Sunday, August 31, 2008

Anything but

Yesterday the two “big planned events” didn't really work out. The day started great, another delicious breakfast at Lady Marmalade, that salmon benny was just perfect.

Then our plan was to hike up Mount Finlayson so we went to Langford. When we got off the bus, however, there were clouds that didn't exactly look inviting so we decided to have a drink first and went to the Teas'n'Beans. Pretty nice place, I think I had the first Jasmine tea since I was in Beijing. We stayed for a while and unfortunately the sky didn't really clear up. Well, strictly speaking the sky did clear up, it was really just Mount Finlayson that was in clouds. So we went to another place (called Station House) because we had stayed in the Teas'n'Beans for long enough to get hungry and had some dinner.

After that we went home and wanted to go downtown to watch a show at the Fringe Festival but couldn't convince Maude to join us. Well, I managed to talk her into joining Julie later, at the party, provided that I wait for her to get ready so we could walk downtown together. Well, what can I say, later Maude talked me into staying at home and watching a movie. Fargo it was, and I liked it very much.

Saturday, August 30, 2008


Last night Christoph, Nancy, Julie and I were at the GreekFest on Elk Lake Drive. The dancing show was quite funny, the PA's harmonic distortion was a bit of a torture, though. On the other hand, that might have also been related to the kind of music. All bitching aside we had a fun evening. Oh, and should you happen to be around, one plate of doughnuts for desert is plenty. Unless you're up for a greasy breakfast next morning, that is.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Tuesday, August 26, 2008


(At the Mint last night) Me: Well, I actually never have a hangover. Julie: I hate you so much.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Salt Spring Island

Yesterday Christoph and Nancy took me out on a day trip to Salt Spring Island. We weren't able to get on the ferry we wanted to in the morning because the line was too long. There is a well-known market in Ganges where Nancy wanted to buy some stuff and it was really crowded so that's probably why. So we hung out at the harbor and enjoyed the beautiful weather drinking a smoothie. We got on the next ferry and the sail was a short one with beautiful views.

View from the ferry

First we did the important stuff: have lunch. The waitress told us that food would take some time but we were still too optimistic. After a long long time we got some Mexican food. Nancy and me, that is. Unfortunately Christoph wasn't feeling all that good and had some fruit salad. It got worse during the day so we tried to give him as many rests as possible.


We strolled around the marina for a short while and then went up Mount Maxwell and enjoyed the great view from the top.

View from Mt. Maxwell
Leaving Salt Spring Island
View from the ferry back to Vancouver Island

Friday, August 22, 2008

Blackjack darts

Yesterday I met with Julie downtown. She was uberpunctual because she did not, in any case, want to be late, knowing that she has an appointment with one of those anal Germans, very cute. I was three minutes late, though, The Blue Bridge was up and I had to take a photo (sorry, crappy cell phone camera only).

Johnson Street Bridge

We strolled around for a short while and entered some random place which turned out to be exactly the pub that somebody else had told her about. We had loads of fun talking but it got even better. After some nice food (a salmon burger and some pasta something pesto blah I forgot the name of) and a pitcher of lager we decided to order another pitcher and play darts. I think we started making fun of some people she knows who kinda strictly follow some rules. We tried that for a short while but quickly made up our own rules and got pretty creative about it, from “most triples” (knowing we'd be lucky getting a single one) to “closest to the edge of the board” (that's when you get to hit the bullseye of course) to “highest score right handed without looking” (we're both lefties). Eventually, we settled on playing Blackjack and I guess I don't have to explain the rules. Julie specialized in playing what we called Julie-game, which was constantly scoring 22. So maybe next time we'll play Blackjulie but I think I'm going to have a hard time winning, then. Anyway, we were laughing hard enough to make my abs hurt. Sweetest workout I've had in a while.

Monday, August 18, 2008


Yay, watched Snatch last night. Even with subtitles on because Julie can't understand people speaking English with an accent. Lucky me.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Victoria Dragon Boat Festival (that was the plan)

This weekend it was Victoria Dragon Boat Festival. Julie and I started the day pretty easy walking downtown along West Bay Walkway.

View from West Bay Walkway

We had breakfast at Lady Marmalade, delicious! And a cute place, too. After that we walked to Moss Street Market where Julie wanted to buy a few things. She's a pretty decent cook, I'm such a lucky bastard. Then it was time to meet with Christoph and Nancy down at the harbor for what was supposed to be the main event of the day. First we heard a talk about the history of Victoria's Chinatown. Then we met Sarah and went to a nice place I forgot the name of to have something to eat, right at the harbor, great view. The waiter was veeery chatty but still mildly funny and he even persuaded me to not have an Americano but a regular coffee instead—even though those Europeans are quite particular about their coffee he added, but the Americano would simply be too weak at their place. Respect, man. Unfortunately, Sarah was too shy to share some of her German with us even though she lived in Hamburg for quite a while. Fortunately, she told us a way to make that happen. Quoting her: “I haven't had enough drinks, yet.” Well, that can certainly be arranged.

Eventually we walked down to the races. It was so hot I didn't even care about putting my telephoto lens on. The races were rather boring actually and the boats weren't quite what I expected. I guess high expectations can kill just about anything.

Dragon Boats

We strolled around a little more, Sarah had to leave already, I finally got to buy my SIM card (and it was even $10 more expensive than last time I asked, f§$%ers!) and then we went back West Bay Walkway to our place where Julie used what she bought in Chinatown to prepare some great dinner for all of us. Christoph and Nancy decided to go home instead of joining us for open-air cinema so Julie and I went to Beacon Hill Park to watch Princess Bride. We were too far away from the speakers, though, so I could hardly understand anything and I think I even fell asleep a couple of times. I'm such a bore.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Goodbye party

So yesterday it was Laurie's goodbye party. She's probably my roommate-for-the-shortest-time-ever, what a pity. So before the party Laurie, Ben, Estelle and I went to a couple stores to get some barbecue stuff and stock up with booze. Well, actually I bought some beer, a dark lager. Interesting. “Interesting” is a good key word here, although insane is probably an even better match. Six (small!) bottles of of beer for like thir-teen dollars! I couldn't believe it. Those are the times when you really want to hold on to your one single beer for the whole night. Or get a better job. Anyway, the party was very nice, lots of fun people, and some nice herbs over here. Which was kind of unexpected but I won't complain. Oh, one major drawback for that little arachnophobic sissy here: at one time I saw a giant spider seeking shelter under the fridge, yuck! Later, Julie also joined the party and I traded some of my lager for a couple gin and tonics, good deal there. Eventually, we took a cab back home and watched Fight Club. Well, we started watching Fight Club. I doubt we got more than five minutes before falling asleep on the sofa.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Exploring Esquimalt

Today I went down to the water from my place. It's pretty close but not exactly obvious to find your way. I wanted to go downtown along the water but there's some kind of a military base so there's a lot of fences with big fat “No Trespassing” signs so I was a little shy to walk further. An older man called Peter showed me the way down to the water, passing old turret mounts from World War II. We sat down and talked a little and enjoyed the view over to the Olympic Mountains. Later I talked to some girls from a day care (probably the same one that my roommates work at because later on I met Laurie, too, with a bunch of children) and one of them said that the military stuff I saw was only military housing and considering my haircut I could have easily walked through the place :). Well, I postponed my plan to walk that part of the coast and took the bus to UVic where I had some delicious dhal together with Jens. And the girl even added some chutney, yummy! For the rednecks among my (zero) readers, dhal is an Indian dish made with lentils ;>.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Telcos suck

Who do telcos have to suck? They seem to do so all over the world so it might even be some sort of a natural constant. I thought the German ones are the biggest pile of stinking crap in the whole wide world. Hah, even worse in Canada. For example, there are no short term contracts (talking about one of the bigger providers here). That is not really surprising and it would be ok if there were contracts without a monthly fee. Not in Canada of course. So the only “reasonable” option left when you're only here for a few months is pay as you go. But guess what, your balance vanishes after 30 days. Unless you top it up but that effectively makes it some sort of minimum monthly rate. And if you want at least half-decent rates you have to pick a plan that increases your minimum top-up from $10 to $20. Even then terms are worse than in Germany. Now I wanted to buy a SIM card anyway because going on to use my German one would probably drain my account faster than I could say “what the f...”. So yesterday I went to a Rogers store as those guys seemed to have the “best” (least bad) terms. Well, the guy was friendly. They didn't have any SIM cards, though, so he sent me to a Rogers video store close by. The guy there, again, was very friendly, but some sort of central Rogers server didn't let him complete the form he was filling my data in. So a wasted one and a half hours later I went back home without a SIM card.

Sightseeing teaser

Today Christoph and Nancy took me out on a sightseeing tour. We didn't have much time so it was more of a teaser to visit those places with some more time. We had dinner at the Ottavio and a fantastic view from Ten Mile Point (I think :>, too many new places) over to Mount Baker, in the US. We were also up on Mount Douglas, lots of great views. Need to go there again with a real camera.

Second night out

No time to waste, Julie took me out to the Swans last night and we met up with two other guys. Nice location, nice people, nice jazzy music, award winning home-brewn beers, return home late at night. What more can I say? :) Oh, there is indeed something: a lovely walkway right at the water, photos to follow.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

UVic club

Today Jens took us to the UVic club ( for lunch (and even treated us, thanks Jens!). Nice on-campus location, that was our view while eating:
Fountain in UVic club pond

Happy bus drivers in Victoria

I went to UVic today to meet Jens and Christoph for lunch. The one striking fact about going by bus in Victoria is that bus drivers here seem to love their job. In Germany they usually hate it with a passion. And in both places you really feel the vibrations when you enter the bus. Today I had a driver, grinning all the time, wearing cool sunglasses, it was a pleasure to watch him do his job. Plus people say “thanks” when they leave the bus. People seem to be friendly here, I like the place. Besides, buses seem to be extremely on time, with a tendency to be early even. That's why I missed my first bus today :).

Mixed flight experiences

Here I am, finally, after an exhausting flight to the west coast. And beyond, actually, because I'm on Vancouver Island now. I got up yesterday at 5 in the morning, finished packing my bags, turned off water, gas and electricity (reassuring myself here) and took the train to Frankfurt International Airport. Well, actually I got off the train in Frankfurt main station to buy a present for Jens and Christoph and then went on to the airport.

Funky long legs in train door window

Actually I only wanted to write about the flights but now that I write "airport", the Frankfurt one deserves a special note: it was surprisingly difficult for me to find restrooms. I would have even forgotten about it after being awake for about 30 hours but a guy I talked to told me that it was the same experience for him. So at least it wasn't only me being too stupid. The flight, well, it was as good as a flight to the west coast in economy can be. Forcing a 6'2'' body into an economy seat for almost eleven hours simply doesn't feel too good, I still got a sore back. The service was great, though. The flight attendants were extremely friendly, the food was great (I had pasta twice), the drinks were plenty (I had red wine, Campari orange, Baileys, water, coffee, a couple of each actually). Later on I found out what seems to be the reason for the what felt like an extra special treatment, quoting the announcement: “Ladies and gentlemen, this flight has been selected to do a customer survey...”. Well, anyway, I can only say that “there's no better way to fly”. Except business class for example.
Lufthansa Airbus
Of course the Lufthansa part was too smooth so Air Canada had to screw it up. I only had one hundred minutes to switch planes. Theoretically, that is, practically the flight from Frankfurt was a little late and the line at Vancouver Airport was long. Half an hour before departure (and five minutes after boarding time) I was still in line. When I finally got to the counter the lady there kept on asking questions why I was coming to Canada, where I will stay, blah blah blah. Then I had to reclaim my baggage, carry it to the customs counter and check it back in for the flight to Victoria! How stupid is that?! And why do you get a schedule that tight when you got so many things to do? So I was running back and forth the hall, literally, from one counter to the next, it was a hot day, I was covered in sweat, they took away my gifts for Jens and Christoph (a special kind of German sausage), I rushed through corridors that didn't seem to end, an elevator here, stairs there, being sent back to put my luggage on a conveyor belt, another security check, with a waiting line of course, having to finish my water bottle (being the evil MacGyver terrorist that I am), being thirsty nevertheless, more corridors, stairs, interpreting signs where to go, never being really sure whether I'm on the right way at all, finally getting to the right gate, running outside, one minute to four, getting on the plane, stewardess closing the door, taking a seat, off we go. That was last minute, literally. The plane was a small one, the flight was a short one, low altitude, nice view, no seat at the window, though. And then, the screw-up: baggage reclaim, well, supposed to be, my bag wasn't there. Being all sweaty and greasy and stinky smelly yucky, having no clothes to change was among the worst things that could happen to me, close to a plane crash. So I went to the Air Canada baggage counter and the woman made up for it. She was really really friendly and helpful and told me that my bag might even be on the next plane coming in from Vancouver. So she filled in some form for me and gave me a delayed baggage card and when I went I luckily saw Christoph waiting in the hall. Well, at least I was pretty sure I saw Christoph since I had never met him in person by that time :). We had already exchanged a lot of emails and he was (and still is) the greatest help since sliced bread. So we went to the Starbucks at the airport and I had an Americano to help keep me awake. Some nice talking later (I guess I wasn't too entertaining, though) we went back to the counter to hopefully get my bag but it still wasn't there. The lady promised me it would arrive the same day because she had still several flights coming in until midnight and on one of them the bag should really be. (A couple days before I went to Canada my brother actually sent me a link to a blog entry while we were chatting. Seth Godin had some interesting thoughts about the air line industry. Although I don't share the damning report of Air Canada being “the single worst major airline in North America”, that might just be because it was only a 22 minutes flight—long enough to mess up my baggage. I guess I don't wanna know what they would be able to do on a ten hour flight :>.) So Christoph took me to his place to lend me some fresh clothes where Nancy, his girl, joined us and then took me to my place where we met my roommates. Julie showed me the place and lend me a towel and told me I could use her shower gel and stuff. The girls went off to an appointment, not without inviting us to join them later. The shower, I simply can't put it in words, was good. The two took me to a drugstore so I could buy some personal hygiene articles, we tried to call the Air Canada “hotline“ a few times and sure enough I was on hold for more than ten minutes each time before I hung up. We went to the Spinnakers for dinner, a lovely place with a great view across the harbor. Plus they brew their own beer, great. After that Christoph and Nancy took me home and I finally finally finally went to bed and fell asleep very very quickly. Only to wake up again at five in the morning but that will be another blog entry.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Final preparations

So, I'll depart on Monday. So many things done and left to do, and more of them more complicated than I thought they would and than I think they should be. Despite that and despite all of the bureaucracy it will hopefully be a great time in Canada. I finally bought my plane tickets, my traveling bag and got health insurance, the latter one being a crucial item of my todo list as I am a spoiled German (communist, as US propagandists^Hpoliticians would probably add—yeah, I watched Sicko). There's quite a range of prices for health insurance, actually, which kind of surprised me. I got it for €130 now (about $200) and could have easily paid €330+ ($530+). Probably money I should have spent partying but well, health care can get really expensive. And there's still a serious amount of party money left on my account... :)

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Moving on from CVS to Git — cvsps reported error

Don't you just love telling error messages? Like “Error -42”? Or, like yesterday, git-cvsimport: fatal: cvsps reported error Thank you, that'll really help finding a solution. Luckily Mike Schrag got also fucked^Hhit by that error and found that by “simply” launching cvsps on its own first, you can get around that error. There are two things to note here, at least for people who know my humor (they should be scared now): first, why is that so? And, second, why is the “simply” in quotes? I'll leave the first one as an exercise to the eager reader and give you a “try it yourself” for the second one. And no, it's not only RTFM, it's probably UTSL. With Mike's hint I got my last Git post's example working by replacing the single git-cvsimport command by two commands: $ CVSROOT=$(pwd)/ImportRepo cvsps -x --norc -u -A git > /tmp/cvsps.out Then you add another “-P /tmp/cvsps.out” to your git-cvsimport command, like that: $ git cvsimport -A authors-conv.txt -d ImportRepo -C NewGitRepo -P /tmp/cvsps.out git Now it works. At least for me, YMMV. Yeah, seems it's acronym day today, I'm in the mood.

Transparency=No comment?

The governments discussing the “Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement” made an interesting statement. A spokesperson of the German Department of Justice said: “Die Verhandlungen sollen so weit wie möglich transparent gemacht werden. Da die Vertragspartner aber Vertraulichkeit vereinbart haben, können wir keine Aussagen zu Inhalten machen.” (read on This is German and basically means that the negotiations shall be made as transparent as possible but that they are not willing to comment on what they negotiate. If that sounds like a weird definition of transparency to you, you're not alone.

Collateral damage

Wow, now even the Germans seem to buy that crap. I really can't believe the world just watches the US beta-testing that stuff in real wars, with “bugs” hitting real people, who really bleed and really die. How useful such a war can be. Securing oil fields, developing deadly weapons, *cough*, sorry, establishing world piece of course. And fighting terror! Noble reasons there, all of them!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

How many people can you love?

One? Two? Several? I don't mean love like in friends, I mean love like in companion, partner, darling, sweetheart. Of course you can retreat to the point that it all boils down to how you define love. But I won't be satisfied by splitting hairs. Do you love each one less if you love more than one? Or will there be more of it for each one, even? Or does it have to be one to be “true love”? Will it automatically be only one if it is? Is there anything like a “second half”? An Aristophanes/Plato kind of? And what happens when you found her and not only lose her but are stupid enough to make her go away? What will life be after that? Can you ever love again? Time heals the wounded, they say. Those who are wounded like that, too? (Those who think about that question attentively will notice that the question is twofold. (And I have to admit that I've only noticed while writing this blog entry.) The “how many” can both question how many in parallel and how many in sequence. I started writing with the first question in mind, how many people you can love at the same time. Maybe the sorer question, however, is the second one.)

Moving on from CVS to Git — How to do the import

Ok, so now Git will be it, what to do? There's git-cvsimport(1), included in git-core. Other people suggest cvs2git(1), especially for complicated histories, i.e. histories with lots of branching and merging. But as branching and merging is a major pain with cvs, I have mostly boringly simple histories, regular release tags and occasional branches being the most complicated stuff. When I organized my CVS repositories when setting them up I majorly messed things up so I want to use the chance to reorganize my repositories and the modules in them. However, git-cvsimport(1)'s man page reads
git-cvsimport [blah] [blah] [cvs_module]
Yeah, that's right, a single module. Googling for hours didn't really reveal anything except trying to rewrite history by using git-filter-branch(1). Being a complete git-noob I decided that's a little too advanced for me. To be honest I hardly understand the man page. kampasky_ on #git gave me the golden clue: simply move the modules you want to intermingle from as many CVS repositories as you like into a common subdirectory (a new ”supermodule” so to speak) and import that. So to transform
use the commands
$ cp -pR CVSRepo1 ImportRepo
$ mkdir ImportRepo/git
$ mv ImportRepo/module* ImportRepo/git/
$ cp -pR CVSRepo2/moduleN ImportRepo/git/
$ mkdir NewGitRepo
$ git cvsimport -A authors-conv.txt -d ImportRepo -C NewGitRepo git
If you get the dreaded “git-cvsimport: fatal: cvsps reported error” error message while trying to import be sure to read my next post tomorrow.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Moving on from CVS to Git — Why, and why Git?

For The Great Trip to Canada I decided to convert my CVS repositories to Git. I've always kept repositories on my notebook because I work a lot when I'm on the way. Or when I'm sitting in a café, for that matter. Well, the actual reason is that until recently it was practically unaffordable to be online then. Yeah you lucky bastards living in countries with free WiFi access points everywhere are permitted to feel smug now. I like to commit often so I need to either be online permanently or to have “the” repositories on my machine. With Git (or any other distributed version control system) I don't need to be online permanently and I have repositories on my machine—note the absence of the word “the” here. I chose Git because of several reasons, the strongest one probably being a gut feeling. I watched Linus talk on git, I read tons of pages and posts about CVS, Subversion, Arch, BitKeeper, Mercurial, Bazaar and Git and pages that compared even more. Then I settled on Git. Maybe because I thought that if the kernel people use it (as a replacement for BitKeeper even) it can't be that bad. Maybe because it seemed to have the strongest momentum. Or maybe I just didn't want to be “wrong, stupid and butt-ugly" ;). So it has been decided. More on the technical stuff tomorrow.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Our lovely society

I went downtown today to buy some small stuff for the stay in Canada (new electrical tooth brush, power adapter, hygienic stuff) and looked for a bag big enough to carry stuff for three months. After that I happened to meet a friend I haven't met in months and we had a drink on the Königsplatz (king's square). I accompanied him to a streetcar stop (he drives those things) and on the way back to the Königsplatz to get my daily quota of coffee'n'cake I met a very special friend, probably both for the last time this year. Well, so much for trivia (although for some of that the word doesn't fit at all...). So I took a seat in one of my favorite cafés and read news articles from The Königsplatz is well known as a meeting point for homeless and other poor buggers our society seems to increasingly produce. One of them, a completely drunk and scruffy guy approached a table to ask for a cigarette and a waitress immediately sent him away. Which is her job. The guy was kinda persistent and another waitress took over, older, stricter, bigger (and I really don't mean just taller), more the prison staff or military kind of girl (oops, ma'am, sorry, ma'am, woman of course). And she took it too far. She started making jokes about him. The “audience” (of course I wasn't the only one in the café, it's a lovely summer in Germany—although by the time I'm writing this dark clouds threaten my Mac) started laughing. She enjoyed her role and the “jokes” got meaner, effectively humiliating him. People started to talk, along the lines of “those people have no inhibitions”, “it's a shame”, blah blah blah, just what people without brains tend to think. Everybody was reassuring one another (nodding, laughing, ...) and people started to look at me trying to include me in their circle of shabbiness. All I could do was stare at them without expression. At some point the guy walked away, across the “huge” (we're in Germany) square, all those people watching him as he was staggering away. Filled with disgust I decided to write my first blog entry before Canada. Of course I am to blame for not having stood up to tell them how disgusting they are but instead cowardly deciding to hide behind that blog entry. Guess there aren't too many great people left on the planet.