Headlines for Wednesday:

Priorities - A: high, B: medium, C: low; Status - _: unfinished, X: finished, C: cancelled, P: pending, o: in progress, >: delegated. Covey quadrants - Q1 & Q3: urgent, Q1 & Q2: important
AX@1900 Blue Jays Baseball Trip
AXGet ticket refunded
AXHang out at the Linux Caffe, think about purpose in life?
BXSchedule lunch for Sunday : E-Mail from Matthew Burpee
BXAdd Matthew to my Upcoming list : E-Mail from Matthew Burpee
Priorities - A: high, B: medium, C: low; Status - _: unfinished, X: finished, C: cancelled, P: pending, o: in progress, >: delegated. Covey quadrants - Q1 & Q3: urgent, Q1 & Q2: important
BC@1830 Singers registration, Hart House debate room? : E-Mail from Graduate Office
AXWrite to Kevin Bartus re Web 2.0
ACSee if I can move my flight to Monday and Friday

1. Telecon: 00:42

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I was panicking all morning because I didn't have the teleconference details for something at noon, but fortunately I remembered that I could e-mail a friend in IBM and ask him to send a message to the teleconference organizer. I then used Skype to call in for free. Hooray for Skype! Voice quality is a bit variable, but it does the job, and it's saved me from getting another phone line...

I'm so excited about the panel. It looks like such an interesting lineup!

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Random Japanese sentence: 飼い猫の毛のつやが悪くなった。 Our cat's fur has lost its luster.

2. fMRI scan: 00:47

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I signed up for a research study that needed functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) brain scans of evening-type right-handed people. They promised to send me some images, and I thought that would be _so_ bloggable. <laugh> I'll post them when I get them.

I needed to make sure I wasn't wearing anything with any metal, so I wore a red velvet turtleneck and the red Thai pants, and I took off my earrings before the scan.

I kept dozing off during the test, though. Repetitive task, horizontal position, not much sensory input... Meep! And to think they considered 5:00 to be among the peak work hours for evening types...

I hope I haven't screwed up their data too much. =)

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. Suru to, sukoshi saki ni, mata mou ippiki, fuwafuwashita(!!) haiiro no neko ga me ni tsukimashita. Soshite kore mo mae no nihiki to mattaku onaji kurai kawaii no desu.

3. TTC: 00:50

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It was 37'C (hooray!), so I took the streetcar instead of the bus. A stranger complimented me on my outfit. Eduardo moved here from Mexico last August and also finds summer thrilling, particularly after that winter.

What do you know, I _am_ getting the hang of weather as small talk... =)

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

4. Toastmasters: 00:55

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I made it just in time to catch the Table Topics session at Toast I.T. Toastmasters. I nearly would've won with my impromptu speech about Japan, but Mike Tsang's jokes/insightful observations about India ("Chinese food in India is the same as what they serve in Indian restaurants in China.") won him the best Table Topics Award. =) I was glad that he came out!

Michael Chan gave a speech on first impressions. I talked to him afterwards to give him a more detailed evaluation and do the proper mentor-ish thing of telling him some of the things I learned from that speech, and we discovered that we had very similar book interests. He's also read things like "Never Eat Alone" and "Love is the Killer App". In fact, he goes to the trouble of publishing book reviews on Amazon. Must keep track of this guy. =)

I was proud of Chris Charabaruk, too, who stepped up and volunteered to evaluate Michael on his second speech despite just having finished his second speech as well. I talked to Chris afterwards to give him some feedback on his evaluation, too. I'm glad they're both making the most of the Toastmasters program!

We had our club elections today, too. I got acclaimed to the position of VP Ed, and I'm looking forward to helping everyone learn as much as they can... =)

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Random Japanese sentence: 犬が1匹、猫が1匹、カナリヤが3羽います。 We have a dog, a cat and three canaries.

5. DemoCamp afterparty: 00:58

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I couldn't make it to DemoCamp proper, but I caught the afterparty at Molly Bloom's. I checked all the tables for people I'd been meaning to ping and say hi to, but I was just starving, so I spent far too much time waiting for food and then gulping it down. Next time, I should bring along a little snack or some dried mangoes so that I can get my energy fix and postpone dinner.

Lots of interesting conversations, though, and lots of role models. I'll try to follow up with them over the next few days. I brought my little black book, of course, and it was fun seeing everyone else with Moleskines. (They're like Macs among the geek crowd, only more portable. ;) )

Note to self: either learn shorthand or learn how to write more neatly.

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Random Japanese sentence: 彼女は猫を脅かして追い払った。 She scared the cat away.

6. Programming for kids: 01:21

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On the Kagay-anon Linux Users Group mailing list:
we will just help kids learn the basics of programming, logic formulation, flowcharting and the most important is their typing speed till they will reach 105 wpm.

Here's what I think about typing:

I find that as long as they can type without thinking about typing, they're fine. Get them to touch-type and they'll be okay even if they type slowly. The difference is that if you can't touch-type, you'll be looking at the keyboard, and thus not looking at the structure of your code. If you can touch-type, then even if you type slowly, you're still thinking about your code...

and about kids and programming:

What you really need to do is teach the kids to have _fun._ Show them that, and they'll learn whatever else they need to.

One of my favorite quotes is:

"If you want to build a ship, don't drum up people together to collect wood and don't assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea." - Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Go back and think about what you found fun. What made you fall in love with computers? What was your passion?

I loved being able to explore. I loved being able to get the computer to do what I wanted it to, even if it was such a simple thing. And later on, when I discovered open source development, I loved being able to make a difference in other people's lives - even if it was just a very little difference... =)

Give kids inspiration by showing them what they can do. Give them time to play, to explore. Give them hints, not instructions. Help them discover. Let them own their work, let them feel that it is theirs. Don't make it a typing exercise. Make it fun. Make it interesting. Make it play.

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E-Mail from edgardo bangga

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

7. Why blogging is cool: 03:09

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I hear this story again and again, in different words. This is one of the reasons why blogging is so cool. =)
I have met many wonderful colleagues and like-minded individuals that I would never have met without starting the blog. I have had the chance to speak at various events, to push forward my views on blogs and blog outreach that might put me in the contrarian camp (as Sam Whitmore said to me during a meeting), but a contrarian view that likely will be mainstream view in the not-so-far future.

Link via Tara Hunt.

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?

8. Being a girl: 03:20

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Tara Hunt knows what it's like to fade into the background if one has a partner in crime. I don't really have that problem, probably because people are, like, "Ooh! a girl!" Kinda.

I like being a girl. I like turning up to tech conferences in dresses and earrings. I like hacking my computer T-shirts into something with more style. I like being me.

I like sneaking into tech get-togethers like the Linux Users Group or Ruby Users Group without worrying about technical credibility. I blend in. I'm part of the woodwork. People will just assume that I'm someone's girlfriend.

I like playing up my social aspect. I like connecting with people. Most people find it hard to reach out. They think it's easier for me because I'm a girl. Maybe it is. Maybe it isn't. Maybe I just use being a girl as an excuse to get over my nervousness. =)

If I have to bat my eyelashes at people and bribe them with homemade cookies, so be it.

If I have to jolt people out of their stereotypes by asking well-thought questions, I do so with great gusto.

If I have to bring out my laptop and do some console work in front of them to show them I've got the chops, fine.

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. ;)

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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.

9. I'm sorry!: 07:27

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I screwed up, and I feel terrible.

I hate being virtual...

Random Japanese sentence: 猫は夜行性の動物だ。 Cats are active at night.

10. Downtime: 12:02

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As guilty as I feel about taking another day off, unavoidable personal circumstances have come up, and a little bit of downtime will help me greatly.

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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.

11. Old friends and familiar strangers: 13:29

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I don't know why so many people read about the cooking misadventures and existential crises of this 22-year-old girl, but I do know that it makes me feel all warm and fuzzy when I hear not only from old friends but also from familiar strangers. Thank you for sharing your insights with this newbie who's figuring out life for the first time!

Random Japanese sentence: その猫の一方は黒で、もう一方は茶だ。 One of the cats is black, the other is brown.

12. My mom reads my blog: 13:47

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My mom reads my blog, and that's absolutely terrific. =) I love hearing her insights into the things I'm trying to figure out, and it makes me feel even warmer and fuzzier because she's my mom. Here's one of her recent comments:
"I want small groups, so no one can hide in the anonymity of crowds. ;) I'm tired of audiences. I want participants. I don't want to hear presentations. I want to be part of conversations." This kind of thinking is what is setting you apart as a teacher and as a student. I am proud that this is the way you think and feel, and I know you will try your best to bring out not only the best in you, but also the best in others, and you will acknowledge that the others are doing the same to you. We should approach each other, like you said, not in the traditional manner of teacher teaching and student learning. There is no reason why they can't be both teachers and students at the same time. I believe that the most exciting times are when teachers and students discover "lessons" (learnings?) at the same time. When a teacher helps to bring a student to where he is by teaching him what he knows, the teacher is still where he is; and save for the additional information, the student is!

probably still where he is, but when they discover something together, both move at least a step higher in the quest for knowledge.

So many of my thoughts on education and other things come from my mom. She checked out practically every grade school in the area looking for the best school for my sisters and me, choosing St. Scholastica's College because it offered small group instruction with individualized pacing. She pushed for the creation of a gifted program and then for its expansion to include all students. She read to me until her voice cracked: The Three Little Pigs, the Big Fish, One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish... And when I moved on to more complex material (having figured out how to read The Three Little Pigs upside down), she left interesting books lying around: kid-friendly encyclopedias and references, books on business and career, even books on parenting teenagers (which naturally I read from cover to cover).

She never dictated a career for me, but instead helped me learn how to listen to the world and to myself. She never emphasized grades, but instead emphasized the learning experience. That said, when I got three Ds (got bored in my merit English classes for fiction and poetry), she warned me that I'm going to have to work extra hard to get people to overlook that on my record. ;) But she taught me what it was like to love learning and to want to fill other people with that love.

I love my mom. =) Give your mom a hug today.

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Random Japanese sentence: 猫は闇で物が見える。 A cat can see in the dark.

13. Oatmeal hacking: 13:56

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One of the nice things about knowing geeks is that they often have another geek specialty. For example, Paul Lussier is a food geek, and this helpful tip will show you why:
Arrrrrrrrrg! Not quick-cooking! No, no, no. Get yourself some of those steel-cut oats I recently mentioned in another post and do this:
  • Boil some water just before you go to bed1.
  • Place 1 cup of steel-cut oats in a pot
  • Place 4 cups of boiling water in the same pot
  • Place lid on said pot
  • Goto sleep (make sure you've turned *OFF* the stove!)

When you wake up in the morning, scoop yourself a bowl full of oatmeal and add about a half cup of water. Place it in the microwave on high for about 2 minutes. Add brown sugar or maple syrup, raisins, bananas, or whatever, and either milk or light cream to taste, mix it all up and enjoy. A healthy, delicious, very filling breakfast in under 5 minutes :)

Not a burned-pancakes post goes by without great suggestions from him. =) He's awesome. He said:

I can't contribute too much by way of code to many projects, but if I can keep my elisp inspiration well fed, I figure that's not a bad contribution ;)


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E-Mail from Paul Lussier

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.

14. Congrats to Von Totanes!: 23:46

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Von Totanes has just received his Canadian visa, and will be starting his PhD in information studies Really Soon. Hooray for the Filipino Librarian!

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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.