Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Time Warp

[Quick background note: I'm back home in Vancouver for the holidays.]

This evening, I went with Phi to our old high school's Christmas concert.

It's been 11 years since my grade 12 Christmas concert, so it was a little mind-blowing to be there. Most of the songs were familiar, as they were songs I had done in my last two years of school. Mr. O. and Mrs. Roberts were still leading the band and choir, and Mrs. Mulder was in the audience, as always.

The highlight was the last number, Silent Night. The concert always ends with a really beautiful choral arrangement of Silent Night, performed from the balcony at the back of the church. The program said that all alumni of the concert choir were invited to participate, so we went up to join the group, and stood in the back row. I'm pretty sure we were the oldest ones in the lot.

Just like 11 years ago, we had picked up candles which we would be holding during the performance. I shook slightly as I tried to light mine, once again feeling the slight nerves before singing. Then, the most fantastic thing happened. Mrs. Roberts was looking around to make sure that everyone could see her. She noticed me, and mouthed, "oh my God, it's David." I mouthed back, "oh my God, it's Franny."

We performed the song and, of course, I still knew every note. Phi later confirmed that she did, too. The last note rang across the church, ending an amazingly exciting experience: a brief trip back in time.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Mandi, Mandi! You're so grandy!

Once again, I'm motivated to post about jazz with Mandi at Swingin'OUT. I fear that this blog may soon turn into nothing more than a record of these classes, but really, would that be so bad? Anyway, I warned you back at the beginning that the primary purpose of this blog is to act as my personal memory aid. And, I really don't want to forget this stuff.

I'll start with the whole routine, and then explain the new and tricky moves below.

The Routine

Messing around
Trucking (right foot first)
Suzie Q to the left
Trucking (left foot first)
Suzie Q to the right
Fall off the log/cross-over step
3 more cross-over steps
Boogie drops (right then left)
Shorty George with hold on four (finish with right foot on 7)
3 sets of reaches (up first)
Jazz hands break and turn (end with stomp off)
3 sets of Tacky Annie
Break with kick ball change and turn
2 sets of raise leg, hold, triple step (raise right leg first)
2 sets of boogie forward/fishtail back

...repeat from trucking!


1. Step inward on heal of right foot.
2. Pivot right foot outward and tap toe. Left foot raises and weight transfers to right.
3. Step inward on heal of left foot.
4. Pivot left foot outward and tap toe. Right foot raises and weight transfers to left.

Left hand on waist, raise and wiggle index figure of right hand.

Fall off the log/cross-over step

8-3. Like regular fall off the log, but focus shifts to cross-over step (right in front of left) on 3.
4. Hold.
5-6. Step left, right.
7. Cross left in front of right.


Turn 90 degrees to right.

1. Step on left foot, and reach up to left, with left hand above right.
2. Hold.
3. Step on right foot, and reach down to centre, with hands next to each other.
4. Hold.
5. Up left.
6. Down right.
7. Up left.
8. Hold.

Second time has same rhythm, but down right first. Third time, up right first again.

Jazz hands break and turn

1. Pushing off with right foot, scoot forward onto left.
2. Step forward on to right foot.
3. Bend left leg back at knee. Arms out, with left up right down. Jazz hands!
4. Left foot down, beside right.
5. Cross right foot behind left.
6-7. Turn over right shoulder.
(and) 8. Stomp-off.

Break with kick ball change and turn

8. Step onto right foot.
1. Touch left foot behind right.
2. Step onto right foot.
3-4. Kick ball change with right onto left.
5. Jump into lock step, right foot in front of left.
6-7. Turn over left shoulder.

Raise leg, hold, triple step

8. Raise right foot with straight leg, and slap leg with right hand. Left arm straight up.
1. Hold.
2-3. Triple step on right foot.
4. Raise left foot with straight leg, and slep leg with left hand. Right arm straight up.
5. Hold.
6-7. Triple step on left foot.

Thanks again, Mandi, for a fabulous class! Indirect thanks to Frida Segerdahl of the Harlem Hotshots, from whom Mandi says she "borrowed" most of this routine.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Wow, Stephane!

Stephane Dion has just been selected as the new leader of the Liberal Party of Canada.

I've been watching the convention all day. It's been amazingly exciting, even though it feels like it's been moving in slow motion.

I've been a big fan of Dion since he wrote his open letters to Lucien Bouchard and Jacques Brassard. He has always displayed a clarity of thought and intellectual honesty that's too often lacking in politics. And his embrace of a strong environmental policy is most heartening.

Gerrard Kennedy, of whom I knew nothing before, has earned a lot of my respect, too. By abandoning his own bid after the second ballot and throwing his support behind Dion, he pushed Dion to the head of the pack. For me, that was a clear demonstration of commitment to his values and principles.

With Michael Ignatieff leading throughout the campaign, I was not looking forward to voting in the next election. Now all of a sudden, I can hardly wait!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006


Yup, this is the post I was musing about yesterday. I guess I was bothered enough by the fact that I hadn't posted in over a month that I decided to finish it...

Several weeks ago now, Alex invited me and Kevin to watch some stand-up comedy at the Laugh Resort. The whole evening was a good time, but things got really interesting for me while the headliner, Michael Somerville, was on stage.

He was talking about how, when he gets back into town from touring, he meets his girlfriend at a bar, and they try to pick each other up. They make it interesting by giving each other a little assignment or challenge for the night. One time, he was to whistle at her, and she was to wink at him. But, at the time they had given each other these assignments, they didn't know that he can't whistle and she can't wink!

Well, when he started talking about how she couldn't wink, I cheered. I did that because I can't wink either.

He noticed, and asked if I was cheering because I can't wink. "That's right," I said.

He got pretty excited by this, and said that I'm the only other person he knows of who can't wink. He invited me up on stage, to demonstrate to everyone how funny it looks when someone who can't wink tries to. I declined, and he carried on with his story.

Then, right at the end of his set, he was summing up: "and really, that's all there is...unless Dave wants to come up and wink for us" (or words to that effect...hey, it was weeks ago, remember!). Well, in the interim, he had mentioned that he had a CD, which he would be selling after the show. Without missing a beat, I said, "I'll do it for a a free CD."

Why did I do that? I really didn't want to get up on stage and be laughed at, did I?

Anyway, he brought me up on stage, and shared his plans for me. We were going to reenact the scene in the bar, and I would of course be playing his wink-less girlfriend. I said that I hadn't realized this would be a whole big dramatic presentation, and added that the CD had better be signed.

So, I sat on a stool, and he walked across the stage. We glanced at each other, trying not to hold eye contact. Then, he started blowing air, attempting to whistle, and I started scrunching up my face, trying to wink.

The scene was pretty funny, from where I was sitting, anyway. He seemed to be really amused, too. But, the whole experience was quite surreal, so I don't actually remember if anyone in the audience was laughing.

In the end, he started faking a whistle sound, as he'd described earlier in his bit. Not willing to be outdone, I used my hands to hold one eye open and force the other one shut. I think this might have been met with laughter and applause, but I may be imagining that.

Anyway, the whole thing ended quite quickly. But, after the show, he did honour our deal, and I got my free, signed CD.

If you get the chance to see Michael doing stand up, take it! He's a funny guy!

The Heavy Digital Pen

Is there some kind of statute of limitations for blogging?

Something interesting happened weeks ago, and I meant to write about it. But, things got busy, yada, yada, yada...and I never got around to it. Now, the digital pen just seems too heavy. I can't motivate myself to do it.

Well, maybe I'll start a draft...

Friday, October 06, 2006

Le Jazz Hot!

Swingin'OUT was fantastic last night! Mandi Gould was our guest teacher for a special jazz class, and it was just too much fun!

Amazingly, we spent most of the 75 minute class on just four basic jazz moves:
  • boogie back
  • boogie forward
  • fish tail
  • Shorty George
First we focused on timing and polish. We practiced really opening up our upper bodies and putting our hips into it.

Then, we started combining the moves. For instance, four counts of boogie forward with four of Shorty George. Or, four counts of fish tail with four counts of boogie back. Or, even just pieces as small as 2 counts from each move!

Next, we broke into three small groups to create some tiny pieces of choreography. Each was to be 4 sets of 8 counts and use just those four basic moves. Well, actually, if we really wanted to, we were given permission throw in something else simple.

For posterity, here's what my group did. We were a group of five people, and we started in a straight line.
  • 8 counts: people in position 1, 3 and 5 boogie forward; 2 and 4 fish tail
  • 8 counts: people in position 1, 3 and 5 fish tail; 2 and 4 boogie forward
  • 4 counts: everyone boogie forward
  • 4 counts: everyone Shorty George
  • 8 counts: everyone boogie drops (4 counts right, 4 counts left)
We even arranged ourselves for colour balance in our shirts (by coincidence, we had 2 green Swingin' OUT T-shirts, 2 pink T-shirts, and one white T-shirt) and had time to choose a name.

Each group performed its little numbers for the others, and everyone was suitably impressed. Ours might have been the flashiest, due to the fact that we added boogie drops and had different people doing different moves at the same time. But, the other two groups were more inventive in the way they combined the four basic moves. In all, it was really fun to see what each group came up with!

Then, we got back into a big group, and started experimenting with the rhythm of the moves. For instance, instead of doing Shorty George as "kick-ball step step step step step step step," we dd "kick-ball step (hold) step (hold) step step step."

Finally, we broke out again into three smaller groups, where we did little jam circles. We went around the circles and each person had to do 2, then 4, sets of 8 counts in turn. Again, we were limited to the moves we had done that night, which we could combine however we saw fit.

Considering this was the first time many people had done anything like this, it went amazingly well. I guess because we had really reinforced the moves already and no one was expecting anything ridiculously inventive, people weren't all that nervous. It felt like we were even playing off each other a bit in my circle, which was great.

Thanks Mandi, for making jazz so non-scary!

Reruns in Syndication

If you're subscribed to my Atom feed, my apologies. I just switched over to Blogger Beta, and it seems the only negative effect was a modification to the entry IDs in my feed. The result is that your feed reader will probably see duplicates of my last 25 posts or so.

I wonder if I should try playing around with a new layout?

Friday, September 15, 2006

Boston (Part 3: A Touch of Silly)

Last Saturday, while exploring Quincy Market in Boston, I saw bakery selling these cookies. And all I could think was, "Go 50 times!"

I do believe I have a new saying!

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Boston (Part 2: Observations on the City)

Since EclipseWorld ended on Friday, I've been exploring, and enjoying, Boston. I'm now at the airport waiting for my typically delayed flight home. Here are a few thoughts about and observations of the city.

[Note: obviously, it wasn't Sunday anymore when I finished this post.]

Jogoholism: Bostonians are afflicted, en masse, by an addiction to jogging. The pathways along the river are packed with joggers. And it shows. There's no shortage of very attractive people here.

Beauty: No, I'm not talking about the joggers anymore. Boston is a really beautiful place. There's an abundance of waterfront, generous public spaces like the Boston Commons, and a striking assortment of interesting architecture. Walking the narrow streets of the North End really takes you back a few centuries, but just beyond them, beautiful new condos line the shore of Boston harbor. And the financial district's towers soar above the historic Old City Hall and State House. To be fair, there's some significant ugly to be found, too. It seems the bulk of it is in and around the T (the public transit system).

Volume: Politically, Massachusetts is about as liberal as the US gets. So, you might think that Bostonians might bear some other resemblance to Canadians. You'd be wrong. If we're quiet and polite, they're unabashedly loud and brassy. Today, I was treated to the spectacle of an traffic cop trying to convince a taxi driver not to stop on a congested street. "I don't care who called, you better move it out of here," he bellowed. "Before I move it for you!"

A Touch of TO: There was one surprisingly familiar sight to be seen in Boston -- the TD logo emblazoned on the hockey/basketball arena formerly known as the FleetCenter.

Apparently, TD made its entrance to the American banking scene in 2004 by purchasing a majority share in Banknorth, a northeastern banking and insurance company formed through a series of mergers and acquisitions over the previous two decades. Also that year, FleetBoston Financial Group merged with Bank of America and in 2005 negotiated a release from Fleet's naming rights agreement. TD Banknorth bought the rights and the arena's name changed to TD Banknorth Garden July 1, 2005.

Walking: I really enjoyed walking around Boston. Really, everything is within easy walking distance, as it's quite a small city. Chris said there's about 600,000 people in Boston and Cambridge, which is about the same number as in Metro Hamilton. After living in Toronto for five years, when I look at a small map, I'm used to mentally inserting 5 or 10 streets between every one on the map. But, the little map I was using here actually showed every street. On Saturday evening, I was able to walk from the south end of downtown back to my hotel in Cambridge (across a river, to the North of downtown) in about 35 minutes!

The Freedom Trail: One great place to walk was the Freedom Trail, which winds through all the buildings of historical significance in the North End and downtown. I wonder if there are plans to revoke it, and replace it with the Security Trail.

Covering Up: There's a very odd looking strip of construction running around the eastern side of downtown Boston.

It's the last of the Big Dig: a project to move the elevated Central Artery, Interstate 93, underground, and to extend the Massachusetts Turnpike under Boston Harbor to the airport. Construction of the tunnels was extremely complicated and expensive, taking the last 15 years to complete. Now, work is underway on reclaiming the land vacated by the interstate, to create the Rose Kennedy Greenway, which is to consist of public spaces along with cultural and recreational buildings.

In July, a ceiling section in one of the tunnels collapsed on a passing car, killing its passenger. That section of the tunnel was closed, rerouting traffic above ground and delaying work on the Greenway. The parks now aren't expected to open until mid-2007. Financing problems and other issues have delayed and jeopardized plans for the various buildings. The New Center for Arts and Culture will not open until at least 2011.

The potential for this space is huge, but only time will tell if that potential is realized. Still, the sheer audacity of a project of this magnitude (especially in a relatively small city) is impressive.

The Down-low: On Friday, I went out with Chris and some of his friends to a straight club called Gypsy, and had a fabulous time. The music was as fun as anything you might hear at Buddies, although the ADD-DJ never seemed to want to play more than a minute of any given song. Still, it was great for dancing, and we tore up the floor until the wee hours.

On Saturday, I was on my own, and I thought I'd try to check out the gay scene. There doesn't seem to be a gaybourhood like the Village here. The clubs are spread out a bit more, and some straight places have weekly gay nights. I decided to try a video bar called Club Cafe, which was recommended as the happening spot.

From the street, the place looked like it was just a restaurant and lounge. I actually walked past once, looking for a bar entrance, and then circled back around the block to avoid looking overly lost. But, you actually enter through the restaurant, pass the bouncer, and head to the bar in the back. Once found, it was a bit of a disappointment. The place was packed with people standing around in little groups. The dance floor was full, but no one was dancing. There was nowhere to sit with a drink. So, for someone like me, on my own and shy, it just didn't offer anything. I stayed all of about 10 minutes.

So, score one for the straighties and zero for the gays of Boston.

Boston (Part 1: EclipseWorld)

If you've been reading my blog from the beginning and remembering every word (and who hasn't been?), you may recall that I went to EclipseWorld in New York last summer to give a presentation on EMF. For some reason, they asked me back to this year's conference in Boston (well, technically Cambridge, right across the river).

The conference ran this week from Wednesday to Friday, and now I'm spending the weekend here playing tourist in the city. I'll share my impressions of the city in another entry, but today I'll talk a bit about the conference.

My presentation went over really well. The room was packed, and people asked a lot of good questions that suggested they were paying attention. They even laughed at my lame jokes. Unfortunately, the questions slowed down the talk, so I really had to compress the demo portion. Still, it was easy to see that people were impressed.

Last year, it seemed that everyone wanted to know how they could use a database to store their EMF-modeled data, and I was only able to make mention of a couple of projects that had recently been started to work on this. This year, those two technologies (Teneo and CDO) have moved into the EMF Technology project at, and have improved and developed significantly. I took the time to get familiar with them, and so I was able to include a Relational Persistence section in my talk. I showed a simple demo of an EMF-generated editor for an ordinary model that used a Hibernate resource to transparently persist to an HSQLDB database. Pretty slick!

A number of people came to me with more questions and comments over the rest of the conference. One person said that my presentation and our conversation were the only highlights of the conference for him (poor guy!), and another was talking about abandoning the application his team had been working on for about a year, replacing it with a GMF/EMF/Teneo-based solution.

I attended some pretty interesting sessions, too. Notably, Chris did a good job live demoing eRCP (embedded rich client platform), and I also enjoyed learning about Java Server Faces and dynamic help.

Oh, and I'm proud to say that, of the three days' free lunches, the one provided by IBM was the tastiest.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

More Cool Stuff From Google

Yesterday at work, I heard about Google Web Toolkit (GWT) for the first time. I read their docs and played with a couple of the samples last night, and I'm quite convinced it's really cool stuff!

Basically, it's a framework for AJAX development. It includes a DOM/HTML-based widget toolkit and facilities for localization and asynchronous RPC over HTTP. You use these to write and debug your client in Java, and then use their tools to convert it into JavaScript, which can be added to host HTML and served up from any old Web server. The server side of your application runs as Java bytecode, with the RPC mechanism providing seamless object-based communication between the two.

Not surprisingly, my original motivation for looking at this technology was to try to integrate it with everyone's favourite modeling technology to provide instant browser-based model editor UIs. I'm not sure it's terribly well suited to this task, since with AJAX, you're typically trying to put as much into the client side as possible. The client side is ultimately JavaScript, so of course the EMF runtime isn't available there. So, it seems that some significant glue would be needed to get data across. Also, GWT lacks an equivalent to JFace viewers, so demand-populating a widget like a tree might be more difficult, too.

Anyhow, I think it might be more fun to use this stuff to try to develop some sort of practical Web application, rather than the kind of generic framework stuff that I do all day at work.

Hmm...I just need a good idea...

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Food Poisoning 2.0

Much improved from the first release! Faster and less painful! No hospitalization required!

Seriously, can you believe it? Food poisoning for the second time this year. The saddest part: I'm convinced that I got it at a restaurant I love.

Monday, July 24, 2006


This summer, Kevin has been getting more and more suntanned, while I've remained my usual pasty white. No doubt it's partly a matter of exposure and partly of predisposition.

He has certainly seen a good amount of sun during his Friends for Life training rides, while I've spent much of that time indoors. But I would assert that, had I been along with him for those rides, either I would have applied lots of sunscreen and remained just about as pasty as I am now, or I would have not applied lots of sunscreen, burned and peeled repeatedly...and remained just about as pasty as I am now.

For the last decade or so, I've been quite convinced that I simply can't tan.

I don't really know if it was jealousy of Kevin's fantastic skin, simple vanity, or maybe a desire to challenge my own assumptions that pushed me to act yesterday. I paid a visit to a local, well respected tanning salon to get some fake and bake UVA goodness.

I filled out a consent form, noting on it my tendancy to not tan, my tendany to burn, and my lack of sun exposure. They recommended seven minutes in a 200W Sun Capsule VHR. I was warned that I might very well see no effect from the session, reassured that we were just trying to start a base, and promised that I'd start to see something after a couple more tans.

"No worries," I replied. I'd rather take a few seesions to get results than to overdo it and end up getting burned.

The seven minutes passed quite quickly, and I felt fine the whole time. On emerging from the machine, I checked myself out in the mirror. As predicted, I didn't see much difference. My face and arms might have looked a bit darker, and I had a general glow about me. Interestingly, the combination of the ambient heat and the blowing cool air had left my hair looking fantastic. I went home feeling quite satisfied and planning to return on Tuesday for another session.

It only took another half hour for the burn to develop. My arms and face remained fine, but my torso and upper legs turned bright, bright red. If Kevin hadn't borrowed my camera for his ride, I'd post a picture of my burn line. It's pretty shocking. Every time I look in the mirror, I'm reminded of Kevin's red body paint last Halloween.

Today, I'm pretty sore. The worst spots are my outer thighs and under my armpits.

Once it all fades and peels, I'll have to decide whether I should give up on tanning for good or go back and give it another go...maybe for a four minute session.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Convenient Delusions

Last night, I saw An Inconvenient Truth, the documentary about Al Gore's campaign to raise consciousness of global warming. It was truly alarming.

I would love to summarize the points he made, but I don't think I'd be doing him justice. Most alarming for me were the revelations about the melting and cracking that's already occuring in arctic and antarctic ice. It's happening quickly -- in many cases, more quickly than previously predicted -- and the potential consequences are dire. The melting of Greenland's shelf ice would raise global sea levels by over 20 feet, submerging many costal cities around the world. Scarier yet, ocean currents may be affected in totally upredictable ways, completely altering global weather patterns.

The response to Gore's science mirrors a point he makes in the film: the scientific consensus is there, but it is denied by those who find it politically convenient to pretend that there is a significant disagreement within the scientific community.

Anyhow, I would encourage anyone and everyone to see the film.

This morning, I was enraged by conservatie pundit Ezra Levant, who appeared on Sounds Like Canada to promote his book, The War on Fun. In this book, he argues that nasty, liberal do-gooders are trying to control our every action and take away everything that's fun. Apparently, he defines "everything that's fun" as smoking, over-eating, and producing massive amounts of carbon dioxide. He was actually speaking from his new Hummer, as if to prove how obnoxious and disconnected from reality he is.

He tried to claim that, while we should have the freedom to do what we want, we also need to take personal responsibility for the outcome of our actions. But, he utterly failed to address any notion of collective responsibility for outcomes that affect us all. He might be just fine driving around Calgary in his Hummer, but if the Netherlands wakes up under water, how is he going to take responsibility for his part in that?

Big surprise, it's not even an issue for him. Ezra doesn't seem to believe in global warming. Without citing any science at all, he brushes off global warming as lacking a scientific concensus, and asserts that climate change certainly isn't the most pressing issue facing us.

I guess that's his convenient delusion.

Interestingly, Ezra's live-and-let-live attitude towards personal liberty only seems to go so far. On one hand, we shouldn't let something petty like a desire not to radically alter the world's climate stand in the way of his gas-guzzling fun. But, please, let's not offend his sensibilities by daring to extend equal treatment by the state to gays and lesbians. Fun is all well and good, but, two boys kissing? That's just gross.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Ride for Heart

I just got back from the Ride for Heart. It was a really good ride. It's incredibly fun to ride on the highways and to watch the way the crowds of riders move around and past each other. Best of all was going past the financial district at around 8:30, before the city had really woken up.

We finished in just over 2 hours. The first half of the ride was a bit of a slog: it's more uphill, and the wind was against us. The second half was just wonderful. I feel good, but my legs are pretty tired.

Thanks very much to my sponsors. Together, we raised $400 for the Heart and Stroke Foundation.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Bring on the Idols!

Tonight marks the start of season four of Canadian Idol. I recognize that it's the same old, but for some reason it's still so much fun to watch. Somehow , it just seems a little more real than that other idol show, which I suppose is always good for a reality show: the contestants, the judges, even dorky old Ben Mulroney. And don't tell, but I think we've got better singers, too.

Today's episode didn't disappoint. My favourite moments came when Zack almost wheeled himself off the stage in Kitchener Waterloo, when one girl was preparing herself to start singing and she farted, and best of all, the girl who did impressions of Britney, Cher, and Sharika. What I want to know: did they put her through to Toronto?

But apparently, this episode was brought to you by the oil industry association of Alberta. What was with that little tribute to the oil patch workers? Maybe they just had three minutes of air to fill?

Anyhow, I can't wait -- bring on the idols!

Oh, and Gameshow Marathon looks pretty exciting. You know, in that bloody, gory train wreck sort of way.

Friday, May 26, 2006

More Painting

Since last weekend was a long weekend, I decided to use the time to try to do the painting that I hadn't managed to finish before moving into my new place. If you're an avid reader, you may recall that I had left the kitchen and entraceway unpainted (and you may want to look harder for interesting things to read on the 'net).

Anyhow, I figured that finishing up would be about a two-day job, but painting never goes as planned for me (really, what does?). It ended up taking Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday evening, Wednesday (I took the day off work), and a couple of hours Thursday...and Kevin helped me all day Sunday and Monday...and I'm still not quite done yet. Basically, I just need to fix up a few little mistakes now.

I still don't really understand how it took so long. The closets and doors took a long time; they were much more complicated to paint than the simple, sliding doors in the rest of the unit. The ceilings were a huge pain, too. I made lots of mistakes that took time to correct. I had to move appliances around, blocking off areas I needed to paint. And, I ended up having to deal with three different paints (two colours, one in two different finishes) plus primer, which meant lots of time cleaning brushes and waiting for them to dry. But still, pretty much five days in total?!

The worst part is that I haven't done anything with the bathroom (though happily I really have no plans to) and there's still the balcony door step that needs to be painted with an oil-based paint.

Sunday, May 14, 2006


I first mentioned a couple of months ago that I had bought a bike. Turns out that I've actually been using it!

Since Kevin is going to be cycling to Montreal in July, he's been doing a lot of training, and I couldn't help but get caught up in it. I've been doing a couple of rides per week for the last few weeks, and I even signed up for the Becel Ride for Heart. So, I'll be riding 50 km along the Gardiner and DVP (they'll be closed for the event) on June 4. If you're so inclined, you can sponsor me online. It's for the Heart and Stroke Foundation, a very worthy cause, and of course it's tax deductible.

I just did 50 km for the first time today, and it was pretty hard. I think it would have been much more manageable if weren't for the strong headwind for the last 15 km or so, which pretty much finished me off. I expect I'll be pretty sore tomorrow. But still, I think I'm in pretty good shape for the ride, with another three weeks to go.

We rode along the lakeshore to the Humber river, and then took the Humber trail up almost to Lawrence Avenue. It's a really beautiful trail; it's almost hard to believe such a thing exists in Toronto.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Canadian Music Creators Speak Out

Today a new voice was heard in the debate over copyright reform in Canada: a group called the Canadian Music Creators Coalition was launched to represent the views of artists. Which artists, you ask?

How about Barenaked Ladies, Avril Lavigne, Sarah McLachlan, Chantal Kreviazuk, Sum 41, Raine Maida, Billy Talent, Broken Social Scene, and Sloan, for starters? These are some of the biggest names in Canadian music. Some are signed to major labels, and other to independents. They've banded together to clearly reject the notion that the major labels and their lobbyists speak on their behalf, and to advance a decidedly fan-friendly agenda.

Here are their three guiding principles for the copyright reform process:
  1. Suing our fans is destructive and hypocritical
  2. Digital locks are risky and counterproductive
  3. Cultural policy should support actual Canadian artists.
They expand on these principles to oppose the RIAA-style lawsuits and the harsh statutory copyright damages that make them possible, as well as DRM and DMCA-style legislation that protects it. Moreover, they advocate the notion of fair use to protect consumers, in place of our current, more limited fair dealings provisions, and call on the government to strengthen initiatives that really benefit Canadian artists, like The Canada Music Fund and FACTOR.

This couldn't come at a better time. The new federal government will be taking a fresh look at copyright reform, after Bill C-60 died with the previous session of parliament. They will now be faced with a strong voice putting forward these principles, and I'm sure they will find it difficult to ignore the artists.

C-60 may have seemed quite civilized compared to the DMCA, but viewed through the lens of these principles, it looks positively draconian. Hopefully copyright sanity will prevail in Canada, and the Canadian music will continue to flourish.

And now, I shall go listen to Train Wreck with glee.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

What would you do? What would you do?

I think I had my first celebrity encounter today. Well, sort of celebrity, anyway.

Kevin and I were walking down Queen Street today, just approaching Yonge, when we saw a familiar face. Well, it's been familiar only recently, since we started watching VJ Search on MuchMusic a few weeks ago. It was Sean! I held in my squeal, and Kevin and I just looked at each other. Then we noticed that he was walking with Nikki! We actually walked right behind them for a few steps before I couldn't hold it in anymore, and I squealed like a little girl.

They turned around and Kevin said "hi." There was an awkward silence before I stammered out, "so you guys don't know yet? Is it, like, in real time?" And she said yeah, that they'd find out on Monday, and the voting's still going on. I said that was exciting and that it seemed I was more nervous than them. Sean said he was waiting for them to announce, "and the person with the least number of votes is...Sean!" But then, he's been underselling himself the whole time.

I don't really remember everything that was said, but I do know that Nikki pointed out a couple of times how cute I was. "Cute" as in "freaky, scary, get-this-stalker-away-from-me cute," I guess. Sean didn't really say much. Maybe he was kind of annoyed by the attention, or maybe he's just not used to thinking of himself as a celebrity.

They both looked really good, like maybe they got to keep the clothes from the show and use the stylists on their off time. Nikki was gorgeous; she has a great smile.

I quickly ran out of things to say. We somehow got in front of them at a traffic light (we were in a hurry) and walked off. I didn't even think to wish them luck!

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Camera Update

I just heard from the camera shop, and it will be $180 plus tax to repair my camera. A new camera would be about $450 and wouldn't be much of an improvement (6 megapixels instead of 5, but otherwise not terribly different), so it's a bit of a no-brainer.

I should have my camera back in 2-3 weeks. Of course, I haven't updated my photo site in months, so sadly that doesn't do you much good.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

New Toy!

After having talked about it for several months, I bought a bike today! Kevin did much research for me, and answered many of my dumb questions, and I think we got a pretty fantastic deal on a pretty fantastic bike.

For now, it's sitting in my den, but taking it up in the elevator was a violation of my condo's rules. I need to get a clamp in my parking spot to hang it from. And I still need a lock, locking skewers, and gloves, at a minimum. But, I'm very excited. I can't wait to take it out for a ride!

In not so happy news, I was just about to take some pictures of it, and I dropped my camera. The lens won't retract, and it won't turn on.

So, to recap Dave's toy situation: +1 bike, -1 camera. Net score: a wash, I suppose.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Goodbye, Las Vegas!

My trip ended today, as I said farewell to the fabulously tacky world of Las Vegas and returned to good old Toronto.

I had a great time there with mum, but I've got to admit, it'll never become a favourite destination for me. It's just too big, too loud, too fake. And I don't think I'll ever get the appeal of gambling. I took another crack at slots, and I got so bored that I just wanted it to end.

Some of the sights were definitely impressive, like the fountains at the Bellagio the view from the mini Eiffel Tower at Paris Las Vegas, and the inside of the Luxor. And I was pretty excited to get a cute new swim suit at the Fashion Show Mall (I had forgotten to bring one). Okay, not too cute -- I was with my mother, after all!

We saw the main attraction, Celine's A New Day... last night and it was just amazing. Apparently, it was the anniversary of the show's launch three years ago, so it was clearly a big deal for her and for the rest of the performers. She was so "on", I couldn't believe it. I've never heard such a flawless live vocal performance before. The dancing, staging and effects, as promised, were quite spectacular. "I'm Alive," "At Last," "I've Got the World on a String," "I Surrender," an Italian song that I didn't know, "I Wish," and "My Heart Will Go On" were especially effective. "The Power of Love" was just bizarre, with its strutting peacocks and weird technicolor wormhole background.

Well, that's the way Vegas went. Now it's back to the old grind.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

EclipseCon Wraps

EclipseCon is winding down. This morning's keynote was by Ted Neilson, the CEO of Borland. He's an ex-Microsoftie, and somehow I just didn't find him totally convincing explaining how Borland "gets it" with regard to open source. Well, if nothing else, it's pretty clear that Microsoft stands alone against open source. Right now, a consultant with both Visual Studio and Eclipse experience is comparing the two environments, and coming down quite squarely on our side.

Tuesday and Wednesday were excellent. Joel Spolsky's keynote was entertaining, if not overly insightful. There was something about emotional appeal and polishing and misattribution. But, most notable were the numerous pictures of pretty men. Hey, I'm not saying! I'm just saying...

Greg Stein, from the Apache Software Foundation (and Google) gave the keynote yesterday, and made several good points about software, licenses, and communities. His key point was that Apache is about building communities first, and creating code second. He seemed a little anti-copyleft for my taste, though. I'm of the opinion that licenses mostly get chosen in a sensible way. Whoever starts the project tends to choose a license that meets their needs and desires. Usually in an open source project, those align quite well with the needs and desires of the users, or the project will fail spectacularly. Obviously, for a project like Eclipse, started by IBM to enable itself and other companies to build proprietary products on it, the chosen license will allow that. For Linux, the GPL is a an excellent choice: it keeps it free, encourages its rapid development, and does nothing to interfere with the abilities of individuals and companies to make use of it. Linux is thriving, in part, because of the GPL -- certainly not in spite of it.

I saw many good presentations over the last couple of days, covering topics like VE, the TPTP GUI test recorder, open source business models, GMF, profiling, the Jazz project, BIRT, platform undeveloped operations, Apache Harmony, GCJ and GNU/Linux distribution packaging, and the JET editor. Phew.

There's lots of cool stuff going on in Eclipse. I'm itching to try out some of this for myself. But somehow, I can't help thinking about the next few days...Vegas calls!

Tuesday, March 21, 2006


It's day two at EclipseCon.

We presented our tutorial yesterday, and it went reasonably well. There were some hickups with getting people started on the exercises, as some hadn't downloaded all the stuff they needed and a few were using the Sun 1.4 JDK, with the buggy Cirmson DOM implementation. But, once we got those kinks worked out, I think many people were able to follow the material and do the exercises.

By comparison, I was totally lost in the tutorial I attended in the afternoon. The exercises were ridiculously ambitious. I think the only people who had any success were the ones who had already been working with technology for months.

So now, I'm practically on vacation. Joel Spolsky, from Joel on Software, is going to be giving the keynote this morning. I'm mildly curious what he has to say, but I've never really taken him seriously since he said that Mozilla should have turned the Netscape codebase into something useful by refactoring, instead of rebuilding from the ground up.

(Interestingly, Tracksy tells me that 67% of visitors to my blog use Firefox, a mere 25% use IE.)

Then, there are a whole slew of presentations and demos happening today. Gee, I guess I'd better pick some...

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Gastric Adventures

In my post this morning, I made an out-of-left-field comment about by stomach. Maybe you're wondering what that was about. Don't you just love a good mystery?

I'd intended to say more, but I didn't have time before the taxi arrived to take me to the airport. I'm now on the plane, and taking the opportunity to explain that. Though, actually, I don't really want to go into too much detail.

Last Monday I got food poisoning, which resulted in one of the longest nights of my life. I was really sick, severely and often. And, actually, in quite a lot of pain. It had passed by mid-morning Tuesday, but my gut is still pretty sensitive. So, I'm trying to be very gentle on it, and hoping for the best. It's really inopportune timing, since I'm going to have to eat whatever's available for the next week. I just can't wait to be done with the tutorial tomorrow, so at least I can return to a normal stress level.

I'm Goin' to California

I'm heading off to Santa Clara, California today for EclipseCon 2006. I'll be instructing a tutorial (on EMF, of course) along with Nick. Fortunately, that's tomorrow morning, which means I can just relax and enjoy the rest of the conference after that.

After the conference, I'm meeting Mum in Las Vegas for the weekend. I've never been before, and I don't think I'd really want to...if it wasn't for a certain show.

I shouldn't be so nervous, but I'm kind of afraid my stomach might misbehave...

Fingers crossed.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Shout Out to MSN Search!

A few weeks ago, I started using Tracksy to collect stats on visitors to my little blog. I figured it would be interesting to see how many people are actually reading it, where they're coming from, and so forth. Actually, it hasn't disappointed. Today, I found that one visitor had been referred by Looking closely at the URL made it apparent that he or she had simply searched for "human being". I decided to give that query a go, and the results surprised me!

Go on. Try it.

Yup, that's right: Another Human Being is the number 7 result for "human being" on MSN Search! How is that even possible?

I tried the same search on Google and looked through 10 pages of results before giving up on ever finding myself.

Anyhow, if you used MSN Search to find me today, a special "halla" to you! Oh, and some advice: use Google. As I've just demonstrated, it's clearly the superior search engine.

Monday, March 13, 2006

...But I Know What I Like

Yesterday evening, I went to Snap!, a photography auction to raise funds for the AIDS Committee of Toronto. I actually bought a piece in the silent auction, which I'm very excited about.

It's called Piki, and the photographer's name is John Fairley. Here is the photo, with a link to it on his Flickr site.

I can't get over how human her expression looks. And so mischievous -- she's definitely a heart breaker. I love the composition, too: the way her face is framed, and the other doll, out of focus in the background.

My empty walls are very excited, too!

Monday, March 06, 2006

WiFi for All!

According to The Star, Toronto Hydro is planning to roll out city-wide WiFi coverage, starting as soon as this Fall.

Bring it on! Bell et al. have totally missed the boat with their awful Hotspots at Starbucks and the like. Seriously, $7 per hour to use the Internet? What is this, 1995?

Yay for big government! Make it cheap, and drive those bums at Bell and Rogers out of business!

Friday, March 03, 2006

Unexpected Visitors

I'm working from home today, and I had a teleconference at 3:00 in the afternoon. I was quite surprised when, halfway through the call, there was a loud knock at my door. I opened the door, phone in hand, and found my condo developer's deficiencies team behind it.

They had finally come to address the various deficiencies that I, and the previous owner of the suite, had reported over the last 8 months or so.

I'd been trying to get some response about these deficiencies for ages, but the guy who handles this for the developer went silent weeks ago. Now, with zero warning, people arrive with hammers in hands. Oh well, better late than never!

I just went over the list with them, and I'm cautiously optimistic that most of the issues will be resolved today and tomorrow.

Support Kevin and Stu!

I've just added a link to Stu & Kevin's Friends For Life bike rally blog. This July, they'll be cycling, along with about 300 others, from Toronto to Montreal to raise money for the Toronto People With AIDS Foundation. Until then, they'll be blogging about their fundraising and training. Hopefully, they'll also find a way to do some audio blogging during the ride.

So, about that fundraising...they each have to raise $2000 to participate. Now, if you know Kevin and/or Stu, you've probably already heard about this. But, even if you don't know them, you shouldn't let that stop you from making a pledge. I mean, you know me, or at least you're sufficiently interested in me to be reading my blog. So, two degrees of separation and a really good cause should be enough to motivate at least a small pledge, shouldn't it?

You can find links to their pledge pages from their blog.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

The Morning After

Well, we all survived the party. Mike and Mum had a minor blow-up over lemon slicing, but they made up and moved on after that.

The caterers didn't bring the salmon, but the lamb was good, and everyone was well fed. I'm pretty sure Mum thinks she could have done a better job of the food, and she's probably right.

I think Kevin had a pretty fun night. He sent his last text message at 3:39 AM, his time. I have no idea what he's gonna do with EZ Barnett's number, though.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Whoever said it would be a vacation?

I've been home for a couple of days now, and it occurs to me, I'm really quite stressed out.

Family get-togethers usually follow a pretty standard script: Mum invests huge amounts of time and effort into putting on the best event possible, with lots of yummy food and meticulous cleaning and setup. However, managing all of this stresses her out, she falls behind schedule, and any bit of resistance or second-guessing from anyone else infuriates her. Dad gets stressed out by the fact that things are running late, and starts expressing some not-so-helpful opinions. Mike and Mum never play especially well together, and some disagreement eventually blows up into a bit of a falling out.

In the end, the heartache subsides, and everyone enjoys the event, is terribly well fed and well entertained.

So, I'm kind of waiting for all that to happen today, while hoping against hope that it doesn't. It's almost 4:00 and all's well so far.

There's a big change to the recipe this time. Mum's party is being catered, so there's been no frantic food preparation. The caterers will show up shortly before the event, food in hand, to set up, they'll serve during the party, and they'll take away the dirty dishes with them.

The other thing weighing on my mind is Granny Maro, who has been living with my parents since December. Her memory is failing quite seriously, leaving Mum responsible for thinking for two. It's really hard on her, and going through the same situation with her own mother took a huge toll on Granny.

This afternoon we were looking through some photos, and Granny wasn't recognizing Lis (Mike's wife), and kept thinking that Mum was Lena (Granny's sister). It seems like she has the most trouble with most recent memories, and so probably Mum now looks like how she best remembers Lena. I corrected her a few times, but each time she'd forget again after a couple of minutes.

It's really tough to watch. I remember Granny Maro as being really quick, and having little trouble keeping up with her two rambunctious grandkids, in spite of the language barrier.

It's still mostly fun to be around her, though. She responds so well to us; she doesn't say a lot, but you can tell she's practically oozing love.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Homeward Bound

Tomorrow, I'll be heading to Vancouver for a few days, to celebrate my mum's 60th birthday and catch up with friends and family.

It's been eight months since I was last there (for Omi's 90th birthday, in fact), but it seems even longer. Maybe that's because it was also only for a few days.

I'm trying to pack my calendar so I don't miss out on seeing anyone. It's so weird thinking about how rarely I've seen these people, who were once all over my life, in the last half-decade. I'm excited, though. In the past, it's been like no time has passed at all.

I'm also hoping I'll find out if any reunion activities are afoot. Ten years - yegods!

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Don't Cry for Me

Aidan, a friend from work and a really great photographer, visited Argentina in December and he took some incredible photos. He sent me this link to his Web site, and I thought I'd share.


Monday, January 23, 2006

Earth To Elections Canada

I was surprised to read that the publication ban on voting results is back in effect for this election. Does anyone really believe that bloggers and small Web sites won't publish results before the polls close across the country?

Here's a simple solution to the problem: don't start counting any ballots until all the polls are closed! Now, I realize that might mean that Eastern and Central Canadians would have to either (a) stay up late, or (b) wait until tomorrow morning to hear the results. But, you know, I think that's a little bit more reasonable than trying to bend the Internet to Elections Canada's will.

Politics and Sheep

I just don't get it: how could Stephen Harper have been so scary in 2004 and not now? The shift in public opinion has been huge, and I fear that we're going to see major policy reversals that will change a great measure of what we tend to think of as Canadian values. I can think of a few possible explanations...

1. I have, along with the Liberal and New Democratic parties and much of the press, a skewed view of Canadian values. Canadians' tendencies really aren't as socially progressive as we might imagine. Those of us who live in the cities (I've only ever lived in Vancouver and Toronto) probably underestimate the how different the world-views held in much of the rest of the country are.

2. Canadians really aren't concerned about social issues right now. They don't agree with the Conservative position on same-sex marriage, for instance, but they're willing to put their differences aside in order to send a message that they will not tolerate what they perceive as waste and corruption. Other institutions of government, notably the courts, and public opinion will probably constrain a Conservative government, preventing them from significantly altering the country's path on sical issues.

3. Apparently, Harper has been much nicer to the press in this election. Last time, he didn't give them much time or access, but in this campaign, they say he's actually been friendly with them. As a result, his coverage has been much more positive and Canadians have decided that he must be an okay guy. In other words, we're a bunch of sheep.

I fear that the third explanation might be the most accurate.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Back to Work

It's been 2 weeks since I've had to work (not counting finishing my PBC at the last possible second last Friday), and I was a little nervous logging on to the VPN this morning. It's been the usual kind of day so far, with most of my time spent helping other people. It's rewarding, but frustrating -- there are things I need to get done, too!

Today, I helped someone in Germany debug his XML Schemas, and now he wants to send me a Bavarian beer glass. I still haven't even managed to catch up on my notes (what normal people call e-mail), much less do anything productive.

I had an odd dream a couple of nights ago, where we were told that the lab had been shut down and all development was moving offshore. Then, I found out that the very best, top-performing people were actually keeping their jobs and would have to do all the development work themselves, and that I was in limbo -- it hadn't been decided whether I was in that group or not.

It was such a long and involved dream that, by the time I woke up, I wasn't sure whether I would actually have a job to go to today. But, it's just back to business as usual now.

Anyhow, it's time for me to take my long-delayed lunch break. I'm going to go and see if I can exchange a lighting fixture. I bought and installed some track lighting on the weekend, but one of the fixtures is screwed up. Hopefully they'll take it back, and I can finish up this lighting project (add the missing fixture and install the dimmer) in the next couple of days.