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Saskatoon

Today is the first day of my Saskatoon trip. It’s also the first I am away on a business trip. I don’t really know why I got sent to here in the first place. It’s nice to have white board discussion about the testbench implementation with some expertise here in Saskatoon, but does it worth half a thousand to fly me here for 4 days, probably not. I guess it is because I’m the only one care to suggest having a in person meeting for the whole verification team and only one willing to come over. It’s quite an experience for me too, can pretend that I’m someone important by having dinner on company’s expense while reading the HBR. It’s fun the first time, probably not so that much fun if I have to be away from home every so often.

Saskatoon is a very small town divided by a river. I can see the city limit before my plane touch down. Luckily I insist to get a car rental or I’ll be quite stuck if I need to call cab on everywhere I go. The office is located within the University of Saskatoon campus, kinda reminds me the campus of Waterloo. Both campus have uninteresting modern building with a ring road circling the university. I guess the new tech park in Waterloo North Campus is similar to where the office here, with nice office building cater for the needs of small hi-tech firms.

Today is quite busy, after I had touched down and had a quick and late lunch, I rush to the office before everyone go home. Luckily I caught the guy I come to have get into business right away for 2 hours. When we come out from the meeting room, almost everyone had gone home. Since I have to stay behind and check my emails, so I end up have to turn off the lights when I left. The hotel is pretty nice, located in downtown Saskatoon, which is only a few blocks big and a river apart from the university. Unfortunately my room only got a parking lot view instead of the river view. The St. Paul Cathedral is right next to the hotel, I’d like to pay a visit if I can get up early enough.

Since I’m kinda bored here, I treated myself a nice meal at the hotel restaurant. The good thing is that I had brought my laptop with me, so I can still be connected in the evening. Using an aging laptop is not as pleasant than my 3 monitors networked computers at home, but at least I could keep myself from being insane. The connection fee is kinda expensive, $10 a day, so I gota the most worth of it and use as much bandwidth as I can. I had bittorrent installed and start downloading stuff right away. I feel sorry for my tiny 10GB harddisk in the laptop. It’s getting late and time for me to go to bed, let’s see what kind of adventure (or boredom) I will have in day 2 of my trip.

made in korea

Thanks to a popular TV series, Dae Jang-geum, Korean culture is the most trendy topic in Hong Kong as well as the Chinese community in Vancouver. The show is about the first female royal physician in Korean history. I had only watched about 5 minutes of the show in total, and couldn’t understand why Pat and many of my friends are so addicted to this show. Luckily the show is finally finished, so no more bombardment from the media. Inspired by the glorified cooking of this show, me and Pat went to try out the Korean royal feast yesterday, . The meal has about twelve courses and took almost 2 hours to eat, kinda like fine dining served in Korean style. The food is pretty neat, very different from other Korean BBQ restaurants we are used to. Out of all the dishes, the ginseng tempura is most extra-ordinary. The dinner is not very expensive, comparable to having 3 courses in any bar and grill restaurants in downtown Vancouver. Highly recommended.

identity

Often, Pat complains about losing her identity when going out with my friends, she is always treated as the girlfriend of Horace instead of an independent individual. Finally it’s my turn of having the identity of Pat’s boyfriend. Today is the wedding of Schola, a church friend of both me and Pat. The wedding ceremony is marvelous, one of the best I have attended. In addition to the boring Fr. Chu of CMCC, they have a guest priest, Fr. Chau, from HK. His homily is so good that kept me awake by fusing Chinese culture nicely with the gospel. He even made a chinese poem using the name of the newly wedded couple. In tonight’s banquet, I thought we will assigned to sit with the church people. It turn out we sit with the Maryknoll table. Pat is so happy that she can hang out with fellow Maryknoll sisters and can introduce me as her boyfriend. There were dancing in the banquet, unfortunately me and Pat are haven’t learn the steps of ball room style music played before it turned into clubbing style. After the banquet, we went to bubble tea with the Maryknoll group and two LSC old boys who are friends to the group. We had some good time, and surprisingly I met Verona there. Oh, by the way one of the old boys is a handsome dentist happens to be single.

move on

Tonight I am having farewell party with a friend leaving Vancouver for good, then the big group went to watch Starwars together. The line up is pretty long, even though we went almost 1.5 hours early, the seats are just so-and-so. In the gathering, I had met some old friends who had left the company. They talked about their career plans and I found I couldn’t join the conversation. I simply have nothing to say about my career, I know the job at PMC leads no where, and I don’t feel like talking about the plan after I graduate, since I still haven’t got my degree yet. Talk about something that vague in the future even makes me think I am just BSing. I am glad that my friends are able to move on to their next stage of life, but what about myself? Anyways, enough whining for the day, now switch the topic to something more positive.

I read this anecdote from HBR, which is quite inspiring and I planned to use it in the Toastmaster meeting. In WWII, a statistician Abraham Wald was appointed by the US air force to improve the survivability of the warplanes. From the data the air force had gathered, they found that the some parts of the planes get hits much more often. So the military naturally concluded they should reinforce those parts. However Wald come up with an opposite conclusion from the data, he figured that the part that hit least should be reinforced. His reasoning is that the data is biased, only planes had survived are included in the statistic. If a critical part is hit, the plane is already crashed and it won’t show up in the data. Therefore reinforce those heavily damage parts won’t give any improvement in survivability, as the pilots can still make it back to the base. Selective bias when reading statistics can be very misleading and give us a false sense of security.

chess

Since I have started playing chess, I think my skill had improved a lot over the past year. Although I still cannot beat Andrew, the grand master who had left PMC, I can slaughter Gordon most of the time if I don’t overlook some obvious blunders. What makes me different from a novice player is I no longer eager to exchange pieces, unless the exchange gives me a positional advantage. I learn how to setup traps and avoid the traps setup by the opponent. One thing I would like to improve is the ability to trade equal material with pieces of different values. My end game is still quite weak, many times I gave away my advantage by pushing the pawns too far, without giving them enough support from the king. The use of chess clock makes both Gordon and me play like a pro. He no longer do touch moves, he can even get me sometimes if I don’t pay good attention on the implication of his moves. There is no magic bullet in playing chess, study hard on the tactics, carefully plan your strategy and master mind your opponent is the only way to victory.

Voting

Today is the election of the BC provincial government. As a good citizen, I did caste my vote. Fortunately, the candidate I support had won the seat in my riding. I know nothing about the candidate himself before going to the voting station, nor he had any advertisement targeted me. The only judgment I had is to vote along party line, support the party closer to my ideas. There is an independent candidate in my riding with the nick name “evil genius” in the ballot, who is a SFU student. I almost wanted to give him my vote as an encouragement for his courage.

longevity

The topic of longevity was bought up today during the aisle chit-chat session. What will you do if you can live a thousand years. One of the colleagues said he would like to build a self sufficient floating city, which is kinda like the Freedom Ship in the Discovery Channel show. I say I would like to be a historian and antique trader, provided that I’m the one of the few people can live this long. There would definitely population problem if everyone can live long. However longevity doesn’t imply immortal. In a long run the death rate is still 100%, thanks to accident and murders. To make longevity viable, all we need find the equilibrium among birth rate, death rate and resources growth rate.

politician

Today when I was discussing how to vote on tomorrow’s provincial election with colleagues, I come across this wonderful idea. Base on the fact that we all agree that politicians are not trustworthy, I come up with this wonderful idea of replacing all human politicians with computer AI. We all know that AI won’t cheat, and they are selfishness less, not like many flip-flopping politicians only care about to be elected and their own political career. The only problem we may have is that the AI could be buggy. Fixing bugs in software is a solvable problem if technology advance fast enough, not like monitoring the moral of all those politicians, which is hard to tell. Albeit the long term goal is to replace politicians with AIs, it is not yet feasible in near future due to technical reasons. The short term solution would be wiring lie detector to every politician’s head during TV debate, so the voter would know which candidate is more reliable. Then the guy sit next to me make a slight improvement to this scheme, instead of using the lie detector, it would be better to use a truth detector, so the machine will only go off once a while and won’t annoy the audience.

eposide

I’m the kind of person won’t have patient to wait another for another episode, and I don’t really like having my daily schedule based on the TV. That’s why I like to watch download program at any time I like. However, I have a problem of not able to stop once start watching. The only thing stop that me from starting another episode of my favorite show is the availability. To force myself not wasting too much time watching shows, now I won’t download all the files in one go. I have set up another rule that for the show I planned to watch immediately, I will only download 5 episodes at a time. So I will have to stop after about 2 hours of TV consuming, wait for the downloading of the next 5 episodes in the next day.

drunk

Haven’t have so much fun for a long time, probably not since the university day. Tonight is Vanessa’s, a colleague wedding. The wedding itself is pretty normal, in some sense that it is kinda boring. There was not many games for the bride and groom. The only highly of the night is Jason’s son kissed all the female guests. After the wedding, the group went to karaoke to have more fun. I haven’t sung karaoke for a long time, too bad that the karaoke we went doesn’t have the latest songs. Since I don’t have to drive tonight, I can drink a bit more usual. After some wine during the wedding and a few beer in the karaoke, I’m half drunk and can speak freely without much consequences. Haven’t felt that kind of highness for quite some time, and I don’t will be the next time. The reality is I’m getting old and could not afford to go wild that often. Sigh.. middle ages is getting close, sometimes I wish I don’t have to grow up, always like a teenage. Well… however that’s not under my control anymore, the society force a person to mature. Remember the Bible said, only those who are like children can get into the heaven, then what’s wrong to behave like an innocent child?