Alex's Alliterative Adventures

Thoughts on Programming, Life, and Travel

Archive for October, 2006


A series of questionably influenced decisions led me to a weekend in Göteborg with some close friends. Rocky, Mika, Dougal and I hopped into Felix and Annina’s camper for two days of loosely planned awesome.

Saturday ended up being more or less rained out, so we enjoyed the Universeum, one of Göteborg’s many museums. This one focused on poisonous, deadly, or otherwise exciting wildlife, so it was pretty cool.

I was kind of rushed when it was happening, but in retrospect, touching a stingray was pretty amazing. There’s just something that feels so natural about interacting with the beasts with which we share our planet. I mean, I hate cats. They’re naturally evil, they activate my immune system’s self-destruct sequence, and they’ve taken out chunks of my flesh and tried for my best friend’s eye. That being said, anyone who can control the urge to rub their face in the belly of an appropriately cute cat isn’t actually a person at all.

We saw lots of fish:

We decided to end the evening at Delirium Café, a house of over 2000 beers. They only had the shitty Canadian beers, but my readings tell me that this was true of the selections from most countries.

On Sunday we wandered about the city enjoying the sunlight and October winds. Some of us were warmer than others.

Our last official stop was the Göteborg Stadsmuseum (city museum), where I felt older than I ever felt before. The previous record was when two of my high school friends got engaged, but seeing a Dell with a CD-ROM drive in a display in a history museum made me clutch at my heart while I yelled for my pills.

Overall, I had a great weekend full of interesting sights and conversation more philosophically and intellectually stimulating than I’ve had the pleasure of in years. In other news, this cooking thing isn’t that bad. If only I wasn’t so lazy, and so unimaginably bankrupt…

Oh, and since I apparently didn’t make it clear before, I’m going to be working in London, Ontario in January, and I’m currently planning on returning to the house of pain in the summer.

“Maybe the churches huddle together to fend off the cold wind of athiesm” – Dougal



time till departure to goteborg: -5 minute.


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Priorities: the post turned into an unrelated impromptu rant

I always feel a little confused when I speak to someone who has no direction in life. Direction is different from a plan; anyone who seems like they know what the hell they’re doing is either a skilled enough actor to block out any projections of their instability or they’ve surrounded themselves with enough predictable monotony that they’re more or less dead. People with direction in life might not know what they want to do, where they want to grow old, or who they want to become, but goddammit they’ll find out if it kills them. They go to parties not to get drunk and revel in nostalgia, but to meet new faces and swap new stories. They learn not just because someone told them to, but because they have a burning desire to know. They don’t follow the status quo because everyone else is doing it, they take make stupid decisions and risk ostracization because it was their best chance at figuring it all out.

A lot of people to be completely unaware of their direction in life. You can’t stand your job, but you’ve been there for a year or so and there’s no sense throwing away that seniority. You’re driving yourself towards a nervous breakdown, but if you just study a bit harder you can really bump up your GPA, and that’s what you heard was important. You’ve always dreamed of being an astronaut, but everyone has that dream – it’s a stupid dream, and it’s a lot easier to just settle. You’re just not happy in life, but it’s because of a bunch of uncontrollable factors, so there’s no sense in trying anyways.

That’s bullshit. There’s no way you’re going to live to 150, most of us will be lucky to see 100 at the rate modern medicine is progressing, which means that most of my readers have used up more than a fifth of their time here, and some a lot more. Every day that passes by is a day you’re never getting back, and there’s absolutely no excuse for not using each one to the fullest. The only purpose that I can find in life is the pursuit of happiness. If you’re not actively working to make your life better, then you’re stagnating. I’ve known far too many people who wake up each morning and bitch about how terrible their life is, and then seemingly refuse to do a thing to change it. They’ll dance the same dance day after day, and I honestly don’t know if they’re too afraid to change things or if the thought just never occurred to them. Yes, life sucks, and everyone needs to let off some steam every once and a while, but you’re the only one who can make it better. Quit the job, reinvent yourself, move to another country, go on medication, whatever. Just do it, and never stop doing it. Wake up each morning ready to do what it takes and embrace risks, and go to bed each night exhausted, drained, and utterly satisfied with how you changed a little corner of the world.

“All mankind is divided into three classes: those that are immovable, those that are movable, and those that move” – Ben Franklin

That rant just came out of nowhere. Weird.


Truth is Blind

When Jamie called me a hippie, he didn’t know how right he was.

On a related note, I just landed the best coop job ever. It’s going to be sweet.

edit: random unexpected angry rant post half written, I’ll put it up when I get back from blatent procrastination

edit 2: I’m tired, and therefore a liar. tomorrow.

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Oh dear god

Whoever invented 6:30am should be taken out back and given a good ol’ fashioned lynching.

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The post about residence

When I left residence at the end of first year, I remember thinking that a completely unreplicable era was coming to an end. In a lot of ways, leaving residence marked more of a “coming of age” to me than going to university did. Residence was this microcosm untouched by the real world; your meals were served hot and piping from the caf, your classes were a 5 minute walk from your front door, and you were constantly surrounded by hundreds of drunks. The standard procedure to deal with hunger was to walk into the hall, yell “dinner”, and wait no more than a minute for anywhere between one and thirty people to join you. Responsibilities played second fiddle to good times, and there was a unspoken yet fully agreed upon trend that random socialization was the name of the game. It didn’t really matter what you were planning on doing; when someone announces that they’re covering every one of their neighbour’s belongings with seran wrap, you just realized how unimportant your meaningless plans really were.

Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t consider returning to residence for a minute. You just can’t do it, no more than you can decide that junior kindergarten was really a peak in your life, so screw it I’m going back to diapers. The appeal of residence came not from the close proximity, not from the individuals or the parties, but from the common identity. You were discovering yourself, learning what it meant to become a relatively self-sufficient adult, and finding out how you would adapt to this strange new world, and everyone around you was doing it at the same time. When that killer assignment was due in an hour, 3 other people were struggling to finish it within 20 meters of you. When you were standing outside in your underwear waiting for the fire department to put out the microwave, you were surrounded by 100 people you saw every day. Nothing was private, nothing was sacred, and you were never alone. There’s a comfort in knowing that when you come home every day, there are going to be 23 smiling faces who would love nothing better than to share a laugh or a smile with a kindred spirit.

I never expected to experience residence again, but I’m doing it all over again here in Sankt Lars. I didn’t let myself fully appreciate it until joining a picnic party a few nights ago. We had two beach towels, a few laptops for music, the tiled floor of our corridor, and a potted branch plant, and that was all we needed for 4 hours of laughs. I’m kind of disappointed that I let work get in the way of residence until now, but I did what had to be done, and now I can appreciate the finer things in life.

In other news, apparently australian girls hang out in their underwear.


Warm, tingly feelings

I got my first pseudo-legitimate piece of pseudo-fan mail today, it was awesome. Now all I need is psuedo-legitimate hate mail; then I can call myself a real blogger.

There’s definitely a lack of stress associated with exams over here. You have five hours to complete the test, and it’s not uncommon for people to walk out after two hours or so. The generous timeframes, the low-pressure buildup, and the fact that my actual grades are indiscernable make for a relatively painless experience. That being said, the first final still smacked me around a bit.

Today’s the programming test, followed by a complete and total departure from responsibility. If you CEST folks want to join me in a bit of self-destructive consumption, give me a ring/im/mail/punchToTheFace/impersonalWallMessage and we can kill brain cells together at 22h or so.

(future post ideas, just so I don’t forget: residence, priorities, cultural comparisons, vega-tables)


Humanity’s greatest achievement

You have to watch it to understand.


Another reason why Lund kicks Waterloo in the nuts

I had to take a break from studying to share this with all of you. This is my new office.

Conducting international, multi-hour phone interviews on a cell phone is not a fun experience. I’ve had a bunch of calls that just had terrible quality and an interview that died abruptly. To remedy this, I decided I’d ask Lund for some kind of small room with a phone in it. Nothing special, just a landline that I could receive calls on so that I could make a good impression on potential employers and avoid the hassle of a 1 second delay while speaking.

You know what they did? They helped me. They didn’t just say they’d think about helping me, they didn’t make me sign 26 forms in triplicate, and they didn’t refuse on the grounds that helping students would be unfair to all of the other students the university shafts (I’m looking at you, UW). I had a legitimate concern, and it was within the university’s power to help me, so they did. In fact, not only did they help me, but I have access to the room at all hours for as long as I need it and Lund doesn’t need the space, which is going to be awesome when scheduling calls between California or New Zealand. Waterloo, you should be taking notes here. Satisfied graduates = good recommendations & fewer losses due to property damage.

I was debating between “Ask and ye shall receive”, “God helps those who help themselves”, and “Waterloo’s a giant turd”, but I had to go with the title that best expressed my feelings.


You guys should be used to this by now

Tomorrow: 1-2 interviews.
Thursday: 5 hour exam, potential interview.
Friday: 5 hour exam.
Saturday: 2-6 hour programming test.
Sunday: 24 hours of alcoholism. I mean, bible study.

As usual, I’m telling you guys that posting will be sparse for a while. As usual, I’m trying to convince myself that everything will be less busy in a couple of weeks. As usual, both of those things are probably complete lies.

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