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Mark's Crazy-Wacky Ramblings
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Date:2010-10-08 11:04

I got home 2 days ago!
There was interview madness.
I saw a bunch of people in KW.

And now I have to leave in an hour to catch a plane to Los Angeles.

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Date:2010-09-30 15:32

Ever since we left on this trip, it's been cold, rainy, or both.

However, a couple of days ago, when we finally got out of B.C., it was actually warm! We've had 3 glorious days of sun and warm! I actually got to wear my shorts, which I had began to regret bringing at all!

(BTW, I'm in Winnipeg now. Some of the buildings are really pretty. The kind of architecture you expect to see in venerable american cities, not canadian ones.)

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Date:2010-09-26 20:07
Subject:Brief update

Many thanks to lost_luck for letting us sleep on his futon! Seattle was cool, but having to deal with a car in Seattle was crappy. Fremont and Gasworks park were excellent things to see, having been to downtown Seattle on a previous occasion.

BC, which has occupied the vast majority of the previous 2 weeks, was lots of hills and mountains and trees. Like Ontario, but with worse gas-mileage. (And more interesting driving)

Had the closest call ever with a deer last night. Going 120kph, partly blinded by oncoming traffic, only using low-beams to avoid blinding the opposing traffic, a pair of deer appear out of the darkness in the center of my lane.

The brakes on the van worked quite well.

BC is behind us now, and we're in Alberta for a couple days. Going to see Vulcan tomorrow.

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Date:2010-09-09 15:30
Subject:Hanging out in Edmonton

I'm a the Edmonton Public Library, getting some sparse internet time in, so here's a quick update:

The West Edmonton Mall is an awesome place.

I arrived
Browsed video games
Rode rollercoasters
Ate delicious food from T&T
Accompanied someone clothes shopping
Saw some seals doing tricks
Attended an Edmonton LRT info session
Rode some more rollercoasters

It really is pretty darn big.

On another note: Edmonton is one of the most car-centric cities I've seen. It doesn't help that cars in Alberta a huge. Our wide-body minivan suddenly gets dwarfed by all the monstrous pickup trucks and SUVs.

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Date:2010-09-07 16:23
Subject:Trippy trippy

Hey world.
It's only been 5 days, but we're already in Saskatchewan. This is my first shot at internet since we left, so here's the first update.

Day T-8:
Odometer: 0 km
We left Kitchener with a full tank of gas, and an odometer reading of 0. Alicia was off to Toronto to spend a week with her family, and I was going to Ottawa to do a bit of work for my dad.

Day 0:
Odometer: ~600 km
Setting up the van. I rigged up some wooden dowels hanging from the dry cleaning hooks to serve as hanging racks. We laid out some foam sleeping mats and then draped them in several layers of blankets to form our jury-rigged mattress. A set of bedsheets and a final blanket rounded out the bed.

Day 1: (Friday)
Odometer: ~600 km
We headed out pretty early for us, at about 10am. A pretty good drive. We went out highway 17. We stopped in Matawa where I got a haircut. We made another stop at the Deep River dairy joint for a milkshake. At North Bay, we took a detour into the city, and went to the beach at lake Nippissing. Summer is definitely over, as the lake was not exactly swimming temperature. From North Bay, we left north along highway 11. At New Liskeard, I went to see my parents' project. Continuing along 11, after Kirkland Lake, we started to look for a place to pull over and sleep the night. This is where the evening started to go bad. The first rest stop had very explicit "no parking or camping 9pm-7am" signs. Alicia was not a fan of ignoring the signs. By now it had gotten pitch black outside, so the driving was getting tiresome. We tried to see if a small town would have a nice place to pull off for the night, but after driving in a few circles, there were no suitable out of the way locations and many harried nerves. A last ditch effort was to drive up the 11 to the next rest stop and see if it didn't have "no camping signs". By a miracle, this worked out. Tired and irritable, we parked and slept our first night in the van.

Soon to come: Boring highway 11, Lake Superior, Manitoba, Northern Saskatchewan

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Date:2010-08-19 17:59
Subject:Cross Canada Trip!

Hey, I thought I'd pop back into existence on LJ for a moment to give a heads up on Alicia's and my plan for the months of September and October! Some of you know this already, but this just gets it out there a little more. (Woo FB-cross pollination)

We're going on a cross-continent drive! Right from one side of Canada to the other.

The van has been freshly cleaned out and relieved of all but the two captain's chairs giving us a nice large, flat space in the back to sleep in and have our storage. We'll be generally sleeping at rest-stops along highways, or at provincial/national parks, and with family/friends whenever we can hack it.

We're going to be leaving from Ottawa on (probably) September 3rd, and returning in the first week of October. We don't have a precise end date, but it has to be before October 8th, because we need to show up at Pearson for an ensuing flight to Los Angeles for the duration of that week!

We just roughed out a schedule, and it's something like this:

Sept 3: leave Ottawa
Sept 9: arrive Edmonton (yes, that's a fairly front end loaded drive)
Sept 12: arrive Smithers BC (Alicia's relatives)
Sept 17: arrive Vancouver (friends, my relatives)
Sept 22: arrive Seattle (friends)
Sept 25: arrive Canmore (Alicia's relatives)
Sept 29: arrive Regina (Alicia's friends)
Oct 3: arrive Sudbury (my sis)

So if any of you are out there and want to meet up, just give a poke!

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Date:2010-06-25 23:55
Subject:An excercise in Internationalism.

As Canadians, this weekend is a crazy one.
With the G8 and G20 coming to town, the media has gone absolutely out of its mind with coverage. We've been getting coverage on this impending doom for months now! Billion dollar security, fake lakes, historic first regular meeting of the G20, protests, etc.

Living so close to it, it can be difficult grasp just how much coverage these G8/G20 meetings are getting in all those other countries that it ostensibly affects.

So I decided to find out. Is this meeting of actual signifigance to anyone else? Or do we just care because it's happening here? Of course, as the meat of the meetings progress, I expect coverage to grow in other countries, as there is stuff to report. Right now seems like a good time to take a measure, as the G8 has already been meeting in Huntsville, and things will soon begin in Toronto tomorrow.

I'm going to look at a selection of internet news sites, and see what their top stories are, and how they relate to international affairs, or specifically, the GN.

Global, CBC, and CTV are running coverage, but the majority is actually about the protests and security. The Star is off in la-la land, reporting on an african woman who couldn't get a Visa to come to the G20.

United Kingdom
BBC offers a good mix of international affairs (US/EU relations), pieces on the unprecedented security, and even a piece about Canada as an economic role model.
The Guardian has more US/EU relations, and a host of pieces on the hot topics at issue. (foriegn aid, poverty reduction, economic recovery)

okay, so I don't really know the major source of news in Brazil, so I'm going to cheap out with Google. news.google.com.br, translated.
It seems the big three stories are some local politics, repercussions of the football game, and the G20 protests.

The People's Daily has some good international (Sino/US, Sino/Canadian) pieces, and foriegn ones (UK Debt), and some local. A really good mix.

Middle East
Al Jazeera focuses on the G8/20, mostly the aid pledges, with little links to several other articles about the the security. It's all fairly contained, and the rest of the page is full of unrelated stories for a wide selection of other countries.

I don't know any french news sites, so back to google. This leads me to two news sites, L'Express and Le Figaro. France, in typical narcissistic french fasion, cannot get over the World Cup. Also, how much Sarkozy is going to make life miserable. And apparently Burma is seeking Nukes? Oh yeah, and there's a G20 thing.

The United States
Fox News too busy making "controvertial" news out of nothing (re: illegals), talking about angels, reporting on Dick Cheney, and scaring us with Terrorism to mention the G20 in the top news.
CNN is curiously covering the World Cup, in addition to illegals, the Gulf Spill, and a bunch of other 'news' and hyperbole that they probably found on Digg.
MSNBC is blown away by the year's 4th no-hitter. Also, Oil spill, Wall street reform, and Cheney, and jesus this is exactly the same as the other two.

Okay, no G20 mentions at all from the major TV news networks. Maybe they're TV and suck.

The New York Times is running an Oliver Stone puff piece. And fawning over Obama. And is still on about the oil spill. Nothing G8/G20, or international.
Wall St Journal? Wall Street Reform, Wall Street Reform, Wall Street Reform, Wall Street Ref-- woah! "Toronto Locks Down For G20"

It's fairly well covered in other countries. Canada is actually getting some return on investment from this thing. Maybe not 1 billion dollars worth, but by being the host, we're actually getting talked about overseas a little. As evil as China is, in current situations, it's probably better to have them thinking of us than not. France can't get enough of itself, but I guess that's to be expected.

But the real winner:
Congratulations, United States.
You are more narcissistic than the french.
Just think about that for a moment.

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Date:2010-05-20 19:45
Subject:I return to say goodbye!

I haven't disappeared from LJ, I promise. I'm still stalking the lot of you.
But when my life enters these "holding patterns", I find it difficult to sit down and write.

I'm mostly popping back into existence to let you know that I'm hopping on a plane to Canmore/Alberta tomorrow, and I'll be back next week.

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Date:2010-03-24 11:00
Subject:Free Speech in Canada

I thought I'd save this for posterity.

What with the Ann Coulter issue raging, I decided to check out what Wikipedia had to say on the issue of Canada. I was not disappointed.

"This language, in reality, means no free speech at all, since it is the majority of legislators, or the opinion of a small judicial group that decide what is "demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society". And those individuals can make up whatever meaning they want for "demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society". Free speech was defined in the former USSR and Nazi Germany using very similar legal ideas. Every American slave was free, except for what was "demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society"; that being defined of course, by the slaves' masters. The reality is that for the people of Canada, the majority of legislators and the small judicial group are the masters, and the people of Canada are the slaves.

This passage of course, has been brought to us by an expert on Canadian Charter Law, a Mr., as of 2:30pm March 24th.

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Date:2010-01-25 21:32
Subject:Near Accidents suck

Was driving to campus this evening.
The weather was lovely. Snow has been melting on the ground all day, and now that it's dark, it's been freezing over.

While driving down Albert in the left hand lane, approaching Bearanger from the north, I see cars lined up to turn left.
The first car goes.
The second, a large cube truck, goes, despite the timing being a little tight, particularly given the road conditions.
The third car, whose view of me up until now has been blocked by the cube truck, also decides to go.

And this is where I see the lovely vision in my head of our predicted intersection point with his front embedded in the side of my car.

I make a quick dodge to the right, and I'm quite shocked when I don't feel him carve out my rear fender.

I'm reasonably certain that I didn't absent-mindedly run a red light. While I don't specifically remember the light being green, I do remember the walky-man on my side being white, which it wouldn't have been, had there been an advance left turn.

And then, to add insult to injury (er... vice-versa?), I bang my knee good upon entering the Student Life Centre.

Things to be thankful to my parents for:
1) Winter tires.
2) Making me the primary driver for the insurance.
3) Making Waterloo the primary city for the insurance, despite the cost increase, oh I wonder why Waterloo has higher insurance rates.

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Date:2010-01-14 16:56
Subject:Alicia is off!

Drove Alicia to Pearson airport this morning. She'll be gone until next thursday!

It was an interesting drive, actually.
Took Fisher-Hallman to the 8, which was different.
Then just as we were approaching Mississauga Rd, the 401 became massively massively clogged, we escaped just in time and took Mississauga Rd to Derry Rd, and effectively drove the back way to the airport.

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Date:2009-12-24 00:36
Subject:I'm in ottawa!

I'll be in Ottawa from now, until the 31st.

I'm probably going to drive down to Waterloo on the 31st, so if there's anyone in town who wants a ride then, I'll be offering.


I really should post more frequently.

Here's something that happened to me:

Last night, I had a crazy dinner party at my place. Alicia, myself, Alicia's friends Ming and Troy, my sister and her b/f Mike, and housemates Glen and Gilad. It was 2 crazy days of cooking and preparing, and eating a few meals more than once, but in the end, dinner went off without a hitch at 7pm. Kind of a miracle.


Alicia and I have a place we're going to be moving into in Kitchener! Bread and Roses housing co-op. I told lambda_calculus and he warns me of the crazy NDPers and gays. I told my parents, (who, back in the early 90s were big into the co-op housing scene) and they "Oh yes, they're quite well known, and activist, in the province wide co-op housing scene. I told Alicia about these exchanges, and she tells me "oh, by the way, didn't I tell you?"

We get the place Feb 1. Tentative plan is to move in on Jan 31st (sunday), hopefully with help from people.


Should get a job.

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Date:2009-11-30 13:20
Subject:Xbox on Vacation


Dear Mark Jackson-Brown,

Xbox Customer Support Service Request ID#: [some numbers]

Good news, we have received your Xbox console at our Service Center.

You can track the status of your order online by accessing http://service.xbox.com/servicesignin.aspx. You will also receive an e-mail notification when your repair has been completed.

Register your console Repair your console or check your repair status

Thank you for your patience.

Come home soon!

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Date:2009-11-27 14:48
Subject:LAN Party!

Running / going-to a LAN party tomorrow.

It may be epic fail.

It may be epic win.

I think that these are not mutually-exclusive.

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Date:2009-11-22 21:27
Subject:Apartment Hunting

So Alicia I are looking for place for us to live.

It should be a one or two bedroom apartment under $1000/month located in Waterloo (or Kitchener). It needs to be near transit (if it's in Kitchener - the iExpress) since neither of us has a car.

If you know of a good place, please suggest!


In full disclosure, this post was mostly written by Alicia. I am not pulling my weight!

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Date:2009-11-14 22:48
Subject:Going to Ottawa (Trials and Tribulations edition)

+ Good news
- Bad news

+ Going to Ottawa today and I get to see my family!
- But Alicia is already missing me before I've even left...
+ I get a lift to Toronto, and save on bus fare!
- And by the time I get to the bus station it's 5:30, and the next bus is at 6:30
+ But this gives me time to get some good downtown Toronto eats! Chicken Shwarma win!
- The bus is a Local bus, stopping in Trenton and Belleville and I hope no where else. And of course, it will be direct to downtown Ottawa, 15 minutes further than I need...
+ The bus leaves nice and on time at 6:30. I even have 2 seats all to myself!
- The bus drives all of 5 minutes before sideswiping an illegally parked car.
- We get delayed for 70 minutes in front of Old City Hall.

+ The bus has wi-fi, so I can entertain myself!
- The power outlets aren't working, so I have 2.5 hours of battery life that will have to last me until I get to Ottawa, which at this rate will be a bus ride of 7 hours.
- Someone just dropped a can of pop, and it rolled right under my feet and spilled directly under me.
+ I just happened to have a disposable cloth with me! Sticky mess vanquished!
+ Sweet merciful christ, we have our rest stop at a Tim Horton's, and not the god-awful Log Cabin "Resturant".
- We just left Belleville at 10:15, and it'll be another 2.5 hours, and I'm down to 30% battery already.
+ Hey, my DS can play music, and it's got lots of battery!
- I don't have a microSD card reader though, so I can't transfer anything to it.
- My battery just hit 20%. I need to save it because it powers my cell phone which I need to get a timely ride home.

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Date:2009-11-11 20:02
Subject:What to do...


1) Go to Ottawa (to work) this friday, catching a lift in Toronto. But miss Warrior Weekends, where 2 of my groups are volunteering.
2) Stick around and bus (yuck yuck yuck) this weekend.
3) Just not even go to Ottawa until after the 28th.

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Date:2009-11-01 01:55

Star Trek

It was The Doomsday Machine and Nemesis rolled into one and put through A.D.D. and kaleidoscopic filters.

Not Star Trek, but an enjoyable yet dumb (very, very dumb) action sci-fi flick. As long as it remains non-canon, I don't have to kill anyone.

Red Shirt needed to live a bit longer.
It actually pulled off what Nemesis was trying to do. This is because Nemesis was a dumb plot idea in a smart franchise. When the franchise dumbed itself down enough, the plot works.

Rocky Horror Picture Show

Tim Curry is a very attractive man.
I'm glad I went to the 7pm show, where I had a chance to actually hear/see the movie sometimes.
The audience participation was actually kind of awesome sometimes. Kinda make it like a 4D movie or something.
That one cosplayer (yes I went there) did not have the figure to be wearing that. He was no Tim Curry.

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Date:2009-10-30 15:01
Subject:Mark is going to see Star Trek tonight

I haven't seen it yet.

I am going to see it tonight at 9:10 at The Original Princess.

If other people aren't otherwise occupied, I would enjoy company. However, I will be going regardless!

I will get there for ~8:45, and depending on what it's like, maybe grab a coffee from the Huether before the show.

I am a big Star Trek fan. However, I am told that this is not Star Trek. Knowing this, I will attempt to enjoy "J.J. Abrams' sci-fi action movie featuring the character names from Star Trek"

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Date:2009-10-14 17:05
Subject:Interviews are over.

Oh man.
The first one (D2L) was 20 minutes.
The second one (MKS) was 45.

I did okay on each of them.
My interview inexperience would have shown.
But I think that I managed to put out best foot for "I might not know everything, but I do like finding out".

So the MKS one was actually the real deal interview. The "we would have had you in person, but you said you couldn't be here". I was not entirely expecting this. Thankfully, the interview opened with technical questions that I was able to answer without difficulty. It transitioned to technical questions that I'm no good at, but the confidence had already been boosted. I would need to learn more about SQL, and figure out what the heck this LDAP thing is. On the bright side, at least this lets me know what I'd be likely to see in the next D2L interview (assuming I get one).

So right now, I am:

A) Glad that it's over
B) Anxious that my fate is sealed
C) Awaiting the rejections!

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