30th of February

Gegorian Calendar

Just an awesome Wikipedia article. Check out how Sweden handled the transition from Julian to Gregorian. Also, the switch was supposed to be applied in 1582 but Greece doesn't change until 1923. Nice work, Greeks. Of course, the Turks don't apply it until 3 years after that.


That's Where

This space has been utterly ignored for a good while. It's just that I've been busy since being dropped like a bag of sand from a hot air balloon. Doing what?


After being axed twice from well-paying but uninspiring technical jobs, I'm going to fire bullets into the air and hope none of them land on me. I've already set up and completed one class. It went crazy awesome and I'm hoping to line up 3 more for the end of January. There's a serious untapped market here and I plan on using every drop of energy, skill and wisdom to make my plans happen.

I'm in the middle of applying for this great program here in Quebec that will allow me to collect EI while starting a new business. At first, I thought it was kind of dumb letting people do that but if it encourages people who might not want to risk their EI to start their own business, that makes a lot of sense. In any case, if I get it, 2009 will be exclusively dedicated to empire building. There's even an additional business grant I might be eligible for because I'm under 35. So now I learn a new trade: business-owner. Yikes.

While things are looking up fiscally and personal fulfillment-ly, it's not so hot family-wise as all of the time I'd need to dedicate to this project would be evenings and weekends. That's the time of day I really need (and want) to be home. But so far my wifely object has been awesomely understanding and I think this will work, perhaps sub-optimally but even that should be more than sufficient.

So off I go, bang! bang! bang! (Don't stand too close)


The Tide, She Turns Slowly

So once again, three more states have amended their constitutions to exclusively recognize marriages between a man and a woman: Arizona, Florida and California. The silver lining on this cloud is that the percentages are not more than one or two generations away from being overturned. Arizona: 56%, Florida: 62% and California: 52%. The tipping point is approaching before people realise either:
1) Governments don't need to regulate marriage, or
2) Homosexuals (and naughty girls) need love, too.

I guess it's unsurprising how fervent people can become about the "sanctity" of certain institutions. There are people out there still upset about the NHL's shootout rule so, you know, emotions can run strong on just about any topic. But to go to the trouble to explicitly ban these unions, it makes about as much sense as the necessity of women's fight for the franchise at the turn of the last century. To imagine that there are still women alive today who could not vote, boggles the mind as much as future citizens will be appalled at our current behaviour. I mean, when I think about these countries, I'm stunned.

Democracy is far from perfect but it's not bad for very large populations and as last night's American elections demonstrated it can heal great divides as easily as it can cause them.

Bonus factoid made of iron:
African-Americans voted 70% in favour of the ban.


Ruined It for the Rest of Us

I've thought about this from time to time and wondered why I'd never heard of anyone else's thoughts on the topic. So when I finally discovered that someone had formalised Ruin Value as an architectural principle, I also discovered why it might not be so popular.


Full Circle

I started this blog when I was unsure whether or not I had cancer and had just been let go from my job. It was a pretty low point for me but I came through it in fine health and found myself in a new job and two pretty cool kiddies. So when I was let go from my job today, I was glad to have a big happy family to come home to with all of us in good health.

With the economy tanking faster than a... tank?, our company's investors all withdrew their financing and the company had no choice but to lay off half of the staff. Oh yeah, 20 out of the 40 people. Lots of sad faces today.

So, I start once again, with optimism and a full heart, on an adventure into the unknown.


Oh, Kaladar, You Rascal

Yes, more Wizard Poetry. That's the last I'll mention of it here.


Gone But Not Forgotten

I guess I'm old enough now to start talking about my retirement provided I make it that far and I don't have to work right to the end. Plan one is to drive from amusement park to amusement park enjoying roller coasters for months. Plan two is to live in NYC for a 6 months to a year. Plan three is to live in London for 6 months to a year.

I have a love affair with London and its history. I like to imagine what the Fleet River used to look like (but not what it smelled like). It's one of the rivers that used to run into the Thames but the city subsumed it as it grew over the years. It exists now as the Fleet Sewer. I found this map that shows the rivers that used to feed into the Thames. A lot of these are now gone. There's a great history and modern visit of the Fleet here.

The Fleet, the Tyburn, the Walbrook, the Westbourne, gone. The Westbourne is pretty cool because it still sort of exists.

See that large grey conduit running above the Tube station? That's what remains of the Westbourne River. It still opens up into the Thames and runs underground for most of its length.

Manhattan has its share of buried streams (Canal Street actually is a filled in Canal) but London's hydrology is way more interesting. There is some nattering about restoring some sections of the Fleet but I'd be amazaed if it amounted to more than just talk.


What Rhymes with Magic Missile?

I doubt I'll use it a lot but I plan on amusing myself from time to time:

Wizard Poetry


Pwned by Apple

With the new iPhone adding applications, the iPod Touch got some of the app love as well. I just upgraded so that I could mess around with the new apps and found that Apple made a Remote app to control iTunes from my iPod via WiFi. So no matter where I am in my house, I can control my iTunes.

Ah, but you see I also have the Airport Express as my WiFi router. The Airport Express has a nice feature called AirTunes which will allow you to stream music from iTunes to it. The WiFi router has an audio out that you can hook up to, oh, say, your home audio system.

So, using my iPod to control iTunes on my computer that is sending the music to my sound system, I literally have music for the house at my fingertips. Crazy! Eat it, Jetsons!


It's Still There

I was out with some friends last night and my kids came up. It's inevitable that the topic of my kids comes up though I try desperately not to involve them in every damn conversation. But it's tough since they are so central to my life.

Later on in the evening I was asked, more or less, if I saw a lot of the kids. I was a little stunned. I replied, incredulous, "Are you asking me if I'm divorced?" "Um, yes," came the reply. I really didn't know what to make of the question. But I explained that I was still happily married and all was cool with the world. It really caught me off guard and I managed to surprise myself with my initial overreaction.

What was it about me that prompted that question? Is there a rumour? The woman who asked me only knew me incidentally. Where did that come from??

It was only at the end of the night as I got ready for bed that I remembered that I don't wear a wedding ring. She must have looked at my unadorned hand and drew a totally understandable conclusion. I shook my head at myself for being such a social idiot (yet again). I didn't clue in until hours later because, to me, I do have a ring on my finger even if it's physically absent.

I was married at 22 and now at 32, well, let's just say the ring needs to be re-sized. I haven't worn it for months now, maybe even a year. I don't really miss it. I hate rings. If it were up to me, my wife wouldn't wear them either (wedding ring included) I like her hands and rings just get in the way. And I've quietly appreciated the fact that she hasn't asked me to hurry up and put it back on. It barely gets a mention. It's kind of like I'm reminded every day of why I love her by not wearing the ring. But I do intend to get it fixed and put it back on at some point, I'm just in no rush.

But getting questions that imply I'm divorced is good motivation to move on it.



A while ago I posted this.

But some Belgians came up with this.

That's even better. I guess it was just an idea whose time has come.


Kid's Show Declares Victory

There is a torrent out there for the music from season 1 of Yo Gabba Gabba!. It's not great quality as they're ripped from the torrented videos but the songs are great. I recommend giving them a listen as there's likely a few you might like. If there's an album coming out, I'll buy it.


End Run

Oh , baby.

Man, I hate posting links. And I despise random Bush administration ranting on blogs. But I'm posting this because it strikes me as one of the most ridiculous constitutional arguments I've ever had the misfortune to come across.

Reference: Fourth Amendment

When Abraham Lincoln suspended habeas corpus during the civil war, there were militias marching on Washington D.C. and rioting all along the war fronts (also: a civil war in progress). His action was overturned by the courts. The esteemed Mr. Lincoln went on to ignore the court order and set up military tribunals. Once war ended, the Supreme Court declared that so long as the civil courts are functioning (as they were during the war), it was unconstitutional to set up military tribunals.

Ignoring the fact that a government can apparently do what it likes until after the fact, it's likely that at some future date the Supreme Court might look at this current argument and strike it down. One would hope that it would be slightly more difficult to bypass the constitution than by simply declaring activities "a domestic military operation", a phrase chilling enough on its own without being used as a pretext for punching a government's defining document in the nuts.


Journals (Where No Content Is Written By Me)

I am lucky to know people who keep excellent email journals. Not blogs, but emails that essentially perform the same function as blogs. Somehow it feels a little more personal to get one of these in my inbox.

My cousin Natasha is in Kigali, Rwanda as a legal aide for an NGO:

I have been so taken with the city, that it seems almost surreal that the atrocities of 1994 could ever have occurred. During my first week, I was traveling in a taxi bus (35 passengers) and an old man got in and sat in our row – I was struck by his beauty and impish eyes. For the first time, I realized that he was the first “older” person I had seen. An overwhelming flood of understanding came over me - an entire generation is missing here. An ENTIRE generation!

Ryan went to Australia but on his way back spent a few days in Japan, a place he had already lived for several years. This time he decides to finally try Kobe beef:

The first thing we noticed about the Kobe beef was just how marbled it was. It had none of the dark redness that a steak has; the fat wasn't confined to a strip on the outside of the steak, it was everywhere.

The chef was very methodical in his cooking. First, he cut off the layer of fat from the top of the filet and cut the fat into thirds and put them on the grill. Next he cut the filet into thirds, and put one of the pieces on the grill, reserving the other two. When it was nearly done, he put it on a couple of strips of the fat, about a centimetre above the grill, for a few more seconds. I'm not sure why, but I'm sure there was some reason: he was very meticulous in everything. Even if one of the pieces of meat was a sixteenth of an inch thicker than another, it would stay on the grill just that much longer, so everything was perfect.

Now it was down to tasting. The beef was served with garlic, which the chef had cooked earlier; sea salt; freshly ground pepper and mustard. We were hungry, and the aroma of the grilling beef was so wonderful that we could hardly wait to try it. It was sublime. The taste filled me with elation. The texture was so tender it almost melted before I could chew it. To compare it to a steak is unfair: no matter how well-aged or tender a steak, there is always some toughness in it. There was no toughness at all in the Kobe beef.

Was it worth it? Well, it took me about 10 minutes to write the paragraph above, as I was daydreaming about every aspect of its preparation, colour, aroma and texture.

Matt is in Asia, about to join a cruise ship as a croupier in the casino. He writes:

So I'm wandering around the meat section [of a market] and there are a bunch of little old ladies selling pork parts. These piggies must be massive. The ears for sale were the size of dinner plates and the livers as large as serving platters. You don't usually see organ meat and offal in sale in Canada so I'm pointing at a piece of meat and they point to the corresponding part of the body. Heart, stomach, intestines, liver, kidney, spine, thyroid (?) And then we get to something that is kind of long and tubular and floppy, at its base is a sort of ball of gristle. I look embarrassed and point discretely to my crotch. At the same instant I do this she points at her tongue.
She loses it. She is down on the ground laughing her ass off. Her neighbour beside her is rolling on the ground as well. The two stalls behind me roar with the best of them. My guide is having fits. I turn every shade of red and hide my face in my hands. It gets worse. The little old lady eventually rights herself and at the top of her not inconsiderable lungs yells something to the rest of the other 100 vendors (who can all see me). They all lose it.
So I turn, I wave, I take a bow. And with as much dignity as I can, walk the gauntlet of laughter.

I think I prefer this when I'm getting updates from around the world. They're like instant postcards.



Sir, I bear a rhyme excelling
In mystic force and magic spelling.



Anyone out there want to exchange Skype information? It's an application I'd like to use more but I have nearly no contacts.

Send me an email and we can swap info.


A Charm

2008 has already been kind to me.

I had swung once and missed. My second try was hit for distance but didn't stay fair. But today, ah today, I looped one into left field, a solid single to leadoff the inning.


2007 in Review

- Daughter born. Niiiiice.
- Trip to Boston. Awesome. Not so much for Boston but for seeing old friends and tours of MIT + Harvard.
- Guitar Hero enjoyed, then purchased. Leads to Dragonforce ("Through the Fire and Flames") and Priestess ("Lay Down") and Heart. Jeers to the wireless guitar that doesn't work in my setup (too much wi-fi interference).
- iPod Touch. Watching movies and learning to love music again = re-invigorating.
- Flight of the Conchords. Not quite as awesome as my daughter but pretty close.
- MacBook. The Windows desktop is only used in emergencies and for Photoshop.
- Shoveling in December = much cursing.
- Watching kids in wading pool in my backyard = much laughing.
- Watching Madagascar, Cars, Dora and Backyardigans ad infinitum = much more cursing.
- Being comedy award judge for the Montreal Fringe was cool because I got to see a bunch of shows but frustrating because I'd rather be performing and also because I couldn't review shows.
- Habs missing the playoffs by failing to win one of the last 2 games of the year = at least the Leafs didn't make it either.
- Being a godfather. Feels nice inside.
- Improv workshop with Keith Johnstone. Useful, helpful, bizarre.
- Inability to finish manuscript. Misery.
- Being sick at least once per month due to pathetic immune system of children = boo, children!

Ok, bedtime...