Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Quick Spiritual News

So... lets make it short

  • Evangelism: back in the game

  • Serving Hope

  • Study of Santification Progressing

  • Budget Shift

Evangelism: back in the game
I started doing some inviting again. I don't evangelize per se, I invite people to church. Its illegal to proselytize, but inviting to a program should be legal enough. So, yeah, I outsource to Indians ;)
And I am praying for great fruits on this one.
Serving Hope
I am teaching spoken English once a week now.
Study of Santification Progressing
Wow! What a rich topic. I'll write a paper soon about this. I feel freer, more joyful. Wow! Please, invest time in that study!!!
Budget Shift
Related to my study on sanctification, I decided to give more of my money to brothers and sisters, mostly to cover direct needs. I asked the church leadership to give me an indication of those needs, and we'll take it from there.

Back from the dead... sort of

So, you got no news for a while... That's normal. The blog software was just dead, and it was an old version with security vulnerabitilies.

I tried porting to Vox, Wordpress and others... to no avail. I wasn't able to not loose all the content I had so far.

So, what choice did I have left? Open up a SSH terminal, edit config files by hand, upgrade the thing. So far, it looks like I didn't break anything.

Along the way Theothoughts needed to be sacrified for the common good. And that old sucky template was the only working option... yay.

Theothoughts articles are still here, I imported them in this blog... look at the category tag.
I still need to port that thing to another platform. Maybe I can try again in a few months after things evolve a bit. Lets cross our fingers. I just don't have the time to do sysadmin right now.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Having a little bit of fun for a change

So, I'm beyond deadline in my project, and there is NO WAY it'll happen. So, I'm done with overworking on this. I made a good enough progress, and it'll have to be what it is.

Thus, armed with a brother and a colleague, I went to explore downtown Mumbai on Saturday. We had a nice tour guide who brought us to Malabar Hill and we saw a lot of the sights there. The view on the city is gorgeous. I'll be linking to pictures soon.

There was another festival on Sunday. On monday, there were garlands of flowers on the tea machines. A colleague told me that its a Hindu tradition to give an offering to a book or a helpful machine on that day, to thank it for working for us. I didn't know what to say to that one...
Its great to be thankful for all of God's blessing, but offering flowers to the tea machine...

So, yeah, talk about cultural differences.

I had a great time at the leader's meeting and Mighty Men + Women meeting on Sunday. We are talking about vision and gifts. So, I'm rewriting my vision for my life and will make it into a neat little poster.
Heh, even put it here, so that you guys can pray about it.

I'm progressing in Hindi. Please keep on praying that I can have a strong command of this language and use this to further the Mission here.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

I'm Officially Graduated!

I got the news from Concordia. That's it, I'm really really done.

I wish I could afford the flight to the convocation ceremony...

Anyway, that's what the transcript says:

+----------------------------- PROGRAM STATUS ------------------------------+
+ THESIS TITLE: 28/05/07 +

Friday, October 12, 2007

Non-Workaholics need not apply

I'm sorry for not blogging a lot. My life has been quite busy.

Its great to be in charge of a critical piece of integration + customization software. Its good experience, and it makes a meaningful bullet on your resume.

But, there are downsides to it, such as the fact that you can't afford to not deliver.

There are some good, non-work, news too!

So, last week, I came in Saturday, and I worked 12 hours during a national holiday (Gandhi's birthday). Yay :'(
This week has been intense too. I have daily conference call with the on-site designer to get things clarified. I've also been mandated with writing the design addendum and cook up a test plan if I have the time for it. For the record, there is not a line in the test plan yet ;)
Also, I'll have two guys working with me on implementing some of the features. This is nice experience. I just have to fight very hard for keeping a personal life, otherwise this company would be sucking my soul right out of me!
On other work news, I've been pulling strings to get my allocation to Andheri in a canadian project. This will be great. I'll be able to bike to work in the morning.
Yes, because I bought a bicycle. 2550 rupees (<70$). I managed to destroy the front wheel on the way home back from the store. The roads are bad. I'll have to be more careful. I'm starting to think I should've paid 5k for the mountain bike (with shocks) instead. Its repaired now, I have to fetch it from the store. I'll upload a picture as soon as I can.
We had an invitation service at church 2 weeks back. I prayed for the room to be packed and it was! I was so fired up about that! There has been some Bible studies that arose from it. I'm praying for this. Please join me in prayer too.
There is a nice garden down the street too, so I prayed with a brother in the morning there this week. It is very peaceful.
There is a festival starting today, called Gherba (or something similar). Its a dancing festival. People in Gujarat can dance nearly all night for 9 days! I'll try to see some of that if I can find the time.
I keep on learning a little bit of Hindi. The course organized by the company will not go far enough. I should've signed up for a class at some college instead. Anyway, I picked a little 'teach yourself' book and I'm trying to learn the script. Lets just say that they made sure to make it hard for foreigners to learn...

Monday, October 1, 2007

Getting More Out of Your Laptop's Battery

This is a useful read. It shows how you can use Intel's built-in power management in Windows XP to have more out of your battery!

Intel SpeedStep

Friday, September 28, 2007

Less Work, More Work

There has been some good things and some less good things this week:

- On Tuesday, we had a day off because of the Ganesh celebrations. I'll be posting soon about this.
- This Thurday, we had the first Hindi class. I can almost sound like I really want to know how you're doing!
- This Friday, we had a family day at work, so I could chat and laugh a bit with my coworkers and their wives/kids.

There has been a schedule adjustment that relieves some pressure at work. Things went from "There is no way we can deliver" to "It'll be hard, but we'll make it". No need to ask for vacation on Monday (which would've given me a chance to have a 2 day retreat with brothers)...

I'll need to go to see a doctor this weekend, I keep on having cold symptoms.
I don't sleep well... dogs just got the habits of barking by my window at 2AM for the last 2 nights. I need earplugs.

Don't Expect An Email Too Quickly

Hello my beloved friends,

I don't have the 'net at home, I can't get personal emails at work, and my schedule is such that I can't reach the cyber cafe down the street too often. So the best time for me is on weekends. If anything is urgent, please call or send an SMS, it'll work better.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Settled At My New Place

So, I've moved out from Oritel this Sunday. I had lots of help from a brother in the process.

I'm right next door to the Police Camp, which is both good news and bad news. That means that you don't have to worry about crimes too too much, but that also means that you have to make sure not to get on their radar too much. Not all police officiers in India are crooked, but they do exist. The rule of thumb here is: the police is not your friend. That is a shift from what I'm used to, which is: protect and serve.

I'll try to take some good pictures and upload them 'down the street' as soon as possible.

Also, the Ganesh festival has started. Apparently, everybody in Mumbai gets crazy on that one... so much so that its even surprising for the rest of Indians. Yay.

More about the place I live:
I'm at 17 minutes of SEEPZ gate 3, which is where the bus to work passes. That means that I can leave at 7:40, pray along the way in a nice foresty path that doesn't have too much traffic and hop on the first bus passing at 8:05. I get to work early enough to get my day really started at 9, so I can leave early in the evening too.
There is a store very close that offers long distance calls for dirt cheap (1.4 Rs / 6 minutes to Canada), and there are a lot of amenities 'down the street'... something you'll hear me say often. Its about 10 minutes walking distance.
A maid will wash my clothes, and I can pay a few rupees to get a guy 'down the street' to iron them for me.
I can buy groceries 'down the street'. There is a net cafe 'down the street', and not far from 'down the street', there is the Marol Depot, where a gazillion busses pass by.
More on the Ganesh Festival
There are temporary shrines all over the place. Politicians have put posters and big corporations are recycling the event in their marketing.
Ganesh is associated with professional and material blessings. The direct Indian equivalent of Mammon. This festival is BIG in Mumbai. The streets are illuminated, you have 'wandering temples' in trucks, with an idol + guys either a) playing drums loudly or b) loudly saying stuff (which I guess are praises to the Idol). According to Hindu beliefs, Ganesh is physically in the idol, and he will return back to the heavens after the idol is immersed at the end of the festival.
Yesterday evening, some idiot was detonating some explosive sticks right under my window. Its a tradition to have firecrackers during this festival, but that wasn't firecrackers... some hybrid between firecrackers and dynamite sticks would be an appropriate description...
We had an idol downstairs. They took it away in a big noisy ritual yesterday. There were many drummers and firecrackers. It was bad enough that I couldn't conduct a conversation with my new roomate. It didn't last too too long, thank God. Now I understand why the Catholic Church got all festival-y in the 4th century... people love these crazy things!
Overall, I find the society around me a bit superstitious... name your business after one of the gods for blessings, kiss the doorframe for blessing the house before leaving, put pictures of Ganesh all over the place, etc. etc. etc. And that's not just poor people!!! You'll see even big businesses put the Swatzik on their logos.
Short summary: you won't get me in hinduism anytime soon. Its a major major downgrade from a perfect infinite God.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Stuff Happening, Unfolding

So, I have a temporary solution for my lodging that is well located. I visited a place that is better located, but will require long walks to get to the bus (~10-15 minutes). I'll take that one.

I visited a place this Sunday that was not bad... but highly illegal. Since I must report my address to the FRRO (aka the passport police), this was a very very very bad idea.

Other than that, life goes on... I am reading a little bit, I'm working, I'm involved in putting in place a Hindi class... the end result being that I don't enjoy myself too much these days. It'll get better, being finally settled will help a lot.
God willing, I'll be in my new environment on Sunday.

I got to speak to some brothers in Montreal too. My cellphone will cost me more than expected for these calls, since BPL has given me bad information about how much it cost. Nevertheless, those calls were enjoyed very much.

I need to surrender the situations I live to God more, so that I can have more joy... my life is more of a burden than anything else at this point. A lot of it comes from a) weak prayer life, but there is also b) lots of worries and c) a medication that may cause depression as side-effect.
If I still feel down after a few weeks, I know that c) has something to do with all this. But I'll work on a) and b) for the time being.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Got my +- breakdown

Was on the phone for more than one hour yesterday with my parents. I got my breakdown. She was glad that it took me a month this time around, compared with 2 days in Switzerland.

So, what's up?
-Things are not so bad at work. I am taking advantage of the java 1.5 concurrency package to make my life simpler
-I must leave my hotel soon, and I don't have a place to go. AIESEC has apartments, but they are mix genders. I am not ready to make this compromise. So I'm apartment hunting, but not very well, and in a last minute-ish manner. Thank God I have the church to help me do that. I won't say too much, about this, but let me just say that old buildings have the tendency to collapse around here...
-The commute to work in not too enjoyable. I try to pray and read by Bible through it. A bumpy road and traffic kill the enjoyment. But I really mean bumpy... even the Quebec roads are tame.
-I am making effort to spend more time with disciples, but to not much avail... looks like I need to be more agressive about this.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Now Working Somewhere Else

So, I've been assigned to an office in Thane, to work on a large telecom project. There is a corporate bus that facilitates transportation, and it is a lot less full than the city's. The site is very nice, with ACed newer buildings, plants, etc.

Still, transportation is a pain. The morning ride is OK, the return one is another story. There is TRAFFIC in Powai like you wouldn't believe it. It feels like it'd be faster walking, but it is still faster than walking. I'm trying to learn which stop to take and which city bus to take from there, so that I don't waste too much money on rickshaws.
I had midweek and Sunday services in a house church. We stayed and sung songs with a guitar after. Then I was invited to lunch by the hosting couple. Later, I spoke with a brother and asked him to be my discipling partner.
Things are still not 'in place' spiritually, but are improving. I invited someone to church this Sunday, and I had a Bible study today, thanks to circumstances beyond my control. God is really helping me put things in place.
Saturday, I spent a lot of time in Hiranandani. I bought 2 shirts and I failed to get my laundry done: the place refused to take more laundry orders... come back next week they say! I went to Mocha, a coffee shop with low-speed wireless internet. Better than nothing, I got to upload pictures. I also found a place that allows me to call to Canada for pretty cheap. I got to take a few apointments for Saturday in the early evening!

Oritel and Surroundings

Monday, August 20, 2007

Will Help HOPE a Little Bit, and Other News

Hello all!

So, I went to one of the HOPE locations in Andheri East today. It was a bit of a mess to get there (I wasn't organized) but I should be fine in the future.

They have 5 computers and they teach Microsoft Office, as well as some conversational English.
I had a discussion with the HOPE leader for India, and he told me that one of their big needs was on digitization and reporting. They need to report regularly to their sponsors, and they need to be able to show their success stories.
I'll build them a simple solution using Access. Nothing too complicated, but something that will save them from having thousands of Word documents with unmanageable data.

On the way back, I saw a couple cows and dogs munching on a pile of garbage. Other street sights of before: a dog in a puddle of muddy water in the middle of the street, bathing and drinking. A procession of cows and ox in the middle of the street, some goats tied together to a pole, on the roadside. Lots of stray dogs. Stray dogs sleeping in the middle of the way at the train station. The sewage is carried not in pipes, but in canals by the road side, etc.

My mom asked me if there were a lot of polution... the answer is: yes, you'll see it, you'll smell it, and its likely that you'll touch it too.

I finally started taking photos. I'll put them online soon. Getting the files to the hotel's computer is a bit of an hassle.

Other than that, I went to church yesterday, and to their Men of God and Women of God meeting. We played some team game, and then there was an exortation to do something that brings us out of our comfort zone this week. I know that being here was already something, but I'm thinking of something more discomforting... I'll let you know about it.

Its weird being at church... everyone comes to introduce themselves to you. You're kind of a star. Many don't even speak English, or barely do. It was a bit hard to have a conversation with anyone. One thing that was true from what a brother told me is the men/women divide. Girls on their side, guys on theirs... very little mixing. There is one sister (for sure) and maybe a second one with whom I did more than introducing myself. That's good in a sense, since I was challenged to focus on building strong bonds with brothers.

Before that, I met a brother at Mumbai Central station and we went shopping... except for the fact that the mall was closed. So, we went to the Hadji Ali instead... Many people, hindus too, come to this Muslim holy site. It is built on the Arabian Sea, and it has a little bridge going there.

On Friday, I had news from my allocation: I'll be going to either Mumbai or Chennai. So, there is some progress. The sad news is that I won't be in their eSecurity team, which I would have been perfect for. It turns out that they have some kind of policy in place that says that I should be put to customer billable functions. So the security job is gone. Anyway, they know that I like design, and they're working on putting me on a new project, so that I can have a chance of contributing at that level, which is welcomed... I don't feel like starting my career as a maintainer.

Other news, I have a cold. My troat is sore, and my noze is leaking fluid like crazy. Nothing too bad, I bought some medicine from one of the many "druggist" close to the hotel.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Things Unclogging

Registration at FRRO: done
Employee number: finally got it
Bank account: done
Cellphone: got it!
Corporate ID Card: will nag for it
Corporate email: idem

Seriously, things are slow. I spend my day reading some policies, etc. I'm waiting for my allocation, and I have a huge checklist of things to do, and the HR people have too much things to do anyway, so its a time of self-directed study.

I did not go hiking in the end, it got canceled. A brother got me to a shopping mall (Hiranandani Mall) and I bought my cellphone at the D-Mart. That's the big thing. I can communicate now!!!

I met some brothers today who advised me on evangelism. There is a big risk I run in trouble if I preach or do cold contact. So be it. Nevertheless, I'm still a disciple. That means "team effort"... I'm going to have to let the others do Bible studies and so on... my role is to bring people in. So shall it be.

Keep me in your prayers. I try to pray as much as I can in the bus, and I do get Bible reading done, to a certain extent, but no real quiet time. I'm going to set my alarm clock earlier. God willing, it'll work out this time.

The big things for me is that I bought some food at a local grocery store, and that I took the bus to Sakinaha, then the rickshaw, which a) saves some money, but more importantly b) give me some feeling of independence. And that is a very good feeling to have, knowing that you are not at the mercy of some illiterate driver or the hotel staff for your basic needs. The honeymoon phase of culture shock didn't really happen to me, and I'm in a hurry to feel comfortable around here!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Indian Update

Letting you know what happened to me

Sunday: went to church, attended the leader's meeting, hung out with a brother. All was good.
Monday: first day of work, spent mostly registering at the Foreigners Regional Resitration Office. Got a cellphone SIM card, but not the cellphone (the store guy didn't know his phones)
Tuesday: second day of work, reading stuff in the HR training system (I'm so applying for six sigma certification! CISSP maybe, if I can) and getting the bank account done, then eating out with colleagues, forgot to buy the cellphone.
Wednesday: that is today, Independance Day. At 60, India has been independent longer than Canada (we're 25), and much longer than Quebec (we're at -X). I'm going out on a hike in New Bombay (Navi Mumbai) with brothers and sisters. Maybe a shopping mall will be done and I'll be able to do my shopping.

How do I feel? I'm not sure. The transportation have frustrated me. Rickshaw is expensive, since the apartment is far from everything, and that the buses pack up very quick. The train ride is the same in second class, and less bad in first class. I live far from work, so that's 4 hours of transportation a day. A very temporary arangement.

Besides the frustation, I try to remain humble... my forefathers could not have imagined their descendant seeing what I see.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Start of the Indian Adventure

Oh boy. There was no other way to make this real that what happened.

Don't worry, nothing was stolen, and I'm safe.

I left on Tuesday at 8:45 PM or so, and I arrived in Mumbai at 23:00. Getting everything done before leaving was a marathon in itself! By the time I was out of the airport, it was 23:30.
There are a fair share of armed soldiers at the airport, and a LOT of people.

My welcoming party wasn't there. So I had to take the prepaid taxi to where I was hoping I'd stay. Why was I hoping it? Because there was a miscommunication in the past, which I cleared before leaving. The driver didn't know where the place was, and he had to ask for directions a few times over.

The way there was something. Dogs on the streets, a taxi blocking the way, the smell of garbage, non-asphalted sections, etc. I was thinking that the guy was bringing me to the wrong place and that I'd get everything stolen... not so. This is a neighborhood in expansion. A lot of construction. Its apparently hard to keep track of the new hotels and stuff. What doesn't help is that addresses as you know them don't exist here. Even the building where I work, in the nicest part of town, doesn't have an address. The address of where I live is ... close to the TATA Symphony.

We finally find it, I tell my driver to go to the place, and he wasn't even sure that it was the right place. The fact that he barely spoke English didn't help make things better. The taxi was old, small, and looked like it was self-destruct, just like the rest of the taxis in the parking lot at the airport. Still, that taxi looked a lot better than many rikshas

We arrived and two security guards asked me who I was and which company I was from, and I showed them an email I had printed. Thank God for my annoying habit of having plan A and plan B in place.
I share a room there with a Mexican dude. The breakfast is provided, we have a loud TV in the main hall, with a swimming pool at the back. The place has high walls and security guards.

Behind the building, there is a construction side. In between, there are some bidonvilles (shantytown), shelters built out of whatever people can find. Not a lot of them, just a line between the two buildings.
This morning, it is raining, and some people are washing outside, and we can see them.
I have the loud TV annoying me, a copy of the Hindustan Times at my door, a breakfast waiting for me, and I'm using some kind of old computer in the hall that doesn't have more than 256 color on its display.
But seriously, this is nearly luxury.

I didn't think that it'd be so real, so quick, but it is. What most people home would describe a dump (remember, my shower is bucket), is actually a pretty nice place here.

Please come back often as I will document my adventures here. God willing, they will be many, but will be nice ones.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Preparations, Wedding

After the seafood galore in Moncton, I was back in the real world in Montreal.
My travel plans are falling in place, and I'm getting things readier and readier for my departure.

I watched a lot more of Jericho. I love that show!!!

On Sunday, I was gone all day. Two good friends were getting married in Chambly, by the waterside. The bride was gorgeous, the groom pretty sharp. The setting was wonderful, the reception without reproach. I enjoyed this very much. Even the traditional form of the wedding didn't bother me all that much.

I'm super glad for both of them!

The Miniature Earth

This video makes the world's statistics on poverty very tangible. It is touching.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Purchases, Surprises, Travels

I'm writing from Moncton, New Brunswick. I had a great bowl of pasta and sea food yesterday. I'm presenting a paper at a conference here, a bit more than a week before The Big Trip... insane.

It is some kind of vacation in my "vacation" time before leaving. As you know, its not been relaxing too much. I'll try to take it easy, and do lots of reading (which I just LOVE).

I had a good surprise this week. A brother called me telling me that he could pick up my furniture and get it to where it needed to go! That took care of one of my big worries.
I did some nagging, and I got the cheque that I needed signed, so I was able to mail the application to the AIESEC Adapt bursary. God willing, I'll have it! Up to 80% of my airfare in exchange of some volunteer work and presentations about Canada (which I was hoping of doing anyway...)
I saw the Shermer-Jacoby debate DVD and was left wanting. Jacoby did a good job, but didn't really hammer it down well. When it finished, I was surprised. That's it? That's it? Its not a bad DVD, but don't go out of your way to watch it.
Sunday's service was... interesting. A brother hijacked the service to introduce a brother who hasn't been attending in a long time. He had this long letter calling out sins in the evangelist. That wasn't a happy moment, especially with the language used. But there are good side to this. A brother rose and took upon himself to investigate the matter in an impartial way. Then, our evangelist still went up front and did his message, without a word or a reference to what had happened. That's self-control!!
I'm feeling very encouraged by sisters in Toronto. They called me with very kind words, and sent me a few words of encouragement (with a very fancy card) that made me teary-eyed for a moment. That's one of the best things about God's kingdom!
Going back to my trip preparation, I've emailed people from my the church in Mumbai. Plan B is kicking in high gear, since I'm not relying on the AIESEC people too much right now. Brothers will write back within a day to let you know they're working on it, AISEC people will... write back... at some point. I'm not bitter, but being factual. I'm less than 2 weeks away, so I have to go for what works, no matter how someone may feel about it.
I'm confident that God will work it out, but I'm still stressed about that. I need more prayer.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Pictures from my trip in Virginia and Massachussets

So, quickly here are those from Salem, MA:
Visiting Salem

In case I didn't say it yet: the Witch Museum is a waste of money, don't bother going there. The walk in Salem is great though!

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Stuff: moving, planning, fishing, etc.

Lots of things have happened, but nothing to write too much about.

We're having Sunday services in the park now, with a nice picnic afterwards. I'm enjoying it.
I spent 2 days with my parents in Magog. I fished with my dad and picked a black bass (Achigan, in French). I'll put the pictures online soon. We also took the Orford Express touristic train, but it wasn't really worth it for just the ride. Maybe that the option with the fancy meal is worth it. We ended up taking supper with disciples in Sherbrooke, before I went back to Montreal this Friday.
Fishing Trip with My Dad

Other than that, its just travel preparations and helping people move. There is some more of my stuff that is gone, lent to a brother. There was a miscommunication with a couple about when they'd come to pick my furniture, so I have to figure that one out.

No real progress on my side project for bringing stuff for the poor kids in India. Gotta nail that one down this week.
I've had to spend some time preparing for a conference in Moncton, where I'll fill in for my CSL colleagues, who can't attend. I've dictated some terms (i.e. travel by plane only), but I've remained flexible.

I'm reading The Prideful Soul's Guide to Humility, which is very challenging. I'm realizing the depth of my pride.

Also noteworthy is that I spent some time with a Protestant evangelist who's been bringing the Gospel in India to Hindus for about 15 years, and I learned a lot. God will use this knowledge to help me reach out to lost souls. The Gita, an small hindu text, clearly establishes that deeds won't save anyone, and that there is only one God. That will be very useful in the ministry as a stepping stone towards Christ.

Keep me in your prayers so that I can be peaceful, humble and truly consecrated.

Friday, July 13, 2007

How Great is Airport Security

Nice Picture!

A system with access to critical data that is unsecured. Yay!

Monday, July 2, 2007

How Cheney Tries to Escape Accountability

Very interesting legal analysis in Findlaw.

Moving, moving, moving


I helped a couple people move Saturday, and spent the day before and after preparing and executing mine. It was tiring. I'm feeling my left ankle acting up.

It turns out that my landlady allows me to stay in until I leave for India, which is August 9th. It should simplify a few things. I still need to plan a couple things, because I turn out having more stuff than I thought I did.

I bought my plane ticket, and I'm involved in Bible studies. I'm evangelizing more, things are getting better. I just need to manage my time well to truly enjoy this month before I go.

Italy Charges CIA Operatives for Extraordinary Rendition

Interesting articles in Wired and the Washington Post.

It looks like the CIA really needs to learn about the wonders of cryptography to secure its communications. On the plus side, we finally have evidence of CIA operations in foreign countries. I hope that law and due process will soon be interesting ideas in the USA.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Now a Patent Examiner (of sorts)

I've just registered for the Peer to Patent initiative, allowing the public to examine patent claims. You know how much I don't like software patents, so it will be my pleasure to help investigating these claims while I still have access to the wealth of scientific databases that Concordia lets me reach.

Storms of Life

What an... interesting... weekend. I had the proof that I'm growing in maturity, although I didn't enjoy it so much...

Read on, and you'll see!

I worked hard on correcting my Thesis and sent it to my supervisor on Friday.
I went with my mom to an Indian restaurant and I tried practicing eating with my right hand... I was not that successful, but its a start.
On Friday evening, I get a (very late) phone call from a sister with whom I was going along quite well. We chatted for not long, but long enough to have an avalanche of thoughts hit me afterwards. I did not sleep well at all.
On Saturday morning, I spent some time talking about all the emotional storm that was brewing in me, then I went to spend some time with God about all that. I knew where I needed to turn...
Love is patient, love is kind, it is not envious. Love does not brag, it is not puffed up. It is not rude, it is not self-serving, it is not easily angered or resentful. It is not glad about injustice, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. (1 Corinthians 13:4-7)
It was difficult, but I had to admit that I wasn't loving... not only towards this sister, but in general in my life. I wrestled with God with many tears over this until I reached the point where I concluded "I am this now".
I'm sharing this for many reasons, one of them so that you can be encouraged, my dear reader, that the Word is truly powerful and heart-changing. I hope that you have some of that going on in your life, too.
After all that, I was surrendered. The same sister called me afterwards (less than 12 hours after the first phone call) and told me she just wanted to be friends.
O miracle of miracles! I was actually calm and peaceful. If you know me, you'll be surprised that I was displaying maturity in all that! I was even glad we had this conversation.
But things didn't last (I'm still new at being loving and mature, remember). I had to meet my mom to do groceries, and we miscommunicated. I went to the Loblaws and shopped to do my recipes, but I did the mistake (once again) to go to the self-checkout. What a pain and annoyance! I was coming home tired, frustrated, and trying not to think too much about all I went through just a few hours before.
Nothing went well in realizing the recipes. I had badly planned things. I picked a fight with my mom (which we resolved a bit later) and we arrived late at the party organized at church. At least I got to chill out then.
On Sunday, I watched a great movie, Aurore. My roomate watched it too, and he told me that he now understood why the Catholic church is despised here in Quebec. It really should have received more awards than this. It is a remake of an older movie about the same story, which I'd like to watch at some point.
It was deeply touching, because I could be like this priest... so loving of theory that he was unable to love people.
Things have been moving on after... I've been working on making corrections to my thesis, and working on the Gospel a lot more than in the past...

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Complaints Choir

I just couldn't help but to enjoy this one...
A classically-written and performed song complaining about the most useless things...

Pictures of my thesis defense

Hello folks.

I've decided to surrender more of my soul to Google and use picasa web to host my pictures. This web site is getting fullish.

Here are the pics I managed to recover from my memory card:
Thesis Defense

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Done and ... well, more stuff!

I successfully defensed my thesis Monday. I have some corrections to made. But not right now!

I'm in Boston typing this, on my way to Virginia for the second class of the ministry training program.
I'll be back on the 7th in evening in Montreal. Have fun without me until then!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

ps to emf howto

So, I'm working on my thesis presentation powerpoint. Putting a screenshot of my graphs (generated by udg) is not a great option when you resize.

The conversion from ps look ugly in powerpoint too, so that's not a winner.

BUT, there is something to be done.

Here' how I'm doing it:
1- Use ps2pdf to convert the file to pdf format
2- Use PDFFly to convert to SVG
3- Use a text editor to remove the text and line at the bottom (easily distinguised by the fact that they are text boxes of one character, preceded by a bunch of polyline)
4- Double-check in IE that it looks good (Firefox's rendering is flawed on that one. Oh, and you need Adobe's SVG Plugin)
5- Open in Vision, and save as emf
6- Put the emf file in powerpoint. That's it!

Defending my Thesis Monday

Hello all. Just a quick word to let you know what's up:

- I'm planning my trip to the MTP in Virginia for the 1-3 weekend, followed by a visit to friends in Boston
- I've been working on a paper for a French journal
- I've been preparing for my Thesis defense on Monday. Monday 4 PM. See it as a mega oral exam... please pray for me to be close to God, confident and well-prepared.

Special Comment on the Democrat Betrayal

I don't need to add a comment over this...

Friday, May 18, 2007

The Uber-Catching-Up

Hello my beloved readers. Its been a month heh...

Things have been intense. You'll understand why.

I gave my thesis to my supervisor on April 20th... that was a LOT of work. I spent most of the week not sleeping a lot. And it showed. There were quite a couple errors that needed to be fixed down the road.
At church, we finished our campaign on repentance (too shortly for my taste) and the men went on sexual purity directly. We're reading Every Man's Battle or Every Young Man's Battle. Its not a bad book, but it probably could fit in the quarter of the pages it uses. The principles are easy:
-Men get sexual stimuli visually (hint for the sisters: help us out please!)
-So you have to control your eyes like Job
-And control your thoughts
-And make a clear decision to stop all forms of lusting, masturbation and other sexual behavior unfitting for a saint
-Oh, and have an accountability group
The rest is pretty much illustrative examples. Borrow this book if you can spare yourself the purchase.
On May 7th, I had my first interview with the company in India. It went well, and I should have a technical interview soon. A few days after, I had a morning full of interviews with a very large software company in Montreal. They have an R&D center too, and they have expressed interest in me completing my Ph.D. there. We'll see... I need some time to clear my head before I take a big decision like that. I'm not closed to the idea, far from it, but I need to have a good alignment of the stars, in a sense.
Last weekend (May 12-13), I was in Québec City to celebrate my dad's birthday. I attended the Mothers' Day church service there that was really inspiring. Our baby new sister was involved in a musical trio: vocals, guitar and piano. The girls were both sopranos (I think) and they sang a song with a canon, which is a musical trick that I love. I was traveling in the car with a couple from the church in Montreal, which made my trip even more enjoyable.
This week was eventful too: a brother for Washington State came to visit us and I was hosting him. He's pretty cool and I enjoyed his company. He's not messing around, loves God, and wants to do His will. He was surprised by an invitation to go abroad as a missionary... the rest is hush-hush.
I submitted my thesis officially on Thursday. The committee agreed on a date before the end of the month. Oh, please pray for me!
Spiritually speaking, I faced a lot of worries about my future (I'm not even confirmed if I go to India or not, when I would defend my thesis, coupled with a few tensions at work) and demanding schoolwork. This resulted in me 'crashing'... my drive was sucked out of me! I'm rebuilding that, but I'm rebuilding this in a better way. I realized that a lot of my life as a disciple was based on my own strength, even in my relationship with God. I am trying to break my strong side in order to live by the real strength that comes from the Spirit.
And I won't talk about how I feel about the state of my ministry... there's going to be work to do this summer.
I'll have June more or less off: I'll only work a couple days, and plan my future then. The other parts are meant for investing in my health: physical, mental, spiritual.
P.S. we're getting 2 intern from another church for the summer. This is so great!!!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Skulls and Bones: Bush and Kerry in an idolatrous secret society?

I found this piece interesting. I generally trust MSNBC, but I gather that this is based on not that much evidence, so I would keep reservations... anybody knows more about this?

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Quick Summary

Hello folks,

things are hectic for me... I'm wrapping up my thesis to submit to my supervisor this week.

I spent the Easter weekend with my parents. I skied with my dad too. That was cool!
I had 2 more conference papers accepted, one of which is a Springer one!
As of now, my thesis has 125 pages of paper (-11 of introductory material).
My time was mostly spent on my thesis these days. Not many phone calls, no dates, no nothing, or almost. Since I don't work on Sundays, I spent the chance to be with an old friend (since 1st grade). He's a certified chef, so the meal was a pretty good one!!!

My birthday party was a bit devoid of people. I was disappointed by that, but enjoyed every single person who came. My parents paid for my MTP books and someone gave me all the chronicles of Narnia! I have a travelbook for India too, so things are under way.

I got myself starting the vaccination process, and its EXPENSIVE!!! Oh boy! I didn't see that one coming. God willing, I'll have enough money left to go to Beachstock and/or MTP. If not, oh well, so be it.

Monday, March 26, 2007


We had Ed Anton in town on the weekend of the 10th, who taught us about Repentance, all Saturday long. It was inspiring and encouraging. I was listening to him, and I felt inside: "YES! YES! This is Christianity! YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!"
He really helped me understand how to correctly "rebuke" my brothers and sisters (Elencho in Greek), and I had a clearer idea of godly living. He describes it as a homeostatis of holiness. Essentially, we need to target perfection and see sin as unacceptable, although be full of grace when we do fall in sin. The trick is NOT to see sin as acceptable somehow. No "well, we're not perfect, we're bound to sin" kind of stuff... more of a "I'm living for God, Amen!" kind of thing.

Ministry Training

I'm catching up on my blogging... here's one more crazy thing I did: Ministry Training in Virginia.

So, me's got crazy in the head... I've decided, nearly at the last minute, to go to the Ministry Training Program in Virginia. Here is the quick breakdown of the planning.
Thursday March 1st: leave Montreal by train
Friday afternoon: arrive to Newport News by train, rest, start classes
Saturday all day: classes, try to squeeze in a date
Sunday: classes, church service, more classes, chill out, leave by bus to NYC
Monday: take the train to NYC, so that you can save yourself a day of traveling that way. Arrive in Montreal at 6PM
Can you imagine that the travel was brutal? It makes your feel like putting your environmental principles in a blender and take the plane at every single opportunity for the next year!!!
This is what more or less happened, only with a twist... I found out that they had a Virginia-wide leaders' meeting on Sunday after the classes in Richmond. I adapted my plans to leave from there, and I had the chance to arrange a date too.
The theme of the session was church history. I had one of the mandatory books read already. I read one of the required books on the way there, and another on the way back. I did the take home exam a few days later, since I couldn't find the time to do it right after coming back. I hope I did good! (I don't have the results yet)
We covered a lot of topics. I knew the Patristic story OK, and I had a background in the reformation. But it was cool to add to my medieval history knowledge to learn about scholasticism in that era. The Age of Reason was really interesting, although too short. Its crazy how our way of thinking is directly impacted by this period of history and we don't realize it.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Extremely relevant, to-the-point, editorial by Tony Long at Wired

The World? Your Oyster? Why Not?
talk about knowing what's going on in the world, and why Americans, and the new hi-tech generation, is extremely ignorant about current affairs.

Although the article talks about Americans, its been my experience that quite a few Canadians fit the profile well, as well as many Chinese students I was interacting with. I feel its generally something that belongs to our generation... more like a matter of self-centeredness.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Christian-Themed Linux


I find this quite cute... and I might even use the next version. On the other hand, I feel they're pushing it a bit far... a Christian theme for Mozilla???

Anyway, have a look at them:

Ichthux, based on Kubuntu
Ubuntu Christian Edition, based on Ubuntu.
They have similar, although a bit different packages. As far as I read, Ichtux has a bit more pre-installed stuff, but I guess I'd have to try out.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Lots of Weekends to Blog About


-AIESEC Conference
-Seattle experience
-Camp Blanc

(p.s. at work, I'm just writing papers these days...)

So, a few weekends ago, I was at an AIESEC Québec-Ontario conference. The hotel room was nice, but I found little enjoyment there. Actually, I was missing my church a lot. How can I say it better? If only the "Christians" were half as sold to their faith as the AIESECers are to their organization, then there would be peace in the world, no poverty and no hunger. Anyway, it was an experience I wasn't eager to join it too quickly... a bit too infantile for my tastes at some points.
On that Sunday, though, I was glad! We had a baptism at church! Our wonderful new sister in the faith was born. And I HUGGED HER very very very much!
The other week back, I was in Seattle for an interview with Microsoft. I managed to stretch the travel to spend the weekend there. The trip to Seattle was horribly delayed in every which way, that makes me want to avoid American Airlines as much as I possibly can for the rest of my life. I was welcomed by the disciples there. I had the chance to ski one afternoon (spring conditions, oh well), hang out with the Campus ministry there on Sunday (even attended the leaders' meeting... oh boy is there some action there!!!). On Monday, I studied, moved to my hotel room and studied some more. On Tuesday was my day full of interviews. Things went good enough, but not perfect. I forgot about updating pointers in a parent node after deleting a child. I wasn't sure of the best way to serialize a N-ary tree for network transmission... those two questions hurt. On Wednesday, it was a day full of travelling to Montreal.
On this weekend, I went with my church to a camp outside of Montreal to do winter sports for a full weekend. That did good. My snowshoes got some real action! Too bad I didn't sleep well for one of the nights, the whole experience would've been awesome then!

Friday, February 9, 2007

Quick Progress Report

Hello folks!

Things have been busy recently. Lots and lots of papers to write!
Also, there is some action in my ministry, so I'm not idle.

We're wrapping 3 papers (2 conferences, 1 journal) for publication, so that's work in itself.
Then, I got two papers accepted, so that's more work (although good news).
I might go to France on March 26th to present one of those papers.
I watched the SuperBowl with other disciples and didn't like the game too much. The bears messed up big time.
I watched Art School Confidential, which I think was a waste of time and money.
I ordered some books for my geekness and spiritual health.
My ministry is doing well. We should have a baptism this weekend. I had a Bible study with 3 guys last Wednesday.
I got to the point of surrendering the idea of a lucrative career in my field, but I'm not 100% emotionally surrendered yet.
That's it in short.
Current non-Bible reading: The One Who Knows God, edited by Scroll Publishing from works by Clement of Alexandria.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Mark Osborne's More

I stumbled upon this... its a insightful take on consumerism.
I love it! The sound track is just what was needed to convey the boredom, shallowness, unhappyness of the character's life.

You can see The official website
And someone on has posted it on youtube too:

A must watch!

Monday, January 22, 2007

That's why you need to keep your computer patched

Just watch the video and you'll understand why I'm studying in my field...

Two Intense Weeks

Let me try to summarize...

On the 9th and 10th, I had the chance to spend time with Mike Fontenot, who's leading a great church in Virginia Beach. He exhorted the leaders, then lead a Bible talk on campus, and then preached for the mid-week service. He gave us specific challenges and its clear that this year will be make or break.
On the 12th, I presented an English version of the presentation I did at UQAM in december with a few trimmings. I presented it at CCF. The Q&A was intense, as many people in the crowd did respond to the part where I showed that early Christians believed in baptism for salvation. Sidenote, did you know that a person who studies the Bible before baptism was called a catechumen? He was a believer only after being baptized.
That weekend, we welcomed a few singles from the Lowell (MA) church. It was a nice experience and I had the chance to get to know some really nice disciples too.
I'll try to see if there is a way to go support their Campus ministry and reverse.

The week was boring, as I was doing non-research work for my supervisor. Some things just need to be done.
On Friday, we had a devotional with a lot of guests and Mexican food. Yuuuuuuum! I also had a study with a guy on the topic of baptism who was really open and humble. This is a rare and delightful occurence.
Afterwards, a few brothers and I did a night of prayer. It was my first one. And the first coffee in many years...
On Saturday, I had another study with two Haitian guys who have quite a few unorthodox beliefs. Very interesting discussion nevertheless.

The campus ministry is doing good. People are sharing their faith, dating their sister (only one in the campus), bringing guests to the devotionals, etc. And I have faith that it'll get better. The best part is that I don't have to do it all, delegation is JUST WORKING!!!! yiiiiiiiiiiihhhhhhhhhhhaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!

P.S. I've finally settled on gym, badmiton and pilates for my training program this semester. Pray for my discipline!

Monday, January 8, 2007

No Spring Convocation

After looking at the semester ahead of me, researchwise, and discussing with my supervisor, I won't go for the Spring convocation... that required that I submit my thesis in March, which looks unrealistic right now.
But we did however decide to target early May for my thesis submission, meaning I'll finish the whole process in June (at best in May). That's not as early as I'd like it, but we'll see how things unfold.

Saturday, January 6, 2007

The "Vacation" Itself

I was with my parents for the 1st week, and in Montreal the second.

I mostly was recovering for the first week, and doing ministry-related stuff the other.

I did ski once with my dad. The rest of the time I shopped (boxing day sales... and yes, I shop something like once or twice a year), slept and recovered from some back pain. I'm thinking of getting one of those "tens" devices prescribed by my doctor. I watched lots of TV. I ate way too much. I was very worldly overall. And that didn't really give me the energy I needed.
The second week, things got interesting. I have been invited by a big software company to have an interview at their corporate site in the USA and I spent time brushing up my resumé and taking care of the logistics of that. I spent some time planning for the campus ministry activities this semester. I did follow-up with some folks to see where they're at.
Some interesting things happened: a sister from Bangalore is visiting us, and my evangelist told me that we'd focus to support the Indian mission in Bangalore. So... I'm taking advantage of her insider knowledge!
Also, I had the chance to witness a miracle. My uncle seriously upset my mom a day before they had to leave to travel together, and our new year's party was over before it started. Prayer was effective, and God used me to help them see the issue. After a few minutes of observations from me, they were working it out by themselves without any help. And things turned well. They were laughing about it and we ended up having a good evening too. That's really awesome!
If you know me, you know that I'm not supposed to have the skills of a counselor. Give credit to the Spirit.
Anyway, my week passed by too quickly, and I didn't do some of the important things I wanted to do. I did take care of some issues, but this is annoying.
Oh, and I'm 3 years in the faith now. My birthday was on the 4th. I'm having a mini celebration this Sunday with the Campus group.

Pre-"Vacation" Rush

I didn't update about my life too much what happened to me recently, so lets do that.

In the week before Christmas, I was working hard with a colleague in order to finish a paper. Once we did that, we had to translate it to French for submittal to that French conference. I did most of that translation work. We identified some counter-cases and we had to lower our claims accordingly. Far from a universal practical solution... anyway.

I shared my faith a bit in the shopping mall... that was fun. Its crazy how people are conscious of the commercialization of Christmas, but don't react. I guess that its the same as being conscious of the environment while driving a SUV.

I was very tired and felt at the extent of my energy. I just NEEDED to take a break.

Global Warming is Worst Than You Think

It looks like that our pollution had a cooldown effect that wasn't accounted for, so global warming is in fact worst than generally believed. This BBC documentary, added on top of an Inconvenient Truth packs a lot of punch. We need to fix our lifestyles NOW.

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Authoritarian Figures in Conservative Politics

I'm tempted to read that book, especially if it is as academically strong as they claim it is.