The Den of Ubiquity

Thursday, March 28, 2002:

Stations Fading Into The Unknown

The Bruce Cockburn concert Wednesday night was amazing. It was one of those "Up Close & Alone" things, which is along the same lines as "Unplugged", although there were wires on the stage and a bit of reverb on the guitars.

His setlist did concentrate a bit more on his last decade or so's music, which is understandable. I'm not as familiar with it; I think I have only gotten around to buying one album of his since "Nothing But A Burning Light" in 1991. But it was still highly enjoyable.

He opened with "A Dream Like Mine", from "NBABL", after a minute or two of retuning and just playing. Although there was a roadie tuning the guitars when I came in, apparently the guitar strings slacken up when they're under the lights(it does get hot, let me tell you), so he had to do it a few times as the show went on. I'll never remember the whole thing in order, so let me just pick a few I can remember for sure--"Tibetan Side of Town", from "Big Circumstance", which has some outstanding guitar work in the middle. He played "Tokyo" just before intermission, which was the first one I recognized from the introduction, because the full-band version starts with a guitar intro too. What else..."Anything, Anytime, Anywhere", one of the two new tracks for his recent "retrospective" of the same name; an entirely new one named "Messenger Wind", I think; "Rumours of Glory", from "Humans", the same album as "Tokyo", where he did the horn part first with guitar and then with voice. He said that Jimmy Buffett has covered a couple of his songs, including "Pacing The Cage", which I think would be very interesting to hear. I think the other one, which Bruce played, was "All The Ways I Want You", from "Dart To The Heart", but I can't remember for sure. He also did "The Trouble With Normal", from the album of the same name, and I think the acoustic version worked better; then the old favourite, "Lovers In A Dangerous Time". (This was before the Jimmy Buffett comments, I'm sure, because he was talking about how few people who had covered his songs, and someone yelled out about the Barenaked Ladies, who did "LIADT", and I'm sure it was after he'd played it.)

At intermission I got up and wandered around, more because I was thirsty and sitting on the aisle then any other reason. Thus I discovered that Trish & Jeremy were indeed there, which was very nice because often when I go to things alone I never see anybody I know, though I keep imagining that I might. Jeremy is a big Bruce Cockburn fan, which is why they were there. We were seated on opposite sides of the theatre, though.

Second act he took out his twelve-string for a while, which took longer to tune, and I began to finally get an inkling as to how different it can sound from six-string. I think that was when he played "Justice", which I thought was a more recent song but apparently goes all the way back to "Inner City Front", and "Call It Democracy". Going back to six-string, he played "Wondering Where The Lions Are", with the audience singing along with the chorus, and another new song, inspired by September 11th, named "Put It In Your Heart". He had some interesting things to say about how people are taking advantage of the tragedy for their own purposes, too. I've been expecting to hear more 9/11 songs, and there probably will be more in the next few years as people come to terms with what they want to say, write the songs, and record the albums. (I actually haven't heard the Paul McCartney one yet, somehow.)

After he walked off the stage the first time, we gave him a standing ovation, and he eventually came back. "It's a long way to the bathroom," he joked. Then he played "Peggy's Kitchen Wall", a crowd favourite, with another singalong chorus, and "Pacing The Cage", which I mentioned above--it's my favourite of the ones I've heard from him in the last decade or so, from "The Charity of Night".

Then he left again, and I figured he wasn't coming back for a second encore, so I(along with several other people)started to leave. I was just on the stairs up to the exit nearest the stage when he came back, so I stood there while he played a couple more songs--"All The Diamonds In The World", easily the oldest song in the show, and "World of Wonders", a bit of a surprise because as far as I know that one was never a single. It translated well into the acoustic format, though. People kept shouting out requests; one guy countered with, "Play what you want to, Bruce!" Bruce said, "Thank you, I'll take that under advisement." He did say that he wasn't going to play "If I Had A Rocket Launcher", mostly because he hadn't practiced it in months.

So he didn't do "Coldest Night of The Year", he didn't do "If A Tree Falls", he didn't do "People See Through You", he didn't do "Waiting For A Miracle", he didn't do "Fascist Architecture", and he didn't so "Listen For The Laugh"(which I still don't like that much). Yeah, there were a lot he didn't do, but that's okay.

My fantasy setlist for a Bruce Cockburn concert would be something like the following:

The Gift
Sahara Gold
Silver Wheels
Anything Can Happen
More Not More
Coldest Night of The Year
Wondering Where The Lions Are
Fascist Architecture
To Raise The Morning Star
Hoop Dancer
Grim Travellers
All The Diamonds In The World
How I Spent My Fall Vacation
Cry of A Tiny Babe
Pacing The Cage

But he could throw in a few other ones too, if he wanted.*

I wrote most of that last night just after the concert, staying up much too late to finish it...and now here it is, late again, and I'm writing the rest of this.

Part of the delay was my determination to watch both the "West Wing" episode that I taped last night, and "Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey", not wanting to return it to the video store unwatched as we have sometimes had to do. Luckily, Simon cooperated, being easily distracted from his desire to go downstairs and instead playing with several of his stuffed animals, who today were being hit by asteroids, rather than snowballs as usual. The snowballs come from a little computer game I have, where small boys throw snowballs at each other with great glee, and the asteroids from The Magic School Bus:Lost In The Solar System, Simon's current favourite book. I'm so proud that he knows all the planets off by heart, though.

Apparently the other day he actually read Ready, Set, Robot! all by himself, which still means reciting from memory. Still impressive. Now I believe that preliterate societies could maintain their oral traditions, if two-year-olds can remember as much as Simon does. His conversation these days is peppered with quotes from the Robots books, the Magic School Bus book, Berenstain Bears, Curious George, and whatever else he's had read to him recently. It can get quite surreal. But these are the threads he weaves his pretend world from--hence things being hit by asteroids.

It does bother me a little bit that the Magic School Bus book, which tends to be fairly accurate in most of its depictions of the solar system, fouls up most royally on the asteroid belt. How many people remember asteroid belts from "The Empire Strikes Back" and all that, with huge dense clouds of rocks that you have to maneuver through with great agility? That's what they had in the book. In reality, it's a number of relatively tiny rocks scattered throughout their orbits in quantity that doesn't add up to even the smallets planet. You could sit there right in that orbit between Earth and Mars for days and probably never see an asteroid.

It also bothers me slightly that these books always go to the planets in sequence. If I went and drew a map of where the planets were right now, nobody in their right mind would go to them in order. It's highly likely that some pair of the gas giants are on opposite sides of the sun from each other. Pluto is once again further from the sun than Neptune, but it's still liable to not be very close to it at all. One day I'll draw Simon a diagram, or run him a little simulation, and he can see that they're not all in a line all the time.

Some minor upheavals going on at work. Specifically, we're getting a new member to the Joseki team, a salesperson whom I will call Scott. I didn't even have an inkling that they were hiring anybody until Tuesday, when Janet messaged me about it, and Wednesday I was meeting him. Edna asked me if I minded moving down the hall, so Scott's office could be closer to Dick's; I said sure, I didn't mind. So that's what we did this afternoon.

The office I moved into is probably about the same size as mine, but with a smaller window that doesn't look out onto the scenic walkup with the pigeons. <sniff> Instead there's an auto detailing shop across the alley, and I can probably see the street past that. It faces west, so I will likely keep the blinds closed in the afternoon.

Anyway, we moved the furniture into place, and I carted my stuff down the hall, except for the vast quantity of paper that I'd piled up over the desk and bookshelves over the past four years, most of which got put into the recycle tray. Probably enough there for an entire phone book.

I moved my computer and set it up, but the network cable hookup didn't seem to work. Edna tried the other cable at that end of the office, but that didn't work either. Then she tried switching it around at the other end--the network hub has more than a few useless ports, we've discovered--and eventually(once we stopped trying to move cable 9 and went for cable 6 instead--ambiguous labelling)got it working.

Then Edna got the idea, since my hard drive has been hard put to cope with keeping Java and Oracle stuff on there at the same time, of adding a second hard drive to my computer. She thought that there was a 20G one in one of the testing computers, but she couldn't tell which one it was, so we tried both of them. One of them worked fine, but it was only 4G. Then we tried the other one, and it thought it was the "master" on the cable, so it tried to boot Windows 98(instead of 2000). And it was also 4G! The 20G one was a figment of Edna's imagination or something. So we switched the second one back in...and now the old hard drive refused to boot. We took out the second drive...and the old hard drive still refused to boot. And it resisted our efforts to boot it up until I went home.

I'm taking Monday off, and Brenda has promised me that I will return to a working computer. She might end up reformatting my hard drive and reinstalling everything, which is a pain, but it does seem to need to be done with some frequency. Then she's got some Java stuff for me to work on. Yuk. I just don't know where the heck I am with Java. I understand the basics of the language, and all that, but I don't know how the web stuff and the data stuff and the multi-tier stuff works. That's where I bogged down last time, anyway. I hate to say it, but Visual Basic is so much easier to use.

But I'm signed up for another Java course, which will probably run in the second week of May. In Calgary, of course--after numerous tries and numerous cancellations, we gave up on Edmonton Java courses. So we'll get to visit people down there again!. Not sure if we'll have to stay or whether Joseki will cough up for a hotel room. It might be nicer than imposing. But we'll see how Nicole and her relatives(and mine)feel about it. Karen & David will be that much closer to their wedding, and possibly more frantic. It would be nice to see Jeremy(II) some more, though.

And now I must sign off. We'll see if I get a chance to blog again on Monday or not. If we leave at a reasonable time, we'll be home before supper, so it's not impossible. And there is that writing to do.

So on to the latest entries in the countdown of my 750 favourite songs:

546. Pukka Orchestra: Listen To The Radio

This song was originally recorded by Tom Robinson--and cowritten by Peter Gabriel, IIRC--but the Pukka Orchestra's version was much better, IMHO. They're a mildly obscure Canadian band that had two independent albums in the mid-80's, and I have no idea what became of them after that. Their first, self-titled album, is really good. Their singer is not particularly skilled, in the Psychedelic Furs kind of way, but they're not really Fursy in any other ways.

545. The Nylons: Up On The Roof

And I was just listening to this one today, too... I don't know if this is a cover version, but I wouldn't be surprised because The Nylons do a lot of them. They're a mostly a cappella group that came to Grande Prairie several times when I was a kid, though they became more successful for a few years, at least. This is from their first album, also self-titled, and is truly a cappella and really good.

Stupid == nothing to say, and a worldwide network to say it on. --billbill

Aaron // 11:11 p.m. Clix me!

Tuesday, March 26, 2002:

I Realize That Nothing Is New

I don't think that I mentioned that when Simon was playing games on Saturday afternoon he also demanded that I play "Yellow Submarine" for him. A few days ago we were listening to the Beatles "1" CD, and he decided that he liked that song. So I played him "Yellow Submarine" on repeat. Probably heard it fifteen or more times in a row--it's a fairly short song. Luckily I'm not completely tired of it yet.

I've started a tape for him. So far "Yellow Submarine" and "Digee Dime" are on it, though I might also put on the versions I have of the Jungle Book songs--Los Lobos doing the Monkey Song, Holly Cole doing the Snake Song("Trust In Me"), and Harry Connick, Jr. doing the Bear Song("The Bare Necessities"). I should try those versions on him first, to be sure that they don't sound irreparably wrong.

I may also try to put some They Might Be Giants on there. He might get a kick out of a song like "Particle Man", or "Why Does The Sun Shine?". Maybe I could also try some more Beatles, like "Octopus's Garden" or something.

Oh, I know I could do some actual children's songs--we've got a few tapes and a few CDs--but I generally can't stand the things.

Simon woke us up last night around 1:00. He had his hands over his head, and wouldn't take them down for quite a while. Of course, being a toddler, his head is still disproportionate to his arms, so his hands don't actually go above the top of his head yet. But it was odd. The best we can think is that maybe he's starting to be afraid of the dark, and that a nightlight might be in order. He started doing it again just after we put him to bed tonight, too.

I have gone through such stages myself, and I can still freak myself out if I start thinking of "Bob" from Twin Peaks or something like that too close to bedtime. So I can empathize.

My mom has a book for Simon at her house that we've read him before, about going through various scary-looking and -sounding things in a child's bedroom and explaining what they really are, to hopefully take away the fear factor. We'll see if that helps any.

So I've signed up for
The April Hour-A-Day Dare. Lisa Nichols, who I started reading during NaNoWriMo, and her friend Julie thought of it, and it sounded like a good idea. There's a blog for it, and several people have signed up. The principle is, basically, a pact to write for an hour every day during the month of April.

Though I do wonder how I'm going to work this. It's not like I usually have a spare hour during my day that I wonder what to do with. I might, on some days, get an hour in the morning before work, though often I bathe during that time. Tuesdays and Wednesdays, in particular, I can generally get my blog-reading done during the time between Simon's bedtime and "24"/"The West Wing" coming on, and that's about it. If I'm also writing a blog entry, then I have to start that during my Simon-free time(if any)prior to his bedtime, or do my blog-reading then.

Could I manage two half-hours? Maybe, but I think I probably work best with momentum, so it'd be best to get an hour straight. My wife is usually supportive of my attempts to actually do writing, so maybe we can work something out. Maybe I'll have to start skipping my daily Friends reruns. They'll be just getting into Season Two at the beginning of April, which I've seen before, but I wouldn't keep watching it if I didn't keep enjoying it.

And then there's the question of what constitutes writing. If I get out the copies of one of my stories as they were critiqued by the Cult of Pain and peruse their comments for an hour, does that count? I don't outline to speak of, so I wouldn't count that. I'd be tempted to count my blog entries, but I know that everyone else would cry foul at that. And then there's rewriting.

Anyway, if it works out I'm hoping to do more than just work on an entirely new novel, as I would with NaNoWriMo. I've got stories to revise, I've got other protonovels to work on, etc. That kind of freedom could lead to fifteen minutes of vacillating on what project to work on, of course. Maybe I need a little randomizer that I fire up every night to see what I work on. (No *, I'm half-serious there.)

I'm sure I'll be letting you know, unless of course my blogging falls by the wayside, in which case you may not hear from me until May.

Spring weather does seem to be proceeding apace; above freezing for most of the day, and snow is starting to melt again. More will probably still come down, and we may still get some -20 C weather sometime before summer, but it does feel springy.

Hopefully the weather will be fine for our drive up to Grande Prairie...and hopefully the roads won't be too wet, or we'll go through an entire container of washer fluid and then run out just outside Valleyview and have to drive at 10 km/h due to limited vision until we can pull over and replenish. Maybe we should make sure it's topped up before our trip.

And I'll cut it short here, because I wouldn't mind posting on the AHADD blog while I still have time, so counting down some more:

548. The Belle Stars: Sign of The Times

The Belle Stars is one of the lesser-known girl groups of the early 80's, and their self-titled album is really extremely good. This song does contain some harmonies(as one would expect), but also has some great bits with guitar and spoken vocals, and is extremely catchy.

547. Laurie Anderson: Looking For You/Walking & Falling

I think this is the "United States Live" version, since the "Big Science" version is just called "Walking & Falling". One of her more understated pieces, attempting to imbue profundity into something innocuous and mostly succeeding, with a subtle synth background.

I have a funhouse rearview mirror. --Steven Wright

Aaron // 9:40 p.m. Clix me!

Sunday, March 24, 2002:

Thought You'd Live Forever

This weekend did not end up quite as hectic as I feared. Of course, one way this happened was by judicious pruning of tasks so not quite so much ended up on my plate at any one time.

For instance, I didn't do dishes on Saturday, but today instead. Nicole had done a few in the morning while Simon play-dohed, so I was able to put them off. This left me plenty of time to critique the one story we had for the Cult of Pain meeting last night, and do my writing exercise, even with our usual Saturday morning library trip combined with grocery shopping.

Simon has decided that he can play all my computer games now, despite rampant evidence to the contrary, and now instead of watching me play he has to play them himself. He sucks abysmally at "Hard Hat Mack"; he is barely competent at "Battleship"; he is middling at "Chip's Challenge"; he has no clue what he's doing at "Yahtzee". Etc. But I guess he's going to try to learn them from the ground up.

I decided not to actually watch "Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey" before writing my story, which ended up mostly just being a conversation between the two princesses. I gave them personalities based on nothing much, except possibly their names. I might post it on my web page(I suppose it would count as "fanfic", wouldn't it?)sometime. Not much to it, but then it's only a thousand words.

After a couple of days of actually taking naps, he decided not to on Saturday--the one night we were going out. He fell asleep on our trip to Kevin's, probably because I had turned the radio on. Music in the car almost always lulls him to sleep if he's the least bit short on it. Not sure if it was "Sweet Home Alabama" or Loverboy's "Turn Me Loose" that did it. (Mix 96 was commercials, so I switched to the classic rock station.)

We were fifteen minutes early heading to the meeting, but luckily were prevented the shame and dishonour of arriving early by what seemed, at least, to be malfunctioning LRT track crossing arms on 112th Ave., mere blocks from Kevin's. Astute readers will recall that I had a similar encounter with malfunctioning crossing arms on train tracks last week. It's a conspiracy, I tell you! So we had to do a U-turn, after all the people in front of us had, and then make our way down unfamiliar streets until we found someplace to cross. As we headed up the street we finally chose, we saw flashing lights and LRT arms down. Oh, no! But after a couple of trains went past, one either direction, the arms went up. And we didn't see any sign of traffic congestion when we got back to 112th, either. We arrived promptly on time.

The meeting was still sparsely attended. Marg & Mari showed up, and we eventually phoned Barb, who lived the closest, and she rushed over. Howard was not there, so the critiquing was for naught, but I wasn't too surprised. Only Marg and I had done the assignment; she'd done hers based on "Beloved". I got complimentary remarks on my dialogue, and Marg(who is finished reading it)and Mari(who is not)had nice things to say about my novel. Still haven't mustered enough people for an actual full-fledged critiquing.

Oh, and Simon stayed asleep after we got him out of the car, and we finally woke him up after he'd been asleep for over an hour. He was cranky and demanded milk--we hadn't brought any, expecting him to drink pop at the meeting, and Kevin didn't have any in stock. Bachelors.* He eventually cheered up, but he kept wanting to go home, and finally we let him drag us out, where he stayed awake until we got home.

Today, like Saturday, he woke up before 7:00. So much for his sleeping in. Another two hours of him playing on the computer, going through a bunch of different games. I ended up reading The Man With The Rubber Mask by Robert Llewellyn, which I'd picked up at the library booksale. Very funny book. In case you don't recognize the name, he's the guy who plays Kryten on "Red Dwarf". If you still don't know what I'm talking about, then for heaven's sake do some remedial research. Near the end he mentioned working on an American TV pilot of the show, which obviously never got the ground, and oddly enough featured Jane Leeves as their version of Holly. Before "Frasier", perhaps? Anyway, he never said anything about what happened with it, probably just disappeared into Pilot Limbo with so many other things. It would be interesting to see sometime, though.

Nicole and Simon went off to Palm Sunday mass and I did the delayed dishes. Nicole came back complaining of sore feet--uh-oh, there went our Whyte Avenue shopping expedition. But, to cut a long story a bit shorter, Simon went down for his nap and I went out by myself, with a few authors to look for at the Wee Book Inn for Nicole.

At Warp 1 there were five issues of Cerebus, and one of Love & Rockets. Cerebus is, as always, bizarre and unpredictable. As is Love & Rockets, but in a different way. And I picked up a copy of the new
Bob The Angry Flower book, Everybody Vs. Bob The Angry Flower. I'd read most of the cartoons on the website, but this is more convenient and portable! Also more financially lucrative to Stephen Notley, the cartoonist. Plus there's bonus commentary and stuff.

At Southside Sound I went...well, a little overboard. There were so many CDs I wanted, and while I did find a copy of Greg Garing's "Alone" for only $5, the rest were more pricy, if not as much so as new CDs. I eventually settled on No Doubt's "Return of Saturn"(I like not to get more than one album behind if I can help it), Adam Cohen's self-titled album(son of Leonard Cohen), Sixpence None The Richer's self-titled(I seem to recall there was more to it than "Kiss Me"), and then a William S. Burroughs CD, "Spare Ass Annie And Other Tales", featuring the Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy. All except the Burroughs from my wishlist, and I can't pass up a Burroughs these days. Oh, and a copy of "Joe Jackson's Jumping Jive" on vinyl. I've never even listened to that one, but I like the rest of Jackson's work, so why not.

I compensated for the Southside Sound indulgence by skipping Whyte Knight entirely, and going straight to Wee Book Inn. Now, it used to be that I couldn't come out of there without at last five or six books, more likely a dozen or more. Those days are gone. I have a few titles that I search for, and then I just skim over the racks. I picked up Robert Silverberg's Kingdoms of The Wall, though I was really looking for one of his more recent Majipoor books. I also got Charles Sheffield's My Brother's Keeper, completely forgetting that I already had it. I knew I'd passed up one of his in the bookstore, but couldn't remember which... Then David Feintuch's Midshipman's Hope, first in a series that I've heard good things about. A couple of books each by two of the authors Nicole had me look for, and a copy of Sue Grafton's 'A' Is For Alibi so I can start that series sometime and see what all the fuss is about. No rush.

Simon slept for more than three hours, the deficit finally catching up with him. In fact, we'd already turned on the Oscars runway show before he woke up. Not much to comment on that, except that I'm glad Jennifer Connelly won--not because I thought she did a great job in the movie, which I haven't seen, but because I like her. Even if she was obviously nervous and read her speech off paper. I'm also voting for "Moulin Rouge" stuff, because I like Baz Luhrmann. FOTR is the only nominee I've actually seen. Well, "Shrek" and "Memento" too, I guess.

I'm still working my way through Kiln People, but it's been suffering relative to other things available to read. I'll probably finish it tomorrow, and then what was I going to read? Valour's Choice, that was it.

We're going up to Grande Prairie for Easter, so I might get some reading done. Previous trips have gotten me through books like Normal Mailer's Tough Guys Don't Dance and Diana Gabaldon's Outlander. I won't be bringing The Onion Girl--I don't like to take library books out of town--but maybe C.J. Cherryh's Inheritor. I don't really know--most of the thick books on my shelf are from series, like another Diana Gabaldon, the next Otherland, the next George R.R. Martin, and I don't really want to read those. Well, I can polish off a few thinner books, too. We'll see.

So yeah, next weekend I doubt I'll be blogging. On my every-other-day schedule, it'll probably be Tuesday and Thursday this week, and then maybe Monday if we get back early enough. My mom's connection is still probably dialup, being out in the country as they are, and my dad is still not on the Net. One of these years, maybe.

Running out of steam again, so on to the countdown:

550. Danielle Dax: Big Hollow Man

I know next to nothing about this woman, but I picked up her "Dark Adapted Eye" album, which I understand is a compilation of some sort, at the library, and it blew me away. There are two other tracks higher up on the list, which stood out on early listens, but I'm still getting into some of the others. This is one that struck me on my last listen.

549. 'Til Tuesday: Sleep

For a long time this has struck me a perfect song to end a tape with, and I think I did that on not one but two of my mix tapes--not to mention that it ends the "Voices Carry" album itself. I actually used to listen to music after I went to bed, either on headphones(which could lead to tangles if I fell asleep with them on), or with a tape deck at the foot of my bed once I moved out. I haven't done that since I got married, though.

A child of five could understand this! Fetch me a child of five.

Aaron // 10:33 p.m. Clix me!

Friday, March 22, 2002:

Like Drinking Gasoline To Quench A Thirst

My office at work has big windows that look out over our scenic parking lot and into a two-storey walkup next door. There are trees in between, that in summer effectively screen the walkup's side windows, but in winter they're a pretty ineffective screen. There are also pigeons that nest under the walkup's roof; they get in through some kind of drainspout. Yesterday there was a huge frozen cascade going down from the drainspout the height of the second storey(there's more eaves between the two stories), but today it was gone. It got pretty warm yesterday, probably close to zero Celsius, so it probably dropped off. Pity, it was quite pretty. If I'd had a digital camera I'd have taken a picture for y'all.

Today I saw some movement in the trees. At first I thought it'd be one of the birds, but then I saw a long bushy tail. So then I thought squirrel, but then the head came into view and I realized it was a long-haired tortoiseshell cat. Cat climbing a tree--this could be fun. Of course, these are not your big thick-trunked oak trees with spreading leaves that keep them from growing close together. These are small trees with half a dozen or more trunks growing close together, so that they can fit into the small space between the walkup's fence and the building proper. There are lots of branches going out at all levels. And it was another digital camera moment.

It climbed up about halfway, its goal unclear(probably something to do with the birds, but no way it was getting all the way up to the roof), and then sat there on a branch for a few minutes, tail twitching. Finally it decided to head back down. Now the common wisdom is that cats can't climb down trees, but this one obviously hadn't heard that. It would point its head downward and sort of scramble down to the next branch, then turn around and repeat the process. Finally it reached the level of the fence--a chain-link fence with green plastic strips interwoven to make it less transparent--and thence down to the parking lot.

It was quite warm yesterday, which was unexpected because it's been around -20 C here for a week or so now. And it was -20 again this morning, which was unfortunate because I hadn't plugged in the car last night and it didn't want to start at first. But it's supposed to get up to -2 today. Maybe spring arrived after all, in its way. Here in northern Alberta we don't expect it until April--the vernal equinox isn't enough. We had our spring weather in February, seems like.

If it's still warm on Sunday maybe we'll go down to Whyte Avenue for some shopping. What I consider shopping, anyway. The Wee Book Inn, one of the premiere second-hand book stores in town; Southside Sound, ditto for CDs; Warp 1 Comics & Games, where I have a file for my few regular titles--I can catch up on Cerebus; and, if time permits, Whyte Knight to look for some more gaming memorabilia. Nicole only really cares for the first stop. Maybe this time I can take Simon with me on my own trip. Last time we went, I think we still had him in the stroller, and Whyte Knight is up a steep staircase.

I'm going through another row of CDs in my current quasirandom listening sequence. It's the first row, in this case, which goes up to Björk's "Debut". Using my own idiosyncratic sorting system, of course--I refuse to sort solo artists by last name, like everyone else does. To me it makes more sense to sort, say, "Alanis Morissette" to come right after "Alanis", and that's in the A's, folks. What would everyone do if Björk released an album under "Björk Gudmundsdottir"?

Anyway, here's some mini-reviews:

Barenaked Ladies:Stunt. "One Week" is still an arresting song, but the rest of the album does not quite measure up to it. It's still a great listen, but "Maroon" is a stronger album overall. "In The Car" is the other track that stands out for me, though the Ed Robertson tracks "Never Is Enough" and "Who Needs Sleep?" are fun to listen to as well. He often doesn't go for the intricacy in lyrics that Steven Page does, and sometimes the directness works better.

Björk:Debut. This one is still growing on me--I like "Human Behaviour" a lot, but I haven't got a handle on a lot of the other songs yet. I don't think the harp-and-vocals of "Like Someone In Love" really works, though. I like Björk's voice when it's got a richer musical backing, I think.

ABC:The Lexicon of Love. I kind of liked "Poison Arrow" and "The Look of Love", so I let The Spin Alternative Record Guide convince me that this album was worth getting. I think I got it as one of the free 11 the last time I rejoined Columbia House. Anyway, the first time I listened to it I wasn't that impressed, but today I think I got into it a bit more. I particularly enjoyed "4 Ever 2 Gether", which featured cowriting credits from the Art of Noise's Anne Dudley.

Barenaked Ladies:Maroon. Oh, yeah. I've had trouble deciding before, but this one is so much better than "Stunt". Ed Robertson's songwriting has hit new levels on "Pinch Me", with its irresistible singalong chorus(if your tongue can keep up) and the exuberant rhythm guitar of "Falling For The First Time". Steven Page excels as well with the fantasy-coming-true-panic song "Conventioneers", the Hollywood saga of "Sell Sell Sell", the car-accident song "Tonight Is The Night I Fell Asleep At The Wheel", and "Baby Seat", which is...well, a song about standing on your own two feet. There is a dud or two as well--"Helicopters" and "Go Home" are only up to "Stunt" levels--but this is becoming one of my all-time favourite albums.

A.R. Kane:New Clear Child. Another one I bought, from the bargain bin, on the recommendation of those Spin folks. In case you're wondering the "A" and "R" in A.R. Kane are also the "A" and an "R" from M/A/R/R/S, i.e. "Pump Up The Volume". Not that you'd be able to tell from this album. They call their music "dreampop", so it doesn't get into anything too heavily. And sometimes when I listen to it I am annoyed by the vocalist's really bad voice, and the periodic squeak of things sliding along guitar strings. Once you start noticing it, you can't stop. I've liked it okay on other listens, but this wasn't one of them.

Ben Folds Five:Whatever & Ever Amen. It's great to hear a piano occupying the same spot normally given to a guitar. I remember hearing "Fair" and "Brick" on the radio long before I had any idea that this was Ben Folds Five; I'd run across the name playing Fantasy Billboard, and didn't realize that "Folds" was someone's last name. I thought it was a sentence. Oh, well. Still, there's only three people in the band... I have another couple of albums from these guys on my wishlist.

Beth Orton:Trailer Park. Really a unique sound this woman has on her album, somewhere between folk and electronica. Sort of like Rickie Lee Jones's "Ghostyhead" with the vocals taken down an octave. I keep meaning to check if she has more albums out.

Astrud Gilberto & James Last:Plus. Basia had a song named "Astrud" on her "Time & Tide" album, but it was a few years before I figured out she was talking about a real person, Astrud Gilberto. I found "The Astrud Gilberto Album" at the library, and it's pretty good, if somewhat dated. Astrud has a very warm voice, slightly accented if she's not singing in her native Portuguese, and I'll take her over Celine Dion any day. This album is a bit more recent than the other one, and is a bit more uptempo. There's a remake of her earlier song "Agua De Beber" which is not necessarily an improvement, but not necessarily a complete travesty either.

I also listened to Suzanne Vega's "Songs In Red And Gray" CD from the library. I never really got into "Nine Objects of Desire" that much, but this one seemed much better to me from the first couple of tracks. Welcome back, Suzanne!

Now the Alberta government is apparently considering a huge anti-smoking crackdown--banning smoking in any enclosed area. Maybe this is compatible in principle with its new cigarette tax, but it doesn't make much sense budgetwise. If they actually wipe out smoking in Alberta(not that that will happen), then they won't get any more cigarette taxes. Of course, if they give people smoking tickets that amount to the tax on more than a few packs...

I don't know if I'm as comfortable with that as I am with just passive price-gouging. I like Joe Bob Briggs's old idea where bars could, for instance, declare themselves to be either smoking or non-smoking, and prominently display their choice. Right now all restaurants in Edmonton that serve minors are non-smoking, which seems like a fair tradeoff to me. It was a little weird in Red Deer being actually asked "Smoking or non-smoking?" Oh, right, here you can still have both in a single restaurant!

There should still be a few bars that are non-smoking, I'd think. There are lots of people who like to have a casual drink or two but don't want secondary(or primary)smoke in their faces, I'd imagine. But if they wanted to go to a bar, that happened to be smoking, for other reasons, like a band performing there, or just plain old proximity?

When it comes to the rights of smokers, I tend to think that they have all the right in the world to smoke to the detriment of no others but themselves. It's that nasty secondary smoke issue. To paraphrase someone(Heinlein? Gerrold?), "The right to extend your fist ends just before it hits my nose." Now, to stretch this analogy far beyond its breaking point, if someone was punching the air in front of them, and you had to stand in front of them to watch your favourite band perform, what would you do? You'd want him to stop punching you, right? Even though it's not his fault that you wanted to be there.

We decided to order out for Chinese food tonight, partially because with my going in at 9:00 again, I wouldn't be home until 5:00 or 5:30, and this way we could put off shopping until tomorrow. And I've had a craving for dry ribs for days now. So we ordered a little bit more than usual, so we could get the "free dry ribs with $25.00 order" offer. Now we also have enough for lunch for the next two days, which is what makes this economical.

Simon usually likes rice, but I think he mostly likes plain rice with no soya sauce or anything, so with the fried rice he mostly just picked out the peas. He was more interested in the broccoli from the chicken & vegetable dish, though he would only eat the flowery bits on the end. I don't know if he realizes he can eat the stems, though I certainly did, where he could see me. It's the best part, isn't it?

I took a little detour on the way home to Roger's Video and picked up both Bill & Ted movies. Strictly for research purposes, of course.* We watched "Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure" after supper; Simon was interested for the first part, but didn't stay riveted for the whole thing. That takes Disney. Still, he watched more than I thought. (I'm reminded of my former step-niece Maya, who, at the same age, preferred the mindlessness of the animated "Hercules" to the more sophisticated humour of "Samurai Pizza Cats".) That is still a great movie. And who says Keanu Reeves can't act?*

One of my favourite things about the movie was always that the historical figures did not necessarily speak English. Socrates didn't, and Genghis Khan certainly didn't; I'm not surprised that Freud did, of course. And the playing fast-and-loose with causality was cool too.

I've definitely decided my writing exercise should be something to do with the Princesses, Elizabeth and Joanna. I still don't have a plot, though. I'm trying to decide if I will be able to fit in watching "Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey" before writing it tomorrow or not. Especially since grocery shopping is now on the schedule.

Nicole has finished another draft of the manuscript she's working on now, Cross My Heart & Hope To Die. She'd budgeted a few more months yet, so she's ahead of schedule, though she still has some research information to seek out and incorporate(getting Trish & Jeremy to read it, for instance), and general polishing. She wants to get it done before the baby's due, so that's another three months. Then she can send it off to her agent. She's hoping it will find a decent reception at the publishers who took Running On Instinct, since it's in the same sort of King/Koontzian genre.

Last night I had trouble connecting to to get to my own blog page. So, since I wanted to go through my regular blogs, which are listed on the page, I went through them from memory instead. Oh, not the whole URL, just enough for it to show up in Internet Explorer's little drop-down list. Finally, after about an hour, I was able to connect. I'd remember more than half of my blogs. And most of the ones I'd forgotten didn't have new posts anyway.

Oddly enough, the last two times I went to
the "Blogger" page on Clix, so I can find my own standings, my site was in the "fifteen-minute special" at the top of the page. That's a site randomly selected from those on the page every time the Clix pages refresh themselves, I guess. There's 25 blogs on that page, so it's not that improbable, and even improbable things do happen. We just notice certain improbable things more than others, and attach more significance to them. I mean, how many times have you been thinking about a person, and five minutes later the person three pages after them in your address book phones you? Don't remember, do you?

Here come the countdown, though I'm tired and don't feel like dancing about architecture right now so the entries will be brief.

552. Suzanne Vega: Knight Moves

Another selection from Suzanne Vega's self-titled debut. I used to like this one because of the chorus, which I liked to try to sing without taking a breath until the end.

551. Simple Minds: East At Easter

From their "Sparkle In The Rain" album, though I might have first heard it live on "In The City of Light". Jim Kerr's voice is fairly rough in this one, but it's a powerful song. Not a clue what he's talking about, though.

Is the glass half full, half empty, or just twice as large as it needs to be?

Aaron // 10:57 p.m. Clix me!

Wednesday, March 20, 2002:

Completely At Home In Midair

Recently there has been a petition going around, in Canada at least, about a proposed tax on recordable materials. The idea is that since there is illegal copying going on, that there should be a surcharge on all materials which could be used for said copying. Cassette tapes, writable CDs, even computer memory and hard drives. There are various expressions of outrage, because of course the people who are protesting are completely innocent, presume the vast majority of others are too, and don't want to be paying extra because some people are abusing the system.

Well, be that as it may, I know that I have abused the system in my time. Heck, I still continue to do so from time to time, though not as much as I used to. I can justify it in a number of ways, like the fact that I have bought more music than most people, never mind how much of it I copied. As a kid I pirated software mercilessly, justifying myself by saying that it was all vastly overpriced for kids anyway. (It still is, from what I can tell.) Of course, you're supposed to talk your parents into buying it, and I guess that tactic just never worked for me.

I read another article recently about "fair use" and how various copy-protection schemes that the media producers are trying to put in place are starting to violate that. Laws may vary from country to country, but "fair use" includes making backup copies, putting non-portable media in portable form for your own use, and "time-shifting" broadcasts for later viewing. Of course, it's a thin line from there to breaking the law, and I'm sure many people have crossed over from time to time.

The victims will be people who use recordable media in quantity for legitimate reasons. The people who don't use them, won't be hit. And the people who use them for nefarious purposes, well, they'll get hit up. I always promised myself that if I ever became rich I would try to recompense anyone I'd ever illegally copied anything from. Of course, that wouldn't be much use to the Apple ][ computer game company that went bankrupt 15 years ago...*

So I will not sign a petition against the bill; I'll suck it up, I'll pay it. It's the least I can do. Which is to say, I could do more, but I probably won't.

The Alberta provincial budget just came out in the last few days, and the huge oil prices of last year have dropped again, leaving us tightening our belts again. A lot of money in the budget is coming from what they call "sin taxes"--mostly tobacco and liquor. And on visiting NHL franchises, of all things. Our health care is also getting hiked, but Alberta health care has been a disaster area for a few years now so I'm not surprised.

All I can think of with the "sin tax" is, well, that's what you get. I can say that because I don't smoke, and I drink an average of one drink a month, most of those clustered around Christmas. And I could give a rat's ass about hockey. I know that not everyone who drinks is an alcoholic, and most people who smoke would like to quit but find it too hard(like Nicole's brother Wayne), but I can't bring myself to find much sympathy for them. Yeah, I'm holier-than-thou, and I'm the one that Adam Ant was singing about. (I don't drink coffee either, when it comes to that.)

I was thinking earlier today about the various merits of living in Edmonton and Grande Prairie(pretty much the only two places I have experience of), and I decided that the ideal would be to have houses in both cities...with some kind of instant teleporter between them.

It'd be great--we wouldn't have to drive for hours to get up there. We could maintain two residences without having to split up our library and then want something that's in the other house. Yeah, we'd still have to have two actual houses, pay two property taxes, and all that. But hell, we've got a teleporter, this is a fantasy here. Maybe we could let other people use it, for a fee.*

Maybe we could have one for our car, too, because otherwise we'd need a vehicle in both cities. Just drive it into the garage(both houses would have to have a garage), and then into the garage of the other house.

Maybe we wouldn't even tell our friends that we were doing this. We don't get a lot of surprise visitors, so we could just stock the fridge if anyone was actually coming over. We'd need two sets of kitchen appliances and all that, for verisimilitude, which could also be expensive, but maybe one set could be mockups. Nah, it probably wouldn't work, at least not for family--they'd have to know. We'd let them use it, too. But nobody else would need to.

I'm probably just attracted to the idea of having two houses worth of storage space. We could still divide up the library, but it would all be easily accessible. We really do need more storage space. And after a mere three hours driving in a car, we yearn for teleporters too.

I hear that it's starting to get a bit more scientifically feasible, with the quantum entanglement thing, spin-matched pairs of particles who are linked on matter how far separated. That doesn't sound to me like it would provide teleportation, though, as much as copying. You step in one booth, and you step out of another booth in a different city...but you also step out of the original booth. Sort of like in Kiln People, except there it's expendable clones with imprinted memories.

You could make it like the transporter, but you'd have to get rid of the original. Nobody wants two of themselves running around. James Blish went into some detail on the concept in Spock Must Die!, one of the first and best Star Trek novels, where Spock was duplicated by such a method. And I'm pretty sure there's a ST:TNG episode where the same thing happened to Riker; I don't think I've seen it, though. For some reason I can't help but picture a cruder method, though--you step into the booth, and when you step out(your copy doing so in another place), they shoot you and dispose of the body. Wouldn't be murder, would it?

Of course, you could use it to create an army of yourself. It could be abused in horrific ways. So perhaps it would be best if they didn't come up with it. Helluva science fiction concept, though. I wonder who's used it already? Apart from Blish, that is. (That was an accident.)

An interesting fact from the Thomas Gilovich book, How We Know What Isn't So. There's an oft-quoted statistic that "50% of all marriages end in divorce". The precise number might change, but it's around that range.

Do you know how that number was arrived at? They did not take a certain number of marriages, follow them through to the end, and count the number of divorces. I mean, how many other ways can a marriage end? The death of one or both of the spouses is pretty much it. If they're both alive, they could still conceivably get divorced. And let's face it, all that would give you is a statistic for the people who are generally old enough to be dead by now. The sample of people who were born after World War II, say, would be much smaller and could probably be disregarded.

No, the number was come up with in a much simpler, much less useful, and much more misleading way: They divided the divorce rate for a given year by the marriage rate for the same year. Now, again, there might be a small number of marriages in the sampling that didn't last out the calendar year, but otherwise it's comparing apples and oranges. Say 1,000,000 marriages occurred in a year, and 500,000 divorces. The divorces could be from 50,000 people who married ten years earlier, 250,000 people who married twenty years earlier, 100 people who married that year, and so on. If the data you have is for the year 1991, for instance, then maybe you can conclude that a lot of people married in 1971 got divorced, but you have only a small amount of data for the people who got married in 1991. It wouldn't take much study to conclude that the numbers change depending on a number of factors. It probably varies according to the generational cycle--Generation Xers were more likely than Baby Boomers to be born into or grow up in broken homes. And many of us are less willing to do that to our own children, considering marriages more carefully and working harder at them.

So while you can say that the divorce rate is half of the marriage rate for a given year, you can't leap from there to make deductions about the future of the marriages begun in that year. So anyone who was totally scared by that statistic, be reassured. Your marriage's fate will rest on you and your spouse, not statistics. Statistics can't be used to predict one case, anyway. What side will the coin land on? What will the sex of your next child be? It may not be random, but it's unpredictable except in large quantities. The Law of Large Numbers is more accurate than the Law of Averages.

I listened to "Everyday" by the Dave Matthews Band today, and I liked it. I got it out of the library partly because of Ferra reminiscing about the band, which I still haven't listened to that much. I know that "Crash" didn't make much of an impression on me, though I did like "Too Much"; I did like "Before These Crowded Streets", though, so I resolved to investigate further.

Other recent listens of my own albums have doubtless satisfied some psychological principle or other: I was disappointed in them last time I listened to them, and this time I liked them better, probably because my expectations were lowered. Thomas Dolby's "Astronauts & Heretics", Tori Amos's "Under The Pink"(I always forget about "Space Dog", which is a cool song), and U2's "October"(I decided that I actually kinda like "I Threw A Brick Through A Window").

I'm beginning to suspect that every different version of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah"(still one of my most frequent Google hits, so I might as well mention it again)uses a different set of verses. Nobody seems to use all of Cohen's original ones; at least, Bono's version on "Tower of Song" uses a different set than John Cale's, which is all I can attest to for sure right now. Bono's version is like an outtake from "Zooropa", and I'm really not that fond of it.

Actually, a lot of people to omit a verse or two in covering Leonard Cohen songs. Jennifer Warnes did it several times on her "Famous Blue Raincoat" album, and I'm pretty sure that Concrete Blonde skipped at least one verse of "Everybody Knows"(on the "Pump Up The Volume" soundtrack). Why is that, I wonder? Do they think that he just writes too many verses, or just not like some of them? Well, I guess the Bangles left out a few lines of "Hazy Shade of Winter" too, so it's not just Leonard Cohen.

For our Cult of Pain meeting this month, which is this coming Saturday, the(optional)writing assignment was to write a 1000-word or so story that is a sequel or prequel to a reasonable well-known movie.

I've been puzzling over that one for a while, trying to figure out which one I could do. We're a fairly SF group, so I thought of something SF...but most of them already have sequels and stuff. There's mainstream ones, but I haven't seen a lot of the more famous ones, I don't want to do a mainstream story, and it's a bit hard to try to tack an SF postscript onto, say, "Casablanca".

Then today I had an inspiration--Bill & Ted! I loved both of the Bill & Ted movies, and they're reasonably well-known. I could try to do something interstitial between the movies, or after the second one, or before the first one. Maybe someone tries to keep Rufus from coming back in time to help the heroic pair pass their history test. Maybe the excellent duo have some difficulty in integrating the rescued medieval princesses into California society--like getting ID and the like. I don't know yet, but I have a place to start.

Getting late, and it's one more day of early-to-work, so on to the Countdown:

554. The Muppets: I'm Going To Go Back There Someday

You may laugh, but this is really a sweet song. It's from "The Muppet Movie", sung by Gonzo, and it makes a lot of sense in view of "Muppets From Space". I wonder if anyone's done a cover version of it, singing a bit more mellifluously. Still, Dave Goelz in character does a decent job of it.

553. Rush: Red Sector A

"Grace Under Pressure" is one of my favourite Rush albums, and their most consistent, with a near-perfect blend of guitar and synthesizer. I'm not quite sure what the lyrics are about--"I clutch the wire fence until my fingers bleed" makes me think of concentration camps, but there's the refrain of "Are we the only human beings to survive", which makes me think of alien invasion, natch. Anyway, it's a cool song.

I've fallen out the window of opportunity --Meryn Cadell

Aaron // 11:05 p.m. Clix me!

Monday, March 18, 2002:

I Don't Find This Stuff Amusing Anymore

Some people(like
Sherry)have done this cool thing where the sidebar on their journal entries has "Reading", "Listening", "Quoting", "Planning", etc. elements to it, to fill in some information on surroundings and happenings. I thought about doing that, but by this point it would just look so much like a lame meme rip-off. And in spite of that, I still won't do it.*

Speaking of ripping off memes, here's one I found at Sherry's site that I traced back to...Slackergeek, and through about three or four more Livejournal sites before I gave up. Is it just me, or is that down about half the time? (I usually only go to check out Jaffo's LJ there.) It's...well, fours.

4 bad habits you have
  • Avoiding housework.
  • Sarcasm.
  • Picking public places.
  • Writing sloppily and messily.

4 scents you love
  • Matches.
  • Lemons.
  • Frying butter.
  • Gasoline. Yes, I know that's twisted. I try not to indulge myself too often.

4 things you'd never wear (with the proviso that I'd wear practically anything if I was in a play and the role required it)
  • Contact lenses. I just don't think I could deal with putting things in my eyes.
  • Blue jeans.
  • A toupee. Not that I'm bald, but if I was I wouldn't.
  • Earrings.

4 animals you like
  • Housecats.
  • Dolphins.
  • Snakes.
  • Spiders.

4 TV shows you love
  • Friends.
  • Twin Peaks.
  • Babylon 5.
  • The West Wing.

4 celebrities you don't like
  • Puff Daddy.
  • Bill Gates. Does he count?
  • Bobcat Goldthwaite.
  • Michael Jackson.

4 drinks you regularly drink(aside from water)
  • Iced Tea.
  • 1% Milk.
  • Pink Grapefruit Juice.
  • Apple-Lime Juice. If I can ever find it again.

4 ice cream flavours you love
  • Vanilla.
  • Pistachio.
  • Butterscotch Ripple.
  • Lemon. I don't know if I've ever had it, but I bet I'd love it.

4 random facts about yourself
  • I eat the little lemons that restaurants give you with things like iced tea and dry spareribs.
  • The only seafood I eat is lobster.
  • I collect letter openers because I always thought they were cool sword substitutes as a kid.
  • I can solve a Rubik's Cube, but only because I got a book from the library a few years ago that showed me how.

4 random facts about your family
  • I have only one male first cousin, and he doesn't share my last name.
  • One of my uncles died of lung cancer a few years ago.
  • My brother has been living in Toronto for about eight years now.
  • My dad, my brother and I all have huge record collections.

4 websites you recommend

Dick and Edna are out of town until Friday, at COMDEX in Vancouver. I will be going in to work early, so I get to leave early, and since I'll probably end up having to talk to some customers anyway. Janet is getting pretty good at it, so maybe not as much as I have had to in the past. Last time we were holding the fort she would come to me and ask me questions, mostly, rather than making me talk to customers myself. I appreciated that.

We don't really talk much, Janet and I. Once, when I was giving her a ride to a workshop we were hosting for some of our customers, we started talking about TV shows and things, but it's just not something we do at the office. Mostly just muttered "Good morning"s and "Have a good weekend"s and stuff. Her predecessor, Dave, and I would have long chats on days when we were alone in the office--which are much more frequent in summer. But he left for greener pastures after I'd only been there a few months. Sometimes I wonder if I should try to get in touch with him, but I don't.

A lot of the problem, I'm sure, is that I like to read at lunch. Sometimes it's the only reading time I give myself, that thirty minutes or so in the lunchroom. No matter how slow the book's going, how little it's holding my interest, I'll give it that half hour.

Not that that's been a problem with A Game of Thrones. I should finish it tonight, only about forty pages left. Mr. Martin has surprised me a few times--he's willing to kill off main characters, and he's not making anything easy for anyone. Even in the last hundred pages the direction of the book has gone much differently than I thought it would. I wonder how long I'll be able to hold myself back from reading the next one?

Not sure what I'll read next. It should be either an Aurora-eligible book--Canadian SF--or a library book. I could read The Onion Girl for both, but I'm still a bit annoyed at Charles de Lint. The other library book I have is Kiln People by David Brin; the best Aurora bet right now is probably Valor's Choice by Tanya Huff, which Nicole just bought the sequel to, The Better Part of Valor, yesterday, and spent most of yesterday afternoon and evening reading.

I'll see how long I have before the library books have to go back, and make my decision based on that, I guess.

Today I was listening to Tori Amos's "Little Earthquakes". I like that album a lot; when I first got it, I found it practically too intense to listen to both sides at once, but I guess I've become acclimatized since then. "Winter" and "Precious Things" are my favourite songs off it so far, and I've recently come to like "Girl", but the rest of it is also pretty good. I actually bought it sound unheard, from numerous recommendations on, the Kate Bush newsgroup. I'm not as fond of "Under The Pink" or "Boys For Pele", but then I haven't listened to them as much; I like "From The Choirgirl Hotel" and "To Venus And Back", ditto.

Last week I was listening to Bob & Doug McKenzie's "Great White North" album, a classic of Canadian comedy. Factoid: Their movie "Strange Brew" was a hit in Edmonton and a dud everywhere else. One of the tracks on it, "Black Holes", includes a backwards segment that I've always wondered about. I never had any luck playing things backward on the record player, and I never had any access to equipment that would have made it any easier. But it occurred to me that if I can get it in .wav format, I can probably reverse it and solve the mystery at long last. Yeah, I'm not expecting anything profound--probably just "You hoser, the tape's going backwards!"--but it'll be nice to know. It's proving elusive, though. "Take Off" and "12 Days of Christmas" are fairly common, and even some of the other tracks, but I haven't managed to find a source that will let me download it. A wee bit frustrating, but I guess what I'm looking for is kind of obscure. Maybe I should see if the library has it on CD. (Hey, and while I was writing this, I got it! Now I just have to see if the Nero wav editor that came with my CD burner will do this.)

Still no naps for Simon; they may be officially obsolete. At least he managed to go to bed fairly willingly tonight. That, too, has become a battle, but one we were not going to concede, but we usually won with just a short upstairs visit after he'd been calling for us for a while.

Yesterday he decided that some of his stuffed animals had "X-Ray Vision", something he learned about from his book Ready, Set, Robot!. No idea what he thinks it does, but he quoted several lines from the books, revising the names to substitute in his stuffed animals'...which is more impressive to me than merely reciting the original lines.

A few days ago I noticed that our cat, Felicity, had some really matted hair just above her tail on her back. I combed it out--well, pulled a lot of it out with a comb--and she didn't enjoy it much. So I thought it was time to get an actual brush for her, and I did when we went shopping yesterday.

Well, that was all Simon wanted to do yesterday. We finally took the brush away from him at one point, and told him(over and over and over and over again)that the kitty didn't need to be brushed more than once a day. And he certainly remembered to do it today. Now, if he can brush the cat, and not have her run away, this will do wonders for their relationship. Currently it's more like he chases her and she runs. But if he can sit and brush her, and she enjoys it(she was purring on Sunday), then that's getting somewhere.

Nicole phoned me at work today, and while she was going to check something, she put Simon on...and we actually had a more or less coherent conversation. He told me that he'd skipped his nap, that he's brushed the cat, and that he was standing on the table. (The end table by the loveseat, right near the bookshelf with the phone on it.) He slept in until almost 8:00 this morning, and since by that time I'll be practically at work tomorrow, it's conceivable I might leave before he wakes up, which might worry him. So if he does, I told Nicole that he can talk to me on the phone.

Well, time to draw this to a close, so on the countdown goes:

556. Paul Simon: You Can Call Me Al

From his "Graceland" album, this is still a fun song, though I recall hearing that Simon himself didn't like the way the Chevy Chase video for it made people think it was a humorous song. I like the dozens of words going into every line of the song, and I still remember amazing my mother that I could sing along with it.

555. Pat McCurdy: Knock Things Over

This is a genuinely fun song, from Pat McCurdy of Milwaukee, from his live album "Pat In Person". He sounds like he would be an absolute hoot to see live, and apparently has a loyal following who think so as well. The song is about the joys of, well(trying not to lose my Blogsnob rating), ecstatic rhythmic motion. Also features an audience singalong.

He drew a blank, then erased it.

Aaron // 10:19 p.m. Clix me!

Saturday, March 16, 2002:

That's When Those Security Guards Threw Us Out

You may see, in your neck of the woods, vehicles that have a little Christian fish symbol on them. Some of them even have the word "CHRIST" in them to spell it out for those people who don't know that "ICHTHYS" was once a secret Christian code word.

Yesterday I saw one that looked similar at first, but then I noticed that it had little feet on it. The name inside? "DARWIN". Yeah.

My brother has given Simon at least two musical toys, his "Sleepytime Soother" that plays lullabies, and a five-key electronic "piano" that can be played with its limited range of notes, or play one of several preprogrammed tunes as well. Both of these contain several melodies that we can't easily identify. The piano ones sound classical to me; they all sound slightly familiar, and one of them I recall being used on "Bravo!" a lot, but I couldn't put a name to them. There are many little snippets of classical music that I know, but that I've never found a source to. "Well-educated" people who have been steeped in this stuff for yours are probably just supposed to know them.

Years ago I recall reading about a book someone had written that had encoded a number of melodies simply by converting them into one of three letters, "U", "D", and "R". You started with the first note, which was indicated by an asterisk, and then followed it with a letter depending on whether the next note was higher("U"), lower("D"), or the same("R"). So tonight, while Simon was going through the repertoire of tunes on the piano, I jotted down the encodings for the four that puzzled me, confident that I could find this information somewhere on the Web.

It didn't look promising at first, when the references I found were to a book published in 1975 by D. Parsons, called Directory of Tunes and Musical Themes, which apparently has been long out of print. It sounded exactly like what I was looking for, though. But one page contained a link to a German site which it said was currently "down but hopefully up again one day". I checked out the link, it forwarded me to another one, and that one had an English link, to
Melodyhound. It searched by Parsons code. Hurrah!

Of course, it's only really usable for this kind of classical music searching; it probably doesn't have anything more recent in there than "Dancing Cheek To Cheek".* But it was ideal for my purposes.

So, it turned out that "*DUDUDUUUDDUDUDDUD" was very likely from Mozart's "Eine Kleine Nachtmusik", "*DUDDUUDUDDUUDUDUUUDD" was likely from Bach's "Brandenburg Concertos", and "*URRDDURDDRRDDURDDUUDDD" was likely from Vivaldi's "The Four Seasons--Spring". Wouldn't you know it? I'm pretty sure I have all those in my collection. The fourth one, which I transcribed as "*UDUDUUDDDDDUUD", didn't have a good match; I might a longer section.

It might be nice to have something like that for more than classical music, but you run into a bit of ambiguity. When you look for, say "Let It Be", do you look for the vocal melody line, the piano intro, or the chorus? Ideally a song would have to be filed under each of them. And what instrument carries the melody at any given time? What if there's harmonies? So it's not a perfect system, but it could give people a clue. Years ago I was trying to find this song that had an extremely identifiable saxophone solo in it, and finally found it on a compilation of danceclub cover versions of various songs. It was "Baker Street" by Gerry Rafferty. Now if I could have entered "*UDDDDDURUDDD" or whatever into some search engine, I would have been much happier.

Lyrics searches would also be nice, of course. The state of lyrics on the Web is a bit nebulous right now, as far as I can tell, since lyrics sites tend to shut down quite frequently, presumably because reprinting lyrics on your web site is a violation of copyright or something. But it would be nice to have a place to search them, or just find them for a song on an album that fills up its CD booklet or equivalent with nothing but stupid pictures some freak decided to put in there instead of lyrics or album credits. (Pet peeve, anyone?)

Oh, and last night I finally updated my Song Title Duplication List web page, for the first time since January. Let me know if there are any glaring problems with it, or new data to add.

Today we got our kitchen chairs, finally. Nicole phoned the furniture store and asked them if they were ready to pick up, and they said, "Yes." Apparently it would have been too much to expect them to actually inform us when they were ready. This is United Furniture Warehouse, after all, and they sell cheap because they get rid of frills like that. We were also supposed to get them all Stain-garded, which apparently they didn't do until we phoned them. One person said we should give them an hour's warning, another person said it took five minutes.

We had originally gone for three bargain chairs(with slight imperfections we could care less about)and three from a new set, but they gave us four from the new set instead because they come in boxes of four and that way they don't have to break them up. No extra charge, at least. Of course, the boxed ones we have to actually attach the padded seats to, and they were apparently still reeking of something, because we set one face down on the table while trying to attach it, and now there's a little bleached-looking patch on our table. Maybe that's what was supposed to happen in the extra 55 minutes. So they're all covered with towels right now, since those getting a little bleached or whatever is better than that happening to our pants. (We should take them off overnight in case they need to air out or dry or whatever.)

They are nice, and now we have six of them, plus our two chairs from the old set, plus a couple of real cheapo $20 chairs, plus a couple of rolling chairs, one old and one new, and my own computer chair which is a bit tacky but in decent shape. Nicole wants to keep all of them, in case we have her entire family over at once, which is not unlikely to happen once her parents move down here and Sharna comes back from Ontario, and then we have eight people, including Simon. But we can't really fit all of them in the kitchen at once, of course(even just the eight kitchen chairs, plus the cheapo one with Simon's booster seat strapped onto it and countless crumbs ground into its foam interior through the numerous rips in its ravaged vinyl surface). We're trying six right now, with two of the new ones and the two old ones downstairs. We're sitting in new ones, that's what counts.

We don't have a heck of a lot of storage space right now. There's a cubbyhole which is a bit inconvenient to get to, because of all the stuff I've jammed into the corner. There's a space the previous owners used as a storage alcove but we use as the home for the cat's litterbox, which precludes putting much else there. The library has bookshelves along the walls, old computers stacked in the corner(we could really get rid of them, but just today I was thinking that I should keep my old 486 around, since it can run both DOS and Linux, and DOS is becoming an endangered platform these days), a futon in the middle(our only real guest bed now that Simon's taken over the single), and now three kitchen chairs parked in it. My computer room is even worse.

We need a bigger house, but it'll be a few years yet, I don't doubt. We're not nearly ready to move yet. Oh my no.

Simon's winning the nap wars. His last one was on Tuesday, and at the rate we're going it'll be his last one ever. Especially since he can actually climb out of his bed now, even if he doesn't always remember that right away. I could probably do it, with my superior heart-hardening abilities, but Nicole caves in after a mere half an hour of Simon crying to get up.

So his permanent bedtime(for a while, anyway)may be moving to 8:00. That will mean more time in the evening for both of us, but less time in the day for Nicole, and less time for company or babysitters in the evening. It also means net less sleep for him, since he usually had more than an hour of naptime, so maybe sleeping in more in the morning.

Jeremy said his daughter Sage sleeps in until 10:00 and then stays up until about 11:00 at night. Unreal. That would be horrible for me, because the extra time from 7:00 to 10:00 would be practically useless, since I'd spend most of it at work. Nicole could get up earlier and do writing, but I'd be sunk. I like my evenings, and quite frankly it's nice to have that extra hour.

We did some more talking about baby names tonight, this time focusing on girls' names. We're very close on it, but not quite, and Nicole doesn't think we've quite hit it right. For instance, I like "Natasha" but she likes "Tasha". I like "Tor[iy]" but she likes "Victoria". And similar things. Mostly tonight we managed to add "Tegan" to the list. It's a bit more "out there" than we really wanted, but it won't be particularly hard to spell or pronounce(though some people might pronounce it to rhyme with "Reagan"), and it's Welsh(which should go with Humphrey fairly well). And Tegan was my favourite Dr. Who companion anyway.*

We've got scads of baby names books, as I might have mentioned, and some of them get a little bit weird. And go too far with including alternate spellings and foreign versions. It was interesting comparing some of their name origins--the one I was looking at seemed to take at face value anyone who claimed that a particular name actually had an African origin as opposed to European. "Candace", for instance, was only listed as having originated from a line of Ethiopian queens. Please.

But we're still not particularly close to a final decision. We do have at least three more months to decide, and the next ultrasound may let us narrow our choices slightly.

It's a big responsibility, having to name someone. Sometimes I think it would be a good idea to let people change their names when they come of age, or something. But then, I imagine almost everyone goes through a phase of hating their given name around that time, so maybe it's a bit too volatile. Maybe when you reach voting age or something, you will have settled down a bit.

It's nice being able to choose a nickname for yourself on the Internet, though, a "handle". I'm glad that I have one which is reasonably original; I rarely run into conflicts with anyone else using it. Not like some who goes by "Shade" or "Babydoll" or something like that. And if someone's using "Alfvaen", then I can usually use "Azpiazu" as well. Only on Yahoogroups have I had to try for a third option, and I suspect that I actually used one or both of the others, but just forgot my password. I wouldn't be at all surprised. Too lazy to change it now, though. I'll stay "Gerountella" on there. That's a name I made up entirely at random when I was about ten, rolling dice to pick letters or something. One of the few that was actually pronounceable. So I don't expect many others to use it. Well, now I've given it away, haven't I?*

I'm really getting into A Game of Thrones now. There's a lot of young characters, mostly children of the one family, the Starks, from eight to fourteen, as well as their parents, and a couple of others(one of whom is also fourteen). I keep having to check to make sure I'm not actually reading Orson Scott Card.* I wonder how much time is going to pass during these books, or if we're going to have a lot of really young people doing important world-shaking things. I'd prefer the passage of time, myself.

And there are not a lot of really authentically nice people--not even all the main characters. Some of them are at least honourable, and some are just slime. Hardly any actual "magic" yet; I'm not sure if there will be. There don't seem to be any mages around, but there were dragons, and there may be evil dark forces at work. We'll have to see, I guess.

There's this virus going around right now that's kind of funny--more so than the "Snow White" one, anyway. It's disguised as a Microsoft Security Update, you see.

Now I first received an infected email before I had updated my Norton AntiVirus to actually know about this virus, and it didn't even notice. But I was instantly suspicious. It was obvious that this would be a great way to infect someone with a virus, and I also know that Microsoft would never send out unsolicited emails with security updates to everyone on the Net. That would be a PR disaster. I saved the message, didn't run it, and kept meaning to check on the alleged web page or just on the Microsoft site. (They probably have a bit hoax warning on there right now, I bet.)

So I felt quite vindicated when I got the next email, after updating my virus lists, and it did turn out to be infected. Hah! Someone out there was not quite as quick on the uptake, I guess.

Speaking of Microsoft updates, though, a few weeks ago when I started up Internet Explorer it went to this "ieupdate.htm" page and informed me that there was a new version of IE available for download, IE6. I checked and I seem to have version 5.0. I'm cagey about actually downloading the new version in case it screws things up. Microsoft has been known to do that. I need to do some research and find out if it's a bad move or not. Right now, I'm not bothering, but eventually I may end up doing it.

Maybe I'll wait until 6.1.*

Time for another installment of that Top-750 song countdown:

558. Supertramp: Breakfast In America

The title track from their biggest album, one of the Roger Hodgson songs. It's got a bit of a jaunty bounce to it, and nice harmonies, as well as slightly weird lyrics.

557. Weird Al Yankovic: The Biggest Ball of Twine In Minnesota

I'm not sure if this song(from the "UHF" album)is meant to be a Harry Chapin homage or not, but it does remind me in places of his song about the trucker with the load of bananas(whose exact title I am too lazy to look up right now). I remember one night coming home from a late computer lab and listening to this song in my Walkman, and for some reason at that time it struck me as the most incredibly clever song every written. But I was tired and a little bit brain-dead at the time, so take that with a grain of salt. I still find it pretty funny, though.

Stupid == anvils made of bubblegum and text string. --billbill

Aaron // 10:19 p.m. Clix me!

Thursday, March 14, 2002:

Don't Try To Make Sense

I'm a few chapters into A Game of Thrones, and so far it's interesting but not compelling. I can't help but think that Robert Jordan introduced fewer characters this close to the beginning of his first book. Knowing that there's a long fantasy series coming after this one, I'm trying to retain as many facts as I can, but at this point I just don't know what's important.

I've been spending more time reading another one of those books I got from the library, this one from the recommended books list at the back of the A.K. Dewdney book. It's called How We Know What Isn't So, subtitled "The Fallibility of Human Reason In Everyday Life". It's pretty interesting so far, with the results of all sorts of studies about how people find patterns in randomness, filter information to give more scrutiny to evidence that contradicts their pet theories, and so on. I wonder how much of this I do myself; I tend to think of myself as a fairly scientific-minded guy, though.

I might have given some people the impression, with my earlier posts about rationality vs. emotion and wishful thinking and all that, so to be fair I should mention that I am not Spock by any means. I frequently personify technological objects that are not behaving as they should, swearing at them and attributing to them malicious consciousness. I am mildly superstitious in the "knock on wood" manner of not wanting to say something in case it jinxes things. And on some level I believe in Murphy's Law.

So I think that I'm more willing to believe in a perverse cosmos where mischievous spirits play tricks on us if we don't appease them than I am a cosmos where a benevolent creator made everything with a purpose. I don't think I've ever thought of it quite that way, but it sounds about right.

I just did a web search trying to find that book at Tad and his baseball glove again; I posted
the summary once already, though I was halfway through typing it again here before I realized it. Is there anyplace on the Web where you can search through synopses of books or something? Maybe Nicole, with her library background, will know.

I got my story "The New Paranoia Album" back from Interzone magazine yesterday. I guess this means I should send it out again. There were some actual handwritten(hand-scribbled, really--I had trouble making out a few words)notes from the editor, or somebody. At this point, though, I'm not going to do any more revisions on it--this story has gone through five or six since I wrote the first germ of it for talk.bizarre almost ten years ago. So I'll keep sending it out until it gets published, or I exhaust all the available markets, at which point I'll consider maybe rewriting it.

I'm pretty sure that "Oedipus Loop" is out there somewhere too, but I should check and see because I can't think right now where it would be. It's a bit short, so not all markets will even look at it, but I probably found something for it. Wherever it is, they've probably had it for a while.

On Tuesday Sale & Pelletier did a show here in Edmonton, which Nicole and I didn't go to, but watched most of on TV. It was pretty good--in exhibition shows they can have music with lyrics and props, so the routines can get more interesting. S&P did a few themselves, of course--the "Love Story" one from the Olympics again, and one to David Wilcox's "Rockin' The Boogie", which is a weird little song. The Russian pair who shared the gold(and who they ran into in warmups)were also there, so there's definitely no hard feelings there. There was another pair from a local rink, and then one of the weirdest acts I've seen on ice. I can't remember their names, if they were given, but I think they were called the "Russian Flyboys".

Two men, on skates, wearing hats, and doing the most bizarre quasi-acrobatic things, including an extended sequence where their hands were clasped together and they were trying to disentangle them by bringing their legs through them, etc. Hard to describe, but it was amazing. One of them stood on the other one's shoulders--wearing his skates, of course. That's not something I'd want to do, either way. Even if they're not incredibly sharp, metal skate blades on either side of my neck...or trying to balance on such a small surface.

I did get tickets to the Bruce Cockburn show on the 27th. Well, one ticket, since Nicole decided she didn't feel compelled to join me. Trish & Jeremy may be going, though. (Not the Jeremy who lives in Calgary, in case you're confused. Should I give them Roman numerals or something? Nicknames?)

Okay, I'm running out of steam here already, so I guess it's time for the countdown.

560. U2: Numb

U2's "Zooropa" album got a bit weird at times, but this track, with The Edge's monotone vocals often drowned out in the slow beat of the music, is very effective. It had a great video, too.

559. Godley & Creme: Ready For Ralph

Another track from "Ismism", mostly a silly and somewhat tongue-twistery tale of hotel room reservations, but with great horn accompaniment going on in the background.

The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.

Aaron // 10:03 p.m. Clix me!

Tuesday, March 12, 2002:

A Very Unusual Gift of The Gab

Excuse me while I geek out a bit here. I'm a bit of a math geek, but not into mathematics as a study. I'm not as interested in discovering properties of things or proving theorems as I am using information that's already there. Rather than find a technique for proving theories about prime numbers, I'd rather just test numbers to see if they're prime. And so on. General principles are all fine and good, but I want to see the particulars.

Lately I've been looking at hexagonal grids. I was first introduced to them through D&D, of course, where they liked to use them for wilderness maps and such. They do have some advantages for those purposes over square grids. With square grids there's a tendency to forget Pythagoras's theorem, and so you can move diagonally with no more effort than moving horizontally or vertically, when in fact it's almost half again as far. With hexagons you don't have any neighbouring hexes that touch on corners, so you don't run into the same kind of problem.

But there are others, of course. It's hard to come up with a decent intuitive coordinate system. Also, while squares and hexagons both tesselate over a plane easily enough, squares decompose into smaller squares much better. Hexagons don't decompose cleanly into smaller hexagons, because adjacent hexagons don't share straight edges. You end up having to approximate straight lines with something more like a sawtooth. Which can be okay depending on your application.

What I'm looking at right now is the Lorenai map. It was done with a hexagonal grid, as was Atlantis, though they use slightly different coordinate schemes. In Atlantis, if you have a hex at (50,50), say, then above it is (50,48) and below it is (50,42). Beside it are (49,49) and (49,51) on one side, and (51,49) and (51,51) on the other side. So you skip a lot of coordinates, but hexes with the same vertical coordinate are all at the same height.

In Lorenai, Jiri decided not to skip coordinates, so (50,50) has (50,49) above it and (50,51) below it, (49,49) and (49,50) to the left, and (51,49) and (51,50) to the right. Now the vertical coordinate 50 corresponds to two rows of hexes, slightly offset, or a wavy line. Odd and even hexes now have different rules--(49,50) has (48,50) and (48,51) next to it, not (48,59) and (48,50).

He put his central city at (50,50), and then had six gate cities evenly spaced around it, at (20,35), (50,20), (80,35), (80,65), (50,80), and (20,65). So the distance between Lorenai City at the centre and the gate cities is 30. It seemed to me that you should be able to create large hexagons, with Lorenai City and the gate cities at the centres, with a radius of 15 hexes, and each hex on the map would fit into one of those large hexagons. But I discovered that it was not was easy as it seemed.

Let me see if I can describe it here without having to rig up pictures. The hexes used on the map are oriented so that there are "North" and "South" edges, as well as "Northeast", "Northwest", "Southeast", and "Southwest". I want the larger hexagons to be oriented the same way. If you define a distance as being the number of hexes you have to pass through to get from one hex to another, then draw a "circle" of all hexes within a certain distance, then what you get is another, larger hexagon. But that hexagon has vertices to the North, South, Northeast, Northwest, Southeast, and Southwest--just where your smaller hexagon has its faces, so it's rotated slightly.

Now if you draw these hexagonal "circles" with radius 15 around Lorenai City and the gate cities, then their vertices overlap at common hexes...but there are triangles of hexes that do not belong to any such circle. So if we want larger hexagons with the same shape and orientation, more or less, as the smaller hexagons, they can't be "circular". The best I can think of right now is that they will consist of hexes which are closer to the centre of that large hex than they to the centres of any other large hexes. The "edges" won't be straight lines of hexes like north-south or northeast-southwest lines would be--they'll be jagged east-west and differently-angled diagonal lines. And they will be shared between the large hexagons, I guess the same way that the boundary lines between hexagons really belong to both hexagons.

Okay, end of geek mode. Just thought that somebody out there might find it interesting. And this is the kind of thing I think about a lot.

On Thursday night I finally finished that Chip's Challenge level that had been stymying me for months. (Stymieing? There's just no way to spell that that looks right.)

Chip's Challenge is one of those puzzle games, and a quite involved one. Well, you can stop at any time, but I'm 80-90 levels into it by now. It's got a lot of different elements--blocks that you can push around, or push into water and make new floor; monsters you have to avoid or redirect; teleporters, conveyor-belt floors, and ice you slide on uncontrollably; locks and keys, invisible walls, and walls that pop up after you go over them once. And the chips that you have to collect, a certain number on each level. The levels start out easy, and then get more complex, though by the stage I'm at you couldn't say that each level is harder than the last.

I got stuck on one called "Vortex" several months ago, and have been avoiding the game since then. I had downloaded some "hints" files off the Net at some point, and was forced to use them to get through several levels already, but by the time I got to "Vortex" I was just tired of the game, so I stopped for a while. Simon wanted me to play it last week, though, and I finally persevered and got through it Thursday night when I should have been packing or something.

One reason it was so frustrating was that there was this maze of blocks and walls(some of which opened up to form corridors, and some of which didn't)which was giving me lots of trouble, and that was just the beginning of the level, so I got tired of it. But finally I managed it, and now maybe I'll go on further. Of course, by this point I'm nostalgic for the earlier levels, so I also considered going back and starting at the beginning, or perhaps maintaining two parallel games...

Does anyone else try to match up their young children with their friends' young children? I kept thinking while we were visiting Jeremy that it would be neat if Simon and Sage got together. Or one of Sharna's nieces on her husband's side. Or Deborah, the daughter of Nicole's friend Joanne, who's babysitting Simon today while Nicole goes in for another doctor's appointment.

It's silly, because, well, I imagine that most people do not end up falling in love with people that they've known since they were two years old. I don't recall ever being really close with the children of any of my parents' friends. Even the ones that we saw a lot while I was growing up; and with us, we could easily lose touch with people and not see them, or their children, for years.

Maybe this is how arranged marriages got started. You have a son, your friends have a daughter, so you decide to cement your friendship by decreeing that they will marry and join your families together forever. It has a certain charm to it from the parents' point of view, but that's probably about it.

Last night I used the Internet to help me finish an acrostic.

Another geeky side to my personality, but I like doing puzzles. Cross Sums and Acrostics(or the equivalent, since different puzzle books have trademarked different names)are my favourites. Crosswords I don't usually bother with; I find them boring. Which is a bit frustrating, because they are the easiest to find. I used to like Frameworks/Skeletons/whatever quite a bit, and I still like to try my hand at the hard ones from time to time.

But anyway, I was having trouble with this acrostic. There are a lot of clues which are just one word, where sometimes a thesaurus helps, but otherwise there are usually too many possibilities that occur to me--and if there's only one, then it will usually turn out to be wrong. I like the clues which have unambiguous answers--there was only one 1992 Tony-Award-winning musical, for instance. They try to make them a bit obscure, and often I can't find them in my encyclopedias, but last night it occurred to me to try Google. It came up with the information in a trice.

Of course, it would be unsporting to try Google first off, just like any other reference work, but when you're stuck, sometimes you have to look something up or just give it up.

I haven't actually done an acrostic in months, but last night Simon insisted on playing Treasure Mountain all by himself, so I needed something to do, and while I was cleaning up a little bit in the computer room, I found my acrostics book, and was struck by the urge.

I wonder how long it'll be before we have to buy Simon his own computer. When he gets old enough to not need constant supervision, he will probably still like to play computer games, or maybe virtuously do homework using the Internet. And there were times, before Simon arrived, when Nicole and I would be on our computers at the same time. During brief periods when we only had one working computer in the house, there was often conflict.

Of course, right now I'm not using mine at home during the day, and Nicole doesn't spend all her free time on hers either. But maybe some low-powered computer for Simon might not be a bad idea. He can inherit Nicole's Pentium-150 that I bought from work a few years ago, perhaps, and she can get a new one or inherit mine while I get a new one.*

I'm making fair progress in The Chronoliths, but the jury's still out on whether or not the book will gel better than some of Robert Charles Wilson's other ones. I finished the Martin Gardner book last night, and I have to admit I found it a bit uneven. Some topics I was interested in, and others I wasn't.

Thanks to
Erik for finally explaining how primaries work. It's by state. Okay, that makes a bit more sense. The National Convention is still not a major source of suspense, but the system seems a bit more rational now.

Those who've receive email from me probably notice that my signature usually includes "Song In My Head". I often do have a song in my head, and now always "stuck" in my head playing over and over. My audio memory is able to summon up a wide variety of songs and snatches of music, either on its own or with a little prompting. Oddly enough, whenever I am trying to come up with a "song in my head" for an email, and I don't have one, my mind always brings up "100 Watt Bulb" by the Infidels. I usually try to think of another song at random from there, but sometimes I just leave it in.

I used to listen to music near-constantly at home, and not at all at work; now it's switched around. I do listen to it at home, but not consistently. Maybe it's the fact that my CD player/tape deck is across the room and I have to get up and feed it. Or the fact that I often don't have an entire album-sized block of time to fill up, and I hate interrupting them in the middle. Or I just don't want to make that much noise. Or I'm playing a game that requires sound, and I don't want them to clash.

I used to not want sound at all in my computer games. One of my older computers, that I got from Jeremy, he'd rigged up a potentiometer as a makeshift volume control; I disconnected it entirely, so there was no sound at all. Only my most recent computer actually had a sound card in it at all.

But occasionally I do actually have a "Current Album" to fill in. At home, it's probably a library CD, or a comedy album I don't feel comfortable listening to at work.

Counting down some more...

562. Go Four 3: Waiting For A Train

Another great song from their self-titled first album, about, well, waiting for a train. That makes it sound lame, but hey, I really like the music better than the lyrics--the guitar and bass mesh really well on this song.

561. Cats: Mungojerrie & Rumpleteazer

This is from the original London version, not the later version that Andrew Lloyd Webber "fixed up" later. I can't stand that version. This one is nice and jazzy, moving at a fast 12/8, lots of horns, etc.

'It almost seemed as if it were a sort of thing,' she said.

Aaron // 9:32 p.m. Clix me!

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