[ProgSoc] Reflective piece by a ProgSoc Executive member that has now become an annual institution directed squarely towards those who care to read it
tomchristmas at progsoc.org
Fri Dec 24 12:43:45 EST 2010
(True story: I thought of the title of this email in September of this
year, but only started composing the email the week prior to sending it.)
It's that time of year again! I'm sure you've all been counting the days
until you had the privilege of reading the 2nd Annual Self-Indulgent
Christmas Missive from yours truly, losing much sleep and appetite over it,
no doubt (if you've no idea what I'm talking about, read  and  first
-- I'll wait). Upon posting the message to the list, I will have concluded
my second year as an active member of this club and will have commenced
(hopefully) my third.
I don't think this year's message will be as long as last year's, though,
as I would be repeating a lot of my previous sentiments, and if there's one
thing I hate it's repetition. Repetition -- despise it. Don't like
repetition at all. Also, since I'm firmly entrenched in the fabric of this
club, a lot of what I said before is kind of redundant now -- you'll know
what I mean if you bother to read last year's message.
But anyways, this piece isn't really about me -- splendiforously awesome as
I might be -- it's about YOU, the many and varied people that make up this
club, and yes, like last year, I will be singling out individuals and
giving them a token of my appreciation, as well as issuing a blanket
Yuletide blessing for the rest of you I've neglected to mention .
It has been a great year, hasn't it? A GOLDEN year, perhaps!? Celebrating
21 years of our club's existence (older than most clubs on campus) with
schnapps , launching our series of monthly talks (even if we only
successfully held two this year), reaching out to high school girls with a
Java-based noughts and crosses game, finally turfing out some of our old
computer equipment, coming second in Clubs Trivia and even a `ProgSoc
wedding' (congratulations Nathan and Ros, both of whom I'd like to meet one
day :) are just some of the highlights of the past twelve months.
Perhaps the sliver of impurity that has prevented this year from being
24-carat was that TFM 2010 -- our project that has been in the works for a
long, long time -- didn't end up being published this year and, as editor-
by-default, it pains me to say it, but I think we'll have to rename the
publication `TFM 2011'. That's not to say that work on the book has been
entirely stagnant this year; there have been some significant improvements
and additions and when it finally gets published, I think you'll be
pleasantly surprised. We just need three people to finish their chapters
and then it'll be ready to print. I still anticipate having the book
published in time for O-Week next year, and now that the holiday season is
upon us, there should be fewer distractions and impedances...and our Trivia
windfall should prove to be very useful to this end.
And now, without further ado, the bit where I say really nice things about
As I did last year, I'll start with John (a.k.a. Joaquin), the man to whom
I probably owe the most gratitude as he has been the most supportive and
generous towards me, right from the get go. Without wanting to go into too
much detail, I just want to say that I'm glad you're back and hope that we
succeed in our current and future ventures together. Massive thanks for
giving me the shiny new implement upon which this email is being composed
-- you've made me a very merry (Tom) Christmas.
Owing to previous experiences, I think I will dispense with the overtly
affectionate praise towards our president Margaret (she doesn't seem to
care much for public displays of that nature) and simply thank her for her
tireless work for the club over the past (nearly) five years, wish her all
the best for the future and note that her quirky, off-beat nature inspires
me to act likewise. Oh, and Chris L -- hope there aren't too many `farewell
parties' for you next year.
The two lovely ladies, Tina and Livia (secretary and first year rep
respectively). What can I say? You two were the *breath of fresh air* this
club so desperately needed. Thanks to you both, we opened ourselves up
that little bit more to the uni community at large, rather than just
hibernate in our little room in Building 10 (which we still did, BTW). Your
IntelliPaper, in my humble opinion, is just the greatest concept ever. Yes,
there is still a shortage of women in engineering and IT. Affirmative
action-based hiring where a fixed, equal number of men and women are
chosen, regardless of apparent merit of the candidates is just wrong and,
in the long run, is doomed to fail. You want to hire an equal number of
guys and gals? Make sure there are an equal number of male and female
graduates to choose from. To achieve this, you need to encourage girls to
take up studying these traditionally male-dominated fields. Little things
such as IntelliPaper go a long way towards this aim. Then there were the
monthly talks. We only successfully held two, but it was the thought that
counts. There were also little things such as monthly recaps of the club's
activities on the mailing list. Overall, you were both ambitious,
hard-working and friendly. It was so hard to choose which of you two was
to be the club person of the year, as you were both equally worthy
(we were *that* close to awarding it to ftoomsh again). I love Livia's cute
bubbliness and Tina's down-to-earthiness -- you complement each other so
well. And while Tina is planning on leaving us soon -- and it will be
incredibly sad when she does go -- here's hoping that Livia will remain
with us a little while longer, perhaps to take our club in a new and
Thomas. Shadow dictator, vampire, nobleman and cephalopod. Where would we
all be without your snarky musings on your university career and life in
general? And your chilli-laden foodstuffs? Shame you'll be moving on to
greener pastures once you've finished inventing your calculus (or whatever
it is you do), but, as they say at the uni you'll probably be doing postdoc
at ,"c'est la vie". Don't forget to finish your TFM chapter before you
leave, though (you always seem to deftly avoid answering my query whenever
the subject is broached).
Noah, our CSO. Yet another person for whom I am expressing sorrow over
their impending permanent departure. And how. You did a better job of
CSOing than I ever did, which was to be expected. Your passion for
technology is reflected in everything you say and do. But now, you dost
venture south in search of a new life and greater mutual happiness, leaving
behind a registration system that's still broken (hint, hint, something to
fix before you leave...?). This year is certainly *your year*, isn't it?
Thanks for lending me your Arduino and taking me to CeBIT this year. Now I
know the secret to get in next year for free. Perhaps you could spearhead
the launch of a new chapter of our club at the next uni you attend; you've
always had an entreprenurial spirit after all.
Chris D (a.k.a. Super Mario), our treasurer. I guess I should thank you for
sorting out our reaffiliation documentation on time; at least you did your
constitutionally-mandated job, so kudos. And I guess you're a nice guy as
James D, our PFY. You're just a cool dude and super-talented, what else can
I say? Wish you could swing by more frequently -- it's a shame that your
schedule precludes you from coming to ProgSoc meetings more often,
particularly those events that you suggest we do together such as the
schnapps and (more recently) watching the new "TRON" movie. Special thanks
for the new keyboards, the AGM poster and registering the grogsoc.org
Justin, Justin, what can I say? You're a loyal member. You've have been for
many years. You're always there, bringing our list of completed Project
Euler solutions up to a respectable level. Hope your peer-review project
succeeds and I wish you and your other half with the unique and pretty name
all the best.
Pat. Little Pat. Postman Pat. Pat the Rat (from `Sons and Daughters' ;).
Pat on the Back. Pat the Insane Overachiever. For some reason you listen to
what I have to say with great intent, as if I've actually something
worthwhile to say, unlike the rest of them. Ah, the naivete of youth. I
don't mind -- my ego needs some strokin' after all. Or maybe buttering me
up is a ploy for me to join your writers' society, as I've suggested a
number of times. Like I'm some kind of "writer". Thanks for your
substantial TFM pledge -- it is most generous -- and thanks for caring.
I must make mention of our longest-serving Executive member, CK, who
lamented earlier this year that I neglected to mention him in last year's
message. That was primarily due to the fact that we had not been properly
introduced and hence never had a proper conversation until this year. Now
that we are acquainted, I have a confession to make. You are the reason I
joined ProgSoc. Your fame precedes you, as you are probably aware. I first
learnt of your existence (but not the club's -- that's another story) on an
online forum for `The Chaser', whereupon I noticed this mysterious
character known only as 'whophd' who, week in week out, had a synopsis of
each episode of their 'War on Everything' before it went to air. I had to
learn more about this shady character. Research led me to your website
(which I thought was cool) on the ProgSoc servers (and hence the club).
"Damn," I thought. "If only I was a UTS student. Then I could be a member
of this club. Then I could meet `whophd'." Unfortunately, some time after I
enrolled into UTS (not primarily to join the club -- that'd be tragic), I
signed up about two years too late, as you were nowhere to be seen.
Anyways, it is great to bump into you every now and again and to catch
up/follow you online. I guess you're one of the people that inspire me to
bring my inner geek to the fore, so, er, thanks.
Twenty-ten was a rather special year for our overseas contingent, as our
club room was graced with the presence of not one, but TWO representatives
of our loyal international alumni membership, both of whom visited within a
month of each other. First up was there was our co-founder and demi-god,
none other than His Nerdiness Raz. Like, wow, man, meeting your maker in
the flesh when he pays an unseasonal visit to his home town and
club....it's...it's almost like Moses talking to a burning bush or perhaps
Batty meeting Tyrell, only heaps more awe-inspiring and transcendental.
Seriously, though, it was cool to meet him and for all of us to have had
dinner with him. Then Anand -- the real CSO -- came a month later for a
(near-)surprise visit, to see the computers he maintains remotely for the
first time and the people who think they know what they're doing with the
computers. Pleasantly surprised to learn that he is friendlier in real life
than he is via email. A fun night that started at Wagaya was had by all
(except for poor Bangdao, who couldn't quite keep up). Now all that remains
is for me to meet Jedd and then the trifecta would be complete. Y'all come
back now, hear?
Interstate people -- haven't really spoken to you much if at all this year,
although I have been checking in on your `progress'. Particular congrats to
Andi for completing his Honours.
And now, I must briefly thank all of the people that have made at least one
appearance some time this year.
Brian and DCom -- we had fun listening to your tales of derring-do in the
cut-throat networking industry. Can we have our routers back, thanks! Rob
(who looks like Deane) -- thanks for your presentation on basic web
security, even if only two of us bothered to attend. Milky Pete -- why no
milk this year? James K -- you spend *way* too much time at the Lansdowne;
come swing by us every now and again.
...oh, and special thanks must go to kingmaker Colin, who voted for me
by proxy at the AGM (subtext: don't mess with destiny). It was nice
chatting with you...and, thanks to you, I was playing (and re-playing)
"Infinity" by Guru Josh for weeks on end (the infectious parasitic ear worm
that is the saxophone hook burrows deep in the brain and refuses to come
That about does it for me. All that remains is for me to issue the standard
seasonal salutations of "Merry Christmas", "Happy New Year" and "Wear
Sunscreen" . I also recall saying last year something to the effect of
you guys being awesome and that ProgSoc was one of the best things to
happen to me. I repeat those sentiments this year.
 Possibly because I've forgotten about you (as you haven't been around
as much in the past year), never met you, don't know you, or don't like
you. One or more of the above may apply. Blessing null and void for Case 4.
 If there was one good thing that came out the hung parliament, it was
that I learnt a new word.
 I love being delightfully quirky. Also, I love drinking scotch.
 Many a sage since time immemorial has suggested that one go out in this
fashion, as opposed to a "whimper". Who am I to argue with such wise words?
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