Monday, March 30, 2009

Thanks for the Lack of Help

I meant to talk about the Social Contract two weeks ago, except at that point I did not feel like I would do it justice. I'm not sure I'll do much justice to it now seeing as how I'm doing this cause I can't sleep, but here goes nothing.


The social contract is between two people who decide to treat each other differently than would two stranger. Usually it's not a legally binding, or even verbal, contract. An example of this would be for person A to overlook person B's bedside manner, if person B ignores person A's big nose. Person A is getting more benefit out of this deal than is person B.

Maybe it's because I believe in passive aggressiveness towards people I don't like that lead to me being blunt to people I do like. I feel that by pointing out people's shortcomings, they might either realize the presence of the problem, or the severity. Telling someone that they had a great presentation when they didn't doesn't help. Telling  someone that they needed to project more, explain ambiguous things, and to do more reading on the topic does. Having a secret affair with someone's husband doesn't help. Telling someone to divorce him because he's a whore that have slept with you recently helps. Not having an affair but not telling about his whorish habits doesn't help. Not having an affair and telling about his whorish ways help (more than the second option).

It is hard to know the balance between being useful and being offensive. Hell, if it was easy, I might actually have some friends. Some finer points of the contract is to know when it's time for the other person to speak. When they're talking about losing a close relative, it's best not to complain about how you're trying so hard to learn Japanese. Don't complain about school being hard, if the other person's in Science One (especially if you're in Arts). Don't complain about Science One when the other person's talking about something personal.

On the flipside, don't compromise who you are as a person in order to try to maintain a friendship. That's what boyfriends and girlfriends are for. If you can't be you and be a good friend at the same time, it's better off being you. (Unless you suck, then by all means, change)

Make sure you're putting as much into the friendship as you are getting out. A friendship with an unbalanced ledger usually fails. As a tangent, support your friend's cooky beliefs, and accept that they want to grieve for Heath for months. 

A friend with benefit is kind of redundant. A friend with benefit without the benefit is not an oxymoron.

Don't let other's perception of your friend influence yours. This is something that I've been purposely trying to change, and I think I'm getting better. 

If any part of this contract seems ambiguous, just think to yourself, WWPED.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Anything Goes

Most of the time I get muchly annoyed at people commenting on performances as if their arguments hold any water. So in my typical contradictory fashion, I'm going to comment on the Totem musical.

Brock, the music director, is what I call a "soft" conductor. This is not an insult to his abilities, quite the opposite. I call conductors who rely mostly on very solid and pronounced ictus "hard" conductor, and those who rely mostly on their near symmetric left hands to conduct "soft" conductors. I personally prefer the hard ones, but that's just a personal preference (can I make this sentence any more redundant?). But back to Brock; he was pretty damn amazing for what he's given.

The band actually wasn't that bad. I was expecting train wreck material by Magnus's description, but they pulled it off (other than the clarinet with the squeeking problem; needs a softer reed, or more practice on the one he/she has). The solo trumpet during blow gabrielle blow was.... underwhelming. Maybe because I've been playing with a kid that's been lead trumpet since grade 8 that made it seem this way. S/he wasn't bad, it's just that with Reno being as amazing as she is, the horn really needed to step it up a notch.

Speaking of Reno, she was definitely my favourite. She sounds like she was made for a musical. The lead actor is also very physically strong, but seems to be missing some training. If he had a few hours with a voice coach, I'm pretty sure he'd be giving Reno a run for her money. As it is, sweet singer, but can be a bit too soft, especially with the bass parts.

And Magnus? OMGWTFBBQ.

If any of the above seems harsh, please tell me so I can correct.

Saturday, March 21, 2009


"The ability to quote is a serviceable substitute for wit." - W. Somerset Maugham.


 This is of course in response to my post filled with cliché. 

Being able to quote is a great asset, but it is not the be all end all of intelligent conversations. It helps tremendously though; it is rather pointless to put your exact thoughts into flowery languages when someone has already done so more eloquently. There is no reason to talk about how far we've come on tolerance of African Americans, when a simple "I have a dream" would do. 

But by saying what has already been said, you are not advancing the world's literacy. By telling students that quoting is a quintessential part of any piece of writing, you are inhibiting him by setting barriers on what "good writing" is. He will eventually have to choose between getting good grades, or writing freely. In our world today, the grades usually win out, and the student strays from his creative capabilities, and "I don't know if I can respect somebody that can walk away from a gift like that."

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Speak Softly and Carry a Big Stick

This post is inspired by Chris. A "volunteer of the hat" had to refer to the overhead so was using the long pointer and Chris told him/her to speak loudly. I, being a dumb smartass, decided to follow up with "and carry a big stick". Chris corrected me by saying that unlike Teddy, he doesn't want him/her to speak softly. My train of thought was like this:

"Oh yay, he knows where my reference came from"
"Oh crap, I didn't know where my reference came from"


Although I've only recently learnt of this saying and its meaning, I really like what this represents. It is similar to "ace in the hole" and "fly like a butterfly, sting like a bee". This technique is useful, because it allows you to keep your strength hidden until absolutely necessary. It lures your opponent into a false sense of security before you inflict this "trick up your sleeve".

But by doing this you can run into a dilemma; will you waste your good hand, or will you go for the overkill. It always seem like a pity to not use what you've been hiding. For example, "Oh crap, I had a good speech and now I wasted it." It also feels bad if by laying down your aces, you uselessly expended energy. Yesterday I basically did about 90% of the ~100 integral sheets. Today, I realized the majority of it was useless. I think that other than the arcsin 3x and the e^2x question, I could've done all the others without any practice.

To conclude, I would like to remind you to always be aware of your environment. It is pointless if you saved up your aces when you're playing solitaire. A less trivial example of this is a big advertising gimmick. Sure it'll bring a lot of attention, but if you execute this too late, you might run into the problem of no one following your marketing. Also, don't be too sure of your aces when you're playing big 2, cause you have no idea who has the 2s to trump you.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


Unlike Joan, I had the opportunity to speak, but I chose not to because I was petty. Maybe that'll teach me a lesson. Below's my speech that I would've gave had I not been petty.


Hi everyone! As most of you might know, I'm Justin, and I'm running to be your next treasurer. (this part is added after most of the prez speeches) Some of the previous speeches have skipped over qualifications, citing that it is boring, but I think it is important to know that your treasurer can handle your money. I have been the financial controller for the last 2.5 years in high school - we tend to not talk about who was financial controller for the first half of the year. This year, I am part of SUS's First year council as a member of the finance committee. With this much experience, I am sure I am more than competent with handling your money.

Then there is what separates me from the rest of the competition. I am extremely meticulous with my book keeping. Anyone who has seen my chemistry exams can testify to this. Also, I am really good at filing for reimbursements as soon as I get the receipts.

Why do I do all of this? In my heart, I think the good and the bad times we've went through this year will stay with our lives for a long time. Even if you are not part of the execs, you are still an SOS, for life. I will do everything in my power to make the SOS club run as smoothly as I can. I mean, if anyone questions my commitment to helping out, just look at my hair.

Thank you for your time, and vote for me!


Seeing this makes me think it is infinitely better than "Vote for me, or vote for the alternative (points to Sean). Thank you". But I'm trying to decide if it'd really make a difference.

We'll see in about 3 days I suppose (when they say they'll post results sometime tonight, it'll probably end up as 2 nights from now, and I'm giving them wiggle room)

The Wheel on the Bus

As much as I complain about the commute, I actually quite enjoy taking buses. There are people that you would have never encounter with in your daily lives, and then there are those that you do encounter, but never really get to know.

Case study one: A couple, dressed in full black, spiky hair, pierced lips, tats and makeup. They turn out to be the nicest and most polite people that I've seen in a while.

Two: A loud-talking engineer, with a customized leather jacket, and exuberates confidence. He is the most introspective person I know.

Three: A pretty-boy construction worker, perfect face except a deep cut below one eye. His wound is just a peek at a whole life as a roller coaster ride of emotions.

Four: A devout Christian, conservative, caring. He would do just about anything to get what he wants out of life.

Five: A med schooler to-be, poised, passionate, think Christina Yang (actually has the same hair too). She'd have as rockstar a moment with a pair of drumsticks as she would with a scalpel. 

Six: A concert violinist, has the potential to study worldwide. He knows more about quantum mechanics than most of your BS, and can beat out any Biochemist for med school application. 

Seven: A volleyball player, strong, fearless, gazelle-like. She's actually exactly what you'd expect from her. 

It's amazing what happens when you open up to people.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Science One Application

This was posted in Dec. 2nd.


This is the essay for my Science One application. So naturally my grades were good enough for them to not read this in too much detail.

Jab, twist, and pull. Blood trickles out of me, drop by drop. When the paper in front of me was covered with blood, I knew I have finished my lab.

I have been drawn to science since I was a child; every little discovery delighted me. It could be anything from watching water as it freezes, or finding out that my blood type is AB- [Which turns out to be a lie, as the blood clinic told me I was AB+]. There is an indescribable feeling of joy as one observes something new, and that is a big portion of science. With every passing day, new advances are made, and the body of knowledge transforms. I have let a lot of interests fade in the past – becoming a lawyer, getting a tattoo, owning a pet - but I have always been captivated by science.

Throughout high school I have enjoyed Science, especially the lab portion. When my teacher recommended me to apply to the Heart and Stroke Foundation’s High School Summer Research Program, I did not hesitate. Although I was surprised that I got accepted, I was stunned by the amount of stuff that we got to do. A portion of it was examining preserved heart samples, witnessing an open heart surgery, and riding in an ambulance. The balance of the program was spent in the iCapture centre in St. Paul’s hospital. It served as a lab where I get to partake in hands on learning. It was while doing microbiological research there that I have realized that research is the field that I would like to go into.

University has always been set as my course of action. Even before I entered high school, my parents were already preparing me for my entrance. It was not until this year that I have carefully thought about what being a university student really entails. My schooling so far has been with the people that live around me; people with the same background, and same experiences. Upon starting my university studies, I would like to work along side people with unique stories and talents of their own. This would help as I am sure to encounter problems that I never had to face before. No matter what challenges university throws at me, I will make the most out of the new experience.

I am excited about starting courses in university. It is often emphasized that once one gets into university, one takes one’s studies into one’s own hands. Instead of selecting from a small list of cookie-cutter courses, one is allowed to pick from a myriad selection of courses, programs, and degrees. As I considered the choices, Science One stood out. Having a devoted group of students with similar interests studying together seems ideal to me. I am sure that close friendship would form with the majority of the students as they complete their first year of post-secondary studies together. In this multifaceted Science program, I will be motivated to continue to strive for excellence, in a group that is known for its brilliance.

The scientific method provides a rigid structure in which all experiments abide by. Beyond that, there are infinitely many things for one to pursue. This definition leads me to believe that Science One is comparable to the scientific method. Although all the courses are selected, there are no constraints on what each individual student can learn and gain from it. I wish that I could also be a part of the endless possibilities.

First post

I'm Justin, and I started blogging because of Ravi (check out his blog at

I've actually been a blogger for a while on services such as xanga and lj, but have grown to slow down on content upload quite a bit. Hopefully with this blog, I will begin writing again.

I figured for the first few posts, I would repost some of my old entries, then begin posting new stuff.