dal niente

Month: September, 2009

The voice of Tsubanari

“Those who know the power of language don’t need to say much,” explained the kid.  “Because at times, less is more.”

There are times when you come upon a confrontation in life. At times it’s with a person, at times it’s with a situation.  People around you might think it’s a big deal, but, if you have been going about your life in a way that lends itself to constant self-improovement, chances are you might’ve encountered all this before, or, at the very least, you’ve developed enough moxy and technical ability from previous situations to look at this and think nothing of it.

“Tsubanari” is a Japanese term for the sound that a sword makes when a sword is resheathed.

The implication is that if someone hears the voice of your sword whispering tsubanari, then your opponent has already been felled.

I think that when it comes to problem solving,

people spend too much time thinking that the sound of taking your sword out is the precursor to danger.  They imagine the fight, with all the aching and sweat and sinewy cries. It is the thought of all this that bogs down the resolve needed to really make the clean kill.  One needs only to develop the resolve, a vision of the ending, and a lot of situations that could be simplified will be simplified by the simple mental self-prophecizing act of not fucking around. Basically, overthinking is one of the chief exacerbators of complicated situations– problem solving is seldom effective if the solutions are as complex as the problems.  It becomes quickly apparant that the ability to recognize patterns during a confrontation yields better results, because it makes it possible to simplify.  It takes decisiveness.  It takes not a strategy of building of momentum, but an instantaneous initiation of momentum to end a confrontation in one fell swoop.  “It hits all on it’s own,” as it were.

“Zugswang” is a german term meaing “a compulsion to move.”  It’s a term especially relevant in chess endgames in which an equally balanced situation is disbalanced by the fact that each person must move during their turn, and this compulsion to move may result in a degradation of their end of the power balance.  In a chess context, zugswang usually refers to when a player is forced to make a move that is bad for you.

Thankfully, real life isn’t turn based.  That being said, you have two options– destroy the confrontation before it occurs, or, if you are the sort of person to try and see if you can bring it to the edge and possibly avoid the confrontation at the last moment, then as soon as you see that it is a situation where it has truly taken a definitive turn for the worse, then that is when you must make your strike doubly effective so as to regain initiative and end the situation in one movement.

The term “tides of war” is apt when problem solving, because problems do behave like tides.  It’s difficult to go against them if your timing is wrong, unless you’ve developed enough substance that you can crash or cut right through it.

The thing is, one needs to develop the recognition for downward spirals.  Problem solving is in large part a question of identifying the problem, and problems do follow patterns.  Problems are seldom static– they often evolve over time, so variables that are time dependant, such as acceleration and force, become important in the solution. That means that you have to see a pattern in which the momentum of a situation, if left unchecked, is going to be really bad.  A situation that from a distance as a whole is something that minor interventions will not suffice to correct a trajectory is a situation that requires immediate and “extremely-prejudiced” action.

Which is to say,

it is not enough to develop the phsyical, emotional, economic, social or technical ability to solve a problem.  It is also necessary to develop the experience that will help you recognize the problem in the first place, and not just recognize it, but to be able to judge it quickly and accuarately as a whole.  You must distinguish between symptoms and diseases.  You need the eye for zugswang tsubanari.

Those are really just terms thrown out there but the idea of zugswang tsubanari is that you have a compulsion to for a conclusion.

Decisiveness! Decisiveness! Decisiveness!

Lets call it the Shadow.

http-equiv=”CONTENT-TYPE” content=”text/html; charset=utf-8″> name=”GENERATOR” content=”OpenOffice.org 2.4 (Win32)”> So, you set a goal in life—you want to finish university. You want to be able to run the 5 minute mile. You want to get the girl of your dreams. You want to be able to cook an omellette without burning it. You want to only smoke one pack of cigarettes per day. You want comb your hair before you go to work.

There’s always something new that you can set yourself to do, and the Shadow always follows you. And it’s never far behind. Mind you, the Shadow isn’t all that bad—you know it well, it seldom disagrees with you. It’s one of those things that you’re most familiar with. When you with the Shadow, things are simple—you can sit down with it and just cool off outside of the glare of the heavens. If there is one thing you can always learn from the Shadow, it’s how to avoid the eyes of the heavens.

But at the same time, spending too much time with the Shadow in the wrong way is unhealthy for you, in many ways. You start to become colder and more complacent to the ways of humanity, and you approach the methods of the undead. Do you remember the Hans Christian Andersen story? The Shadow might even trap you in its place to live in the ways that you never took advantage of.

Now, if I was to start describing this in more concrete terms (though this is an abstract sort of idea), I would have to say that the happiest people are those who understand the importance of the pace and place of their Shadows. Your Shadow is everything that you are familiar with—it is who you are, and the way you decide to look at the world around you, as well as how you do things to connect you and your world. If you try nothing new, that is because you are wallowing in the company of the Shadow. You risk no sunburns, but, at the same time, your eyes seek no explanations for the lights around you. You essentially see nothing in the dark—you only know what you already knew.

When you go after one of those lights, or when you guess that there may be something even further beyond those stars that you can’t yet see, you leave your Shadow behind. It follows you, of course (it can’t live without you!) but slowly—it is familiarity after all, so it just makes sense that whenever you try something new it takes a while before all of you can really get there. And make no mistake—you and your Shadow are one, even if you may temporarily be separated when you try to jump or fly—you can go nowhere that the Shadow can’t eventually get to.

Whenever you put some distance between you and the Shadow, you feel it though. What is it? It is that delta between reality and supposition, that rouses the life in you with the basest of physiological symptoms: a quickened heartbeat, sharpened senses, sweaty pores. Is that fear? Excitement? Love? Hatred? Lust? Greed?

Whatever it is, it is not contentment that characterizes your going ahead of your Shadow—it is curiosity or a want of something else.

The happiest people I know have figured out some way to balance a healthy relationship with their Shadow. When you need a break, it’s nice to just spend time with it. It’s not only fun to just catch up on the way things are/were, but it’s necessary so that you don’t go insane. You need to come to terms with who you are, which is the space in between you and that Shadow. That is your substance.

Because, for every step you take away from your Shadow, your heatbeat quickens or the amount of stress on your brain increases. If you go too far, and your Shadow loses sight of you, oh the terror! You can’t see it either. It’s that feeling as if everything you ever knew just disappeared. In that moment where you doubted everything you’d ever done, when you were nothing but regret, that was because you looked about you and realized that you’d gone somewhere so far into the burning day that you were blinded and could no see.

Some people don’t like who they are, and they blame it, but the object of that blame is the history and subatnce that manifests that Shadow. So they run, and they run. And without the Shadow, they burn, and are doomed to be swallowed by the sea as their waxy wings scatter around them.

Some people are narcissists and they love themselves too much—their best company is the Shadow. Like dwarves they live in the mountains and though their crasftmanshin in things old of ways old is unparalleled, they live in caves dank and chill.

Either way, a person who doesn’t know how to get along with their Shadow will be lost.

The question really is how far ahead of one’s Shadow should one go? How long should one stay in the company of one’s Shadow?

And if one is lost, either from being too far in the burning light or being too deep in the obscurity of shadow, how does one make things right again?

There needs to be a trigger to break the absolute. When people are lost, there needs to be a trigger. Surprisingly, it’s seldom that people are too far in the light or too far in the dark in any absolute sense—it’s simply that for various reasons, people’s relationships with their Shadows aren’t good.

Solution: go the way of the Ninja. Learn to hide and rest in the Shadows (not not necessarily your own, even!). Keep your eyes open for opportunuity, and when you see it, then you strike. And do so with haste. And when you are done, melt into the Shadows again.

There are always risks.

Lemon Law

So, I went on a second blind date today, with [Supergirl].

Man, what a difference over the other blind date with [Da Vinci].

So, one of the big differences is that before I had dinner with [Supergirl] last night, we managed to toss emails back and forth for about a week.  I guess you could say that’s as close to online dating as I’ve ever done.  And while we’re not really dating yet, at least we’re at the same dinner table, that’s a start.

As far as I’m concerned, I survived getting lemon lawed, in despite two big problems: firstly, I showed up late (only by about 5 minutes, but still); and secondly, I showed up looking like I’d just taken a dive in a pool.

The secondly part comes because, as luck would have it, I left the house on my bike and though it was cloudy, it wasn’t raining.  Five minutes into my ride, it started raining, but it was still within tolerable limits.  Five minutes after that, it was pouring.  And I mean the kind of pouring that people invoke felines and canines to describe.

It took me thirty minutes total to get to the meeting place, and out of those thirty, it poured rain for twenty.

When I parked my bike at Berri-UQAM, the rain stopped just as I was putting the key in my u-lock.

Damn the weather gods for mocking me!

I showed up at the right place finally and met up with [Supergirl].  I was so soaked though that whenever I made a fist, like a quarter cup of water was wringng out of the armor padding of my gloves.  My shoes, which are waterproof, were full of water because of the rainwater that dripped directly into them running down my legs, and I was able to pour water out of my shoes.

Good job making a first impression huh?

Dinner was just dinner, beforehand we agreed that there’d be no expectations and that this was just dinner.  I’d like to see her again though.  She’s a bit on the quiet side, but when I was able to get her to open up, she tells some great stories.  She’s smart, she’s got a good sense of humor, and though her smile and laugh are a bit nervous, the ki she gives off is genuine. It might be a bit unsure, but it is not deceptive. The reason why I decided to call her [Supergirl] is because she’s flown all over the world– she’s been all around Europe, Asia, and North America, and I think that something about those experiences is what what make her easy to be around.

She told me from the getgo that she’s slow to warm up to people and that she’s more of a listener than a talker, and she was right– it’s hard for me to say that I really found the ‘spark’ that I’m looking for, because she didn’t open up all that often– but hey, it’s just a first dinner right?

Well, cross your fingers for me, lets hope I get a second one at some point.


So, I went on that blind date today.  Let’s call her [Da Vinci].

Bottom line– meh.  She just wasn’t all that interesting.  It’s not exactly because of her age, but it’s because she hasn’t been out there and seen all that much of the world.  Or at least, if she has, she didn’t really know how to make it interesting.  It’s reflected in how she didn’t have much to say except the generic stuff like “I like music” and yadda yadda.

She’s not a bad person, just… there was nothing there that really caught my attention.  I’m sure there’s someone out there for her, but she and I are at different places in our lives and I don’t feel like waiting around.

I’ve found that if there is any particular condition I would be looking for in a girl that I wanted to date, it’s that they’ve got a lot of experiences behind them beyond school.  I mean, education is important, and it’s nice to know that someone takes their schoolwork seriously, but the world is very much different after graduation and it’s those kinds of post-graduate experiences that really make a person.

I think the reason why this is because school always gives your life structure– it demands a fair amount of your attention.  And, while it takes a lot of discipline to do well in school, what a lot of people don’t understand is that it takes a different type of discipline to really make your own choices in life about the finer parts of living.

Some people enjoy the programs that they study in, some people don’t– either way, they have to trudge through it.  But once you’re done school, you have choices with how you spend your time, and how you focus your brain.  Who will you hang out with?  What will you do for a job?  How much stress is enough, and how much do you put up with?  What are you going to do 10 years from now?

Questions, upon questions, upon questions!  And when you’re in school, the focus is nearsighted because it occupies so much CPU power that there isn’t much left for anything else anyhow.  But once you’re done?  You’ve got more freedom than you know what to do with.


sometimes, you’re so trapped that you know exactly how to maintain the flow.  That’s not always better, depends on the individual.  But what I’m getting at is that whereras it’s less of an option to quit school, it may be more of an option to quit anything else in life.  I think ‘school’ is the last of the common responsibilities a young adult has, and it’s the sort of responsibility that a fair amount of people get through despite hating it so much.  After that, all choices are open– at least, in theory– and then the person begins to really define the adult that they will become.

I guess this is just all to say that when I had dinner with [Da Vinci], I didn’t necessarily feel that she had a grasp of all that yet. No hard feelings, I wish her luck, but right now and here, I’m not interested…

Let’s hope tomorrow’s blind date goes better !

At the very least, I’ve been exchanging emails with the person tomorrow.  Let’s call her [Supergirl].  And, from correspondence, she seems more interesting, but, we’ll see.  You never really know how different someone is in writing from who they are in person.

In case you didn’t notice, I oftentimes put names in Square Brackets.

The reason that I do this is to remind you that a name I’m writing is an alias.  If I write [Tyrone], that means that that’s not the person’s real name. If I write Tyrone (without square brackets), that either means that we’ve already established that it’s an alias, or it’s a real name.

Some, like Terminator, should be obvious to you as being aliases.

I said it before, and I think I’ll say it again, but if you know me in person, and you live in Montreal, you probably shouldn’t be reading this blog.

It’s unfortunate that a lot of some of my favorite Xangas shut down over the years because of that situation– you’ve probably heard of it, it’s the one where people they knew started reading too much.

The thing about a blog, at least for me, is that I usually say everything that I’m thinking here because I don’t expect anyone to read it.  To help me maintain that illusion, I turn comments off.  That makes me feel like I have a nice, archived storage bin of my thoughts.

Nobody says everything they’re thinking in public though, no matter how frank you are.  There needs to be a border between ‘internal thoughts’ and ‘external thoughts.’  And while Xanga isn’t exactly purely all the internal thoughts that I have, it does include a lot of stuff that can easily be taken out of context by people I know.

So, if you are one of these people who knows me and who continues to read her, and if you insist on doing so (I don’t know who you are, because I don’t check the footprints) you’re certainly welcome to do so– but, you need to accept responsibility that you’re not always going to like what you read, and that it might change our relationship for incomplete reasons.  This blog isn’t a perfect data dump.

And if you follow long enough you probably know who the aliases refer to and all that, and you might even know some of the people that I talk about.  Do so with a grain of salt.  Don’t jump to any conclusions, and take into account that the tones of each blog I write are written in the mood of that moment.  Facts are subjective.

Earlier in the evening, I got a text message from Quynh.  It as asking me if I wanted to go out to dinner in Chinatown with him.  Automatically, I had assumed that it was actually Ly.  Mostly, because Quynh never text messages me, but secondly, because Ly sometimes uses Quynh’s phone.  I messaged back that I had dinner plans already, but depending on how late I finished, I might join afterwards.

He replied “Maybe it’s with your [CCKimbap]!” (And then I knew it was Quynh, since CC is my ex, and that’s Quynh’s idea of a funny joke, or something.)

“Maybe it’s your mom,” I replied.

Anyway, the blind date was a bust.  For an hour and a half I really tried to give the girl a chance to give me something to work with, but she just wasn’t all that interesting.  Shyness isn’t necessarily a vice, but I did my best to beat that maxim “first impressions are made within five minutes” and really giver her plenty of opportunity to just talk abotu whatever she wanted.  I threw her baits in all the corners of the conversation spectrum that she could use to talk about herself, and she just wasn’t that good at biting.

Not that that’s necessarily the type of person who isn’t good to date– it’s just that, over the past couple of years, I’ve realized how important it is for me to be able to communicate with someone, and, more importantly, laugh with them.  Communication is something that you develop through a relationship, but laughter is one of those things that you need to see a spark of somewhere.  Laughter manifests itself as a symptom of a lively soul.  You can learn read a lot about someone by the way that they are happy, which is also why I find that a person’s smile is so important.  I’m not takling about the physiology of it, like, lipstick color and a rack of good white teeth (although that doesn’t hurt).  I’m talking about the type of laugh, the type of smile– because there are fake ones, there are polite ones, and there are the sorts that tell you that this person here knows who he/she is and isn’t afraid to identify themselves.

Mind you, maybe [Da Vinci] hated my guts, which is why she was closed off like a clam. It could very well be that I’m a total creep and that, for every reason I thought she was interesting, she thought “OMG I’m trapped at dinner with this dude! I want to call lemon law!”

What I’m saing though is that I didn’t see any spark in her.  Maybe it’s well hidden, but part of what I’m looking for in a girl nowadays is someone who’s not afraid to show off some spark.

[Da Vinci] and I called the dinner quits after about an hour and a half.  I decided to join up with Quynh and Ly and we had dinner instead where we had a few good laughs.

Actually, from this point on, I’m going to refer to them as [LazyBoy] and [SushiQueen] ([SQ] for short).

I’d write more right now, but it is 5:09 AM and I am getting REALLY tired, so I’ll call it a night and fill you all in on the rest of what I wanted to say tomorrow, maybe.

(Un)like anything you’ve ever seen

Time: 4:45AM September 22nd

If any of you worked in this hospital, you would totally change the way you think about healthcare.  It’s one thing entirely for you to be someone who is coming in as a patient, or as family of a patient– most of you will get this experience at least once in your lifetime.

It’s entirely different to have the insider’s view of a hospital though.  If you could see just what goes on inside these walls, you’d be speechless.


Today, the hospital implemented a new version of a patient management application, code named “Siurge”.  As far as I was previously told, this system only affected triage nurses.  It integrated an electronic triage input, replacing the old chicken scratched hand-written triage sheets with a click and drag equivalent.  The idea is that this system makes for a more complete medical records database, and reduces error by eliminating the need for handwriting.

Unfortuantely, integration is never as smooth as projected.  That’s to be expected.  You might say things going less smoothly than projected is to be the projection.

Tonight was rough as a result.  Training was a big issue.

Because most of the training for Siurge was done during the daytime many of the dedicated night crew either had scarce training, or no training at all.

There was also a misinformation– from the administrative point of view (my sector of Emergency), we were told that the Siurge installation wouldn’t affect us in any way.  That turned out to be a lie.  The Siruge installation changed about half of the computer fuctions, and somehow managed to kill three essential print functions.  We weren’t trained with the new Siurge, much less how to fix anything in the new OS whenever something got borked.

So, the first few hours of work for this shift were nothing short of Warzone– the ER department was figuratively ambushed because we went into the night thinking that we had our guns in order, and then suddenly, everything jammed.

Triages that normally take between 5 and 10 minutes ended up taking over 15 minutes each, clogging the boards and backlogging registration.  Registration, on my end, was madness– with the primary printer down, I had to run over to to the admitting department and manually print each form for every patient who came in.  It only takes about 30 seconds more per patient, but it’s a huge hassle because it takes me away from my primary post and leaves the phones unattended.  Especially when I first come in, the phones are usually ringing off the hooks because we’re trying to line up patients for tests or consultations before the consultant departments leave for the day.  It is a mess, really, and while it is true that I was hired so that I could deal with tough situations and multitask, I think that it’s a bullshit situation when we go into an overnight with reduced staff under such conditions.

And while patients’ and their families can be annoying, that’s not what I’d like to address– it’s the management.    There will always be days with 7+ hour waits in the Emergency department– that’s just the way it is, and I accept that.  But what is unacceptable is that I go into this night without the proper training to deal with that sort of situation.  It’s ridculous, and further, it’s dangerous. And it is not my job to get myself trained– this is a management responsibility, because I (and I’m not the only one) as a clerk was lead to believe that the Siurge installation wouldn’t change anything for us.  How was I even supposed to know?

And that’s just a tuesday.


Time:  8:15AM September 22nd

In the morning, after I finished my shift, I ran into my boss– she had the nerve to tell me “Someone told me that you aren’t doing the MD labels at night.”

“That’s… not possible.  It happened once, and I talked to Linda about it, and it was handled. Every other time, I’ve made sure they’re done.”

“Well, someone said you weren’t doing them.  I’m just passing on the message.”

In my head, I’d already killed my boss 20 times in that span of 10 seconds.

“Well that’d be fine,” I said, gritting my teeth, “if the message was valid, but it’s not, so there’s no need to pass it to me. I’m always the N1, and that’s the N2’s job.   When’s the last time I worked N2, and further, when was I ever N2 and didn’t do the labels except for that one time, which I told Linda about, so it was handled.”

……………..  I just irks me when management comes in with their bullshit concerns; meanwhile, the department is a madhouse because of idiotic higher-up decisions and mistakes, and it’s us on the front lines who have to clean up their bullshit.


Today is my first normal day since Friday.

Monday, 8:05AM: Just got home from work.

Saturday was the BBQ with all my friends.  Sunday was the feasting with the family, because we always combine my brithday with that of my grandfather’s.  Sunday night was work, overnight to now, and now I’m back home so I can finally sleep.

Some notes:

  • The BBQ was great.
  • This family reunion had the least casualties in years!
  • I have some extra cash this month thanks to my birthday! What will I do with it?

So, things are going well.


“Just so you know,” I said, waving my hand to get his attention, “SSU’s still got 3 beds left.”

“What about med wards?”

“Full, but we can offservice maybe 1 or 2? They won’t be happy though.”

“Roger that,” he says, and gives me a thumbs up, even as I’m already halfway down the hallway on my way back to triage.  The current wait time tonight for category 4 and 5 non-urgent patients is 7 hours– and that’s being optimistic.

I think it’s important to note that when people get upset at the health care system, they need to realize that they should usually be angry at the system and not the people working in healthcare.  Most of us frontliners genuinely care about the wellbeing of your child (otherwise we’d get the hell out of this line of business, because the pay and stress is ridiculous) and if things are going terrible, it really is because of staffing problems.

The Emergency department at the Montreal Childrens’ hospital operates nightly with one doctor and a resident or two.  That means that for all the people who come through the door, they’re all basically in line to see one of two people.  Naturally, things quickly get backlogged.

The nursing situation isn’t that much better, with us operating on nursing crews that make up only 50-60% of the ideal team size.

I would venture to say that from my previous experiences at the Montreal Chest Institute and the Montreal General though that healtcare professionals at the MCH are pound for pound some of the toughest sons of bitches around, and I’m really proud to be one of those frontliners.

The team here resonates with eachother really well– there’s a good level of cooperation and morale is almost always high, and on numerous occasions their fighting spirit dumbfounds me.  I pride myself in many ways with being able to put up with a lot of shit when it comes to me– I’ve caught craploads of viruses, gotten infections, been cut up, broken bones, gotten sprains, dislocations, and even been knocked unconsious once.  But to see it happen to a kid, or a baby? Well, I dunno.  There’s something about seeing someone other than me that makes me react in ways that I wouldn’t if it were simply me.

But the rest of my team, experienced as they are, are really good at that– just working on the problem.  Not adding any worry to any situation.  Or maybe it’s just that they’re good at hiding it.


time: 11:19PM Sep 18
Batteries: 60% (Not good! I just started my shift 4 minutes ago =_=’)

Didn’t get much sleep last night so this is not going to be an easy shift.  Haven’t really done anything for my birthday yet– the BBQ is tomorrow, so that’ll be that.  But, before I can get to that, I need to survive tonight’s night shift.

I should’ve probably known better and taken precautions sooner,but due to my birthday I’ve been getting text messages from just about everyone with well wishes, including people who don’t normally text message me.  It doesn’t help that my Facebook account is also linked to my phone, so whenever someone writes me som FB mail or scrawls on my wall, I get notifications.  NOrmally, I go days and even weeks before anything shows up on my phone (I’m not very Facebook popular) but since Facebook is the only online medium where my birthday is actually registered, that means that my birthday is the one time of year when people just start messaging me like crazy for the day before, of, and after to wish me well.

Thanks to everyone who wished me well! 

The downside though is that when you’re trying to sleep, at the corner of your head you constantly hear your phone vibrating or ringing you up with a new message.  I never turn off my phone, you see– I’m on call for Code: Orange situations for work (yes, 24/7), and I like to leave it on at all times for family emergencies, especially now that my grandparents are getting into more and more frequent situations.  I considered turning off the ringer, but that was only after I’d been woken up like 5 times by text messages, and even on vibrate I was sensitive enough to notice it buzzing on my table.

The thing is, yes, most people are sensitive enough to not send me text messages in the middle of the night, as would be considered common etiquette.  However, being a part-time night jockey, I sometimes (like, lately) have been sleeping during the day.  Thus, I’ve always being woken up.


My general rule about things like that is that if you have anything to say, just send me a text message or give me a call, doesn’t matter what time of day.  24/7, you always have the option of calling me– mind you, I have the option of ignoring the call (especially if I’m at work) or sleeping through it, but I accept responsibility for being the 24hour goto guy.



tomorrow is going to be a long day.  I’ll be finishing work at 7:15AM, I’ll get home, shower, maybe have some breakfast/dinner.  Then hop in bed and try to sleep myself into a coma.

If I’m lucky, I’ll wake up around 4pm which will be a good 8 hours, and then it’s off the grocery store to find some food for the BBQ.  It’s not going to be very original on my part– I’m pretty much going to the Korean grocery store on Decarie, about 10 minutes away from my pad, and I’ll be buying a bunch of pre-marinated packages of beef, pork, chicken and squid.

Thankfully, Ly gave me a call earlier and told me that she was actually going to help out by bringing some steaks and dessert. Mmmmm, steaks.


Location: @Work
Time: 1:50AM Sep 19
Batteries: 75% (I think after working a bit, I feel a bit more awake)

I think I forgot to mention how sometime a while back, as an april fools joke, one of my coworkers here at the hospital signed me up for Lavalife.  Within a day, I received soliciations from Russian mail-order brides.  It was good for a few laughs I suppose.  What I did get out of it was that I met some people online who, although I never followed up on, I did get the chance to chit chat with online every now and then whenever the odd situation arrived that I was on MSN.

I’m not sure what it is but in my head I bear this immense prejudice against the idea of online dating, and in general, meeting people online.  It’s one of those things, I just think they’re a bad idea.  They just feel kinda sad, and pathetic, if not simply strange or creepy.

When I really think about it, I don’t know exactly where this stigma comes from though.  Maybe it’s that I like to think that I’m cool enough to go around and just meet interesting girls without having to resort to the anonymity of the ‘net.

I think one of those big things that I always thought about online dating was that you’d end up going on a blind date with some sort of freak, some sorta net troll who just stalked the online classifieds out of habit and had no real connection with the world aside from through electronic means.   Like, a nerd.

Who am I kidding though?  Maybe I should look in the mirror. Okay, I don’t loiter around the personals.  But, lets be realistic:

I play craploads of videogames.  Since I bought my Xbox 360 in January of this year, I’ve played and mostly finished 23 titles– that’s over two games per month.  This is while working full time.

I don’t have cable or satelite television, but I manage to keep up to date with my favorite animes and television shows all online.

I own a phone that, when it was first released, retailed at close to a thousand dollars.  Its a couple of years old now,but as far as I’m concerned, does everything I want it to.  I don’t have a home phone number, but I use this cellphone for everything communications related: email; long distance skype calls; and everything in between.  The phone can also video call, but unfortunately that carrier service insn’t available.

I order my clothes online– from South Korea.  If the service was available in Montreal (as it was in SK) I would order my groceries online as well.

I used to blog once a day, and most emails that I write are long enough to require paragraphs.

Every joke that is made in Big Bang Theory, I understand.  (“Please! I’m the DOPPLER EFFECT!!”)

So, who am I kidding? I hold so many of the characteristics of the … er… ‘geek’ or ‘nerd’ who has most of has a fair amount of presence in a virtual world.

Am I ashamed of the fact that I spend as much time as I do in front of LCDs?  I don’t think so– and I know for a fact that, as much time as I do spend with these electronic hobbies, I do lead a pretty busy life both professionally and leisurely away from those activities.  I happen to think I’m an interesting person.

So what’s to say that going for walk in cyberspace will encounter me people any more screwed up than the people I meet in meatspace?


So I gave it a shot, out of curiosity.  What could you find online?  I never used to read the personals– I did read Craigslist “Missed Connections” because I thought that some of them would fill up that part of my psyche that demanded overdramatic chick flics every now and then (which I don’t always have time to watch).

The personals turned out to be an entirely different… shall we say, style of writing. Most of the time, it was sleazier than I would have expected.  There’s no shortage of people who are looking for some casual sex or a one night stand.

On another level, it’s about as shallow as I should have expected: people sometimes come up with the craziest conditions.  Whoever replies must be sexy, have a PhD, speak four languages, and must be working on a cure for cancer or at least, be on their way in reinventing the wheel.

And then there are the ads that, by themselves, are kinda pointless because they tell you absolutely nothing about the person or what they want.


Maybe a week or two ago, I put up an ad in the personals.

I guess it’s one thing for me to be looking for someone in the personals– it’s another thing for me to just take the time to introspect on just what I have to offer and who I am, and write a personal.  I found it pretty tough to do, from a technical standpoint.  On some level, I guess I was just curious if anyone would be interested in what I had to say.

Anyway, from the process, I actually got 5 messages back.  One of them was another russian mail order bride. 
Another one was someone who wasn’t interested but who wished me good luck with my post.  One of them, who seemed the most interesting, wrote a pretty thoughtful message, but after I replied, she didn’t reply back. (Must’ve gone in the junk mail.)

And the other two?  Well, I’m meeting them on tuesday and wednesday.

They don’t /sound/ like psychos so far.

I’m keeping an open mind.


I was thinking about this whole situation, and in large part, it comes up because of this situation with Quynh and Ly.

And the previous situation with [Kingston].

And the only reason why the situation with [Kingston] is different is because I didn’t really think too much about the fact that she had a boyfriend– I had no loyalties to him because I didn’t know who he was.

Mind you, I didn’t pursue [Kingston] as much as I could have, or, as some argued, /should/ have– and that’s only because of discipline and some sorta screwed up sense of honor, or a Bro Code, or something.

With Ly, as much as I like her, I’ve been really good at putting her out of my mind because I’m a pretty close friend of Quynh’s despite the fact that he’s been annoying the shit out of me sometimes lately.

Anyway, I’ve gotten two very different but still very thought provoking bits of advice from friends.

The first was from SiB– he suggested that “All the good girls are taken, and that’s true– they’re in high demand.  Thus, the only way to get a good one is to steal one.”

The other bit of advice is another way, which comes from Zanshin: “Stop hanging out so much with the same circles of people.”


While SiB’s logic certainly seems like it could be true, the thing is, I’m just scared of causing trouble for couples that might very well be working.  Nevermind if the girl likes me or not ‘in that way’– there’s still a lot of potential for an outsider to screw up a working relationship just by spending to much time with a the girl.  Anyway, it’s just complicated– so the best way to go about it is to just put it out of my mind.

Mind you, that probably sounds like it lacks courage– but… something about it just doesn’t feel right.

So I’m more inclined to take Zanshin’s advice and meet more different people.


Actually, if there’s anything that this summer with [Kingston] taught me, it’s that I can just make new friends in Montreal.  Making friends in SK is very different– you don’t need to really try, I find.  The amount of choice that a North American has in SK is limited, so everyone of a native-English speaking background naturally stick together, and friendships are automatically a possibility. And Koreans?  Well, I found that almost any Korean I spoke to was more than eager to befriend me, in large part because of the novelty of my non-Korean background.

But back here in Montreal?

Everyone you can meet has plenty more options of who /they/ can be friends with.  You aren’t one of the few English speaking people in the city– you are part of a majority, and you’re nothing special by default.

Meeting Kingston happened all on it’s own, but the friendship we built was because I took a step forward and went out of my way.

And it sounds silly I suppose, but it’s been a long time since I’d made a new friend in Canada.

It’s a process different enough that I feel I should point out how it was different in SK.


Anyway, my point is– I need more girls in my life.  Not necessarily for a relationship, but, in a strange way, just so that I don’t start overthinking every time Ly and I go out to dinner alone.

In all likelihood, this situation occurs because I have a really flexible schedule and can go out just about any time.

But in my head?  I have a great imagination, especially one for conspiracies… and because she’s basically the only girl I hang out with nowadays, even only as a friend, I naturally start thinking of her in contexts other than her relationship with Quynh.

Am I that desparate?

It’s not that– it’s just that I don’t leave myself that many options.  Which is why I just have to go out of my way to meet new people.


Time: 4:58AM Sep 19
Batteries: 60% (It’s probably less than that, but for some reason, my tiredness has peaked so I still feel about the same as I did hours ago).

I didn’t take a nap during my break because when I get home later in the morning, I want to be able to just sleep like a stone.

The Scythe is One Year Sharper

So, yesterday was my birthday.  Nothing big really happened actually– since I was coming off of an overnight shift, I was pretty occupied with just sleeping, and I spent my waking hours enjoying my birthday day off playing some videogames.

This weekend, when everyone is off, is when the real celebrating goes on; I’m going to be having a BBQ at my place on Saturday for my friends, and Sunday is a family celebration for my birthday as well as my grandfather’s.

If I may,

I should say that the rolling doggie represents something very profound– pointlessness by some perspectives, but jubilation in spite of it if only we can occupy our minds with something.

That’s life.

Dry Erase Markers

I was updating the staffing board at work tonight and it was a brief moment of nostalgia for me—I haven’t used a whiteboard since my teaching contract ended.


One year ago,

I was in South Korea and it was one of my last weeks as a teacher at the Pyeongchon-dong Anyang-shi branch of the Youngdo academies, as well one of my last few weeks as the head teacher of several Youngdo “Black Ops” projects.  They didn’t really involve killing, as most black ops usually would, nor did we wear much black or do any really sneaky things as one might expect of traditional black ops, but some of my peers and I liked to think that we were special and ass-kickin’ in the way that we were developing the cutting edge of next gen teaching tools for the school.  Leave us our fantasies: the fact is, we at Operation: Swordfish (that’s the monkier we fancies ourselves with) were underpaid, overworked and in many ways unhappy considering those ratios.  But you know.  That’s what work on the front lines of Her Majesty’s Service is like. (I always thought it was positively colonial the way that we were just going out there and teaching English, as if it was somehow something as important as their native language, and not only that, but we brought with us a lot of cultural baggage and we always tried to teach our kids not just language but Western Culture.  That’s another story though.)

By this time though I’d really gotten in the groove of things in Korea.  And so it was that one year ago, at the brink of my termination, we had finally become decent at enjoying ourselves with the ways of the land.  We did anything we knew how to– saunas, taekwondo, alcohol, odeng bars, galbi joints, and, of course, noraebangs.

One year ago,

being in Korea would probably be the most taxing single month of my life on my health as we celebrated not only my birthday but my retirement from the branch. It wasn’t just one celebration– it was a marathon of singing and boozing for almost three weeks straight.  It probably would have killed me, hadn’t I been of fair constitution.


I remember showing up in class with the pockets of my denim jacket stuffed with board markers.  I used to wear a jean blazer because, more than once, I had been stabbed in the back either by uncapped pens or scissors by tiny little students.  I kept the markers in my pockets because otherwise the students would horde them to themselves and I’d never be able to get any teaching done.

Writing on a whiteboard is actually an interesting thing.  I’m not sure if other teachers have the same experience, but for me it wasn’t anything like writing on paper.  My handwriting is pretty different on a board compared to on paper.

Having to write on a whiteboard daily during my teaching contract made me change my lifestyle in certain ways—it meant that when practicing taekwondo, I’d try extra hard with my left hand but leave my right arm as fresh as possible.  Even in noraebangs, I’d use my left to hold the mic whenever possible.  If I arm wrestled, I’d favour using my left.

I’m right handed—-the reason for all this then was that if my right arm was too tired, getting in front of a class and having to raise your arm all day to write on a whiteboard becomes more than a chore, it becomes a painful test of endurance if it’s in any way damaged.


Nowadays in Montreal 2.0,

I don’t go on 3 week party marathons, but I think that I’ve managed to find a good ratio of work hard and play harder that makes me happy.

Just yesterday (sunday) I awoke at 10pm to have dim sum for lunch with my family, then made it back to the apartment for 1pm to have breakfast with Zack, Ly and Quynh. I’m not sure why, but Quynh paid for my lunch so I didn’t have to pay a dime for any eating.  After that, we joined up with [Terminator], [SoCool], [5osh] and Jordan for some bowling.  Amazingly, when we decided to play a money game, I blew them all out of the water: I bowled a 183, which is a personal record, and won myself 25$ in the process.  The next money game I came in dead last with a pathetic score of 90, but the whole experience was still a lot of fun and I’m glad that [Terminator] goaded me into joining them rather than sleeping.


In a moment of insanity last night at about 4AM,

the movie Yes Man came up in my memory, particularly that scene in which a man is about to commit suicide by jumping from a building.  Jim carrey’s character then saves his life by playing Third Eye Blind’s “Jumper,” a song that I’d never learned yet.

The day before, after Zack and I had a late lunch at Cosmo’s, we’d gone to a local music store and picked up a guitar amp cable.  This was definitely something that I needed because my old cable was all internally corroded and didn’t always deliver a clean sound, sometimes it would just cut off altogether.

Well, I looked up Jumper lessons on youtube and, well, I learned how to play it.  It’s not really hard in retrospect, but you must understand that I’m really not all that good at guitar. I give myself a pat on the back when I manage to tune my guitar– anything beyond that, as far as I’m concerned, is prodigious.

After bowling ended on Sunday and our group migrated back to my apartment, I went back to the guitar to attempt to practice it some more and, aside from the solo part which I haven’t quite figured out yet, it’s almost perfect.  It’s definitely fun, either way.  I played a few games of chess with Ly and then after that they all departed for poker– I stayed behind since I had to sleep in preparation for my overnight shift, but before I did that, with the apartment all to myself, I cranked up the laptop with a youtube video of Jumper, fired up the guitar amp, and belted it out for a good half hour at least.


It’s not that you have to say Yes to everything, but I think the idea of Yes Man is great.