The Den of Ubiquity

Sunday, June 30, 2002:


The Moth Unfurls Its Moistened Wings



The weather continues cool, and in fact today, with the windows open and the furnace fan on, I was almost starting to get a little bit cold. It was sunny, but quite windy. I'm wondering if it's time to turn the fan off, if that's not just a tactic for the hottest of hot days. I'm sure it uses up a fair bit of electricity to run it all the time. Assuming I can get the little button to pop out again, of course... But Nicole has been hotter than I am, doubtless because of the baby, so I will try to withstand it for a little longer.

Yesterday we did our normal excursion, library and bookstore, and also ended up having to go grocery shopping, and even went to the bank and the video store as well. At the library we ended up grabbing "Alice In Wonderland"(the Disney version)off the "impulse" rack of videos they often have near the circulation desk. I watched it with Simon that afternoon, because I was curious about it. I'm sure I saw it as a kid, and I'm positive I had a record of the soundtrack or something, but I didn't really remember it. It was actually quite good, especially the Tea Party scene, where they pulled all sorts of great visual gags. I kept wondering if Simon would notice the Jabberwocky references, as familiar as he has become with the poem after us reciting it to him practically every night for over two years.

Last night we watched "A Beautiful Mind", and it was really good. It really sucked me in there at the beginning, and while I had gathered that John Nash was schizophrenic, I had no idea where exactly reality ended and hallucination began. Which I guess is their point. The first clue probably should have been the little glowing diode implanted under his skin...'cause they didn't really have those in the 50's, did they? But anyway. Very good, Jennifer Connelly indeed did a bang-up job and deserved her Oscar. We also picked up "Ocean's Eleven" at the video store, which we'll probably watch tonight, or at least part of. We have until 11:00 Monday night to watch it, which is not enough time to watch it all on Monday(since we only start after Simon's in bed), but if we split it between two days we'll be okay, and we'll still have some free time tonight.

They had a CD bargain bin at the Safeway store, too, which is a bit odd, but they had a book one too, which they've had before, so whatever. The CDs were there last week as well, but I couldn't find anything I wanted; this time I happened to see "Happy?" by Jann Arden, so I snatched that up. But it may be a while before I get to it...(see below)




This morning I turned on the TV and VCR, and caught a few videos on MuchMoreMusic. The first one, which I was in the middle of, featured a woman who at first glance reminded me of Natalie Imbruglia, but turned out not to be. I thought to myself, "I should remember her name, because that song sounded interesting..." However, all that stuck with me was that her last name was five letters, and contained "ea" somewhere in the middle. Later searching of a few possibilities finally brought me to
Sarah Slean. So, yeah, I should check her out.

They also did a "Now & Then" pairing of an artist's old and new videos. They played Alanis Morissette's newest video, for "Precious Illusions". I don't think that that was one of the songs I particularly liked from "Under Rug Swept", but the video is interesting, with the side-by-side modern-day and fairy-tale romances. Then they played "Walk Away", from her first album in 1991, when she was still just "Alanis" and did teen dance-pop. The most interesting thing about the video for me, though, was that it had Matt Le Blanc in it--Joey from "Friends". I'm sure I saw the video around the time it came out, but of course didn't know who this "Matt" guy was. (He used his real name in the video.) And it's always a bit funny to look back at her early career, too. She was like Canada's answer to Debbie Gibson and Tiffany in the early 90's, but of course she's progressed a little farther than that now...

What I was turning on the TV and VCR for was to set it up to tape "Airheads", which was on MMM this afternoon(at least, according to the TV Guide). It was on last night when we finished watching "A Beautiful Mind", and they did turn out to be playing it again the next day. (Censored, though? Well, whatever.) I confess that I still really like that movie, brainless as it is. It was the first time I recall seeing any of the three leads--Brendan Fraser, Adam Sandler, and Steve Buscemi. And their careers have diverged a bit since then, haven't they? Fraser is second-string action hero and goofy comedy star, Sandler is big-box-office comedy-vehicle guy(I confess that I am curious about "Mr. Deeds"), and Buscemi is ubiquitous weird guy and frequent Coen Brothers star. I find the movie itself quite charming, anyway, and look forward to watching it again.




Since I didn't get to it yesterday, today I decided to go to the medical clinic again to see about my ear infection. It hasn't really been bothering me for a few days, so I think it's cleared up, but the doctor said last time that there was still some ear wax in the outer ear, and I should get it cleaned out. I confess that I actually like getting my earwax cleaned out, so I went in today.

Saturday afternoon, of course, the wait was extremely long, so I put my name down on the last and then, assured it would be at least an hour, went out to do some other things. Like taking "A Beautiful Mind" back to the video store. And visiting "Cash Converters".

"Cash Converters" is not, as one might think, a place where you can take your pesos and convert them into rubles. No, no. They're really just a pawnshop, as far as I can tell, but a little bit more reputable than that, perhaps. Nicole's mother apparently went there last week and said that they had a)an exercise bike on display outside, and b)cheap CD's. So I resolved that I would go there and see what they had. Which did not seem to be an exercise bike, today at least, though they had many other bicycles, and other exercise equipment. So it was really just the CDs, then.

The selection was not spectacular, and there were a lot of duplicates, but I was able to find a few that were, if not high on my wishlist, at least, well, on my wishlist. And considering that most of the CDs were 5 for $20, and some where even $2 or $3, I think I did pretty well.

I got "Melon Collie & The Infinite Sadness" by Smashing Pumpkins for a mere $12.95, which is much lower than I'd seen anywhere else. I also got "Melt" by Artificial Joy Club, which apparently is substantially the same band as One To One, a Canadian group from the 80's, one of whom(Leslie Howe?)was a mentor of Alanis's early career and a good bet for the subject of "Hands Clean"; Corey Hart's self-titled album; "Come On Over" by Shania Twain(hey, I confess, I like it, though I'm not sure which version it is--there were two versions, one of which had a more dancy version of "That Don't Impress Me Much", which I liked better); "Now In A Minute" by Donna Lewis; and "The Presidents of The United States of America II", which doesn't seem to actually be on my wishlist, but I think I liked it well enough anyway.

I also got the soundtrack to "Threesome" and "Head Down" by Moev, a Canadian industrial-type band on Nettwerk Records, both for $3 or less, so more of a gamble. And "The 'Priest' They Called Him" by William S. Burroughs & Kurt Cobain, because I'm a sucker for anything by Burroughs these days. They had a 48-hour limit on exchanges if the CDs are unplayable, but most of them look in decent condition, few or no visible scratches, so I think I'll be okay. The cashier said there's a bit of leeway, especially for someone who, you know, just bought nine CDs. I know that I could, physically, listen to them in one day, but I think the odds of that happening are slim.

It took me forty-five minutes to get back to the clinic, and I had at least another half an hour to wait before they called me, during which I read Uncle Tungsten and tried to ignore the TV almost directly over my head, which was tuned, for some inscrutable reason, to APTN--the Aboriginal People's Television Network. That's a network devoted entirely to "First Nations", "Natives", "American Indians", or whatever the heck they're called these days. I think my friend Jeremy used to work for them up in the Northwest Territories. They're now on cable throughout Canada because the CRTC was powerless to resist them, even though their production values are often low to nonexistent. But at least I couldn't see the screen from where I was sitting.

There was probably another half an hour of waiting in various rooms for the doctor(there might, again, have been only one working today)before and after getting my ear wax cleared out. As I said, I quite like the process, but afterwards my eardrum is quite tender and itchy. Finally I got to leave, and then I went to Canadian Tire to buy windshield wipers.

The ones on the car right now are really quite tattered, and I have heard you're supposed to get them replaced once a year, but somehow we never manage it. That's probably because, for some reason, it was filed in my head under "tasks you have to pay mechanics to do for you". We were planning to get it done when we got our new tires, but we haven't done that yet either. But last week I was driving Sharna & Nick(to meet Nicole and her parents for supper), and it was raining, and I started complaining about my wipers, and Sharna told me that it was dead easy to replace wipers, and I could probably do it myself. So today I went to get them.

I walked into Canadian Tire knowing nothing about my wipers besides their approximate length, but was initially daunted by the aisle of wipers of different sizes and materials and styles. What kind did I want? How big were mine? Maybe I should go home and measure them and do this later. But then I saw a little book that listed the exact model number of wiper to buy for each material and each make & model, so then I was set, grabbed what I wanted, and left.

I haven't actually installed them yet, because by this point I was feeling guilty about having left Simon with Nicole for so long, but hopefully it will be a snap, and I will be victorious Tool-Man.




I had planned to finish The Telling of Lies at the doctor's office, but I ended up finishing it this morning instead, since I found myself closer to the end than I thought and felt like getting it done. It was good enough, with some interesting characters, but it wasn't really correct to call it a murder mystery. In a murder mystery, solving the mystery is the main plot, and the plot is advanced by the accumulation of clues. The middle of The Telling of Lies, was not concerned principally with finding the murderer, as much as it is trying to find out who is covering up the murder...which is not the same thing; it does lead to the eventual revelation of the identity of the murderer, but not directly. I'm not a mystery purist myself, so I didn't mind, but in case there are those who are, consider yourself warned.

I did read a lot of Uncle Tungsten at the doctor's office, though I didn't finish it until I came home. It was quite good, following Sacks himself pretty much to puberty(when his interest in chemistry apparently started to fade), and the history of chemistry from its beginnings as an actual science through to the discovery of the underlying quantum principles by Niels Bohr.

Now I guess I should go on to Karl Schroeder's Permanence before leaping into A Storm of Swords. I did want to finish my character list from A Clash of Kings first anyway. And besides, it's not quite July yet... But you can tell what I really want to read.

In the bookstore yesterday I ended up picking up Sir Apropos of Nothing by Peter David. I wasn't really planning on it, but they have this deal at Coles right now where if you buy three books you get a fourth one free... Nicole only really had two to buy, and I didn't have any, but then she found the latest Gordon Korman(the climax of his "Island" trilogy), so I picked up the Peter David. And then the cashier said that the Korman wasn't "pocket-sized" and didn't count, so I went back for David Feintuch's Children of Hope(even though Nicole still has three more books to read in the series before she gets to that one). Boy, they really scammed us that time, didn't they? Anyway, the Peter David book does look interesting, as a spoof of...well, picaresque novels, I guess. Perhaps not a hot topic, but it could still be fun.




We still haven't quite gotten things ready for the baby. The biggest task is moving Nicole's computer out of the room which has been heretofore "Nicole's Office" and will soon become "The Baby's Room". We really need a bigger house, there's no way around it, but it's not gonna happen for a few years yet. (I would always like, ideally, to be able to make a downpayment on a new house before selling the old one, to have lots of time to move, but I know that that often doesn't happen. Still, if Nicole gets a big book advance or something...)

Anyway, on Friday night we managed to raise the crib bottom up from the lower level to the higher one, suitable for a baby who can't stand up yet. Yesterday we did approximately zilch. Tonight, though, we were strong, and we almost finished clearing a space in our bedroom for Nicole's computer desk. ...But not quite. We picked up a bunch of junk off the floor, and managed to get rid of one of the boxes that has probably been traveling with us from move to move(sometimes with different contents)since I first left Grande Prairie to go to University. I remember getting it from the bottle depot. But then we decided that before we moved too much stuff into the room, we should vacuum...and that was the gumption trap. Work was done for the night.

I did find, while we were cleaning, an old chessboard which I assume is mine, though I don't really remember it. Simon's been having a lot of fun playing with a magnetic one that's a combination chess/checkers/backgammon, but this one has actual wood pieces that are a little bigger, and are a bit nicer, so I thought he might enjoy it a bit more. He seems to be, so far. I know he doesn't really need two chess sets, but hey, I'm sure I had two at some point, too.




458. Talking Heads: The Facts of Life, from Naked

On "Naked" it sometimes seemed like the Talking Heads abandoned a bit of the indirectness of some of their earlier lyrics and were a bit more direct and biting. This song is mostly about the true nature of love, and other emotions, as mere biological impulses, which really seems a little bit bitter, but David Byrne does have a bit of a point. It does seem likely that we share our emotions with animals, but our sense of reason is uniquely ours.

457. Robyn Hitchcock & The Egyptians: A Globe of Frogs, from Globe of Frogs

This is one of the few Robyn Hitchcock songs where I think his weird vision gels successfully with the musical accompaniment, which at times is only sparse percussion. The imagery throughout the song is surreal, but makes a bizarre sort of sense.




"Lloyd, you know how stupid I am about moves." --Frederick Fellowes, "Noises Off"



Aaron // 9:21 PM Clix me!
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Friday, June 28, 2002:


So Intangible, So Surreal



Sorry it's been a few days since my last entry, but it was beastly hot this week, and humid. I'm not really used to +30 Celsius temperatures, and the house has been like an oven. The basement was the only haven(and the patio, in the evenings, once it had cooled off from the baking it got earlier in the day), and I spent a lot of time there. But writing blog entries just didn't appeal to me. I started one a couple of days ago, but lost my impetus. Not that I haven't been building up things to write about. I may save them for future entries. Also, I've probably forgotten half of them.

It's been nice and cool today, too(well, +22, but in comparison), mostly cloudy, a bit of rain, and cool. I was revelling in it when I got home. I can sit in the living room and it's not hot! I can go upstairs and it's not hot! We can consider cooking supper in the kitchen! I don't have to spend the entire evening downstairs! (Which I don't really mind, but Simon had had enough computer time today, and if I went downstairs he'd want to join me.)

Nicole's parents just left today, but they accomplished a lot while they were here. Obviously Nicole's mother realizes how hopeless we are at cleaning, so she ended up cleaning and waxing the kitchen floor, cleaning the ceiling fan, vacuuming every floor of the house, and washing our ground-floor windows. All in the morning, of course. It's weird to hear the vacuum at 8:00 AM.

They also cooked for us once or twice, and took us out for supper, and then didn't oblige us to entertain them while they were here. Of course they spent a lot of time with Simon, to free us for other pursuits. Which, in my case, was mostly being on my computer, doing Lorenai stuff or playing games, especially games that Simon doesn't like and doesn't let me play.

It'll be so nice when they move down here. They looked at some houses this time, but decided not to make any actual offers until January. Well, there was one they liked, but there was already an offer, and at least three others waiting. It's probably best not to leave the house unoccupied for almost a year anyway. I wondered if I should try to find a housesitter for them, but after my experience with ex-roommate Dave, I'm hesitant to inflict people I know but haven't lived with as other people's tenants.




Another reason I didn't write anything the last couple of days is that the Internet has been beastly slow. Wednesday night I tried to read my blogs and gave up after half an hour when only half a dozen of them had managed to finish loading. Last night I persevered, doing other things in other windows, and judiciously clicking "Stop" from time to time to see if it had loaded enough for me to read.

I'm not sure whether the problem is(or was, hopefully)at my end, or at my upstream provider, or what. It may even have been partially a Blogspot problem, but I don't know. I hope it disappears soon.




I finished Ten Monkeys, Ten Minutes on Tuesday, and it was pretty good. Peter Watts has a really mordant sense of humour, as stories like "Bulk Food" and "Ambassador" demonstrate. After that I decided to pick the late Timothy Findley's The Telling of Lies. I wasn't too thrilled with the last one of his I read, Famous Last Words, but this one is a mystery, if not quite a straightforward one. Not quite as gonzo and bizarre as, say, Norman Mailer's Tough Guys Don't Dance, but still strange. You can tell that it's like a "literary person" writing a mystery. But it's got all sorts of neat backstory, so I'm liking it.

I'm not making very swift progress in it, though, because I'm also reading Uncle Tungsten, which has had some really neat chapters on chemistry stuff. I should recommend this to my friend Darren, a.k.a. The Mad Alchemist. I think it's due back at the library next week(hopefully not this week!), so I thought I'd get cracking on it. And then I'm still going through A Clash of Kings, doing the names. I have this feeling that I want to finish doing that before I start A Storm of Swords, which I promised myself I could read in July(and Nicole is eager for me to catch up with her in the series, so we can talk about it at the same level).




Sometimes I wonder if I should do more cross-referencing in my blog. I see some people doing that, posting links to previous entries, but I usually don't bother. I sometimes go and look to see if I've mentioned something before, by going into Blogger and searching for a string in previous entries--that's a cool feature.

So maybe what I should do is go through all my old entries and mark down the topics that are mentioned in each one. I can put extra <A NAME="..."> tags in there, and then have a real "index" page with links to all of them. ...Yeah, right. That's gonna happen. But some part of me finds it appealing. It's one of those things that, if I was rich, I'd hire someone to do. Along with collecting names from all my fantasy/SF books, and scanning in the hundreds of pages of rare(but used)names from The Baby Name Countdown. Yeah.




So, it looks like the baby will not likely be born on July 14th, my birthday. No, it wasn't born this week. Don't you think I'd have mentioned it if it had? Maybe some of you thought that that's where I was for the last few days, trapped at the hospital for forty-eight hours of labour. I assure you that was not the case.

But anyway, Nicole saw her obstetrician again yesterday. She's still at 1 cm dilation, but apparently her actual girth has increased substantially, and so her obstetrician think the baby is quite ready to be born, and if she goes too much longer she should be induced. (Side note--what do they call that, "inducement" or "induction"? Neither really sounds right to me...) They were going to schedule her for the 5th of July, but since that is the very day that Sharna is leaving for B.C., Nicole decided we should go for the 4th instead. So there we have it--our baby will likely to "Born On The Fourth of July". Though there's still time for it to be born on Canada Day instead, which would be more patriotic.

(I saw part of that movie, but not all. I can picture it, though, at my dad's house, while he was married to his second wife Sue, playing gin with him while the movie was on. But I wasn't really paying attention.)

Or Tuesday might be even better, because then I would get to miss that whole week of work.* I don't think I'm going to get assigned anything particularly major to work on next week, because who knows when I'll be called off to attend the birth... Though since Nicole was induced last time as well, we're not really clear on what the signs of labour are, except for what it says in What To Expect When You're Expecting. And reading about it is, I'm sure, much different from actually experiencing it.




It's probably library CD time again... Today I listened to one of Tom Waits' new albums, "Alice". I wasn't expecting to be too impressed by it, given my lukewarm reaction to "Mule Variations" and general decrease in appreciation for his music since "Swordfishtrombone", and I was right. "Watch Her Disappear" was kind of interesting, and I suppose that "Kommienezuspadt" was arresting in a weird way, but in general I didn't pay it much attention.

A couple of semi-random picks--I'd been looking for "69 Boyz"(a band from the Billboard Challenge charts a few years ago, or maybe it was just the Heatseeker lists), and ended up trying out "666" and "69 Duster" instead. 666, I have discovered, is a weird kind of dance band, who seem to have German names but have a lot of Spanish lyrics, and song titles like "D.E.V.I.L.", "Prince of Darkness", and "The Demon". I waited until Dick & Edna were gone(they left work at 2:30)today to listen to that album, in case it was full of profanity or sometihng, but it wasn't too offensive that way. A bit dull and samey, though.

69 Duster is one of those things you may find only in Canada--an indie band that is straight-ahead rock & blues. I've run across a few of them on the library racks, and generally I find them undistinguished, because they seem like they haven't listened to any current music for thirty years or something. It's not my kind of thing at all. But it seems funny to me that these are the indie bands now, not "alternative" music anymore. At least, as I said, in Canada.




On to the countdown:

460. Sheryl Crow: Run, Baby, Run, from Tuesday Night Music Club

I think I first heard this song, before I had the album, on a mix tape that Sharna played in her car. That bass line has a very Beatlesesque feel to it, particularly like "I Want You(She's So Heavy)", playing those weird arpeggios.

459. Meryn Cadell: I Been Redeemed, from Angel Food For Thought

This is an odd one. I like "Angel Food For Thought" a lot, but it's hard to pick out individual songs from it--or "pieces" really, since most of them are largely spoken-word and some are quite short. In this one she pulls off a flawless Southern accent(I confess I can't localize whether it's Texas or Georgia or what, but it sounded good to me)and tells the story of her brief fling with Christianity, alternating with verses of a hymn, which she also sings really well, in self-counterpoint.




Sometimes I can't recall my mental blocks, so I try not to think about it.


Aaron // 10:31 PM Clix me!
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Monday, June 24, 2002:


Your Life Is On Fire



Okay, now about that wedding in Calgary, of Nicole's cousin Karen...

We drove down in the morning on Saturday, not wanting to pay for another night of the hotel room, and even opting to skip the wedding rehearsal because we figured that Simon wouldn't benefit that much from rehearsing his part. Not unless we could get a hundred extras to play guests and watch him come down the aisle, which is probably the worst part from his point of view. We managed to get out of the house about quarter after eight...and then went back for Simon's jacket(which I believe we never used, but you never know, it could have rained), so it was really closer to 8:30 when we actually left.

We brought the baby seat for the car and a couple of sleepers with us. You know, as part of that magical ritual whereby you can avoid the occurrence of a particular event by being completely prepared for it. Not that you can falsify it by replaying the same block of time over completely unprepared, and have the event happen. This is one of those things that How We Know What Ain't So discussed. Anyway, in general it's better to be prepared, if you're willing to do the work, and, well, Nicole was. If I'd been left with it, it might not have gotten done...

Nicole's parents just followed us pretty much all the way, because they don't have a cell phone but still wanted to be aware if we suddenly had to take the next exit with a hospital sign on it. We might have startled them once when we had to pull over...for Nicole to retrieve one of Simon's toys from where he'd dropped it and she couldn't reach it from the front seat.

It was, unfortunately, hot and sunny for the drive down, and since it was entirely in the morning, we were driving south, and I drove the whole time, I was shone on the whole time and got very hot. That night my left cheek even looked a little red, but it hasn't really bothered me. Normally I wouldn't have driven the whole time, but Calgary's really only three hours, and we're used to six or eight-hour trips up to Grande Prairie or Hawk Hills. Also, I told Nicole I'd try to do most of the driving while she was hugely pregnant, to save her having to wedge herself behind the steering wheel. After the baby, of course, she gets to drive a whole bunch.*

Anyway, we got to the hotel no problem following Karen's directions, and had time for some lunch(at McDonald's, alas, because the hotel had no cafe and the Tim Horton's we originally headed towards was an evil drive-thru-only with no tables)and some ablutions before we had to leave for the hotel. See, the wedding was to start at 3:00, and Karen had phoned Friday night to tell us to be there at 2:30 to get Simon ready. So we left at 2:00, figuring that would give us enough time to get there.

Someone had told us that there was some construction in Calgary and some of Karen's directions(copiously described, and even timed and measured)wouldn't work anymore, but Karen's mother, Nicole's Aunt Ann, just told us to avoid McKnight Blvd. So we headed off in blissful ignorance, until we started to see signs indicating that there was no access to Crowchild Trail...which was a major portion of our route, and more importantly took us across the river. Sure enough, the access ramps were blocked off.

So Nicole frantically got off the map and we tried to figure out a route. Nicole wanted to keep going over to Sarcee, which took us out of our way but would eventually get us there, but her parents convinced us to turn around and go back to see if we could find another bridge. But somehow we missed two or three other opportunities, until finally we got to Centre Street. Just go up that to 16th Avenue North, and then we could get onto Crowchild from there.

But Centre Street is, well, central. It goes through downtown, it goes across a gorgeous bridge with lions on it, but it goes very, very slowly, with frequent traffic lights which were happy to obligingly turn red for us. 2:30 came and went. We finally got to 16th Ave N, turned onto that, and went slowly for a little while longer. (I remembered this from previous Calgary trips--16th Ave N is technically part of the Trans-Canada Highway, but if so is probably the slowest-moving section.) Then Crowchild, which also had a segment under construction and moving very slowly, and finally onto another fragment of Sarcee(as our map called it, though Karen's directions called it Silver Springs Gate). We ended up following Nicole's Uncle Sebus and cousin Michelle(who we had encountered briefly at the hotel)by this point, which is always good because you can double-check your directions. We got to the church pretty much at 3:00.

Now the last Calgary wedding we went to, for Nicole's cousin Carla, we also got there exactly at the time of the ceremony, but there was also a funeral going on at the same church and so the parking lot was atrociously full. I had to send Nicole and Simon in while I found a parking spot, and made it into the church just in time, or even a little late. I ended up on the other side of the church, though. We said that we didn't want it to happen again...and at least there was ample parking this time and we got to sit together.

The church was nice and cool, though, a relief after the oven that had been the car. Sharna and Shirlene were Karen's bridesmaids, and Simon and Karen(and Shirlene's)nephew Kye were ringbearers. Kye didn't want to go down the aisle with Auntie Shirlene, though(despite his extra rehearsal time), so he went down with his mom Gayle instead. Simon went down with Sharna fine, and then ran back up the aisle to Nicole.

The sermon was interesting...some of you may be vaguely aware of the G-8 Conference happening somewhere around here pretty soon. It's at Kananaskis, a resort somewhere between Calgary and Banff. We went there one Easter when I was working for the Canadian Network for Space Research(which sounds more impressive than it is--I spent a lot of time trying to get magnetohydrodynamic simulation programs to run faster, for people studying the aurorae--when I wasn't goofing off on alt.callahans or talk.bizarre), and it was pretty nice. Anyway, the priest tried to draw an analogy between the relations between the G-8 countries and the "G-2" that Karen and David were about to form. It was a little bit amusing, and I kept meaning to ask Karen what she thought of it, but never got the chance.

Then it was back to the hotel for a little while before the reception. Nicole's brother Wayne and Sharna's husband Nick came back with us, taking a much simpler return route supplied by Carla. I'd never really been that far south in Calgary--most of the people I know there live on the north side, so I'd pretty much only been in downtown--but now I've gone down to 61st Ave S, as far as we went before doubling back up to the hotel. Still, only three turns, so that makes it shorter in my book. (We found out later that they had kind of wanted Simon for pictures, but it was really hot and Kye didn't have a fun time, so on the whole we're glad we didn't have to do that.)

The reception itself was on the Calgary Stampede grounds, where I'd never been before. It was pretty close to the hotel, but a bit confusing to navigate around, and especially to figure out where we should park. But through ingenuity, determination, and luck we managed to find the entrance just before all the people who just took cabs from the hotel.

Gayle was the M.C. for the evening, and she acquitted herself admirably, with amusing stories and anecdotes not just about Karen and David, but everyone at the head table, not to mention Simon and Kye. All three sisters seem to be really good speakers, anyway. We were at Table #2, so we got to go eat right after the head table. But there was the one problem endemic to these kind of catered buffet dinners--the roast beef.

Now, I'm not a big fan of roast beef myself, because it can be very dry if overcooked, but there are some good ones out there too. This one, though, was practically blue rare. The outside rim was brown, but inside it was red and bloody. I didn't see the carver offering anyone a choice of rare vs. medium or anything, so I took the slice I was given; Nicole was more clever and got the end, which was better cooked. I slathered my bloody slice of meat with gravy, not something I normally do, but in hopes it would disguise the blood. Not until my plate was full and I was headed back did I see another entree, which looked like either fish or chicken. I would probably have been better off with fish, which I hate(though it did turn out to be chicken). But I soldiered on through it, because I'm a stoic. Thank god for the salads, and the dessert.

Toasts and such continued, including one read by the groomsman but really written by David's first choice as best man, who had been unable to make it over from Australia. Did I mention that David is from Australia? His father is American, but his mother is Australian, and he's lived in both countries(and now Canada). David's father(and best man)did a speech as well, which...well, you could tell he spent a lot of time on it, unfortunately. But apparently he had "lacked the time to make it shorter", as the saying goes. It was interesting, but a little bit sappy, and went on for a long time. Smiles at the head table became more and more fixed. But finally it ended, and Gayle took control again.

An entirely new "make the new couple kiss" mechanism was introduced, too. Clinking glasses has gone the way of the dinosaur, apparently, and the usual replacement is the song with the word "love" in it somewhere. One wedding I remember actually had a cowboy hat you could toss money into, which didn't bother me, but others thought a bit crass. And at Carla's you had to sink a golf ball on a tiny...well, green, I guess I'd have to call it.

But Karen(supposedly David didn't want to do the kiss-on-demand thing at all)gave each table a container of Play-Doh, and you had to make something creative out of it and bring it up to the head table. Nicole made an elephant(one of her specialties for Simon), and we also had a kangaroo, a wedding cake(toothpicks were also supplied), and other things I've already forgotten. But that is a cool idea.

We got a little bit of a chance to chat with Michelle, who is one of my favourites of Nicole's cousins but we see quite rarely because she lives in the States. She's married and living in San Jose, CA with her husband Eric(who works for Microsoft, but I don't hold it against him). He's been up a couple of times, but apparently he hates to fly, a problem exacerbated by September 11th, so we may not end up seeing him again unless we go down to California to visit. (Not on the agenda anytime soon, though I hear that ConJose is a terrific SF convention...) She's apparently starting on studying to be an acupuncturist, which I was surprised to hear takes at least four and a half years. Well, at least they don't let just anybody poke you with needles...* I told her about Blogger, and she said she's been meaning to start up a web page, but she doesn't know how and Eric hasn't gotten around to it yet. So maybe she'll be online soon...that would be cool.

I better wind down here. Let me just mention that Wayne gave Nicole a Canadian Joke Book for a belated birthday present. It's a bit uneven, trying to be comprehensive by including Canadian jokes regardless of quality. It was put together by John Robert Colombo, renowned Canadian anthologist and almanacker(if that's a word). Some of it's funny, and if I get really desperate for material some day maybe I'll post some of it here. Not the Knock-Knock jokes, though. They're either not funny or too topical for anyone outside of Canada(who didn't grow up in the seventies and eighties, even)to get.




I finished Great Work of Time this morning, and it was pretty good, and none the less so for being short. The timelines are a bit mind-twisting sometimes, but it was very thought-provoking. Now I'm finally started on the Peter Watts collection, rereading "A Niche" for the third or fourth time. That's a great story, that first got me to sit up and take notice of him, and it also ties into his novel Starfish, and thence into the sequel Maelstrom. I enjoyed them even though the mere thought of extreme ocean depths give me the willies. I've probably read most of them before in OnSpec magazine or Tesseracts anthologies, but I'll go through them again anyway.

Last week I listened to Andreas Vollenweider's "Cosmopoly". I first heard of this guy because they had one of his albums, "Down To The Moon", at the Grande Prairie Art Gallery the summer I worked there. That one is closer to pure harp music, a little jazzed up, but still interesting to listen to. I also liked his "Book of Roses", which was a bit more diverse. But this one is more world music, with tons of guest stars with bizarre ethnic instruments, and quite frankly it did little for me. Ah, well.

Today I listened to "America Town" by Five For Fighting; I kind of like their song "Superman", and I like their name(which is probably a reference to a hockey penalty, but whatever), so I looked up the album. It's perfectly creditable rock, whatever the current mainstream genre is called these days, somewhere between Matchbox 20 and Counting Crows. Not sure if it'll go on the wishlist yet, but it was pleasant enough.

I also started in last week(before I had to actually use my CD drive to install something at work, and never got back to it)listening to Youssou N'Dour's "Set". This is one I got from Robert Christgau's recommendation list, though I really liked N'Dour's song "7 Seconds" which he did with Neneh Cherry. This album wasn't very reminiscent of that, though--must've been more Cherry. I know that Christgau is endlessly fascinated with African ethnic music, but I confess I am not. But I will give it another chance(I renewed it for another three week), and will try to get through the whole thing this time.




Another installment of the countdown of my 750 favourite songs:

462. Dave Stewart & The Spiritual Cowboys: Cat With A Tale

I only half-liked this song when I first heard it(on the band's self-titled album), because it has kind of a weak melody line for my tastes, but it later grew on me. Now I like the mystical, non-sequitur tale, and even come to terms with the melody, which is somewhat oblique and rarely resolves back down to the tonic. (Whoa, I didn't know I knew words like that!*)

461. Melissa Etheridge: My Back Door

I first really got into Melissa Etheridge with her "Brave & Crazy" album, mostly because of "No Souvenirs", but I like this song as well, about a search for lost innocence. I'm not sure at the end whether she's found it again, or whether she's just deluding herself, which makes it interesting because every time I draw a different conclusion.




I got contact lenses, but I only use them when I read, so I got flipups. --Steven Wright



Aaron // 10:14 PM Clix me!
______________________

Sunday, June 23, 2002:


Always Cry For Love, Never Cry For Pain



Well, we're back, and I don't know how much of things I'm going to post right now. We were only away for a little over a day--we left Edmonton Saturday morning at about 8:30, and left Calgary Sunday morning at about the same time--but it still feels like I lost most of my weekend, and writing a blog entry is not how I want to spend the last part of it. So maybe I'll cover the actual wedding stuff tomorrow night or something.

It's really hot here right now(it got up 30 C today), and humid too; I'm sitting down in the basement and I can practically feel the humidity in the air around my arms. It's worse upstairs, but it was windy earlier, and we got all the windows open and the fan on, so maybe it will be okay.

Last night our hotel room was pretty hot, but then we foolishly hadn't tried to turn the air conditioning on. We're just not used to it being there at all. But eventually we discovered that it was hooked up to the thermostat, and we just had to select the temperature it should cool things down to. In Fahrenheit. Now, this is a Canadian hotel, and we've been metric for at least twenty years now. I learned Celsius, and I know how to convert to Fahrenheit, but I shouldn't have to goddamn figure it out to set my air conditioning... Not impressed.




I also got an ear infection last week. It was a bit itchy and stuff early in the week, but Friday I realized that it was definitely becoming sore and tender in a few places, and uncomfortable to chew. So I sacrificed part of Friday evening to going down to the medical clinic to get some antibiotics.

It actually wasn't too bad. I've gone in there in the morning, and after work, and the waiting room's been full, an up to an hour wait. This time there were only a few people(though probably only one doctor), and the wait was quite reasonable.

My biggest concern was what to read, really. When I got home from work I had about thirty pages left in The Bourne Ultimatum, and I didn't think that would be enough. Nicole's parents arrived in time for supper, too. But I managed to finish the Ludlum book before I went off to the clinic. I still want to read the Peter Watts book soon, though, so I grabbed the shortest book on my bookshelf, John Crowley's Great Work of Time. It's only 134 pages, and seems even thinner. I'm actually over halfway, though I haven't read it much today.

But anyway, I saw the doctor after a fairly short wait, and he took a look at my air and initially told me that it was just earwax and I should get it cleaned out(after softening it with some olive oil, apparently). Then I told him that it actually hurt to chew, so he realized, yes, it was an infection, and I should get some antibiotics. Sulfadone-based, this time, apparently, instead of penicillin. Which may be good, because I had an ear infection a year or two ago, and the first antibiotic they tried just did not work. This one seems to be doing a good enough job.

But it annoys me that this doctor was all ready to dismiss me as someone who just had earwax buildup. I told him I had an ear infection, because I'd had one recently and I knew what it felt like. I guess doctors don't in general trust laymen's self-diagnosis, but honestly, I knew what I was talking about. I know what pressure on the inside of my eardrum feels like.

Right now I can barely bring my back teeth together on the right-hand side without it hurting, but at least chewing(if I don't exert too much pressure)is not painful. Last time, while on the ineffective antibiotic, it got bad enough that I almost couldn't eat. Each chew felt like it was pumping up more pressure on the eardrum until it burst. I love music a whole lot, as you might have gathered, and the prospect of deafness terrifies me. So I'm glad something's being done about it.

It would be nice if I could parlay this into some sick days, but I just don't seem to feel that bad. And I've been sick too much in the past year anyway.




So, back to books. I've gotten a few chapters into Uncle Tungsten, and it's quite interesting, being equal parts autobiography and chemistry. I really should finish Great Work of Time soon, though, and go on to Ten Monkeys, Ten Minutes. I'm also still sort of going through Billion Year Spree, and I confess that I've started doing the character lists for A Clash of Kings. That's mostly what I've been reading today. And it's really making me want to read A Storm of Swords. I promised I'd wait until July, and that's only another week... I wanted to get more read in June, though, the Tesseracts8 anthology(which may take a while), or The Telling of Lies by the recently-deceased Timothy Findley. And we've got Permanence by Karl Schroeder out from the library, too.

So, as usual, I am not suffering from a dearth of reading material; I am just suffering from a dearth of focus.




I don't think I've mentioned that I finally managed to stop(at least for now)watching the nightly "Friends" reruns.

It probably started mostly when I was down in Calgary, and the Calgary A-Channel was playing them out of sync, so I was a couple of weeks ahead when I got back to Edmonton. But I have seen the third and fourth seasons a lot of times now, and surprisingly I discovered that I didn't need to see them again. I did watch a few of the [CK]athy episodes, because I think Paget Brewster is really cute, and it's just in general one of my favourite plotlines, but with the various commitments last week I didn't even get to see all of that.

I may just wait until they start rerunning the most recent season, something I haven't seen quite as many times. I did like watching the first two seasons again, but the third is starting to wear on me.

So unless we feel like watching "Whose Line Is It Anyway?" on Thurday night, we're not watching anything at all on TV this summer. Maybe after the baby's born, when we won't be hitting as many movie dates, we'll rent more movies or something. There are a lot we wanted to see that we missed and could catch up on. There's supposed to be a few more reality shows coming out, which of course don't tempt me at all, so no fear there.

I haven't checked recently to see if the "Babylon 5: Legend of The Rangers" series is coming to any channel we get, or even if it's still on. I hope it is, but after the fate of "Crusade" it wouldn't surprise me if it also got dropped. Still, I'd like to see good things happening for Alex Zahara, if nothing else. Maybe that other series he's in is doing well.




Okay, now it's time for a couple more countdown entries:

464. Grapes of Wrath: Breaks My Heart

This is from their first(I think)album, "September Bowl of Green"; it's a depressing story of a guy who's feeling rejected by his long-distance lover, and contains many repetitions the memorable metaphor "My heart is a cannonball", referring to its extreme heaviness. But it's got a nice bassline, and while it may be a bit self-pitying, it does have a certain resonance.

463. Prince: Sometimes It Snows In April

This is the closer to his album "Parade", and while some of the references might make more sense if I watched "Under The Cherry Moon"(not that it gives me the slightest urge to do so), it is a very touching song about losing a precious friend. Though I have to laugh about the title. In Edmonton, it always snows in April. The equinox is just a formality. (The Northern Pikes had a more Canadian angle on it, with "Snow In June" instead.) I thought Minneapolis might be far enough north that they'd have similar winter weather, like I hear the Dakotas do, but maybe it's too close to the Great Lakes or something.




Why does it take the tears of a woman to see how men are? --Aztec Camera



Aaron // 10:08 PM Clix me!
______________________

Thursday, June 20, 2002:


It Makes You Angry And You Don't Know Why



My goodness, three days without an entry. And this weekend doesn't look good either, since we'll be heading down to Calgary on Saturday, coming back on Sunday, and Friday Nicole's parents arrive.

No real good excuse for the past couple of days, but I decided to exercise my freedom to not have to write anything, I guess. I've been trying to go to bed a bit earlier, so that means my list of "things to do before I go to bed" has to be shortened. And I guess I felt more like finishing my list of characters from A Game of Thrones than I did writing here. Now you know where you stand.

We went to see "Spider-Man" on Wednesday; we'd been originally planning to go on Tuesday, but Sharna's schedule changed, and Wednesday was easier. Also, she finally(and just in time)got her Alberta car insurance reinstated, after being out-of-province for a year, so she could come over here, saving us driving time in our schedule. However, there was a cooking misfire involving the quiche we had for supper, and Spider-Man was on at 6:50, so at first it looked like we wouldn't make it. But by eschewing concessions, we made it there pretty much on time, maybe missing part of one preview(The Hulk! Whoo-hoo! And with Jennifer Connelly as Betsy!), and that's it.

I think I liked it better than Nicole. Nicole was never much of a comics person; I didn't read that much Spider-Man, but I knew the basics, and I recognized all the elements of the "origin" story. But basically I was willing to cut it a lot of slack, and I noticed a number of things that might have bothered other people but I was able to swallow. I did wonder where he was supposed to make all this webbing from, especially since we saw him skipping several meals. After "tangling" with the Green Goblin, he should've been starving.

I'm also not sure that Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst quite cut it, facially, for their respective roles. They both seemed to have...I dunno, wide faces. Many years ago I remember hearing that Tom Cruise had been cast, and he would've been better. Not sure who I would picture as Mary Jane... Definitely lots of room for sequels, of course.

It does seem that the movie world is going wholesale into franchises. It's like fantasy or young-adult novels--you can't sell a single movie, you have to sell a whole series. Harry Potter, Star Wars, The Lord of The Rings, X-Men, Spider-Man... Sequelitis has been rampant for a while, but now it seems that more movies are coming out with sequels practically written in, because they come from a source that is full of potential story ideas. The two sequels to "The Bourne Identity" are also apparently planned as movies, for instance. (They'll have to take a few years off the age of the characters--Bourne is about fifty by the third book.)

Is this a bad thing? Well, only as long as it squeezes out other movies that may also be worth seeing. In a recent SF Canada mailing list discussion, some people were claiming that TV was better than movies these days. I pointed out that it was probably just because it was easier, with digital cable, for a wider variety of TV shows to get distributed than it was an equal variety of movies. And that's it in a nutshell. Once that gets licked, then maybe things will swing back the other way.

Every medium is a little bit different. You can watch a TV show in about the same time it takes to listen to an album, which is less time than watching a movie, and much less time than reading an average book. Albums and books are portable, though, and better for interrupting in the middle and then restarting, more random-access. But books lack the immediacy of the other media. Albums are easier to experience over and over again, and can be on in the background while doing other things. So the respective industries just can't work the same way; they have to use different paradigms.

Or take comic books. They take less time than books, they're fairly easy to mass-produce, but can be difficult to get distributed. You can self-publish them and still be respectable, like music, but unlike books. But the medium as a whole is a bit behind in the "respect" department, because people think of "X-Men" instead of "Love & Rockets". "Ghost World" got made into a movie; I think it would be way cool if something like that happened with L&R. Definitely something I'd do if I was omnipotent--maybe a Love & Rockets TV series. Done right, of course, because I'd be omnipotent. I've already mentioned the Wheel of Time TV series, same deal, right? Not to mention a revived "Twin Peaks". And NO MORE "Survivor". Enough is freakin' enough.




I finally started reading Oliver Sacks' Uncle Tungsten, mainly because The Bourne Ultimatum is just too hard to pick up and read for two minutes at a time. It's autobiographical, as its subtitle Memories of A Chemical Boyhood would suggest. So it could be interesting, or not. I might find the chemistry parts the most interesting... But I am ready to be finished Bourne sometime soon. I'm down to the last hundred pages, though, so maybe it's not out of line to expect to finish it before the Calgary trip. Except then I don't want to take a library book like Ten Monkeys, Ten Minutes out of town with me...maybe I can find another quick book to read, or just not take a book. No, that's too scary. But I could start om my list of characters for A Clash of Kings...




I've decided that I may need to get some more memory, and that might fix my problems with "Hot Date". And with some other stuff that just generally runs slower than my machine at work. There I have a P3 500, here I have a Celeron 433, but there are major performance differences a lot of the time. But I only have 64M RAM here, and I think I've got 128M there. Also, here I run Win 98 SE, there Win 2000.

But at least it isn't quite time for a whole new computer. Because it's always a pain transferring everything over(though I could at least use CD-Rs this time, instead of floppies or Laplink). Though I think it'll be time to upgrade sometime in the next year or two. Though I've heard such bad things about Windows XP that I'm reluctant, if that's what I'll have to use... Well, maybe it's not as bad as it sounds.




Downing the count once again:

466. Bruce Cockburn: Grim Travellers

This is the first track from his excellent "Humans" album, in his frequent format of a compelling series of images from around the world. Many of Cockburn's best songs show(in the words of another song from the same album)"the extremes of what humans can be", and in places like Central America or Tibet where it's closer to the surface, where the veneer of civilization has been partially stripped away. Yes, it can be very political(I was thinking recently of how relevant a song from twenty years ago like "The Trouble With Normal" is in these days of American Homeland Security), but I don't think that's always the main aim.

465. Phil Collins: In The Air Tonight

Phil Collins's level of suckage has increased drastically over the years, but back on "Face Value" he was often pretty decent, and this song is still quite powerful, especially when the drums come in(as opposed to the drum machine)near the end. Of course, he used the same trick later on Genesis's "Mama", but it still works here.




All's well that ends.


Aaron // 9:45 PM Clix me!
______________________

Monday, June 17, 2002:


You Ask Me Where To Begin



There may have been a slight glitch in service earlier this evening. In trying to set up the Ye Olde Rusty Lantern blog, particularly in trying a new template for it, I inadvertently deleted this blog's template instead. Luckily I was able to reconstruct it from an archive page not yet republished, so it should be substantially the same as before. That was forty-five minutes that I didn't need to lose. And I still haven't gotten the YORL blog working quite the way I want it to. I remember when I used to be an HTML expert...it was before they introduced the <TABLE&gr; tag. I don't even know what <DIV> does. I may just leave it for the night, so nobody look at it. Anyone who wants to design/donate a template, feel free.




Sunday was Father's Day, of course; I guess it would be my third. Nicole let me sleep in, but I woke up with a headache that didn't really recede until sometime today--I don't think my head hurts abnormally when I bend over anymore, but it certainly did earlier today. Acetaminophen and acetylsalicyclic acid alike were powerless to stop its depredations, but I tried to just ignore it anyway.

Nicole made up a menu of the "Circumlocution Cafe" from which I could select my breakfast. I opted for the "fried batter discs" with "citrus squeezings", a "mini-trident" and a "blunt dagger"(I think--working from memory here because I am too lazy to consult the original). I almost forgot to order a "flattened ceramic disc, large" to eat it from.

Then we went swimming at the Millwoods Rec Centre. They have a wave pool there, perhaps not as majestic as the specimen at West Edmonton Mall, but nonetheless respectable. Nicole and I took turns, one with Simon and the other dashing and splashing through the waves. Swimming is one of the few forms of exercise that I like, and I should really do it more often.

Simon liked it; I don't know if I mentioned, but we got a kiddie pool for the backyard that he quite enjoys. We would let him go in it more often, but the "swimmie" diapers are a bit too expensive to go through them like that. Maybe in our own pool we could let him use regular diapers, or maybe not. It'll be nice once he gets toilet trained. Anyway, he liked to go into the shallow part of wave pool and try to "get" the waves as they came in. But he also liked playing with the little plastic boats and watering cans in the kids' pool when the waves weren't going.

But supper was the really entertaining part. Nicole had decided to try to make Mu Shu Pork from a recipe in the cookbook I bought her a few weeks ago. It was a weird recipe to make--there are three separate items, the marinade for the pork, the rehydration of the shiitake mushrooms, and the dough for the little pancakes, that had to wait twenty minutes each at one stage of the preparation. But when it got down to frying up the pancakes and the pork and vegetables, it was frantic as all hell.

I enjoyed it mostly because I was the Voice of Time. The pancakes were supposed to be fried for thirty seconds on each side. So I sat and watched the kitchen clock and counted down. From the angle of my chair it's sometimes hard to see exactly where the second hand is pointing, so I just counted ticks. And when I got down to five, I started counting out loud, so Nicole could stop whatever she was doing and go flip the pancake, or start another one. It was most fun because there was no moral judgement involved at all. I was merely the inexorable Voice of Time, unconcerned about whether she was busy or not because the pancake was going to burn if she didn't attend to it right away.

I could never handle that kind of cooking myself. I'm an indifferent cook in general, and I like to have everything prepared and sitting ready to use for the few dishes I actually make, like cheese fondue. (I make it because Nicole doesn't like it, and I only get to eat it when she's away. I might try it while she's in the hospital with the baby, and see how Simon likes it.) We did discover that you can make the pancakes up to two days ahead of time, and maybe that's what'll happen next time.

Anyway, they turned out really well, and tasted pretty much like the ones I'd had before, from restaurants. Maybe that was the result of the hoisin sauce(which we had bought in a jar, so we didn't make it ourselves), but what the heck, it was good. So we will definitely try it again.




Tuesday night Sharna & Nick will babysit and we'll go out to see a movie, probably "Spider-Man". (Is that hyphenated or just one word?) And now there's like three more that I want to see all coming out, too. I confess that I watched a lot of "Scooby-Doo" as a kid, so I'm very interested in that one. And I still haven't managed to see "Attack of The Clones", either. Will George Lucas's requirements for theatre quality hold even for the $1 theatres, I wonder? Because otherwise I may have to wait until we get a DVD player or something. Oh, well, I've heard enough about it that I don't feel like I'm missing much.

I'm still working my way through The Bourne Ultimatum, which seems to have slowed down a bit, or maybe it's just that I don't have an uninterrupted stretch of time to read much of it. It's easier to pick up one of the non-fiction books I'm reading instead if I have a couple of minutes, like Brian Aldiss's Billion Year Spree or Pick One or Uncle Tungsten.

I went through and listened to most of the CDs I bought on Saturday--I only got to listen to half of "El Oso" at work before I had to leave, but apart from that I've been through them all. The 10cc one skipped a bit too much in my CD player, and annoyingly the database where Windows Media Player gets its information didn't have track info. I can't wait for some future CD standard(when they're willing to allow people to play CDs in their computers again)that actually encodes track titles on the CD, so you don't need to go through all this crap of having to enter them yourself. I use Deluxe CD Player at work, and...well, when was the last time any of the hardcoded links to CD song title databases ever worked? It's annoying.

Anyway, the Mansun album, "Six", is kind of weird, but good. There aren't that many albums that have both songs over three minutes and songs over nine minutes on them. But they don't fall into a real pigeonhole of sound--they're not grunge or "sludge"(a name I heard recently for all those post-grunge Pearl Jam-inspired hard rock bands), they're not quirky like Cake or Soul Coughing, but they're...well, they're hard to describe. Especially since I was distracted while the album was playing, so I didn't get a good listen to all of it.

The XTC "Apple Venus Vol. 1" was decent, with "River of Orchids" and "Green Man" being standout tracks musically, and "Your Dictionary" being quite interesting lyrically. The Tom Petty and 10cc albums were a bit uneven, but may yield up more of their assets on later listens. Or so I always tell myself.




And now it's on to more countdown stuff:

468. Jon & Vangelis: I'll Find My Way Home

Jon Anderson & Vangelis didn't always create the most memorable work ever, but in many ways they were better together than separately, and this song is probably the pinnacle of their collaboration. It's got a nice crescendo building up throughout the song, and Jon's lyrics are quite inspirational.

467. The Beatles: Got To Get You Into My Life

One of my favourites of the mid-Beatles period(which I privately consider to be more or less from "Rubber Soul" through to "Revolver"), one of Paul McCartney's best. Good use of horns, especially.




The only emperor is the emperor of ice-cream.


Aaron // 11:02 PM Clix me!
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Saturday, June 15, 2002:


Divide & Dissolve



I can't believe how much I lucked out today. Frequent readers might have gathered that I pick up a lot of stuff from the library booksale table, or at least intermittently. But today they had a big box full of CDs they were discarding, for $1 each. I bought half a dozen, and three of them were even from my wishlist! The other three were ones I had listened to and considered okay, and certainly worth picking up for a freakin' dollar.

The three wishlist items were "The Masterplan" by Oasis, "Six" by Mansun, and "El Oso" by Soul Coughing. I don't remember the Mansun one very much, though I think I checked it out because of a song on a Music World chain store sampler tape from a few years ago. But I always look for "El Oso" when I go into music stores, and it's always way overpriced, so I'm tickled pink to have it now. (Hopefully it's not too scratched--the drawback of library discards.) And I was just thinking about "The Masterplan" last week, probably because I was listening to "(What's The Story)Morning Glory". I've checked out other Oasis albums, but those were the only ones I really liked--"Definitely Maybe" and "Be Here Now" didn't do much for me. Do they have other ones out? I don't even know the status of the group. When we were in Grande Prairie the fourteen-year-old daughter of a friend was a huge fan of them.

The other three I got were "Echo" by Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, "The Best of The Early Years" by 10cc, and "Apple Venus Vol. 1" by XTC. "Echo", well, I basically agree with one review that said it pretty much sounded like Tom Petty and didn't break any new ground, and it didn't make much impression on my previous listen. 10cc--well, I'm a big Godley & Creme fan, but I've never understood the 10cc mystique that much, but then I haven't heard that much, so maybe this will help. And I think "Apple Venus" was borderline, so I'm perfectly happy to own it. (I really liked the song "Boarded Up" on Vol. 2.)

I almost picked up a copy of "Learning To Crawl" by the Pretenders as well, even though I already have it on vinyl. But it was, again, not in good enough condition to warrant it. In the long term, in which I become really rich, I want to have my entire music collection on CD or something, but it's not really gonna happen right now. And my "Learning To Crawl" copy is perfectly decent sound quality for my purposes. (Now if it was "Black Sea" by XTC, or Peter Gabriel's first self-titled album...those I don't have decent copies of. Or some other tapes that have died and I am being mostly unsuccessful replacing on MP3--Dream Academy's self-titled, or, even worse, Don Dixon's "Most of The Girls Like To Dance But Only Some of The Boys Do".)




I've alluded a few times to a game called Ye Olde Rusty Lantern, and I think now I will try to post more about it. It's a storytelling game I became acquainted with through Ackanomic. A search just now through archives of old Ackanomic information(which I have about 70 megabytes of, apparently--probably more, because I suspect some of the email archives are not included there)tells me that Jason "Mohammed" Orendorff introduced it to the game, and that it was apparently based on a game called "Once Upon A Time". I was able to find a few reviews of that game, and it does sound slightly similar, but more specifically fairy-tale oriented in the subject matter.

Anyway, in a nutshell, here's how it works. The game is run by a Barkeep, who has a bar with several empty Benches. Each Bench can be occupied by a Bard(all these capitalized words are official game terms, if that was not clear). Each Bard has a number of Cards, which contain story elements; the Cards are concealed from other players, though of course like any game you can always show them if you wish.* A specified number of these cards are dealt out at the beginning(I think we used seven).

During eir turn, a Bard must attempt to write a short segment of an ongoing story. This segment must use the story element on one of the Bard's Cards, which is then revealed and played.

Then the Barkeep rules on the validity of the attempted play. E may disqualify the play if the story element is inadequately incorporate--for instance, it should actually be present, not just mentioned--or if the new segment is a non sequitur, incomprehensible, too long or short, or no card was specified. E may also decide that the story element thus introduced is a Loose End, and must be dealt with in some way before the story can be ended. If there are any Loose Ends, then the Barkeep may declare that the current segment tied them up, and give the Bard an Ale(just a meaningless token of approval, really)for each Loose End tied up.

After a Bard plays, it remains eir turn, but at any time before eir next turn, another Bard may Interrupt. A Bard can Interrupt if e has a story-element card which is mentioned(the criteria for mentioning are much looser)in the first Bard's story segment. (I believe that a Bard can Interrupt based on a story segment which is rejected, but I'm not sure.) The Barkeep rules whether the Interruption is successful, and if it is, then it is now the Interrupting Bard's turn. After one Interruption, there can be no further Interruptions until at least one play has been made, and it would probably be best if only one Interrupt attempt were allowed at a time.

If a Bard's play is refused, or if e explicitly passes, or defaults by delaying a certain amount of time, then play passes to the next Bard. If the play is refused, then that card is gone, but the Bard receives two more; otherwise, the Bard receives one more card, but e can also discard a card while explicitly passing. If an Interruption is successful, then the Interrupted Bard receives a card; if the Interruption is unsuccessful, then the would-be Interrupting Bard loses the card e attempted to interrupt with, and gets two more.

If a Bard uses eir last card, and there are Loose Ends remaining, then e may still play without using cards, but must tie up at least one Loose End with each play, and may still be Interrupted. If it is still eir turn when all Loose Ends are resolved, then e has won, and may finish the story howsoever e pleases.

Those are semi-formal rules; there may still be some Ackanomic rules up somewhere, or I can post them.

For, you see,
Erik came to me a while ago with the suggestion that I "Barkeep" a game of YORL sometime. I was somewhat willing, but then he became busy and nothing much has happened on his end; so I have decided that maybe I should just go ahead and try to get something set up. I thought that doing it as a private collaborative blog would be ideal, so I've set one up. Any of my readers who are interested in participating, let me know. I envision the possibility of multiple games going on, if this catches on, because I wouldn't want more than, say, eight Bards in a game. But I'll settle for three.*

I have a big list of potential story-elements, but they are a fairly mixed bag of SF and fantasy and everything in between. I would be willing to consider proposals for different mixes as well, in case people wanted to play a serious mainstream game(and that could be enforced by the Barkeep).

So if you are interested, let me know, and I will send you an invitation to the YORL Blog, and when there's a few people interested, we can get started, because people can always join later. It'll be fun!




Here's a link to a really funny site, full of hilarious IRC quotes, courtesy of Daryl at tpoh.org Twice I've gone to read it now and have nearly busted my gut laughing. It almost makes me want to spend time on IRC, but I've never really been much for that.

I have recently considered dipping my toe into Usenet again, though, reappearing on alt.callahans and alt.pub.coffeehouse.amethyst and talk.bizarre. Some of the writing exercises I've done for the Cult of Pain would make excellent posts for talk.bizarre. I rarely actually post first-person accounts like this on talk.bizarre, because my life is in general not bizarre enough to be worth putting there. But it is a great place to put story fragments and exercises I don't know what to do with.

At the very least, I'm considering trolling there for blog readers. I'm sure there are some people in each place who remember me and who would like to read more about what's up with me. I might get another couple of regular readers, anyway. At the moment I'm at about 13 hits a day, over half of those still Google searches.

One recent one was actually for "Den of Ubiquity" and "Peter Watts". That's pretty specific--who the heck was that? Those kind of searches always puzzle me, because the searchers don't come forward and identify themselves. Unless that's like the title of a Peter Watts story or something...




I spent a lot of time writing up that YORL thing, and researching the origin of the game. I ended up burning some stuff onto CD so I could unzip my Ackanomic stuff--well, I didn't need to, but now I have over a gigabyte free on that drive, so I feel better about decompressing things.

What else...oh, I'm reading The Bourne Ultimatum and actually enjoying it, more than I did the second book in the series. Still, I'm only about a third of the way through the book and a few too many things seem to be wrapped up...which makes me wonder which ones actually aren't yet... It'll take me a few more days, I imagine. It may also lose a bit of time to Uncle Tungsten, the Oliver Sacks book, which if nothing else might be easier to pick up and put down when I just need to kill thirty seconds while downloading my email or something.




And now it really is time for another installment of my countdown of my 750 favourite songs:

470. Talking Heads: Houses In Motion

"Remain In Light" might be the pinnacle of the Talking Heads' recording career, though there were certainly other high points. This is a fairly representative song from the album, at least the second half where the songs were more normal length, full of intricate African rhythms and surreal lyrics.

469. Was(Not Was): I Feel Better Than James Brown

I wish the Wases weren't so big into producing these days, because they turned out some great stuff while they were recording. I forget which one does the spoken bits, but this is his tour de force, totally bizarre and often humorous, with a little bit of funk in the background.




God made everything out of nothing, and it shows.



Aaron // 10:57 PM Clix me!
______________________

Thursday, June 13, 2002:


The Right Way Is Just A Narrow Trail



Okay, now I'm ready to do real entry tonight, I think. We'll see how it turns out.

Nicole and I watched "Ghost World" last night. Tuesday night we decided to go out for subs at Subway. I actually came up with the idea, though I'm really not a big fan of subs. When I was in university I would get in the habit of going to the same place for lunch every single day for months on end, until one day I started to lose my appetite even walking by the place. And Louie's Submarine was one of those places. Subway is totally different, of course, but I'm still not totally reconciled. (The alternative, though, was washing the broiler, still dirty from last week, which I didn't look forward to with that cut still on my index fingertip.)

Anyway, Subway is right next to Roger's, so we decided to go in and get just one movie. This is very hard for us, or rather for me, but having so little free time these days I was easier to talk into going easy this time. Even thought there are so, so many movies that I want to see sometime. We had talked about "Ghost World" earlier, and we were able to decide on it fairly quickly.

It was an interesting movie, very different from most of the stuff we usually watch. Nicole is big into thrillers, so that makes up the largest part of what we watch, and even then we don't often go for dramas. Enid was such a great character, though, that even when she was screwing up her life royally and alienating anyone who might possibly have helped her, she was still quite likeable. Steve Buscemi was great, too, in a role a little bit more understated than I'm used to seeing him. (Though he was eerie in "ConAir"...)

I could tell this was not our usual type of movie, simply because almost all of the previews were for movies that we had never even heard of, and would probably never want to watch. (Though "No Such Thing", or whatever the one was with Sarah Polley, looking very Uma Thurman, and the monster, looked kind of interesting.) The exception was "What's The Worst That Could Happen?", which was totally "One of these things is not like the others", and which we have already seen anyway.




I finished reading Malafrena yesterday, and since than have already finished Gene Brewer's On A Beam of Light, the sequel to K-PAX. A nice quick read after a slow one, that's what I like.

Malafrena was okay, but it was still more of a historical novel, and a historical novel about student radicals at that, than I generally care to read. I liked Les Miserables better, but that may not be a fair comparison. Not a single speculative element all the way to the end.

On A Beam of Light was mostly just more of the same of K-PAX--new patients, five years had passed, and prot came back. We do see more of Robert Porter in this book, but apart from that, all I could think is that this is really just Book Two of the novel. They could have been published together in one volume and it would've probably been okay. So if you liked the first one, you will probably like the second one. It resolves just as much about prot's true identity as the first book, though, so be warned.

I'm actually reading a short story in the latest issue of
OnSpec right now. I have a weird system for reading SF magazines. I used to treat them just like books, or at least a type of book, but I started to find that a little unsatisfying. At one point, during one of my many reorganizations of my reading system, I decided that I would read two stories from a magazine after every book I finished. That held up for a while, but eventually it fell by the wayside. I really just enjoy novels better than short stories, when it comes down to it. So sometimes after I finish a book I read a few stories, but lately I've been only managing to go through one issue of OnSpec every three months, which is coincidentally how often they come out. I have a few issues of Asimov's and F&SF that I may never get to, at this rate. It doesn't distress me unduly.

I'm still undecided on my next book, but unless I get a strong feeling otherwise I may just go into Robert Ludlum's The Bourne Ultimatum. I've read the other two books, though the second was far inferior to the first. I'm curious to see if Matt Damon can pull off Jason Bourne in the movie. But basically it is just the thickest book on the shelf, since we have it in hardcover for some reason(probably bought it remaindered), and I will have room for more books on my "to-be-read" shelf if I take it off. I will have less space in my backpack when I take it to work, though. It will be more exercise while I read it. Heh.

There's another couple of library books coming in, too, that I will want to read. Permanence, the latest from Karl Schroeder, is in, and so is Uncle Tungsten by Oliver Sacks. The latter is nonfiction, so it doesn't go into my main stream of reading--it's only there to distract me from my fiction books. He's a bit hit-or-miss, but The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat was great, and An Anthropologist On Mars was pretty good, too. Awakenings was pretty dry, A Leg To Stand On was slight, and I didn't make it all the way through Migraine(sounds like it should be the setup for a joke, doesn't it?), though it did have some interesting information. And I still have the Peter Watts short story collection--and the Gene Brewer I just finished was a library book too. Sometimes I wonder why I still go to the library when I have so many books to read...but there are still books that I either want to read before the paperback and instead of shelling out for the hardcover, as well as authors that I am curious about but don't want to commit to. So I go.

I haven't been listening to much from the library this week, though I did listen to "Gedida" by Natacha Atlas. That was a good album; I do often like songs in other languages, and musically it was right in my comfort zone. Better than any of the Ofra Haza I've heard, anyway. One song in English and one in French, the rest in Arabic.

I actually found a CD I wanted to buy in a bargain bin at the grocery store today--"Miles From Our Home" by the Cowboy Junkies. I'm not always completely sold on them, and find some of their albums to be bland and undistinguishable, but this one did make it onto my wishlist, mostly based, I recall, on the title track, one of their most upbeat in years, and "Hollow As A Bone". Well, it was only $9, so it should be worth that much, at least. I was also briefly tempted by Shania Twain's self-titled album, but while I did like "Come On Over", I don't have that much confidence that I will like all her stuff. "The Woman In Me" didn't impress me overly, for instance. (Has she come out with anything new? I don't recall having heard anything about it... But it should be about time for a followup stumble.)




Steam levels low--signal countdown mode!

472. Terence Trent D'Arby: This Side of Love

I still haven't managed to reconcile myself to the first song I ever heard by Terence Trent D'Arby, "If You Let Me Stay", which I still find really annoying. But I liked most of the other songs I heard from his first album, and especially this one, from his second album, "Neither Fish Nor Flesh". (It's got a longer subtitle, but I will spare you it.) In general he's pretty uneven, and from what I gather unbearably pretentious, but this song will let me forgive him for a little while.

471. Double: Devil's Ball

I believe Double is either Dutch or Swiss, I can't remember which. Their biggest hit was probably "Captain of Her Heart", but I like this one, from their "Dou3le" album, better. Kurt Maloo has a disarmingly bland voice, which is kind of charming, but this song benefits most obviously from rich orchestration and some great solos on trumpet and violin. The trumpet player was, apparently, on checking the album credits, Herb Alpert! Cool. That may be the best music Herb Alpert made in the 80's...




Might as well go for a soda, nobody hurts, nobody cries. --Kim Mitchell, "Go For Soda"



Aaron // 9:59 PM Clix me!
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Tuesday, June 11, 2002:


You Say You'll Be Patient



I promised you another entry, so here it is...really just another half, although they both have countdowns.




And now here are the latest round of Blogger Insider responses, courtesy of
Don.

1. Complete the following- I started blogging because:

...I needed somewhere to air my opinions, I guess. I feel like they are worth something, even if I don't necessarily have a special insight that nobody else in the world has. Or,

...I totally related to the urge to want to share something with the world, but not want to actually go to all the trouble of writing up an HTML file and uploading it to my web site. I am devoted to content over surface on the Web, and so I try to provide content.

Neither of those answers I find particularly satisfying. They sound more like "why I blog", not "why I started blogging". Sandra Kasturi first mentioned blogging(on the SF Canada mailing list), and several months later I got around to checking it out. From what she had described, it did satisfy my urge for easier expression on the Web. So I guess that's why I started.

2. Do you believe in love at first sight? Explain your answer.

This is a tough one, really, and it rests on the whole multiple overlapping definitions of "love". The Ancient Greeks wouldn't have the same problem with it, for instance.

I am willing to believe that two people can become instantly attracted to each other on first sight, and if they realize that it is a shared attraction then this will make it easier for them to reach a higher level of initial intimacy. But to say that this is "love" is going a bit far. It may very well lead to the passionate sort of love, where everything's very physical and their senses are heightened. But at first sight, how are you going to know if the other person has some deep emotional issues which will lead em to break your heart a year later? Or, more prosaically, if they have an incredibly annoying laugh which drives you away minutes later?

So, if you are willing to define "love at first sight" as "an initial, purely sight-based attraction which happens at the beginning of a long-term loving relationship", then sure. But if you want to include cases that have the attraction but don't go into the long term, then I'm not quite as sure.

By the way, I remember reading a theory that one's brain is, to some extent, hard-wired to find attractive people who are good genetic matches for you, as much as you can recognize it from surface appearance. It's an interesting theory, though difficult to prove.

3. What is the hardest decision you’ve had to make? What were the results of that decision? Would you make that same decision looking back on it now?

This is a tough one. Some decisions I now regret, for instance, seemed completely easy at the time, but in hindsight there were much better choices I wasn't even considering. The best I've been able to come up with was the decision to move back down to Edmonton to start working at Vectoron.

Nicole had a perfectly good job in Grande Prairie at the time, working full-time at the college library. I had been working part-time at Terranet doing some system administration, but it went under, so I started looking for other work. At the time I thought I wanted to keep doing system administration, so that's what I was mostly looking for, and I was looking in both Grande Prairie and Edmonton, because the job I wanted seemed more likely to surface in Edmonton.

So I applied to Vectoron, and I got an interview, and they offered me a job. It did, of course, entail moving down to Edmonton, which was a major decision but seemed inevitable at the time. I liked living in Grande Prairie, with my parents both close by, and Nicole's parents much closer; I was quite involved with the theatre scene, the city was small enough to not have big-city problems, but large enough to have a lot of amenities, and I'd grown up there so I knew it quite well. But Edmonton had more opportunities, and it was likely that whatever job I wanted would end up being in Edmonton. (I might well have gotten the Joseki job if I hadn't taken the Vectoron one, and I believe there was one offer that I had to turn down after I started at Vectoron.)

So it wasn't actually moving back to Edmonton that was the bad decision--it was the Vectoron job. We were really exchanging Nicole's income for mine, which was part of the bargain that I would try to provide for her to do her writing, and when she became a rich and famous author, she would support my laying about the house doing nothing. (Still waiting for that part, unfortunately...) And I have never been in a situation where I felt comfortable saying no to a job offer...but I should have in that case, because we did have an income at the time. But at the time it sounded like a good job, except for the having to move part.

Actually, it could have been harder; of the two(competing, I later realized)people who offered me jobs at Vectoron, the first one would have involved actually living in Fort McMurray, somewhat to the northeast of Edmonton, working on-site for one of Vectoron's customers. And that would have really sucked. So I'm glad I didn't have to make that decision, either.

4. If you could change one thing about yourself what would it be?

I'm presuming here that I am strictly changing myself, not my circumstances, so I can't say, "I'd like to be rich". Well, if I'm working within the bounds of everyday possibility, I would probably like to lose some weight. I used to be skinny before I got married. If I were able to choose anything, I'd certainly like to have Professor X's mind control powers, or failing that, to not have a need for sleep, like the Sleepless in Nancy Kress's Beggars In Spain, only without the social persecution.

5. Why haven’t you done so?

Losing weight? Well, I am doing so somewhat desultorily, but only because it's annoying have to look for pants at the upper edge of the department-store size range. I'm not particularly good at the dieting side of it, having apparently developed a bit of a sweet tooth through years of access to Nicole's baking. If she goes back on her carbohydrate-reduced diet after the baby's born, I might have a better chance. And exercising--well, that takes time I'd often rather spend sitting on my butt at the computer. And often it involves going outside, which I regard as an inferior option compared to inside. No bugs and better environmental control(to some extent--the house can get quite hot in summer, though, but if I spend my time in the nice cool basement...).

6. What public figure/celebrity would you have an intimate encounter with if given the chance?

If you mean by "intimate encounter" what I think you mean, there is absolutely no question in my mind that Jennifer Connelly tops the list.

7. Who or what has been the greatest influence on your life?

Throughout my adolescence I was inspired by Isaac Asimov. He had an amazing clear way of describing science which probably set me on the road to wanting to learn about it, and through him I got into reading science fiction as well. Though I think I got into fantasy more from Dungeons & Dragons...and into music partly through my brother, but mostly through MuchMusic(the Canadian video channel). As for writing, I got my original start through my Grade 6 Language Arts teacher, John Atkinson, and helping me throughout the years have been my wife, Candas Jane Dorsey, and of course the Cult of Pain.

8. Where do you want to see yourself a year from now?

Ideally, I would like to see myself taking a big long sabbatical after Nicole gets a nice high five-figure book advance. I'd maybe go back to doing some theatre, or look into volunteering at the university radio station. Or doing more writing. I would be spending a lot of time watching both children, of course--our second will probably be starting to walk by then, and Simon will be almost old enough to start playschool or something.

More reasonably, I'll probably still be working at Joseki, but maybe back to fewer hours. I'll be doing a lot of Java work, and a budding expert in refactoring. No theatre, though Nicole's dad may have retired by then(and my dad has made some hints as well), and if so there might be two grandparental babysitters nearby, and my dad has already said that in such a circumstance he'd be willing to babysit while I was in a play. But we'd have to see--my blogging would be curtailed as well.

Oh, and I hopefully will have done some revision on The Shadow & The Flame, and maybe even sent it out to an agent if it's any good. I will be putting off starting revision on this year's NaNoWriMo novel.

9. What completely repulses you in another person?

I don't think I'm that easily repulsed, but one former Joseki employee had this habit of chuckling to himself during conversations. I wasn't sorry to see him go. People who constantly interject cliches into their conversation and then laugh at their own wittiness(despite having said the exact same thing dozens of times before)can really get on my nerves, too.

Physically, I'm pretty open-minded, but really skinny women turn me off.

10. What's one thing you do when you think no one else is around or looking?

Pick my nose. I'm sorry, but I do. Sometimes I chew the skin off my cuticles, too, and give myself lots of hangnails that way. At least I don't chew my nails anymore.

I also sing along with my favourite-song tapes in the car, but I secretly hope that the person in front of me will like the same song, read my lips in the rear-view mirror, and instantly conceive an opinion of me as a Really Cool Person. So far it hasn't happened, or if it has they've never been able to find me to tell me so. (Especially because in Alberta cars don't have license plates on the front, only on the rear.)




Counting down again, what the heck:

474. Belinda Carlisle: Summer Rain

I confess, I like the drama and tragedy of this song(from her "Runaway Horses" album), and the harmony on the chorus. It can move me to tears if I'm in the right mood, and say what you will about emotional manipulation, that still counts for me.

473. ABBA: Gonna Sing You My Lovesong

This song, from their "Waterloo" album, is so incredibly 70s in some ways, but for some reason I really like the chorus. It seems to come just a little in advance of the beat, or something, and it lifts it above most of the silly pop on the album.




I'm confused as a baby at a topless bar!



Aaron // 11:24 PM Clix me!
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Monday, June 10, 2002:


Give Me The Needle, Give Me The Rope



Well, I have a fair bit to write about, but not much time, because tonight was our June Cult of Pain meeting. Apparently this weeknight thing is nice for some people, but not necessarily others. Six of us there tonight, so a few no-shows. And no-shows don't get as much input into the site of the next meeting.

But let me first talk about the awful day I had on Sunday.




I should have known from the burst of energy that was Saturday that Sunday would be less than stellar. Not that I believe in the Law of Averages, though--after every head does not come a tail. But after an unusually energetic day would be more likely to come something closer to the average, even if not necessarily below it.

First of all, I wrecked Simon's new blind, at least temporarily. See, I should have accepted the fact that I can no longer make pull-down blinds go up. I see people do it, just a tug and then it rolls up easily, sometimes even forcefully, but I just get it halfway to the floor and then give up. But Sunday I didn't give up. Instead, I managed to unroll it all the way until I saw the metal tube at the centre, and pull loose one of the brackets.

Then, when Simon was going to have his nap, I had to nail the bracket back up. But it wouldn't stay in the old holes, of course, so I had to move the bracket. And then I had to move the other bracket, because Nicole had thrown out(into the diaper pail, no less)the instructions on how to adjust the width of the blind. And then I had to do it again because I didn't get it right the next time.

And then Simon didn't stay down for his nap anyway.

I got to finish up the rest of the dishes, after the ones Nicole did on Saturday. When I was almost done, Nicole had some watermelon with Simon, and gave me the knife she sliced it with to put back into the sink. I put it in, and then reached in for something else, and discovered that rather than sinking to the bottom and lying flat like a good knife, this one had in fact gotten tangled up in the dishcloth and was sitting in the water edge-up. Got me right on the tip of my right index finger.

That's a convenient place for a wound, isn't it? Hard to bandage, for one thing. And then, the cut was right on the exact point I use to press the mouse button when I left-click. Luckily it was less of problem when I was typing, so I did more of that on Sunday, and today it was mostly okay. My fingernail is all gooped up with bandage glue, though.

Then Simon was sniffly all day(having not yet learned the nose-blowing skill; I remember going through a stage like that myself), and was totally miserable when he went to bed. Well, not so much when he went to bed as shortly after. He was a bit better today, though. He wouldn't take the medicine we had for him, perhaps having discovered that it's not all so yummy as the cherry-flavoured acetaminophen that we give him.




While I was at work today reading about refactoring, I got to thinking about whether fiction writing could have standard refactorings, the same way the computer programs do. You could have "Add Character", "Remove Character", "Kill Off Character", "Add Subplot", "Remove Subplot", "Expand To Novel", "Extract Short Story", "Change Viewpoint Character", "Subdivide Chapter", "Join Chapters", "Move Scene", "Delete Scene", "Add Description", "Delete Expository Lump", "Remove Said-Bookism", "Expand Into Trilogy", "Rename Character", and I'm sure many more.

Of course, refactoring has to be much stricter, because your code has to compile at every stage, and also, in principle, your code should do exactly the same thing. Refactoring is supposed to exclude any actual writing of code that changes what your program does, whether it be fixing bugs or adding features, though it can make bugs easier to track down and features easier to add.

Obviously, most of the "writing refactorings" will change your story in quality. And the compilation requirements are not so extreme; at the very least, they're not predictable. You are actually trying to change your story, not just make it easier to edit next time.

So it's a limited analogy...but it was fun. Even if only people who are interested in both writing and Extreme Programming will get it at all.




Tom wrote in a comment to the previous entry that he doubted that the monkeys I mention could ever produce Shakespeare.


Re: monkeys on typewriters . . .

I think that it would be impossible that one single monkey would actually be typing Shakespeare. I think it would actually be more likely that a given number of them may stumble upon a patter of letters that they each put together separately, and when put together could form Shakespeare's works. No. Wait. I think it's more likely that at some point in this infinity, each monkey will likely type at least one real word, and at some point all of the monkeys together will have produced every word known to man. The putting-together part is just too unfathomable - it's asking far too much of beings who can't comprehend the written language without being explicitly shown how to understand it. Now if these were trained monkeys who could read . . . all bets are off. But then it would render the original statement meaningless because they might as well be people. Therefore, I don't think monkeys could ever write Shakespeare. Some words, maybe. But no Shakespeare.


My response:

No, if there are actually an infinite number of monkeys, and they are typing random typewriter characters with equal probability(or at least with a non-zero probability of any given character at every stroke), then it is guaranteed that at least some of them will be typing any arbitrary string you would like to specify. Shakespeare, the Bible, Faulkner, Danielle Steel, "David Copperfield" backwards, and countless stories of such ineffable beauty as to make hardened souls weep.

The fact is that if there are an infinite number of tests taking place simultaneously, then any possible result of that test with a non-zero chance of occurring will, in fact, occur at that moment. Infinity does strange things to probability, which is why it's difficult to postulate infinity in the real universe. The only difficulty with finity, of course, is that you have to then postulate a reason for things to be finite, a discontinuity. Infinity can be explained as "always having existed". A finite amount is harder to explain away.

A much different question is how many, sub-infinite, monkeys would be required under certain conditions to give a certain probability of a certain string being generated. And I grant you that those numbers are likely quite high indeed.




Since it's so late here, I'll go straight into the countdown now. I will try to maybe answer my Blogger Insider questions tomorrow, to compensate my loyal and faithful readers for the perceived paucity of this entry.

476. Elvis Costello: Pills & Soap

I used to hate Elvis Costello, based almost entirely on the song "Everyday I Write The Book", which I thought was just, well, stupid. But I did like his version of "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood", and my brother worked away on me for a while, and finally I gave the "Punch The Clock" album a try and got to like it. This was one of my early favourites on the album, a somber diatribe on the media done with mostly piano and vocals, and I still think it's a very strong arrangement. (And I could still swear that Tricky samples the piano line on the Nearly God album for the song "Black Coffee".)

475. Squeeze: Hits of The Year

I didn't know that I wasn't supposed to like "Cosi Fan Tutti Frutti", because I'd never heard of Squeeze at all until "Last Time Forever". This song, a quirky number about airline hijacking(which has taken on a whole new layer of meaning in the last nine months or so), convinced me to buy the album, and I still like it better than many of their others that I've heard(though admittedly I'm deficient on their early catalogue). I've seen it bashed by a lot of critics, though(one did agree with me that it was better than "Babylon And On", at least), but that never bothered me much.




The Klein bottle is half empty, which is why I take all those colourful pills.


Aaron // 11:08 PM Clix me!
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