Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Escape!

Hola! Or, perhaps an "aloha" would be more accurate? I am leaving for Maui in a couple hours, having decided to join Jenning's marital festivities after all. A rash decision, made in a fit of desperation, and one that certainly bites on a financial level. It's amusing that even at my age I still have problems sleeping, with the foolish fear of missing the flight. Well, I did miss one major flight, back in Denmark, but that was a simple mistake of dates on my part.

Anyway, yeah, Hawaii. I keep thinking of how this might be the last few days of my life -- fall into a volcano, or eaten by a shark, etc. It was a nice life, though I am sorry to leave so many days half-lived. More sorry to those I was a dastardly bastard to, a cowardly scoundrel. I don't know that I deserve anything like forgiveness, but I certainly feel that I am wiser now, eyes more open to my actions.

Should I happen to make it, I'll be back by the 29th. No plans for New Years. Not that I really need one, or strongly feel the need to have one. We'll see.

Oh, December.. yeah a month of work stress and little else. LiveGreen had its little party. I guess the highlight was a visit by Krista, and having a lively dinner at Rodney's Oyster House, followed by the even livelier play Ride the Cyclone. Described as the "anti-Glee", it was pretty fantastic. I'd suggest you see it if it weren't already over, which is a damn shame.

Christopher Hitchens died! The weight of his loss is greatly felt by this atheist. I saw him debate once, a small affair at UW, and him having to video his side in, but one still got the impression of what a giant of among men he was, of his intellect, of his eloquence. I am glad to have had that, at least.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

November, and nearly caught up

I had considered applying to be a writer for blogTO.com, and it was the process of drafting up an application that I decided that I'd be much happier bringing hwan.com back to life. And so here it is, fresh and clean and much of the weight gone! Fret not, I do plan on bringing those entries back, perhaps when I've the time over the Christmas break.

Let's see.. back on the 11th I went to see Unter Kontrolle (2011), an amazingly detailed documentary on Germany's declining nuclear power plants. I was thrilled to get some rare views into how the plants worked, both as a facility and a business. It was followed up by a brief panel discussion, which to my amusement featured some rather anti-nuclear rallying. I was glad to see that the director himself seemed to not pass any judgment on the technology, or those who saw it as a safe and reasonable energy source.

On the 12th I went to a large potluck turkey dinner with Andrea's and Marc's friends. I brought some crudités and dip, which seems meager but they had quite a lot of food on hand -- two turkeys, some lamb, and all the other usual fixings, and a choice of desserts. An easy evening.

November saw me finally getting around to finishing the Deadwood series, and my, I was warned about being disappointed and indeed it was a limp ending. Such a beautifully sculpted show, such entertaining characters! I shall miss it. Here's a sampling of its wit:
  • "Such acid scrutiny from former boon companions."
  • "Augment of cupidity in the iris, a healthy augury."
  • "I am imagining the pool that spawned you."
  • "...I have no gossamer filament of doubt you have skills to delight and amaze."
  • "Fuck you sir, who would prevent expedition of one's life's disarray."
The 18th was the Gourmet Food & Wine Show, which turned out to be an excuse for middle-aged suburbanites to drink and flirt and not buy much of anything other than more drinks. I did get to try a handful of tasty treats (the sliced pork duck from Brassaii stands out in my mind), but all the peacockery detracted much.

The next day was Jenning's stag party! A full day of video gaming, go-karting (definitely the highlight), eating in a cabaret-style resto-bar (!), and board gaming. The go-karting was had at good ole Formula Kartways, starting with some time trials, then some fastest group/slowest group races. The final endurance partners race was great fun, and everyone got into the whole switching-drivers-in-the-pit aspect. Like my previous times there I incurred some choice bruises on my back from the seat but they were well worth it. I had forgotten about all the gasoline fumes though, fugh!
 
And yes, in answer to your question, Jenning is getting married, in Hawaii of all places! I regrettably will not be there, though sorely tempted. My reason for not going is entirely (or mostly entirely) monetary -- I don't really have $3k+ to throw around. Still, traveling alone is something I've not done enough of, and I hope to amend that soon.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

continuing the beginning


  Back on the 4th of November Loopy and I went to a Penn and Teller show at Casinorama, which is located just outside of Orillia. The drive up was a bittersweet one, for I'd been up Highway 400 and 11 many times with Monica on one of our trips to her cottage in Bala. Hmm. In any case, the show was great, quite the joy. Any perceived misses were overshadowed by the awesomeness of the hits.

 I also lost some money at poker and ate some shitty casino food, but that is neither here nor there; it was a fun Friday. The Saturday following I met up with Loopy again and we hung out at Ryan's place, who is an immaculate host and so much fun was had there too. The preceding dinner at Shoeless Joe's was adequate, though I really must stop subjecting myself to such lazy and uncaring eateries.

 I'm uncertain about going again but I thought I'd mention that I went to a Toronto Youth Food Policy Council meeting. I was invited by my friend Andrea, and it's more her thing/age bracket, but I enjoyed myself despite having to talk and socialize in front of a large group of strangers, reminding me of how painfully shy I can be. I would probably not make a good spy.

 This is a quick update, with much more to follow. I will also look into importing all of my old entries. Unfortunately, the comments will likely be lost, like tears in the rain.

Friday, November 18, 2011

a (new) beginning is a very delicate time

Yiss, yiss, it is I, Hwan. In a new form, newly formed. I've decided to do away with my personal server and host hwan.com on blogspot.com. Things are such that it seems silly to build and maintain everything myself; it was fun for a while, but it's painfully obvious that I simply have neither the time nor inclination to keep it up. So, here we are. And here I hope to update far more frequently. I've begun to feel that my passage through this world will leave no mark, no legacy, other than perhaps this journal, this written account of my take on things, this tiny bubble in a much larger sea.

But.. there is still a little marrow left in this bone I've been given. In any case, I'll now recount some of the things I've done since I last wrote, way back on October 9th.

I spent much of October watching Peep Show in its entirety, 7 seasons of hilarious British comedy. It was a feat made easy due to its availability on YouTube and a digestible 20 minute playtime. Think Seinfeld mixed with The Odd Couple, with a geek for Jerry and a hipster doofus for Kramer. I laughed and paused, laughed and paused, it's that good.

Did I mention that Loopy and I have begun a podcast? It's true: The Dave and Hwan Show has so far recorded eight episodes, each slightly more delicious than the last. They're a joy to make, though one does need to be able to stomach the ramblings of two drunk, somewhat antagonistic friends. There isn't much of a theme or point, I suppose, other than it's something to do and create.

I saw The Thing (2011), the prequel to the 1983 John Carpenter version. It was.. ok. I don't recommend it, but it wasn't awful either. It's kind of hard to rate because it's so similar to the original. I mean it's possible that people who see this prequel might get the same out of it as I did with the original, which was a blast. So, if you have no idea what The Thing is and are up for a horror film, this might fit the bill? O.K., a grudging recommendation, under extenuating circumstances.

Occupy Toronto, before the Bay Street march
Oh yeah, I visited (and marched with) the Occupy Toronto group, over in St. James park, which is just down the street from me. So I guess I protested in convenience, no tent necessary. Certainly I support them in a general sense, but they're a rather varied group and there are parts that detract. Overall I wish them all the best, I really do.

On the 22nd I went with some friends to the Toronto Underground Market, where one can sample food from selected cooks, on the cheap, generally $5 portions. There were a lot of people in line for fish tacos. It's hard to recall what my favourite was; probably the pasta balls, whose name escapes me now. It was nice to try once, but the crowds detract from the experience -- rarely am I in the mood to line up to eat.

I went to a Ugly Sweater Singles Party! It was lots of fun -- everyone knew the score and so was sociable and approachable. I would definitely go again, if the occasion arises. They had an icebreaker game based on Bingo, making it crazy easy to talk to people, even for shy fellows like me. I still glow from the experience.

Ok, that's enough for today. November to follow!

Friday, September 09, 2011

September ever ending

Ok, here's me trying to keep the journal/blog/webjo thing going... it ain't easy! There aren't enough hours for all I want to do, or all I want to read, or all the turns in Dungeon Raid I need to make.... anyway, I had an alright weekend. Friday I attended a talk at CFI promoting the book How To Become A Really Good Pain In The Ass, Saturday I got my teeth cleaned in the morning, napped, then met up with Reg and Olga and had ourselves a drinky-drinky night at Marben, concluding with some Swatow. Sunday I rode over to the AGO, did some sketching and exploring there, and checked out two street festivals (the Chinese one on Spadina, then the Cabbagetown one on Parliament). That evening Loopy and I discussed plans for our next project -- a podcast!

Tomorrow I get the Mee-Mees neutered and spayed, which, on top of being a horrendous expense, also saddens me in that I am depriving them of their chance at immortality (admittedly, a highly incestuous one). I guess they are but beasts.. trapped beasts, jailed to the terms I see fit. Ah well, I suppose there's always the chance that they don't survive the surgery, for in this world they have no voice.

September, oh, you bring stirring sunsets but your cooler days strike a melancholy chord in me. I miss Monica, and the memories fairly haunt me, yet again. Being single does that, I find.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Back from TAM9, feeling low

Well yeah. I've been putting off what to do with hwan.com and .. uh.. life just happens, y'know? TAM 9 was great, so much STUFF, most of it having since dribbled away, the walls my mind not being what they once were. Exciting but also, well, it made me miss going on vacation with a partner. Just a tiny bit; I was pretty busy most of the time. I was able to get a night of poker in, which netted about $260, just enough to pay off the hotel. Of course, I also bought lots of books and the like, and the trip overall, if you include airfare and the conference fee, put a sizable dent in my funds.

Speaking of expenditures, I still have my kittens, though they are rapidly morphing into cats. My range of opinions on the little rascals ranges from homicide, to resignation, to adoration. I make it sound a lot worse than it really is... or perhaps I've come to convince myself of this? No but seriously, I don't see the point of cats! I once, long, long ago, considered myself a "cat-person", but I've come to see the light -- they are messy selfish ignoramuses. And yet, should one condemn the fool for not knowing the havoc they wreak? Perhaps it is I that is the fool for stressing out over stained floors and ruined furniture.

For a short time I had a sinus infection! Or at least, I suspected it as such, given the flu-like symptoms and nosebleeds. Perhaps it was a flu, then became a sinus infection? Whatever it was, it was mildly horrible for a week or so, peaking with a day of misery on the 7th of August, which I suppose is many days ago now.

I've gone back to full-tilt video-gaming, that old nugget of mixed feelings. I mean, not that I've ever really stayed away from it or anything, but I have upped the time invested. Mostly Team Fortress 2, but plenty of casual games (Kingdom Rush, Villainous), as well as Angry Birds and now Dungeon Raid for the iPhone. Seems I am filling in all the holes in my life with sugary, delicious mind-candy.

Today.. today I woke up thinking that when I die, I am gone. I mean, I know this, but when you FEEL it, aw man, you just want to run around the city in dismay.

Lessee.. recently speaking, Friday I went to atheist comedy and it was great. Saturday I went to Buskerfest (guys stacking lawn chairs, juggling of various implements, stilt-walkers, contortionist "Bendy M", Axe capoiera), and then had a drinking night with a friend (Prohibition, Rasputin). A comfortable amount of drinking, nothing special. Sunday I had dinner with some other friends (Stephen, Simone, Fively) who I'd not seen in a while at Amnesia, with dessert at Future Bakery. Man, what a blast from the past that was. Future Bakery, I mean -- has not changed a bit. Afterwards I rode over to Trane Studio for a CD release thingy for a karate friend.

I am, however, otherwise low in spirits. Yes, those spirits. Again. Ah, to begin anew, no greater pleasure though bittersweet.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Introduction to MeeMees

I adopted a couple of kittens (referred to colloquially, and collectively, as "the meemees", for the sound they make) -- my sister found a homeless, pregnant cat some months ago and the babies needed a home, and, well, it was offered and I, after much contemplation and self-debate, accepted a boy and girl into my kitten-unready home. I am so far likening the experience to adopting two aliens with little concept of language or bathroom manners, irregular hours and a fascination for anything new. Ah, they are not quite that bad but certainly keep me on the fence of whether or not to keep them. Certainly they have their moments of intense cuteness.

A couple weeks ago I was at a dinner with Girl and Dangerman! I hadn't seen those two since last year and little Magnus is quickly becoming a little boy. It was really nice to have the gang together like that, it quite brought the smile to my face -- hardly anyone has changed, I find, though when I see myself in the mirror I wonder who that person is. A good time but I wasn't pleased with the food -- in fact I'd say it was strictly average ("Chinese fusion").

Way back to Father's Day (geez, that was four weeks ago!?), and the Friday before I made a trip to Lee Valley to get my dad some work-gloves, a mud-scrubber and some hand cream, he being of the gardening/handyman type. Fast forward to a dinner yesterday with the family, as I've the next two Sundays away -- TAM 9 and Summerlicious. On Canada Day, I went to a brunch given by a couple of ladyfriend's friends, then a BBQ, then a walk to a pub and more drinking. Saturday was noodles, walking, staying in with kittens, then a bar at night. Sunday was farmer's market, brunch at Gladstone Hotel, then a bonfire and wine and fruit. A packed weekend to say the least.

Well... that's about it, really. Two kittens, who are doubtlessly being rascals right now. A new lady in my life, things going pretty well, pretty well. Watched some Game of Thrones, played some TF2. Becoming more and more frustrated with this Mayor Rob Ford character, liking the Bixi. Eating out a lot (but healthily so, I emphasize). Haven't done much volunteering of late, but still managing to find time for karate.

Busy with life, I guess. How am I feeling? A little better, I can tell ya more about it mano a mano, should you care to ask.

Oh crap I almost forgot to write about the WWSFF (Worldwide Short Film Festival)! It was a blast, I should create a new entry just to talk about that. Tomorrow, mayhaps, tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Keeping busy on all fronts

Woo, it is getting warm out there! Summer doesn't start for another 3 weeks but they're already forecasting 32 degree weather for tomorrow, yowza! Let's see what's been going on... Well, the day on which I last wrote, I ended up going to a Blue Jays game with Stephen and Simone , who were nice enough to provide me with an extra ticket. It was a very fast game, maybe 2.5 hours? The seats were great, in any case -- fourth row, right behind first base. A fun escape, but I could only watch maybe a game or two a year really -- my interest in baseball has fallen way down with age. That was Thursday, and on Friday I went to Bar Wellington to attend a co-worker's birthday gathering. Some drinks and lots of TVO and public television talk. Ah, Force Five, so deeply ingrained in my childhood memories! I love all those shows so much, dearly so.

Saturday was the beginning of the long weekend, and I, well, I had a date during the day. More than that I shan't speak of here, but it went well -- a walk to Cloud Garden, through the downtown and to the water, the sun brilliant off the lake, listening to it lap against the docked boats. In the evening was karate, of which I remember little but I believe we did some sparring, the evidence of which still shows on my shins. Sunday I drove my sister and I to our parent's house for a meal before they go on their cruise around the Mediterranean, which they're on now. I've also been assigned house-sitting duty, so I'll be making the trek up a few more times in the coming weeks. After that I returned home and I Bixi'ed over to Bloor and Avenue to attend a karate anniversary party -- our 4th year together! Of course, I've only been to maybe 40 or something classes in that time, but I have been around since the early days. It was a pretty long night, with us ending up in a hotel room with several bottles of wine. When I finally did leave I was addressed by a homeless person on my way home, who'd suffered a stroke in their past and now walked and moved with difficulty. I took it upon myself to help them: buying them a hot chocolate, smokes, and a cab ride to somewhere (their sister's?). Hanan, she said her name was.

Monday was a full date that also went swimmingly -- a walk through the Distillery District (something I rarely do, amusingly), stopping to eat or drink or browse as we saw fit, as one might do on holiday. Found an unoccupied, unadvertised library. Drank some unpasteurized sake. Was given a tour of a condo being shown by its owners. Had an excellent meal at Pure Spirits restaurant. Walked to Cherry Beach, hung out at an outdoor rave, got rained on, watched a double-rainbow appear as the sun went down. Ok, it was a great date, I'll say no more!

Last week was a busy one for work as our new product, the one we'd been working on intensely since last October (?) was officially launched. It's a vast improvement over our previous offering, and I'm glad to have played some small part in that. What this holds for the future, well, we shall see! I mean, hopefully an increase in sales and back to more carefree and relaxed days at the office -- that would be nice.
Friday I played boardgames with some friends. I cannot remember all the names, but I do recall disliking "Apples to Apples" and enjoying the gameplay of "Ca$h 'n Gun$" despite my initial misgivings. Saturday I went to the Toronto Zoo. It'd been years, many years since I was there (and not including the time we rode there during the blackout) and, heck, I had a BLAST. The weather remained fair (well, fair enough) and we were able to take in pretty much the whole of the park, including the Canadian section. I bought myself a year's membership, and do plan to return. Oh, and we brought lunch and had a fine picnic under the trees -- sandwiches, salad, samosas.

Finally, or nearly finally, Sunday I had afternoon tea at the Windsor Arms hotel, which indeed is a bit of an old-lady thing to do but I'm glad to have tried it, even if the price stuck in my throat afterwards. Then I caught a ride to the AGO, bought a membership, and enjoyed their "Abstract Expressionist New York" show. Hopped onto the subway to meet up with Reg, Elena, Jenning, Margaret and Andrew for some burgers at The Yellow Griffin. I found the burger to be unimpressive, and the bun somewhat dry, though to be fair I was still full of scones and petit fours. Oh, and then back home, shower and change, then up the Downsview line to attend another friend's birthday, a musician who is also a black belt at my school. The highlight was when he and some friends started playing a random tune and everyone in the room picked up an instrument and jammed along. Good times!

Yeah, so I've been busy, as you can see. Busy still I will be -- I bought a festival pass to the CFC Worldwide Short Film Festival and will be attending showings every night this week! I'll likely tweet what I see. On Saturday I might be heading out to UW's Hagey Hall to listen to a debate between Christopher Hitchens and Barry Brummet, "Religion, as a literary value, is a force for good." Yup, pretty busy, sucking that marrow dry indeed.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Green belt, feeling alright

Well hello there. Shall I tell you how I've been? Better, better. The weather, as always, helps, and though it is wet it is also warm, a richness of life. Got my green belt, yay. An exhausting test, and one can see me growing older and more haggard in each photo as I find my second, third and umpteenth wind. A good day, and nice to have some familiar faces show up. It looks like I may keep up with my karate this year, who knows.

Work, well, work is work, getting stuff done but hardly feel like talking about any of it. Did you know that I've been there for nearly SIX years? Boggles the mind, it does. No real news, in any case.

Eating well, to be sure. I've been living at my condo for over a year and have only visited the St. Lawrence Market a handful of times. What a world of food I've been missing! This could be my new weekly thing. Breads, vegetables, cheeses, meats... joy!

Oh hey we had that federal election, didn't we? And what rot it was! Egads I get sick just thinking about Rob Ford here and Stephen Harper there... Fort York pedestrian bridge... grumble.... on the plus side, Toronto Bixi is up and running! I do hope it gets fully and completely embraced, that would be ever so grand. I shall sing its praises until then.

Anyway, by all means you may consider my mood improved. For now.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Blasphemous humours

How have I been? Well and not well. Well enough. Yesterday some friends and I attended UFC 129, in Toronto. Entertaining! Quite a few knockouts, lots of action, with only the title card (GSP vs Jake Shields) being a bit of a confusing disappointment. GSP won, but not in a glorious or interesting fashion. And Jake Shields seemed a bit too shy for someone challenging for a title. Fifty-five thousand people smushed into the SkyDome/Rogers Centre, and our seats, being of the 500-level variety, allowed us to take them all in. Ah, the drunken UFC fan was out in full force that day! Before the event, we had a mediocre Korean BBQ experience at the Korean Grill House near Yonge and Gerrard.

Friday I went and saw Grinders with Loopy, a HotDocs documentary at The Isabel Bader Theatre. I knew that some people used poker as a source of income, but I'd no idea of the underground poker culture, or its place in Toronto! Geez I guess I hardly know this city at all. The film was preceded by a very short documentary, about the TTC and suicides -- apparently there's like 1 suicide a week on the transit system! Gah.

Thursday I finished putting my bicycle's rear wheel back together -- I had busted the inner tube riding over a severe pothole on King Street, and while replacing the tube I decided also to clean the chain and gears, a messy, tiresome, and at times frustrating procedure. But rewarding; nothing quite like riding on clean gears! Oh, I visited my friend Andrea on her Environment Days shift near my place before that; just a quick stop and chat. After getting my bicycle back into riding order, I took it out west to Lansdowne and Bloor to see a friend from karate play at Holy Oak, opening for Tropicalia. I enjoyed the music, but found that I didn't really want to stick around.

Tuesday.. Tuesday was karate class, Monday was.. I guess I worked out? I'm trying to get myself ready for this Saturday's testing, though I seem to miss nearly as many workouts as I actually get around to doing. I did one today, certainly -- around a hundred minutes, working on kicks and combos, mostly. Sunday was visiting my parents with my sister. Saturday I saw Source Code in the afternoon with a friend. Oh hey, Source Code was directed by Duncan Jones, the same guy who did Moon! Ha. Anyway, I liked Source Code a lot, but I did feel that some scenes were a bit overplayed, the music unnecessarily highlighting the moment. Actually, if I knew that Jones directed it I'd have expected more, but I'm not surprised he did -- this stuff is right up his alley. Huzzah for sci-fi!

Two Fridays ago (yeah, I guess I should update more often!), after helping Andrea and her boyfriend tune up their bicycles, I sat through April's The GOD-AWfUL [Comedy] Show, a CFI thing. It was actually pretty damn hilarious, and I'm going to try to pull people into attending May's show. If you like blasphemous humours, then this is your event.

And finally, earlier last week I booked my flight, hotel, and bought my ticket for this year's The Amazing Meeting, "TAM 9 from Outer Space"! Embraced the skepticism, this one has.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

pining

You might be happy to hear that my recent colonoscopy results were very good -- my specialist described my insides as looking like a normal person's, and that I "should keep doing whatever I'm doing." Heartening news, from a health and colitis perspective. Diet and exercise? Or just keeping on my medication (150 mg of azathioprine a day)? I avoided heavy drinking last year, so perhaps that helped too. I guess I'm also allowing myself to believe that my colitis isn't going to bother me for some time; that would be sweet.

But yeah, I'd forgotten what an ordeal the preparation for the procedure was -- drinking that vile, sickly sweet liquid every 10 minutes. Ugh, I get queasy just thinking about it. Sure, there's a certain satisfaction in cleaning out one's insides but that's tempered with light-headedness, weakness and hunger. And the flavor of that wretched stuff! "Vanilla pineapple."

Good news, and yet I remain dim and uninspired, down and joyless. They said 'tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all, but such a sentiment is of little solace. Undoubtedly I am wiser for my experience and time with Monica. But I am also weaker, so much weaker, drained of my potential. It's entirely irrational to think thus for we fought, fought a lot, grating against each other's character. And yet I continue to remember everything fondly, the warmth of the good outshining the steely chill of the bad, in a rose-coloured light the lens of which I cannot remove from my eyes. Were that I could not see! Ah, then maybe I'd not dream of her, a happy Monica whom perhaps never really existed; I can no longer tell. Like a fragmented harddrive is my mind, and with each day what seems real and what really happened gets pushed around more and more.

But ha! I throw yet more at my mind, at my time, to get my mind off of her (getting my heart away from there is another matter): I will be taking my karate green belt test this coming May 7th. You may ask, "Green?", to which I reply, yes, with this school, Ronin-kai, I've not yet taken any of their tests. Sure, I got my black sash in kung fu (June 2nd, 2007), and have trained with other belts at my old school, but technically I've not climbed the karate ladder. So, back to training it is for me! I should consider getting a practice dummy, hmmm! Oh, if you wish to watch my test you are welcome, more than welcome, to come by -- it's held in a studio near Yonge and Eglinton. I can't promise a spectacle.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

NECSS 2011

NECSSCon has come and gone, leaving me exhausted and my mind overflowing with ideas and thoughts. Loopy and I took the bus from Toronto, a decidedly arduous 12 hour journey, dealing with crazy ladies, uncomfortable seats, constant interruptions to any attempt to sleep. Crossing the border also took an inordinate amount of time, there being several notable characters on the bus. I should clarify that I did sleep, but it was not restful and it was with a frizzy mind did we arrive in Manhattan. Walk to the hotel (NYMA, in the heart of Koreatown), drop off our stuff as the room wasn't yet ready, walk in search of Saks 5th Avenue (perfume lady showing curious interest in NECSS), a meal at TGIF (lamentable), attempt to get into the Jimmy Fallon audience (no such luck -- tickets are generally gone by noon), back to the hotel for unpacking and an afternoon nap. Wake up, shower and then to the first drinking event at Dewey's Flatiron, where I burnt my mouth horribly on an otherwise delicious pizza. I talked with several people but I didn't really make any contacts, mostly just sharing stories and celebrity-watching.

Saturday, a quick breakfast and a short jaunt to the venue (Baruch College) and then the talks: Phil Plait, Carl Zimmer, SGU live (wherein I disappointed Loopy greatly by not standing up to reveal my "Fiction" T-shirt at the appointed time), and a break for lunch. We tried the nearby Pax Wholesome Foods, which was alright -- I had a custom Caesar salad (romaine, bacon, avocado, sunflower seeds), very similar to Lettuce/freshii. Sat beside two skeptics from Long Island, forgot their story, avoided the world's smallest bathroom. Back to the conference: Eugenie Scott (Creationism status report), a panel discussion on Skepticism and the US founders, another panel discussion on who to trust for information, Dan Gardner (well-composed presentation on rational thinking in politics). We moved then to Paddy Reilly's for dinner (a meatball hero), drinks and a live performance featuring George Hrab. Loopy and I wore our "Science" and "Fiction" shirts throughout the night, giving us a bit of local popularity, while Loopy was able to pimp his Skeptic's Dictionary app. Apart from temporarily meeting a skeptic couple from NH, I spent much of the night hanging with one of the locals, discussing his affinity for the waitress. The group toured a couple other bars, losing people with each hop, and Loopy and I finished off the evening with a visit to the Apple store across from the Pulitzer Fountain.

Our last day there was fairly low key -- walked down a closed section of Broadway for a Sunday market, had a gross meal at Cosi, checked out a neat Apple store (Tekserve), did quite a bit more walking in search of something to waste time on, returned to the hotel for some WiFi, finding a lounge and just crashing there until we had to go. I did manage to leave on a good food note with a tasty Schnipper's burger before we got on the bus back.

I'd go again, sure. Probably would NOT take the bus, the chance of sitting uncomfortably simply too high. I guess that and the hotel were the biggest costs, the conference itself being only $95 or so. I don't mind much that I didn't see a lot of Manhattan while there, or that I missed my cousin (she was out of town) -- getting away from Toronto was diversion enough.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

missing home

I dreamt that a group of women wanted to buy my parent's house, and that a real estate agent showed them around. There were holes in the floor and other problems but we were kicked out anyway. The saddest part is that that house is now gone, no longer holding the title of "home" for me. Jefferson is where my parents are now, or the northern reaches of Richmond Hill, a new start reminiscent of our first coming to York Region -- a fresh home, dusty roads, few amenities within walking distance. Do I have any right to miss the house I grew up in, having flown from that roost? A little, maybe just a little.

And how am I, you may ask. Time does fly by with age, as we grip the grains tightly they spill even out with greater force. My, uh, lamentations are still a ways from subsiding, but I do occasionally find something to take my mind off them, my troubles of the heart. LiveGreen volunteering is still going strong -- did my first Environment Day this past Saturday -- we're mostly just directing people and giving information, kind of a human info-booth. Oh, and I started back with karate and am prossibly going for a grading next month, something I've been putting off for ages and ages. We'll see.

Oh yeah, and I'm probably skipping out on this year's Becel Ride for Heart, which I suppose is a shame if you care about streaks (which I don't). They were sold out last year, and this year imposed a $100 minimum donation. If Becel are so confident, well, since I don't excel at asking people (in particular friends and co-workers) for money, I'm sure someone else can better fill the role. And to be honest I just don't enjoy the ride anymore. Maybe if we had some new, young blood in the group, through whom I could re-experience the thrill of being in huge group of cyclists and a worthy cause, well, perhaps then I'd reconsider. But for now, bah, this old man's sleeping in!

And speaking of the city that never sleeps, I plan to be in New York City this weekend for NECSS 2011, a somewhat last-minute decision but also one that excites me! Phil Plait! John Allen Paulos! A live recording of "The Skeptics' Guide to the Universe"! Joy!

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

glad to be alive

They say writing about things that one is grateful for improves one's mood, so, I guess I'll give that a try. I am happy that I get along swell with both my parents and my sister, which is funny because growing up my mom was definitely the head-matron of the house, and we, her subjects, suffered greatly from time to time. My job, while it certainly has its annoyances, does allow me to live relatively well, and for that I'm thankful. Oh, I should definitely mention how awesome it is to be healthy and able to eat and drink as I see fit, yes that is a major major plus. God what a difference modern medicine has made in my life! I'm also thankful for still having a mind, even when it doesn't always remember things. I guess that's a different way of saying I'm just glad to be ALIVE.

I should mention that I added a simple CAPTCHA to the comment form, as hwan.com was getting bombarded by some pretty annoying comment spam. I will elevate the difficulty of the CAPTCHA if this becomes a problem again, but for now the answer is 011235.

Television-wise, I've been taking in Deadwood (simply awesome), Twin Peaks (I don't remember any of this!) and Bob's Burgers (I gave it a chance and it failed to deliver). Movies: The Social Network (not Oscar-worthy but I did enjoy it), went dogsledding (so very fun), hardly any karate since the New Year. Man, I have to look at my calendar to remember what I've been up to! Oh yeah, also visited the Japanese Canadian Cultural Center to see a (new) friend do a taiko drum demonstration. Did some LGTV stuff, mostly handing out pamphlets and talking to people at the National Home Show. And finally I guess a fair chunk of my time has been taken up studying iPhone app development. I don't have much to show for that yet but I'm getting there.

Hmmm.. I've been waiting for the streetcars to get running on King West again but I don't think it's going to happen tonight. Stupid Porsche drivers, knocking down hydro poles is not for you!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

blogging mind

I've lost my blogging mind. It's funny when I think about it -- I'd started hwan.com as a way to write down my thoughts, to share them easily and to avoid having to repeat myself. But it seems time has stretched before me and I've less inclination to be creative, to have a voice or an outlet, like a media blackhole from which nothing escapes. I consume and nothing comes out, my opinion dampened by lack of vitality, deep in an emotional limbo, unable to peer beyond the edge.

I did however have a good time with friends Friday night at The Ossington. Drinks, snacks, Total Recall, colorful attire, people-watching. That is something.

Those sentences were written over a month ago, speaking of losing the blogging mind. It's not so much the blogging aspect but rather it feels like my mind, my focus has closed to such a narrow scope, a thin pencil beam that has but the barest of notions of what lays to the side. Perhaps when I am old I will agree that I've lived a full life but I gotta say I'm not exactly thrilled with how things turned out. Well, I am more busy these days, what with work, side programming projects and Live Green. And of course being down does go hand in hand with winter, though we did have a few unseasonably mild days for a while there.

I hung out with some new friends today, playing Settlers of Catan, No Thanks, Shogun, Loco!, and High Society. Whew! I feel like maybe I missed one? I really enjoyed Shogun, with each player pre-plotting out their actions, with the emphasis on planning and then being able to react to the outcomes. I won, but primarily because I decided to be aggressive on the very last turn.

It's late, and I've maybe more to say but for now I must turn in -- I rode by bicycle in the cold today and am exhausted. Goodnight.