Sunday, February 07, 2016

Teksavvy sadness; my knee is broken; a bow in hand

My ADSL connection has gone way off, rarely any connection at all now. A lot of back and forth between Teksavvy, myself, and Bell, a maddening circle of bureaucracy to which I wonder if any relief can be found. If I say I don't have internet but the company desires that I prove it, what is the conclusion? I would more seriously consider dropping the whole thing if I didn't so enjoy watching videos, though I suppose I could get used to foregoing even that if it meant I could satisfactorily escape this hellish cycle.

January has now past, and my age has increased again. What more is there to speak of?

I had my MRI for my knee on the 5th, and it confirms our fears -- my ACL is torn, and surgery is required if I am to contemplate karate, or any activity that requires sudden changes in direction. I have tentatively booked an operation for the 10th of March, to be followed by a couple weeks of rest followed by rehab. I am nearly used to the idea of going under the knife, though a remote part of me still fears the worst, a most illogical and unlikely conclusion.

January also saw me become the proud owner of a bow! Olympic recurve, with 18 lb limbs. I am slowly warming up to it; indeed, I am rather enjoying my life in archery and am getting passably proficient at it. Pity then that I shall be forced to miss a month, what with me using crutches in March.

Though Timeful is no more, it taught me the value of making reusable to-do lists, which I have now incorporated in my weekly life -- 4 sessions of workouts, 3 sessions of piano, a couple for cleaning, a couple for the cats, and a blog entry. But fear not, I shall strive to update again soon.

Monday, January 04, 2016

A Skeptic's Guide to Connecticut

Wednesday, December 16th, 2015

A long day of travel: flying to Newark airport, the train to Penn Station, subway to Grand Central, another train to New Haven, then a shuttle bus to the corner of Chapel and Temple street onto the green of Central Park, ending under a purple sky. Unseasonably warm, dense air. On foot to the Courtyard Marriott, my right knee complaining from all the schlepping of carrying my bags.

I'd managed, in a momentary lapse of judgment, doubly triply quadruply burdened by the heat, my sweat, the overboiling of humanity swarming under New York's Grand Central Station, to break the tow handle of my luggage. Thus I carried it like some atomic weight for much of the journey.

After settling in under the hotel's mediocre WiFi, I marked out a couple highlights on a paper map and made the trek across town, a solitary walk through downtown New Haven which was nearly silent at 8 PM on the Wednesday the week before Christmas.

The pizza (or "apizza", as it seemed deemed here) I chose was Modern's seafood, and it more than met my expectations, a medley of scrumptious alien parts in a cream sauce. Two tables over two men talked of one's time in politics, perhaps remained there still. I caught a few word of Canada, Justin Trudeau, and cannabis.

More than reasonably sated, I trudged over to Christy's Pub, as much an Irish pub as any, decked with flags of presumably Irish football teams. A hockey game played on their main screen, a rabid fan decrying each play as unrighteous. I do not now remember the stouts and IPAs the bartender provided, but I made my way back wearing that familiar heat, my old friend in many environments.

I slept fitfully, missing my feline children in the early hours, the chemicals punishing my pickled cells.


Blearily I started the day, a gray wet sky greeting me. I had decided the night before to try the stylish, clean white-tiled brunch cafe nearby (Maison Mathis). Apparently it was a popular hipster hole, with few vacant seats to be found. I ended up sitting next to Ron, an ideas man pouring a fount of ways to improve his country (and to improve his lot in the process); his main tack was what I thought was, unconsciously reworded, universal healthcare. A friendly, personable chap who spoke many miles a minute, a thought train without end. Indeed, I found myself wondering, perhaps uncharitably so, if our meeting was not in some way dangerous, that I might be revealing too much of my personal habits and career and become entangled with his dreams. Eventually a window presented itself and, after a few admittedly patronizing words, I continued with my day's walk to the Peabody Museum of Natural History.

A smaller building than I'd imagined, it more than made up for its size via sheer density of quality exhibits and exquisitely detailed dioramas. My god, the detail in those scenes woke the heart within my aged chest, such were the memories they invoked, old ghosts rising from dark, neglected times. The dinosaur exhibit was pretty out of this world too.

My mind filled with history, both personal and of a worldly nature, I sampled a local dirty spoon by the name of Clark's Dairy Diner or some such, with an actual ice cream counter. I had the macaroni and cheese with lobster, a larger feast than the name might imply. What quality draws me to these dingy corners?

Next was a local cafe, "Koffee?", populated with students nosedeep in their Macbooks. Myself, I polished off several games of Hearthstone, my constant prison.

Returning to my room, I picked up a protein shake for my evening's workout. The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies happened to be playing, a suitable video as any to exert myself to.

The remainder of the evening found me sitting at the bar of a local dive (Three Sheets), my wounded knee all but forgotten. Jovial was the atmosphere there; how much of this was the town, and how much was the students? Or my brain soaked on ridiculously named beers: "Blue Point Oatmeal Stout", "Ommegang Grains of Truth", "Stubborn Beauty Conqueror", "Kent Falls Sweatpants". In any event a smile crossed my face many times, such was the air.


Due to it being the holiday season we (myself and David, who rejoined me this day from his outing at a casino) had found it necessary to split the trip's lodgings to two locations, and this Friday saw me taking the bus to my next temporary home, a kind of townhouse complex on the other side of town, its location a source of many misgivings. The closest eatery sat inside a furniture warehouse, and beyond that the walking options were meager; I deeply regretted not bringing my more comfortable shoes.

I did get to sample some decent pizza in The Hill area of the city, and pasta from Brazi's, the city a veritable haven for such foods.


An early day to get ready to meet the rogues. To meet this end we took an Uber, the driver well-mannered and obliging, to the theater, a 10-minute drive along the I-91 S. We introduced ourselves to the SGU hosts and met the other winners, an enthusiastic couple from New York. I am uncertain as to whether anyone recognized my much-labored-over costume, but the minutes passed quickly.

Oh, as to the Star Wars film itself, why, I cannot say that it was an absolute flop. Sure, it lacks originality and little substance in the logic department but the SW universe was hardly ever anything more than action and heart. And I do believe The Force Awakens sets the stage for coming films, raising the bar of expectations considerably. It was actually funny in places, and fun in most others.

The treat that topped the viewing (oh, and the Cinemark theater had impeccably comfortable seating) was the after-party at the Novella household: food and drinks, lightsabers, the film's strengths and weaknesses, banana plants, and two live tapings of the show on the SGU bridge, as displayed in their 10 year anniversary show. A day to remember, at least for this skeptic.


What could possibly follow up such heights? Sunday David and I walked the downtown after a delicious supper at an Italian pizza restaurant (Abate), deep in the heart of NH's Little Italy, sampling various bars and watering holes, unable to find one that met our bachelor standards.

All in all, a good trip. I need to remember the importance of comfortable footwear, and location is so key in my enjoyment of a lodging. The rogues were very kind and gracious hosts. New Haven's a pretty small university town that I'm unlikely to visit ever again. And paying extra to avoid schlepping between cities is worth it.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

A Trip to Connecticut Forthcoming

The MRI for my knee comes up in January, so I've been (mostly) avoiding karate. In the meantime I've taken steps towards outfitting myself with archery equipment, which I guess is a thing I do now. Who knew there are so many doodads and trinkets involved?

My mind has been taken up with my coming trip to Connecticut for a few days. Why Connecticut, you ask? Well, my friend David and I put in a bid to see the new Star Wars film with several (minor) podcast celebrities. Trip of a lifetime? Maybe. What's there to do or see in Connecticut? Not much. Will this dent my wallet? YES, QUITE A BIT. It will at least make use of the vacation days that I'd been saving up, though not at all in the manner I'd imagined.

I don't think I have much else in news. I went to a couple of those ROM Friday Night Live events, which I have to say my feelings on which are very mixed. There's just something irksome about today's youth drinking and schmoozing amongst historical artifacts and relics. It's not rational of me, and I have no argument to give but nonetheless my feels are thus.

My father's follow-up test results to his prostate cancer surgery were of a very positive nature. I mean, he is old, rather old but this is something. Yeah, otherwise my parents are doing well enough with their Korean dramas and daily walks. I try not to dwell too much on their futures (or mine without them).

Have you seen Black Mirror? I'd heard it talked about in the office years ago, back when we were at King and Spadina, and it seemed to often surface on my radar but only recently did I get around to catching a few episodes. It truly lives up to the hype! If only more television was so thoughtful, so provocative, so surprising. Give it a go if you haven't already -- there are only a handful.

Lastly, I am suffering from a cold. Boo! And such mild weather we're having! I actually got to try my friend's compound bow at the Seton Park Archery Range, though his bow is a different beast from the Olympic recurves I've practiced with. Well, also I've never shot outdoors, nor with gloves or a coat on.

OK, more when I get back. Or maybe while I'm there?

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

time is not on my side

Blargh my place is falling apart! This time, the heating has gone iffy, hardly going since Friday night. I had a technician come by today and he said that the water cooling tower appears to still be on (which perhaps it shouldn't be, considering the weather?), which makes it difficult for our unit heat-pumps to properly warm up. He also said that when everyone is using the cooler-than-necessary water to heat their places, there's a danger of the water freezing, which would make everything take even longer to get warm again.

So I wait. I have since purchased an oil heater, but it only makes a small local difference in my spacious abode. Thankfully the weather is slightly warmer (high of 16 tomorrow!), so it's not a huge issue right now.

What is a big deal is that my phone line sounds line it's been damaged again, resulting in creepy-crawly internet. Le sigh.

Speaking of falling apart, I started doing some physiotherapy for my knee after re-injuring it during karate a month ago (which was originally injured back in June). Last week I saw a sports doctor who suspects that I have torn/partially torn my ACL, meaning whenever I pivot on that leg I risk injury. If that is indeed the case (to be confirmed by MRI), getting back into karate requires surgery and some six months of recovery. Yarbles!

At least that doesn't keep me from continuing with archery, which I've been doing weekly for a couple months now. I'm starting to level off on my improvement and sometimes I wonder if it's really all that enjoyable. But it's nice to have something physical to do, that forces one to concentrate on one's body.

I went to Leamington to visit the sublime Point Pelee provincial park for the first time, and also got a day or so in with Windsor. The park is truly beautiful, and I recommend it wholly -- one day doesn't seem nearly enough to fully breathe it in. Make sure to bring binoculars to catch some of the more interesting birds! I also have to recommend the nearby hotel, which is a joy in the off-season.

Windsor was.. eh. We (Loopy and I) were there on a Tuesday night, meaning much of the nightlife was dead. Still, I got a nice walking tour of the city (some of which has noticeably gentrified) and had drinks with friends, so it wasn't all bad.

On the return trip we dropped by our old alma mater, the University of Waterloo. Man, what a trip down memory lane that was! How the campus has changed and yet remains the same. It does seem like all of Waterloo is under construction though. And yet still no bike lanes on campus!

Vacation not yet taken, no. Only a couple months left in the year and I struggle to decide. On top of that, there's so much work to do and I don't want to fall behind. Working vacation?? No.

Monday, August 03, 2015

father recovering, knee injured

My father had his surgery and is recovering, his quality of life diminished, though his spirits have mostly returned. My sister and I have been squeezing a bit more time in for family. The fate of the cancer remains to be seen. Mother seems to bear it well, all things considered.

I have been going on a few dates, so that is something. Saw a few movies (Inside Out, Ant-Man, Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation). Went sailing around the island with friends. Didn't much notice the Pan Am games, despite the warnings. I caught some preliminary archery on July 16th, which was fun enough.

Oh right I injured my knee! Not terribly, but enough to keep me from going to karate. We suspect it's a meniscal tear, and an ultrasound and X-ray showed it's likely not more than that, if that. It happened during sparring -- my leg got caught as my partner and I wrestled for position and gave out, a sharp, sudden pain freezing my body. It doesn't bother me too much now, and is seemingly getting better all the time. I do hope I remain able to do my brown belt test this year, but I have to temper that against keeping my knee healthy.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

comedy night, last patio party, no internet

Summer and still no decisions on my vacation. I have given thought to taking every Monday or Friday off for a month to at least use up the days. Even then, how would I spend the time? Is this what a mid-life crisis looks like? A loss of direction, a mule pulled toward every promise of hay? O.K., I'll allot some time to think about this.

I saw Amy Schumer and friends at Massey Hall, part of their "Trainwreck" tour. A fun, funny night: Vanessa Bayer likeable and passable; Mike Birbiglia polished, his material barely worn; I didn't care for Colin Quinn's jabs at the environment, cheek or no; Dave Atell remains that dirty uncle, no subject safe; Judd Apatow pleasantly surprising. And Schumer satisfied, quick and smart and completely comfortable.

I will however note three annoyances: 1. The tickets were $100, which I thought a bit high; 2. The seats were in MH's balcony section, which are too thin, too shallow, too hard AND too far; 3. The show gave proceeds to a transcendental meditation charity! I didn't find out about this until after I had impulsively purchased the tickets (sold to me by a coworker). I suppose I got a night of comedy out of it but these dampened the enjoyment.

My work had its final patio party a couple Saturdays ago, our office having moved. And apparently the old building has been sold to a developer, so that wonderful rooftop patio will likely be torn down for a condominium development. And the party itself, though I had a good time, lacked the magic I've felt from parties in the past. Certainly missing some key friends and acquaintances did not help things. I drank and ate much, for there was plenty to go around; the taking of both kept me from falling into a stupor, though I wonder that I don't need one.

This past weekend I visited friends in Burlington. I sometimes forget, living in Toronto, how white Canada is, and how alike the United States we are. At least in taste, in cloth, in design. It was very nice to visit dear friends, to take in beautiful weather and eat well.

My internet at home is down! I've been negotiating with TekSavvy to (have Bell) send a technician because I am reasonably certain that the issue is with the line itself, it being so full of static. It's been over a week that I've had to tether off my phone, and now that I am so close to my monthly limit I've had to find off-line things to keep me going. First world problems, yeah yeah yeah.

Lastly, my dad, at the ripe age of 76, has prostate cancer. It's a low grade version, so he is expected to do well. Still, I suspect that it's affecting me on some emotional level that hasn't fully manifested itself yet.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

a new routine, no vacation

Hwan shooting a bow and arrow.
I see only the mistakes
Yeah, I guess I really like archery. From what I've tried it's rather a lot like golf in that one's form, at least in the beginning, is a lot more important than hitting the target. Consistency over accuracy. I got my first real taste a couple weekends ago, when I drove out to Kitchener to celebrate Andrea's birthday with her and her crew. If I find the time I can see myself taking this up, I really do.

My time since my last entry is mostly taken up with karate and FutureLearn. Gosh I just really do enjoy those on-line classes. I suppose I've been up to other stuff too -- installed and put a few hours into Heroes of the Storm, the new Blizzard online RTS arena game. Yeah, I guess some things never change.

I suppose you're wondering how work is, and the answer is that it's complicated. I still feel at times lost, my routine for the past ten years thrown out of whack, swimming upstream against a current of training, administration, compliance, security procedures.. it's all a bit much, really.

And I still need to think about what I want to do with my vacation time! I have four weeks for 2015, and enough coin to do pretty much whatever. Travel would be nice, sure, but.. is a vacation what I really want? I mean, should I not throw myself into some venture that can lead toward the betterment of my fellow man? And I don't mean some symptom-scratching charity work, although sure, that is something. Or is to aim so high folly? My life is shortening itself all the more, and I stand here, still and unsure -- I would like to leave the place better than when I arrived.