Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Wise words.

Only after the last tree has been cut down;
Only after the last fish has been caught;
Only after the last river has been poisoned;
Only then will you realize that money cannot be eaten.
Cree saying

Monday, November 28, 2005

New stuff sucks!

It took me a long, long time to "upgrade" to MSN7, but I finally did it. I haven't been a very happy camper, because it's all cluttery and full of crap I don't need or want, and the latest version of gaim, while all wonderfully open-source, still is a little... um... chunky, for lack of a better word.

But "upgrade" I did, recently. File transfers are actually a lot faster; kudos to Microsquish* to getting something actually fixed. However, the number of ads and clutter and buttons and extras and doohickeys was driving me (more) insane, and I turned to your pal and mine, Google, to figure out if there was a nifty way to do all that.

Turns out there is.

Now, doing this is technically a violation of your end-user licence agreement that you never read, yet to which you blindly said OK as you dutifully installed the latest version on your machine. But, I bet the illegal copies of Windows and Office you probably have on your computer cause Bill Gates to lose more sleep than you doing a little tinkering with software that he gives out for free anyway.

I've never been one to shy away from popping the hood on something, figuring out how the innards work, and doing a little adjusting as I see fit. I have a little bit of experience in the worlds of Java and HTML (or, more generally, SGML languages, of which HTML is an application... oh man, I need a girlfriend, pronto), which makes this process a bit smoother.

However, if you follow the directions outlined in the link above, you'll end up with a much cleaner MSN, free of ads (both the picture ads on the window which contains your contacts, and those new stupid text ads on the bottom of all your message windows), and all the little things which happen to piss me (and possibly you) off to no end.

Enjoy.

*"Microsquish" comes from old Bloom County/Outland cartoons... a nerdy, socially-backwards millionaire not unlike Mr. Gates was featured in some of those strips, and he was the owner of a software company of that name. I thought it quite appropriate.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

There's going to be a federal election soon.

And I don't care, for three reasons.

1. Most of the issues about which I care are provincial, not federal.
Public education is the key one here, and that's squarely within provincial jurisdictions. I suppose there's federal oversight on health care (would someone please give a Taser-shot to Ralph Klein's testes?), but the nuts-and-bolts stuff is taken care of by the provinces. Foreign policy and trade is interesting, I suppose, but let's face it — the Americans' stances, save for Iraq, are basically our stances. So that's out.

2. Big changes need a pissed-off populace, and we don't have one.
This one is a little more nuanced.

In places like, for example, the Ukraine last year, Georgia (the country) a couple of years ago, or Cuba in the 1950s, you're more likely to pull a million people out to a protest and/or overthrow the government, because life there can be pretty bad if you're not of the privileged classes.

But, let's face it: a few million bucks going to shady business dealings in Quebec is not enough to trigger a revolution. Most of us have roofs over our heads, food in our bellies, and a warm coat for a snowy day; we're comfortable and, dare I say, complacent. We're not at war (very much), our economy's doing fine (despite what all the Chicken Little right-wing fuckies are saying), and the NHL is back (keep up the good work, Wings).

Canadians are generally satisfied with how their lives are going, and I don't think Stephen Harper's monotone rants and Lexan®-based hair are going to incite the burning of Paul Martin effigies on the streets of Flin Flon. The Libs haven't taken a giant dive in the polls (yet?), and I don' t think they will, unless maybe a picture of Chuck Guité in a Malaysian whorehouse surfaces, in which he's holding a giant sign saying, "Thanks for the beejers, Canadian Taxpayers".

And yes, I am trying to blackmail Chuck Guité. Pay up, prick.

3. Three is the Magic Number in comedy.
If you haven't already picked up on every joke I write in Golden Words, they're all in threes: straight item, straight item, punchline. So, in order for this blog post to be complete, there has to be a third item. Whoops! Guess this one isn't funny.

Friday, November 25, 2005

An OLP confession, intrustive Flash ads, and transcribing.

Back when Our Lady Peace released their Naveed album in 1995, I was all over it. Listened to it tons, and eagerly anticipated their next release. But, starting with Clumsy in 1997, Raine's singing voice changed into this nasally, growly thing, all their lyrics seemed to talk about what a shitty childhood he had, and the music was sludgy and boring as hell. Through the magic of Can-Con, though, they continuted to get their depressing songs played all over the place on radio.

So, for the past eight years, I haven't really been a big fan of OLP, and I wasn't terribly excited when I heard they were releasing a new album. However, after listening to a good chunk of it at a friend's place recently... I'm almost ashamed to say it... it's not that bad. They've actually turned a bit of a corner, hauled themselves out of the "woe is me" pit of black despair, and said to themselves, "Alright, let's lighten it up a bit and write music that doesn't make people want to shoot themselves." I won't be buying it, that's for sure, but if one of their new songs comes on the radio, I won't reflex-flip the station like I do with Nickelback.

As I was looking Naveed up on allmusic.com (I bought my copy in early '96, if memory serves, so I wasn't sure the exact year of release), the first two times I fired up that website, there was this giant Flash-based ad for something or other covering up half my damn screen. These seem to be pretty plentiful lately. PISS OFF!!!

If you've never transcribed an audio recording of an interview sometime, you really should. It's a great experience. Ten minutes takes an hour. Page after page of text — we really take for granted how many words we can say in a short period of time. Last year, as part of my TAing responsibilities, I transcribed a 90-minute round-table discussion, and it ended up being 23 single-spaced pages long. Ridiculous.

So, if my fingers fall off next week, you'll know why; I have about 95 minutes (and counting) of interviews to type out. But I guess that's what research is all about.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Wow.

Oh, wow.

I just watched the movie Crash.

That is some provocative, daring filmmaking right there.

And who knew Sandra Bullock could act?

This is a great film.

Damn.

Urgent business proposal.

Is it just me, or is everyone else also receiving an increase in the amount of "I am a Nigerian banker who has to transfer funds out of the country, please God bless" spam lately? My Yahoo! account overrunneth with it lately.

In other news, I FINALLY managed to get a certain person from a certain school board on the phone. He shuffled some papers around, found my research proposal, glanced over it quickly (probably for the first time), and said, "OK, go ahead, it's cool, do your research." Chriiiiiiiiiiiiist. He could've said that on October 2, the day I first emailed him the damn thing. At any rate, first interviews tomorrow! Yay, it begins!

In other other news, I'm not going to Vancouver for IB training. I'm going to be spending the weekend of March 17-19 in the one, the only... Houston! I've never been to the Lone Star State before, but if I'm correct, it should be filled with giant steaks, ten-gallon hats, and evangelical Republicans. I'll be sure to pack my gun, as I believe it's the law to carry one in plain view in a hip-holster.

(...actually, I don't own a gun, and never will.)

In other other other news, Gary Glitter diddled minors in Vietnam! Geez, after serving a couple of months for possession of kiddie-porn a few years ago, you'd think he'd have learned his lesson. Guess not!

Monday, November 21, 2005

I'm not saying Canada is the shit.

But when all of your major cities (Calgary, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Vancouver) make it into the Top 20 of "Cities to Live in the World", you know you're doing something right.

Bookfight!!!



If you're looking for something to do, hop on over to the ol' Ell-Jay for a meme; 1998 was a simpler time.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Researching, Vanilla Fudge, and Astronauts.

Next week I get to be a big grown-up research type person! I'm interviewing a couple of people (finally) for my M.Ed. thesis work, which is actually pretty exciting, even though I've known and worked with these people for years. It should make for a comfortable interview setting — sure, the stakes are big, but the faces are friendly. It'll make it easier to do the next set of interviews, when/if the research coordinator from the other school board ever gets back to me.

I'm not normally a fan of covers or remixes of songs. The way I see it, the person/people who wrote the song know what the hell is going on, and having someone else re-record it is a bit, well, misleading. The prime exception to this has been Joe Cocker, who thoroughly reinterprets songs in his own way (compare the Beatles' and his version of "With A Little Help From My Friends"; there's actually merit in Cocker's cover).

However, a new set of cover songs have come to my attention: those done by the group Vanilla Fudge in the late 1960s. Their debut self-titled album is full of slowed-down, funked-up, soul-infused, and completely-transformed versions of songs you know and love. I can highly recommend "Ticket To Ride", "She's Not There" and "You Keep Me Hangin' On". Turn them on, and turn them up. Drugs are optional.

Every April, grad students in the Fac of Ed put together a symposium featuring work that we're doing. It's sort of a "for us, by us" approach to an education conference; last year I presented a paper I wrote for a class the previous fall, and while it was a bit nerve-wracking, it was a pretty good experience overall. This year we're trying to snag Roberta Bondar as our keynote speaker, and today I had a hand in writing the invitation letter. Perhaps if we tell her a breakfast at Cora's is included, that'd sweeten the deal. Hey, I'd pay for that myself; it's not often you get to have waffles with someone who's been in orbit.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

On hiatus.

I don't think I've ever posted anything about my love life. There are three primary reasons for this.

  1. There's not really much to say.

  2. My few adventures in romance lately have been dismal at best.

  3. I'd rather keep some things private from all you cocksuckers, thankyouverymuch.

However, I come before you today as a man who has recently re-realized his place in the Pecking Order Of Lovin'. And that place is somewhere between (a.) Steve Buscemi's long-lost yet miraculously-worse-looking half-brother Jorge, and (b.) Carrot Top on a good hair day.

That's it for a while, folks. I'm making like Lou Gehrig and taking myself out of the game. Unlike the erstwhile first baseman, though, I'll probably return sometime in the future.

This whole thing is stupid, this dance that men and women do around each other. Even though you don't want to, and you think the whole fucking thing is ridiculous, which it is, you're probably going to get roped into doing it anyway, whether you like it or not. And you don't like it either.

Alas, that's how it's all set up, unfortunately... guy has to make the first move, guy has to come up with funky and inventive things to do together, guy can't listen to his wicked Zeppelin CDs anymore because girl doesn't appreciate the beauty of a six-minute John Bonham drum solo.

(By the way, if you're a girl and you can appreciate the beauty of a six-minute John Bonham drum solo, I will bear your children.)

But now I'm sick of it.

I'm sick of the whole god damn thing.

It's stupid, and I don't want to be a part of it anymore.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Westward bound?

So, get this.

I'm still on a leave of absence from my teaching job, which still technically makes me a teacher in the Toronto District School Board (TDSB), and I plan on returning to said job in September '06.

The person who's teaching most of the physics courses there these days wants to move on to another school at the end of this year. (She's starting a 4-over-5 and wants to have three years at her new school before taking the year off.) Which means when I go back, I'll go back to teaching a good deal of the physics.

Scary to think they'd put me in charge of something, eh?

Anyway.

The school wants to start offering International Baccalaureate (IB) classes within a couple of years. These are courses which are recognized worldwide, which makes it easier for students to apply to foreign universities, I suppose. At any rate, in order to teach these things, you apparently need to attend a workshop, and there's apparently one in Vancouver in February.

To which my principal would send me as the "physics specialist," according to my old department head.

Man, I don't even work there these days, and they're trying to give me free "vay-cays".

Life is good.

Oh, and I got some extra grant money today.

Life is very good.

Ah yes, and I'm actually going to be rolling up my sleeves and doing some thesis research next week.

Life rocks the casbah.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Ye gods, that hurt.

I'm still not exactly sure how I managed to type what I did last night (i.e., the blog post below), seeing as I was exceedingly, exceedingly drunk.

I mysteriously awoke this morning at about 8:30 — or perhaps it wasn't so mysterious after all, as my stomach was letting me know that the previous evening's events were not appreciated by my gastrointestinal tract. This included a chugged tallboy of Crest malt liquor (at 10% and 500 mL, we're talking three drinks in the span of about two minutes), assorted mixed-drink-ends foisted upon me by various people, about three shots of vodka at once courtesy of Eric, a whole jalapeño pepper, custard baby food, copious marshmallows, and other assorted beverages which escape my memory.

So yeah... parts of me weren't terribly happy this morning. Advil, you're a godsend.

And now my head isn't happy, either. My housemates have been redoing some floors upstairs all weekend (the reverberating sound of the drum sander at 9 this morning was not appreciated), and tonight I came home after GW to an apartment thoroughly reeking of paint thinner. This isn't too bad for the first few minutes — who doesn't appreciate a good solvent-buzz? — but now this is getting ridiculous. Like, dudes, I gotta live down here! Please don't open up a can of varsol right beside my living room. That door really doesn't keep much out in the way of vapours.

Grrrrrrrr.



So I'm sitting here freezing, because I have to keep the windows open so I don't get a headache from the solvents sitting in the other part of the basement, and the paltry space-heater which is pinch-hitting for my wiring-suspect behemoth baseboard heater is having a tough time taming the chilly November air currently cascading down into my living room, and this place is already freakin' cold as it is, and it doesn't need any help from direct outside air to stay that way, but I need it, so I don't go crazy.

...er.



I saw Shadoe from the K-Rock morning show in a diner close to my place, ostensibly with a few other K-Rock folks, this morning. His voice in real life is exactly as it is on the radio. Creepy, eh?

Crested.

I survived.


I'm now the proud owner of a GW Crest. No thanks to Erin.

Boooooooooooooooo-urns for Erin.

But I'm drunk. So I'll just go to sleep now.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

I loves me the diagrams.

People have different ways of learning new information. Some people memorize a set of facts; some people need to hear it told to them a hundred times. I draw diagrams. Sometimes a good diagram is all it takes for me, and maybe for you, too.

A few nights ago, the sky was clear and the Sun had set about a half-hour before... and there was Venus in the southwestern sky, easily the brightest object up there. Lately I've been able to look at that planet in a new light (if you'll pardon the pun) — being able to envision me, on the Earth, looking at a planet which is closer to the Sun, and picturing the whole thing in 3D. I gotta say, it clicked for me, and now I see the sky in a whole new way.

In a class in which I'm a TA, the following diagrams were on a handout, and they help in spreading this "solar system awareness," if you will. First we have a drawing of a typical sunset/sunrise, in your typical Earth-centered kind of way:


Now here's a different way of picturing the exact same scenario:


Isn't that cool? It really gives your head a spin in terms of picturing how the Earth, the Sun, the Moon and the other planets are situated in the sky. And all it takes is the right diagram.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

I wish my high school'd had football.

That way, maybe I could've played for the Carolina Panthers, met their cheerleaders, and gotten in on some hot hot lesbian sex in a bathroom in Tampa.

(The inclusion of the above four hyperlinked words should send my site's hit counter into the stratosphere.)

In other sports news, whoa, Ugueth Urbina was charged with attempted murder with a machete! Good thing the Tigers traded him away last June. (Remember, this was the same guy whose mother was kidnapped for a few months about a year ago. Violent place, this Venezuela.)

Monday, November 07, 2005

Tyranny of the majority.

It's a phrase which was brought up in conversation with a colleague yesterday; we were talking about the structure of Parliament and representation in general in Canada. He's from Alberta, which feels political alienation because it's, well, neither Ontario nor Quebec (which, combined, have 181 out of 307 seats, so whatever we say goes, essentially). Proportional representation might help resolve issues like this; he suggested something simpler, more along the lines of "disproportionate represenation" which would just, say, up PEI's number of seats from its current 4.

At any rate, the phrase sprang to mind just now while reading a Reuters news item from Kansas, that hotbed of scientific adventurism:

Intelligent design, or ID, proponents have also been active in pressing for the changes in Kansas, but school board members there stopped short of including intelligent design ideas in the state standards.

"ID is making enormous progress," said John Calvert, a Kansas City lawyer and ID proponent. "Is it going to happen overnight? No. Is it going to happen? Yes."

Calvert said museum exhibits such as the one in Lawrence are flawed because they ask visitors to believe humans evolved randomly, with no specific purpose or design by a higher power — a theory polls show a majority of Americans do not believe.

Well, I bet there are poll questions to which a majority of Americans would have said No too, at some point in history:
  • Should the US abolish slavery? (1700s/1800s)
  • Should doctors stop prescribing pregnant women thalidomide? (1960s)
  • Did Saddam Hussein have a hand in the 9/11 attacks? (2003)
  • Do you believe in angels? (today)
Just because the majority of a population believes in something doesn't mean it's the truth, postmodernism and the Bush administration be damned.

(Actually, if there is Someone/Something up there, would You mind damning the Bush administration? They could use a little damnation these days. Thanks. Sincerely, J.)

I'm a science teacher (currently on leave to do some drink... er... studying). My job is chiefly concerned with evidence, which describe facts. These in turn form the basis for theories, which can be confirmed by applying them to new cases to see if they're correct. Using ID's "biology is just way too complex for it to be random, man" argument is asinine, because it throws evidence out the window as its first step; it's a belief-based system, WHICH IS NOT SCIENCE IN ANY WAY, SHAPE OR FORM, AND SHOULD NOT BE TAUGHT IN SCIENCE CLASSROOMS IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS.

Lipps Inc.

Am I the person that gets the song "Funkytown" in my head for hours after driving by Produce Town on Bath Road?

Happens every time.

I hope this isn't construed as an ad for that place. Although they did supply the pumpkins for Pumpkin Theatre this year, at a very reasonable price.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Why was I a year too late?

Last night, after a cover band and an (I shit you not) acoustic Dashboard Confessional tribute band, campus legends Khaki Snack (accompanied on drums by Adam of the Radical Dudez) played a set at Clark Hall Pub. Technical snafus were abundant at the beginning, but most of the crowd (myself included) was too blitzed to care.

(I seem to be enamoured with parentheses today.)

At any rate, I picked up the KS CD, entitled "Quantity n ot QUality"; I've been listening to a couple of tracks I downloaded (completely legally) for the past few days. Over breakfast/brunch/lunch today, I listened to the whole thing, which contains songs listing guys who have beards, advising which dishes are the best at Cambodiana, and the infamous "Barnone," which tells the tale of how Derek's girlfriend dumped him on Christmas Eve via ICQ. Also included are bonus tracks, I believe from KS's last official Monday night show at Clark, which just gets sloppier and sloppier as they get drunker and drunker; one song towards the end is a paean describing Chris' desire to do something to his girlfriend which is illegal in some jurisdictions.

Where was I last year every Monday night when these guys were playing? And why did nobody tell me about them until it was almost too late? I did manage, though, to catch most of one of their sets late last year at the Grad Club; I believe it was in a fundraiser for something or other, after which I talked with Derek for a good long time about KS's failed attempt to win the AMS elections, music, and a variety of other topics. (Golden Words, in interviewing all of the AMS slates, had a blast with the BMP ticket, because they really didn't care about winning the election at all. This gave them carte-blanche to say anything, which they did, and you can read the interview here. Very funny stuff.)

In conclusion, if you have five dollars — and I know you do — pick up their CD if it's being sold somewhere.



PS: If you're looking to test your knowledge of (a.) film, (b.) me, and (a.+b.) my taste in film, head on over to my derelict LiveJournal and take yourself a little quiz. Shouldn't be too hard. Enjoy!

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Breakfast cereal, you're a fetching maiden.

I ate dinner a little less than three hours ago. A good amount, I might add.

But now I want to rip open that new box of generic Honey-Nut Cheerios I bought this morning and have a giant bowl of 'em.

Even though I'm not technically hungry.

I think the point of this is OHMYGODDAMN I LOVE BREAKFAST CEREAL.

And now, your turn: What's your favourite cereal, and why? I'll go first... mine is Life, because it's simple (scores big points there) and stays crunchy in milk longer than one would expect. Also, barring differences in hair colour, may have looked a bit like Mikey, the kid in the ads for the stuff back in the day (I'm on the right):

I'm on the right.Well, alright, maybe we didn't bear a whole lot of ressemblance to each other. But if this only elicits swooning of the "oooooooh, Jason was soooooo cuuuuuuuute when he was a little kid" variety from dozens of hot, single ladies on this fine campus willing to jump my bones, then I guess it was all worth the trouble.

(For the record, I don't think I was trying to give anyone the death-stare in that photo. It was at my grandma's 70th birthday party, which was incidentally the day before I started Kindergarten.)

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Hither and thither these days.

It seems like I've been away more than I've been home over the past few days. And, I won't lie to you, a lot of those outings have been booze-related. Does this make me a bad person? Of course not.

I'm just... uh... enjoying... um... my time here... to its... uh... fullest.

......yyyyyyyyeaaaaahhhhhh.

We'll go with that.

At any rate, Hallowe'en at the Grad Club was múy fun. One guy was Bonerman, a superhero with, um, a pointing problem. A friend of mine came as Che Guevara ("¡Viva la revolución!"). The best costume of the night, though, was a guy dressed as Toronto — yes, the city of Toronto. He was wearing a Leafs t-shirt, with a "Hog Town" sign on his back, and strapped over his shoulders, hanging down to his waist, and shaped like the giant phallic symbol it truly is, was a three-foot-high CN Tower (with a very scrotoral SkyDome). He won the costume competition, natch.

At the same event, I played a little game called "Drink the Liquor." I won!

In a completely unrelated story, I now have a bottle of red wine. Whoever would like to come over and help me give it a good home while watching Aqua Teen Hunger Force cartoons is more than welcome.