Thursday, March 31, 2005

Memos: No Happy Medium Edition

  • Was at the Noodle House today for lunch and the place was packed. The poor owners have gone from being subjected to idiotic teenage thugs scaring away customers to being worked to death. Memo to all of Charlottetown: They've had great food there all along, you know. I've linked to it already, but there are now more nice heartfelt messages at the SupportTheNoodleHouse.org web site.

  • Today the Vatican released a statement condemning the death of Terri Shiavo as 'arbitrarily hastened'. Meanwhile, the Pope has said that he doesn't want to be hospitalized when his time comes, that he would rather die peacefully in the Vatican. Irony is too kind a word.

  • The new album by Kathleen Edwards, Back to Me, is excellent. But it's very similar to her first album both musically and lyrically, mostly more of the same. Lots of songs about petty criminal boyfriends and wollowing in sad circumstances. Perhaps she needs to go on another soul-searching adventure to find new material to write about, being the daughter of a Canadian diplomat and growing up in Switzerland apparently didn't fuel her creativity so she had to live in the middle of nowhere in Northern Ontario. That gave her enough material about how life is shit for her first two albums. Perhaps her next one will be about something new.

  • Myron's better open up again soon. Last Saturday on my way home from Kim's birthday party I saw a line outside of Baba's that was twice as big as the number of people who can fit in the place at a time. And as Taylor has said, 95% of the pregnancies in Charlottetown happen because of Myron's. This could do serious damage to the city's future population.

By al - 10:02 PM | (1) comments | Post a Comment

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Use Your Own Language When Tagging (damnit)

This rant is aimed at people who don't speak English. (I am a fan of futility, it's true.) When you use Technorati Tags, what possible reason would someone have to tag a post using another language? This is what you currently see when loading posts tagged with 'music':

Music posts

  1. ANATAKIKOU ワンマン

    8 minutes ago

    ANATAKIKOU 『甘いモンタージュ @バナナホール 発表当時、えーバナナでワン� いつの間にやらじわじわとチ�...

    きょうのできごと Get Conversations 0 links
  2. 今週買ったCD

    8 minutes ago

    アナログフィッシュ 『BGM?』 キャプテンストライダム 『流星オールナイト』 Scoobie Do 『PLUS ONE MORE』 [IMG][IMG][IMG]...

    きょうのできごと Get Conversations 0 links
  3. フジファブリック ワンマン

    8 minutes ago

    フジファブリックスプリング� 『ネオマレルミン2005』 @京都磔磔 いやぁ、熱かった!!!!...

    きょうのできごと Get Conversations 0 links
  4. SWINGY STRINGS

    8 minutes ago

    GONTITI / FRIED PRIDE / 押尾コータロー / 山弦 opening act:naomi&goro @IMPホール 臓器移植ネットワーク協賛の�...

    きょうのできごと Get Conversations 0 links
  5. Letter To The One I Love

    8 minutes ago

    ネオソウルの申し子、Musiqの� 作り方が素晴らしいです。 すべての曲のタイトルが1つ�...

    hallucination Get Conversations 0 links
  6. よっ!待ってました〜。

    8 minutes ago

    マライアの新譜です。完全復� of Mimi Mariah Carey 曲名リスト 1. It's Like That 2. We Belong Together 3. Shake It Off 4. Mine Again 5...

    hallucination Get Conversations 0 links
  7. Noooo!!!!

    8 minutes ago

    Usher来日公演中止(泣 [IMG リズム・シティ Volume1:コート・アップ] 続きを読む

    hallucination Get Conversations 0 links
  8. Drum machine

    9 minutes ago

    Drum Machine. Make sure your speakers are on. Via monkey methods. Tags: flash

    doctorvee Get Conversations 53 links from 33 sources
  9. Radio DavidByrne.com

    11 minutes ago

    Radio DavidByrne.com Filed under: Art music cool sites — tiny @ 9:50 am We last saw David while our kids were riding the kiddie rides at Circus...

    tinylittledots.com Get Conversations 3 links from 3 sources
  10. February is Robot Month, 14: "Yoshimi"

    11 minutes ago

    There has to be a way to stop those robots. Hire that woman! She takes lots of vitamins! Song of the Day 14: "Yoshimi" by..

    Tasteful Future Get Conversations 9 links from 4 sources
  11. Songs of the Day, Month 7: ZIP Available

    11 minutes ago

    Songs of the Day, Month 7: February is Robot Month (Zip file here until June) "Robotron 2000" by Freezepop "Coin-Operated Boy" by The Dresden Dolls..

    Tasteful Future Get Conversations 9 links from 4 sources
  12. February is Robot Month, 12: "Killer Robot"

    11 minutes ago

    Now that the robots are becoming less subservient, some killer robots are emerging. But they won't get away with it. Song of the Day 12:..

    Tasteful Future Get Conversations 9 links from 4 sources
  13. The Smiths Set For Academic Study

    13 minutes ago

    [BBC] Iconic 1980s indie group The Smiths are to be studied at an academic conference in Manchester, their home town. The symposium, called Why Pamper...

    Link Worthy News Get Conversations 32 links from 2 sources
  14. Music died in the mid-90’s

    14 minutes ago

    That’s my impression sometimes anyway. Perhaps it’s just a sign that I’m getting old, harkening back to the music of my teenage years. Of...

    The Propaganda Box Get Conversations 0 links
So you see that about half of the posts tagged with 'music' should actually have been tagged with '音乐' or '音楽' or 'Música', since I assume the people who would be interested in your post are the ones who could possibly read and understand it. Perhaps it's more a matter of Technorati implementing a language segregation mechanism that detects which language posts are written in and lets you pick which default language or languages you want to have displayed when you do a search. This problem is likely unique to English as, for example, a search for 'musique' returns only French rsesults.

Now, since it's impossible to get people to change their default behavior (peppering English words into internet communication is very pervasive), a technical solution is needed. Since Google can do it I see no reason why Technorati can't do the same.

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By al - 12:00 PM | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Snap Judgments: Queens of the Stone Age - Lullabies to Paralyze

Lullabies to Paralyze is the most stylistically all-over-the-place album I've bought in a year, at least. Each song is influenced by some subgenre of modern hard rock in a pretty obvious way. I would say that perhaps the band is a little directionless, perhaps with the loss of Nick Oliveri and their defining themselves as 'trying to get away from Kyuss' for so long, but I think it's more that they are just playing and dabbling and enjoying themselves.

“This Lullaby”

Mood-setting slow, guy with acoustic guitar, walking melody. One of those songs bands put at the beginning of an album to get you too sit down and shut up and listen.

“Medication”

This is fast-paced, open chord, unmuted and upbeat. Very Strokes-esque with a bit of Weezer thrown in. Good bassline. Repetitive but not to the same degree as older QotSA stuff.

“Everybody Knows that You Are Insane"

This is loud and in-your-face Soundgarden-type hard rock with ear-piquing drums and a wall of guitar sound.

“Tangled Up in Plaid”

This is a dead-on Pearl Jam tribute if I ever heard one. Maybe they're trying to seal the rumour I heard that they might be touring with PJ this summer. (pleasepleasepleasepleaseplease) Eddie Vedder would be proud of the inflections in the vocals and the choppy but ear catching guitar line is straight out of Vs.

“Burn the Witch”

This is bluesy in the same way as the White Stripes are bluesy. But it has a lot of interesting harmonizing guitar noodling in the background, and the vocal harmonies sound as if Death himself became a blues singer.

I'm wishing each of the songs would be quite a lot longer, to let you really get into the beat like with their older stuff.

“In My Head”

This one reminds me a lot of guys like the Vines. Not quite grunge, not quite punk, but somewhere in between.

“Little Sister”

This one is really good, a pretty obvious choice for the single as it's got an energetic chorus and it's about a girl so it gives them an excuse for a wonderfully raunchy video with questionable subject matter. The guitar solo is nice and messy but there's method to it. Exactly what you'd expect from the former kings of Stoner Metal pretending to be a grunge band. Works quite well.

This album is going to give me ADD. Or make it worse, not sure which.

“I Never Came”

A nice mix of Superunknown-era Soundgarden and the modern artier rock bands, with a deceptively simple steady drum beat and a mid-range trill guitar line. Vocals are high-pitched but melodic. Not sure I'd want to keep up singing that for very long.

“Someone's in the Wolf”

Finally, a 7:00-long song. This is more like it. This one has a rhythm very similar to the stuff on Mastodon's first album. Love it. But more melodic and clear, not the same muddy sound / production. Works very well. Wish the whole album was like this.

There's a very quiet Led Zeppelin type clean guitar chord progression in the background of the interlude amid rippling water, whispering and understated guitar blips. Then it gets loud and fast again. This is the kind of music I want to hear more of. Come on guys, get to it.

“The Blood is Love”

Very Monster Magnet. Also reminds me of previous QotSA albums. Droning, grinding, steady. Good music to debug code by.

“Skin on Skin”

I'd say it has a Mr. Bungle ring to it, but I'll likely get yelled at for being superficial. But then again, this is 'snap judgments', so suck it. Good song, but kind of sticks out even in this mish mash of an album.

“Broken Box”

Sounds a bit like the Pixies with the alternating quiet and loud sound and vocal weirdness.

“You Got a Killer Scene There, Man"

A bit like if Danzig took on the desert / stoner metal genre. I'm realizing that maybe 3 people I know would be able to follow this rambling semi-review's shorthand.

But since the rest of you have stopped reading it's all the same in the end.

“Long Slow Goodbye”

This one has sort of a Kyuss-swallowing-and-digesting-CCR feel to it. The chord progression is similar to something from Kyuss's Welcome to Sky Valley album.

Finally, a bonus snap judgment from Jussy: "as far as contemporary rock albums go nowadays......josh homme has that shit licked"
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By al - 6:22 PM | (0) comments | Post a Comment

My Advice to a One Year-Old

This is the advice I gave to a little one year-old boy who was in the office just now: “Once you learn to say 'cookie' and they give you one, stop.  Anything you learn after that will just mean more responsibility later on.”

By al - 12:11 PM | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Monday, March 28, 2005

A bit late

But who cares.

By al - 1:07 PM | (5) comments | Post a Comment

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Are Motorhead Punk?

Apparently this question needed to be answered, though I had always just sort of assumed everyone knew. Here's as good an answer as any: Link.
Motorhead punk??????

Motorhead are totally punk fucking rock. In the late '70s all the punks listened to Motorhead. Listen to some of their albums, they're more punk than most of the light-weight shit that gets posted here.

Motorhead were part of that first wave of punk - they just weren't part of that whole art scene crowd: the media whores who were more interested in image than music.

Are Motorhead punk? - it's a no fucking brainer
There's also a poll on the site (punktorrents.com):
Does Motorhead belong on here?
Yes [ 24 ] [52.17%]
No [ 11 ] [23.91%]
Maybe So [ 11 ] [23.91%]
Total Votes: 46

By al - 6:29 PM | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Friday, March 25, 2005

Need something exciting

That would be me. I need something going on right now to keep me excited...

I want to find a bit of adventure...The substance free kind...I am thinking more in the line of travel...But that is expensive.

Situation is simply that I am on PEI...Getting drunk and bar hopping has some values for fun...Going out and watching various bands has a few more fun points (but that depends on the band and if t hey are good or not) but with the warm weather approaching and noting that a lot of last year was wasted on waiting for other to be in the mood to go out and have fun...But around here the bands that play are limited and well I could just use something more interesting going on....Suggestions welcome

By Sabrina - 9:17 PM | (3) comments | Post a Comment

Wonderful Timing

Of course it would happen that on the first night of a four day weekend that I come home to find my laptop's AC adapter cable isn't working. It still runs fine on battery power (with about an hour's worth of juice left) but won't turn on when I remove the battery. Of course it's not the cheap part of the power cable that detaches from the brick that is the problem (tried another one.) it's the part that costs over $100. Once I make this part replacement I'll have officially crossed the “would have been cheaper just to get a Mac Mini” modern Mendoza line of computer maintenance.

But on the bright side I've got a weekend to clense myself of all of this technology bullshit. (as soon as I get off this machine anyway). Perhaps I'll obeerve Shabbat tomorrow. I've been meaning to try baking a kugel.

By al - 5:20 PM | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Childstar

I saw Don McKellar's new movie, Childstar, last Wednesday and I really enjoyed it. McKellar stars in it and plays the part of an unsuccessful independent Canadian film director. I always love it when directors create parts based on how they see themselves. Hamlet would be the first that I can point to of a character like this, as it's been said that Hamlet was the only Shakespeare character that would have been capable of writing Shakespeare's plays. Similarly, McKellar's character in Childstar seems to know exactly the nature of every character and situation, even if he gets duped and fooled by even a 12-year-old child actor, it seems in the end that events were meant to turn out that way and even though McKellar's character was merely on the scene as a limousine driver, he immediately becomes the one the other characters ask advice of and trust to help them.

He even does a very cool trick with the timeline that further blurs the line between the director Don McKellar and the character of this would-be director on the screen. The whole thing gets incredibly meta when the movie-within-a-movie is shown playing at the Toronto International Film Festival, where Childstar itself also played.

The other great thing about Childstar is just how Canadian it is. I've been to a few of the Toronto locations that are mentioned or shown in the film, and it all has a very real-ish atmosphere to it.

The movie being made in Childstar is a vision of the most perfectly awful Hollywood family / action picture, where the son of the President has to rescue his kidnapped father and gets to fly an F16 to intercept Air Force One. (Perhaps this bit of satire was a pre-emptive strike by McKellar to possibly prevent such a film from actually getting made.) Despite how silly it's made to seem, there is still a grudging respect for just how difficult it is to produce a Hollywood film. There is one crisis after another, clashing egos, time and money constraints, and the realization in the back of everyone's mind that they are producing crap but still have to work incredibly hard to make it look good.

But McKellar does indulge a little and inserts a line where the Hollywood director tells the indie director that he wants to make films like him some day.

And in the end McKellar's character pulls it off so that the joke is on the rest of the world. But he does have to sell a little piece of his soul to do it. Welcome to Hollywood.

Of course the very best part of the movie is Alan Thicke playing an actor typecast as a TV dad. It was absolutely perfect.

By al - 8:04 AM | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Thursday, March 24, 2005

The Atlantic Technology Kindergarden

Jesus, there is currently outside my office door a herd of about 20 elementary school-aged kids stampeding through the hallway back and forth, having just been fed pizza and pop and are demonstrating with their pounding footsteps just how resonant the walls of this building are.

I guess this is a new business venture for the Atlantic Technology Centre, if charging exhorbidant rents and surprising tenants with hidden costs for network access and all the rest wasn't quite working out for them, becoming a babysitting service seems to be their latest venture.

Oh well...

By al - 12:47 PM | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

PEI: A nice place to live, as long as you're white.

Of course I'm talking about this:
Teen mobs disrupting lunchtimes
Last Updated Mar 21 2005 06:41 AM AST
CBC News
CHARLOTTETOWN – Crowds of rowdy teenagers are causing problems at lunchtime in the University Avenue area, and one couple says it might drive them from the province.

Tommy and Lila Ko have operated the Noodle House restaurant since they came to Canada from China 13 years ago. They are now considering selling their business and leaving town.

The teenagers are coming from two nearby schools, Queen Charlotte Junior High and Colonel Gray High School. Every lunch hour for the past month the Kos say crowds of up to several hundred young people have surrounded their restaurant.

On March 16, Tommy Ko says hundreds of snowballs started flying into his plate glass windows, disturbing lunch customers. When customers tried to stop them, the kids verbally threatened them.

The incidents are beginning to frighten Ko and his wife. He's having trouble sleeping because images of the youthful mobs haunt him when he goes to bed.

Charlottetown police say the Kos are not alone. They've been receiving many complaints in the area, not only from other businesses, but from pedestrians and drivers as well.

Last week police began videotaping the lunchtime packs to try to identify the main perpetrators.

Richard Collins, deputy chief of the Charlottetown Police Department, says the behaviour of the young people is causing serious problems, and the videotaping will resume after the March break.

Police say they plan to turn the videotapes over to school authorities and will be asking them to deal with the offenders.
(Emphasis mine.) Funny, all this time I thought it was the job of the police to “deal with the offenders” when someone does something illegal. What, exactly, would be the worst that the school could do about these little monsters? Suspend them? That'll help, sure. And as someone who, while going to that very high school, had a group of about 10-15 junior high kids follow me home at lunch throwing rocks at my back for the crime of being different and unable to defend myself I can tell you exactly what the school will do about this if left to themselves: nothing.

While people are busy patting themselves on the back for promoting racial harmony, dealing with this gets sloughed off on school principals who thus far haven't even bothered to show up to the place.

There's no excuse for this, and every single one of those kids involved has something deeply wrong with them. While it might be 10 or 20 kids who think it's a good idea to organize a mob to terrorize a poor couple trying to run a business, there are 200 people who'll blindly go along with it, and thousands more who don't lift a finger to stop it. (In another time and place, that last group was called "good Germans." Yes, I went there.)

Rob MacD has the best idea in a post here:
It would take quite a bit fewer than 200 adults to snuff out this trouble, and there'd be no need for violence. A group of 10 adults, and a couple of digital cameras, and the willingness to get involved would suffice.
If it's too late for Tommy and Lina and the Noodle House, of which I've been a huge fan since even before they officially opened their doors so many years ago, then I am deeply sad and ashamed as an Islander. We didn't come together to show that they weren't alone and helpless.

Update: Zach Stephens has set up a site at http://www.supportthenoodlehouse.org/ for people to leave notes of support / thanks.
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By al - 2:56 PM |

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Memos: Still not really paying attention to the news edition

  • Memo to CNN: I'm sorry that a majority of every discernable political demographic is against your editorial position on the Terry Shiavo case and thinks the poor woman should be put out of her misery. Unfortunately, having a guest on Larry King to accuse the majority of your audience of being Nazis won't exactly sway any opinions. And here's a big secret you might not have realized yet: no matter how right-wing you become, you will never win any audience among the Fox News crowd, because you have been painted as the evil liberal media. It doesn't need to be true, it doesn't matter, no matter how hard you fight for right-wing street cred you will always be their most convenient enemy. And an enemy that won't actually fight back is absolutely perfect. Shiavo, incidentally, is the Republicans' idea of a perfect woman: white, fertile and completely passive.
  • The Maple Grille that just opened up on University Ave. in downtown Charlottetown (where the Taj Mahal was, sadly.) Among the people at work that was some concern about the pretentiousness of a place that would stick a superfluous 'e' at the end of their name, but given that we've pretty much exhausted the menus of every downtown restaurant, me and an office-mate went there yesterday, and I was impressed in every way. I had the soup and sandwich lunch special which was a chicken sandwich with slices of mango and cashews, and cream of spinnach soup. The kind of lunch that takes forever ot finish because you want to take tiny bites and savour it all. The rest of the lunch menu was under $10, and the desserts were pretty cheap as well, but all looked wonderful, and thankfully not the same pre-bought cheesecakes et. al. that most of the restaurants in town all seem to get from the same place. The taramasu cheesecake that I got was nice and rich, and my current plan is to try one of everything each time I go there. Also the service was friendly and it was nice and quiet when we went there.
  • I had some fun today at work, running the IM messages of the same co-worker through an AliceBot. It took him a good while to figure out what was going on. Which is especially funny because I had just previously mentioned the idea of doing just that to keep a particularly talkative remote contract worker at bay. I always say, the best way to trick someone is to make them think they're doing the tricking.
  • I'm in the middle of watching my DVD set of the complete "The Office" series. I think it's one of the funniest TV shows I've ever seen. But every 5 minutes I have to pause the DVD just to compose myself, or relieve the complete social awkwardness that the actors create so well.

By al - 10:28 PM | (2) comments | Post a Comment

The Homestar Runner Store are slow but they come through in the end

So before Christmas I ordered a few items from the store at homestarrunner.com. After a long wait I finally received what I ordered, a DVD of the first 100 strong Bad emails (A Christmas present for my dial-up-bound cousin) and the Series 1 set of figurines. They were nice enough to throw in the Strong Bad Sings and Other Type Hits CD for free as well, so that was nice.

Now, unfortunately they were a little slow processing the order, and between that, the shipping and the wait at the border they ended up missing Christmas. And then when they got here there was a bit of a problem with our friend Homestar.


We didn't do it, we swear! Posted by Hello

But I sent a little email to the customer service address explaining that Homestar had broken in half in the mail, and asked if they wanted me to return it. They replied within a day and said not to worry, they would just mail me a replacement. Now, after another long-ish wait I finally got a little box with the replacement Homestar.



Umm.. what happened to me?


Here's the complete set of Homestar Runner toys.

Addendum: Hello, the blogger photo service that is a poor man's Flickr, has the most completely brain dead user-interface ever. With Flickr I can just email the photos to a special address and they show up on the blog automatically.

With Hello you have to go through a totally convoluted process of installing yet another program, setting up a 'BloggerBot' pretend IM contact that you send photos to, you can only send photos one at a time, and you ahve to sit there and wait for them to individually upload. Also, it uses an embedded Internet Explorer pane to adjust your settings. But since I had disabled most javascript in IE it just didn't respond at all. Now that Yahoo! has bought Flickr and promised more capacity for free users, I think I'll be sticking with it. Much much nicer.
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By al - 1:26 AM | (4) comments | Post a Comment

Monday, March 21, 2005

Oops.

(via MonkeyFilter)

By al - 10:08 AM | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Why I should have become a cook

**onions, garlic, veggies (broccoli, carrots, celery, potato, peas, etc. - anything goes)
**tin chick peas (1-2)
**tin stewed tomatoes (1-2)
**curry spices (tumeric, cumin, coriander, or a combined 'curry' spice)
**1 tin tomato paste or tomato soup (or coconut milk would work) - something to thicken it up (note: I didn't use this in Halifax).
**curry paste (buy a bottle, they're about $5, and depending on how spicy you like it, add between 1 tbsp to 1/3 bottle).
**firm tofu (optional)
**unsalted whole cashews (optional but these come highly recommended).

Fry onions, garlic, spices & add veggies. Add in stewed tomatoes and the chick peas. If you're using any paste/soup/coconut milk, add this in now too. Spoon in lots of curry paste and any other ingredients and viola! Let it simmer/stew (works well in a crock pot, on the stove top, or in roaster and baked in the oven) until veggies are as soft as you like them, throw in the nuts and serve on top of rice.

Basically, just heap it all in a pot and let it simmer. It's so quick and easy.


above is the recipe a friend sent me.... Here is what I did to hit

In a large sauce pot I fried...1/2 onion, 1 leek, 7 mini sweet peppers (red, yellow orange) a couple of slices of jalapeno, a clove of garlic, a slice of ginger root, and flax seed in 1 tbsp of olive oil and one tbsp of soy/garlic oil.

I then added carrots, celery and broccoli (I had no other veggies around :()
followed by a can of the stewed tomatoes, chick peas, kidney beans and tomato paste.

Then I added the curry paste and spices and for the hell of it a tbsp of Honey and a handful of tvp ( I did not have tofu) and pine nuts.

Basically I added to her recipe, leek, pine nuts,Flax seed, kidney beans and honey....

I really do like warping recipes...The result was awesome...Honey and curry is a great mix...I am sure other people do this...I had not had it before but it was fun.

I tossed the veggies over some brown rice and ate heartily....

feel free to modify to your liking.
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By Sabrina - 8:53 PM | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Minix on a 286 “Laptop”

I was recently privileged enough to get to play with my friend Will's newest toy, an ancient 286 laptop that weighs about 20lbs, and had a little amber 8-inch screen. It basically had the form factor of an Apple ][ computer but with an LCD panel stuck on top.

As far as I know it didn't have a battery, and instead of a DC power adapter, it had a regular three-prong AC cable going into it. There was even enough room in the back to have standard ISA slots, into which was placed an ethernet card, of course.

Now, if all this wasn't cool enough, when I turned the thing on I didn't see the usual "Starting MS-DOS" screen, instead I got the Minix boot-up messages. I'd never actually run Minix before so this was quite a treat. In the days where Linux desktop environments are getting more bloated than even Microsoft Windows it was refreshing to see a Unix system fit comfortably in 1MB of RAM.

With that and an ethernet card you would have a pretty nice terminal for running console apps off of a Linux server tucked away somewhere in a back room.

The best part of the night was when I discovered that it had the original advent text adventure game on there. I nearly lost my shit when I saw that in the /usr/bin directory. Just going on my memory of the game from playing it obsessively when I was 12 on my own 286 laptop, I was able to get right to the "you are in a maze of twisting caves, all alike" part in about 10 minutes. Poor Sabrina and Justin had no idea what the fuss was about, but I was in geek heaven.

By al - 8:53 PM | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Digital Ethical Conundrum

I've been ever so tempted to make a little teensy change in a Wikipedia article about Cows, just to helpfully change:
On February 18, 1930 Elm Farm Ollie became the first cow to fly in an airplane and also the first cow to be milked in an airplane.
to
On February 18, 1930 Elm Farm Ollie became the first cow to fly an airplane and also the first cow to be milked in an airplane.
Mostly because that's what I thought it said at first and had to go back and look again. But I've had more feelings of guilt come up before hitting the submit button than should reasonably be associated with 'just a website'. I've had less-than-zero guilt about downloading music off of the Internet, but this is stopping me dead in my tracks.

I guess I don't want to be numbered with those who spend their days trolling and causing trouble and blogging-about-blogging, and generally not contributing anything positive. You might say that parasites and viruses are part of any ecosystem, and to not be resistant to them is a weakness that will bring down any entity if not dealt with effectively.

In the open source world we rely on benevolent dictators like Linus Torvalds to decide what goes in and what doesn't, with an implicit trust system that grows after you submit a few good patches. But Wikipedia, and Wikis in general, just allow you to hit that old submit button no matter who you are and have your changes pop up immediately.

Who is it for?

There's been a lot written about Wikipedia, such as the attitude of anti-elitism. There's a current of people who want Wikipedia to be accepted as an respected source in the academic world, and others who see its purpose as a way of bringing knowledge down to the people and thus view entrenched institutions of knowledge with some suspicion.

Depending on my mood I fall into both camps. But there's a similarity between this natural split and what we see in open source software. The nice thing about open systems is that both sides, while working toward their own purposes, will help improve it for everyone. When IBM improves some aspect of Linux's scalability or stability so they can use it in business, that change goes back into the community to be used by everyone. Similarly, when a Debian volunteer writes a driver for an ancient piece of hardware found on old computers so someone who can't afford to upgrade can still find the system useful, that sense of universality helps their image and creates goodwill that you don't find with more narrowly-focused systems.

So in the end, those who want to improve the trustworthiness of Wikipedia's information may implement a system of proof-reading and revision-tagging, but it won't stop everyone from growing the body of articles organically as they were. And if Wikipedia really will help bring about a flattening of the ivory towers, there's nothing wrong with some residents of those towers helping it along, either knowingly or not.

By al - 2:07 PM | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Friday, March 18, 2005

Frampton Jr. Mk II

Since I sold the house and no longer have a garage to put the cars in, if both cars are going to be outside, I might as well drive the Celica. As the weather won't be too bad from this point on and gas milage on the Celica is significantly better, it's a pretty good idea.

First problem, the hockey bag doesn't fit in the truck on the Celica. . . at least not in the new hockey bag. Frampton Jr, takes up huge chuck of my trunk space and the driver's been flaky since I damaged the coil back in the Fall. Since I have cash coming in from the sale of the house, now is a good time to rebuild it. So here it is:





As this was a rush job, I paid a bit more for the parts. However it sounds great, I get a lot more space in the trunk, and it looks pretty sweet rigged up. The old enclosure would probably make a nice ported box. . . anyone looking for a sub?

By Ming - 1:00 AM | (1) comments | Post a Comment

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Dark Dungeons?

Yeah, I know I haven't been posting in a while. Been busy getting other things done. I meant to post about this last week... better late than never I guess.

I ran across this comic strip while reading a post on Slashdot. I found so amusing I had to post it, link here. It's not that I find it insightful or anything like that. Just comical and somewhat sad at the same time. I even read the FAQ at the bottom of the page. . . The strange thing was, if I replaced D&D with church, I found it held equally well :-p strange eh? Like any game, the GM is just a referee. I do not require people to pledge their undying loyalty to me.

I was talking to one of my old gaming friends about it later that night. After joking inquiring why I never let him cast "real" spells, he pointed me to this one about Islam. It really sorta demostrates how fanatical some of these religous people are. Again, I've never been approached by Muslims trying to convert people, but that sounds awfully simular to another faith I know (not to name names or anything).

By Ming - 12:57 PM | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Champ Cars still going..

I've been watching and loving IndyCars / Champ Cars for as long as I can remember, and to see the series fight for its life the way it is now is heartbreaking. But underneath the surface of the buniness story, when you see the guys driving the cars and the mechanics and crews, you continue to see many more smiling faces than at oter racing events. There's got to be a reason for that, and I hope it's enough to keep it around.

I think it absoutely sucks that the road courses like Road America are disappearing from the schedule. If they're at all interested in TV ratings and presentation they have t realize that 15 or so races going tightly around city streets won't grab anyone's attention, it will look like a circus act sticking cars onto a track that they weren't made for. I remember the Miami race a couple of years ago when the Toyota Atlantic cars, being zippier and nimbler in tight corners, but less powerful, actually got better times than their big brothers who had to pussyfoot their way around that unsuitable course.

Here's hoping things cycle back to some real success soon.

Link: Champ Car Racing fan blog
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By al - 10:09 PM | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Work Sucks

This was inspired by this post by Janelle. I think with most jobs if it's not one thing it'sanother, it always seems like someone's job to pile each person with as much unpleasantness as they can handle without quitting and no less.

Most university professors I knew were all swamped with committee work and demanding students to the point where they couldn't get to the challenging work they wanted to do. That's partly why I decided I didn't want to go down that road.

Perhaps the Australians I've talked to have the best view of work, it's jus tthat thing you do to fund your hobbies, but it isn't important enough for it to be worth affecting your state of mind.

By al - 8:41 PM | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Factlet: Not a ‘factoid’

This is one of my language pet peeves. According to Dictionary.com, a ‘factoid’ is:
fac·toid Audio pronunciation of "factoid" ( P ) Pronunciation Key (fktoid)
n.

1. A piece of unverified or inaccurate information that is presented in the press as factual, often as part of a publicity effort, and that is then accepted as true because of frequent repetition: “What one misses finally is what might have emerged beyond both facts and factoidsa profound definition of the Marilyn Monroe phenomenon” (Christopher Lehmann-Haupt).
2. Usage Problem. A brief, somewhat interesting fact.

fac·toidal adj.

Usage Note: The -oid suffix normally imparts the meaning “resembling, having the appearance of” to the words it attaches to. Thus the anthropoid apes are the apes that are most like humans (from Greek anthrpos, “human being”). In some words -oid has a slightly extended meaning“having characteristics of, but not the same as,” as in humanoid, a being that has human characteristics but is not really human. Similarly, factoid originally referred to a piece of information that appears to be reliable or accurate, as from being repeated so often that people assume it is true. The word still has this meaning in standard usage. Seventy-three percent of the Usage Panel accepts it in the sentence It would be easy to condemn the book as a concession to the television age, as a McLuhanish melange of pictures and factoids which give the illusion of learning without the substance. ·Factoid has since developed a second meaning, that of a brief, somewhat interesting fact, that might better have been called a factette. The Panelists have less enthusiasm for this usage, however, perhaps because they believe it to be confusing. Only 43 percent of the panel accepts it in Each issue of the magazine begins with a list of factoids, like how many pounds of hamburger were consumed in Texas last month. Many Panelists prefer terms such as statistics, trivia, useless facts, and just plain facts in this sentence.
Thus, when Lisa Simpson criticizes USA Today as “a collection of pie-charts, factoids and Larry King” it is a more damning criticism than at first blush if you confuse the meaning of 'factoid'.

I personally am a big fan of the factlet, as I call it, so to have them confused with the utterly vile and dangerously pervasive factoid hurts me deeply.

I'm tempted to start in on a 1984-esque polemic on the use of language to blur the line between truth and untruth in the pursuit of control, but I'll instead invoke the ‘don't attribute to malice what can more easily be explained by stupidity’ axiom.*

But you've been warned.

By al - 11:29 AM | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Factlet: Well, he was able to move it with his mind..

In the norwegian subtitles for Episode IV, the "light" in light saber was actually translated with the norwegian word for "the opposite of heavy" and not "electromagnetic radiation in the visible spectrum"

Needless to day, those responsible for the subtitles have been sacked.

By al - 9:50 AM | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Monday, March 14, 2005

Staying Humble: My Version Sounds Cooler Edition

OK, stragglers, time for a new semi-regular segment on this hard-to-find corner of the internets, “Staying Humble”, in which the writer admits to being not only wrong abot something, but so obviously wrong that it's embarrassing.

In today's episode, I admit that for the longest time after mis-hearing it once, I thought that the computer scripting language TCL stood for “Two Command Language”. ‘Wow,’ I thought, a language with only two commands? Damn that's cool. I should look into that sometime. But I never did. It wasn't until much later that I actualyl read the full name, “Tool Command Language”, which, while it makes more sense, is far less potentially universe-bending than my idea.

By al - 9:40 AM | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Dream Diary: Al: 1 - Rabbis: 0 Edition

dream
I am watching an episode of the trailer park boys and suddenly realize that it's being filmed in my grandparents' house. There's a scene that takes place in their porch and one that involves them going down the long driveway with ditches on either side and hitting the mailbox that's on the other side of the road at the end which Bubbles crashes his go-cart into.

dream
The scene is my parents' house, except that it's slightly different and appears to be some kind of inn. P is there either visiting or semi-working in a front desk area, as a haggard-looking farmer enters. Outside it is raining very heavily with thunder and lightning.

He asks if we've heard anything strange on the radio news just recently, we say ‘no’, and he says he's very concerned because his cow just gave birth to a calf that was completely red in colour, and he had heard ‘that that might be kind of important.’ The lights are continually dimming, and the weather continues to get angrier.

My advice to him was not to tell anyone, that if it truly was an important sign of a world-changing event, that event will happen anyway, but that if instead some people would latch on to a possibly random event as a sign of some large change then that would disrupt the world and cause some artificial shift in events that might cause great harm.

dream
Sitting in the back of a car, with A. I haven't seen A in years and I'm kind of nervous. But she's acting like we talk all the time. This feels more right to me. I ask A how her job is going; “It sucks and I want to quit” was the matter-of-fact answer. Oddly, this also felt like the way things should be. No one likes their jobs, what kind of a freak likes even the idea of being made to work for someone else?

Then I think ‘Can I get her a job?’ (at some undefined place I'm connected with, for legal purposes having nothing to do with the place I work at in real life.) and then I think ‘wait, how can I offer to someone to be the source of their soul's slow death through monotony? How is this different than the noxiousness of working for anyone else except that I am taking advantage of the trust of a friend?’

Then A says “Stop worrying so much, let's get the most unhealthy fast food we can find and pretend we can pause that moment forever.”
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By al - 11:27 AM | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Gecko Box from Katherine

This is a really cute little present my sister Katherine sent home for
me with my mother, who just arrived back from Mexico today. Geckos are
by far my favourite lizard, and one of my favourite animals. Katherine
says she has a few of them in her house and she thinks they're great,
they eat all the bugs that try and come in the house, and they climb on
the walls and bark at night. In Mexico it's considered good luck to
have geckos in your house.

This is a neat hand-crafted wooden box that slides open and holds a few
sets of really nice chopsticks with scary little bug heads on the
ends. Terribly cute. I love it.

By al - 11:45 PM | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Not too many things will make me run like this

In my life I can only remember running away from a few things. One was a cow, that I came a accross when I was going for a run down my parents road. A second was a swarm of hornets that had already stung me several times. A third was a big black dog baring it teeth when I bike by it. The third incident did not really involve running thought.

Today (rather less than five minutes ago) I experienced one more such incident. I was coming home from my sisters. I am currently getting ready to go bowling for kid sake. On my way I was coming up to the corner of the parking lot to the building I live in. And then I saw something moving. I thought it was a cat, which is something that generally makes me stiffen up and get nervous. But when I looked again there was two white stripes running down it's back. Before I could even form the word skunk in my head I had turned around ran back around the car I was standing next too and halfway across the road. I stopped look back and the skunk had move on.

The thought of smelly all skunky for days can really make one move.....My heart is just now getting back of normal...

By Sabrina - 4:09 PM | (0) comments | Post a Comment

ADD as a naturally occurring trait? -or- The Hunter Gene

The topic of Attention Deficit Disorder came up in conversation last night while Will, Justin, Jussy's friend Donna Lee and I were consuming Chinese food after the Slocoaster show. So I thought I'd post some of the articles I've found here just to continue the conversation.

As long as I've heard of ADD it has always been known as a disease or a disorder, like schizophrenia or Autism, as something that is 'wrong' with a child. The author Thom Hartmann is the originator of the idea that maybe there's more to it than that.

He has a son with ADD, and as his sun was being pushed through the school system he was continually being told that he was 'damaged' and that his brain didn't work right. Mr. Hartmann wanted to come up with a way to re-frame what his son had, if for nothing more than out of the need to rescue some part of his self-esteem.

He had the idea that the characteristics exhibited by ADDers might be ideal for someone in a hunter / gatherer society. Always scanning one's environment, very quick to react to any external stimuli or changes in the environment, heightened sense of awareness. If a tiger steps on a twig behind you, you want to be able to react instantly.

But as we as a society moved towards farming and later industrial work we became sedentary and all the traits that made good hunters suddenly made for really bad farmers. The ability to perform a repetitive task like pulling weeds all day long, every day or to sit in an office and stay focused on a single task for hours on end is absolutely foreign to the hunter's world. One would imagine his whole spirit withering and dying in such an environment, or as we see with ADD kids, lashing out and being disruptive until we sedate them with drugs.

Now, even though this idea only started out as a way to make his son feel a little less awful about himself, it occurred to Mr. Hartmann that ADD seems to be much too common an occurrence for something that is supposed to be a genetic disorder (i.e., some random mutation of DNA that causes a certain negative effect). And now some geneticists and cultural anthropologists have picked up on the idea and there is growing evidence that what we know as Attention Deficit Disorder may indeed actually be a naturally-occurring trait in us humans that was once extremely useful and necessary for our survival. Not bad for something tat started out as a comfort story.

But the thing is, there are many jobs in our society that a hunter-oriented mind would excel at. It's known that ADDers make excellent pilots, for example, because of the need to constantly be aware of every instrument on the panel, and any subtle change in the way the plane 'feels' while flying. The goal now is to avoid damaging our kids who display these traits when we tell them that they are broken and their brains don't work right by actually understanding how it is they learn and tuning our education system to actually support these kids and bring them up to their full potential.

Links:

Thom Hartmann's ADD Articles Page

The Thom Hartmann Radio Program (listen online, highly recommended)

Listen to Mr. Hartmann's ADDA keynote address

Article: Damaged Hunters

Article: Genetic Research on AD/HD Finds Evolutionary Link
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By al - 8:21 AM | (1) comments | Post a Comment

Friday, March 11, 2005

Dream Diary - Continuing Love Affair With Technology Edition

I got home from work today and was extremely tired. After work I get a call from my friend Justin asking if I want to go out tonight, I say sure and then promptly fall asleep for an hour or so.

Dream
I am outside what is supposed to be 'that pub that everyone goes to but no one likes', the everytown equivalent of Myron's or the Chestnut. I meet Justin at the front, but tell him I have to run to the ATM to get some cash. The place resembles a long warehouse type building, but with a veranda all around it. In one corner of the building's exterior is a glass door opening to a long, poorly-lit and steep staircase.

At the top of the stairs is a small, circular room with an ATM placed by the wall. It's similar to the other ATM-like machine I dreamed about in that the display was the size of an arcade game.

I put my card in and do the usual thing, not consciously thinking about what buttons I'm pressing, and suddenly I hear a loud buzzer and my card gets spit out. So I put the card back in and it's suddenly asking me all sorts of personal questions like "what is your street address?" and "what day did you start school?" I'm too agitated to answer these questions, and I get to some sort of options menu, where it offers me the choice of two modes: "Overbearing, condescending, and verbose" and "curt and cryptic." (apparently I do make Windows / Unix jokes in my dreams.) But again the card gets spit out.

There's someone else waiting to use the machine, so I step aside and she bloop-bloop-bloops her way to the cash in deliberate efficiency, and I feel like an idiot. But back to the machine, one more try navigating the stranger and stranger questions, me wondering if this is because of the temporary card I got from my bank last week while they send me a new one because my old one got chewed up in my wallet. (real life and dream memories mixing is always a bit unsettling.) But this time when I get a question wrong a blue point of light starts shining above the screen. As I look up, a flash happens, and a Polaroid picture is printed out. (I assume it's of me but I didn't look at it.) Then sirens flash and a message saying the police have been called appears.

Back down the stairs I go, wondering what to do. As I walk along the veranda, slipping through anonymous bargoers, I meet up again with Justin and a couple of his friends, but then the police pull up in the next parking spot over from where we are standing. Two men get out, and are asking each other what they are here for? "probably a bar fight." one says.

Then I approach one, and say "no, it's for me. I was having trouble with the bank machi--" before I finish my sentence they have me handcuffed and have a chain covering my mouth.

I wake up after a bit of rough treatment by the police officers, and the first thing I think to check for is if I have my ATM card in my pocket. And now I'm off to actually go out and meet The Jussy.
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By al - 9:40 PM | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Their old self peeking through

I noticed a strange looking cord when unpacking my Power Mac G5 at work this week, at one end it had a standard USB adapter, but the other end had a female connector. It looked like a USB extension cable, so I thought “cool, I'll hook it to the mouse so I won't have tie the mouse to the keyboard”

Except the mouse wouldn't fit into the female end of the cord. Then I tried the old 'plug an extension cable into itself' trick, and that wouldn't work either. So I was at a loss to figure out what this thing is supposed to be for.

Turns out Apple's keyboard USB cable is shaped slightly differently than the standard size. Just different enough so that only it will fit into the USB extension cable they ship with their G5s. Heaven forbid you might want to use it to make a printer cable reach across a desk. Now, this still puts them above the rest of the computer industry who wouldn't ever consider supplying something beyond the absolute bare minimum required to get the computer running. I'm just perplexed that they would go through the trouble of creating a customized connector just to frustrate their users.

Old habits die hard, I guess :)
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By al - 9:40 AM | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Free Movie: The End of Suburbia

There's a movie playing with free admission this Saturday, March 12 at 2:00pm at City Cinema here in Charlottetown. It looks very interesting, I'll be there. Here's the film's home page: The End Of Suburbia and from City Cinema's web site:
The End of Suburbia: Oil Depletion and the Collapse of the American Dream

Rated To Be Announced ~ Runs 78 minutes

Dir.: Gregory Greene, Canada/US, 2004

Hosted by Barrie Zwicker. Featuring James Howard Kunstler, Peter Calthorpe, Michael Klare, Richard Heinberg, Matthew Simmons, Michael C. Ruppert, Julian Darley, Colin Campbell, Kenneth Deffeyes, Ali Samsam Bakhtiari and Steve Andrews.

Free admission. www.endofsuburbia.com

The Green Party of Canada is hosting the first PEI screening of the documentary film The End of Suburbia: Oil Depletion and the Collapse of the American Dream at 2:00 PM on March 12. Anyone interested in becoming involved with or learning more about the Green Party can join us after the film at the Gahan House for a casual meeting. Contact Sharon Labchuk 621-0719 or slabchuk@isn.net.

Part of the new wave of progressive documentaries that includes Fahrenheit 9/11 and The Corporation, The End of Suburbia has been featured at film festivals and community screenings all over North America. The Alternative Press Review has called it "one of the most important must-see documentaries of the year".

Since World War II North Americans have invested much of their newfound wealth in suburbia. It has promised a sense of space, affordability, family life and upward mobility. As the population of suburban sprawl has exploded in the past 50 years, so too has the suburban way of life become embedded in the North American consciousness. Suburbia, and all it promises, has become the North American Dream.
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By al - 9:18 PM | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Blogs are Literary Fast Food

Unlike most people I find it much easier to read on the computer screen than to read on paper. All of the things people complain about don't seem to bother me. Unfortunately that leaves me with a tendency to read a lot of short articles and blogs while I think that I should be spending more effort on complex, book-length pieces. The article in Library Journal by the new president of the American Library Association titled Revenge of the Blog People twisted a lot of knickers in blogland recently. The blog intelligentsia took offence at the notion that information presented in little blurbs and smatterings could be ruining peoples' ability to digest complex arguments and ideas that take longer than a few paragraphs to present.

He's right, of course, and it struck me that I often feel like a kid in a candy store when I'm on the internet, trying to get as much of a variety of information as I can and forgetting to pause to really digest something fully before moving on to the next interesting-looking flavour.

Just imagine the chemical acrobatics your brain must do as you read down the front page of MetaFilter. Each paragraph on some different subject, so memories and associations get yanked out left and right at a pace much faster than the slow, deliberate pace when reading a book on a single given subject. Essentially riding a motorcycle through the Louvre.

I heard an quote once that stuck in my memory: “A man should know something about everything and everything about something” but I feel like I want to know everything about everything. But the physical difficulty I sometimes feel reading books is starting to frustrate me. And then there's the fact that I can't easily search back through the books I've read with Google te way I can with the web. When I would read books in the library while doing research for some paper or project in university I would always take notes as I read and copy down important sentences or proofs or whole paragraphs. And as that became a habit I started doing the same thing when I read things on my own; "OK I'm reading this now, but I probably won't be able to find this quote again, better grab it."

Unfortunately things like these automated book scanners are still in the “if you have to ask, you can't afford it” range. Wouldn't I love to have one of those to feed an armload of library books to each week.

Oh well, back to trawling Project Gutenberg and hoping for wider adoption of Creative Commons publishing. Or waiting for this idea to reach the boonies: Library Lends Out Book-Filled iPod Shuffles.

By al - 4:25 AM | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

On Politeness vs. Pussyfooting

Here's a comment I left on this blog post where someone ruminates about the pitfalls of criticizing an idea and having the subject take it personally:

alexander o'neill

http://tvt.blogspot.com/

One of the things about keeping a site like this is that it's often our instinct to take our thoughts to there first, even as we're still in the process of working them out. I know there are times when a simple email to the person I'm thinking about would have given me a straight and informative answer to my conundrum, instead of airing a half-finished idea more-or-less publicly without first asking for their input.

i hate metablogging and hate hate hate the blogging as journalism nonsense, but one of the cornerstones of journalistic ethics is to try and get in contact with the subject of a piece you're writing to get their comment on it before you publish it. Maybe that's a bit of a common courtesy that we might adopt if we find ourselves the subject of too many raised eyebrows.

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 9, 2005 AT 01:45 AST | PERMALINK
This got me to thinking about how, despite one's best efforts, one does modify one's voice based on the audience. A couple of years ago I learned a lesson about linking to someone's website and jokingly making fun of the content. The person, whom I know in real life, was going through his referrer logs and saw the original message and took it personally, and then Chewie got involved, and the rest is etched in Immortals' history. But the point is, after that I became more aware that making fun of people even in the nice impersonal text medium, can still cause problems.

Now, I'm of the opinion that people are entirely too thin-skinned and can't understand the difference between being teased and being personally attacked. My experiences growing up taught e that there's a world of difference between someone who likes and respects you and who gives enough of a shit about you to try and be funny and rib you about some dumb thing you said, and someone who dislikes you or is simply a bully who goes after you in order to make you look bad. Maybe most people had too comfortable a youth to be familiar enough with the latter to be able to tell it from the former.

For me, if I'm teasing someone it's because I like them enough to make the effort, if I didn't like them I wouldn't devote any spare brain cycles to them at all, or just be swift and brutal.

Anyway, my point is, if you can't handle the people around you criticizing something you said or wrote or did, then congratulations, you're incapable of growing as a person. Hope you enjoy peaking, because improvement from here on out isn't in the cards. No one is capable of only having brilliant ideas, the road to a good idea lined with the gravestones of appropriately examined bad ideas. This refers to life in general, so I'm not breaking my rule about blogging-about-blogging, which I still think is as useful as calling someone on the telephone to talk about phones.

By al - 4:48 AM | (4) comments | Post a Comment

urg

Why is it, all day I wanted to get home so I could go back to bed, but when I got home I decided to clean the kitchen and fridge and it is currently several hours past my bed time and I am still awake. I am not going to want to wake for work in the morning....Urg.

By Sabrina - 12:05 AM | (2) comments | Post a Comment

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Memos: One day like the next edition

  • Everyone should go watch the latest Strong Bad Email, Best Thing, (H*R Wiki entry) especially if you are a fan of 80s superhero cartoons.
  • I mentioned this in a comment below, but if you are on Mac OS X, the best multi-protocol IM client is Adium. One of it's cool features is that it can speak the text of incoming messages. I like this because it means I don't have to switch windows to read every new message. It was also quickly used for trouble-making purposes around the office. “Alex eats boogers” done in the Bubbles voice being the pinnacle insult of the day.
  • The Apple Xserve is a beautiful machine, especially for the way you can just slide out its guts while it's still mounted on the rack. And the dual G5 processors are just lovely. Right now it's main job will be to replace a little G4 cube server that has actually done a wonderful job so far. Hopefully we'll be able to figure out some more intensive tasks for it sometime in the future. Meanwhile I'm eyeing the cube and waiting until no one's watching...
  • Never under-estimate the value of having an office with windows that open.
  • My dog's been jumping through a little gap in the back fence these last couple of days. I tried to watch her to see where she was getting out, but she knows she shouldn't be doing it so she wouldn't even go near it when she knew someone was watching her. I think in a lot of ways poodles are a little too intelligent. Plus her full-time job is thinking about stuff like that where I really don't pay much attention until I realize the dog isn't in the back yard anymore.
  • I just read a really excellent article on dominant dog training. The funny part is how instructive it can be in dealing with people that exhibit the same behavior traits, only replacing verbal and psychological cues for physical ones.)

By al - 9:46 AM | (0) comments | Post a Comment

How to tell you're about to have a bad day

How to tell you're about to have a bad day

Probably should have just slept in today...

By al - 6:55 AM | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Mark is right - Mastodon are awesome

I've not paid a lot of attention to the heavy metal world since about the mid 1990s, once the Power 30 was shuffled off the daytime schedule of Much Music and replaced with Loud, and new bands seemed only interested in out-heavying each other and the punk rock aesthetic cowed any aspiring band out of making melodic music.

Meanwhile, metal bands from the 1980s still claim space on record store shelves. Why? Because people still buy their music.

Thus my reaction when I got Mastodon's CDs, Remission and especially Leviathan, about three quarters through the first songs on each album, was to whisper “finally”, turn the volume up, close my eyes, and experience something I haven't had the pleasure of hearing for a long time, good, new metal music that built on the sound of death metal, re-integrated melodic guitars and singing from the now-unfashionable old metal era, and added blasts of straight-ahead rock bridges appearing when you're not expecting them.

And then there's the jazz element. The drum tracks, taken by themselves, could easily be the backing for any three-piece jazz set. The circular drumming style is something I remember standing out as being the other unique part of The Jimmy Hendrix Experience, where the drummer, Mitch Mitchell, was driven by competitiveness to try and innovate as much as Hendrix himself did on the guitar.

The songs also have a freer feeling than most metal songs, where rigidity is paramount and bands are praised for being able to play a song exactly as it sounds on the album to the note. The feel of Mastodon's songs, especially the ones on Leviathan, is that they are each exploring what sounds good and what they can do around the other players, re-trying previous phrasings with some new flavour. Where you could bring a stopwatch to a Metallica concert, with Mastodon you get the impression that they could continue playing and exploring around a given song for another 10 minutes.

The flip side of this direction is that each individual song isn't a well-defined and laid out atomic entity, where I could map out each of the parts of a Megadeth or Kyuss song and understand why they fit where they do, and see the carefully arranged quality of the songs, with Mastodon you are listening to a musician-driven rather than songwriter-driven piece of music, and it doesn't fit as comfortably in your memory as other bands' music, just as a John Coltrane or Artie Shaw record doesn't lend itself to being memorized note-for-note the way a piece of classical music does. But it's interesting that someone is finally taking this mindset to the metal world, and very satisfying to hear it hold up so well.

And if that wasn't enough ambition for a band who's first CD was only released two years previously, the entire album is an epic re-telling of Moby Dick, rock-opera style.

Links:
Leviathan reviews at Pitchfork, Allmusic and RuthlessReviews.
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By al - 8:40 PM | (3) comments | Post a Comment

Not surprisingly..

Looking at the # of views in my flickr photos, I see that no pretty landscape can compete with the popularity of any picture that contains a female.

The internet really is a rather prurient place.

By al - 1:26 AM | (4) comments | Post a Comment

Friday, March 04, 2005

“Messenger Plus!” is Spyware, Stay Away.

I've had a few people tell me I should install a program called Messenger Plus that purportedly removes the ads from MSN Messenger.

Well, against my usual good judgment I actually did install the thing, and now I've had days and days of battling a particularly harsh piece of spyware called “lop” that was installed along with the program. Neither Ad Aware nor Spybot S&D could fully get rid of it, and it would cause constant pop-up ads whenever I ran Internet Explorer, and put this awful looking toolbar at the bottom of my screen.

A near total excavation of my computer later and I think it's gone, I hope anyway.

Let this be a lesson, never install anything without googling around for user reviews from semi-computer literate people.

Related links here and here.
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By al - 12:21 AM | (4) comments | Post a Comment

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Quote of the work day:

"Do I have to wear pants? No? Good."

By al - 4:15 PM | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Dream Diary - No Happy Memories Edition

dream
Outside of head hall, at the back, meet v, v wants me to come with her somewhere, just to lunch, and takes off so I have to go after her, she's always just out of view.

The back door to head hall leads to a dark, musty and never-used passage way with stairs and a small door that leads to somewhere I've never been to. I hear a loud crash, which scared me, followed by a machine noise starting up. I get down the stairs and through a door to get into the hallway of the building, and move quickly through the halls to go after v.

The scenery is a combination of high school and university, with students doing very high-school things.

I get into a cafeteria that looks just like my junior high cafeteria, and v sees me and saves me a seat, so I sit down, then she disappears. I'm then surrounded by people I don't know who seem to be eyeing me with suspicion. .I don't want to get up because v was expecting me to save her seat, but she's disappeared. I'm then sitting there examining a mobile phone which I assume must be mine, but I've never owned one. The thing doesn't seem to do anything, but it is obviously an object of some importance as I'm afraid to lose it or have it taken if I use it to mark my place at my chair to get up and find v or get something in the cafeteria.

then the scene switches, and I'm outside my old junior high school. A woman with a motherly air about her, but who wasn't my mother, gives me a basketball. I just want to get to where there's a little net I can use it with, like I used to do by myself at home when I was a kid. Getting through the crowd feels like elbowing my way through a crowd of drunk people at a bar. After I get to where I want to be, people start trying to take my ball away, but I still feel compelled to shoot at the basket. So I have to take a shot, and run up to the basket to dive at the ball before this one other guy, dressed in a tan fedora, gets it from me.

I hear people say "You're not good enough, you can't have this." Not having my ball taken away has now become the most important thing, but I still have to keep throwing it at the net, and people keep trying to block me or grab at the ball when it comes down. Out of frustration with the people, I get get better at throwing the ball, until I can get it right through every time and just appear below the net to snatch the ball without much effort. But people still insist that I shouldn't have this ball, which has some great importance because of how I got it, or that's what I thought.

I woke up because someone I haven't talked to in forever started IMing me. The kind of person who is reliably stable in their life, but kind of boring in the nice, non-dramatic sense. I wanted to extract some kind of emotions-type answer out of her, beyond the usual small-talk, but none of the usual 'how have you been?'-type questions got me anywhere. The closest was when she said she missed me at the end.
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By al - 8:17 AM | (1) comments | Post a Comment

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Obligatory Oscars-related Blog Post

I didn't watch them.

Sorry.

By al - 4:41 PM | (0) comments | Post a Comment

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