12.23.2007

Lyrics

GIVE THE MAN A DRINK

A storm came in one Christmas day, a-raging from the east
The air was whipped with ice and snow, unfit for man or beast
The local pub ran thick with fools at any given time
But Christmas day, it's long been known, the brew is at its prime

The fireplace was golden bright, the air was full of tales
In ev'ry eye, a wink and smile, in ev'ry hand were ales
The pub door, she did open, and there stood a bearded man
There came a shout to close the door from all the gathered clan

The bloke took off his crimson hat and sat down at the bar
Clad all in red and trimmed in white, his clothes were most bizarre
Before the man could say a word, the barkeep made him pause
"This one's on me, my jolly friend! No charge for Santa Claus!"

With a (Hey!) and a (Ha!) and a (Ho Ho Ho!)
Santa's comin' in from the drivin' snow
With a (Hey!) and a (Ha!) and a (Ho Ho Ho!)
Give the man a drink; he is always on the go

The wind she was a-howling and it cut right to the bone
A winter's night is not a thing to have to face alone
The man in red, he shrugged it off and laughed right in its face
He traveled all around the world and did not leave a trace

With a (Hey!) and a (Ha!) and a (Ho Ho Ho!)
Santa's comin' in from the drivin' snow
With a (Hey!) and a (Ha!) and a (Ho Ho Ho!)
Give the man a drink; he is always on the go

Now you might find it slightly odd to hear this tribute sung
But Santa claus has always been a hero to the young
His work's now done another year; it's harder than you think
So treat him as you'd treat yourself and give the man a drink!

With a (Hey!) and a (Ha!) and a (Ho Ho Ho!)
Santa's comin' in from the drivin' snow
With a (Hey!) and a (Ha!) and a (Ho Ho Ho!)
Give the man a drink; he is always on the go
With a (Hey!) and a (Ha!) and a (Ho Ho Ho!)
Santa's comin' in from the drivin' snow!

12.18.2007

Now I Know

I wrote this.

So now comes this.

And that's that.

12.04.2007

11.16.2007

Natural Philosophy

I've been watching Garrett Lisi's physics paper make the rounds from physics news to Slashdot to, finally, cbc.ca over the last couple days. I've also been reading furiously trying to understand exactly what he's done. I have a rather feeble grasp on it but what I do understand of it is very super awesome.

Mr. Lisi, who has cultivated a surfer dude image that the media is eating up, has posted a "Theory of Everything", a model of physics that encompasses all known particle (described by "The Standard Model") and all four forces (described by "The Standard Model" plus "General Relativity"). Now, TSM has been very good to physicists and answers pretty much all questions except it has no room for gravity (or if you prefer, General Relativity, which describe how spacetime works). Both of these models are well-tested and considered pretty much "right". The problem is they don't work together. You can describe space and planetary orbits with one but not the other. You can describe how a proton + an electron = a neutron with one but not the other. So physicists have been trying to find a theory to smoosh them together. The best candidate so far has been string theory.

The main problem with String Theory? It sucks dog balls. Now, of course this is my opinion but I think a theory that is untestable is not an actual theory. Sure, they were working towards something testable but it's been years and still nothing has come of it. These aren't very good arguments against ST but intuitively I think it's plain wrong. Of course, intuition and science are polar opposites but my opinion is just that, an opinion. However, it's certainly not a unique one in physics.

So when Lisi's theory comes along, physicists like me (well, actual ones instead of armchair ones) are going to eat it up. It's a really nice piece of work that has some serious weaknesses but those weaknesses are not enough to overcome the truthiness of it.

The gist of it is that we only need 3 space dimensions and one time dimension (as opposed to ST's minimum of 6) to describe the physical universe and each particle is simply a different facet of a 248 parameter system called E8. Now having said that, imagine if I described people as "water with stuff in it" and you'd get a sense of how inadequate that is. I'd never be able to really explain it because, frankly, I understand it very, very superficially. But I did find a nice slashdot post by "iabervon" that someone might find useful:



Okay, the context is that you've got particles, and they're fundamentally all the same, but they're "turned" in different ways. Think of a ball with 3-color LEDs inside: you can rotate it around three axes, and move it in three directions, and you can also cycle its color and change its blinking pattern. Particles are like that, except that the topology is weird: it's not back to the same orientation until you turn it around 720 degrees, instead of 360 like normal objects. The "gauge group" is the rules for how you can change things. For example, the total color of the universe is white: if you turn something from red to blue, you have to turn something else from blue to red; but you can also create a pair of a green and a purple (anti-green). They write all these rules up in math, and it's tricky because a lot of the features vary continuously (that is, you can rotate something an arbitrarily small amount). And due to the interaction of the rules for one property with the rules for other properties, there are only certain combinations of properties that you can get. They work out all the combinations that you can have and those are what you see as "different" particles that your experiments show. Of course, we don't know what the rules are, and we're trying to figure that out from what combinations of properties we've seen and which ones we're speculating are impossible. And it's hard and takes a lot of calculation to figure out what a candidate set of rules would even mean as far as results. And people are looking at known results and trying to describe them better than "we've done a billion things, and a billion things happened".

Now, the math of rules for how things can interact turns out to be sort of limited; there are basically 4 normal cases, which are boring, and then there are a few exceptional cases, which are interesting. Of these, the hardest to prove stuff about is E8, and it's just now becoming clear what combinations it allows. It's like one of those puzzles where you press a corner and lights change, and you have to turn off all the lights, but it's got dozens of corners and dozens of lights and every time you press a corner a bunch of things change at once, and there are different kinds of corners and it also matters exactly what angle you're holding it at, so there are hundreds of things you can say about each move.

And the mathematicians working on E8 recently said, "well, you can get positions like this and not like that", where "this" and "that" are big complicated lists. And this physicist read that paper and said, "hey, those lists are familiar; I made similar lists of particle interactions". So the proposal is that particles work like E8 in what kind of rules they follow. And it's a really nice theory, because E8 is essentially the most flexible set of rules you can have without it falling apart into just anything being possible (and some rules or properties just not mattering).


Now I mentioned a few weaknesses and, to be brief, they appear at first glance to be two big ones:
1) The equations we already know that are supposed to describe some particles don't come out naturally from the system. At one point, there's a step where an equation needs to describe something. He chose the equation to make the system give all the equations we would be expecting. So that tweaking is troublesome but not a deal-killer, for all we know, this might arise form something else.
2) How gravity comes into it is not fully fleshed out. It needs to be developed in conjunction with Loop Quantum Gravity which I seriously know nothing about. However, the 'hooks' into the system are just sitting there waiting to be plugged in. It's apparently sitting there ready to have all the numbers filled in but Lisi doesn't know enough about it to make the right assumptions and patch that section up completely.

The reason this TOE is big news (and there have been plenty that were big news that fizzled out and this might weel be one of them) is that this one has 2 big things going for it:
1) it's a nice match of what we know in physics with what we know in math (and by we I mean about 100 people on this planet who know this). This structure has a very strong symmetry using well-developed tools in both fields. Lisi just happened to make the connection between the two (ah, synthesis!). Now the connections he's made and how he's made them may turn out to be spectacularly wrong but it seems to have passed an initial BS vetting and closer scrutiny will certainly poke more holes in it but it's at least right enough to be simply wrong instead of "pulled out of someone's butt".
2) Whether it's wrong or not can be shown as it makes some potentially testable predictions about some particles we have not yet seen which is why the physics community so long exhausted by string theory's eternal promises of "not tonight, honey" is jumping up and down at an "undo this bra clasp and I'm all yours".

The best description for all of this I've heard, and I saved it for the end because it's the most succint, is that it's the new periodic table, perhaps the physics equivalent to chemistry's famous grid. Of course, it's a grid that's 453,060 by 453,060 but to describe universe, it would be disappointing if it were any simpler.

BTW, the paper is called "An Exceptionally Simple Theory of Everything" which is intentionally tongue-in-cheek because E8 is a system of "Lie algebras". These can be classed as "exceptional" or as "simple". E8 is both of these so Lisi gets bonus points for the wah-wah factor.

If you are morbidly curious about the details, check this out for some discussion.

11.11.2007

Would Smell As Sweet

Chinese restaurant name #1 seen in Toronto:
"C'Est Bon"

Fishing and Hunting area in Ontario:
"Cast & Blast"

Chinese restaurant name #2 seen in Toronto:
"Ho-Lee-Chow"

10.17.2007

100 Things About Me (67-100)

67. I get sick at least once every two months and it sucks donkey.
68. Spiderman would beat Batman.
69. There is nothing sexier than a pony tail, a white cotton tee and blue jeans.
70. The Gaussian distribution is the best distribution.
71. I lost my original wedding ring.
72. Twix from Europe is the best chocolate bar. I can't eat the Twix here.
73. My wife's default cell phone ring drives me nuts.
74. Fireplaces are awesome.
75. I'm good at ball hockey and so-so at soccer. I'm pretty much useless at everything else.
76. I don't give new people a lot of time to adjust to my sense of humour.
77. One summer during high school, I watched Days of Our Lives.
78. I did not attend my college or Bachelor's graduation. I did attend my MSc graduation which was at the Bell Centre.
79. I got my diploma from Dick "Don't Do Drugs" Pound, who is also the Chancellor at McGill.
80. I play pool better with more alcohol in me.
81. Some days I just feel like a battery and I exist solely to charge my kids.
82. I have way more movies and TV shows to watch than I have hours in a day.
83. I have a post on mystery I'd like to write when I have the time.
84. I'm stuck in writing my novel but I think I'm slowly becoming unstuck.
85. I'd like to buy a decent guitar some distant day.
86. I don't want a dog because they are too much work.
87. My Magic play-group is slowly but surely dissolving.
88. I think I have another McSweeney's list in me.
89. There's a park-style bench that was left behind by the previous owners of the house that was in ruins. I plan on restoring it next spring/summer.
90. I still haven't edited a Wikipedia article like I said I was going to.
91. While Mario Galaxy will be pretty fun, I will disappear when Mario Kart for the Wii shows up next year. Online play!
92. I played City of Heroes for 6 months 3 years ago. My character's name was Dark Tendril.
93. I played the TMNT RPG when I was in high school. My character's name was Master V; he was a mutant wolf with a motorcycle. His arch-nemesis was a polar bear mutant.
94. The White Album is objectively the best Beatles album.
95. I have a library card catalogue, the old wooden kind, to store all my Magic, Star Wars and LotR cards.
96. The CBCRadio3 ezine website is one of my all-time favourite websites. I am still a little sad it's gone. The archives are still there at least.
97. Get Your War On has given me one of my favourite sayings: "Is this truly the only Earth I can live on?"
98. I think my son is a vegetarian. That's pretty cool. "Nothing with a face!"
99. In my wallet: 5$, driver's license, carte soleil, birth certificate, credit card, debit card, debit card, Costco Card, old receipt, expired car insurance card (oops).
100. I'm narcissistic enough to think that people might want to know 100 things about me.

9.20.2007

Damn Your Hide, McSweeney's

"Well-written, but we're going to pass, I'm afraid..."

The Four Stages Of Poetry

I:
Grounded

Your oppressive regime
Paints your face black
I am a slave to your whims
I want my PS2 back


II:
wo
manly

hands reach my sensitive Y
a gentle

caress!

finds me

(thank god
my father
paid for
the abortion)


III:
In the morning light
Horus stills his breath
Amaterasu recedes beneath her pillow
Each feigns slumber
Though Montréal bustles
In the morning light
The Mythological Cycle begins anew
And Sisyphus sighs
Because the first to rise
Has to make the coffee
In the morning light


IV:
the nurse who bathes me
modestly tries not to look
at my erection

9.15.2007

100 Things About Me (34-66)

34. I was a college radio DJ. I played the Friday 4pm-6pm shift for 5 people in the cafeteria.
35. I was one of 5 editors for my college literary journal. It was called "Arcady: The Swimfruit Edition"
36. I was also a cartoonist for the college weekly. This was before everyone used clip-art for their comics. I can hardly draw a lick but I guess it was either me or whitespace.
37. I watched about 40 or so Canadiens games on TV last season. I went to one at the Bell Centre. I plan on watching 50+ this year.
38. I had an operation when I was 5 to insert a tube into my ear canal. My ear was not draining properly and it was causing me frequent ear infections. It was removed when I was 12.
39. I've done improv with the guys from Fubar. (That's a popular movie in Canada.)
40. I know how to use a metalworking lathe. Those things scare the hell out of me.
41. I was in my high school choir. I am very tone deaf so this ended after 2 years. I'm not a big fan of singing.
42. I lived in Ottawa for 4 months on 2 occasions working as an intern at Nortel (as a co-op student for those who know what that means).
43. While living in Ottawa I went to a performance art show. There I saw my first theremin, a painting robot, a guy reading spoken word while wearing a hazmat suit and wondering how much drugs were involved in the production of the whole affair.
44. Whenever my wife and I travel, we buy a lithographic print from 1875-1910 (ish)depicting a landmark of that town. We have 5 pieces so far.
45. The first time I played ADnD I fought a skeleton, broke my sword and survived. I didn't play again until 3rd edition came out.
46. My bachelor's party was a trip to a paintball field with my friends. We were all too exhausted to do anything but try to stay awake at the strip club that evening (I swear!).
47. When people say weird things, I try to imagine it as the title of their autobiography. "I Can't Talk, My Mouth Is Full Of Hot Dog". Yep, that fits...
48. I have 2 pictures on my desk at work: one is from my wedding day and the other is of my 2 kids from just after Sara was born.
49. I don't believe that kids should be lied to about Santa. I think I will get into trouble with my wife one day.
50. I drink at least one cup of tea each day at work. I can't stand coffee.
51. I love to go canoe camping. Having to canoe to your site is just too much fun. The longest I've ever been camping is 4 days, 3 nights. I'd like to go for a full week someday.
52. I am really starting to get into DragonForce. Is it that they kind of sound like Metallica of old? That they put video game music in their guitar solos? That their lyrics sound straight out of a generic fantasy book? Do they exist solely for my entertainment?
53. I will download songs of the internet and if I like it enough, I will buy the album on iTunes (but I'll use the higher bitrate files I downloaded).
54. I bought an 8-bit album online for 5 bucks and it was so cool. 8-bit music is music made from specific consoles (or more generally "chiptunes"). The album I bought was by Bitshifter using the Gameboy audio card.
55. I can't stop playing Guitar Hero II. I should beat Hard sometime this month. Expert frightens me.
56. I love old maps. We have a set of 6 old maps of Montreal/Quebec/North America in our living room. I would love a print of the the first Mercator projection map. It's gorgeous.
57. I prefer the light from the newer fluorescent bulbs. It's much whiter.
58. Someone once told me this and I believe it to be true: Squirrels are rats with good PR.
59. If you don't like Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, I'm afraid we will never really be friends.
60. We swapped my old set of Energy speakers for smaller, less visible ones when we moved. They sound ok but my Energy speakers sounded great. I could probably use a sub-woofer whereas I never missed it with the Energy set.
61. I get easily fixated.
62. Blackjack is the only game I will play in a Casino. I am still lifetime positive.
63. There is no optimal solution for storing photos on a Mac. iPhoto eats HD space and won't back up metadata, Aperture is sloooow, Lightroom won't import movies (wtf?).
64. I own the full Robotech series on DVD. It actually holds up better than 90% of the stuff I used to watch as a kid.
65. I have a birthmark under my right armpit. My brother has the exact same mark. My son does not.
66. The PVR set to always record the following shows: 30 Rock, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Flight of the Conchords. Everything else is my wife's idea.

9.10.2007

100 Things About Me (1-33)

Ok, I might as well do this one.

1. I'm not sure I can come up with 100 things of note.
2. I've been inside the White House. It was a tour.
3. I've sat in on English Parliament while it was in session. It was both dull and cool.
4. I've walked across the Brooklyn Bridge. The towers are made of stone.
5. I've walked across the Golden Gate Bridge. That sucker is long.
6. My family says I could read at the age of three. I don't believe them.
7. I have stories that I love to tell. I think I'm an ok storyteller. I wish I was better.
8. I can't breathe solely out my nose because of the way my head is constructed. It causes me a lot of problems.
9. I always lose weight on vacations. I need a new job.
10. I have written a book but only the first half has been revised.
11. I like it when my kids fall asleep on me. One at a time, please.
12. I love board games. Not Monopoly, Cities & Knights of Catan.
13. I expect to get at least one bingo in every Scrabble game I play.
14. I was in a Scrabble tournament with three former World Champions: David Boys, Joel Wapnick & Adam Logan. (They all go to the Montreal Scrabble Club. I never came close to playing them.)
15. I don't understand people who buy Apple products new when the refurbished ones are, like, 20% cheaper and just as good.
16. Escalators are not made to be walked up. Look at the height of each step in every staircase ever made. Now, look at the step height on an escalator. Case Closed.
17. I like nerdy, goofy jokes. One atom says to another, "I lost an electron!" "Are you sure?" "Yes, I'm positive!"
18. I used to have a Quebec Explosives Permit. My first physics job was working for an explosives company.
19. I have Secret clearance with the Canadian Government (The three levels are Confidential, Secret and Top Secret). I'm not joking.
20. I'm allergic to cats. So is my wife. Otherwise, we'd have one.
21. M.I.A. is the only musician I will still keep close tabs on.
22. I once vowed to learn to play Master of Puppets on the guitar. I'd say I only learned about 15% of it.
23. 3.14159265357989 is as far I can go.
24. I think Paul Dirac is amazing. The Dirac Delta function is an awesome math hack.
25. I played Metroid so often I started trying to finish it as fast as possible. My record was 1 hour 13 minutes. The record verified time is 17 minutes and change.
26. I can listen to a song 1000 times and still not have the lyrics memorised.
27. Me and my neighbour in Vancouver used to play Thomas Gradin vs Richard Brodeur, 1-on-1 hockey.
28. I wish I could bring out my Lego but it's still a choking hazard.
29. It makes me feel old when Ben tries to use the Gamecube controller like a Wii controller by waving it around. "You mean you have to use your hands?!" "That's like a baby's toy!"
30. I created the Wikipedia "Perfect Strangers" page (which is now a disambiguation page).
31. Maxwell's Equations are the best equations.
32. I very much look forward to the day a child does not wake either me or my wife up on the weekend. I'm guessing we have at least 8-10 years to go.
33. Grimlock was my favourite Transformer character but Astrotrain was my favourite toy (my neighbour had one).

9.06.2007

[[Birthday]]

Last year I decided to start a little tradition for myself. On my birthday (or as close as is feasible) I would edit one wikipedia article. I wouldn't just correct some typos, either. I would re-organize, clean up, and polish to a shine any existing article of a reasonable size that badly needed editing.

2006's selection was Blaise Pascal's entry and I'm happy to see that most of my structural changes and language work is mostly intact. The page has evolved quite nicely and remains fairly readable. Unfortunately, it also seems to have been my last edit. I'm a big slacker...

This year, I was just going to wander around the "wik" I am wont to do but I wondered if someone else might find a more worthy candidate, a page that is pretty sizable and in total chaos, a page that needs a serious overhaul and streamlining. In that spirit, I've opened up the comments. Oh, yes, I went there. (hmm, that was the "Oh, no, you di'int!" of 2000 which in turn was the "Oh, snap!" of 2005.)

So post a wikipedia page that you come across in the nest week or so that you think could use some elbow grease and if it tops whatever page I flag in work needed, I'll get down on it (you know, that video makes me think I need to update my video drivers).

8.24.2007

Rejected

I submitted a list to McSweeney's a few weeks ago and it was rejected today (probably because of my item from 1236). I was encouraged to submit again so I may just do that. In the interests of not wasting work, here's a blog post:

Famous Trades in History

1940
To Germany: Japanese signature of Tripartite Pact
To Japan: Samurai Tradition

1863
To England: Codification of Football (soccer)
To Germany: Samurai Tradition

1773
To Boston: 250 Years of Peace
To the Green Monster that lives in Boston Harbour: Tea

1415
To England: Victory at Agincourt
To France: Jeanne D'Arc (formerly Mary Oldcastle, orphan)

1337
To Asia: Riches from the Silk Road
To Europe: Bubonic Plague

1236
To Spain: Cordoba
To Al-Andalus: Whatever is inside the Kaaba

600 BC
To Greece: Triremes
To Egypt: Nile Delta

2 Billion Years Ago
To Cell: Mitochondria
To Goop: E. Coli hosts (To be chosen at a later date)

7.27.2007

Whatever Gets You Through The Night

I recently had my daughter christened/baptised/whatever. I personally don't believe in any of it so I cringed inwardly when we "renounced Satan" on our daughter's behalf. I briefly thought about not going through the whole affair but there were only negatives to doing so. It's a brief ceremony, my mother and father-in-law would have thrown flaming crucifixes at me (never mind the endless arguments), it's a nice party to celebrate her arrival into our family and, trivially, if she wants to be married in a church, the priest won't hassle her.

I grew up in a house with my mother's beliefs, Roman Catholic a la max. This is the woman who proclaimed, "The writers on Star Trek are so fanciful. All these aliens... Everyone knows God made man in his own image." She loves Star Trek, by the way. In any case, she now spends her retirement going on pilgrimages with "visionaries who talk with the Virgin Mary". Needless to say, when I'm over I keep the conversation to what Ben ate that day. My brother fights her on these things. I just don't have the energy. She believes what she needs to believe, more power to her. Whatever gets her through the night.

Religion, spirituality, these things just don't do a lot for me. I just don't have that drive to find "something larger than myself". I have enough trouble with "something the size of myself". The search for the afterlife is just greedy and organized religion has so many problems I don't even know where to start. Churches can provide a sense of community for the lonely (I love churches, typically youth groups, where all people do is go on social events and share thoughts like, "My god is a carrot." "Mine is celery! Let's go on a roller coaster!!") and they do provide guidance to people with poor judgment (and believe me, I know people like this; I wish they had found God sooner. You can't pay me enough to be around them now but at least they've stopped harming themselves and all around them), so churches aren't totally without merit but none of this appeals to me. I have a community of very good friends and my immediate family. My judgment, while so very far from perfect, hasn't landed me in any serious trouble.

I don't begrudge other people trying to get through the night. It's dark, cold and there are wolves after you. Trying to impose order on chaos, seeking a higher authority, interpreting patterns, these are very human acts, very understandable acts. I really just don't find any of it relevant. Is there a God? Don't care. Do you believe in God? Don't care. I'd really rather know if you're interested in playing Mario Kart with me. Ultimately, I'm responsible for my own behaviour because that's really all I can truly control and I will hold you to the same standard.

7.16.2007

Continued Stochastic Neural Processes

1) I've got mononucleosis. I know you totally want to make out with me right now. You have two more weeks to try your luck.

2) I'm very much excited by Flight of the Conchords, a new show by two musical comedians on HBO. If you get chance to give it a chance, do so.

3) M.I.A. is coming to the Osheaga Music Fest here in MTL but it's 70$ and while you do get access to a ton of pretty good acts, the only one I really want to see is her. I'm bummed, dude. At least her new album, Kala, is coming out in August. The two tracks I've heard so far sound great.

4) Weezer is going back into the studio to record another album for 2008. They are one of the few acts from my college days that I haven't dropped from my auto-buy list. Nothing has even come close to the Blue album but the stuff they put out is still very listenable. Mind you, I was saddened that Beverly Hills got so big that I got super sick of hearing it.

5) Kids are cool. A lot of work but they're still cool. Sara is starting to get interactive so that's fun.

6) I bought Punch Out (NES) for my Wii's Virtual Console. That was and is a great game. I now have R-Type which I suck at but love to play, Super Mario World which I never played coz I did not have a SNES, Mario Bros (the old-school arcade version) which no one but me finds amusing. Paper Mario just came out, I might give that whirl if/when I get more Wii Points.

7) I really want to play Shadow of the Colossus which I've had sitting on my shelf for months now but I feel compelled to beat God of War first. It's an OK game but I'm not enamoured with it. I still have Metroid Prime II to finish as well. I don't think I'll pick up the new Mario Soccer game coming out. I'll hold out for Smash Bros. It'll be the first one I own. It looks pretty good. Hmmm, I also have Advance Wars 2 and Zelda:The Minish Cap to finish for my Gameboy. Both excellent games but I only play them while travelling (a self-imposed restriction). Hey, I have Final Fantasy V for Gameboy, too.

8) I now plan on catching up on my gaming now that I have mono.

6.14.2007

Just Two Things

1) My female counterpart recently bought a book called "The Happiest Toddler On The Block". I only caught the title at a glance and I thought she was reading "The Stupidest Toddler In The World". I really, really want to write that book.

2) I've had a post title in my head for weeks now but I'll never really get a chance to use it: "Soylent All These Years". God, I pray Tori Amos eats a corpse.

6.07.2007

I Don't Do Banal

Poor Sara.

Ben's blog was lots more fun and had better entries at this stage. I'd love to be able to write more text entries but it's always easier to just grab one of our many pics, clean and crop it and slap it in the blog. My energy levels just aren't what they used to be. My level of awe is diminished this second time 'round. My excitement and my ability to communicate the excitement I do get are muted. I refuse to post any old picture and I won't write any old thing in their blog. I'd rather leave it blank than fill it with filler. Obviously some posts are stronger than others but I try to keep it at a certain level of quality.

I have a few ideas that I'd like to do but there never seems to be enough time. I'd like to leave them the blogs as a kind of 21st century baby book. I find it likely, however, that they will abandon it, force me to abandon it or maybe even delete it out of embarrassment at some point.

In any case, I have enjoyed it to this point and would like to enjoy it more but I guess I'm better off spending my efforts raising my kids instead of documenting them.

5.31.2007

A Jury Of My Peers Would Never Convict

Who do I have to kill to get some sleep around here?

Wait... Don't answer that.

3.29.2007

Behind The Scenes

Captive sailor reportedly writes letter calling for Iraq withdrawal

The letter came on the day the UN Security Council accepted a watered-down statement expressing "grave concern" at Iran's capture of Turney and 14 other sailors and marines in the northern Persian Gulf.

The statement also called for an early resolution of the problem, including their release.

Britain failed to win support for a stronger-worded statement that would "deplore" their capture and detention and demand their immediate release.



British: "We strongly feel that we must deplore this action!"

French: "Bon, I sink we muhst ulways deplore sotch acshawns of ze Arabes, quoi?"

Russians: "Hmm. Maybe it better to just say 'tut tut'. Da?"

British: "Tut tut?"

Americans: "Aw hells no! Howzabout we jes say 'we's gonna gitcha'. We's gonna gitcha! That's got zing!"

Chinese: "I say, couldn't we simply express 'grave concern'?"

French: "Did someone say grève?"

British: "The chinaman is utterly incorrect despite his incongruous grasp of the English language."

Chinese: "What can I say? I adore the BBC. If we ever get a free press, we'll be sure to imitate it."

French: "Bon, who eated ze last donut, quoi?"

British: "How about 'condemn'?"

Russian: "Too harsh. Da?"

British: "'denounce'?"

Chinese: "'mildly disapprove'"

British: "'reprove'?"

American: "Who gots a dollar? I need to run and git me some Doritos from the vending machine outside. Oh, afore I go: 'grave concern'" [leaves]

French: "Oh? Anozzehr grève? Bon, eet's about time, quoi?"

Russian: "'a hint of concern' Da?"

British: "I could settle for 'grave concern'".

Chinese: "That is fair. Very good. So let it be written. Next item on the agenda?"

French: "Ze global warming effect: true or faux?"

Chinese and British: [at the same time] Faux shizzle!

[laughter all around]

3.11.2007

Beat Boxes

I'm flat-out beat. Having two kids is a lot of work and while it was initially more than twice the work it doesn't feel that way anymore (though that just might be me getting numb to the situation). What has me knocked out is that we've been going nuts on the house while I've been home on three weeks paternity leave. A group of old high school friends came over today (nearly all of the people from high school I keep in touch with; I can't believe all of these kids of ours since we were just kids when we met). We raced furiously to get the house in as good shape as we could. That's the best side-effect of holding a party. After a superficial tidy, the house is in much better shape after the fact.

We totally emptied every box that belonged on the main and second floors, put up nearly all of the shelves we planned, bought and installed missing furniture, rugs, and decorations. The house, for the first time, is mostly absent from a giant pile of boxes in each room. We've been here for 3 months and the place is only now beginning to take shape.

It's kind of frightening to think about the basement where we piled a lot of the stuff we weren't sure what to do with and with enough painting equipment to start a store. And then there's the outside of the house come spring...

2007 is going to be the year of the house, never mind the two kiddies.

3.08.2007

I Do Love Movies

A meme, from Paul.

1. Name a movie that you have seen more than 10 times.

10 times? Hmm, if there is one, it would probably be Star Wars: A New Hope but I don't think I've seen it ten times.

2. Name a movie that you've seen multiple times in the theater.

I saw Phantom Menace three times on opening day. If I had dressed up, at least I could have hit rock bottom.

3. Name an actor that would make you more inclined to see a movie.

Right now, Will Ferrell. I think we find the same things funny. But he'd have to have a writing credit to get me in the theatre.

4. Name an actor that would make you less likely to see a movie.

I never go out of my way to see an Adam Sandler movie. I don't think I've ever sat through one in its entirety when I've happened across one. And I sat through Deuce Bigalow II.

5. Name a movie that you can and do quote from.

Clerks. Very quotable.

6. Name a movie musical that you know all of the lyrics to all of the songs.

Nope. Sorry. Maybe Wizard of Oz. I can muddle through most of those songs. Or even more likely, The Sound of Music. My mom had the record. If under duress to recite lyrics, I guess I'll go with Sound O'Music.

7. Name a movie that you have been known to sing along with.

I ma not known to sing along to things. Except Mario Party. "Party star, oh, party, party staaaar!"

8. Name a movie that you would recommend everyone see.

That's pretty subjective. Something that might appeal to everyone, everywhere? Lord of the Rings trilogy seems like a good answer. A recommendation that people might not have seen? Leon: The Professional (European Cut). The european cut makes an awesomy movie even awesomier.

9. Name a movie that you own.

Ha, I'll say Chicago because that's the one movie I own that people might mistake for my wife's.

10. Name an actor that launched his/her entertainment career in another medium but who has surprised you with his/her acting chops.

How about George Clooney. He's still around? That's a lot of charm.

11. Have you ever seen a movie in a drive-in? If so, what?

Nope. Have wanted to though.

12. Ever made out in a movie?

Nope. When I go to a movie, I like to watch it. I can make out any darn place.

13. Name a movie that you keep meaning to see but just haven’t yet gotten around to it.

Punch-Drunk Love. If that ever crosses my path, I'll sit through the whole thing. I really dig P.T. Anderson.

14. Ever walked out of a movie?

Nyet.

15. Name a movie that made you cry in the theater.

Big Fish made me cry on an airplane. Other than that, no.

16. Popcorn?

Yeah. Sometimes nachos with the orange petroleum refining leftovers.

17. How often do you go to the movies (as opposed to renting them or watching them at home)?

I wish it was more often. But The Movie Network HD will have to suffice until I can ignore my children for 2 hours+ at a time.

18. What’s the last movie you saw in the theater?

Like Paul, Casino Royale. I took my mom to see it.

19. What’s your favorite/preferred genre of movie?

Comedy. It's hard to do good comedy.

20. What’s the first movie you remember seeing in the theater?

I remember seeing Sleeping Beauty when I was about 3. When the witch turns into a black dragon at the end, I vividly recall jumping out of my seat and trying to hide in the row of chairs.

21. What movie do you wish you had never seen?

Joe vs the Volcano.

22. What is the weirdest movie you enjoyed?

Weirdest? Adaptation is crazy weird and I liked it. (Malkovitch and Eternal Sunshine are better movies but Adaptation is weirder.)

23. What is the scariest movie you've seen?

The Ring. Or Sleeping Beauty.

24. What is the funniest movie you've seen?

Ever? I'll go with Anchorman. You either hate or love the Will and I loves it. I wish I had written it.

3.04.2007

(Untitled)

I am a column of water three thousand meters tall
I am the sweet spot of a baseball bat
I am an insensitive break-up
I am a slab of steel and hydraulics
I am the index and thumb
I am an unexpected death

A thorough and pitiless
Crushing

2.27.2007

Girls Have A Gender Gap

At first, the urge to buy insulation and grapefruit will become irresistible. Sitting in a boring meeting, your will suddenly find your doodles populated by pigs and piglets wielding paint cans and brushes. You will dream of a parade of flamingos handing out cotton candy. A water faucet will drip, drip, drip but all you will hear is pink, pink, pink.

The other colours will not die, other parents (parents with boys, that is) and the childless will still experience the fullness of the world they were born into. But parents with girls will find all they see slowly, inexorably fade into reds and whites until eventually it merges into a creamy, confectionery haze of that dread shade, the one that haunts their living nightmare, unspeakable and unavoidable.

The mewling and whimpering of your infant daughter will closely be followed by your own as the world collapses into a mono-chromatic trauma. Huddled in the corner, shivering, you will cling vainly to recollections of greens, yellows, blues. You might feign madness in a misguided attempt to deceive that vile colour, to somehow trick it into returning to its place in the spectrum but that would only be the final sign of your own true madness. You will be lost to the world, present in form and shape but beyond the reach of salvation. No anger, no sadness will reach you in the end for those words and all others will have lost their meaning. All words, that is, save for one.

1.17.2007

No, Really, Where Are You From?

The first 2 lines from Shaun Majumder's wikipedia entry (as of today):

Shaun Majumder (born on January 29, 1972 in Burlington, Newfoundland and Labrador) is a Canadian comedian and actor. His mother is a white Newfoundlander, his father is Indian.

That last sentence is so Canadian it hurts.

1.11.2007

I Needed To Write Something

He flicked his blade, spattering the churned mud with blood. The sun was setting and the birdcalls had become loud and insistent, lonely souls seeking solace before the coming night. He wiped his brow and a spray of dried mud showered the ground. He roughly ran a hand through his unkempt brown hair; more dirt, some of it ruddy.

The day's last breath, a whispering wind, shifted the leaves on their branches. Covered in sweat, the breeze chilled him and he shivered. Putting his sword back in its scabbard, he walked away from the body toward his travel bags. The short, heavy chain running between the iron bands around each of his ankles rattled like a soothsayer's bones. He chuckled to himself. This rattlesnake warns you too late.

He grabbed his only possessions, such as they were, and headed back to the road. The mind wanders in times like these and now his mind wandered to a thought that perhaps he had overreacted.

A few steps later, he was wondering what he could find to eat.

1.10.2007

Exploding Cigars

Thanks to Debi for sending me this for the coming baby.

1.05.2007

Meow, Meow, Awesome, Meow

What Do You Do?

What do you do with the mad that you feel
When you feel so mad you could bite?
When the whole wide world seems oh, so wrong...
And nothing you do seems very right?

What do you do? Do you punch a bag?
Do you pound some clay or some dough?
Do you round up friends for a game of tag?
Or see how fast you go?

It's great to be able to stop
When you've planned a thing that's wrong,
And be able to do something else instead
And think this song:

I can stop when I want to
Can stop when I wish.
I can stop, stop, stop any time.
And what a good feeling to feel like this
And know that the feeling is really mine.
Know that there's something deep inside
That helps us become what we can.
For a girl can be someday a woman
And a boy can be someday a man.


- Fred M. Rogers (1928-2003)