ljplicease: (selfstrangecolor2)

We took my sister to the airport on Sunday. Turned out she was leaving Sunday and not Saturday. It was nice to have her for an extra day; we decorated the tree and put the electric farolitos out. It was sort of a shock to my system because my brain was trained to the idea of things settling down on Saturday. It was a wonderful, but intense couple of weeks in which I learned a lot about my sister, myself and my father. It felt more like four weeks.

As I look at the calendar, I realize that just leaves December. We are back to the normal grind now: work, rest, work, rest, weekend, etc. My godmother is paying us a visit in mid-December. Mum and Don are coming for Christmas. We are going to New Jersey for New Years.

We noted when we[1], started working on the holiday letter that we'd had lots of visitors from Australia this year, and one visitor from Russia. This years holiday letter will have a snarky director's cut, for those to whom it is not politically incorrect to send.

I am reminded of the faux Chinese curse which is to wish that your enemies to live in interesting times. I think 2017 will be interesting times. For all that entails. Also there is the Klingon proverb that revenge is a dish that is best served cold[2]. If I can be a little glass half full though, if we are going to create a future for ourselves, it is time to roll up our sleeves and get to work, regardless of the challenges.

  1. by “we” I mean Lena
  2. It is very cold, in space
ljplicease: (rocks and ocean)

We didn't have any plans for Thanksgiving until a month or so ago when my sister Lara asked if it would be okay to visit. Usually when it is just the two of us we roast a chicken instead of a turkey, and make the other fixins. Since we were going to be three and Lara had never done Turkey Day before (it is not celebrated in Australia), we decided to go full on Turkey Day!


We got started a little late, and we quite disorganized, so it was an “all hands on deck” event until finally everything was on the table. In addition to the normal turkey, stuffing, potatoes, yams, gravy and cranberries we had fresh guacamole as it was a Lara favorite. I also had a Lena made margarita, because that is a Graham favorite. So we like to tweak things a little bit.


All the pickys

Some of the pickys developing

Another tweak was that before digging in, we each told everyone what we were thankful for, and took a selfie with the instant camera, and a picture of our plate. A nice surprise was to see that I had loaded the camera with the rainbow borders as seen above! I like to incorporate film into my life's adventures.

Lena's brother called to wish us a Happy Turkey Day and to thank us for the gift we had gotten for Lena's nephew. I was talking Transformers with him the other day and I noticed he kept asking about Chase, so we got him a Chase figure for his birthday which had already passed. When I asked Oleg about it, he didn't seem to know the difference, but his son sure did!


After dinner we went downstairs to watch A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving. Lara fell asleep. Snoopy got into a fight with a lawn chair. This stuff totally makes sense. We watched a peanuts special that was about the Pilgrims that was on the same disk. It was totally ra ra America, but still fun to watch. Then we watched the Halloween special It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, because we forgot to watch it on actual Halloween again. Poor Linus was stuck out in the sincere pumpkin patch and was stood up by the Great Pumpkin once again this year. Next year also. What makes a pumpkin patch sincere anyway?

All things being equal, this was one of the best Turkey Days ever. I think it helped because it was a younger crowd this year. So to speak. So it was a great way to distract us from some less than cool stuff that is going on right now.

ljplicease: (ratbat)

On the way to work.

more )


Oct. 23rd, 2008 10:02 am
ljplicease: (лена и грэм)

Just spent two weeks with my girlfriend лена in New Jersey and New York. It was wonderful. I met her family and friends, and she met my friends, most of whom still live in New York state. We are still trying to workout the whole future thing, although I'm confident that we can work things out. The shitty economy stateside is decidedly not helpful.

This is what a jerk I am. When I was in the Hudson Valley we went on a hike where the fall colour was in full force and my friend Brad said something like “This beautiful colour is our reward for having to live through the cold hard winter”, to which I responded reflexively “Speak for yourself, I'm going to the beach!”. Yay for Australia being awesome. Only, wait for it, then I started repeating this story over and over for people who were actually going to have to live through the winter in New York this year (which in my defense I had to do six times). The awesome thing about my friends is they still like me anyway.

It's weird now though because just a week ago the trees were all red and yellow and some of them were on the ground and walking to work today they were green again and fastened tightly to the trees. And to be honest, it isn't warm enough yet to go to the beach (karma). How can two places so far apart seem like home.

ljplicease: (Ice Bridge)

Wednesday I decided to come down to Canberra. I went to Dick Smith’s to get iPods for Tristan and Lara. I pointed at the merchandise and said “I will have a blue one and a green one” and the salesman responded “is that for different moods or different people?”

Thursday I did the rest of my Christmas shopping, including getting a gift for Secret Santa ritual at work. Usually stuff in Australia closes at 5 or 5:30pm, but Thursday before Christmas everything is open till midnight practically, if not in actuality. It was a mad rush! Friday we had Christmas lunch at work. The food was really nice and we had Christmas crackers and everything. Then everyone drew numbers and picked gifts and/or stole gifts from others. I never want to steal other people’s gifts because it seems rude somehow (I realize it is just a game meant for fun of course), but it is always entertaining to watch other people steal gifts. My gift was the last one to get unwrapped. Can I just mention here how awesome my new coworkers are and my new work environment is?

Friday I flew down to Canberra. The airport was surprisingly uncrowded for this time of year. The aeroplane was mostly empty. When I got to Canberra, Tristan had his earphones on listening to music, and I thoughts to myself, I definitely got him the right gift. Lara was excited about her iPod too, although I think she was more excited about the games and the possibility of putting music on it. Dad already has the DVD I got him, which was unfortunate.

ljplicease: (Disc)

In four years in Tucson, I remember it snowing exactly once. Actually I don’t even remember the snow itself, but reading about it the next Monday morning in the Wildcat, because I had slept through the snowing (and immediate melting) and it having snowed was newsworthy enough to be on the front page. Not that the front page had to be terribly newsworthy when it came to the Wildcat. Although I think the Wildcat probably had more content and journalistic integrity than mX does, and I always pick up a copy of mX if I am going through Town Hall station at the right time of day. The price is right.

I have been rewriting bits of my website in PHP in order to improve my PHP coding skills. It’s painful because Perl (on which most of my website is already written) is about a million times more powerful in almost every regard. It’s sticky to configure I guess, and is horrible to maintain if written by someone who is unskilled in the ways of the Perl. This is why companies that do OpenSource web development tend to stick with PHP, which bundles itself with everything and dumps everything (including kitchen_sink_faucet_on()) into the same global namespace. Hence the need to brush up on PHP and the loathing of said PHP.

I have also been introducing Tristan 賢 to some of my music. Some of it seems to be taking. I have this dream that he won’t be as conventional in his approach to things artistic as my dad is. He has to figure out what he likes on his own though, and he will do that, but it is fun to show him things that he might not otherwise see or hear :)


Mar. 21st, 2007 09:06 pm
ljplicease: (Fly)

brothers and sisters

Today I realized that I decided to take the week of ANZAC day off. That means that I am taking a day off that I was already getting off! Oops! Part of the time I will be spending in... Canberra. So exciting (not). I want to spend more time with my siblings though. This makes up for it.

I was having this conversation with Tristan the last time I was there, and he used my own dogma and bias against me. It was pretty awesome. I was so proud of him for thinking critically and not just regurgitating what other people say. I would like to have more moments like that. I can’t believe he is going to be 14 this year. I can still distinctly remember when he was a newborn. I was a lot younger then too.

the write [sic] and wrong of it

Nobody is ever on AIM anymore. I mean, they are sort of on, in that their computers are connected to the network, but they aren’t on in that they are actually asleep. It must have something to be on the wrong side of the planet. Just like most of them also drive on the wrong side of the road. And yes, by “them” I mean the giant ants. Why is it that they seem to come up so often?


Mar. 20th, 2007 10:40 pm
ljplicease: (Flag)

Tonight I finally got to see The Host (괴물), and enjoyed it a lot. I liked the playful mix of slapstick, horror, and politics. I liked that it didn’t use the usual wade-hour-and-a-half-into-the-film-to-see-the-creatures-tail-for-two-seconds cliché. I can just see this being remade by Hollywood and being stripped of all of its charm (and the thinly veiled criticism of American involvement in South Korea).

ljplicease: (Spider)

The other day, someone at work asked me (not entirely out of the blue), if I “had anyone useful” in my family.

Without missing a beat I answered: “No, they are all scientists.”

Because it’s true, at least in the context of the conversation, which made the question more like do you have anyone with skills that are useful to ordinary people in your family. I mean, they contribute to the sum of human knowledge, and arguably do important things, but hardly useful skills, such as being able to cut hair (like Nina’s husband) or even fixing a Windows XP machine full of viruses that you stupidly downloaded (like me. er, the fixing part, not the downloading of viruses part).

“But wait,” I added, “it gets worse, because I grew up in a company town, where the ‘company’ was a federal laboratory, and everyone who lived in the town were also scientists.”

Later, when I was explaining this conversation to my mum (who didn’t seem to find it as inherently funny as I did), she pointed out to me that there are also engineers in Los Alamos.

“Well, they can be useful.” I said.

“Not those engineers.”

Mum seems to hold engineers in the same esteem as people who live in Melbourne (“seriously,” I can imagine her saying, “if you are in Australia, why wouldn’t you live in Sydney?”).

I know this attitude sort of filtered down to me, unfortunately, because early on when I met my friends in New York who also worked at The Company, I said with some disdain that I wasn’t an engineer, when one of them described us as a group of engineers. I have always preferred the term “programmer” or “coder” (which is actually different from what my friends do), although I do have to admit my job title was “software engineer” for those six years in New York.

They are pretty cool engineers though. They do things like make the processors that go into all of the next generation video game consoles. (When the dust settles from this round of the Console Wars, I don’t know if Sony or Nintendo will be left standing, but either way The Company stands to make a tidy profit either way). More importantly, they are cool people, who know how to have a good time and be good friends.

I told my photography teacher what my friends did once, and she thought those GPUs The Company was making were a waste of resources that could have been more appropriately allocated. Seriously though, who is she kidding, she is a professional photographer. What is she contributing to the world that is so awesome that she can go around judging other people? There is nothing wrong with being a photographer, but there is everything wrong with being judgemental and condescending.


Nov. 6th, 2006 06:26 pm
ljplicease: (Blue Self)

The Chrissy[1] decorations are out already. In America don’t they usually wait until after Thanksgiving for that? Anyway, it’s not the timing that is unnerving for me, but the time of year. I know I will have to get over this, but this isn’t the time of year that you expect to see snowmen and fat guys in cold weather gear.

weekend and food stuffs... )

  1. Australian for Christmas
  2. the “Gong Ride” or Sydney to Wollongong bike ride
  3. Or for that matter, how I managed to get along without it when I was over there
ljplicease: (Canyon Eyes)

Tonight I had dinner with some long lost relatives. Actually not really; I hadn't seen them in about a year and a half. I see family on my dad's side (aside from Dad, his wife and the kids) so seldom that when I do see them it feels as though they are long and lost. I’ve never lived so close to so much family. It’s nice.

Also: my dad bought a new car. It was about time that old clunker was way too small for the size of the family. It’s so weird to think of my dad driving a car with those modern curves. I instinctively think of his car as being a boxlike refugee from the 1980s. Apparently Lara misses the old car. Reminded me of how heart broken I was when my mum sold the Tercel. That was years ago.

It was actually even pretty nice to talk to my step mother tonight. She treated me like shit when she first started dating my dad (that was years ago), but I’ve tried not to hold a grudge against her, as I think that would just hurt my dad, and solve nothing.

She is ethnically Chinese, so I got to ask her intelligent questions about which dialect of Chinese that her family spoke (she is herself essentially a native English speaker), and where her family originates from. Before I started studying Chinese input methods I was aware that there were many subtle regional differences in Chinese languages and culture, but totally ignorant about what they might be. I’m still pretty ignorant, but at least I am learning. I tried to get them to show me Tristan and Lara’s middle names, which are Chinese, and so have Chinese characters that correctly represent them. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get my laptop out of simplified Chinese mode, and my step mother only recognizes the traditional variants.

I’m pretty sure that “David”[1] is a jerk. He came by tell me that I was working on the wrong thing today and that the resolution on my monitor reminded me of the cruddy old days when X Windows was all the rage. Hello, if you didn’t give me shit to work on then the shit that I work on wouldn’t look like shit. Blah, whatever. Either it will get better, or I’ll be gone soon. I don’t much care which.

  1. guy at work who offered me the position that no longer exists


Aug. 7th, 2006 09:09 pm
ljplicease: (pixel6)
Don is back from America, and he brought Posole!!!
ljplicease: (Philly Green Door)
Today I climbed a tree in order to rescue Tristan's frisbee. It was a lot of fun, and felt like quite an accomplishment. It reminded me of two people I know who like to climb trees: Amber and Brad. It's fun to act young.

more random thoughts that have collected over the easter weekend )

more pictures here

and some more )
ljplicease: (Flag)
Australia is treating me well for the most part. I have a job at the Uni putting computers together, and I have discovered a region of Sydney that reminds me a little bit of Beacon (in terms of renewal, and location relative to transport). I still have to find a specific place to live, however.

My grandma went into hospital yesterday to have her hip replaced. Mum and I went up to Gosford to see her when she came out of surgery. She looked pretty well. Hopefully it will help her walk better. I wrote a note on the flowers that we gave her that mum composed:

Get hopping so we can go shopping!!!

My iPod is getting senile. A few weeks ago it lost its database and couldn't find any music, despite the fact that all the mp3s were stored on the drive and could easily be found using tcsh. I had to reboot it twice in the last hour. It's only a year old, it should really be more reliable. Last year I had to send it back to apple twice before they would fix something completely unrelated.
ljplicease: (street)
Next Friday I'm flying to LAX. I have seven days to wrap everything up. Beyond that is the unknown. While Brad and Sherry were out here, they told me that my mum was really nice (response: I'm partial to her). My mum told me that my friends were really nice and that I had chosen well (response: I didn't really choose them; they chose me).


Feb. 21st, 2006 11:49 am
ljplicease: (mountain top)
Don flew in this weekend and on Monday we went to Snowbasin. I only went skiing once last year, and my technique has degraded as a result, but I'm starting to get my second wind. The mountain was mostly blue and black. With the exception of two gondolas and a high speed quad, the lifts are old school triples which zoom around and catch you at breakneck speed -- it reminded me a bit of Pajrito. Snowbasin opened in 1939, and is apparently one of the oldest ski resorts in the United States.

The first time we went up in the gondola there were two young girls (omg) discussing wedding rings and weddings (and nothing but). The second gondola was with three young military men discussing where they had served (all locations were stateside as far as I could tell) and how they had spent their 60 days of leave after they had finished at "the academy." I found the contrast between these two rides both refreshing as well as being disturbingly narrow. I imagined riding up in a gondola with a bunch of IBMers/ex-IBMers and one or two non-IBMers. Actually, minus the gondola, that pretty much describes every party that I attended during my years at New York.

There is a Australian "joke" which goes like this:

Q: What's the difference between a buffalo and a bison?
A: Can't wash your hands in a buffalo.

The "humor" is derived from the fact that the way that Australian's pronounce the word basin can be indistinguishable from the word bison to non-Australians.

We went to Antelope Island last weekend which surprisingly does not have any antelope, but does have a large number of bison. Don (my step father), who likes to repeat silly jokes, has been using every opportunity to tell this "joke" ever since.

Therefore: from now on I am going to refer to Snowbasin as Snowbuffalo.
ljplicease: (grasshopper)
I asked my mum tonight how what she does is different from what my dad used to do. My mum uses a technique called small angle neutron scattering to determine the nature of the universe. My dad used to be a crystallographer and determined the structure of crystals[1], before he got bored with it and started playing with DNA.

I am not sure if I am describing it wrong, but when ever I attempt to describe what my mum does people say "oh so it's like crystallography." Which confuses me because mum has always talked about what she does such that it makes me think that it is completely different.

Walking home tonight I talked to mum about it and I think I am now equipped to explain how what she does is different. I still don't understand it completely.

Then mother had Don explain to me how the guy who manages their money makes a living without charging them for his service. I understand money about as much as I understand crystallography or small angle neutron scattering.

[1] When I showed Dad Final Intensity, his comment was not "wow what a neat demo", it was "crystals don't have five fold symmetry" ... uh thanks


May. 1st, 2005 11:48 pm
ljplicease: (street)
My mum salvaged an X-ray machine they were about to throw away at Yale and has managed a brilliant career thanks to her tenacious devotion to this little machine called Nell.
three more ~ 256kb )


Dec. 4th, 2004 03:27 pm
ljplicease: (Default)
My Uncle Ian died recently. He is actually the husband of my great aunt, but he's always been referred to as Uncle Ian, so it's hard to think of him as anything else. I was sorry to see him go, of course, but when my mum told me I didn't think too much about it. He had been very sick for a long time.

Today I am in the supermarket when I realize I can do all my shopping at Hanaford except the alcohol (since I don't drink beer) by getting the sympathy card there. So there I am in the greeting card isle, a place that I never browse, because I hate giving clichéd sentiment mass produced and canned for the masses, and suddenly then I decide to get all choked up. I don't get it. It's just a card. It's not a big deal.


ljplicease: (Default)

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