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Monsters in the Abyss
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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in cerowyn's LiveJournal:

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Monday, August 24th, 2009
11:18 pm
So, I have a job again. A real, honest-to-goodness full-time job that may well be the one I retire from. I'm the new CTO for a small Toronto-based software company. Unlike my last company, this one has been a going concern for 30 years, and is making money. We have a small team in China, although we're looking to increase it as I figure out a way to integrate them properly into our development process better. My boss has already suggested that I start thinking of myself as the CEO-to-be. And, I'll get to go to China, to boot. Qingdao, sometimes known as Tsing Tao.

Current Mood: productive
Wednesday, June 4th, 2008
5:03 pm
Tired, so tired.
I hate jet lag. You'd think after enough trips, I'd get used to it, but no. It's not so bad when I fly to Japan; it's when I come back that I suffer most. This is my second day back, and yet again I woke up in the middle of the night, wide awake and unable to sleep any longer. So now it's 5pm, and I'm tired and headache-y, and want nothing more than to go to bed. It does occur to me that when I get to Japan, I'm meeting up with friends, going to my favourite restaurants, and generally staying busy. When I get back, I'm a lot more sedentary. I wonder if that's related. My ex- also sent me an email when I was on this trip telling me that she'd read an article that avoiding alcohol and fasting can help ease jet lag. Right. Like I'm going to go to the most dynamic city on the planet, meet up with many of my friends in amazing bars and restaurants, and not eat or drink.


In other news, I did some sightseeing again on this trip. I could really get used to this "tourist" thing. It took me more than twenty trips to Japan before I started traveling much, but these last two occasions have been a lot of fun. My friend and I went to Kyoto to visit another friend who teaches a course at Kyoto University (she's actually a professor in nearby-ish Osaka, but teaches a course in Kyoto on Mondays). We did some sightseeing both days that we were there, and I took almost 200 pictures. We even managed to meet some cool people in a couple of bars, and I discovered that Kyoto-ben (the version of the Kansai dialect spoken in Kyoto) is actually a bit easier for me to follow than standard Japanese; it's spoken a tad slower, and with an enunciation that I can make out better. My friend just kept raving about how sexy he found the accent; I thought he was going to start drooling when we got into a conversation with a young lady at one of the bars we went to.

I also managed to get my business objectives taken care of, which was ostensibly the reason I went. I got the ball rolling on getting some investment for my new project from some enthusiastic VC folks, and I managed to arrange some small projects with my former boss. The latter contracts won't pay much, but at least it'll let me pay some of my share of the bills.

Current Mood: jet lag
Wednesday, February 6th, 2008
1:51 am
Maybe I have a streak of masochism after all
Since I'm actually posting to my journal instead of just semi-monthly perusals of my flist, I should also note that I have signed up for Japanese Level III at George Brown College. I discovered a month-old email from my Level I teacher in the spam folder of my old work account (I am still technically a shareholder and helping them out, so I still have the account) notifying us that they'd finally got around to offering Level III. Strangely, this is yet another teacher, not one of the two who taught I & II (who happen to be good friends with each other, and have come out to a number of gatherings that we've organized since).

Anyway. I'm determined to practice my reading and writing before the class starts in April (assuming they have enough registrations to go through with it) to avoid feeling helplessly lost so often. 日本語の勉強は難しいです。でもがんばって。

I'd appreciate the laughter of derision be withheld from my presence until after the course is over. No need to burst my bubble of self-denial just yet.

Current Mood: hopeful
12:55 am
People aren't as smart as they think they are
Not even smartasses blogging about it. It's human nature -- you can't help over-estimating your own perception, at least some of the time. So, I wish the dumbass director at work would understand that when I tell him to put a stop to some asshattery by some of his staff, he'd listen. You see, he knows better. He says that he's picking his fights (which is a whole bad kettle of fish to be dealing with when we're talking about his own staff, but that's another story). What he really thinks is that I'm trying to manipulate him, because I have some kind of power play going. This despite the fact that I have zero interest in working for the company full-time, and his boss has been a close friend of mine for more than twenty years, so I really don't have any motive to cause him any grief. So today he's all surprised when what I warned him about comes to pass. The un-licensed software that his staff installed on a server running at a co-location facility in London, England goes into an endless loop, taking 25% of the server's processor capacity with it. A production server, hosting a financial application that is involved in hundreds of thousands of dollars of transactions every day. Warned by the monitoring system of the problem, the geniuses in Romania responsible for the server log in, kill the process that's to blame and then go drinking. They didn't report the problem, probably because they knew that nobody would be happy that their software caused a problem. And then they ignored subsequent reports of the problem recurring, assuming that it was left over alerts from the previous incident. It took thirty alert messages over five hours before these Bright Lights decided they should investigate.


Über Geekery below

For the technically inclined: the whole problem reared its ugly head because they installed WinRAR, which calmly asserts control over .zip files on the machine in which you install it. One of the coding-gods-of-the-universe in Romania wrote a web app that launches a shell command to archive a bunch of files together (despite the fact that the environment he was writing in, ASP.NET, provides a single method call to do the same thing). The WinRAR license warning apparently caused the whole debacle. On another fun note, I also discovered that WinRAR can't tell the difference between UTC and the local timezone, so files archived in one timezone and unarchived in another can be teleported into the future or past. That caused a nightmare with a bunch of our code.

Current Mood: frustrated
Thursday, August 2nd, 2007
7:03 pm
Will wonders never cease...
Much to my amazement, a few things actually seem to be going well these days.

I have work, albeit a charity case on both sides: my friend offered me a contract in one of his departments, because he knew I was getting desperate, and I took the job at less than half my usual rate because he had no budget to pay more. Of course, a "usual rate" is pretty meaningless when I haven't had work in six months, but it's tough to convince the ego to let go of such ideas. Now, however, I have a contract lined up at my full rate, with a client willing to wait for me to finish my current contract. And today, I received messages from agencies wondering if I'd be willing to take contracts in other cities (Tokyo and San Francisco).

I also received a letter from the college at which I've been taking Japanese courses. Apparently, much to my surprise, I passed Level II with a half-decent mark. Unfortunately, the college doesn't currently offer Level III, but my former classmates and I are going to try to convince them that there's enough demand.

Now, if I could just stop maiming my extremities, I could get my life into a semblance of normalcy again...

Nah. That's asking too much.
Monday, June 11th, 2007
10:09 pm
Friends of a certain gall bladder-ectomy survivor
Friends of littleminx can read an update from me about her condition here.
Saturday, May 12th, 2007
3:04 pm
In today's meaningless test...
I followed kayt_arminta's example of trying this IQ test. I've never put much stock in the these sort of tests, since they're generally more about observation and memory than actual reasoning power. But much like the linguistics test I posted weeks ago (it's too difficult to search when I'm posting from my phone), I wonder just how much statistical spread they're going to get with so few questions.

IQ Test Score

In other news, I have no idea what the graphic says underneath the number, 'cause it's too small on this 2" screen.

Current Mood: bored

Saturday, April 14th, 2007
9:17 pm
America becomes more of a joke everyday
We all know that the U.S. has become a cauldron of fear, government interference and discrimination. But now they're exporting it to some pretty unexpected places: Austrian bank bought by U.S. consortium tells Cuban-born customer to go elsewhere. Ah, yes. Home of the Free™.

Current Mood: disappointed
Monday, March 26th, 2007
8:43 am
Pics posted promptly
Last night I posted a few pictures from my Tokyo trip. The usual disclaimers apply (I barely know which end of the camera to look through, these are holiday snaps, etc.).

I posted this link on a board I participate on, but here's my favourite novelty song of all time: Denis Leary's I'm An Asshole (unsurprisingly, the song contains NSFW lyrics).

Current Mood: groggy
Sunday, March 25th, 2007
3:16 pm
Jet....... lag..... and bruises in the family
Inspired by the recent lj re-emergence of someone on my flist, I figure it's about time I actually posted something. Because after all, once you're gone, it's things like lj that people will have to remember you by.

Stop laughing and read.

Just back from the Land of the Rising Sun, and the jetlag is hitting me much worse than usual. If I fight the early evening sleepiness, I get less tired and find myself unable to sleep until nearly dawn. If I give in and crash out early, I'm wide awake by 2:30 AM.

On this trip, I took my mother and my kids with me. It actually worked out pretty well, except for my mother's strange need to interrupt my conversations with people to talk loudly in English to them. The most egregious examples were at breakfast in the hotel where we stayed: on several occasions she grew impatient with how long it was taking me to clarify things with the waitress and so she blundered in loudly enough to draw stares from people at other tables. Which, of course, simply made things take longer.

Anyway, it was a good trip, and both my mother and my kids loved it. [As an aside, is it grammatically correct to say "both" and then talk about three people? Or am I just considering my kids as a single individual because they're twins? And am I rambling because I'm punch-drunk with sleep poisons at 4:15 in the afternoon?] I'll post some pics in my lj album on the unlikely chance than anyone wants to see.

In other news, my brother and sister-in-law were in a pretty serious car accident on Friday night. Luckily, neither were hurt beyond bumps and bruises, but their* 21 day old car was written off. A young man exiting the QEW drove through the red light at Erin Mills Parkway and hit the driver's side door. My sister-in-law's car rolled over two-and-a-half times, ending up on its roof and 100 metres down the road. And, as a bonus, the other driver has no insurance. It was canceled by his insurance company a few months ago after he was convicted of... causing an accident by driving through a red light.

Do you think it says anything about me that I wrote about my own jetlag before their accident? If I'd written this on Saturday, I'd have written about nothing other than Friday night. Maybe the lack of sleep is fogging my brain.

* It's actually a company car, not theirs personally.

Current Mood: sleepy
Wednesday, November 15th, 2006
2:59 am
How to seduce young men
Taken from a thread on SDMB, I bring you Peter and the WolfOne Never Knows When A Homo-Sex-u-al Is About. Part of the trick, apparently, is to play basketball while wearing a suit and tie.
Friday, November 3rd, 2006
5:03 pm
The best viral YouTube video you'll seen today...
... and it's a mime.

Without further ado, stolen shamelessly once more from a revived zombie thread on NADS, here is Torn Mime.

Current Mood: amused
Wednesday, October 11th, 2006
12:20 am
Apparently I know less about languages than I thought
Via the NADS message board, I stumbled upon one of those online quizzes (at OKCupid!) that happens to be about a topic I know something about: linguistics. Here's the LJ code they give you on the last page:

Language Scholar

You scored a 310 out of 400 on language knowledge.

Outstanding! You've scored higher than even most Anthropology students
would. You are probably a Linguistics or Anthropology Professor
yourself (or at least a Grad student). You may even speak several
languages and are possibly working on a new one. If not, then you just
have an endless drive to learn about the different cultures of our
world. Regardless, you are one of the gems of any society, always
promoting a deeper understanding amongst all people. Unless you cheated
of course.

My test tracked 1 variable How you compared to other people your age and gender:
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 99% on knowledge

[Minus the stupid ad they tack onto the end.]

So, apparently despite having published peer-reviewed papers in linguistics, I score a mere 77.5% on a quiz of general knowledge about world languages. Bah!
Tuesday, October 3rd, 2006
5:42 pm
Baseball been bery bery good to me
So, the Major League baseball playoffs are about to start here in North America-land (although, Toronto, the only non-U.S. team, ain't in it). And, as always, I will be rooting for my absolute most favourite team on the whole planet: whoever is playing the Yankees. If you care, vote for how you think the first round will turn out!

Poll #836147 Baseball playoff winners

Who will win the Yankees/Detroit series?

All is right in the Universe and the Yankees LOSE
The Seventh Seal is broken and the Yankees manage to buy the first round

Who will win the Minnesota/Oakland series?


Who will win the Mets/L.A. series?

The other NYC team
The former NYC team

Who will win the San Diego/St. Louis series?

The Spanish saint
The English saint
Monday, October 2nd, 2006
12:14 pm
Equality is rarely precise
I've deleted the long, rambling post on a personal philosophy to spare anyone the pain of having to read it. Nonetheless, I still wanted to share something. I came across the following poem in my Japanese Writing text book:


It's a 10th Century poem used to teach children hiragana (one of the two syllabries used to write Japanese phonetically). It is interesting because it uses all but one of the hiragana characters (ん, roughly equivalent to English's 'n', is missing), and each character only once. The first character of the last line is also no longer used. It translates as:

Even if colours have sweet perfume
eventually they fade away
What in this world
is eternal?
The deep mountains of vanity
I cross them today
renouncing superficial dreams
not giving in to their madness any more

(I stole the text from Wikipedia rather than typing it all out.)
Thursday, August 24th, 2006
11:27 am
My European Vacation
Okay, not where I'm going, but courtesy sonjaaa, where I've been:

Create your personalized map of europe

Current Mood: discontent
Wednesday, July 26th, 2006
11:46 am
Mundane update
WARNING: When I say mundane, I mean it!

I bought a new laptop. My last one was five years old, and had become pretty much out-classed by modern applications. It took me months to choose a new one, partly because I wanted to wait for the new Duo chips to make their way to "thin & light" laptops. I'm giving up my ultra-portable (1 kg) for a thin & light (1.6 kg), so I wanted a significant upgrade in performance to compensate for the extra weight. Yeah, 600 grams may not seem like much, but when you're lugging it halfway around the world, and especially up & down the interminable stairs on the transit systems in Tokyo, it makes a big difference!

In other news, work still sucks. The other exec at the Toronto office left to become part of a management team that's being parachuted into a pool equipment company that needs turning around. The net effect is that I'm now the COO for the Canadian company, on top of my job as CTO for the whole company. Not that that means more compensation, or even taking into account the new responsibilities with regard to the performance of my existing job. It's just like I have taken on a part-time volunteer job on top of my 65 hour-a-week existing position. W00t.

Next up, outside of work, is camping with my sons in Algonquin. Apparently, last year's choice of Bass Lake (a more recreational camping site) was "not real camping," so we're headed back to our regular campground at the northern end of the Park. We're next to the actual site we've had three times before, so it'll be very familiar! Nine days with no electricity, no cell phones, and no FREAKIN' WORK!! Wonder if I'll survive.

Current Mood: melancholy
Thursday, July 6th, 2006
1:47 pm
Because pain must be shared
Stolen shamelessly from the NADS MB, I bring you the oddest video clip you're likely to see today.

Thursday, June 15th, 2006
12:11 pm
New bike
Yes, Cerowyn, the man who drives virtually everywhere, has bought a new bicycle.

It's a Fuji Absolute 4.0, and I've been commuting 15 km each way, plus assorted side trips, every day this week so far. My trusty odometer tells me I've ridden 121 km since I got it on Sunday (at an average speed of 22.4 km/h and a maximum speed of 41.1 km/h -- think it provides too much information for a pedant like me?). Tomorrow, my schedule is too tight to ride, so I'll be driving. I dread what my legs will feel like if I stop and let the muscles recover. My quads feel like they're three times bigger than normal every time I get off the bike, and I just know there's gallons of lactic acid just waiting to lock my legs up if I take a day off. So it'll be off to the gym for me tomorrow if I can squeeze in the time during the day.

I'm adamant that I'm going to stick with this exercise regimen, such as it is. If I can just add in some more frequent trips to the gym, I might hit some of my goals for this year, health-wise. Now that my Japanese class is over, it'll be easier to fit it in, so that's looking up at least.

Now, if I can just figure out that "getting smarter" thing...

Current Mood: content
Friday, April 21st, 2006
3:23 pm
Reinhardt: my new hero
The US 9th Circuit Court of Appeals released a verdict today about free speech. Now, I'm not a believer in absolute free speech, but I'm always leery of any attempts to muzzle people's opinions by the government. The issue at the heart of this case was a student who wore to school a T-shirt condemning homosexuality. The school district told the student that his T-shirt was unacceptable under their anti-discrimination policy. The student then sued, claiming that the School Board was (as an agent of the state) violating his First Amendment right to freedom of expression. The Court upheld the lower court decision that discrimination was speech that could be acceptably banned by the school. The Court was split 2-1 in favour of the lower court's ruling. Reinhardt, the author of the majority decision, wrote: Perhaps our dissenting colleague believes that one can condemn homosexuality without condemning homosexuals. If so, he is wrong. To say that homosexuality is shameful is to say, necessarily, that gays and lesbians are shameful," Reinhardt.

In an era that is seeing a wholesale flight from human rights by American society, it is refreshing that at least one higher Court upholding the principles that Americans have in the past trumpeted as the hallmark of their culture. One wonders how this will fare if it gets appealed to the Supreme Court. I can't imagine the current crop of the Supremes allowing an opinion critical of homosexuality to be curtailed.
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