Alex's Alliterative Adventures

Thoughts on Programming, Life, and Travel

Archive for November, 2006

A shocking change of position

I impressed someone with my cooking today. I didn’t really see that one coming, since the dish that caught her eye was grilled cheese sandwiches.

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That burning feeling

Recently, I’ve had this bizarre little voice nagging in the back of my mind. At first it was a whisper, then a gentle nudge, and now I have full-fledged conversations with it during the ritual morning shower. Since it only says one thing, the conversations are usually short, and muffled by a mouthful of Wash & Go, but it’s hard to ignore it when my brain is invaded by this pervasive thought:

Do something great.

What? What should I do? What can I do? Cure cancer? Run for prime minister? Soup up my Delorean? Make the most kick-ass video game ever? Watch a really, really great movie? I really have no clue what it is I want to do, but I think I want to do it. I’m going to give myself a bit of time to stew it over, though. With burning desires like this one, it’s always hard to tell whether it’s just a passing phase or a lasting force, or perhaps a simple case of gonorrhea.


I impress myself

Even during my “free time”, I manage to be never-endingly busy. Programming contest in a week, two assignments due every Tuesday, trying to nail down housing, idly playing with the idea of a trip to Ireland and the UK, and just life in general.

In other news, I recently watched Al Gore’s film, An Inconvenient Truth, and I thought it was extremely well done. It managed to give you just as much information as was required to get you worried about the issue of climate change, while still managing to keep things simple enough for the general audience to find clear and understandable. Admittedly, there was a bit of damn lies & statistics going on, since he showed a lot of powerful graphs without giving any indication of the range or scale of the data and he contrasted photos from generations past without indicating when the photos were taken, but I’d like to think that his message was relevant and worthwhile in spite of these things. Yous all might want to give it a watch. I, on the other hand, will take my new socially responsible outlook and use it to laugh all the harder when introducing my floor to Shawn of the Dead.

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Homeward bound

With a little bit of luck, I’ll be back in the Great White North before the witching hour on the 19th of December. I was originally planning on spending a bit more time traveling before coming home, but apparently other people had the same idea before I did. I can hardly believe that I’m planning my departure already, it seems like I’ve only just arrived and there’s still so much I have yet to see. I love the fact that I learn something mind-blowing about the rest of the world almost every day I’m here; it’s nice to be reminded how little I know and how much knowledge is hidden away in the cultures of the world, like ancient scrolls waiting only to be unfurled. I also enjoy how Swedes are just really weird.

That being said, there are some things I won’t miss.

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Danger, Will Robinson

When he wasn’t busy getting a black ear, a buddy of mine from the floor just hooked me up with all of Prison Break.

This does not bode well for my future.

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Begrudging enlightenment

I recently had to come to terms with a terrible epiphany. At first, I was disgusted by the idea. I tried to bury my emotional reaction, to silence the self-doubt bubbling out from every porous thought that crossed my mind, but you can only lie to yourself for so long. I had to face the truth:

I love CS at Waterloo.

The classes are excruciatingly, senselessly difficult. The subject matter generally covers a few select topics, most of which are boring, irrelevant, painstaking, or meaningless. A startling number of professors are completely incapable of expressing themselves to English speaking undergrads. The school’s websites are a joke, at best. While the coop program is extremely valuable, the implementation is laughable. It seems that the administration’s only purpose is to make students’ lives more miserable in as many shocking new ways as they can. It seems that every time you overcome one of their seemingly insurmountable obstacles, you’re rewarded with yet more hardship. Most upper-years at Waterloo no longer look at their degree as an opportunity to learn and immerse themselves with knowledge, they’re instead trying to find the best way to scrape up a few more passed credits and counting the days until they can return to a life of sleeping at night. It’s sometimes difficult not to imagine a malicious office worker working late into the night, drafting a plot for your next ill-fated encounter with a Course Permissions Override Form.

I don’t know if my epiphany was a sudden rocket-powered leap into a more maturely cynical viewpoint of the world, a world where life is hard and no one goes out of their way to make life easy for you, or if it was simply Stockholm syndrome caused by my recent traveling to said city, but now I can’t get over how great it is to be studying Waterloo. When I compared my experiences to those of the students I met from other schools and countries, I initially felt jealousy at their tales of easy, well-taught, low-pressure courses. I’ve felt some of that spectacular European educational bliss by coming here, but I only recently appreciated how much Waterloo has shaped and hardened me. At Waterloo, showing up and giving a good effort is synonymous with failure. In order to succeed, or even just to pass, you have to add new ends to the candle from which it can then be burned. Studying CS Coop at Waterloo is a lifestyle; one where free time means a taking a break from the assignment with a Tim Hortons coffee run at 4:30am, a long-term friendship is one that survives more than one academic term, accomplishment is getting 63% on the midterm with a class average of 39%, and a good night’s sleep is when you don’t accidentally pass out on your textbook or in a library, classroom or lab. In comparison to the real world, Waterloo is hell. And when I’m honest with myself, I can’t think of any way I could possibly become better prepared to not just deal with the real world, but to also gain the knowledge, cunning, and perseverance I need to be able to thrive in the the worst life has to offer and walk away with a smile on my face.

“Solitary trees, if they grow at all, grow strong.” – Winston Churchill


An adventure of epic proportions

When people started planning the third costume party at Sankt Lars, the Halloween party no less, it was generally expected that it was going to be big. It was going to be loud. It was going to be packed. It was going to result in a lot of shit getting broken. While walking down the streets of Lund, I heard people talking about the party that “the whole city was showing up for.” That being said, I don’t think anyone really saw that one playing out as it did.

The cops gettting called was nothing revolutionary, but the fight almost breaking out at 3am isn’t how I’d imagine most people like to end a party. We probably won’t have a sequel to this particular night.

The good photos will come when I can steal photos from one of many people that own real cameras.


The midday nap

Sleep is a blessing and a curse. It’s a giant waste of time, taking up roughly a third of our life. Imagine the things you could do each day if you just never slept. The places you could go, the people you cold see, the things you could accomplish; your view of the world would be so drastically different from your current mindset that it almost isn’t worth talking about. On the other hand, sleep just feels so good. It’s like a natural drug. You just give in, dim the lights down low, and drift off into a place where you forget about the real world for a few hours. When you’re exhausted, it’s hard to think about anything other than faceplanting in the nearest giving surface and passing out until rudely awakened by an alarm, housemate, or ferral dog.

I’m gonna go nap before the Halloween party in Sankt Lars tonight. You Canadian folks had better be saving some candy for me back home.



Hot damn, it’s going to be a good day.

Well, cold damn, I guess. Who cares, it’s snowing!

edit for snow:


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