Older blog entries for dria (starting at number 96)

Today I failed my rampant consumerism roll. I went shopping for new coffee-making gadgetry, hoping to find something capable of making much better coffee than my current $25 WalMart special auto-drip thingy.

Bewildered by the array of apparati available, I decided instead to go find the "how to make really good coffee" book which would guide me happily through the gadget selection process. Apparently such a book hasn't yet been written. At very least, it wasn't amongst the also-bewildering array of coffee-related books at the local shop.

I bought a book about "trust" and "social theory" instead, driven by a desperate need to understand why the advogato certification system bothers me so much. I stayed up well past my bedtime thinking about it last night, jotting down scads of ideas, and generally letting my brain wander through a caffeine-induced haze. Unsurprisingly, I have yet to come to any conclusions, although I think I'm starting to narrow it down a bit. I'll keep you posted.

Having read the first bit of the book while on the bus home, I'm not entirely convinced that this is something I really want to get into. It's one of those "if you start now, you might finish thinking about it in a year or two" sorts of problems, and to be quite honest I really have a long list of "things to figure out" that will likely have to take priority over "figuring out the sociology of trust metrics". On the other hand, life is funny when it comes to sporadically trouncing you soundly with a nasty bout of well-timed synchronicity, so we'll see how things actually turn out.

In other news, I'm currently suffering yet another night of insomnia. This time, however, I know that it's not related to foolishly drinking Coke until 1:00am. My brain, you see, has this very annoying habit of latching on to a new idea and simply doing everything in its power to hash it all out by morning. Last night it was trust metrics. Tonight it's a combination of trust metrics, knowledge management theory, and thinking about how best to decorate my new apartment. The only conclusion so far: it might be nice to put a shelf above the stove so I have somewhere to keep my spices.

I'm often convinced that my brain has a mind of its own and some sort of long-standing grudge against me.

My cat, for those of you who are following the story, is still happily clawed. I've discovered that, in spite of 6 years of evidence to the contrary, he does actually like catnip. On the other hand, he's spent significantly more time licking his new scratch-post thing than actually scratching it. Next time I'll go a bit lighter on the catnip rubdown, I think.

I really do need to finish packing soon. I believe it's Zeno's Paradox in which the arrow never reaches its target because it simply continues to traverse half the remaining distance for the rest of eternity. That's how packing is beginning to feel. Hopefully the movers have a more practical grasp of the space-time continuum, so at least someone will be capable of slapping a bit of tape across that last box and freeing me from this apparently Sisyphean task.

Worst of all is that tomorrow is garbage day, and I'm entirely unprepared for it. I did, however, manage to actually get a load of laundry done which, while small, is still a step in the right direction.

Words, words, words. Language is important. It also happens to be fun. Yay.

"Language study is a route to maturity. Indeed, in language study as in life, if a person is the same today as he was yesterday, it would be an act of mercy to pronounce him dead and to place him in a coffin, rather than in a classroom." -- John A Rassias

"Language is the soul of intellect, and reading is the essential process by which that intellect is cultivated beyond the commonplace experiences of everyday life." -- Charles Scribner

"Ours is the age of substitutes: Instead of language we have jargon; instead of principles, slogans; and instead of genuine ideas, bright suggestions." -- Eric Bentley

"The great enemy of clear language is insincerity. When there is a gap between one's real and one's declared aims, one turns, as it were, instinctively to long words and exhausted idioms, like a cuttlefish squirting out ink." -- George Orwell

"Amid a chaos of images, we value coherence. We believe in the printed word. And we believe in clarity. And in immaculate syntax. And in the beauty of the English language." -- New Yorker Magazine

"The bird sings in the forest. Does it seek to be admired for its song?" -- Master Po

I've decided that I have to get tapes of the original Kung Fu series. If anyone knows where I can find these, please let me know.

Oh yeah. From m-w.com:

Main Entry: col·lab·o·ra·tion·ism
Pronunciation: k&-"la-b&-'rA-sh&-"ni-z&m
Function: noun
Date: 1923
: the advocacy or practice of collaboration with an enemy
- col·lab·o·ra·tion·ist /-sh(&-)nist/ adjective or noun

Some URLs about declawing your cat and why you shouldn't (consider this my penance for having considered it in the first place). I'm actually questioning the quality of my current vet...from what I've read, any vet worth his/her salt would refuse to perform the procedure, or at very least would really work to educate people who request it. During my chat with them, they never mentioned just how painful the procedure is, what the procedure really involves, and some of the possible long-term effects. I went in to become more informed about the procedure, and was not. I find that disturbing. Anyhow, the URLs:

I'm going to spend the money that I would have paid for the procedure on getting Cat some seriously kick ass cat-towers and scratching posts.

If anyone has any suggestions about how to train cats to not scratch furniture, feel free to email me.

Okay. I am a bad person for ever having considered getting my cat declawed. Just so everyone knows, I'm going to call and cancel his appointment and go buy a bunch of really cool cat-towers and stuff instead.

I have been properly educated regarding the procedure of declawing a cat, and I really should have done a lot more research before I called the vet. Thanks very much to everyone who talked to me about it, and I'm sure my cat thanks you too :)

I really didn't know that it was that nasty. Really. I would never do anything to hurt my little buddy. Honest.

I was supposed to go out with The Gang this evening, but didn't. I think I'm getting a cold or something. Very low energy day.

On the other hand, I got my taxes done. More accurately, I took my stuff and got someone else to do my taxes for me. It took about 20 mins with a professional, and was worth every penny. I'm starting to really groove on this "division of labour within the increasingly complex organism that is Western Society" thing.

Since I didn't go out for the evening, I decided to browse through epicurious.com. My personal recipe box now contains some three dozen terribly-yummy-sounding dishes that I'm hoping to try out when I get settled in Montreal. Part of my "attempt to live a more balanced lifestyle" plan includes cooking at home for a change. I figure, on average, that I've cooked about one meal at home per week for the past 3 years. I suspect that vast quantities of my "low energyness" is due to basic nutritional deficiencies brought on by eating crap at local restaurants.

Montreal is also a "foody-friendly" city, and it seems that the majority of the people I know there are hardcore foodies. I'm suspecting that we'll be having dinner parties on a reasonably regular basis, particularly since shaver has scored the Ultimate Apartment. I'm rather looking forward to it, actually. Dinner parties, done properly, can be a great deal of fun. Especially if work-related-talk is banned.

I've also decided that part of my "balanced lifestyle" plan is to start writing again. That might sound odd coming from someone who has, theoretically, made a living as a writer for the past three years, but technical writing isn't the sort of writing I'm talking about. Once upon a time I was an aspiring creative writer...I've even had a poem or two published in my time. But, writing for a living has a pretty profound effect on one's ability to write outside of work. In other words: once I started writing for a living, I stopped really enjoying it, and didn't write much outside of work.

Not good.

But, I'm not working as a technical writer any more, and as a result my interest in writing-for-fun has started to pick up again. We'll see how long this lasts, and whether I actually have the personal discipline it takes to really start doing some decent work again. It won't be easy...writing, even for fun, is hard work. Definitely one of those "labour of love" types of thing.

Ideally I would like to start writing articles for magazines. Non-computer related magazines. I'm a closet magazine junky, you see, and the magazine-article-genre has always interested me. Magazine articles are pretty unique, because they're short, non-fiction, carefully-crafted pieces that work to inform, entertain, or educate the reader. It's the length restrictions that really make magazine articles a challenge. They require as much editorial skill as writing skill, really.

Etcetera. I could blither on about writerly things for days given half the chance. All that aside, however, I think I'm going to start working at it again. My written-language skills could seriously use a bit of polish. I've grown slack and lazy, as is shown clearly in this very diary entry.

In other news: I'm getting my cat declawed. I had a long chat with the vet assistant today about the perceived cruelty, necessity, problems, and complications that are involved with such a procedure. She reassured me that it's really not cruel, although it will take Cat a while to get used to not having claws. Why am I getting my cat declawed? Because for the first time in my life I'm actually going to buy brand new furniture, and Cat is a holy terror when it comes to ripping hell out of upholstered chairs/sofas. Up 'til now it hasn't really mattered because I've always had crappy, free, hand-me-down furniture. But, if I'm going to spend $800 on a sofa (+ $200 for a different colour slipcover), I'd really like for it to remain more-or-less intact for a couple of years.

Hm. I'm a big weenie when it comes to my cat, however, and I'm already feeling hella guilty about it already. He's going to be at the vet for 3 days next week :( I hope he doesn't end up hating me.

Righto. Time to go read, have a quick snack, and then sleep. I hope everyone has a lovely Easter weekend. Avoid ODing on chocolate if you can.

I have discovered something.

  1. sleep is good
  2. too much stress is bad
  3. vacations are not overrated
  4. people are generally nice and helpful
  5. baguettes, fresh out of the bakery oven, are worth the wait
  6. bookstores are my favouritest places in the world
  7. when the going gets tough, the sane sit down, have a latte, and think about it for a little while
  8. reading is good
  9. books weigh a lot
  10. magazines are addictive
  11. not all advertising sucks
  12. lighting is important

In other news: I've realized that moving to another city is like choreographing a rather complicated ballet. It's all about getting the right people for the parts and making sure the timing is on. Other than that, it's a cakewalk.

Having said that, of course, all hell will break loose. Karma doesn't care for arrogant prats.

Packing is going well. I have 24 cubic feet worth of books so far, and about 4 cubic feet left to pack. I'm estimating that 40% of my total move weight is books. Yes, including furniture. Most of my stuff is books. More odd is the fact that I have, in fact, read most of them. Did I mention that reading is good?

I got a belt clip for my phone and promptly broke it. My advice: go for the expensive one.

Um. That's really all I have to say right now, in spite of having not updated my diary for a few days. Being on vacation is like that.

Oh, one last thing: through careful experimentation and observation I can conclusively state that the world does not actually come to a screaming end if you don't check your email all the time. My advice: turn off the machine and go read a book.

On a side note, I'd like some sort of "view a random diary" feature on advogato. For times like this when I'm bored, but not bored enough to do anything about it, and tired, but not tired enough to sleep, and basically just looking for random stuff to read while I set my brain on total idle and just clicky-clicky around the weeb.

It's probably lots more trouble than it's worth :)

As it turns out, buying appliances is remarkably easy, particularly when the salesperson is working on commission. Here's generally how the conversation went:

    SalesPerson(SP): Hi, can I help you?

    Me(Me): Yes. I need a fridge, stove, washer, and dryer, but I need them delivered to a different city about three weeks from now.

    SP: Do you have a [deptstorename] card?

    Me: No.

    SP: Well, lets get you one of those first.

    [45 second pause while the SP does magic things with a computer]

    SP: Okay, you have $XXXX.XX credit with us now, what do you need?

    Me: I dunno. One of each within that limit.

    SP: Okay.

    [30 min pause while SP shows me appliances and I buy them]

    SP: Thank you for shopping at [deptstorename].

    Me: Yeah, thanks. Seeya.

Ta dah! It took me a grand total of about 35 minutes to get credit, select and purchase 4 major appliances, set up a financing plan, and arrange for delivery. Consumer Frenzy. I'm quite pleased. For some reason I expected it to be entirely more complicated than that. Best part is that the store in question is having this HUGE spring appliance sale, so with all the discounts involved I got about 28% off, and 5/10 year warranties on everything. Who would have thought that spending gobs of money would be so easy?

What's funniest is that 4 major appliances cost approximately half what I paid for my laptop. Value is not an emergent property of volume, it seems. I totally made that sales guy's day.

In other news: not a lot happened. I slept in, goofed off, and spent the afternoon wandering around the mall. Then I met some old friends/ex-coworkers at the pub and spent a lot of time trying to explain what an Information Architect does. Most of them seemed surprised that I was moving to Montreal so quickly. I think I take this whole "uprooting my life and moving to a totally new city" more lightly than most. Maybe because I'm actually sort of used to it now (this is Major Move #3 for me). Whatever. It just doesn't strike me as that big a deal.

Um. La. That's all. I have to get up early to go have breakfast with a friend and fetch packing boxes. Fun fun.

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