Friday, December 28, 2007


Fortunately for me—and unfortunately for you—nothing too exciting happened at Christmas. That’s fortunate for me, because “exciting” usually equates to “bad”. (It’s unfortunate for you, because I have nothing to write about.)

I’m heading to the States shortly, to visit relatives, so I probably won’t be writing for a while. (Not that I’ll be gone that long.) Of course, along the lines I’ve already stated, I’m hoping I won’t have much to write about. Maybe a quick post saying “I’m back from the States, and it was a lovely trip” would be nice.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007


I thought I was done shovelling snow. I shovelled three times on Sunday: once when I first got up, again when we got back from church, and a final time around 7:00 or 8:00, after the snow stopped falling.

Unfortunately, we went to a friend’s house for dinner last night. (Well, the fact that we went to her house wasn’t unfortunate. The unfortunate part is coming up.) She lives downtown, in the Bloor and Ossington area. An area where they haven’t really done a thorough job of plowing the snow. (Are you starting to get a hint of the unfortunate part that’s going to be coming? Or are you still in suspense?) In fact, there is a block of streets, off Ossington, that don’t look like they’ve been plowed at all. You drive down the street and there are two little tracks in the snow, from the left and right tires of cars that have come before me, and people have dug out little trenches for themselves, to park in. So we weren’t able to park on her street, nor the adjoining street; we had to park a block away, on another street. Again, the street hadn’t been plowed, and people had dug out little spots where they could park, but I found an empty spot. It looked like the snow was pretty deep, but I was able to take a running start at it, and I got the car in there. (Hint: The unfortunateness springs from this event.)

Just out of curiosity, once I got the car parked, I tried pulling forward and pulling back a couple of times, and realized the car wasn’t going anywhere. But I didn’t try too hard, so I figured that when it was time to leave, we’d actually be able to get out.

We had a lovely dinner—good food, good company, what could be better, etc. etc. Except that every once in a while I would think about the car, and wonder if we were going to be able to get out. On our way out, our friend asked us to bring down the shovel she had borrowed from her landlord, which we did, and put in his lobby.

When we got back to the car, we realized pretty quickly that my fears had been valid; we couldn’t get the car out. I was able to reverse pretty well, but there was a very deep patch of snow right in front of the car, and no matter how much of a running start I took at it, we couldn’t get through it.

So we went back to our friend’s house, and happened to get there just as the landlord was coming home. We told him we were friends of his tenant, and that we’d got our car stuck, and asked if we could borrow his shovel. Luckily, he didn’t mind. There were actually two shovels, which was good, because it meant that both Andrea and I were able to do some shovelling.

So I ended up having to shovel a fourth time, from our snow storm, to get our car out of its parking spot. (If you’re still in suspense, this is the unfortunate part. But, really, you should have been able to figure it out by now.)

Monday, December 17, 2007

Movie Review: Babel

We saw Babel on the weekend. It’s been on the PVR for a long time, and we finally got around to watching it. And I’m not really sure if I liked it or not.

I won’t bother to recount the plot, except to say that there are three separate stories going on, that turn out to be connected. And I think that was one thing that people didn’t like about the movie; according to a quick glance at Rotten Tomatoes—on which the movie only got 68%—it sounds like people are getting tired of movies with a lot of seemingly disconnected threads, that turn out to come together by the end of the movie.

Andrea did a bit more research—I think we were both trying to decide if we liked the movie or not—and one of her favourite reviewers talked about the fact that the movie is very much about fate, rather than about peoples’ actions. Looking back on the movie, everything that happened really happened to the people, and they had to simply react; it wasn’t like people were suffering the consequences of their actions, for the most part, they were just… well, suffering. Which I have to admit, I liked. We don’t always have control over our surroundings.

I do have to say, though, that I think it was silly for them to put Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett in it. Then again, maybe all of the actors in the movie were “big name” actors, from their respective countries; it could have been a star-studded cast, and I just didn’t know about it.

So all in all, I think I liked the movie. It’s not an unqualified “I loved it”, but I liked it.

Friday, December 14, 2007


I"ve written before that my typing skills used to be very good--my fingers used to FLY across the keyboard--but when I wrote a book, my typing skills got much worse, instead of better. At the time, i wrote that it was online chatting that had made my typing so much better.

unfrotunately, my typing has gottne even worse, and ironically, it's chatting that has nmade it worse. I'll explian:

When youy're chatting, there is a school of thought that you're not supposed to correct your mistakes. the point is to get the messages across quickly, so tht the flow of the conversation isn't interrupted. HOwever, I never followed that school of thought; i DID correct my mistakes, and my messages in ICQ or MSN Messenger were always properly spelled, and grammatical. (When I did make spelling mistakes, it was because I didn't know how to spell the words properly, not because I'd mis-typed them ina hurry.) I even used proper capitalization.

But lately, for some unexplainable reason, I've changed, and started getting more lackadaisical in my chatting. I"m not overly careful about capitalization, and I'm not correcting my typos unless it's critical. (i.e. if what I wrote isn't understandable; if I write "teh" instead of "the" I don't bother to correct it, because everyone knows waht it was supposed to be.) And that's all well and good for chatting, but it's spilling over into other areas, too; when I type emails, or Word documents, or blog posts, my spelling is also terrible. I spend as much time correcting myself as I do typing.

My fingers still fly across the keyboard. (People who can hear me (but not see me) are impressed at the sound of my typihg.) They're just producing garbage, instead of words.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Trip to Québec

I took a trip to Québec City this week. It was eventful and boring all at the same time.

I had to get up at 5:00 Monday morning, in order to catch my plane, which means that the week started off very badly. Nobody likes being awake at that time, especially me. The cab was scheduled to pick me up at 6:00, and when I looked out my window at 5:55, I realized that it had snowed, and the driveway and sidewalk were covered in snow. I wish I had looked out sooner; I would have shovelled and salted, but by the time I noticed, it was too late.

The cab was a couple of minutes late, but getting to the airport, checking in, and going through security, were all a breeze. The plane was very nice, too; it was a CRJ-705, which has a personal entertainment system, with movies/TV on demand, in every seat. So I watched the first 30 minutes or so of the Bourne Ultimatum. (I knew I wouldn’t be able to finish it, but I’d already seen it, so I wasn’t worried about it. Also, there was a chance I might get to see the rest on the flight back.) Unfortunately, although I’d chosen to see the movie in English, it had Japanese subtitles. (I think it was Japanese. It looked like Kanji, to my untrained eye, but I’m very ignorant about Asian languages, so I wouldn’t be surprised at all if I were wrong.) I tried and tried to switch languages, and get rid of the subtitles, but I couldn’t figure out how.

Most of the day Monday was uneventful. I didn’t have access to my email for most of the day, which was very good—it meant I could concentrate on what I was there to talk about, instead of getting interrupted by the many, many problems back at the office in Toronto. (Many.)

We went out for lunch to a nice steak place. One of my colleagues wanted to order veal, but the waitress warned him that it wasn’t really veal, it was horse. As a slight aside, I found it interesting that people were so mortified that they’d have horse on the menu—especially since it was replacing veal, which many people find cruel in its own right. But the person involved decided against eating horse, because his daughter used to have a horse, and he figured she’d never forgive him if he ate it.

The afternoon was still uneventful, and then we went out for dinner. There were four of us—two Québecers and two Torontonians—and we took two cars. The drive was a bit unnerving, though, because when we left the parking lot, it was impossible to see out the windshields. There was so much ice, inside the windows and out, that you couldn’t see. But our hosts were used to it, I guess, and they didn’t have a problem. We had an excellent dinner, with a waitress who had a deep, raspy, smoker’s voice. (Just like the waitress I had last time I went to Québec!)

We then went for a drive, and one of my Québecer colleagues showed us the town. Which is, I must say, beautiful. It’s the oldest city in Canada—this year will be their 400th anniversary—so there were a lot of very beautiful buildings to see. I’d like to go back some time in the summer, and see the city when it’s not covered in snow.

When we got back to the hotel, I arranged with my colleague to meet at 8:30 the next morning, and we’d go and grab some breakfast, before going to the office. The room had complimentary wireless internet access, so I did a quick check of my email, before setting my alarm for 7:00. (Because that would give me enough time to meet my colleague for 8:00.)

My hotel was the Hotel Pur. It’s a very nice hotel, although a bit more “ultra modern” than I usually like. Unfortunately, it was impossible to keep my room warm. I had to turn the temperature up to approximately the temperature of the surface of the sun, so that the room would get boiling hot, and then the heat would turn off—and the room would immediately become ice cold. Until the next time the heat would kick in, and raise it to the temperature of the core of the Earth, and then turn off and start the cycle over again.

I got up at 7:00 Tuesday morning, and could barely get out of bed. In fact, for some reason, I had more trouble getting up than I had Monday, when I had to get up at 5:00. Who can explain the mysteries of the human body? (And/Or mind…) Because of the cold, I had a terrible shower, because the bathroom was frigid. (And I had one of those showers that are either boiling or freezing, but never warm.) But I managed to get ready, get packed, and get to my colleague’s door for 8:00. Now, if you’ve been reading closely, you may have noticed that I arranged with my colleague to meet him at 8:30, not 8. Which he pointed out with gentle good humour. Luckily, he was ready to go anyway, so we were able to have a nice leisurely breakfast, before showing up at the office.

Tuesday was also pretty uneventful, during the day. We worked, and we got a lot done. We had a good lunch, at a Thai place. I felt bad when I couldn’t understand the waitress, but then one of my French colleagues assured me that he couldn’t, either. I took a chance, when she asked me about the soup, and decided to get it spicy, but my gamble paid off; it was excellent. (If you like spicy food, it probably wouldn’t have been spicy enough for you, but it was just right for me.)

We weren’t sure when to leave the office, to get to the airport in time to catch our flight. As it turned out, we got there much earlier than we needed to. (Better safe than sorry, and all that.) I called Andrea, to let her know that I was coming home, and I made the mistake of asking her what the weather was like:

  • INT: the airport
  • serna remembers, at the last minute, that he needs to call Andrea before the plane leaves. He pulls out his cell phone.
  • serna
  • Hey there.
  • Andrea
  • Hey. How was the trip?
  • They have more small talk.
  • serna
  • So how’s the weather there?
  • Andrea
  • It’s terrrible!
  • serna
  • (with trepidation)
  • Oh no. What do you mean?
  • Andrea
  • Freezing rain.
  • serna
  • (hangs his head)
  • Crap. That’s exactly the wrong answer. If there’s any weather that will cause them to delay or cancel the flight, it’s that.
  • Okay, well, I’ll keep you updated, and if the flight gets delayed, I’ll let you know.
Luckily, however, the flight was not delayed. I wasn’t sure if we’d get another jet with the personal entertainment, but we did, so I was quite pleased. Unfortunately, when I went looking for The Bourne Ultimatum, they didn’t have it. So I ended up watching much of Live Free or Die Hard, instead. And, as luck would have it, again, I ended up with Japanese subtitles. I kept glancing at my colleague’s screen, to see if he had the same problem, but he didn’t. I don’t know what I could have possibly been doing wrong, but I’m convinced that it was me, not the TV. It’s just too much of a coincidence that I’d get two TVs with the same weird anomaly.

And that was my trip.

Saturday, December 08, 2007


I was at an event Thursday night, put on by METRAC, commemorating the anniversary of December 6th. It was a good event, with spoken word performances from various people. (Some of the performers work with METRAC, in the ReAct program.)

During the night my mind started to wander, as is often the case—especially when it comes to spoken word, which I can appreciate, but don’t really enjoy that much—and I started to ask myself: What’s the difference between me and the people who are performing here tonight? And there were some obvious differences: I’m older than most (or all) of them; I’m white, and most of them were youth of colour; I came from the country, and most of them came from the city; I have money, and most of them don’t. But none of those things, even though they were true, really felt like the real difference.

And then it hit me. What my subconscious had been working on in the background came to the front: I’d had encouragement. My whole life, from the time that I was a kid right up until the present day, I’ve always had encouragement.

In school, I always got fairly bad grades. But did my teachers ever tell me that I shouldn’t bother going to college or university, because I wasn’t smart enough? Did they suggest that I just give up, and go get a job pumping gas or something? Quite the opposite. Almost every report card I ever received had a note on it from my teachers, saying something to the effect that I could do better, if I would just apply myself. I was smarter than the grades I was getting, I just didn’t try, they were telling me. (In fact, it’s quite possible that I got better grades than I should have, from teachers pushing me through.) But from what I know of the kids in my Youth Group, that’s not true for youth of colour in the city schools. They have been told that they shouldn’t bother applying to college or university. They have been told that they should just give up, and go out and get menial jobs.

When they do get praise, it’s usually a guarded form of praise. People will say “wow, she’s a very good spoken word artist!” and you can almost hear, on the end of the statement, “…for a street kid.” As if living in the poor areas of Toronto, with all the lack of food and clothing and proper shelter that comes with it, also brings a lack of intelligence, or a lack of talent. We talk of “street smarts” and “book smarts” as if they’re mutually exclusive; you can either learn how to live on the streets, or you can become an engineer. But they’re both forms of being smart; they’re both ways to apply your intelligence. Who’s to say that someone with street smarts wouldn’t make a great engineer, with the right opportunities? We should never be surprised when someone who’s not so well off is intelligent, or talented. (And, of course, we shouldn’t make the opposite assumption, either, which is equally demeaning: “Oh, she’s from the streets! I bet she’s a good rapper!”)

Even to this day, when I get praise for doing a good job at work, it’s just that: straight up praise. “That was very good work you did, serna.” But people who haven’t had my advantages, who happen to be on the wrong side of the line between rich and poor, or who have the wrong colour of skin, seldom receive “pure” praise in this culture. They get qualified praise. What’s expected of me gets treated as miraculous from them.

I really think praise needs to be doled out equally. The kids in my Youth Group, some of whom are really smart and some of whom aren’t, just like the kids I grew up with, need to be encouraged. They’ll never have the advantages I did—even a poor white kid in the country is still better off than an inner-city kid—but they already know that. What they don’t know, because it’s been kept secret from them, is that they can accomplish something in this life. Some of them will even accomplish beyond their means.

Apologies for the lack of cohesion in this post. I know it’s all over the map. There were too many thing I was trying to say, and too many of them were not so well thought through.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Hybrid Gas Comparison (Long)

When I first bought my hybrid—or even ahead of time, when I was just thinking about it—a lot of people told me that they’d heard hybrids don’t actually save that much on gas. That the fuel consumption was pretty much the same as a normal Civic. Well, luckily for me, I was able to look back in my bank account, and see how much money I’d spent on gas with the previous car, for the last 90 days that I had it. And then I tracked how much I spent on gas for the new car, for the first 90 days.

And to all of the naysayers out there, I have only this to say: You were right. I only saved 23%, which is much less than I’d been hoping.

But before I continue, and get to the list of numbers that you’re all dying to see, let me just get this out of the way: I don’t regret buying the new car. In fact, I still love it. It’s a great car to drive, and it does still save me money, even if it’s not as much money as I was hoping. Sure, some of the lustre has come off, since I’m not saving as much as I’d hoped, but still, I love the car.

Now back to the numbers. First off, I guess I should share the money I spent on the two cars. Unfortunately, there is no way to find out how many kilometres I drove for the 90 days in question, in the previous car, so this isn’t really a pure “apples to apples” comparison; it’s just how much money I spent on each car, on gas. That being said, I’m fairly sure the number of kilometres for each car is probably comparable.

CavalierCivic Hybrid
DateGas# DaysDateGas# Days
May 14$53.69 August 12  
May 15  August 13  
May 16  August 14  
May 17  August 15  
May 18  August 16  
May 19  August 17  
May 20  August 18  
May 21  August 19  
May 22  August 20  
May 23$49.479August 21  
May 24  August 22$32.2911
May 25  August 23  
May 26  August 24  
May 27  August 25  
May 28  August 26  
May 29  August 27$29.225
May 30  August 28  
May 31  August 29$28.012
June 1  August 30  
June 2  August 31  
June 3  September 1  
June 4  September 2$35.074
June 5  September 3  
June 6  September 4  
June 7$47.4815September 5  
June 8  September 6  
June 9  September 7  
June 10  September 8  
June 11  September 9  
June 12  September 10  
June 13$50.886September 11  
June 14  September 12$35.7410
June 15  September 13  
June 16  September 14  
June 17  September 15  
June 18  September 16  
June 19  September 17  
June 20  September 18  
June 21  September 19  
June 22  September 20$37.128
June 23  September 21  
June 24  September 22  
June 25$52.0312September 23  
June 26  September 24  
June 27  September 25  
June 28  September 26  
June 29  September 27  
June 30  September 28$34.418
July 1  September 29  
July 2  September 30  
July 3$46.338October 1  
July 4  October 2  
July 5  October 3  
July 6  October 4  
July 7  October 5$33.807
July 8  October 6  
July 9$47.096October 7$33.112
July 10  October 8  
July 11  October 9  
July 12  October 10  
July 13  October 11$30.024
July 14  October 12  
July 15  October 13  
July 16$33.647October 14  
July 17  October 15  
July 18$48.012October 16  
July 19  October 17  
July 20  October 18  
July 21  October 19  
July 22  October 20  
July 23  October 21  
July 24  October 22  
July 25  October 23$34.2712
July 26  October 24  
July 27  October 25  
July 28  October 26  
July 29  October 27  
July 30  October 28  
July 31  October 29  
August 1$49.1814October 30  
August 2  October 31$35.268
August 3  November 1  
August 4  November 2  
August 5  November 3  
August 6  November 4  
August 7  November 5  
August 8  November 6  
August 9$43.218November 7  
August 10  November 8$35.488
August 11$44.232November 9  

The “# Days” columns are how many days it was between fillups.

So how do those compare? Let’s take a look:

Average Fillup:$47.10Average Fillup:$33.37
Average Days Between Fillups:8.09Average Days Between Fillups:6.85

I tried very hard to come up with a good graph, that could compare these numbers. (I know how much my blog readers love graphs.) The best I could come up with was this, where the red line represents gas spent on the Hybrid, and the blue line represents gas spent on the Cavalier:
hybrid comparison line
Or maybe this works better, where again, the red area represents the Hybrid, and the blue area represents the Cavalier:
hybrid comparison area
What you’ll notice, if you look at the numbers, is that I’m filling up the hybrid every 7 or 8 days, on average, except for some occasions where I’m filling up after only 2 or 3. This is because the mileage is much better in the city than on the highway; when I had to take long trips, that involved a lot of highway driving, I didn’t save as much on gas. For example, the weekend that I spent driving back and forth between Toronto, London, and Chatham. On that weekend, I had a fillup after only two days, and then another fillup four days later. (The car has a much smaller gas tank than my old car, which is why I had to fill up so frequently on these trips. I think the mileage would still be comparable to the old car—not less, but comparable.)

Why is the mileage so much better for city driving than highway driving? Well, here are some quick points on how the Honda hybrids work:
  • As opposed to some other hybrids, the gas motor is always on, for the Hondas. (See below for the exception to this rule.) When you accelerate—at any speed, not just at lower speeds—the electric engine kicks in, and helps the car accelerate. This way, the gas motor isn’t working as hard.
  • When the car slows down, it uses kinetic energy to charge the electric motor’s battery. This means that the car never has to be plugged in.
  • When you come to a stop, the gas motor shuts off, so that the car isn’t idling. When you take your foot off the brake, the gas motor comes back on, and by the time you’re ready to push your foot on the gas, the engine is ready to go.
That’s why the hybrid gets so much better mileage in the city than on the highway. With all of the stop and go, including the acceleration, and the fact that the engine can shut off, when you come to a stop, the hybrid technologies shine. When you’re on the highway, and maintaining a relatively stable speed, there isn’t much for the electric motor to do.

So, with this in mind, I decided to play with the numbers in the spreadsheet a bit. What would happen if I had only done city driving, and not taken any trips that involved a lot of highway driving? Then the numbers might have looked a bit more like this:

Civic Hybrid
DateGas# Days
August 12  
August 13  
August 14  
August 15  
August 16  
August 17  
August 18  
August 19  
August 20  
August 21  
August 22$32.2911
August 23  
August 24  
August 25  
August 26  
August 27  
August 28  
August 29$28.017
August 30  
August 31  
September 1  
September 2  
September 3  
September 4  
September 5$35.077
September 6  
September 7  
September 8  
September 9  
September 10  
September 11  
September 12$35.747
September 13  
September 14  
September 15  
September 16  
September 17  
September 18  
September 19  
September 20$37.128
September 21  
September 22  
September 23  
September 24  
September 25  
September 26  
September 27  
September 28$34.418
September 29  
September 30  
October 1  
October 2  
October 3  
October 4  
October 5$33.807
October 6  
October 7  
October 8  
October 9  
October 10  
October 11$30.026
October 12  
October 13  
October 14  
October 15  
October 16  
October 17  
October 18  
October 19  
October 20  
October 21  
October 22  
October 23$34.2712
October 24  
October 25  
October 26  
October 27  
October 28  
October 29  
October 30  
October 31$35.268
November 1  
November 2  
November 3  
November 4  
November 5  
November 6  
November 7  
November 8$35.488
November 9  

(All I did was remove some of the fill ups, that were close to others, and then adjust the number of days accordingly. It’s not by any means scientific, just a “what if” scenario.)

Using these numbers, the comparison works out so that I would have saved about 34% on gas.

Average Fillup:$47.10Average Fillup:$33.77
Average Days Between Fillups:8.09Average Days Between Fillups:8.09

It’s only a coincidence that the average days between fillups ended up exactly 8.09, the same as for the Cavalier.

Still not the 50% that I would have hoped for, but better than I get with a lot of highway driving. If you’d like to see the graphic versions…
hybrid mock comparison line
hybrid mock comparison area
So that’s how the cars compare. 23%. I only saved 23% on gas.

While I’m posting about the Hybrid, I should mention how the cold affects it. A friend of mine was curious, so I’ll satisfy his curiosity. Remember the three points I mentioned about how the hybrid works? Well in the cold…
  • Acceleration is unaffected. As soon as you turn the car on, and start driving, the electric motor kicks in, and starts helping out when you accelerate.
  • When it comes to charging the electric motor’s battery, the car has to warm up a bit, before it will start charging. So when you start the car, in the cold, you’ll just be using up juice from the battery, and not replenishing any, for the first little while. (That being said, for any significant trip, the battery will get back to its fully charged state after a while.)
  • In terms of shutting off the gas engine, when at a complete stop, this doesn’t happen until the car gets fully warmed up. And even then, sometimes you get a “false stop” when the car is almost warmed up; that is, you’ll come to a stop, and you’ll feel the engine shut off for a second, and then it suddenly turns back on. It’s like the engine is saying, “Can I shut off? Yep. No wait! Not yet!”
Just to round off the post, here are some things about this car, that I’m noticing after driving it for a while:
  • The climate control system is great. It has an “auto” feature, where you simply put it to the temperature that you want, and it will take care of deciding when to turn the fan on, and how much, whether the air conditioning should be on or not, whether the air should come out at the windshield, or at your feet, or wherever, etc. It also tries to monitor the humidity in the car, and keep the A/C on when it gets too humid, so that the windows won’t fog up—although I notice that it doesn’t do this quite as well in the winter, so I have to override the “auto” setting and put the air pointing to the windshield, sometimes.
  • I’m absolutely loving the fact that the stereo plays MP3 CDs. That’s a very nice feature. (I’m sure all cars have that, these days.)
  • It took me a while to get used to the digital readout, for the speedometer, rather than the analogue gauge. (I’d still prefer the analogue gauge, I just got used to the digital readout.)
  • I didn’t notice it at first, but the Civic has a lot more room in the back seat than the Cavalier did. This is partly because the Civic doesn’t have the bump on the floor, where the middle passenger would sit. (I’m sure one of my gear-head readers will leave a comment and tell me what that lump is there for, on most cars, but the point is, it’s not there on mine, and my back seat passengers get more leg room because of it.)

Movie Review: Last Action Hero

You may be asking why I’m even bothering to put up a “movie review” for a movie that was made more than a decade ago. Two reasons:

  1. Because I happened to be watching it on TV. (On Space?!? Why are they playing Last Action Hero on Space?)
  2. To prove a point
My point is this: I post a lot of reviews of action movies, and say that I don’t like them. That they’re badly written, etc. etc. But I actually like this movie. It’s terrible, but I like it. (And it’s not just me who thinks it’s terrible; it only has a 33% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.)

I don’t even know why I like this movie. It’s clever, but only in a really superficial way. (Meaning that it’s not really clever; they only make the most obvious jokes, about the most obvious action movie clichés.) But I still find it entertaining.

Friday, November 30, 2007


Anyone who uses MSN Messenger, and sometimes has to change computers, might find this useful.

I just got a new laptop at work, and was trying to find a way to export my custom emoticons from the copy Messenger on the old laptop, and import them on the new one. There is no way to do this, using the application itself, but I found a tool on the internet called ConCon. It can export/import custom emoticons, background images and profile pictures, and a whole bunch of other things. I did run into a problem, where it was only able to import some of my emoticons, and then it would just quit on me, but I solved that problem by doing them one by one, until I found the one that had been causing the problem.

I can’t guarantee that the program is bug-free, I only used it for a couple of hours, but really, that’s all you need. In fact, if I hadn’t had problems with one particular emoticon, it would have probably only taken me a couple of minutes.

Scary Mary

See the following trailer, for the scariest movie coming out this season.

Monday, November 26, 2007


I don’t use the word “gross” very often, in real life. And yet, I’ve used it in four blog posts, to date, with this being my fifth. Anyway, onto the grodiness

I was playing bass, Sunday morning, with Jehovah Shalom. I don’t normally play bass, I play guitar, and bass strings are a lot heavier than guitar strings, so if you’re not used to playing bass, it can cause blisters very quickly. After practice, before the service, I looked down and noticed a big blister, full of… I don’t know, some kind of liquid. (This isn’t the gross part.)

During the service, I played the bass for my one song, and then I looked back down again, to see the shape of my blister. It had now formed a layer of chewed up skin, on top of the bubble. (This still isn’t the gross part.)

Sunday evening, I decided to get rid of this thing. I got a pin, and prepared to pop the blister. (This still isn’t the gross part.) I did so, and the fluid started coming out. Then I squeezed it, to make sure that I got it all. But, to my surprise, instead of just dribbling out, it squirted out, in a little stream. Right into my surprised mouth. (This is the gross part.)

Never have I turned on a tap and rinsed out my mouth so fast as I did when this… material was in and around my mouth. I don’t even know what it tasted like, because I moved so fast.

In future, if I get another blister on one of my fingers, I think I’ll wear protective headgear, when popping it.

My Finger

I hurt my finger on Friday. (My “swear” finger, if you’re interested.) I don’t think I sprained it, but it hurts nonetheless. It didn’t actually hurt on Friday, but when I woke up Saturday it was killing me. And ever since, I can feel it hurting whenever my hand touches or does anything. (It’s not killing me anymore, but it’s still hurting.)

This was bad news, because I was supposed to go bowling Saturday afternoon, to help raise money for METRAC. All morning long, every time I did anything with my hand, I could feel it, and I was thinking to myself “Oh dear. How am I ever going to bowl?!?”

As it turns out, my fears were ungrounded. Not only did I bowl well, I bowled the best game I’ve ever played! (I got 153, if you’re curious. That might not be too impressive for you, but for me, it was incredible.)

Monday, November 19, 2007


For those of you who are following US policy in the Middle East, I came across something interesting today, in a blog posting at The Nation:

… after years of scorning Arab-Israeli diplomacy, Rice has become such a freqent[sic] visitor to the region that she given[sic] birth to a new verb in Israeli government circles: “lecondel.” According to the New York Times, the verb—based on Ms. Rice’s first name—means “to come and go for meetings that produce few results.”
I didn’t bother to go searching for the NYT article.

“Girlfriend not satisfied with your…”

I get tempted, sometimes, to keep a log of all of the email subject lines, for spam that offers to introduce the size of my, ahem, “member”. They get pretty creative, sometimes, and I’m sure that people would get a kick out of seeing them all listed here.

The only thing that’s preventing me is that some of them aren’t fit to be reprinted. In fact… many of them aren’t fit to be reprinted.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Movie Review: Michael Clayton

I must say, every time I see a new George Clooney movie, I get more respect for him. Partially for his acting ability, and partially for his choice in movies/roles. (I’m told he’s a looker, too, but I don’t see it. heh.)

I saw Michael Clayton today, and I loved it. Without giving anything away, it’s about a lawyer—the Michael Clayton of the title—who has kind of a nebulous job description. He’s a “fixer”. (This may be part of the reason I had so much empathy for the Clayton character; I find myself in a similar situation. (In certain respects; I’m not saying I’m a lot like him.) People I work with find me very useful—maybe even indispensable, when things go wrong—but it’s very hard to tell people exactly what I do. And it would be hard to justify my job to “bean counters”, if I were ever pressed to do so.) Another lawyer in the firm, Arthur Edens, is manic depressive, and has a breakdown after going off his meds; Clayton is being asked to get Edens under control. The case Edens is working on, and has been working on for six years, is for a very large corporation, and is worth billions, which is what the plot hinges on.

It’s a smart script, and very well executed. I don’t normally talk about favourite scenes from a movie, but in this case, I did have two favourite scenes, and they were the first scene and the last scene.

The first scene, over the opening credits—if I remember correctly—is simply Eden’s voice. We don’t see him, we just hear his voice, while we see establishing shots of office buildings in New York. I was hooked just listening to him speak; I was going to post his speech here, but I couldn’t find a copy of the script online. (Oh, I’m sure it’s there somewhere. In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me if some smart arse posts a link to it hours after this gets published…)

And the last scene, over the closing credits, is the opposite. We just see a Clayton’s face; nobody is talking, and the camera never leaves his face.

I highly recommend the movie. I don’t know how much longer it will be playing—maybe by the time you read this it will be out of the theatres already—but there’s always the DVD you can rent, when it comes out.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

New Couch

It’s been a while since I wrote a post to complain about some trifling event in my life. I guess it’s time for another one.

Andrea and I had been looking for a sofa-bed. We wanted to put a couch in our spare room, and make it a reading room, but still have somewhere for guests to sleep, if we ever have someone spend the night. So we decided to get a sofa-bed, but I was very picky—I’ve heard too many horror stories about the poor comfort level of sofa-beds, for sleeping, so I wanted to get a good one. We finally found a good one at the Bay, and bought it.

It was scheduled to be delivered on Tuesday. Here’s how it went down:

When we bought it: We are told that it will be delivered on Tuesday, the 13th, between 5:30 and 9:00 PM. No problem, we check our calendars and verify that we can be home for 5:30 on Tuesday.

The day before the delivery: We get a message on our voice mail, reaffirming that the couch is being delivered on Tuesday, between 5:00 and 9:00. Wait… 5:00?!? We were told 5:30, when we bought it! We check our schedules, and confirm that we can be home for 5:00.

Tuesday, 3:40: serna has a conference call, which is supposed to end at 4:00. However, he has warned people that he needs to leave early.

3:50: serna stays five minutes later than he’d planned, because a discussion starts that he doesn’t want to miss. (He still ends up missing some of it.)

4:00: serna is on the DVP, and hits his first accident of the night. Traffic is backed up quite a ways, because of it.

4:30: serna picks up Andrea. They hear a traffic report, indicating that there is a second accident, near where they live, so they alter their route, to avoid it.

4:45: They are taking some non-major roads to get home, and hit a third accident. They’re not overly worried—it’s not likely that the delivery people will show up on the dot at 5:00—but serna still has visions in his head of getting home at 5:10, and seeing a note on the door. Sorry we missed you! Please call to reschedule this delivery at your convenience.

4:55 (or so): They get home, and there is no note on the door. They’ve made it!

5:00: serna decides not to have dinner, yet, because he wants to wait for the delivery people to arrive. No sense being half way through his food, and having to leave it to monitor the delivery people.

8:00: serna starts to worry. Where are these people? It’s not 9:00 yet, so they’re not late, but we were really expecting them earlier…

8:15: serna calls the customer service line. The man confirms that the delivery is still going to happen; they should be arriving at 8:55. (Cutting it kind of close, but oh well…)

8:45: The customer service people call. The delivery people are late; they’ll probably be arriving between 10 and 11. When serna mentions that, gee, this is pretty late, shouldn’t the delivery charge be dropped?, he is informed that yes, the delivery charge will be dropped. (Or rather, “comped”, since it’s already been paid.)

10:30: The delivery man calls. They’re running late; he’ll probably be arriving at 11:15. He apologizes profusely, because he knows it’s very late. Apparently Tuesdays are their busy days, for delivery—who knew?

11:15 (or so): They arrive. They bring in the couch, and haul it up the stairs to the guest room, and set it up. (i.e. they put the legs on.)

11:30 (or so): The delivery people leave.

11:30 and 30 seconds: serna has a realization: They didn’t leave the pillows! There are supposed to be two pillows that came with the couch! He runs to the front door, in time to see… nothing. The van, and its occupants—including the pillows—are gone.

So now I have to call the customer service line, to

  1. Make sure that I really will be comped.
  2. Find out what they’re doing to do about the pillows. We don’t really need/want them, but since we paid for them, we should either get them, or get reimbursed.
And that’s my story. It kind of puts things into perspective; how great must my life be, that this kind of thing is all I have to complain about?

Coffee Breath

Is it just me, or does cold coffee produce worse coffee breath than hot coffee?

Monday, November 05, 2007

Movie Review: Transformers

I saw Transformers last weekend. I didn’t like it. In fact, I thought the movie was terrible. I thought it was long, boring, and poorly written. It went something like this:

  1. Scene with lots of terrible, poorly written dialog, which goes on much, much longer than it should.
  2. A sudden chaotic flurry of action, which happens so fast you can’t tell what’s going on.
  3. Repeat ad nauseum
Now, I know what you’re probably going to say. You’re probably going to tell me that you disagree. In fact, you’re probably going to tell me in very strong terms. How do I know this? Because I’ve already had this conversation numerous times. It goes something like this:

“I didn’t like Transformers. In fact, I thought the movie was terrible. I thought it was long, boring, and poorly written.”

gasp splutter “You what?!? You didn’t like—

“How… How could you not like…

“That’s my favourite movie! It’s the best movie ever made! I’m naming my first born Transformer!

“What the heck is wrong with you, that you didn’t like Transformers?!?”

About this time, I have to take a step back, because the spittle is starting to hit my face, and I get worried about some of it dripping down onto my shirt.

So if you really feel the need to leave a comment, and tell me that I’m an idiot for not liking Transformers, go ahead. But don’t expect me to suddenly change my mind, and think that the piece of crap called Transformers was actually worth watching. Ain’t gonna happen.

Friday, November 02, 2007


Well it’s been a long and stressful week. Actually, I guess it’s still part of that week; I wrote this on Friday afternoon, and I still had Youth Group to go to, not to mention a wedding on Saturday.

Speaking of Youth Group, I still haven’t created a blog to write about it. I don’t know if that means I won’t bother; I would have assumed that I’d have done it by now, so maybe the fact that I haven’t been excited enough to do it means that I’ll never bother. On the other hand, it’s been on my mind the whole time—not taking up a lot of room, in my mind, just sort of huddled in the corner, staying out of the way—so that means that it’s not yet out of the question. A couple of weeks ago we went to some kind of a youth rally, and I met a lot of other leaders of youth groups, and it’s quite possible that we’re all going to want to keep in touch. Perhaps a blog will be part of that. (It would be really sad if the only thing preventing me from starting this stupid blog is that I can’t find a template I like…)

I was looking back through the serna Book Blog this afternoon, and realized that there are a lot of murder mysteries and spy novels there, and not a lot of “real” novels. Which is appropriate, I think; if I ever do finish my novel, it will be much more in the “light reading” category than in the “Great Canadian Novel” category. But still, I’d like to read some books that have more substance, too. So I’ve started reading The Inheritance of Loss, by Kiran Desai. I’ve heard good things, and so far I’m very much enjoying the writing. (I also have to re-read The End For Which God Created the World, because of an ongoing conversation I’m supposed to be having with a friend at church, but I haven’t looked at it yet.)

On an unrelated note, the relative that I’d written about, who had the stroke, is potentially going to be written up in a medical journal. Apparently the symptoms she had were very rare—she’s only the second person in Canada to have experienced it—so they’re going to write about it.

And that’s about it. The ennui continues, but I’m not worried about it. Work continues, which pays the bills. Church continues, which helps feed the soul. Youth Group continues, and hopefully I’m helping.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Ennui Redux

I wrote in an earlier post that I’ve been suffering from ennui. A colleague found a good definition for the word “ennui”, but I can’t remember where she got it; in any event, here is the definition she found:

a feeling of utter weariness and discontent resulting from satiety or lack of interest; boredom
I had earlier theorized that my ennui might be caused by the time of year, or maybe because my relative was in the hospital. I now have another theory: maybe it’s because I’m cutting coffee out of my diet. I still drink coffee—a lot of coffee—but I’ve switched to decaf.

I probably should have thought of this earlier, but I didn’t. And I have a theory as to why I didn’t think of it earlier: I’ve cut coffee out of my diet. I still drink coffee—a lot of coffee—but I’ve switched to decaf. So that’s a possible reason as to why my mind might not have been as sharp as it should have been, when I wrote that earlier post. (I think I may also have started repeating myself, from time to time…)

Monday, October 29, 2007

Dove Evolution

I thought I had posted this before, but apparently I haven’t.

I love this ad. I love that there are sometimes—not often, but sometimes—opportunities to use media to expose media’s tricks.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Finally, some spare time! So… now what?

After a pretty hectic couple of weeks, I suddenly have a day which is not too busy. I only have one meeting in my calendar, and I’m finished with the development that I wrote about in a previous post. So I have a bit of time to catch up, and wind down.

But I have nothing to catch up on. There’s nothing work-related that I had to push off; I’m caught up on all of the blogs that I read regularly, so I don’t have anything to read from them; I’ve pretty much kept up to date on the news sites I follow, so there’s nothing to catch up there, either; I have nothing that I really feel I need to post to any of my myriad blogs (except the serna Bible Blog, which should be posted to daily). Just… nothing.

So I don’t know what I’m going to do with my “free” time. Maybe create the Youth Group blog I’d been mentioning; I’ve given it further thought, but I haven’t found a good template for it yet. (I sort of like the NewZen template, or, since it’s a Youth Group in Rexdale, maybe the Canada template—which, really, shows a picture of Toronto. I’m still loving the templates at FinalSense, but I’m also thinking that maybe I should get some templates somewhere else, since variety is the spice of life…)

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

New Blog

It’s been a couple of days since I created a new blog, so I figured I’d better create another. (That’s an exaggeration, but only a small one.) I have created the serna Book Blog, which is a diary where I can talk about the books I read. (I already have a link to it, over on the side, as well as an RSS feed, but I hadn’t bothered to announce it here until I’d managed to write about a few books, first.)

Notice I’m calling it a “diary”—the intent is not to do book “reviews”, just to write about the books that I read. Of course, that will entail mentioning things that I like and things that I don’t like—I won’t try to get around that—but the intent is to look inward, rather than to convince my audience of a book is good or if a book is crap.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

The Sovereignty of God and Prayer

Further to a comment from a previous post (Answered Prayer), I happened to be at a church-related meeting this morning, and my pastor gave out a handout called “The Sovereignty of God and Prayer”, by John Piper. I was going to reprint it here, but then I read their disclaimer at the bottom, and they said that they’d prefer it if websites link to it instead.

So, here is a link to the article, on Piper’s website (desiringGod). Actually, Piper is a great Christian thinker, so probably any article on the site is worth reading.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Redux of my Web 3.0 redux

I found another interesting blog post, related to social networking sites (and related technologies). This time, the author is showing that teens tend view things much differently than adults do; adults are much more likely to want one account, that they can use to log in everywhere, while teens are content to create dozens of throwaway accounts, that they use temporarily.

In fact—according to the blog post—teens are much more likely to forget their passwords for their accounts (on Facebook, or MSN Messenger, or Yahoo Mail, or whatever), in which case they simply abandon the accounts, and create new ones. They’re not concerned with bringing all of the data or “friends” or whatever, they just start over.

I know that I myself am firmly in the “adult” camp; I would much prefer to be able to create one account, and use it everywhere—the thought of forgetting a password, and not being able to get it back, gives me butterflies in my stomach. (Of course, most places allow you to get a password back, either by emailing it to you, or by entering an answer to a secret question, at which point they’ll reset the password.)

But this leads me to wonder: Is this an age thing, or a generational thing? That is, when teenagers grow up into adults, will they start to want one account that they use everywhere, or will they maintain their “use it for a while and then create another one” mentality even into their adult years? My assumption is that they’ll do the latter; they will have grown up doing things that way, and they’ll probably see it as the norm.

So my question is this: How much time is being wasted on technologies for “world-wide-web-wide” accounts, which people will stop using when the current generation of net users die out? I may be completely off on my assumptions about “Web 3.0”…

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Web 3.0 Redux

Some of what I talked about in an earlier post is coming to fruition. (Or, at least, being talked about.) See this article on Wired.

If you’re interested in this stuff, click the links in the Wired article, too, and read them. Especially this one.


We were in Future Shop a while ago, and one of the guys who worked in the store told me that I look like Vladimir Putin. I’d been meaning to look for a picture of him, and never got around to it until last night, at which point I discovered that no, I don’t really look like him.

But then Andrea mentioned that someone had once told her I look like the main singer from Radiohead. So I looked for a picture of him, and found out that yes, I think I do look like him.


Unfortunately, in that picture, he looks like his clothes are about three sizes too big, and looks way smaller than his bandmates—which just makes me look even more like him, because my clothes are often too big for me, too.

Lesson for the day: whenever serna buys new clothes, he needs to get them tailored.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Google Skimps on Its Own Advertising

I read an article on Wired (I hope that link works), about the fact that Google spends very little on advertising, compared to other companies that have large, recognizable brands. They’re able to get by simply through word of mouth, and by providing services people actually want to use. I thought it was a very good article, pointing out that you don’t have to follow traditional models of advertising.

And then I got to the end, where they started quoting someone who is a “veteran marketing consultant”, who is basically saying “well, it’s all well and good that Google has gotten this far, but they’ll have to start using traditional advertising eventually.” And I thought: “Why?!?”

Hasn’t Google already proven that you don’t need to use traditional advertising methods to be successful? Why would the reporter write an article on Google’s success without resorting to [much] advertising, and then completely undermine their point in the last couple of paragraphs? And use someone from the advertising industry—hardly an objective third party—to do the undermining?

Although I caught the article on Wired, it’s actually an Associated Press story, which means that I can’t blame Wired for it. But man, talk about embedding bias into a “news” story.

I’m getting a desire to go back and re-read Necessary Illusions again…

Wednesday, October 10, 2007


Every once in a while I just get bored with my life. There’s nothing specific I want to change, I just get… bored. It’s not a mid-life crisis; I’m not tempted to go out and buy a sports car or something ridiculous like that. It’s definitely not my marriage (so you can stop worrying); I am very happy with my marriage, and am very happy that Andrea and I love each other the way that we do. I just find it hard to get excited about anything.

Perhaps it’s related to my relative’s battle with a stroke; am I contemplating my own mortality, on some subconscious level? Probably not, since thoughts about mortality work differently for a Christian. But who knows? Maybe it’s a factor.

I’m sure I’ve posted something along these lines before, but I did a quick search, and couldn’t find it. (I was sure I would have used the word “ennui”, but apparently I didn’t, because a search didn’t turn anything up. Of course, that search will turn something up now, because I’ve used the word in this post…)

Maybe it’s just the time of year? Since I couldn’t find the previous posts when I talked about this—assuming that there were previous posts—I don’t know if they were in the September/October timeframe, or if they were some other time of the year.

Oh well. I’ve done my duty, anyway; I’ve posted something to my blog.

Answered Prayer

I previously mentioned my family member who was in the hospital. It turns out that the person had a stroke. However, it turns out to have been the most minor stroke I’ve ever heard of; she has no lasting effects from it—no problems with speech, or visible drooping in her face, or anything else. I’ve never heard of anyone having a stroke which affected them so little. She had some pins and needles all down the left side of her body, but as soon as they started giving her blood thinners, the pins and needles started to go away, and she has no side effects left over.

Now, someone reading this may be thinking, “but I knew someone who had a stroke, and it affected them even less.” The fact that her stroke is the most minor one I’ve ever heard of isn’t the point; I’m not claiming that she’s setting some kind of a record or anything. My only point is that I’m thankful to God for answered prayer; we prayed that the stroke would be minor, that there wouldn’t be any lasting effects, and it was and there weren’t.

You may claim that it was coincidence, and that God didn’t do anything. (You may even claim that there is no God in the first place.) I don’t really have the tools to convince you otherwise, and, even if I did, I don’t have the mental faculties these days to carry on a complex argument. But I believe that there is a God, and I believe that He helped out my family member. And it’s one more thing for me to be thankful to Him for.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

What a weekend

I did a lot of driving this weekend. In fact, it feels like I barely left the car. I drove from Toronto to London, to visit the family member who is in the hospital, and then spend the rest of the weekend driving back and forth between London and Chatham. Apparently driving really tires you out, because I’m pretty wiped today. (Not that I did all of the driving, mind you; I also let Andrea do some, so that I could catch up on my reading.)

And I thought I had more than this to say, but apparently not, because I can’t think of anything else.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Posting for the sake of posting

Yes, I know, I haven’t posted here in two weeks. What can I say? I’ve been busy. (I was reminded that I haven’t posted here when a friend of mine said that he’d visited my “old” blog, and I had to sheepishly explain to him that no, the blog is current, I’m just not consistent in posting to it.)

So here are a bunch of unrelated, random facts about the current state of my life:

If the colds I’ve been having lately really are psychosomatic, then my psychosis is pretty bad. (I love throwing in random medical jargon, apparently. Doctors reading this would probably either cringe, or roll their eyes…) I have a cold right now, and it feels like a real cold, not just a stress-driven cold.

Speaking of illness, a family member is in the hospital. And it’s the worst kind of visit to the hospital, in my mind: something is wrong, but the doctors don’t know what it is. They’re sending her to London for an MRI, but there are no ambulances available, so she has to get their herself. (Well, not by herself; her husband will drive her.)

I’ve been doing some development, lately, which is why I haven’t been blogging—my laptop just can’t run the development tools and anything else at the same time. (Even though I’ve got 2GB of RAM.) Which goes to show you how much memory the development environment sucks up. In any event, it’s fun to be developing again.

Um… what else?

Work has been crazy, lately. I can’t get anything done—not even my beloved development—because I keep getting pulled into impromptu meetings, and getting showered with issues that need addressing. (Maybe my cold really is psychosomatic!)

I gave some thought to creating a Youth Group blog, where I would write about my work as a Youth Group leader at my church. I haven’t yet got around to doing it, but, judging by past experience, I probably will…

And that’s about it. Out of the last two weeks, I’m sure I could think of other things to write about, but I have to head out soon, to pick up Andrea. (Once again, no time to post…)

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

New Blog!

I previously threatened to do it, and I’ve now done it: I created a blog for Deployments. It will be a “diary” of my all-night deployments, whenever they happen.

I know I say this every time I create a blog, but I’ll say it again: I’m sure nobody will ever find this interesting other than me.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007


Although I prefer a very clean-looking blog, and prefer to have it mostly text-based, there is a part of me that would like to put up pictures more often. (A picture is, after all, worth a thousand words.) But one of my problems is that I never remember to take pictures, when I have the chance.

For example, I was in the cafeteria today, eating a calzone. I took a bite, and some kind of juice squirted across the table, leaving a picturesque trail of… well, of juice. It was pretty gross. But it was also worthy of a picture—but I never thought of getting out my camera phone until it was too late.

So, on the one hand, you, the gentle reader, should be relieved; I didn’t put up a picture of a trail of calzone juice. But on the other hand, how many other pictures could you have seen, that I never put up, because I don’t think of taking out my camera phone as often as I should?

Monday, September 17, 2007

Blogger Photos

Blogger has introduced a new site, Blogger Play, which will bring up a photostream of photos as they’re uploaded to Blogger. (I don’t know if it’s all of them, or just a lot of them. I didn’t read it too closely.) It’s a neat site; you can leave it up, and just watch the photos go by. If you see an interesting photo, you can click it, and Blogger will bring you to the blog post where the photo was posted.

As an aside, I don’t know if all of the pictures that come up will be “safe”, so you should probably “watch” the site with caution.

Movie Review: Dreamgirls


Thursday, September 13, 2007

Stop the presses! Led Zeppelin is playing together!

On November 26th, 20,000 lucky people will get to experience something that I never will: Led Zeppelin in concert. (DVDs don’t count as “experience”.)

The three surviving band members—along with Bonham’s son, on drums—will play a one-time concert, in honour of somebody or other that I’ve never heard of. Since Led Zeppelin is my all-time favourite band—Jimmy Page pretty much taught me how to play guitar, in absentia—so I would love to be able to see them in concert.

Heck, I’d even settle for Page & Plant in concert.


People often get frustrated with people in the computer world, because we have so much slang/jargon. (Some argue that every profession has a lot of slang and/or jargon, but it seems that the geeks and nerds tend to have more. Plus, let’s not forget the constant flow of TLAs, ETLAs, and EETLAs.)

Sometimes, even I get frustrated—it seems that people like inventing new terms just for the sake of inventing them. I would argue—with little to no empirical evidence—that it’s not the true nerds or geeks who are inventing jargon for the sake of inventing it; it’s the nerd/geek wannabes.

Well, I don’t know if it’s a global thing, or just at my particular client, but they’ve done it again: They have re-purposed the word ask and made it into a noun. Instead of saying “What did the business client ask for?” people will say “What was the original ask?” I thought it was just one particular person who was using this phrase, but then I heard someone else use it, and these two people don’t work together. So either it’s becoming common, or these two people share the same boss, or have some other common colleague, who uses the term.

Right now, to me, it seems silly. If it catches on, it’ll seem commonplace, in six months.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Movie Review: The Bourne Ultimatum

I saw The Bourne Identity in the theatre, when it came out in 2002, but I wasn’t quite sure if I actually liked it. I just couldn’t make up my mind. So when I found it out was based on a book, by Robert Ludlum, I decided to check it out. It turned out that I loved it, and I ended up reading a lot of books by Ludlum—including the sequels to The Bourne Identity, which were called The Bourne Supremacy and The Bourne Ultimatum. So when I heard that The Bourne Ultimatum was coming to the theatres, I was interested. Unfortunately, I never even knew that The Bourne Supremacy had been made, until I happened to see it in Rogers Video one day. I completely missed the theatrical release. So before I went to see The Bourne Ultimatum, I wanted to do two things:

  1. Re-watch The Bourne Identity, to see if I liked it any better the second time around
  2. Watch The Bourne Supremacy, since it seemed kind of silly to have watched the first and third parts of a trilogy, and not the second.
Luckily, The Bourne Identity came on TV, and I was able to see it again—but I still wasn’t sure if I liked it or not. And I never did get a chance to see The Bourne Supremacy. (A colleague had mentioned that she might have it on DVD, so I got my hopes up, but it turned out that she didn’t.)

So really, I shouldn’t have bothered to go and see The Bourne Ultimatum in the theatre, but I did. Andrea was still away, and I was bored Friday night, so I decided to just go.

Don’t you hate when I go on and on with my preamble, before I ever get to the point of my post? Well, I’m getting there now.

I really liked Ultimatum. Of course, it’s nothing like the book, but that wasn’t too surprising. They had two problems: One, they’d already deviated from the story in The Bourne Identity—they’d had to simplify it, because the plot in the book is very complex, and you just couldn’t cover it in a two hour movie—so, therefore, they had to follow the plot they’d already been using for the first (and presumably second) movies. Second, just like the first book, the plot in The Bourne Ultimatum would be much too complex to cover in a movie, so even if they hadn’t deviated in the first movie, they’d still have to simplify it anyway. And this is good news; it means that you can read the books and watch the movies, and not have things spoiled for you. (The Bourne Identity is at least similar, while The Bourne Ultimatum is nothing like the book.)

When I read Stuart Klawans’ review of Ultimatum in The Nation, I wasn’t quite sure if he liked it or not. (I’m often left in that predicament, after reading Klawans’ reviews of “popular” movies; when he reviews foreign movies, I can feel his love of movies, and it always makes me want to see them, but when he reviews the Hollywood blockbusters, I can never quite tell his opinion.) I think, though, that he’s saying Ultimatum is the best of the trilogy, and I think he’s right. It’s a great movie, that I can recommend.

If you like it, I would also recommend the books, by Ludlum. The story is richer, deeper, and wider, and, if you like action, Ludlum doesn’t disappoint; his books are always fast-paced.

Of course, you probably don’t want to make my mistake; I’m assuming that you’ll enjoy The Bourne Ultimatum more if you’ve seen The Bourne Identity and The Bourne Supremacy first.

Friday, September 07, 2007


With great self control, I managed to simply title this post “Writing”, instead of “Writing Redux”.

As I had previously mentioned, Andrea was away this week. Unfortunately, I didn’t do any writing while she was gone. Not a single word.

Maybe I’ll do some tonight. Or, as is more likely, maybe I’ll go home and watch 007 movies, and do my vegetable imitation. (I’m getting pretty good at it—you almost can’t tell me apart from a real potato.)

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Psychosomatic/Psychophysiologic Illness

From Wikipedia:

Psychosomatic disorder, now more commonly referred to as psychophysiologic illness, is an illness whose symptoms are caused by mental processes of the sufferer rather than immediate physiological causes. If a medical examination can find no physical or organic cause, or if an illness appears to result from emotional conditions such as anger, anxiety, depression or guilt, then it might be classified as psychosomatic.
In other words, if you get stomach pains, but doctors can’t find any physical causes for those stomach pains—an ulcer, or cancer, or a knife sticking in it—then it might be psychosomatic. Maybe it’s a manifestation of stress, for example.

Since at least… oh… I don’t know, October or November of 2006, I’ve been writing on my blog that I’ve been fighting off a cold. (I don’t write about it every day, but there have been numerous posts, I’m sure, since that timeframe, when I’ve mentioned that I’m fighting off a cold.) I now have a new theory: I think it’s psychosomatic. I don’t think I’m fighting off a cold at all; I think it’s stress-related. I think work is so stressful that it’s manifesting itself as cold-like symptoms. (Sore-ish throat; aches and pains; headaches, etc.)

The symptoms only really manifest themselves during the day, when I’m at work. And the more stressful things get, the worse the symptoms get. I don’t know why I didn’t notice the pattern before; maybe there have been times when I was at home, but thinking about work, and the symptoms appeared, and that’s why the penny didn’t drop sooner. If I’d thought about it, I was probably also thinking that I was feeling better because I was getting a chance to rest; so that would explain why I’d feel much better Sunday night than I would Friday morning. In fact, I’m sure I’ve chalked my cold symptoms up to being “run down” on numerous occasions—which, I guess, is fairly accurate, if it really is psychosomatic.

I know what some of you are thinking. And I agree.

Monday, September 03, 2007

A week of bachelorhood! All right! I’m… I’m going to waste it.

Andre’s gone, for a week, to visit relatives in the States. Which leaves me a week all by myself. What am I going to do with my “freedom”, you ask? Well… not much. It’s not like there are a lot of things I’d like to do and can’t, when Andrea is around. So I’ll probably have a steak dinner one night (or maybe two), and I’ll probably watch a lot of 007 movies. That’s about it.

And what did I do today, since I had the whole day to myself? Well… I cleaned the house. Not even all of it; I just did a really good job with the upstairs.

Let me explain…

On Friday, Andrea finally decided that she would be joining her family, when they went to the States. (Before that, she wasn’t really sure if she’d be free to take the time off work.) Which meant that Saturday would be our last day together; “we should do something fun!” I thought. The thing is, Andrea had a lot of things she needed to do, Saturday, before she left. So we compromised: What if we just go to St. Jacobs Market? It’s only about an hour away, which would leave plenty of time to do all of the things she wanted to do.

Except that… we got lost. In our defense, the directions from Google Maps weren’t that clear; there was a particular street we were on, which was called Highway 85 on all of the street signs, but Google Maps referred to it as “Conestoga Parkway”. So we took a wrong turn, and the trip which should have been an hour ended up taking two. The market itself was great; we bought more than we usually do, when we go somewhere like that. (Part of my “week of bachelorhood” will include fresh corn on the cob. It will also involve those candies made out of pure maple sugar, and way too much fudge, for my liking.) Then, on the way out, traffic trying to get out of the parking lot was insane. And so was traffic on the way back into Toronto. “Oh yeah,” I thought, “it’s a long weekend! That explains it!”

So we finally got home, and we were worried, because Andrea wouldn’t get to do all that she wanted to do. And one of the things she wanted to do was clean, because our house is a mess. (Well, it was a mess. Now it’s a mess downstairs, and nice upstairs.) I told her to forget about the cleaning, and I’d do it this week, while she’s gone. Frankly, I felt guilty; I was the one who was pushing for us to do something fun on Saturday; I would have felt really bad for her to stay up half the night trying to clean, just because I had pushed us to go somewhere.

Wow, that was a long post, to explain something very trivial. Why do you even bother to read this foolishness?!? Don’t you have something better to do with your time? Or did you just keep reading in the hopes that there would be a point buried in all of this, only to be disappointed once again?

Incidentally, this is my 750th post. I’m three quarters of the way to 1,000. One of these days, the people at Blogger are going to come and see me, and personally demand that I pay them back for all of the bandwidth I’ve wasted.