Not being a terrific programmer means that I make many errors in my programming. But being a pretty-darn-good programmer means that the errors I make can’t be found easily. In engineering research, often it’s difficult to know whether the errors are with the (1) mathematical models, (2) the application of the mathematical methods, or (3) the testing procedure, or (4) a combination of (1), (2) and (3).
I’ve been struggling with one such problem where it was nearly impossible to tell what was wrong. My Thanksgiving trip gave me a chance to sort out some issues, while sitting atop the Lions Lookout in Huntsville, ON. I worked out a lot of math, and invented another test procedure to test my previous test procedure, which in turn, found an error in my original mathematical model: I mistakenly transposed a series of 5×5 matrices inside my my large matrix during my original derivation.
Most of my problems seem to have gone away after fixing this, and right now, the supercomputer at my lab is busy double checking my results, which gives me time to write. I still have one decision to make for tonight: (a) take the evening off, put on a nice dress and go dancing, or (b) set up the test procedure for the next step. I think I’ll do both: wear my dress to the university library, and do some work until late night. If all works out, I’ll dance right there in the hallway…
My research schedule has been bordering on hectic and insanity since Labour Day, and I haven’t had many chances to go out, dressed or otherwise. For those who have been keeping track of my blog, no, I didn’t put on a sexy dress and go have fun downtown the night of my Linux install victory. If I recall correctly, I didn’t even take the evening off. It’s not that I haven’t gone out at all; I did manage to dine with my t-girl friends a few times, but it’s a noticeable drop from going out three times a week back in the summer.
But a month of frustration at work was starting to wear me down, so in the past couple of weekends I made special arrangements to free my schedule and go out. A couple of Saturdays ago, I went out to Nuit Blanche (that’s “White Night” to you if you don’t speak French), an “free all night contemporary art thing” all over downtown Toronto. I went out all night that night, and despite the poor weather, I strolled around art galleries, museums, other indoor and outdoor exhibitions with crowds of people. The only downside was that my skirt got quite wet from the rain, and I had to send it to the dry cleaner.
I got home at 5:30am, and slept in until 2pm. And then I went back to work…on a Sunday.
Then just a couple of days ago, on Thanksgiving Day (note to Americans: Canadian Thanksgiving is on a different day) I got dressed—rather inconspicuously in a shirt and pants—and drove to Huntsville, about 2.5 hours north east of Toronto, and sat atop the Lions Lookout for hours. The scenery was stunning. To my relieve, despite the lookout being a huge tourist attraction, no one paid any attention to me. Afterall, people go to Huntsville to see the fall colours, not a casually dressed single girl. So I was able to immerse myself in thoughts and ideas (mostly about my research) without disruption. The trip was a successful one, because I made a huge programming stride on the very next day.
Most people I’ve corresponded with know that I’m a pretty geeky girl. This is not to be confused with nerdy, which I am not. It does help with my self-image that on some nights, I’m also a pretty hot girl. Well, at least, a reasonably average t-chick. But occasionally, I revert to my geeky instincts and tell people about all the geeky things I do.
I name my computers with composers whose names start with a “B”: Bach (dual-processor PII), Beethoven (Athlon64 desktop), Brahms (Duron desktop), Bartok (P3 IBM Thinkpad) and Berlioz (my sister’s Sampron). This is Beethoven’s story.
I’ve never liked Windows. It worked well, but I hated paying an arm and a leg for an operating system, and then paying my other arm and leg for an office suite. (It’s difficult to be a hot chick with no arms and no legs and no money.) I’ve tried Linux a few times before, but I was always disappointed for one reason or another. In 1999, it was a buggy graphics driver in Redhat 5. In 2001, it was the lack of useful software in RH7. Last year, it was lack of wireless card support in Fedora Core 2. FC2 was also bloated and slow and it crashed a lot for no reason. For awhile, I’ve stopped looking for the next Linux distribution altogether.
Well, that was soooo last week.
A few days ago, my friend told me about the Ubuntu distribution, which supposedly is all the hype these days in the community. He showed me the liveCD version, which ran remarkably well on both Beethoven and my old trusty Bartok. So I re-partitioned my hard drive and installed the full version on Beethoven.
Wow. A big applause goes to the development team.
It’s slick. it’s stylish. It supports all my hardware. It has all the software I needed, for free. (Albeit I had to download a few things.) It installed in less time than Windows XP, and it also ran a lot faster. The only tinkering was to edit the Xorg configuration file to get my dual monitor going properly. (No thanks to ATI.) But once it did, it was almost flawless.
So tonight, I’ll repartition my hard drive, and remove Windows from Beethoven once and for all. Then I’ll put on a nice sexy dress, and stroll around town to celebrate.
Most women know about the men who casually “check them out” on the street. They honk at you when you’re walking; they try to look under your blouse when they sit next to you on a bus; they stare at you from across the street; and they ask you for the time when they’re wearing a watch themselves. Some of their moves are subtle, but they’re almost all very silly. By the way, one of my least favourite is from a parking enforcement officer on Church Street. Once he has spotted me, he would drive by, wave at me, blow a kiss, drive off around the block, and then drive by again and again. (He has done that on more than 3 occasions now.) Last week I waited at the streetcar stop at Church & Carlton for 20 minutes and he drove around 5 times.
I can never tell why men check me out. Do they just want me to turn around because they thought I was a pretty girl (the genetic kind), or do they just enjoy the thrill of checking out a t-girl? Of course I hope it’s the former, but I assume the truth is somewhere in between. What I haven’t figured out is whether women do the same. By that I don’t mean women checking out men, but rather, a straight woman checking out another straight woman. (If there are any genetic women out there reading this, do tell.) But I found a partial answer the other night.
Back on Sunday night I had the chance to go out for a walk, wearing my new black dress. At $40 CAD, it’s the most expensive clothing item I’ve bought all year. Anyway, since it was the Labour Day long weekend, there were still plenty of people outside at 11:30pm. I felt a bit naughty, so I went without wearing a bra. (I have invested some money on a fine pair of breastform from Amoena which allows me to go bra-less. Now I understand why women wear bras, and why sometimes they don’t.)
On Bloor Street, a young (and beautiful, and well-dressed) woman heading towards me started staring at my chest from a distance away, and didn’t take her eyes off until I walked past her. Wow. I’m not sure if this is the first time a woman has checked me out, but it’s definitely the first time I’ve noticed.
I hope she didn’t look at me because of inconspicuously bouncy (fake) boobs. But I admit that I like the feeling when she looked at me. A lot.
PS: By the way, I took that picture that very night, just so that everyone can see for themselves. Unfortunately it didn’t show off a lot of my boobs. Another funny thing: not a single man checked me out that night…
By that I mean this blog entry has nothing to do with the transgendered community. It’s actually about the progress of my research work at the university, or the complete lack of progress. Researching in numerical methods mean that I have to be a good mathematician and a good programmer. I can say that I’m both (okay, I exaggerated), but the person that I inherited the code from was neither.
The lack of progress was because I unearthed a few bugs in the code. Substitute Samuel L. Jackson’s voice in Snakes on a Plane: “There are motherf****** bugs in this motherf****** code!” There are serious errors in the numerical method (for those who care and understand, the problem is with applying the Riemann boundary conditions for an aerodynamic problem: the boundary is applied differently in the left-hand-side matrix from the right-hand-side vector in the linear system for an implicit time-marching method) and also with the programming (properly declaring and dimensioning arrays). Now that I’ve put them into words, my second problem doesn’t sound so bad now.
For the record, FORTRAN sucks. Anyone who must program in FORTRAN for whatever reason should get a kiss and a hug for enduring the pain and suffering. Anyone who insists on its superiority should be shot. Okay, not shot, but at least severely reprimanded. F90 helped dull the pain slightly, but the standard is 15 years old, and it’s still not fully supported by everyone. Fifteen years ago I was cheering for my new 25MHz 80386. And then the old legacy code is a bitch-and-a-half to work with. Add the combination of poor compilers and debuggers, and lack of support of the Alpha processors, life can be, well, a bitch.
To old-school FORTRAN programmers in the world, please don’t use GOTO statements anymore. I hate you.
I’m enlisting help from another lab-mate’s today. Wish me luck.
I went to visit a crossdresser friend (Tammy) yesterday to try out some her newly-written music, which mean taking the subway across town at night en femme, carrying my violin with me. On the way home—already well past my bedtime—a man sat down nearby. (You can always tell which ones want to flirt: they sit too close in a near-empty train, but have enough common sense not to sit immediately next to you; they don’t take their eyes off your chest or legs; and they try to act too manly.) Soon after he started chatting up with me. “Hey gorgeous! What’ya got in there? A machine gun?” [giggle] “A rocket launcher?” [snort] “Like in the movies?” I gave him a dirty look, frowned, shook my head and left the train. It was my stop anyway.
On behalf of all violinists around the world, for the billionth time, it’s a frigging violin! The joke wasn’t funny the first time, and it’s not funny now.
For the past while, I’ve been thinking about how it feels to be a girl for a week, so at some point last week—when my research work stalled a little bit—I decided to take the week off and spend some quality girl time. This means doing all the normal day-to-day things, plus a few truly girly things, all as a girl.
SATURDAY Nighttime attire: satin nightgown
Between playing violin in a wedding gig and teaching violin lessons in yet a different part of town, Saturday was an incredibly hectic day. My “week” began after going home in the evening. I changed into my pajamas, and promptly fell asleep. My mom called me a few times, but while the phone was ringing within two feet from my ears, I never woke up. I bet I snored right through the night. I wore a very sexy satin nightgown, but I was so tired, I could have been wearing a straitjacket and it wouldn’t have made any difference.
SUNDAY Morning attire: Black & white sundress Afternoon: baby blue halter top, long white skirt Late evening: tank top, shorts, baseball cap for jogging
Still suffering from the long Saturday, I completely overslept on Sunday morning. I did eventually craw out of bed at 9:30am, and spent a couple of hours preparing for the week: shower, skin care, hair removal, make-up etc. I drove out to G Ross Lord Park, and walked around the park for a couple hours. With a 33ºC temperature and high humidity, I was drenched in sweat within minutes. In the afternoon, I changed into a light blue halter top and white skirt, which made things a lot cooler, and went to the library computer lab on U of T campus (air conditioned!), where I read some articles related to my research. I went jogging that night, for the first time ever as a girl, and gained new appreciation for sports bras. Tired and warm, I fell asleep wearing a pair of shorts and a tank top.
MONDAY Daytime attire: black t-shirt, red skirt Evening: blue sundress Nighttime: satin night gown
Monday was the day for me to experience the ultimate of life as a girl: a romantic date with a man. Okay, not really. “SS” and I have been trading e-mails for a few months, and we picked Monday to meet up. Most of the day was ordinary: I went to Chapters to read some new books, then took the subway down to Greektown area to walk around. Overall it was a nice day, albeit the temperature hovered at 36°C in the afternoon. I did have to go home and change before my “date.” Although, I really should point out that since I don’t really date men, a more accurate way to describe my “date” is that two people hanging out, only that one is a guy and the other one (me) was wearing a dress. SS and I went to places that are decidedly outside of the LGBT area of town: a nice dinner at a pub on Queen St, and a movie at Paramount. Turns out SS was even more nervous than I was about the whole thing. May be despite the repeated warnings I gave hime (“I’m not interested in relationships with men, and I don’t date men”), he really thought that he was on a date. At the end, my evening was civil and polite, but I don’t think I’ll see SS again. Thank goodness my apartment is air-conditioned; I wore the same satin night gown to bed that night.
TUESDAY Daytime attire: white button down blouse, baby blue pencil skirt Nighttime: satin night gown
I had another late start on Tuesday, because I watched parts of le tour de France on TV. By late morning, I was already feeling a bit uneasy about leaving my research work untouched for an entire day, so I went down to the computer lab on campus downtown. Wearing a pencil skirt kind of reinforced the notion that I’m there to do real work, and not to fool around. And I must have worked pretty intensely, because I completely forgot about lunch until well past 2pm. I walked out to Zelda’s for quiet lunch. Previously I’ve only been there on weekend evenings, and between the customers, the staff and the drag queen performers, it was always a zoo. So it was nice to be left alone for quiet time this time. I went back the library to work work until late evening (and forgot about dinner also). After dinner, I spent the night e-mailing to friends, wearing the sexiest of my night gowns.
WEDNESDAY Morning attire: black shirt, pinstripe pants Afternoon: pink halter top & white skirt Evening: black halter top, black flower skirt
Wednesday was my designated shopping day. On paper anyway. I went to Vaughan Mills Mall, north of the city, and window shopped for a couple of hours. This is the second time I went there dressed, and like the last time, it was uneventful. I’d walk past stores and not be interested in what they sell. This is what I decided: whereas my male alter-ego likes to buy girly stuff for Tara, but Tara doesn’t like shopping all that much herself. I thought of going to another mall across town for the afternoon, but decided against it because of how much driving is required. So instead, I went back, once again, to the U of T campus and did more research. My friend Robyn W and I had planned to get together for a drink in the evening, but at the last minute she cancelled because of work-related commitments. I went down to Church St for dinner anyway, and had a great time. The weather was good, and a nice happy crowd was gathering in the neighbourhood.
THURSDAY Morning attire: cotton pajamas
Somehow, when I got up early this morning, I didn’t feel like going out as a girl anymore. I knew that at some point towards the evening, I’ll have to go back to being a boy. I just didn’t think that I’d look foward for that. In any case, I spent the morning in my pajamas doing house cleaning, and then went back to work as a boy again. I’m still savouring this whole experience, and while I haven’t exactly learned anything profound yet (other than that sports bra is a necessity when you jog), the experience has been positive enough that I want to do it again one day, hopefully later this summer.
(Content Re-edited on December 4, 2012 with better pictures with the clothes that I wore that day.)
After I started going out dressed in 2004, I was looking forward my first Halloween. I wanted to make it a memorable occasion. That night, I decided to wear my green formal dress which, until then, had not been worn in public. I had bought that obscenely expensive dress a few years earlier, but never had the chance to wear it. (I found it in a liquidation store by coincidence, and paid only less than 10% its labelled price of $245 CAD).
I was among many t-girls getting ready for the evening at Toronto’s Take a Walk on the Wildside, a famous club/store/hotel for t-girls, and a safe and fun place to hang out. As I put on my make up etc, the obvious question that everyone asked everyone else was, “who are you supposed to be?” Having giving that question not the slightest bit of thought, I scrambled to come up with an answer: “I am the girl that I wanted to take to the prom.” I went about having fun that evening, proud of my witty response, and my stunning appearance.
After dinner in the Gay Village on Church Street, a bunch of girls went to a local club dancing. A note to everyone about dancing: it’s much easier to dance when you have titties and wearing a fancy dress. Whereas my male alter-ego was shy and awkward on the dance floor, Tara (or TJ as my friends call me) was right at home. Throughout the evening I found myself being hugged, flirted with, kissed, caressed, fondled and groped by both guys and gals. I felt wonderful: it is quite nice to feel sexually desired by someone else. Then two guys approached me, and explained to me, in detail, how I should have go home with them to have wild unprotected sex. Hmm. I didn’t mind the attention, but that was just too creepy. Then it struck me. As sexy and pretty as I was, there was a clear difference between me and “the girl I wanted to take to the prom.” She would have put out. I wouldn’t.
Recently I wore the same dress again to dinner with a friend I met through URNA, and the first time I wore the dress after that Halloween. As I walked back to my car a few blocks away from the Gay Village, some (gorgeous) guys and girls started flirting with me again. The flirting was as enjoyable as ever. One guy came up and told me how he wanted to take me home and give me the…well, it was the same thing I heard at Halloween. I smiled and shook my head. I guess one thing still hasn’t changed: I still won’t put out.
In some of my recent correspondence with other t-girls, I was asked (a few times) where my name had come from. I’m not entirely certain why it is important to know this, but I have nonetheless decided to set the record straight, or at least firmly crooked for good.
“TJ” are the initials of my male alter-ego, and a rarely used nickname in high school. When I first started going out, I was skeptical of making up a suitable girl name, so I shortened my boy name. Most t-girls I hang around with still call me TJ right now.
“Tara Jennifer”, or at least “Tara”, is the name I started using when I started my URNA profile in March. Note the initials “TJ”. As I started going out regularly, the “Tara” personality begins to develop. Admittedly that personality is really the same as my male alter-ego, and it’s not terribly exciting. (As my profile says, geeky and chatty.)
“Young” is the anglisized (sp?) version of a Chinese surname, generally spelled “Yeung”. It is not my real name. I use it because it is rather suggestive; afterall, I’m just a fairly “young” t-girl, aren’t I?
I had hoped that my first blog entry would be (a) funnier/wittier or (b) more profound or (c) more noticable, but this will do just as well!
Bottomline: Tara Jennifer — not my real name TJ — real initials and rarely used nickname Young — complete fabrication.
I hope this satisfies everyone’s curiosity.
Hugs and kisses to all you guys and gals out there!