Thursday, July 31, 2008

Two interesting articles related to a recent study on weight loss. I very much recommend reading them - they are not long articles:

55 minutes of daily activity the ticket to weight loss: study

Weight loss: Men have the edge

"Do men really lose more weight and lose it faster than women?

The answer is yes, guys do have an easier time shedding pounds (I'm sorry, ladies). Men, it seems, have both a physiological and psychological edge when it comes to losing weight." - Globe and Mail


The commentary in the articles and in the study itself about the psychological differences in approach were really quite interesting.

Without suggesting her state of mind is in any way a blanket or even widespread representation of how women think - Smitten and I have discussed any number of times how she would not be able to do my regimen for more than a couple of days.

She says she would get bored.

That the idea of getting on a machine (AMT, elliptical, treadmill) and just doing a repetitive action for an hour and a half or two hours straight would de-motivate her almost immediately. She says that she needs more stimulation and change.

We have discussed the psychological differences in our makeup and background when it comes to such things.

She says that if something doesn't make her happy she just doesn't do it.

Me, i have had "eye on the ball"/goal orientation drilled into me for my whole life and anything that i determine that i really want i generally don't let go of until achieved or i get knocked off by an insurmountable external effect.

blah, blah, blah

loss of focus and point in this post

and i have an assignment to finish...

see you

(read the articles - they really are interesting)

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

oooooh yaaah! 7.3 lbs

who's kidding who?

i'm the AWESOMO 5000seX

baaay bay


2 hours on the AMT
9.7 miles
40 minutes of weight training

222.8 lbs
(3 years ago the pain of walking 200 feet was almost too much to bear. my body was wracked by convulsions and spasms. and i weighed over 260lbs)

i am the AWESOMO 5000

after a shaky start on my quizzes i am in the groove

a 68% and a 53% on my qizzes left me pretty anxious. i suck at exams. the time limit kills me.

i have the groove on this prof's marking structure now and have come back with an 80% on my mid-term. 10 more minutes would have netted me over 90%.

rejiggering my time allocations on the second quiz would have put me at an 80% too...

my only assignment back so far received a 90.9%. i expect that mark or better on the second assignment.

this is working for me

i still feel like it takes me too long to program, but that is the discipline (and remembered pain) of having to put production software out for public use - not just assignments

by being the brutal keener that i am in this class (i'm really quite honestly excited by it) i'm hoping to get the whole 5% subjective marking room the prof leaves herself in addition to my regular marks


i'm still trying to find how to get around some of the bullshit i now have to go through to deal with the math upgrade

why can't i just work hoard? why does there have to be the crap and the hurdles? why can't the path be clear and i just do it by putting in the time and the effort?

it is this shitty little stuff that saps my spirit

it's bad enough that i have to do my high school math over again - but there has to be a bunch of bullshit in regard to scheduling and getting into it? doesn't seem fair.

why can't i just do the work


well, now that that's off my chest...

i've decided that unless there is some additional obscure fucking rule that will stop me, i'm going to take the math courses by correspondence (actually - technology assisted learning [internet]). that way they won't interfere with my university classes.

so i went down to the department of education to sign up (the province runs a province-wide correspondence school directly from the department) and all the people who actually know what's going on were on vacation. the only person on the entire floor was a summer student - who was asian (i think chinese) and couldn't speak very good english. he wants me to wait until the 18th of august to figure this shit out (when the people are back).


did i mention that the reason i went down in person was because when i phoned i got an unintelligible chinese person on the phone? surprise!!! guess who it was? the only person in the office...

it was almost impossible to understand him - especially when he was unsure of what he was talking about... but i persevered (just for the record, i am not one of those "speak english in MY country" assholes - i have volunteered and worked with many immigrant groups and have taught english as a second language [and literacy] as a volunteer). the language barrier just made it difficult. after we talked a bit and i was able to explain things more, he understood my needs. it turns out he is their summer computer science student... he gave me tips on classes and profs to avoid - that was kind of funny. and both his english improved, and i started to pick up the nuances of his accent.


i'm still having to confirm that my plan will be acceptable to the department of mathematics to get into calculus - it should be - but i don't want to make assumptions

blah, blah, blah

the chinese guy said he would do his best to find out the answer to the questions i am asking as soon as possible. naively, i believe him...

i have to go up to the department and abase myself there to make sure i'm good to go as well

we'll see

Sunday, July 27, 2008

fakin' it

i figured out why i am so intense on succeeding in my class

and why i was so upset by the realisation that i was fucked on my math exam

i want to be real

i want status (not in the climber sense)

i want an objective identifier of competence

i want to be a real computer guy

i want to be a real anything

i was (am) afraid that the computer guys will figure out just how bad i'm faking it

'cause they are trained programmers

i'm a self-taught guy

they know how to do stuff and use language i don't

i don't want to be a drop out anymore. i want to succeed. i want to have an objective measure to hang my hat on.

politics is all about faking it. every single fucking day

you're always afraid someone will suddenly pull the curtain back and reveal you working the machine that creates the wizard... yes - i have some real skills - but they are unquantifiable and always able to be questioned.

i don't want to have my brother's comment of some 20 - 23 years ago - "you're a parasite" - to be echoing in my head. i don't want my wife's fear to stay with me - the fear that if i blow the gig i'm in (fakin' it to be in) that i will be unemployed again.

i want to know that no matter what i do, i have a skill - a skill that is in demand - a skill that is a "hard skill" - a trade, if you will. i don't want to be judged on subjective measures - like i was judged on speech quality, and communications campaigns, and layout and colour. i want to be judged by the fact that i produce running code

as the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) says: One of the "founding beliefs" is embodied in an early quote about the IETF from David Clark: "We reject kings, presidents and voting. We believe in rough consensus and running code". (click here for the full discussion of "The Tao of IETF")

i am good at programming. i'm careful, methodical, and risk averse (excellent traits in a programmer). my lab instructor says that if he had any room in his marking parameters to give me extra marks he would.

i want to be able to hang my hat on my achievement. i want the identity. i want to be able to say - with no one being able to question it - "i know how to do this. i am a programmer."

the math test - and my expectation of failure - rubbed my nose in my past failures. it also puts me several months off in my timeline and plan - which i now have to re-jigger.

it also means i have to undergo the humiliation of the test - and the humiliation of being assessed - assessed a failure by another human being. i would rather just admit defeat up front than to actually fail or face the burning in my ears as the teacher (who will probably be kind) tells me about my options and the fact that at 42 years of age i'm going back for grade 10 algebra...


i'll suck it up

i will get through this

i will succeed at grade ten algebra - and grade 11 - and grade 12 - and then the real goal: calculus - to get my certificate

i've decided its going to be fun. and/or ritual self-flagellation as i go back and re-do my mistakes

i have told my son: there is no mistake you can make [with his classes] that we can't go back and fix somehow

now it's time for me to believe it about myself

i assume it's either God's punishment for all the time i spent stoned in grades 11 and 12, or it's God making sure my son actually passes his grade 12 math (because i would be re-doing the same course as he will be taking [and doing the same homework] [except he''l be doing it in french (my kids are in french immersion) and me in english]).

or it might be both punishment and renewal for me - and for my kid's benefit

i suppose it's about redemtion

and my God is a redeeming God

Friday, July 25, 2008

me and math

so i started going through all my algebra review stuff.

i remember almost none of it.

i remember the logical structure, but almost none of the methods.

factoring polynomial equations? eeek!!!!!!!

a radical? someone who wears a a Che Guevara t-shirt? something that causes cancer...?


my son started to help me, but he was not in math mode, and had to translate all his notes to english from french (the language he took math in).

i was pretty freaked out.

i have to take a competency exam on monday. it will determine if i have to retake all three years of high school math (3 classes) or just 2.

i am sanguine

even if i have to take all 3 it doesn't matter. it just means my calculus class will have to wait a little longer. and that i will have to wait until fall 2009 to finish my certificate instead of spring 2009.

it will make no difference to getting a job - i could get one now. then i will have a certificate less a calculus class. it won't faze a hiring officer.

it occurred to me that it is potentially God's will that this should happen. son hasn't been doing all his assignments/homework in math and has failed a couple of the classes. he will be redoing them this year. about the time i will be doing essentially the same classes.

perhaps it is God/the fates conspiring to get son to actually do his homework if he and i have to work on it together.

or something

we'll see.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

6.7 lbs and work, work, work


lost 6.7 lbs since July 4th

eating pretty well

still get to drink on weekends

missed exercising yesterday

assignment due today - already handed in a 8 am

started it (reasonably) well in advance. took more time than i thought it would (also spent too much time helping other students...)

i'm a little too thorough compared to the rest of the younger folks in this class. i'm programming for the real world (work world... where i came from) including error correction and such... they are programming to meet the minimum requirements for the course/assignments. their code is brutally sloppy.

the prof likes me, as does the lab instructor - more importantly they respect me.

outside of its intrinsic value, i'm hoping that will be worth a few extra marks (5%?) on the overall course - because i "get it". and have a really good and enthused attitude about the material and their classes.

as always, i don't do as well on exams as assignments. i am too detailed and thorough and don't have enough time to complete... even 20 years ago, in my last iteration of university, when i started asking for extra time to do exams i saw my marks go up 20-30%.

but no extra time here... just got to learn to time budget better.

getting almost 100% on assignments - little pissy (not the good pissy who hangs with us...;-) errors have knocked me back a few marks

things like losing one mark because while i remembered to increment a rounded up 11.5 inches to 1 foot and then forgot to check if my results moved from 2 to 3 feet... so my answer went from 97 yds, 2 ft, 11.5 in to 97 yds, 3 ft, 0 in



the class is keeping me really busy

i have a midterm on monday (pressure)

i'm feeling a lot of pressure about the class - pressure from myself. i REALLY want to do well. i don't know why i feel such pressure. Smitten says that it is because 1) i didn't do so well the last times i went to university and i want to prove that i can succeed to myself and to others; 2) this first class is the gateway into ALL my other classes and will determine how receptive they are to letting me take some classes simultaneously that should be done successively; 3) the fact that i have built much of my plans for the future on this schooling; 4) the whole launch myself into midair without remaining totally safe and protected is quite a flier for me; 5) the simple desire to do the best i can

but, back to work


BTW - i was yacking with my prof, and she told me that my original prejudices about computer science are still accurate. she is one of only three women instructors in the whole department - there are no tenured female staff in CS.

my class is only about 1/3 women, not 1/2 as stated before. on the first couple of days a bunch of the guys didn't show up

the only reason there are this many women is because they are all in 1st year engineering (and this first year summer class exists to service the engineering faculty's scheduling needs - it is an engineering compulsory course as well as a CS compulsory course.

apparently engineering has a good recruitment structure for attracting women, but a lousy retention structure... apparently the number of women drops dramatically after first year in engineering


i'm having some shitty scheduling issues for the fall and winter. i have to take some remedial math because my high school math marks (26 and 27 fucking years ago) aren't up to the minimum required levels for getting into university calculus

in fact my math didn't meet faculty of science minimums, but i got waivers from the associate dean (whom i taught how to do a bunch of internet stuff about 15 years ago...) and others. the registrars office (or at least one officious bastard in it) got pretty stinky about the requirements and tried to keep me out of the faculty of science and kicked up a fair bit of a fuss.

you see i need to be in the faculty of science to register in all the classes i want to take.

thankfully many of the older faculty came to my rescue. many knew me and with worked with me in several different incarnations. so they told this officious little bastard to get stuffed.

the ironic twist is that part of the registration structure he was using to try to keep me out was actually designed to help students stay in the university by forcing them to have the appropriate pre-requisites and then pushing them into adult education upgrades. since the structure was implemented there have been higher success rates for students in their succeeding classes. grade point averages are up since the plan was implemented

the irony?

i was the driving person behind setting up the forced streaming when i was a student leader about 23 years ago. i have a real problem with the number of people who are forced to drop out of university because they fail a couple of key classes - by forcing higher levels of initial competency, and providing the means to get that competency (on-campus high school upgrade classes) you get better outcomes and less wasted time, resources (and money), and lives.

---- historical interlude ----

at the time the university was looking at changing some of its mandates and policies and was considering being more exclusive - it was trend as part of the neo-conservative movement in the 1980s. this university has been a pioneer in allowing people to come here as adults and without all the minimums - you get to come in with lower marks the older you are (assuming that age brings a little more wisdom and dedication). when the changes that would have drastically reduced the University Entrance Program in favour of higher entrance requirements, i argued that we should do just the opposite. that we should separate ourselves as a university from the snobby institutions by being more accessible - not less.

even the university's motto "As One Who Serves" was officially made english instead of latin to make it more accessible. it pioneered co-op education (cycling work terms) decades ago to allow students field experience as part of their university education (set up with professional supervisors like an apprenticeship) - which was looked down upon as something you would do in "the trades" at the time (it started in engineering - the closest to a trade in a university, i suppose)

it also pioneered special adult education programs for people already in the workforce - setting up schedules that didn't just cater to the traditional 4 year full-time young adult model.

that's why i fought so hard for more additional on-campus daycare. by the early '80s almost half the students on campus were female (an anomaly for the era), but about 73% of them were part-time (because they were working and raising a family). i argued hard for changing class scheduling and structures to fit that very real need. i argued that an analysis by credit hours taken was less valid than an analysis per student.

now there are more women than men on campus, even if the credit hours are less disparate

blah, blah, blah

battles of the past

inclusion, accessibility, equity, fairness, decency



hand up, not a hand out

blah, blah, blah

prairie socialism...


i am still doing the upgrades - so i am not a hypocrite - but am doing them after admission instead of before. the classes are not pre-requisites for any of the classes i want to take now...

anyway, little mister registrar clerk got overruled and i am in the faculty

now i just have to figure out how to get past some of my scheduling conflicts. one of my key classes conflicts with the initial math upgrade class lab...

well, it's no worse than trying to get anything done in politics, i suppose...

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

been a long time

not much writing muse at this exact moment

just an update


was going to post one the other night that would have said:



i feel




except my computer died...

or horked a really nasty loogie (sp?) anyway

i am exercising every day and while i am doing it i am as alive as i've ever been (love those endorphin highs). when i'm not i'm pretty good or kind of exhausted from running 8 fucking miles a day

but i am down 3 lbs

only 17 to go...


class is good

more later

lousy first quiz - 30 questions - a couple of fuckups i shoulnd't have made, but exams rattle me

i'm better on delivery

i expect pretty close to - if not - 100% on my first assignment


cleaned my son's betta fish vase today

that was exciting

changed half the water so it didn't die from shock at being taken out of its pollutant filled previous environment


more later

got to go run 8 miles and then go eat a fucking twig and a lettuce leaf

(to make up for all the martinis and red wine i've been swilling - otherwise on diet pretty hardcore, though)


BTW: still reading you all (pretty much daily - check your counter logs), even if not commenting much

Saturday, July 05, 2008

July 4th - Independence Day (pt 2)

i left to exercise at about 6:30pm. on the way - well, not exactly on the way - but while i was in my vehicle i wandered around to take an outside tour of some houses i will be looking at on saturday.

i arrived at the health club by about 7:15pm and did my 2 hours - something over 1400 calories later - something over 8 miles later - something over 100 50lb ab crunches - and more - later, i left. no creaks, no groans - a few sore abs, but nothing else


it was a perfect hot humid night

i had planned on going home

normally this would be my first night with the kids, but they left for calgary with their mother today. i was on my own.

it was a perfect hot humid night

it was 9:18 - the sun wasn't all the way down

i called Smitten and asked her if she wanted to go sit on a deck somewhere - i said i could be ready in 12 minutes (her daughter is out at the lake with her father, and Smitten's son is 13 and likes to be on his own).

Smitten - to my surprise - agreed.

to my surprise i actually managed to get home, shower and change in 12 minutes

7 minutes or so later i was at her house and we were on our way.

we went to a somewhat expensive, but very fun wine bar in the artsy section of town - they have a great front patio/sidewalk cafe(ish) outdoor area.

we drank wine and sangria.

we talked


no-one spazzed on me when i went to exercise

no-one spazzed on me when i wanted to go drink wine and sit outside

no-one told me what to order, or said it would cost too much


we sat until about 11:30pm - roughly the time that i had left 2 years previous - not intentionally - in fact we laughed when we got in my van and it was 11:27pm - the exact minute i had been pulling out of my driveway 2 years previous

we had toasted independence

"When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for people to dissolve the bands which have connected them with another..."

we toasted the future

when i dropped her off at her house she said "I'll bet that two years ago you never thought that two years in the future you would be dropping your girlfriend off at home after an evening out like this..."

i said "Yes, as a matter of fact I did imagine that in two years I would be dropping off my hot blonde girlfriend after an evening of drinking wine on an outdoor patio on a perfect summer evening... yes... yes I did."


i came home

as i hadn't eaten much earlier (7 shrimp) before i left to exercise, i ate a midnight dinner of leftover cold steamed asparagus, raw broccoli, spinach salad with tomato slices, fresh pineapple chunks, and cold gazpacho soup

i enjoyed each piece of healthy food i ate


it is still a perfect evening

i have my balcony door open (screen on) and the breeze is coming through

i just enjoyed a small glass of single malt scotch - the first drink i have had with no-one else present in probably 18 or 19 years

it was good

i don't want any more

but it was quite a moment that i have had one - having felt so strongly about the subject of drinking alone for so long

and i don't feel guilty, or that i've done something wrong, or that i am even taking anything back, or giving a "back at ya"

i just enjoyed a glass of scotch because i wanted one

after enjoying an evening out with my girlfriend

my choice

my decision

independently made

Friday, July 04, 2008

July 4th - Independence Day

"When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."


July 4th, 2006:

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for people to dissolve the bands which have connected them with another...

Cadbury Has Left The Building - Part 1

Cadbury Has Left The Building - Part 2


"That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security..."


today i re-read those three months - May, June, July - in my blog and in my journal.

i look at the ideals i espoused - the goals i projected - the desires in my heart

and i look at my life today - and the leap toward the other side that i am engaged in


in her behaviour, has anything changed?


"...Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends."


it's been quite the journey

thank-you for being my friends

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

first class


times have changed a bit

it's a computer science class

in my day, a bastion of sallow/vampire complexion, black dress socks with sandals, jargon speaking, action figure owning geeks

and today - in my first class (only class right now)

my prof is a black woman from somewhere in the Caribbean (or her parents are) judging from her accent. she's in her mid-30s.

about half the class is women (and most of them good looking, make-up wearing, and well dressed [just to confound another stereotype from my earlier era]). most of them are studying engineering...

times have changed in 20 years


i'm looking forward to telling my daughter about my first day

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

why don't you just move in with your father, then?

that is what the stbx said to daughter

the argument? daughter said that when she (daughter) was rich (ah, the delusions of youth) from being a fashion designer she would give her mother and i money to go traveling. and her mother went apeshit.

daughter tells me it was quite a broo-hah-hah

the argument apparently ended when daughter told stbx that stbx was "immature" and "ought to grow up" - as daughter put it: "i schooled her hard"

stbx has been tossing the go live with your father shit more recently

stbx has been taking a course - to become a safety inspector.

when i asked daughter if her mother would be then moving into that as a full-time position at her workplace, daughter told me that stbx doesn't expect to be working at her job much longer - that stbx expects to be moving to a neighbouring province and working in the oilfields.

Smitten and i have seen/discussed this one coming for awhile. we believe that stbx is pushing the kids away so she can move away. stbx has wanted to move there since before we were married. it has always been her promised land.

i hope it happens sooner than later