September 22nd, 2002

Fishy Circumstances

Patio party

C. and I spent most of today at a bbq/pool party way out in Scarborough. Thanks to this party, I have now been through every stop on the Toronto subway system. (I don't count the light rail system as part of it). It was all with people who used to work at C.'s company, at a pleasant suburban house where they've done an impressive job relandscaping the backyard. A hottub, spacious pool, lots and lots of flagstones, a large tree, and some low maintenance mini-evergreens with mulch lining the border.

The day started out warm, so I wore shorts. Mid-afternoon, the wind started to blow. A light shower fell. The sun reappeared, and all was well, well enough that at this point the hosts put food on the barbecue and eventually we ate. Then the heavens opens up and the rain poured down. We all ran indoors to warm ourselves from the damp and plummeting temperatures. Some brave souls who brought swimsuits went back outside for a swim and a soak - heated pool, so no misery there. It was a good day, lots of congenial people, and good to meet some of the people C. knows through work.

I couldn't find my swimsuit, but the process of looking for it made me realize just how much clothing I have stashed away, waiting to mended or hand-washed or drycleaned. I need to do lots of organization of the house in the next week. Jenene will be up a few times. My sister's coming for a visit. cwjatwill likely be staying here for a bit. I want to buy another set of bookshelves. Sort through boxes. Figure out a way to keep my necklaces from getting all tangled up - could go back to ziplock bags I suppose, but then I need a place to store the ziplock bags. I need new harp strings and a washed kitchen floor. I want a professional website, papers sorted into their binders, and to finish the book I'm reading. I want to file all the bills and bank statements away, and figure out where I really want to store my music. And yet I still have entire days of feeling lackluster and without focus. And then there's the dissertation.

I was just discussion "extreme programming" with C. The process is sensible, even if the name is pretty silly. It just consists of dividing up tasks into 3 week or smaller tasks, and doing a nightly build of the working components with automated test cases. It's an easy way to keep the client updated on how far along the project is going, and gives the client frequent opportunities to give feedback on the product and update the requirements. It also sounds like a sensible way to work on a dissertation. I'll think about how I could implement something like this.

Tomorrow: First badminton class, latin, eye appointment (I so want new glasses), and, hopefully, opera tickets.
Fishy Circumstances

Spirited Away

I left UTARPA and went to see Spirited Away on Friday - opening night - along with many of the Serial Diners. Between the groups, there were maybe a dozen of us in all. I walked down from campus with Donald, with spectacular and fairly close flashes of lightning all around, but no rain. C. and everyone else met us at the theater. I think C. mentioned that on slashdot, they said it opens next week in the U.S. It may have been opening night here, but it was not the Canadian premiere. That was the other week during the film festival, when Hiyao Miyazaki (the director, also did Princess Mononoke) answered questions via a translator - don't know if there were any of the voice actors there, but it certainly wouldn't surprise me.

For those of you who haven't heard of it, Spirited Away is Japan's all time highest earning film, having surpassed Titanic for that honor earlier this year. It's also a really good movie. It is anime, that is, it's an animated movie, but that doesn't mean much in terms of the audience it's aimed at in Japan. It's rated PG - there are some rather scary bits, especially early on.

The gist: Young Chihiro is en route to her new home with her parents. The parents take a wrong turn and end up at what they believe to be a theme park. Shortly after, her parents become pigs, Chihiro becomes panicked, and it turns out she's trapped in a spa town for the gods, inhabited by spirits. She must get a job to survive there, but along the way, makes friends and helps lots of delightful people and creatures out. It sounds fluffier than it is from that description. It's a beautiful movie, with a slew of delightful characters.

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Fishy Circumstances

If only student accomodation were really like this...but cheaper

Commentary on a for-profit student housing company which sent around a university-approved questionairre on housing desires and willingness to pay for features for current U of T students...

"The survey includes a description of a student housing complex with
whirlpools, monitored security, a gym, a tanning bed, etc.Ê Everything but
room service it seems.Ê It also contains questions like "how much extra
would you pay for a private hot tub on your balcony?" and "how much extra
would you pay for designer countertops?".Ê What about "virtual golf"?Ê A
big-screen tv with surround sound?Ê Finger-print ID security?Ê A penthouse
suite?"
...................
"The suggested rents in the survey are outrageous and discouraging.Ê From $1,500
for a bachelor to almost $1,200 for a bedroom in a 4-bedroom complex!
Utilities, amenities, and furniture are all included.Ê However, for a
student population used to shopping at the swap show and IKEA and living
without rooftop pools, I think we can get more for our money - like pay our
tuition."

For those who don't know the Toronto housing market: for $1200 you can get a respectable one bedroom apartment; for $1500 you can find a decent 2 bedroom place. A room in a house or a shared apartment can be had for $400, although if it's half an apartment can be up to $700 or so.