The Den of Ubiquity

Friday, September 27, 2002:

I don't know if I told this particular story about Simon yet. Nicole had taught him to play "Fish" a little while ago. He can identify all the different ranks of cards, I guess, so he's got the skills necessary, though not the strategy or anything.

So I asked him once, having thought he was making suspicious grunting sounds, "Simon, do you have a dirty diaper?"

He said, "No, I don't have a dirty diaper--go fish!"

That's his funniest joke yet. Though now whenever he tells it he tells it wrong. Oh, well. Give him time.




On to more countdown:

402. Rheostatics: Horses, from Melville

The Rheostatics don't boast any particularly accomplished singers, but this one is not by Martin Tielli, their most recognizable voice; I confess I don't remember who does actually sing it, either Tim Vesely or Dave Bidini. Anyway, it's a very powerful song about workers whose bluff has been called, trying to figure out what to do on the day the factory locks them out. Makes perhaps the best use ever, in a song, of the phrase "Holy Mackinaw".

401. A-Ha: Here I Stand And Face The Rain, from Hunting High & Low

Hmmm. Not sure how this song made it this far up the countdown. Ah, well, there are still a few bugs in the sorting process. (Let's see you try to sort a list of 750 songs in strict order of preference! You gotta cut a few corners.) In any case, this is a wistful synth-pop song from A-Ha's first album, which is so much more than that silly "Take On Me" song.




Revenge is a dish best served...with tangy Miracle Whip!


Aaron // 11:30 PM Clix me!
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A few more library CDs that I listened to this week:

Amanda Marshall's newest, "Everybody's Got A Story". Her first, self-titled, album was pretty good, with a couple of limp tracks, but her second, "Tuesday's Child", was limp all over the place. Almost none of the singles were any good, the sole exception being the electrifying "Shades of Grey"; there were a few decent album tracks as well, though. This one, however, is solid through and through.

The title track is arresting, and while "Double Agent" is almost a rehash of the theme("Don't judge a book by its cover", perhaps?), it's also a good song. "Colleen(I Saw Him First)" is a powerful story of a childhood friendship gone wrong, "Sunday Morning After" is a hilarious song about having way too much fun on Saturday night(I thought it was Pink, actually, until I heard it on the album), and the rest of the album is just plain solid. It's a lot more funky than her first two albums, but she carries it off well. She could've been a pop diva if she wanted to, but I'm glad she took a step down a different road.

Gordon Lightfoot's "If You Could Read My Mind" is a golden oldie--came out before I was born, that's always a clue. I was surprised to learn that he was the first to record "Me & Bobby McGee" on this album, though I think Janis Joplin's version is better(been a long time since I heard it, though). The title track is, of course, great. The rest of the album wasn't nearly as good, although "Baby It's Allright"[sic] was not too bad, and "The Pony Man" was a good children's song--I'm surprised Kenny Loggins didn't record it on "Return To Pooh Corner".

No Mercy's self-titled album...well, I wasn't sure what to expect--from the name it could've been gangsta-rap like Do Or Die or something. But apparently it's more like a Hispanic pop trio. I know I'd heard one of their songs on the radio, though right now I forget which. Apparently it was pretty forgettable.

Cold's "18 Ways To Bleed On Stage" was actually a pretty decent piece of sludge-rock, although maybe that's just because I was able to listen to it at a proper volume.

Allure's self-titled album was just sort of En Vogue-style girl group with rap guest stars. Only interesting moment was noticing that "All Cried Out" was a cover of the old Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam song.

Aaron // 11:30 PM Clix me!

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I managed to solve a couple more of the "Cartoon Rebuses" from the Games Magazine issue. I was thinking that the contest closed October 1, and was about to give up and post stuff here, but then I looked closer and it said November. Close call there. For anyone who's interested, I'm still missing 2, 8, 11, 12, and 14.

Anyone out there who wants to help could try suggesting titles that would fit the following(category, followed by the number of letters in each word):

Book: 3,5

I'm not sure if I can get away with "the" for the first word, either. The only ones I've found in my own collection that are marginally well-known would be "Hot Money" and "For Kicks" by Dick Francis, and neither of them is quite the right stature. I need a more classically-oriented list of books...preferably one sorted by length of words in title. Did you know that most searchable indexes don't let you search by length of word?

Singer: 5,4

I've already got Aimee Mann, Billy Joel, Elton John, and Paula Cole, as well as others I thought were too obscure, or not really "singer" material(like Billy Idol).

Vehicle: 4,8

I can't get past "Ford __", but I can't come up with a Ford model that fits, from my less-than-comprehensive knowledge of car models. I know it doesn't even have to be an automobile--it could be a type of boat, or a particular boat.

Singer: 6,10

Alanis Morissette occurred to me, but I can't make her fit.

Political figure: 7,5

I'm 90% sure that the first name is "Barbara", but I cannot think of any political figures who are Barbaras, especially with five-letter last names. Maybe the clues that point to "Barbara" are just red herrings.

If anyone helps me with this, and I happen to win the $1000 grand prize, then I promise I'll buy you something from your wishlist or something. It's only fair. You can always try to find a copy of the October issue of Games Magazine for yourself and try to get the nine I've already gotten...

I should still try to send what I've got in, even if I've gotten them all, on the off chance that /dev/joe is sick this month.*

Aaron // 11:29 PM Clix me!

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In general, TV this week has been going well. The two-hour "West Wing" premiere on Wednesday was pretty good, especially the scene where Donna blows up at Josh & Toby and they pull their heads out of their butts. And the return of Mallory! I really hope it's true that Rob Lowe has reconsidered leaving the show, because Sam is such a great character. It is a shame that Ainsley Hayes will be leaving soon because Emily Procter is going to be on "CSI: Miami". I guess we can always hope that it tanks, and that "CSI" does not spin off as many shows as "Law & Order".

I'm not sure about the news(promulgated by the network on the bottom of the screen during the "Friends" premiere)that this may not be the last season for "Friends". It would be nice if they ended the series on a high note, rather than running it into the ground. Not that it shows many signs of slowing down, and I guess if Ross & Rachel do get back together it might take more than a year to tie that up properly, but it does just seem that enough is enough. I remember when the truism was that the sitcom was over, or should have been, as soon as the new baby arrived, but I don't know if that will be true here. Still, as long as they keep all the main cast, none of whom have been rumoured to be jumping ship anytime soon, things should hold up okay.

As for "Push, Nevada", things really picked up with the third episode, even if we still don't have much for sympathetic supporting cast except for Grace back at the office. The monogrammed handkerchief thing was a nice touch. I've given up looking for the alleged clues in the episodes, but then I have no faith that the thing will really last out the season.

The second episode of "Firefly" still leaves me equivocal about the whole thing, and on the whole inclined not to continue watching it. Maybe it's just the underlying dissonance of science fiction with fiddle music that bugs me.

And my try at "That Was Then" ended half an hour into it when it looked like the main character was going to make an idiot of himself. I'm sorry, but I will not stand for that. It had other strikes against it, of course, by that point. And I just didn't want to stay up until 11:00 three nights in a row...badly enough to want to watch that show, anyway. (Actually, once "24" started it'd probably be four nights...now it'll still be three, as long as "Push, Nevada" lasts...)

Aaron // 11:29 PM Clix me!

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It may be just luck that I recognized that song, by the way. I happened to be listening to the album it's from only a couple of days ago. I couldn't tell you right now what album that is, though. I have trouble remembering which of Men At Work's two biggest albums, "Cargo" and "Business As Usual", is which. I think this is from the one which doesn't have "Down Under" and "Who Can It Be Now", and does have "Dr. Heckle & Mr. Jive" and "It's A Mistake".

In any case(apologies for the suspense--I've been reading a collection of Paul Harvey's "The Rest of The Story" radio show), it definitely has the song "Overkill", which is the one that was played on the season premiere of "Scrubs" on Thursday night. The performer was former Men At Work lead vocalist, and current solo artist, Colin Hay. It was actually a really good version of the song, too.

I have a copy of Colin James Hay's(as he was billed then)first solo album, "Looking For Jack". They had released the single "Hold Me", and it was really good, in an 80's-pop kind of way. It was years later that I got the album. I was amused to note that the second track, after "Hold Me", was "Can I Hold You?".

Apparently Colin Hay has been in Edmonton a few times as part of the Folk Festival here. I haven't heard any of his music more recent than the mid-80's, though. But maybe I will remember to look for it sometime soon.

I'm more curious to know, myself, who it is that sings the "I'm No Superman" song in the opening credits. Which, I note, they expanded for this season from the ten-second bit they had before. I'm sure it's in the closing credits if I looked closely enough, but the infuriating habit of TV stations these days shrinking those down into an illegible sidebar while they trumpet their other shows on the main screen has kept me from determining that so far.

Aaron // 11:29 PM Clix me!

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There have been a few places along the route, too, where they have the little sensors strung out on the pavement to register when cars drive over them. (I am 99% sure that they can't be using them to test your speed, because they don't know how far apart your wheels are...) Those fill me with foreboding, because often they mean that construction, or line-painting, or something is coming, and they want to know approximately how many cars are going to be inconvenienced by it.

While I'm talking about cars--has anyone else out there noticed the little ribbons that dangle down from the rear of some cars, with little inverted triangles on them? Usually so that they will just touch the road surface as you drive? What the heck are those things? Are they just for decoration, or do they serve a useful purpose like trying to dissipate static electricity or something? I can't figure it out.

People continue to drive like morons in this city, and I'm still not completely convinced that this is the status quo everywhere in North America. Well, anyone who drives behind me is going to have to go the speed limit, at least until he pulls out and passes me.




Since people are already searching on my site for the guitarist who played on the season premiere of "Scrubs", and the information doesn't seem to come up any too easily in a Google search, and because I was so helpful with the Jeff Buckley singing "Halellujah" on the "West Wing" season finale last year, let me help y'all out.

Aaron // 11:29 PM Clix me!
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The Dark Scares Me So



Hopefully the construction season is almost over in Edmonton. It is almost winter, which is often considered to be the other season, besides Construction. Though I pass at least two building sites on my way to work which seem highly unlikely to get finished before the snow starts. Well, starts to stay, at least--we've already had a flurry or two. In fact, I saw a flurry yesterday--snow for about a second, then gone. Normally you see more than one, but now I've seen a single one.

What annoys me sometimes are the "Obstruction Ahead" signs. I have long since learned that they can be very misleading. What they really mean "Obstruction was, or will be, ahead, sometime within a two-week period". So now we move into the sad fable of "The Sign That Cried 'Obstruction Ahead'!"--I, at least, rarely pay attention to them. Only when there is an actual "This lane is going away"(not its real caption)sign do I actually take any action.

Wednesday morning, on the way to work, there were three obstructions forcing me to change out of my preferred lane, and none of the three of them coincided with an "Obstruction Ahead" sign. But then, they were more like stopped vehicles, with their hazard lights on because that makes it all right to be stopped wherever the hell you want.

It also annoys me when some lane is marked as "No Parking 7:00-9:00", and there are people parked there at 9:01. I know it's legal, but you know, rush hour doesn't end at precisely 9:00:00 AM. Of course, it annoys me more when they're parked there at 8:57. Admittedly, I am often 5-10 minutes late for work in the morning, but it would be nice if the no-parking zone could be extended a few more minutes.

Aaron // 11:28 PM Clix me!
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Tuesday, September 24, 2002:

Another installment of my countdown of my 750 favourite songs(coming up to #400 soon...):

404. Joe Jackson: Rant & Rave, from Blaze of Glory

This is the opening track from the album, and has a great 5/4 rhythm to it. I like it when weird time signatures like that are incorporated into pop songs(as opposed to prog-rock Frippery or something). I haven't actually listened to this one that much, but it seems to be just a general in-your-face attitude kind of song.

403. Red Rider: Lunatic Fringe, from Neruda

This is a classic piece of Canadian rock, from before Tom Cochrane got headlining credit, let alone went solo. At one time I think was supposed to be the most-requested song on CBC, which is an odd achievement. And you know, the lunatic fringe is still out there. Isn't that who blew up the world trade centre?




Hush my darling, be still my darling, the lion's on the phone. --They Might Be Giants, "The Guitar"


Aaron // 11:08 PM Clix me!
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Christa's campaign kind of leached away from Steve's, because we were enjoying hers more and didn't really feel like doing both. Hers kind of ground to a halt at one point, and she started up another one with different characters but it didn't really last either.

I don't really game much anymore. I lost most of my D&D stuff to Steve's friends, and then my Fantasy Hero stuff as well when he tried, abortively, to get a campaign of that going. I've since reacquired most of my D&D stuff, mostly for nostalgia purposes. Of course, there's Darren's game, which is on hold right now as he spends his weeks in Red Deer, and has a baby daughter, and doesn't have much time to develop the adventures more.

One thing I do like about a lot of games, though, is their worldbuilding and character-building tools. There's an old SF game called "Universe" which does great planet creation, for instance. And one called Aria which provides the means to roleplay entire cultures' histories. I don't like spending a lot of work on worldbuilding, to be honest, so it's nice to have shortcuts wherever possible.

But at one time D&D was pretty much the focus of my spare time. Then again, at another time it was Civilization, and at other times it's been Ackanomic, Lorenai, and blogging. Where would I be without some obsession or other?

Aaron // 11:08 PM Clix me!

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We tried a lot of different games, and eventually decided our favourite was the Hero System--Champions, Fantasy Hero, etc. There you could basically build everything that you wanted to. In Fantasy Hero you could build spells based on their effects and limitations, and buy whatever skills you wanted, not being limited to being a "thief" or a "cleric" or whatever. GURPS was also interesting, but it didn't seem quite as internally consistent.

The biggest problem with Hero Systems were, first of all, that it took a long time to build anything--spells, NPCs, monsters, etc.--and that it wasn't as fully-supported as D&D. And Champions, the superhero game which was the basis of the system, got more attention than Fantasy Hero, it seemed. So we never really did too much there. Also, you had to have a concept to build your character on--you couldn't really just "roll up" somebody and play whatever stats you were given. I ended up basing a lot of mine on other characters, like Fafhrd & the Grey Mouser, or the X-Men.

When we moved to Edmonton my brother Steve borrowed a bunch of my D&D stuff, and then started DMing his own campaign. It was kind of interesting, though I didn't have time to take part as a full character myself. When I was able to show up, I played one of a few NPCs that were around, like Barkfly the druid or Lan Shu the oriental weaponsmaster(kensai).

Then Steve's girlfriend Christa decided to start her own campaign. And that one was really cool. Christa played fast-and-loose with the rules, but usually everytime she did that it made things more fun. I mean, in how many campaigns does the Platinum Dragon give your characters flying skate-discs, activated by the keyword "Esrevnoc"? Or have, as a steed, an intelligent giant skunk named Flower? This is the campaign I got Alfvaen from, and which spawned my "Delta City" story.

Aaron // 11:08 PM Clix me!

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I was first introduced to the game via the Basic D&D game when I was about eight, which would have been 1979. One of my brother's friends, James, had the ruleset, and they started up a sort of game; I nagged my way into it as an annoying little brother, I imagine, but I didn't care. My first character was a dwarf named Sporrhagha(which name I seem to recall was lifted straight from the introductory module sample characters), who quickly left to become a sailor. Then I tried Marapo the female monk--at the time I was interested in playing female characters. She got boring, and then I moved on to Eogyd.

Eogyd was my favourite character for a while, a female half-elven fighter/magic-user. She ended up in love with a thief named Dispite that she had cast a charm spell on. I made them the subject of my first "real" story, "Artefact", which I brought proudly to Candas Jane Dorsey's first Black Cat Ranch writing workshop back in 1989, where it got...well, ripped to shreds sounds a bit extreme, but it was made quite clear to me that it was not well-written. But I'm getting ahead of myself here.

By far the largest part of my D&D playing, such as it was, was with my friend Jeremy, and often just the two of us. Sometimes Peter would come over to Jeremy's to spend a weekend, and I would usually wander in partway through and play some NPCs(non-player characters)or something. Jeremy was a big collector of role-playing games, and may still be for all I know. We were junior-high age by this time, and often played one-on-one kind of things, one of us DMing the other. Once we even tried a "semi-free-kriegspiel" version, where Jeremy DMed but I had no stats on my character. That was kind of interesting.

Aaron // 11:07 PM Clix me!

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Had a Cult of Pain meeting tonight; Sharna was babysitting, so went without the kids and got to stay out almost until 10:00! Barb wowed us with her Worldcon stories, as usual. Would be nice to go to one of those sometime...still aiming for next year in Toronto, but there's so much other stuff on the plate right now. Of course, if Nicole sells another book we'll get a bunch of money from that, and if not then hopefully we'll get another big tax refund.

Next month the meeting is on the day after Simon's birthday, and we decided, for our writing exercise, to try to come up with stories aimed at him! That could be interesting. Kevin also brought to our attention a short story contest, in conjunction with a Hallowe'en pumpkin-carving contest, for a 200-word story involving a pumpkin, squash, or watermelon. ...Do people actually carve watermelons this time of year? I had a nifty story involving a melon baller(used by a goddess to create worlds)from another writing exercise...though it read more like the beginning of a novel that will probably never get written.




I realize that I have been remiss in telling stories from my past for the last few entries, so let me see what I can come up with tonight. I know, let's talk about Dungeons & Dragons!

Aaron // 11:07 PM Clix me!
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Today I listened to "Embrya" by Maxwell. I knew little about this guy; from the "Maxwell's Urban Hang Suite" album title I confess I thought of him as something like Levert or one of those guys. But now I know that he's really more like Terence Trent d'Arby, except not quite as musically experimental. The album didn't make much of an impression on me, but I may give it another listen to see if anything distinguishes itself.




On the weekend we got a Magic School Bus CD for Simon. He's really getting into the books again, and he likes playing the ones they have on the library computers. Those were hard for me to figure out at first, because they have a lot of vocal cues that I couldn't hear because Simon had the headphones. Last week there was a helpful kid at the next computer who told me what to do.

This one is "The Magic School Bus Explores The Ocean". It's kind of interesting--I actually learned some things about the giant tubeworms that live near volcanic vents on the ocean floor. Disgusting-looking things, really. But then, there are many disagreeable creatures living in the ocean, and quite frankly I don't mind keeping my direct experience of them to a minimum.

A lot of it is really above Simon's level, but not that far, really. Little of it actually requires reading, with the characters there to explain everything for you; even the "written reports" are more like links to multimedia.

And hey, Ms. Frizzle is cute.*

Aaron // 11:07 PM Clix me!
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Now I'm into Spell Bound by Ru Emerson, which, although not billed as such on the cover for some reason, seems to be more than a little Cinderella-based. Though perhaps more similar to the Tanith Lee version, "When The Clock Strikes", from Red As Blood. In that one, the girl is a witch who curses the prince to wandering the kingdom trying to match the slipper. This one has a witch with a grudge against the prince, or at least his father, but she's more like the Fairy Godmother, using the poor girl with the ugly stepsisters as a pawn. That's my guess, anyway, from what little I've read so far and the blurb on the back cover. Still, it's fairly well-written, and placed in a sort of alternate 17th-Century Germany, where there is actual magic, sorcerers as well as witches.

I spent most of the weekend in the thrall of the other books I bought on Saturday. Not only was there a new Onion collection, Ad Nauseam, but also a new "For Better Or For Worse" collection, Family Business, and a new Dilbert book, What Do You Call A Sociopath In A Cubicle?. At least, I thought the Dilbert book was new, but instead it seems to be more of a theme-reprint book. That's a bit annoying, and I may yet try to take it back. The FBOFW book was good; I finally got tired of waiting for them to come in at the library, which seems to take a year and a half after they're in the bookstores. The Onion one is mostly issues that I read on the Net already, but now I have them in handy book form. It looks like it includes a couple of issues that were pre-empted by September 11th, too, done in the weeks beforehand but then pulled after the attacks in favour of their own "Attack On America" issue.




A couple of library CDs...yesterday I listened to "100% Human" by Pocket Size, which was great. Just plain pop, more or less, utterly charming. Definitely a wishlist item.

Aaron // 11:07 PM Clix me!
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It has a certain space-opera feel to it that I like, and I'm considering actually sending in money for the full version.Though I should check out their web page first. I've used lots of shareware in my time and paid for none of it. Much of that shareware predates the web, though, and let's face it, I have no confidence that ten years later the "companies" that produced it will be at the same address. I just don't buy into the shareware concept in the first place, I'm afraid. But if I did want to register some of these games, it might take a while to hunt down the authors, so it's easier not to bother. I get used to the nag screens or the built-in limitations.

I completely finished Chip's Challenge, by the way. Completed every level, at least once. Now I guess I'll have to take a look at some of the alternate level files that are supposed to be out there. Either that or just go back to Sokoban.




I finished reading Orson Scott Card's Shadow Puppets. It felt a bit slight, and didn't work as well as some of his others, but apparently it's in the way of being an unplanned novel--more of a continuation of Shadow of The Hegemon, which grew too large for one volume, than a planned book in its own right.

Aaron // 11:06 PM Clix me!
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You Gotta Blame Someone For Your Own Confusion



Still having to post things in bits and pieces. Much more of this and I'm defecting to xanga, I swear. Am I the only one who can't post long things on Blogger?

I spent most of my free time in the last few days playing a game called "Space Empires II", from one of those "150 Great Shareware Games" CDs. I've only tried about half a dozen games off the entire CD so far. This one is a strategic space colonization/combat game, so it sounded like fun. It's by a company named Malfador Machinations, and it's slightly crippled by the removal of many of the more advanced technologies, but it's still fun.

It is time-consuming, though--it is easy to get more units than you know what to do with before you run into any chance of losing them all. So game turns can become slow, and eventually I get tired of the glacial pace and stop playing. But so far that hasn't happened this last time. At least I managed to go back to one of my old games.


Aaron // 11:06 PM Clix me!
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Friday, September 20, 2002:

Almost forgot good news, got today--am getting "raise" at work, in time not money, like before. Will get to work half hour less a day, starting October. Though have some time to make up from earlier, and Dick & Edna away for few weeks, so more time might be indicated. Not as good as whole hour less, like before, but 'tis enough, 'twill serve.




Now on to countdown:

406. Rush: Mystic Rhythms, from Power Windows

First Rush album heard(though first heard Rush on "Take Off", single from Bob & Doug McKenzie album). Used to like, but now equivocal. This song still good, though, moving into sound on "Hold Your Fire", "Presto".

405. Tom Waits: Burma Shave, from Foreign Affair

First heard this song, though, on Tape 2 of "Asylum Years", found once in a discount bin in Stettler without accompanying first volume. Had previously only heard couple of songs from "Rain Dogs", "Swordfishtrombone" era; liked these better, and often still do. This song good story of aimless, reckless youths trying to have fun, killing selves in process, very James Dean.




Monarchs are acceptable - but I draw the line at rulers.

Aaron // 10:53 PM Clix me!
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Simon's potty training proceeding fitfully; has reverted to diapers for most of week, but made tentative efforts to wear training pants today. Eventually will figure out superior system to be able to deal with own bodily functions, one hopes. Have no worries will happen eventually.

Keeps saying interesting, amusing things, but keep forgetting to write down for posting. Oh, well.




Some few library CDs gone through this week, as usual.

Connie Kaldor: Love Is A Truck. Picked this one up after last Blogger meetup--talking with Randy about Folkfest inspired browsing in "Folk" section at library. Didn't make big impression, though title track had interesting use of metaphor.

Fugazi: End Hits. Never really heard Fugazi, but heard of, thought would try. Underwhelmed, but AMG claims not superior sample anyway.

Avalanches: Since I Left You. Didn't know what to expect--surf-punk?--got electronica, sampling, à la DJ Shadow. Most interesting, cool. Especially "Frontier Psychiatrist", samples taken from old Wayne & Schuster sketch. Add to wishlist.

Nazareth: Boogaloo. Never listened to Nazareth either, and this does not encourage me to. Totally undistinguished rock, hasn't changed in twenty years/so.

Ocean Colour Scene: Marchin' Already. Slightly more interesting, liked name, but sounds like might like first, Madchester album better. Like Madchester.

Man Ray: Volume II. Apparently turned out to be collection of ambient tracks from various artists, not inspiring.


Aaron // 10:53 PM Clix me!
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Now, explaining stylistic variation. During past week read Emergence, David R. Palmer authored. Very good book, in form of diary, largely from main character, 11-year-old female prodigy, eschewed unnecessary words, prepositions, conjunctions, pronouns. Highly entertaining, even if set after bioweapon kills most people on earth. Much recommended. May have permanent effect on speech, writing patterns. Could do worse, perhaps. Better wear off before go back to work on novel. (No worries.)

After finished, started reading Shadow Puppets, Orson Scott Card. Not too drawn in so far, but plot may be picking up. This third in series parallelling, continuing Ender's Game. (Original Ender's Game sequels take place long time later due to space travel, time dilation; these ones stay on Earth, so far.) Doesn't seem Card's best work.

After that, who knows? Considering Spell Bound, Ru Emerson, author never read before, or even Azure Bonds, Forgotten Realms novel acquired long, long time ago and not yet read. Possibly book owned longest time and not read, good reason to read it. Also want to squeeze in Dick Francis before end of month.*




Ah, yes, that was other thing, on Tuesday. SF Canada member, novelist Arthur Slade came to Edmonton for book signing, decided should go. Never read, but wanted to support. Bookstore near work; Nicole wanted to come too, so I rode bus in morning, she brought kids in car. Paula Johanson also there; met before, even published my story "Highway Closure". Slade turned out younger than expected. Bought two books, Dust & Return of The Grudstone Ghosts. (Slade won Governor General's Award, Juvenile, not too shabby.) Should try to read sometime, though already know is much competition.

Annoying riding bus in morning--seats already full when got on, never managed to sit down, ==read, whole trip. Silly bus, goes by multiple high schools, secondary educational institutions, hence busy in morning. Ride home better, this time got on before bulk of people, got to sit down, read.


Aaron // 10:53 PM Clix me!
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Last night tried "Push, Nevada", first of new shows tried. Namechecked "Twin Peaks", big favourite, so thought would try. Not quite "Twin Peaks", but main character IRS investigator somewhere between Agent Cooper, Edward Norton. Missing rest of wacky background cast, though. Mary the taxi dancer not sufficient. Also, annoyingly cable cut out for ten minutes from 10:20-10:30, during second episode. First episode originally shown Tuesday, repeated before last night's, last night's second episode might be repeated next week, except coincides with "Scrubs" season premiere. Have VCRs, though, can handle. (No blogging next Thursday, methinks.)

Anyway, will try one week more. Not very patient with new shows, unfortunately, spare time so valuable. Better impress me right off. Then may very well not last, witness "Cold Feet", for instance.

Tonight tried "Firefly", new SF show. Not off to a good start, looks like a cross between "Andromeda" and a western show. Not as many interesting characters as "Andromeda", either--no aliens, seems. Weird experimented-on girl, River, most interesting character, followed perhaps by Companion. Was somewhat amused that Companion(seems equivalent "geisha", "courtesan", "escort")most respectable member of crew. At least one crew member outright annoying; at least Nietzschean on "Andromeda" had good points. Will also give one more week to shape up, get interesting. Joss Whedon maybe done better; never really tried "Buffy", though. Seems hard to get into at this point.

Next week also return "Friends", "West Wing". Looking forward to it.


Aaron // 10:53 PM Clix me!

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Her Hair Spilled Out Like Rootbeer



Man, it's been a bad week for blogging, all in all. My free time has mostly been spent trying to catch up with reading blogs. Wednesday night was the Blogger Meetup, and then last night I watched the first two hours of "Push, Nevada".

The Meetup was fine. I showed up first, then
Taz, and then Taz's friend Kelly. Taz & Kelly have...well, a history to them, so it was hard not to feel a little bit left out. I also don't know Taz well enough to really know what to talk to him about. I know we're both into music, but I'm not sure if our tastes overlap. I don't know, maybe he's a closet Shriekback fan...

Finally Randy showed up, and things got a bit easier. He does the social lubricant thing well, I'd have to say. I'm not particularly good at that kind of thing. It would be easier with more people; I could keep quiet more often without feeling awkward. And I often do that in larger social situations, just sit there and listen, if there's nobody there I know well. Comes of being an introvert, perhaps. Things wrapped up early because Randy was due to go off to Winnipeg to a family function, and Taz & Kelly decided was time to leave, too.

Amusing moment--I was trying to remember what band Jennifer Charles, from Lovage song "Strangers On A Train", was from. Taz couldn't remember either. We were meeting in the coffeeshop near the main library branch, and it was still open, so I went in and checked The All-Music Guide on one of the terminals there, back in only a few minutes with answer: Elysian Fields. Not a band I am big into, but I remembered listening to them and Lovage song close together.

Also, Taz, being Host, had brought hand-lettered sign, pieces of paper with "B""L""O""G""G""E""R""Meet""-""up" on them. Amused self rearranging them at dull moments. "Meet""OG|""up""GRELB". Was thinking, perhaps of "Morgul the friendly Drelb" from Laugh-In. Always liked him.

(Must excuse prose style; explain later.)

Aaron // 10:52 PM Clix me!
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Monday, September 16, 2002:




408. Brian Eno: Backwater, from Before & After Science

I like Eno's vocal work better than his ambient, in general, because his bizarre lyrics are so much fun to try to figure out. Now what they mean, just what he's saying. This is a fun, bouncy little song which seems like it has a story to it, but I don't know what it is yet.

407. New Order: True Faith, from Substance

This one is not really from "Substance", but was released as a single and then collected there with the rest of them. Anyway, it's a great song, one of the few I've actually danced to in a bar, with its pulsing beat and Bernard Sumner's usual depressing vocals. The video for this song may be my absolute favourite. It was done by the same guy who did "She Drives Me Crazy" by Fine Young Cannibals, and apparently never made any more, and features a weird French(?) dance troupe in outlandish costumes, but somehow it works. I especially like the woman who's doing the song in sign language. I'd love to have that video on tape sometime.




I've plummeted to my death and I can't get up!


Aaron // 10:01 PM Clix me!
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This is just another illustration of being a)a guy, and b)a geek. Being unwilling to stop the game prematurely to eat, and unwilling to make anything more complicated in the first place. Of course, I am a guy mostly as regards my disinclination to cook. I don't drink beer and I can't fix a car worth a damn.*




Using that list of "things to do on my computer" has been working fairly well so far. For instance, a few days ago I got around to updating
my home page and several related pages. I mostly changed the content and rearranged the links--no actual design work took place. I contemplated turning one of the gifs on my home page into a background(suitably faded, of course), but never put that into action. And that's as far as I'd go anyway--I don't expect to learn anything about Cascaded Style Sheets unless I have to do so for work. (Which, if we start web-enabling our software, may very well happen.) Most importantly, Luke is now mentioned on my pages as something other than a prospective baby. And I've started trying to put in "Last updated" dates so people know just how out-of-date all this stuff gets.

I also read one of Peter's stories, finally, that he'd sent me months ago and I never got around to. Luckily, today it told me "Write blog entry", so I did. It also told me other things that I didn't want to do at the time, but it'll give me at least one thing a day. Oh, and I did read over the first few chapters of The Shadow & The Flame, and fix a few things. It's not as bad as I was remembering; I just need to start foreshadowing the actual main plot a bit sooner, change a few facts that don't make sense with later developments, and try to build up the characters a bit more. I meant to get to that this weekend, but I didn't manage it. I guess we'll have to see.


Aaron // 10:00 PM Clix me!
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Most frequently my lunch was a peanut-butter sandwich. Especially when my lunch was an hour or two late, it tasted very good. My peanut-butter sandwiches are invariably margarine-and-peanut-butter, made with two pieces of bread; this is still default sandwich configuration for me, but I have encountered people for whom it is not.*

At one point my dad gave me his 486 with Windows 3.1, because I was using it more than he was--I was going over to his house in the afternoons to play Civilization. I think I was having issues with my EGA monitor at the time, so couldn't play it at home. Danilo, another consultant for Terranet, set up Linux on it, which worked quite well for me for a while. (I never got it to work as well on this computer when I tried to install it myself.)

One game I liked on Linux was "atc", an air-traffic-controller game. It was done purely with text, different letters used to represent the planes, numbers for their altitude, various symbols for airports and beacons, and all keyboard commands. In an attempt to add realism, the game was impossible to pause for more than, say, 10 seconds. It was not unknown, on those rare days when I got promptly for lunch, for me to start up a game of atc as soon as I got home. I would not be hungry right away, you see.

Sometimes the game would last for a long time--on some difficulty levels, anyway, I was quite good. Then hunger would start to gnaw. So I would wait until there was a lull in the action, with few planes on the screen, then whip into the kitchen for one step in the peanut-butter-sandwich-making process. Lull 1--take out bread! Lull 2--cut first slice! (This was bread-machine bread, back when our bread machine still made decent bread, or at least I could stand to eat it.) Lull 3--cut second slice! Get margarine! Get peanut butter! Get knife! Etc. Often I was slightly bored of the game at that point anyway, so going away from the computer added a little bit of spice. And, of course, eating the sandwich while playing was also a bit tricky.


Aaron // 10:00 PM Clix me!

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During the two years that Nicole and I lived in Grande Prairie, the most work I did was part-time system administration at Terranet. That was an Internet provider up there, which I had first heard about when I was in Edmonton because there was a woman on Terranet who posted occasionally on alt.pub.coffeehouse.amethyst. When Nicole got the job at the college library, that was one of the first places I applied.

Terranet was a pretty small company, like most ISPs, I imagine, with only a few people working there. Jim was the owner, and his brother Lorne worked there too. Other people came and went, especially salespeople trying to sell our web-hosting services. When I came in one day, Jim was nice enough to give me a free account there in return for the option to call on my Unix abilities occasionally. At the time, I was dialing in on a 2400 baud modem from an XT with MS-DOS, but I had lots of Unix experience from my Space Physics job, and my Computing Science classes at university.

I applied desultorily to other positions, but not with any great urgency, because Nicole did have a good job, and I was enjoying my unemployment. I always enjoy having a large sequence of days where I don't have to work or anything, and I look forward to that happening someday again. Of course, we had to cut a few corners--we didn't have cable for the first year, so we missed the second seasons of "Friends" and "Star Trek: Voyager", and stopped watching "Lois & Clark".

After a few months, Jim brought me in a few times, and finally decided to hire me sort of part-time as a system administrator. I was officially billed as a "consultant", but I came in every weekday, either in the morning or the afternoon.

Lorne was one of those people who I could talk to for hours about music. If I was in in the morning, I could end up leaving an hour to an hour and a half late if I got to talking with him. Especially because he was often the phone support person as well, and would have to keep answering the phone. And it would be rude for me to just leave in the middle of the conversation, so I would have to wait until he got off the phone, which might take fifteen minutes...


Aaron // 10:00 PM Clix me!

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Still, I could list a few of my favourite short stories here, usually not recent ones. Lawrence Watt-Evans' "Real Time", for instance, is a story about a man from the future killing people to stop them committing future crimes, producing Hitlers, etc....except that, even though it's first person, you suspect that he's not from the future at all. F.M. Busby's "First Person Plural" is the story of a man who wakes up one morning in the body of a woman coming out of a coma...and then lives through the same day is his own body after that. Best thing I've ever read by Busby, which is faint praise because he's written some real crap, but this one story almost redeems it.

Then there's "Cassandra's Photographs" by Lisa Goldstein, where a woman gives her friend, in a fit of pique, a series of ambiguous photographs from his future. "Silver Lady & The Fortyish Man" by Megan Lindholm, sort of an urban fantasy about magic and curses in the modern world, but with no fairy-folk or anything like that. More recently, we have Peter Watts's excellent "A Niche", which was the beginning of his novel Starfish but stands very well on its own. And then there's one that I always have trouble finding, but I think that it's "Mr. Boy" by James Patrick Kelly, a disturbing story of a man exploring his own subconscious after being brought back from death(at least partway)and finding things he would rather have forgotten. "The Glass Flower" by George R.R. Martin, about how some yearn for immortality and some yearn for an ending. "Understand" by Ted Chiang, a look at how people with enhanced intelligence might really behave, which I couldn't help but think of during the middle of "A Beautiful Mind". Robert Reed's "Bushwhacker", with a similar theme.

I could probably find more if I tried, though I might have to reread most of them. Those are the ones that leap to mind, anyway. I'm sure there's a Ray Aldridge one in there, too, maybe "Click", his Writers of the Future story, and maybe James Alan Gardner's outlandish "Muffin Explains Teleology To The World At Large", or something by R.A. Lafferty.

So this is why I am starting to read more short stories, because who knows what else I'm missing?





Aaron // 9:58 PM Clix me!
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Then I reread, in its entirety, the Megan Chance novel, A Season In Eden. It was mostly just the first part of the book I had skimmed over before, but even once I got to the part I had read previously, I kept going, because I had momentum, and because it would feel weird to stop reading a book in the middle, and because I wanted to reread it with more context this time, and because that part of the book was just better.

I still can't really think of it as a romance. It's a story of recovery from grief, very well done--one of the reasons I kept reading the first time was because I wanted to find out exactly what the tragic event in her past was. It wasn't fully explained for quite a while, even though it was in first person, but enough clues were provided so that it wasn't a surprise when it was all revealed.

Now I'm reading some short stories from an old issue of F&SF--well, 1998, not that old compared to most of my SF magazine collection, which peaked in the 80's and early 90's. I'd gotten out of the habit of reading magazine stories between books, which I used to do all the time, but I'm trying to get back into it again. I read far more novels than I do short stories, but both forms produce good work. Novels are more satisfying for most people, but there are things you do with a short story that you can't do with a novel.

I often think of Spider Robinson's anthology The Best of All Possible Worlds. In it, he picked his favourite stories, and then the authors of those stories each picked their favourite stories. I think that would be fun to do sometime.

With a short story, I'm more likely to forget it, though, and who wrote it, and what it's called. I can look through a 1991 issue of some magazine and may be lucky to remember one story from reading the table of contents. And several times I've gone looking for a particular story that I remember reading, only to give up in frustration. I have them all indexed on computer by title and author, of course, but that's just not enough to call it to mind.


Aaron // 9:58 PM Clix me!

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A World That's So Demanding



[This was supposed to have been posted Sunday night, but apparently Blogger/Blogspot have been having issues...also why it's posted in small chunks.]

So on Saturday we started a new and exciting phase of our life. We bought a potty for Simon.

When it comes right down to it, it is easier to change diapers than it is to toilet train. But it is easier to have a toilet-trained child than it is to change diapers, so we will persevere. As a matter of fact, the only reason to persevere with raising a child is because eventually they may turn into mature human beings.

I'm sure there are only a few of my readers who really want to hear the details of potty training, so I will try to keep them to a minimum. Suffice it to say that Simon was not toilet-trained in one day, and still has trouble with the whole concept of when he should be using the potty. We might have to resort to cloth underpants, which make it harder to ignore once they've been soiled. Modern diaper technology, even for training pants, make it easy to ignore.

He seems to be moderately enthusiastic for the idea otherwise, so there is some hope. We're aiming for success by Thanksgiving, so we don't have to bring the potty along to Hawk Hills. It'll be fun enough to take the trip with Luke; this may be the last time we go up to Hawk Hills, though, since we're not sure if Nicole's parents are moving down before or after Easter.

My dad has informed me he'll probably be moving down here sometime in the next few months, too. That'll be nice, since he's had such trouble getting down to Edmonton in the last few years. He hasn't seen Simon nearly as much as my mom has, or Nicole's parents. I'm looking forward to having multiple grandparents available for babysitting. It might make it feasible for me to get back into acting again, for instance. Or for Nicole to get more writing done during the week. And let's face it, we aren't the most active parents, so people to take Simon(and Luke, by that point)to the playground to fly a kite or something would probably be a good thing.




I finished When The Lights Go Out Friday night, and it was pretty good, not completely predictable but still fairly satisfying. I wish I could find more Tanith Lee around, but she doesn't seem to get stocked much these days, except for her Unicorn series(which I will be starting fairly soon). It is easier to find British authors in Canada than it is in the U.S., but it's still not as easy as it could be.



Aaron // 7:03 PM Clix me!
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Thursday, September 12, 2002:

Will The Key Unlock My Mind?



I know that I should do a blog entry today, or break my four-day rule, but I haven't had much time yet. Sharna & Nick came over, just to take Simon out to the playground for an hour, but I had gotten home late from work and then we had to go grocery shopping, so by 7:00, when they arrived, we were just about to start eating supper. Then Luke couldn't decide if he wanted to be fed or not. So we didn't get much benefit out of our hour, and then of course after they got back we visited with them until close to 9:00, when we put Simon to bed. By then it was practically time for "Scrubs", which seemed to be the season finale, though the new season isn't supposed to start for two weeks.

So I'm afraid I will cop out and do a survey, which I found on
Derwin's site. Stupid spellings in the questions are all [sic].





  • Starting Time: 10:11 pm MDT
  • Name On Birth Certificate: Aaron Victor Humphrey
  • Nicknames: Hmmm. "Alfvaen" is more my net.alias; I used to go by "Esquire" very briefly in college; I was "Waldo" on one BBS. Never really managed to acquire any by myself.


  • Age: 31
  • Birthday: July 14, 1971


  • School: None at present, not even Hard Knocks.
  • Location: Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
  • Colour of eyes: This has always been a tough one. I'm not really blue-eyed the same way I'm not really blond. Sometimes I verge on green, or maybe even grey. But we tell Simon that I am for simplicity's sake.
  • Height: 5'6", I think. Not sure.
  • Shoe Size: You know, that's a datum that doesn't stick in my mind, and I don't feel like running upstairs and checking.
  • Brothers/Sisters: One brother older by 3.5 years.
  • Who lives with you: My wife and two sons, one 2.9 and one more like 0.2.
  • When's ur bedtime?: varies, usually around 11:00-11:30 even though it should really be earlier.

    ------------------HAVE YOU EVER------------------
  • Been so drunk you blacked out: Never been drunk. Never saw the appeal.
  • Missed school B/coz it was raining: As Derwin said, not in Alberta. Snowing, yes. But not just a little rain...
  • Put a body part on fire for amusement: Ummm....no.
  • Been hurt emotionally: I usually only venture if I'm absolutely sure, which may have led to a few missed opportunities, but seems to have turned out well in the end.
  • Kept a secret from everyone: If I had, would I tell everyone that I had? So, therefore, I must say that I have never done that.
  • Had an imaginary friend: Not that I remember. I'd have to check with my parents, though.
  • Wanted to hook up with a friend: If you mean "hook up", then yes. What's the point, otherwise?
  • Cried during a Movie: I think so, but I can't remember which one off the top of my head.
  • Had a crush on a teacher: Not as such, though there were a couple I thought were cute.
  • Ever thought an animated character was hot: What, ain't you ever seen "Heavy Metal"?
  • Had a New Kids on the Block tape: After my time, thankfully. Give me Duran Duran any day.
  • Been on stage: Many times, in various plays. As myself, I don't really think so, unless you count that panel I was on at ConVersion. That might have been on a stage.
  • Cut your own hair: Made myself look totally stupid for a few weeks, back in junior high school. I could not get that one piece of hair to stay down, so I cut it off, and left a totally visible chunk missing.
  • Been sarcastic: Oh, hell no. Not me. I don't even know how to be sarcastic.

    ------------------FAVORITES------------------
  • Shampoo: I'm usually pretty neutral as to shampoo, but I did like this Australian Citrus stuff because I thought it smelled good. Seems to have been discontinued, of course.
  • Soap: Ivory, because it floats!
  • Color: Purple.
  • Day/Night: It depends. Night can be scary if I'm alone in the house, but day can have all that stupid bright sunlight. I'll call it even.
  • Summer/Winter: Depends. I'd rather have winter than this summer. Last winter was quite mild and temperate, though hardly enough snow to be real winter.
  • On-line smiley: I used to use ;-} a lot, but now I tend to use * because it's more enigmatic.
  • Lace or satin: Not something I've really thought about, but let's go for satin. More fun to touch than to look at.
  • Cartoon Characters: Oh, quite a few--Stan from South Park, Wile E. Coyote, and all of the Samurai Pizza Cats.
  • Fave Food: Hard to think of, because it varies from moment to moment. Even desserts--I usually like cheesecake, but not always. I'd practically have to go for "cream cheese icing", and that's barely food...
  • Fave Advertisment: I always liked the old Tio Sancho Taco commercial with the punchline "Because Tio Sancho knows that a taco tastes better in your mouth than on your shirt!" Or the one comparing an Aero bar to milk. "An Aero bar fits in your purse! So does milk!"
  • Fave Ice Cream: Pistachio. I usually settle for Vanilla, or Butterscotch Ripple, but I had a pistachio cone in Amherstburg and it was divine.
  • Fave Subject: From when I was in school? Probably math, especially linear algebra. Linguistics was fun, too.
  • Fave Drink: Water. Or iced tea, which is what I almost always order in restaurants, movie theatres, etc.
  • Fave Person to talk to online: It's been so long, I don't know. Most of my online chatting was on private MUDs, with either talk.bizarre or alt.callahans people.

    -------------RIGHT NOW------------------
  • Wearing: Dark grey slacks and a purple Texas T-shirt that I swear I have had for at least ten years and is still decent to wear in public.
  • Hair is: Longer than I would like it, but going to be cut on Saturday. I would've gotten it cut a month ago, but I was waiting for my ear infection to clear up.
  • I'm feeling: Pressed for time.
  • Eating: My supper(and homemade oatmeal chocolate chip cookies for dessert)still hasn't worn off yet. I don't usually snack much in the evening any more.
  • Drinking: Some water would be good, but I'll wait until I've finished and go upstairs. Downstairs on my computer is when I usually deprive myself of water for the longest.


  • Thinkin 'bout: What to do this weekend, all the chores that will make the free time run away like sand between my fingers.
  • Listening to: Nothing right now, though some cheesy song by Toronto is running through my head.
  • Talking to: Nobody. What, you think I can talk and type at the same time? My wife's in bed and I don't do online chat.

    ----IN THE LAST 24 HRS------------------
  • Cried: No, I don't think so. A few days ago, reading some of those 9/11 stories, maybe.
  • Worn a skirt: Heh. No, don't think so.
  • Met someone new: No, but I did get non-junk email from someone new, does that count?
  • Cleaned your room: Ugh. Not even close. That's almost two weeks ago now.
  • Drove a car: To work and back, though I made Nicole drive to the grocery store. She still owes me for when she was pregnant.

    ---------------DO YOU BELIEVE IN------------------
  • Yourself: I come to terms too readily with my faults--as Linus once said, they're character traits. So I'm willing to just let things slide because that's who I am. Does that count as "belief"?
  • Your friends: I suppose. I haven't managed to keep too many, but the ones I have are pretty reliable. Except for the ones I'm related to.*
  • Santa Claus: I don't think so.
  • Tooth Fairy: In a few years, I will be the Tooth Fairy, so that'll pretty much do it for me.
  • Destiny/Fate: No. As Neil Peart once said, "Why are we here? Because we're here. Roll the bones," and "Fate is just the weight of circumstances."
  • Angels: Only in the Kabbalistic sense. Angels in movies, angels on TV, angels who watch over us and whisper in our ears, I wish would all go away. Give me Metatron and Azrael any day.
  • Ghosts: No. Nor life after death either.
  • UFO's: Aliens, somewhere, maybe, but little men with big eyes who kidnap people into their spaceships? No. That's just mass hysteria and updated fairy sightings caused by electromagnetic field anomalies.

    ---------FRIENDS AND LIFE------------------
  • Do you have a boyfriend/girlfriend: I have a wife, does that count?
  • Who have you known the longest: I've known Jeremy since I was about nine, though I lose track of him from time to time.
  • Who's the shyest: My wife, I'd have to say. She keeps to herself for the most part, and with people she doesn't know well will more likely talk to me than anyone else.
  • Who's the weirdest: That's a good question. Darren is pretty strange, but then there's the Cult of Pain people... I personally like to be the weirdest myself, if it's not too much effort.
  • Who do you go to for advice: My wife's parents, sometimes more than my own, or Edna at work.
  • Who do you cry with: Nobody, generally. It's easier alone.
  • When did you cry the most: The summer after I met Nicole, when we were apart for most of three months, and I was also probably badly undernourished.
  • What's the best feeling in the world: Finally finishing something that I've been working on for a long time.
  • Worst Feeling: When I am starting to lose control of myself.
  • Finish time: 10:52 pm





Okay, now that that's over, the usual book and music update. I've been mostly listening to my own CDs this week, but I did have a couple of library ones today which I thought were pretty good.

One of them was "Come Clean" by Puddle of Mudd, which I was expect just to be another one of those sludge-rock albums, but was, I think, better than many of them. "Blurry" is of course the song I've been hearing on the radio that I like the most, but "She Hates Me" was kind of funny, and in general it wasn't too guitar-noisy for me. Not quite wishlist material, but I'd buy it for $1...

The other one was "The Sound of Music" by Pizzicato Five. They're a Japanese group, mostly singing in their native language, that I heard of on some soundtrack somewhere, I think. I don't remember which one. Anyway, this CD is fairly poppy, in a very pleasant way...and it does have English translations of the lyrics for those who need it. I like to listen to the occasional non-English album, anyway. Also featured a song remixed by St. Etienne, which was really cool. Other standout tracks include "Strawberry Sleighride", which sounded just nonsensical enough to be funny in a sort of Shonen Knife way, "If I Were A Groupie", which featured groupie sound samples, and "Fortune Cookie", which was just kind of cool. This one definitely goes on my wishlist. Probably hard to find, though.

As for books...well, I finished The Voice of The Night pretty quickly, because it moved fast, and I think just didn't have that much type on its pages.* It got better by the one, once Colin figured out that Roy was really a psycho. Not a big secret there.

Now I'm already most of the way done Tanith Lee's When The Lights Go Out. It's better than some of hers I've been reading recently, which have been a bit more standard in their topics--vampires, werewolves, Egypt, India. This one is way out in left field, and I don't know where it's coming from. It doesn't have a gonzo Powers/Blaylock tone to it or anything, but weird things are happening with little explanation. It moves a bit slowly, perhaps, but I'm getting close to the end.

After that I don't know; it may be time for that library book, perhaps. I've been trying to read non-series books this month, which is sometimes a bit of work.* We'll see what strikes me. Maybe Robert Newman's Corbie, a book I borrowed from my dad years 'n' years ago but know little about, or Iain M. Banks's Look To Windward.




Oh, hey, I keep forgetting to mention an actual fun website I happened across, possibly through Blogsnob. Except now that I go looking for it, it's not there! It was called "How To Avoid Instant Death", and was the funniest and most bizarre thing I've read in months. But btinternet.com seems to have lost it. And whenever I try to go there, Popup Killer keeps killing IE because the default page seems to match one of its blacklist patterns... It was at http://instantdeath.filetap.com/, but doesn't seem to be any more. Dammit! I was only there a week ago...

Though what was fun(thanks to Cyborgirl for the link)was Real-Time Testing of Internet Filtering In China. Some people at Harvard are studying what web sites are filtered in China, and in other countries as well, and they're allowing people to submit links to sites to cover some bases they wouldn't have thought of otherwise. Oddly, my blog page is accessible, but my whole ISP's domain seems to be blocked. (Everyone seems to submit google.com--it's blocked, take that as a given, don't waste your time.)




Okay, enough of that, time to wrap this up with another entry in the countdown of my 750 favourite songs:

410. Genesis: Mama, from Genesis

This one duplicates the drum-machine-opening-with-real-drums-coming-in-on-last-verse structure of "In The Air Tonight", but is a bit more sinister in content. I remember it from a "Magnum P.I." episode my ex-roommate Dave taped that played the song. Remember when Phil Collins could sound sick and twisted?

409. Pink Floyd: Julia Dream, from Relics

"Relics" collects some of Pink Floyd's best early songs, probably from singles or something. This one is fairly airy and a little bit psychedelic, though I find it memorable because of my friend Julia who had some of the weirdest dreams I've ever heard of.




If you live to be a hundred, your lucky number goes up by one. --George Carlin


Aaron // 11:25 PM Clix me!
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Sunday, September 08, 2002:


Let Me Be Your Time Bomb



This weekend was pretty much of a total loss for me. Well, Saturday was, at any rate. I went to bed at 9:00 on Friday night because I was so tired, and then got up around 7:00 in the morning with Luke. Then we did our normal Saturday morning library/bookstore/mall excursion, came back and had lunch, and then I went back to bed for an hour or so in the afternoon. I finished reading The Moreau Factor, and that's about it. Dishes got put off until Sunday, and then we went out to Moxie's for supper.

I wasn't impressed with that Moxie's, anyway. Being a person who doesn't eat fish and doesn't care much for restaurant steak, there wasn't that much left on their menu. Burgers, some stir-fry type things, and ribs. I had the ribs, but they were nothing special. The "garlic mashed potatoes" were way too spicy for me.

The most important accomplishment of the day came at its very end. Those of you who've been following the story remember that I spend a lot of time playing a game called Chip's Challenge, and that a little while ago the history got erased so I had to redo all my levels over again. I finally got back up to Level 141, "Underground", which had been stymieing(sp?) me for weeks even before the erasure. It involved a lot of the fast-moving monsters that they call Paramecia, which you have to free a large number of in order to find all the chips on the level. They then move very predictably, always moving counterclockwise around the border of the area you've cleared, but I kept running afoul of them anyway. Well, finally, on Saturday, after two or three hours of trying that day, I decided to try one more time before bedtime, and that was it--I got it. I wasn't too surprised, because I had managed to get within three squares of the exit earlier that day, but it was still an accomplishment, however pathetic.

Today I got to sleep in until Nicole went to church, at which point she left me at home with Luke while she and Simon went. We had a bottle of pumped milk to feed him with, and I thought we'd be okay. Luke was technically due(we count on two hours between feedings, though that will undoubtedly change at some point)at 10:15, but it wasn't until 10:40 that he seemed to be getting fussy. I had already taken out the bottle, thawed from our Moxie's trip the night before, so it was not quite fridge-cold anymore, and often that's not a problem.

Luke did not want the bottle. He started crying furiously, and I couldn't calm him down. This drives me to the edge, of course. I kept putting him back down on the couch by himself and storming off. I tried heating up the milk more, and he didn't like that either. I began to yell and scream myself from sheer frustration. At one point I rushed down the hall and bashed my forehead into the wall, leaving a visible dent--in the wall, that is. (I think the wall's not as strong as it could be.) Finally I gave up and picked him up to walk him around, the most reliable method of calming him down, though I myself was fuming the whole time. At last he fell asleep and I could lay him down again and try to calm myself down.

At 11:45, he woke up and seemed quite happy. I gave him the bottle again, and he drank from it willingly, though slowly, getting nowhere close to a full feeding. Nicole came home before he was finished, and eventually we gave up and she fed him herself.

I'm so glad that I didn't lose my temper to the point where I actually hurt Luke. I might have scared him a bit, but I held myself back from anything more. There's just something about a baby crying despite all your best efforts that can just drive you over the edge. You can't reason with it, you can't ask what the problem is, all you can do is try things, while under constant sonic assault, seemingly designed by nature to hit all your most sensitive nerves and cause maximum irritation so that you can't ignore it.

I did the dishes in the afternoon, came downstairs and browsed on the still-deserted Bearshare to see if there was anything interesting, and generally frittered away my time. I decided to make up a list of things to do on my computer, like the household chores we did last weekend(which we didn't use this weekend, not having the spare time to do any such thing), including games as well as organizing my various lists of data, updating my blog, etc. I'm updating my blog now because I felt like it, not being absolutely bound by my list. That is why I went on Bearshare, though. I'm hoping that I will eventually end up doing things like reading over The Shadow & The Flame that I wouldn't get to otherwise, but at the moment it's too easy to just pick another item from the list and do that instead. Even Bearshare was my third pick, and I just didn't feel like doing the first two. But we'll see how it goes.

I might not have felt up to writing a blog entry at all, but at the library booksale yesterday I picked up a two-cassette recording of "The Importance of Being Earnest", featuring John Gielgud, and I just listened to the first side. That play(Oscar Wilde's, in case you didn't know)has long been a favourite, and I would love to play the part of Algernon some day. I missed seeing the Walterdale's version a while ago, but I miss a lot of Walterdale plays these days. But anyway, this performance was quite good, and cheered me up considerably. I might save the rest of it for when I am feeling similarly out of sorts.




As I said, I finished The Moreau Factor yesterday; it was okay, much better than the last few bad Jack L. Chalker books, though not his best caliber by any means. I still have Balshazzar's Serpent to see if he has actually pulled up his socks or not.

Now I've started The Voice of The Night by Dean R. Koontz. It's one of his earlier books, under the pseudonym Brian Coffey, republished under his own name. It's alright so far, but mostly we have one boy, Colin, who is pathetically grateful for the friendship of another boy, Roy, who is not a very nice person at all. Sometimes you just want to take Colin and pound his head with a shovel or something for being so stupid. Of course, I wasn't as friendless as Colin was throughout school, besides being a social misfit--I had Jeremy as my best friend for the tough junior high school years, for which I am eternally grateful. So we were D&D-playing geeks, so what? We were self-sufficient. And come high school I was able to make other friends. So I'm not necessarily eager to read further in the book and see what stupid things Colin will be persuaded to do next.

At the library I also had the impulse to grab a random paperback off the shelf by somebody I'd never read before. It actually took a lot of searching to find such a book, especially one that wasn't in the middle of some series, but eventually I settled on Divine Intervention by Ken Wharton. So I guess we'll see how that goes...




I had a couple more library CDs from Friday that I'll mention here, though I wasn't impressed with either of them. There was Train's self-titled album, which I wanted to hear before I went on to their "Drops of Jupiter" album, but it's nothing to write home about, nothing nearly as good as that song, just undistinguished rock somewhere between Matchbox 20 and The Black Crowes or something. The other was Weezer's "Maladroit". I'm not a big fan of Weezer, but whenever I hear people say good things about them I go to check them out just to see if I'm missing something. I've concluded I'm not. I don't like Weezer's guitar assault, even if it sounds like if you got rid of it there'd be pop under it instead of death-metal or sludge-rock or whatever. I'd rather just hear the pop and ditch the stupid guitars, and I know that's personal taste talking here. But I have never gotten reconciled to that kind of noise being a part of music.

There were also a few more albums from that bunch that I hadn't listened to in a while. Andrew Cash's "Hi" also suffers from guitar noise problems, being nowhere near as enjoyable a listen as his much cleaner "Boomtown" and "Time & Place" albums from the late 80's. Aimee Mann's "Whatever" has still failed to grow on me, as did 'Til Tuesday's last album "Everything's Different Now", because it still lacks that kind of musical energy. It does have a couple of interesting songs, but the rest doesn't distinguish itself for me--I think I miss her band. Concrete Blonde's "Mexican Moon" was missing a track as arresting as "Dance Along The Edge" or "Joey" or even "Ghost of A Texas Ladies' Man". Van Morrison's "Moondance" I still like much, much better than the meandering "Astral Weeks". Peter Weller's self-titled album is a bit of a yawn, having neither the force of The Jam or the soul of The Style Council. Boiled In Lead's "Antler Dance" is an interesting bit of celtic-folk-metal, including covers of "Rasputin" and "State Trooper", and a song cowritten by Steven Brust, "Walk Through The Door". And "Ain't Nuthin' But A She Thing" is an interesting compilation of female artists, including Melissa Etheridge's great cover version of Joan Armatrading's "The Weakness In Me" and Andi Oliver's(who the heck is she, anyway?!)"Woman of The Ghetto".

Mrs. Torrance's "I'm The Bird" is better than I remembered it--I always get them mixed up with Saint Etienne because I got them so close together. Mrs. Torrance is a Canadian alternative band that I first heard of in my Columbia House magazine, and apparently they didn't stay together too long, but the vocalist, Tamara Williamson, has a solo career(of course), so I might check her out sometime. They manage to straddle a happy medium on the guitar-noise front, anyway.

I also listened to my CD copy of Elvis Costello's "Kojak Variety", which sometimes I think is totally unnecessary. I'm not enamoured with any of the songs he covered here, from 1930-1970 according to the liner notes, except for the stunning cover of the Kinks' "Days", and I have that one on the "Until The End of The World" soundtrack, admittedly on cassette. Oh, well, I suppose I'll get used to it the way I got used to "Almost Blue", his country cover album.




I missed my "tale from my past" last post, so here's a quickie:

The furthest back I can remember must be to when I was about three years old. I remember a Mr. Dressup record that I would listen to, I remember a crabapple tree in the back yard, and I remember getting to sit in a fire engine when my Uncle Tim fell asleep smoking in bed and set the bed on fire. That was when we lived in Edmonton. We moved to Winnipeg before my fourth birthday, because I distinctly remember it being there. Winnipeg I associate with watching "Batman" and other such fine cartoony fare(including something called "Electro-woman and Dyna-girl")in our basement.

After less than a year in Winnipeg, though, we moved to Grande Prairie. This and the previous move were because of my dad's job, but after that they decided to stay in Grande Prairie and change the job instead. My dad has had many jobs, but in some way or other he's always been a salesman.

My brother, three and a half years older than me, probably remembers the whole thing better than I do. I remember going to playschool at Parkside School, still being four, and then starting first grade while I was still five. My mom must have figured I was a gifted child, because she always lobbied for me to go ahead. I could certainly read already when I was in Grade One--I have stored in my head that I read Heidi when I was four. I therefore was bored and caused a lot of disruption in class, apparently. But at some point during the year we had to share a classroom with a Grade Two class, and I started doing their work because it looked more fun. And at the end of that year I passed out of Grade Two, so next year I was six and started Grade Three.

So I was two years younger than my classmates all through school. At some point they considered advancing my further, but they asked me and I said "No." I didn't want to be any more of a freak than I already was. I may have been underchallenged in high school and thus never felt the urge to live up to my full potential, but at least I got somewhat socialized.




Now for more of that pesky countdown:

412. Devo: Race of Doom, from New Traditionalists

My brother lent me this album a while ago; I had never really listened to Devo much, apart from hearing the song "Peek-A-Boo!" when I was in junior high school. It did grow on me eventually, and this song is pretty cool. Lyrics chanted, and sung in weird Devo voices, with interesting synthesized rhythms. It's probably talking about the countdown to nuclear armageddon or something, but what of that?

411. The Nylons: Prince of Darkness, from One Size Fits All

This song, on the other hand, I know intimately. I listened to The Nylons a lot when they were just starting out, probably because they kept coming to Grande Prairie on their tours. This song is just vocals and percussion(not quite "a cappella", but as far as they ever strayed from it), but it is a powerful song about resisting the forces of darkness that has appealed to me from quite a young age. It still holds up after all this time, too, I think.




Ride that camel through the eye of a phonograph needle --The Rainmakers, "Spend It On Love"



Aaron // 10:45 PM Clix me!
______________________

Thursday, September 05, 2002:

What Was Wood Became Alive



In an attempt to fight sleep deprivation without losing several hours at a time to naps, I am trying to go to bed earlier this week, at 10:30 instead of 11:30-12:00. My resolve is crumbling.

It seems like I can only get one thing done in that length of evening. There are a number of ways I like to occupy my free time on the computer, but I like to be able to do more than one of them in an evening, and if I go to bed earlier I can't seem to manage it.

And tonight I have to do my blog entry or break my self-imposed non-holiday four-day limit between entries. It's no more meaningful than an every-day or every-other-day limit, but if I have to move the goalposts one more time I'll begin to wonder why I bother.

There is some kind of a conspiracy against me, too. "Friends" reruns on A-Channel now start at 7:30 rather than 7:00. I should give up watching them again, but we're into Season 6 now and I think some of the episodes I like are coming up. But before, when it was at 7:00, I could spend some Simon time afterwards and still have some time before his 9:00 bedtime. Now I can't seem to use that half-hour, and Simon still wants to go downstairs afterwards.

Tonight has been particularly bad. Well, at least we managed to postpone grocery shopping another day by scrounging up another meal, but then the "New Show" episode of TV Guide came in, so we spent a while going over that to see if there was anything worth watching. It's hard to say this year. We often seem to try three or four new shows and maybe stick with one of them. And sometimes those get cancelled, like "Cold Feet" did a few years ago.

Anyway, and then Luke started to get extremely cranky, probably because of the fact that he got two immunization shots today, one in each leg, and they're probably both sore. So he's high-maintenance tonight. At least he's napping on my shoulder right now, but I'm giving myself severe shoulder pain by trying to type two-handed and balance him there at the same time. I just know that he'll wake up if I put him down, in his present mood. I should still try it, though. ...Okay, worked so far. Cross your fingers.

Nicole went out to the pharmacy to get some more Children's Tylenol, because we had two mostly-empty bottles, and one of them expired three years ago. (The other one only expired last year; we used it anyway, and so far it seems to have done the trick.) I've mentioned before how annoyed I get at how it seems you can never use all the medicine in the package before it expires... Anyway, Simon went with her, because he seems to always want to go out with anyone who leaves the house(sometimes even me when I go to work), so I got a little bit of freedom that way. Whatever I can get tonight.

Oh, and "Scrubs" is on tonight, too. Last week was a Brendan Fraser one, and it was "To Be Continued", so I definitely want to see tonight's. That's at 9:30, so inconveniently right in the middle of my post-Simon's-bedtime time.

So in fits and snatches it will be. But I will post something. In fact, if you're reading this, I already have.




Simon is still totally into "Star Wars". He requests the "Luke Skywalker" story constantly, and since we often don't want to tell it, we keep having to put him off. I suggested that Nicole tape herself one time and then she could just play it back. She has a more standardized way of telling the story than I do, leaving out a lot of the details. I keep trying to put them in, and usually in the wrong order so I jump back and forth and it just feels like work.

We strive for variety, too. Sometimes we tell the "R2-D2" story, from the droid's point of view instead. Once Nicole and I did the "Princess R2-D2" version, which Simon didn't like because we told it all wrong, but was more fun. In that version, Princess R2-D2 gets captured by Darth Vader, but she manages to give her information to the droid Leia, who with his droid friend Chewbacca goes to Tattooine and is bought by Luke Solo, who goes to rescue Princess R2-D2 with Han Skywalker and his Wookiee friend C-3PO... (We probably should have used "Darth Kenobi" and "Obi-Wan Vader", too.)

Many of Simon's games now involve Star Wars--giving Luke a lightsaber, blowing up the Death Star, shooting down fighters, and even "killing Luke and letting his robe fall to the floor". A bit violent, perhaps, but I think it's just a boy thing. He does seem to be instinctively drawn to guns and sticks and swords and cars, and that can't all be cultural conditioning. Mind you, he also plays with "Mr. Block", basically a tower of blocks with a wider block at the bottom. And last night while Nicole was making supper, he was taking things out of the utensil drawer(those we'd let him play with). His favourite was probably the "scraper" that came with our food processor, which he decided was a "protector", and proceeded to use to "protect" things. What he thinks that means, I don't know.




On a whim, I bought an issue of Games Magazine last time we went grocery shopping. My mom used to subscribe to that, so I read quite a few of them. I especially liked the contests and their results. This issue had a bunch of useless inventions, my favourite being "Books On Tape--The Complete Transcriptions". And I'm working on this issue's contest, the "Cartoon Rebuses". Basically they're cartoons that are supposed to convey a name or word or other answer, using a mixture of things pictured, things said, and things implied.

I'm doing better than I usually do--I've solved seven of them so far, four of them last night before supper in a burst of inspiration. Basically I have to leap to the solution and then work backward to figure out how it was derived. I don't know if I'll get them all before the end of the month, but I'll keep trying. I don't know how many of these you have to solve to win the contest, but I suspect that all of them would be a good start.




Yesterday Luke slept a lot during the day, and especially during the evening. We anticipated this would mean he'd be awake most of the night. So at 1:45, when Nicole came back to bed after feeding Luke and he was still making noise in his crib, I volunteered to get up with him.

He actually fell asleep shortly after I brought him downstairs and laid him out on the quilt, but I stayed up for a little while to see if he was really asleep. I didn't feel like reading my current book, The Moreau Factor, so instead I picked up one of Nicole's romances that was sitting on the table, A Season In Eden by Megan Chance. I read the back, and it sounded interesting, so I read the first few pages and then browsed forward. Suddenly, about a third of the way in, I was hooked, and I read to the end of the book. By then it was 3:30, and Luke had been asleep pretty much the whole time. So it wasn't the brightest thing I did all week.

It was really a good book, though. It wasn't what I would call a "romance", either, from the few I've read, just a historical mainstream novel. A woman and her husband, estranged by a horrible tragedy that is hugely hinted at throughout the book but only really revealed near the end, are living in the Yakima Valley in somewhat historical Washington, growing apples and cherries. The husband goes off to log because they need the money, and brings in a hired hand. Now she doesn't end up with the hired hand or anything--it's still enough of a romance for that. But it does eventually bring her and her husband back closer together, though for a while it's like the trials of Job or something.

Now I have to go back and read the first third of the book, too.*

Oh, and at about 3:15, when I was reading, I heard a plane go overhead. Then another, and another, until I realized it was a helicopter going back and forth. I guess they have that new police helicopter now, but it made me wonder why it was out there last night in particular... It wasn't reassuring, really.

So as you might have guessed, I am not being sucked along at high speed by The Moreau Factor. I think it is a bit better than some of Chalker's recent book, and I think the first-person POV is a large part of that. That was one reason why the Wonderland Gambit books worked so well, I think. One problem with the book is that the chapters are too long, so I end up stopping in the middle because I don't have time to read all the way to the end. But that may just be an excuse. I think the title gave away too much of the plot to start with. To people who've heard of The Island of Dr. Moreau, that is... I think after this I may read the rest of that Megan Chance book.




Now a few more library CDs and the like... Jon Hassell is not someone I thought I'd like, as perhaps the oddest trumpeter out there, but I liked "Power Spot", so eventually I got around to looking for more, and ended up with "City: Works of Fiction". A lot of it seemed like the same kind of thing as "Power Spot", just meandering quasi-jazz melodies, but some of the tracks, like the opener "Voiceprint(Blind From The Facts)", had a bit of percussion, almost reminiscent of David Van Tieghem's solo work but not him. Some of the notes accompanying the songs(possibly written by Glenn O'Brien--the attribution is not 100% clear)are interesting as well. Things like:
I always wondered how they could dig a city like that up. Who buried it in the first place. Don't tell me it just gathered dust for that long. Somebody must have buried it. Maybe they were trying to hide it so their apartments would be vacant when they came back and then they never did.

It's almost worth picking up for those alone.

Leonard Cohen's "Recent Songs" shows his extreme lack of flair for naming albums. For one thing, the album dates back to 1979, so they're not "recent" any more. He's also responsible for "Songs of Love And Hate", "Songs From A Room", "Songs of Leonard Cohen", and his most recent, "Ten New Songs". He can name songs, often quite well, but why not albums? Well, I guess he did better with "New Skin For The Old Ceremony", "Various Positions", and "Death of A Ladies' Man". But as for the music...well, I think I like better his albums from "Various Positions" onward, with the possible exception of his first one. The rest have tended to be disappointing, except for what I've already got on his "Greatest Hits" album. This one wasn't particularly notable for me. I'd probably pick any of them up cheap, of course.

Then another couple of French ones...the find this time was Isabelle Boulay's "états d'amour". (The French don't capitalize words in titles nearly as much as in English, and since they have a lot more elision, like "d'amour" and "c'est" and "quelqu'un", and many words start with accents which don't show up on capitalized letters, I'm beginning to understand why.) I picked this one up for no particular reason, though perhaps all her curly auburn hair on the cover influenced me. Anyway, it's really quite good. It looks like she associated with a number of eminent French(or Québecois)songwriters on this album; names I recognize include Jim Corcoran, Luc Plamondon, and Francis Cabrel. She's not a songwriter herself, but she's not a Celine Dion-esque Diva, either--her sound's more like Shawn Colvin, say. And she gets some really good songs on this album. Recommended. Okay, most of them are in French, and the one English song has a French title so you can't tell, but since I'm not a lyrics person it doesn't bother me.

The other French one was "Microclimat" by Richard Séguin. He's been around for a long time, with "Double Vie" a classic from the 80's. I've heard a few other songs of his, of varying quality. This album didn't inspire me, but it did have a decent track or two. Fairly conservative musically, though.




Down with the count:

414. Moxy Fruvous: B.J. Don't Cry, from Moxy Früvous

One of the tracks from their self-titled demo tape(which, like the Barenaked Ladies', sold quite well in Canada)that also ended up on their first album, "Bargainville". I don't know if the versions differ too greatly. Anyway, it's less outright jokey than "King of Spain" and "My Baby Loves A Bunch of Authors", but still quirky, mostly spoken but with great harmonies on the chorus.

413. Suzanne Vega: Wooden Horse(Caspar Hauser's Song), from Solitude Standing

This song is a bit of an enigma, and I'm not sure what "The Enigma of Caspar Hauser" has to do with it. Caspar Hauser, as I recall, was the name given to the unidentified boy who was locked up during his prime language-learning years, leaving him completely nonverbal later in life. It was speculated he was the son of some nobleman who never ransomed him or something. The song itself makes good use of drums, contrasting nicely with Vega's soft vocals. But I don't know what it's about.




Schrodinger's Pet Clinic--Give your cat half a chance


Aaron // 10:10 PM Clix me!
______________________

Sunday, September 01, 2002:

There's A World Outside These Darkened Doors



Happy new month! It's finally September. Maybe this means that, as it gets closer to fall, there will be fewer and fewer hot, sunny days. Today was mostly cloudy and cool, though a bit humid. What I've started calling "nice weather". It rained last night, too.

Sometimes I hope that they don't develop weather control, because I know that I will be outvoted in the whole sunny vs. cloudy day thing. Except when there are actual droughts going on, but then people will want it to rain only at night or something. The poor astronomers will never be able to see any stars. And so on. To be fair they'll have to set a certain quota of each type of weather. Not everybody will be able to get sunny weather for their soccer games every Monday and Wednesday, but then they can maybe schedule around them.

I don't think weather control is going to come around that soon, though. It's just too unpredictable, and the long-term effects are likely to be disastrous. Like the Isaac Asimov(?) story where the man had to say "Rain, rain go away," every single day, or all the rain from all the previous days would come all at once.




I stayed up until close to midnight last night, and then for some reason was incredibly tired when I did go to bed. Nicole made me get up with Luke about 7:00, and I was still really tired but didn't have a leg to stand on. Luke got hungry an hour or so later, so Nicole got up then, and I went right back to bed. Simon blessedly slept in until after 8:30. I slept in until closer to 10:00, I think.

I am so happy about the long weekend. There are so many things I wanted to get done today and tomorrow, and I knew that if I did I would be so unhappy about not having had any free time. But Nicole hit upon an ingenious plan which we put into practice this afternoon.

We wrote down all the things we thought we should get done--and mostly things that either of us could do, though not all. We added some fun things and family things as well. And then we cut them up and put them in a hat, to pick out. The first one I got was to go to the playground with Simon. I don't do that very often because it's just not high on my list of fun things, but we did it anyway. That's another good thing--I feel more obligated to actually do it than I would if Nicole just asked me to. It's like I said, "I will do whatever is on this paper," without knowing what was on the paper.

Because of the rain last night, we thought things would be wet, so we put Simon in his "mudsuit"--like a snowsuit, except without all the down-filling and stuff. It turned out it wasn't too wet, but it was a good thing anyway.

This is the playground they tore up in May sometime, that languished for months without being reinstalled because of a lack of volunteers or something, and finally went in a couple of weeks ago. And even then, it didn't get the sand put in(because all playgrounds these days need to be filled with sand, rather than having separate sandboxes)until this past week. It really is bizarre how playground have changed these days. Maybe it's just the Canadian winter thing, but there seems to be little or no exposed metal. The slides are all plastic. No teeter-totters. There are still swings, and monkey bars(they have cool sliding handles to go from one platform to another, too). Simon likes the steering wheels, because he likes to pretend he's driving a car. He did roll in the sand a couple of times, and without the mudsuit he probably would have ended up with sand in his diaper. He did bring a few litres home in his shoes anyway.

Anyway, after that I drew "Put away Christmas boxes". It has been really pathetic, that since we took down the Christmas tree this year the tree box and the decorations have been sitting on the downstairs landing. But we normally keep those boxes in a cubbyhole in the corner of the computer room which has been well-nigh inaccessible for a while. So it was nice to actually have a directive to clean all that stuff up, pick up the dozens of books which have been littering the floor(mostly non-fiction--I don't treat fiction books that way), and a couple of other boxes which had ended up there, and then actually get the stuff in there. Of course, it'll be about three months before it gets taken out again, but it's the principle of the thing.

Then I got "sweep kitchen floor", which is always a disaster area around Simon's chair, and doesn't get done every day as it probably needs. Nicole had drawn "play Rocket", which is a make-believe game that Simon likes, where he gets to travel to different planets in the solar system. (For a two-year-old, he knows a lot about the planets.) This was also good, because Simon keeps demanding the dustpan when I sweep the floor; this time I was almost done when he came in.

Nicole was wiped by late afternoon, and had a nap, which kiboshed our plans for Mushu Pork, so we just ordered out for pizza instead, and had some fresh apple pie. Then after supper, I drew "fix screen door". For a year or two now one of the apparati on the screen door that's supposed to keep it from swinging open has been broken; I think it happened in a big windstorm. So I unscrewed the old one, which looked really jerry-rigged now that I took a close look at it, and put on the new one. It seems to work okay. I like things that don't put too much of a strain on my mechanical skills.

So I feel like I accomplished something today, and this seems like a good way to make sure things get done, eventually. Though it's also easy to put tasks that need to be done anyhow, and then not do them because they didn't get drawn. For instance, the dishwasher never got put on today, and it does need it. Maybe I should go do that now. Be right back.




I didn't write about the T-shirts I bought on Saturday. I'm totally a T-shirt guy in the summer, especially because I can wear them to work. Sometimes, if it's actually cool in the summer, the air conditioning makes it too cold, but I still try to tough it out.

Anyway, a lot of my T-shirts have been developing holes, small and large. It's amazing how some of them have lasted since before I was married, and others have barely lasted two years. Type of fabric, I guess, and maybe fit as well.

I generally hate clothes shopping, and force myself into it infrequently, but this was low-stress enough that it was okay. We went to Zellers(which fills about the same niche in Canada as Wal-Mart)and looked around there. They had this whole line of T-shirts with skull and death and fire images on them; I got one with a fiery Chinese-style dragon on it, because I wanted a dragon, though I'm sure I will find a better one someday. I also got a Spider-Man shirt, because, well, why not, and another sort of Battletechy one that was on sale.

Also an actual long-sleeved shirt. It's not that I don't have long-sleeved shirts, but most of them are sweatshirts, and some of those only appropriate for -30 and below. If it is cold in the office in the summer, then it might be nice to have something warmer than a T-shirt but cooler than a sweatshirt. So that's what I got. It's got a sort of stylized dragon on it too.

Also significant is the fact that these shirts are in colours. The Chinese dragon one is orange, the Spider-Man one is blue, and the long-sleeved one is red. I am totally a black and white clothing guy(and the Battletech one is white), but Nicole keeps urging me to wear some colours, so I have complied. I will trust her to inform me of any grievous colour mismatches, but my pants are not particularly colourful so I may not have problems there. I don't care that much, though, when it comes right down to it. I'm only unlikely to become a fashion victim because I am unadventurous.




I finished reading Scion's Lady today, and the title's kind of interesting, because there are really three "ladies" that it could be about. The one our main character, the Scion, marries in the book is the least important of the three. It build up to an interesting and satisfying climax, and now I'm very interested to read the third book, Lady of Pain, and see what happens with Tigrallef next. It won't necessarily be nice.

Next up I think will be The Moreau Factor by Jack L. Chalker. I have this one, and Balshazzar's Serpent by him, in my collection for recent ones that I have not read, and if they don't show signs of improvement, then I may drop him. He's been one of my favourite authors for a long time, since the Well World series, and generally his stuff has been holding up, but Priam's Lens and The Sea Is Full of Stars and its sequel were not that great. He can't even pull off decent Well World books anymore. He does get a bit repetitive, but it hasn't bothered me before now. Here's hoping that he pulled up his socks.




Do I have to come up with another blast from the past? Maybe just a small one.

When I was at the U. of Alberta taking Physics, I got pretty good marks in my courses(though I only got a GPA of 9, the maximum, in my GPRC year), and had no trouble getting NSERC research scholarships over the summer. What that basically means is that you can go do research for three or four months, with your paycheque subsidized by NSERC(the National Science and Engineering Research Council, probably renamed several times since). The first two summers I ended up working with Dr. Doug Schmitt, still at the U. of A. because I didn't feel like relocating to another city for the summer. (That would have left Dave alone with the house, too, which was too scary to contemplate.)

Dr. Schmitt had an interesting specialty--he was technically in Geophysics, which is popular in Alberta because of all the oil companies, but his main projects involved holography. His idea was that you can take two holograms of the same object, with a time-lapse in between, and then superimpose them. Where the object has changed or moved, you will get interference patterns, which are usually concentric rings, and you can theoretically use those rings to determine what the difference between the position and shape of the object is between the two exposures. This could be valuable to geophysics because apparently you often drill a borehole and then measure how it changes over time, which somehow tells you things about what the subterrain around the borehole is like. This would be a way to make smaller measurements, and hence measure things more quickly than if you have to wait until it's macroscopic enough to see the changes.

At least, that's the theory. I don't know if it ever became a viable theory, but he managed to get grant money, I'm pretty sure.

For myself, my time was spent mostly writing programs to simulate the interference patterns in a number of cases; I never got to the part where you were trying to work backward from the interference pattern to measuring the actual change. Part of that is because I didn't know what the heck I was doing. I was learning C for the first time, and trying to display graphical images on a Macintosh, which I had no clue how to do. This was also when I discovered Tetris for the first time, so that wasn't a real productivity enhancer.

I also spent some time down in a sub-basement room developing test holograms. That was dead boring. The room was made as lightless as we could manage it, and there was a table which was designed to be vibration-resistant set up with the holographic equipment on it--the laser, the test object, some kind of screw for moving the test object ever so slightly, and of course the film. And a little button that opened the shutter on the laser and the film so we could develop a snapshot.

We would take one shot, move the screw slightly, wait a few minutes(we had a timer)for any vibrations we might have caused to die down, take another shot, and then advance the film. Repeat about ten or twenty times to expose however much film we'd happened to slice off in the dark(holographic film is extremely light-sensitive), and then take it upstairs in the sealed container to develop in another completely dark room. I hated developing it, because it involved pouring chemicals in the dark, even though the container was ingeniously designed to make it easy ro do.

I would get so close to sleep in those long afternoons. Sometimes we had music down there; sometimes I had company, most often a Chinese graduate student with whom I couldn't converse very well. I don't know whether the music ever caused enough vibrations to throw things off or not. I don't know how many of our shots ever turned out. And at the time, I didn't really care. It wasn't my research, and it didn't attract me into making it my own specialty.

I don't know how well this technique would ever have worked out in the field, with the sensitivity to vibrations and all. How could you measure a 5-micron change in the width of a borehole when shifting from one foot to another could change the focus of your laser by several centimeters? But technology is marvelous in coming up with solutions. I just don't know if it ever became a practical method of doing anything.

It was during the first summer of working for Dr. Schmitt that I met Nicole. By the second summer we were engaged. These were the summers of 1989 and 1990. Just to give you a point of reference.




Now I will instigate another entry in that ever-lovin' countdown:

416. Tom Cochrane: Life Is A Highway, from Mad Mad World

I don't know if this album has aged well--at one time I liked almost every song on it, but I don't think that's true anymore. I haven't been that keen on his last few albums, either; this one might just be a bit higher up on the bell curve, a fluke, if you will. This song is still great, if a bit overplayed, and my biggest peeve with it is that I can't sing along with the chorus. You'd be amazed how much that detracts from my enjoyment of a song...

415. The Grapes of Wrath: All The Things I Wasn't, from Now And Again

This is a nice melancholy little number from the Grapes(whose previous album "Treehouse" was produced by Tom Cochrane, by the way), mostly acoustic guitar. The guitar line in the chorus has a beautiful...well, I don't know the exact term, but basically "group of notes played really fast". I'd call it a trill, but that doesn't sound right for a guitar.




I've never been on TV, but I've been on radar 54 times...



Aaron // 11:27 PM Clix me!
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