Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Turnabout is fair play

When I started my degree, I thought that grad school would be the most terrifying thing ever. I just wanted to be done with tests and assignments and all that junk and get out in the real world where (supposedly) my hard work and merit would be recognized. Grad school was for smart people, real smart people, who could do the hardest things in the whole world and THEN write a book about it while beating off angry professors with meter sticks. Or something.

Now I'm feeling reassured (and excited!) that I'm in grad school, I can totally handle this, and I'm not going to have to "get a real job" and go work yet. Haaa.

Sunday, April 25, 2010


Ugh, I need to buy more junk food, after running out of ice cream and Coke I'm cramming my face with rice crackers while I study. Stale artificial cheese flavoured rice crackers. Gross.


I write my last final (of this degree, at least...) tomorrow. I'm almost a little disappointed, since after that I'll have no more excuse to gorge myself on junk food :( It still hasn't quite sunk in that I'm actually graduating. Like, for realz. And probably with honours, too!

Holy unexpected, Batman!

I've come a long way. I wonder if I'll be radically different in another few years, or sameish.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Putting the work in work visa

I need a work visa for my exciting summer plans. Let's just say I'm going overseas to build cyborgs. Ok, so that's stretching a little, but I'm pretty sure it's Borg-related technology.

Anyhoo, it seems like the visa granting agency has decided to ensure that only the most qualified candidates make it overseas, by making it impossible for mere mortals to get over there.

First, they post the wrong address for the office on-line. Harrr. Got you, I left 3 hours early. Had to get extra passport-style photos taken by a guy who kept insisting that I "smile with my eyes" and put on makeup. Agh. Maybe I *like* looking like a disgruntled serial killer in my passport photos. Let me through to your country or else I smite you!

Then, they make sure not to actually provide, at any point, a checklist of application documents or any list to anything that remotely resembles a checklist. To make things more fun, they insist that only that country's government can tell you exactly what you need to apply. The government says that it delegates all duties and responsibilities for visas to the visa agency. Oy.

When I actually applied, the lady checking my documents (including passport! eek.) was just about to seal them all in an envelope (that can't be opened again until it gets to the government) and cash my $200 application fee. Just to check, I asked her if I had all the documents I needed in the application.
Then why the hell are you cashing my fee and mailing my definitely-to-be-rejected forms?
"Could you tell me which one I'm missing."
"No, I'm not authorized to do that."
OMGWTFBBQ? Ok, let's do this the hard way.
"Uhh... is it... a return ticket?"
"Is it my birth certificate?"
"Is it this form?"
".... didn't you basically just tell me which form I was missing?"

Here's hoping I actually had all the required documents, and that this goes through, or else my summer employment is going to be really sketchy.

Oh yeah, and my passport gets mailed back to me by courier, not by registered mail. By the same courier that recently decided not to deliver a parcel to me, but a note saying that all delivery attempts had failed and I was going to have to go to their depot to pick the package up. Except they never actually tried to deliver it, their first attempt consisted of giving me that note. So, a company that delivers failed delivery attempt notices is going to have my passport. Fantastic.

Current mood: Nervous.

Sunday, April 18, 2010


My brother either stole or ordered a bag of McD's pickles for me (I'm not sure which, and I'm not going to ask). Heck yeah. When we were kids we used to race to open our hamburgers to see who got the most pickles.

I am unofficially McDonald's pickle champion for life now. Or until I have a big grad BBQ, but I'm not sure I want to share.


I still maintain that I'm not impossibly hard to shop for, I just... covet different things than most people.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Great Moments of Science

Me: "Could you suggest some keywords that would help me find more relevant information on this subject?"
Instructor: "Yes, just do a quick Google search for penetration."
Me: !

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Happy lame grad to you, too!

I've been mulling about my iron ring ceremony lately. It's a ceremony where you make a professional obligation to adhere to good professional practice and be responsible. In Canada, nearly all practicing engineers wear an iron ring as a symbol of their commitment. I'm not much for fanfare but my family is absolutely fawning over my iron ring. Yet, I still have a bitter taste in my mouth about the whole thing.

The first thing that bothers me is that it's supposed to be "secret". We were only allowed so many guests to the ceremony, and everyone was supposed to pledge to refrain from divulging any details about the whole thing, lest we ruin the "spirit of the occasion" or something. Doesn't that strike you as odd? We're here pledging our commitment to public safety, honour, and good practice, but you can't watch. Everyone go away and let us be noble and dignified in secret.

Yet, at the same time, the handouts I received from my school before the presentation stressed the fact that the ceremony is not in fact secretive or private. They just, you know, insist that you vow not to ever tell anyone anything about it. Totally different.
Global News Vancouver on "secret" engineering ceremony.

Ok, so big deal, engineers want to have their (our?) own little treehouse club member initiation. Animal sacrifice optional. Big deal. So what bothers me? I'll let APEGGA describe it, from
"Like many established symbols, in recent years, the iron ring ceremony has come under criticism. It is viewed by some as sexist and by others as archaic. Some argue that the ceremony should be public. Others suggest it relies excessively on Judeo - Christian principles. Some feel that language should be changed to reflect current times by eliminating any reference to gender or to God. Others simply state that the overall tone is inappropriate for these enlightened times."

Yes. Excellent. Not only is it all of those things, but they are clearly aware of it, acknowledge it, and make no move to change any of this despite repeated pleas for inclusion by various new members of the profession. I felt incredibly uncomfortable during the ceremony when anything non-inclusive came up and was immediately prefaced with, more or less "Some of you may feel left out or offended, but you shouldn't be offended because that will ruin our vibe" It was like waving a giant "Yeah, so what? Suck it!" in the face of anyone who felt left out.

What are the arguments for preserving the tradition as is? One is that it's not a requirement to be a practicing engineer. Fair enough, they aren't preventing anyone from graduating or working because of any silly willy personal objections they might have to swearing an oath that they don't believe in, or anything. However, simply not barring anyone from participating in the ceremony is not the same thing as actively supporting and including everyone! Shouldn't it be their (our?) goal to welcome everyone into the profession, regardless of culture or gender? I've been accused of being oversensitive, but I really did feel during the ceremony as though the ceremony was really for Christian men, and the rest of us were just being allowed to participate so that we didn't throw a fuss.

Another argument I've heard is the, "It's tradition" bit. A lot of things are tradition. That doesn't hide what they really are. I realize that a 85 years or so is basically forever in Canadian history, but it's kind of a flash in the pan on a bigger scale. Societies, cultures, words and meanings change over time. I certainly understand the desire to preserve the meanings of the tradition, but I don't agree that it means that we have to keep the wording exactly the same. If it has a noble and honourable meaning, surely it can be conveyed equally well with a slightly different set of language. For example, I don't see how changing the words "son" or "man/men" to "children" or "people" in any way alters the deeper meaning of anything, unless the deeper meaning is "women can't be engineers". Likewise, I don't feel that promising something on your personal honour/integrity or to a higher power, if you believe in one, is any less of a commitment than promising something unto God the Creator, unless the meaning of that part of the ceremony is "I promise to believe in Jesus." In which case you should not be labelling your ceremony or group of people as representative of a certain more diverse population (engineers) or as inclusive.

Overall, the messages I got were:
"We aren't binding you to secrecy, just asking you not to tell anyone"
"We're inclusive, we just refuse to use language that includes people who aren't like us."
"Don't make a fuss."
So I really don't know what to say to people when they ask me how my graduation or iron ring ceremony was. There certainly is a lot of value in committing yourself to the betterment of society, yourself, and your profession. And I'm sure it can be very meaningful to be welcomed into a group of people that will support you in those goals. I'm just not feeling it.

Sunday, April 4, 2010


With everyone gone this weekend, the cat has continuously been pestering me.
So I bought a bird feeder.

I'm going to hell for this. (but the cat is so happy!)

Friday, April 2, 2010

Hoppy Easter!

To celebrate the season, my mom sent me... wait, a weight loss video?
I'm going to give her the benefit of the doubt and assume she copied the wrong link.
Then I'ma go eat more chocolate.


I forgot to tell my parents about the iron ring ceremony, haha. It's supposed to be super duper top secret but everyone can invite up to two friends or family members. Huh.

Anyway, I was milling about with some friends afterwards, who mentioned that they were really disappointed that I hadn't brought my parents. Confused, I asked them why. The response?

"I wanted to see what spawned you."

I tend to veer off on tangents. Pick your tangent from the menu on the right.