Category Archives: love

Scenes from a geek life: Duel

W-: I just have some more to do.

Me: Can I help?

W-: It’s okay. I’m faster in vi than you are.

<I do a mock eye-narrow emphasized with hand gestures> <we both do the theme from The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly>

Me: <laughing hard>

W-: Our kids are going to roll their eyes. “Ncurses was so fifty years ago!”

Me: <laughing even more> <mock-crying> “Oh no, I just had an integer wrap!”

W-: 16-bit or 32?

Geek love. It’s like xkcd with much less angst.

In-jokes and shared experiences

W- helped me put together some wire shelves for plants. One of the rods was deformed, so he brought out a mallet and started reshaping it. While he pounded away, he hummed something familiar, and I joined in.

“Isn’t that the Anvil Chorus?” I asked.

He grinned.

It’s great to be able to make little jokes like that, based on shared cultural experiences. It’s like the time that I was up at 4 because of jet lag. I couldn’t go back to sleep, so he decided to wake up to keep me company. As we were going through our morning routines, he suddenly broke into song: “Nessun Dorma“. I laughed so hard.

Don’t worry, it’s not all high-brow entertainment. We make horribly bad puns, too. We laugh every day because we have all these moments to build on.

A love affair with books


W- and I got to know each other over lots of carpool conversations. One time, he gave me a lift downtown. I asked him to drop me off at the Lillian Smith library, which was just a few blocks from my dorm. I had just discovered that I could order books online and have them delivered to a branch close to me, and I was looking forward to a quiet evening with a pile of books.

I hadn’t expected forty-two books to arrive all at once.

I called W- on his cellphone and explained the situation. He drove back, loaded the books into his car, and helped me take the books to my place.

I wonder what he must thought when he saw me with those two large piles of books and big puppy-dog eyes.



After we cleared the dinner settings, W- sat down with Neal Stephenson’s Diamond Age. He was nearly done with it, and had been amused by Stephenson’s occasional geek references (pirates and ninjas! Lisp!). I started reading You’ve Got to Be Believed to Be Heard. When I finished before he did, he said, “Sometimes, you scare me.” I made slurping sounds, and he laughed. We joke about this–I practically inhale books. Most nonfiction books are easy to skim. On the other hand, fiction and really well-written non-fiction are meant to be savoured.



“I have some more books for you,” W- said as he walked in the door. He had dropped by the library at his workplace and picked up a few books: one book on women and success, and another book on design.

He often brings home books he knows I’ll like. Two weeks ago, he brought home books about leadership, management, and workplace engagement. Before that, he brought home books on productivity, life, and comics.

He reads them as well. He likes how I bring a constant stream of books into his life, and often enjoys reading my finds.



We went to the library today. W- and I were browsing through the section for graphic novels. Flight Vol. 4 (Kazu Kibuishi) caught my eye. I picked it up and browsed through it, then tucked it into my to-read pile. When I looked up, I noticed that W- already had the next volume in his. That made me smile.



“There seem to be about fifty new books in my account,” W- said over lunch.

I’d borrowed a great idea from a friend and had someone go through my long list of things to read, requesting them from the library if available. My assistant must have put the requests on W-‘s library card instead of mine.

He laughed and corrected himself. “Okay, seventeen outstanding holds.” He read a few titles and smiled. He knows who I am, what I read, and why I read what I read.


I often tell people that my two main reasons for putting up with Toronto’s winters are W- and the Toronto Public Library. In some countries like my homeland, books are hard to get. I want to change that. Someday.

Developing a taste for opera

This weekend was a whirlwind romance with opera. Two operas in two
days, and now I’ve fallen in love with it. They were right –
everything sounds better in Italian! <laugh>

I liked both Rigoletto and La Traviata, and was thrilled to finally be
able to match familiar arias with images.

Penelope (the woman controlling the surtitles) asked us which of the
two operas we preferred. Of the two, I liked La Traviata’s story more
than Rigoletto’s, although I liked the performance of Rigoletto more.
W- favors Rigoletto. Penelope told us that she finds that men tend
to prefer Rigoletto and women tend to prefer La Traviata, and she
joked that La Traviata’s considered to be the chick flick of operas.

On further reflection, I think that Rigoletto has more complex
tragedies. Still, it’s hard to squelch a distaste for the Duke in
Rigoletto, who reminds us that pretty boys get away with far too
much… <laugh> “La donna e mobile” is a beautiful song, but so

It’s so wonderful to be able to *see* the opera in my head as I listen
to the music. Ah, joy…

Random Emacs symbol: sacha/erc-freenode – Command: Connect to Freenode.

So I watched the opera last night…

… and I was happy to see that the average audience age was well
under 60. I wouldn’t have minded having to dress up, though. ;) I have
a baro’t saya just waiting for warmer weather.

Yay surtitles! Yay cheap tickets! Yay culture!

Thanks to W- for the invitation. =)

Random Emacs symbol: gnus-article-hide-text – Function: Set text PROPS on the B to E region, extending `intangible’ 1 past B.