June 2006

Blog hiccup

June 1, 2006 - Categories: blogging

Sorry about the blog hiccup. I messed up my template last night. =)

Random Japanese sentence: 鬼の居ぬ間に洗濯。 When the cat is away, the mice will play.[Proverb]

Interesting people, interesting conversations

June 1, 2006 - Categories: connecting, ibm

It is my firm belief that if I mash interesting people together,
they’ll most probably have interesting conversations – and if I’m
around to hear those conversations, even better.

I went to IBM, and that turned out to be perfect timing. Laurie
Dillon, Pranam Kolari and Ian Chan all pinged me for lunch. I thought
they should definitely meet each other, so we all met up for lunch at
12 and had a wonderful conversation about IBM intranet goodness and
blogging visualizations. =) That was tons of fun.

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Random Japanese sentence: 家はねこが2匹います。1匹は白で、もう1匹はくろです。 We have two cats; one is white, and the other is black.

Impromptu barbecue

June 1, 2006 - Categories: cooking, friends

James Iveniuk reminded me that we’d planned to have some kind of
barbecue tonight. I invited Jed Smith as well because he’s always fun
to talk to. I grabbed a bunch of vegetables and thawed two of the pork
kebabs in my freezer. He brought pork chops and potatoes. Much fun was
had by all. =)

Speaking of food – I had absolutely wonderful veal parmigiana at IBM
today. I seriously need to learn how to cook that. The Joy of Cooking
would have it for sure…

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Random Japanese sentence: 私は猫がその犬を追いかけているのをみた。 I saw a cat running after the dog.

Wow, what a blogger!

June 1, 2006 - Categories: blogging

Greet this blogger happy 83rd birthday, folks! Way, way cool.

Link from Sandy Kemsley, Helen K’s daughter.

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Blackberry goodness

June 2, 2006 - Categories: connecting

Sandy read my post on networking and saw my note about Blackberry, that addictive little e-mail-anywhere device. I keep itching to connect with people or otherwise _do_ something during the downtime when I walk from place to place or while I’m waiting in line. Sales people swear by their Blackberries because they’re hardly ever
at a desk. (Ooh, let me go ping one of the people I know in sales to
ask if he’s on a Blackberry…)

When I think of it, though, I don’t actually spend that much time away
from the internet, just the time in transit. I sometimes bring my
laptop out and type e-mail anyway, although it’s not quite as
convenient. I guess that’s one of the reasons why I occasionally
daydream about having a Blackberry or a similar portable device.

Is that really the right step for me, though?

Maybe I should be spending that time soaking up the scenery and
working on becoming comfortable enough to strike up conversations with
random strangers. Mike Fletcher told me about one of his friends who
carries around a bag of gifts and just gives stuff to random
strangers, meeting tons of awesome people along the way.

Maybe I should look up and connect with people. It’s going to be
tough, but Toronto’s a pretty safe place to do this. I won’t have to
worry too much about giving people the wrong impression, I hope.

I’ll just have to be better at managing my time and pinging people
more often so that I can keep in touch. =)

I’ll put aside time this weekend to ping maybe one of the evangelists
you wonderful, wonderful readers (friends!) have suggested and ask how
he or she keeps in touch with people. If I talk to lots of evangelists
and they love the Blackberry, then I’ll either make room for it in my
budget or figure out how I can earn extra to make it cost-effective…

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Random Japanese sentence: 悲しいことに私の猫はどこかへいってしまった。 To my sorrow, my cat has gone somewhere.

Tagging blog posts

June 2, 2006 - Categories: blogging

At some point I really should write my own tag indexing thing. =) That
way, it’ll be easy to find out, say, all of the stuff tagged

Random Japanese sentence: かれの時ならぬ発言は秘密をもらしたばかりでなく、平和運動の計画をも、くつがえしてしまった。 His untimely statement has not only let the cat out of the bag but also upset the apple cart for the peace move.

It’s alive! Reviving my iPaq

June 2, 2006 - Categories: Uncategorized

I’ve decided to experiment with carrying an electronic device around
again. Several people have reported seeing Moleskines coexist with
PDAs, so I want to see if the two will play nicely together for me. ;)
This is a Compaq-era iPaq (but not the research lab iPaq they sent me
before; I miss that). Nostalgia alert!

I am once again impressed by Microsoft Transcriber, which understands
my script/chickenscratches. Totally awesome.

I might use this to keep track of my calendar. If I can figure out how
to get data out of it easily with my Linux laptop, then I might be
able to use it to compose blog entries. At the very least, I can use
it to read ebooks. Oh, and maybe I should grab a CF, reflash the Ipaq
with Linux, and put Ruby and Python on the thing… And… >laugh>

(Hey, you know, this would be perfect as a ping-tracker!)

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Random Japanese sentence: その猫は私のそばで寝るのが好きだ。 The cat likes to sleep beside me.

Social Tech Brewing

June 2, 2006 - Categories: Uncategorized

Last night’s Social Tech Brewing social was lots of fun.
(Notice how lazy I getabout linking? ;) )

  • Phillip Smith arrived shortly after I did. He told me about CopyCamp, a copyright and art get-together on September 28, 29, 30. All sorts of luminaries! Lawrence Lessig, Cory Doctorow, Michael Geist… Awesome lineup. I totally have to be there and blog it.
  • Jason Doucette came next. Phillip asked him if he was into podcasting, and it turned out that Jason podcasts for the Toronto Vegetarian Association, which is at 17 Baldwin St. I should take a look at that. Phillip is vegetarian, and I’m a semi-vegetarian-wannabe. (I want to learn how to cook vegetarian food!) TVA’s attendance has been dropping off, but their podcasts attract attention from people from other cities. Their podcasts are generally 20 minutes long.
  • Phillip Smith knows about a progressive podcast host / aggregator which might be interested in the vegetarian podcasts. Other interesting links: http://veganlunchbox.blogspot.com , http://www.veganporn.com ,
  • Liam O’Doherty of avoid.net came too. He mentioned the Personal Propaganda Kit (T-shirts, stickers, etc) tie-in with avoid.net. He’s partnering up with OCAD people to produce that, I think.
  • Phillip recommended a few books: Ingenuity Gap, The Upside of Down.
  • We also chatted about ideas for a Toronto wiki, something to collect information about Toronto. Interestingly, Rob Hyndman owns the domain. Good model – Davis wiki. (Hey, Himy would be a great fit for a project like that. He’d fill it with so many interesting stories!)
  • Colin McGregor mentioned a group called Serial Diners. They’re making their way through a phonebook of restaurants, and currently at K.
  • Judy Chicago is with Women’s Space.
  • Gabe Sawhney’s into the memory project and T.Ode.
  • Jonathan found Social Tech Brewing through upcoming.org, as did Jason and Gabriel. So did I, for that matter.
  • Introductions: Tempted to have “Hello, my URL is…” nametags. Reprogrammable nametags also sound interesting, as suggested by Colin.
  • Jonathan’s involved with Habitat for Humanity, which is somewhat interested in moving to open source.
  • Introductions protocol idea: three words / tagline, name. Putting the description before the name makes it easier for people to hear interesting things and pay extra attention.
  • Social Tech Brewing modeled on501c tech clubs, nonprofits.
  • New network: Mobile Mondays.
  • Jane attended DrupalCamp and is with DigitalEve, which is based in Lawrence West
  • Chatted about Linux Caffe and social spaces. Seattle has free wireless in cafes, even to the point of having tables for two with outlets. People addicted. Some cafes turn off internet during weekends…
  • Net neutrality
  • Gabe mentioned that Dory of Wireless Toronto and a few other people are working on “Turn off the internet day”.
  • Jonathan’s into $100 laptop, too. Pays attention to news.
  • Chatted about gender segregation in bars, funny anecdote from Judy: “Don’t be scared.”
  • Phillip described freegeek, an open non-profit computer part reclamation thing that’s now self-funding. Break computers apart into components for melting into gold, assemble computers from working parts, keep one.
  • Toronto Hydro goings-on


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Random Japanese sentence: 私は犬の方が猫より好きです。なぜなら、前者の方が後者より忠実ですから。 I like dogs better than cats, because the former are more faithful than the latter.


June 2, 2006 - Categories: Uncategorized

I discovered to my chagrin this morning that the Compaq iPaq no longer
retains a charge, perhaps because its internal battery has gone kaput.
That’s what I get for leaving it dormant for almost a year. Like this
stubborn girl who occasionally just Wants to Stay in Bed, Darn It!,
the iPaq will grudgingly work if you keep it supplied with power, and
it’ll go back to sleep immediately after.

In retrospect, I should’ve paid more attention to the flashing orange
LED as I copied my (very few) phone contacts into the PDA using
Bluetooth. =) I had too much fun categorizing contacts and thinking
how cool it would be to be able to broadcast a text message to, say,
all of the Graduate House people for an impromptu barbecue, or give
you a filtered list of all the people I know who are into both AJAX
and Ruby, etc. I rather enjoyed filling in my calendar for the next
few weeks. I even played around with transferring some of the images
from my phone to the PDA, where I could view them with Internet

Oh well. =)

The good thing about that, though, is that it’s made me realize that
the commute is not really hopeless, and that my Fujitsu Lifebook P1110
laptop is more portable than I give it credit for. I can usually snag
a seat on the train, even during rush hour, and my laptop’s small
enough that it can fit on my lap without requiring any elbow space.
Glare is not a big problem. Even if it were, I could just switch to
speech synthesis and use headphones. (See, I _knew_ there was a reason
why I was into wearable computing in college!)

I don’t mind batching my mail and my blog entries. I’ve gotten quite
used to it, and it gives me time to think (and cancel stuff!). I also
don’t really mind looking phone numbers up on my laptop and keying
them into my phone to dial. I don’t do that too often, anyway. Most of
the time, I get in touch with people through e-mail.

One of the coolest things about my computer, though, is that it can
start conversations. I don’t think the Fujitsu Lifebook P1110 is sold
here, which is probably why it always draws comments. It’s cute! It’s
small! It’s different! (Take _that_, all you “Think Different” Mac
geeks! ;) ) Sure, it’s scuffed and held together with masking tape
(had some complications during open-heart disk-replacement surgery),
but that just gives the computer more character.

Besides, people smile when they see the sticker reading, “The geek
shall inherit the earth.” I think I need aother sticker reading
“emacs” just to drive home the point. I hope that means vi geeks will
still talk to me, though. ;) What I need, really, is something that’ll
allow me to indicate my changing interests. A tagcloud. An updateable
tagcloud, preferably. Not that I have much back-of-laptop real estate
left. There, I’ve made Stowe’s sticker
vertical instead of horizontal, which will give me more sticker space
to play with. Maybe I should add sticker paper so that peeling off and
resticking stickers is easier, or maybe I should just let stickers
accrete in layers to give people a better reflection of reality…

Oooh! Magnetic poetry for laptops using stickers and sticker paper!
That might be fun to try out. Or maybe I could add a little plastic
sleeve and have a “Thought for the Day” index card / Post-it. It would
be nice to have an index card holder for this, anyway. That sound like
a job for duct tape…

Battery life’s holding up, too. The commute is an hour and a half
long, which fits quite well. I might want to get a new extended
battery so that I can go back to advertised battery life (my current
one drains in 2 hours or so instead of the 8-10 promised, waah!), but that’s
not a particularly high priority right now because the cafe I most
like to work in is clueful enough to not only allow geeks to plug in,
but also to provide power bars so that we don’t have to fight over
outlets. ;)

A better battery would be handy for conferences, though, as I take
_way_ too many notes. It’s fun!

You know what would be really, really cool? A wireless chording
one-handed keyboard – like the Twiddler, but Bluetooth, but not one of
those homebrew Bluetooth hacks that might fall apart in my backpack.
Or a wireless mouse/remote so that I could control ebooks while my
laptop is in my backpack. I had this totally sweet deal going with my
Twiddler before, because I could just leave my laptop in my backpack
and control the speech synthesis output from outside.

I should try out the Vaio again to see if that’ll be a bit more
portable. That one was designed to be used while walking around, so it
might be an interesting experience.

Okay, I should stop writing about gadgets… <laugh> I don’t
have a pressing need for anything extra at the moment, and I’m still
learning to make the most of what I have. =)

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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.

On the way home after a late night

June 2, 2006 - Categories: ibm, research

I’m starving and my hands are a little bit weak. I’ve had nothing but
hot chocolate since lunch, too pressed for time to even raid the
vending machines near the cafeteria. The data I needed for my paper
only came in today, and with deadlines for both the CASCON paper and
my article on social bookmarking for the lab newspaper, today was…
well… challenging. =)

It didn’t help that I spent most of the morning puttering about the
blogosphere, welcoming people in and updating my blog. I knew I was
supposed to work on the social bookmarking article and I had bits and
pieces of what I wanted to say, but I couldn’t quite sit down and do
it. On Monday, I think I’ll get that out of the way before I even
start catching up with the blogosphere.

Yes, yes, way too much hacking. Along the way, I’d installed a few
more extensions for my browser, including one that made it easier for
me to paste some boilerplate into textareas (good for blog newbie
tutorials). I wanted to chat with other IBM student bloggers at lunch,
so I wrote a quick and dirty Ruby script that generated an OPML file
given a set of e-mail addresses so that I could import that OPML file
into my blog reader. I turned up only three bloggers, though: me,
Pranam, and Kevin. Oh well. We’ll get there eventually…

Even the fresh data I received distracted me. I couldn’t wait to slice
and dice it in interesting ways! It was a good thing that Mark
scheduled a 3:00 phone call in order to check up on me. (Yay fantastic
research supervisor!) He reminded me about the CASCON deadline, but
also reassured me that it was doable and that he was around to help. =)

David also called me up to talk about some complications in the data
set. We figured out how to deal with some missing data, and I think
the workaround we came up with was okay. Then I went back to 1panicking.
Fortunately my editor moved the deadline for my social bookmarking
article to Monday so I could concentrate on my research.

So all I had to do was code the visualizations. I felt myself
performing a bit more sluggishly than I’m comfortable with – too
little sleep, not enough food – but I slogged through it anyway.
Fortunately I knew enough Ruby to squish the data into a form I could
easily work with, and I had learned enough about the Prefuse
visualization library to add filters to the dataset, allowing me to
get snapshots of the data. Yay.

So that worked out. My timing was perfect, too. I dumped screeshots
into (gasp) a Microsoft Word document, blogged a couple of interesting
things on my internal blog, and ran to catch the bus. I waited around
five minutes for the bus – ompletely anxious, of course, as those
buses run only once an hour!

So now I’m on a bus – the second on this trip – a little bit weak – I
really should always bring emergency food in my backpack – but I’ll be

The coding was almost fun, even, playing around with Ruby for text
processing and Java for visualization…

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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.

Life on the A-list

June 2, 2006 - Categories: blogging

Somewhere along the way, I managed to end up as the hottest blogger
within IBM, with over a thousand hits. I usually hover around third or
fourth on the list of the daily top blogs. This is the first time I’ve
ended up first, and that by a margin of around three hundred hits.

Some people at IBM have been gently teasing me about my A-list status.
Stephen’s one to talk: his blog post is currently the most-commented
entry. Pranam made sure I blogged about his cool visualization and
joked about how that resulted in such a jump in his hits. Mark isn’t
quite sure if my being a top blogger internally is a good thing or a
bad thing, considering how little I’ve written for research. (Meep.)

I procrastinate by learning and writing. Now if only we could figure
out how to translate that into research or business… ;)

Life on the A-list is cool, though. Because I read pretty much
everything on the internal blogosphere anyway, I like being able to
highlight cool entries and encourage people to leave comments. I
wanted to help IBMers discover related blogs, so I added an ultracool
Flash tag discovery thingy from another IBMer who actually spent some
time fixing a few problems that came up when I tried it on my blog.
And of course I love getting to meet people through my blog and
getting feedback on my thoughts…

When I post about social computing on my internal blog, though, I’m
basically preaching to the choir. No, not even that. I end up
preaching to other evangelists. ;) I need to figure out how to extend
beyond that. I owe my sponsors tangible results. That might be a good
place to start.

What can I do to give back to IBM and do some research? Must think…

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Random Japanese sentence: 私は彼女におもちゃの猫を買ってあげましたが、彼女はそれに満足しませんでした。 I bought her a toy cat, but she wasn’t happy with it. Watashi wa kanojo ni omocha no neko o katte agemashita ga, kanojo wa sore ni manzoku shimasen deshita.

Reading list

June 3, 2006 - Categories: reading

Peter Dawson just sent me his knowledge management reading list for
the second quarter. What an excellent idea! I should read lots of
books and write about them, as I enjoy reading books…

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E-Mail from Peter Dawson

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.

David Crow 2.0

June 3, 2006 - Categories: Uncategorized

My experience of Toronto has always been that of a vibrant tech life, but everyone tells me that this really just started a year ago. When asked for possible causes, one name keeps coming up – that Toronto BarCamp instigator, troublemaker, catalyst: David Crow.

David Crow is special.

Living in Toronto and breathing in the tech scene is like watching a
Tipping Point example play out in real life.

What makes him special? Here’s what I think might be the key:

Passion. David’s an intense kind of person. Just ask him about Innovation Commons, for example, and he’ll speak of it with complete conviction.

Drive. His passion is backed by the determination to make things happen. BarCamp in a warehouse? Sure!
He seems to be the kind of guy who never has to worry about getting “No” for an answer because he already has five, ten alternative plans.

Learning. He learns out loud. He’s always looking for ways to improve things, and he shares his thoughts with others.

He’s a true evangelist, and what an evangelist he is.

What can I do to learn from his example, and how can I step into this whirlwind?

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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.

Blackberries and such

June 3, 2006 - Categories: emacs

John Sullivan said:

You’ve really got to get a comment system working on your blog :)

There are a lot of new interesting devices that are better and less locked down than the Blackberry. I’m writing this email from one right now, a Nokia E61. It has wifi and can make SIP calls in addition to regular phone calls! Also, it runs Python. It’s expensive, but only about the same as a new new Blackberry.

I’ve just yesterday started a backpack page about my working with it, at http://johnsu01.backpackit.com/pub/613005.

Nokia also appears to be heading rapidly down the FLOSS path, and I _know_ you’ll be wanting to hack your device. :)

Well, if someone wants to hack together Planner + a nice non-spammy comment system, I’d love to test it. I used to use blogKomm, but I needed to modify it at some point and the code was in German. Not quite fu.

Ooooh, wifi is good.

I’ve been doing okay with my laptop so far. It’s actually more
portable than I thought. Might try the Vaio for even more fun and
profit. =) And yes, I’d rather have a hackable device than something
that Just Works for everyone but me… ;)

Random Japanese sentence: おばあさんは、しばらく考えました。そして言いました。「わかりましたよ!どのねこをうちにおくか」ねこたちに決めさせましょう」 The very old woman thought for a while and then she said, I know! We will let the cats decide which one we should keep.


June 3, 2006 - Categories: blogging, purpose
Birds on wires

Photo by Automatt, licensed under Creative Commons (Attribution)

After reading my post about being a girl, one of my closest friends wrote:

I never thought you ever got such thoughts:

And when the shadows in my head whisper that I’m not as good as the others,
not as geeky as the others, I drown them in Emacs Lisp. ;)

I always saw you as someone strong and has everything together – yeah like
you are a hitchhiker with your towel with you all the time ;)

I get that a lot, the nagging thoughts that I am not as good as others.
It’s kinda tough when that happens because I still haven’t figured out what
my strengths are. I am something like a Jack of all trades but a master of
none. And that is something I have to live with everyday.

This is one of the reasons why I think out loud. I want to connect
with other people on a deeper level. It is important to me to be
, approachable and understandable. This blog will not be a
polished, professional archive of useful articles. It will have my
cooking misadventures, my existential crises, my questions. My
issues, as a friend put it. Yes, I have issues. Not very
earth-shaking ones, mind you, but I have more questions than I have
answers – and I love that!

I talk a lot about feeling insecure, but that’s because I love looking
for what I can learn from other people. I don’t feel threatened as
much as I feel inspired. My confidence is not a show that I put on for
other people. When I’m in my element, the energy I get from people and
from the situation fills me.

When I falter, friends help me remember. You help me remember who I am
and why I’m here. My blog lets me go back and look over things in my
own words, searching for similar times to find out what I did and how
I resolved the situation.

Sometimes it may seem that I’m worried too much about how I measure up
to other people (5’1/4″? ;) ) or that I feel too insecure. But hey, we
all have different strengths, and I love exploring different things in
order to find out how I can be of most benefit to the world. =)

(Besides, one of the cool things about this picture is that the bird on the lower line can see everything that’s going on! ;) )

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Random Japanese sentence: 寝る前に猫を外に出すのを忘れないでね。 Please remember to put out the cat before you go to bed.

BBDB pinging code

June 3, 2006 - Categories: bbdb, connecting, emacs

I love tweaking Emacs to fit the way I work. Here’s some code to make it easier to keep track of pinged people.

(defun sacha/bbdb-ping-bbdb-record (bbdb-record text &optional date regrind)
  "Adds a note for today to the current BBDB record.
Call with a prefix to specify date."
  (interactive (list (bbdb-current-record t)
                     (read-string "Notes: ")
                     (if current-prefix-arg (planner-read-date) (planner-today))
  (bbdb-record-set-notes bbdb-record (concat date ": " text "\n" (bbdb-record-notes bbdb-record)))
  (if regrind
        (set-buffer bbdb-buffer-name)
        (bbdb-redisplay-one-record bbdb-record)))

(defun sacha/bbdb-gnus-ping (text)
  "Add a ping for authors/recipients of this message.
Call with a prefix to specify a manual note."
  (interactive (list (if current-prefix-arg (read-string "Notes: "))))
  (let* ((from-me-p
          (string-match gnus-ignored-from-addresses
                        (message-fetch-field "From")))
         (bbdb-get-only-first-address-p nil)
          (list (assoc (if from-me-p 'recipients 'authors) bbdb-get-addresses-headers)))
         (bbdb/gnus-update-records-mode 'annotating)
         (bbdb-message-cache nil)
         (bbdb-user-mail-names nil)
         (gnus-ignored-from-addresses nil)
    (setq records (bbdb/gnus-update-records t))
    (if records
        (bbdb-display-records records)
    (while records
       (car records)
        (if from-me-p "-> " "<- ")
        (or text (message-fetch-field "Subject")))
        (date-to-time (message-fetch-field "Date"))))
      (setq records (cdr records)))
    (setq records (bbdb/gnus-update-records t))
    (if records
        (bbdb-display-records records)

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Random Japanese sentence: 猫がソファの上に寝ている。 A cat is lying on the sofa.

Fond memories of fondue

June 4, 2006 - Categories: friends

Last night’s party at Mike Fletcher’s house was terrific. I met many
interesting people and chatted about everything from Philippine
history to personal productivity to religion. And hey, anything
involving strawberries and chocolate or bread and melted cheese is
totally, totally cool.

I wore my malong, of course. The red one’s pretty much my standard
go-to-something-for-the-first-time outfit now as it can fit both
casual and formal occasions. I really should sew a new one so that I
have different patterns. =)

Happy girl.

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Random Japanese sentence: 猫をよく観察してみなさい。そうすればよくその猫のことがわかりますよ。 Just observe your cat and you will get to know him.

Happy birthday, JM!

June 4, 2006 - Categories: friends

Happy birthday to JM Ibanez, Javaman and geek at large! =)

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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.

Typing when I’m asleep

June 4, 2006 - Categories: life

A fragment of a e-mail I sent at 4:43 AM:

Can you help her figure out what it’s like there? She just has 5 minutes’ difference…

No, I have no idea what was on my mind. I do want to point out,
though, that even when I’m too sleepy to be coherent, I can still
spell correctly… ;)

Random Japanese sentence: その子はねこの尻尾を掴まえた。 The boy
caught the cat by the train.


June 5, 2006 - Categories: ibm, research, writing

One of the things I need to learn is how to write when I don’t feel
like it. Today was a pretty blah day. I fixed the bug in my
visualizations, took a couple of screenshots, and sent the results to
my research supervisor. I met someone for lunch. I puttered around a
bit with some drafts for an article that I’ve been meaning to write
for a few months now. Argh.

I can understand why the article’s so important, but I’m gettig
paralyzed by the thought of my words being in print! Uneditable! Gasp,

I really should just whack myself over the head and tell myself that
as long as I get _something_ in, that’s better than nothing. This is
not alwys true, of course, but it generally is.

Life is about showing up.

I need to break that article down into even smaller things. Lots of
little blog posts on my internal blog, if I have to.

As long as I get it done.

The other trick I need to learn is keeping a whole bunch of ideas that
I love writing about. I breezed through the ten speeches for the
Competent Communicator certification because I had so many things I’d
been wanting to talk about. If I have a file with all sorts of things
I can write longer pieces on, then I can almost always write about
something I’m passionate about – whatever that passion is at the

<wry grin> I know! Maybe I need to stop looking for interesting
people and start surrounding myself with the most uninteresting people
instead. ;) That way, I’ll be sure to be the first person in the lab
each morning and the last to leave it each night.

Right. <laugh>

Must learn how to hack this. I need to be more in the mood to write,
and I need to have the discipline to write even when I’m not quite in
the mood to do so.

On Technorati: , ,

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.


June 5, 2006 - Categories: -Uncategorized

One of the best antidotes to a funk must be the company of friends.

ACK! David Crow, heart attack!

June 6, 2006 - Categories: friends

For those of you who were wondering where that trouble-maker and chief instigator went, David Crow had a heart attack right before DemoCamp. (Nothing else could’ve kept him away, not even a herd of rampaging elephants.)

Best wishes from a fangirl. Get well soon, David!

In the meantime – quick, someone clone him!

Random Japanese sentence: 私の妻はひどく猫嫌いです。 My wife hates cats.

And lest you all think everything’s going pfft…

June 6, 2006 - Categories: life

… I _did_ have a fair bit of fun getting the visualizations _just_ right. =) So I’m not completely hopeless.

Random Japanese sentence: 休暇中、近所の人がうちの猫の世話をしてくれた。 While we were on holiday, a neighbor took care of our cat.

Just realized something really cool!

June 6, 2006 - Categories: happy

I just had to wake up from a terrific dream and blog this. =) And yes,
it’s common sense to all of you, and I _know_ I know this, but
sometimes it takes a lucid dream to, well, be lucid – to see clearly.

Life is what I make of it. Duh.

I’ve been dragging my feet the past weekend – the past week – oh, I
don’t know, the past _month!_ – feeling insecure about my research,
feeling lost and out of place.

I’ve just realized how silly that was. Self-fulfilling prophecy. All
that jazz.

The university wouldn’t have accepted me if they didn’t believe I
could hack research, and the truth is, it really _is_ a lot of fun
having an excuse to read through lots of journals and play around with
interesting ideas. The more people I try to explain my research to
(“Well, I’m actually looking for the interesting people I should
talk”), the more I understand it, and the better I actually feel about

Likewise, friends wouldn’t hang out if they didn’t consider me fun, so
I should stop asking them if I’ve kept them too late, etc. ;) Heck,
people would probably stay over for long conversations if they didn’t
have work. What am I worried about? <laugh>

So – yay!

Thanks for putting up with the funk. =)

On Technorati: ,

Random Japanese sentence: おしゃべりの人は、いつも秘密をばくろしては他人の利害を冒している。 A talkative person is always letting the cat out of the bag and jeopardizing the interests of others.

Quote of the day

June 6, 2006 - Categories: -Uncategorized

Keep on going and the chances are you will stumble on something,
perhaps when you are least expecting it. I have never heard of anyone
stumbling on something sitting down.

Charles F. Kettering (1876 – 1958)

Random Japanese sentence: 庭にあなたのネコが見えます。 I see your cat in the garden.

Toastmasters: Persuasion project 1

June 6, 2006 - Categories: toastmasters

I did my first project from the advanced manual on persuasion. Learned
a lot from it, too – and not necessarily what the manual might’ve wanted me to learn… <laugh>

They remarked once again on my lack of energy. I was too low-key for
them. I decided not to use sugar-high-enthusiasm because I want to
learn how to talk to suits. I’m good at enthusiasm. I can bounce up
and down, wave pompoms, whatever. I need to learn how to speak to
people’s serious sides, not just amuse them with my antics and my
enthusiasm. I need to learn how to provoke thought and establish
credibility. I’m not going to be this young forever, and I want to
learn how to speak properly by the time I need it!

Fortunately my evaluator also pointed out that I used a pleasant pace
– accessible! – not like my usual rush of words. Still, this is the
second time I’ve tried my serious voice on Toast I.T., and the
reaction’s always been iffy. They like me breathless with enthusiasm,
bubbly, sparkling – but I’m more than that! I’m having a hard time
getting past this with Toast I.T., even if I wear a blazer and glasses
and everything. I want to be both. I want to blend seriousness and

Maybe I can save my “low-key” voice for IBM Toastmasters. Hmm…

The three- to five-minute roleplay situation for me seemed constrained
and unnatural. This is strange because I’m perfectly fine with
elevator pitches. I think I just need to get better at roleplaying.

I should probably have tried selling something concrete that I wasn’t
too familiar with instead of selling something intangible. People seem
to think that selling ideas is easier than selling something concrete
because ideas don’t cost money, they just cost time. I wish I could
make _them_ try to sell other people on ideas. Time is money. In fact,
time is a lot more expensive than the gadgets many people would
casually throw money away on.

One Toastmaster was particularly vocal about my being an absolute
failure at “real” sales and how I’d be fired right away if this was
the real thing. He insisted that sales was a hypercompetitive,
cutthroat world and that salespeople are paid tons because of the
competition. Personally, I believe that salespeople are paid a lot
because they clearly contribute to the bottom line in a quantifiable
manner. I also suspect that any numbers-driven sales that’s just
concerned with how much the salesperson makes is totally not for me.
I’m more interested in relationship building. Fortunately, my mentor
called him to task and told him that there were other perfectly valid
ways of selling.

… And this guy also wondered why I didn’t have any flashy slides. After
all, we all know that Powerpoint is _essential_ for sales. Mph. Well,
he was trying to be helpful, and there _are_ some audiences that need
a slide deck. For what I was doing, that was definitely out of the

The same person thought I didn’t control the conversation enough, and
that I let my roleplay partner do too much of the talking. I thought I
did too much talking and not enough listening. I felt that I broke
into too many long passages, and I hate that. I feel that I’m most
effective when I listen to people, suggesting something after I’ve
understood their situation and validated them by paying attention to
them. I hate it when people fake listening, when they just care about
when they get to speak next. I hate it when people pretend they want a
conversation with you but they really just want to sell you stuff and
their message isn’t individualized at all..

Wish I had my mom’s books to whap the guy with! <laugh> Well, he
_was_ just trying to be helpful, and _his_ world is probably the
dog-eat-dog world he described. I’m 22 and I’m new to the subject, but
I get the feeling that there aree zbetter things out there.

Oh well.

I think I know what I’m going to “sell” for project 2 – houses. Or whatever.

On Technorati: ,

Random Japanese sentence: 机の下から猫が出てきた。 A cat appeared from under the desk.

Quote for the day

June 6, 2006 - Categories: -Uncategorized

We only do well the things we like doing.
– Colette (1873 – 1954), Prisons and Paradise, 1932

The ability to do things I don’t particularly like is important, but
so too is the ability to recognize what I love and pursue that. I’m
not the kind of person who can be equally good at all things. I’m
biased. I love doing some things and drag my feet when it comes to
others. Generally, following my bliss seems to be a good idea.
<grin> I work so much better and so much more happily when I’m
doing something I love. (Duh.)

The trick, I guess, is to find the seed of something I can love and
run with it. When I lose my way, I need to keep going on if I think
I’ll find it again, or switch to something else if I don’t.

More quotes

Random Japanese sentence: 彼女は猫を2匹飼っている。一匹は茶でもう一匹は白だ。 She has two cats. One is brown and the other is white.


June 8, 2006 - Categories: ruby

Somewhere along the way, I seem to have turned into a Ruby geek. I
spent the day converting most of my data analysis code to Ruby because
the interactivity of the Ruby shell makes prototyping so much fun. Now
if it were more like Lisp, I would be even happier. I suppose I
_could_ freak everyone out and start using Lisp – maybe Common Lisp? –
within IBM, but… =)

I still haven’t quite figured out how to use Eclipse to debug
Ruby programs. I keep getting “abnormal program termination” errors.
Ah, well, that just forces me to write programs with no bugs. ;)

On Technorati:

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.

Carnivore Night XXXVII: Magdalo at Magdiwang

June 8, 2006 - Categories: party

My sister just sent me another great invitation to another great party. =) She’s an awesome cook and entertainer. Way cool!

On Technorati: , ,

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.

My family’s moving

June 8, 2006 - Categories: Uncategorized

My sister’s having her next Carnivore Night party at the new house. It
boggles the mind, actually. I’d lived all my life on Bautista Street,
growing up right next to the office. I grew used to always being
presentably dressed (although my fashion sense was really dodgy). I
liked rubbing elbows with people during lunch and dinner. I loved
being around all those books. And of course it was great being able to
just wander over and bring my dad a glass of water or give my mom an
unexpected hug on those inevitable long days…

How will that change now that we have a proper house some distance
away from work?

It’s good for my family, though. It’ll give them that extra time for
relaxation that makes all the difference. From the pictures, it seems
like a beautiful house, too.

I’ll wake up extra early tomorrow – extra extra extra early, maybe
5:00 – so that I can chat with my mom and my friends before I go to

On Technorati:

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.


June 8, 2006 - Categories: -Uncategorized

Here’s a tidbit from “Communication of Innovations” by Everett Rogers:

“For instance, there are 6,000 Arabic words dealing with camels,
including ninety to describe camel pregnancy.”

Random Japanese sentence: ネコは身動きひとつしなかった。 The cat didn’t move a muscle.

Wisdom teeth

June 9, 2006 - Categories: life

My upper wisdom teeth are coming in. Am slightly cranky. Also,
terrified. Apparently, wisdom teeth are routinely removed here, under
some kind of anaesthetic… I need to find a dentist and some time to
get this done. Meeep!

On Technorati:

Random Japanese sentence: 猫はトラと近縁である。 Cats are related to tigers.

Centre Island

June 10, 2006 - Categories: friends

Today I finally made it out to Centre Island, thanks to Joe Whitney.
It was a wonderfully sunny day. The ferry passed through a flock of
black loonies and a flock of white birds on the way to the island. The
birds in flight made such a wonderful picture, but I didn’t have my
camera! Waah.

We had barbecue chicken before biking all around the island. I
discovered that I’m completely hopeless at steering a tandem bike and
that synchronizing is difficult on a tandem bike with locked pedals,
so I sat at the back and tucked my feet up when he was pedalling,
balancing on the thin frame. We alternated pedalling during the trip.
It was nice to be able to pedal but be free to look around, enjoying
the sight of all that water and all those trees.

Other highlights: chocolate milkshakes, an animal farm, good
conversation in a huge chair, another chat out by the rocks that jut
out into the lake… =) It was such fun hanging out!

On Technorati:

Random Japanese sentence: その犬は猫を追いかけた。 The dog ran after the cat.

More conversations

June 10, 2006 - Categories: friends

Last night was also a spectacular evening. Kat, Mike, Shane, Simon,
and I chatted over coffee for a while, then had Korean BBQ. One of the
highlights of the night was heading down to the lake. We watched a
thunderstorm in the distance and talked of many different things.

We should have more nights like that – and perhaps, sometime, some
sunshine too?

The night also raised an interesting question, which I’ll reflect on
more over the next few.

On Technorati:

Random Japanese sentence: 私はこの小猫を猫の好きな人には誰にでもあげます。 I’ll give these kittens to whoever likes cats.


June 10, 2006 - Categories: life

One of my greatest joys is one-thought: immersing myself so completely
in the moment, focusing my entire self on a single thing – a task, a
conversation, anything. I trust that whatever systems I have in place
will remind me of other things I need to do when the moment passes.
This frees me to be fully present, fully alive. I speak and listen
with my soul.

The only thing I enjoy more is no-thought: simply being. The silence
of inexpressible joy. That fundamental harmony. That peace.

On Technorati:

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

The Alchemist

June 10, 2006 - Categories: love

Coelho, Paul. 1988. _The Alchemist._ p149.

“From where I am,” the sun said, “I can see the Soul of the World. It communicates with my soul, and together we cause the plants to grow and the sheep to seek out shade. From where I am—and I’m a long way from the earth—I learned how to love. I know that if I came even a little bit closer to the earth, everything there would die, and the Soul of the World would no longer exist. So we contemplate each other, and we want each other, and I give it life and warmth, and it gives me my reason for living.”

On Technorati: ,

Random Japanese sentence: うちは黒1匹、白2匹で、3匹の猫を飼っている。 We keep three cats, a black one and two white ones.

Hurrah for cat power!

June 11, 2006 - Categories: cat

Link from my sister: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/5067912.stm

E-Mail from Kathy Chua

Random Japanese sentence: 猫は背を弓なりに曲げた。 The cat arched its back.


June 11, 2006 - Categories: family

My parents and my sister have moved into the house in Alabang, and it
was so good to hear from them this morning. They’re on dialup, so
Skype voice quality wasn’t really good – terrible lag! We switched to
instant messaging instead. It was great reconnecting.

The new place is just fifteen minutes away from work if there’s no
traffic on the Skyway. My dad’s happy to be there, and my mom finds it
so peaceful. I’m glad they moved!

Also, welcome to Ginger, our new puppy! Now I will have to remember to
say that we have _three_ dogs, two cats, one lovebird, and one
elephant… ;) (Well, the elephant isn’t really ours, but she’s

On Technorati:

Random Japanese sentence: 突然、猫の鋭い叫び声が私たちに聞こえた。 All of a sudden, we heard the sharp cry of a cat.


June 11, 2006 - Categories: clothing

Henceforth, all of my dressy clothes will be either white or black –
something I can either bleach or dye the heck out of just in case it
gets stained. Either that, or they should be cheap but wonderful. =)

On Technorati:

Random Japanese sentence: ひより見をする。 See which way the cat jumps.

Questions for informational interviewing

June 11, 2006 - Categories: -Uncategorized
  • How did you get into this work?
  • What do you like the most about it?
  • What do you like the least about it?
  • Where else could I find people who do this kind of work?

From _The 2006 What Color is Your Parachute?_, Richard Nelson Bolles.

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.


June 13, 2006 - Categories: -Uncategorized

My Net connection has mysteriously stopped working.

Random Japanese sentence: 猫がバスの前に走ってきて轢かれた。 The cat ran right in front of the bus and was run over.

Yay, back online

June 13, 2006 - Categories: -Uncategorized

I had to reload the module. =)

Random Japanese sentence: 私は私の可愛い猫を自慢に思っています。 I am proud of my pretty cat.

Not a stranger

June 13, 2006 - Categories: -Uncategorized

We made it to the tail end of the reception for the summit in
Connecticut. It was just so amazing walking into a room and hearing
people you’d never seen say, “Hi, Sacha!” They’d read my blog and
checked out my bookmarks. I knew them through their bookmarks and blog
entries and e-mail messages…

I brought out my cheatsheet tagclouds, too. =) Stalker! ;)

I was so worried that I’d find the summit intimidating, but it’s all
good. I’m so excited! That doesn’t mean I won’t have butterflies in my
stomach during my (rather short) panel presentation, but it’s nice to
know people and be known by them…

Random Japanese sentence: お宅の猫を観察してご覧なさい。そうすればその猫の事がよく分かりますよ。 Just observe your cat and you will get to know him.

Linen spray

June 13, 2006 - Categories: -Uncategorized

The hotel provided lavender linen spray. Ah, wonderful!

High thread-count sheets, a mountain of pillows, a few tasteful
paintings hung on the walls…

What a break from Graduate House life! <laugh>

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.

Next slide, please

June 14, 2006 - Categories: speaking

“Next slide, please.” You know, I really should just buy myself a nice
wireless presenter’s mouse. I’ll be totally popular at conferences and
stuff. I know I hate having to say, “Next slide, please” – but who has
the time (and foresight) to provide someone with a script? I’m
surprised no one brought one to the IBM summit, but it’s a specialty
item, so I guess that makes sense…

If we’re heading out tonight, I’m definitely passing by a computer
store and buying myself a mouse. =)

Random Japanese sentence: 最近の猫はネズミを食べない。 A recent cat does not eat the rat.


June 14, 2006 - Categories: -Uncategorized

The IBM summit is _totally_ awesome! And quite unbloggable, so I’ll
just take encrypted notes… Let’s just say that once again, I’m
completely, completely spoiled by the universe… (and IBMers are way
cool!) =)

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? –

Looking for GNOME geekettes!

June 14, 2006 - Categories: geek

Chris Ball wrote:

If you might have any contacts to help get the word out about a project
we’ve just launched over at GNOME — we’re going to sponsor three female
students to hack on GNOME for two months.

Lots more details at:

It’d be awesome if you could pass this on to anyone who might be
interested — we have a really tight deadline, with only 2.5 weeks
before student submissions are due, but I know we can make this
work as long as we spread the info far and wide enough. :-)
Do you know of anyone at IBM who does women-in-IT work and might
be willing to help publicise this?

Thanks for reading! I’d be very interested to hear any comments or
advice you might have.

Pass the call on, geekettes, and join if you’re interested!

E-Mail from Chris Ball

Random Japanese sentence: 「ねこか」とても年をとったおじいさんが聞きました。 “A cat?” asked the very old man.


June 14, 2006 - Categories: -Uncategorized

Check out the keyboard.

Interesting… =)

From Chris Ball: blog.printf.net

Random Japanese sentence: 鬼の居ぬ間に洗濯。 When the cat is away, the mice will play.[Proverb]

Treo on Linux

June 14, 2006 - Categories: geek

Sweet. I want one… <laugh> Linux!

Random Japanese sentence: 私は犬の方が猫より好きだが、それは前者が後者より忠実だからだ。 I like a dog better than a cat, for the former is more faithful than the latter.

Sugar high

June 14, 2006 - Categories: -Uncategorized

And for the people who think I live life on a perpetual sugar high:

During [these] periods of relaxation after concentrated intellectual
activity, the intuitive mind seems to take over and can produce the
sudden clarifying insights which give so much joy and delight.
– Fritjof Capra, physicist

I’m so looking forward to mellowing out over hot chocolate and reflecting on all the cool things that happened today and will happen tomorrow… =)

Random Japanese sentence: 私はこの小猫を猫の好きな人には誰にでもあげます。 I’ll give these kittens to whoever likes cats.

Summit was absolutely fantastic!

June 16, 2006 - Categories: conference

The panel was _really_ fun. Well, it wasn’t really run as a panel, but
more as a set of quick presentations. I think I amused everyone with
my eagerness to speak. <laugh> My voice was hoarse from
nervousness – so much for Toastmasters! – but I survived my
presentation. I was thrilled to hear my key thought (usability isn’t
just about the interface – we also have to tell stories!) reiterated
during the breakout session and other stuff.

And of course the entire summit was _tons_ and tons of fun! The
researcher in charge of the project I’m working on very, very
helpfully gave me tons of ideas for my thesis. The organizers hugged
me and thanked me for being there. People are looking out for me and
helping me… Wow!

Happy, happy girl.

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

Welcome to the world, Daniel Karl Johnston!

June 16, 2006 - Categories: emacs

Best wishes to Daniel Karl Johnston, the newborn son of Douglas
Johnston, totally awesome guy in charge of
D*I*Y Planner. I’m sure Daniel Karl will be making ultracool organizer templates in no time! ;)

(If you want cool stuff for paper-based productivity, you _must_ check out D*I*Y Planner. The ads are sometimes useful, too…)

Random Japanese sentence: 台所からその猫を追い出してくれ。 Chase the cat from the kitchen.

Wireless presentation remote

June 16, 2006 - Categories: -Uncategorized

In response to my wishful thinking about a presenter’s mouse, Chris League wrote:

If I may be so bold, THIS is what you want: http://tinyurl.com/qg7e2

A wireless presentation remote and laser pointer in a very conveniently-sized gadget. I don’t go anywhere without it, just in case I have to give an impromptu presentation. :)

I’ve seen people use wireless mouse instead, and it always looks awkward, balancing it in your palm, or on a table top where you have to come back to it if you’re on the other side of the room.

That is _exactly_ what I need! =D I’m going to look for it locally and buy one!

Check out Chris’ blog, too. Totally awesome!

Today (Monday, actually) was the start of the 2006 LIU Teaching with
Technology Institute. Unlike many professors, I of course have no
problem adapting to new technologies, since I basically invent new
technologies for a living. But the reason I like participating in this
— and other workshops sponsored by our Teaching and Learning
Initiative — is that it’s great to get together with other passionate
profs to talk about teaching. Or, more accurately, about “creating
effective learning environments.” Or, more pretentiously, about

Way cool!

E-Mail from Richi’s server

Random Japanese sentence: 小雨のときは、傘は役に立つが、土砂降りのときは、ほとんど役に立たない。 An umbrella is useful in a mild rain, but when it rains cats and dogs an umbrella is of little help.

Rube Goldberg

June 16, 2006 - Categories: -Uncategorized

For all you Rube Goldberg fans and other people who like incredible
machines: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q5nmspVOz_Y .

Link from Marcelle Fabie, who’s more of a geek than he likes to admit. ;)

Random Japanese sentence: かわいそうにその猫は餓死寸前だった。 The poor cat was on the verge of starvation.

Writer’s block? Read!

June 17, 2006 - Categories: writing

Clair shares a tip for writing even when you don’t feel like it:

Writing for a living has trained me to write anything – no matter what. But of course. it is tougher. Writing three blog entries a day and editing other people’s entries (grammar, etc) could be quite painful too.

How do I get to write and finish up what I have to?


I read. :D

Yeah, simple answer for me. I read and talk about things that got me interested. If not about the article itself but maybe the circumstances around it, the person who wrote it, how I could relate, etc.

On my personal blogs, I don’t write when I don’t feel like sharing the very deep thoughts that are in my head. But when I find something I feel totally interested in or I need a break, I write :) It’s therapy, in a sense. Even though this is what I do for a living ;)

On Technorati:

Random Japanese sentence: かわいそうにその猫は餓死寸前だった。 The poor cat was on the verge of starvation.


June 17, 2006 - Categories: -Uncategorized

From Personal Branding for Technology Professionals:

I had about twenty notebooks that were filled with many lists and notes:

  • Practices of people who had distinguished themselves
  • Tips for life, productivity, and relationship building
  • Techniques to get more value out of your time
  • Other observations that I had collected in the last ten years

I should write more things and blog them, too. =) I run into so many
interesting people and learn about all sorts of interesting things…

Random Japanese sentence: 猫は、肉より魚を好む。 The cat prefers fish to meat.

Business blogging

June 17, 2006 - Categories: blogging, business

If you’re interested in blogging for business, you should check out BlogHarbor. I ran into John Keegan at the Mesh Web2.0 conference in Toronto, and he’s cool. Here are some of the special features for business blogging:

So Des can offer exclusive access to content on private categories via his blog, with a full User/Group permission model which allows him to not only provide access to restricted categories but to provide authorship privileges to any user or group. If you’re interested in reading more about this powerful security model, check out some of our help pages:

  • Multiple Authors
  • Using Categories
  • Giving Individual Readers Access to Restricted Categories
  • Change the “Restricted” Status of Categories
  • Add and Delete Trusted Posters
  • Add and Delete Trusted Readers
  • Add and Delete Users With Custom Permissions
  • Manage Permissions and Security for Groups

On Technorati: ,

Random Japanese sentence: トラは猫より大きくて強い。 A tiger is bigger and stronger than a cat.


June 17, 2006 - Categories: -Uncategorized

Sipping sampaloc nectar with milk and coconut. Whee!

Apparently, the Linux Caffe stocks tamarind juice from concentrate…

Women in technology: things to think about

June 17, 2006 - Categories: women

Upcoming Social Tech Brewing planning meeting. Jane has some pretty interesting questions:

# What are the challenges facing women in IT today? What can we do to change these challenges?
# What is the definition of women in IT? Roles for women in technology does not necessarily have to be restricted to “pure techie”, perhaps it’s our perception about women in IT that needs to change.
# The non-profit sector has always been a female dominant sector. Is this true for technology roles as well? If not, why?
# Who are some of the leaders/organizations out there that are making a difference for women in technology? What innovative projects are they working on?
# Best practices/tips for women who woud like to get a career in technology.
# Do female foreign trained professionals in technology have more barriers to overcome? Are there any existing resources for these women?

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E-Mail from Phillip Smith

Random Japanese sentence: 犬はその特性が猫とは異なる。 A dog is distinct from a cat in physical characteristics.


June 19, 2006 - Categories: -Uncategorized

We had a Graduate House field trip to Niagara Falls today. I went on
the Maid of the Mist boat tour along with many of the students.
Skipping the raincoat, I drank in the sheer elemental power of the
waterfall – the water drenched my skin and the wind played with my
hair! Then I blissed out for the rest of the afternoon up in the
sheltering branches of a tree, and then by the rails overlooking the
river and the falls…

Thoughts from the Social Tech Brewing org meeting

June 20, 2006 - Categories: women

Although it wasn’t easy dragging myself away from what I had planned
for the day, I’m glad I attended the Social Tech Brewing planning
session for the upcoming topic: women in technology.

Jane and Nadia are thinking of putting together a workshop right
before the Social Tech Brewing August event. The workshop will teach
foreign-trained IT professionals the basics of (social) networking,
giving them greater confidence and helping them make the most of the
session. I’d love to help out with that!

There _are_ cultural barriers. I’m lucky because I can speak English
clearly and confidently. I’m lucky because school gives me a natural
opportunity to get work experience – that all-important Canadian
experience that people look for. I’m lucky because networking is fun
for me. I like connecting with people.

Not everyone is that lucky, and hey, I struggle with cultural
differences or self-doubt from time to time…

In this, too, I want to be an evangelist. Evangelizing IT and
inspiring confidence in women isn’t a matter of talking _at_ them, but
rather I need to listen to people’s concerns and tell people stories:
stories about other people who’ve faced similar problems, stories of
approaches to try, stories of who they themselves can be in the

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


June 21, 2006 - Categories: -Uncategorized

Fell off my bike. Hurts like heck. Fortunately wasn’t too far from
Graduate House at the time, but will probably be bedridden for the
rest of the day.

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? –

First taste of the Canadian medical system

June 23, 2006 - Categories: friends

Wednesday was an interesting time for me. I am deeply, deeply grateful
to Leigh Honeywell and Jed Smith, who took me to the hospital and
stayed with me. Here’s what happened:

I fell while trying to get off my bike. I must’ve slipped or misjudged
the height because this was my first time to ride it wearing black
school schoes instead of hiking shoes. Fortunately, I was near
Graduate House when this happened, and I limped to my room to pick up
something I’d forgotten.

I headed back down and decided to brave the bike again so that I could
go to the bank. After a block of much pain, I decided that biking was
probably not the best way to travel. I headed back, found out that I
was bleeding, and did my best to deal with it. It wouldn’t stop,

I texted Jed to tell him that I couldn’t make it to samba because of
the bike accident. I also told a couple of friends who biked, just in
case they had any advice. One of those was Leigh, who turned out to be
on campus taking a class on Java exceptions. Upon hearing of my
distress, she left the class and headed to Graduate House in order to
help me get to the hospital.

I left out the specifics of the accident because it was a rather
embarrassing thing, but Jed insisted that I keep him updated. I told
him that Leigh was taking me to the hospital and that everything would
be fine. We took a cab to Western, and Jed met us there after a short

The Canadian medical system is good, but the lack of doctors makes
things a bit slow. That said, I was glad that I didn’t have anything
serious enough to make the triage nurse increase my priority. Having
company certainly helped pass the time. =)

The examination was a bit brutal, though. I cried and hyperventilated
from the pain, losing a contact lens in the process. They gave me a
painkiller afterwards. (Hmm, might have been a better idea to do the
painkiller before the examination…)

The resident doctor told me that it was a routine injury and nothing
to worry about, although he referred me to a Mount Sinai Hospital so
that a specialist could make sure that everything was all right. The
doctor told me that the next few days would be rather painful, though,
so I texted Quinn Fung, asking her to e-mail all the people I had on
my schedule.

We took a cab to Mount Sinai and waited for a few hours. The
painkiller helped, and the company of friends made it easy for me to
pass the time.

I got admitted to the emergency room at around midnight. I talked to
one of the ER staff about what happened, and then I dozed on and off
while waiting for the specialist. I woke up when Jed came in. He said
that Leigh had to leave already (it was way past midnight then!), and
he also brought some food. I didn’t have much appetite, though.

The specialist came at around 3:00. The preliminary exam was still too
painful for me, so they stuck an IV into me and gave me a stronger
painkiller. It made me drowsy, and when I woke up again they had
finished with everything and reassured me that nothing needed
stitching or patching up. Jed stepped out when they did the
examination, but remembered the instructions that the ER staff gave
him. That was good as I couldn’t remember the examination at all.

So that’s my first experience of the Canadian medical system. I’m
really, really glad that friends were there to help me navigate the
system and to hold my hand throughout the process. Big shout out goes
to Leigh and Jed, who saw me at my worst and stuck around anyway… =)

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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.

A little too optimistic

June 23, 2006 - Categories: -Uncategorized

Looks like the painkillers and other things just took a while to get
out of my system. Ouch! Apparently, also still bleeding a little bit.

I must have some kind of painkiller around here.

Random Japanese sentence: ペルシャ猫に関連した古い話があります。 There is a classic story related about a Persian cat.

Catching up with my del.icio.us inbox

June 24, 2006 - Categories: -Uncategorized

Thanks to Gabriel Mansour for reminding me about my del.icio.us social
bookmarking inbox! This is the first time I’ve checked it, and I’m
delighted to see so many interesting links from eclair, lbuenaventura,
iandexter, dydimustk, coldacid, neolex410, javishare, and of course

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.

More decisions

June 24, 2006 - Categories: life

My recent bicycle accident enforced a somewhat slower pace of life. I
found myself restless. I want to think! I want to write! I want to

I want to burn as brightly as I can. Of course, I don’t want to burn
out. The main risk is that every so often, I get confused about what
I’m working towards. If I write and if I talk about my dreams, though,
my blog and other people can remind me what it’s all about.

I may reconsider a recent decision. At this point in my life, life
shouldn’t just be about enjoying myself, but about driving myself
further (while making sure I don’t burn out along the way)…
Maybe there’s still a way to balance everything.

Random Japanese sentence: 猫は椅子の上で寝ている。 The cat is sleeping on the chair.


June 25, 2006 - Categories: life, reflection

Sometimes it takes an unexpected conversation to clarify certain
things. Today’s conversation was informative and inspiring. There’s
_so_ much for me to learn, and I can’t wait to get started.

I think I’ll take a week off from certain issues in order to
concentrate on my work. At the end of the week, I’ll give the matter
some more thought. It’s not as cut-and-dried as I thought it was, and
the conversation reminded me that there’s more to now than now.

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Random Japanese sentence: ジョンはディックを、もてあそんだ。 John played cat and mouse with Dick.

Blog visualizations

June 25, 2006 - Categories: blogging

We Feel Fine visualizes people’s moods through dots, pictures, and text. Good stuff. Link from Alex Schroeder.

Random Japanese sentence: その猫は魚を食べようと魚の入った缶をひっくり返した。 The cat upset the can of fish so that she could eat them.

A taste of politics

June 25, 2006 - Categories: Uncategorized

Not content with experiencing Canada’s medical system, I also dipped
my toes into its political system. Simon told me that the Green Party
was having a leadership debate at OISE. I tagged along because
politicians live and die by their public speaking abilities, and Ian
gave me a lift there.

It was absolutely fascinating. The two candidates present – Elizabeth
May and Jim Fannon – were as different as night and day. I spent most
of the evening not only listening to the points they made during the
debate but also watching how they made those points, taking notes on
their speech technique and manner.

Elizabeth was by far the more seasoned speaker. Here are a few things
she did particularly well.

  • Her experience gave her plenty of concrete examples to cite during
    the debate.
  • She used quotes to great effect, allowing her to take advantage of
    other people’s clear and concise expressions while also showing
    that she’d done her reading.
  • She used humor to establish rapport, and drew a number of chuckles
    from the audience. Humor also demonstrated that she listened to the
    question and reacted to it.
  • She used powerful statements and good sound bites. (With content,
    mind you!)
  • Her body language indicated that she paid attention when the other
    candidate spoke.
  • She answered each question directly, and then expounded with more
    information. In contrast, the other candidate sometimes started
    talking and then circled back to ask what the question was again.
  • Examples from international politics strengthened her case.


I learned a lot from the conversation afterwards, as Simon and Ian
discussed a few of the points that were raised. I need to develop
political thinking. It’s a great way to practice critical thought.

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Random Japanese sentence: ペルシャ猫に関連した古い話があります。 There is a classic story related about a Persian cat.

What’s the value proposition of a student?

June 25, 2006 - Categories: connecting, life, reflection

One of the reasons why I’ve never quite felt comfortable in
networking-focused events is that the value proposition of a student
is hard to define. Deal-oriented people will probably overlook me
because I can’t offer them immediate value. What can I offer people?
What’s my value proposition?

I don’t have much business experience yet, and as geeky as I can be
sometimes, I’m not as into technology as are people I know. Why should
people want to spend time with me?

I’m a student, a wannabe, an apprentice of life. Right now, I can’t
really offer anything. No, that’s not entirely true. I bring my
comfort with technology, my experience of being alien (in a good way),
my passion and enthusiasm and peace. Perhaps I also offer people an
opportunity to pay back their own mentors for all the opportunities
they’ve received, too.

It’s silly of me to doubt life, considering how I’ve been so, so, so
lucky in the past. At conferences and conventions, I’ve always managed
to sit beside or otherwise discover people who totally inspire me. I
don’t deserve any of the breaks, but I should learn how to make the
most of them so that I can share the benefits with other people.

I’m hungry for more knowledge, more learning, more connections. I’m
excited and interested and alive. Maybe that’s my value proposition
for now – not that I’m some subject matter expert or anything, but
that I’m curious. I should learn how to ask good questions and how to
get to the heart of things. I also want to learn how to tell stories
and write articles and books…

Other things: Hmm… I need to know who’s who. Note to self: add
business magazines to my weekly diet. That’s what access to the
university library and the dorm reading room gets me. And I _should_
take advantage of the library. We have access to all these journals
and educational resources that businesses don’t have. I should take
advantage of that! Maybe that’s part of the value I offer, too.

I can take risks. I can spend time learning about something that
eventually pans out. I can try different things and get to know
different people. Maybe that’s part of it, too.


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Random Japanese sentence: 私たちは庭でかわいそうな小さな猫を見つけた。 We found a poor little cat in the yard.

Congrats to Hrbs and Krisette!

June 25, 2006 - Categories: friends

Congratulations to Hrbs and Krisette on their nuptials. =) My friends
have been telling me all about it, including how my dad totally rigged
the garter thing to set up poor Kel, and how my mom was joking around…

I love how my friends get along with my folks! And I love how my
friends are just such characters! If there’s one thing I regret about
being here, it’s that my friends here can’t experience that part of my life…

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Random Japanese sentence: 彼は1日中行方不明の猫を捜した。 He hunted for his missing cat all day.


June 25, 2006 - Categories: life, reflection

I asked my mom how to converse with people who have far more
experience than I do. She said, “Brilliant people need ordinary people
like me to listen to them. Sometimes, I ask questions that provoke
some thinking on their part. Call it the yin and yang of conversation.
You can’t all be brilliant. You can’t all be talkative.”

I’ve received a number of compliments on my listening skills. It’s
rather odd to think about that. I’ve been asked to sit up front in a
presentation because I’m an enthusiastic listener, complimented on my
ability to include people in conversation and help them feel at ease,
thanked for helping people relax and express their thoughts… I want
to play to my strengths. I want to be an even better listener and
conversationalist and host.

I see listening as a way of drawing people out. I’ve experienced that
before, shaping a conversation to bring people in. I feel distinctly
uncomfortable when people are left out of conversations. I like giving
people the opportunity to show different aspects of themselves. I also
enjoy the dynamics of groups because people bring out such fascinating
aspects in others.

I’m lucky that I got to practice this so much at home. I loved
bringing my mom into conversations with my friends, knowing that she
loves discussions and that she and my friends would get along well.
I’m thrilled to hear that even though I’m no longer part of their
day-to-day lives, that link endures.

Maybe I do have value, then, as someone who listens and keeps stories
and remembers and perhaps – from time to time – has something to add.
Not much, yet, but eventually…

One of my mentors in the company also had insights to share:

Some people can’t pass up a blank space in media without wanting to fill it
in with their thoughts. Partially to create and partially to preserve a bit
of themselves.

That’s one value a student holds – especially one who presents a vast canvas
that is well prepared for all the content and texture that’s out there.

I am a canvas for conversations. Fill me with ideas and thoughts. I’ll
remember them and share them with others.

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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.

Ego surfing

June 25, 2006 - Categories: -Uncategorized


Have fun. ;)

Thanks to Gabriel Mansour for the link!

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.

What I want to do with my life: tell stories

June 25, 2006 - Categories: life, purpose, reflection

In the process of helping a friend get some insights from David
Allen’s book on Getting Things Done, I found myself telling a few
stories about how other people use the thoughts in the book, and how
he could adapt it to his life. Stories!

I’m not a technology evangelist as much as I am a storyteller. I can
tell stories about non-technological things, and in fact I _love_
telling stories about so many different things and so many different

That’s it! I want to tell stories!

Here’s how my grad school research ties into it. My master’s thesis
will be about how to tell newbies stories about a social computing
system so that they can understand the value of the system, so that
they’ll _get_ it.

I’m looking forward to going to work tomorrow. I plan to be on the
first bus out and the last bus back so that I can catch up on all the
stories on the blogosphere. I’m looking forward to writing, to calling
attention to other people’s stories. I’m looking forward to preparing
more talks and articles, polishing stories and facts and ideas into
presentations that might persuade people to try things out. That’s
what my life purpose translates to in terms of my very next action.

Short-term? Let’s talk about one year. My master’s thesis is one of my
top priorities, of course, and I see it as a good reason for me to
find out if stories are useful and what kinds of stories might help
people understand social bookmarking. Orgchart, location, network?
Lots of other ways to take advantage of someone’s context… Anyway,
it’s shaping up to be a really exciting project, and something that
I’d love to see translated into other areas like blogging.

No, I have no idea yet how I can make a living through storytelling. I
want to learn how to write books and speak well. I may need to figure
out what to do in the middle, while I’m still not “respectable”…

I want to listen to people’s. I want to tell people’s stories. I want
to learn about how to do those two things really, really well.

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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.

Testing signature

June 26, 2006 - Categories: -Uncategorized

Changing “Technology evangelist wannabe” to “Storyteller, technology
evangelist, geek”. Is that a more accurate or effective description? =)

Sacha Chua <[email protected]> - http://sacha.free.net.ph/
Storyteller, technology evangelist, geek
University of Toronto - IBM Center for Advanced Studies, Toronto
Into social bookmarking, blogging, wikis, and Enterprise 2.0

Random Japanese sentence: 「いいえ、ぼくです!、ぼくです!、ぼくです!」百匹のねこ、千匹のねこ、百万匹、一億、一兆匹のねこがいいました。どのねこも自分が一番美しいとおもっていたのです。 No, I am! I am! I am! Cried hundreds and thousands and millions and billions and trillions of voices, for each cat thought itself the prettiest. [M]


June 26, 2006 - Categories: reflection

I was supposed to be asleep some two hours ago, but I just wanted to
blog about one of the interesting people I met today. =)

Jacob Appelbaum’s business card doesn’t have anything but his name and
a stylized photograph of an orchid. That’s okay, because he’s findable
on the Net. He’s on LJ, too. Reading his blog, I wish I’d gotten to
know him more while he was in Toronto.


I want to walk through Trinity Bellwoods and spin fire in the large gully on a warm summers night.

Poi-ster! =) I’m glad I brought my poi to Pedestrian Sunday…

He’s almost a nomad, a globetrotting geek. One of the coolest things
about I.T. is that you can work from anywhere. This means, however,
that it can be hard to find a place to call home. And it’s hard to
form ties, too.

Jake’s moving to San Francisco soon, which is a great place and one of
the cities I wouldn’t mind getting to know inside out. Still,
he wishes he could stay.

I am also between places. My situation is slightly different, but I can still relate. It doesn’t make me feel as bad as it used to, but still…

I enjoy the vibe here, and I’d love to learn as much as I can from it.
If I can serve as a bridge between here and the Philippines, all the
better. And goodness knows how glad I am to be able to walk in a park
or hang out with friends late at night or get around on my own without

I wish I had the ability to wander as he does: to travel from place to
place and get to know different people, to breathe a place in and know
it inside out. Then I want to get to know one place really, really
well… and then I want to bridge wherever that is and the country
that still needs me.

Having to apply for visas everywhere makes Plan A difficult, though.
Oh well, I’ll think of Plan B. =)

Someday I’ll need a home, but maybe I can get away with not having one
just yet.

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Random Japanese sentence: そのねこを怒らすとひっかくよ。 The cat will scratch if you provoke.


June 26, 2006 - Categories: -Uncategorized

Every nerve in my skin is awake. Perhaps I should’ve chosen to numb
them with a painkiller and risk the drowsiness, than be painfully
awake and aware all day?

I’m going to sleep now.

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


June 26, 2006 - Categories: -Uncategorized

Every nerve in my skin is awake. Perhaps I should’ve chosen to numb
them with a painkiller and risk the drowsiness, than be painfully
awake and aware all day?

I’m going to sleep now.

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

Tiny laptop = conversation starter

June 28, 2006 - Categories: geek

I can’t count the conversations that have started because my laptop’s
smaller than usual, but I’ve enjoyed each of them. Today was no

I passed by Tucows too early for my podcasting appointment with Joey
de Villa and Gabriel Mansour, having for some reason thought it would
be 4:00 instead of 5:30. I read a few articles in the lobby before
deciding to head back to Graduate House in order to drop off my
confirmation deposit. While waiting for the Dufferin bus back to the
subway station, I worked on my laptop. (You _gotta_ love a city where
I can do that and not be too worried about getting mugged!)

Someone remarked on the size of my laptop. He introduced himself as
Doug and said that he’d seen me in the Tucows office. We chatted about
Linux and BSD, DNS, his previous work, the book he was reading, and
other fun stuff.

With Spadina drawing near, he suggested coffee. He was quick to
explain that it wouldn’t be a date thing and that he has a girlfriend
– thoughtful of him to set me at ease! =) – but that he wanted to
continue the conversation at some time because he thought that I was
interesting. So yeah, it would be fun to introduce him to other geek

Random Japanese sentence: 猫は生け垣を通り抜けた。 The cat got through the hedge.

What’s your story?

June 28, 2006 - Categories: story

Thanks to Gabriel Mansour, I was part of a fun podcast with Joey de Villa (Accordion Guy, Tucows). Joey and I chatted about the Philippines, tech, moving to a new country, Emacs (“For those of you listeners who haven’t heard of Emacs, it’s a text editor—” “It’s a way of life!”), and other things. =) That was fun, particularly with Joey’s totally cool audio setup complete with nifty microphones and a sound mixer.

It inspires me to do my own podcast, particularly as I’m interested in
storytelling. I want to hear people’s stories. Here’s what I’m
thinking of: three minutes to tell a story that illustrates something
fundamental about you. Maybe it’s about your purpose in life. Maybe
it’s about what you want to do. Maybe it’s about one of your core
values. What’s your story?

What do I need in order to make this happen?

In terms of tools: I have a digital voice recorder that I just need to
remember to keep well-stocked with charged AAA batteries. That can
take care of real-life conversations for now, which is good because I
can attach bios and pictures.

I’d like to be able to interview people over the Net and over phone,
too. I should figure out how to record Skype conversations in order to
take advantage of free US/Canada long distance (to phone) and free
PC-to-PC calls. If I can’t get that to work, I can use Gizmo or
something like that instead, I guess. More of a hassle, though. As for
phone… I don’t know, maybe I’ll get some kind of gadget later on.

In terms of stories: I need to start off with an introductory podcast,
then I need to line people up for it. Maybe I can set once every two
weeks as a nice goal? Podcasts don’t have to be totally regular
(that’s what RSS is for!), but it might help. If I like the pace of
two weeks, I might even be able to step it up to once a week.

I want to hear your story. Interested in being part of something like this?

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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.

Hey! Toastmasters! =D

June 28, 2006 - Categories: toastmasters
Keynote Speakers Advanced Club - Club #: 8600, Dist #: 60, Est: 04/29/2003
Meeting Time: 10:00 am, 2nd & 4th Saturday
OPG / Mezzanine Level
700 University Avenue, Toronto, ON, Canada
Club Status: Membership eligibility criteria required - Contact club

Experienced professionals and beginning speakers alike can benefit
from Toastmasters’ practical, face-to-face learning program. However,
Keynote Speakers is designed for advanced speakers who have already
given at least 10 Toastmasters speeches and received their CTM. You’ll
learn and practice in a friendly, comfortable environment with people
who are on the same advanced level as you, and are there for the same
reason you are — to become better communicators.

Hey! I can join this now! Might be awesome to be part of two clubs…

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.

Kensington poi video

June 29, 2006 - Categories: health

My sister Kathy taught me how to do poi for fun. =) It’s a nifty hobby, and one I always joke about as an alternative career. I like being able to delight people with it, and it’s also nice losing myself in the music’s rhythm… Poi is quite a workout, too!

If you want to learn more about poi, check out Home of Poi. Have fun!

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.

Dan Zen, Mad Inventor

June 29, 2006 - Categories: Uncategorized

I met Dan Zen (http://www.zenmix.com) at a Flash get-together. Mad inventor meets Internet finds peace = cool!

MPG – 2 MB

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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.