dal niente

Month: March, 2010

I’m double-knotting the waist drawstring on my scrub pants today…

… because it was raining this morning, I biked to work without my raingear
(no splashguards or waterproof pants) because I was coming from
[Supergirl]’s apartment, so I got soaked through to my underwear, so I’m
going commando under my scrubs right now and scrub pants’ drawstrings are
notorious for coming loose.

Y’know, just FYI.

Grab Bag

Haven’t had much time to sit around lately and just blog, but here’s what’s worth mentioning to those who are curious.

I took a couple of days off last week and went to Mont Tremblant (Tremblant Mountain), up northwest of Montreal. I went with [Supergirl]. It’s the first “vacation” we’ve ever done together, if you consider a 4-day weekend a vacation. I do, considering it’s the first couple of vacation days since I came back from Korea.

It’s reminded me how much it’s really nice to sometimes get out of the city and do something out of the ordinary. I mean, really, go somewhere where you don’t know anybody, go somewhere where you’ve basically just earmarked yourself to have fun and to hell with the budget, to hell with a schedule, to hell with anyone trying to ask you for this or that– just, really, a tactical retreat. Go out, have some crazy crepes for a meal, stay at a spa, make love all evening, talk, whatever… just, it’s nice to slow down and not feel that the day after the next is going to be a work day.

It’s nice to decompress.

I’m a workaholic. And like all -holics, the real dastardlyness of the addiction is that it is passive– you don’t have to be feeling the stress of it directly compromising your happiness, you don’t have to be in direct confrontation with it– it can be working on you even when you feel you’re in a normal mood. It’s always there, passive, like a dark passenger. Sure, our addictions take a back seat every now and then because of the normal on-off cycle of activities throughout or workdays so sometimes we feel they’re not there, but our routine brings them back constantly so that those cravings are satisfied. Usually our routines are setup in such a way that we reach a comfortable balance with our addictions, so we never even know we have them, we don’t even understand how they affect us.

I like to go cold turkey on something every now and then.

I think that after working here in the Operating department for about two months, I’ve sort of adjusted to ‘normal’ life. No more moonlighting or graveyard shifting. The psychological time dillation effect is finally gone, and I sort of have a better grasp of what’s going on with my surroundings now. I’m sleeping more consistently (getting tired and waking up at the right times) even if I still tend to sleep in three or four hour chunks.

It’s the second time I’ve ever gone skiing in my life– the first time was over ten years ago. I was so nervous even on the Green descents (easiest of the easy, next to the Bunny Hills apparently) that I was falling back on oldschool martial arts training– if you don’t want to fall, widen your base, keep your knees bent. Overdid it, I think, so I was ‘pizza plowing’ my way down the hill with my skiis pointed almost perpendicular to eachother, with my knees so bent I was almost in a seated position. That was the first run. By the time I got to the bottom of the hill, I was thinking to myself: “Holy shit. And Supergirl wants to ski for two days? That was just one run and I’m so fucking exhausted!” And I was! You should understand that I, by no means, have weak legs. When I used to do jiu jitsu, it was very uncommmon for anyone to ever get me in any leg locks, and throughout over 10 years of kickboxing, I’ve always been more of a kicker than a puncher. I also bike and run.

But to ski in a near seated position for half a trail? God, that was like murder. At the end of the first run I was so exhausted that my knee was starting to hurt from the strain and I was thinking, in my head, of how I was going to break it to Supergirl that maybe it’d be best if she went skiing on her own and that I waited for her down here at the base?

But you know what, I toughed it out. Tried the same route a second time. Tried to loosen up. Tried to see what a 5 year old, 50 pound kid had that I didn’t. It turned out to mostly be moxy and fearlessness, but lacking that I persisted with simple stubborness and masochism. Maybe add in a few parts machismo, because I didn’t want to let Supergirl down.

On the skii lift up for our second run, and upon closer observation, so many people were either a fifth of my age or 5 times my age, and I thought to myself– what the hell is this! Why is it so easy for them!

I should point out that I’m embarassingly acrophobic, so seeing sheer 50 foot drops off the sides of skii trails only separated from my possible trajectory by a few lines of flimsy 2X4s isn’t very reasurring. So I probably noticed early on that nobody else seems to be so scared that they’re skiing down in a horse stance.

And you know what? I’m glad I did. Because it got better, my technique improoved, and by the time we were on our fourth run, it was actually really fun.

I’ve started playing the newest Street Fighter game (Street Fighter IV, PS3 edition). Expect a post on that soon.

Speaking of things that I’m getting better at, I used my straight edge razor for the second time this week. I’ve gotten better. The first I used it, I butchered my chin a fair amount with a buncha papercuts and a couple of bloody cuts, but this time around I’m down to just 3 papercuts with almost no blood.

I’m not sure why I’m so fascinated with it– people have pointed out that if something happens, I might just slash out my jugular. Maybe it’s because I work in the surgery department now? Who knows! But it is fun, and though I really didn’t think it would turn out well at first, persistence is paying off.

I was complaining about a month ago about how Rogers Wireless (the telecom company I have my cellphone services with) was being really stupid about their Android phone service, but I’m glad to report that that’s actually going better. I’m not sure if it’s Rogers or Google who made the changes, but the Android Marketplace is finally starting to show some real promise.

First of all, the Rogers Android App was finally released. It allows me to manage several of my Rogers account settings from an App instead of having to browse sub-optimally through the website, or having to call tech support. This app has been advertised as “coming soon” for months and I’m glad to see it’s finally out there, although Rogers could do a better job of promoting it. It’s kinda buried among a gajillion apps out there.

Secondly, for the first time I’m starting to see pay-for apps on the Marketplace. I haven’t tried many of them because, frankly, I think that the freeware out there does a lot of excellent stuff already (althoug most apps seldom cost more than a couple of bucks, I guess you can call me cheap). But at least we’re seeing those paid apps now because it tells me that some people are trying to make money off of developing projects. And where there is money to be made, there will also be increasing freebies of increasing quality. At least, that’s the freeware model I’ve traditionally liked to subscribe to.

Marketplace apps are also suddenly being flooded with updated versions– it used to be, I’d install an app and there’d be a revision coming out once every month or so. Now, I install an app and there are revisions within a week for all of my popular ones. While I don’t want this to turn into some Microsoft style update-trigger-happy frenzy, I do like the idea of updates pending because it tells me, again, that someone’s working on this stuff. Especially since Android is off to a rough start in Canada from what I’ve heard.

The one thing that would make me very happy is if Rogers finally rolled out Android 2.0, because they’re still limiting the HTC Dreams to 1.5. Which, mind you, isn’t bad, but….

I’ve started playing this smartphone game called “Foursquare” which is sorta a GPS acheivements based game. (www.foursquare.com) Basically, you wander around in meatspace, and everytime you find yourself at a venue listed on Foursquare, you can ‘check-in.’ You get points by checking-in at a venue. Do it enough times and you can become the mayor of the place. Check-in with special patterns and you can earn yourself several acheivements.

Playing this game has revealed two things. Firstly, I’m an acheivement whore. I just can’t get enough of the mentality of setting my brain on some stupid obscure goal and working my ass of in stupid ways until I get that. It’s like a combination of ADD and OCD. More on this when the Street Fighter post comes. Not that this is bad… in fact, I think this is largely part of my charm. It’s not that this behavior is new to me, but what Foursquare reiterates is what Xbox 360 started for me– little pats on the back for going out of my way to master some strange practice that seems trivial in the big picture of things is something I really go out of my way for.

Secondly, more of my friends need to get good cellphones. Foursquare is available on several OSes, but the fact of the matter is, not only aren’t my friends playing it but many of them can’t. Of those who can’t, some are because their phones are simply too outdated (don’t have internet capabilities or GPS) or don’t know how (have a perfectly capable iPhone, but don’t know how to do anything with it except play Labyrinth.)

For all you iPhone users out there: aren’t you embarassed? You went through all that trouble to be part of the pack by getting a cutting edge piece of hardware, when the only thing that makes you part of the pack is that you’re holding effectively the same piece of black plastic and metal as everyone else. You might as well be using a rotary dial phone for all the good it’s doing you, because you are still using it just for calls, and maybe for SMS. Maybe you browse a few websites or use it as a calculator.

My problem with the fashion trends of technology is that they’re so disfunctional– iPhones and pretty much anything Apple is in fashion, to be sure. But how many people out there actually need the hardware that they’re using?

I think people mistake my feelings towards Apple products. It’s not that I don’t like apple products– in truth, I think they’re pretty marvelous. They bring to the table a lot of ‘gamebreaking’ changes, with an all-inclusive sort of immersive experience that you can’t help but feel is complete.

My beef is one of efficiency. The technology should meet the need and the want. Of course people want more than they can use, but that’s ugly. Elegance is in the form fit customization of the tool to the user… it’s in scnchronization and comfort, not in excess!

But I guess that explains also why many people don’t play games like Foursquare– they just don’t know how, and it’s outside of their circles.

I started playing Army of Two: 40th Day with Supergirl, and we were talking about it later that night. I love how with her, we can try something new every now and then we just never really run into a situation where we’re like “God! I have to endure this to be with him/her?” It seems like not only do we get along well with what we know about eachother, but things we don’t know about tend to go just fine as we learn them too.

She’s of a hardcore MMORPG background (WoW, Diablo II, FFXI, Ragnarok Online, etc) that doesn’t necessarily develop the first person (or third person) shooter stomach. She gets a bit queasy. Army of Two might be one of the better games to try this on because, compared to a Bioshock or Halo game, it’s a relatively slower FPS, more in a realistic category.

Regardless of the technical bits, it was a lot of fun to play AoT2 with her. AoT2 is one of those games where communication and teamwork is essential. Like in Gears of War, levels are designed specifically so that two players can work together to distract, outposition, and enfilade the computer opponents. Real life communication is necessary because you’re always shouting something out like “By the railing on the right!” or “I’m running low on ammo!” It’s equally important for situations like “Oh shit! I just dropped a grenade by accident!”

We’re going to be playing AoT2 again tonight at my place, so we’ll have some fun with that.

This friday (tomorrow) we’ll be at Supergirl’s place, and [SiB] will be our guest for some Street Fighter IV. I’m really looking forward to that!

Line ‘Em Up

I bought a straight edge razor the other day. You know, the kind that
Sweeny Todd uses to flay people. I started using it and I don’t care what
they tell you in Mach 5 Fusion commercials– you will not get a closer shave
than going oldschool with some cold uncaring Solingen steel pressed against
your face. I cut myself like… 5 times, but GOD after I was done I felt
like I was frikking ninja, and that every hair I’d cut down was actually a
screaming samurai. Sometimes, I’d cut the same one *twice*. I mean, I went
through that crowd like a lightsaber through melted butter. Surprisingly
too, straight edge razors are hella cheap compared to the Mach 5s I used to
use. But really, that’s assuming you could ever put a price on *manliness*.

Lucky 13

Tomorrow is the 13th.  Some of those 13ths are Fridays, but regardless– that’s not why I mention the 13th.  Superstition aside, it is, in fact, a pretty lucky for me.

“You had something the others didn’t,” says Cortanna in the opening of Halo 3; “Luck.”

I’ve always been lucky, I think. Or perhaps the only bit of luck I have is that I have a eyes that see the world rose-colored, abounding not in setbacks but challenges, not in losses but lessons, and not in heart-aches but the warmth of human connections.

Six months ago on the 13th, I exchanged emails with [Supregirl] for the first time.  She was responding to an add I put up on Craigslist, to which she was among only a handful of responses.  I’m sure that if you’re a girl and post for men, you get infinite numbers of replies, with or without pictures of penises attached.  I guess I’m glad that I specified that I wasn’t into dudes, because all the emails that came back to me were on the level. 

On the date of our first dinner, I tried on a fifth combination of shirts and jeans, and then spent another half an hour working on shoes and jackets.  When I was finally ready to roll out, I got on (not in) the Warthog (my bike) and headed downtown.  About 15 minutes into the 30 minute ride to my desination, it started pouring rain.  By the time I arrived at my destination, I was soaked to the skin.  Enough water had run down my legs that I could pour water out of my shoes, to say nothing of my carefully chosen button down shirt and jeans– plastered to my skin, they were threatening to give me hypothermia now that I wasn’t moving and sitting across the table from her.  Partly to keep my teeth from chattering and partly due to nervousness (I thought she thought I was boring) I blabbed on and on through the night, except for the parts where my friend (the owner of the restaurant) sat down to talk about his abusive family, and where [SiB] made an unexpected cameo to strike up an embarassing conversation on “Just where did you two meet?” which, Supergirl later admitted, made it seem like I had this elaborate farce of a first date orchestrated every step of the way for it’s weirdness.

And this was the premise of my first date– weirdness.  It is a tradition, a theme perhaps, that carries on to this day between us.  I’m not your typical guy, and, that’s just fine, because she’s not your typical girl.

However, the 13th is not without it’s drawbacks– tomorrow marks 6 months of us being together.  Half of a year!  That’s so easy to say, but when you really think about it, that’s a really long time, isn’t it?

Every time the 13th comes up though, I don’t know what to do. I feel that somehow I should be able to make something special happen to celebrate, but every time it comes up, I’m either hesitant or simply out of ideas.  How to make something romantic?  Like with birthdays or holidays or whatever, I’m usually at a loss– I’ve never been much of a celebration kind of person.

But she is, and, I think that part of the importance of a relationship is appreciating the things that your partner appreciates.  I’m not a very artsy-craftsy person, so I can’t compete with the two person pillow she sewed and stuffed from scratch for us; she’s a way better cook than me, so she beats me to the punch for those things if only because I don’t think either of us enjoys carbonized meat for a romantic dinner.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that she’s definately  the more adept of us two when it comes to being able to make the other person feel appreciated.  So whenever the 13th nears, I start getting stressed out.

If you love someone, I think it’s important that you not only say it, and you show it, but you reiterate it constantly.  As I write this, it’s 5:23PM, Friday evening.  She’s probably cooking up a storm as I write this, since tomorrow, I won’t be able to have dinner with her because I have to deal with some family matters, so we’re having our dinner tonight.

And here I am at work, amazed at how lucky I am.  Because despite all my vices, she isn’t one of them, and she is the one who sets the candle out for me.

Heroes of the Office

Do any of you remember that old Bureau En Gros (or in English speaking
provinces, Staples) commercial, “Heroes of the Office”?

In this short collection of television commercials for the office supply
store, they’d have a narrator with a big booming voice voicing over slow
motion scenes of action replays from the office.

A man clicks “send” on that final email report at the end of the day.

A dude manages to yank out that one piece of paper jamming the fax machine.

The lady puts the finishing staple on the last of the TPS reports.

And then everyone on the team beside them either breaks out slow motion fist
pumps, high fives and chest bumps, with the narrator saying: “You men and
women of the office, you Heroes of the Office, we salute you!”

Yeah, that’s me today. I’m a fucking hero of the office. I finished
compiling a shitload of mystery dossiers through forensic data collection
(you don’t need to know what that means, it’s an extremely tedious
process). Our deadline is to finish today, and I’m done 40 minutes in
advance when we expected to be at least a day late.

Awesome, I am, I tells ya!

All Systems are Go

Time: 11:45AM March 8 2010
Batteries: 97%
Morale: 🙂

It has been 8 days since [Sipergirl] came back to Montreal. If you’re
wondering why I’ve been mostly silent on the blog front for a while, that’s
probably a large part of why.

It’s one thing to work, day in and day out, and try to have some fun on the
sides. It’s another thing entirely to go to work and then come home to
someone, someone who you’re always glad to see, and who makes the work day
seem like it has some purpose. I don’t have all that much on my mind
lately. That’s a good thing, I suppose, right?

Today, I officially start my ‘trainerless’ work shift. From now until the
end of my work contract in October, I’ll be working from 10am to 6pm, Monday
to Friday. I got my paycheque– it’s about a hundred Canadian dollars less
per paycheque even though I work one more shift (compared to when I worked
at the ER), but you know what? Money really isn’t everything.

I woke up this morning due to sunlight, and not my alarm. I nudged
Supergirl until she woke up and we got into some monkey business for an
hour, we went back to sleep. I woke up first, made some pancakes, and we
had breakfast together before I left for work.

For the first workshift in weeks, perhaps months, I’m at work with eyes not
worn by sleeplessness, and belly full of breakfast actually eaten at
breakfast time. From over the counter, I can watch the morning sun turn
into a noon sun.

It’s hard to find the time to just sit down and bitch like I normally do, I

Regardless, I still want to be blogging so I’ll likely change the format a
bit to keep everyone in the loop. Shorter, but more frequent updates, sent
in via email, if the Xanga email thinger keeps working as planned…

Hope y’all are having a good day!

Where is my Fusion Powered Dream

I’m not entirely impressed that my HTC Dream, running Android 1.5 with GPS and 3g data on, will go from completely charged to completely dead over the span of less than 24 hours with minimal usage.

It also annoys me that Rogers Telecom is not releasing the 2.1 OS patch, and that they’ve been promising the Rogers Telecom integrated Android account settings app for several months now without delivery.

I mostly think that Telecom was just done better in Asia.  No matter where I go in Canada and to which company, they’re all full of entry level bullshit.  If I want anything near practical, I’m paying a fortune for it (like I am now) and if I want the future, well, I’ll have to sell off and arm and a leg.

Youth Education

I saw someone playing an emulation of that classic 90s game, “Scorched
Earth,” on his iPhone. I’m glad to see that people still study the classics.

Time: March 03 / 8:32AM
Location: @werk
Batteries: 95%
Mood: 🙂

[Mickey] called in sick this morning at about 5AM or so, so when I arrived at the hospital at about 5:57AM, the nurse in charge told me that I would have to replace her.  She normally works at the OR Control Desk, wheras this week I’m supposed to be in the back at the Booking Office (although, training for the 10-6).  My job at Booking though allows for some backlog though, and the Desk is pretty indespensible (sorta the equivalent of the Coordinator down in ER).

It’s a bit daunting, because I’ve never worked athe Control Desk position completely solo before– Mickey’s always been in the adjacent office to help if there was ever a phone number I didn’t know, or a name that I needed to call.

So far, so good.

It’s been a quiet day with a single sheet of elective surgical cases today, a good number of whom are actually off-service and off-site patients.

The more I work here, the more I like this place.  It’s a quiet moment right now, so I’m alone at  the Control desk.  There’s a clerk from the Recovery Room sitting in the office behind me, answering some phone calls.  All the patients are in their respective operating thatres, there’s nobody waiting in the station and there’s nobody in the halls or waiting room.  More or less, my keyboarding is the only sound.  Across from the hall from me is a waiting room filled only with sunlight.  Yes, up here in OR, we actually have windows.

I think I really prefer the independence and resposibility of working as a part of a tightly knit team more than anything else, and this explains why I enjoy this job more than I did ER.  Not that both departments don’t have important work to be done– but it’s the way that it’s done that makes the difference as far as quality of life goes.  ER had too many people running around being redundant due to bad communication and bureaucracy.

Here in OR, we’re a bit short staffed– that teaches us to be lean and geurilla in the way that we see a problem and an opportunity to strike, and then it gets done.

I went to visit some of my friends in the Admissions department last week, and I ran into [Mar], my old boss, while there.

“Oh, hello stranger!” she said, breaking off from a conversation with whoever it was she was talking to.

“Oh hey.”

She turned to her companion, and added:  “He used to work here at ER, but he abandoned us.”

And I was reminded of one of the reasons not why I decided to join the OR team, but why I wanted to leave the ER team: Mar.


I have this habit, and it’s to develop psychological profiles of everybody I know.  It’s a little bit of a game I play in my head because, I suppose, people fascinate me.  It’s not necessarily with the goal of influencing people that I try to figure out psyche profiles– although it does help, the fact is that if people don’t want to change, there’s only so much you can do influence that decision– it’s more because I like the mechanics of human interaction.  It’s probably nothing special– to some degree, everybody does it naturally.

The way it works is that you meet someone.  You get your first impression, but, mostly, you try to remember what happened.  The important thing is to remember the facts, and not the interpretations. Facts don’t just include the dialogue though– body language is extremely important, as well as the way they interact with others.  Most importantly, it’s important to gauge a person’s energy.  Energy is a strange thing– you can call it their vibe I suppose.

Anyway, the reason why it’s so important to remember snapshots of your interactions with someone and not just the impressions is because impressions are filtered events– if you get an impression of someone, it’s because you decided upon how you regard that person based on that moment.  The whole trick to developing an accurate psychological profile though is to take not just instants into account though, but to see the big picture.  If someone gave you the impression of being really nice or really an asshole, for example, it could have a lot to do with the context of that meeting.  Context may be important to the point where it overrides a person’s usual response to you or what you represent.

Developing a psychological profile is to basically develop several hypothesis in parallel based on how  instances fit or contradict currently “in testing” profiles.  The more you pay attention to the way they behave, and further, the more you try to observe someone under a greater variety of contexts (including situations that you initiate) the more accurate the profile becomes capable helping you predict the ways someone will act in a certain situation.

I guess the best example of a psyche profile that most people have is that of their immediate family.  Usually, you know, for example, what you can and can’t ask of your parents, and you can guess how they’re going to react to situations that come up.  “We’re gonna be in deep shit!” is what you say when you put a nick in your ‘rents car, and you know exactly how that shit is going down when dad gets home.

How do you develop that? It comes from passive study.  The reason why people develop intimacy with family is because they learn how eachother work from daily exposure.  Usually, people know family psyche profiles better than anyone because even if they don’t get along, they know exactly how they don’t get along due to daily exposure.

Developing a psyche profile of someone who isn’t in family isn’t impossible though.  People don’t even try to figure out family– what they do know comes passively just from proximity.  Strangers can be studied purposely to make up for frequency.


Mar, my old boss in ER, is someone who I studied extensively.  I might not normally, because I don’t generally make a habit of trying to know my coworkers all that much, but Mar, being in the management echelons, had a significant impact on quality of life.

Officially, she’s in charge of clerical staff in the ER, not including the admissions and admitting departments.  She isn’t, however, necessarily higher ranking.

I think that’s an important distinction.  She actually wasn’t my boss, although I just say that she is because anything else would be nitpicking on semantecs.  Technically, clerks report to the head nurse.  But whatever.  The fact is– she doesn’t actually get paid more than I did, except because she’s worked within the hospital community for twice as long as I have.  So, in theory, she wasn’t my boss– she was my coworker.  You can compare CVs and shoot the shit about how tough your job is or whatever, but the fact is, pay scales, in my opinion, are a pretty good indicator of how important you are– so she’s either only as important as us clerks, or we’re as valuable as she, the self-proclaimed manager.

When I first started at the Montreal Children’s Hospital ER on January 4th, 2009, it began with a warm welcome from most of the clerks.  That’s pretty standard I guess… don’t scare the new guy off, yknow? About a week previous to that, I had an interview which was conducted by Mar.

Some of the things that I noted in my mind.  First of all, she had a really open approach to talking.  That is to say, she took a “befriend” stance.  From the onset she asked what my goals in life were, and what were my experiences as far as friends and family.  Normally, people do that to open you up– but the sense I got from her was that she was asking me questions so that I ask her questions.

Ever met that kind of person? The kind of person who is, for whatever reason, having a conversation with you, but it feels as if a waste of time because they don’t really care about what you’re saying?  They’re pretty much allowing you to talk because it’s the polite thing to do, but what they’re really doing is waiting for their next turn to talk about themselves.

I think that’s pretty much a good hint of her personality– it’s pretty much that everything for Mar is about Mar.

I think she’s actually slightly delusional as well.  From the moment that she hires anyone, she basically assumes that having done so entitles her to something.

As far as her method goes, she’s instantly everyone’s best friend.  This is mostly problematic because there’s a certain degree of expectancy from a best friend that isn’t appropriate in the workplace.

Her big flaw, I think, is that she expected loyalty.

I think that’s probably one of the big words in her head– loyalty.

Her crucial flaw isn’t that she expects loyalty however, but that she does nothing to earn it.  Thus, the people working for her rebel– no taxation without representation, you know?

At the end of the day, that flaw translates simply to: “She’s selfish.”

There are people who, in all honesty, I don’t like as people, but whose methods and efficiency I respect.  Even if you’re an asshole, I will still give you respect if you’re good at what you do or if you have some substance to you, regardless of our differences.

Mar though?

Power wielded for petty gain doesn’t fall on a list of things I’d call substance of character.

She’s the kind of person who will greet you and say hello in the morning and make small talk with you in that makes you almost think she’s being nice to you– but the moment there’s something where she can help you, she delegates you to someone else to find your help, and the moment there’s something that goes down, you’ve become her scapegoat.

I actually have tons I could say about her, but frankly, it’s not an interesting subject to me after writing even this much.

It’s sad to say, but at least from what I’ve come to know of her as a person from work, she’s not a person that anybody needs to know.  She’s, on the whole, been unable to prove to me that she’s a worthwhile human being.