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Wow. I think this is the first time I get to create a daylog nodeshell myself for the current date, and now I somehow feel responsible to fill it too.


Tomorrow I'm going to be going for the very first time to Vancouver (Oh, Canada!), for a maths camp or maths conference called GIMMC, Graduate Industrial Mathematical Modelling Camp in Simon Frasier University, which has an Industrial Problem Solving Workshop (PIMS) bundled for free. I'm very excited about the idea, especially since I've always wanted to see a bit of western Canada, although I admit I have some reservations about the idea... I have a certain prejudice where I expect Vancouver to be somehow less Genuinely Canadian™ than, say, MontrĂ©al, due to its proximity to the U.S. I really hope I'm mistaken, and if I'm not, I hope I can absorb some of the Vancouverite culture without any misgivings.

I have contacted via instant messaging services (I can't even remember which one, but I used GAIM, which is a client that does a bunch of protocols at once) that old e2 legend, none other than Pseudo_Intellectual himself. I was hoping he could hook me up with a roof for a couple of nights so that I could see more of Vancouver before I went to SFU, but he couldn't help me with that on such short notice (drat, I should have planned ahead on this). Instead, he just gave me lots of friendly advice on how to get around town, and it seems that I'm in luck, for I will be arriving in time for a free outdoor festival, "take back the streets" or something like that. Apparently it's one of the biggest events of the year in Vancouver. P_I himself is going to be playing an accordion, as I understand it, and although we haven't made specific plans to meet, there's still a small chance that we will.

Free Software

As for GIMMC itself, it looks like it's going to be an awesome learning experience for an apprentice applied mathematician like I am. I'm really looking forward to working with smart people from Canada and elsewhere on mathematical modelling problems. One thing bothers me, though, and that's that apparently the folks at IRMACS, the specific school in SFU where the workshop will take place, doesn't have any free software installed on its machines. They have G5 PowerMacs, presumably with MacOS X installed on them.

The idea of using non-free or proprietary software to get serious academic done makes me extremely uncomfortable, especially since except for my deep, dark secret of my sinful use of Waterloo Maple (slowly trying to switch to free Maxima, but some addictions die hard), I haven't used any non-free software academically since 2002 when I first installed GNU/Linux on Sophia, my trusty 1998 desktop computer. She was already old when I bought her in 2002, and she's even older now, but with the goodness of free software, she can still help me do work of excellent quality. Heck, 200 Mhz of processing power should be enough for anyone. Ha, show me 1998 hardware that can still run Bill's or Steve's software, and I'll show you a computer architecture that can't run Debian GNU/Linux.

I pondered various ways to get around the issue of using the non-free software installed in the IRMACS PowerMacs. If I suggested that they install free software on their computers, I'd be dismissed as a fanatic nut, especially since I'm only a visitor spending a little over a week at their facilities. Who do I think I am? Then I thought about using their software, but making a big scene out of it, say, by requesting that my name be removed from any of the resulting work I may collaborate on. That would make me look like a fanatic too. Then I thought about using it as little as possible, nothing but the essential in order to ssh into my still existent Debian account in the McGill computers and relying on the miracle of X Forwarding. That would be moderately ok, except that it would probably be unwieldy and slow to run software across a network connection stretching over almost the entire width of Canada, and I would still be using at the very least the non-free Mac implementation of the X Window System or perhaps a non-free version of ssh.

I think I found the solution with a Live CD. This is what I normally do anyways. I always carry with me a Knoppix Live CD and save my personal configurations in a usb pendrive. This is ok for most of the world's computers based on the Intel i386 architecture. The world's computers are my hardware bitches, and I get to run my free software on them, with all of my customisations in them (in fact, I'm doing exactly that right now with my brother's computer), and when I'm done, pop, out comes the CD, and everything is back to normal like at the end of an episode in a TV sitcom. The only problem is that Knoppix doesn't come in a flavour for the PowerPC architecture.

Finally, then, I dug around, and it turns out that Ubuntu does have a PowerPC Live CD, and since I'm a big fan of KDE (let the desktop wars begin!) I'll be using Kubuntu. This should work ok, provided that the sysadmin at IRMACS doesn't think too much about letting me reboot their boxes into a free operating system. I may have to explain that I won't be touching their hard drive, just using their hardware in a completely harmless way. Le sigh. Some day, my great dream of free software and free software philosophy being as common knowledge as usage of Microsoft Office will be a reality. Small steps and guerilla tactics, but we'll get there.

I've been uneasy in the past about using Ubuntu, because I was raised on Ubuntu's daddy, Debian, but I'm glad that at least I have the freedom to be able to quickly burn a Kubuntu image to a CD, pop it into a Mac, and run the software of my choice in it. I may have to apt-get a few key pieces of software, such as Octave and Emacs, but with a decent university internet connection, this should be a very minor hassle.

Free software is quixotic, I know, and it's difficult sometimes to stand by ideals in a polite, sensible, and open-minded way, acutely true of someone as outspoken as me. Nevertheless, I aspire to always be the impractical idealist if I can justify to myself the righteousness of my beliefs.

Yes, I am aware and afraid of the possibility that I'm completely mistaken in supporting free software at an ideal level, never mind pragmatics. Should that be the case, you'll let me know, won't you?

... won't you?

Father's Day

I remember everything.

Gray waves pound the sand
Skyscrapers piercing the horizon
Spears of dark monolithic cloud
The mist forming droplets in my hair
The ocean breeze on my neck like your cold fingers
Fresh from the sea
Bleeding electric shivers
I pull away.

It's been a long time since I was able to sit down with my father and have a talk.

Not that we talked all that much when he was alive. There were a lot of words. There was some listening. Mostly we just talked at each other, convinced understanding was beyond the grasp of the other. Sometimes it's that way.

It's been a long time since my fiancee and I sat in a Jersey drugstore parking lot debating gifts for our parents. We lapsed into talk about the future, or mostly I talked and she listened. It didn't change much over a couple decades, me talking. Seems I could find a lot to talk about no matter where or when. She could do a lot of listening.

Three thousand miles, the water is still gray. Thirty years, the mist is still cold and condensing. The dark ghosts on the horizon are the mountains of Admiralty Island and the Chillikats.

And bald eagles sound like seagulls,
Not the warriors we'd expect them to be.
They massacre the weaker birds and the unwary,
Splattering the yard with the eviscera of
Wood ducks and robins
That I have to clean while,
The mighty hunter in his aerie,
Eagle eyes me below,
Waiting for a misstep.

The other night I had a dream about my dad. He and I were sitting at Starbuck's having a coffee, making smalltalk. He seemed pretty happy. I asked him if he was and he told me he'd finally gotten used to being dead. That death was actually a decent form of life in its own right. Not that he'd recommend the transition as entertainment, but seeing as how we're all bought in, yeah, the water's okay once you get used to it.

I finished my latte. It was good to see him happy. I wondered when I was going to see him again, and my mood began to darken. He said to me that I was having my problem again. Allowing the not-yet to influence the here-now.

Once you die, someone ties your past to your future, so nothing is going to happen, and nothing has.

It's a weird way to live, but in fact, it's the way it is.

The future's the luxury of the living. The past a story you might have left on the library shelf.

I'm a father now. In my house
Father's day,
My kids used to get me cards
Or make me waffles for breakfast.
One year they didn't remember till lunchtime,
One year I didn't remember it till the following week and my father
Acted as if he'd forgotten all about it too.
Now that I'm wearing a dead-man's shoes
I realize he hadn't.

I remember you.

It's been 3 years and 3 months. March 8th, 2003 was the first time I ever set foot in the house I now regularly go to to play Magic and many other new games. It was shortly before that date that the man of that particular house called me and played a practical joke on me (March 9, 2003).

Today I took my revenge. April Fool's would come and go and I never came up with anything that was just right. However, yesterday, this friend of mine was playing in a freeroll to win entry into the World Series of Poker. He had made top 60 in a 3500 person tournament, which qualified him for another 3500 person tournament, of which the top 16 players would win a seat in the main WSOP event ($10,000 if you want to just enter).

He was still in it when they were down to about 800 players. However, he and his wife had a dinner engagement that evening, so our hero needed someone to finish the tournament for him. Not being a tournament or even a no limit player, I was his third (at least) choice. What I lack in tournament experience I make up for in availability.

I'm not particularly fond of poker stories. Especially when I can assume most of my audience doesn't even play Texas hold 'em. Let's just say I got knocked out 148th making a bad bluff where someone else made a bad call.

That would have been the end of the story, but our hero called me last night to see how I did. Couldn't he find out himself? Well if he's going to rely on my account, I think it's time to serve up that revenge.

I also had the advantage of being able to hatch my plan all morning and then call him while he was still in bed and sufficently groggy. He was of course suprised to learn I had taken 13th, but the true stories I told him of the poker hands I got lucky in created a sense of realism. I also lied and said my girlfriend and I were out late celebrating our 3rd anniversary together (which is half true, our anniversary is today, and we WERE out last night, but I think I was actually in bed when he called....I thought I should say I was out really late, to explain why I didn't tell him the good news sooner) and got his message very late last night.

I told him to call me when he got up and I'd give him a link to explain what he had to do to claim his seat in the World Series. Of course the link I gave him was the entry I wrote on E2 retelling the practical joke he had played.

I shall now enter my little daylog and I won't have to retell this story to anyone with a computer that might be interested in it. I think I'll start with unrequited who vowed April Fools revenge on me after I convinced him I hit the bad beat jackpot in Colorado. Don't even try it. I am completely aware each time it is April 1, and I take everything I hear on that day with a shovel of salt.

Birthday at O'Kelly's, Gzira

Twenty-third birthday was celebrated at O'Kelly's in Gzira last Friday night and boy did we have a good pissed-up time. Even though I am practically knee deep in thesis thesis thesis I needed some sort of outlet. To blow off some steam.I had warned my friends not to bring presents and spend their student wages on alcohol instead - combine that with an Irish bar atmosphere, a beautiful view of the Grand Harbour... good friends, a sometimes shirtless singer-songwriter... well, all in all it was damn good clean fun.

"Angie, I'm going to pay you now for the cakes..."

It was a good thing I did because the party soon became a blur of my beer of choice for the evening, laughter, porn star names and music.

"I'll only sing if he asks me THREE TIMES!"

00 00

By this time, speaking full sentences had become a total impossibility. Articles escaped me. I was nevertheless understood by Piero, who works for O' Kelly's. "Don't worry - She's been talking like this all night. I've mastered my understanding of it." There never was a better bartender! An epic video was taken by my good friend Kirsten who asked about my choice of outfit.

"Top. Pri schoose top. PRI!" and I gesture franctically to my friend Priscilla.
"Skirt." Our heroine continues. "Present. Sister present."

"And the shoes?"

"Shoes. OLD shoes. Hurt feet".

00 30

It was time to cut the cake. I dragged along Angie, who also works at O'Kelly's and whose first two letters are the same as mine hence "Happy birthday to An." Our man behind the mike, found the coincidence to be quite amusing but I then instructed him to sing "Happy birthday to TWO!"

"To two?"

"To TWO"

Suddenly, a tray of shooters came out of nowhere, courtesy of the management!

The afterparty

Annie. Drunk. Poof. Fall over. Sofas.

Most of the bar's patrons started fizzling away. I guess they lost interest when i stopped dancing like an Egyptian. My sobre friends headed of to Gianpula while the rest of us flopped down on the sofas. One of the owners of the place started showing off his card tricks. And for some reason, Musician and I were inclined towards displayng our mastery of a certain scene from When Harry Met Sally. Yes, we are both attention-whores. Later, afore mentioned Musician was getting comfy with one of my thesis partners. You will by now have realised that I prone to whoring off my teaser friends in exchange for free jamming lessons with the entertainment.

I got to meet most of the people who run this kooky establishment - although O'Kelly's has only been open for six months, it now boasts a dedicated dining area, a big screen room and a beautiful roof deck... which will host a brand new hot tub in the coming weeks!

A great night overall. Thanks to everyone who made it possible.

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