Since there have been interested parties for a while, I finally took some pictures of the apartment setup that I have going right now. It’s nothing too fancy at the moment; pretty simplistic, much to my mother’s dismay. But for someone who is still in the transitory stages of his life, there’s no point to get too emboldened with potentially frivolous1 decorations.

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The other day, I was introduced to this video illustrating1 the distracted intrusion of the Internet into our day-to-day lives thanks to smartphones. Coincidentally recent in my social media feeds, I have seen the Einstein-attributed2 quote; “I fear the day that technology will surpass our human interaction. The world will have a generation of idiots.” I watch the invasion of these devices day-to-day (especially during transit commutes), and have been there to some extent myself. However, as much as I love being connected to the Internet all the time, I’m finding I pull into these potentially “addictive” trends less & less.

I pull more and more away from them because more and more they feel like work. I fall behind keeping up with Twitter on a frequent basis; I just don’t have the time to read it unless I’m sitting at my computer work, and even then I probably shouldn’t be entertaining it other than a temporary distraction. Facebook is much the same, but I find myself on there instead restraining myself from correcting terrible information that people are blindly reposting/distributing. Foursquare just doesn’t have the appeal to check in to anymore; it feels like work remembering to check into establishments, ergo I only use it when I want to find something. GetGlue has changed their intentions for their site so substantially such that I’ve quit using it altogether.

I feel more and more that I just don’t have anything to contribute of worth to these streams anymore. I’m consuming the information, but I lack the energy or conviction to contribute. The tedium of my daily life seems a waste for Facebook3, so I keep the random bouts of it to the microblogging nature of Twitter. I have a hard time even plugging in to keep up with my texting as much these days. I am leaving my phone on my desk shelf more and more because it is a distraction when I’m working, and the conversations are usually not so time-sensitive that I cannot afford to wait until I’m done with whatever is at hand.

This feels like a hallmark of getting old. Or more a hallmark of being desensitized to electronic communications and the modicum of satisfaction they provide. The new job has been nice so far, but it has left me starved for the intimacy of personal communication with friends & colleagues that I have after years at an establishment. To which if I was just job-shifting within a city, wouldn’t be so bad; the occasional weeknight dates & weekend meet ups with friends keep that drip alive. But I’m beating a dead horse again now. Anyhow…

I am going to roll with this spontaneous shirking away from the electronic mediums that I used to so frequently dabble in. I’m curious to see what other ways I may find to occupy my time without those entrenched neurological vices; see if my mental focus comes back around without so much ridiculous over-analysis. Reminds me back to Watterson’s last Calvin & Hobbes strip, since I heard about the Bill Watterson documentary Dear Mr. Watterson on NPR’s Weekend Edition this past weekend.

It’s a magical world, Hobbes, ol’ buddy…
…let’s go exploring!

I’m 32. I’m still refining my scientific interests, skill sets, and expertise. I’m in a huge, multi-cultural city, full of industry and research and cuisine. Not to mention all of the other countries I’m still interested in visiting. Hell, I might even consider attempting to learn German again. Pick back up into a racquetball league. Find a pool hall to shoot in.
I’ve got a lot of exploring left to do…


1A bit exaggerated at times, but at others all too true.
2There is no clear evidence whether he said it or not; which happens to be a pet peeve of mine, when people blindly spreading “catchy media.”
3Although clearly not for many, it would seem.

“…because you can’t vote here yet.”

That was the (inadvertent?) kicker I was told earlier this week that got me thinking about considerations of settling in Toronto. I have already had this notion creeping around in the back of my head, but more in the context of settling in Canada, not specifically Toronto. Toronto originally struck me as too metropolitan in scope & scale, but living here has changed that misconception.

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…when you’re wearing a college-branded hoodie. At least that’s the impression I’ve gotten the last couple of days. The weather has turned cold enough that I need the extra layer beyond just a t–shirt1, and the pair of coats that I kept from last winter are ridiculously large now2. My poor caffeine molecule sweatshirt has been worn so much that between it’s extra large size and the wear on the fabric, I feel like a local hoodrat wearing the thing, and I can only fathom what others must think I look like3. The two that fit better are my NDSU sweatshirt from my undergrad years, and the UB sweatshirt my doctoral mentor gave me as a going away gift4. So, that’s been my cold weather apparel the past couple of days. Been some subtle yet interesting changes in interactions with people in public and on the TTC during that time. This weekend is going to necessitate coat shopping; I’m holding out that a 1/2– or 3/4–length wool coat will look reasonably good on me. If not, I’m going to be struggling for ideas on what to get for a new coat!

Paying more attention on the commute the past couple days to/from work, I realize I’m extremely antsy to go check out some more coffee locations on College St. The Little Italy neighborhood on College has a small plethora of coffeehouses, of which I know at least Lit Espresso Bar was fairly good (for cappuccino at least). Their cappuccino was at least better than the ones at my usual Sunday productivity haunt (Noir Coffee & Tea, although they make a slightly crack–laden mochaccino), but neither location has matched the richness of de Mello Palheta up north of Yonge & Eglinton. I would love to frequent them more often, but it’s about as far from my place to de Mello, as it is to the University of Toronto. Little Italy is serendipitously (relatively) close to the University and on the route home, if I’m riding the TTC. I really need to just take some evenings to leave work a little early to finish my data processing/writing/whatever–other–computer–work I need to do and check them all out. The Green Grind looks cozy & vibrant for a relaxing atmosphere; I’ve seen good reviews for The Brockton Haunt; Voodoo Child sounds it should be right up my alley taste–wise; Manic Coffee would be perfect for a late evening stay, having a smooth cappuccino while I’m working & treat myself to gelato when I’m done before leaving. This small list is only the places I’ve heard of or looked up so far; there are certainly more, as I haven’t paid nearly as much attention to the south side of College St when I’m riding or walking through it!

I really had more to say, but it’s since evacuated my brain into regions undiscovered. Or that could be the ibuprofen PM kicking in; my back tension has been ridiculous the past week, and it’s to the point I’m starting to take ibuprofen to help deal with the pain of the tension in my trapezius or rhomboid; I’m not entirely sure which it is. Regardless, I need to get an appointment setup to get this examined; stretching & relaxation don’t seem to be helping it. Next up on home remedies will be digging out my heating pad, and laying infirm upon it to attempt to relax the muscle(s) at fault.

However, in the interim, I can’t wait to bathe my tongue is some rich & bold coffee–derived concoctions this week. Well, mostly just tomorrow, if at all this week. Thursday’s free time is being eaten up by a free Midori concert being put on by the U of T Faculty of Music over the lunch break5, and another free concert being put on by the jazz orchestra in the evening6. Friday is the departmental social at the end of the work day, so being inebriated only reinforces wanting to be inebriated; there’s no easy transition from there to coffee, not at that hour of the evening. So, Wednesday it is, lest I wish to wait until next week to get started!


1This usually happens when the temperature finally dips below 50˚F (10˚C) when the sun isn’t out or the wind is really blowing.
2They were just a smidgen on the roomier side last winter, you know, before I lost a quarter of my body weight…
3The waist of the sweatshirt almost hangs past the crotch of my jeans, and the sleeves reach the knuckles of my fingers when my arms are extended. Clearly, not fashionable attire, despite my love of the geeky caffeine molecule structure.
4He has done it for every graduate student he’s graduated, because we apparently all never think to get a UB sweatshirt during our time there (priorities, clearly).
5Yay free music!
6Yay more free music!

So hovering around the 190–lbs mark on the scale, this was my first “major” endpoint for the weight I wanted to lose. I told myself that 190 was the primary goal, and I’d slowly settle myself into 180 if it was at all possible. Primarily, the sub–190 range was for whatever reshaping/toning I was hoping to achieve. Despite the inches I’ve lost, not everything has pulled back in with.

Stopping in at Old Navy over the holiday weekend, I picked up a few more garments (and a belt) in more appropriately fitting sizes1. “Regular fit” jeans feel like skinny jeans, I swear. My thighs squeeze into the blasted things snug, the waist fits fine, and there’s tons of room beyond my quad/hamstring muscles from the knee down. I don’t want to always have to wear loose jeans, but I really don’t think my cycling thighs are going to permit it if I keep pushing my legs the way I do. Not sure how to address that issue at the present. Anyhoo. I picked up a pair of jeans after checking whether I fit into a 34″ or 32″ waist. I was shocked to find I’m already able to fit into the 32s. That, and medium shirts are a tisch snug, but a way better fit than larges are right now, so I stocked up on those. And I used to primarily wear size large in high school. Basically, with a little slop in clothing sizes, I am (or will be) wearing the same sizes I was in high school. I think that was ultimately my final goal for this whole weight loss thing.

So, with 190 being a rough guage, and a possible hope for 180, the weight loss plan now changes direction: tone. My triceps hang a bit. My love handles and belly need slimming (so sad that the stretch marks probably will not disappear). My inner thighs could use to lose the excess (bleagh). It’s interesting to see what’s left in the aftermath (of sorts). I’ll be more interested to see what’s left in the end. I need to do my pushups & ab work daily in the mornings again. So tough to do as it’s getting colder (on cold ceramic tiles) in the mornings. Also need to try to do my squats in the evening daily if I can, but at least 2–3 times a week. Beyond that, I need to finally get some dumbbells to more conveniently deal with other regions.

It’s weird to think that I am already this close to the final goal. However, I need to take that with a grain of salt: this is the toughest part, too. Losing the weight was the easy part. Having the patience & persistence to get the rest of this cleaned up (and a lifestyle to maintain it) is going to be the real challenge…


1Jeans are getting loose again, large shirts are a bit on the baggy side, and I am at the innermost hole on my belt that originally didn’t fit when I started this adventure.

I may gripe about a lack of a social circle here in Toronto, but the good friends I do still have in Buffalo, NY, and Fargo, ND, only reinforce how awesome some of them are. Friends are the people you spend time & laughs with, wasting away the days with bliss, introspect, silliness, and consolation. Good friends are the ones who will put you back in your place, lest you stray too far beyond or short of your means.

A friend to remind me what shape the currency of my self–worth is really in: greatly depreciated. My self–image shouldn’t be short–changed for what it is; it’s worth more than I realize, and I need to accept & live with that. Realize it’s worth; accept that I’m really worth that; and most importantly, don’t let anyone haggle me down on it!

A friend to remind me where I can always find support:

“Just remember Buffalo still loves you.”

I have such a supportive network back there (Fargo & Minneapolis included), it’s not even funny. I wish I could find the time & energy to visit more often, but I’m torn between intriguing experiments & difficult assays, establishing myself more & more in Toronto (as I’ve got over two & a half years left to go), or taking the short’ish albeit sometimes cumbersome drive back down to Buffalo. Way shorter a trek than I ever took during my undergraduate years, although at that point I was trying to get away from my family back then. Regardless, Buffalo easily has some friends for life back there, so I can at least never feel too lonely!

A friend(s) to polish me up & realize what I’m worth. Some constructive & flattering criticisms illustrated points that I would have never openly recognized on my own, to dispel the delusions I had keeping myself down. It’s easy to be stuck laying on the floor, thinking you’ll never be anywhere above that, until some others catch you in the midst of it & are confused why you were even there in the first place. They offer that hand to help pick you up, dust you off, and remind you of where you belong in the grand scheme of things. I’m still in awe that I am kept in such esteem & regard. Thank you! It has done wonders to re–inflate my ego back to a more typical state!

I have been walking on Cloud 9 all week, despite running myself ragged a couple days (12–hour days are not my friend when commuting 8km each direction cycling). I have no idea if it shows, but I don’t care; I’m less paranoid about what others think of me and/or may judge me for. I am more comfortable & confident in my decisions, without second–guessing them. I am just all around more comfortable in my own skin1.

I can still revel in the autumnal bliss (at least until the sunset gets too early). I have no concerns going into the winter; let it come, let it try to keep me in. I’ll show it how to enjoy a winter in a new city!

Jesus, I hope that all didn’t sound ridiculously emo, hahaha…


1Ignoring the whole flabby skin bits from weight loss (carrying 60 extra pounds for 8 years has left its mark on my body), and frustrating back tension in my trapezius lately. I really should try to see a chiropractor or someone about the back tension once OHIP finally kicks in.

Striving for a career in science has taught me a couple strong things over the years (besides how awesome it is). One of which is realizing you transplant yourself to build/acquire/develop some new skills, and repeat the process until you’re apt enough to do it on your own.

As I transitioned from high school into college into graduate school, I noticed another trend: enrichment for the socially inept/naïve increased as I went up the training scale (at least in my own personal experience). I had concerns that this was a logarithmic saturation, where it would only get worse the further you went up in training (despite how rational and socially acclimated most professors seem to be). Thankfully, the social awkwardness seems to have relieved itself among other postdocs (so far). So maybe this is instead the other side of the hump in the curve, whereupon the previously socially awkward in the graduate student community either learn to adapt, or are weeded out of the system.

Anyhoo.

I have always been fairly introverted. I get by okay in public it would appear, but I like/tend to be reclusive when I am able. Considering the necessity for transplantation for advancement in my career, this is utterly detrimental to maintaining any sort of a social life.

I was okay for the first month with the modified social environment of moving to Toronto. Now, the lack of interaction is hitting home a bit harder. The ironic part is that new social interaction(s) stimulated the feelings of absence; two recent symposia led to pleasant conversations with new individuals that left me longing for this on a regular basis.

Electronic communications and social media don’t quite cut it. They’re mediocre replacements for face-to-face communications.

Now begins the (emotionally) rough part of the transplantation into a new community.

So after a couple weeks of unpacking, I think I’ve finally got everything unpacked to the extent that I can.

The wall space is awkward in the apartment here, so unfortunately I don’t have any space for more major furniture like a futon or loveseat (at least for the time being), so it was sort of fortunate that I didn’t have any larger furniture of that type that I brought with. Even the dining set I have is a bit large, and almost oddly out of place. I am really tempted to try to sell off/get rid of the old one for something more compact like a gateleg table, but then I still have the issue of chairs to deal with. Anyhoo.

I need to get around to another blog post or two here. The move was relatively easy, albeit complicated a bit at the border crossing due to the moving company. I am most done transitioning over the relevant paperwork/credentials (with the exception of automotive stuff at this point), and have my bank account and payroll setup, so I should be all set on that front.

I’m fighting with some networking issues right now. I am this close to paying for my own Internet service; the landlord provides wireless Internet access at no charge to me, but the connection has been absolutely terrible at times. I can barely get reception in my bedroom, the Mac Pro struggles at times for a connection, and the FreeBSD server is completely dependent upon the Mac Pro for access right now (Internet sharing). I have been attempting to get a wireless NIC going in the server right now, but I’m stuck recompiling the HEAD environment/kernel in order to get AR9300 driver support (since every other existing wireless NIC that is supported natively in FreeBSD-9.1-RELEASE is ancient). Crossing my fingers that that works once I get back from BURGER DAY!

Which, on that note, now that it has quit raining…I am off to! Will start catching up on some bloggage when I get back from said burger/slider extravaganza.

21. April 2013 · Write a comment · Categories: Personal · Tags:

Since I weighed in at the 260–lbs mark after the new year rolled around, I made (yet another) firm decision to lose weight. I already tried this years ago, both with running and some modest watching of my diet, but I fell off that bandwagon the following year. My weight hovered okay, especially through a summer of dodgeball until I tore my calf during a winter season of kickball. All the sedentary nature slowly let the pounds creep back on until I was back in the 240–250 range. This wasn’t so troublesome until I got to an Italian Thanksgiving, an Italian Christmas, and a big fat Italian wedding all over late 2012.

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