A couple of weeks ago, I traded in my HTC Dream for an HTC Magic. I think my original review of the system still applies. The dream was running Android 1.5, which, as far as most of you Android users in the US are concerned, is terribly obsolete. But it’s one of the better OSes that I’ve used in execution, in comparison to 2010 mobile OSes I’ve used (Sony Ericsson’s GUI, Symbian, and Windows Mobile). No, I’ve never really tried the iPhone for more than a few minutes.
So there are a few thoughts that come up with the changes lately. One of them is that the HTC Magic is way better than the HTC Dream– the Magic in Montreal is still running Android 1.5, but at least it has the HTC’s Sense UI upgrade on top of 1.5. This adds a bunch of missing features, most notably multi-touch abilities like ‘pinching.’
I don’t know how I end up in these camps constantly, but I do a fair number of things that put me in a tech savy demographic of the world. It’s not that I’m a coder, or a hacker, or someone who upgrades parts of his computer every time a new piece comes out. But I do pay attention to my electronics, and I get the most out of them because to me, otpimization and efficiency is half of the fun. I use an Android phone, I run Linux, I run dual screens on my main setup, I have a media server patched through my Xbox, I have subscriptions to techology and science feeds… what kind of person does that make me?
You’d think that that would make me a geek, or something. I think I am.
However, the rest of the world is coming around– so while this might have something to be derisve about in the past, today, they’re considered skills or at the very least, an element of solvency in an increasingly tech saturated work environment.
It is, simply, one of hobbies that turned out to be having really good returns in my everyday life.
But on that note, it’s not just that I’m open to the idea of technology changing our lives. I think that the misconception is that technology is something that alienates us from our humanity. It is a tool.
Technology doesn’t alienate people– people alienate people.
Before we get finished, we’ll make the town roar
We’ll hit a few late spots, and then a few more
We’ll wind up at Stringy’s and maybe Groucho’s
Life is gonna be we-wow-whee!
For my shadow and me!
Last Friday evening,
I finished work at 6pm. My breast pocket started vibrating, and as I stepped out of the elevator, I fumbled to reach my phone before the ringer went off. It was [Paladin].
“I’m gonna skip out of work a bit early,” he said. “Do you want to meet up sooner?”
I was feeling tired, and I wasn’t in the best of moods because it was a mentally trying day at work, so it sounded like a good enough idea. We had a bit of plan set up for that night; I’d finish work, maybe head to the gym, then meet up with Paladin when he finished work an hour later, and together we’d wait for [SiB] to finish work so we could head out to Marven’s and gorge ourselves on some Greek food. Marven’s has what I consider to be the best steak, lamb chops and calamari plates on the island of Montreal, and believe me when I say that qualification is not ill deserved: as a devout omnivore, no one delivers the goods like they do.
Earlier that morning, just after rolling the Warthog into the bike rack at the hospital, I fumbled my bike lock. I don’t have just any ordinary lock. Mine’s a pretty heavy duty kind where the straightbar section of the u-lock is about 2 inches in diameter. It’s a pretty heavy lock. Somehow, despite that I’ve handled this religious motion of swinging my bag around me such that the straightbar falls squarely right in my palm, somehow something that morning was off and the lock escaped my fingertips by just enough. I fumbled the lock, and it fell on my foot. Though the lock weighs about the same as a Montreal phonebook, the shape of it focused the the blow like a chisel right on my right pinky toe. As chance would have it, I was wearing my comfy Merrel quick-shoes, which are no thicker than the kung-fu shoes that Bruce Lee so famously wore.
I felt everything from my lower spine up to my neck tighten in anguish. I didn’t scream or swear (you kind of get in the habit of not doing that when you work at the Children’s Hospital), I just sucked it up. I won’t kid you though– it fucking hurt. Out of all injuries I’ve incurred, the most annoying ones are to my back, to my feet, and to my neck, in that order. Whether it’s a broken toe, a sprained ankle or even a cut on your heel, every attempt to get one step closer to where you need to be is a constant reminder of how much your life will suck for the next few days or even weeks. They take a long time to heal, because you’re always on your feet, and this tends to aggravate the injury. Although this time it was just a brused bone and a sore collection of tendons, like the time I broke my last two toes, there are a lot of sideeffects. One of them, for example, is because I naturally try to keep my weight off of the outside of my foot, I tend use the inside of my foot too much and that causes ankle pain after a while. Left unchecked, that can lead to a sprained ankle.
I got through my day at work limping around while getting done what needed doing. Mercifully, my work at the OR doesn’t involve nearly as much running around as in ER, and it was the first time I was thankful for being able to do most of my work from an office chair.
Work, since I came back from vacation, has been going pretty well. I think I’m establishing myself firmly in as part of the crew. Haven’t made that many close friends, but I get along well with everyone and for anything more there’s [Chere] and [Mickey]. That’s the way I like it– I don’t tend to make close friends out of coworkers. Maybe I’ve just become lazy and jaded with my age. It’s not that I’m incapable of making new friends– in fact, if I do say so myself, I’m really good at it. I make people feel comfortable, I make people laugh, I can hold a conversation with people of all backgrounds and professions– but I’m just lazy. I find it takes a lot of effort for people who either I have no space for in my life, or who have no space for me. Thus, I prefer the promiscuity of the energy I invest in my hobbies, because they give me the returns without the guilt.
I met up with Paladin and we went out, shot the shit for a while. It was so hard to move about that we went to a local Pharmaprix (a Quebecois chain of pharmacies, equivalent to Shoppers’ Drugmart in other provinces) and I shelled out about twenty bucks to get a cane. I would’ve liked the pimpin green fibreglass one, but that cost almost twice as much so I went with “standard old man steel” style instead. Using a cane made a huge difference– I could walk almost as fast as normal bipedal humanoid mammal with that thing.
Eventually SiB finished work and we headed out to Marvens for our steaks. SiB was pretty impressed with the place– the steak he got was more than he expected, and he barely was able to eat it all. It was so good, in fact, that SiB vowed never to return there. It was the most delcious steak he’d ever been introduced to, but the guilt of not being able to finish it ruined it for him. I mean, I guess some people just eat until they can’t move– can’t say I’ve ever felt guilty about eating before though.
The tone of the evening was jovial and fun, despite that the real nature of my meeting with Paladin was more significant than you’d guess. I’ll get to that part later.
The original plan was for us all to go out drinking when we got back downtown, at Paladin’s suggestion. SiB ducked out at the last minute, which, as always, is disappointing, but frequent enough that I don’t really think about it nowadays.
I’m not sure what’s up with SiB nowadays. I know that everyone grows up and everything, but as I recall, he was one of the most adventurous people I knew back in college. I’m not sure what changed about the fundamentals of his personality. I said it once on the subject on one of [Terminator]’s friends– I said, isn’t it terrible when your own closest friends won’t set you up on a date because they think “he’s a bad person”? I mean, what are friends for, but to back eachother up?
So maybe I feel a bit bad about saying this, but I feel that SiB has become someone different in some ways, and it’s approaching the kind of person that I might have something bad to say about. It’s not that he’s not fun anymore– but somehow, he just seems…
It’s hard to really pinpoint what is it about us that changes that we call growing up. We don’t really have a say in how people chose to mature, and considering that despite the choices and initiative we might take in our own life, we have so little say in the circumstances that challenge us that it’s no wonder that we don’t grow up the way we expect. Nobody does. What their interests will be, or the choices they’ll make?
Sometimes you just get this feeling that maybe things somewhere took a turn for the worse. Some of the things about people are just small things that you might say “he/she has always been like this” and that’s where your tolerance for it begins– next thing you know, that person feels intolerable, and you don’t know how you go to that point.
I wonder if he’s going through some transition phase or something?
I joined a gym a bit over a week ago. Nautilus Plus. It’s one of the higher end gyms in Montreal (if you agree with my standard that the YMCA is slightly above average, in terms of cost). I joined it almost exclusively because SiB agreed to partner with me, but there’s a number of reasons why this was doomed. Most of all, it’s that SiB in my opinion is inconsistent with what he wants out of the gym. Or at least, he’s not telling me– and that makes it difficult for me to figure out how to go any gym plan between him and I. That trickles down to other things to things that don’t affect me, but which kind of affect the way I look at him. For example, when he says he’s going to go to gym in the morning, and he doesn’t. It’s happened enough times that he’s edging into that category of people who don’t have enough discipline to follow through on the things they say, but with whom I won’t make a big deal about because it doesn’t directly affect me.
Yet, though what he does on his own time doesn’t affect me, I make it a concern of mine because it reflects his character, and he’s my close friend. If it were just a friend, I wouldn’t care. And when it comes to close friends, I have really high standards– to the point where I only have a handful left. My closest of friends are close to me not because of their contexts or circumstances, but their character. I think it’s telling of people not only what they do with or for you with regards to what they say, but what they do with regards to themselves and what they say they’ll do.
Anyway, on a more direct level, here are my thoughts about the Nautilus vs the YMCA gyms. I’ve been to three branches of Nautilus and three branches of the YMCA.
the Nautlius equipment is more outdated than YMCA equipment I’ve used over two years ago (none of the safety bars on the bench press that prevent you from crushing yourself if you bottom out, for example)
Things at the Nautilus are in disarray (weight discs, free weights and handles lying scattered everywhere)
Nautilus seems to think that their personal trainers are more qualified than those at other gyms, but as I understand it, anyone who’s a personal trainer needs to present you with their credentials and qualifications if you ask. Nautilus charges a lot more though. I never tried their trainers because I couldn’t afford it, so I couldn’t tell you if they were better.
The YMCA beats Nautilus on more value for money– free classes, pools, courts, etc…
I dunno, I guess I don’t sound like I like the Nautilus very much, and my blanket-all conclusion is that out of the handful of gyms chains or solo gyms that I’ve had memberships at, Nautilus ranks overall at the bottom of the barrel. I would pretty much have stuck to it if SiB had, but, as of this morning, I went and canceled my membership. Gymming there with SiB just isn’t going to work out.
In part, I need to cut costs wherever I can. I might not be penny-pinching yet, but every ten dollar bill counts, and with gymming replacing videogame as my monthly entertainment expense (it was going to be either one of the other) you might wonder why.
Well, things have been rolling along smoothly for my university application. I received confirmation that I can begin core courses in the Integrated Studies program (MAIS) in September, but I’m likely to start one course in July off-schedule to get back into the groove of studentship. The program is 33 credits, that’s to say, 11 3-credit courses, and each course will set me back a bit shy of 1500$ Canadian.
That’s not insignificant. That much money is the greater part of my monthly salary. So, yes, I need to tighten the belt a bit.
But anyways, back to last Friday. The main subject of Friday’s meeting with Paladin was because, in a sense, we have a few parallels going on as far as our lives went.
[Supergirl] went back to Asia a few weeks back, and life hasn’t been the same. I’ve mostly been filling up my free time the same way I always do– with hobbies and work, to exhaust myself and keep my mind from thinking too much about things that I can’t change. But on Paladin’s end– his marriage is going to be postponed.
It was a moment of dumbfoundedness the other day when I was just checking things on my Google Calendar, and I had to remove Paladin’s wedding from this month’s events.
Paladin’s fiance, [Rda], is great. We get along just famously. I got her started playing videogames with Rockband, and she’s been a diehard of it since whenever we have the time. She’s Muslim.
That she’s Muslim isn’t the problem– the problem is that her parents won’t aproove of the marriage because they don’t want anything to do with Paladin, except on prejudicial grounds of religion. Rda is bound to obey her parents, because she believes that if she disobeys, they’re bound to burn in hell, along with any children they might want to have, for disrespecting the commands of the parents.
So, if I had to tell you why we drank about 70$ worth of shooters each, plus a couple of pints, you might understand the motivation.
I think it’s important to note that of all the people I know, Paladin and I have a particular approach to drinking which we don’t often exercise, but it’s effective when we do. A lot of people drink to be cool. There’s nothing cool about spending craploads of money on something that you will either puke or piss away. Nor is there anything cool about being so drunk that you don’t know what you’re doing, forget the next day, or worse, combine the two by doing something you wouldn’t normally do and then not remembering that the next day.
Paladin and I might get drunk to the point that we can’t walk, but it has a particular purpose– to make us talk. I think I’ve actually gotten better in this respect– if I trust you, I no longer need alcohol to tell you my life story. I think in general, Supergirl has made me a more trusting person in that regard. It’s not just that it’s fun to talk to her– but, what helps me talk is that I feel I can talk about things of importance to her, and she’s not just looking out for me– she’s looking out for us. When you start operating as a unit of two– it just seems correct that there needs to be some flow of information or something.
Paladin’s a bit different– for all his good nature and outwardly positive , I think he still denies (unlike me) that sometimes he’s got some real anger in him. Anger has never been one of my weak points– I know exactly how I get angry or frustrated. Actually, I think that compared to the general population, I’m pretty in touch with my feelings, and I know a great deal about how I handle emotions and the transfer of energy. It’s not because I wanted to be strong or anything– I just wanted to survive, and it came with the territory.
Not everbody deals with things the same way though and for some, alcohol is key. It doesn’t solve problems, but perhaps it lifts barriers and inhibitions to explore thoughts that one normally wouldn’t admit when sober. I think that’s Paladin’s case.
Although I’m talking about alcohol, I’m not describing how this was a bad time. In fact, go back to the beginning of this post– I had a great time with Paladin that night, and a great time when SiB was there earlier in the evning as well.
Between Marven’s and drinking, while we were out on Ball street, we had two rather strange encouters with really strange people. One of them must’ve been high, while the other was clearly drunk. One of them was loud and semi-threatening with a rolling speech about racial profiling (he was black) and police brutality, while the other one was like a 240 pound gang-banger with ADD, who asked us every 15 seconds what time it was.
Old habits die hard– though there were three us, I had myself deffensively postured as I sat on the bench, with my fingers loosely curled around my cane, my brain steeling itself to maim if need be. They turned out to be harmless– but you know, if I wanted to hurt someone, I wouldn’t do so by first looking like a threat. So I talked with them, shot the shit, kept their brains occupied, while my eyes kept on tracking theirs. While acutely aware that with a near-broken toe I was not near any fighting shape, the cane in my hands would make a great two handed stabbing weapon (don’t be a chump and try to use a hollow metal cane as a bludgeoning weapon! If you want better chances of a disabling blow, you want to stab.)
I know, I know, normal people don’t think about things like this. Welcome to my world. When I’m not having vigilante fantasies, I work at the Montreal Children’s Hospital, in case you were wondering where such a mind has place to develop.
I don’t like small talk with people I know because there’s always this sense of awkwardness or obligation with no real result. It’s kinda pointless. Either I know you well enough that we can skip the small talk, or I don’t know you and don’t care enough that I won’t bother with it. But it’s social convention.
But there’s something about random encounters, especially sketchy, semi-threatening ones, that really make my day. I think it’s because, in a certain way, I thrive on the fear that someday, someone will actually start something.
What happened to the good old days?
Well, I grew up– and I think what I realized was that if I got my knuckles dirty, it’s sometimes because I put myself in those sorts of situations. Dealing with a threatening situation is as much about discipline of ki and your energy imposition on the possible threat as it is about actually fighting. It’s about dominating your opponent’s wild energy and taking control of the situation whilst making them think that they’ve got no reason to fear you.
It happens every now and then that some people will just yell something out or start a conversation, and these aren’t people you want to talk to. Simple enough to say that telling them to fuck off isn’t always a good idea, as simple as it may be, even if you have the confidence and numbers to go toe-to-toe. I think that the way I’ve grown up though is that I’ve learned a thing or two from working in emotional hospital environments about politicking and smooth talking. When emotional, or inebriated, or high, or all of the above, people have plenty of energy to disspiate– some people are characterized by agile energy that’s extremely erratic. For those people, you try to manipulate their flows and give them focus. For people who have a lot of momentum and seem one tracked, you do the opposite– you throw chaff at their seekers and disperse their thoughts. To use an analogy– you don’t always need to kill a threat to stop it– sometimes you just have to remove its balance, so that it can’t mount it’s offense.
On the flipside, I’ve come to realize that it’s one thing to go out with the guys. If I was out there with Supergirl though, things would be different– and I’d feel a different kind of fear. And I don’t think I’d handle it all that well. This is something new to me.
I think that the reckless abandon that sometimes spikes comes from people trying to feel alive. But I have Supergirl, and that’s everything on it’s own– what fool would risk that?
I realize that today is thursday, but for me, it’s essentially monday. I had this brilliant strategy of taking my week long vacation starting the middle of the week– that way, instead of having a long vacation with a weekend on either end of it, I’d have effectively a weekend, a short week, my vacation, a short week, another weekend, and then back to work. Given that I wasn’t planning on going anywhere, it seemed like a good idea.
Vacation didn’t actually turn out as I had planned, since [Supergirl] ended up leaving just before I started it… however, on the bright side, I was pretty productive and managed to get a number of things done, if not just started.
“Well, can you organize it? Because this kid has been NPO since 8pm last night. He’s ready to go cannibal.”
“I’d still like to wait on that ICU bed, because they said that if they can fix the staffing problem, they can do it.”
No matter what hospital I work at, it never ceases to amaze me at times how this place doesn’t just freakishly explode. I mean, there are so many situations that go on behind the scenes. I’m not talking about heroics– although a lot of that happens too that nobody will ever know about– but also about the scary shit that goes on because people fuck up.
Last week, I saved a life. Nobody will ever know because it was a behind the scenes mistake that was made by some of my colleagues that, frankly, could have cost someone their life. But I managed to fix it– and one of the anaestesiologists who actually noticed that I’d done so spoke to me the next morning.
“You did some excellent sleuthing yesterday to get that arranged in time. Good job.”
This is a doctor who, frankly, I don’t like all that much. But she gets the job done– and now, I realize, she know that I can too.
I won’t give you details about the incident because frankly, I’m not comfortable about the circumstances of it. It’s not that I necessarily belive that some of this might come back to hit me in the face and I could get in trouble over a breach of patient confidentiality. It’s just that… I dunno. So I’ll leave at those details, and you’ll just have to take my word for it: last week, a kid almost died because someone forgot their pager in the wrong place, and someone else was on their coffee break, so when my old department, Emergency, called, nobody was there to take care of business. Sounds dumb, right? But that’s the kind of scenario that, freakish as it is, can happen because people are human.
The truth about life is that there’s so much to living that we’re unaware of. It’s a question of appreciation, really… but it all ties in to what we can accomplish.
Bear with me on this train of thought.
Do you know how much effort it takes on the part of others for you to sit there and read this safely?
Government is in place– health care, policing… all that. Air traffic control and engineers so that planes don’t fall on your head. Chemists who make sure the water you drink (assuming you’re in north america) has the right amount of chlorine in it that will keep things clean, and not kill you. Someone even measures the air quality to make sure that someone gets a tongue lashing if the pollution is too bad.
There are so many things going on that are in the background of whatever we like to foreground.
My basic point is this– we are so fragile. Life is fragile. It doesn’t take years of martial arts training to know that there’s more than one way to kill a man, and a list at least as long on how to hurt one.
But by the same token, if we are to belive that everything hangs by a thread, maybe we can believe the opposite?
That if the very fabric of the way society is run is so precariously balanced, if it’s inner machinations go so unnoticed and if it’s constituent parts don’t talk to one another, there is room. There is room for you and your elbows to go in and do what you want.
I don’t mean to use this leeway for evil.I mean that if you have dreams, like, things you want to do, things that you hope to accomplish. Sure, there are always setbacks and there will also always be obstacles. But what I’m saying is that if you really want something, the system isn’t designed to prevent you from getting what you want– it just looks that way, if you’re after things that the system wants to protect.
Sure, if you want a better cellphone plan, sorry, you’re out of luck– you’re not going to get it from them. But is that your dream?
I guess then the problem isn’t getting what we want, but deciding what we want. I suppose, defining the problem is part of what is necessary to finding a solution, right?
As of late, I’ve had a lot of time on my own to think about just what I want out of my life. I’ve got some ideas– and I’m happy to say that nothing is really out of my scope. Nothing is easy, mind you– but then again, nothing is impossible.
I have working for me the strength knowing that in the past, I’ve faced adversity; and the only times I’ve ever really failed were when I had yet to accept responsibility for my actions. That said– over the past few years of my life, I’ve come to understand that I truly am powerful. I am full of substance. I am capable.
And what comes out of that? Confidence.
But at the same time: humility. I recognize that a lot of the strength I have is loaned to me or donated by those around me… and it’s for that reason that my goals in life are all related to a central theme of love. Because truly bad has ever come to me as a result of love.
All you need is love, right?
Incidentally, I’ve decided that after a long time, comments shall hencforth be turned back on. Just out of curiosity.
At 3:15AM this morning, my phone alarm went off to wake [Supergirl] and I. Within about 45 minutes, we’d have to be a few blocks down the street to get on Montreal’s new express airport shuttle, the “747”.
I know I’ve been off the blog for a long time. The truth is, I’ve been busyof living my life. I’ve come to realize that if ever I could consider myself a writer, it is secondary to me doing everything it is that I would ever want to write about. Supergirl left this morning for Hong Kong. I never spoke of it before now because I simply didn’t have the time; she was supposed to only leave in July after her convocation but because her mom was diagnosed with the need for neurosurgery she’s left early. We were always on a bit of a timer you know– I’ve written about this before. But how does cutting your time short by another two months change things?
It doesn’t change the inevitable, really– it just makes you rush a bit more and try, really, to fit as much into every day as you can. The last couple of weeks were a blur of all manner of grown up things: the tediousness of packing or selling 5 years worth of her belongings; the arrangements for her Irish med school application, like blood tests, bank transfers, document mailing; but of course, there were all the good parts as well, that filled up all the other time: the eating in restaurants we’d always wanted to try; the walks and bike rides across the city; the lovemaking under the fresh spring sheets; the talks, the talks, and the talks of a future where we’re not apart.
After taking her to the airport, I took the bus and metro back to my apartment. I tried to get some sleep. Supergirl called when she arrived at her fight’s waypoint in Toronto, and then she was off again, this time for Hong Kong.
I’m not sure what to say about any of this yet, because I think I’m still in denial that she’s not here in bed with me as I type this.
But you know what? Maybe this is normal. That I’m not worried. Because we’re going to be alright.
And so here is my return to this blog, for the same purpose as I originally started it– to not only chronicle, but to slow down, smell those roses that were planted, organize my own thoughts and find the best way to live.