Friday, July 29, 2005

No blog entry yet...

I have this feeling like there is something I want to talk about here, but just can't quite think of what it is.

So, until I do, I guess there's nothing to write about. (There is one more book I want to add to the Recommended Reading list, but not badly enough that I'm going to actually write it right now.) I suppose I could write about CAFTA, I was a bit saddened that it passed, but I don't know enough about it to write intelligently.

I'm doing everything I can to get out of the office by around noon or so, and take the afternoon off, and of course it's a long weekend and I don't usually post anything on the weekends, so it may very well be a long time before this blog gets updated.

Of course, you're not missing much...

Tuesday, July 26, 2005


I think I'm starting to develop a cold.

And, um... that's about it, really.

Monday, July 25, 2005

My spine

A conversation between myself and my wife the other day:

Me: (only half serious, which means I was only half joking, too) Maybe I'm not getting a pot belly. Maybe my spine is just curving out.

My Wife: hahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha

Me: I-


In any event, I'm still somewhat worried about my spine...


Saw a link to this on someone else's blog today, and thought I'd post it too.

I'm not going to stop blogging, though, so don't get your hopes up...

Friday, July 22, 2005

Recommended Reading

sernaferna PermaPost

This post contains a number of books (and a magazine) that I highly recommend. If you read any of the items on this list you’ll do yourself a service, whether because it will help you get closer to God, or because it will help you understand the world stage, or just because it will help you pass a pleasant evening or two.

It’s not complete yet. In fact, it will never be fully complete, because I’ll always be adding to it, but there are a few books even now that I want to add, when I get some time.


Since I’m a Christian, I would be remiss if I didn’t start out a Recommended Reading post with some books on Christianity. Of course, the Bible would be the number one recommended book, but I figure that goes without saying. (If you are a Christian and don’t consider the Bible to be the most important book you’ve read (and continue to read), I’d suggest you blow the dust off and take another look through it.)

There are actually quite a few I could recommend, but only two that I have read recently, so I’ll start out with those, and then throw in a classic.

God’s Passion for His Glory

Full title: God’s Passion for His Glory: Living the Vision of Jonathan Edwards
Author: John Piper
God’s Passion for His Glory is actually a book about a book. It starts out as a synopsis of the book The End For Which God Created the World, by Jonathan Edwards, and then ends with the complete text of that work. Piper wrote this because the Edwards book so influenced his life, and I include it here at the top of my recommended list because it so influenced my life as well. As Piper says:

The message of Jonathan Edwards in The End for Which God Created the World is an intensely personal concern for me and a [work] of great public significance. In that book, a vision of God is displayed that took me captive thirty years ago and has put its stamp on every part of my life and ministry. But, more important than my own experience, is the immense significance of Edwards’s vision of God for the wider public of our day.

I couldn’t have said it better myself. This is one of the rare works which is literally life-altering: Once you start to come to terms with Edwards’ view of a God-centred universe, it colours everything else you say, do, or even think about. If you’re a Christian, you probably already have a God-centred view of the universe, but there is a good chance that you will realize it wasn’t God-centred enough, upon reading this book.

What’s So Amazing About Grace?

Author: Philip Yancey

I’m not normally a fan of Philip Yancey, because he often doesn’t give his books enough of a biblical base. There are times when he can get a little off, which can be very dangerous for a Christian writer.

That being said, Yancey purposely did not quote a lot of scripture in this book (if any); instead, the book is anecdotal. And for the subject matter he is tackling, it works. Yancey is trying to give his readers a feel for what the Grace of God really means. By taking various stories from various people, showing how grace affected their lives, or even how a lack of grace affected their lives, he paints a beautiful picture of what God has done for us—something that we all need to be reminded of, from time to time.

The Screwtape Letters

Author: C.S. Lewis

C.S. Lewis is one of the modern giants of Christian literature. He has a great knack for explaining Christian concepts in a way that really makes sense to the reader, and yet doesn’t dumb things down. In The Screwtape Letters, a book which has become a classic, Lewis presents us with one half of a correspondence between Screwtape, a demon, and his nephew Wormwood. Screwtape is writing his letters to give Wormwood advice in making sure his “patient” ends up where he should: in hell.

Using this unique perspective (that of the demons, rather than of humans), Lewis masterfully gives us an insight into our own character, and I think this is why the book has endured the way that it has.

Any time C.S. Lewis has something to say on Christianity, it’s worth reading.


As a computer nerd, I should really have a computer section in here, shouldn’t I?

Service-Oriented Architecture

Full Title: Service-Oriented Architecture: Concepts, Technology, and Design
Author: Thomas Erl

At the time I wrote this, Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA) was a pretty new concept for most people. This book is a clear, articulate explanation of the topic, by one of the few people in the industry who can truly claim to have a grasp on the subject.

Design Patterns

Full Title: Design Patterns: Elements of Reusable Object-Oriented Software
Authors: Erich Gamma, Richard Helm, Ralph Johnson, John Vlissides

This book is the canonical book on object-oriented design patterns. If you mention the “Adapter pattern” or the “Composite pattern” to someone who has studied computer science, or is a programmer, s/he will understand you to be talking about the patterns defined in this book.

The book has become so commonplace among computer geeks that we even have a nickname for the four authors: The Gang of Four (GoF).


Full Title: Refactoring: Improving the Design of Existing Code
Authors: Martin Fowler, Kent Beck, John Brant, William Opdyke, Don Roberts

Refactoring, according to Fowler’s website, is:
Refactoring is a controlled technique for improving the design of an existing code base. Its essence is applying a series of small behavior-preserving transformations, each of which “too small to be worth doing”. However the cumulative effect of each of these transformations is quite significant. By doing them in small steps you reduce the risk of introducing errors. You also avoid having the system broken while you are carrying out the restructuring—which allows you to gradually refactor a system over an extended period of time.
This book is a great explanation of the concept of refactoring, the technique involved, and common types of refactoring you may apply in your code.

Incidentally, pretty much anything written by Martin Fowler is usually worth a read.


Lately I’ve been reading a lot more politically-focused books, which have somewhat opened my eyes about how the world works. (Which has, in turn, made me start discussing politics at every opportunity. Much to the discomfort of my companions, I’m sure.) This section outlines some of the books and periodicals I’ve found the most informative.

You may notice that some of the books in here are more centred around American politics, rather than Canadian or world politics. However, the more I study the shape of the world today, the more I see how America is dominating the politics of the world. To examine the American machine in motion is to examine the suffering of millions of others...

Hegemony or Survival

Full title: Hegemony or Survival: America’s Quest for Global Dominance (The American Empire Project)
Author: Noam Chomsky

I won’t go into much detail about this book, because I’ve already done a half-hearted book review of it. (Looking at the length of that post, you might not think it’s so half-hearted. However, there’s a lot of material to cover, and that review only scratches the surface.)

It’s one of those books you have to read to believe. The problem with talking about politics is that I sometimes come off sounding like a conspiracy theorist; any time I start talking about “America wanting to take over the world” people tune me out, or assume that I’m exaggerating to make a point. But, as Chomsky proves in this book, unfortunately, it’s not exaggeration to talk about America dominating the world. They do, and they’ll do what they have to so that they can maintain that dominance.

Of all the books on politics covered in this post, this one had the most effect on me.

Necessary Illusions

Full title: Necessary Illusions: Thought Control in Democratic Societies
Author: Noam Chomsky

Again, I won’t spend much time on this book, because I’ve already reviewed it. This is another must-read from Chomsky, on the nature of the media in North America.

No Logo

Full title: No Logo: No Space, No Choice, No Jobs
Author: Naomi Klein

In No Logo, Naomi Klein takes us into the world of big corporation branding. Sweatshop labour, the politics of branding on the schoolyard and in the ghettos, the loss of North American jobs, and other aspects of the new methods of marketing are all laid bare for the reader.

If the book were to be summed up in a central idea, it’s that corporations are no longer selling products or services; they’re selling brands. This inevitably leads to marketing teams going into overdrive, trying to get those brands everywhere they can.

I decided to include this book in the Politics section of this post because capitalism is politics. North American policy is shaped and written by the large corporations, and, whether we like it or not, that shapes the rest of the world, too. If you read this book, you’ll get a good feel for how corporations are currently operating.

Lies, and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them

Full title: Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right
Author: Al Franken

I held an internal debate on whether this book should go in the Humour section, or here in the Politics section. I finally decided to include it here because Franken covers numerous issues in this book that you might not come across otherwise. The fact that he does it with wit and humour is only, in my mind, an added benefit.

Franken’s purpose in writing this book is to show that there is not, as some would have you believe, a liberal bias to the media. In fact, there is a decidedly conservative slant to the media. (The tagline for this book, A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right, was chosen to point a finger at Fox News, one of the main propaganda machines for the radical right in the US.) But it goes deeper than that: It’s not that the conservative point of view is expressed more freely in the media, and that more left-leaning viewpoints are left out. It’s that the views expressed by the right in the media are often patently false. They are, in fact, lies.

To call someone a liar is a serious charge, and you’d have to have some pretty serious evidence to back up a claim like that. Franken does, and the bulk of the book is devoted to showing these lies for what they are. (Namely: lies.)

One of the problems I have with this book is that Al is an unapologetic Democrat, and it comes out in the book. As long as he’s pointing out the lies of the neocons he’s on solid ground, but when he stops to reminisce about the good ol’ days when Clinton was in the White House, he loses me. The fact is that when it comes to foreign policy, the Democrats and the Republicans are very much the same, but Franken doesn’t believe that. (Maybe he hasn’t read Hegemony or Survival.) However, the main point of the book (that the conservatives lie, and the media doesn’t stop them from it) is skilfully brought forth, and it’s an enjoyable read.

The Nation

The Nation is a weekly news magazine, out of the States, which was founded in 1865. (How’s that for a long-lived magazine?) It was formed to do exactly what the press is supposed to do in America: report news objectively, so that the public can have an informed opinion about the world around them (especially about what’s going on in the government). Unlike other sources of news, the stories in this magazine never have to be edited to suit the convenience of their advertisers.

Their founding prospectus says:

The Nation will not be the organ of any party, sect, or body. It will, on the contrary, make an earnest effort to bring to the discussion of political and social questions a really critical spirit, and to wage war upon the vices of violence, exaggeration, and misrepresentation by which so much of the political writing of the day is marred.

The magazine is a great source of news, not just about politics, but about a vast number of topics, the world over. This is one of the few magazines that I can pick up and read cover to cover, because every story is fascinating.


I have to have a section here about humour. All I can say about the books in this section is that they’re hilarious, and I would recommend any of them if you’re looking to kill some time, and entertain yourself.

If you read any of these books, and don’t find them funny, it’s probably because you have severe psychological problems, and you should seek medical help immediately. Ask for the really strong medications—you need them.

By which I mean, of course, humour is subjective, so don’t come complaining to me if you don’t like any of these books.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

Author: Douglas Adams

If I had mentioned this book a year or two ago, many of my readers might not have heard of it, but it’s been getting a lot of coverage lately, because of the movie.

This is one of the funniest, most enjoyable books I’ve ever read. Adams’s writing is a joy to read, as he mixes a keen intellect with dry (and sometimes not so dry) British humour. As you read the book, you may forget that it’s, technically, a science fiction book, since everyone in Adams’ universe is pretty much the same as the people here on Earth. (Except that the people on Earth are ignorant about the fact that there is a universe outside of Earth.)

There are actually a number of books in the Hitchhiker series (although Adams continued to call it a trilogy, even after the fourth and fifth books were published):
  • The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
  • The Restaurant at the End of the Universe
  • Life, the Universe, and Everything
  • So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish
  • Mostly Harmless
They’re all worth a read, but even if you just read the first one, and leave it at that, you won’t regret it.

America: The Book

Full title: The Daily Show with Jon Stewart Presents America (The Book): A Citizen’s Guide to Democracy Inaction
Authors: Daily Show writing staff, Jon Stewart

This is another book about which I had a brief inner battle, as to whether it should be in the Humour section or the Political section of this post. In the end, though, I decided that the humour factor of the book far outweighed any insight into the current political situation, even though that isn’t lacking.

This book is an enjoyable look into the whole idea of democracy, and how it has taken root in America. The book makes the bold assumption that America is a democracy, an assumption I don’t necessarily hold to, but Stewart is an American, so you can’t be too surprised by that. Of course, it’s hard to tell whether the book really believes America is a true democracy; sometimes when you push your tongue that far into your cheek, the message becomes muffled.

In any event, the book is hilarious. If you enjoy watching The Daily Show, you’ll love this book.


This section contains some books that don’t fall into the other categories.

The Constant Gardener

Author: John le Carré

I have previously reviewed this book, here, but I liked it so much that I’m putting it in my Recommended Reading as well.

I first came across the name John le Carré when I was looking for a new author of spy novels. I’d read a number of books by Robert Ludlum, who is one of the best known spy novelists, but I was looking for something different, and a website said that le Carré is very highly regarded.

I can definitely see why, although the two books I’ve read so far aren’t really spy novels. (In another blog entry I reviewed another of le Carré’s books, Absolute Friends, which didn’t quite make the cut to the Recommended Reading post, simply because it’s not as likely to appeal to a wide audience.) I like his writing, and his more slow, thoughtful pace—as opposed to the quick, in-your-face style usually used in spy novels.

If Absolute Friends isn’t your normal spy novel, The Constant Gardener isn’t a spy novel at all. It is the story of a woman and her friend/colleague who have been killed, and her husband, who is looking into the mystery of who killed her and why. At the time I wrote this, I hadn’t yet seen the movie, so I’m basing this solely on the book, but this is a great story, and le Carré does a masterful job of unrolling it for us. I highly recommend it, and, since the critics are saying that the movie is also very thoughtful, and true to the novel, I will probably go and see it, as well.

Fast Food Nation

Full title: Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal
Author: Eric Schlosser

In Fast Food Nation, Eric Schlosser takes an end-to-end look at the way fast food is produced and consumed in North America.

Schlosser’s look at fast food is all encompassing, without being biased. You may be expecting the book to be a diatribe against fatty/salty/sugary foods, but he doesn’t have to rail against these things at all. He simply presents the facts, and lets the reader think about things. A lot of ground is covered in this book, from the history behind the fast food restaurant, to how french fries are made, and how beef is handled for making hamburgers, to the difference between natural and artificial flavours (not as much as you might assume).

The book is a very interesting read—especially if you eat a lot of fast food.

Stephen King

As my favourite author, King deserves a section all his own. I won’t go so far as to say I’ve read all of his books, but I’ve read a lot of them, and I’m a big fan. I sometimes find his plots a little fantastic, but that’s to be expected for his genre, so it’s not a very valid complaint.

The thing I like the most about Stephen King is how he writes his characters. Namely: realistically. I may think a plot about vampires or aliens is ridiculous, however, if it wasn’t ridiculous, and someone was in that situation… well, I’m sure they would act the way King has them act in his books.

Following are some of his books that spring to mind, when I think about Stephen King.

The Stand

Synopsis: A man-made plague is accidentally let loose, and quickly ravages most of North America. Only a small percentage of the population, who have a natural immunity to the plague, are left to survive. In the aftermath, blah blah blah epic battle between good and evil yadda yadda yadda.

This is my favourite Stephen King novel, and I’m not alone, because any time Stephen King fans start talking about their favourite King novel, The Stand is close to the top of the list. (Usually occupying the #1 spot.) This is a huge novel, I believe the longest single work he has written, and yet his fans are consistently willing to read this book, because it’s so good.

I think the main reason I like this novel is that it’s large scope allows King to really develop the characters. There are many “main” characters in this book, and they all feel real to me. (There are even more “secondary” characters, and they seem realistic, too.)

The Tommyknockers

Synopsis: An alien ship is found, buried in someone’s backyard, and it starts to turn people into aliens.

I honestly don’t know if other Stephen King fans would rate this highly or not. I don’t see it mentioned all that often (which is probably a bad sign). But I like it. It’s fairly long, and there aren’t that many main characters in it, which means that King really had time to go into their development. And, in fact, it really focuses on one of them, who is an ex-poet and recovering alcoholic.

There’s not much to say about this book, except that it’s a really solid read. If you’re a Stephen King fan, I’m sure you’ll enjoy it.

Last updated: June 20th, 2007

Tuesday, July 19, 2005


I was reading an entry today on someone else's blog which implied that this article shows that people are idiots. And, since I agree with the premise that people are idiots, I thought I'd read the article - which I found pretty interesting. (I don't know if it necessarily shows that people are idiots, though. It really only shows that they're sheep.)

The article contained a link to this article, which I also found interesting. It also shows that people are sheep, but with an Orwellian twist.

If you were introduced to social psychology in school, then these experiments may already be old news to you, but I found them quite interesting.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Art? Art.

My wife took some pictures of some of our glasses the other day, and I liked the way that they look. So I'm posting them, so everyone else can enjoy them too...

I'm such a nerd...

Because I’m a bit of a nerd, I thought I’d give a brief history of the digital devices that have given me so much joy over the years.

Philips Nino
My love affair with the hand-held device began with the Philips Nino. I bought this device before they started making all of the converged devices that have a cell phone, PDA, MP3 player, etc. etc. all built into one device. This was just a plain old PDA, nothing more, nothing less. (It didn’t even come with an application that could play MP3s, although I found one I could download for free.)

At the time, your choice of PDA was limited to two options: A Palm Pilot, or a Windows CE device. If you wanted a Windows CE device, the Nino was the way to go – none of the other CE devices came close.

Neopoint 1000
But eventually I bought a cell phone. And soon after, I started to get annoyed that I had to carry two devices with me everywhere. I thought it would be great if I could get a phone that included PDA functionality. So I bought a Neopoint 1000, which, at the time, was about the only choice on the market. (There was also the Qualcomm pdQ, which used the Palm operating system, which came out somewhere in this time frame. But it was a big heavy brick; it would be lighter to carry a phone and PDA than to carry this thing by itself, I’m sure.)

Unfortunately, I didn’t have to use the Neopoint for too long before I realized it was pretty crappy as a PDA, and not too hot as a phone either. So I was back to carrying both a phone and a PDA. But the Nino was getting pretty out of date, so I wanted to update.

Compaq iPaq 3800And thus I got the Compaq iPaq. By this time, the Windows CE operating system had been revamped – it was now called PocketPC. It had a greatly improved interface, and even came with a pocket version of Windows Media Player, so you could play MP3’s on it.

At the time that I bought it, the Compaq units were the devices to buy, if you wanted a PocketPC. There were other companies out there making PocketPC devices, but Compaq was way ahead of the competition in terms of reliability, price, and just plain coolness factor. It even came with an extra sleeve I could slide the unit into (with a built-in battery), that had a PCMCIA slot. So I could put in things like a wireless card, and get connected to the internet. This was revolutionary. This was great.

Of course, no one device can really occupy my attention for too long, no matter how cool it may be...

BlackberryAt the time, I was working for a consulting company that specialized in wireless devices. So I was one of the first people that got to try the Blackberry device. (By “one of the first”, I probably mean one of the first 1,000 people… It’s not like I actually worked for RIM or anything.) This combined the PDA functionality (calendar, contacts, etc.) with email paging, so my emails got sent from my inbox directly to my Blackberry, and I could then respond to the emails real time. I started off on the pager-sized device, and then got upgraded to the larger model.


Of course, this was before the Blackberry had phone capabilities integrated, so I was still carrying the cell phone with me. I hadn’t lost a device, I’d just traded one device for another, and added the capability to get emails instantly.

Unfortunately, there is a big drawback to email pagers: They never stop going off. If you know anyone who has one, you might notice that it’s very hard to hold a conversation with them, because they constantly stop talking to you to answer their email. And trust me, it’s hard not to. It’s a pager, after all – pagers are designed to be answered immediately.

So I eventually gave up the Blackberry, and went back to my iPaq for PDA functionality. I just check my email regularly on the computer, like a normal person, and when I’m away from the computer, I get work done. Unfortunately, my iPaq started to show its years, and when the power button broke on me, I decided it was finally time to get a new device.

What I really wanted was a PocketPC device that was also a phone. For me, I use the PDA functionality more than I use the phone functionality (which makes me different from most of the population), so I wanted a very solid PDA, with the phone functionality almost as an add-on.

PPC 5050
So I started to look at the PPC 5050, from Audiovox. I’m sure most of you think this is a pretty ugly device, but for me, it had everything I wanted: it was a PocketPC (Phone Edition), and oh, look at that, it’s also a phone!

Unfortunately, when Bell Mobility first introduced it, it was too expensive, so I decided to wait until it came down in price. And then they took it off the market, before it ever did. So, in retrospect, I probably dodged a bullet by not getting this device. If I had, maybe I’d still be bothering Mobility’s tech support, trying to get the thing up and running…

But I was still very disappointed. Where was I ever going to find a device that combined the PDA functionality with a phone?

Treo 600Shortly after, BellMo introduced the Treo 600, and I almost converted to a Palm user, just because I liked the form factor of this device. Finally, here was a device that was both a phone and a PDA, and, judging by the reviews, did a good job of both. But I just couldn’t bring myself to do it.

Which left me in the dark, because I had now run out of options. What was I to do?

Dell Axim x50vI eventually gave up on the integrated phone/PDA device, and decided to start shopping around for a regular PocketPC PDA. I’ll just live with carrying two devices around, and get a good, solid PDA. The unit I chose was the Dell Axim x50v, which has a VGA screen. (It can even flip the screen horizontally or vertically, depending on what would be easier to read.) It has built-in Bluetooth and wireless networking capabilities, which means that I can surf the web if there’s a wireless connection. Or, if I have a Bluetooth-enabled phone, I can look up a contact in my Axim, and then have it talk to my phone and have it dial the number. (Unfortunately, I don’t have a Bluetooth-enabled phone, so this isn’t really an important feature for me.)

But the main reason I went for the Dell was that I had just finally given up on finding a combined PDA/phone that I liked. Especially one that used the PocketPC operating system, which I liked. (It’s nice to have Windows Media Player built in, and Pocket Word, and Pocket Excel, etc. etc.)

And then, a couple of months after I got my Axim, Bell Mobility introduced this:

PPC 6600
The PPC 6600. That’s right. Another PocketPC phone, and it has an integrated slide-out keyboard, in case you don’t want to use the stylus. I was kicking myself – why didn’t I wait just a little longer, and I could have got a great device?

And then Rogers introduced an even better phone:

SMT 5600
The SMT5600. This phone is a PocketPC device, too – but a special version of PocketPC, specially designed for use in phones, optimally designed for one-handed use with the phone keypad, instead of a pen. (I believe Microsoft marketing call these devices a “Windows Mobile-based Smartphone”.) And there’s no way I can justify buying it, now, because I just bought the Axim, and it’s a great device.

Actually, I’m having problems with the Axim’s screen, so maybe I’ll return it, and then I can get whatever I want… Hmm…

Thursday, July 14, 2005


sernaferna now presents an open letter to the Tim Horton's corporation, and specifically to Mr. Horton himself, if he's still alive:

Dear Tim Horton's Corporation (and specifically Mr. Horton, if you're still alive):

I love you.

Your coffee makes me happy, and your iced cappuccino makes me smile. Even though it makes my cheeks hurt when I drink too much caffeine, I can't stop drinking your products, because they are laced with something that makes them addictive.



Wednesday, July 13, 2005


We saw Willard last night. I was expecting good things, because someone gave a long, long review of it to my wife. But I didn't like it, and I don't think she did either (although I didn't ask her explicitly).

Of course, I don't think anyone in the world will be surprised that I didn't enjoy the movie Willard. It didn't exactly make headlines at the box office, I don't think.

Blog updates

For someone who's trying to have a blog that's as simple as possible, in terms of looks, I've spent a lot of time updating its looks.

You'd think, after all this work, the thing would look a little more flashy...

Tuesday, July 12, 2005


Appropos of nothing, I'd like to mention the fact that I can never spell the word "ridiculous" properly. For some reason, I always keep thinking that it's spelled "rediculous".

USB Drive

I finally caught up with the rest of the world, and bought myself a USB drive. (I got one that is 1GB.)

And frankly, I don't know how I got by without it. It hasn't been out of the package for an hour yet, and I've already used it.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Tim Horton's

Good news! Tim Horton's has opened a little mini store in the cafeteria at the building where I work.

Which means that I'll probably be drinking more coffee now, which means I'll be a bit more hopped up on caffeine, which means that I'll probably blog more.

It also means that I don't have to deal with the stir stick problem anymore.

Monday morning post

Two random thoughts:

I usually post a "how my weekend went" type of thing on Mondays, but I didn't really do anything this weekend, so there's nothing to say.

Also, I don't recommend Visine for red eyes. I've been using it, and it's not working. I'd post the other kind of red-eye medicine that I have at home, which seems to work better, but I can't remember the name of it.

Friday, July 08, 2005


My two favourite quotes from the Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy (the book(s), not the movie) were both from Zaphod Beeblebrox:

I'm so hip I have trouble seeing over my pelvis!


You guys are so unhip it's a wonder your bums don't fall off.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

my Blogger profile

Here's what I don't like about the profiles on Blogger:

I go to the Profile page, and, as usual, because I'm so anal about everything, I fill in every detail that I'm willing to be made public. And one of the things they ask is your birthdate. So I fill that out, assuming that when people see my profile, it will say my birthday, or my age, or something.

Age: 31


Birthday: May 7, 1974

You know, something along those lines.

So I look at my profile, and it does indeed show my age. But then it also shows my astrological sign, and my zodiac year. (It's Tiger, according to Blogger.)

So if anyone looks at my profile they're going to think that I purposely put all that crap in there, when I didn't. Especially if they don't blog with Blogger and know how all this works - or even if they do blog with Blogger, but just haven't filled out their birthday, in their profile, and seen what Blogger did with that information.

So, by trying to be as forthright as I can, and filling out as much of my profile as I could, I actually ended up misleading people about myself.

This is one of those rare situations where the word "irony" would actually be appropriate. And that, my friends, doesn't happen very often...

Downtown Toronto (long)

First, some history:

I moved to Toronto when I was 19, to go to college. I lived in Rexdale (Finch & Kipling area), because it was close to the school I was attending, and I got a cheap room in a house I could actually afford. After a year in that house I moved into an apartment in North York (Finch & Weston area), with two other guys, which later became three other guys, and the experience still makes me shudder when I think about it. Some day I'll write about living in that apartment, because it will be cathartic, but for now let's set those memories aside.

I eventually moved out of that apartment, for reasons that I will write about if I ever write the cathartic entry, and moved to a bachelor apartment downtown (College & Wellesley area). This is when my life in Toronto began, and I learned to love downtown Toronto. I grew up in the country, and I understand why people love living in the country, but I understand city people now, too, and I consider myself one of them. I could be content living in the country, but I could be more content living in the city. (Right now I'm doing neither; I live in Rexdale, which is neither country nor downtown. But I'm still content.)

But I digress.

After my downtown bachelor apartment, I lived in Calgary for a few months, and then moved back in with my parents in the country for six months, while I looked for work. When I found a job, it was in Mississauga, so I moved there for a year, before finding a good job, in my field, downtown, allowing me to move back there. Five years ago I moved back to Etobicoke, to the first non-roach-infested apartment I lived in, and then when I got married I stayed in Rexdale but moved into an actual townhouse, if you can believe it. I can't.

So, with that context taken care of, here's why I'm writing:

I love downtown Toronto. I wish I could describe properly how I feel about downtown, but I don't know from poetry, so this blog entry will be the best I can do. I've been thinking about it a lot the last couple of days, because I was downtown on the weekend, at the Harbourfront, and we walked around quite a bit, allowing me to become nostalgic about my downtown days. Not the "bitter/sweet" kind of nostalgia that we sometimes get, where we remember our happy memories but are sad that they're over, but a very warm, comforting, pleasant nostalgia, where I just remembered the sense of happiness and well being I had living downtown, without the sadness that those days are over.

I don't like winter, and I really don't like snow, but I loved walking through freshly fallen snow when I was downtown. Sometimes it would start to snow in the afternoon, and I would leave work at 6:00 or so, after it had gotten dark, and just walk around, instead of going straight home. Nowhere in particular, really; maybe I'd stroll up Yonge Street, and take a look through the stores selling cheap electronics, or enjoy the hustle along Queen Street, with the wannabe bohemians. I'd probably stop in somewhere for supper, and if possible I'd get a table by a window, so that I could watch life in Toronto strolling by, on the streets outside.

The flip side to that is that I love summer. Even when it's really hot, too hot, I love summer. And summer downtown is even better.

In the summer, I almost always walked home from work. Sure, it might take me a couple of hours to get home, instead of 30 minutes on the subway, but I always felt it was time well spent. A couple of hours just to enjoy life, commune with my fellow man as they passed me on the street, and forget about my troubles (if any). There are a hundred stores downtown that I've passed by on these walks, vowed to stop into one day, and never entered. Maybe a thousand. Maybe a million - I'm not good with numbers.

Lunchtime is great too, in the summer. For a time I was working in an office at Church & Esplanade, which meant that we could have lunch in that little triangular park between Wellington, Front, and Scott. Or, we could go to Saint Lawrence Market, and buy our lunch there. It's very relaxing to eat your lunch outside on a warm summer day.

And let's not forget balconies. Every apartment I've lived in has had a balcony with a great view - which I hardly used. But sometimes, in the summer, it's just so peaceful to go out on the balcony with a beer, enjoy the view (usually of the CN Tower, fortunately or unfortunately), maybe read a book, and just be content with life.

Speaking of views, here's how to see Toronto in the best possible way: Wait until it gets dark, and then go somewhere West of Sunnyside Park. Get on the Gardiner Expressway, heading East into the city. When you get somewhere around, oh, I don't know, Jameson or Dufferin, you'll come up over a hill, and there before you will be a view of the downtown, nicely lit up. I always love it when I'm in a car that someone else is driving, when we take the Gardiner into downtown, so that I can enjoy that view. I wouldn't go so far as to say it's breathtaking; for that you definitely do have to go into the country. But it's still a beautiful view of the city I love living in.

As I mentioned earlier, I live in Rexdale now. I don't think I'll be leaving Rexdale to move back downtown - my wife and I care too much about this community to leave it. So my days living downtown are over. I'll go there occasionally, and maybe spend an afternoon, but there will be no more walks home after work, strolling semi-aimlessly through the streets, in a way that makes my arrival home seem almost accidental. Whenever I go downtown now, it will always be with the knowledge that I have to get back in the car eventually, and head back home.

But that's okay. I want to do what I can for Rexdale, so I've given up downtown. I don't regret leaving, not even for a moment. I simply reminisce about my time downtown, enjoy the memories, and use them to make the tapestry that is my life even more rich.

Although I only lived there a few years, altogether, downtown Toronto is part of who I am.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005


Here's what I accomplished today:

  • posted a blog entry about my sore eyes again
  • did some work
  • did a search on Google for someone who has a blog, and found out that she's all over the internet. I even heard her sing on MP3. I hope my blog never becomes famous, and people start searching for me on Google. (Luckily, this isn't likely.)
  • did some more work
  • went out for lunch, so that I could stop at Shopper's and get some eye drops. Mission accomplished.
  • did some more work
  • made a phone call
  • read someone else's blog, who mentioned someone else's blog, which I started reading, and then wasted a lot of time on. (I'm not telling you either of those blogs.)

Also, I could have swore there was some other stuff, but I don't remember what it was.

serna's regular health update

It's been days since I posted about my health, so I'm sure all of my regular readers are wondering what's up. So here's the deal:

I got a bit dizzy again this morning, but only for a second. The big news is that my eyes hurt like crazy again.

serna's regular health update is brought to you by butter. Mmm, butter.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Why so many posts about flip-flops?

In the interest of fairness and debate on the flip-flop issue, here is a conversation I had on MSN Messenger this morning, regarding Tara's comment.

I should point out that she makes a valid point, regarding women feeling forced to wear fashion which is uncomfortable for them. (High heels are supposed to force the calves to go taught in a certain way which supposedly makes women's legs look more sexy. And, as she points out, taller women are considered more attractive than shorter women, in our society.)

Please keep in mind, of course, that this is a conversation on instant messaging, not an essay, so not every point was thought out particularly well - mine weren't, and I'm sure hers weren't either. So if you disagree with one of the points made in here, it may just be that one of us typed something out quickly and hit Enter, whereas a few more minutes of reflection might have produced something more eloquent and/or persuasive.

Where I come from isn't all that great, my automobile is a piece of CRAP says:
Have you read my reply?

sernaferna says:
I've read it. I'll craft a reply this afternoon.

sernaferna says:
It will probably be something along the lines of "you'd better start wearing shoes without heels *right now*, and get your legs back into proper shape, before you're permanently deformed..."

Where I come from isn't all that great, my automobile is a piece of CRAP says:
honestly, it's too late for that. It's painful to wear flats.

Where I come from isn't all that great, my automobile is a piece of CRAP says:
I've been wearing heels since I was about 12.

sernaferna says:
In the short term, but you've got to get your legs back into shape.

I mean, are you saying that when you're at home, you can't even walk around in sock feet, you have to tiptoe everywhere???

Where I come from isn't all that great, my automobile is a piece of CRAP says:
I don't do any distance walking in my house 800 square ft does not really allow for extensive travel. But my feet do tend to get sore from pacing my apartment. If they do, I put on a pair of shoes.

sernaferna says:
So you really do walk around your apartment in high heels?

You're right, your legs are deformed, and you need medical help. NOW.

Where I come from isn't all that great, my automobile is a piece of CRAP says:
so do about 75% of all women, serna.

sernaferna says:
Bull crap. 75% of women's legs aren't so deformed that they can't even walk without the aid of high heels.

Where I come from isn't all that great, my automobile is a piece of CRAP says:
my legs aren't deformed.

Where I come from isn't all that great, my automobile is a piece of CRAP says:
It's no different than someone who wears glasses to correct a problem. I correct a height problem with heels.

sernaferna says:
If you can't even walk barefoot, without pain, they are. Sorry.

Where I come from isn't all that great, my automobile is a piece of CRAP says:
Shmeh. Of all of the medical problems in my life, distorted calves aren't high on the list.

Where I come from isn't all that great, my automobile is a piece of CRAP says:
in terms of severity or annoyance

sernaferna says:
Incidentally, can I post this conversation on my blog?

Where I come from isn't all that great, my automobile is a piece of CRAP says:
are you going to mock me?

sernaferna says:
(The only thing I regret is that I didn't call you on comparing wearing high heels "correcting a height problem" to wearing glasses "correcting a vision problem"...)

sernaferna says:
No, I'm just going to post it.

Where I come from isn't all that great, my automobile is a piece of CRAP says:

Monday, July 04, 2005

Nothing important

Ever have one of those days when you really feel like posting to your blog, and you feel like you should have something to say, but then you sit down in front of your computer, and it turns out you really don't?

No? Just me?

Okay. You can go back to whatever you were doing, then.

flip-flops revisited

Further to my flip-flops rant...

I was downtown Saturday, as mentioned earlier, and I noticed a woman wearing high heel flip-flops. My friends, this is wrong on too many levels. Why would someone take the ugliest, most uncomfortable footwear ever invented, and then put a high heel on it?!?


"What's the matter, Frank?"

"Well, it's just that.... Well... I've been thinking about flip-flops."

"Yeah, we really punished women with them, eh? haha! Ugly and uncomfortable! Booya!"

"Yeah. It's just that... I wish there were a way to make them even more uncomfortable. I mean... They've got that silly plastic thing between the toes, but women can still get about just fine."

"Yeah, I see what you mean. There really should be a way we could make it hard to walk in the things...."



"Wait! I've got it! What if we put a high heel on them!"

"Brilliant! No, wait! Even better! What if we make it a stilleto high heel!"

"Ooh, that's even better!"

"Well, we'll see. I doubt if anyone would actually be dumb enough to buy these..."

"Hey, you never know. We can try, right?"

another Monday, another post about the weekend

So, as is usual on a Monday morning, I'm posting a quick summary of my goings on over the past weekend.

I don't remembr what happened Thursday night, which means that probably nothing did.

Friday morning I slept in nice and late, and then did a bunch of work on the book. I went through all of the small- to medium-sized edits my pastor suggested, and just have a few fairly big ones to do. Then my wife made me help her clean the house, which really had to be done, so I'm glad that she did. The house now looks pretty good, and will probably stay that way for a couple of days.

Friday afternoon, about 4:00, just as I was getting used to the idea of having a nice pleasant evening of doing nothing, I remembered that it was Friday, not Saturday, which meant I had to go to Youth Group. Whoops. I hadn't properly planned for it, but that was okay, because it was our year-end BBQ, and I planned to order in pizza or something instead of grilling burgers and dogs - mostly because I dind't know how many people would show up, so I didn't know how many burgers & dogs to buy.

Anyway, here's how the evening went down:

  • 5:00 or so: I tell my wife that if nobody shows up, I'll be coming back home, and when she asks me what the cutoff point is, i tell her 7:15. HA! This is the biggest joke of the night, and at numerous times throughout the evening, I think back on this prediction and laugh sadly to myself.
  • 6:55: I'm in my car, just about at the church. I'm supposed to be there for 7:00, so I'm doing fine. But my cell phone rings; it's one of the other leaders, telling me that he forgot about Youth Group too, but he's on his way now. He'll be about 20 minutes late. I said no problem, and I'd meet him there.
  • 7:10pm: I'm sitting in the church by myself, reading The Nation, and 3 of the kids show up on bikes. They tell me that they'll be "right back".
  • 7:30: The other leader, who had called me on my cell, arrives.
  • between 7:45 and 8:00, or so: The 3 kids on bikes come back, as to one or two other kids, and one of the leaders shows up. "Aha!" I think, we can leave now. But no; the leader who has just arrived lets me know that another of the leaders is on her way. So we wait for her.
  • 8:30: Why isn't she here yet?
  • 9:00: Hmm. Still not here. I should call her.
  • 9:01: I call. She's on her way.
  • 9:20: She gets here - finally, we can go!
  • 9:21: Hmm. It's 9:21 on a Friday night; where are we going to go, that will let us in on this late notice?
  • 9:30-11:30: We have a very nice dinner at a restaurant, and a good time is had by most.
So that was Youth Group Friday night.

Saturday started off disappointingly, because I woke up at 5:00 in the morning for no good reason, and couldn't get back to sleep. Finally, after waking my wife up probably half a dozen times, I went downstairs to read, and then added some more pictures to the choir web site. Later in the morning, after my wife had woken up, her cousins called, and let us know that they were going to the Harbourfront, and did we want to come? I grudgingly accepted. (I wasn't grudging about it because I didn't want to go - I like the Harbourfront. But since I'd woken up at 5:00, I was hoping to get a nap in the afternoon...) Before we left, we played around with my sister-in-law's iPod Shuffle, trying to get it to work on my computer, which was a problem because apparently my computer's USB port is slow, and the iPod prefers a fast one. But we got it connected, and got a bunch of music on there for her.

We went to the Harbourfront in the afternoon, and had a great time. (I wasn't even tired, despite my lack of a nap, so that was good.) Most of the time spent was waiting for a couple of people who were shopping at the booths, but it still wasn't too bad. I saw some insane person in high heel flip-flops, which I thought was ridiculous. But I won't go on and on about it here, because I'll probably devote an entire post to it...

We went out for supper at a place on Front Street, right around the corner from Metro Hall that had a patio, which was nice. It was the perfect weather for it. But on our way in, this couple walked out, and told us that we shouldn't bother going in - which dominated our conversation for the rest of the evening.

"Why did they say that?"

"Was the food bad?"

"Do you think they saw rats???" (On a side note for this one, my wife, it turns out, does a pretty good rat impression.)

In any event, the food wasn't too bad, and a good time was had by all.

Sunday was fairly uneventful, except that we went to evening service, which we don't normally do. But I was asked to play guitar, since the usual guy wasn't there. I played some songs really badly, but nobody seemed to mind, because my church is full of nice people.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

How to blog

I just read something on someone else's blog, and she was giving advice on people new to blogging. And, although I thought the advice was good, at the same time, I thought it kind of defeated the purpose of blogging.

If you'd like to create a blog, do it, and do whatever the heck you want with it. Personal blogs are intensely personal, so I think you should be more worried about what you want to do than what "works" for a blog.

My blog may not be revolutionary, intelligent, or well thought out, but it's mine.