April 2006

Salmon and mashed potatoes with Steve and Mike

April 1, 2006 - Categories: cooking, cookordie, friends

Steve’s out on a weekend pass, so we celebrated with an impromptu
cooking party. I defrosted and panfried some salmon steak. I
microwaved and mashed potatoes with a bit of butter, sprinkling
rosemary on top. It wasn’t a perfect combination, but it wasn’t bad
for something I just threw together. =) CookOrDie to the rescue!

Mike brought some of the stuff from his Good Food Box, so we used up
half the cabbage in that soy sauce and onion cabbage thing. We also
used totally random vegetables in soup, which turned out quite well.

We had tons of fun cooking and catching up with each other. =)

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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.

Graduate House

April 1, 2006 - Categories: Uncategorized

I went to the common room to study, and I heard someone playing “Speak
Softly, Love” from The Godfather. It turned out to be Joe, whom I’ve
seen at coffee night before. He’s an oido: he plays things by ear, so
his rendition of it was in a different key and was slightly different
from how I remembered it.

I showed him the opening notes of “Speak Softly, Love” based on the
arrangement my sister learned when we were kids. I knew the opening
part because I annotated the notes with letters for her. We had a lot
of fun chatting about his piano teacher’s style. I thought the
emphasis on learning the feel of the music made much more sense than
the exercises my piano teacher made me do when I took lessons, and I
wish my piano teacher had been like his. Still, maybe I can work on my
ear, just as I’ve worked on my coordination and grace. <laugh>

We talked about computers, too. It turned out to be the first
computer-related conversation he’d had in a long time, and he enjoyed
being able to rant about the brokenness of Java and other geeky

I didn’t end up reading any more papers, though. <laugh>
Tomorrow, I’m really going to have to work on my questions for the
class and my summary paper. After my FIS requirements are done, I can
throw myself into the reading paper…

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Random Japanese sentence: ところが今度は、あっちにもう一匹茶色と黄色のしまの虎の子ようなねこがいます。 And now, over there, he saw a cat which had brown and yellow stripes like a baby tiger.


April 1, 2006 - Categories: -Uncategorized

I _have_ to stop eating these. They’re nice, they’re crunchy, they
remind me of granola bars… But I _really_ have to stop eating them!
They’re… ARGH!

Uh oh. I have a new hacker food.

Random Japanese sentence: 彼はネコにトムとジェリーとなづけた。 They named their cats Tom and Jerry.

From Kathy: Capybara night

April 1, 2006 - Categories: cooking

Ladies and gentlemen, I present my sister, the cook. <grin>

Happy April Fools! :)

I hope you weren’t victim to some completely masterminded prank
today. Shame you guys are just too far away *sigh* It would have been
great to celebrate (Although Tor, your frog still gets me every time,
so yeah… we have sporadic April fools each time I accidentally find
it…). April 1 should be a national holiday. Normal people should
get a chance to do crazy stuff at least once a year.

We had our first-ever Capybara night, called such because I was in
need of a few guinea pigs for recipe testing/ food critique. (We need
more willing victims *oops* critics, any volunteers). Guests were
somewhat wary before coming, realizing that it WAS April fools. Shame
it fell on a Saturday, the office people weren’t here, and I had a few
things planned too!

USELESS TRIVIA: Did you know that Argentinians love Capybara meat so
much that they’ve petitioned for the Vatican to consider it as fish
so they could have it during the lenten season. The Vatican approved
the petition. Although Capybaras are large rodents that can swim, I
can’t see how they might resemble Flounder or Halibut.

Anyway, it was a completely respectable dinner (with Zucchini Curry
soup and garlic pappadums to start). First time in 11 years that I
actually hosted a dinner where I got to sit and talk to the guests
while they were eating. *YAY* and where I’d actually read a cookbook
*double yay*

Looks like it might be a mainstay event like Carnivore Night (all
occasion meat fest -similar to a Braai/ Barbecue). Crucial because
it’s actually this night which determines whether I should serve a
particular dish at CN. (Tired of steak, plus I’d like to sit down and
see my guests before dinner is over). )

Anyway Chicken Beaujolais was a smashing success. Not a scrap of food
left… Thought I’d share the recipe with you. Baie lekker! Schmeckt
gut! It’s easy enough to do alone (or have your [mom, cook,
significant other] make it for you…).

Chicken Beaujolais :)

It’s well… chicken stuffed with chevre and grated veggies

Mix 12 oz (about 360g) Chevre or natural cream cheese with

  • 1 egg and
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/2 cup parmesan, hard monterey jack, or parmesan


  • 1cup white onion minced
  • 4 cloves of garlic (I put a bit more, but we’re Filipino)
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper in
  • 3 tbsp olive oil until onions translucent

Grate 1 1/3 cups zucchini, eggplants and/or mushrooms (or a combination of) and add to the onions

put in a strainer and drain for an hour. Squeeze off as much excess
liquid as you can and add to cheese mixture. Mix well. Put in a
piping bag and refrigerate for an hour.

Meanwhile, take a chicken and remove the backbone (the spineless
chicken!!!) loosen skin around breast area with your fingers (this is
where you’ll put the cheese). (Not in the recipe, but I rubbed a bit
of salt and pepper on the chicken and in the cavity.

After an hour pipe cheese under the skin until chicken is absolutely
stuffed. Put in a baking pan and bake at 375ºF (around 180ºC <- the closest setting I could get in my oven) for 70 minutes or until brown. Leave standing for 15 minutes and voila! Lovely dinner for 4 people. (Two if you're South African or Australian ;) )

Hope you like it! :)

P.S. Chicken Beaujolais nearly became Poulet Dêsastre… nearly set
the kitchen on fire. Mental note, keep plastic utensils FAR FAR away
from pan. ;)

Photos up soon.

Love to all… write soon. Must dash. Shoot starts in 3 hours (at the
god-unholy hour of 3:30 am on a SUNDAY!)


E-Mail from Kathy Chua

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Random Japanese sentence: その猫は飛びかかろうとして低く身構えた。 The cat crouched down ready to jump. Sono neko wa tobikakarou toshite hiku migamaeta.

Backlog – 2006.04.01: Breakfast: Bacon and eggs

April 2, 2006 - Categories: cooking, cookordie, friends

Steve deserved a break from all the hospital food, so I decided to
cook him breakfast. It always takes him a while to get up, so I walked
to Dominion and bought bacon and eggs. Trent let me into their suite
and showed me where to get all the things I needed. I discovered the
joys of having a proper crepe pan. =)

I fried bacon, prepared eggs, and toasted bread. Steve was touched
that I had prepared both sunny-side-up and scrambled eggs for him, and
kept praising my cooking. We had chai latte (well, just milk for me)
with Trent and Keri. Apparently, Trent’s quite the chai latte master.

It was fun chatting with Trent and Keri as well, although some aspects
of that were just a little bit odd, like that singing in the shower
thing… <laugh> It was good having breakfast with friends,
though – it gave me something for which I should wake up early. Might
do it again sometime. Heck, might even do it tomorrow…

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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 tsuite iru.

Brian’s birthday party

April 2, 2006 - Categories: friends

That was tons of fun, and very much worth it. =) I blocked off all
evening starting from 4:30 for Brian’s birthday party, and I really
enjoyed hanging out with him and his other friends.

We ate at a fancy steakhouse. I didn’t go for a full steak, opting
instead for a delicious chicken dish that made a light dinner. (Wise
choice, as I’d been eating all afternoon!) After dinner, we had
another party in Brian’s suite. We played Apples to Apples, a
hilarious party game of strange comparisons. I got to meet a few new
people, too. I took plenty of pictures which I promise I’ll edit and
upload by Wednesday, after my next major requirement is done.

Spending $20 on a single dinner is quite odd for me because I
sometimes think in terms of my starving-grad-student budget, but I
felt it was very much worth it. They’re a great bunch of people. If
it’s all right with my parents, I try to think of it as making the
most of the opportunities I have here to get to know people well. I
feel somewhat guilty about the fact that I’m not scrimping and trying
to stick to a strict budget. I hope it’s like taking the first circus.
I won’t be extravagant – eating out all the time or buying expensive
things – but I _do_ like the company of friends, and I’ll spend for
that and for experiences. =)

A lot of fun was had by all, and a lot of good conversation too.

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Random Japanese sentence: 私はこの猫の世話をしなければならない。 I have to look after this cat. Watashi wa kono neko no sewa o shinakereba naranai.

In the thick of things

April 2, 2006 - Categories: Uncategorized

Come to think of it, my social life really is very different from,
say, what I’d gotten used to in high school. I used to be part of one
or two clearly identifiable groups, but now I’m a part of all these
different groups and dyads. I’m a lot better at introducing myself
based on something completely random, too.

And yes, I’ve actually said that talking to people is fun. I love
establishing some kind of common ground with people, appreciating
their differences and the insight I gain from their perspective. I
look forward to cooking for friends, meeting people for lunch or
dinner, running into random strangers in the piano room, and chatting
with people over billiards or table tennis. I also love keeping in
touch with my friends and family back home. I miss them, too! =)

As long as I don’t forget to pay attention to my own life, it should
be fine. <laugh>

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Random Japanese sentence: この種の猫にはしっぽがない。 The tail is absent in this type of cat. Kono shu no neko wa ni wa shippo ga nai.

Pictures from Brian’s party

April 2, 2006 - Categories: -Uncategorized


April 2, 2006 - Categories: friends

Anthony and I went to a Korean restaurant. We had slices of beef
cooked at the table. It was a great dinner. We had a lot of fun
chatting about Japan and other places. I’m really glad that my parents
took us on trips and that I had all these opportunities to travel.
Those stories make it much easier for me to connect with people. =)

I can explain my research to other academics easily. All I have to do
is talk about collaborative bibliographies and they immediately
understand why social computing is just _so_ cool. Talking about my
research made me understand it a bit more, too.

At coffee time, I ended up talking about Toastmasters with Brian, the
pilot taking up biblical archaeology. Yeow Tong, Brian and I chatted
about teaching, presentations, and other things about academic life.

I’ve figured something out. If I’m going to eat out, I might as well
eat out somewhere nice, having something I can’t easily prepare
myself. It doesn’t have to be extravagant, but a little bit of
atmosphere and style would be good. Dinner today was much more of an
experience than grabbing pizza somewhere. =)

That said, I’m still looking forward to learning how to prepare
fancier meals…

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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.

Backlog: Lasagna

April 4, 2006 - Categories: -Uncategorized

Shared lasagna and vegetable stew with Mike Tsang last night. This
informal potluck dinner thing is working out quite well…

Random Japanese sentence: 「はい、でも私は、ただのみっともないねこでございます」と、こねこは言いました。「だから、あなたが、どのねこが一番きれいかと、お聞きになったとき、私は何も言えませんでした。」 Oh, I’m just a very homely little cat, said the kitten, so when you asked who was the prettiest, I didn’t say anything.

Backlog: Lasagna

April 4, 2006 - Categories: -Uncategorized

Shared lasagna and vegetable stew with Mike Tsang last night. This
informal potluck dinner thing is working out quite well…

Random Japanese sentence: 「はい、でも私は、ただのみっともないねこでございます」と、こねこは言いました。「だから、あなたが、どのねこが一番きれいかと、お聞きになったとき、私は何も言えませんでした。」 Oh, I’m just a very homely little cat, said the kitten, so when you asked who was the prettiest, I didn’t say anything.

Backlog: Web 2.0

April 4, 2006 - Categories: Uncategorized

Also, _totally_ cool Web 2.0 conference yesterday. Will blog more about it soon.

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Random Japanese sentence: 私が出掛けている間、猫の面倒をみてください。 Please look after my cats while I’m away.

Helping people find their voice

April 4, 2006 - Categories: teaching, toastmasters

One of my friends scoffs at Toastmasters, but moments like this make
it definitely worthwhile.

Today one of the members brought his girlfriend to listen to his first
speech. The girl was painfully shy and clearly terrified of public
speaking, even during the Table Topics and guest comments section.

She approached me afterwards, though. And oh, the stories I could see
inside her… CN Tower Stair Climb T-shirt, colored bands around her
wrists: these are the marks of someone who cares deeply about some
things. I listened to her fears and shared my own experience learning
how to speak – at first starting out because I couldn’t stop talking
about technology and I wanted to get into conferences for free, and
then realizing how much fun it was to help people learn. I told her
that the real trick to speaking in front of an audience – or at least
in front of Toastmasters – is to speak to them one person at a time,
treating them as your friends.

Most of all, I looked into her eyes and told her in many different
ways that she had stories worth telling.

When I felt her tentatively reaching out, I closed the loop and we
hugged. The hug was one of the best I’ve ever had, and her thank you
one of the sweetest.

This is what I live for: that deep connection, that chance to help
people find their voice.

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Random Japanese sentence: 猫がソファーでねむっている。 The cat is sleeping on the sofa.

Grill time!

April 4, 2006 - Categories: cooking, cookordie, friends

Toastmasters from 6 to 8 means I usually can’t meet anyone for dinner
on Tuesdays, which is why I was surprised to get a call from Trevor at
8:30 or so. He invited me to a barbecue with Brian. The Kensington
market I usually go to for meat had closed already and I didn’t feel
like chancing Chinatown. I also didn’t want to walk to Dominion and
being even _more_ late. Fortunately, I had some hamburger patties in
the freezer. Hooray for the well-stocked pantry!

Although the weather was a bit cold (it snowed a little bit today!
argh!), standing around in a coat and chatting with friends was worth
it. I defrosted the patties in a microwave, put one away, and grilled
the other patty under the guidance of Brian and Trevor. The potatoes I
wrapped in foil and started grilling were nowhere near done by the
time the burgers, porkchop and steak were done, so I took the potatoes
off the grill. Brian thoughtfully anticipated that and included me in
his calculations for rice. Awwww. =) (The man cooks rice with a pot!
_Proper_ rice, too, not instant rice! Coolness. =) )

Keynan dropped by with a platter of chocolate chip oatmeal cookies.
She found the cookie recipe on the Net. I wonder if I can share
Kathy’s Top Secret Cookie Recipe with her – but then it wouldn’t be
Top Secret, would it?

I washed a number of their dishes to thank them for hosting me and
teaching me how to grill, following the strange rules of my
dinner-party etiquette. Also, it’s kinda fun. Eventually Trevor took
the sponge away from me and put it on the other side of the room.

Keynan brought a DVD of Terminator. I finally got to watch the thing.

After the movie, Brian pulled a scary face to stop me from finishing
the rest of their dishes. I couldn’t help but laugh, which made him
laugh, and then no amount of coaxing could get him to do the scary
face again.

It’s nice to have friends.

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Random Japanese sentence: ネコが車の下から出てきた。 A cat got out from under the car.

On tutoring

April 5, 2006 - Categories: education, teaching

Awwww! Someone found OnTutoring useful!

From http://www.personal.psu.edu/users/a/o/aog103/Tutor%20Manual/feedback2_mxplan.html :

This set of instructions for the tutor to take into account when
tutoring is very helpful and lets the tutor know that it is not all
about lecturing the student in the session. The student should speak
more and the tutor should let the tutee set the agenda, this is how
the tutee will really learn the subject matter. Also the tutor must
keep a positive attitude so that the tutee stays positive about the
subject and does not just give up. I chose this list because it is
more descriptive than the first list, and it is more of an agenda
helper while the last list was overall ideas that should come natural
to the tutor.

I can use this list because it entails that the tutor will carry out
these tasks so that the tutee is comfortable working with me. I think
it is important for every new tutor to know that this is very
important. You want to make the student feel welcome in the tutoring
center, and you want to feel comfortable and personal in a session.

I would remove the parts that mention reading/writing because I am a
math tutor, but overall this is a great list that every tutor can use.

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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.

The Human Face of Research

April 5, 2006 - Categories: -Uncategorized

Dr. Brenda Laurel presents The Human Face of Research

Ontario College of Art & Design
100 McCaul Street (Yahoo! Maps, Google Maps)
Toronto, Ontario M5T1W

Thursday, April 6, 2006 (6:30 PM – 8:30 PM)

An investigation into new approaches to design research, with an
emphasis on human-centred design research, set within the context of
emerging needs, technologies and forms of the 21st century.

Brenda Laurel is an acclaimed designer, researcher and writer, with a
25-year career in human-computer interaction (HCI) and expertise in
interactive narrative and cultural aspects of technology. One of the
founders of Interval Research Corporation in Palo Alto, California,
Laurel conducted research into gender and technology, co-produced and
directed the Placeholder Virtual Reality project, and co-founded
Purple Moon a subsidiary acquired by Mattel in 1999. She serves
currently as Chair and faculty member of the graduate Media Design
program at the Art Center College of Design, Pasadena, California,
and concurrently works as Senior Director and Distinguished Engineer
at Sun Microsystems Labs in Menlo Park, California. Laurel has
published extensively on interactive fiction, computer games,
autonomous agents, virtual relation and political artistic issues in
interactive media. She is editor of The Art of Human-Computer
Interface Design [Addison-Wesley 1990] and author of Computers as
Theatre [Addison-Wesley 1991].

Both presentations take place at OCAD’s Auditorium (Room 190), Nora
E. Vaughan Wing, 100 McCaul Street, Toronto. All are welcome to
attend, and admission is free. For information, visit www.ocad.ca or
call 416-977-6000.

Argh, argh, argh! I’ve already committed to going to the Toronto
Coranto dance practice…

E-Mail from David Crow

Random Japanese sentence: 夫が有名な科学者である婦人が向こうからやってくる。 He kept a white cat, who often played with a ball.


April 5, 2006 - Categories: linux

It’s exceedingly slow, but it works. Hooray, hooray! Kudos to
http://individual.utoronto.ca/bonert/wireless.html for good

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Random Japanese sentence: 私は猫を家の外に出した。 I let the cat out of the house. Watashi wa neko o ie no soto ni dashita.

Tagging people

April 5, 2006 - Categories: research, web2.0

Boundary studies are nice for figuring out where something doesn’t
work and why it doesn’t work. I’ve been thinking about where tagging
and folksonomies break down for my FIS paper. Some of the cases I’ve
been looking at involve web services where you tag people.

Tagalag is a no-frills system for tagging
people. It doesn’t really offer anything in the way of immediate
personal incentive. In fact, the only thing you can do with it aside
from tagging people (e-mail address required) is put your XML feeds
together in an OPML list for easy aggregation. Very bare, and very few

43people allows users to track whom
they’ve met and whom they want to meet. Popular tags include
occupation, gender, nationality, and location. Tags are also used to
describe characteristics such as “funny”, “glasses”, and “brilliant”.
This shows tagging as a clear faceted classification. “Find people
also tagged with…” makes it easier for people to search for
interesting combinations, and you can narrow the search to the current
city. Usual problems with keywords: “smart” vs “intelligent”, etc.
Particular problem: funny vs hilarious, relativity.

Consumating is the weirdest. It’s a
dating site with a much broader audience than the other two sites, and
you can tell that from the tags. The most popular tags follow the tag
profile of 43people, but the recent tags look like one-off tags used
for communication. That said, Consumating makes good use of tags in
conjunction with polls, prompting people to keep refining their
profile every week.

So: tagging other people is still a bit weird, but shows a bit of the
folksonomic piles-of-leaves flattened faceted classification. Tagging
one’s self, on the other hand, is more of self-expression, ad guiding
it with questions is pretty effective.

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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.

Consumating: tags as communication

April 5, 2006 - Categories: Uncategorized

Ah, I see! People could be using tags for messaging in order to get
around Consumating’s message limits. Or maybe it’s spam. Argh.

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Backlog: Grilled again

April 6, 2006 - Categories: cooking, cookordie, friends

I was planning to meet Calum for dinner, but I figured it would be a
good day to try out the grill again, so I headed to the supermarket to
stock up on meat. I ran into James, Mike and Mike on my way out, so I
invited them to a barbecue at 7. I met Keynyn on the way back from the
supermarket, so I invited her too.

It turned out to be a terrific potluck. I prepared vegetable kebabs
and Caesar salad (store-bought dressing, but I made the bacon bits and
croutons myself!). Keynyn brought mashed potatoes and cookies. James
brought lots and lots of chicken legs. Mike and Calum helped with
cooking and washing up. (Don’t worry, they’ll host some other time…)

The chicken legs were slightly dodgy as parts weren’t completely
cooked, so I think we’ll do beef next time. At least, until we get the
hang of this. Note to self: figure out how to properly grill
vegetables so that they’re nice and juicy. Also, buy a basting brush.
Hmm, next Wednesday or Thursday seems like a good time to have another
potluck party. (Psst! Kathy! I need tips!)

_And_ we even got to study afterwards! I much prefer studying with
other people around. Today proved an interesting point. I’m a fraud of
a computer person, really. I’m definitely not as geeky as Calum and
Mike are. I find myself less into writing code than I’m into
explaining things to other people, and sometimes I really do have to
explain things to either people, stuffed toys, or my blog in order to
get things straight in my head. Aiyah. How embarrassing.

(I say that now, sure, but when I’m in coding mode I can’t pry my
fingers off the keyboard…)

Anyway, it was a very good day.

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Random Japanese sentence: 彼女はネコをこわがる。 She is afraid of cats. Kanojo wa neko o kowagaru.

“Talk nerdy to me”

April 6, 2006 - Categories: -Uncategorized

Keynyn’s shirt is _so_ right. Well, not all the time, and not all
kinds of nerdy. Sheer brilliance and obscure but useful knowledge
work, though. <laugh>

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. Watashitachi wa sono neko o Madonna to yonde iru.

Backlog: Beef medallion, baked potato

April 6, 2006 - Categories: cooking, cookordie

Pan-frying beef medallion isn’t quite the same as grilling it, but oh
well – one does what one can. I’m a little bit skeptical about the
meat, though, as I’m not sure if it’s properly medium. If you don’t
hear from me tomorrow, you can send someone to knock on my room and
see if I’m suffering from food poisoning…

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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.

You know you’re a grad student when…

April 7, 2006 - Categories: school

… you can find scholarly explanations for your weird quirks.

For example, while the prevailing culture here is to go Dutch and many
women might even find it insulting if men offered to treat them, I
prefer owing and overpaying in a constant back-and-forth, exchanging
things that are harder to quantify.

I remembered reading a book that mentioned a culture where exact
repayment of debt was seen as a precursor to the end of a
relationship, whereas the cycle of debt/overpayment continued it.
After a couple of keyword searches, I turned up a related paper.

Schwartz, Barry. 1967. “The Social Psychology of the Gift.” The
American Journal of Sociology.
On p.8:

Distributive justice is particularly interesting in view of the rule which prohibits an equal-return “payment” in gift exchange. This suggests that every gift-exchanging dyad (or larger group) is characterized by a certain “balance of debt” which must never be brought into equilibrium, for a perfect level of distributive justice is typical of the economic rather than the social exchange relationship. It has, in fact, already been suggested that the greater the correspondence in value between gift received and gift returned, the less the sentimental component in the relationship is likely to be.

The continuing balance of debt—now in favor of one member, now in favor of the other—insures that the relationship between the two continue, for gratitude will always constitute a part of the bond linking them. Gouldner, in this connection, considered gift exchange as a “starting mechanism” for social relationships. Simmel likened the phenomenon to “inertia” in his essay on “Faithfulness and Gratitude”.

Random Japanese sentence: うちの犬と猫は仲良くやっている。これは珍しいことだ。 My cat and dog get along. It is unusual.

Backlog: IBM

April 7, 2006 - Categories: geek, ibm

I skipped the HFIG panel (bad Sacha! ;) ) to go to IBM. I had so much
fun coding a simple data processor, though, that I didn’t feel guilty
at all. Another blogger had posted this _totally_ awesome
visualization of bloggers and their locations, and the blog entry
helped me learn how to determine a person’s work location given the
e-mail address. Neato. Also, I did some more evangelism work. Whee! =)

I had so much fun hacking that I nearly forgot about the 5:35 bus.
Good thing Stephen IMed me. =) I ran to the bus stop and caught it,
but that was still pretty scary!

I ended up chatting with Quinn on the way home. I should invite her to
a dinner party sometime…

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Random Japanese sentence: 「にゃお、にゃお、今度はおなかが減った!」と、百匹のねこ千匹のねこ、百万匹一億匹のねこがいいました。 “Mew, mew! Now we are hungry!” cried the Hundreds of cats, Thousands of cats, Millions and billions and trillions of cats.

Backlog: Dinner with Calum, Vanessa and Dave

April 8, 2006 - Categories: friends

Calum introduced me to Vanessa and Dave, who will be moving to Indiana
this August. I regret that they’re leaving soon. They’re absolutely
wonderful people whom I would’ve loved to get to know more. =) Vanessa
reminded me of Tinkerbell, and Dave’s a fellow Linux geek…
<grin> They’re awesome.

The food was fantastic, too. I need to figure out how to cook salmon
fillet like that – just the right mix of salt and flavor… And oh,
the strawberry cream cake! The strawberries! The cream! The cake!

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Random Japanese sentence: 私は犬を1匹と猫を2匹飼っています。 I have a dog and two cats.

No one gets tags

April 10, 2006 - Categories: Uncategorized

<sigh> I got too attached to the title “Folksonomies of Folks”
for my Metadata Schemas and Applications paper (due tomorrow – that
is, in 11 hours!). As a result, I find myself now writing a paper on
tagging and folksonomies in online dating sites.

They suck. They all suck. I’m serious. There are a few good ideas, but
generally they suck.

VerbDate throws the term “tag” around,
but it, like, _so_ doesn’t get it. Heck, there aren’t enough tag-savvy
users, so one of the ‘popular’ tags is “looking for a guy who can make
me laugh and is not still living with his parents”. There’s no way to
get a cloud of just the most popular tags – you have to know what
you’re looking for. There’s no easy way to add tags to yourself. And
here’s the most brain-dead thing of all: you can’t tag other people’s
profiles! No tagging, no folksonomies, nothing. Zilch.

RogueConnect‘s stuck with its fashion focus. Not bad, but too visually-oriented for any real depth. Unless you’re the kind of person who likes only Armani-wearing people, that is. Or at least people who say they wear Armani. The only interesting thing here is that the site creator’s noticed people are more comfy tagging blog posts than they are tagging people, so that’s something cool there. But tags aren’t front-and-center on people’s profiles, and they’re anonymous. So no folksonomy for you, either.

ConsuMating _almost_ got it right with
weekly polls and questions to encourage people to keep developing
their profiles. Then the service shoots itself in the foot with its
business model limiting you to 10 free messages per month, which naturally
drives all these users to make tags their free communication tool,
polluting the tagspace for individual users and making it imposssible
to get a quick idea of someone’s interests. Oh, you can’t tag someone
with a tag they already have, so you can’t see who else thought
someone was cool, so you can’t follow the links to find out whom else
_they_ thought was cool, so you can just forget about social
filtering. Heck, you can’t even pull up a list of the people _you_
tagged cool. Not that there are ever any cool people on these social
networking websites.

It’s all messed up. And to think CNet actually bought consumating,
sucky domain aside…


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Random Japanese sentence: 犬か猫か鶏を飼うようにしなさい。 Try getting a dog, a cat or a chicken.

Should’ve brought a penguin

April 10, 2006 - Categories: Uncategorized

A penguin with a tape recorder or speech recog. Right. That way, I
could rant about all this brokenness, and that would help me organize
my paper.

Hooray for mindmaps, at least. And hooray for iPods, or I’d go mad.

Must find Web 2.0 person or other geek whom I can call up late at
night to talk through these things.


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Argh, now Consumating’s down

April 10, 2006 - Categories: research

So I’m just going to have to do this from memory, and without
screenshots. Mumble.

Hooray for mindmaps and checklists

April 10, 2006 - Categories: writing

I scribbled down a whole bunch of things earlier. That makes it
ridiculously easy to just chew through the bunch, writing a paragraph
or so on each point. I can edit it down to the right length and add
proper transitions later.

I don’t think linearly. I can’t sit down and write something from
start to finish. I jump around, I get distracted, I need to explain
things to people (or penguins)…

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Hacking my productivity

April 11, 2006 - Categories: productivity

Still plugging away. Wow, I’ve been working on this for quite a while,
and I don’t feel too fatigued yet. Here’s what I tried:

  • Munch on things regularly to keep a good sugar level. I brought
    plenty of apples and bananas, and I’ve been raiding the bread and
  • Drink plenty of water. This also forces me to get a bit of
    exercise. I find I get very thirsty when I think… <laugh>
  • Set my computer to force a 5- to 10-minute break every hour.
    Microbreaks (15 seconds every ten minutes) are also useful. I don’t
    find myself losing track of ideas, and I can stay on track better
    when I know regular breaks are coming up.

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Random Japanese sentence: 雨が土砂降りに振りはじめた。 It began to rain cats and dogs.

Done with FIS paper

April 11, 2006 - Categories: Uncategorized

I’m right smack against the upper page limit, too. Just _barely_
managed to cram it into 12 pages. I know I can trim it down further,
but knowing me, I might get carried away and try to stuff another rant
or two in there. =) I’ll re-edit it before posting it on the Web, but
it’s good to get that out of my system…

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Random Japanese sentence: どのねこも、どのねこもひとくちずつ草を食べました。すると野原中の草はすっかりなくなってしまいました。 Each cat ate a mouthful of grass and not a blade was left!

Paper penguin

April 11, 2006 - Categories: family, love

My mom told me a totally warm-and-fuzzy story about paper penguins.
Awwww! She loves me very, very, very much. =D

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Stirfry with Mike Tsang

April 12, 2006 - Categories: cooking, cookordie, friends

Mike wanted to know how to cook the sugar peas we received in last
week’s Good Food Box, so I suggested a stirfry. He bought chicken
breasts from Dominion, and we threw it all together in my kitchen.
Onions, garlic, carrots, mushroom, sugar peas, chicken, broccoli,
sesame ginger teriyaki sauce… It turned out to be a colorful and
flavorful dinner, and it tasted fantastic! I prepared ginger jasmine
rice to go with it, and the rice was wonderfully soft and delicately

Very good food. =) Happy girl.

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Random Japanese sentence: その子は猫の尻尾を捕まえた。 The boy caught the cat by the tail.

Backlog: TLUG

April 12, 2006 - Categories: Uncategorized

I caught the tail end of the Toronto Linux Users Group get-together at
the GSI pub last Tuesday, and I’m really glad I went. I chatted with
Colin McGregor about writing for journals, and received a lot of
encouragement from him, Drew, and Maureen. I also chatted with a bunch
of the other regulars. =)

I like going to those meetings, and I feel very much welcome there.
Now that I’ve made friends, I don’t have to worry about drooling
fanboys or whatever because my friends will take care of things. I
love it when I can sit down and drop into a conversation, when people
smile when they see me and draw me in, when they joke… =) It’s
almost like being home, almost like being in PLUG.

And hey, Drew’s totally cool now. =) Thanks to Bill for asking him to
be nice to me, and thanks to Maureen for being an absolutely wonderful

I like this group. I’ll go again next month.

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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.


April 13, 2006 - Categories: reflection

I haven’t been blogging lately. Things have been a bit confusing, but
I’m glad that I’m starting to sort things out. I’m looking forward to
the weekend. I plan to spend at least a day blissing out near some
lakeside park armed with a journal and my Moleskine, reflecting on
some knotty things. Then it’s back to cramming my reading paper…

One of those knotty things hasn’t really been mentioned in my blog,
aside from oblique references to forks (metaphorical) and
onions (literal). A friend reminded me that a lot of people care about what’s going on in my life, though, so even though I try not to bore you with all the details of my almost-always-sunny life, here’s one of the clouds.

For practical reasons, Dominique and I have decided to no longer be in
an exclusive relationship. I still hold the greatest respect for him
and I hope it’ll work out in the future, but the timing sucks, and
there’s nothing we can do about it.

I’ve learned that life is so much better when I’m in a good
relationship, or at least among good friends. I’m in no rush to get
into a crappy relationship, though. Having tasted what a wonderful,
wonderful thing love is, I won’t lower my standards.

So what happens now?

Well, life goes on. My reading paper is due next week. My research
proceeds. My friends and family are there for me. Life goes on, and
spring brings the sun back.

In terms of people? I don’t know. I really don’t know. I don’t have a
good idea of my future yet, so courtship is out of the question. I’m
not into dating for the sake of dating, and I’m accustomed to more
affection and love than most people know.

Perhaps this is a good opportunity, then, to shower that affection and
love on my friends. I am free, and I choose to remain free so that I
can be where I am needed and wanted, and where _I_ need and want to be.

When I miss the feeling of being very, very special to someone, I can
hug my stuffed toys and remember that I am at least a little bit
special to at least a few people.

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April 13, 2006 - Categories: -Uncategorized

And to the friend who pointed out that lots of people are probably
pinging me to make sure I’m alright: spot on. And that just makes me
feel _so_ wonderful.

Thanks, everyone. <hugz> You make my day sunny.

Random Japanese sentence: ジェーンは猫よりも犬が好きです。 Jane prefers dogs to cats.


April 13, 2006 - Categories: reflection

A limitless future limits the present. What’s my future? Is this home,
is this where I’m supposed to belong? What of my duty, what of the
potential to serve the Philippines, what of all the love and
friendship I’ve left behind there?

I am adrift, no stars to guide me. I can follow the current, but I
must then follow alone… I should keep faith that when I am closer to
shore, I will find what I need. In the meantime, let me do whatever I
can. It is but one of the sacrifices I must make, and it is merely the
sacrifice of something I have so recently discovered. May I have the
strength to live without it!

“Where I am going, you cannot come.”

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Random Japanese sentence: あれはネコですか。 Is that a cat?

Sacha-sense tingling

April 13, 2006 - Categories: friends, love

This is what it’s like to be loved. =)

I was having one of my I-hate-being-an-international-student moments
when Dominique turned up online, telling me his Sacha-sense was
tingling. I was incoherent during the first half of our Skype
conversation, but he just kept listening to me and joking with me
until I felt better.

I don’t think I’ll wake up in time to go to IBM tomorrow, so I’ll make
it up on Monday instead. I guess I’ll work on the reading paper,

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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.

Woooooohooooooo! Congrats, Ateneo!

April 13, 2006 - Categories: school

You go, kids! That’s totally, totally, totally awesome. Kudos to
Allan, Punzki and Topher, and to their coaches (Hi Doc Mana! Hi Doc V!
And I know Eric had a hand in that somewhere…), and to everyone else.

Goodness, I _miss_ Ateneo and the competitions…

The Ateneo Team “Linden BoyZ” bagged 6th place in the 2006 World Finals of
the ACM International Collegiate Programming Contest (ICPC) Java Challenge
held April 11 in San Antonio, Texas, USA.

The Ateneo contingent to the ACM ICPC consists of students Allan Espinosa,
Mark Punzalan, Christopher Rigor, and faculty members Dr. Pablo Manalastas
and Dr. John Paul Vergara as coaches, and Dr. Rafael Saldana as Regional
Contest Director for Asia-Manila.

The first place in the ICPC Java Challenge went to KTH – Royal Institute of
Technology (Sweden). The Ateneo team Linden BoyZ beat the other top
universities participating in the Java Challenge portion of the 2006 ACM
ICPC World Finals including Massachussets Institute of Technology (MIT),
California Institute of Technology (CIT), and Princeton University.

E-Mail from Dominique Cimafranca

Random Japanese sentence: いなくなった猫はまだ見つかってない。 The missing cat has not been found yet.


April 13, 2006 - Categories: rails, ruby

I play around with Ruby on Rails, and what do I do?

Build one webapp to keep track of what’s in my fridge, and another
webapp to keep track of what’s in my closet.

I’m going to do it in _pink_, too… ;)

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Random Japanese sentence: 猫は鳥めがけて飛び跳ねた。 The cat sprang at the bird.

Thank you

April 13, 2006 - Categories: friends

My deepest thanks go to all those who have written with such warm
words of encouragement and support. From people I have never met to
family and friends I miss, from all over the world – thank you, thank
you so very, very much. I don’t know what I could’ve done to deserve
such love, but I hope to spend the rest of my life repaying the world.
And to all who would have immediately written an encouraging note or
given me a hug had they read my blog, thank you as well.

In darkness, distant lights shine clearly.

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Random Japanese sentence: じゃあ、ネコの世話は誰がするの。 Who will take care of your cat then?

Imagining my future

April 14, 2006 - Categories: purpose, reflection

Richi: Thank you for that long, well-thought reflection on being in
another country. =) Thanks to your insights, I don’t feel so much in
limbo any more.

Happiness is knowing that I am in the right place, at the right time,
doing the right thing.

When the fear of goodbyes clouds my vision of the future, friends,
remind me that I don’t have to know where I will be decades from now.
All I have to know is that at each step, I am following my heart, my
mind, and my conscience. Remind me not to feel guilty about my home
nor to be afraid of becoming part of the brain drain. If I live for
something greater than myself, then I belong to the world and not just
to my country.

If my path leads back to the Philippines, I will strive to do my best
there. If my path keeps me here in Canada for a while, then I will be
fully here, not anxiously awaiting my return. Life will take me where
I need to be.

I am here to learn as much as I can and to do whatever I can. If I am
to live here, even just for a while, I want to live for something
greater than myself. I want to be part of my community, wherever that
may be. I want to make a difference.

And even in this country, there are things I can do

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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.

Backlog: Friends

April 14, 2006 - Categories: friends

I had merienda with Steve and Mike Tsang (well, they had dinner), and
then I attended a party Mike+Alice McGuffin’s place. A veritable
feast of green stuff! =)

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Random Japanese sentence: いなくなった猫はまだ見つかってない。 The missing cat has not been found yet.

Reading paper

April 14, 2006 - Categories: -Uncategorized

Okay, hmm, maybe I won’t be able to take my Center Island break…
I’ll focus on my reading paper instead, and treat myself to the
Central Island break on May 6.

Random Japanese sentence: たとえどしゃぶりになろうとも行かなければならない。 I have to go even if it rains cats and dogs.

Thank you, Lazy Web! – Feedrinse

April 15, 2006 - Categories: -Uncategorized

Aha! Someone’s finally gotten around to making an RSS feed filter.
It’s about time! http://www.feedrinse.com/

Now, someone just needs to think about how to make this work for

Random Japanese sentence: うちの猫は大変海苔が好きである。 Our cat is very fond of sea weeds.

Uh oh…

April 15, 2006 - Categories: -Uncategorized

My power supply isn’t happy. The cord near the end is now a bit
sensitive to changes in angles, so there might be a slight break near
there. And it’s the part near the computer, not the easily-replaced
mains cord! Aiyah…

Must figure out where to find Fujitsu AC adapters here… Output: 16V 2.5A.

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.

More Rails twiddling

April 15, 2006 - Categories: rails

My “What’s in My Fridge” app is now a little bit smarter. It can keep track of what’s still in my fridge, what I’ve used, and what I’ve thrown away. I wonder if this will let me come up with statistics on how quickly I go through certain ingredients…

Random Japanese sentence: ねこはひなたで遊ぶのが好きだ。 Cats like playing in the sun.

Deskbar applet – GNOME coolness!

April 15, 2006 - Categories: linux

If you’re on the GNOME windowing environment, check out nafai77’s blog entry about Deskbar. Totally cool. It’s almost like Quicksilver for non-Macs.

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Random Japanese sentence: 猫はテーブルの上で眠った。 The cat slept on the table.

Meep! Comments lost!

April 15, 2006 - Categories: -Uncategorized

I’m so, so, so sorry. I’ve just realized that my comments form was
silently dropping comments. To anyone who’s used it to post a comment
for… well… a good while – ever since the antispam answer changed
to “one” – please repost, if it’s still relevant…

… and if it was about my recent crisis, don’t worry, I know you care… =)

Random Japanese sentence: 猫は背中を丸める。 A cat arches its back.


April 15, 2006 - Categories: purpose

I love studying in the common room. I like the floor-to-ceiling
windows facing the courtyard. I like the sun-drenched white walls and
the gently rippling water. I love the opportunity to encounter all
these interesting people in Graduate House.

Alejandro is one of the maintenance staff here. I first encountered
him and his co-worker when I was practicing billiards. They joked
about not wanting to play against me because I looked so serious, and
thereafter I smiled at them whenever I ran into them.

Today we chatted a bit more. He asked me what I was taking and where I
was from. Upon learning that I’m from the Philippines, he said a few
words in Tagalog. (Aww!) He also asked if I was planning to return or
stay in Canada, and I told him that I wasn’t sure yet. A PhD is
tempting, and so is work, but I miss my country.

He asked me what I was doing, and I told him about the reading paper
that I’m working on. “You should be outside,” he said. “It’s a
beautiful day. You can study until fwop,” and he mimed a clock’s
hands, “and then you can go dancing.” He proceeded to demo salsa,
merengue, and other Latin dances. And he knew how to dance really

A Spanish teacher in his native Chile, he found upon arriving in
Canada that few of his university credits would be honored and that
he’d have to start all over again. He said, “Forget it,” and started a
pizzeria. He worked hard for six years, but it folded and he was left
with a huge debt. Now he works at Graduate House to pay the bills.

I told him how even PhDs from developing coutries are often forced to
give up what they had trained to do, and how many people from the
Philippines go to other countries to find better opportunities but
don’t get further than being a domestic helper or a construction
worker, much less open a pizzeria. I said, “Well, at least you have
salsa…” He laughed.

Canada has its own little sorrows.

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.

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RoR: “What’s in My Fridge” now has a shopping list

April 15, 2006 - Categories: rails, ruby

I know, I know, it’s silly, but it’s also so much fun programming little toys like this!

I’m also sketching out a life tracker that does something like Erik Benson’s Morale-o-Meter.

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Backlog: I’m feeling potlucky!

April 17, 2006 - Categories: cooking, friends

Sunday was a very culinary day. ;) After doing my chores and my
laundry, I decided that a potluck lunch was in order, and I called up
Andrew and Mike. They were glad to come even though they had just half
an hour’s notice. (Heh.) Mike didn’t answer his phone the first few
times I called, so I couldn’t borrow his teriyaki stirfry sauce.
Instead, I prepared sesame and ginger chicken stirfry from scratch. I
also contributed jasmine rice (no ginger this time). Andrew brought
homemade wonton and garlic string beans, and Mike brought a sack of
fruits. Much fun was had by all, especially by Andrew, who turned out
to be a closet food stylist.

Barbecue for dinner was absolutely fantastic, too. Bill joined us,
bringing these totally awesome homemade(!!) jalapeno sausages and
other wonderful things. Andrew brought vegetable skewers, Mike brought
potatoes and turkey sausages, and I brought fruits (my canteloupe,
oranges and apples, plus Mike’s mango).

This segued naturally into coffee time and a nice long chat with Bill,
Chloe, and Stefan. Chloe’s even perkier than I am. She’s _so_ cool.
And so British, too… =)

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Random Japanese sentence: 彼はネコにトムとジェリーとなづけた。 They named their cats Tom and Jerry.


April 17, 2006 - Categories: cooking, friends

The dips Bill brought deserve their own entry. He brought taramosalata, a Greek dip of… umm… carp egg caviar. =) But it was really nice, particularly with the chips. He also brought this totally awesome cheese dip with hints of curry, and I have to steal that recipe from him.

And he makes his own sausages. Isn’t that just mind-boggling?

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Random Japanese sentence: あなたが不在の間、誰があなたの猫の世話をするのか。 Who will look after your cat while you are away?

Rails pub night

April 17, 2006 - Categories: purpose

I had tons of fun at the Toronto Rails pub night. Met some really cool people. =) Pictures to follow.
Finally got to listen to Joey de Villa (The Accordion Guy) play, and his stories about the perks of accordion-playing were absolutely hilarious. Also greatly enjoyed chatting with the other Rails geeks there… =) Totally, totally cool.

I love going to events like these because I not only get to meet
interesting people, but I also understand more about the social and
technological space we work in.

From the experiences of others, I also learn a little bit more about
what _I_ want to do. I’m starting to realize that my ideal life isn’t
one of teaching within the four walls of the classroom or the
four/five months of a term. I want to be out there, teaching really
diverse groups of people: schoolkids, seniors, entrepreneurs,
volunteers. I want to help people discover how to make the most of
technology. It isn’t just about teaching, either. In the process of
helping people discover something, I learn more about their needs and
opportunities for technologies to adapt to people (instead of just the
other way around!). That’s what I love about the stuff I’m doing at
IBM. It’s not just data crunching and visualization. I’m there because
I’m excited about trying new things _and_ bridging the gap for other
people. That requires speaking and writing skills, yes, but that also
requires deep listening skills, and I hope to learn all of those
really well. =)

If I’m going to go down this path, then – training, teaching,
mentoring, coaching, what-have-you – I’ll need more experience in
order to have more things in common with the people I want to teach.
For example, I care deeply about encouraging people in developing
countries to make their own opportunities, start their own business,
build interesting and useful things. If I’m going to help people
create opportunities, then I should immerse myself in the culture and
experience here so that I can share those things with them.

That sounds like a plan…

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Random Japanese sentence: すると、ねこが一匹もいなくなっていました。 They could not see a single cat! Suru to, neko ga ippiki mo inaku natte imashita.

How to wear a malong

April 17, 2006 - Categories: filipino

Someone came upon my webpages while looking for ways to wear a malong,
one of the traditional Filipino costumes. It’s really simple – just a
tube of cloth – but incredibly versatile. Although a number of
creative ways to use a malong are featured in a traditional dance
called (unsurprisingly) the malong-malong, I haven’t been able to find
a good Web reference that gives step-by-step instructions on how to
wear a malong. I may just build a malong site this summer, after
sewing that pretty blue/green batik cloth into a spring/summer malong.

Here are a number of ways to wear a malong as a full-length skirt. The
easiest way to wear a malong around your waist would be to flatten the
tube and wrap it around your waist, tucking it in at the end. My
malong is ankle-length when worn like that, which probably goes to
show that I’m exactly the typical Filipino’s height.

Alternatively, you can step into the tube and fold the malong inwards
until it’s the height you want. Then:

  • draw it to one side and wrap that one around tightly, tucking in
    the other end with or without pleating. To pleat, you wrap part of
    it tightly and then fold the excess back and forth with a little
    bit of overlap (like making a paper fan, except with less
    overlap), then tucking this bulky part into the tight inner part.


  • stand in the middle and use your elbows to keep the front side of the malong
    close to your waist while you tie the excess ends into a knot (or a
    double knot), or


  • draw it forward and backward, then use your elbows to keep the
    inside part of the malong close to your body as you fold the excess
    ends to one side and tie a knot

Or you can make something up. =)

I tend to like pleating over a tight wrap because pleating gives you
some freedom of movement. If I knot the malong, I prefer to knot it at
the side so that it has more of a shape, although middle-knotted
malongs go nicely with certain tops.

I should post pictures sometime – maybe three weeks from now, when things quiet down a bit (end of term cramming)…

I’ve also figured out how to wear it as a dress that reminds people of
India or togas. It’s interestingly cultural and gets a lot of comments
(although I’m not sure how many of those are being politically
sensitive) although it’s probably not kosher (safety pins?!). For that
one, you step into the tube and pin it under one arm, then take the
excess and drape it over the opposite shoulder, pinning it to the
front side and adding a large brooch.

I also experimented with using garters to hold up a tube dress (wrap
the tube around you, fold it in front, fold a little bit back, tuck
the excess under that fold, fold the top part in a bit to secure, then
clip on the garters like dress straps). White garters with metal
fasteners looked incongruous. Black or beaded garters with black
fasteners might do the trick.

And yes, I know, I should just post pictures so that you know what I’m
talking about, but I’m technically not supposed to be up this late
documenting part of my cultural heritage… =)

Besides, isn’t it just _so_ cool that malongs are one of the
acceptable skirt-like garments that guys can wear? ;)

More malong tips would be very much appreciated. If my blue/green
malong goes well, I’ll probably shift more of my wardrobe to malongs.
(I can’t sew a balintawak or a Maria Clara!) People can chalk it up to
my being charmingly quirky/nationalistic/exotic/weird…

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Going dark

April 18, 2006 - Categories: -Uncategorized

If I don’t post a lot between now and May 1, it’s probably because I’m
either (a) cramming my reading paper, or (b) in Montreal and away from
my network connection. Please don’t worry about me.

If you need to get in touch with me while I’m away, e-mail me to get
my cellphone number (ends in 22). I get charged for minutes (even
incoming!) at 5c for evening/weekend minutes and 40c for other
minutes, so either send me text messages or make sure it’s important.
=) I’ll _try_ to check my e-mail once in a while, but I’m not going to
spend hours on the Net instead of exploring Montreal.

Over and out.

Coder glut in Canada

April 18, 2006 - Categories: canada

Then again, things like Life After the Bubble Burst are worth thinking about.

Must remember: it’s all about being the right person, in the right place, at the right time, doing the right things…


April 18, 2006 - Categories: Uncategorized

One of the things I love about meeting other people is that they are
just mind-bogglingly inspiring. And it’s not that I’m a few years
younger than they are, even, because they were doing much cooler
things at even younger ages.

What can I bring to the table? Nothing, really – no mad technical
skills, no business savvy, no crazy coding war stories. I have only
that passion, that great desire to learn and to be of some use to the

Not a bad place to start…

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Fruit and crab salad

April 18, 2006 - Categories: cooking, cookordie

I remembered having a rather nice Asian salad that included mandarin
oranges, so I decided to see what mixing fruits into a salad would be
like. I peeled and chopped half an orange and one kiwi into bite-sized
bits, then sprinkled them onto a bed of romaine lettuce. I cubed two
crab sticks to add protein and a touch of saltiness. After tasting it,
I decided it lacked a little something, so I made a quick vinaigrette
by shaking balsamic vinegar, pepper, and olive oil in a small jar.

That wasn’t a bad lunch, although I suspect it might be better if I
used mandarin oranges instead of navel oranges, and if I could think
of a more Asian dressing…

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April 18, 2006 - Categories: -Uncategorized

All I can say is… geek! ;)

And to think Marcelle keeps trying to deny his geekiness. Attending a _blogging_ summit? Heh. ;)

Wish I could’ve been there. Mumble, mumble…

And I think I’m going to have to have a good long talk with Ranulf sometime soon.

Random Japanese sentence: 猫は暗いところでも目が見える。 Cats can see in the dark.


April 18, 2006 - Categories: research

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh… Much work done today, so I don’t feel guilty about blogging and catching up on my e-mail before I go to bed.

Reading paper progress:
37 papers read today.
100 papers read total.
158 papers to go.
Not all of the papers are related, but still… good work!

See, this is what I should’ve been doing throughout the term instead of during one mad sprint near the end, but it really also just gelled together. =) Enterprise social bookmarking. That’s what I’m into. Mark should be happy. The vast majority of the papers I’ve read come from peer-reviewed journals, and they’re all over the place – collaborative filtering, cooperation, community, social navigation…


I’m _so_ glad I’m okay with reading on a computer, and that I’m not stuck on some low-refresh CRT. A 10″ display makes for _really_ _bad_ _scrolling_, but it’s something. In an ideal world, I suppose I’d have a huge monitor just for things like this – but hey…

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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.


April 19, 2006 - Categories: -Uncategorized

Ack. I don’t think I’ll stick around for pub night. I’m _starving_, and I have really low energy right now – feeling rather sick…

I don’t even think I’ll get much studying done tonight. I’ll sleep early and wake up tomorrow.

I wouldn’t have minded a quick, one-hour meeting, but this meeting’s
twice as long as advertised. I understand that they’re really working
through important issues, but I think I’d rather stay on the list and
help out whenever they need someone to help crimp or something like

Waah. And it would be impolite for me to pick up my computer and head out _now…_

Comfort food: SPAM

April 19, 2006 - Categories: cooking, cookordie

Here’s incongruity for you: jasmine rice and SPAM. Yes, rice is rice,
but jasmine rice is soft and fluffy and sticky and wonderful, and SPAM
is SPAM. But SPAM is one of my comfort foods, and today I just didn’t
have the energy to cook anything fancier. Ah, SPAM. SPAM reminds me of
breakfast at home – fried rice, fried eggs and SPAM, SPAM, SPAM…

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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.

Happy girl

April 19, 2006 - Categories: happy, work

Did lots of fun things at IBM. Being there more than once a week
definitely changes the dynamic. Blogging becomes more of a
conversation. Things stay fresh. And I don’t fall off the front page
that quickly… =)

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Random Japanese sentence: 虎を大きな猫というなら、同じように猫を小さな虎といってもよい。 You may as well call a cat a small tiger as call a tiger a big cat.

Finding a niche

April 19, 2006 - Categories: purpose

Enterprise social bookmarking. That’s what I’m into. Plenty of interesting questions and opportunities. It’s not going to be my main thing forever, but I’ve got an intuition that there’s still so much benefit to find in that space.

Also, technology evangelism. I can very much see myself doing tech
evangelism for the next ten, twenty years. For that one, I need to be
close to the people I train—but the world is changing, and it’s not
just North America any more. I wouldn’t mind being based in Asia, for
example… ;)

I like that more than serial startups. =) As for startups: I don’t
mind just convincing someone else to teach people how to get started.
I don’t have to teach it myself. I just have to connect people who
want to learn with people who can and want to teach…

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The case of the missing SPAM

April 20, 2006 - Categories: -Uncategorized

I seem to have woken up in a freakish alternate universe.

I don’t understand. I simply don’t understand. Did I _imagine_ frying
and storing all that SPAM? I can’t find it anywhere within my fridge.

And now my contacts file refuse to load without getting corrupted.


Dum da dum dum…

April 20, 2006 - Categories: geek

Imagine Beethoven’s 5th playing right now.

My hard disk is Not Happy!

I restored my contacts file from the automatic numbered backups that
Emacs keeps. Still, all evidence points to very quiet filesystem
corruption. I’m going to have to do a filesystem check later… I’ve
been segfaulting all over the show lately, and that’s just WEIRD.

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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.

Solved the SPAM problem

April 20, 2006 - Categories: -Uncategorized

Somehow, I managed to completely scan past it. Blanked out. It was
right on the shelf. Okay, well, it was on a tub of margarine at the
back of the fridge… Mariana pointed it out. Whew.


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.

Happy girl

April 20, 2006 - Categories: -Uncategorized

Again, very fun day at IBM. =) It’s so much fun working on something
exciting and new, and blogging has helped me find really cool people
working in the same space. I gave a quick run-through to a number of
people from CAS, and that was tons of fun. It gave me ideas on how to
improve my standard dogear spiel…

(Hi Kelly!)

Random Japanese sentence: 私はこの猫の世話をしなければならない。 I have to look after this cat.

Life on a sugar high

April 20, 2006 - Categories: life

Stephen gave me the leftover Timbits (munchkins that say “eh”) for
lunch earlier. He probably regretted that decision, though, as I was
on a sugar high all afternoon and well into the evening. =)

Then again, my life’s like that. Here’s a picture taken by Joey de Villa (Accordion Guy) at the Rails pub night last 2005.04.17:

Rails pub night – I’m blurry

I’m the blur on the left. Should be instantly recognizable to anyone who’s ever met me in person. ;) That picture is _so_ me.

I’m not always like that, though. I like my long, slow cooking dinners, my bliss-out days…

… but yeah, I spend most of my time on a natural sugar high! =)

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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.


April 21, 2006 - Categories: philippines

I love it when I have an idea, and then stumble across its implementation! I blogged (2005.03.23#3) about an anger management place that would let you throw plates and other fun fragile things against walls, and Marcelle’s just described it!

The Tacsiyapo Wall

In the same floating restaurant, there was this place called the
Tacsiyapo Wall, where people threw plates and other stuff at the walls
to release their anger. There were loads of marks on the wall,
indicating people you might want to throw at but instead take your
frustrations out on the wall. The price was about 45 bucks a plate.

From “mother-in-law” to “corrupt politicans” to “ex-girlfriends”, it
was pretty amusing to see people yell “Tacsiyapo!!!” then promptly
toss a plate at the wall.

For those with bigger issues that plates couldn’t settle, televisions
are also available to chuck at the wall for 1,300 bucks each.


On Technorati:

Random Japanese sentence: その猫は部屋の中へ逃げ込んだ。 The cat ran away into the room.

Reading paper

April 21, 2006 - Categories: research

Just finished the first part of my reading course paper: Personal Knowledge Management for Web Bookmarks. 33 references, 4 pages of
actual text – that was some summarizing! <laugh> And it’s still nowhere near comprehensive…

Next step: Sharing!

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All kitted out with U of T logowear

April 21, 2006 - Categories: clothing

It’s a good thing that the campus bookstore had a sale on clothing and
other school items, as I needed to pick up a few things. I don’t mind
advertising things I like, and the university has been very good to
me. Besides, it’s a great way to start conversation at the CHI
conference I’m going to next week.

I splurged on a pink-and-white zip-up hoodie with “University of
Toronto” written across the zippered front. It was expensive, but I’ll
get more wear out of it than out of the T-shirts, at least while I’m
in a temperate country.

And I picked up a corduroy miniskirt, too! Why does U of T have small
corduroy miniskirts with the school name on them?

We really should have cute IML T-shirts. I’d wear an IML baby-tee. The
Google shirt I’m wearing right now fits quite nicely.

Anyway, I have to plan my backpack for next week’s trip. I’m bringing
cookies. When I went to Cambridge, I made it through a week with my
backpack, but I ended up leaving my plastic containers behind. Maybe I
can just wrap up the plastic containers nicely and give them a tin
each. David and Jonathan are Cool People, and definitely deserve
cookies. =)

I _might_ bring the red malong if I have space. It’s very versatile,
and I’d love to wear it at least once just to bring a little flavor to
the conference.

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Random Japanese sentence: 猫はじゅうたんをひっかき始めた。 The cat started scratching to scratch the carpet.

I’m toast

April 21, 2006 - Categories: Uncategorized

Or, well, rather, I’ve finished almost all the toast, and all the
cream cheese in the lab fridge. Which is half-okay because I brought
the cream cheese anyway, but I’m lucky my research supervisor’s okay
with my eating his flax bread when I need to nibble on something. I
promise to buy flax bread for the lab sometime. =)

My lab is wonderful.

On Technorati:

Random Japanese sentence: 猫は夕食に魚にありつくとわくわくする。 My cat is thrilled with joy when she gets fish for dinner. Neko wa yuushoku ni sakana ni aritsuku to waku waku suru.


April 22, 2006 - Categories: -Uncategorized

I’ve mindmapped my sharing paper and gathered the quotes, but it’s
probably not a good idea for me to spend the next few hours typing it
in and pulling the quotes in from my file. I’m awake and alert, but I
can feel myself getting slightly stressed about the trip, which is
currently higher-priority. I won’t count on getting any work done
during the trip, because I really should be soaking up the CHI
experience. If I finish my errands early tomorrow, I’ll start on that
paper. Here’s hoping all the pieces fall together neatly…

Anyone else going to CHI2006?

April 22, 2006 - Categories: conference

If you’re going to CHI2006, write me e-mail by tonight (Saturday) and
we might be able to have breakfast, lunch or dinner next week. =)

Random Japanese sentence: ウサギの耳は猫の耳よりも長い。 The ears of a rabbit are longer than those of a cat.

CHI2006 schedule

April 22, 2006 - Categories: Uncategorized
Mon |1030 1100 Newcomers’ orientation – room 511ABCD
Mon 1130 1600 Faceted metadata for information architecture and search – 513AB
Mon 1430 1600 Social computing 1 510ABCD
Mon 1630 1800 Personal information management – 516C
Mon 1830 2000 Grand opening! Don’t miss.
Tue 1130 1300 Understanding programs and interfaces, 516C
Tue 1430 1600 SIG: Assessing and improving information usability 515C
Wed 0900 1030 Add a dash of interface: Taking mash-ups to the next level – room 517AB
Wed 1120 1300 Panel: Why do tagging systems work? – room 517AB
Wed 1430 1600 Privacy 2 Room 511ABDE
Wed 1630 1800 Visualization 2 510ABCD
Thu 0900 1030 Tips and tricks for better usability test recommendations 515C
Thu 1430 1600 Designing responsive software despite performance limitations 513D

Argh. What happened? I thought I’d arranged a conflict-free
schedule… Aiyah. Well, if I have to, I’ll pick up the materials and
attend the first part of the faceted metadata talk, then sneak out
during the middle to attend the social computing talk. Yup, that would

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.


April 22, 2006 - Categories: -Uncategorized

This is what I get for not checking my snail mail for so long!


Delta Kappa Gamma society!!
World fellowship! One of 28!

“The Delta Kappa Gamma Society International promotes professional and
personal growth of women educators and excellence in education.”



Random Japanese sentence: 猫が気持ちを伝える主要なやり方は身震いである。 The prime means of communication for cats is body language.

Found the CIBC

April 23, 2006 - Categories: -Uncategorized

It’s near the convention center. Just go to the side opposite CHI,
cross the street, and enter the Guy Favreau complex. Yay! I know where
to get cash and phone load.

Wireless at CHI

April 23, 2006 - Categories: Uncategorized

Hooray! Hooray!

Geek conference with its priorities straight. Offers free wireless. Whee!

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Congratulations to Dominique, writer!

April 28, 2006 - Categories: -Uncategorized

Congratulations to Dominique Cimafranca on
being accepted to the Dumaguete Writers’ Workshop!

He totally rocks. =)

Update: Dominique’s blog entry

Nine million hits? Yeah, right

April 28, 2006 - Categories: philippines

Dominique and Rizalist blogged about some politico claiming 9 million hits on a charter-change advocacy website.

The politico was probably lying outright. Still, I wouldn’t be
surprised if some disgusted geek gave them an additional 9 million
hits or so… <laugh>

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Kathy’s May Day mayday!

April 28, 2006 - Categories: party

My sister always writes hilarious invites for her parties. She’s
really got flair. Here’s the latest one, with some details blocked out
with “SHH!SECRET!” for privacy.

My darling capybaras – or more formally – dear friends:

It’s a long weekend, that won’t be too long for the people here at
Adphoto. Work came in for Saturday and Sunday (we’re happy to be
working!). Nonetheless, Monday is a holiday so for those of you
stuck in Manila, we must celebrate ;) Besides, why would you want
to miss out on all the fun?


CAPYBARA* NIGHT II: May Day, mayday! (or will it be May Day Melee?
Time will tell, but if you trust us, you can bring a friend ;) )
1 May 2006 (monday)

(Address removed)

RSVP: Monday morning at 11 – (email and phone number removed)

Start: Staggered, depending on your personality type. ;)

Dinner served at 7:30

Expect to finish by 10:30

What the heck is a capybara? Think of a guinea pig, make it 3 ft
tall. That’s a Capybara. Think of an experimental dish, you’re the
test subject… you’re a capybara! ;)


Following the success of the last CBN we’ve decided to do a follow up.



Pumpkin – Curry soup & Pappadams (tried and tested, we just need
to look for a new blender. The last one crashed on my foot,
cementing one of our new HSE house rules. Wear shoes when cooking,
the other one would be – cook beside a fire extinguisher :) – I’m
kidding! I’m kidding! *<:o) )

Main Course:

Chicken with Prosciutto (bacon), Cherry tomatoes, and Asparagus.
I honestly don’t know what it’s called, and can’t find the recipe
(hence, mayday). I saw it on Discovery Channel though, Jamie Oliver
rocks!!!! It looks simple, easy and mouth-watering. For those of
you who live alone (and drink a lot!) it might be worthwhile for
you to come and experiment with us. It’s a one person dish and all
you need is a stove and a can of wine or a glass of beer. We’ll
figure out the recipe and you can check it out on Claire’s blog
(Happy eclair, I don’t know her surname) or Sacha’s wiki (sacha
chua of course) (don’t know where they are, google it or click
here. Unless someone wants to help me document capybara night, and
we can put up a capybara blog.

Hybrid Risotto
I don’t know if it’s the real deal, but I promise you it tastes
great and is easy enough to make alone. (Might actually be a
risotto/ pilaf hybrid). Same risotto we’ve served in the last
couple of years of CN (carnivore night).

c/o The Shy Ones (they’re bringing the goods)


Here’s the thing. THIS IS NOT MASS MAIL…. well not really. Okay,
it’s well thought out mass mail.

If you got this invite from me, please know that I’ve carefully
considered the guest list, and I’m pretty sure you’ll get along
with the people who are coming. (if you don’t live in the
Philippines, then I thought you might find this funny, or get an
idea for your next party) If you have a funny friend you’d like to
bring, pass the message on. Ask them to email me for security
clearance and psychological test. If they pass, we’ll give them a
sticker (e.g. Hi I’m Pedro, what’s yours? ;) ).

If you got this invite from a friend of mine (or a friend of a
friend) then they think highly enough of you to bring you along (I
was kidding about the sticker and the psych test, but email me
anyway so I know who you are. Remember to behave and bring your
sense of humor. You are not gatecrashing, you are welcome! Read on!

Brilliant (or hungry) Marcelle who BTW requested to hold the CBN
follow-up, suggested that guests pitch in with the dinner
production so it becomes cost effective for the host (me) and so we
can hold it more often (Yay!). Following this month’s raid at the
Bombproof store, and getting axed with taxes, I heartily agree. :)

So how does it work?


just for dinner (be here by 7 if you want to be a Capybara)
There are those among us who are either really shy or really busy.
It’s okay, you don’t have to be there while we attempt to cook.
Dinner will be served at 7.30pm. You can bring us ready-made
appetizers, salad, something to drink or dessert. It’s just fair.
:) For those of you who feel like they’d fall under this category.
Please reply to this email with SHY CAPYBARA under the subject
category. It would be wonderful to see you still don’t worry.

coming to cook for dinner
And learn a new dish too! Be here by 5:30 pm. Please reply to this
email with CAPYBARA CHEF under the subject category. We will email
you which ingredient to bring. If you can’t make it to that time,
SMS us EARLY (number removed) so we can go into crisis-resolution
mode and swing by the supermarket. (Kinda hard to make a chicken
recipe without the chicken)

coming to shop
All aboard! We’re taking a field trip to the nearest supermarket
and deli. Bring Php. 200 – 300, we’ll all pitch in for dinner (the
more, the many-er! ;) ) Please be here by 3 pm. We need to get
organized. Please reply to this email with SHOPPING CAPYBARA under
the subject category. See you here

requiring Environmental/ Behavioral Enrichment
Find yourself pacing lately? Or engaging in stereotypical/ self
destructive behaviors (plucking hair/ nail-biting). Come and be
enriched. I’ll make you a puzzle feeder for dinner. ;) some ideas

Either that or you just really miss me, which is fine. :) Yeah,
yeah, you can come to the house as early as you want (after 10
am… otherwise you’ll meet a grumpy monkey.) Bring your favorite
DVD (Marcelle, nothing too cheesy), your favorite set of clothes,
or a board/bored game. We’ll figure out what to do with you when
you get here.

Whew! That was a long invite….

Anyway, looking forward to seeing you here!

Warmest regards,

Kathy Chua
Head Capybara

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Planning an ice cream party

April 28, 2006 - Categories: party

I’d like to hold an ice cream party on Saturday to celebrate the Delta
Kappa Gamma fellowship, spring, and other wonderful things. It’d also
be good to get together and talk about summer plans, particularly as
international students will soon be allowed to work off-campus. I’ve
got my summer all planned already – I’ll be spending it at IBM working
on my research – but it would be good to hang out with other people
and figure out this funny thing called life.

It’ll be a bit of a squeeze (understatement!) to hold this in my
suite. The common room’s probably the best place. I won’t have access
to the fridge, though, so the ice cream will be all melted… Hmm.
What’s the best way for me to go about doing this? I need some
party-planning help.

Oooh, I should plan a halo-halo party for summer, too. It’s so weird
here – their summer starts in _June_…

On Technorati:

Random Japanese sentence: 彼女がドアを開けるやいなや猫が走り出た。 No sooner had she opened the door than a cat ran out.

Code Monkey

April 28, 2006 - Categories: -Uncategorized

Found this on the Toronto Linux Users Group mailing list. From Jonathan Coulton: CodeMonkey.mp3.

Sheer hilarity. I love geek music.

CHI2006: Ack!

April 28, 2006 - Categories: conference

Written on 2006.04.23:

My laptop is in my bag. My power charger is in Toronto. Or at least
that’s the only conclusion I can reach, because. it’s. not. in. my.

And I _thought_ I double-checked that! Just because it’s not in its
usual place doesn’t mean I packed it properly. A charger in hand is
worth two in the dorm room.

I will get a lot of letters done this week. Okay, what are my choices?

  • Stick with original plan. Go home on Sunday. Adjust my hotel reservations and check in Friday. Pro: More time to see Montreal. Con: Will feel guilty about research.
  • Move plan back one day. Check into hostel Th night, check out Saturday, take train, work Sunday on paper.
  • Leave on Thursday with everyone else. Cancel hostel, cancel train. Save lab money, save personal money, don’t get to see Montreal. Don’t feel guilty about research. Get to computer faster. No prob carryig stuff or getting home.

If I’m going to do this, I can do Montreal sunrises. Then I can return to Montreal when the weather is better, possibly with friends.

Okay. That sounds like a plan. Cancel hostel booking, cancel train booking after I talk to Shen.


April 29, 2006 - Categories: -Uncategorized

Mike Tsang and I went to the Mediatheque at 150 John Street to see the
International Dance Day Film Festival. Unfortunately, we only caught the
tail end of the films. It was interesting listening to the artists
talk about their work, though.

The Mediatheque is a totally awesome place. I watched a few animated
shorts and experimental films. Mike made sure I watched Ryan, a deep
piece about a famous artist who ended up as a Montreal panhandler.
Excellent use of computer graphics to tell a very thought-provoking

I’ll go back there by myself to watch some of the longer, deeper
pieces. Mike searched for all the Philippine-related things, and I’m
particularly looking forward to the documentary about Filipino migrant
workers. Television can be somewhat insipid, but these on-demand
documentaries, experimental films, and archived footage are certainly
worth spending time on.

It’s amazing, what’s available for free…

Random Japanese sentence: あの猫をごらんなさい。それはブラウンさんの猫です。 Look at that cat. It is Mr. Brown’s.


April 30, 2006 - Categories: Uncategorized

I just picked up my mom’s care package including pretty earrings and a
wonderful, wonderful, scribbled-on notebook with dedications from my

I feel so loved!

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Random Japanese sentence: ジャックは小猫を小脇に抱えている。 Jack has a cat under his arm.

Chicken breasts marinated in red wine vinegar

April 30, 2006 - Categories: cooking, cookordie

I invited myself over to Quinn Fung‘s place for dinner. <laugh> She had a mac and cheese casserole, so I prepared chicken breasts marinated in red wine vinegar. I didn’t get to marinade them for long enough, I think, but I could taste a bit of the tartness of vinegar. It worked out pretty well. I wonder how white wine vinegar would work with it?

I splurged on the Joy of Cooking book yesterday, and this was the
first time I used it. The basic recipe for sauteed chicken breast
called for the chicken breasts to be lightly salted, peppered, and
floured. I added rosemary, too. I browned some butter and mixed in
some olive oil on a skillet, then added the chicken breasts and cooked
them for four minutes on one side at medium-high heat. Then I flipped
them and cooked them for another three minutes. I was worried that I
might’ve burnt the chicken because it was a bit black, but it turned
out nice, juicy, and cooked through.

Level up!

Quinn’s place is pretty nice. I like high ceilings. We had a lot of
fun chatting after dinner, too, and she gave me several ideas for a
few parties I’d like to hold sometime.

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