Homeless man sentenced to house arrest?

I was confused by “Vancouver panhandler gets house arrest for attack” on National Post, which describes a drug-addicted panhandler attacking an old man who always gives him money in front of the man’s church, and getting a sentence of house arrest.

Er, am I missing something here? What house arrest? Are we arresting that man in his garbage can? His favorite corner behind the mailbox? Or maybe the judge is gonna let the robber sleep in his guest room?

The judge commented on the Vancouver’s homeless problems as if he was new to this city and was surprised to see homeless people walking around peeing in dark alleys and injecting drugs.

To quote from the article, the judge said:

“Two generations ago there were almost no street people in Vancouver. If a person slept or begged on the street the police would intervene. Somehow society coped without creating the chaos on the streets that we now have.

“Today in Vancouver there are perhaps thousands living on the streets and in the parks. They sleep everywhere — even in the doorways of the courthouse and police station. Public areas are their bathrooms and garbage disposal facilities.

“Society created this situation. Law-abiding citizens condone it and it has become the expectation of those like Darcy Jones. In fact, it is more than an expectation it is viewed as an entitlement — the public are expected to respond favourably to silly justifications for demanding money such as ‘squeegee’ car windshield [washes] or doing push-ups on the street.

“It is not surprising that some street people have taken the next step of physically enforcing their right to this support.”

After prolonged exposure to social issues, social equity, drug problems, I’ve always viewed the panhandlers/homeless/”street people” as victims of their time. So I was utterly surprised to find someone to openly express their hatred towards the homeless.

Like I don’t think there’s a solution to the global issues such as AIDS pandemic, environmental degradation, and climate change, I don’t think there’s a solution to the problems of drug addiction and homelessness in Vancouver.

But I think someone should put that robber in detox and put that judge in Carnegie Hall for a good while.

The Anomalies 01

Dexter sat in front of his computer, with no intention to work. Under the dim light of his room, the molding mugs, the used tissues, and the half-eaten food spread around a mess of tangled cables like dead insects trapped by a bush of poison ivy.

This used to be a perfect place for Dexter to work, or at least perfectly acceptable. But after his conversation with the mysterious woman in the large, bulky cape, and the abrupt ending of it, Dexter’s world was turned upside down.

What’s the purpose of working? What’s the purpose of living?

What’s the purpose of anything?

 

The woman told Dexter that the world around him was imaginary. Simulated. Artificial. Computer-generated. A place, or a state of being, known as the Matrix.

“We have no time. The agents are coming,” Dexter could hear an urgent whispering in the mysterious woman’s ear bud, as he was being told that the world he lives in was essentially a gigantic computer game.

She must be on cracks, Dexter thought. Or she must be crazy. But the calmness in her manner and the confidence in her voice!

Maybe he was the one who was going crazy?

The woman stopped talking and frowned. “How much time?”

The ear bud answered: “less than 30 seconds. I don’t know how they found us… but they are only a few floors away!”

She turned to Dexter. “Take this pill and come with us! To the real world!”

Dexter could not answer. A few moments of hesitation, and the woman swore: “Dammit!”

What happened next was so fast that Dexter didn’t know how stunned he was until he was on the floor: the woman withdrew the pill, ran to the window, and shouted “we will be back for you” before she jumped. At that precise moment, the door was busted open, three suited men ran in, one of them pinned Dexter to the floor, the other two leapt out the window after the woman.

 

The woman did not come back. Three weeks after that strange encounter, some horrific investigation by the suited men, and waking up in his room realizing he might have had a strangely vivid nightmare, Dexter convinced himself that everything was his imagination.

But this must be the first time in the history of mankind for a man to lose all motivation in life, because of a single nightmare.

A box appeared on his monitor. It was his old classmate and business partner Chen.

“Hey buddy, how’s going?” a line of text appeared. “Almost got the prototype over here, how’s the software coming along?”

Dexter sighed. What’s the point? If this whole thing was imaginary…

“Dude, are you still thinking about your nightmare?” Dexter could almost picture Chen’s incredulous, annoyed look. “So what if this world is some kind of a game? You’re in it, I’m in it, and we get hungry if we don’t eat for 5 hours. You better get your acts together man, or our project would just die, and us with it.”

Right, the project.

After Dexter met Chen in college, where they took up computer science and engineering, they soon decided to drop school and focus on their project full time. They learned more from the internet than from any balding professors combined, anyway.

 

Suddenly an idea clicked in Dexter. “Hey, how about we take a break from the project and figure out whether we are really surrounded by a computer simulation?”

No replies from Chen. His little head must be calculating the risks and possibilities… or simply swearing.

“Maybe the dream was a sign, a sign for us to look at the big picture. If we discover the controlling mechanism of the world, or merely the pattern of it, we would be rich, rich, rich!” Dexter added, hoping that would do the trick.

Still no word from Chen. Maybe he was sympathetic now. Or maybe he was worried for his future with this wacko partner. Or maybe their private direct line was malfunctioning.

Dexter let his imagination run wild. Sure, a world-wide computer simulation sounded too absurd, but finding out any controlling patterns in politics, religions, weather, or economics would mean a world of opportunities.

Chen finally agreed to take 2 weeks off their ongoing project, in exchange for Dexter’s promise to resume working on the software part of the project if the crazy search of world controlling mechanism failed.

Little did they know, that promise would never have to be fulfilled.

(continue)

Vancouver explosion, US campus shooting…

After two consecutive Wednesday threats in UBC, this past Wednesday was thankfully quiet. Many students were still feeling the slight unease though, and debate over whether BioSci is safe or not. “What if this time, s/he is giving no threats because it’s for real?” some thought.

But all around, things are looking really messed up. Instead of a threat to UBC, someone blew up a Taco shop and a Starbucks, scattering debris throughout a half-block in Vancouver early this morning. The police, this time, seemed to be better at catching the bad guy (perhaps because he was badly burnt).

And perhaps more shockingly, there was another US school shooting today near Chicago, killing two and injuring many others. A guy called John went into the front of a classroom (ocean science) and opened fire with his shotgun before taking his own life. CNN had a more action-packed description of the incident, but I think no media information is quite reliable this early.

An interviewed student said she didn’t know when she will return to school. I can totally emphasize that… just threats alone shocked students here at UBC deeply. I can’t imagine what it would be like to see bloodshed on a university campus, where the grownups have to remind us: “it may safe enough to wander around at night, kids, but at least grab a few friends along!”

What is up with people? Are we just overall angrier? Are we all losing our ability to be say hi to each other, to smile on the streets?

I would like to post an email I received a few days after the UBC threats last week, from a dear friend, and spread her message to as many people as possible:

Good morning- did you see the sky this morning? It is absolutely gorgeous…

I just wanted to take a minute to let you know that you are a very special person. You are very important to me, and to the UBC community that we are a part of.

Unusual and rather scary things have been happening on campus over the past few days. This is a very stressful time in many people’s lives- we are in the middle of the second term, there are alot of activities going on, exams are coming up, some of us are graduating or moving on in other ways…it can be alot of stress.

I want to encourage you now more than ever to reach out to others in your community. This is a perfect time to help someone or ask someone for help. Even just smiling and making eye contact with your neighbours, classmates, and co-workers can go a long way in building community in a large and sometimes frightening place!

I sent you this email because there is someone on campus that is hurting and afraid, and I only hope that you have not felt lonely or frightened or as though no one cared about you. I want you to know that I care about you, that you make up a very important part of my life, even if I don’t always have the opportunity to say so. So thank you.

I am here to support you in whatever way I can, please know that if you take a moment to reach out to me I will be here to help. And I know that you would do the same for me (or probably already have!), and I thank you for it.

With much love,

Autumn

二、離鄉背井為何來 (2)

續上篇

若竹思緒慌亂,主意一個比一個荒謬,還沒想到一個勉強可行的辦法,道路盡頭就已出現點點燈火,在月光下依稀可辨數間房舍,想必虎口鎮已近。

「你們你們是誰?找書府有什麼意圖?」若竹鼓起勇氣,終於問道。

帶頭那人似乎沒聽見,身後一人卻笑了笑說道:『我們還沒問你話,你卻先開口了。』他聲音尖細,似人若妖,聽得若竹心裡又一陣噁心。他名叫陰九曲,人如其名,性陰行曲,識得他的人無不忌憚他陰險妖異的心思。

『這樣吧,你告訴我你和他們是什麼關係,我就告訴你我和他們是什麼關係。』他接著說。

另一人也接口道:『我們就快到虎口鎮了,這地方不大,不滿一個時辰內方可搜出你管他叫什麼?「書府」?哈哈,就叫他書府吧!也許我們能聊天的時間不長

若竹一陣怒火正要發作,卻被帶頭那人頭也不回地打斷:『妳是誰,我們是誰,「書府」又是誰,待大夥見了面自然揭曉。』身後兩人沒有再言語,只偷偷竊笑。

若竹知道時間不多,急得眼淚都快奔出來了,但是在深不可測的敵人劫持下,未經世事的她卻無法可想,無計可施。

 

一行人來到了虎口鎮上。

鎮上房屋不多,人口稀疏,住戶多散落於農田之間,加上正值用餐時刻,道路上行人寥寥。

帶頭那人勒馬,問若竹:『你們相約在哪裡相見?』

若竹振作精神,挺胸道:「我不說。」

帶頭那人靠近若竹一些,一雙大眼逼迫著她,說:『我們不會傷害他們,還請姑娘配合,以免節外生枝,徒增麻煩。』

若竹緊閉嘴唇,不做回應。帶頭那人又注視了若竹一陣子,看得若竹心驚膽戰,卻為了書府的安危,硬是不退讓。幸好那人最後嘆了口氣,說道:『那我們只好慢慢找了。』沒有強迫她屈服的意圖,若竹心寬許多,對他升起一絲感激。

怎知道,一行人找了許久,偏僻的鄉間道路找不到腳印,鎮上的店家飯館也沒有人見過外來旅客,小小一處虎口鎮竟絲毫沒有一點書府的蹤跡。

 

「這小子狡猾聰敏,一定是聽到風聲,躲到別處去了!」其中一名隨從忿道。四人在鎮上最後一處客棧門口停下,研討對策。

「看來我們非得對這漂亮的姑娘嘿嘿」陰九曲邪笑道。

『住口!』帶頭那人怒喝。『如果你在我魏少天手下,敢動她一根寒毛

這次他卻沒有住口。「追了好幾個月了,連個影子都沒見著,你這帶頭的責任可不小,還能神氣?唯一的線索就在我們身邊,魏大爺卻非得裝個什麼君子!」

『你你怎麼著?』魏少天雙頰漲紅,銅鈴大眼也泛起血色,顯然怒氣累積了許久。『在任務結束之前,我說了算,難道你要造反不成?西峽派就是有你這種敗類才會內鬨分裂,不要給我機會把你們給宰了!』

在一旁的若竹被這突如其來的轉變嚇了一跳,重要的字串卻沒聽漏掉:西峽派、魏少天。只是她連鄰近故鄉的虎口鎮都沒聽過,更不知道「西峽派」是正是邪,位在何處。

慌張地四下張望,不知在三人會不會真的起衝突?如有那一刻,又能否有機會脫逃?

 

令人作嘔的陰九曲桀桀怪笑一陣,說道:「不敢,不敢!不過現下我們束手無策,除非你要把這地方掀了,那還得大費一番周章,不然我們只能從她身上下手。如果魏大爺反對,我們恐怕得在完成任務和遵從你的命令之間做選擇。」

另一名隨從也說:「我們聽從你的命令這麼久,一點進展也沒有,『陽宗』辦事就是一板一眼,毫無效率。我想是該我們『陰宗』帶頭的時候了。」

魏少天黑袍一掀,露出了繫在腰間的一柄大刀和一面刻著「西」字的鐵牌,凜然道:『西峽派令牌在此,若有不服,魏某在此替天行道,剷除逆賊!』

那隨從也往腰間抓去,「我還怕了你」卻被陰九曲制止。

「魏師弟,陰宗陽宗之爭雖然棘手,但是還不到大動干戈的時刻。不過我們任務在身,你無所進展卻也是事實,你倒也出個主意?主意好,我們就聽。主意不好,換我們帶頭理所當然。」

魏少天瞪著兩名隨從,壓抑著怒氣,說:『讓我親自問她』說著,三人一同大喊一聲:「人呢?!」

 

在爭執至烈之際,若竹竟已經不見蹤影!

「魏少天,你動了什麼手腳!」隨從抽出了他的武器,是一條當作腰帶的蛇頭軟鞭。這次陰九曲沒有制止。

『我不知道!她可能自行脫逃』說著,轉身欲進客棧,卻倏然停步,拔出大刀,擋住向他背心砸來的軟鞭。『你做什麼!?』

「我們陰宗早已懷疑你們會包庇拐騙燕師妹的那叛徒,派我們兩跟著你果然沒錯。現下你又故意讓唯一的線索脫逃,罪證確鑿,還不束手就擒?」他舞動軟鞭,又是一記。

魏少天怒不可遏,喝道:『你藉故造反!』舞動大刀,迎向靈活陰險的軟鞭!

 

性格剛烈正直的魏少天卻暗暗叫苦:這人武功雖比自己稍低,一旁的陰九曲卻是可怕的勁敵,兩個陰宗的好手齊上,他恐怕支撐不了。好在陰九曲似乎還沒打算出手,顯然還有些顧忌。情勢危險,他必須趕緊找個法子控制局面。

毒辣的蛇鞭從四面八方擊來,魏少天勉力抵擋,又哪有閒暇思考?

《待續》

最近比較煩 (舊)

首先, 先複習一下這首經典好歌:

然後享受我以前讀SAT申請美國大學, 心煩而寫的白爛歌詞:

最近比較煩,比較煩,比較煩,
ㄟ屬ㄟ踢是越做,越不簡單。
早上六點,就要起來吃飯,
化學老師,是越看越難纏。

最近比較煩,比較煩,比較煩,
高興要去旅行,卻沒人陪伴。
一直吃 三明治當午餐,
女孩從 名單把我給刪。

最近比較煩,比較煩,比較煩,
新聞台已經有 好久沒人參觀。
心情不好 和朋友發生爭端,
還好他肚大 沒給我難堪。

最近比較煩,比較煩,比較煩,
上課上完,還要去搞搞校刊。
週三中午,要看小鬼搗蛋,
上的課,和特教班一樣簡單。

最近比較煩,比較煩,比較煩,
難得有空,就趁機 耍耍白濫。
自豪地說過我不怕挑戰,
如今已忙得 團團轉。

最近比較煩,比較煩,比較煩,
阿佛申請我看,只能加緊拜拜。
我問阿媽說,怎麼辦?
他說,哩問襪,哇馬姆災。

最近比較煩,比較煩,比較煩,
有些問題,就是沒有答案。
女孩的心,我猜不到一半,
孤軍奮鬥,實在太寂寞孤單。

最近比較煩,比較煩,比較煩,
一首爛歌,不知道如何打斷。
總而言之我心煩歸心煩,
還沒有發瘋抓狂的打算。

一點點關心就能夠讓我溫暖,
我很幸運有你們當我的夥伴。

不煩,我不煩,只有一點煩,有人比我煩 (他們才完蛋)
不煩 (不煩),我不煩 (不煩),我說我不煩,你實在很煩 (再問我會變極端)
我不煩 (不煩),你比較煩 (你比較煩),我不煩 (我一點不煩)

我不,
煩!!

原著於2004年9月。

GMail officially sucks

Ok, GMail has done many things to piss me off, including delaying my sent messages several days so that the other end didn’t receive my emails until after the deadlines and said “er, better luck next year.”

But today I officially declare that GMail sucks. Here’s the reason: I’ve been writing a huge email regarding logistics for a trip, complete with section headings, lists, budgets, everything.

After 1.5 hours of labor, this is what the draft looks like in the mailbox:

gmail-sucks-02.jpg

Yes, it says (2) Drafts (2), and who the hell has seen that!?

And when I clicked it open, knowing I faced my doom, I still wept:

gmail-sucks-01.jpg

COMPLETE BLANK, ladies and gentlemen. This is a JOKE, right, GMail?

Oh, we’re so cool we auto-save your emails.”

“What? This one’s important? Trust us with our auto-save!”

“Boo! Blank auto-save, that is!”

“Hey, don’t complain. At least you can still see 5 words and the subject line.”

How to resize photos fast

If you’ve taken pictures with a high definition, chances are they are too big to do anything (upload to a blog, send to friends, etc).

I found a light-weight, Microsoft add-on tool that lets users quickly resize photos to their liking:

  1. Visit this MS webpage, and decide whether you like this program or not.
  2. Download ImageResizer.exe, or if you don’t trust me, download it from this MS webpage. You can find it by searching “Image Resizer” on the right hand panel.

Hm, there’s not much else for me to say, because MS has done all the explaining here.

Basically, you right click on your photo(s):

and click on “Resize Pictures”

and tada!

You can also click on “Advanced” if you want customize the size of your pictures, among other things.