartless, faceless hotel chains.

I'm not the first to comment on the wonder of these webomics, but I'd like to give a plug for the Perry Bible Fellowship and Daily Dinosaur Comics. Here are two excellent ways to waste time at work. Enjoy.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Update (part deux)

The trip to Tremblant has officially been scrapped, based on the realization that there is a perfeclty serviceable cottage for spending Easter Weekend at, vice spending $400 and ten hours of car-travel time to go somewhere else. We can consider this a reconnaissance mission for Operation Cottage Beer III.

I just updated A Helpful Suggestion with a little article on the Terri Schiavo feeding-tube debate. Share and enjoy.

Next week, I'll have to start on moving some of my many possessions out of my place in town and out to the cottage. If anyone likes beer and steak and doesn't mind lifting a few boxes, I'd appreciate your help. For those of you who've seen my place in town, you'll know it's not particularly large. This is a very favorable box-lifting to steak-eating ratio that we're talking about. Let me know. Also, I have a mini-fridge and a microwave that I'm looking to sell. If you're interested, make me an offer that I'm too lazy to refuse.

No word from Carleton. Perhaps this is the how the Powers that Be intend to tell me that I'm meant to be a gypsy when I grow up. I'm going to e-mail them as of Monday to see what the deal is.

Quick question: What is your favorite alcoholic beverage? Why? If you don't have one, how have you found that whole not-drinking thing? I know from previous experience that it can be difficult at times.

Friday, March 18, 2005


An exclamation mark makes things so much more exciting, don't you think?

Things have gone well this week. I find it hard to believe that I have four work-days left to my contract. Not that the term "contract" is exceptionally relevant, considering that it appears as though they'll have work for me straight through to the end of August, with a few breaks in the mean time. I'm starting to hatch a scheme with Channing that would require a bit of travel, so I doubt I'll have too much trouble getting a bit of time off.

I'm terribly excited about the launch of Operation Cottage Beer III. The originaly Operation Cottage Beer was launched when I found out I wasn't, in fact, going to Bosnia (Operation Palladium), and had to find some way of entertaining myself. Hence, Operation Cottage Beer. For those of you around in the summer, you're support will be needed. I have no intention of drinking this much beer by myself.

I'm going to be doing the final bit of research for the Tremblant trip this weekend. We still have one open position, so let me know if you're interested. Current plan is to leave Friday morning or afternoon and return Sunday evening. For you GW types, that means you still get to make Press Nite.

Still no word from Carleton regarding my application to a Master's. There may be an envelope sitting in my mailbox this second, but considering my "mailbox" is a PO box in Inverary, it's hard to know. I'm trying my damndest to be patient, but if I don't hear from them by the 20th (I was told I'd hear back around mid-March) then I'll e-mail them and see what's going on.

Anyone else going to meet-up at Brew Pub tonight? I won't be closing the place down, but I was planning on stopping by.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

A Helpful Suggestion

I've started a parallel blog for my writing / commentary, entitled A Helpful Suggestion. The premise would be to take a look at real issues, and then offer unconventional (perhaps I'll even go so far to say "humorous") suggestions to deal with the problem.

I'll start with the disclaimer that some of the jokes are a little bit on-the-line. The goal is to get people thinking, but the articles are meant to be taken with one (1) grain of salt, large. For instance, I don't actually believe that feeding African orphans the fat from liposuction is a viable solution to global hunger.

Comments, as always, are appreciated. And if you're interested in doing some writing on A Helpful Suggestion, please let me know. I plan to update it once or twice a week, and will mention updates on the Duke Fistman site.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005


More questions:

1.) If you could say one thing to any person living or dead, who would it be, and what would you say?

2.) Name something seemingly harmless that makes you feel all choked up.

3.) Describe an interaction with a company that absolutely infuriated you.

4.) Coffee or tea?

5.) What's the one article of clothing that you could not part with? Why?

The usual rules. Pass on a few if you want to, and post anonymously if you have to.

Science Fair Highlights

Thanks to Erin for pointing out the link for Science Fair photos.

There were a lot of great moments that evening that I thought I'd share with you:

- Trying to write the judge's introductions 5 minutes before going on stage. While drunk.

- The girl who, when informed she'd won a contest, stated that she wanted Richard as her prize.

- Richard offering a big soul-kiss on request.

- Dr. Hanes offering to eat 15 (or was it more?) butter tarts.

- Riz being kind enough to announce the winners, so that I could relax after being on my feet for two hours.

- Ending the night with a few puffs on a good cigar.

For those of you who were there, what was your favorite moment?

Monday, March 14, 2005

Changing the World with a Form Letter

For the concerned among you to cut, paste, and redistribute as you see fit:


As a concerned citizen, I would like to put my full support behind the recently-released Africa Commission report that calls for $25 billion in annual aide to Africa, in addition to debt reduction and the abolishment of protectionist tariffs in the developed world.

While I applaud the Canadian government's recent decision to focus foreign aide on a limited number of well-governed nations, it is my hope that the Government of Canada will support the report's conclusions, which will essentially provide a "Marshall Plan" for Africa with the goal of assisting this region with its seemingly endless struggle against poverty, instability, and disease epidemics.

Thank you for your time, and I hope that you and the Liberal party will consider my position in making your decision.

The full story can be found at this address:

Kind regards,


Go here to find out the e-mail address for your MP. C'mon, are you going to tell me you can't spare five minutes? You're reading this blog, for crying out loud.

Back again.

First off, thanks to everyone who came by to Science Fair. From what I could tell, it looked like it went really well, and I was very happy to see so many familiar faces. I hope you enjoyed my little spiel, and the sarcastic comments that went with it.

A few quick questions: Anyone have any pictures of the night? Any word on how much QPID raised? Did I miss any mayhem after the fact? How much did GW go through at the bar?

Word from Kelly is that capacity was hit at 9:45. I was very impressed - the line-up at the beginning was longer than any line I've seen for an evening event at Clark. A lot of work went into organizing the event, and you could tell. Kelly, Erin, Alisha, Jake... it was absolute blast, and thanks again for having me.

I'm starting to realize just how much web research can pay off. On Saturday, Andrea and I went to Montreal for the St. Patrick's Day parade, and stayed at Loews Hotel Vogue. It was amazing. The level of service was absolutely fantastic, not to mention the quality of the rooms. Valet parking, complimentary continental breakfast in bed, etc., etc. If you're looking at doing a bit of traveling in Montreal, I highly recommend it.

The best part is the location. Within 5 minutes in any direction you can find one of the best cigar stores I've ever seen, a store that stocks fine liquers and well-aged scotch, the original Peel Pub, and an old-school run-down deli that sells a wicked smoked meat sandwich, side order of poutine, and a chocolate shake.

Good times. Okay, back to work. More to follow later.

Friday, March 11, 2005

I hate JetsGo. I heart CIBC Visa.

The tickets that I had with JetsGo are now defunct. I had two tickets for Calgary in April, and spent most of this morning scrambling to figure out what was to become of the money that I had paid them. Floated off into the great void, I had imagined.

A few phone calls later, and I officially love the fine people at CIBC Visa. It takes a lot to gain my customer allegiance, but they now have it, 100%. The card in question is the CIBC Aerogold, and it covers 100% of the loss. Now, it's going to take a few weeks for them to process it, but givem the circumstances (ie. many of their customers are stranded in far-away destinations) I can't really complain.

Sweet. The Ryan-luck is in effect.


It's been a busy couple of days, and it doesn't look like it's slowing down anytime soon. Science Fair is tonight, and I've offered to help Kelly gather up the necessary supplies. Before that, I have my own errands to run, as well as lunch with Elan and Yonek.

I still haven't written my spiel for Science Fair yet. You'd think that after 6 years of hosting events for GW, I'd have it down by now. Nope. My personal goals for this evening is to A) be funny and B) not burn all the hair off my arm.

For those of you who weren't there two years ago, I'll preface by saying that my comedic stylings are fueled by gin. Gin makes me funny, but it also deletes some of my common sense in the process.

One of the groups had used electrolysis to convert water into hydrogen. Part of their dispaly was lighting little bubbles full of hydrogen gas, which went up with neat little 'FLOOOM's and made everyone oooh and ahhh. They also had a balloon full of hydrogen, for demonstration purposes. I suggested that they light the balloon. They politely declined my request.

It was at this point that I snatched the BBQ lighter out of the group leader's hand, called them 'pussies,' and proceeded to light the balloon.

A four-feet-fireball promptly engulfed my arm up to the elbow.

Thankfully, the explosion was mercifully quick. Apart from a small blast wave and the smell of burning hair, there was no damage. I quickly thrust my arms in the air and shouted, "I'm OK!" into the microphone.

Good times.

Okay, I need to get to work. Cheers.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

What Have You Done?

Stolen from JTL:

This is ridiculously long, yet fun. Feel free to repost and respond if you like. I've done things listed in bold so far. I'm too lazy to attempt to 'hide' the text, so you get all of it. Lucky you.

1. Bought everyone in the pub a drink (Shots for the entire Cocamo on the night of a buddy's promotion)
2. Swam with wild dolphins
3. Climbed a mountain (Arthur's Seat, Scotland)
4. Taken a Ferrari for a test drive (We'll count the Jaguar XKR)
5. Been inside the Great Pyramid
6. Held a tarantula
7. Taken a candlelit bath with someone
8. Said "I love you" and meant it
9. Hugged a tree
10. Done a striptease
11. Bungee jumped
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea (Heat lightening near Tamarindo, Costa Rica)
14. Stayed up all night long, and watched the sun rise
15. Seen the Northern Lights (On patrol in Wainright)
16. Gone to a huge sports game (Calgary Flames, baby.)
17. Walked the stairs to the top of the Leaning Tower of Pisa
18. Grown and eaten your own vegetables
19. Touched an iceberg
20. Slept under the stars
21. Changed a baby's diaper
22. Taken a trip in a hot air balloon
23. Watched a meteor shower
24. Gotten drunk on champagne (A few weeks ago, in Venezuela)
25. Given more than you can afford to charity
26. Looked up at the night sky through a telescope (There's one at the cottage)
27. Had an uncontrollable giggling fit at the worst possible moment (No comment.)
28. Had a food fight
29. Bet on a winning horse (I love betting on horses.)
30. Taken a sick day when you weren't ill
31. Asked out a stranger
32. Had a snowball fight
33. Photocopied your bottom on the office photocopier
34. Screamed as loudly as you possibly can
35. Held a lamb
36. Enacted a favorite fantasy
37. Taken a midnight skinny dip
38. Taken an ice cold bath
39. Had a meaningful conversation with a beggar (A few years ago, in Vancouver)
40. Seen a total eclipse
41. Ridden a roller coaster
42. Hit a home run
43. Fit three weeks miraculously into three days (Every time I travel)
44. Danced like a fool and not cared who was looking
45. Adopted an accent for an entire day
46. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors (Finally made it to England in October)
47. Actually felt happy about your life, even for just a moment
48. Had two hard drives for your computer
49. Visited all 10 provinces + 3 territories
50. Gone waterskiing (Ala John Candy in The Great Outdoors)
51. Taken care of someone who was shit faced
52. Had enough money to be truly satisfied
53. Had amazing friends
54. Danced with a stranger in a foreign country
55. Watched wild whales
56. Stolen a sign
57. Backpacked in Europe (Ireland, England, Scotland)
58. Taken a road-trip (New Orleans)
59. Been rock climbing
60. Lied to a foreign government's official in that country to avoid notice
61. Taken a midnight walk on the beach (Such is the nature of the job)
62. Gone sky diving
63. Visited Ireland (That's a long story...)
64. Been heartbroken longer then you were actually in love
65. In a restaurant, sat at a stranger's table and had a meal with them (In Scotland, after the tour of the Lagavulin distillery. Me and Hans, from Finland.)
66. Visited Japan
67. Benchpressed your own weight
68. Milked a cow (Three cheers for Alberta.)
69. Alphabetized your records
70. Pretended to be a superhero (BATMAN!)
71. Sung karaoke (Never again.)
72. Lounged around in bed all day
73. Posed nude in front of strangers
74. Scuba diving
75. Got it on to "Let's Get It On" by Marvin Gaye
76. Kissed in the rain
77. Played in the mud
78. Played in the rain
79. Gone to a drive-in theater
80. Done something you should regret, but don't
81. Visited the Great Wall of China
82. Discovered that someone who's not supposed to have known about your blog has discovered your blog
83. Dropped Windows in favor of something better
84. Started a business
85. Fallen in love and not had your heart broken
86. Toured ancient sites
87. Taken a martial arts class (Two years of Taekwon Do)
88. Swordfought for the honor of a woman
89. Played D&D for more than 6 hours straight
90. Gotten married
91. Been in a movie
92. Crashed a party
93. Loved someone you shouldn’t have
94. Kissed someone so passionately it made them dizzy
95. Gotten divorced
96. Had sex at the office (Sorry, Golden Words. I broke the OpsMan rule of no ding-ding in the cling-cling [No sex in the office.])
97. Gone without food for 5 days
98. Made cookies from scratch
99. Won first prize in a costume contest
100. Ridden a gondola in Venice
101. Gotten a tattoo
102. Found that the texture of some materials can turn you on (Oh, yeah...)
103. Rafted the Snake River
104. Been on a television news program as an "expert" (Taekwon Do)
105. Received flowers for no reason
106. Masturbated in a public place
107. Got so drunk you don't remember anything (19th birthday)
108. Been addicted to some form of illegal drug
109. Performed on stage
110. Been to Las Vegas
111. Recorded music
112. Eaten shark (Indonesia)
113. Had a one-night stand
114. Gone to Thailand
115. Seen Siouxsie live
116. Bought a house
117. Been in a combat zone
118. Buried one/both of your parents
119. Shaved or waxed your pubic hair off
120. Been on a cruise ship
121. Spoken more than one language fluently
122. Gotten into a fight while attempting to defend someone
123. Bounced a cheque
124. Performed in Rocky Horror
125. Read - and understood - your credit report
126. Raised children
127. Recently bought and played with a favorite childhood toy
128. Followed your favorite band/singer on tour
129. Created and named your own constellation of stars
130. Taken an exotic bicycle tour in a foreign country
131. Found out something significant that your ancestors did
132. Called or written your MP or MPP (Regularly.)
133. Picked up and moved to another city to just start over
134. …more than once? More than thrice?
135. Walked the Golden Gate Bridge
136. Sang loudly in the car, and didn't stop when you knew someone was looking
137. Seen two or more oceans
138. Had plastic surgery
139. Survived an accident that you shouldn’t have survived
140. Wrote articles for a large publication (Lonely Planet travel guides. It's a very embarassing story.)
141. Lost over 100 pounds
142. Held someone while they were having a flashback
143. Piloted an airplane
144. Petted a stingray
145. Broken someone's heart
146. Helped an animal give birth
147. Been fired or laid off from a job
148. Won money on a T.V. game show
149. Broken a bone
150. Been photographed naked
151. Gone on an African photo safari
152. Ridden a motorcycle
153. Driven any land vehicle at a speed of greater than 160 km/h
154. Had a body part of yours below the neck pierced
155. Fired a rifle, shotgun, or pistol (All of the above.)
156. Eaten mushrooms that were gathered in the wild
157. Ridden a horse
158. Had major surgery
159. Had sex on a moving train
160. Had a snake as a pet
161. Hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon
162. Slept through an entire flight: takeoff, flight, and landing
163. Slept for more than 30 hours over the course of 48 hours
164. Visited more foreign countries than Canadian Provinces
165. Visited all 7 continents
166. Taken a canoe trip that lasted more than 2 days
167. Eaten kangaroo meat
168. Fallen in love at an ancient Mayan burial ground
169. Been a sperm or egg donor
170. Eaten sushi
171. Had your picture in the newspaper
172. Had 2 (or more) healthy romantic relationships for over a year in your lifetime
173. Changed someone's mind about something you care deeply about
174. Gotten someone fired for their actions
175. Gone back to school
176. Parasailed
177. Changed your name
178. Petted a cockroach
179. Eaten fried green tomatoes
180. Read The Iliad
181. Selected one "important" author who you missed in school, and read
182. Dined in a restaurant and stolen silverware, plates, cups because your apartment needed them
183. ...and gotten 86'ed from the restaurant because you did it so many times, they figured out it was
184. Taught yourself an art from scratch
185. Killed and prepared an animal for eating (A fish.)
186. Apologized to someone years after inflicting the hurt
187. Skipped all your school reunions
188. Communicated with someone without sharing a common spoken language (I believe in the international language of 'gesture'.)
189. Been elected to public office
190. Written your own computer language
191. Thought to yourself that you're living your dream
192. Had to put someone you love into hospice care
193. Built your own PC from parts
194. Sold your own artwork to someone who didn't know you
195. Had a booth at a street fair
196. Dyed your hair
197. Been a DJ
198. Found out someone was going to dump you via LiveJournal
199. Written your own role playing game
200. Been arrested (In an exercise, but the boot on your neck feels the same either way.)

Conclusion: More traveling is still required.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Some Thoughts

It's night time at the cottage. It's so quiet here that the only sound I can here is my fingers on the keyboard. I began to feel philosophical as I packed my pipe with tobacco, and have opted to share some of my personal ethos with the friends, acquantainces, and complete strangers that make up the readership of this mish-mash.

Before I begin, I'll preface to say that I do not wish to impose my beliefs on anyone else. This is the code that I follow because it works for who I am, and my sole intent in posting a portion of it is to give you a more personal glimpse of what's going on behind my eyes. If it gives you something to think about, that's an unexpected bonus. And if you're not interested, there's a funny article about my shitty old car ("Saying Goodbye to an Old Friend") on the right hand margin.

Okay, here we go.

First and foremost, I believe in serving a calling that is larger than myself. To live for oneself is to discard any hope of immortality. This is not to say that there is not another path beyond this mortal realm, but immortality in the reality that we know is perpetuated through our legacy. Live only for yourself, and your actions end when you expire.

Everyone deserves happiness as the person they are. We have become trained to view the question, "What do I want?" as being selfish, and "How can I improve?" to be progressive. Happiness is not a destination to be arrived at, but a way of viewing the world. Much suffering comes is self-inflicted by those of us who believe that they should be something that they are not. In following our dreams and doing what we love, we serve our legacy - whether curing cancer or shining shoes is better for the world is a matter of conjecture.

Money is neither good nor evil. It is something that we trade our life energy for, and it is the value that we gain from it that is important, not the dollar figures that are involved. Material envy is pointless. Regardless of how much you may have, there will always be those that have much more. No matter how little you may have, there are always those that have far less.

True virtue requires suffering to the benefit of others. Even the most noble of gestures, done for personal glory or gain, are without meaning. Our ethics are shown in the way we live our lives when no one is watching.

We are only human. We are weak. We make mistakes. We act selfishly. We hurt others. But the past does not matter. The only thing that matters is who we are right now, and the choices that we make in the face of our failings. Failure is inevitable, but it is only a true failure if we fail to learn from our mistakes.

Honour. Duty. Courage. Love. Trust. Compassion. What has become of these simple, noble ideals? There is no one defining moment when all of our values are called into question. It is a series of small choices, almost indefineable. Do we let our waiter know that we've been undercharged? Do we cheat on our taxes? Do we confront our employer when we are belittled and brushed aside? Do we let someone into our lives, dropping our guard even if it means that they could hurt us worse than we've ever known? Do we acknowledge the suffering of others, even if it means weeping for those you've never met? A thousand such challenges face us every day, with every breath.

Appreciate what you have. If you take a moment to stop and reflect, you can find at least some small part of your life that you have taken for granted... some simple pleasure that you have not expressed gratitude for. Tonight, most of us will fall asleep in a real bed. We will not be troubled by pangs of hunger or chronic illness. We will not fall asleep to the sound of distant artillery, or fear that our loved ones will be taken from their homes in the dead of night.

That's it for now. I need to get to bed. Cheers.


For those of you at Queen's and not in with the Golden Words folk, here are the details for the annual Golden Words Science Fair:

Date: Friday, March 11th.
Location: Clark Hall Pub.
Time: Doors open at 9 pm.
Cost: $0.*

I recommend you get there early. Last year there was quite the line.

P. S. I'll be MCing again this year, so if you'd like to see my rapier wit in action (read: watch me get drunk and forget what event I'm hosting, a la last year) then this is your chance. Seriously, it's a really good show and a lot of fun.

Post a comment if you have any questions.

*We do suggest you donate a tiny amount of money to the Queen's Project for International Development (QPID).

Monday, March 07, 2005

Q & A

1.) What's your comfort food? I'd like to hear about the one meal (or snack, or dessert) that makes everything right in the world. Or, if you don't have one, is there any particular reason?

2.) Where's the furthest you've ever been from home?

3.) Tell me about something silly you've done after having a few drinks. C'mon, we all have our stories.

4.) Describe the last time you felt on top of the world, and everything was going your way.

A Pox Upon the FDA

So it appears that the FDA is implementing some regulation or another that may prevent me from being able to order my cask of scotch. When I heard this, I was a little surprised. To start with, I live in Canada. What the hell does the FDA get to say about my scotch? Not a damn thing, says I.

I politely informed the fine people at Bruichladdich of this fact, and hopefully they straighten things out. To be blunt: I don't care if I have to rum-run my scotch back to Canada, the cask duct taped to the bottom a rickety biplane, I still want my damned cask of scotch. Now make it happen, Bruichladdich.

This weekend went very well. I met Andrea's mother on Saturday, and we hit it off fairly well. She and her former roommate were down for the weekend for the Queen's Bands Centennial. I think it must've been my first time seeing Bands since I was a frosh, and they put on a hell of a show.

Sunday was spent in fine Sunday fashion. Hanging out at the cottage, watching mindless comedies, and eating pizza. Zoolander remains the official movie of the cottage. I must've watched it a dozen times, and I still find myself laughing at the same stupid jokes. Classic.

Still no word from NPSIA, but I haven't been able to check my PO box lately, either. My sister said they called her to make her an offer, but that was for the department of film studies. Still, there were a few empty messages left at the cottage, so perhaps that was it. Fingers crossed...

Any recommendations for a good restaurant in Montreal?

Saturday, March 05, 2005

A Not-So Typical Weekend

It's been an excellent weekend thus far. I needed to come in to work today, but apart from that, things are going quite swimmingly. Andrea took me to dinner last night at Aquaterra, and I have to say that it is quite possibly the finest restaurant in all of Kingston and the surrounding area. This doesn't surprise me - the former owner of Clark's on King played a key role in its design.

For those of you who'd never gone to Clark's on King or had never heard me speak of it, it was a fantastic restaurant. Have you ever been someplace where you could tell you're surrounded by people who absolutely loved what they're doing? Clark's was that kind of place. Clark used to wander around after people had finished their meals, chatting with them and showing them magic tricks with wine corks.

One meal, I ordered a relatively inexpensive ($40 or so) bottle of Australian Cabernet Sauvignon, and it turned out they didn't have it in stock. So what does Clark do? He offers me a $400 bottle of Piramimma for the same price. That's the mark of someone who's doing something because it's what he loves to do, and not because he thinks it's a good way to make a quick buck.

Clark since retired, and Clark's on King closed. Aquaterra, I believe, is his daughter's restaurant, and Clark played a large role in how the restaurant was built and how it functions. It shows. I had a very difficult time in choosing between a half-dozen different menu items. The food was fantastic, beautiful atmosphere, extensive wine list... but, I've said enough. Just go there. It's good. You'll like it. Bring lots of money.

I'm not used to being taken out for dinner. Not that I expect that sort of thing, but it's a very welcome surprise. I must've thanked Andrea close to a dozen times over the course of the evening. It may well have been the first time that I've been taken out to dinner by a girlfriend when it wasn't some kind of special occasion. I was very, very impressed. And now a significant portion of my mental energy's going into thinking of romantic schemes so as to return the favour.

In other news, I am now the proud owner of my very own cask of Scotch. That's right, a cask. As in a gigantic oak barrel that holds more than 350 bottles of some of Islay's finest single malt whiskey. They're going to let me know when they'll be filling it, so I can watch it via webcam. And I can go visit it any time I like (by appointment). And in ten years, they'll be ready to ship cases of it to my house. But I'll likely wait for twenty to thirty years. That's when it's really good.

I know. I know.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Questions! Answers?

Ah yes, it's that time again.

1.) Tell me about a good deed that you did that totally backfired. Like the time that Golden Words invited Charlton Heston to Beer Brewing, not knowing that he was a recovering alcoholic.

2.) What's your favorite thing to do on a lazy Sunday afternoon, when there's nothing that needs to be done any haven't a care in the world? What do you do to break the stress when the world's crashing down around you? (Either / both)

3.) Something 'suave' that someone tried to pull on a date that went horribly awry. Like the time when my friend Katherine was sitting on the couch and the guy she was on her first date with put his arm around her and full-on kissed her without warning. What was worse, he'd just finished a big bowl of Cinnamon Toast Crunch, so it was like she was being force-fed liquid cinnamon through a moist, stubble-covered fire hose. True story.

4.) Most inopportune time that you ever had a case of the giggles.

Usual rules (all or some, show yourself or post anonymously) apply.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Back in the Game

I feel as though I'm starting to get back into a routine, following my return last week. I suppose I bring it on myself, with all the traveling. Heaven forbid that I actually take a few days to get caught up and rest and relax, when there's so much else that needs to be done (or more aptly, that I would prefer to do) instead of getting my feet back on the ground.

Still no word from the NPSIA regarding the Master's. I suppose it's possible that they opted to mail out a letter rather than send the ever-impersonal e-mail. At this point, I really don't care what they have to say, I just want to know one way or another. Okay, that's a lie. I desperately want to get in.

There are times when I wonder if I'll have the work ethic needed to go back to school, or if I've grown soft from months of predictable routine and regular paycheques. While there are times that I envy the student life I left behind, there are aspects of the working world that I will be sad to put behind me, even if it's just for a year or so.

I suppose the major difference is that I'm passionate about the subject that I'll be studying. This is key, considering that I barely recognize the pimple-faced teenager that picked Cognitive Science as a major way back in the day. Not that it hasn't worked well for me, but looking at where I've ended up, it wasn't exactly the straightest line between the two points. Ah, well.

In the back of my mind is the sad realization that I've haven't tried particularly hard to get into grad school. Thus far, I've applied to one of them. I will be applying to the second by the end of the week but they started accepting applications in January. Hence, I've already given the competition a three month head start.

What gives? Am I confident that I'll get into the program that I applied for? Or did I shoot myself in the foot on purpose? I'm not really sure what the answer to that one is.

Jason and Jake are both tentative for skiing. Anyone else?