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senatorhung's pad
ramblings of an information troubleshooter

movin' through the crowd and the midnight heat

Monday, 02MAY2005:

so, i'm posting from an internet cafe in montréal. just got out of the cinéma du parc, after watching 'nobody knows', the latest film by kore-eda hirokazu, the director of 'after life', one of my faves. a very sad film, but definitely worth watching - the young actor playing 'akira' definitely deserved his cannes award.

being in a city gives me a burst of energy. as i'm walking thru the streets, i feel like an electron, bouncing from one atom to the next, never sticking around too long. i like the anonymity, the chance to be someone new with every interaction. the idea that there are few consequences to screwing up, that i can smile at a pretty girl, or not, as i choose in the moment, knowing that i'll likely never see her again.

i love the idea of being in a city that never sleeps. the absolute best part of being in a city like montréal is that i can step into a handful of the chinese restaurants just off of st. laurent at 2 in the morning and still have the option of a sit-down meal. with my night-owl proclivities, it only makes sense :) (i had scallops and snow peas, btw).

i overnighted at my fave place to stay in montréal, Auberge du Vieux-Montréal - it's got a great common area and is within walking distance of nearly everything in montréal that is interesting to me. i try to book early enough in advance to get the private room to guarantee that i can get a decent night's sleep.

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western skies

Tuesday, 03MAY2005:

another day spent travelling, this time from montréal to calgary via air canada (i had flown down to montréal from iqaluit on first air). the flight touched down in toronto for a transfer, but was otherwise uneventful.

i remember the days when i was still working for slb, when i would fly back into houston and have to pay $60 US for a cab to take me back to my apartment in suburbia, way outside the beltway. i always loved to contrast this with my usual experience flying in to cowtown, where i can hop onto a city bus outside the airport terminal, get driven to the whitehorn c-train station, and from there, basically get just about anywhere in town for 2 bucks or less.

i repeated this feat again today, meeting my brother at his workplace downtown, before continuing on the c-train to his apartment in sunnyside, still using the same transfer that i got when i climbed aboard at the airport. so, even in this SUV wasteland, there are oases of environmental sanity - kudos to the visionaries of calgary transit who put this infrastructure in place, helping benefit more than just the people who happen to own cars.

of course, that whole monologue that i riffed yesterday is all undercut by this - that feeling of being able to be self-sufficient in a city is merely a delusion, built up on ignorance of all of the infrastructure elements that are required to make a city tick, that are never made obvious to most city-dwellers. like the scene in the matrix reloaded where the city elder takes neo down to the water purification tanks - so much needs to happen that is dirty and unpleasant in order for me to be able to drift thru as if i'm the king of the city.

poking around cowtown

Wednesday, 04MAY2005:

got up later in the morning to head downtown to the chinese cultural centre to meet up with kailen, his parents and julie for a dim sum lunch.

from there, i veered towards city hall to check out the
triangle gallery, one of my faves. they always seem to put on an interesting show. this particular exhibit was of a bunch of ceramics, not my usual fancy, and i wasn't sure it would interest me, but once i got there, i found myself getting drawn in. pieces that stood out for me were some mugs with pistol shapes hanging off both ends, an installation of what looked like roof-top exhaust pipes and a series of hollowed out busts that had interior spaces that you could peek into and spot the hidden treasures.

shotgun mug at triangle gallery in calgary
after that, i hit hmv to use up the gift certificate that i had received from clb and spent a couple of hundred dollars - hey, for me, that's an example of restraint! i picked up an oj from the food court at the top of the eaton centre and wandered over to the devonian gardens above the td square mall to chill out with the plants for a bit. then, i hooked up with kailen and robin for supper at a vietnamese place off centre street.

the evening was spent tuning robin at texas hold-'em and then taking on kailen and julie at scrabble. i managed to prevail in the scoring, but julie was able to come up with words like naive and jade that were way better than anything that i could come up with. i'll expect a stronger performance from kailen next time ...

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the play's the thing

Thursday, 05MAY2005:

slept in a bit until mid-morning before heading to the bow valley square mall downtown to catch a play read-thru hosted by
Lunchbox Theatre. the play was 'sub wars' by calgary playwright jason long. it was the first time that i had attended a read-thru where the audience was invited to provide feedback to the writer and director. the play itself was pretty funny, with strong character acting. the theme of resisting corporate domination of life was mixed with the idea that self-help programs may not be the most effective means of handling emotional issues for some people.

in the afternoon, i sat beside the bow river and read a chapter of arthur zajonc's 'catching the light: the entwined history of light and mind'. it's been sitting on my bookshelf for almost a decade, but i've always been interested in optics (legacy of my own bad eyes) and this book looked like it might give a good overview of both the philosophy and the physics of sight. it's a bit of a slow slog, but i'm glad i'm finally getting thru it.

after that, i wandered up 10th street and picked up a replacement ankh from a goth shop before heading next door to the gelatto vendor for a fix of mango and cheesecake. then i ducked into an internet café for an hours worth of blogging before hooking up with nancy and vance for supper at sushi hiro downtown.

after that, we wandered toward the west end of downtown to check out some of the condos under construction. my sister just got a substantial raise earlier this year and the money is burning a hole in her pocket. me, i've put aside a little nest egg that also isn't building itself very quickly. my sister feels that real estate might be a way to make a decent return, and while i have my doubts, i'll throw a share into the kitty if she can convince me that she's found a good deal.

me, i figure that i could probably make more money playing poker at the casino, but the timing for a trial run this trip just didn't work out. i'll have to make sure to work that into my plans on my next trip to cowtown.

i find it intriguing that i'm able to fill up each day of my trip here with so many events. i mean, i lived here for over a year from 2000-2001, and yet i can't remember ever being as busy as i am during my visits, or even as busy as i am in iqaluit. there's a weird time compression effect that seems to happen when you're on vacation - things that would be too much trouble to do on a day-to-day basis, suddenly become all the rage as part of an extended scheduling exercise.

the evening was closed off by another round of scrabble, as kailen and julie swung by with the game board. vance revealed that he was a scrabble shark, not only by getting the top score, but also by knocking julie down to last place as she had the misfortune to be seated to his left. kailen and i duked it out and i barely managed to pass him on the last stretch after he successfully challenged one of my words.

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going around in circles

Friday, 06MAY2005:

hung around vance's in the morning to wait for the movers from jay's, who, of course, got lost looking for the apartment. after a phone call to sort things out, i was astounded by the 30+ boxes / items that i had left with them to store for the past 3 years. testing the office chair that they returned to me, i found that it was *way* more comfortable than the $800 chair that i had been forced to pick up at tittaq in iqaluit.

i didn't have time to scope the whole collection right then, as i had to run downtown to fulfill a lunch appointment with rhonda. i checked out the digs at her new location and we swapped tales of library layout and design woes.

spent the afternoon digging thru the detritus that i had left behind 3 years ago. the reason i'm dealing with it now, is because my employer was willing to pay for storing it for the first 3 years of my time in iqaluit, but since december, i've had to pay the monthly storage fee myself. i decided to impose on my brother who has a spare room, and give him the money to store it instead - this means that i'll have better access if i need any particular item.

most of the stuff was either bulky shelving / chairs, stuff that i didn't have time to dispose of properly, or boxes of mainly unread books - i was always more ambitious in selecting reading material, than i was able to actually find the time or mood to actually read the stuff. anyway, i managed to free up a bag of clothing to donate and boxed up a couple of care packages to mail to myself. still didn't come across my LP's so they must be in my other storage locker - i'll clear that out the next time i'm in town.

late in the afternoon, brother bruce finally arrived with his buddy gerd. bruce gifted me with a nice chess set from krakow. i handed my set of keys to vance's place over to bruce, and kailen helped me to haul all of my stuff over to his condo where i will spend friday and saturday nite.

kailen also invited me to join him for their family's early mother's day supper at another sushi joint on 16th ave. n. i pigged out from the 'all you can eat' menu and could barely walk to the 7-eleven afterwards to pick up the day's ration of oj. then, while kailen was away at a d.j. event for the evening, i hijacked his pc to compose this post.

  • IP idiocy link of the day: international stupidity pact ? James Boyle comments on the leap-frogging copyright term extensions on either side of the atlantic:
    "Since only about 4 per cent of copyrighted
    works more than 20 years old are commercially
    available, this locks up 96 percent of 20th 
    century culture to benefit 4 per cent.  The
    harm to the public is huge, the benefit to
    authors, tiny.  In any other field, the 
    officials responsible would be fired."
  • link of the day: To Motivate, Don't Demotivate. Key Points:

    1. don't exclude from decision-making
    2. be consistent
    3. don't monitor excessively
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feasting at the silver dragon

Saturday, 07MAY2005:

in the afternoon, i borrowed kailen's pc to watch his downloaded version of 'harold and kumar go to white castle' which i was seeing for the first time. not the hilarious riot-fest that i had been led to believe, but lots of fun nonetheless.

in the evening, we gathered for an extended family supper at the silver dragon restaurant downtown. besides all of our calgary cousins, we also invited kailen and kailee's respective families, so we basically took over a whole corner of the joint. we waited a *long* time for the food, but once it started to arrive in wave after wave, we were able to stuff ourselves silly.

photo of some of the folks at the feast
afterwards, vance accompanied us back to kailen's where we had a scrabble game with bin. i laid down the last tiles and tied vance's score after the subtraction of his unused pieces, but vance got the win since he had a higher score before the subtraction.

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