Sunday, December 25, 2005

Happy Holidays

It's Christmas today and Chanukah starts tonight. This kind of convergence is a rare occurrence. I wish I were celebrating the holidays, but, alas, I'm packing instead. Nonetheless, in case anyone is actually still reading my blog, after a month and a half of silence, I'd like to wish you and yours a very merry Christmas, happy Chanukah, and all the rest.

It's been very hectic lately, which is why I haven't posted and why I'm packing. I'll be moving to my new condo on Wednesday, which gives me just three days to finish packing (I started yesterday). Considering the pace that it's going, I think it should work out. At Consuelo and EB's solstice party last Thursday, Maureen and Consuelo were talking about their packing prowess. Well, I packed all my books and CD's yesterday, and I didn't take forever or leave great gobs of empty space in any of the boxes. Hopefully they'd be proud! It was actually much less painful than I remember it to be, which reaffirms Amy's claim that practice definitely helps.

Over the previous couple of weeks, I've been painting the new place. I almost finished, getting two coats done in the living/dining space, the bedroom and the den. The kitchen and entranceway still need to be done, but my goal was to finish the rooms where all my stuff will be. Painting was hell. I've helped others out with painting before, but it's not something I've ever done from start to finish, and there was much to learn. Surprises abounded, like the oil-based paint on the baseboards and doors, requiring them to all be primed. Oh, and the unsweepably large mountain of dust generated by sanding a skim patch (though I'm still not sure if I even was supposed to sand it!). Oh, who can forget the should-I-shouldn't-I? drama about painting the caulking. Well, it's pretty much done now, and I think it looks good, so that's a relief. It wouldn't have been possible without help from Kevin, Alex, and especially Stu. Thanks a million, guys!

Kevin's back home on PEI for Christmas. It's not even been two weeks, but I do miss him like crazy. We've been talking on the phone every two or three days and texting in between, but it's not the same. I just don't understand how people pull off long-distance relationships. Anyhow, it's good for him that he hasn't been around to share in all of my stress, and he'll be back on Friday. Can't wait!

So, that's the kind of holiday I'm having.

Thursday, November 24, 2005


Today at lunch, I got my flu shot. After it was done, the guy who administered it asked me to hold a little piece of cotton over the hole for a few seconds, to give it time to stop bleeding.

When he removed the cotton, I guess it was still leaking blood, since he apologized and covered it again.

The second time he checked under the cotton, he asked if I'm "a bleeder." I said that I probably am.

The third time, he said he'd never seen anyone bleed so much from a shot.

Apparently, they don't like using those little band-aids anymore, since some people are allergic to the adhesive. Eventually, the bleeding did stop, and I was on my merry way.

So, the conclusion: I'm not just a bleeder, I'm one helluva bleeder. If ever you see me walking down the street, please don't stab me. I've got a much better than average chance of bleeding to death.

Friday, November 18, 2005


It's started.

When I popped out to pick up some lunch from Quiznos today, I couldn't help but notice that fluffy flakes of snow were falling from the sky. Now, there's a light dusting across the roofs of all the buildings around me.

Well, our extra mild, extra extended autumn was sure nice, but now it's time for five or six months of winter. Lordy, wake me up in May.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005


Here's the last entry in my three day, catch-up series. I've been meaning to write something about Halloween for a couple of weeks now.

I've never been a huge Halloween person. I mean, I've always enjoyed Halloween parties, but I typically wait until the last minute to start thinking about a costume, and then come up with a pretty silly idea and have no time to do a decent job of it. A couple of years ago, I did a pretty cool Sister Wendy, but last year, I didn't even bother to go out, since I was working like a maniac on the second edition of the EMF book (which, incidentally, still isn't finished).

Kevin, on the other hand, appears to do the opposite. He always seems to put together really cool costumes, putting a lot of work into them. So, this year was a great time to depart from my sad old approach. We decided to do a costume together, as a couple, and quite quickly came up with the idea of an angel and a devil. And almost as quickly, we decided to make it an angel and devil in shorts.

I think Kevin wanted to paint himself red, so he suggested I be the angel. In fairness, he claimed his motivation was something about me looking better nearly naked, without paint. Strangely, whenever I would tell a friend about the costume, the reply was, "you should've been the devil!" And, whenever Kevin did, it was, "good thing you're the devil!" As it turns out, I'm really glad we took the roles we did: I don't think I could've dealt with all that red body paint.

We found the shorts at the BodyBodyWear clearance sale, nice and cheap; I borrowed the wings from Roberto; Kevin found a red vest at Value Village; and most of the rest of our costumes came from Malabar -- though there were other bits and pieces from various dollar stores and such.

We went out in costume three times: on Saturday, we went to Buddies; on Sunday, Temple at the Phoenix; and on Monday (Halloween, itself) we did Church Street and Woody's. The preparation took a really long time, especially on Saturday (we got better as we went along, and Kevin started using a type of paint that was easier to apply on Sunday), but I think the results were fabulous.

(Unfortunately, I'm not wearing my halo in this picture. It was pretty cool: we poured the chemicals from a glowstick on it, to make it glow in the dark. But, they slowly ate through the fluff, so that by Monday there wasn't really much left.)

We got to Buddies really late and had to wait in line for a long time. I was wearing my wool jacket, but it was still really cold, especially on my legs. Inside, it was so busy that I was constantly bashing my wings into people, so I quite quickly checked them. We had a great time, but by the end of the night, my non-angelic behaviour had resulted in a rather large, red stain on the front of my shorts. How embarassing!

So, I did much washing the next day, which also had to be repeated on Monday. My boa got pinker and pinker as time went on, too.

Temple was also fun. The costumes were much better than at Buddies, as there was a big competition hosted by Sofonda. We entered ourselves, but didn't make it into the top 10. Lots of boys seemed to want to dance with me (wonder why!), and I was having too much fun to resist. Kevin was too polite to do the same, not wanting to cover everyone with his red paint, so he just poked the boys with his pitchfork to keep them away from me. Also, we hooked up with Richard and Mark there: Richard was dressed, as always, as a sailor, and Mark was in some pretty superb drag.

The Monday night street party on Church was just hilarious. I was expecting to freeze my little tuchis off, but once we got there, with all of the crowds, it wasn't bad at all. Most of the time, we couldn't go more than two seconds without being photographed. Seriously, we must have had our pictures taken over a hundred times. Now I really feel for those poor celebrities who are constantly having to smile and pose and be the centre of attention! Such a drain! We met up with Alex and Daryl, who I'm sure grew tired of our celebrity quite quickly. And then, we lost them when it started to rain, prompting us to get indoors before Kevin's paint melted. We ended up inside Woody's, for another failed attempt at costume contest supremacy. But, we saw some more fabulous costumes and met some nice people. In all, it was a very entertaining night.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Home Sweet Home

Last Thursday, I got an e-mail from Karyn:

I believe somebody has news that they haven't shared with ME!

radio city, eh?

It's true. I've actually had news since mid-October that I just haven't had the chance to share with many people at all, much less blog about...

I bought a condo -- my first home!

As Karyn indicated (she must have had some inside information, huh?), it's at RadioCity, a new, two-tower development on the former site of CBC Radio, near Jarvis and Carlton:

I just got back from the handover meeting, where control passed from the developer to the condominium corporation, and a board was elected. So, it seemed like a perfect time to write about it all. I'm hopeful that we've elected a pretty good board: it seems to include a fair amount of experience and a variety of viewpoints and concerns.

Interestingly, the biggest issue seems to be around the art installation in the courtyard: a collection of little, metallic houses that light up inside. One owner referred to it tonight as "scrap metal." Apparently, all of the original purchasers were surprised to find that they were paying for it directly, as part of their closing costs. Since my purchase was a resale, I'm not feeling (or seeing, at least) that pain. Perhaps that's part of the reason why I quite like the piece.

Anyhow, on to the good stuff: my suite is a one bedroom plus den, of 705 square feet. My purchase closes on December 2, and I'll be moving at some point between then and January 1, when I have to be out of my current place. I'm hoping to paint the walls and buy some living room furniture before then. I had also hoped to have the kitchen counters replaced with granite, but apparently that time frame isn't realistic. So, it'll have to wait until after I move in.

Here are some photos:

Notice the yummy exposed concrete ceiling.

Unfortunately, the windows in my suite are not quite as spectacular as in some of the others. In particular, the corner units have windows all along the two outside walls, from floor to ceiling. The left corner of my suite, in the picture above, is actually part of the structural wall, so obviously it can't be glass. Nonetheless, the place is still quite bright, especially when one of the bedroom doors is open:

You can see that there's a window in the bedroom along the length of the balcony, but that the balcony actually opens into the living room.

Here's a shot from the opposite direction, showing the kitchen:

Finally, the unit faces south, so it gets lots of light, and it has a pretty fantastic view from the balcony:

You can see the financial centre and the CN tower in the distance, and Maple Leaf Gardens on the right side of the picture. This historic arena, which has been empty since the Leafs moved to the Air Canada Centre in 1999, is being converted to a Real Canadian Superstore. Hockey fans in Toronto are outraged. I'm excited!

So, things are going to be pretty busy in the coming weeks: I need to finalize my mortgage and then complete the closing. All the while, there's much shopping and packing to be done. Then, I have to figure out when to move and whether to hire movers or do it myself.

But I can't wait to be living in my new home!

Sunday, November 13, 2005


I was lucky enough to see Jann Arden's latest tour, in support of her eponymous album, twice last week -- on Tuesday and Thursday at Massey Hall. The reason for my double attendance is quite a story, itself, but I won't get into that now. Anyhow, I was really happy to be able to see the two shows, and to share the experience with both Kevin and Alex.

For the first show, Kevin and I had fairly poor seats: we were way over to one side of the second balcony, practically on top of the right end of the stage. So, it was often hard to see, and the sound was pretty poor, with the drum kit drowning out pretty much any subtlety or nuance in the vocals and the rest of the band. Fortunately, there were two gorgeous acuostic sets, which sounded wonderful. In the first, Jann did a solo version of "I Would Die For You", after which Kevin asked me if it was too early for a standing ovation. She was then joined by Bob Kemmis, who had opened for her, for "Unloved." Later, for her encore, she performed accoustic versions of "The Sound Of," "Waiting In Canada," and "Insensitive" with her band.

As for the rest of the setlist, it included about half of the tracks from the new album ("Calling God," "Where No One Knows Me," "All Of This," "How Good Things Are," and "Willing To Fall Down"), mixed in with various older songs (including "Waiting For Someone," "Will You Remeber Me," "Could I Be Your Girl," "Good Mother", "The Sound Of," "Holy Moses," and "Wishing That"). In all, I think it was really good selection, and I was happy to hear some songs from Time For Mercy and Happy? that I hadn't in a long time. In an ideal world, though, she would have done one or two of my current favourites: "Saved," "Into The Sun" and (big surprise) "Another Human Being." A couple of the more uptempo songs, "Where No One Knows Me" and "Willing To Fall Down" in particular, seemed a little unsteady and not too tight, like there was some struggle between the drummer and the rest of the band over tempo. Later, from reading Jann's journal, I learned that the click track wasn't working that night, which would explain that.

Of course, Jann was a riot. She told an extensive tale about a trip to the movies, a large popcorn and drink, the long ride home after an insufficient pee check, and a surprisingly located stray kernel. And the comic quips never stopped, especially when she was talking about her band. She explained the secret to her long-term working relationship with her guitarist and co-writer, Russ: "we've never seen each other nude." And, when introducing Darcy on the keyboards, she commented that they had meant during a short stint in the adult film Fort McMurray.

The second show was even better than the first, mainly because of where Alex and I sat: front row, centre -- literally, the best in the house. The photo up above was taken from my seat that night (the rest of them are here). At one point, Jann introduced and thanked the guy from A&M Records who first signed her. All I could think was, "our seats are so much better than his!" The sound was truly excellent up there; the vocals were clear in all the songs, with the drum kit blending in much better.

The setlist was the same as in the previous show, but it was a much more "on" crowd, giving greater response to everything...more applause for the songs, more laughter at the jokes, and several spontaneous outbursts of emotion: "Thank you Jann!" "We love you Jann!" "You look great tonight, Jann!" And she really did, wearing this cute yellow leather jacket and jeans that really flattered her figure.

Alex said I was probably the biggest fann there, mouthing along to all the songs and screaming a lot. A few times, I'm sure Jann looked right at me, and I felt foolish, stopped mouthing along, and just smiled. We had a little moment, too: Jann was asking a visibly pregnant woman in the front row about when she'd be having her child (turned out she was having twins, actually!), and if she'd decided on names. On hearing that she was expecting for March and she hadn't yet, Jann suggested that, since her birthday's in late March, maybe she should think about "Jann" or "Arden" or something. I thought that was a brilliant idea (I'd do it), so I yelled out "yeah!" Jann noticed my outburst, and without missing a beat, yelled "yeah!" right back, looking straight at me. I think I was mocked by Jann. How fun!

My only negative experiences were with security. I brought flowers, which I'd hoped to give to Jann after the encore was over. But, before the show, a big guy came over to where we were sitting, said he was in charge of security for the show, and gave us his card. He'd seen the flowers, and didn't want me to hand them to her during the show. I tried to find out what the concern was and reason with him, but he was having none of it, and I eventually I had to surrender the flowers. He said he was going to take them straight to Jann's dressing room, and I hope he did, but that's kind of not the point. I wanted to give them to her -- I wanted her to look down and see my face, and connect with me for a moment, and know that I'm one of her fans. I suppose it's kind of silly, immature and selfish, but it's what I wanted.

Once the concert started, after I had been snapping pictures like crazy during the first song, an usher came down and asked me to put away the camera, claiming that they weren't allowed. It didn't say anything about that on the ticket, and I wasn't using flash, but I did put it away, anyway. I'd already taken a couple of really nice pictures, so I'd have something to remember the show by. Obviously I wasn't the only one there with a camera, as I kept seeing flashes go off during the rest of the show. And by the time "Good Mother" came around (it was the last song before the encore), I subtly (I hope) whipped out the camera again for a few last shots.

In all, the concerts were a fantastic experience.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Link Check

I added that nice little link to Rick Mercer's Blog a couple of months ago, and I just want to be sure you're using it. He stopped updating about that time, so you might have given up on checking it but, honestly, that's what an RSS reader is for!

He's back and he's in fine form. Just a teaser, in case you're not convinced:

Once you get past all the fun with photoshop, you'll find an uplifting summary of his recent trip to Afghanistan, which is well worth reading.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

It Gets Better...

If you haven't read yesterday's post, The Jig is Up!, you should probably go read that first. Then you can come back here for the postscript.

I just got back from talking to the property manager about yesterday's little salt bust. As I thought, it was the contractor doing the fan coil service who noticed the bag of sea salt on my counter. By policy, he had to report it to his supervisor, since I suppose seeing it could endanger him. The company then contacted our property management office, who then called the police.

There had been a miscommunication between the two property managers: the one who had taken the call from the contractor told the other that I was the person who'd been having problems with his air conditioner. Apparently, there was another person who had been having such problems, and that's who she described to the police.

After she called the police, two officers arrived and waited outside my door for about an hour and a half. At the same time, they were trying to obtain a search warrant. The two others arrived just before I did, when they determined that they didn't have strong enough cause for a warrant.

Before leaving the management office today, I had to ask if anyone had noticed the pieces of my halloweeen costume lying around my living room, and what they had thought of that. I'm going to be an angel, so there were wings, a halo, and a white feather boa that I just dropped off when I got home on Sunday evening.

Apparently, the superintendent had noticed them, and described them to the police as "paraphernalia." Of course, they probably assumed he meant drug paraphernalia, not party paraphernalia. They did clarify, but I wonder if having angel parts strewn around made me seem like more of a druggy little party boy.

Monday, October 24, 2005

The Jig Is Up!

Nothing in this post is fiction. Seriously.

First off, I should give you some background. Back in Augst, I got my nipple pierced. As recommended, I've been applying a sea salt solution to help it heal. The sea salt was only available in a large, 2 kg bag, so when I travelled to New York, I took a smaller amount in a ziplock bag. Each application requires such a small amount of salt that I've been working through that little bag-full ever since. For convenience, I leave it out on my kitchen counter.

Today was in-suite fan coil servicing day in my building.

When I got home from work this evening, one of the women from the property management office was waiting in the hallway near my door, along with four people that I'd never seen before. As I walked past, one of them joked that they were tax collectors, but the property manager reassuringly said that they weren't there for me.

When I stopped to open my door, one of the other four suggested that maybe she had been mistaken, said my name, and asked if that was me. I said yes. That's when he pulled out his badge and identified himself as being from the Toronto Police Service. And that's when I started to shake.

Immediately my mind started racing, trying to figure out why four plain-clothed officers would be waiting for me outside my door. He explained that, when my suite had been entered earlier in the day, the contractor had seen a bag containing white powder, and he asked if I wouldn't mind getting it so that he could take a look.

I grabbed the bag of salt and explained what it was and why I had it. He took a sniff and seemed satisfied. Relief.

The property manager said that she had thought that I was someone else -- she had described a taller, older man, dressed a suit.

One of the officers commented that they couldn't believe me until they saw the piercing. Well, eager to prove my innocence and, frankly, always happy to show off my new addition, I lifted up my shirt and showed them. They seemed amused, and they thanked me for my time, apologized for any inconvenience, and were off.

I was still shaking at dinner 20 minutes later.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Potent Quotables

"Less dance, more geek."

- Sam, on hearing that I'd replaced mythy (my homebrew PVR) with a PVR from Rogers because I wanted less electronics around my living room and I'd never have to recompile its kernel.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

See the hoop? Jump through it!

I just enabled word verification for comment posting, a nice little feature that Blogger provides to reduce comment spam. I apologize for the inconvenience, and I hope it works.

Yet Another Press Citing

Kevin and I, along with Kevin's friend Mo, were in fab again this week:

Perhaps it's time to hire our own photographers to follow us around, taking photos that can then be sold to the press via a blind bidding process.

Can you tell I'm amused by this?

Monday, October 10, 2005

Giving Thanks

It hit me on the bus ride in to work this Friday: for some reason, I feel especially thankful this year. Maybe it's just that I have a new means for expressing it, or maybe I'm finally becoming mature enough (no, seriously!) to recognize how fortunate I am. In any case, I'm thankful...

...for Canada. There are few, if any, societies that are as peaceful, diverse, and tolerant as this country, and we have much more than our fair share of wealth and opportunity. So, I'm terribly fortunate to have been born here.

...for my job. It's challenging and stimulating, if at times a bit overwhelming. I work with a team of talented people who appreciate my efforts and abilities. IBM, while sprawling and often political, is still an excellent company to work for, progressive and employee-focused, and with an inspiring history. It's easy to take for granted the ability to be out at work, but that's only thanks to the efforts and sacrifice of many.

...for family. Just about anything nice that you could find to say about me, I can trace it back to my parents. They've both been wonderful to me and excellent role models for as long as I can remember. They've taught me so much about love, generosity, compassion, hard work, and pride that I truly cannot thank them enough. And although it seems that Mike and I live in quite different worlds, I'm most appreciative for his efforts to include me in his whenever possible.

...for friends. Since I'm naturally quite introverted, I found it difficult to establish myself socially in Toronto. The first year was especially lonely. But, in the last year or so, it seems like things have really clicked. I've now got a number of wonderful people that I consider friends, supporting me through the tough times and helping to create the great ones. And of course, there are still some great friends back in Vancouver and elsewhere with whom I've been lucky enough to keep in contact.

...for budding love. In the past weeks, one of those friendships has developed into more. We've already shared some wonderful times together, and I don't think I've ever felt happier.

...for good fortune. It's been impossible not to be struck by the amount of suffering in this world of late. I'm thankful that my family, friends and loved ones have thus far been spared.

Friday, September 30, 2005

Blog Spam

Seriously, what's the deal with all these spam comments? I mean, who's fooled by them? Does anyone actually make money off of them? Or do they just live to be annoying?

Well, fuckers, bring it! You just keep on posting your spamtatsic little comments, and I'll just keep on nuking them as fast as you do.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Pride and Hope

Ever since the CBC lockout started, I've been pretty out of it when it comes to current events. I rarely listen to the radio these days, and I never watch TV news. Pretty much all I know is what I read in the free papers and on the Net.

So, yesterday, I was totally oblivious to Micaelle Jean's investiture as Governor General of Canada. But this morning, as I walked past the newspaper boxes on my way to the subway, I couldn't help but notice the pictures and headlines. Writers from the Toronto Star, the Globe and Mail, and, yes, even the National Post seemed to be falling over themselves to heap praise on the new vice-regent.

Huh? What happened to the hasty appointment, the lack of background checks, the ties to Quebec sovereigntists and the FLQ? I picked up a copy of the Globe to find out more.

Here's what happened: Canada got to see and hear Michaelle Jean.

Now we understand what Paul Martin must have seen when he first met her, immediately deciding that she should be Governor General. I wonder if he's been laughing to himself a lot over the past few weeks, as an anglophone press that clearly knew nothing of the woman questioned her allegiance to Canada.

In her installation speech yesterday, Mme. Jean answered their concerns beautifully, and went far beyond:

The time of the "two solitudes" that for too long described the character of this country is past. The narrow notion of "every person for himself" does not belong in today’s world, which demands that we learn to see beyond our wounds, beyond our differences for the good of all. Quite the contrary: we must eliminate the spectre of all the solitudes and promote solidarity among all the citizens who make up the Canada of today. As well, we must make good use of our prosperity and our influence wherever the hope that we represent offers the world an extra measure of harmony.

And that is how I am determined that the position I occupy as of today will be more than ever a place where citizens' words will be heard, where the values of respect, tolerance, and sharing that are so essential to me and to all Canadians, will prevail. Those values, which are paramount for me, are linked inextricably with the Canada I love.

Canada is known for its values: freedom, tolerance, respect, and generosity. It's on those values that we've built our remarkable society, and it's in those values that we will find our better future. The soveriegnty movement isn't just misguided -- it's irrelevant.

And, on the subject of the future, this:

Most of all, I want our young people to be our standard-bearers. I want them to dip into the enormous treasure trove that is Canada. I am the mother of a little girl whose story opened my eyes to certain very harsh realities that we must not ignore. My daughter, Marie-Éden, has changed my life. She has taught me that while all children are born equal, they don’t all have the same opportunities to flourish. This is as true for children here as it is for children in the third world...

Nothing in today’s society is more disgraceful than the marginalization of some young people who are driven to isolation and despair. We must not tolerate such disparities. After all, our young people are helping to redefine the great family we all belong to, in a world that is less and less impermeable, more and more open. They are the promise of our future and we have a duty to encourage them to join us in this reinvention of the world.

In every photo, Jean is stunning, with her warm smile radiating youthful vitality. It's a marked contrast to the series of old, white men who held the post before Jean and her predecessor, Adrienne Clarkson. She is dignified and glamourous, yet comes across as authentic and relatable. She's an truly an exciting personality in political climate that seems nasty, disconnected and irrelevant.

As John Ibbitson gushed in the Globe, "but here is this beautiful young Canadian of Haitian birth, with a smile that makes you catch your breath, with bemused older husband by her side, and a daughter who literally personifies our future, and you look at them and think: Yes, this is our great achievement, this is the Canada that Canada wants to be."

As for me, I'm proud. Proud that Michaelle Jean has chosen this country to live in, and of the words she choses to describe it. Proud that this country recognized this woman and lifted her to one of its highest offices. And today, I'm hopeful for its future.

Oops! We did it again!

It seems that Kevin and I are getting more media attention than Britney lately. Now we just need our "We are the Canadian Dream" T-shirts.

Here we are, last Friday at 5ive:

The photo is from AT Productions, who were presenting Bitch Slap Friday, and promoting Feast, on October 9.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

It's here...

I'm just heading downstairs to get it!

...Sorry, that was really sad. My intent was to create about 10 minutes' worth of curiousity and anticipation as I went downstairs to get "it" and plugged it in, and then to write an entry on "it", explaining what "it" was.

Of course, work had me tied down on Thursday until I left for swing in the evening, and I worked late again on Friday, and then I was barely in on the weekend, and well, now it's now.

Anyhow, "it" is my new monitor. I'm quite excited because it's, finally, an LCD, and I'm fairly convinced that it's years of staring at a cathode ray tube that has made me as blind as I am. Ever since I started using a laptop at work, my vision has been degrading at a far less alarming rate. So, after a further two years of intending to buy myself an LCD for home use, I have.

The other thing is, it's really pretty.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Ubuntu - Humanity to Others

So, I warned you that you'd have to deal with the odd geek-oriented post from time to time, didn't I? Well, it's time.

As I briefly mentioned in a previous post, my desktop PC died right before my trip to New York. There was a bad storm, the power briefly cut out, causing the machine to reboot, and it never came back up after that. Basically, it would just hang at different points during the boot. Rather than spend ages picking through that 6-year-old kludge clone, trying to determine which parts were fried, I decided to just cut my losses and move on.

So, I grabbed Mythy (my MythTV-based homebrew PVR), deciding that it would make a nice, new(er) desktop. This leaves me without a PVR or DVD player for now, but that can be remedied in the future. I bought a new, bigger hard drive, and set about installing an operating system.

Of course, that operating system would be a GNU/Linux distribution. I've been using Debian for over 5 years now (and other distributions for at least a couple before that), and I have grown utterly accustomed to understanding how the system works, to running for months without rebooting, and to having every kind of application I could ever want at my fingertips, for free.

But lately, I've been hearing so much about Ubuntu that I decided I'd give it a try this time. Ubuntu is a Debian-derived distribution that's meant to be more user-friendly. Not that it's the first, mind you. Other Debian-based distributions, like Xandros, Linspire, and Mepis, have tried to fill this niche, but they've never been hugely popular. In my opinion, their focus hasn't been correct. They've been too concerned with prettifying the desktop and supplying do-it-all configuration tools, and, in the process, have sacrificed the distributed cohesion that is embodied in Debian's elegant architecture.

I've believed, for quite some time now, that Debian would most benefit from having someone smooth over it's long release cycle, and that's exactly what Ubuntu does: every six months, it provides a stable release containing a subset of packages from Debian Unstable that have been frozen and tested. Some new software has been added to Ubuntu before making it into Debian, like the X.Org implementation of the X Window System. As the system has matured, there has been increasing divergence from Debian, which has been the subject of much controversy and of some efforts to address the issue. Hopefully, the two projects' developers will be able to keep the differences to a minimum. That would surely benefit all.

So, the big question: how is it?


The install is slick, simple, and complete. It autodetects hardware, it suggests a partitioning scheme (and provides remarkable control if you want to tweak it yourself, even handling LVM configurations), it asks a minimum of questions, and it's fast. There's no flashy GUI, as Debian-Installer is used to provide all this nice functionality, with a simple, character-mode interface. I strongly believe that just the video mode has no effect on the ease or difficulty of an installation. It's the information presented and the questions asked that make a difference.

Ubuntu installs a much larger base set of packages than Debian, in order to provide a complete desktop out of the box. However, for security's sake, it doesn't install any servers. The desktop is a slick, well configured GNOME 2.10 (KDE fans would probably prefer Kubuntu).

For the most part, things just work, with no additional effort. My sound card, a Sound Blaster Audigy2, was detected and ALSA was configured appropriately. I was briefly stymied by the fact that it defaulted to optical output, leaving my little old analog speakers silent. A bit of Googling led me to look through the mixer settings until I found the right switch.

On plugging in my camera for the first time, it was automatically mounted, with an icon appearing on my desktop for it, and a dialog popped up asking if I wanted to import the photos into my photo album.

Unfortunately, there was a problem with the initial graphics configuration. It rightly detected that I have an NVIDIA graphics adapter, and so it configured X to use the open source nv driver. That failed to give me a resolution above 640x480, which isn't so much fun. Had it simply opted for the vesa driver, things would have worked fine. Fortunately, Ubuntu packages the proprietary nvidia driver, so properly fixing the situation was easy.

I think that these kinds of problems are inevitable when you're trying to support the huge collection of random PC hardware that's out there. Fortunately, Ubuntu's not just a pretty face. It's pretty under the hood, too: consistent and relatively easy to understand. So, when things do go wrong, it's much easier to fix than most other "user-friendly" distributions.

Ubuntu's rapidly growing user community has been contributing excellent documentation, too. The Unofficial Ubuntu Guide is simply brilliant: it helped me out with my X driver problem, and also showed me the simplest ways to install all those handy proprietary programs and plug-ins like Java 5.0, Flash, and Acrobat Reader. It even covered the often tricky issue of multimedia codecs and DVD playback.

By default, apt, the Debian package management tool, is well configured. The sources.list contains entries for local mirrors of the two supported Ubuntu repositories (Main and Restricted) and, importantly, the coresponding security repositories. A third Ubuntu repository, Universe, includes almost every package from Debian Unstable that isn't officially supported in Ubuntu, rebuilt to have all of the right dependencies for the distribution. It can be addded to the mix simply by uncommenting two clearly marked lines. I also found that it was easy to automatically build packages right out of Debian, myself.

There's one other particular quirk in Ubuntu that has received a fair amunt of attention: root login is disabled. Instead, sudo is used to allow the first user to execute commands as root, using only his own password for authentication. This approach works very well. The user doesn't have to remember a second password, and is strongly discouraged from using root unnecessarily. This compares very favourably to Linspire's Windows-like approach, in which the root account is used for everything. It's still smooth and unobtrusive, with all the GUI administrative tools that require root priviledges using gksudo to autheneticate on launch. Still, I quickly found myself missing su, as I occasionally want to run multiple commands as root, with proper command compleition. In such cases, "sudo -s -H" does the trick, and be aliased to "su".

So far, my day-to-day use has been uneventful (that's a good thing). I've been using applications like Firefox, Evolution, GAIM, Rhythmbox and GnuCash without any problems.

Ubuntu is an African word meaning "humanity to others" or "I am what I am because of who we all are." It's a beautiful sentiment and an apt name for such a community-driven free software project.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Go Melissa!

Tonight's the final episode of Canadian Idol. If Melissa doesn't win, I'll be crushed.

There have been some decidedly bad choices in the past. Remember in season one, when Toya and Audrey didn't even make the top 3, and then Ryan Malcolm won? Hmm...whatever happened to him, anyway?

Still, even the horny 15-year old girls shouldn't screw this one up. Rex is simply a piss poor singer. And he's not even good looking! What do they see in him?

Kevin and I voted for Melissa 20 times last night. If that's not enough, what is?


I've finally finished posting my photos from New York and Beachfest. Hopefully, you've already noticed that little My Photos link on the right, which will take you there.

I had taken something like 400 photos. So, it took quite a bit of time to wade through them all, and I ended up discarding about two thirds. Such is the benefit and the curse of digital photography. Too often, I'll even take two or more photos of exactly the same thing, framed exactly the same way, and decide later which is the keeper.

The other delay was trying to upload them all to Yahoo! Photos. I've been uploading them at full quality, which takes so long, but you can only view them at 480x360. And you have to do the uploading 10 at a time with a standard HTML form, or use their IE plug-in to drag and drop a whole album at one. I was happy to discover they'd added a Mozilla/Firefox version, but I don't think it's quite fully baked yet, as it actually garbled a good number of the photos I was trying to upload.

There must be something better for photo hosting out there. I've heard many good things about Flickr. Their free account only allows 20 megs of uploads per month, which wouldn't suffice, but maybe I should just suck it up and pay.

I can't help but notice how many of my photos are scenery. I still find it quite difficult to take pictures of people sometimes. It seems so intrusive, even though I usually enjoy it when other people photograph me. I guess I figure that others aren't quite so vain.

Friday, September 09, 2005


On Monday, I went to Beachfest, a free, all-day concert at Sunnyside Park, and got to enjoy performances by Sarah Slean, K-OS, Steven Page, David Usher, and Kathleen Edwards (other artists performed, but we wandered off during their sets).

For me, the highlight was definitely Sarah Slean. Some artists are just captivating, and she's one such artist. Her melodies, her lyrics, her delivery, her was just her and a piano, and that's part of what made it so striking.

What I wouldn't give to be able to start with a blank piece of paper, and create a song out of nowhere. Or to sit down at a piano, and make that song real, with heart, hands, and voice. It's so powerful. I envy it.

We consider people who run businesses and governments to be powerful. Why? They don't even create anything.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Advice for Kelly

A few days ago, I saw a bit of one of the many reruns of the VMA's on MTV (apparently, they program their specials the same way as MuchMusic). I caught Kelly Clarkson performing "Since U Been Gone" and...oh my! I don't think she sang a single right note. What would Simon say?

Here's some free advice, Kelly: you may figure yourself a rock chick now. You might be incredibly cute, and you might even be glistening from the fake rain they're pouring on you. Your song might have been the most fun release all year. But, get real -- you launched your career on American Idol! If you don't sing well, I won't love you.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Home Time!

EclipseWorld is over, and so it's just about time for me to head home. I'll be flying out tommorrow morning, and I just hope it goes more smoothly than the trip down here.

My presentation seemed to go relatively smoothly. I got through all of my slides with enough time to do my demo, and it didn't feel like I'd forgotten to say anything. I heard lots of feedback about EMF from various attendees, which was very interesting. These people are mostly enterprise application developers, so they want to hear how they can persist their EMF instances in a database. The people want Hibernate, and they want it now!

In all, it was a great, fun-filled trip. That said, I'm ready to wrap it up. I miss Toronto...can you believe it?

Tuesday, August 30, 2005


Well, day two of EclipseWorld is over, and there's been good, bad and ugly. The highlight so far was a presentation on AspectJ. Aspect oriented programming is very cool. Basically, it lets you encapsulate according to common concerns by selecting certain points of execution (pointcuts) and then providing code to be executed at those points (advice). The compiler then weaves the aspects into existing code, resulting in standard bytecode (in the case of Java, anyway) that executes in any JVM. The typical example is logging: you can write an aspect that logs a call trace across any application in just a few lines of code. But, fancier stuff is possible: we saw examples of policy enforcement at compile time and runtime, consitent transaction management, asynchronous execution, and fault injection. It's powerful stuff, and Eclipse's support for AspectJ is really impressive. I think this could easily become an indispensable part of my toolkit.

I just got back from the conference reception, where we were kindly given two free drinks. Fortunately, I left before I could do any damage. On the way back to the hotel, I stopped off at Grand Central Station (it's right next door) for some gelato. Yummy.

I can't be the only one who is more than slightly disturbed by the men in camouflage with big guns, can I?

Okay, I need to lose my buzz and start practicing my presentation for tommorrow. Good times, good times.

Monday, August 29, 2005


Yup, I went out tonight. Just got home. Went to Park and Cock. Lemme tell you, I feel pretty classy right about now.

Rich, you were a fabulous guide!

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Drippy Sundy

Well, it's Sunday afternoon, and it's starting to feel like the party's over.

I slept in today until noon, and then watched some TV and did some blogging. Now, I'm in a cafe doing a bit of work. I need to prepare the demo for my presentation on Wednesday, and practice the whole thing once or twice. I also need to head back to my room and do some ironing, since I was living out of a suitcase while staying with Mike and Lis. Fortunately, the rain has encouraged me to be responsible and get this stuff done now. Since I think I'm caught up on my sleep, I might still go out this evening if I get everything done.

I guess the daily entries will end now, since I'll be engaged with the geeky excitement of EclipseWorld until I head home on Thursday.

Saturday with Mike

Saturday was the first day since I arrived that Mike actually didn't have to work, so we got to spend the day together! It's typical for him to work the weekends and to get home late at night every day, often past midnight. I really respect him for working so hard, but it just doesn't seem fair to him or to Lis. Nobody should have to keep up that kind of pace all the time. I don't think I could do it, not these days anyway. There's just so much more that I want to be doing.

Anyhow, we decided to use our day together to do some cycling around Manhattan. We took the Path across, and then rode up the shore of the Hudson River. They've built a good path for walking, cycling, and in-line skating along the waterfront. Then, we cut in to Central Park, and had a ride around it. We also went up to Columbia and looked around the campus a little. By the time we got back to the World Trade Center, we were quite exhausted and my groin was pretty unhappy. We'd been riding for several hours and faced some pretty strong head winds on the way back down. And I hadn't been on a bike for years. Amazingly, my legs aren't at all stiff today, although my bum's still a bit sore.

In the evening, we took a taxi back into the city, and I checked into the hotel I'll be staying at for the conference this week. After we got some dinner, we were both wiped. I'd really wanted to go out dancing, but after Friday night and all of the day's activities, I just didn't have the energy. So, I collapsed into bed and dropped off for 10 hours.

Oh, how nice to be sleeping in a big, comfy bed instead of Mike's futon with its lump down the centre!

Friday with Lis

Friday was Lis's last day of work before moving to a new department, in another location. Since her computer was being moved, she decided to play hooky for most of the day and hang out with me.

So, we toodled around the city: we visited Chinatown, Little Italy, the Lower East Side, and the East Village. We visited lots of little shops, buying a few things. In a surprising turn, I got to be the guide at lunch. We happened to be near Yaffa Cafe, so I suggested we go there. We had a delicious meal: a chicken and avacado wrap and a middle-eastern platter with pita, hummus, and baba ganoush. We had a nice chat over lunch. I told Lis about some of my crazy boy antics of late, and she talked about her relationship with Mike. I feel like I know both of them much better as a result.

In the afternoon, we got up to Union Square, and Lis took me to Filene's Basement, the perfect store to satisfy the inner label queen. It's kind of like Winners without the ick. Actually, it's much nicer stuff. I almost bought a really cute pair of Energie jeans at a third of the regular price, but I decided that I really have enough clubby jeans already. Crazy, huh?

Lis had to go home to take care of Lucy, and I continued on to visit Bryant Park and the main branch of the public library. It's beautiful and, like so many things in this city, quite overwhelming. There's this huge reading room, with PCs and empty tables in the middle, whose walls are lined with thousands of volumes of literature. I think you could easily get lost in it for the rest of your life.

Lis had set me up with a colleague, Rich, to show me around in the evening, and he took me to a couple of bars in the East Village: Starlight, which was quite nice, and the Phoenix, a bit more of a dive. It's Rich's favourite nightspot in the city, though, as it's very relaxed and attitude-free. Rich is a really nice guy: very outgoing and funny, and not a hint of pretense. Pity he doesn't like to go dancing, though. Many cocktails were consumed, and we met a bunch of people, some interesting, some not so much.

In all, a fun night. By the end of it, Jersey City seemed a long way away, so I crashed with Rich at his place.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Spiritual Thursday

I managed to get to the Empire State Building and get a theatre ticket, though not, as I'd foolishly hoped, in that order.

Before lining up at TKTS, I wandered around the financial district (neck craned the whole time) and explored the South Street Seaport. I was in line by around 10:15, near the front, so I could get my ticket five minutes after it opened at 11. There was an Abercrombie & Fitch in the same building. I've never been to one, so I felt compelled to check it out, in spite of the fact that I think it's a pretty evil company.

Evil but effective, I found out. They've got dance music pumping, and everyone working there is very attractive and flirty. I almost bought a pair of jeans that I definitely don't need for $90 US, mainly because, after the very cute salesguy asked what size I take and I replied 30, he said that he wears the same size and was sure they'd look great on me. Fortunately, sanity returned in the dressing room. I did buy two T-shirts, though. I think they actually spray them with cologne, so that you feel sexier when you're trying them on. Very sneaky.

After escaping from there, I headed up to midtown, for the Empire State. Fortunately, the line was fairly short, so I had lots of time to enjoy the view and take pictures. It's really spectacular and awe inspiring. New York is just so impressively huge, so ambitious, that it's amazing that it all works. I think the same thing every time I get on the subway. Incidentally, I've become much better at finding my way around the city.

After coming home to take Lucy for a walk, I met up with Lis and some colleagues for drinks; they were marking her last week, as she's moving to a new role in a another office on Monday.

Then, I headed back to Manhattan for my play. I saw an off-broadway show tonight, called Altar Boyz. Basically, it's a concert by a fictional Christian boyband. Of course, they go into back stories, secrets and insecurities, and all that good stuff. They used the boyband member stereotypes (the sexy leader; the cute, barely closeted one; the bad boy; the latin lover; and the...Jew?), but made them all disturbingly evangelical. And the hilarity ensues. I'll admit it: I did buy the soundtrack.

One thing that's impossible to miss is how good these people are at what they do. I think your typical broadway actor could sing and dance circles around the Justins and Nicks, the Britneys and Christinas of this world. That said, I hope they never take away my manufactured pop goodness -- it's just too fun.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Quiet Wednesday

As predicted, today was a quiet one. I spent all day blogging and doing e-mail, so I didn't really get out until the evening, and even then, I never went across into the city. Sad? Perhaps, but I'm glad to have recorded everything I've done so far.

This evening, there was a little neighbourhood party just outside: all the restuarants in the area had tables where they were selling food cheap. Lis and I went, then we took Lucy to the dog park. After that, we just had a quiet evening, chatting and looking at photos. It was great to do, since we really haven't had the chance to talk lately...and, by lately, I think I mean ever.

I was supposed to go to bed early, so I could get up early tommorrow and hit the Empire State Building before TKTS opens at 11. Well, so much for the former part; I'm still hoping for the latter.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005


Since today's marathon blogging effort is going so well, I figure I'll finish up by writing about yesterday. Then, I'll be all caught up. I might find that there's nothing about today worth writing, though, since it doesn't seem I'm likely to get out of here before 4:30.

We started Tuesday by walking through Washington Square. There was no art show on this New York afternoon, but there are two separate dog run areas, with a special, exclusive one for small dogs. Apparently, small dogs are superior in New York, presumably because it's easier to pick them up and carry them under your arm. That particular manoeuver seems to be quite important in this city.

Then, we went to Magnolia Bakery, as Stu had recommended, for cupcakes. Yum! I must admit that near the end, my teeth were starting to hurt from the sugar in all that icing. Fear not, I soldiered on. I also bought two little cookies for later, but they were starting to melt in my pocket, so we put them in Karyn's purse. Since Karyn was flying out to London yesterday evening, she told me to remember to get them back before she took off for the airport. So, of course, I forgot. I hope she enjoyed them on the plane.

Karyn finished packing, and we headed to the Upper West Side, where another intern that Karyn worked with lives. He'd offered to give Karyn a ride to the airport, along with a friend of his who had been visiting. First, we all went out for linner, ending up at a place called Radio Perfecto. I was surprised and delighted to hear Jann Arden on the radio there! And, it wasn't even "Insensitive" (it was "Wonderdrug"). On the way back, we passed the restaurant from Seinfeld...well, the one whose exterrior they used for the establishing shot, anyway.

During the day, I wore a T-shirt that Sam gave me for my last birthday, which says, "I may not be perfect, but parts of me are pretty awesome." It's remarkable: I've worn it many times in Toronto, and no one that I don't know ever commented on it. In Vancouver (when I visited in June), one overly flirty barrista at Starbucks said something. Yesterday, I got around 10 comments, from everyone: retail workers, a police officer, and random people in the streets, including a panhandler. So, it's more than a gloriously fun article of clothing, it's a great way to take the pulse of a city!

In the evening, I thought I'd pay a visit to Stonewall. It's historical, right? Oh, and they had some kind of competition going on called "Porn Idol," which sounded quite promising. Sadly, there was a crowd of about 8 people, which is far too small to watch Porn Idol without great embarrassment resulting. So, I found another place nearby, called Pierre's, with some pretty fabulous karaoke going on. I didn't sing, but I got hit on by a few cute boys, though mostly by Blanche, the drag queen hosting the event.

Big Apple Monday

On Monday, we managed to see the entire island of Manhattan in three hours...from a seated position. We took a Circle Line siteseeing cruise, and holy cow, Manhattan's big! There's this whole part up north, with hills and trees and stuff. Who knew?

Our tour guide had an interesting style. Rather than saying something like, "The big brick building on the left...", he'd say, "You see the big brick building on the left? See it? The bricking building? On the left? It's..." He also seemed obsessed with pointing out every last hospital, celebrity home, and film/TV location. Nonetheless, it was an enjoyable tour, and I took about 10,000 photos. I'll definitely have to do some deleting. But first, I'll need to get my computer working again. So, don't be too surprised if it takes a while for these photos to show up.

In the evening, we saw Avenue Q, which you can read about three entries down from here. But first, we went up to The View, atop the Marriott Marquis Hotel in Times Square. It's a revolving restaurant, where, before 9 pm, they'll happily serve you a single drink and let you nurse it for an hour. I had a Big Apple, which was tasty, refreshing, and put me in a perfect state of mind for Avenue Q.

After the show, we walked around Times Square a bit. It's absolutely shocking how bright it is at night. It's actually quite beautiful and hideous at the same time. You can't help but wonder how many African nations could be powered if they just turned it all off. The scale of New York seems to inspire these opposing reactions in me. It's so invigorating, and yet so exhausting.

Sunday in the Park

After a late brunch at Shiller's Liquor Bar on the Lower East Side, Karyn's neightbourhood, we spent most of Sunday in Central Park. We saw most of the sights there: the amusement park at Wollman Rink, The Mall and the big fountain from Friends, The Ramble, Belvedere Castle, The Great Lawn, Jackie Onassis Resevoir (which, thankfully, doesn't seem to provide Manhattan's drinking water anymore), and Strawberry Fields. We even went rowing on The Lake. Or rather, I rowed, and Karyn lounged. I'm such a perfect gentleman, don't you think? I did surprisingly well, not hitting anything, in spite of several other rowers' best efforts. Some people seemingly couldn't figure out that the pointy end of the boat is the front, which probably made steering quite a challenge. Karyn was able to share some of the trivia she picked up on the bike tour she took with Leah, even pointing out which building Madonna tried to get a place in, but was refused by Yoko Ono.

For dinner, we went to Union Square and tried yet another New York institution: street meat. Once again, it was a disappointment -- much worse than what you'd get in Toronto or Vancouver. The sausage was the skinny little kind you'd get in a grocery store, in a package of eight, for a few bucks. And the topping choices were ketchup and mustard. Four bites later, it was gone, but at least I knew we'd still be able to manage another dining experience that evening.

Next, we walked across the Brooklyn Bridge. We'd intended to do it at sunset, and although we were a bit late, it was still quite spectacular. Pedestrians walk across a path in the centre of the bridge, raised above the traffic. Oddly, there were railings attached to a few of the supports that ran over the traffic decks to the outside edges of the bridge, and they weren't blocked off in any way. I guess this is the opposite of the Luminous Veil.

It was dark when we got to Brooklyn, but we found our way back to the promenade for a very pretty view of the lit skyline. We skirted death on the way back to the subway, having to cross an onramp that turned such that we couldn't see what was coming, with no help from a traffic signal. Given that there was a sidewalk there, and crosswalks on the preceding and following intersection, this setup seemed very odd. I guess when you've got 8 million people living in a city, it doesn't matter as much if you lose a few.

After that adventure, we headed back to the East Village to wrap up the day with a bite at Yaffa Cafe. From the street, you'd never think this place was be anything special. But, it's got a huge, beautifully designed garden in the back. We sat out there and shared the most delicious salad I've ever had, with avacado, hard boiled egg, and carrot dressing. Yum! Oh, and some even better sangria than the night before. It was such a great place to hang out and chat, so we passed quite a bit of time there. They even give out free Yaffa Cafe condoms!

Saturday in New York

I've really been meaning to capture my New York experience. Today's started out pretty slow, so it's the perfect opportunity! Right now, I'm sitting in a Starbucks in Jersey City, right across from Mike and Lis's place, nursing my tazo chai and blueberry muffin. When I'm done here, I'll take Lucy for a little walk and pee, and then head back across the water to Manhattan.

I'm planning to write one entry per day here, so let's get started with Saturday. After finally escaping from the Newark airport, I took the Path into the city, and met Karyn at a little organic/fair trade coffee shop in Greenwich Village called Jack's. It was a very funky place and *very* New York.

Then, we did some shopping on Broadway. We were planning to go out in the evening, and I was really poorly dressed, and pretty stinky at that point. I got some cute jeans at OMG, and Karyn found a very fun T-shirt for me at American Eagle:

And, of course, I had to get a couple pairs of underwear, so we hit H&M. Apparently, Air Canada will compensate me up to $100 US. I'm not sure that'll cover it, especially including all the roaming minutes spent on hold on their baggage line. So, we'll probably have to have some "discussions" when I get home. We'll see how that goes. Karyn said she was quite impressed with the way I'd handled things so far. I credit her for teaching me well -- after all, she is the queen!

For dinner, we decided to experience some of New York's famous pizza, so we went to Lombardo's, which claims to have the best in the city. It was a bit of a disappoinment actually: fairly unremarkable, with limited topping options. I'd say it's worse than Mamma's Pizza, and certainly not even close to Terroni. I guess it's a matter of preference: I'll take a thin-crust Italian pizza over a greasy, deep dish from New York anyday. On the other hand, the sangria was fantastic, though the pitcher was a lot bigger than it seemed.

In the evening, we went dancing at Heaven. The cover, $15, seemed pretty steep, considering that it was pretty much empty when we arrived at 11:30. Turns out it was Gay College Party night, so I think it might have been cheaper if we weren't presumed pedophiles. The music was good, but strangely, they had TV screens playing videos for other songs. More than once, I found myself wishing they were playing the song from the video, instead. It was a really small space for dancing downstairs, and very empty upstairs. I was pretty exhausted on Saturday, having woken at 4:45 and spent hours standing in various lineups, so I wasn't really that into it. I was happy to dance for a few hours, and Karyn was a great sport, too. I can't decide: maybe she would have been more entertained if I'd been a little wilder. I fear that I might have focused on the boys a bit too much, had that been the case. Anyhow, thanks Karyn, for being my date at my first gay club in New York!

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Avenue Q

I just got back from seeing Avenue Q with Karyn. Like the last time I saw a show on Broadway, Urinetown, I was very impressed to see new a new, edgier, self-deprecating style of musical theatre. This show was creative, relatable, hilarious, and not at all afraid to take risks.

The best way to describe Avenue Q is as Sesame Street for grown-ups. Well, maybe for immature, somewhat dysfunctional, 20-something grown-ups. Some characters are played by live actors, and others are puppets -- though, you can always see the actors who are operating and voicing the puppets on stage. That's a good thing, as some of the entertainmet flows from the way the actors often mirror the motions and expressions of their puppets. Also impressive is how the actors juggle multiple puppet roles, occasionally passing one puppet off to another actor in the background as a different puppet takes centre stage.

There are many highly entertaining songs, some of which don't necessarily tie into the plot very well. Trekkie Monster's "The Internet is for Porn" (think "C is for Cookie") certainly stands out in this regard. I was howling.

Oh, did I mention that the cast was oustanding, and that the lead, Barrett Foa, was quite notably hot? Yep, this one's definitely worth seeing. I think will be picking up the soundtrack, and hopefully the above poster, as soon as possible.

Monday, August 22, 2005

I'll Make It Anywhere!


I'm successfully settled in New York (actually Newport, Jersey City, where I'm staying with Mike and Lis), though it wasn't easy. When I booked a new flight for Saturday morning, the Air Canada agent told me that I should arrive early, since the backlog from the cancelled flights would make it very busy. I asked how early, and she suggested two hours. To be safe, I arrived two and half hours early, at 6:30. I then stood in line to check-in for...almost two and a half hours. The line was barely moving because, 15 minutes before each flight was scheduled to take off, they'd pull all its passengers out of the line and devote most or all of the agents to checking them in immediately. So, at around 8:45, they pulled me out of the line and checked me in. It was 9:10 by the time I cleared customs. Fortunately, there were another 20 people or so in line after me -- all the other people who couldn't do a self check-in, I guess (the kiosk refused to check me in, presumably because they'd just rebooked my flight the previous night, but there was no new ticket number). So, they held the plane for us. In fact, it didn't take off until after 10:00.

The flight was shorter than expected (about 75 minutes, instead of 90) and quite enjoyable, as they'd put me in executive class. After landing and deplaning, the experience again took a turn for the worse when they shut off the baggage carousel, leaving many of us empty handed. So, I had to wait in another very slow-moving line to file my lost baggage complaint. In the end, I finally got out of the airport at around 12:30, a full 6 hours after I arrived at Pearson for my 90 minute flight. Without any of my stuff.

After many calls, and much holding (well, at least they appreciate my patience), Air Canada finally revealed that my bag had arrived at Newark this evening. But, the fellow told me, since it had been checked late, I would be responsible for picking it up. I explained to him that that wouldn't work for me, since I had arrived two and half hours early for my flight, and the bag had been checked at that time only because of their inability to manage the line. I also explained that I'd need compensation, since I had to buy some clothes and toiletries yesterday. Well, he had to "cofirm" that, so he said he'd call me back. He never did, but Lis followed up for me with the main baggage office, and they finally did deliver at 12:20 this morning.

So, a mere 42 hours after arriving for my 90 minute flight, all is well. Thanks Air Canada; now I really see why you were voted North America's best airline. Nice. To be fair, we only have thunderstorms every other week in Toronto, I can see why it basically renders the airline useless for the next 48 hours.

Well, enough griping. I've also been having a great time here in the big apple. Karyn and Mike and Lis have been fabulous guides and hosts! Hopefully, I'll have time tommorrow to write about some of the fun things I've been up to.

Friday, August 19, 2005

If I Can Make It There... (Literally)

Thunderstorms suck. They cancel your flights and zap your computer. Oh well, tommorrow's another day, and after five years, I could use a new computer.

Generous Linkage

I've added some more links to my blog, for your surfing pleasure. Well, maybe that's not quite true: I think they just might be for me, too. At some point, I think I had the brilliant idea that if I had links to the sites I frequent most often, I'd be more inclined to make my blog my home page. Then, maybe I could do away with bookmarks altogether. And, in the process, I learned a little something new about CSS.

Anyhoo, you'll find a few more of my links, some of my friends' blogs, a couple of famous Canadians' blogs, and some different news sites I read.

Most of the links are quite self-explanatory. Swingin'OUT is a queer swing dance club that I belong to, and I maintain their modest site. Groklaw is a legal news/research site covering The SCO Group's spectacular death by legislation. I was severely addicted to Groklaw for a couple of years, but I'm much improved these days. Just yesterday, I was able to glance at a new transcript of a deposition and not read the whole thing! No, I'm not actually suggesting that you should read Groklaw, just admitting that I do.

Well, obviously I'll add new links when new sites strike my fancy. Enjoy.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

If I Can Make It There...

On Friday, I'm heading to New York City for almost two weeks!

It's really one of those brilliant, everything-comes-together-perfectly situations. I'm presenting at EclipseWorld, which runs August 29-31. Karyn, who spent the summer in the city, is leaving next Tuesday. So, by going this Friday, I'll get to hang out with Karyn for a few days and spend the rest of the week exploring the city and, where possible for them, spending time with Mike and Lis. They're very kindly putting me up at their place in Jersey City. All they ask in return is a few of their favourite Canadian goodies: Coffee Crisp, Smarties, and maple syrup. How great is it to have family there?

Then, I'll head into the city for the conference. Although it's technically work, I'm really looking forward to this conference, too. The last one I attended, EclipseCon, was such a positive experience: very reaffirming in terms of the importance of our work, and very motivational, too. This time, I've signed up for more classes and tutrorials, so I'll get to learn even more about other Eclipse projects. Now, I just have to get through my nerves when I present..

I fly back on Thursday, September 1. The next day is the Friday before Labour Day, so it's a floater day at work (i.e. a day off). So, the upshot of this is that I won't set foot in the lab again until after Labour Day!

My question, though, is this: what should I do in New York? If you've been before, please let me know what I absolutely shouldn't be missing. In particular, on Saturday night, Karyn and I are going to go out dancing. She's not at all a big clubber, and certainly not a gay clubber, so I need some good advice.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

I Want My CBC

The CBC locked out 5500 employees on Monday. I suppose it's hard to produce television and radio without technicians or on-air talent, so the CBC management isn't even trying.

Radio One is simply playing music all day, with 5 minute news and information updates on the hour. Do you have any idea how hard it is for me to wake up without Metro Morning? Music is too easy to snooze to; I need conversation to latch on to. Conflict is especially helpful.

CBC Television and Newsworld are playing lots of reruns, and broadcasting BBC news instead of producing their own. Now, I've got no complaints about the Beeb's newscasts, but what ever happened to "Trusted. Connected. Canadian"?

My fear is that more people are going to turn to the private media, with support for public broadcasting eroding as a result. It's bad enough that the CBC lost the Junos, and now the Olympics, to CTV. I really don't want to see the CBC weakened any further.

Did the CBC management think this through at all?

Out of protest, I'm thinking I might not wear my vintage CBC T-shirt until the lockout is over.

Fab Update

Thanks to Kevin, I now have the infamous photos of us that appeared in last week's fab. Here's the shot that was published in the magazine:

Scandalous, huh? And, here's the other shot they took. It wasn't published, but it did appear on their Web site last Wednesday:

Since then, it disappeared. Presumably, it was just too hot. Or, perhaps they realized that they'd already published these twinks, and they wanted to share the glory.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

It Takes a Crane

Today, I was having breakfast with Leah, and we started talking about the buildings around us. She said something about cranes, and I took the opportunity to quote, "Life is Wonderful", from Jason Mraz's new album: "It takes a crane to build a crane," I said.

This kicked off a fun conversation...

Leah (sarcastically): That's profound.

Dave: No, it's not. It might seem profound to you, but that's because you're just a student. If you were in industry...

Leah: Well, I'm thinking about it philosophically, since I *am* going to be a Doctor of Philosophy.

Dave: If you were in industry, you'd see that's lacking a way to realize any revenue.

Leah: We could leverage our crane assets.

Dave: If we could develop a crane ecosystem...

Then we started imagining what a crane ecosystem would look like, with happy crane families frolicking in an idyllic setting.

Okay, that wasn't verbatim, as it happened several hours ago. Leah, if you can remember anything else, please help me out.

If you are scratching your head, or maybe thinking that I'm quite a pompous git, then clearly you weren't there for any of our past conversations about pretentious industry jargon and attitudes. And, in that case, reading this entry was probably a waste of your time.


Saturday, August 13, 2005

The Market

Lately, it seems like the most exciting part of my week is Saturday morning, when the St. Lawrence Market has its farmers market. So much beautiful fresh fruit, oh so very cheap. Sadly, cherry season ended a couple of weeks ago, but today I bought a box of strawberries and one of blueberries, all for eight bucks. Last week, I split a box of peaches with Leah. So sweet and juicy!

Having this place on my doorstep is quite incredible; I don't know if I can ever move away to another neighbourhood. If I do, I think I'll still make the trek on Saturdays.

It's the little things that make life worthwhile.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Banged on!

What's better than a sassy new T-shirt? Well, you can probably think of a few things, but right now I can't.

That's because I just got one at Bang-On, a very cool custom T-shirt shop. Actually, it's a chain of stores that started in Vancouver (holla!), and has locations in Toronto, New York, San Francisco, Atlanta, Zurich, and...uhh...Kelowna? Fortunately, if there isn't a location nearby, you can also buy from their Web site, though it doesn't seem to have as large a selection of designs as in the stores.

They've got several binders full of very cool designs, ranging from astrological signs and pop culture to political messages to car, cereal, and video game logos. They'll also do custom lettering. You choose the T-shirt and the design, and they'll bang it on. Prices start at about $30; certain designs and, of course, multiple logos cost more.

They use nice, quality shirts from American Apparel. After I had picked my design, I couldn't find exactly the right shirt for it, so I headed down the street to American Apparel, where I picked up a nice kelly green and white ringer T-shirt. The colours were perfect, and it seemed a little bit more fitted than the ordinary ones at Bang-On. The decal I had picked was $10, and for another $5, they applied it to my shirt.

The result is fabulous: you get exactly the shirt you want, and you'd never know that the design was pressed on in 2 minutes in the store. If you know me, you'll probably see me wearing my new shirt soon. If not, I'll try to post a pic soon.

Oh, and by the way, if you're in Toronto, I'd recommend the Queen West store over the one on Yonge. It's a much bigger, nicer looking store, and I found that the people there were much friendlier and more helpful. At the Yonge store, when I asked about supplying my own T-shirt, I was just told "no, we only do our own shirts," while on Queen West, they were happy to use mine, provided it was of good quality. The girl helping me even complimented me on the choice of shirt and said she couldn't wait until they started carrying it.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

One Face Too Many

Your first face is beautiful.
And one is plenty.


Wednesday must be my least favourite day of the week. It's burried right in the middle, so terribly far away from any weekendage. I typically work from home two or three days a week, but Wednesday is one of the days that I always have to go in to the lab (as in "software lab" -- it's what we call the office). Since I don't drive, that means about 90 minutes each way on transit. In all, Wednesday is usually the longest, dreariest day of the week.

But today is not an ordinary Wednesday. I got to meet Richard for coffee, since he was visiting the lab for an event this morning, and he told me all about his Canadian Idol experience last night. Apparently, from the third row, he could tell, without doubt, that Zack was on Coke and that Daryl and Josh are gay. Didn't they follow Josh's story early in the competition, when he auditioned (and got through) with his girlfriend? Oh well, Richie hasn't ever watched the show before; he didn't even know who Sass is! Anyhow, we'll both be happy if Suzie wins, and we decided that the only cute guy in the top 32 this year was Stephane. And let's face facts, he's no Jacob.

Later, I got to meet up with Leah for coffee. I shan't say too much about our conversation, but I was happy just to escape my desk.

Today was a totally non-productive day, where all I did was help other people solve their problems. The funny thing is, that kind of work feels great and can be quite fun to do, but since it's not supposed to be my primary purpose, it seems like a wasted day in retrospect. At least it went by quickly enough; I just wish there weren't so many pending tasks left over at the end of it that will be facing me tommorrow.

But here's what made this particular Wednesday quite remarkable. On the way home, I picked up this week's issue of fab (Toronto's gay scene magazine), and opened it to "flash" with some trepidation. You see, Kevin and I went to Woody's after swing last Thursday, where we got more than a little drunk. At some point, a guy with a camera stopped us, told us he was taking pictures for fab, and asked if he could take ours. Having been disappointed before when we were photographed but not published, we were determined to make it this time. We took a couple of pictures touching tongues, which weren't published, though I'm sure they were plenty hot. We also took what we called our "before shot" (that's another story that I won't get into now), with our shirts up, showing off our nipples. And that's the picture I found today. The caption is "Kevin & Dave: nips & untucked @ Woody's." Clever, huh? It seems I can be quite the silly little twink.

So, yes, this truly is a unique kind of Wednesday.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

first p0st!

Welcome, my little chickadees, to my inaugural post at Another Human Being.

Here it is, mid-2005, and I'm just starting my first blog. Given that I'm both gay and Jewish, I'm quite used to being late to a party. So, I guess it's appropriate that I'm a couple of years late to this particular one. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not some kind of technophobe or neophyte: my first taste of "online" was the local BBS scene in Vancouver some 15 years ago, and I graduated to a shell account with Internet access just a few years after that. I've been posting various thoughts in various forums (message boards, newsgroups, and the Web) all that time. But the idea of keeping a running journal of my thoughts never appealed. More than anything, I couldn't be bothered to start, since I was a bit afraid I'd never keep it up. But, I've read some really great postings lately, and I've been thinking that those pepole will get to hang on to those words forever. I wonder how many opportunities I've already missed. So, today's the day to get started, and we'll see how I do.

I'm not sure exactly what kinds of things I'm going to write about; I guess we'll find out together. I work for a large, navy-coloured technology company, which has recently been encouraging its employees to blog, both internally and publicly. I just can't get at all excited about the idea of doing a blog that's purely about technology or, worse, business. So, this page probably won't be showing up at work on the Blogline any time soon. That said, being a geek is a pretty large part of who I am, so don't be too surprised if you find you have to don a propellor hat to appreciate some of my posts. Heck, even this title of this post was a reference to Slashdot (if you missed that, perhaps you should consider yourself lucky). Needless to say, this blog represents my personal thoughts only; I'm in no way speaking for my employer.

One promise to myself: keep the ranting under control. It's so easy to focus on the things that piss us off -- there's no shortage in any given day, and often there's a comical absurdity to them, which make for great stories. But I don't want you, dear reader, to think that I'm bitter or unhappy. I'm not. I'm quite possibly at the happiest point in my life so far. So, I'll try not to neglect the things that delight and amaze me.

That said, it's time for my first rant, about my BlogSpot address. Somebody already took anotherhumanbeing, and they're not even using it. Isn't that kind of rude? I mean, how much effort would it take to pick a template and throw together one post? So, now I'm stuck with the hyphens. Or maybe I'll change the name altogether at some point. The name is the title of a song by one of my favourite artists, Jann Arden. It was the first thing that popped into my head when Blogger asked me to choose a name. I guess I was thinking about how big the world is; how big the 'net is; how insignificant, and how significant, each voice is. I like it, but I'm not overly attached yet. If something better comes along, something that I don't have to hyphenate, I could easily change it at this point.

So, that's enough for one post. Once again, welcome. I hope you'll be entertained.