Wednesday, July 13, 2016

wheels in motion

EMP Museum
Though it may seem so, I have not forgotten about you. It's just that many, many other things preoccupy my mind and my time, so much flotsam and jetsam.

The colitis is still with me, and my condition worsens. I am hopeful to get more powerful medication next week, when my specialist returns from their vacation. My days are a struggle with frequent, painful trips to the bathroom, my energy and mood low.

Space Needle
I have sold my condo, which is now empty save a couple chairs, my bed, and kitchen items; the rest is in storage, hidden away while my place was being staged. Mary Jean and I are moving in together to Riverdale, northeast of the downtown. A big step, sure. In fact, we plan to get married within the year. Yeah, that's the big news I have for you since I last wrote. Wheels are in motion!

Work, work is much the same. I did spend a week in Seattle for workshops, with a couple evenings to enjoy the city: open green hills, gentrifying neighbourhoods, distant mountains that seemed unreal. We had warm, comfortable days, ideal for exploring and seeing sights. I liked that the downtown didn't suffer from a dense packing of tall condo buildings, though I'd forgotten what real traffic can look like.

By the Johnston Canyon Ink Pots
Earlier in June, I traveled to Calgary with MJ, staying with her family and indeed it turned into a small family gathering. So many new faces! We managed to get a whole day to ourselves, driving out to Banff and Johnston Canyon, turning a relaxing stroll into several hours of hiking up and down a mountain, motivated to carry on by the breathtaking views. By the end though my knees complained noticeably, and I was thankful to return.

Not that Calgary is a big draw for me, though in truth I saw little of its character in my short time there. Still, I enjoyed the parks and the greenery, easily accessible and well maintained.

That's all the big stuff. Until the move in August, I keep busy with my FutureLearn courses ("Korea in a Global Context", "Biochemistry") and archery, Hearthstone, and Clash Royale. Peace!


Tuesday, March 29, 2016

we can rebuild him

My ACL knee surgery went as planned back on March 10th, a long day of traveling, anxiety, then realization and moments of suffering. Realization that my leg was pretty much useless, more a raw stump than a leg, unable to bend, packed tight with fluid. After the first ragged night I kept to my prescribed pain medication (Percocet), as well as the anti-inflammatory Naproxen. Unfortunately, this latter drug triggered my colitis, so that both my leg and stomach assaulted me when the Percocet dreamstate subsided. Once it was depleted, I found myself stressed that I would soon be unable to bear the waves of colitis nausea and pain. Thankfully, my gastroenterologist was able to get me a batch of Mezavant, and the worries went with it. Still, my internals are rather touch and go even now, some 19 days after the surgery.

Oh, the surgery, the very act of, was of little excitement. Sure, there was the stress of waking to make the appointed time with all of the required documentation, but the act itself passed invisibly: I lay on the hospital bed in the operation room (much as you'd expect -- sterile and filled with various instruments, trays, and cupboards) one moment, then waking in a hallway, my knee wrapped in the cold machine a good friend had leant me. My parents and partner helped me get home, a limp and drained figure.

My days then consisted of going to my physiotherapy sessions, struggling with such chores as going to the bathroom and doing my exercises. I'd have thought video games or Netflix would consume my awake time but as it happened I spent my hours doing my FutureLearn courses ("Cultural Studies and Modern Languages", "World War 1: Lessons and Legacy of the Great War", "Climate Change") and reading about Louis Riel, that poor soul.

I went back to work on the 21st, that first day feeling much like a blinking pup, with things slowly returning to normal. I continue to walk with one crutch, having discarded the other and the prohibitive leg-splint. The knee is becoming stronger and more flexible, though my right leg is but a sapling to its sibling. The cats kept me good company, and certainly my seemingly speedy recovery can be heavily attributed to my partner's attentiveness and care.

I am on the mend.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Playing games here and there

My internet, that blessed fount of procrastination, has been restored, restored after no less than five Bell technicians and uncounted phone conversations. What a kerfuffle! But now that it is here, surrounding me, binding me to the outer world, I have drunk deeply from its waters and have been fairly actively playing video games. Peace, when have I done otherwise?

For the computer, I have thus far played:
- The Book of Unwritten Tales: Downloaded this one way, way back and finally got around to finishing it. Really a lot of fun, with intricate hand-drawn graphics and lots of self-referential humour. Worthy point-and-click adventure.

- Convoy: I Kickstarted this one, intrigued by the notion of a FTL-like in a Mad Max-esque world. The combat employs a novel engine that plays like an RTS on rails. Fun, but graphics leave much to be desired.

- The Curious Expedition: Lovely, tiny pixel figures crawl around the world, annoying (and sometimes befriending) the locals while pillaging their sacred treasures. Though I would never condone such blatant looting I do find the game fun, what with its many flavorants and procedurally generated maps. Combat (for there are lots of nasties crawling around) uses a Yahtzee-like system for rolling combinations attacks.

- The Fall: I'd heard good things, and the game lived up to them. Excellent mystery and voice-acting in a gloomy, shadowed world. Slight annoyance with the odd UI, particularly in its offering of actions that cannot be performed. Highly recommended.

- Kingdom: Gorgeous. Simple, intuitive UI. Fair amount of replay value as you learn the game's tricks and events. I have put many hours into this game and have yet to finish it. For those who like to peel away layers of a game so that they may master it, and who enjoy building something from nothing.

- OTTTD: Over The Top Tower Defense! Or, at least I think that's what it stands for. Tower Defense with cartoonish graphics and a bit of RTS thrown in. Mindless fun.

- Skyhill: I'm not sure what prompted me to get this one. I do like the idea of a survival horror inside a building, but the implementation makes me wish it had more -- the map is too simple so there's little exploration, and the combat is just a series of die rolls. Curious that the game offers so many weapon options -- how many people that survive an apocalypse are also weapon aficionados?

- The Typing of the Dead: A blast from the past with a profane voicetrack! I actually enjoyed the regular point-and-shoot version (which is included), it being a very satisfying shooter. Upgrading the weapons gives some replay, but I tired of the game after finishing it.

- Void & Meddler: An interactive fiction game set in some rainy, Blade Runner future. A lot of hunting down items and speech options to solve puzzles. Perhaps I'll find the momentum to try this one again soon; I do like its story and look.

On mobile there are two poisons:
- Clash Royale: Holy cow this game is addictive! I mean, really, really addictive. As someone who used to pour hours into RTS (Starcraft, Command and Conquer, and all their ilk), this game combines that with card collecting and deck-building. A dangerous triple-threat to my daily life.

- Trivia Crack: I tried this one out late last year at the suggestion of my friend David. As a pure trivia game it's hard to fault, though the genre itself has little lasting appeal.


And... I'm sick! Or at least, coming down with something fast -- fever, sore throat, cough. I look forward to a night of sleep, of uninterrupted roborative sleep.

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.

Thursday

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.

Friday

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.

Saturday

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.

Sunday

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.