Friday, August 29, 2003

Britney and Madonna, (even closer).

Christina and Madonna.

Thursday, August 28, 2003

Just saw another Truth ad.

This one is set in a fair ground, with an ongoing competition between two teams to find something in a shopping cart that did not have a list of ingredients.

Surprise surprise, the item that did not have a list of ingredients was a pack cigarettes.

I wonder what they would put onto the ingredient list of a pack of cigarettes?

Paper, cotton, tobacco leaves. All natural ingredients.

A tough day yesterday. Many bruises were acquired while biking, amid falling on stumps and flipping over handlebars. Alas, the injuries are only skin deep.

Still studying for the GRE. I'm making cue cars with vocabulary words on them, the word on one side, and definition on the other. I'm up to card 44 now, but I haven't fully acquired the meanings of those 44 yet. I think my goal is still to take the general GRE in Sept, and maybe the subject in Oct.

Wednesday, August 27, 2003

There are zero good prep books for the computer science subject test for the GRE.

My biggest worry for the general test is vocabulary, so I'm off to practice.

Friday, August 22, 2003

I've been cooking dinner for the kids here since I got here. I'm almost broke. I'm going to need to exchange dinner for drinks, or start charging them.

Tuesday, August 19, 2003

Day 1 - Powerless

It was a rough start to say the least. After having no power in Guelph for 20 hours, I was unsure if I'd ever leave. The power cut off sometime after 4 on Thursday. Two hours later, I turned on the radio, and found out that the whole eastern seaboard is dark. So that night I chilled with the parents on the deck, drinking beer and staring at the stars. Every house in the neighbourhood had a flickering candle in the family room window, and kids were screaming about how this was so like camping.

After I woke up on Friday, there was still no power, and worse still, our landline was no longer working. I tried to get in touch with Matt, but his cell was turned off, and he wasn't answering his house phone. So with no power, very little gas in the car, no gas stations open, and thinking that Waterloo was probably under the same conditions, I decided to wait it out. Finally, after some sketchy connections on the cell phone, I got in touch with Matt, and decided to drive to Waterloo and take it from there. Little did I know that Waterloo's had its power since 4 am.

So we finally leave at 2 pm. 5 hours behind schedule. We drive and drive, until we got to Windsor, and cross at the Windsor/Detroit border. The border officers clearly had no idea what they were doing because it took two of them, and nearly 30 minutes to process a simple J-1. By the time we arrived at Chicago, it was past 10 pm, so we decided to call it a day in a sketchy Motel 6 just outside of the city.

Day 2 - Driving

We got our wake up call at 6 am, stopped by a McDonald's for some quick breakfast (don't get the McGriddle, pancakes, sausages and eggs just don't mix), and headed into Chicago for a quick 30 minute tour. We took our bikes and rode from the Sears tower to the waterfront and back. This is probably the quickest tour of a city I've had, beating even the one of Pisa that Kevin and I took.

From there we tried to take Highway 20 and see some rural America. But alas, it crossed too many small towns, and was deemed too slow by Matt. So we got past Waterloo, Iowa, and cut north for the I-90. It was probably a good thing, because we covered a lot of ground after that. All in all, we crossed two and a half states and ended up at Rapid City, South Dakota.

Day 3 - Worst Detour Ever

In the morning, we took our first detour of the day, and headed south from Rapid City to see America's greatest monument, Mount Rushmore. What's so interesting about four presidents' heads carved into a mountain of granite (they're not even that big)? I'm not so sure. But $8 for parking, 7 pictures, and 20 minutes later, we were back on the road (incidentally, the road we took also passed by Crazy Horse, but we didn't stop for that).

This brings me to the worst detour ever. I had planned on driving by Yellowstone National Park, since it didn't look too far out of the way on the map, and it's a very well known place. So we take highway 16 from the I-90, and start heading toward the park (this road was touted as being the Fastest and Safest road by roadside signs). Let's just say that there were a lot of construction on that road, and some parts are no longer paved.

We had a word of warning at a gas station in Worland that the east gate of the park may be closed due to fires, and when we got to Cody, we found out that it was indeed still closed. So following the gas attendant's advice, we proceed along a winding road toward the northeast entrance. This added another hour and a half to our detour.

By the time we got to the gate (after stopping for dinner at an expensive bistro staffed by girls from Czech), it's already getting dark, and we find out that it's another THREE hours drive to the gyser (which, coincidentally, is at the opposite end of the park at the southwest side). We thought about turning back and head toward I-90 again. But the road didn't look that good, and we would have backtracked too much. So we decide that it's best to just pay the $20 fee, drive north through the park, and head toward I-90 from there.

But once we started driving, we figured, we drove all this way already, and we paid the $20, so we mind as well go for it, and see Old Faithful. After some scary cliffside driving at dusk, and being stuck behind a tour bus for 30 minutes, we finally get to our destination at 10:30. But just as our luck would have it, as we were walking toward the gyser, we meet 3 couples walking toward us, informing us that we missed it by 1 minute. What could we do but wait the 95 minutes until the next blow? Did I mention that it was extremely cold outside? I had my winter jacket on, with shorts and sandles. My feel felt like someone was poking needles into it. So in the end, we saw Old Faithful do her stuff (which was very anticlimactic considering the effort we put into seeing it), couldn't take any worthwhile pictures because it was pitch dark out, and didn't get to a hotel until 2 am.


Day 4 - To Seattle

We finally got out of that godforsaken place known as Yellowstone, albeit after another breakfast at McDonalds. The amount of contruction on the I-90 is mind boggling, especially when they go on for 48 miles. Why can't they just break it into manageable (and car-passable) sections? Being stuck behind a slow car during a construction area is like ... well, there's no appropriate analogies.

At 8 pm, we finally arrived at Seattle. In my four month absence I seemed to have forgotten how to navigate my way around town, but it soon came back to me, and now we're sitting at Kevin and Nat's place (it's dirty).

I think we've had our fill of fast food joints for at least a month.

Some stats to come soon.

Thursday, August 14, 2003

Almost time for the 4000 km road trip.

I went to CAA today and bought a membership. Now I'm ready for any break-downs within a 10 km radius of any towing centre. The premium membership allows for up to 200 km towing, but it was also $30 more, and needs 72 hours to activate. By that time, we're already more than halfway across the continent.

Let's hope the car keeps up, it's been running a little rough lately.

Wednesday, August 13, 2003

We have a new blogger amongst us.

Exams are done, and I'm leaving for Seattle in 2 days.

Friday, August 08, 2003

I've been talking to profs lately about grad school. It's a lot of work to apply, especially since I'm not really sure what area I want to go into.

It's a hard decision. I've taking a lot of C&O courses, so I might try something like algorithms, I thought the OS class was pretty interesting, and there's always distributed.

So many topics.

Monday, August 04, 2003

Photos of real-time projects.

My Scheduling exam was ridiculously long. The prof walked in 10 minutes before 7, handed out the exam, and said, don't start writing, but you can look at the questions. That's never a good sign.

Then he said that the exam might be a bit on the long side, so budget your time accordingly. Well I wrote for three hours straight, and no one left before 10.

With only 10 minutes left, he said that he'd give us 30 more minutes. I was done writing at this point, but wasn't objecting since I wanted to check over what I wrote. But I think this could possibly be the longest exam I've ever written.

Now I have until the 12th before my next one.