BUSY FRIDAY

I woke up at 12:30pm today and that was a bad thing. The first thing I did was to check my e-mail. One of the new messages was from my supervisor, Dr. Elizabeth Croft. She was reminding everyone in the research group to meet at 11:45am for the Christmas lunch… the lunch that had been planned for weeks.

My heart sank, I knew I forgot something! Since Monday, I’ve told myself I’m done all my responsibilities. Strangely, at the time, I didn’t get a wholehearted “yes” from myself. It was as if some part of me knew I had forgotten something. I had cast aside that sliver of doubt. Stupid me. I’m already not so close with my research group, now they probably think I’m an even bigger bastard.

Undeterred, I decided to continue with my original plans. I went downtown and caught a matinee showing of the latest Bond flick at Capitol 6. I can tell you, with the exception of Tinseltown, downtown Vancouver has the crappiest theatres in the Lower Mainland. The suburbs and their expansive Silvercity complexes are the place to go watch movies. Anyways, I was disappointed with the newest James Bond outing. It was boring at times. Halle Berry was alright, but the whole film lacked punch.

Afterwards, I went and did some shopping, for myself and for others. Again, I went on a crusade for a new pair of shoes. I looked and I looked, but nothing quite came close to my old pair of Roots oxfords. I’m not sure how I’ll resolve this.

Now, I’m home, a bit tired and glad to be dry. Some interesting stuff happened in the news today.

Poor, poor Moby. Weeks after Eninem threatened to punch him on live national television, Moby was actually attacked and maced outside a club yesterday. The motivation for the attack is unknown apparently. It sort of reminds me of an incident years ago in New York with Dan Rather. He was walking along in the street, when some stranger came up to him and said, “What’s the frequency Kenneth?“. He then proceeded to pummel Rather. Weird.

Moby is a well-known pacifist. I think that’s the root of his problem. If you’re going tell people you don’t like fighting, someone’s going to take a free swing at you, knowing you won’t fight back. Those glasses don’t help either.

In sports news, I read that Ted Nolan interviewed for the vacant head coaching position with the Calgary Flames. It’s about damn time in my mind. Nolan, in his rookie season as an NHL coach, led the Buffalo Sabres to a winning season. Nolan himself won the Jack Adams Trophy for the Coach of the Year. His reward for this? He was unceremoniously fired during the summer after his breakthrough season. He hasn’t coach at the NHL level since. I certainly hope it has nothing to do with the fact he has Native Indian roots.

BUSY FRIDAY

I woke up at 12:30pm today and that was a bad thing. The first thing I did was to check my e-mail. One of the new messages was from my supervisor, Dr. Elizabeth Croft. She was reminding everyone in the research group to meet at 11:45am for the Christmas lunch… the lunch that had been planned for weeks.

My heart sank, I knew I forgot something! Since Monday, I’ve told myself I’m done all my responsibilities. Strangely, at the time, I didn’t get a wholehearted “yes” from myself. It was as if some part of me knew I had forgotten something. I had cast aside that sliver of doubt. Stupid me. I’m already not so close with my research group, now they probably think I’m an even bigger bastard.

Undeterred, I decided to continue with my original plans. I went downtown and caught a matinee showing of the latest Bond flick at Capitol 6. I can tell you, with the exception of Tinseltown, downtown Vancouver has the crappiest theatres in the Lower Mainland. The suburbs and their expansive Silvercity complexes are the place to go watch movies.

Anyways, I was disappointed with the newest James Bond outing. It was boring at times. Halle Berry was alright, but the whole film lacked punch.

Afterwards, I went and did some shopping, for myself and for others. Again, I went on a crusade for a new pair of shoes. I looked and I looked, but nothing quite came close to my old pair of Roots oxfords. I’m not sure how I’ll resolve this.

Now, I’m home, a bit tired and glad to be dry. Some interesting stuff happened in the news today.

Poor, poor Moby. Weeks after Eninem threatened to punch him on live national television, Moby was actually attacked and maced outside a club yesterday. The motivation for the attack is unknown apparently. Moby is a well-known pacifist. I think that’s the root of his problem. If you’re going tell people you don’t like fighting, someone’s going to take a free swing at you, knowing you won’t fight back. Those glasses don’t help either.

In sports news, I read that Ted Nolan interviewed for the vacant head coaching position with the Calgary Flames. It’s about damn time in my mind. Nolan, in his rookie season as an NHL coach, led the Buffalo Sabres to a winning season. Nolan himself won the Jack Adams Trophy for the Coach of the Year. His reward for this? He was unceremoniously fired during the summer after his breakthrough season. He hasn’t coach at the NHL level since. I certainly hope it has nothing to do with the fact he has Native Indian roots. This guy deserves another chance.

COUNTRY STYLE

My e-mail to Country Style was just sent off. I wonder when they’ll respond.

I was looking on their Contact page for where to send the e-mail. I used their feedback address, but I noticed they list the e-mail addresses for their top level management team. At the last second, I CC’d the mail to Country Style President and CEO Patrick W. Gibbons. I usually don’t do this type of stuff, because I believe in the right e-mails going to the right place. There are many things worthy of attention, but these things don’t need to be attended to by everyone, including CEOs.

I don’t know why I included him at the last second. I hardly think I’m the most important person in the world. Maybe I just thought he’d get things moving faster.

We will see. In the mean time, if you do go to Country Style, make sure they charge you the right amount.

FIRST DAY!

I considered today my first day of freedom and the holidays. Yesterday, I was just a mess. I was so tired. I think my body knew I was on break and it decided it wanted to sleep all day.

Anyways, today was a fun day. I woke up at 10am and went to lunch with a friend I hadn’t seen in a long time. Three days in a row that I got off campus!

After lunch, I came back and just bummed around. I took a nap and woke up at 5pm. Tonight was the St. John’s College formal Christmas dinner. The reception was at 6pm so I got ready for that.

Around 6:30pm I arrived at the Social Lounge to mingle with the other residents. There was wine and some tasty hor’dourves. The SJC choir then sang four holidays songs for the assembled crowded. The choir was excellent!

Dinner soon followed afterwards. The appetizer was three types of smoked fish with cucumber-yogurt raita. That was really good. The main course was roasted goose breast with sweet sour cherry sauce flavored with port

wine (you can tell I’m copying this from the menu). Anyways, the goose was superb. I’ve had goose a handful of times before and this was the best prepared goose I’ve ever had. Dessert was some sorta lemon mousse thingy in a chocolate cup. It wasn’t that good.

After dinner, there was conversation and rumours of a party in someone’s room. I left the dining hall and changed out of my formal duds. I loaded up Spearhead and then I realized there was a party going on upstairs. What the hell was I doing?

So I followed the music to the party. There was like 20 people packed into one room. There were people spilled out into the hallway. Inside some were dancing up a storm. I saw Kristina there and she was nice enough to let me have one of her beers.

As I mingled I formally introduced myself to one of the residents here. Her name is Laura. “Oh, so you’re Erwin!”, she said. That’s always a good sign. She said she had delivered some sandwiches to my neighbours and they told her to give me some sandwiches too. I wasn’t home at the time, but she remembered the name on my door.

Laura and I got to talking. She’s a very cool person. We talked about the follies of dating and stuff. There was talk about the prairies and Coquitlam. Then I think I must have gone crazy. I was just joking, but in the span of twenty minutes, I called her a “slut”, “the best girl to pick-up”, and “promiscuous”. It was all in jest of course, but even I was surprised at myself. Honestly, I said it in a really funny way, if that’s possible. It would have been understandable had I been drunk at the time, but I was very, very sober.

UPDATE: I was trying to remember the specifics about my conversation with Laura when I was writing this post, but I forgot. Now I remember… here’s one snippet:

ET: Oh, so you lived in residence here during your undergrad too? Where did you live?

LE: I lived at Totem.

ET: Oh, so you were a slut then… ha ha ha…

I laughed at the whole thing and she was a good sport about it. When she gave me the finger and told me to fuck off, I felt it was in good fun too. Then she said she had to get some water and then left.

I think I made a good impression on her. As she walked away I told her I think we’ll be good friends next term. Ha ha ha…

Seriously, though, Laura is one cool gal and it’s nice meeting some new people around SJC. And I don’t think she’s a slut, the best girl to pick-up, or promiscuous. And I know what you’re all thinking, I’m not looking to hook up with Laura. So keep it in your pants.

During further mingling, the most common comment I received was, “Oh, so you’re the blogger!”. This is weird because Richard’s talk about blogs and my blog seems to have expanded its reach beyond what I had expected. People said they were going to read my blog now. This is good and bad in a way. Good in that I always appreciate a growing readership. Bad in that I can’t write about people and not have them read it.

In any case, if Matt Farish and Mitch Gray are reading, here’s a big hello to you both.

MYSTERY

For the last two consecutive days, someone has been calling me at around 8am. Obviously, this person does not know me well, because I’m not an 8am type of guy. I’m too tired to get up and answer it, so I let the voicemail take it.

I haven’t given out my number to that many people, and those who do have it, know very well not to call that early.

What bugs me is that this person hasn’t left a message. Stupid Restel doesn’t have *69 working here, so I can’t find out who it is.

What is the identity of this dark caller? Why would this person be calling?

Tonight, I will be taking measures to prevent this person from waking me up a third time. I will be escorting my phone back to Naboo, it’ll be safer there. No, seriously, I’ll just be turning off the ringer.

Before I end this post, I’d like to say hello to the random surfers who have been visiting from the state of Georgia and also from the University of Kentucky. Thanks for stopping by!

LOUGHEED MALL

I know a lot of people look forward to doing fun things over the holidays. Lame as it is, I’m looking forward to going to Lougheed Mall in Burnaby. Or I guess the proper name is Lougheed Town Centre.

My desire stems from years past when I’d be at UBC for months at a time. During Christmas and the summer, I’d come back for the first time in months and see how the mall has changed. Stores expand, others close, new come and take their place. I’m easily amused.

Well, this year is a special year my hometown mall. They’re been renovating and expanding. A new London Drugs, SportChek, and IHOP will be opening. I wonder if they’ll be done by the time I go back. I’m not really excited about London Drugs and SportChek. After all, you can find those elsewhere, but IHOP? Oh yeah, I can’t wait for that. I’ve discovered I have a fondness for breakfast served at restaurants. Everytime I go to Denny’s, I’m always getting breakfast. I’ve never been to IHOP before and I’m looking forward to it. I told Lindsay about my excitement for IHOP and she told me IHOP is great. A ringing endorsement!

I wonder if I have anyone to go with. I’d hate to go alone. Maybe I can take my sister.

Besides the new stores, the mall has also put in new decor, floors, escalators, and elevators. I wonder if it’ll still have the same Lougheed Mall feel.

Well, I leave you with a breakfast-related picture. It’s a picture of a pan of scrambled eggs and bacon I made a few weeks back. It was yummy!

LAZY DAYS

I’m still formulating my letter to Country Style. Two dollars is no laughing matter. When the stakes are this high, you want to choose your words carefully.

I can tell you it pretty nice to be on holidays. I don’t have to do anything all day. I woke up at noon today. I bummed around, played Medal of Honor : Spearhead, and ate what little food I had. At 4pm, I went and got a haircut. It was so pleasant to leave campus two days in a row! After the haircut, I went and met Arash and Lindsay at Swiss Chalet. Delightful!

As always, Swiss Chalet did not disappoint, though our server Earl did. Why is this guy so damn slow every single time?

We all returned to SJC afterwards. I played more Spearhead aided by Nic’s sharp eye. Later, I baked chocolate chip cookies and dispersed them to the deserving parties.

For the rest of the week, I’m lookng forward to watching some movies, buying some new shoes, some more shopping, and catching up with old friends! This holiday stuff isn’t too bad!

OVERCHARGED

Tonight, I was really, really hungry. I hadn’t eaten much all day and dinner wasn’t to my liking. Around 11pm, I took off to the Country Style in the village. I was going to get a sandwich and some doughnuts. As some of you know, I’m hypoglycemic, so my glucose levels can drop very low and very quickly. I was kinda in that state when I went, so I wasn’t mentally that sharp.

Anyways, I get my sandwich and doughnuts, pay, and leave the place. On the way home, I realized at I had just paid $8.71 for a club sandwich and three doughnuts. Holy crap, I thought. That’s gotta be wrong.

So, I checked the CS web site and sure enough, I’ve been overcharged almost $2! I didn’t get a receipt, so I don’t have any proof. Still, I’m going to e-mail Country Style HQ and tell them what kind of crap is going down on campus.

I’m on holidays so I can afford to waste an entire day over $2.

I’M DONE

Yes, I’m basically done the project that has plagued me for the last four days. In my estimation, what I’ve come up with is a steaming pile of crap. I’m not happy with it, but it’s outta my hands. I would need another two weeks and a complete change in topic to get it when I want it.

I made a critical error in choosing a non-traditional system to control. Oh, it was novel of me to try to use fuzzy logic to control the behaviour of a video game character, but in the end it wound up biting me in the ass.

For starters, I didn’t have nearly enough time to do what I wanted and to figure out all the problems. Learning Matlab at the same time didn’t help.

Oh well. Now all I have to do is proof-read it, print it out, and get it bound.

When I hand it into the office tomorrow, I’ll be done for the term. My holidays start tomorrow. I’m going to eat roast chicken and play video games. Oh, and get a haircut. I’ve had exam hair for almost a month now.

WHAT A DAY

I got up at noon and gave myself an hour before starting my project again. At 1pm I began using Matlab to enter all the rules and membership functions I had. It’s actually quite a nifty little near program. I can see why it’s a popular analysis/modeling/simulation tool. It’s unfortunate I don’t have any time to play around with it more right now.

Anyways, it took forever to get all the rules and membership functions in. I took a lot of care in not fucking up so that a little error would later cause me grief during simulation. I also had to eat lunch and I slacked near the end when I thought things might actually go ok. It was around 5pm when I started Simulink to build my simulation model. It took me another hour to figure out how the hell to draw models properly in Simulink. I was totally stumped at one point. In desperation, I called robotics lab and luckily Dana was there. She answered my question in two seconds and literally saved me hours of time. No wonder she’s going for her Ph.D and I’m dicking around with my Master’s.

Anyways, with my model and controller done I was ready to simulate everything. This represented a big monumental moment in the project. It’s like when you flip the switch for the first time on this complicated machine you’ve built. Usually, one of two things happen at this point: nothing happens or it totally blows up on you. When I pressed the Start button, it blew up on me.

The Matlab command window lit up like a Christmas tree. I got warnings and errors all over. I felt despair. It was around 6pm at this point. I didn’t know what to do and I was getting hungry. I decided I was going to get some food and come back and start again.

Half an hour later I was back at it. From 7pm to around 11pm was probably one of the most painful 4 hour blocks I’ve had all year. Nothing was working. At 10pm, I nearly reached a full-scale panic. I was busy calculating how much I needed to get on this project to just pass the course. I was convinced that I was not going to get this thing to run. I began to wonder if people ever survived failing a course in grad school.

Then, sometime around 11pm, I pessimistically tried to run the sim again, when something amazing happened. It didn’t spit out errors the second I pressed the button. The damn thing kept on running. I was afraid an error was going to pop up before the intended sim end was reached. It was like watching the end of a horse race. “Go you sonovabitch! Go!”, I yelled.

It made it. I clicked on the response curves. They looked reasonable though there were some pecularities near the end. I didn’t care. It was good enough. I began to whoop and holler in my room.

I’ve spent the last five hours fixing things up and writing up the results in my report. It still doesn’t run that great, but I don’t give a rat’s ass.

I’d like to think I’m done for the most part, but that would be erroneous. My prof wants us to also implement a conventional controller and make comparisons. I have no fucking clue how the hell I’m going to do that.

So, when I wake up tomorrow, I have to accomplish what I did today, but only this time in a different way. Excellent.

Honestly, this is all fucking stupid. Other people are having fun tonight, drinking, partying, watch Punky Brewster re-runs, having sex, and I’m running my crapping controller in Matlab. It’d be different if I was curing cancer or making ears grow on monkeys, but is just a project that will benefit no one. I’m not expressing my displeasure with school in general, but I’m saying there’s got to be a better way to learn or assess my learning other than making me a prisoner in my room 72 hours. No one adequately learns intelligent control in three lousy days.

I tell ya, come 4pm Monday, I’m going to be one happy bastard.