Tuesday, October 27, 2009

It was a dark and stormy night

Check out this fantastic post over at The Cupcake Project.

Devilishly creative! I know the cast and I imagine they had a blast with this...


Monday, October 26, 2009

Green in Autumn

Here is a fun fact... I haven't run the heat yet in the new apartment. I did run some A/C in the summer but so far, no heat.

This is pretty easy lately, as the weather is nice. It was cooler a couple of weeks ago (low 60s F in the apt in the morning), but I have a monster down-filled quilt that is a prized possession. It is fantastic.

My electric bill for September was possibly the lowest I have ever had. We'll see how long this can go.


Sunday, October 25, 2009


Happy Birthday to dear friend and CC reader/critic: Vic!

He is the big 4-0h today... Back home, there were 2 photos in The Guardian that showed his various hair styles over the years. When I called this morning, the household was busily preparing for a gala afternoon. I'm sure a good time was had by all!


Saturday, October 24, 2009


This week, after a local conference, I hung out with "the cool kids"; i.e. some of the speakers and organizers. In conversation at a local bar, 3 new acquaintances and I were talking about Twitter. My compadres started raving about a certain Twitter feed with fake-geek headlines.

I think they knew the author was one of us at the bar, but weren't sure who it was. When I stated it was me, they were generous with sincere praise. A nice surprise to end the week.

It will never make money, and it has been slow to grow, but I may be onto something here. If the "big leagues" are The Onion and Colbert's "The Word", then my goal is to have some fine triple-A baseball: not pro level, but pretty darn good.


Thursday, October 22, 2009


I don't like ambiguous, diary-like posts but, as a writer -- as a person -- sometimes one needs to hammer one out.

I have several ideas, but no inclination to sort them into a coherent narrative.

I guess the gist is this:
  • Despite a sarcastic sense of humor, I am generally a "people pleaser" with a healthy fear of failure. Within the structure of school, this worked to my advantage. I am fine-tuned to respond to the risk/rewards within that setting.
  • Because of the above, I worked very hard to get to a certain place in my career. However, long outside of academia, I haven't had structure in a long time. I'm doing 'ok' now, but I don't feel as though I am doing 'excellent', in part because there is no feedback mechanism.
  • One potential venture could provide direct feedback, and could provide income: public speaking.
  • I have a maniacal love/hate relationship with public speaking. As described elsewhere, results range from euphoria to brooding. The euphoria is absolutely a drug: if I received it 2 out of 10 times, it would be worth it. (Except for the total blow-ups, which are truly devastating).
  • The tragic rub is that my international situation can make things complicated: there is one "milestone" with respect to immigration that would certainly help. As part of crafting a career within structure, it would be a no-brainer. However, it involves national identity, emotion, and commitment. These ingredients form a toxic soup of indecision that flies in the face of everything I have tried to build.

The upshot is that I may have opportunities to advance my career (*), but (a) I don't have a sense of structure to motivate me, and (b) there is some red-tape that has me in abject paralysis.

Given the work that I've put in this far, this is classified as a bummer.


(*) I fully realize that "advance my career" may be equivalent to "feed my seemingly insatiable vanity".

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


The big news here is that my client has moved us to a new building. Though tiny in the grand scheme of things, it has wreaked havoc on daily life and my usual routines.

The good news is that the commute is almost the same distance, and I'm still within lunching distance of Jim G. (I wish I was within lunch distance of Fred and Stacey!) Also the building is quite "green" and very bright and airy. Not a bad spot.

The minor bad news is that I share a cube with a friend of mine, which means I have nowhere to "hole up" during lunch. I am surprisingly introverted at lunch. However, we are in the big building now so when I do choose to dine in the big cafeteria, the social opportunities are outstanding.


Thursday, October 15, 2009

Charity Event

I recently discovered an organization called Coders 4 Charities. In various cities, they host weekends dedicated to helping non-profit organizations build software. It is sort of like Habitat for Humanity, only for their IT department.

I'm signed on for an event starting this Friday evening/weekend. We will be broken into teams; each is assigned to a charity.

I'm looking forward to it, but a bit apprehensive. Techies are notoriously opinionated. This will be far more free-form than using pre-fab housing, so we'll see if we can all pull in one direction. Also, I've been assigned to a team that is going to work with Microsoft technology: very much a weakness of mine.

We'll see how it goes! I'm cautiously optimistic, and grateful for the chance to give something back. I have been thinking a lot lately of doing something along these lines (more in a subsequent post).


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Congrats to my sister

My sister was recently promoted to manager at the famous bookstore back home. From her stories of work, especially the insane holiday rush, she really helps keep the place on the tracks, so it is great to hear of her recognition.

Congrats, Colleen!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone back home in Canada!

Per tradition, I invite readers to peruse the Wikipedia article on Thanksgiving.

I ask readers world-wide to reflect today and give thanks. We are all very fortunate to be here, both in time and geography. Perhaps in 2309, our time will seem primitive but I think living in an industrialized country in 2009 is fantastic.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Twitter Update

Aside from CC, I have a couple of other online ventures. Long time readers will know that my latest venture is a Twitter feed that features absurd, comic headlines, geared for an audience of geeks and software developers.

I usually post one headline per day, and measure success on the number of "re-tweets". That is, the number of people that like the joke enough to echo it to their own circle of friends. Since April, I have averaged 2-3 re-tweets per day, with 6 being a relatively huge day. This has been disappointing as I spend a fair amount of mental energy on the headlines. (Though I'm happy to say I don't spend much time -- I don't write spoof articles; only headlines. It is delightfully light weight and very much a Twitter-style angle.)

Well. The Nobel Peace Prize is manna from heaven for joke writers everywhere, regardless of political affiliation. And so it was on Friday that I offered up a headline about Obama, emboldened with the award, re-opening a controversial debate within the Java community. (It isn't funny if you don't know the niche, but within the niche it works.)

The response has been a new record. The response has been 3 pages of re-tweets and dozens of new followers.

Interestingly, the tech debate is the same one that rocketed my sticker schtick into the blogoverse in 2007. Also, one of the key Twitter people is the same person that gave me some publicity for the stickers. (He was embroiled in the controversy. He had a well-thought out proposal that was shot down somewhat unfairly.) I don't know if he realized I'm behind both ventures. It is relatively easy to figure that out, but one would have to do some clicking around.

It's nice to finally get some action on that front.

Monday, October 05, 2009

High School

In person, I probably talk about this idea too often, but a favourite thought of mine was from a friend in grad school. He explained that we are often defined by the reaction we evoke in others, as much as our view of ourselves.

This may explain why it can be so difficult to attend reunions, etc. When you meet people who haven't seen you since you were 19, they react (in a subtle way) in accordance with your social position/personality/etc when you were 19. We are ultimately immersed in a soup of emotion, reactions, etc that challenge our hard-won sense of security and sense of self.

A friend of mine from The Island recently described a holiday function back in Dec 2008. As he put it, he was 'surrounded by A-listers' from high school. He did not enjoy the experience. He wasn't 'cool' back then and, understandably, didn't feel too 'cool' in the present (see above). He felt anxiety that he hadn't felt in years and years.

I just browsed some folks on the dreaded Facebook (oh you've done it too -- just peeking around, not 'friending' people) and somehow managed to trigger the same feeling, after stumbling on various crowds from high school and lower grades.

Seriously, my heart started racing! Though I have chosen a life of singleness, and routinely flaunt the absurdity of my life as comedy, I am quite comfortable with who I am, and most of my goals.

It is embarrassing to have been vaulted back into a more insecure time.