Saturday, February 25, 2006

Blast from the past

What's old is new again something something something.

Current Music: XTC - Helicopter

P.S. Can someone hook me up with a scanned picture of the 2000 Riverside grad class making that hand symbol?

Friday, February 24, 2006

B'oh Canada

Hey, remember this?

Yeah, not so much this year.

I didn't figure out until the second-to-last game of the the round robin that I could watch Team Canada play on CNBC. Hooray! Then I found out that Pierre "MONSTER!" McGuire was doing colour commentary. Hooray? Then I watched them get shut out 2-0 by Finland. Were it not for the soothing bowl of oatmeal I had with me, I might have yelled at the TV. Then, another shutout to the hands of the Russians, and that's all she wrote. People across the country are livid (just listen to Bob McKenzie's February 22 podcast on* -- he sounds not at all like the jolly McKenzie I remember) and shocked, but not me. I've seen it all before, so many times. I've seen stacked teams fail to score, I've seen lack of cohesion, I've seen Bertuzzi sucking. It's all so clear:

Canada played like the Canucks.

Then! Sami Salo and Mattias Ohlund go down with injuries in one day. What a great day for Canadian Canucks fans. The prospect of Bryan Allen as a number one defenceman just made an uncomfortable chill shoot through my loins, as it always does when I see someone getting sacked.

Oh well. At least there have been no Team USA-style disgraceful incidents, like, say, their trashing of hotel rooms in 1998. Or, say, Mike Modano whinging about the US hockey program. What a douche.

But! There is still hockey to be had. Without Canada in the tournament, I have to root for somebody. Of the remaining four teams, who gets my support? Will it be the grinding Finns? No, mostly because Ville Nieminen's facial expressions agitate me. The powerhouse Czechs? I am completely indifferent to them. The usurping Russians? Ordinarily I would, because it always feels less ignominous if your team is knocked out by the eventual champions, but no. This year, my support goes to:


I've always liked Sweden. Or, I should say, I always liked the idea of Sweden. When I was a kid, I really liked Ikea; it was like an amusement park for me, what with all of the furniture and the wallpaper swatches. What more could a kid want?! Also, I've always felt that the Scandinavians, and the Swedes in particular, are the elves of the human race. Who has anything bad to say about them? Only other Scandinavians. Finally, there's nothing about the Swedish hockey team that pisses me off. With the Finns, it's Ville Nieminen and Jarkko Ruutu (who, I've discovered, pisses me off when he's not wearing a Canucks jersey). With the Czechs, it's Jagr. With Russia, it's the fact that they put Pavel Bure in charge of their hockey program. But not with Sweden. Markus "I like making dangerous and offside passes to Bertuzzi" Naslund isn't there, and Peter Forsberg's resemblance to The Dude in "Gutterball" doesn't hurt either.

After the Swedes, I like the Finns versus the Russians, because it sets up an all-Scandinavian final. So, I officially throw The Internet's Foremost Dickolas Wang's support behind Sweden. Sing it with me!

Du gamla, du fria, du fjällhöga Nord,
du tysta, du glädjerika sköna!
Jag hälsar dig, vänaste land uppå jord,
din sol, din himmel, dina ängder gröna,
din sol, din himmel, dina ängder gröna.

Du tronar på minnen från fornstora dar,
då ärat ditt namn flög över jorden.
Jag vet, att du är och du blir vad du var.
Ja, jag vill leva, jag vill dö i Norden!
Ja, jag vill leva, jag vill dö i Norden!

Sweden: like the Russians, but with heart.

* Earlier on today, I was reading some stories on, and I saw the word "feaTorinog". Let that be a lesson to us all: be careful when using the "Replace All" button.

Current Music: Swedish national anthem "Du gamla, du fria"

Thursday, February 23, 2006

What's Wang This Week: my cup runneth over

Last week I decided to take matters into my own hands and try some true independent learning for a change. I borrowed a classic text in complex analysis from a friend and I've been reading up, learning the lingo, brushing up on things I've seen a million times without ever actually being properly taught. Even before that, I started skimming some papers looking for a project. Slightly unfocused, sure, but it was an interesting change.

Then I talked to my prof about him taking me on as his student. In the course of one day, he's lent me a book, shown me another one online, recommended chapters out of a third, and suggested that I attend a two-week summer school in Cornell. I've gone from slightly unfocused to overwhelmed in record time. This is nuts. But in a good way.

In other news, my prof suggested that I attend a two-week summer school in Cornell. I wonder if there's a feasible mode of transportation to get from Cornell to New York City for a weekend. I haven't sorted out details about the rest of my summer, but I'm hoping to take a few weeks off after the summer school and go home (but not before making a pit stop in Toronto. Mak has kindly extended his welcome to me, while Jim... has not).

So that's where I'm at on the academic front. On the blog front, Steve yesterday informed me that both his and my PageRank are now a very impressive 3/10. (In comparison, your PageRank is probably 0/10.) Suck it, Nicholas Wang.

On the Dickolas Wang front, someone left a comment on and none of us recognized the name "mc". In trying to track this person down, I had this conversation with Steve and his friend the other day:

stevekwan.comFunk Mastah MC, RichformRichard, meet MC
stevekwan.comFunk Mastah MC, RichformMC, were you posting on Richard’s blog?
RichformFunk Mastah MC, stevekwan.comhello MC
Funk Mastah, RichformOHH a pen tablet, no i didn't buy one yet
Funk Mastah, Richformhi
Funk Mastah, RichformWHAT?
RichformFunk Mastah MC, stevekwan.comhe means "commenting"
stevekwan.comFunk Mastah MC, RichformSomeone named MC was posting on his blog
stevekwan.comFunk Mastah MC, RichformAnd he wants to know because he’s desperate to make friends
stevekwan.comFunk Mastah MC, RichformSad, really
Funk Mastah, Richform>_< i just said hello to am i supposed to know where to find his blog

A little later...

RichformFunk Mastah MC, stevekwan.comso tell me about yourself, Mirna
Funk Mastah, RichformOH is this dickalos wang!?
stevekwan.comFunk Mastah MC, RichformMirna has never seen Star Wars!
stevekwan.comFunk Mastah MC, RichformYes, this is THE Dickolas Wang
RichformFunk Mastah MC, stevekwan.comThe Internet's Foremost
Funk Mastah, Richformawesome! pleased to meet you (kinda)
RichformFunk Mastah MC, stevekwan.come-meet
RichformFunk Mastah MC, stevekwan.comand you
stevekwan.comFunk Mastah MC, RichformAre you really pleased to meet a guy who calls himself Dickolas Wang?
Funk Mastah, Richformi'm a big fan
RichformFunk Mastah MC, stevekwan.comOh really?
RichformFunk Mastah MC, stevekwan.comSo are you "mc"?
Funk Mastah, RichformYES
stevekwan.comFunk Mastah MC, RichformI told you!

But best of all:

RichformFunk Mastah MC, stevekwan.comSee, I was considering saying earlier that "You may know me as Dickolas Wang" when you said "I've just met you"
RichformFunk Mastah MC, stevekwan.combut I decided against it, on account of it being a really cocky thing to say
Funk Mastah, Richformactually, that would have been the best intro ever


To celebrate my recent online success, I've decided to dedicate an e-mail address just for website feedback. Don't know me and want to bitch but don't want to leave a comment? Don't know me and want to praise me but don't want to leave a comment? Want to sell me things? Direct thy browsers to my profile page, where you will find an e-mail address that I will probably forget to check more than once a month.

Current Music: Jason Collett - Brownie Hawkeye

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

This is a mop sink*

Lately I've become concerned with developing RSI (repetitive stress injury; for example, carpal tunnel syndrome). I haven't been experiencing any pain or burning yet, but sometimes I feel like my grip is a little weak. I spend enough time typing that it's a real concern for me. Plus, I'm a guitar player; that puts me doubly at risk, and also doubles the potential loss should I develop RSI. Since I'm so terribly uncoordinated from the shoulders down, I think it would be a damn shame to have trouble with the only dextrous parts I have.

So, I Googled RSI and looked for some suggestions for stretches and prevention techniques. I found this website which had some stretches. Look at this description, though:

Stand up facing the wall and reach your fingers up as far as you can. While you stretch up also stretch down by placing your feet firmly into the floor. Firm up your legs, extend the side of the  torso and bring the shoulder blades towards the wall. Breathe fully as you stretch, walking your fingers up the wall.

Move little away from the wall so that your torso is diagonal to your hips and press both palms into the wall equally. Press into the ground with your feet, firm up your legs and  release your tailbone away from the wall. Lift up the ribs and let your head drop slightly. You can also do this with the back of a chair. Place your hands on the chair and walk back until your torso is extended parallel with the floor. Firm up the legs, lift up your abdominal muscles and lift the ribs while releasing the spine, tailbone away from the chair and top of the spine towards it.

I read about four lines of that and gave up. This is the picture which they provide as a guide:

Um, okay.

On to the next resource: this one provides a handy little poster, with nice little cartoons. That's more like it. Moving my torso so that it's diagonal to my hips and that my feet are dug into the floor? I think I prefer the little picture of the dude with the arrow indicating his arms are pushed upwards.

This one doesn't even bother with a description, instead providing animated GIFs:

Now that's what I'm talkin' about.

At times like this, I'm really reminded of what an amazing age we live in. Avenues of communication that used to be completely unfeasible are now everyday, and have been done so often now that they look incredibly lame (animated GIFs? And who drew those guys' hair?) but look how much more helpful and straightforward that is.

I guess it just goes to show: an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Well, that's not the point I'm making here, but it's worth noting anyway. The point I'm working at is that a picture really is worth a thousand words. And an animated picture is worth a thousand pictures**.

* This title is for you, Steve (see his original post)
** Literally, I guess, if the animation is 33 seconds long, or 40 seconds if it's in PAL format.

Current Music: Super Furry Animals - Guerrilla (bonus disc)

Note to self

Don't forget Théa's birthday.

Current Music: Audioslave - Cochise

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Note to self

Rachel is 22 today.

Current Music: Super Furry Animals - Nightvision

Friday, February 17, 2006

You can be replaced

Thanks to Brad, I now know what's better than Garfield.

Random Garfield!

While you're at it, try Silent Garfield on for size too. As someone in that forum said, it becomes surreal, and sad, because now it's just a really sad guy talking to his fat cat.

Current Music: Jason Collett - Idols of Exile

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Note to self

Today is Shelby's birthday.

Current Music: Super Furry Animals - Run! Christian! Run!

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Well happy Valentine's to me

I was awoken by the tech guy at The Scholar's Workstation (think the UBC bookstore's computer department) examining my laptop. He didn't understand my problem, and informed me that it's all probably because of a defective battery. I explained to him why I figured it probably wasn't, and he explained why he figured it probably was. Then he told me that if I wanted, I could have it sent to Apple, but if they didn't find the problem, then The Scholar's Workstation would charge me the $45 inspection fee for finding nothing wrong. I then asked him, "But you're going to charge me the $45 anyway if you don't find anything and don't send it to Apple, aren't you?" His reply? "Um, well, yes." It turned out he hadn't even run the diagnostic before calling me.

Just an hour or so ago, my father opened a letter from the Canada Revenue Agency for me. A few months ago, I had to assemble as many receipts as I could find to claim as "moving expenses", and fax them all to some place in Surrey. This letter was to inform me that after all that, they have found that I owe $850 more in taxes for 2004. I am not certain, but I think that part of the problem is that my father filed my taxes for me and listed me as a Canadian resident. He doesn't seem to understand that no, I am not a Canadian resident. EDIT (Feb. 15/06): Strike that, I'm just an idiot. Sorry, Dad.

I never heard back from the repair guy, which I'm taking as a sign that he ran the diagnostic, found the problem I was talking about that was not a defective battery, and sent my laptop to Apple with his tail between his legs. Or, it was the battery and he sent it there to shut me up and in two days I'll receive my un-repaired laptop together with a letter from Apple saying they're glad they were able to solve my problem. I guess tomorrow morning I'll call The Scholar's Workstation right after I call the Canada Revenue Agency.

Oh, and I'm still single.

Current Music: Super Furry Animals - Presidential Suite

Sunday, February 12, 2006

All head and no heart

On Friday I decided to stay home and watch the 2-hour finale of Arrested Development instead of going out bowling with my friends. I don't intend this as a slight against my friends, I just really wanted to watch Arrested Development. Does that make me antisocial?

I would have felt very stupid about that decision had the episodes not lived up to billing, but they did. I was not fond of the last episode before Friday's, which was something of a wank-fest parodying the struggle to keep the show on the air. I was afraid that the last four episodes would completely follow this formula, entirely abandoning all the storylines and leaving me wanting, much like the ending of Neon Genesis Evangelion. But they didn't; they really tied things up and brought everything to a nice conclusion.

Unfortunately, it really does seem like a conclusion: from what I've read on GorillaMask, the show is 80/20 not coming back on Showtime or ABC. What the hell would ABC do with it anyway? I somehow doubt the network that brought us Hangin' With Mr. Cooper would have a nice place in their schedule for Arrested Development. It wouldn't exactly work in syndication between 7th Heaven and Smallville on ABC Family. Anyway, I would almost prefer that they end it now just so that they don't spoil the legacy, which is just like how I almost wish the Arcade Fire would break up before putting out another album.

I've been wrapped up for a long time in telling people how great the show is, to the point that I've never bothered to really think about why people might not like it. People often bandy around really pretentious explanations like how it's too cumulative, and how it's just too smart for the masses. These last few days, I've done a little bit of reading of the many TV journalists' eulogies for the show, and the criticisms they've listed do seem valid.

  • The characters don't change much, although I'd always thought that that was a strength of the show, because too often on TV I feel that characters gravitate towards some sort of diluted, mature, weak-tea-and-plain-oatmeal version of their older, funnier selves.

  • The show was "all head and no heart". The characters were seriously unlikeable (minus Michael and George Michael, I'd say -- although George Michael's lusting for his cousin is certainly going to be unpalatable to many) and, since they never changed, they stayed unlikeable. They were also out-there enough that you weren't going to relate to many of them. As someone on USA Today said, this doesn't work because TV watchers want to really feel for their characters as well as like them, as opposed to wanting them to get kicked in the balls (GOB) or bitch-slapped (Lucille). (The Office's David Brent probably wouldn't work either, as I personally both felt for him and hated him, which is far worse. From what I've seen of the US version, Michael Scott is infinitely more likeable.)

  • It depended heavily on in-jokes, from all the stunt casting to the constant digging-up of old material.

Even though I can see all of this, the show was just such a great kick in the pants that I didn't bother to think about any of that. I guess I'm all head and no heart too.

And now the show is probably gone forever. If I had a heart, I might feel a little sad. My head, though, is only thinking about buying the DVDs and hoping that Will Arnett doesn't become overexposed.

Current Music: Europe - The Final Countdown

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Random quotes from my past, provided without context #34

Graham, I don't think your plan to hotwire this car is realistic.

-- Travis Tanner

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

What's Wang This Week

My laptop is acting up. Before the battery runs out and it can go to sleep, it makes a little whirring noise (like the hard drive spinning down) and then it just turns off, unable to revive. Then I plug it in and turn it back on, and the clock has been reset. I'm not a hardware expert, but I'm guessing the doohickey and the Go-a-lator are out of tandem.

This is also causing my battery life to suffer badly. A little test shows that my battery's capacity is under 50% of its original capacity, when at this point in its life cycle it should be at about 85-90%. Even as recently as December, I could get 3 and a half hours out of it normally; now, it's down to under 2.

I blame this on my officemate's Powerbook. I hadn't had any troubles until he brought in his brand-new Powerbook that kept on kernel panicking for no reason. Like SARS, his computer's ailments were so virulent they spread to mine. He sent his computer to Apple, but they were unable to recreate the problems, so they sent it back unfixed, along with a letter saying "We are pleased that we were able to fix your computer problems!" I think he probably then laid a very un-Canadian verbal hurting on an AppleCare rep. I hope it doesn't come to that for me.

Regan has left for Princeton and now I'm all alone in my apartment again. I'm all lonely now, but on the plus side, I have my living room back. Fair trade? You be the judge.

We did see some cool stuff in San Francisco before she left:

I can imagine this sign on the Death Star, I guess.
Good luck persecuting the Emperor!

Vince has a histogram of the number of Golden Gate Bridge-jumping fatalities by position on the bridge. I wonder if the density is actually lower near these things.

As I look at this sign, I can't help but think of Jowen's electronic Braille reader.

An iPod vending machine. It sells iPods shuffle, nano, and video, as well as accessories. It also sells PSPs. They were out of Maltesers.

Current Music: Cuff the Duke - Ballad Of A Construction Worker
Current music I wish I had with me: Blur - To The End
Current CD I wish I had with me: Blur - Parklife
Current non-music CD I wish I had with me: Mac OS X Panther Installation and Diagnostic disc
Current current: 1094
Current capacity: 1768mAh (ouch)

Friday, February 03, 2006

I have friends

The winner of the 2005/2006 2nd annual Race To Berkeley is Regan Yuen.

Hailing from rainy Vancouver, BC, the newly-minted UBC Computer Science graduate is taking three months to travel the globe before starting work at IBM. The first stop on her Regan 'Round the woRld tour is San Francisco, and free lodgings in the Fortress of Solitude here in Berkeley.

For the second straight year, the winner of the Race To Berkeley had to face adversity in the form of a delayed flight. She also had to deal with a mixup with transit here, stemming from the general less-good-ness of the light rail system here.

Also for the second straight year, Jowen Yeo jumped to an early lead in the Race, only to watch it disappear due to extenuating circumstances (first, a trip around the continent; then getting a job).

In celebration of her victory, we went to the Sizzler and learned, again, that the only thing worth getting at the Sizzler is the salad bar.

Congratulations to the winner, and to the rest of you, I hate you all so much.

Current Music: Coldplay - A Rush of Blood to the Head

Thursday, February 02, 2006

How rude

A couple of weeks ago I learned that the US government is demanding search results from major search engines, which is a little frightening. A week after that, I discovered that the researcher asking for results from Google is none other than Berkeley Statistics' own Philip Stark.

When I first heard this news, the first thing I thought was, "At last, my love of Jodie Sweetin will finally become public knowledge." I was a little worried by this thought (well not by exactly this thought per se, but by similar ones), but then I realized that I'm not ashamed. I want the world to know that I love Jodie Sweetin. In fact, it can't happen soon enough, especially with her going public with her struggle against meth addiction. She needs to know that people out there love her still, and I wish my voice to be among the chorus.

Dave then pointed out that since it's Stark doing the report, it may well be his graduate student who ends up making it public. And guess who that graduate student is?

None other than one Bradley Luen, who you may remember from the story about the fish in my desk, or maybe from this video. Now, Brad's obviously done me wrong in the past, and that's not even counting how he owed me $180 for four months. But with his noble work, he just might contribute to making sweet sweet Jodie happier, and I can think of nothing nicer that he could possibly do for me.

Current Music: Ryan Adams - Beautiful Sorta

You should catch that guy, Graham

Broken Social Scene was on Conan tonight. Amazingly, they got Feist and Emily Haines on to sing -- well, I guess I would make sure everyone was there if I were playing Conan.

There was a little surprise though. The guy standing far right (my right, their left) was playing a nice looking Telecaster. I looked at it and thought it was one of the California Fat Teles that I almost bought once.

But wait! Maple neck, 22 frets, humbucker, painted headstock, "Squier" logo... no, maybe it's like my Tele.

No! It's painted...


Graham, the dude from Broken Social Scene has your old Tele! It was Broken Social Scene that broke into your house!

Current Music: Broken Social Scene - 7/4 (Shoreline)

P.S.: 28th post!

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

I'm the smartest person I know

On Sunday I started having trouble with my TV. The signal got worse and worse and I couldn't watch the Simpsons, Family Guy, or 24. I asked my landlord if she had been having trouble. She hadn't, and being the excellent landlord she is, she called the cable company to look at it, which she informed me of in an e-mail that she signed off with "I assume you checked to make sure that the connection is tight".

Oh shit.

Fortunately, she was able to call off the cable maintenance appointment, but had she not, I would have paid the fee, because I can't in good conscience ask that my landlord pay the fee. One little mistake could have put me $40 in the hole.

It just occurred to me that maybe that's how Richard Liang came to owe so much money to everyone. Maybe he's not a compulsive gambler, or dead; maybe he's just prone to small, but costly, mistakes.

Current Music: Catlow - Number One