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2007-01-20 - 9:05 a.m.

...week report / Attila returns! / the laptop saga .....

The sun is shining again, and the snow has melted. No more comic incidences of Vancouverites bicycling down our hill of solid ice with a coffee cup in one hand. As you might imagine, that scene ended about five seconds after it began...No one was injured, although K nearly split a seam he was laughing so hard. Fortunately he stifled the urge to scream out, "NICE CRASH, DUUDE!" We seem to have endlessly entertaining views from our front balcony.

I made it through this week. It took less than one semester for me to forget how much effort teaching is. I'm pretty happy with this class, though. They are very interested. But administration is compounded by my efforts to get my samples replaced, trying to get my lab doors secured (broken into again this week), and then also trying to get all my ducks in a row for this journal issue that I'm 'helping' to edit. I say 'helping' because my co-editor is in the middle of an international move. This means that any forward progress is the result of MY work. But it is beginning to get done.


In other news, last week I got an email from Attila, of all people. Remember Attila? You'd have to go back to 2003 to get the full-bodied description of her. My former boss from Europe. Anyway, she is organizing a big meeting with a certain prestigious royal science society in the UK - and surprisingly enough I've been invited as a speaker.

Yes, I was rather surprised. I am not particularly honored by the invitation because I have a pretty good idea of how her mind works. She needs me for something and so she is being "friendly." But in this case I am willing to accept that and then to participate, because it happens to benefit me as well.

I am remarkably free of her grasp at this point, in that I don't really care what her opinion of me is. That was K's first question of me - how does this make you feel? Three years have given me a healthier perspective. I am free to recognize and appreciate the benefits that I got from associating with her (her very quick and ambitious mind, her tremendous connections, and her incredible efforts to promote me when I really needed it). It is so much easier to do this when I am free of the OTHER half of my association with her, which was extremely unpleasant and destructive to me. My false heart still relishes reports of her egregious and sometimes boorish behavior, but it does not depend on it.

So I am accepting the invitation and focusing on the positive side of my interactions with this person (and using the $1500 to get to Europe so that I can meet with OTHER colleagues for a month!).


Warning: I'm about to got into excruciating detail about buying new computer hardware. Reading this could be about as much fun as shaving your head with a cheese grater, so you may wish to move on.....

In yet other news, I bought a laptop this week, and I am in the market for another. The first laptop purchase was for work - our uni does not provide laptops for classroom presentations and so K and I began a search for a used one. I was extremely lucky. I wound up with a slim, business-line compaq that is as powerful as my current machine, for CA$700. And it still has 18 months of its business warranty left on it, which means that I'm in great shape for repairs. K found this little 'laptops R us' company on the north shore, operated by a couple of Russians. The shop looked like a converted gas station, complete with generator rumbling in the floor. It looked kind of shady but it seems legit. They buy used laptops from businesses and then sell them at really reasonable prices. The one I purchased still had that new smell, and looked as if we had just taken it out of the box. The battery life is still good, too. It will more than suffice as a presentation laptop at work. So I'm now looking into lock boxes so that I can store it at the uni (where there have been another rash of thefts in about four different buildings, including a laptop stolen from the office across the hall from me...)

The second laptop purchase will replace my current workhorse. My S0ny has been ever so reliable for these past three years - it is light, with a sizable screen, and a pretty powerful mobile CPU. But it is getting old, and the virus scanner is sucking power. And, K and I decided that it would be better to replace it now while it still has re-sell value - a quick survey shows that I could get as much as CA$800 for it online, which will substantially offset the cost of a new one.

Anyway, K and I have done extensive research over the past week, and I was nearly sucked in by S0ny once again because they make such a nice, light and powerful little product. AND, they put it in stores where you can get your hands on it to try it out. But in the end, I think that I'm not going to get one. They've changed the architecture of touch pad (placed this fingerprint identity thing in the middle of it); they've switched over to these new shiny screens (K calls them 'shaving mirrors'), AND I really am tired of spending a day and a half removing all of the useless software that S0ny bundles onto their products. Not to mention the markup one pays for buying the S0ny design. If I wanted design, I'd buy a Mac and live in Yaletown.

The trouble with buying laptops these days (at least here in Van), is that so few companies put out demos any more, and if you make the wrong choice, there is a 20% restocking fee for returning it. Luckily K found another small company that deals in business laptops - our experience with the compaq business line is that they produce a more powerful machine, they are more consistent in the architecture they use, and they tend to have these fabulous warranties. So it looks like I may be switching my brand loyalties in the near future...

Well, if that wasn't boring enough, I could now get into a long and involved discussion about my super slim / slim dilemma - do I go light and small, or heavier and more usable? Tune in next time, folks (or go pick lint out of your hairdryer - toss up over which one is more interesting....)

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