The Den of Ubiquity

Thursday, October 31, 2002:


Never Enough Time To Spend



I'm going to try to make one final entry before Hallowe'en, and the beginning of November--otherwise known as "National" Novel Writing Month. I left over some topics that had occurred to me when I was writing the last entry, in keeping with my new strategy to try to spread things out a bit more. Also, the last two entries I managed to post to Blogger in one chunk, but when I went back to, for instance, try to put some HTML list tags into my "theme-song" post, it pushed it over the edge into too long. Apparently a new version of Blogger is supposed to be coming out soon, so maybe this problem will be fixed then.




When I was in high school, I knew a guy named Jody. Well, let me go a bit further back than that.

I had only really one friend, Jeremy, through junior high school, and at the time that seemed sufficient. (Peter was around too, though at that point he was more Jeremy's friend than mine.) When I got to high school, things opened up a bit more. I got to know some girls that I had met years earlier, Louisa, Kathy and Melinda. And then there was Evan, Aaron(a different Aaron), and Jody.

I knew all of them through a complex network of associations. Melinda I had known in junior high school, though I had offended her in some small way and she held a grudge against me the whole time(for which she later apologized, at least). Louisa and Kathy I knew before either through band or through some gifted-child program, I'm not sure. Their names had struck me as unusual(Kathy being short for Kathleen), so they stuck with me. The three of them were friends, I got to know them mostly because Louisa was in my French class in Grade 10. Evan I had roomed with for a couple of weeks at a summer program for gifted children over in Grouard, and we were both in band(he played saxophone, I clarinet). In high school we became sort of friends based on a common interest in Monty Python and the Wizardry computer game. Aaron and Jody were Evan's friends; I had Art class with Evan and Aaron, and Jody in Physics, in various years.

Jody was a mercurial sort, a redhead, and a diabetic. He got into fights with the physics teacher, Mr. Leesinsky, though he was one of the best students in the class(as was I--let's be honest, here). Jeremy didn't like him as much, stemming from an incident where we went to Jeremy's house(which was right next to the school)and Jody showed us what happens you get a cat dizzy, by spinning around Jeremy's cat Spooky. Spooky was a vicious cat, not afraid of very much, and was apparently in a foul temper for days after the incident.

But he introduced me to a number of things. He had an whole bunch of pirated Apple ][ software, which he let me borrow and copy. He also had an extensive music collection, and it is with him that I always associate Mike Oldfield, The The's "Soul Mining", Talking Heads' "Naked", and Chalk Circle's "Mending Wall". I also remember watching with him "Amazon Women On The Moon"(which I still think is pretty funny)and "Highlander". Mostly it was the computer games and such that we played, though.

I lost touch with him, as with most of the others, after moving to Edmonton for university. He went down to Calgary, I heard. And I never saw him again.

Evan and I met again at the ten-year reunion, and almost immediately lost contact again. But he emailed me a year or two ago and told me that Jody was dead. Apparently he'd gotten involved in a life of crime and drugs, and it had been the end of him. (Oddly enough, one of the other diabetics in my high school class was also in prison. A weird correlation.) So he's probably the friend I know the best that I know is dead. (I still haven't heard from Trish, though.) Obviously I don't count, say, my maternal grandparents.




At KFC right now, where I frequently have lunch, they have this big scratch-and-win contest promotion thing. Now I never win anything, but it's no reason to change my eating habits. Actually, it's not true that I never win anything, because each card as a bonus area you can scratch for something free, but so far I always get free Pepsi, which I would never even consider drinking.

The biggest prize, of course, is the $1 million jackpot, which they pay off to you over 20 years, $50,000 a year. Now I spent some time wondering what I would do if I won it, which is of course the only thing most of us can do with lotteries. Because $50,000 is fairly close to what I'm grossing right now. So I could keep my life pretty much the same, except that then I'd have no hope of getting a raise for 20 years. It's not like they give you any of the interest that they're making on the money they're keeping in the bank for you. And the buying power would go down, too.

So ideally I'd have to keep working, through maybe at reduced hours, so that I could get a little bit more money, to pay down the mortgage or something, and also keep my skills moderately up-to-date so that twenty years from now I don't have to suddenly go into retraining.

Getting a $2 million or larger jackpot on a government lottery would of course be better. For one thing, in Canada those lotteries(the Lotto 6/49 being one of the biggest)are entirely tax-free--I'm not sure that the KFC contest thing would be. And of course it's bigger than $1 million, and you get it all at once. You can pay off your mortgage right away, and even buy a new house outright if you don't like the one you're in. And then you can put a bunch in the bank in some investment scheme that pays you a guaranteed amount of interest. I don't think that asking for, say, 5% interest would be too unreasonable, so(taking off the two house costs)that would be about $80,000 a year. Of course we'd shop around to find the best rate we could. Banks love you to give them a big hunk of money that you promise not to touch for long periods of time. We wouldn't be like those people who blow it all in a year and then have to go back to work.

Robert Heinlein(or perhaps one of his characters--many people don't distinguish, but I think it's an important distinction)once said something like "Lotteries are taxes on people who are bad at math". I did a lottery simulation in the statistics course I took in university, and unless you beat the odds and hit the big jackpot, you will almost inevitably fall behind if you buy lottery tickets regularly. But I still think that dropping a buck for a lottery ticket every once in a while is a great way to pretend for a few days that you might win big and change your life forever. After all, the odds are negligible that you will, but non-zero.

Because man, I would so love to stay home all the time and not have to worry about money. It's my dream life. Some people don't know what to do with their leisure time, and are really better off having a job that keeps them busy. I'm not one of those people. I can fritter away time faster than it accumulates.




So I just finished Azure Bonds, and it was okay. It took a big turn upwards in interest level shortly after I last posted about it, messing with the main character's trust in her own memories, which is always a good sign. So it occasionally transcended mere D&D, but not often enough to become truly good. I won't be investing large quantities of money and shelf space in Forgotten Realms books, I don't think. (I think I read another one once, now that I think about it, set in some Aztec kind of region, too. Not that memorable.)

Next I'll try reading Will Shetterly's Elsewhere, which is set in a sort of shared-world setting called Borderlands, which as I understand it mingles modern-day and faerie and stuff. I haven't read any of the other Borderlands books, because they're hard to find, but hopefully this one will stand on its own. And pretty soon I need to get into reading Robert Sawyer's Hominids, because it's due back at the library next week.




We finally got out the high chair for Luke.

He can't really sit up by himself yet, but wedged in behind the tray he stays upright pretty well. And, just like Simon around the same age, he was really unhappy if he was left in his carrier on the floor while we were eating supper. This is so much easier than holding him. And he is a lot happier...or at least a lot less unhappy.

Simon still insists it's his high chair, but as long as he lets Luke use it, that's okay. Part of it, we've been using for his booster seat for a while now, but now he just gets to sit in a chair like the rest of us. Not the chair the booster seat was on--that was a cheapie we bought in Grande Prairie for like $20, and the vinyl seat covering is all ripped to shreds. You can actually see through the foam padding to the wood underneath. It goes out to the trash tomorrow. No, now he gets a decent kitchen chair.




One of my favourite books is The Gameplayers of Zan by M.A. Foster. It's mostly about the created culture of a created race called the ler, who are mostly human but not quite. The ler also turn up in two other Foster books, The Day of The Klesh and The Warriors of Dawn, but neither of those compare to Zan.

One of the things I thought was most original about ler culture was their family structure, the Braid. It's a simple and elegant system. Here's how it works:

It's hard to find a starting point, but your basic Braid consists of four people--two Insiblings and two Outsiblings. The two Insiblings(who have different parents)stay in the Braid, and mate to produce the Elder Outsibling. Then, each of the Insiblings finds an Outsibling from another Braid--of the same sex, whom they then present to the other Insibling. These pairs then mate, to produce the next generation's Insiblings--see, different parents. Finally, the two Outsiblings mate with each other, to produce the Younger Outsibling. The two Outsiblings are brought into other Braids, and the two Insiblings form the core of the Braid's continuation.

The family size limitation is enforced, in the book, by the ler estrus cycle, wherein they are only fertile about every five years, and only rarely three times. They do have occasional extra children, either twins or third pregnancies, but the book doesn't go into those much. They would be the only form of population increase, and would eventually have to form new Braids from scratch.

Now that I'm thinking about it, how would it work, with twins? Does one get to be, say, the Elder Outsibling, and the other one just an Extra, based on being born minutes earlier? There's probably a story in there somewhere. I think M.A. Foster must be dead or something, because I haven't seen anything else from him since about 1985, but his small oeuvre--the ler books, the Morphodite trilogy, as well as standalone novel Waves and novella collection Owl Time--is of quite decent quality.

Anyway, I keep wanting to do some kind of ler Braid simulation, and I think I might just do that. It's an offshoot of the colony-world project, and won't be using the ler language from the books, but I'm just curious to see how it will work.

I just did a quick Google search, and I think that this may be the only web discussion of the ler, but it's hard to tell.




Some more library CDs:

Ben Folds: Rockin' The Suburbs: The album gets off to a great start with "Annie Waits", but from there it mostly peters out. Folds seems to have decided that by himself he can just noodle around on the piano and sing bland songs with women's names in the titles. The title track finally picks up the pace a little bit, and is slightly amusing, but it's too late. I liked the Five better.

MXPX: The Ever Passing Moment: It doesn't sound like a New Punk album from the title, but it surely is. My tolerance for that is way down.

Christine Lavin: Getting In Touch With My Inner Bitch: This is, disappointingly yet another live album, though it is almost all new material. The new songs didn't really catch my fancy, though, except for when Lavin used her Boomerang phrase sampler to multitrack herself live, like in "Single Voice" or her "Happy Birthday" round. Of course, in the studio she could just do that normally, so it's only really a novelty live. (Maybe that's how John Giorno did it...) "The Piper" is possibly the best song on the album, though "Harrison Ford" is a funny story of her one-second meeting with her favourite movie star when he held a door for her. Oh, and "Piranha Women of The Avocado Jungle of Death" is funny too, inspired by the movie, of course, in which her aunt Pat Crawford Brown apparently played a role. But I really wish she'd get back into the studio sometime.

PJ Harvey: Stories From The City, Stories From The Sea: I first heard of PJ Harvey when I saw the video for "Down By The Water", which blew me away. I didn't find the rest of "To Bring You My Love" to hold up to that one track, and I wasn't enchanted with her album "Dry" either, but this one was highly recommended by a lot of places. So I eventually gave it a try. At work, I wasn't too impressed with it, but I had it on low volume, so I scrounged up the time to listen to it at home. What a difference! I'm not sure if it will go on the wishlist or not, but it stood up as a solider and much more consistent listen than "To Bring You My Love", so it may very well. It's hard to pick out standout tracks, but the opener "Big Exit" and the closer "We Float" are what caught my attention the best.




Nicole's doing another school reading tomorrow, and has to leave fairly early, and will in fact be using the car...so I get to ride the bus tomorrow while Joanne comes over to watch the kids. Also, I get to get up with Luke during the night if he doesn't want to go back to sleep after feedings. So I better finish this off with...

The Countdown!

384. Joe Jackson: Man In The Street, from Big World

This is the album that Joe Jackson recorded live, but with strict instructions for there to be no crowd noise. I don't know if it made this album much different, but this song is quite powerful, and basically a rebuke for elitists.

383. Bruce Cockburn: More Not More, from Humans

One of Cockburn's non-political songs, about yearning for something transcendent, beyond common experience. His voice rises into nearly a wail of anguish at the end of the chorus. Also includes some choice Hugh Marsh violin bits.




Oh, and hey! George Carlin is coming to Edmonton in January! I have to remember to get some tickets to that, because let's face it, this may be the last time he comes here...




Don Ho can sign autographs 3.4 times as fast as Efrem Zimbalist Jr. --George Carlin


Aaron // 10:33 PM Clix me!
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Tuesday, October 29, 2002:


As Puzzled As A Newborn Child



Monday morning I was out shoveling an inch or so of snow off the driveway with my plastic shovel. A folding plastic shovel, designed to fit in your trunk, which came in handy at least once when the car got stuck in deep snow, but a plastic shovel nonetheless. It's still bigger than Simon's toy shovel, but it's not very wide, and not very long. My back got very sore bending over to push it along, and it took many more rows than I'm used to.

So why didn't we, as native Albertans, not have a proper snow shovel in preparation for the onset of winter? It's not like we just moved here from San Diego and didn't know to expect snow in October. Snow before Hallowe'en is completely expected, though we don't miss it if it's a bit late. Well, let me tell you a tale.

When we lived in an apartment, you see, or even in the townhouse condo we rented, we didn't have to shovel our own walk. So we didn't have a snow shovel. When we bought our house, it was summer, so we didn't have an immediate need for it, and Sharna and Nick, who had a shovel from when they were renting a house in Grande Prairie, lent us theirs. We kept it while they lived in apartments, and while Sharna spent a year in Ontario, but then Nick bought a house, and they needed the snow shovel again. So we gave it back to them, and we knew we had plenty of time to buy a new one...so we hadn't done it yet.

So Monday afternoon, I was driving home and I saw a few snowflakes drifting down. I decided that I wasn't going to do that again, so I stopped at Zellers on the way home and bought a new snow shovel. It looks pretty high-tech and for $30 it had better be. I felt a little bit foolish carrying it around out to the car, but I saw someone else carrying one out of Zellers as I was coming in, so that made it somewhat easier.

It didn't fit in the trunk, and I ended up having to put it diagonally in the back seat. So it was probably a good thing that we didn't wait to buy it on the weekend and then have to try to wedge it across with both kids in the back.

But it didn't snow Monday night after all, or since, so I haven't broken it in yet. Innit always the way?




So I was going to tell you about Simon's birthday, on Saturday. My grandma phoned to say that she was sick and couldn't make it. That left just Sharna and Joanne as the invited guests, and both of their husbands had to work, so(I realized later)it was actually just Nicole and her bridesmaids! Well, and Joanne's little girl Deborah, who is fourteen months now and now quite walking, but crawling quite well, not to mention climbing and cruising(walking by holding onto furniture). We kept having to watch her as she wandered off out of the living room, usually into the entryway.

So Simon got a modest quantity of presents, but my parents will probably both be bringing or sending more soon, and I think Steve & Kelly were sending something as well. He got the requisite noisy toy from Nicole's parents(sent down after Thanksgiving), a steering-wheel contraption with a number of sound-effect buttons(and "four sentences"--those sentences being "OK, go!", "Stop--police!", "Hello champion" and "Goodbye champion"--for educational value), and no volume control. We got him a toy doctor kit, with which he has been checking out Boom(I finally began to wonder if he had heard me talking about the "Baby Boom" at some point). Sharna got him a Raffi CD, and recorded it onto tape for us as well since the CD player lives in the basement and doesn't take well to being moved about.

He also got a 96(!)-crayon package with a "Monsters, Inc." colouring book, a dinosaur book that came complete with a number of small plastic dinosaur figures and a little map to put them on, and a counting book. My grandma came over briefly on Sunday and brought him a large-scale toy minivan(or maybe a station wagon or SUV, it's hard to tell)and some new clothes. So a decent haul, but should leave us a little bit of spare room in the house until Christmas.

Unfortunately, Simon was very much under the weather last night and today, moaning and whimpering and being generally listless. Last night he got into this state where he seemed to be crying because his throat hurt, which made his throat hurt more, which made him cry more, until you can't get a rational response out of him. At 2:00 in the morning, that's hard to cope with. Tonight will probably be a Tylenol night.




The Cult of Pain meeting on Sunday was a little bit sparsely-attended; one member showed up on Saturday, confused about the days, and another couldn't come because of a friend in the hospital. Kevin had a really beautiful story written for Simon, before which mine paled. I had done some hackwork on a crossover between the Sol-1 Robot books by Phoebe Hoban, which Simon likes, and the droids from Star Wars. But Kevin had written a beautiful fairy tale, with a few neat touches(like the house in Miller's Woods, in the shadow of Ed Mountain). That boy needs to send some stuff out to magazines. But then, so do I, so my house is made of glass. I don't think Peter has been scared off, anyway.

The drive over there was fun, as I alluded to before, and partially because we're really not equipped for a third passenger right now, in the back between the two car seats. Since we didn't want to inflict it on Peter, Nicole rode there on the way to Kevin's, and I on the way back. It wasn't too bad when we had Luke's car seat out, but once he was back in it was a bit squished. Next meeting is in Millwoods, at least, so we probably won't be giving Peter a ride(since he is not there, and we are). We really need a minivan, or will soon, the way we really need a bigger house.




With the snow on Monday, I switched from my fall jacket into my winter gear--the blue jacket I bought last winter, and my winter boots. But I forgot that, when I wear my boots to work, I like to have my shoes there to change into. So far my shoes have remained at home, leaving me to switch between leaving my boots so my feet get hot, and going around in my sock feet so they get cold.

Monday morning, I just forgot about the shoe thing entirely, but today I actually set out my running shoes minutes before I left for work, and they still stayed behind. Tomorrow morning I will remember. I hope.




Oh, and thanks to
LenLowLand for the link to despair.com, for some amusement looking at their "demotivational" posters. Of course, these are the people who trademarked the frownie, so you have to be careful, but still. My favourites were "Irresponsibility" and, of course, "Procrastination".




On with the countdown, so I can try to catch up on my sleep:

386. This Mortal Coil: Song To The Siren, from It'll End In Tears

I've since heard the original Tim Buckley version, but I don't think it can hold a candle to this version, with the divine Elisabeth Fraser pulling out all her vocal artillery, trills and vibrato and just plain good singing. I like to pretend I can sing along, but that's when nobody else is listening.

385. Timbuk 3: Shame On You, from Greetings From Timbuk 3

This song has faded somewhat over the years, but it's still kind of an amusing tongue-in-cheek piece reprimanding people who sabotage their career advancement by not caving in to the commercial system. They've faded into virtual obscurity(or have they actually broken up?), so I guess it worked for them.




May Jo equal the fine record by solving six puzzles a week?


Aaron // 10:26 PM Clix me!
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Monday, October 28, 2002:

Icy Breezes Chill The Air



I'm so far behind on reporting on things that I haven't mentioned that my friend Peter, who has
his own blog, has recently moved down to Edmonton from Grande Prairie, so we'll be getting together a lot more. He also attended last night's Cult of Pain meeting, and plans to be doing more writing soon. In fact, he may sign up for NaNoWriMo!

He lent me a program called Fractal Terrains, which I was going to use to try to come up with a map for the planet I'm using in my own novel. I'm not particularly impressed with it, though; I played with it for a little while, and maybe I just didn't come up with the right combination of parameters, but I have no confidence that I could come up with something that would look like a real planet to me. Earth, for instance(and what other instances do we have?*)has some big huge continents, but also a bunch of little islands--I couldn't get that to happen. Also, it wasn't very fractal in its level of detail, which somehow the title of the program had implied to me, but didn't carry through on. I mean, with a fractal pattern you get the same level of detail no matter how far you zoom in, and real coastlines are very fractal in that respect.

Also, like most other such programs I've dealt with, it doesn't do rivers. Rivers are very important terrain builders, carving canyons and estuaries, and more importantly, they are crucial to the location of settlements. But I have yet to run across a program that can put them in. SimEarth, which does create fairly realistic-looking planets but has resolution problems, ignores them entirely. The best it does is assume that they must be present in swamp and jungle terrain, because you can have Cetaceans there, like Amazon River dolphins, I guess. So I guess I just won't be satisfied.

Still, that level of detail probably won't come up in my novel. But someday it may be important, right?




Winter has arrived in earnest. On Saturday it almost looked like the last of the snow we had gotten a week or so ago might finally melt away...but yesterday afternoon it started snowing, just a little bit at first, but by evening it was starting to accumulate. And this was the evening that we had to make three stops--to pick up Peter, to drop off Luke at Sharna's, and then go to the Cult of Pain meeting. And then all three in reverse, of course. The sanding trucks had not yet been out, but things weren't too slippery...yet.

Now I will have to shovel this morning before I go to work, and hopefully many of the streets will be sanded. The residential ones closest to our hours will naturally be the worst. I think that Sharna took back her real snow shovel(now that they have a real house with real sidewalks), so we might only have the plastic folding one.

So I will post this update quickly, because of the shoveling time I have to allow, and you'll have to wait to hear about Simon's birthday party and many other things.




I will quickly mention that I finished Moreta, and I swear the two previous times I read it I just skimmed through to the ending. This time the ending, fore-ordained, seemed a bit of a letdown. The task that let Moreta to her death just did not seem important enough to warrant the legend that had built up around it. But then, one of the subplots in the book was setting up some of the loss of knowledge that plagued the Pernese in later books.

Now I'm reading Azure Bonds by Kate Novak & Jeff Grubb, the only Forgotten Realms book in my collection; it's been there for over ten years now, unread until now. I still wince at the outright references to D&D spell titles and the like, but so far it's holding my interest. It's not necessarily encouraging me to read more of them, though.




I came up with another nifty theme pack of songs:
Billy Joel:Scandinavian Skies, from "The Nylon Curtain"
The Stranglers:Mayan Skies, from "Dreamtime"
Dream Theatre:Peruvian Skies, from "Falling Into Infinity"
also
Mark Knopfler & Chet Atkins:Tahitian Skies, from "Neck And Neck"
and maybe even
Paul Simon:Under African Skies, from "Graceland"
but let's not get carried away.

I don't know if there's more songs out there to fill this pack:
Jon & Vangelis:Italian Song, from "Private Collection"
Rufus Wainwright:Greek Song, from "Poses"
The closest I have is stuff like
Ann Mortifee:Beirut Song, from "Journey To Kairos"
Bruce Cockburn:A Montréal Song, from "Further Adventures of Bruce Cockburn"
The Waterboys:Glastonbury Song, from "Dream Harder"
The Colourfield:Hammond Song, from "Virgins & Philistines"
Big Star:The India Song, from "#1 Record"
The Cure:Kyoto Song, from "Head On The Door"
Pink Floyd:The Nile Song, from "More Soundtrack"
Dead Can Dance:Persian Love Song, from "Toward The Within"
Groucho Marx:Toronto Song, from "An Evening With Groucho"
but I really would like to have one more with just "<Nationality> Song" for the title. Someone out there record one?




Some more countdown songs:

388. Christine Lavin: Regretting What I Said...(A Musical Apology), from Future Fossils

This is a funny and charming song(which has a very long "real" title, which I will not include here)about taking back a number of gruesome fates she wished on her boyfriend when he announced that he was going on a surprise ski trip. Light and frothy, but still witty.

387. Eurythmics: Julia, from 1984 Soundtrack

The sole filming of "1984" in 1984 had a number of issues, and so did the Eurythmics "soundtrack" which did not accompany it. But this song, with its multitracked Annie Lennox harmony and understated musical accompaniment, is a slow and moving ballad which rates among the Eurythmics' best work. Pity it's buried on this album.




Jaded zombies acted quaintly but kept driving their oxen forward.

Aaron // 7:59 AM Clix me!
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Friday, October 25, 2002:

Adam & The Antz:Dirk Wears White Sox For someone who mostly knew "Vive Le Rock" and "Goody Two Shoes", this was a bit of a shock. The lyrics were interesting to read, but the music was too dissonant to make it worth listening to. It had a late-punk sound which reminded me of Gang of Four's "Solid Gold", but not as appealing. But the lyrics to "Cleopatra" and "Never Trust A Man(With Egg On His Face)" are worth checking out if you have a morbid sense of humour.*

80's Millennium Synth Pop Madness--17 New Wave Classix I didn't take a good look at this one when I picked it up. I've picked up a few 80's hit collections, and on each one there's usually one or two songs which are new to me, more if it's a British collection. But this one is a dance mix, with the stupid continuous beat going all the way through everything, and many of the songs represented in inferior cover versions. I actually didn't get all the way through this one, I suppose, finding it just too annoying. And I don't feel like I missed too much.




Continuing that doggone countdown:

390. Peter Gabriel: Here Comes The Flood, from Peter Gabriel I

I prefer this version to the version he did with Robert Fripp, with all those Frippertronics. This one has the almost-shouted beginning to the chorus, too. My brother and I came up, years ago, with an idea for an SF world involving the earth being flooded, and he made up a theme tape for it; both versions of this song were on it. Of course, the flood mentioned is more metaphorical than actual.

389. Northern Pikes: The Things I Do For Money, from Big Blue Sky

This song has a great edgy guitar line that continues underneath most of the song, and the lyrics are a cleverly-phrased condemnation of the 80's money-focused culture.




They're stronger than old cheese, stronger than dirt --Samurai Pizza Cats theme song


Aaron // 10:14 PM Clix me!
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Imagine my surprise when I found the whole damn thing, with the possible exception of "Radio Luv Song"(which turned me off them the most strongly in the first place), quite listenable. Many of the earlier tracks that I was familiar with seemed to sound different, but whether that was remastering, remixing, or rerecording I couldn't tell you. Maybe it was just the single mixes. In any event, I think it'll end up going on my wishlist, and may lead to my picking up some of their later albums. Annoyingly, the CD booklet contains almost zero information about where the songs come from--which album, which single, whether they're B-sides or not. Some of them sound like they might have come from the "Show Me" era, but I just can't tell. I hate that--forget about giving me a bunch of stupid pictures, I want at least some info about the songs. On a compilation like this, year and/or album for each track is essential, and yet they left it out. If I remember I may check out the band's website, which seems, oddly enough, to be at www.5440.com.

Ian Hunter:Rant I was never a huge Ian Hunter fan. I think I picked up his "All-American Alien Boy" album on a whim at some record fair, extremely cheap, and I frankly had no idea who he was, but I liked the album title and a couple of song titles. Later on I found that he did the original version of "Once Bitten Twice Shy"(which I'd only heard by Great White); still later I found out he had been with Mott The Hoople. But I grabbed this album anyway.

So it was a pleasant surprise. I wouldn't call it solid, and Hunter's voice sounds worse than ever, but I was quite amused by the biting wit of "Morons", and "Purgatory" and "Good Samaritan" are none too shabby either. The rest of it wasn't quite as inspired or listenable, though, but all in all this was better than I expected.

Elastica:The Menace I remember some video by Elastica, probably from their prior album, some years ago, and don't remember much about it except that the band was mostly women. So this was another one I picked up on whim. This one, unfortunately, was not as rewarding, except for the cover of Trio's "Da Da Da", and that's just not enough.

Aaron // 10:14 PM Clix me!

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A whole wack of library CDs coming due this week, several of them from bands that I hadn't seen anything from in years.

Echo & The Bunnymen:What Are You Going To Do With Your Life? I was never the hugest E&tB fan, but they were okay. This one is basically unremarkable, apart from the length of its title. "Get In The Car" was mildly interesting, having a bit more of a groove than most of the album.

Rufus Wainwright:Poses I liked his father, Loudon, but Rufus is nowhere near as mordant. "Cigarettes & Chocolate Milk" is charming, but the rest of the album tended to blend together, with the possible exception of "Evil Angel" and "Greek Song", which managed to have a bit of an edge.

The Cult:Beyond Good & Evil I liked their first album, and a few songs from the third, but apart from that they tendede to be too heavy for me. I actually liked the Holy Barbarians album better. "Take The Power" was my favourite track on this one, and that not by much. I do have to say that at least Ian Astbury's distinctive voice sets them a little bit apart from some of the other hard rock bands out there.

54-40:Radio Love Songs--The Singles Collection 54-40 was one of the foundations of mid-80's Canadian rock. I never really liked them as much as The Grapes of Wrath or the Northern Pikes, but their "Show Me" album was stellar, and they had plenty of other decent songs. By "Smilin' Buddha Cabaret", though, I stopped liking them. They soldiered on while the Grapes and the Pikes broke up, and never quite achieved the prominence of the Tragically Hip, whom perhaps they most resembled. So I picked up this CD just to see if they had managed to have a nice-sounding song or two.

Aaron // 10:14 PM Clix me!

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They're Getting Older, Sons & Daughters



Should I keep commenting on how long it's been between entries? I suppose it must get awfully tedious for you, the reader. Oh, well. It gives me someplace to start.

Tomorrow is Simon's third birthday, and Sunday is the Cult of Pain meeting, so I thought I'd try something tonight, even though I am beastly tired. Just a piece of it, perhaps.




So Randy was unfortunately correct, and "Push, Nevada" is no more. The "final" episode last night could of course have still been taken further. At first it didn't seem so, but everything seemed to wrap up suspiciously neatly less than halfway through the episode, leaving Jim Prufrock in a too-good-to-be-true situation that was, in fact, not true. The other shoe did eventually drop. The tacked-on bit with Prufrock's actor, Derek Cecil, declaiming that the conspiracy was, in fact, real, and implying that was why the show was being taken off the air, was a bit specious, but maybe the best way to deal with the cancellation. The contest thing was never a motivator for me in the first place.

"Friends" and "West Wing" were reruns this week. I've grown to think of reruns as practically a gift of time. It's not that I don't want to watch the show, but if I can skip watching for one week and not fall behind, then I can go do something else with no compunctions. ...We ended up watching the "Friends" rerun anyway, though, even though it was one from last season that will probably be on the daily reruns on Monday next week. Well, I guess I can use that time for something else, if I remember.

Aaron // 10:13 PM Clix me!
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Saturday, October 19, 2002:

I'm once again trying to get caught up on my blogs. My current method for doing this is starting at the top of the list and reading as far as I can one day; then starting at the next one the next day. So by the time I reach the bottom, I have probably fallen several days behind on the first ones on the list. My plan is then to be able to get caught up on them all in a single day, but we'll see how that works out.

I sometimes get tired of the order, too. The order they are in now is strictly chronological, in the order which I added them in the first place. But that's not always the order in which I want to read them--when I am only able to catch up on a few, sporadically, I pick the ones I like to read the best.

So, in theory, I should go through the list and order them from most to least favourite, right? Except what about the people at the bottom of the list? They're just going to feel bad. I could list them in approximate order of frequency of update(with TranceJen at the top), as I've seen some people do. But, knowing me, I will probably shuffle them randomly, because I am in love with randomness. Not chaos, randomness.

So if you come to see my page and I've rearranged my blogs and yours is at the bottom, then just remember, it's random. Even if it isn't, I'll say it is.*




Man, the cat's litterbox is really starting to smell. It's pretty much my fault, of course, because cleaning it is my responsibility. But I just hate to do it. The new air fresheners we bought just don't seem to be able to cope with it, either.

Poor Felicity. I'm amazed she doesn't go and urinate behind the TV out of sheer annoyance. I am a bad cat-owner.

One of these days I want a cat that's trained to use the toilet. At least I've heard such things exist.




392. Jane Siberry: All The Candles In The World, from When I Was A Boy

Jane Siberry makes good, though(because?)intermittent, use of a hip-hop beat in this song, as well as some great harmony and bass. It seems like it should be a bit jerky, but it's actually fairly seamless.

391. Jennifer Warnes: Way Down Deep, from The Hunter

I haven't heard much of Jennifer Warnes apart from her Leonard Cohen cover album Famous Blue Raincoat, but there are some decent songs on this followup as well. This one is subdued, moody, and maybe a verse too long, but has some clever lyrics and works well with her warm voice.




The straightest line between a short distance is two points.

Aaron // 10:48 PM Clix me!
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Anyway, I am now onto a reread of Anne McCaffrey's Moreta: Dragonlady of Pern. I loved the original six Pern books when I was a kid, so actually bought this one in hardcover when it came out. I have read it at least twice now, and still very little of the plot sticks with me. So I am trying again, having just reread those first six books again.

We brought a lot of books back from Hawk Hills with us, by the way, kid's books from Nicole's childhood and the like. A lot of "Illustrated Children's Classics", abridgements of classic works, some of which I haven't even read the originals for, like Captain's Courageous. A few Nancy Drew, a few Trixie Belden. (I read a few Nancy Drew books when I was a kid, but more Hardy Boys, of course.) I haven't really looked at it since we got it home, being the book-cataloguing procrastinator that I am these days. One of these days I have to streamline that process...




We also brought back a doll for Simon that used to be Nicole's. It's a girl baby, some of its hair missing, wearing clothes made by Nicole or her mother, and it makes a sort of crying noise if you push its tummy. Simon was quite taken with it, and named it, in his inimitable fashion, "Boom". Most of the toys from Hawk Hills stay there, and will move Nicole's parents, but this one we got to take home.

Simon turns three years old a week from today. At 11:45 PM, but who's keeping track?




I did a lot of thinking about my NaNoWriMo novel in the bathtub today. I swear, if I had a(waterproof)computer in there, or could at least go right to my computer while still dripping wet, I'd get a lot more writing done. I had a lot of neat worldbuilding-type thoughts, anyway, if not much with the plot yet. I think I'll put in a few chapters of history before I get to the main plot, just to firm things up in my mind and beef up my word count.

No characters as yet; I am still clinging to the hope that I can randomly generate the whole population of the colony before I start writing. I guess we'll see how well that's progressed come November 1st, eh? No title, either, but it will come.

Aaron // 10:48 PM Clix me!
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"Jools Holland's Big Band Rhythm & Blues" was interesting. The former Squeeze keyboardist is apparently doing the big band thing, and this one features a plethora of guest artists on 22 different tracks--Taj Mahal, Dr. John, Eric Clapton, George Harrison, Sting, Paul Weller, Mark Knopfler, Jamiroquai, Stereophonics, and former Squeeze bandmate Chris Difford. The songs themselves are a mixture of new and old, and sad to say few of them really did much for me. Sam Brown(remember her?)did lead on one song, "Valentine Moon", and sang backup on a few others. Marc Almond did a rendition of his own "Say Hello, Wave Goodbye", which was interesting. Overall, the concept was more interesting than the execution.

Billy Bob Thornton's "Private Radio" was more than just some movie star's vanity project--it's dark and gritty, almost as much Tom Waits as country. The spoken track "Beauty At The Back Door" was mesmerizing, and the opener "Dark And Mad" was pretty powerful. I had to wonder whether "Angelina"(written about who, I wonder?)will sound embarrassing in a few years. Are they still together? Not exactly my cup of tea, but worth a listen.

Default's "The Fallout" is yet another sludge-rock type album, which sounded promising to start, with "Sick & Tired" and "Wasting My Time" near the beginning, but didn't seem to hold up as the album went on. Expect to see many of the titles on my
Song Title Duplication List, too, when I get around to updating it.

Oh, and Tom was right in his recent comments--it was Neil Finn's "One Nil" I was listening to not Tim Finn. My excuse is that I've been listening to a lot of Tim Finn recently--well, at least three of his solo albums("Escapade", "Big Canoe", and the self-titled)passed through my tape deck, and his name just comes easier. Neil Finn was with Crowded House(or Split Enz, I suppose, but I never listened to them at the time), so he doesn't seem like he should be solo.




I was about 25 pages into Perdido Street Station, and still not enthralled. Then I went in to get my library card renewed today for another year, so I could tell which of the items I had out I could renew and which I had to bring back, and discovered that Perdido Street Station was due back today. I could get away with returning it on Monday, as I often do, but there is no chance I would get that thing finished this weekend. So I said, to hell with it. I may or may not read it again at some point, but right now I feel no guilt about abandoning it. This is weird for me--the last book I did this with, abandoning a short ways into it with intent to read it again someday, was Brian Aldiss's Helliconia Spring, or whichever the first book in that series was, at least fifteen years ago. I still haven't gotten to it, but I think next year I may get around to it. No, really.

Aaron // 10:47 PM Clix me!
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4. What TV shows do you absolutely HAVE to watch, and if you miss them, you're heartbroken?

I will be very annoyed to miss any episodes of "24", for sure, and I don't like to miss new "Friends" episodes. That's about it, though missing "Push, Nevada" would leave me disoriented, I think. "West Wing" and "Scrubs" I could probably deal with missing.

5. If you had the power to create your own television network, what would your line-up look like?

Well, it would definitely have "Twin Peaks" and "Babylon 5" reruns. It would also sponsor any new series that J. Michael Straczynski would ever want to create, and if anyone wanted to go back to Twin Peaks... All the ones I'm watching currently(see above). It would pick up "Maximum Bob" and "Cold Feet"(the American version)for full seasons. "Whose Line Is It Anyway?", British and American versions. Reruns of "Soap", "Star Trek:TNG", and "Star Trek:Voyager". Maybe I'll put on the other Star Trek series, and "Andromeda", on late at night so I could watch them if I wanted to. "Buffy", too, because I've always been curious. "Monty Python's Flying Circus" for nostalgia's sake, "Red Dwarf"(and any new series of that would be encouraged as well). Any of James Burke's science TV series, Rick Green's "Prisoners of Gravity", and "4 On The Floor" reruns as well. Maybe "He Shoots He Scores", the Canadian hockey drama series, for a laugh. Oh, and the complete run of "Doctor Who". Finally, I would sponsor a complete made-for-TV adaptation of Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series. (Anything less than a season per book would be stinting, I think.) Oh, and "South Park"! How could I forget that?

See, I have watched a lot of TV, but most of it is gone.




Now a brief look at some library CDs from the last little while:

Yello's "Claro Que Si" is a bit more raw and darker sounding than their later work, which makes sense--earlier New Wave was darker and more paranoid than when it turned into New Romantic, with the possible exception of Depeche Mode. Anyway, I didn't find it as appealing as, say, "One Second".


Aaron // 10:47 PM Clix me!
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You're A Liar And A Thief



I thought I'd try to do a little bit of a shorter entry today, just as lagniappe or something. My actual eventual idea was to write long entries and then just post one section at a time, every day, but first I have to write a long entry. So I thought I'd try writing a short entry; we'll see how I do.




For a change, I'm going to do the
Friday Five:

1. How many TVs do you have in your home?

Just the one. More computer monitors, though.

2. On average, how much TV do you watch in a week?

I can calculate this pretty exactly. It'll be 6.5 hours once "24" comes on. Three one-hour shows("24", "West Wing", "Push, Nevada"), two half-hour shows("Friends", "Scrubs"), and five half-hour reruns("Scrubs")weekly. I begrudge much more time than this, unless of course I'm in Hawk Hills.* I don't even watch "Whose Line Is It Anyway?" anymore.

3. Do you feel that television is bad for young children?

On the one hand, I don't feel that, say, watching Granny hit Sylvester with an umbrella is harmful to kids, although I don't want Simon to watch South Park until he's well, about 25.* On the other hand, I don't want him to spend all day watching TV either, because it is passive entertainment. He spends a lot of time these days having imaginary conversations with Luke and playing with his toys in very creative ways, and you can't tell me that watching educational children's programming for four hours would be any better than that. So we let him watch a maximum of an hour...and that also includes time spent playing games on the computer. (Oddly enough, if he watches me playing computer games, that doesn't seem to bother us.)

Aaron // 10:47 PM Clix me!
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Friday, October 18, 2002:

Now I've started China Miéville's Perdido Street Station, which I grabbed off the racks at the library after seeing him profiled in Locus. I have very little idea what to expect, really, not even whether it's fantasy or science fiction. It seems to look more SF right now, but that could change. The library put a little "Fantasy" sticker on the spine, but what do they know? I got a total of thirteen pages into it at lunch today, and hopefully I will be able to get a little bit more read this weekend.




There's a bunch of library CDs as well, but I don't feel like doing those tonight. I'm going to skip right ahead to the countdown.

394. Pink Floyd: Biding My Time, from Relics

Relics has long been my favourite Pink Floyd album, with its excellent sampling of early singles or whatever the heck it is. I don't know, but it's much more consistent than any of the early albums. This one is bluesy, with a raunchy instrumental break in the middle, and a minimum of lyrics.

393. Sinéad O'Connor: Just Like U Said It Would B, from The Lion & The Cobra

Her first album was wildly uneven, as has been her career in general, but this one, despite the Prince-like spellings, is great, musically understated until the near-shouted closing verse, and weaving a dazzling web of words in a dancing fast-waltz rhythm.

Hey, that was pretty good.* Maybe I can dance about architecture after all.




You can't hang people before you've caught them.


Aaron // 9:46 PM Clix me!
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"Boomtown" did have an interesting format, and it didn't bother me very much, but underneath it's just another one-hour crime show. David Caruso was good on "CSI: Miami", but Emily Procter was woefully underused. I hope she gets more airtime in other episodes. "Crossing Jordan" I hadn't seen before, despite it having Edmonton's own Jill Hennessy in it, as well as Jerry O'Connell. The "Law & Order: Criminal Intent" episode was the sole dissenter, with a different basic plot, and was a little bit more interesting as a result.

Then there was "Everwood", which didn't have much to enthrall me, though Nicole's mother liked it. A bit too nicey-nice or something, and a spiritual underpinning that I'm just not comfortable with. Also "Still Standing", the only sitcom I really watched, which was okay but unremarkable. I had to get up partway through the episode because I could detect imminent extreme embarrassment lying in wait for the main characters, and my tolerance for that is very low. But Mark Addy and Jami Gertz are both capable actors--Mark Addy pulls off an extremely authentic middle-class American accent, which seems remarkable after seeing him in "The Thin Blue Line", "The Full Monty", and "The Time Machine".




Even with all the TV-watching, I did manage to get a fair bit of reading done. I finished rereading Gateway, which was interesting now that I knew what the plot was building up to, both in the "current" timeline with Robinette Broadhead undergoing his computer-guided therapy, and the "past" timeline with him on Gateway. It is quite a potent psychological portrait, as well as a nifty SF premise, and I seem to recall the former is not nearly as strong in the later books, which may be why they were less interesting.

I also started, but didn't get completely done, The Mask of Time by Marius Gabriel. I did finish it yesterday, though. It's an interesting book, though a bit flawed. There are some thriller-type scenes, but then they disappear, to be replaced by a romance. Complications seem to disappear as the book progresses, and when the other shoe does finally drop it's not the one I thought it would be. The plot twist was almost so extreme as to be unfair to the reader, though I went back and reread to see how much the author had said and how much he had just implied. I may not pick up one of his books again, but this one was okay.

Aaron // 9:46 PM Clix me!
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Now, admittedly, I'm sure there are a number of plausible explanations for all this. She could've gotten laid off--she's working for the provincial government's Social Services department, so it's always possible that she got cut. Or there could've been a weird glitch at her office. They could've all switched email servers or something. But that doesn't explain why she's left me hanging without an email.

What I am reluctant to conclude is that she's not at work any more, and hasn't emailed me, because she's dead. It could've happened, spending so much time traveling from city to city, but I keep thinking that somehow I would have heard. Of course, I am too pansy-assed to try to check this myself. I could phone her house, but then if she was dead, I'd feel really bad talking to her husband. We don't have any other friends in common, really, so there aren't very many people I could check with without having the same problem.

There is still her home email. I know that she doesn't read it that often, so I can still give it a little while before I give up on it. Or I could just try email again. Or search the obituaries.

I'm sure there's a perfectly rational explanation. Maybe she's just blowing me off.* Frankly, I'd almost be relieved.




I watched a few new TV shows this weekend in Hawk Hills. None that I will really ever want to watch again, but they were okay. Mostly part of the whole crime-show proliferation these days. "Boomtown", "Crossing Jordan", "CSI: Miami", and "Law & Order: Criminal Intent". Almost all of the episodes I saw, though, annoyingly enough, had the same kind of plot--people who are rich enough and arrogant enough that they think they can get away with murder. But they don't, of course, in the end.

It's a very populist plot, you know. Us people who aren't rich like to see shows about how rich people are not only no better than us, they are worse, with no moral grounding, corrupted by their staggering wealth and power. And that they will still get their just deserts in the end, the same as we would. So I can see why they want to do it...but please, couldn't they space them out a bit? Cheez.

Aaron // 9:46 PM Clix me!
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And "Push, Nevada" is getting curiouser and curiouser. I knew that his lawyer was just a bit too convenient, and I'm not surprised to find he's in with the bad guys, at Watermark, I guess. Mary is proving as untrustworthy as ever, and Dawn obviously has her own agenda, so that still leaves him with just Grace. Well, Shadrach(?) might be on his side as well, but he's walking wounded so we can't really tell. Things looked pretty bad for him at the end of this episode, but I think that Watermark will have to step in and keep Sloman and Dawn from the coup de grace.

Only a week and a half until "24" starts again...




Dick & Edna are back at work this week, which is frankly a relief. I find it easier to focus if they're around, and it's always nice to have someone to talk over problems with. Scott is okay, but I have an easier time with Edna because she's more familiar with the system.

Edna was telling me about some of the differences she discovered between here and England. For instance, for another datum in the whole pop/soda/coke/tonic thing, apparently there they call it "fizzy". Weird. The most bizarre dialectical note, though, is the word "surgery". For us North Americans, it's what happens when you go into an operating room and a doctor cuts you open with a scalpel. But apparently in England, it's what happens when you go into a boardroom with a bunch of people and talk about things for a while, or what we here would call a "meeting". British readers, feel free to correct what I'm getting as secondhand information if it's incorrect, or at least clarify it a bit. I find it incredibly weird, but in a good way, because dialects are always interesting.




I confess to being slightly worried about my friend Trish. I emailed her after Luke was born, and she said that she was busy for several weeks but would like to see him sometime. After she was supposed to be back, I waited a while because I don't like being the importunate nagging person who keeps asking, "So when are we gonna get together? Huh? Huh?" But I heard nothing from her, and eventually, a couple of weeks ago, sent her an email, both at work and at her home email. And her work email bounced--"no such user".

Aaron // 9:45 PM Clix me!
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I forgot to mention how, before we left, I was wandering around looking for pencil leads. I have a mechanical pencil, but the lead that it came with was almost gone. In fact, it had gotten stuck in the tip of the pencil and I had to push it out with a needle. I wanted the pencil to do acrostics(which I did, in fact, do three of)in Hawk Hills. But I couldn't find any in the places I thought they should be. Of course, our house is, as always, a mess and a pigsty--it needs to be about three times larger, and full of shelves, cabinets, drawers, and other storage spaces. I must have spent twenty minutes looking all over trying to find leads. I hate losing them; I've done it many times before, and as a result kept buying more and then finding the old ones...

Finally I give up--and as I sit down in my computer chair, what do I spy on top of the filing cabinet? Where I swear I looked fifteen times, because I thought they should be there? Oh, well, I found them now, and they are stored in my backpack, where there is at least a smaller space to search.




At least the TV shows this week were still interesting. On "The West Wing", we got to see some flashbacks, including back to when Toby was still married, and then there was that nice little revelation about what's going on with them now. Toby is just so...well, not unemotional, but always angry, that it's weird to think of him having a romantic relationship at all. Also more of Marlee Matlin, who I always like.

On "Friends", Mike does indeed return for another episode, improving Phoebe's bad record for continuing romances, which they harped on in the episode. Though Phoebe has had, at least, the relationship with David, the physicist guy, not to mention Gary, who seemed to last for a couple of months. Then there's Jake, the women's underwear guy, who supposedly went out with her for over a month, though we only saw him in one scene--a bit of a waste, I think. And Chandler is still in Tulsa. I keep wondering when he's just going to quit his stupid job, you know? I bet he's got a heck of a severance package, and it's high time he looked for something else. Oh, well, maybe when Monica finds out she's pregnant.

Aaron // 9:45 PM Clix me!
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Too Many Mouths Open, Too Many Eyes Closed



Well, I'm back. I didn't get quite as caught up on sleep as I might have wanted. I slept in on Sunday, but not as much on Monday, and then Tuesday I had to get us all packed and ready to pick up Nicole after her readings. So I opted not to stay up Tuesday night and compose an entry then. Then Wednesday and Thursday were mostly TV nights. So, it was my vacation. I get some time off for that. Also, I am at the verge of not caring how infrequently I update.

Anyway, the drive up was not as bad as the drive back, but then that's often the case. We started earlier, for one thing, leaving around 8:00 Saturday morning. And Luke slept almost all the way, in the car. Simon napped a little bit, and otherwise was mostly content to stare out the window or listen to the books-on-tape we'd gotten from the library. We did a few of the Mad Libs, and found them sufficiently amusing. It took us close to nine hours, though, probably because we had to make longer stops so Nicole could feed Luke.

We opted to go the Valleyview route rather than the Slave Lake route, because more of it has been twinned now. We used to go by Slave Lake because there was less traffic, but finally the other road, which is mostly the same as the route to Grande Prairie, is getting converted to divided highway to be able to deal with the greater traffic.

The drive back, on the other hand, it was 1:00 before we left Manning, and Luke, whose sleep schedule had gotten somewhat perturbed, kept waking up and crying. We had to eat supper in Whitecourt, and then it was dark. I hate driving in the dark, especially on the highway, so very soon I wussed out and Nicole took over for me. We got home a little after 9:00, so we had to put Simon to bed right away.

Aaron // 9:45 PM Clix me!
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Friday, October 11, 2002:

Winter Squarely Bites Me



And now, the promised new entry. We leave for Hawk Hills tomorrow, and drive back Tuesday afternoon/evening. With any luck, I might write something up while I'm there, but don't expect much for library CDs. And now, on to the main entry...




To start with, here's a survey I copied from
Sherry & Amanda...

1. Your name spelled backwards.

noraA.

2. Where were your parents born?

My mother was born in Stettler, and my dad in Wetaskiwin, apparently. Though I had to look him up.

3. What is the last thing you downloaded onto your computer?

I believe it was a program to edit "Sims:Hot Date" downtown Sims. Before that I unfortunately upgraded to Internet Explorer/Outlook Express 6.1.

4. What's your favorite restaurant?

I'd say The Cheesecake Cafe, if the one on our side of town hadn't closed down.

5. Last time you swam in a pool?

Father's Day, I think, just before I got my most recent round of ear infections. My brother-in-law Nick, who's a lifeguard, attributes that to the hot tub more than the pool; apparently the hot tub is just like a teeming tub of bacteria, kept at just the right temperature.

6. Have you ever been in a school play?

Bien sûr, mes amis! Not only did I play Tiny Tim in some junior-high-school version of "A Christmas Carol", being two years younger than the rest of my class, but let us not forget Mr. Sowerberry the undertaker in a Grade-5 presentation of "Oliver!", Ariel in a Grade-6 abridgement of "The Tempest", and a production of "The Curious Savage" in high school.

7. How many kids do you want?

Right now we're looking at three. The third will likely wait until Simon is in school, so another couple of years at least.

8. Type of music you dislike most?

While I am not particularly fond of rap, death metal, or country on the whole, I reserve my greatest contempt for ballads wherein male singers promise to love some girl forever. I mean, c'mon, girls, they all say that, but how many of them actually mean it? Rick Astley's "Together Forever" also counts in that category.

9. Are you registered to vote?

Pretty sure.

10. Do you have cable?

Only first-tier; we can get the networks and few other channels without an antenna, but we don't have Space, Bravo!, etc., having abandoned them in a fit of frugality a few months ago because we didn't watch them that often.

11. Have you ever ridden on a moped?

I don't think so. I vaguely recall a ride on the back of a motorcycle when I was a kid. I didn't enjoy it much.

12. Ever prank call anybody?

No, I never got up to juvenile pranksterism in particular. Too busy playing D&D.

13. Ever get a parking ticket?

I don't think so. I know that Nicole got one at the University once, but I am in general conscientious and/or lucky. Never gotten a speeding ticket, either.

14. Would you go bungee jumping or sky diving?

Bungee jumping...no. Sky diving...a little bit more likely, but still no. I am afraid of heights, and even the controlled fall of a roller-coaster is likely to give me the pallor of death.

15. Furthest place you ever traveled.

I've been to Prince Edward Island, and possibly Cape Breton as well; I've also been to Tempe, Arizona. I'm not sure which is farther from Edmonton. I've also been as far as Victoria, but I know that's closer.

16. Do you have a garden?

Not really. We have a patch of dirt which is separated from the rest of the lawn by a wooden frame put in a previous owner, and which grows weeds rather than grass, but that's the closest we get.

17. What's your favorite comic strip?

It's hard to call, but it'd come down to Doonesbury, For Better Or For Worse, or Bob The Angry Flower

18. Do you really know all the words to your national anthem?

I know one verse, but I don't know if there's more. There's probably more.

19. Bath or shower, morning or night?

Baths, never showers unless I am desperate and the accommodations offer nothing better. Either morning or night, no particular preference. Actually, afternoons, if I have the time.

20. Best movie you've seen in the past month?

It may actually be "A Bug's Life", but it has not been a particularly stellar month. "The Tuxedo", "The Last Castle", and "The Time Machine" all disappointed in small ways.

21. Favorite pizza topping?

Pepperoni. Yeah, well, mushrooms are okay, and bacon, but don't get me into olives or green peppers or anything weird like that. All of those before anchovies.

22. Chips or popcorn?

Either is fine. Popcorn is more often on hand, but takes more work to prepare, especially since I require a lot of butter; chips don't stay around long, but you can eat them right away.

23. What color lipstick do you usually wear?

Neon-Glo Rainbow-Brite Transparent. Why?

24. Have you ever smoked peanut shells?

I always heard it was banana peels. So...no. I can't even remember the last time I had to shell a peanut to eat it.

25. Have you ever been in a beauty pageant?

Yes, and I won second prize and $10 of Monopoly money. ...Men are allowed to take this survey, right?

26. Orange juice or apple?

Neither. I am fond of both fruits, but not fond of either type of juice. I like the apple-lime blend, and pink grapefruit.

27. Who was the last person you went out to dinner with and where did you dine?

Nicole, Simon and Luke were the last person I went out to dinner with, and we dined at East Side Mario's, a relatively new New-York-Themed(tagline: "Badda Boom Badda Bing!")restaurant that has opened up in South Edmonton Common. We order in a little bit more often.

28. Favorite type of chocolate bar?

I barely have one, but I tend to prefer either a Hershey's milk chocolate with almonds, or possible a Cookies 'N' Creme. I used to be partial to(at various times)Special Crisp, Mirage, Coffee Crisp, and Oh Henry.

29. When was the last time you voted at the polls?

Last time we had an election. I can't remember whether there was a provincial or national one more recently.

30. Last time you ate a homegrown tomato?

When I lived at home. I don't like tomatoes, but my mother made me eat them sometimes. We certainly don't grow them ourselves.

31. Have you ever won a trophy?

I think I might have won something for my portrayal of Ariel, but that was more a plaque than a trophy; same thing with a few Music Festival entries back when I was still doing piano. So no, I don't think so.

32. Are you a good cook?

No. I am an indifferent and unwilling cook who is often afraid to deviate from a recipe.

33. Do you know how to pump your own gas?

Of course, who doesn't? Finding a full-serve service station in Edmonton is like looking for the Moline gay district. Checking my own oil I'm shakier on--I can do it, but I prefer not to. I can wash my own windshields, too, but I always leave some dirty patches.

34. Ever order an article from an infomercial?

No. Somehow I knew they would never be worth it.

35. Sprite or 7-up?

These days it's more Canada Dry ginger ale, and before that I always tended to go back and forth.

36. Have you ever worn a uniform to work?

No. I don't think I've ever even worn a suit to work on a regular basis. Lucky bastard, aren't I?

37. Last thing you bought at a pharmacy?

Perhaps my foam earplugs, for bathing while I had my ear infection. Or maybe some Baby Tylenol for Luke.

38. Ever throw up in public?

Well, does "in my dentist's office" count as public? First time they gave me that flouride treatment for my teeth, when I was a kid, I swallowed some and it came right back up, with interest. Apart from that, I tend to opt for privacy for vomiting.

39. Would you prefer being a millionaire or find true love?

Since I've already found true love, can I take the million bucks?

40. Do you believe in love at first sight?

No. I'm pretty sure I've gone over this before, but I believe that the intense attraction you can feel at first sight is not love; it can lead towards it, but it doesn't have to.

41. Ever call a 1-900 number?

Maybe when I tried to register for the one-time-only Canadian "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?". I totally choked on the first question, though.

42. Can ex's be friends?

I don't have any, so I can't attest to this personally, but I think that it is certainly possible, though not all the time. My parents are not friends right now, for instance.

43. Who was the last person you visited in a hospital?

Nicole, after she had Luke.

44. Did you have a lot of hair when you were a baby?

You know, I'm not sure. I'd have to check, and if this is still here, then I forgot to do it.

45. What message is on your answering machine?

"Greetings, cosmic travelers. Nicole and Aaron are on an astral journey right now, but please leave a psychic imprint after the chimes and they will contact you as soon as they have returned to this spiritual plane." Or something like that.

46. What's your all time favorite Saturday Night Live character?

I have barely watched the show, but my friend Julia once showed me a tape of Toonces the Driving Cat sections, and those were pretty funny.

47. What was the name of your first pet?

When I was growing up we had a cat named Esmeralda, though I'm told that my parents also had some of her siblings, and maybe even her parents, at some point. We also had a dog named Cinders for a while as well. Now we have our cat Felicity.

48. What is in your purse?

This is an annoying question, and I will not answer it. My wife doesn't even bring a purse with her consistently any more. I thought about changing it to "backpack" or "pockets", but no, you will just have to stay in the dark.

49. Favorite thing to do before bedtime?

Do we mean "while awake during the day", or "between the decision to go to bed and achieving sleep"? I will interpret this as the latter. In general I sit in the bathroom and read several pages of my current book before going upstairs to bed. More than you wanted to know? Well, you asked...

50. What is the one thing you are grateful for today?

You know, I've never been one of those "one thing grateful for" people. Maybe it helps some people deal with petty day-to-day problems, but I can get out of ill-tempered moods without having to resort to that. Maybe I should be grateful for that. It's not like there's nothing I could be grateful for, but I don't feel like trying to pick one every day.




I think I mentioned that at the last dentist visit I was given some "remineralizing rinse" to take. Well, let me tell you that it's a pain in the ass.

First of all, I have to floss every night before taking it. This would perhaps not be so much of an inconvenience if I didn't tend to go to bed close to midnight with the awareness of having, once again, stayed up later than I really should have. (Not necessarily later than I wanted to, just later than I should have.) One night I'm pretty sure I forgot to floss, too.

Then, it tastes awful, and I have to swish it around in my mouth for 60 seconds. After that, I have to wait ten minutes before I can rinse the foul stuff out. So I can't go to bed and fall asleep right away.

Maybe twice, I have managed to do all this earlier in the evening, closer to 9:00 instead of when I went to bed. I don't normally eat or drink anything besides water during that period anyway, so it's not usually a major problem. It's just remembering to do it before bed that's the problem.

This better substantially improve the quality of my teeth, anyway. I better see visible improvements, huge shells of glistening mineral coating covering my teeth and protecting them from any and all bacterial incursions. Never having to brush or floss again. Or I could just do like Nicole's dad and get all my teeth pulled. No, I don't think so.




I might have mentioned earlier how they were doing construction on 50th Street for a while, mostly just doing things involving removing sections of curb near sewer gratings, and I think moving around the sewer gratings and then putting the curb back in. They did it on 66th Street a few weeks after that, too.

The net visible result of this was a bunch of lighter patches of new curb, and bare patches of dirt around those. Then, a few weeks ago, they went around putting squares of sod on them.

Now Edna was telling me about sod this summer, as they were putting some in their own yard. They had been instructed to keep the sod not just moist, or damp, but soggy for a few days until it took secure root. Well, guess what? The city people who were putting in the sod didn't do this. They just put them on and forgot about it. Now there's maybe two places where it's actually looking a little bit green--the rest the sod all died right away, and now they'll probably have to replace it next year. Unless sod has some major recuperative powers I don't know about. I admit to not being a plant expert. But it looks pretty dead.

And on 66th Street, they're still putting it in. It's been close to freezing for the last couple of days, very windy, and it snowed this morning. Why are they wasting money trying to put in sod? Are they just trying to make sure no weeds grow by spring? Then why don't they just put down some squares of green tarpaulin or something? It's enough to make me want to refuse to pay my property taxes.

When we lived in the townhouse in Lessard(on the west end, south of West Edmonton Mall)before Simon was born, there was a shopping centre on the corner which was really kind of sad. It had the Lessard branch of the public library, which was fairly new when we arrived there, and a very nice Chinese restaurant we patronized often, but that was practically it. It had the shell of a convenience store, which was never occupied with an actual store, though it was used once as a politician's campaign headquarters, and it looked like it had once had a gas station as well. The lack of a convenience store was annoying, but we coped.

Anyway, at one point they put a bunch of sod in there, too, covering up what had been just bare dirt. It wasn't a bad idea in that sense, but once again the sod was neglected and almost all of it died. So, again, what was the point? It's just stupid.

Edna also said something that her father had told her, about never mowing your lawn in September because at that point your grass is storing up energy for the winter, or something. This sounded good to me, because our grass had been parched all summer and really low-maintenance as far as mowing went, but by September, we'd gotten some more rain and it was starting to grow. I've just left it since then. It's kind of long in our backyard, but I really don't care; it's not too bad in the front yard, and our neighbours' yard is bad enough that our looks good in comparison. Lawn care is just not something I care about, but I don't want to get fined by the city for not keeping it up(as apparently can happen).

Now it's all covered with leaves, of course, and I suppose we should probably rake those up sometime. I don't care much about that either, but if I have to mow it next year it's easier if it's not full of dead leaves.




After I got my B.Sc. with Specialization in Physics(I had been going for Honours, but a bad third year, including dropping out of my Quantum Mechanics course, forced me to drop back), I got another summer research scholarship. I elected not to go with Dr. Schmitt that year, instead ending up with the Canadian Network for Space Research. Then they kept me on for a year after Nicole and I got married.

That sounds impressive, but it wasn't really. Their offices were in the sub-basement of the Biological Science building, where there apparently used to be a TV studio of some kind. The "Space Research" they were doing was mostly dealing with the aurorae, and how precisely charged particles from the solar wind interacted with the Earth's magnetic field to produce them. Apparently it's not a very clear-cut issue. It was a "Network" because the government had sponsored a number of places doing related research to work together somehow in their "Network of Centres of Excellence" program.

The only visible networking I ever saw was the Easter we went to Kananaskis and I saw some of the other scientists at other Space Research Centres. Some of them were actually working on things more to do with the space program, like instrumentation for space vehicles and such. But it varied a lot. Kananaskis was a nice place, though. We went up to Lake Louise one afternoon, though that wasn't as impressive.

Anyway, I was mostly doing programming there. They had a couple of parallel-processor computers, and they had a magnetohydrodynamic(MHD) simulation program that they were running which currently took several days for a single run. They wanted to see if they could take advantage of the parallel processors to cut that time down. So I looked into it, and discovered yes, they could. One of the computers had only four processors, and the other one had more, but the four processors were better quality so I think it ended up running faster there. Besides, the other one was a Myrias, and Myrias was a company in the process of disintegration. When I started, there were ten people at Myrias; a year later there were four, and there were many more ex-Myrias people already.

I also, while I was at CNSR, discovered the Internet, and Usenet in particular. I wasted a lot of time reading and writing newsgroup posts, mostly in alt.callahans, talk.bizarre, and alt.pub.dragons-inn. I also played a lot of Nethack--which was what had led me onto Usenet, via rec.games.hack. The workstations they had there were all NeXTs, and those were cool. Now I imagine they'd be antiquated and outdated, but at the time they were the highest-powered computers I ever used, and they had a Unix back end, so that was where I first started to learn Unix. I got to play with Mathematica a bit, too.

There were several graduate students there as well, that I got to know somewhat. I never really considered becoming one myself, though, because quite frankly I couldn't picture myself doing research. If I did, it might have been in astronomy, which was not quite the Space Research thing, so it wouldn't have been with those guys anyway. I also liked Sherwood, the system administrator, who introduced me to The New Hacker's Dictionary, and a whole new world there, too.

Finally, after I was there for a year, they got their funding cut and they had to lay me off. I kept my Internet account there for a couple of months, before Sherwood deleted it--while I was actually reading Usenet one morning. I managed to go in and salvage the stuff I had accumulated there, copying it all onto disks, and Sherwood gave me a lead to a friend of his who ran his own UUCP site, atlantis.uucp. It was very slow, though, and the groups I read were often several days behind...but at least I wasn't actually out of contact.

But it was working there that got me convinced that programming was really where my future lay. And I've never looked back since.




I listened to a lot of folk CDs this week, because I picked them up six weeks ago. That's the way it works for me, most of the time--I get CDs from the library, and they are due in three weeks. Often, especially if I pick them up off the rack, nobody else has requests in for them and I can renew them for another three weeks. And I am chronically so far behind that I never get around to listening to them until the week they're due. I suppose this probably abuses the system, but it's too hard to catch up. If I did, I'd slack off and fall behind again.

Be that as it may...I listened to three different collections, and there was a fair bit of crossover. One of them was "On A Winter's Night", compiled by Christine Lavin; one was "The Women of Kerrville", a collection of live performances by female folk singers; and one was "A Nod To Bob", a Bob Dylan tribute album largely composed of folk artists. I hadn't heard of Eliza Gilkyson before, for instance, but she had songs on two and her name was mentioned in the liner notes on another.

Being compilations, they were of course a bit hodgepodge. Often there were songs that were pleasant enough, but didn't engender in me a desire to hear them again. A lot of "almost" songs. I took the CDs back to the library yesterday so I have to go by memory here, unfortunately. Let's see, what did I jot down as good songs...on the "Winter's Night" CD, there was "Heaven" by Julie Gold, author of "From A Distance"(but don't hold that against her)and David Wilcox(the American folkie, not the Canadian rocker)'s "Frozen In The Snow". From the Kerrville album, the only one that really stood out for me was, oddly enough, Vicki Pratt Keating's "N.Y. 10/11/91". But there were a lot of almosts on the album, including Catie Curtis's "Dandelion".

The Bob Dylan tribute was interesting, though I am really only passingly familiar with Dylan, and in general don't understand what all the fuss is about. But I was excited by the first track, Eliza Gilkyson's cover of "Love Minus Zero/No Limit"(why a slashed title?), because I have finally found the source of a T-shirt quote I saw years ago and always thought was really cool--"Statues made of matchsticks crumble into one another". My life is just a little bit more complete for that. The Roches are always good, and Suzzy & Maggie Roche do a song called "Clothes Line Saga" that is more interesting, IMHO, for their singing than for the lyrics. Finally, there's what is possibly the best version of "All Along The Watchtower" I've ever heard, by Tom Landa & The Paperboys. It's kind of Celtic rock, but with a better drummer than most, and I'd take it over U2's or the Indigo Girls' cover versions, and maybe even the original. (I know Jimi Hendrix probably did that one too, but I'm not into Hendrix much.)

I do really mean to listen to more Dylan, but I can never decide if I want to try new Dylan or old Dylan. So far I've struck out on both ends.

Today I did try to get a little bit ahead on next week's CDs, so I listened to Tim Finn's "One Nil". I hadn't been keeping track of his new albums, but I liked Crowded House a lot, and "Try Whistling This" is pretty good, even if I still can't pick out any particular songs. This one involved Wendy & Lisa, as well as Sheryl Crow, though I wasn't sure how much of an effect they had on the sound. It did include a couple of songs that rock out a little bit more, which is good--I can only take so much of the slow, moody almost-acoustic singer-songwriter stuff. Definitely a wishlist item.




I finally finished Divine Intervention last night, just in time to take it back to the library. It was okay, but it didn't quite gel for me. It did, however, do a good job of combining a fast-moving plot with lots of scientific speculation, about such disparate topics as semiconductor-based intelligence and reverse-time-arrow future sentience, as well as thrilling SF-enhanced scenes like being trapped in an airlock with air pressure steadily increasing, or fighting with bows and arrows on the outside of a spaceplane. So it had some great moments, and some clever writing, but overall didn't quite live up to its promise.

Now I've started rereading Gateway by Frederik Pohl. I can't remember how long ago I read this, but at least ten years by now, and possible more like fifteen, putting it back in high school. I initially put it on my reread list when I was in the middle of reading the next book in the series, Beyond The Blue Event Horizon, because a few years had passed in between and I'd forgotten most of the first book. I did that kind of thing a lot, before I realized that by the time I finished reading the second book, the author had generally refreshed your memory of what had happened in the first book. But it's still a great book, probably better than the rest of the series, and worth a reread.

I'm also bringing Azure Bonds, my only Forgotten Realms book, also purchased many years ago, The Mask of Timeby Marius Gabriel, a gift from my grandmother several years ago that I have not yet gotten around to reading, and Elsewhere by Will Shetterly, from my "Echo" list of people that used to be associated with the Fidonet SF Echo--in this case, Shetterly is a Minneapolis-area author and friend of Echo constants Pamela Dean and Patricia Wrede. I'm phasing out the Echo slot in my schedule, but this is still in there.

At the library, I also grabbed a couple of paperbacks. One was Naked Came The Phoenix, another book in the tradition of Naked Came The Manatee, with each chapter by a different author. This one is female authors, though, as opposed to Florida authors, so things might turn out better. Or at least different. Then there's the new James Alan Gardner, Trapped. We're big Gardner fans in this house, and his Festina Ramos books are always bang-up reads. What is annoying, though, is that the Coles bookstore in the mall doesn't have the book yet...but the library does, even though it was just due out this month. Maybe it's time for another Chapters run...though since they're owned by the same company, it's not going to do them much damage.




Downing the count once again...

396. The Replacements: Waitress In The Sky, from Tim

It took me many listens to this song to figure out that Paul Westerberg is just dissing airline stewardesses. It was funnier before I knew that, but it's still nice and jaunty, and it's a change from rockers bemoaning airlines that break their guitars.*

395. Prefab Sprout: Don't Sing, from Swoon

From before Prefab Sprout started to get all airy and ethereal, this song from their first album is a bit more energetic. I don't know particularly what Paddy McAloon is talking about--"whiskey priests" is a recurring item--but it's fun to listen to.




It's so fresh, you'll sue it for sexual harassment!


Aaron // 10:57 PM Clix me!
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Monday, October 07, 2002:

Down with the count!

398. Jennifer Warnes: Famous Blue Raincoat, from Famous Blue Raincoat

This is another cover of a Leonard Cohen song that I like better than the original--but then, this is the version that I heard first. Warnes's voice captures the emotion of the song perfectly, and while there are a few lyrics changes, it's fairly faithful.

397. Kate Bush: This Woman's Work, from The Sensual World

I actually first heard this song on the "She's Having A Baby" soundtrack, and was probably the main reason why I got it at all--the David Wakeling title song certainly wasn't. It's an emotionally moving song about the pain of childbirth and child-rearing, and about the risks of death involved.




The night is pleasing to us because, like memory, it erases idle details.

Aaron // 11:20 PM Clix me!
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After a while Steve & Christa moved to an apartment complex called the "El Mirador". It was closer to downtown, and easier to get home from; it was arranged like a Spanish villa, with a central courtyard. Their first apartment there was really small, and also had no phone. I still crashed there a few times, though. They were really poor at that point, neither of them being employed, and they would often collect cigarette butts at the end of the evening, salvage what tobacco they could and roll some of their own.

In a year or two they ended up getting a better apartment, in the annex building, which was a lot larger and also more secure--no window opening onto the courtyard, for instance. They didn't get to stay there very long, though, because of noise complaints.

One night I remember leaving there a little bit too late and missing the last bus to Millwoods. I went back to their apartment building; the front door was open, so I could get inside, but they were asleep. So I sat at the top of the stairwell, tried to look inconspicuous, and read my book. I can't quite remember what book it was, but I'm pretty sure it was William Gibson. I stayed there all night and then slipped out when the early morning buses started running again.

I could never wake them up, though. I just couldn't bring myself to do it. They were sound sleepers, and they were late sleepers. Even playing loud music in the next room didn't seem to be enough. So I usually just left around noon or so, or earlier. Once, when Steve had to get up early in the morning, Christa and I stayed up all night to ensure that he didn't oversleep. Then I went straight to my 8:00 AM Linear Algebra class at the University...and then home.

So that's pretty much as exciting as my life ever got. I just caught occasional glimpses of what it was like to live that way, and that's all. That was usually enough to make me realize that that wasn't how I wanted to live myself.

Aaron // 11:19 PM Clix me!

______________________

My brother Steve moved to Edmonton three years before I did--he finished school two years earlier, and I also stayed a year at college. For the first little while he lived in a house with a whole bunch of friends--I want to say seventeen, but that may just have been the highest number. He had the attic room. I visited him a couple of times there, once driving down with Jeremy and our physics teacher, Peter Leesinsky, for a day trip. I remember sleeping over there too, once, which must therefore have been a different visit. I had just bought one tape of Rush's "Archives" and Mike Oldfield's "Discovery & The Lake", I believe, at a used record store on 101st street called Freecloud Records, but we mostly listened to Laurie Anderson's "United States Live", which at that time I was totally blown away by.

At some point that house got condemned, and there was a fair bit of bad blood with Steve and his friends. He moved around a lot, and at some point started going out with a high-school girl named Christa. This resulted in more bad blood, because they had been introduced by a mutual friend named David Wagner, who was interested in Christa himself. Christa's mother also didn't think much of the relationship, and once phoned my mother to say, "Do you know what your son is doing?" My mother was not particularly concerned.

They did stay together for several years after that. When I first moved down to Edmonton they were fairly nomadic, crashing with various people, some of them incredibly unsavoury, junkies and the like. But finally they managed to get their own place, an apartment that was basically the converted attic of a house(again)in one of Edmonton's low-rent neighbourhoods, near the Coliseum. I visited them there several times, and usually ended up staying over because after midnight, when my brother was just hitting his stride, there was no way I could make it back home to Millwoods. It was easy to get to because of the LRT station nearby, though.

Most of the people they hung out with seemed to be Christa's friends, or at least people Steve had met since moving to Edmonton. It was an experience, hanging out with some of those people, and often I would just soak up the atmosphere. I suppose I was mostly thought of as "Steve's geeky brother". Well, that never bothered me. Once I showed up there and found nobody home(they had no phone), but some other friends waiting for them. I ended up hanging out with them for a while instead.

Aaron // 11:19 PM Clix me!

______________________

Not sure what's coming next. It might be time to get to The Mask of Time by Marius Gabriel; I like to bring thick books with me when I visit Hawk Hills, because I seem to get a lot of reading done there. Maybe not so much with everybody being there. It'll be a full house, with Sharna & Nick, us four, and Wayne coming up.




We finally got around to getting new tires for our car. A year ago, I think(so it'd probably be in the blog if you wanted to check), we had the car in and they mentioned our tread depth was pretty pitiful. So we finally got around to getting new tires, and another annual oil change. They always say that you should get them more than once a year, but then they are also the ones selling you the oil, aren't they?

We got it done at Canadian Tire, which is(this'll sound a company endorsement, but I thought you should know)more than just tires, more than just car accessories--it's hardware and stereo equipment and barbecues and all that stuff too. And they have their own currency, too.

Of course, when I got the car back(after a quite reasonable three hours or so), they had a whole list of new things that were wrong with it. Well, it's ten years old now. Probably eleven, really, because it's a '92 and the '03s are already out. But it'll last us a few more years, I hope.




Pretty good week for TV. I was amused at the Barenaked Ladies' appearance on "The West Wing" allegedly performing on "Rock The Vote", if only because they're Canadian. I'm sure that Aaron Sorkin & Co. knew that, but they might also have known that Canadians like the show better than Americans. More intellectual or something.* They did "One Week", of course, probably their best-known song, and still one of their best. It was weird to see C.J. and Amy in T-shirts. It looks like this season they're spreading their stories out more, not trying to tie up all their plot threads in each episode. That can work well.

I'm glad to see Liz Vassey's character in "Push, Nevada" turning into something a bit more than just a ditzy deputy. I can't wait to see what it is. Hopefully she, too, will be an ally. We're still not sure about Mary, except that she can apparently dig up a grave in high heels. I don't know if this new lawyer guy, Jamison, will turn out to be all he seems either. It's one of those kind of shows.

Aaron // 11:18 PM Clix me!
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Today I was listening to "Taming The Tiger" by Joni Mitchell and "A Painter Passing Through" by Gordon Lightfoot, more choices from the Folk section. I have liked both artists in the past, but these albums--both from 1998--were not quite up to par.

Now when it comes to Joni Mitchell, I mainly like her mid-to-late-80's albums--"Dog Eat Dog", "Chalk Mark In A Rainstorm", and "Night Ride Home". "Court & Spark" is okay, and "Turbulent Indigo", but a lot of her stuff hasn't made much impression on me. "Taming The Tiger" seemed to be taking her in a weird direction, musically, and it wasn't a direction I wanted to follow her into. It was a little bit jazzy, and maybe even a little bit alternative, and in general I didn't get into it.

Gordon Lightfoot--well, he must be getting into his 60's by now, or something, and you can really hear it. His voice sounds strained or just plain off for most of the album, and his voice was always one of his best, and most distinctive, assets. (It makes me think of when I heard George Carlin's "Playin' With Your Head", how much different his voice sounded there from "Class Clown" and the like.) There wasn't any material that really redeemed itself despite his singing, either.

I had also picked up a couple of CDs at the library booksale over the past few weeks that I eventually got around to listening to. One was Metallica's "Reload". I'm pretty sure that I checked out "Load" and was uninspired, but I figured for a buck I could try this one. It was okay, and I don't think I'll ditch it or anything. One or two tracks skipped pretty badly, but hey, I can always look for the MP3s if I care to. The other one's title I forget, but I think it turned out to be a video game soundtrack album or something weird like that. Still, it was chock full of techno goodness like Fluke, Chemical Brothers, Daft Punk, etc., again with a few skippies. So I'll keep that one too.




I'm still reading Divine Intervention by Ken Wharton. I think there's maybe a few too many viewpoint characters, so it's hard to keep track of everybody. I spent most of the weekend reading the Onion collection(which I had misplaced for a while), because this book wasn't pulling me along. I'm not sure if that will change anytime soon, but I'm sure I'll get it done before thanksgiving.

Aaron // 11:18 PM Clix me!
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