Monday, May 30, 2005

MSN conversation

If love is a labour, I'll slave 'til the end says:
i like my job

sernaferna says:

If love is a labour, I'll slave 'til the end says:
I got my first pay stub

sernaferna says:

sernaferna says:
And it's big enough that it made your first few days worth it?

If love is a labour, I'll slave 'til the end says:
In 10 exact work days + 1 stat, I made more than I would have made in 2 months working at the library

sernaferna says:

sernaferna says:
Well, hopefully that's not surprising to you, but it IS a nice feeling to be at a "real" job, isn't it?

If love is a labour, I'll slave 'til the end says:
I like salary

If love is a labour, I'll slave 'til the end says:
seriously, serna. most money I've ever made in 2 weeks. Unless you count the time I was hooking.

If love is a labour, I'll slave 'til the end says:
uh, i mean knitting. knitting.

sernaferna says:
Pfft. Nobody makes that much money knitting...

sernaferna says:

If love is a labour, I'll slave 'til the end says:
Do you knit?

sernaferna says:

If love is a labour, I'll slave 'til the end says:
then how do you know how lucrative it is (or isn't) as a form of employment?

sernaferna says:
Because I have a team of knitters on my payroll, and I don't pay them much.

If love is a labour, I'll slave 'til the end says:

If love is a labour, I'll slave 'til the end says:
you have a payroll???

sernaferna says:
Oh yes. Team Serna is very well compensated.

sernaferna says:
Except for the knitters.

sernaferna says:

If love is a labour, I'll slave 'til the end says:

If love is a labour, I'll slave 'til the end says:
Team Serna? I want to be part of Team Serna!

sernaferna says:
Sorry. I make it a rule never to poach people who are already gainfully employed somewhere else.

If love is a labour, I'll slave 'til the end says:
but...i'm asian!

sernaferna says:
Especially people with, ahem, "questionable pasts".
Anyone who's had a job in the past knitting isn't the type of person we want representing Team Serna.

If love is a labour, I'll slave 'til the end says:
Just as a question of interest, what is it exactly that team serna DOES?

sernaferna says:
Sorry, I'm not at liberty to go into details on these matters. I may already have said too much.

sernaferna says:
I'm tempted to fire myself, but Team Serna would be nothing without me.

If love is a labour, I'll slave 'til the end says:

sernaferna says:
Um... literally.

If love is a labour, I'll slave 'til the end says:
you need help. serious psychological help.

sernaferna says:
Can't I just settle for flippant psychological help?

If love is a labour, I'll slave 'til the end says:
no. unless you want to go on Dr. Phil

If love is a labour, I'll slave 'til the end says:
heatherbah will go with you as your estranged mistress

sernaferna says:
Really? Do you feel comfortable speaking for her on this?

If love is a labour, I'll slave 'til the end says:
I have to... she doesn't live in mississauga anymore

If love is a labour, I'll slave 'til the end says:
So really, it would take her about 40 minutes to come beat me up over it

sernaferna says:
lol Good point. If she lives that far away, maybe I'll start speaking for her, too.

sernaferna says:
Incidentally, can I have permission to post parts of this conversation on my blog?

Photo blogging

If I was the type of person who had a "photo blog", or whatever they're called, here are some things I would post pictures of:

My hair. I got a hair cut this week, and it's really short, now. If I had a photo blog, I'd post before and after shots, so you could see the dramatic difference. In fact, if I had a photo blog, I'd probably carry my digital camera around with me everywhere I went, and I would have posted pictures of the mounds of hair that were left on the floor, as the woman finished cutting my hair.

My guitars. I have a number of guitars, and I think they are beautiful instruments. People who don't play guitar might think that "beautiful" is too strong of a word, but what do they know? Fools. Anyway, I have the following: An old black Ibanez Road Star, with a neck so slender a child could play bar chords on it (the model I have looks very different than the guitars they make these days at Ibanez - smoother curves); a Gibson Les Paul Standard, with a "Tobacco Burst" finish; a red Epiphone double neck; and a Simon & Patrick acoustic, the model of which escapes me at the moment.

My townhouse. Since we just moved into a new townhouse, I'm sure there would be ample opportunity for photo blogging at home.

The choir. I'm in a choir at church, and the people there would also provide ample photo blogging opportunities, I'm sure. We're a crazy bunch, we are.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Short posts

I seem to go back and forth between doing longer posts, and doing bursts of shorter ones.

Like this one.


I've had a craving for steak for about two weeks now. I think I was reading a book, and someone in the book had a steak or something, and I suddenly got the craving.

Unfortunately, my wife isn't really a big fan of steak, so I probably won't be having it for supper any time soon, unless I want to make two suppers - steak for me, and something else for her. Which I don't.

Pretty soon, I'll just be looking for any excuse to have steak, anywhere, at any time...

Ocean's 12

When I was home last weekend, my friends gave me Ocean's 12 on DVD for my birthday, which I thought was a very thoughtful gift, because I loved Ocean's 11 (not the original). But then, they always give me thoughtful gifts, so it's not surprising.

Unfortunately, we watched it last night, and it pretty much sucked. It didn't have any of the charm, wittiness, or cleverness of the first one. The characters seemed different, and less likeable.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Etymology of “sernaferna”

sernaferna PermaPost

Since the name “sernaferna” is kind of unusual, I thought I’d post something to explain how I came by it. Frankly, I’ve been wanting to do this for a while, and the only reason I didn’t is that I couldn’t decide if I wanted to post the history of the name in chronological or reverse-chronological order. And I still haven’t decided, so I’m just going to start typing, and see where the keyboard takes me.

I guess we can start with pronunciation. Most people pronounce sernaferna incorrectly, and I can’t say that I blame them, because they pronounce it the way that it’s written. But it’s actually pronounced “sair'na fair'na”. You may think that this is a stupid way to pronounce it, but actually, the pronunciation came first.

So where did the pronunciation come from?

When I was a teenager, I was a counsellor at Kenesserie Camp, a Christian summer camp for kids. Because it was a Christian camp, we weren’t allowed to swear, so the counsellors decided to come up with a made-up word we could use in place of real swear words. Why? Well… who can explain the minds of teenagers?

Anyway, what we came up with was “sairna fairna”, or alternatively, “fairna sairna”. And voila, a couple of new words were born. But the first time I wanted to write these words down, I was stuck for how to spell them; I decided that “serna” and “ferna” would be good spellings for the words, and ever since everyone else has disagreed with me, much to my apathy.

So far so good; we’ve now covered the etymology of the phrase “serna ferna”. So why is it my internet name?

Actually, the reason is pretty simple: When I was signing up for high speed internet, I needed to pick a login name, and I couldn’t think of one for the life of me. All of the ones I would have wanted were already taken:
  • firstname lastname
  • firstname.lastname
  • firstinitial lastname
  • firstname lastinitial

So at this point, was was I to do?

It was then that my dormant memories kicked in, and I decided to use “sernaferna” for my name, since it was unlikely anyone else on the internet would use that name. And it’s true; if you search on Google for the word “sernaferna”, you’re only going to find references to me, or examples of XML documents using for a namespace—and those examples are used because hundreds of people have stolen them from my book, Beginning XML.

(As an aside, I’m pretty amazed that so many sites around the internet are giving tutorials on XML using examples from my book. It must have been pretty popular!)

So this is how I got the name sernaferna. Note that it’s all one word, like Cher, or Madonna, or Paris Hilton. But I, and others, often shorten it to “serna”, so this is perfectly acceptable.

And that’s where the name sernaferna comes from.

Quebec Trip

I went to Quebec City on Wednesday, for business, and here's how the trip went down:

The alarm went off at 5:00am. Unfortunately, it's my wife's alarm, and I never hear it go off, meaning that she had to wake me up. So the conversation went something like this:

Her: That's for you.
Me: What's for me?
Her: The alarm.
Me: What alarm?
Her: [nudges me]
Me: [starts to realize what's going on.] OH! Right. Sorry. [finally gets out of bed.]

Hopefully, after that, she was able to get back to sleep.

The flight to Quebec was uneventful.

When I got in the cab, to take me from the airport to the office where I was going, the first thing I told the cab driver is that I don't speak French. Then for most of the trip he carried on a very loud conversation with someone on the phone, in French, and halfway through I got paranoid, and thought "Maybe I should have been trying to listen to this conversation. What if they're talking about me?"

Him: I have this stupid English guy in my car.
Her: What a fool!
Him: I will charge him many dollars more than is required for this trip!
Her: Ha ha ha!
Him: Ha ha ha!

Luckily I didn't hear him laughing like that, or looking derisively in the mirror at me, so I'm hoping this conversation didn't actually take place. Also, they have some kind of law in Quebec that they're only allowed to charge $27.00 (or, as they say in Quebec, 27,00$) for trips to and from the airport, so he couldn't overcharge me anyway.

My morning was pretty productive.

At lunch we went out for sushi, and the waitress there had an extremely deep, raspy voice. I was mesmerized by it; I was delighted any time she came to our table to ask us how things were going, because it was so cool to hear that voice.

My afternoon was pretty productive.

I left the office a little early, and headed back to the airport earlier than I needed to for my flight. I had hoped to ask them if I could catch an earlier flight back, but the woman at the ticket counter was kind of nasty, so I didn't bother. Which makes me the fool, because while I was waiting for my flight, another flight to Toronto left, which seemed to be mostly empty, so I could have gotten on it, I'm sure. Also, while I was waiting for the flight, I finished reading my book, which left me with not much else to do.

On the flight back, they said that the plane was too empty, so to balance the plane properly, they asked if everyone could move, so that we were all sitting in the back half of the plane, instead of the front half. I'd never seen that before, so it didn't fill me with confidence.

The flight itself was pretty uneventful, except that I really noticed how small the plane was. It was bumping all over the place, and when the pilot was turning, you could really tell that the plane was turning. For a minute I thought he was going to barrel roll the darned thing. But he didn't and I got back safely. Plus, I had a bit of a nap on the return flight, which was much needed.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

The Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy

As mentioned in a previous post, I saw The Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy yesterday. I went with my wife and sister-in-law, neither one of whom have read the books, so I really wasn't sure what they'd think of it.

Altogether in the theatre, including the three of us, there were 8 people. I wasn't worried by that, as I wasn't expecting the movie to be too popular anyway, but I think it might have unnerved my companions a bit.

I can see why there are such mixed reactions to the movie. But personally, I liked it. I think it stayed very true to the books, even with the stuff they added in. (The whole visit to Vogsphere, which wasn't in the books, was a nice addition, I thought. It might have become boring if every scene in the movie was straight out of the book, or a tweaked version of a scene from the book.)

The one bit that I didn't like was the way they handled the love interest with Arthur and Trillian. I won't say specifically how they handled it (although this post might make it obvious), but this wasn't from the books, and it felt very tacked on. (Even to my wife, who, as I mentioned, hasn't read the books. So if it felt tacked on to her, then I know it's not just my purism.)

And they ended it very similar to how they ended the book, which means they've left themselves open for a sequel. Of course, I don't expect one to come - but on the other hand, I wouldn't have expected them to make this movie in the first place, so who knows?

All in all, the movie could have been better, but I can't say that I'm disappointed by it. It was good. But I honestly don't know whether someone who hasn't read the books would find it that good. I heard my wife and sister-in-law laughing a couple of times during the movie, but I don't know if that means they really enjoyed the movie or not - even the worst movie has its moments.

The weekend is over. Let the week begin!

Well, the weekend wasn't as bad as I was worrying it would be.

My drive down Friday evening was fun. I listened to Monty Python on CD the whole way there - I haven't listened to their stuff in years.

Instead of going home Friday night and crashing at my parents' house, I went to visit the friends who are moving, in case they needed any help. They didn't (at least not from me - I didn't do anything that night), so we just stayed up late and watched celebrity blackjack and poker. Of course, this means that I had yet another in a string of late nights...

I started off the move Saturday morning by lecturing the person who was moving. I told him that I'm not as wimpy as he sometimes thinks I am, so he needs to let me help. Which he did. Then I broke a dresser, and almost dropped his TV, so I guess I should have kept my big fat mouth shut...

The drive back Saturday night wasn't so bad, either. But I was so hopped up on Tim Horton's Ice Cappuccinos that I think I still have some in my system.

Sunday morning I did an okay job playing the guitar for my friends, so that worked out. In fact, at the last minute, I finally figured out a way to play the verses properly.

And Monday we decided not to bother to clean the back yard, which means that we only had to clean the inside of the house. Which went fairly smoothly.

Then, Monday night, I finally got to see Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy. But I won't bother to post a review as part of this, because I think I'll do another post to deal with that specifically.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Quick update - no content

So after a long and mostly horrible week, I have another long and possibly horrible weekend ahead of me.

Tonight, after I bring my wife home from work, I have to make the three hour drive back home. I'll get in late, and crash at my parents' house, too late to see them, because they'll be in bed.

Then when I wake up tomorrow, I'm going to help some friends move (the reason for the drive home). I'm kind of a wuss, so I don't imagine that will be too fun...

Then, once I've helped them move, I have to make the three hour drive back, because I have to be in Toronto for Sunday morning. (I double booked myself this weekend. I'm... well, I'm just not too bright.)

Sunday morning I'm playing guitar for some friends of mine, who are singing in the church service. Then the usual choir practice in the afternoon.

Monday is a day off - but my house is in desperate need of cleaning, so I'm sure that's how my day will be spent.

So, overall, it's not really the individual activities that will make this weekend horrible. It's just the fact that there are too many of them.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

No title

My cell phone rang just now, and I ran around the living room like an idiot trying to remember where I'd set it. Until I remembered that it was in my pocket.

Luckily, I got to it in time to answer the call, and disaster was averted.

This post had no relevance to anyone in the world; not really even me. I just typed it in because I needed something to do whilst WebLogic was booting up on my laptop.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

How to be cool

The title for this post is deceptive.

I just read a top 10 list on someone else's blog on "how to have a crappy blog". And I only do two of the things she says makes a crappy blog, so I guess this isn't so bad of a blog after all.

I'm one step closer to being cool, baby...

An intellgent, well-thought-out post covering the state of serna's life at 11:30 on a Sunday night

I hate late night software deployments.

Hitchiker Update

If you've been on the edge of your seat, waiting for my review of the movie, you'll have to wait a while longer. I haven't had a free night, when I could go see it.


Friday, May 13, 2005

My Birthday

I just noticed that I never posted anything on my birthday. Which is strange, because you'd think I would have made an effort to post something, to commemorate the event.

On the other hand, I don't really care. I turned 31 this year, which isn't really a big deal; when I turned 30 it was a big deal, and 40 will be a big deal, but 31? Who really cares?

Anyway, back to not blogging.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

New cell phone

People who work in IT often have to work long hours, do late-night deployments, and that type of thing.

But people who work in Support are worse off then most IT people. They often have to be on call 24/7, because if things go wrong with the computer systems, they have to be ready to fix them at a moment's notice. For some systems, you can just leave it until the morning, but other systems are more critical, and have to be fixed right away. If the mainframe at your bank has a problem, the Support people need to be working on that thing immediately.

Why do I bring this up? Well, you see, I just got a new cell phone at work. Or rather, it's not a new phone - it's a phone which used to belong to someone else. It is a phone, in fact, which used to belong to someone who was on support.

So, every once in a while, I get a wrong number, from someone who is looking for the previous owner. This is fine. It's to be expected.

Unfortunately, some of those calls come at 3:00 in the morning, waking my wife, who then has to wake me up to tell me that the phone is ringing, because I never hear it myself. And of course I miss the call, so I have to wait until the voice mail comes through, after which I get the message, and call the person back, letting them know that I'm not the person they're looking for, and neither is my cell phone the one they wanted to call.

By this time, it's usually hard to get back to sleep.

Of course, like many of the problems in my life, this isn't really anyone's fault. It's just the way it is.


So here's the thing: I don't know why anyone would want to read this blog.

Consider the following:

Point 1: I don't post any private details about my marriage. I don't even use my wife's name, let alone any private details about us. So people who read blogs because they're voyeuristic aren't going to get much here.

Point 2: I also don't post much in the way of private details about myself. This is very closely related to Point 1, as my life is now entwined with that of my wife - personal details about me would very often constitute personal details about us, so if in doubt, I don't post 'em. So again, the voyeuristic blog watchers won't get much here.

Point 3: This blog isn't about anything. It's not like it's a "Jon Stewart Fan Club Blog", or a blog for writers, or anything specific like that. So there's no pre-built reader base for it. So if I don't post personal details, and I don't have a topic, then we're fast losing reasons to come.

Point 4: I don't consistently post to it, or keep it up to date. Why would you bother coming back here every day, if you're never sure if it's going to be updated?

Point 5: I don't post pictures here. It's become cool lately to do "photo blogs", but I can't be bothered. So all you see on here is text.

Point 6: My posts aren't exceptionally deep. I could probably get away with a blog that didn't have any personal details, and didn't have a topic, and didn't have any pictures, if I at least had something interesting to say, but I normally don't.

So the net result of all of this is that I just come here to kill time when I'm bored, writing things that I don't expect anyone to ever read. (The fact that you're reading this, frankly, surprises me.)

The Dentist

When I was a kid, I went to the dentist, and I had a bad experience when they put the flouride in my mouth. It tasted awful, and I had to sit there for 5 minutes or whatever it is, and I was almost ready to throw up.

The result of this is that the next time I had to go to the dentist, I was really dreading it, because I assumed it would be another horrible experience. So when I went, because I was expecting it to be so bad, it actually ended up not seeming so bad, because I'd built it up too much in my mind.

The problem is that the next time I had to go... Yes, you guessed it, I assumed it was going to be fine, and then it seemed like a horrible experience.

So for the rest of my childhood, and even the teenage years, every other visit to the dentist was horrible, and the remaining visits seemed fine.

The End

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Spy dream

I had a dream Sunday night where I was a spy. I wanted to sneak into some building, to spy on some corporation (which, I'm sure, was really a front for an organization bent on world domination).

So I passed someone on the street, whom I knew worked for the organization, and since I knew she was out of the office, I went to their office, and asked to see her. Then the president of the organization (the evil genius who wanted to take over the world) came down to reception, and told me that although she wasn't there, he'd show me to her office. And then they were going to let me wait for her in her office, in which case I would have succeeded in my plan, and I'd be able to commence my spying, but unfortunately I woke up at that point, so I don't know what happened.

I started to tell my wife this, but I only got as far as "I had a dream the other night, where I was a spy, and I was really clever..." and then she cut me off, and said "you always have dreams where you're a spy and you're really clever!"

Sunday, May 08, 2005

My Sunday

We went to my aunt-and-uncle-in-laws today, for dinner. It was great. Actually, any time I go anywhere that someone else is cooking it's great, because everyone cooks better than I do. But her aunt especially, because they're Guyanese, and I like Guyanese food. We had some great chicken, and some nice steamed vegetables, along with some great cake.

Funnily enough, one of the parts that I really enjoyed about the whole thing is that I didn't have to drive. That meant that I could look out the window in the van... I hardly ever get to just look out the window, in a motor vehicle, because I'm always driving. So every building we passed seemed extremely interesting to me, even though most of them were darned boring.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Blog it like it's hot

Right now would be the perfect time for me to post something to my blog, because I have a couple of free minutes - not enough time to do anything serious, but enough time to write something quick.

Unfortunately, I currently have nothing to say. (Of import or otherwise...)

Some random thoughts that occur to me:

  • My wife and I finished the first version of the Jehovah Shalom website last night.
  • As I was in bed last night, waiting for sleep to come, I thought of something to write about in my blog. But it wasn't important enough to get out of bed for, and it wasn't important enough for me to remember today, so it's lost to the ages. Sorry.
  • Our lawn is going to need cutting soon; probably this weekend. We've never had to cut our grass before.

That's it, gentle reader. Maybe next time I'll have something important to say. (Place your bets...)

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Well look at that!

<warning type="heavy geek content">
Before you read any further, this post can be summed up with one sentence: When creating an anchor in HTML, and you use target="_blank", remember that it's case-sensitive. Okay, that being said, if you want to read on, feel free.

I just realized something, about creating the links in my posts. I always use target="_BLANK", to have the links open up in a new window, but I just realized that I should be using lowercase _blank, instead of uppercase _BLANK.

If I use _blank, then every link will result in a new window, but if I use the uppercase _BLANK, IE just uses that for the name of the window. Any subsequent links which use _BLANK for their target will replace the first one, because IE thinks you're trying to have the link go to a named window.

For example, without closing any windows, click this (_blank) and then click this (_blank). Those links should have opened up two new windows, one for Yahoo and one for Microsoft. Now click this (_BLANK), and then click this (_BLANK). This is where I was surprised; the link for CNET will open in a new window (which IE thinks is named "_BLANK"), and then the link for Blogger will open in that same window, because IE thinks that the link should be opening in a new window, named "_BLANK".

You know, this is stuff that I should have already known. Oh well.


There once was a man from Paree
Who didn't quite know how to pee
It was quite a concern
So he started to learn

But it was too late. Time of death: 3:47pm.

I'm so stupid

I was getting all worked up, and getting ready to post about people who misuse the word "literally". Luckily, I looked the word up, first. (Actually, I was looking it up so that I could include the definition in my post, like the smart aleck I am.)

It turns out that there are two meanings for the word "literally", which are almost the opposite of each other. So all those people who were using "literally" in a way that I thought was incorrect, were not incorrect, but were correct.

So who's the dummy now?

Monday, May 02, 2005

serna, the king of bad timing

My timing is pretty lousy. If I decide to wear a sweater, it will turn out to be warm, and if I don't, it will turn out to be cold.

Case in point:

  • 9:00am: Time to get out of the car. "Looks pretty grey out. I'd better bring my umbrella, in case it rains."
  • 1:00pm: Time for lunch. Whoops, I forgot my umbrella.
  • 1:30pm: The rain begins to pour! When serna makes his way back to the car, and from the car to the office, he gets soaked.
  • 5:30pm: Time to go home, umbrella in hand. Hey, look at that! No rain.

Sunday, May 01, 2005


Because a recent comment on the blog mentioned the word "trepidatious", you can read a good page about the word here.

Actually, the page isn't really about the word trepidatious, the word is just an example used to make a larger point. But it's still a fun read.

Actually, hardly anyone will consider it a fun read.