November 13, 2006

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Learning more about living with others

I woke up at 7 today after dreaming of the last section of my progress
report. Going to bed with an unfinished task means I end up doing it
literally in my sleep. <laugh> After some puttering about at
Graduate House, I made it down to the lab. Got through a whole bunch
of tasks, although I wasted a fair bit of time playing Nethack. (Level
10 wizard! Woohoo!)

It was a good day work-wise, although I’m embarrassed to say that I
was dozing off in the middle of statistics class. Bought chocolate
during the break, which greatly helped. Note to self: bring emergency
chocolate everywhere.

Picked up a new book from the library. Finished it today, too. Good
book, and well worth keeping in mind. I’ll post my notes soon.

I learned a little more about life today, or at least I learned about
something I’ll need to learn more about. For some reason or another, I
don’t get along very smoothly with one of my roommates. I’m in the
process of learning more about keeping a place tidy, and have been
doing relatively fine: I manage to get laundry done once in a while,
I’ve got nice dishes that I keep spotless, and I even manage to tame
my desk clutter once in a while.

Having finished my major tasks earlier than I expected, I decided to
do my chores a day before the deadline. I soaked the mop in a solution
with the new organic cleaning liquid I bought (it’s really nifty!),
and started mopping. She was preparing a salad for dinner at the time,
and pointed out that I hadn’t even swept the floor. I listened to that
and glossed over the rest of her disparaging remarks. I normally
vacuum the floor before mopping, but she found fault with that when I
did the floor three weeks ago, so I was wondering if the mop alone
would do. Anyway, it was easy enough to set aside the mop and sweep
the floor in preparation.

Falling into the rhythm of sweeping, I found myself reflecting on how
this was actually a good thing, not a stressful one. I remarked that
although I had survived a summer on my own without getting into
trouble with the cleaning staff, and that I was glad that she was
helping me learn higher standards. Upon hearing this, she told me not
to be so (bleeping) condescending and that I’m allowed to be a (bleep)
sometimes. I told her that I’d rather not be one, whereupon she sighed
and told me to just never talk to her again.

The situation made me think about the power of filters. If people have
a positive filter, bad things aren’t so bad. If people have a negative
filter, it’s hard for anything to get through. Perhaps my mistake
(aside from forgetting that first bit! <laugh>) was acting upon
my reflection and thanking her when she wasn’t ready to be thanked. I
have to admit that it took me a little time to sort through all the
different ways to react, and I could feel my neck muscles tense. But
I’m learning how to see the good…

I think the best thing for me to do, then, is to listen beyond her
harsh choices for words for the feedback that will help me improve my
own standards of neatness. I don’t think she’ll notice improvements –
it becomes all too easy to focus on the negatives and all too hard to
see growth – but I can affirm myself.

Granted, I sometimes wish I could have something like the close
roommate relationships my mom had when she was in college. But this
isn’t a bad way to learn interpersonal skills (and come to accept the
fact that I can’t please everyone!).

I have to confess one teensy little thing, though. Thanks to her, I’m
learning the importance of modulating my voice to a lower pitch. When
she’s chatting with people in the living room, it’s all I can do to
put on the headphones. So there, things *can* get on my nerves…
<wry grin>

I’m looking forward to learning how to live completely on my own, but
living with others has valuable lessons as well.

Sharing this with you because it’s something I’m still learning. Who
knows, maybe the reminder that there is space between stimulus and
response may help you too… =)

Random Emacs symbol: mail-extr-disable-voodoo – Variable: *If it is a regexp, names matching it will never be modified.

Weekly report: Nov 6 to Nov 12

I’ve been too busy to blog this weekend (gasp!), but I’m happy to
report a productive week. I spent Monday writing an Emacs 22
pre-release review for Don Marti of LinuxWorld.com. I’ll send the
author contract on Monday. (Yay! Another $350 for writing!)

I attended Enterprise2.0Camp on Tuesday, and I shared some of the
things we talked about at CASCON2006. I’m getting a little tired of
saying that I don’t have the answers to the questions I raise, though,
so I should probably sit down and help figure things out. ;) It was
great catching up with Tom Purves,
Goran Matic, and the rest of the Camp folks.

I spent Wednesday concentrating on my KMD2004 paper, blogging most of
my raw thoughts as a way of getting around writer’s block. See,
blogging can be productive procrastination… ;) I’ve been slowly
reworking the blog entries into a more scholarly form on my hard disk.

Thursday was a bit of a blah day, though. I was feeling low-key
because of the different things I needed to work on. I was supposed to
meet Jed, but he was offered free concert
tickets, so we postponed dinner. I did end up making a nice set of
business cards, though. People like the new design which includes a
stylized portrait.

Friday was a very productive day. I woke up early and rewrote my
research proposal, adding all sorts of nifty diagrams. After that, I
hung out in the Emacs channel on IRC for a bit. I had fun catching up
with people there while waiting for Jed to call.

Jed and I had dinner at Simon Sushi on Spadina, then went to the Night
Lights event at King’s College Circle. We met Quinn there, and then we
headed to Second Cup for warm beverages. Chatted a bit. Ran into
Pavel Zaitsev. Went back to the Night Lights
thing, hung out for a bit, then headed over to meet Simon, Shane and
Lara, who had attended a lecture by Deepak Chopra. It was fun hanging
out.

I insisted on walking Quinn home, partly for company and partly for
security. Good thing Simon and I accompanied her, as there was a
homeless person sleeping right in front of her door. She had to go in
through the back entrance.

I spent the weekend deepening my connections to people and getting a
fair bit of exercise. I learned something on Saturday about how I
prefer to spend my time, but that’s worth a separate blog entry. Other highlights: dinner with James Iveniuk, Mike Bailey, Simon Rowland, Roger Yang, Eyal, and Mariette. We passed by the arcade, too, where I beat Simon at driving and shooting! I don’t know if I’ll ever let him live it down. ;) We played foosball there, then went to Graduate House for even more foosball and some table tennis. Fun. =)

On Sunday, I went to the Toronto bead fair and picked up whatever I
needed to make necklaces and earrings. I have a few diodes and chips
I’ve been meaning to make into stuff for a while now, and I wouldn’t
mind I also picked up a rather classy set of rose glass beads that
look almost like pearls, and I’ll probably make an elegant choker or a
bracelet.

Sunday evening was terrific, too. Gabriel Mansour pinged me about hanging out. Given that he lives in Markham (near IBM, in fact), it was a bit of a mission for him to commute downtown in order to hang out for a few hours – but it was well worth it, I think. He probably didn’t expect to be given seatwork, though. ;) I gave him a stack of index cards and some colored markers, and told him to brainstorm what he wants to do with his life. ;) I like knowing what my friends are interested in and what they want to do… Anyway, that was good. =) We chatted over hot chocolate / tea, but then my contact lenses really started bugging me.

Very good week. Wrote a lot, learned a lot, and managed to sneak in time for deep socialization. Looking forward to next week!

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