March 2006

Vegetable fritatta

March 1, 2006 - Categories: cooking, cookordie

New things: beets, fritatta. Level up!

Today I had my first beet. It reminded me of baby corn, which I also
like eating. It might go well with the purple sweet potatoes… Hmm.
=) One of the good things about the Good Food Box is that you’re
forced to experiment! Whee!

Today I made a fresh vegetable fritatta. I started with the basic idea
of a fritatta, which is really just scrambled eggs with stuff on it,
or an omelette that hasn’t been folded. Here’s what I did:

  1. Chop half a carrot, half a potato, and half a beet into half-inch
    cubes. (There’s a pattern here somewhere…)
  2. Layer the carrots, potatoes, and beets in a microwaveable dish. Add a little bit of water.
  3. Add some clusters of broccoli, if you want.
  4. Cover and microwave for three minutes.
  5. Heat a pan to medium. Add oil.
  6. Beat the eggs lightly.
  7. Drain vegetables and add to pan. Spread out so that they’re evenly distributed.
  8. Pour egg over vegetables. Cover and cook until golden,

Not bad at all… =)

There re better ways to prepare a fritatta. I should try them out! I
need a skillet that can go from rangetop to oven…

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From PLUG: Open source-oriented courseware launched

March 1, 2006 - Categories: -Uncategorized

Iloilo City — A curriculum which incorporates Free and Open Source
Software (FOSS) is now available for schools offering Computer Science
(CS), Information Technology (IT), and Information Management (IM)
major concentrations. At the national convention of the Philippine
Society of IT Educators (PSITE) in this city, the Philippine Open
Source Initiative (POSITIVE) launched the curricula for four courses
and signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with PSITE involving
training and orientation on the curricula. The MoU signing ceremony
was formalized between PSITE National President Alex Ybasco and
POSITIVE Project Lead Joseph Paul Sianghio, and witnessed by Juliana
Hinterberger, Country Portfolio Manager of Deutsche Gesellschaft fuer
Technische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ, or German Technical Cooperation) and
Commissioner Emmanuel Lallana of the Commission on Information and
Communications Technology (CICT). Members of the PSITE Board of
Trustees also stood as witnesses.

The four courses, together with the FOSS components, are the following:

  • IT Fundamentals — GNU/Linux,, the Graphics Image Manipulation Program (GIMP)
  • Database Management — MySQL, PostgreSQL
  • Operating Systems — GNU/Linux
  • Web Development — GNU/Linux, Apache HTTP Server, Eclipse, PHP

The FOSS-oriented curricula are the product of two Champions Fora, the
first in Cebu and the other in Manila, and of two workshops, one in
Manila and the second in Cebu. The Champions Fora brought together
POSITIVE’s industry partners to determine the skills they needed from
CS, IT, and IM graduates. Participants from POSITIVE’s partner schools
then collaborated in the two workshops to design curricula and
courseware for the four core subjects. Those curricula employ
real-world FOSS applications to supplement the theoretical background
that serves as the foundation for the students’ future in the IT
industry. POSITIVE’s academic partners are the Angeles University
Foundation (AUF) in Angeles City, Asia-Pacific College (APC) in Makati
City, Cebu Institute of Technology (CIT) in Cebu City, the Computer
and Security Laboratory of the Department of Science and Technology
(DOST) Region 7 in Cebu City, Don Bosco Technical College (DBTC) in
Mandaluyong City, and the Mindanao State University-Iligan Institute
of Technology (MSU-IIT) in Iligan City.

“POSITIVE wishes to acknowledge the hard work from our academic
partners in designing these courseware,” says Sianghio. “The
courseware once fully implemented is expected to improve the
employability of IT graduates and increase usage of Open Source by
companies in the Philippines.”

Under the MoU, POSITIVE will provide training and orientation to PSITE
members on the use of the curricula and the courseware. The courseware
include daily schedules of the lectures and laboratory work, as well
as auxiliary materials such as Impress presentations.
These are available to schools for free download by simply registering
online at the POSITIVE website ( “POSITIVE’s
next task is to brief the teachers on the use of the courseware,
specifically the Free/Open Source components,” says Sianghio. “To
employ the new courseware in time for the 2006-07 school year, PSITE
members and other registered schools will be advised of a faculty
training scheduled during the summer break in Metro Manila, Angeles
City, Cebu City, and Cagayan de Oro.”

POSITIVE is a joint project of the European Information Technology
Services Center (EITSC), Wireless Services Asia (WSA), and GTZ.

EITSC is an initiative of the European Chamber of Commerce of the
Philippines, GTZ, and the Asia Europe Foundation of the Philippines to
bridge the eSourcing requirements of Europe and the supply of IT and
IT-enabled services in the Philippines.

GTZ is a government-owned corporation for international cooperation
with worldwide operations. Present in more than 130 partner countries,
GTZ is supporting 2,700 development projects and programmes, chiefly
under commissions from the German Federal Government. GTZ’s aim is to
improve the living conditions and perspectives of people on a
sustainable basis in developing and transition countries.

WSA is a closely held group of companies founded in 1999 with
subsidiaries in London, Helsinki, Singapore, and Manila. The business
focus of the group is to provide state-of-the-art entertainment
solutions addressing the needs of mobile users worldwide.

Further information about POSITIVE, GTZ, WSA, and EITSC:


Media contact:
Dominic Sabado
+63 2 845-1324
fax +63 2 845-1395
[email protected]

E-Mail from Daniel Escasa

One-man Linux army

March 2, 2006 - Categories: linux

My boyfriend is a one-man Linux army. While all the rest of the people talk about promoting Linux, he actually goes out there and does it all by himself! He’s writing press material, manning booths, giving talks and seminars… Wow.

That’s one of the things I really admire about him. He promotes Linux
and open source not because someone’s paying him or because he hates
certain proprietary software companies, but because he believes it can
make people’s lives better. Free software can help schools spend money
on more important things, like facilities, textbooks, and teacher
salaries. Open source software can help people learn and grow. He
wants people to discover it, so he’ll go ahead and stand under the
scorching sun and talk about Linux to people who don’t see why they
shouldn’t just go and pirate software.

It’s a thankless job among people who don’t appreciate it as anything
beyond an opportunity to get another signature for their visit sheets,
like the way many people attend seminars only for the certificate. But
there’s always the chance that he’ll get a kid interested in free and
open source software, and who knows what will happen then?

I love him even more for doing it, and I wish I could be there to
help. Dear reader, here is a man who cares about the world and does
something to help it, even when other people are apathetic or
pessimistic. This is one of the reasons why I think he’s just so
amazing, and I wanted to share it with you.

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Working with LEGO

March 2, 2006 - Categories: Uncategorized

Thanks to Calum Tsang, I’ve been able to play around with the LEGO
Mindstorms robotics kit without actually having to mess around with
anything that requires spatial visualization. I’ve never really gotten
the hang of getting gears and whatnot to work together. Fortunately,
Calum is absolutely brilliant when it comes to that sort of stuff, so
all I really need to worry about is just making sure that I produce
the right output given the input.

LEGO presents quite a challenge. We use Not Quite C (nqc) to program
the robot, and it _really_ is not quite C. I’ve run into the parser’s
limitations a gazillion times, from wondering why on earth some of the
binary operators don’t accept variables to wishing I could define a
function that returns a value instead of having to pass everything
around in global variables. It’s fun working within those constraints,

Debugging is a mission, too. No println debugging here! Numbers and
beeps are all I have, and the compile-download-run cycle can be a bit
slow. We’re still having problems with the infrared communication
between two of the control modules, but Calum thinks it’s because I’m
flooding the communication buffer. We’ll try twiddling that on Friday
to see if we can get it to work before the competition on Saturday.

Maybe he can teach me how to put together some of the really simple
assemblies – the bumper, perhaps? I’m completely pfft when it comes to
spatial things, but that could be a way for me to ease into it. Just
as Kathy’s circus stuff helped me learn coordination and rhythm, maybe
LEGO can help me learn how to hold spatial structures in my head. In
the meantime, I actually enjoy working within the constraints of the

It’s also a refreshing break from the kind of programming work I
normally like doing. As Calum pointed out earlier, I’m one of the
near-mythical programmers who actually prefers maintaining other
people’s code and (gasp) writing a little documentation here and
there. For these little LEGO contests, all I need to do is hack
together some code that will be thrown away afterwards. It feels more
like a logic puzzle than a proper program. I don’t have the feeling of
working on something that makes someone’s life easier and better, but
I do feel that it exercises my brain and keeps me limber.

So, yeah. LEGO is fun. =)

On Technorati:

Income tax info

March 2, 2006 - Categories: -Uncategorized

From the Graduate Students Union digest:

Your T2202A (the tuition fee receipt from U of T) is not
mailed out – you must download the receipt from ROSI. If you deferred
your Sept.- Dec. 2005 tuition, it will not appear on your T2202A but
you can still claim it on your 2005 tax return. You can get a revised
T2202A once you pay your tuition – call Student Accounts, 416-978-2142
for info about how to get a revised T2202A if needed. International
students: check the International Student Centre’s website for
specific income tax information – You can file
your income tax, on-line, for free – this is a service of the Canadian
Federation of Students. For information:

E-Mail from Cezary Niewiadomski

Congratulations to Alvin Chin!

March 4, 2006 - Categories: -Uncategorized

Congratulations to Alvin Chin on his successful proposal – and I don’t
mean the scientific kind! Eiffel Tower, eh?

We’re still waiting for the podcast… ;)

E-Mail from Alvin Chin

Random Japanese sentence:

すると、少し先に、またもう一匹、ふわふわした灰色のねこがめにつきました。そしてこれも前の二匹と全く同じくらいかわいいのです。 But then he saw a fuzzy gray cat over here which was every bit as pretty as the others, so he took it too.

(Psst! Clair! Fuwafuwashita neko… ;) )

It’s alive!

March 4, 2006 - Categories: Uncategorized

Today we finished the code for Calum’s robot. The robot’s job is to
give blocks to other robots, and it scores points based on the unique
colors of blocks it collects and the number of unique robots it gives
blocks to.

I’m proud of the robot because it’s pretty smart. It’s smart enough
not to shoot multiple blocks at the same robot unless desperation mode
kicks in. Quite slick, as Calum said.

Calum will no doubt post wonderful pictures on his blog sometime. I’ll
ask him for a copy of the source code and I’ll post it here. Whee!

On Technorati:

Random Japanese sentence:

ほら!台所に猫がいる。 Look! There’s a cat in the kitchen.

Happy birthday!

March 4, 2006 - Categories: family

I didn’t get back until after midnight, so here’s a birthday blog post for my sister, Kathy:

Happy birthday,!

On Technorati:

Random Japanese sentence:

強盗は屋根からあの邸宅に入ったに違いない。 The cat burglar must have entered the mansion from the roof.


March 4, 2006 - Categories: Uncategorized

I got the robot to do what I wanted to. It was a nifty program. Didn’t
work in the real world, but well, that’s life.

I don’t feel like much of a computer scientist, though. I’m supposed
to be thrilled that I got it to work, but now that it’s done, I find
that I don’t care about the program itself. I don’t care that I got it
to work. It exercised my brain, but so many things do…

Open source has gotten me hooked on making people happy. As a CS
person, I’m probably not even supposed to care about making people
happy, but I do. Hacking on the LEGO code was fun, but it wasn’t
something I would do by myself. I did it because it was fun to hang
out. I enjoyed the stories, the banter, the demonstrations of
particularly nifty things we’d gotten to work. I’m glad I had the
opportunity to help Calum breathe life into his machine. I’m glad I
got to meet Iain, Derek, Sandy, and the others.

Those who have known me since childhood know how far I’ve come. I find
it scary sometimes. Do I need people too much, now? But I do… I’m
glad that my friends at Graduate House now feel comfortable enough to
give me a hug without anyone worrying about improper intentions. I’m
glad that I can do nice things for people and make their day better.
I’m glad that I have the warmth and love of friends and family to keep
me going.

I’ve given myself enough time for fun. Tomorrow: work on my FIS paper.
If I need an emergency shot of warm-and-fuzzies, I’ve got my
collection of letters and good karma…

On Technorati:

Random Japanese sentence:

1匹の猫がカーテンの陰から現れた。 A cat appeared from behind the curtain.

Renaissance dance on Friday

March 5, 2006 - Categories: -Uncategorized
5:15pm, Old Vic Get into costume, quick run-through of dances
6:30pm, Old Vic Performance

From Emily Winerock:

As they are expecting about 85 people for the conference, we are not allowed to
invite our own guests unless they are helping out with the performance. (i.e. if
you have a friend who would like to help with costumes, run the camera, etc,
please let me know!)

For location see:—-Victoria-College-Building.html

Darn. No guests.

E-Mail from emily winerock

Random Japanese sentence:

鳥たちはその猫を見るとビックリして飛び去った。 The birds flew away in alarm when they saw the cat.

Song for Mary, O Canada

March 6, 2006 - Categories: -Uncategorized

I knew the anthem I heard during a broadcast of the Winter Olympics
sounded familiar. In fact, it sounded almost exactly like the song we
sang for graduation.


Its music is adapted from Calixa Lavalée’s music to the hymn “O
Canada”, composed in 1880, which is why many people believe that the
Ateneo copied the music of Canada’s national anthem. However, it is
interesting to note that Canada only adopted “O Canada” as its own
national anthem in 1980. The Ateneo de Manila adopted “A Song for
Mary” as its alma mater song three decades earlier.

Would anyone happen to have an MP3 of Song for Mary so that I can
prove it to skeptical Canadian friends, or should I just go ahead and
do it myself? =)

How’s that for strange coincidences?

Random Japanese sentence:

うまい外交官とは、人に秘密をもらさせる手をいつもつかう人である。 A good diplomat is a person who practises the technique of letting someone else let the cat of the bag.

Yesterday: Baking pie

March 7, 2006 - Categories: cooking, friends

Yesterday Calum taught me how to bake apple pie. He was rather fussy
about needing a food processor to properly flake frozen butter and
shortening, but he’s _good. I remember tasting his apple pie at the
MIE potluck. He’s a good teacher, too. =)

I had a bit of a problem getting back into the dorm due to software
bugs in the card key system. I stayed out past midnight, so I couldn’t
call the entry assistant. I called Mariana, but she couldn’t leave the
room because her key didn’t work either, and there was no point in
both of us being locked out. I am eternally grateful to James for
waking up (bathrobe and all) and letting me into the main entrance so
that I could ring the doorbell to my suite and get Mariana to let me

I’m so, so glad I have friends like these…

On Technorati: ,

Random Japanese sentence:

このようにして、おじいさんは、あたりをみまわすたびに、きれいなねこがみつかっておいていくことができなくなりました。そして知らない間に、そこにいるねこをみんな拾い上げてつれていくことになってしまいました。 So it happened that every time the very old man looked up, he saw another cat which was so pretty he could not bear to leave it, and before he knew it, he had chosen them all.


March 7, 2006 - Categories: -Uncategorized

I gave another Toastmaster speech today: “Learn How to Cook or Die
Trying.” It was well-received, but I still need to tweak it in
preparation for the competition a few weeks away.

I also got to try on the absolutely beautiful dress I’ll wear to the
renaissance dance performance on Friday. It’s probably my one and only chance to wear a hoop skirt, so I’m going to enjoy it while it lasts. ;) The dress rehearsal is on
Thursday and the performance is on Friday. Both are at 6:30 PM at Old Vic in Victoria College, U of T. If you don’t mind watching us learn how to navigate with hoop skirts and all of that, you can probably come to the dress rehearsal. If you’re willing to take pictures of our performance (Hello, Papa! ;) ), we can probably sneak in one or two guests.

… And I managed to wake up in time to turn in assignment #2 for the FIS course, which I think is a pretty cool performance. Prof. Howarth gave me back the paper for Assignment #1. I got an A+ for presentation, and a very encouraging comment! =) Whee!

Random Japanese sentence:

猫は捕らえたネズミを引き裂き始めた。 The cat began to tear at the mouse it caught.


March 7, 2006 - Categories: -Uncategorized

Something tells me I should’ve practiced these recipes a bit more.
Here’s hoping I’m either (a) lucky, or (b) loved enough to tolerate
bad cooking. =)

Random Japanese sentence:

猫がバスの真正面に走ってきてひかれた。 The cat ran right in front of the bus and was run over.

Meme time

March 8, 2006 - Categories: -Uncategorized

Instead of answering the full 25-item questionnaire posted by Dominique Cimafranca on his blog, I think I’ll explore one or two questions in depth.

24. What do you want God to say to you when you reach the pearly gates?

Questions of God and afterlife aside, what I would _really_ like to
hear is “Go back! There’s still so much work to do.”

I grew up thinking rest in heaven was the reward for a life well
lived: eternal communion with God, angels, saints, and other souls.

But I don’t want to rest. I want to be here, helping other people.
Wikipedia’s entry on the Buddhist
bodhisattva has a very
beautiful thought:

“If I know how to swim, and even one other being cannot,
then it is right to remain behind in this world to assist them until
they know how to save themselves from drowning.”

Perhaps saints can intercede, but it seems awfully difficult to become
one, and their influence seems rather indirect. As imperfect as I am,
I can still do something to make this world better.

So if we really don’t just blink out at the moment of our passing –
and I’m fine with that idea, too – I’d like to be reincarnate, please.
Whether it’s going to be like Groundhog Day, just trying to get _one_
life right, or whether I wake up some other time (and maybe even some
other species!), it’ll be fine. I want to be here, helping.

Even if there is no afterlife, I remain comforted by the idea that
somewhere down the line will be someone like me. Is that not then a
form of immortality?

Random Japanese sentence:

「このねこは、やっぱりとてもきれいですよ!」と、とても年取った、おばあさんが言いました。 “And it is indeed a very pretty cat!” said the very old woman.

CookOrDie: Domestic goddesshood

March 9, 2006 - Categories: cooking, cookordie, friends

I hosted a small party to thank some of my friends for truly
extraordinary acts of kindness. =) Calum, James, Steve and Yeow-Tong
have been absolutely amazing, and I wanted to do something special for
them, having invited myself over to their homes, roused them out of
bed, dragged them out on adventures, and raided their larders

So: my first real party.

I splurged on flowers, buying pink-and-white carnations and a small
African violet. The guys probably didn’t notice it, but it made me
feel wonderful. =)

For appetizers, I arranged prosciutto ham on a large plate and
drizzled olive oil over it. I then surrounded it with insalata
tricolore (halved cherry tomatoes interleaved with soft mozzarella and
sprinkled with fresh basil). I also served bacon and cheese potato

For the main course, I baked an extra-cheesy lasagna. Minor whoops: I
boiled the entire lasagna package in my excitement, not realizing that
I was supposed to boil only twelve noodles. Duh. That’s okay, I can
have mini-lasagna rolls tomorrow, although I’ve run out of ground beef
so that might take a little magic.

For dessert, I served the apple pie that Calum taught me how to bake.
Calum was surprised at how flaky it turned out. Apparently, flakiness
is a good thing.

I also wrote them thank-you notes on monogrammed Crane cards. =)

Everything was very well-received, and James’ parting compliment was:
“Sacha, you’re a domestic goddess.” =) I had a lot of fun preparing
everything for them, and I greatly enjoyed the conversation
afterwards. I’m thrilled to see that they get along, although some are
still a little nervous in company.

James remembered the deal I made two dinner parties ago, and insisted
on doing the dishes this time. Aww! =)

How to make things better: ditch store-bought garlic bread and make my
own. Also, improve timing of bread so that bread and pasta are out of
the oven at the same time.

On Technorati: , ,

Random Japanese sentence:

イヌとは対照的に、ネコはごく最近になって飼い慣らされたものである。 In contrast to the dog, the cat has become domesticated only in recent times.

Mending my costume

March 10, 2006 - Categories: -Uncategorized

I stayed up late last night mending my costume for the Renaissance
dance performance later. I had a lot of fun re-hemming the hoop skirt
and reattaching ribbons and lace.

Funny. The more I procrastinate working on my reading paper, the more
domestic I get…

Random Japanese sentence:

ジャックは家で猫とオウムを飼っている。 Jack keeps a cat and a parrot at home.

Women in technology

March 10, 2006 - Categories: women

I volunteered at the Women in Technology workshop on webpage authoring
this morning. Overall, it was a great event. The girls had a lot of
fun using Netscape Composer to make webpages about animals, movies,
fashion, and other topics. A few things particularly stood out to me,
though, and I wish I could’ve done something to fix them.

I saw one of the volunteers practically walking students through the
short quiz. He didn’t dictate the answers, but by nodding or
eliminating other options, he gave the answer away. He didn’t even
give them time to think, to ponder. That gave them perfect points, but
I really don’t think that helped build their confidence. If anything,
it probably made them feel more uncertain and more dependent.

As much as I like rewarding people and making them feel good about
something, I think the students really would’ve been better off wrong.
I think they would’ve been better off knowing that they should listen
and read instead of waiting for someone to spoonfeed them. I think it
would’ve been better if the test distinguished between the people who
paid attention and the people who didn’t.

I knew there might be trouble. True enough, when the girls were
supposed to be making the webpage, he was the one at the computer.
When I saw him use the little eraser mouse to select clipart when the
kids were perfectly capable of doing it themselves, I couldn’t help
but ask a pointed question: “Have you girls used this kind of mouse
before?” That reminded him that he had brought a regular mouse which
the students could use to do the work themselves.

They were okay for a while, but then I saw him in charge again. It was
near the end of the period. He said that they had agreed to let him do
the work because there were a lot of images and not enough time.

I still feel that’s wrong, you know. They could’ve made a simpler
webpage themselves and still felt proud of their accomplishment. As it
stood, they had a fancy webpage, but it wasn’t _theirs._ I think
that’s broken. If I were to improve this workshop, I’d be more focused
on helping everyone gain confidence in it and teaching other people
how to do things rather than making at least two webpages with at
least one picture and at least one link. I’d also try to tie it in
with school material so that they understand the reason why people
publish. Ah, well. Things to remember for whatever camps we’ll
organize in the future…

The other thing that broke my heart was the sight of a painfully shy
girl shunted aside by her more outgoing classmates. She sat at the
edge of the table, bangs and thick glasses hiding her eyes. When the
two girls seated beside her moved to the computer to make their
webpage, she remained at the edge of the desk, not even watching the

I took the empty seat and started talking to her. I asked her what her
favorite movie was. No response. I asked her what the last movie she
watched was. I saw her struggling to respond. Aha! I pulled a piece of
paper over and wrote down, “The last movie I watched was:”. After some
nudging, she wrote down, “Scream.” I asked her if she liked it, and
she nodded. I asked her why she liked it, and she said that she liked
it because it was scary. I coaxed her to write it down so that we
could make a webpage about it.

Her friend came over and helped her spell “scary.” Hearing them
converse in a foreign language, I asked them where they were from.
Korea, the second girl said. Ah, well, no chance to use a little bit
of Japanese to help them relax, but that’s okay. The second girl was a
little bit more confident, but still a quiet sort of girl. We
introduced ourselves and waited for the computer to be free.

When the other students left the computer for their recess, I coached
the girls on how to add text and images using Netscape Composer. The
second girl explained everything in swift Korean while helping the
first use the mouse. We had the beginnings of a webpage on the screen.

Unfortunately, our time was over too soon. The facilitator asked me if
I could get the girl to wrap up as the other students wanted to edit
their nearly-finished pages and add links. I bit my tongue, smiled,
and helped the two girls save their webpage – one line of text and one

The other girls resumed working, boisterous and cheerful. The second
girl went back to working with her group, and this little shy girl
went back to hiding behind her bangs and her glasses.

I wrote an encouraging note in as simple words as I could. I told her
that computers are nice because she can learn about them on her own. I
told her that if she watches people, she can learn from them to. I
told her to ask questions, to learn as much as she wants, to never
give up… Ay! If only I knew the words that would help her discover
confidence. If only I could patiently teach and reteach things until
she discovered their joys. If only I could listen until she overflowed
with stories. (And if only I knew enough Korean to help! What would I
have said: aja?)

She smiled and waved at me on my way out. That was just the most
beautiful smile I’ve ever seen.

Random Japanese sentence:

「それがいい」おじいさんは言いってねこたちに聞きました。「おまえ達の中で誰が一番きれいなねこだね?」 “Oh yes,” said the very old man, and he called to the cats, “Which one of you is the prettiest?”

Renaissance dance

March 10, 2006 - Categories: -Uncategorized

Whee! We performed the Branles Pinagay, Washerwoman and Charlotte at a
Renaissance conference. Wearing a hoop skirt was _so_ much fun.
Seriously, those should go back in fashion. ;)

We headed out to the Duke of York pub afterwards. Plenty of fun
conversation. Whee!

Casualty: One beautiful pink crystal earring possibly dropped in
Victoria College when I was busy ripping thigs of. Still worth it. I’d
do it again – sans earrings, next time. Sigh. I seem to be unable to
hang on to pretty pink earrings… WAAAAH!

And I _liked_ that set! I liked that set enough to want to pass by
Claire and get myself another pair of them. Emily said she never buys
her own earrings, but as people here aren’t in the habit of giving me
earrings, I have to buy myself earrings. It’s kinda like buying myself

Random Japanese sentence:

その少年たちはかわいい猫と一緒に2人きりで暮らしていた。 The two boys lived alone with a lovely cat.

Pictures from performance

March 12, 2006 - Categories: -Uncategorized

Here are some pictures taken by Calum Tsang at our Renaissance dance
dress rehearsal last Thursday. More pictures to follow.

I firmly believe that hoop skirts should go back in fashion. They’re so much fun to wear.

Group picture

That said, I wore malongs for two days. This one
was… err… slightly nontraditional. I really should look for black
or invisible straps for these things…

Wearing a malong

Random Japanese sentence:

ライオンと虎は猫科の2つの違った種である。 The lion and tiger are two different species of cat.

Skype party

March 12, 2006 - Categories: barkada, friends

Yesterday, my mom threw a Skype party for
me. She invited many of my best friends to our house and set up a
teleconference with me and my friends. Because Skype does three-way
voice chats, my boyfriend also joined from Dumaguete. It was _so_ much
fun talking with everyone!

It seems to always take us an hour to get over technical difficulties
if we’re using Windows. We tried three different VOIP programs –
Skype, Gizmo Project and Yahoo Messenger – and none of them worked to
satisfaction. After struggling with audio problems and dealing with
consistent crashes, my mom and I decided to go back to Mac and Linux

I haven’t figured out how to get all the webcam stuff working under
Linux (or even if it’s possible for me to view their webcam), but
voice worked pretty well.

That was a terrific, terrific way to start my day. =)

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Random Japanese sentence:

猫は椅子の上にいますか、椅子の下にいますか。 Is the cat on the chair or under the chair?

Irish party

March 12, 2006 - Categories: friends

Graduate House held an early celebration of St. Patrick’s Day. It was
tons of fun watching stepdancers in person! =) Way cool. I got to talk
to lots of other people, too. I like the way Graduate House organizes
all these events for the residents. I should drag Calum to more of
these events. He likes shooting events, but it’s hard to take pictures
at something unless you know someone connected to it. =)

After the party, Steve, Mike, Calum and I headed out to Mel’s Diner
for a late-night snack. We had a lot of fun talking about different
things. Afterwards, Steve and Mike played chess with me. We were all
almost falling asleep at the table, but we managed to play a good

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Random Japanese sentence:

「おまえはどうして、百匹のねこ、千匹のねこ、百万匹、一億、一兆匹のねこといっしょに、食べられてしまわなかったのだね。?」 How does it happen that you were not eaten up with all those hundreds and trillions of cats?


March 12, 2006 - Categories: sewing

Also, I’m nearly done with the skirt I’m hand-sewing following the
pattern Tita Gay helped me with before. Actually, I started off
following the pattern, but then got frustrated by the tracing paper I
used. I guess I really need to do pattern tracing on a hard floor, not
some cardboard spread over the carpet in my room. I can do it on the
kitchen table next time.

Anyway, the skirt is shaping up to be a skirt.

It felt very appropriate to be sewing that skirt while watching the
BBC version of Pride and Prejudice. Awesome show, by the way. The
woman who played Elizabeth Bennett in that one had such beautiful
eyes, and she fit the role so well. Definitely like it more than the
recently released film.

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Random Japanese sentence:

我々は犬や猫や鳥などを飼うことができる。 We can have dogs, cats, birds, and so on.

Good food box contents

March 13, 2006 - Categories: cooking

March 8’s Good Food Box contained:

1 head green cabbage
1/2 lbs Yukon Gold potatoes
2 lbs onion
2 lbs carrots
1 pack mushrooms
1 pint cherry tomatoes
1 head romaine lettuce
1 cantaloupe
1 bunch bananas
4 oranges
1 broccoli

Help! I need cabbage suggestions. =)

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Random Japanese sentence:

赤ん坊は猫の尾でおもしろく遊んでいた。 The baby was amusing itself with the cat’s tail.

Keeping track of envelopes in Gnucash

March 13, 2006 - Categories: Uncategorized

I sorted out my checking/savings account today, using Gnucash to keep
track of what is where. I’ve set up the transaction to pay my rent
from now until July 2007 and have earmarked the cash for it.

PCFinancial won’t let me have more than one savings account, but I’m
faking divisions with Gnucash, a personal finance program. Under
Accounts:PCFinancial Savings, I have “Earmarked” and “True savings”.
Because I can set up automatic bill payments only from my checking
account, I scheduled automatic transfers between my savings account to
my checking account. This is tracked under Assets:PCFinancial
checking:Earmarked and :Actual.

I need to talk to Mark at some point to figure out how my funding is
structured so that I know what kind of budget I have and whether I can
afford to cook for people more often. =) I _hope_ the increased
funding from You-Know-Who translates into a raise in my fellowship, as
it’s quite a bit more than my previous funding.

Nice to have everything sorted out. =)

On Technorati:

Random Japanese sentence:

猫が窓を引っかいているのが聞こえる。 I can hear a cat scratching at the window.

Murphy’s Law

March 13, 2006 - Categories: -Uncategorized

Naturally, I found my old ID a few minutes after I got it replaced.
Pfft. Turned out that it had an identity crisis and thought it was a
bookmark. On the plus side, that meant no one used my ID for strange
and nefarious purposes such as checking out library books.

Random Japanese sentence:

猫はネズミを追いかけた。 The cat ran after the rat.

Hot chocolate day

March 14, 2006 - Categories: sad

Dominique and Clair both asked if I was okay. I was, you know. The
Skype party last Saturday was a fantastic way to start my day, and my
friends here could tell you how I was floating. But I guess it wasn’t

… and I find myself hating this in-between life.

I don’t hate Canada. Despite the weather, Canada has been nothing but
nice to me. It’s starting to be sunny again, too, which is good.

I hate being away from home. I hate being away from the people I love.
And I really, really, really hate how technology gets in the way those
few times we do get to talk. Between jokes about confessionals and
people trying to fool me with their voices, I just don’t get the sense
tht I’m talking to my friends, y’know?

I want to be able to waste time with my friends, chatting about random
things. I want to be there for their hot chocolate moments. I want to
be able to give my mom a hug without her asking for it. I want to be
in their lives, not just on the periphery.

Happiness is the feeling that you are doing the right thing in the
right place at the right time. Sometimes I am almost happy. When I’m
working on documentation, when I’m cooking for friends, when I’m
reading, I can almost feel that I’m here for a reason.

Sometimes, like now, I am the opposite of happy. Then I go and have
hot chocolate, and I wear my happy socks, but it isn’t the same. Even
if I do something nice for a friend, it’s not enough to shake off that
feeling of being… mis-placed.

I can’t do this if people at home have doubts. I feel guilty for not
writing as often as I should. E-mail is too distant for me, too
deliberate. Everything reminds me of the distance, even Skype. I’ve
loved aking up to chat with my parents and Dominique, but it is even
harder to wake up and not find them there. I don’t really want to talk
about anything, I just want to hear, “I love you.”

Damn my potential. Damn my destiny. I hate living between worlds…

On Technorati: ,

Random Japanese sentence: 彼は猫を二匹飼っている。一匹は黒でもう一匹は白だ。 He keeps two cats: one is black, and the other white.

GTALug; best practices for socials

March 15, 2006 - Categories: -Uncategorized

I remembered just in time to run down to the monthly GTA Linux Users
Group socials at the Graduate Student Union Pub. Tons of fun chatting
with Bill, Seneca and the others. Happy to also report that Drew
(previously-mentioned booth-babe-comment person) was well-behaved. =)

I had recovered my good mood and was chatting with the others about
strange things about Barbie dolls, laughing and smiling in my usual
animated manner. (Animated as in anime, indeed!) Someone from another
table approached me and said that his friend had been wanting to meet
me. On cue, the poor guy at the other table was roundly teased by his
friends. I smiled and told the friend thank you. I blushed a bit – it
was quite flattering, after all. I then flashed a friendly/polite
smile and returned to conversing with the other people at my table.

I think that worked out quite well, as I didn’t lead him on but at the
same time didn’t make him feel terrible. In retrospect, my response
could have been a bit more helpful – telling his friend I’m taken
would make sure his friends don’t tease him too much about it – but so
far, so good. =)

What are the best practices for situations like these?

Random Japanese sentence: メグはペットに猫を飼っている。 Meg has a cat as a pet.

Not alone

March 16, 2006 - Categories: friends, goodkarma, happy

I really do live here – perhaps not permanently, but I do. I know
because I have friends who know that I am less than perfect and not
always happy, but who are my friends anyway. Deep thanks go to Calum,
who joined me for dinner even though he doesn’t like Indian food,
Steve, who scolded me for not calling him earlier, and many, many
others who would have undoubtedly picked me up, dusted me off and set
me on my feet, had I just asked (or perhaps even just looked a little

In particular, thanks to Calum for reminding me that the more I learn,
the more I can share with others. This is not the time for me to worry
about what to do for the world. This is the time for me to absorb as
much as I can from it, and do whatever goodness I can along the way.

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Random Japanese sentence: 私は猫が嫌いだし私の兄もそうだ。 I do not like cats and my brother does not, either.

Off to IBM early

March 16, 2006 - Categories: -Uncategorized

Mark Chignell and I will be off to IBM for an early morning meeting,
so I won’t be on Skype or Yahoo Messenger. Miss everyone! =)

Random Japanese sentence: A spot of shut−eye は、また猫のいねむりともいわれている。猫は1度に2〜3分しか寝ない癖があるからだ。 “A spot of shut-eye” is also called a cat nap because a cat is in the habit of sleeping only a few minutes at a time.

Much fun chatting with James and Stefan

March 17, 2006 - Categories: friends

I had tons of fun chatting with James and Stefan about Romania
(Stefan’s from there) and nearby places. One of the things I really
enjoy about the Graduate House is the constant exposure to people from
all over the world with such different experiences. I enjoyed hearing
Stefan’s stories about life behind the Iron Curtain and what life was
like after the revolution. James provided excellent analyses thanks to
his anthropology background, and I – I just soaked all of those
stories up… =)

On Technorati:

Random Japanese sentence: 彼は一日じゅう行方不明の猫を探した。 He hunted for his missing cat all day.

Out early again

March 17, 2006 - Categories: -Uncategorized

One of these days I really should resolve to go to sleep early –
10:00, maybe? – so that I can wake up early enough to chat with my
friends and family before going off somewhere. I’ll be off to IBM
early again tomorrow (today!). I’m thinking of moving my IBM day to
Thursday instead of Friday. Might be a better schedule, and I’d catch
more people in the office…

I miss talking to my family and friends!

Random Japanese sentence: そして、長い長い間歩いて、とうとう、どこもここも、ねこでいっぱいになっている丘にでました。 He walked along, long time and at last he came to a hill which was covered with cats.

End-of-class tango milonga on Monday

March 18, 2006 - Categories: toronto

Announcement from Emily:

This Monday is our end-of-class Milonga! Dress will be semi-formal —
so here’s your chance to take a break from papers and studying, get
dressed up, introduce your friends to the tango, and show off your
dancing skills.

There will be tango demonstrations, a quick crash course for beginners, and you
know the food will be good. You can bring your favourite snacks, too.

Monday, March 20th
FREE for club members, $3 for guests

Location: downstairs at the Wolfond Centre/Hillel — 36 Harbord Street, at Huron
Street, between Spadina and St. George, a bit south of Bloor Street.

On Technorati: ,

E-Mail from Argentine Tango Club

Random Japanese sentence: 私は犬のほうが猫より好きです、何故なら犬のほうが猫より忠実ですから。 I like dogs better than cats, because the former are more faithful than the latter.

Skule Night

March 18, 2006 - Categories: -Uncategorized

Bill invited me to Skule Night, a comic production that’s become a
yearly tradition among engineering students. I thought it was
hilarious, particularly the musical take-offs “Seasons of Skule”
(Seasons of Love) and “Little Test” (Little Town, from Beauty and the
Beast). =) Brilliant. Wonderful. The Bollywood spoof was fun, too. =)

Random Japanese sentence: そのかわいそうなネコはトラックにひかれた。 The poor cat was run over by a truck.

Upon reflection

March 18, 2006 - Categories: reflection

A good day of work at IBM and some time to reflect have left me with a
clearer perspective. I think one of the reasons why homesickness hits
me so hard sometimes is that I entertain this notion that if I go back
home, I can still make a big difference even without a master’s
degree. I would need to work harder, but I might not need to stretch
myself as much.

Perhaps I had gotten addicted to the instant payoff of happy people,
to the feeling that I was making a difference in someone’s life. Even
though I was teaching rather inconsequential subjects (as I told
myself every time I messed up a class), each aha! moment validated my
existence. ;) From this distance, it’s easy to gloss over my
insecurity and remember only that I had so much fun teaching. I
remember what I knew how to do and not what I didn’t, but fortunately
my blog has all the stories about emergency chocolate munching under

Now that I can see it, I realize that intellectual laziness –
fantasizing about something within my abilities instead of daring to
stretch them – is not true to my values. The constant lesson of my
childhood was “To whom much is given, much is expected,” and so much
has been given to me. I am not supposed to take it easy, to be content
with what I know. I would be doing a disservice to my future students
if I couldn’t challenge them with or tell them stories about other
teachers I’ve had, other projects I’ve worked on. I would be doing a
disservice to other people if I didn’t take advantage of the
opportunities I have.

I shouldn’t worry about whether IBM will have a place for me after I
graduate or whether I’ll get into graduate school if I choose to go
for a PhD. I’ve lived all my life according to what I learned from my
parents – make your own opportunities. If I make the most of life, if
I am _here_ while I’m here, then I can choose what would be best for

I have to admit that it’s still scary. I find it hard to imagine life
here past August 2007 not because I hate Canada or my studies or IBM,
but because I’m worried about losing ties to home. I feel guilty at
the thought of being temporarily away from my country because I’m
afraid to be permanently away, to be part of the brain drain, to be
seduced into complacency by personal comforts. I’m afraid to become a
stranger to my friends and my family. I’m afraid that if I make the
sacrifice of being far away from them, I’ll find myself growing old in
an apartment with a computer and several (dozen) cats. ;) (To think
that that was what I dreamed of before, but now I want friends,
too…) Silly thought, I know, but I’m allowed to have silly fears as
long as I can recognize them.

The key, then, is to get over my intellectual laziness and my
irrational fear. ;) I need to dare to imagine a life that pushes me
beyond the demands that anyone at home would make of me. I need to be
confident that the world will support me as it always has, that
everything will dovetail together and even seeming failures will turn
out for the best in the long run. And hey, one or two horror stories
are good things to share with people, anyway.

I don’t know how the future will work out, but I choose to no longer
consider the comfortable obscurity of which I used to idly dream. Now
I am alive. Now I am here.

On Technorati:

Random Japanese sentence: あなたは黒い猫が好きですか。 Do you like a black cat?

Visited a friend

March 18, 2006 - Categories: -Uncategorized

One of my friends is in the hospital. Remembering how bad hospital
food is, I brought him a couple of sandwiches and a sprig of
carnations (not to eat!). We studied together for a while. I found it
much easier to concentrate with someone else around, and I hope I
helped him study too. =)

Nice long chat with my mom

March 19, 2006 - Categories: family

One of the good things about distance is that my mom and I get to talk
a lot more. Strange, isn’t it? I really enjoy our conversations. I
look forward to exchanging stories. She reads my blog every day (Hi
Mom!), so I theoretically don’t need to repeat myself, but there are
all sorts of things I don’t blog (gasp! gasp!), tangents on which I
find myself, and questions for which I like getting her insights. I
love my mom, and I’m so, so, so glad we get to talk. =)

On Technorati: ,

Random Japanese sentence: 私達はその猫をマドンナと呼んでいる。 We call the cat Madonna.

Well-spent Sunday

March 20, 2006 - Categories: -Uncategorized

I baked chocolate chip cookies for my hospital-bound friend today, and
we had a lot of fun at an impromptu party with his other friends. =)

I spent the afternoon attending a Persian New Year celebration. The
dance show we wanted to watch was fully booked, so we ended up
listening to music instead. I didn’t know enough about the culture to
fully appreciate it, although I found the instruments interesting. The
field-trip was a great excuse to meet other graduate students. I met
Oz(sp?) (Geology), Lusine (Armenian, Health Sciences), Brian
(Archaeology, used to be a pilot), Nancy (Public Health), Li-Fang
(Molecular Cell Biology), and quite a number of other residents. Now,
if I had remembered to ask for their last names, I might’ve been able
to look them up in the directory. Oh well. I guess I’ll just have to
run into them at coffee time or in the elevator…

In the evening, I baked lasagna before heading down to play billiards
and table tennis with other Graduate House residents. Come to think of
it, I actually enjoyed that more than tango. =)

The lasagna… well… turned into lasagna soup. No-boil lasagna
noodles aren’t very forgiving when it comes to the recipe, I guess. I
was worried about making it too dry. It turned out too soft instead.
=) That’s okay. I’ll still eat it. I had meatballs and cut-up lasagna
noodles today, using up more of the lasagna noodles I had mistakenly
boiled last time.

Random Japanese sentence: 彼女は家に残された猫のことを思い出した。 She thought of her cat left behind at home.
Kanojo wa ie ni nokosareta neko no koto o omoidashita.

(I did too! I miss Neko…)

Tango party and stuff

March 20, 2006 - Categories: -Uncategorized

I visited the hospital again. Lasagna is apparently not a good idea as
it gets cold pretty quickly, and it depends on appetite. I’ll bring
cookies next time. Cookies are always good, and they keep well. But
they’ve transferred him to another place quite far away… =(

Last night was the tango party. Tons of fun! =)

Random Japanese sentence: 「ああ、よかった!」と、おじいさんは、よろこ
て帰ればいいんだ」 “Oh” cried the old man joyfully, “Now I can choose
the prettiest cat and take it home with me!” [Aa, yokatta!] to,
ojiisan wa, yorokonde iimashita. [saa kore de, kono naka kara, ichiban
kirei na neko o erande tsurete kaereba ii n da]

Sick today

March 21, 2006 - Categories: Uncategorized

Not enough sleep and not enough water and certain other factors that
occur on a semi-regular basis meant I was really, really drained
today. I pushed myself a bit hard for lunch, heading out to an
Ethiopian restaurant with Mike Tsang, his brother David, and their
friend Nashira (sp?). It was nice meeting them, though, and I had
interesting conversations over delicious food.

That meant I skipped the lunch nap I was thinking of having, though. A
high-priority issue came up afterwards, so I didn’t get much of an
afternoon nap, either. By the time I finally got to nap, it was almost
Toastmasters time. I called Paul to say I couldn’t make it. I hope he
passed the message to Ari.

I wasn’t in the mood to cook or even to reheat pizza, but Calum
happened to be in the area (he had a thesis meeting with Mark), so he
showed me where I could get a nice, healthy soup. It was a bit of a
walk, but the nap had left me a little bit better, and I drank plenty
of water while I was there.

I felt better after the meal, although still a little out of sorts. I
felt good enough to practice some Renaissance dance. I also stayed up
talking to Clair and Charo, formulating a battle plan.

All I can say is: thank goodness for portable heating packs, or I’d
probably have been totally out of it for the whole day.

On Technorati:

Random Japanese sentence: 実はわたしの猫ははずかしがりやなのです。 The fact is that my cat is shy.

Sysad stuff: bah, humbug

March 22, 2006 - Categories: -Uncategorized

Hacked around a bit on the engsci system. Very frustrated with
ejabberd, connotea, and other servers I’ve been trying to set up.
Firmly convinced this isn’t one of my alternative careers. Will do it
anyway because I’ve promised to do it this term. Pff.

Random Japanese sentence: 「おや、おまえさん!」おばあさんは言いました。「これはいったいどうしたのです?」「わたしはねこが一匹ほしいと言ったのに、これはなんですか」 “My dear!” she cried, “What are you doing? I asked for one little cat. And what do I see? -. [Oya, omaesan!] obaasan wa iimashita. [kore wa ittai doushita no desu?] [watashi wa neko ga ippiki hoshii to itta no ni, kore wa nan desu ka]

Good karma: Emacs

March 22, 2006 - Categories: emacs, goodkarma

From Paul Lussier:

One day, about 2 years ago now (Holy Cow! Sacha, has it been *that*
long? :) I stumbled upon this thing called emacs-wiki and
planner-mode. I fired off an e-mail to the maintainer asking a couple
of questions. Someone named Sacha answered back and had such
enthusiasm for my e-mail and my questions that i immediately joined
the list and started playing with planner and emacs-wiki.

Awwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww! =) Melt, melt, melt.

On Technorati: ,

E-Mail from Paul Lussier

Random Japanese sentence: いすの上にねこがいます。 There is a cat on the chair. Isu no ue ni neko ga imasu.

Good Food Box: Avocado antics

March 22, 2006 - Categories: cooking

This fortnight’s Good Food Box contains one avocado plus all the usual
staples (potatoes, onions, carrots, lettuce, broccoli). I also got two
tomatoes and one green pepper.

I have decided not to eat out unless absolutely necessary, if only
because I hate throwing food away. The Good Food Box is evilly
designed to require me to either throw parties or eat lots of
veggie-based dishes if I’m to avoid wasting too much food. I would
love to get together with someone who’ll take care of the meat dishes.

On Technorati: ,

Random Japanese sentence: 猫はぬれるのを嫌がる。 Cats dislike being wet.


March 22, 2006 - Categories: emacs

There’s something a bit off about the Emacs learning curve graph –
it’s bounded, for one – but yeah, Emacs really is a very different

Evan Monroig said on the emacs-wiki-discuss mailing list:

So after all my wishlist was already there and I didn’t know it…. hehe

and Wei-Hao Lin replied:

This is Emacs. There’s no wish. Only how.

On Technorati:

Random Japanese sentence: この猫はネズミを追いかけない。 This cat doesn’t chase rats.

When it rains, it pours

March 23, 2006 - Categories: speaking

Today (Thursday) is the area-level Toastmasters international speech contest. I don’t feel prepared for it at all. Unlike the other contestants, I haven’t spent weeks preparing for it. I still haven’t finalized which anecdotes I’ll tell and in what order. Argh.

Today I also have a chance to watch Take the Lead for free. Well, nearly free. TTC fare round-trip. Whatever. Antonio Banderas! Ballroom dance plus hip-hop moves! Antonio Banderas! Dancing!


Decisions, decisions. I’m the only person who’s even somewhat prepared to represent my club at the speech contest, as no one else volunteered for the thing. If other people are bad (unlikely!), I might even win and go on to the district conference, etc. Even if I don’t win, though, I’ll have a chance to listen to other speakers and learn a
little bit more about style and technique.

From the take-the-first-circus perspective, Toastmasters wins hands down. This particular contest will occur only once. I can always watch the movie when it comes out in the cinema or six months from now during some Graduate House movie night. I’ll probably end up watching it by myself. It’s one of those cheesy feel-good movies that my guy
friends would probably not be caught watching.

But I’m _still_ going to wish the two events were on different days, and I’m still going to hate performing. I’m not excited about this contest. I’ll just to have to grit my teeth and turn up the energy. I’ll go to the contest, give my speech, listen to other people’s speeches, and maybe learn a lot about what I like and don’t like.

The last contest wasn’t that much fun, either. I joined the humorous speech contest six months ago. The first speech relied on scatological humor, which was a bit crass. My speech was so-so, although I got a few laughs. I didn’t really find the last speech funny, but it was more of a speech – used more of the techniques, had more special

I know competitions are nice for forcing myself to grow. I learned so much because of my programming competitions. In terms of speaking, though, I much prefer listening to and interacting with the speakers I meet at conferences. I don’t like competing head-on with people. I’d rather measure myself against a standard, competing against myself to
get better.

I’m just not excited about my upcoming speech. Come to think of it, I’m not that excited about learning from the other speakers, either, not if the speech quality’s like the last contest.

<sigh> Maybe this is a lesson in just doing something. I’ll probably go to the contest and do the best I can, but I’m going to have to fix this sense of unease. The Toastmasters people aren’t bad. They’ve been nice to me, and I’ll probably find enough to keep myself busy and involved. Then I’ll go home, heat up some dinner – whatever’s in the
fridge, probably lasagna – and have myself lots and lots of hot chocolate. Maybe I’ll bug James or Mike for some company so that the place isn’t too quiet.

I wish my family and friends were here (or at least in a closer timezone!) so that I could ask them for advice, or so that they could push the Toastmasters event from being something I have to get through to something I’d enjoy. I’m telling _our_ story, and it’s kinda sad having to cast it as a bloody speech with an introduction, body and conclusion instead of just part of our shared memory. Ay, Clair and the rest of my barkada gathered around that vegan sinigang, my father making jokes… How am I going to tell this story without missing you all terribly?

I don’t want to give a speech. I want to be able to talk to friends. Right. That’s how I should think of it. A roomful of strangers who are paying more attention to the structure of my speech than to its content – I should forget that, and treat them as people to whom I’d like to introduce my other friends, to whom I’d like to tell stories about the warmth I’ve felt. I shouldn’t think about anything else I could be doing. I should live in the moment.

I’m not ready to give this speech. Then again, I’ve never been ready to give any speech. I’ve always just gone out there and done it. I’ve promised not to be intellectually lazy, not to take the easy way out, and that includes this. Watching a movie would be self-indulgent. This is going to be annoying, but it’ll probably help me grow. And if it
doesn’t, well, I’ll have hot chocolate and an unexpectedly productive evening…

On Technorati: , , ,

Back in the groove

March 24, 2006 - Categories: ibm

I had a totally awesome day at IBM today, crunching some data and
doing some nifty photocloud visualizations of all the people who had
blogged about a certain topic. I sorted it by domain in order to
collocate people from the same lab, and resized the photos according
to the number of posts they had made, linking each picture to the
respective blogs. I then ran the same analysis on their bookmarks.
Next week, I’m going to do a 2D plot… =)

It was _tons_ of fun hacking together a little Java program to do the
analysis. I had to look up a lot of things in order to do the first
program. It took me a while to dump SAX in favor of DOM, but once I’d
gotten the XML parsing code out of the way, I wrote the data analysis
quickly. My code wouldn’t win points for elegance or efficiency, but
it works. I wish I had either Ruby or Python on that system – heck, I
could do this stuff in Emacs Lisp. I think I’ll go install the Windows
versions of my favorite programming languages as soon as possible,
although I might have to clear it with IBM first.

Today put me firmly back in the programming/hacking camp. I couldn’t
pry my fingers off the keyboard. =) Mark had to call me to make sure I
didn’t miss the 3:55 bus. I just had so much fun writing glue code and
crunching all the data. In terms of geek stuff, this is where I

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Random Japanese sentence: ペルシャ猫に関連した古いお話しがあります。
There is a classic story related about a Persian cat. Perusha-neko ni
kanren shita furui o-hanashi ga arimasu.


March 24, 2006 - Categories: toastmasters

If I give the universe a chance, it does its best to be absolutely
wonderful. =)

I had misgivings about the Toastmasters speech
contest held Thursday, but when I gave myself permission to just go
ahead and do it, I had tons of fun. I gave a speech entitled “I Will
Learn How To Cook… Or Die Trying”. Frequent readers of my blog (none
of which were among the audience) would recognize some of the
misadventures I’ve had. =) I’ll post the MP3 one of these days. (I
really should start an infrequent little podcast…)

My contest performance was only the second time I’d run through that
particular version of the speech. Still, I had no problems connecting
to the audience, treating them as friends, and making them laugh. I
missed a few jokes I had wanted to make, but it flowed together well.
I’m still having problems ending on the strong note everyone expects,
probably because I pour a lot of energy into the beginning and middle
as well.

Even though I threw the revised speech together as hastily as a
stir-fry on a starving Saturday night, I won second place. =) The man
who won first was a really cool Toastmaster, and his speaking skills
are far beyond mine. Lots of things to learn!

Mrs. Castillo would be thrilled to hear that people liked my use of
props. I can think of no other cause for this but the drama in
education program we had in grade school. =) My father and my sister
must share the credit for anything I might know about humor and
storytelling. My mom’s encouraging note earlier this morning was the
source of my energy during the speech. And oh, so many people who keep
me going and make me laugh… If I spread sunshine in people’s lives,
it is because I get so much from others!

I need to work on speech organization a bit more, and endings are
still one of my weak points. I have plenty of things to learn, and I
love that. I don’t want to be a good speaker. I want to become a
brilliant speaker so that I can inspire people not only to adopt the
ideas I want them to consider but also to improve their own
communication skills. =)

Very good day.

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Random Japanese sentence: 彼女はその猫に牛乳をやった。 She fed milk to the cat.

Level up! Steak and potatoes

March 24, 2006 - Categories: cooking, cookordie

After giving that cook-or-die speech, I felt like treating myself to
something special. So for today: pepper steak and mashed potatoes!
This turned out to be surprisingly easy to prepare. Sure, it wasn’t
melt-in-my-mouth tender, but it was fine.

Level up! Also, have discovered the joys of rosemary.

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Random Japanese sentence: 私は雌猫を飼っている。 I keep a female cat.

Level up: Salmon!

March 24, 2006 - Categories: cooking, cookordie

I cooked salmon for the first time today. =D I followed the recipe for salmon with avocado with lots of liberal changes: green bellpepper instead of orange, plum tomatoes instead of cherry tomatoes, and salmon steak instead of salmon fillet. Despite all these changes, it turned out quite well.

I prepared aglio et olio penne (hah! garlic and olive oil!) with
sauteed mushrooms. The penne was a bit undercooked, but I’ll fix that
next time. I took it out slightly before 9 minutes because I like my
pasta a little firm, but next time I’ll let it get a little softer.

Props go to Calum for scrubbing the broiler pan until it gleamed. =)

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Random Japanese sentence: 猫は捕らえたネズミを引き裂き始めた。 The cat began to tear at the mouse it caught. Neko wa toraeta nezumi o hikisakihajimeta.

Where do network cards go to die?

March 25, 2006 - Categories: linux

I’ve rummaged through all of my things, and I’m certain I left my
wireless network card in the Philippines. Mumble. That’s the third

I want a wireless card because I’m getting tired of working in my
room. I want to be able to work in the common room of Graduate House,
at cafes, or even at friends’ places.

However, Linux-supported wireless cards are hard to find. I walked all
along the computer strip on College with the hardware compatibility
list on my laptop. I couldn’t find a single PCMCIA card or USB device
that was listed as supported. <sigh> That’s what I get for
needing previous-generation technology. It’s just not sold any more.

I need a serious computer surplus / junk shop like HMR back home, I
guess. One of those places where they’re still selling beat-up 486s.
But no, Canada’s tech junk has been shipped to the Philippines and
other developing countries. Mumble.

Why do I bother with Linux, then? The programs I use are native to
Linux and Unix-like systems, and they’re updated more frequently than
their Microsoft Windows counterparts. Besides, it’s just so darn hard
to set Microsoft Windows up the way I want it to be. I love scripting.
I love programming. Finding and downloading Emacs, Perl, Python, Ruby,
and all these other things is a major hassle under Windows. And let’s
not even start talking about the shell. Sure, I could use cygwin, but
it’s just not the same…

Maybe I should just update my Ubuntu laptop and use that for hardware
compatibility testing. Those Ubuntu folks do strange magic. =)

Anyone who can tell me where I can buy (or even better, anyone will
give me) a Linux-compatible wireless networking card will get a bunch
of cookies and my gratitude.

Random Japanese sentence: 「このねこは、やっぱりとてもきれいですよ!」と、とても年取った、おばあさんが言いました。 “And it is indeed a very pretty cat!” said the very old woman. [kono neko w, yappari totemo kirei desu yo!] to, totemo toshitotta obaasan ga iimashita.

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Noodle night

March 25, 2006 - Categories: social

One of the wonderful things about Graduate House is that the Graduate
House Council organizes a lot of social events. Tonight I enjoyed a
free Singaporean noodle dinner in the common room. As food goes, it
wasn’t bad. I was there mainly for the conversation, though, and I
wasn’t disappointed. =D I had tons of fun chatting with Keynan(sp?)
and Elizabeth (both Emily’s suitemates). Andrew joined us too – he’s
the English major I played Scrabble with once. Stefan dropped by to
tell me about the vegetarian cooking classes he found, but the only
nearby one focuses on Indian cooking, and I’d rather have something
more general.

Emily was impressed with my outfit. “You have legs today,” she said. I
had decided to wear The Miniskirt today because I just find it _so_
much fun to shop for computer stuff all dressed up. It confuses
salespeople, particularly when I ask for Linux-supported wireless
cards. ;)

Anyway, Emily told me that she almost always saw me in very pretty
skirts, but this was the first time she saw me with a skirt that
short. (Yes, yes, thank you Kathy for getting me a skirt I’d never
have dared get myself. Come to think of it, where _are_ those barkada
pics? Hmm…)

After most people finished dinner and left, I played billiards with
Stairos (sp?) and Tarun. I’m still not very consistent in billiards,
but I managed to sink a few good shots. After Tarun left, Stairos and
I played table tennis. He likes smashing, and whenever he does that I
tease him about being such a bully. I’m happy to report that I managed
to make contact with the ball a couple of times – probably more by
accident than reflex. Lusine joined us and we practiced for a while.

I’m not very good at table tennis yet, but I find it a lot of fun. My
coordination used to be absolutely terrible, but after a while I
realized that I didn’t have to be able to think about how to intercept
the ball, I just had to actually do it. For some strange reason,
playing table tennis makes me feel like a character in a Japanese

And yes, I did manage to get some writing done. Not much, though. I’ll
have to wake up early tomorrow to do some more work on it before the
cooking workshop…

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Random Japanese sentence: テーブルに猫の足跡が付いている。 There are footprints of a cat on the table. Teiboru ni neko no sokuseki ga tsuite iru.

Speaking of The Miniskirt…

March 25, 2006 - Categories: -Uncategorized

Lusine was surprised to find out that I’m taking my master’s in
mechanical and industrial engineering. (I really should drop the
“mechanical and” part – it just confuses people.) She said I looked
like an art student. Will wear white blouse, pink plaid miniskirt, and
fuchsia tights next time I need to pass off as a humanities person.

Am sorely missing other pink crystal earring I bought from Claire’s,
as the pair would’ve been perfect for this outfit. Red’s just too
dark, and the triangular peach-and-gold ones don’t quite go either.

I have fun being a girl. Deal with it. ;b I like dressing up. I might
be into computers and other ‘guy’ things, but that doesn’t mean I
can’t enjoy wearing clothes I love or cooking food I like.

Random Japanese sentence: 彼はとても満足そうに見える。 He looks like a
cat that ate the canary. Kare wa totemo manzokusou ni mieru. (Ah,
idiomatic in English, straightforward in Japanese.)


March 26, 2006 - Categories: sad

I hate forks.

In other news, it’s too sunny for it to be this gray a day.

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Random Japanese sentence: 私たちは猫を飼っています。私たちはみなその猫が好きです。 We have a cat. We are all fond of the cat.


March 26, 2006 - Categories: cooking

It seems like a good day to make onion soup.

I’ve chopped all of my onions.

Now what?

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Random Japanese sentence: 雨が土砂降りだ。 It rains cats and dogs.

Yesterday: Cooking workshop, nice walk

March 27, 2006 - Categories: cooking, friends

Geoff hosted a British food cooking workshop at Graduate House. That
was tons of fun, and I really enjoyed getting to know people. Calum
roasted the red peppers for the soup. I helped prepare soup and
dessert, meeting another Filipina – Cel(sp?) – in the process. I
promised to meet her next weekend so that we can explore Toronto, as
she’s never been to Chinatown. She had fun making the chocolate sauce
for dessert.

The dinner was excellent, and props go to all the people in the
workshop. =) I’m really, really glad I’m in Graduate House.

After coffee time, Lusine, Stefan, James and I enjoyed a brisk evening
walk. The only odd part was being accosted by an unnaturally friendly
person near Queen’s Park. The man insisted on getting James to repeat
his story about the Royal Ontario Museum’s pair of guardian lions
(dogs, James said), and kept walking with us until we reached the
park. I’m embarrassed to confess that I was afraid instead of more
tolerant, practically hiding in James’ shadow while the guy was
walking with us.

Still, this day was a day for much laughter, conversation, and good
friendship. It was just what I needed to get my mind off things and to
get a better perspective on some difficult issues.

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I love my life!

March 27, 2006 - Categories: barkada, family, friends, happy

Life takes _very_ good care of me. Also, my mom is psychic. =) This
weekend has been a bit mixed, but the weird thing about it is that
instead of feeling terrible, I feel so _loved._

I checked my mailbox last Friday and saw a note telling me to pick up
a package during office hours. It was past 5 already, so I didn’t get
to pick it up until today. Perfect, perfect timing. =) My mom sent me
a wonderful little heart pillow signed by my friends at the Skype
party they held a few weeks ago. She also included a smiley sign,
similarly dedicated. And just because my mom’s the kind of
ultrathoughtful mom who anticipates everything, she also sent me a set
of contacts. =)

It was the perfect pick-me-up, and I feel very, very, very much loved.

On one side of the heart:

11 Mar 06: Hey! I’m first to sign here! Best of luck and ganbatte kudasai! =) Carl
Homesick? We’re here! => Marcelle
Hi Sacha, hope you’re enjoying your stay there. Wish you were here. =) Ranulf
Big heart for a good friend =) Roy
2006.03.11 Heya! We miss you! Enjoy below zero! zakame =)
11 March 206 Sacha dear, WE MISS YOU! Glad that you’re a happy domestic goddess… M-x chef-mode! (heart) Clair
Can’t really think of anything so… Peppy

And on the other side of the heart:

Dear Sacha! I will also be on the other side to make you happy. Papa
Dearest Sacha, we love you and we are very proud of you. You have a good heart. Keep up the good work. Love you lots, (heart) Mom

I hung the smiley sign on the tackboard in my cubicle. It reads:

\(^^)/ Carl
Enjoy your stay =) Ranulf
Dropped in to say Hi!!! Roy
Hiya! Ki o tsukete! =) Clair
Chocolate and ice cream =) Peppy
Don’t segfault! Zak
We love you lots and lots from Mom and Papa

Life will work out. It always does. =)

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Random Japanese sentence: 私は何匹かのかわいそうな猫が追い出されるのを見た。 I saw some poor cats kicked out. Watashi wa nanbiki ka no kawaiisou na neko ga oidasareru no o mita.

I am loved beyond my ability to comprehend

March 28, 2006 - Categories: love

… and it is the most beautiful thing in this world.

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Random Japanese sentence: 木の上のねこが私の所へ降りてきた。 The cat on the tree came down to me.

Cook Or Die spoof

March 28, 2006 - Categories: cookordie

From Calum, who doesn’t see the point of all of my blogging about cooking:

March 3rd:

Today I made frosted flakes with milk, or “flacon du mais glacee au
lait”. Bought large 900g box at Price Chopper. N. sure if this will
last. Flakes were v. sweet because of frosting. Will have to try with
less milk next time.

March 4th:

Tried frosted flakes again, but this time, I added flakes to milk
instead of milk with flakes after researching this concept a little
more on the Internet.

This worked out very well. I will put up a flickr photostream on how
to pour the flakes into the milk.

Tags: soggy, cereal, linux, blogging

March 6th:

Had to skip breakfast today but I wrote a poem about frosted flakes:

Flakes of corn are sweet
A-drift they float in white ocean
Loss of taste in time

March 8th:

Oh! I have friends who also like frosted flakes! Props to
lulubear83, gigi7, cerealchik!

March 10th:

I have decided to experiment with fruit today. Bought carton of
strawberries from market (link to Google frappr of fruit stands in
downtown Toronto). Here is a mob-blog of my shopping trip:

E-Mail from Calum Tsang

Random Japanese sentence: 「わたしにはちゃんとわかっているのだ。だって私は百匹のねこ、千匹のねこ、百万匹、一億、一兆匹のねこを見てきたんだからねぇ」と、言いました。 I ought to know, for I’ve seen hundreds of cats, thousands of cats, millions and billions and trillions of cats and not one was as pretty as this one.


March 28, 2006 - Categories: -Uncategorized

I’m having a very Bronte moment, s’all I can say. =)

Random Japanese sentence: ネコの毛がさかだった。 The cat’s fur stood on end.

Darn! CHI coincides with Linux World Canada

March 28, 2006 - Categories: conference

The ACM conference on Computer-Human Interaction runs at the same time
as Linux World Canada, so oh well…

Random Japanese sentence: 秘密はもうすっかり知れ渡っているよ。 The cat is well out of the bag.


March 29, 2006 - Categories: -Uncategorized

While studying in the common room, I heard someone singing in the
piano room. I knocked on the door and asked for permission to sit and
listen to her practice. She was glad to have an audience. Her name’s
Aimee, and she’s taking her master’s in speech therapy after having
completed a bachelor’s degree in music.

She told me that the Faculty of Music sometimes asks for volunteers to
take eight-week music classes from the students. She suggested getting
in touch with Nancy McDonald about next year’s batch. Sounds like fun!

After she left, I did some of the vocalizations Kuya Ed taught me
before. My range is a little bit smoother now, and the high notes are
a bit easier to reach. I sang a few things from Phantom of the Opera:
Think of Me, Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again, All I Ask of You. I
also practiced Sun and Moon, from Miss Saigon. All these were songs
Kuya Ed picked for me before. =)

I should buy myself songbooks for some of the musicals I like, so that
I can play them on the piano while singing. I’ll probably never sing
as beautifully as Aimee did, but it’s still a lot of fun.

Random Japanese sentence: テーブルに猫の足跡が付いている。 There are footprints of a cat on the table.

Song, by Sara Teasdale

March 29, 2006 - Categories: love



You bound strong sandals on my feet,
You gave me bread and wine,
And sent me under sun and stars,
For all the world was mine.


Oh, take the sandals off my feet,
You know not what you do;
For all my world is in your arms,
My sun and stars are you.

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Random Japanese sentence: 猫がネズミを追いかけた。 A cat ran after a mouse. Neko ga nezumi o oikaketa.

Weird job post

March 29, 2006 - Categories: -Uncategorized

I got this on one of the Linux-related mailing lists I’m on.

by the way; kinsa naa kaila nga female na kabalo ug PHP, Perl and a little
about networking pwede na basta maayo medyo kabalo ug develop web based
programming. FEMALE willing to do 24 hour shifting sched.

Naa nangita pa post lang name nimo diri basin ikaw na ilaha gipangita.
salary medyo below 2 digit pa.

Very very odd.

E-Mail from bitmaster

Random Japanese sentence: 雨が土砂降りに降り始めた。 It began to rain cats and dogs.

Potluck last night

March 30, 2006 - Categories: friends

I had a potluck dinner with Lusine, James and Stefan last night. Tons
of fun! We enjoyed chatting about things as diverse as regional
differences in cabbage and other vegetables, politics and conspiracy
theories, and health and nutrition, gender identities, people in
science and engineering…

We had salmon pasta salad, fruit salad, potato salad with onions and
olives, pasta with broccoli and peppers, and… umm… cabbage with
soy sauce. Heh. That’s what I get for being the only Asian. Everything
worked out well, though! =)

I loved Stefan’s fruit salad. Kiwis, bananas, apples and oranges, I think. Yummy!

On Technorati:

Random Japanese sentence: 猫はネズミを捕まえました。 The cat caught the rats.


March 30, 2006 - Categories: barkada, friends

My best friend from Japan is in the Philippines, and I’m glad to hear
that my mom and my friends are taking good care of him.
Dave Brown made Tokyo worth it for me. He
cheered me up when I felt homesick, gave me hugs and chocolate when I
felt down, and helped me explore the nooks and crannies of that crazy

He’s in Manila to take the JITSE, a standard IT examination that’ll
give him more qualifications for his work in Japan. I appreciate the
fact that Jerome managed to take time off from his busy schedule
(advocating .NET is a full-time job! =) ) to give Dave JITSE tips and
chat about life, and I’m glad that the rest of my friends made him
feel welcome. =)

“Dave’s a nice guy to talk to. I guess I can imagine why he and Sacha
get along,” blogged Marcelle.
Yeah, Dave’s awesome. Always smiling, always warm and open. Come to think of it, I don’t remember seeing him upset even once.
If you read the friends-locked posts on his Livejournal, you’ll know he’s a Good Guy.

With few exceptions, my friends generally get along very well with
each other, and I’m glad he fits right in. Too bad Dominique won’t get
to meet him, though. They’d get along, too. =) (But then again,
Dominique gets along with everyone…)

I hope Dave has fun on the test, and I hope he enjoys Manila!

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Random Japanese sentence: 私は犬のほうが猫より好きです、何故なら犬のほうが猫より忠実ですから。 I like dogs better than cats, because the former are more faithful than the latter. Watashi wa ino no hou ga neko yori suki desu. Nazekara inu no hou ga neko yori choujitsu desu kara.

Suddenly free on Friday

March 31, 2006 - Categories: -Uncategorized

Brian’s birthday get-together has been moved to Saturday, so Friday is
suddenly free. I think I’ll spend that evening at Graduate House. Good
time to reflect. Besides, I hate Plan Bs and defaults. They’re unfair
to others and myself.

(… and I’ll finally get to finish my sewing! =) )

Random Japanese sentence: 私は犬よりも猫が好きです。 I prefer cats to dogs. Watashi wa inu yori neko ga suki desu.

Sunlight and weeds

March 31, 2006 - Categories: -Uncategorized

I hitched a ride with a couple of IBMers down to the York Mills subway
station today. On the way there, I saw an absolutely beautiful sight:
common weeds aureoled by the sunlight at that perfect yellow right
before it slips into the orange of sunset.

Cliched perhaps, but singularly beautiful.

I wanted to stop the car and shoot with my dinky little
point-and-click – heck, even with my phone – but we were almost near
the highway, and it wasn’t the kind of place where one could just stop
and shoot.

Maybe that’s what I’ll do this Friday: take a nice long walk, eyes
open for spring. =)

Random Japanese sentence: メアリーは読書をしており、1匹の猫がかたわらで眠っていた。 Mary was reading, with a cat sleeping beside her. Meari- wa tokusho o shiteori, ippiki no neko ga katawara de nemutte ita.

In times of weakness

March 31, 2006 - Categories: friends

I threw up last night almost six hours after I ate bacon and eggs from
a restaurant. Weird that the only time I got a severse adverse
reaction to food here, it wasn’t even my fault. I was very weak, but
fortunately I had my cellphone with me, so I managed to call up my mom
for advice and one of my friends for help. It was all I could do to
grab a mug of water, open one of those wonderful air-activated heating
pads, and stagger into bed.

I would’ve asked Mariana for help, but she was studying, so I called
the only person I could think of who’d probably be awake and ready to
help. Deep gratitude goes out to Mike Tsang, who brought biscuits and
prepared some sugarwater for me. That really helped me recover, and I
went to sleep rehydrated.

I had a heavy lunch that day, so I think the suddenly high calorie
intake upset my system. I’m so very glad I have friends, though.

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Random Japanese sentence: その子はねこの尻尾を掴まえた。 The boy caught the cat by the tail. Sono ko wa neko no shippo o tsukamaeta.