Friday, June 30, 2006

Warning: Another Stupid Show Review - Immaculate Machine

I still can't get enough of Immaculate Machine's album, Ones and Zeroes, ever since CBC Radio 3's podcast show named the song "Broken Ship" as one of the best songs of 2005. Which is pretty damn cool considering Kathryn Calder's other band, The New Pornographers, pretty much slaughtered the Canadian indie rock world the same year.

Only a few people that I've talked to seemed to know Immaculate Machine very well at all. But their CD has been in my iTunes rotation since I got the album, and it's one of the few CDs that I know I've never skipped over a song from it whenever it's comeup. I an't say that about Pearl Jam or King Crimson or Fear Factory or Arcade Fire, so that's a pretty big deal in itself. I think it's basically impossible to get sick of their songs. (Though I have a pretty high tolerance for catchy songs, having once listened to 99 Red Balloons for three days straight as a way of passive-aggressively breaking off an ill-advised involvement I was having with a roommate.)

Anyway, fast-forward to this past may, I'm up at Baba's one night and get into a conversation with Andrea MacDonald, and we started talking about the band that was playing at the time, and I mentioned that they seemed to have that ability to nail an indie-pop melodic vibe really well, and mentioned that they sounded like this other band, Immaculate Machine, and that she should check them out. Well, it turned out that they were in teh #1 slot on her MySpace as I was telling her this, and that she was already working on getting this show booked and organized. Great minds obviously think alike.

Unfortunately the show was on a Wednesday night and at the Arts Guild, which means attendance is always going to be a crap-shoot. When Down With the Butterfly, the opening band from Halifax, were sound-checking, the place was nearly empty. Thankfully people started trickling in pretty steadily so it wasn't quite so embarrassing, but you always wish to see more people when good away band comes through.

Down With the Butterfly @ The Arts GuildDown With the Butterfly had a pretty interesting set. I hadn't heard them before aside from a few songs here and there, but I really like their messy-sounding but groovy pop sound. Just rough enough around the edges that you know they're a Halifax band but definitely never losing the pleasing element of their songs. The viola player was a nice touch, and I really like the song with the lyric "It's a beautiful world, but it tears us apart." Their stage presence was a little self-conscious at times, bending down to fiddle with knobs instead of effortlessly making a pedel-press look like you were just dancing, but it's not something you'd have noticed if you were just listening.

Then Immaculate Machine came up, and as soon as they started the drum intro to "Broken Ship" I got right up from my chair and went straight to the front of the stage. I didn't even ccare if I was the only one standing up, if there was no one else in my field of vision so much the better, then itfeels like a command performance.

Immaculate Machine @ Arts GuildThere are only three members, Kathryn Calder on veyboards and vocals, Brooke Gallupe on drums and vocals and Luke Kozlowski on guitar and vocals. I was really impressed how well they reproduced all the sound elements from their album in their live show. Kathryn's voice hit every note dead-on, and their playing was so tight that it just looked effortless.

Immaculate Machine @ Arts GuildSomething else I noticed was that Kathryn managed to make playing keyboard in a rock band not look like the odd guy out, standing off to the side and not moving or anything while the rest of the band took care of the enthusiasm part. She moved around, clapped, played a tambourine and even did a twirly dance thing while still playing her line. I even caught her air-drumming, which I've posted as a video at the bottom of this post.

All three members had pretty substantial singing parts, and it definitely wasn't a typical 3-piece rock band where it's really just one guy that does all the interesting bits. It was really impressive to see Kathryn left-hand the basslines for every song as well as singing and doing the melodic keyboard bits all at once. Every note was right from the CD, it seemed, right up until the end when she did the opening bit of Europe - "Final Countdown" before finishing, which was hilarious how it caught everyone by surprise. Much credit also to Jamie Hanus who did the sound and balanced everything perfectly.

The thing I love about Charlottetown is that any given town with 40,000 people in it shouldn't get as much good music happening here as we do. Partly that's thanks to people like Andrea who put in way more effort than they get recognized for to organize shows that happen under the radar of the tourism machine that seems to dominate our landscape. If this was Toronto or Vancouver I probably wouldn't have been able to just casually start chatting with the band members as easily as I can here. I actually managed to have quite good conversations with Luke and also with Kathryn wherein I fought off the urge to ask way too many trite questions about The New Pornographers or simply ask "why are you so aweseome?" over and over.

After this they're off to New York and the Northeastern U.S., so it's even more impressive that they'd stop here along the way.

Here's a little video I captured with my camera during "No Such Thing as the Future":

By al - 3:54 PM | (3) comments | Post a Comment

Fun with Z

A couple nights ago I had the good ol' sleep paralysis happen to me. It's been close to 2 years since I last had it. It is really spooky if you don't know what it is.

Basically, your brain is awakened from REM sleep before your body does. So you're fully conscious, but have no motor control. I do get the sensation that I can move my eyes about the room.

It's pretty cool in a horror movie adrenaline high kind of way. My natural reaction is to fight it, every time. I will my limbs to move and after awhile I break out of it. Mentally, it feels like 2-3 minutes before I have control. I feel pressure, but no hallucinations. No aliens, no monsters, no nothing. It must be because my mind is trained to be skeptical. I had bad nightmares when I was young though. I feel normal once I break out of it.

Then there's lucid dreaming. This is better than any game you will ever play in your life. This is as rare as sleep paralysis. I've had maybe 2 or 3 experiences total. And the last one was about 4 years ago.

It's fantastic. You're awake in the dream world and can influence the dream. You know you're dreaming. I've never had any control over the initial conditions of the dream, but I recall it's usually in a city. Then of course I go off and do crazy Neo-Superman things. Flying, deforming objects, creating objects, wooing teh wimmins. It's The Sims on a grand scale. I can see it now: Will Wright's SimSleep.

I can feel when I'm about to awaken from the lucid dream as things start vanishing into a white haze. Then my eyes open. What other stuff is there? Oh. Knowing you're about to enter REM but then losing control to REM sleep and unable to lucid dream. Dreaming you've woken up in your dream, going about your daily life, then waking up. I'm a deep REM sleeper I think. Occasionally waking up with numb limbs is fun. :) Loud noises snap me out of sleep.

I don't get enough sleep during the week so I make it all up during the weekend. Crossing the international date line always messes me up for about a week. I've found the easiest way for me to combat it, is to just force myself to stay awake those initial days. Then my body gets so bloody tired as to start a fresh sleep cycle timed to the new hours.

I find sleep science fascinating. What if we never slept? Meaning what if biology didn't need to power down and refresh? What would our world be like? Always on. Would we miss dreaming? Would we be less creative?

By TVT - 1:15 PM | (2) comments | Post a Comment

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Slight change in plans

Duc, 6:30 today at Trinity for Supes. If I don't get in touch it's cause I forgot to charge the cellphone. I'll see you there.

Is it wrong of me that I'm more excited to see the Spidey 3 trailer? :)


Clark Kent
Now there was a real gent...

By TVT - 3:09 PM | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Immaculate Machine tonight @ Arts Guild

OK I know there are a few people who have become hooked on cbc radio 3's podcasts of independent Canadian music.  If you have been listening to them for the past while you've almost certainly heard of Immaculate Machine, theyre an indie-pop group from Victoria that shares a lot in common with The New Pornographers.  I'm really stoked that they're doing a show in Charlottetown.  After this they're off to play some dates in the Northeastern US. Here's their MySpace page: http://myspace.com/immaculatemachine.  Go and listen to a few songs, especially Broken Ship, which is apparently the song that the singer now resents for being so much more well-known than the rest.  Hopefully they still know what's good for them and will play it tonight, though.

The show starts at 9pm, they will be accompanied by Down With The Butterfly, who are also pretty fantastic.  Anyone who normally isn't into the bar / live music scene should totally check this out, since it's an early show and the Arts Guild has a great setup. Andrea MacDonald set this show up, which is funny because I was talking to her at a show a few weeks ago and mentioned that the band playing reminded me of Immaculate Machien, just out of the blue, and it turned out she was in the process of getting the show going.  Coincidences rule.

By al - 10:27 AM | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Monday, June 26, 2006

Dying Empires

What is it about large organizations that makes them pathologically want to crumble in the most spectacular way possible? From people to corporations to nations, the final acts of those that grow too big is to try and take on some tremendous endeavour that ends up being too big for it, but it doesn't see the mistake in time, or ignores it and presses on. The Soviet Union tried to stage a full-scale invasion of Afghanistan, and it ended up bleeding them to a shell of their former power.

You would think that 21st century technology businesses would be at least a little more adept at predicting failure and staving off the unaccaptable risk by taking another route. Yet right now we're seeing the beginning of what could be the end of Microsoft and Sony as consumer software and electronics makers, respectively.

Windows Vista is shedding features faster than they were initially dreamed up for the announcement bullet-point list, to the point now where it will end up being a more expensive, slower version of Windows XP that will throw even more security dialog boxes at you and do a better job at stopping you from doing what you want with your own purchased content.

And the Playstation 3 is going to cost so much in retail that even if the development goes as planned, which it won't, only the most absolutely money-drenched twenty-something males with too much disposable income and no commitments will consider buying one, because yet more sequels to the same 4 Namco games is not exactly what the video game world has been clamouring for.

But it won't come out on time. What they're attempting to do is build an entire specialized computing platform and have the very first revision be perfect. Intel and AMD and Apple and the graphics card makers have the luxury of being able to release and revise their product in revisions, with small quantities of the initial run released to get the market primed and find problems early. Sony, on the other hand, has designed a processor, graphics platform and media format all to be developed and finished in time to be part of this single system that will generate no more profit for it than the previous generation consoles, but at a much higher capital cost. This is a loser's game to any outside observer.

Complexity kills. Even the world's biggest software maker can't throw enough resources at a problem when the complexity grows exponentially to the amount of code that has to work together and yet remain backwards-compatible with poorly-designed legacy code that gives full access to the internals of the system.

The huge, over-planned and over-thought MULTICS OS is a footnote of history, while the slapped-together, purpose-driven and practical Unix snuck out of the corner of Bell Labs to dominate. The Space Shuttle is seeing an embarrassing safety record while Russian rockets have to be used to re-stock the ISS.

I think we're about to get an un-ignorable lesson in what happens when a giant no longer thinks he has to look at the pitfalls on the road ahead.

By unspoken contrast, of course, we have Apple and Nintendo, which respectively have produced much more efficient products that do the same things as far as most people are concerned, but who had the flexibility, bravery and agility to throw everything out and start over with something new when they had to, and to concentrate on their comparative advantage, and find the most practical ways to accomplish the rest without re-inventing everything.

By al - 9:00 PM | (1) comments | Post a Comment

Saturday, June 24, 2006

I Heart Box

Would one of you kind gents replace my South Park avatar with this one? K THX. :)



By TVT - 10:38 PM | (3) comments | Post a Comment

Steve

I'm down with The Hawking. I like the guy. He brings astrophysics to the layman. I like pondering the Big Picture but lack the intellect to solve the Big Equations. So folks like Stephen, Carl, and Michio come to my rescue.

But he's simplifying this whole colonization thing. Sure we could build it. Sure we can survive there. But surviving isn't exactly thriving. If you think this biosphere is precarious, magnify that a thousandfold for the Moon and Mars.

The logistics are insane. We've failed in our attempts to create a closed biosphere. We haven't a firm grasp on the daily interactions of our own planet. A sustainable independent colony is still a ways off. More than a century I'd say. Just pointing out a flaw in the current thinking. We're concentrating on the "how do we do it?" gee-whiz engineering, but not thinking about the bacteria. We've got a whole support system free of charge that has to be replicated. That's a tall order.

There's a tendency to equate the rapid pace of advances in computing with technology in general. I dunno about this. We lack the drive. SpaceShipOne had me on the edge of my seat in 2004. But where are we now? Nothing. It didn't exactly jumpstart the private sector space race. Which is a shame.

Space enthusiasts are always asked why? Why spend the money? We've got many other problems to sort out. My answer is always in the form of a question. Why not? Why get up in the morning? Why do we even exist?

To continue to ponder why? That's why. It's not as immediate as curing cancer, ending world hunger, and admittedly a host of other more important matters to mankind. It's the neat side effect of gaining sentience all those centuries ago. To ponder the Big Picture. We're stellar matter. We're simply the universe trying to understand itself.

Why? It's a fundemental child's query. I'd be nice if we're still around seeking answers.

*This wistful rambling brought to you by TVT*

By TVT - 5:38 PM | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Classical? OMGWTF?

You're shitting me. I've been listening to Bach this whole time?

Mission (Fuga) by angels:


Forget Kenny Loggins. I had no idea classical trance and spanish guitar were so awesome to kill by. Kidding aside, I'm loving the diversity they're throwing into videogames these days. I think Halo set a trend with the whole Gregorian chant thing.

If Trang gets here before September we are so headed for the big tour. Frikkin laserbeams!

By TVT - 5:00 PM | (1) comments | Post a Comment

Friday, June 23, 2006

Are we getting lonelier?

Pretty interesting article posted to MetaFilter today: Social Isolation in U.S. Growing; Study Says

Americans are far more socially isolated today than they were two decades ago, and a sharply growing number of people say they have no one in whom they can confide, according to a comprehensive new evaluation of the decline of social ties in the United States.

A quarter of Americans say they have no one with whom they can discuss personal troubles, more than double the number who were similarly isolated in 1985. Overall, the number of people Americans have in their closest circle of confidants has dropped from around three to about two.

The comprehensive new study paints a sobering picture of an increasingly fragmented America, where intimate social ties -- once seen as an integral part of daily life and associated with a host of psychological and civic benefits -- are shrinking or nonexistent. In bad times, far more people appear to suffer alone.

More interesting than the story, which talked about the fact that people are lonelier but didn't explore the causes, is the discussion that ensued. Here are a few quotes:
We've been entrained (yes, I just got done watching Century of the Self) to shop for the best everything for ourselves;


Our individual roles in society are more than ever defined by how we make and spend money. And, both activities lead to isolation as we compete with each other to get it and then insist on defining our own self-created, self-occupied realities by how we spend it. As we are constantly informed by the manufacturers of everything from deodorant to cars: it's all about me! me! me! and the collarary of course is screw you, you, and you.

Heh, no I'm not bitter, I just think it's obvious that people are made relational (most anyway) and the aquisition of things is replacing the personal enrichment and validation we might otherwise get from relationships with others who may even be different from ourselves. Instead of opening up to people and asking for support we go to the mall and buy clothes, electronics, and or excess food. It's sorta like masturbation as opposed to sex with a real human. It's easier, we're in control, and it's far less messy but ultimately hollow.
posted by scheptech at 2:09 PM AST o
and this:

A true friend is the greatest of all blessings, and that which we take the least care of all to acquire.

Francois de La Rochefoucauld
To acquire or to keep: friendship, like marriage, is more a matter of hard work than leisure and ease. Well met is not necessarily long kept. I have friends I have known for decades who have no other friends they have known for more than a year or two. People clutch at friendships like straws and yet, once have grasped them, drop them a week or month later for whoever is shiny and new. It's very sad to see how disposable we all have become to each other.
posted by y2karl at 2:15 PM AST on June 23
And a bit of a thought about how technology might be shaping our attitudes:
Didn't RTFA (and I'm not caught up on the thread), but my thought is that as technologies improve (TiVo, caller ID, etc.), we're able to focus more on familiar media, content, and people and filter out the random noise (lousy primetime TV, unrecognized caller ID, etc.). I never watch live TV anymore, preferring instead to watch programs that my TiVo has culled from my predetermined preferences.

In general, this is a good thing. It's now easy to keep in touch with "close" friends across the country and, generally speaking, across the globe, via a select list on an instant messager, VoIP, or e-mail. But in doing so, we often shut ourselves off to the noise of strangers, neighbors, and such.

Metafilter: There is Good Stuff in the noise.

Actually, this group is the closest to a bunch of random cool people that a lot of us have. Awwww, group hug!
posted by LordSludge at 2:24 PM AST on June 23
This is quite interesting to me. We've learned to go shopping for everything, and perhaps don't have any other frame of mind to use when interacting with people, since it's become so pervasive. One take:
It's commercialism in a broad sense. Whatever times and places there have been in people's lives for doing something non-commercial, have been squeezed out, paved over, charged for.

Notice how many of the meeting places mentioned have as their primary purpose buying or selling something - coffee shops, bookstores, other stores.

Religion used to be a major non-commercial semi-public space (in some sense) for a much wider range of people. Now as said upthread, religion fills the role mainly for conservatives or right-wingers. It depended on dogmas and rules such that when people abandoned them (for good reasons), the community factor went too.

There's also a division between single life and family life - the culture (here in USA anyway) makes single life a temporary condition, people pair off and disappear from the group of friends until it fades away; then families tend to be insular.

Most of my social interaction has been workplace-connected in recent years...

The communitarians have not been helpful. All they've come up with is trying to articficially manufacture a sense of community with totalitarian zoning laws.

The best hope, it seems to me, is in diminishing the influence of business (esp. corporations) in all areas of life.

Anyone who's read the Bowling Alone book, did the author identify a main cause, and what if anything did he recommend?
Is it in the best interests of business to have people spend less time with each other, or alone? Aloneness can induce unhappiness in most people, save the staunch introverts, and television and media tell us to buy things to relieve this sense. To consume is to indicate your agreeing to the rules. Someone sitting on a park bench by himself watching people go by is probably a weirdo or a pervert. Someone sitting on a park bench sipping a Tim Hortons(TM) coffee is just a perfectly normal fellow. Continuous TV ads showing kids eating candy and being happy in our childhood, through those idiotic mentos ads showing people interacting in quirky, funny ways, but only while consuming a product, are perhaps more insidiously effective at stigmatizing non-consumption than we might want to believe.

It's been famously stated that even Americans' leisure time is simply dominated by activities designed to spend themoney they worked so hard to make during teh week.

I'm going to lift the phrase 'Creative Loafing' from the name of a Southern US alternative newspaper to describe any act that has no cost or value, and might help a person pierce the bubble that's trapping them telling them they're unhappy and need this one more thing to finaly stop feeling empty.

By al - 8:14 PM | (7) comments | Post a Comment

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Not sure what to write about lately

I guess I haven't been writing very much lately. Coming back into the usual routine after travelling and the usual upheavel of a new job is making for a drought of easy material to get me typing. The 5 second recap is that some stuff happened that made me happy, something happened that made me less sad than I thought it might, and I'm finding myself to be a lot less willing to put in the effort to let external things bring me down.

There really is something to this meditation business. I've been doing it for a while now, and just getting the feeling that you exist, that you accept the fact that you exist, and that you exert a force on the world equal to the force it exerts on you really changes the way your neurons react to things out there in the world.

For as long as I can remember the buzzword among guidance counsellors was always "self-esteem". It was vital to ensure every child feels good about him- or her self by removing opportunity for hurtful experience. Educators, and misguided parents, have tried to build structures of positive self-images and happy kids without allowing us or teaching us how to lay down a foundation of simple self-acceptance.

Western religions even try to prevent this from the very moment we are conceived "in sin", before we even get here we are supposedly making the world a worse place by being the product of a lineage of an evil, overly-curious woman. The church as it exists would fall apart if people were allowed to accept their own existance as a wonderful, miraculous phenomenon.

We don't begrudge a pebble's right to exist by the side of a road, yet we feel ourselves somehow less an integral and necessary part of everything than the tiniest piece of the scenery.

By al - 12:02 AM | (1) comments | Post a Comment

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

My niece...Nimue Tobin Davey

Nimue Tobin

By Sabrina - 8:03 PM | (3) comments | Post a Comment

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Hii

Watch me make Duc buy a Wii on launch day. See? Easy huh? :)

Ming, did you know Greg's got a 360? There's a guy with a SilentGreg gamertag. And here I thought he spent all day surfing for pr0n... er autocrossing. Yeah. That's it.

By TVT - 8:57 AM | (3) comments | Post a Comment

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Oh Mine Papa

I'd like to thank my dad for making good on his promise. He returned to my mother and her baby after ferrying a ship full of refugees to Malaysia. I'd like to thank my father-in-law for waiting in line for days on end as they rationed out kerosene, blankets and supplies, so that his wife could give birth to my future wife. I'd also like to thank him for allowing me to marry his daughter. In this part of the world family is of the utmost importance. So I'm glad he was able to accept this stranger and his city boy ways.

To the both of you, you are the measuring stick when the time comes for me to be a father. I know I'll never be able to surpass your deeds. You both triumphed over difficult times, ones I will probably never experience. You've always cared and provided for your families. I can only hope to be half the man your are.

This is my tribute to you, Dads...

By TVT - 1:26 PM | (1) comments | Post a Comment

And I thought "Asbestos" was an unfortuante name for a town..

Ontario is a weird place. Link.

Swastika, Ontario

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Lucky Cross Mill in Swastika, Ontario (1918)
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Lucky Cross Mill in Swastika, Ontario (1918)

Swastika is a small community founded around a mining site in northern Ontario, Canada, and today within the municipal boundaries of Kirkland Lake, Ontario.

Swastika is a junction on the Ontario Northland Railway [1], where a branch to Rouyn-Noranda, Quebec leaves the ONR's main line from North Bay, Ontario to Moosonee. The Northlander passenger railway service between Toronto and Cochrane serves a station at Swastika, with connecting bus service along Highway 66 into downtown Kirkland Lake.

The town's other claim to fame is its association with the Mitford family, who owned the Swastika Mine for which the town was named. In particular, Nazi sympathizer Unity Mitford's association with the town – she was conceived there – impressed the superstitious Nazis, to whom the swastika was an important symbol.

During World War II, the provincial government sought to change the town's name to Winston, in honour of Winston Churchill, but the town refused, insisting that the town had held the name long before the Nazis co-opted the symbol.

By al - 1:17 PM | (1) comments | Post a Comment

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Dance floor Etiquette

Okay, so I am aware you have been working all day, and it is stressful, and that night when the band comes on, all you want to do relax and have a bit of fun. But remember, there are dozens of us out there is the same boat. You might not think that anyone's day could have been harder than yours, but that is only cause you are not living their lives.
But that is another post.

When the Band does come on and you really just want to dance away all those stressful memories, here are some things you can do to prevent making someone else's stressful day worse, by ruining their bit of fun.

1) First, leave the kit bags, purses and such off the dance floor, if it is not here to help you do what you are doing, leave it home, or find a safe spot in eye shot you can put it. You might think that you little purse won't hurt anyone, or that little neat back pack you got from Mountain Equipment coop will get in anyone's way. Well grow up. As you are flailing you arms around that purse is swinging around hit people, gently if you are still sober and more like mace if you are drunk, you are knocking people off their grove, spilling their drinks and worse of all that back pack is taking up space that could be used for some more creative dance moves by the person next to you. LEAVE the bags off the dance floor.
2) Drinking on the dance floor. Now I get a bit to crazy for drinks on the dance floor so I leave them off, but many people don't do that, so drinking on or near the dance floor is okay, but a couple of things could help the night out, bottles, keep the thumbs over the top, keeps the precious drops of ethanol from landing on the floor and making for a slippery floor, glasses are hopeless, just try to keep from swinging your arms around too much. Glass should be done carefully, cause it really sucks to kill the mood, with a hunk of glass in your foot. Which is really kind of the big thing, if you are drunk, not buzzing but drunk, drink off the dance floor so less glass ends up in peoples feet.
3)Going crazy on the dance floor is of course important, but if you have smashed your hips, butt or whatever into the same person three times, and you were not intending to, switch up you feet a little for a different angle, try not to piss people off on the dance floor, cause that sucks. Moving around just a little will help everyone feel more comfy and free on the dance floor.
4) If you are not going to dance, move...Watch from the side lines, not in the middle where you are going to get bumped, just take a second to consider people are there to have fun, if you like to watch, go to it, just don't plant your self in the middle of the crazy dancers,and then get ticked at them cause they are dancing.

By Sabrina - 10:21 AM | (3) comments | Post a Comment

Friday, June 16, 2006

Time for an Upgrade

Well, people might not have noticed, but I rebooted my server last night. So, it was down for about 5-10 minutes. Apparently, X/GNOME and UPSMON managed to leak all by 2MB of physical memory plus all my swap space so it was just swapping processes like crazy. I guess I can't complain too much, it ran over 96 days straight. I'm thinking I might want to clean up the server again and install something newer. Might try the new Mandriva. Maybe Fedora Core. Definitely something that works with my UPS out of the box.

I've been thinking about upgrading my gaming rig lately as well. The GeForce 4200Ti is getting pretty antiquated. Been thinking about what to get. A dual-core CPU and all latest gear would be nice, but that's a bit expensive. Not sure there would be a big jump in performance either. I might be able to make do with just a video card update, only gripe currently is Guild Wars is a bit laggy. A bigger monitor would be nice too.

By Ming - 4:01 PM | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Note to Charlottetown Transit Riders

The bus drivers in charlottetown seem to have their watches set to about 5 minutes fast, from me asking a driver what time he had, and they seem to get pleased with themselves when they are ahead of schedule.

This wouldn't be such a problem in a real city with a real transit system, but if the next bus doesn't come for another hour and a half it can be an issue.

By al - 3:49 PM | (2) comments | Post a Comment

'snot fair

My brother gets his own game. Gawdammit.

By TVT - 10:55 AM | (2) comments | Post a Comment

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Oh, PEI

You know what the best part of stepping off the plane in Moncton last night was? Breathing in cool night air. The air doesn't get any cooler in Mexico at night, the sun goes down but it's still warm and humid. It is nie neough, I even slept outside a couple of times, just lying back on a lawn chair with a pillow.. but there's something that just makes you want to take a huge, deep breath when you get back home and the air hits your face.

This rain, on the other hand, can take a hike. I didn't see a single cloud while I was down there. Not one.

By al - 4:28 PM | (2) comments | Post a Comment

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

In praise of Pixar

The streak continues. I swear. They could just put eyeballs up on the screen and tell an entertaining story. Nothing but pitch blackness and a pair of peepers. I dare them. Pixar presents... Eyes.

Keep hiring Cliff Clavin. He's box office gold. My only gripe would be, why couldn't they just use the original Tom Cochrane tune? The new version was okay, but lacked something. The funny (sad) part is that those polygons have far more personality than the entire cast of Fast and the Furious 3. Which I will also go see. *slinks away*

By TVT - 10:36 PM | (5) comments | Post a Comment

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Weird Mexican Candy, Vol. 2

Candy endorsed by rappers? Very classy.


Weird Mexican Candy, vol. 3

Bimbos and Power Kids edition.

000_0628.jpg

By al - 1:45 PM | (3) comments | Post a Comment

Monday, June 12, 2006

Weird Mexican Candy, vol. 1

Aren't there days when you just feel like a Milch? I can tell you now that the answer to that should be "every day".

Weird Mexican Candy

My single biggest hope right now is that I come across a TV ad with an animated Carlos in it while surfing through Mexican satellite TV.

More weird Mexican candy

By al - 2:05 AM | (4) comments | Post a Comment

Cacti-Mundo


Cacti-Mundo
Originally uploaded by Alejandro the Great.
Next time someone asks you what the exciting hot-spots in San Jose del Cabo are, you just tell them about one thing, the cactus museum.

By al - 1:44 AM | (1) comments | Post a Comment

Horses on the side of the road from Pointe Tuscadero

If we weren't on the highway of death we would have gotten out to watch these little guys some more.

By al - 12:21 AM | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Video: Driving to Pointe Tuscadero



By al - 11:19 PM | (1) comments | Post a Comment

Me, mom, Bethany (bridesmaid) and Dad at the Wedding Rehearsal


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Katherine and Jason


Katherine and Jason
Originally uploaded by Alejandro the Great.
Newlyweds

By al - 8:12 PM | (1) comments | Post a Comment

Wedding Party


Wedding Party
Originally uploaded by Alejandro the Great.

By al - 8:10 PM | (1) comments | Post a Comment

Flower Girls


Flower Girls
Originally uploaded by Alejandro the Great.
The little one in the background, Kisa, was the flower girl for teh

wedding. Her older sister, Kiara, is in the foreground.

By al - 8:08 PM | (1) comments | Post a Comment

Sea of Cortez


Sea of Cortez
Originally uploaded by Alejandro the Great.
Going around these rocks in a kayak isn't quite the level of excitement of going down rapids, but the waves are still pretty powerful, especially in a tiny little kayak.

By al - 7:48 PM | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Sunrise at Pointe Tuscadero, Los Cabos, Mexico

So I only spent a day at the Hilton, then we drove up a severe dirt road along the sides of somme pretty sheer cliffs to get to a little resort in the middle of nowhere. The wedding ceremony was here, with a couple of days before to just hang out and relax. I was still pretty wound up from the trip and such and didn't really sleep much the first night. But I did get to spend the first night out on the deck looking over the water. The temperature was just about perfect, and the sounds of the ocean were the perfect accompaniment to sleep.The stars were also really bright. (Oddly, the big dipper seems to be upside-down here.)

At one point I was doing a meditation / yoga routine that I've been building up onmy own. Part of it involves taking in sounds, telling yourself "let the sounds play with your eardrums and blend together. There are no good sounds. There are no bad sounds. Only sound." At this point I heard the "eeeeee" sound of a mosquito near my ear. That sort of broke the mood as I said "there's a bad sound!" andd swatted at it.

That was the only one that I noticed, though. Much better than the mosquito population on PEI.

I was awake just as the sun was breaking over the water. It happened so quickly that as I was looking at the picture I had taken, and looked up again, it was up another couple of degrees in the sky already.

Sunrise and sunset here are at a pretty consistent 12 - 13 hour interval here, so the days in June are fairly short compared to PEI's.

By al - 7:32 PM | (2) comments | Post a Comment

The weekend

This was suppose to be it. Friday when I made my way to work I was in a great mood, as of 5:30 pm, I was free. I was suppose to be able to sleep in. I envisioned sleeping until 10 am ( late for me cause I get up at like 5 am most mornings). I picture Saturday as this wonderful day. I as going to get up late, then go to the farmers market, followed by the gym. Then I was finally going to get my house cleaned up and make all kind of treats. I had invited people over for the evening, for some fun. It was going to be a super great weekend.

For those who don't know my life. I rarely get to sleep past 6 am even on the days I don't work, because I also coach every Saturday at 7:30 am, and a lot of weekends are spent at swim meets, that often start at 7 or 8 in the morning. Which means I am busy, and rarely get the time to do all the weekend stuff like clean the house go out. But this weekend I did not have practice in the morning.

Then around 4:30 on Friday really too a big huge bit out of my plans. I was headed to practice and I got the call from my supervisor. I was going to need to work after I finished practice then I was going to be needed to work at 8 am. My heart sank. And then today I was told I have to work Sunday morning as well. Weekend shot all to hell.
So instead of sleeping in I was up at my regular time, trying to get my house in a reasonable order, cause I was not giving up on having some fun. I begged my sister to do a bit of laundry for me and that the deities out there she did it. I don't have to work naked this week. I worked the whole day until 5:20 pm, in a small room no windows and then I raced to the gym, then ate some crappy food that was quick to cover for no time to make a real meal. Then attempted to look put together when people showed up.
I had some fun when people did show up, but fortunately for me only a few showed up, cause the big crowd I was expecting may have been to much for me.
now in 8.5 hours I got to get up and deal with the world again.

By Sabrina - 1:17 AM | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Hilton hotel los cabo 018

Yeah, just a little nicer than the Staybridge suites in Markham.

}More on my flickr page. Too lazy to blog.

By al - 1:16 PM | (3) comments | Post a Comment

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

see bee see

The CBC radio interview I gave will be airing tomorrow, June 8, sometime between 7:15 - 8:00AM. It'll be posted to their website later.

1070 AM - Moncton
90.5 FM - Campbellton
97.9 FM - Bathurst / Miramichi

http://www.cbc.ca/informationmorningmoncton/

By TVT - 9:08 AM | (2) comments | Post a Comment

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Jonses

I gave up PC gaming a long time ago, right around the 2nd generation or so of Nvidia cards. I lived through the whole Voodoo craze (motto: buy two!) but now they're just getting silly.

I'll stick to the predictable 5 year console wang-waving cycle. It's a heckuva lot easier on the wallet. The Wii is fresh, even MS and Sony have those motion tracking camera games. The PC? Still stuck in its tired waltz of FPS/RTS/MMO. *sigh*

Then there's the hard drive eating installs and patches...

By TVT - 4:07 PM | (2) comments | Post a Comment

JOE: Java Outline Editor

Like anyone else who's used Mac OS X and then been forced back into the Windows world for a job, there are a bunch of programs you probably got used to that you are now without. The old saw about there being more software for Windows than for Mac doesn't account for the fact that 99.9 of Windows applications are unusable, spyware-ridden garbage.

One of my favourite OS X apps was OmniOutliner, a lovely little notetaker that let you organize notes hierarchichally, instead of my usual practice of frantically writing things down in Notepad andgoing back later and re-organizing them. OmniOutliner lets you easily add sub-notes to any note, move items and whole trees around with the mouse, and show and hide sub-trees. The first thing I used it for was for a travel chcecklist before attending a conference, and it was just about perfect.

Anyway, here I am on a Windows computer, and I finally found a program that has the same basic function. JOE - Java Outline Editor. This is an open-source, Java-based single-pane outliner that does the same thing as OmniOutliner's basic functions. Of course, it doesn't look nearly as good and the controls aren't as fluid, but it does the job so far, and it exports to OPML format so you can use its output in other applications.

Here's what JOE looks like:



Not as nice as OmniOutliner, to be sure:



But Windows users don't deserve nice software, apparently, since so few actually pay for good software. Vicious cycles will do that.

By al - 10:04 AM | (1) comments | Post a Comment

Saturday, June 03, 2006

IGN Dreamcast Relaunch

Now this is an odd development, but it got me to go to IGN's site for the first time in ages so they must know something. IGN has relaunched dreamcast.ign.com, and apparently their plan is to re-review every single DC game.
History would have you believe the Dreamcast went quietly into the night several years later. We say, f@#$ history.

As Sega fans, we just can't let the system die. The Dreamcast tallied roughly 250 games released in the U.S. We're going to play every last one of them and provide you with new impressions, screens and videos. How have Sega's classic games held up over the past few years and, more importantly, which are still worth playing? One by one, we'll examine the entire DC library to answer those questions. It's going to kick ass.

So sit back and enjoy the sweet beep of your dead VMU battery. Even though your friends and family may believe the Dreamcast is dead, rest assured, it's thinking..
I'm sooo jealous. I've read rumours that playing burned games on a DC will wear it out, so I'm actually trying to stick to playing the 15 or so games I actually bought for the thing. Maybe I'll go trolling on eBay for more one of these days. Or perhaps start harding the systems as well.

There was something weird about the DC, this aura of knowing humour. .like the nerdy kid in high school who grew up and became comfortable with himself and stopped trying to please everyone around him and just did his own thing.

I have to say I've been a little disappointed with Sega's incarnation as a 3rd party software maker. Sure they've done some good versions of their franchise games, but they just haven't gone out on a limb and let Yu Suzuki or Yuji Naka (creators of Virtua Fighter and Sonic the Hedgehog, respectively) just run with some weird idea they might have.

Maybe the economics of churning out games just doesn't allow you to devote a whole team of developers and artists to something that doesn't have a projected proft automatically attached to it, where if you're making games for your own console, there might be some esoteric value in showing what your creation is capable of, and exploring new ideas a little more.

Why does Soul Calibur, a DC launch title from 1999 still look as good as games that come out today? And people were suckered into thinking the Playstation 2 would be some kind of revolution in console graphics. I guess people were just really hurting for a sub-par DVD player and the next Tekken sequel.

The excitement surrounding the Nintendo wii is, I think, not all to do with the fancy controller. I think there's some excitement to see passion and creativity have a chance to win over corporate committee-driven design and marketing. I just wish Sega could bring what it had back then to the table and help Nintendo mop up the floor with the interlopers.

And now, since I'm alone in my parents place taking care of pets while they are in Mexico, I think I'm going to go hook up lil whitey to their big 40" TV and play me some Metropolis Street Racer or maybe go wander around the village in Shenmue for a while.

By al - 9:34 AM | (4) comments | Post a Comment

Friday, June 02, 2006

Coming Home for Another Weekend

Well, I'm finishing up my stint here in Toronto and I'll be heading back to the island this afternoon. I'll be here for the weekend and then I'm off to Mexico early Wednesday morning.

I guess I'm just not a sun and surf kind of person since the idea of this trip isn't getting me excited at all. I'd kind of wish the timing was better, since I'm just starting work and am actually wanting to get into some kind of rhythm with what I'll be doing. Oh well, I'll endure I suppose.

My big thing to do before leaving is find a t-shirt or somesuch with a stridently left-wing or subversive message on it for the benefit of any born again christian Americans I will surely be having my fill of while there.

In the meantime I'll have the weekend to worry and second guess myself and over-prepare while forgetting something obvious. That's usually how I go about flying anyway.

By al - 12:32 PM | (4) comments | Post a Comment

Thursday, June 01, 2006

How TVT and I will retire at 35

From Wikipedia: Link.

"Thanks to Washington University researchers' recent identification of naturally-occurring intestinal bacteria that influence fat storage, bacteria-containing shakes may emerge as a slim-down solution. To maintain the ideal gut flora balance for optimum weight loss, dieters would chug a shake or two a day, possibly containing bacteria harvested from the stomachs of slim people." According to the June 2006 Popular Science Magazine. This change is perdicted to be available in 20 years or so.

See that? My guts are going to be worth millions.

By al - 5:57 PM | (2) comments | Post a Comment

Snob

so after 2 months of waiting and several attempts to ship it, I fianlly received my AWAI's Romance writing course...I am SOOO excited to take it!

The course itself is moderated by fellow published writers and best-sellers and the whole focus of the first half of the class is to help you finish and fine-tune your manuscript and the second half is understanding the business of writing and getting your manuscript to publishers.

I am hoping that having this course help me will (finally) get the damned book finished.

Now, I started studying the course (with gusto) over the weekend and the first assigment is to read 10-20 romance titles from a wide range of authors, publishers, time periods, etc....and make notes on what does/doesn't work for you and what you would like to try or avoid for your own.

And I realize that it's a totally egotistical and snobbish thing to say but it's actually helped me realize that I can totally do this......because after some of the crap I've read, I MUST be able to do better...

A proper romance book (despite all stereotypes involved is markedly thoughtful, poignant and endearing.

Nothing pisses me off more than reading a romance book and having there be major discrepincies in character motivations, integrity or even worse- choppy and coarse writing.

I was reading one of these unfortunate books on Sunday.

The heroine is proclaimed as this fiery, fiesty and strong young woman who falls in love with her widowed neighbour...but he is having trouble getting over the death of his first wife.

Throughout the book there are these moments when the Hero lashes out with grief -which could be understandable but the episodes are so sudden, with no provocation or underlying motivation...and the things he says to her are SO mean, cruel and hurtful that they're hard to justify. The so-called strong, fiesty heroine justifies not getting angry because she "loves him so much".

He tears her down- with the most appalling insults - and she just takes it! At one point I tried to convince myself that he wasn't meant to be the Hero and that the REAL Hero was going to show up and make her realize how well she should be treated...

The insults and attacks border on abusive and quite frankly I was pissed that she was still in love with him.

On top of that, she starts saying that she knows she loves him -unconditionally and always has- rather early on in the book..and she uses this knowledge to happily forgive him for his outbursts. Then, near the end of the book, she has this 'Big Revelation' that she does in fact love him...she asks the question out loud, "how long have I loved him?'

At which point I freaked. I actually yelled at the book "SINCE PAGE 32 YOU DUMB TWIT!"

I threw down the book and didn't touch it for 2 days. I forced myself to finish it for the sake of the course work but I didn't care anymore. It was painful and in the end I didn't care that they were together.

Nor could I buy into his paltry apologies for his earlier behaviour...there was no sense of true contrition for any of it.

I just kept thinking, "That's right, buy her some flowers and say you're sorry...that'll make her feel better until the next time you lash out.."

That is how the cycle goes, isn't it?

By chantal - 4:03 AM | (2) comments | Post a Comment

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