Pictures from the East

As promised (?), the pictures from Ottawa are now posted on my album:

There are some notable “omissions” in the photo collections, as I did not take pictures inside the National Gallery and in the main part of the War Museum. I didn’t feel it was appropriate to take pictures in those places, and it would distract me from looking at the exhibits and reading the captions anyway.

Trip Summary

For those of you who didn’t notice, I’m back in Vancouver for a couple days now. The trip was good/okay/not bad I guess. Here is a summary of the trip, as per request by someone. 🙂


There isn’t much to talk about in the conference itself. When I was presenting, there’s about a crowd of a about a dozen people in the room. So I made the presentation, and the session volunteer (more on this later) asked: “Any questions?”

And there was slience.

So, I don’t know how the presentation went, honestly. But I like what my lab mate Steve said after hearing the story: They were stunned by your brillance. They may be stunned alright, but I’m just not sure by what, or by who for that matter.

Someone asked me afterwards: Didn’t the session chair at least asked a question (so that you don’t feel unloved)? Well, I guess it’s kind of hard for the session chair to ask any question when he’s not in the session. Quite a few presenters are AWOL as well. I guess they registered for the conference to have the paper published in the proceedings, but never intended to make the trip.

I bumped into the Technical Committee Chair afterwards, and I told him about the presentation. “That’s good.” He said. “When people don’t ask questions, you know that you’re not far from done, because if people don’t understand what you do, they will just let you pass and give you the degree.”

I sure hope that’s the case. :p

Now, onto the more interesting parts.

There’s lots of old prestigious buildings in Ottawa, some of which I couldn’t identify. A perfect place for social studies field trips I guess. The scenery are pretty good because there’s always rivers and canals nearby. I traveled around the city almost exclusively on foot, as I was too lazy to look up for bus routes and schedules (not to mention bussing is expensive). The streets are mostly clean (compared to Toronto), but the food was kind of expensive.

I went to the National Art Gallery and spent 4 hours there. Since I’m not well educated in visual arts (actually, I’m not well educated in any form of arts), so I don’t have much to comment, except that I get to see the real things of some of paintings featured on textbooks and television (e.g. Death of General Wolfe, The Meeting of School Trustees).

The Parliament Building is nice, and the tour sounded like Social Studies 11. After the tour, I went up to the House of Commons public gallery. Only a few MPs (whom I do not recognize by name) were there, and they were talking something related to the budget. What they were doing was just trying to blame each other for the current deficiencies in the system (what else). What annoyed me was the MPs were reading off scripts. Members of the Conservative caucus suddenly appeared in the chamber, some took their seats but most hurried off to somewhere else after appearing briefly. I didn’t catch what they were saying so I don’t know why that happened. Need to watch more Parliament TV to know I guess.

I walked all the way to the Canadian War Museum, and it didn’t seem to be opened to me at first. I almost turned back without checking for the entrance before I saw a tank (which sounded like a lawn mower at a distance) driving out from the back. Originally, I expected the Canadian War Museum to be a modest, small place, but it was acutally the opposite. I guess Canada did have a colourful military history, with its heavy involvement in World Wars I and II. A lot of equipment, vehicles, and etc. are on display in the museum, with comprehensive background information. What I found interesting was that the exhibits go into great lengths to convey the horrors of war, instead of glorifying those who died for the country. I’m wondering if other countries’ war museums have the same approach.

Places that I went to included Rideau Hall, which I didn’t get to go inside building because I missed the guided tours, the Supreme Court, where I ran into a bunch of junior high/elementary school kids and ended up touring the building with them, and the Currency Museum, which I thought was a waste of time.

The room in the University of Ottawa is pretty good, but it is missing two things (for me anyway): hair dryer, and much more importantly, internet connection. I couldn’t receive wireless signals from the room and even if I did, I wouldn’t be able to log in anyway as the residence don’t provide access. The room is somehow kind of dusty as well.

I guess there’s good things that come out of the lack of internet access. With no other form of entertainment (I’m not much of a TV watcher), I concentrated on reading the books that I brought from home. One is 匈奴, which was bought on the recommendation of 小孟 and the other one is the red 冷靜與熱情之間, which I never seem to be able to finish. I finished 匈奴 on the first night that I was there and finished (yes, finished!!!) 冷靜與熱情之間 on the train en route to Toronto. It was acutally quite fitting to read the last part of the book on a train (those who read the book and/or seen the movie would know why). Book reviews may (the key word is may) come later, but I probably need to reread the blue 冷靜與熱情之間, which I’ve read a couple years ago.


I’ve been to Toronto in 2004, so I don’t have much desire to go to tourist places this time around. I spent several days hanging out with Astor, Veronica and Frank. The activities are the usual movies, mall-walking, dinner and bubble tea. And of course I spent some time with my sister as well, and the activities are much of the same. It felt just like in Vancouver.

The only museum kind of place that I went to in Toronto was the Hockey Hall of Fame. It was smaller than I expected, and frankly not very special (perhaps going there days after visiting the capital has to do with this). The best part was the trophy room, where I get to see all the trophies presented at the NHL awards, and of course the Stanley Cup. At first I saw a sign saying that people can take picture with the cup for $10, so I thought the staff wouldn’t be allowed to take pictures for visitors with their own camera. But then everybody asked and got their pictures taken, so I might as well do that.

Overall it was a satisfying trip where most of my pre-trip objectives are fulfilled. One thing that I wished to do but didn’t was to go to Montreal as well (the idea was scrapped because of time constraints). I guess there’ll be opportunities because I’m almost sure to travel to Toronto again sometime in the future (not that I like the city that much).

Oh, and the pictures will come later. I am still in the process of posting them.

Return from Internet Exile

For those of you who may wonder why I was not online for the last 4 or so days, or why I was not returning phone calls, I am currently in Toronto now and I was in Ottawa for a conference in the past four days. The University of Ottawa Residence, which I was staying in, did not have any internet connection (you’d think they should when they charge $90 a night).

Anyway, I will write more about Ottawa and etc. later I guess.