Entries from May 2002

Anniversary. Reflection.

Today is a special day.

First, a year ago today I added my small clamour to the journal community by launching this site. The 365 days which followed have been filled with an incredible amount of upheaval and tumultuous change.

(This is, were my life a tragically flawed, shark jumping sitcom, where I would launch into a "greatest hits" jaunt down memory lane. I would point out some of the many things that happened to me (and to us) in the last year, and coax out from the archives some choice posts, to remind everyone (and myself) just how extra-ordinary my life really is. How gauche.)

Today is also special because it's the last day at my old job. This marks the end, at least for now, of my life grappling with the corporate beast. Of course, almost everything could be construed as being corporate in some way, and my new job is no exception. But this is special for me because I never really felt 100% comfortable working for large corporations. My new job will have a direct, measurable, and hopefully positive affect on people's lives. And that makes me happy.

When I was a scrappy punk rock kid, the last thing in the world I would have expected I'd end up doing is working for big business. Yet living in Toronto, where it really does seem like everything revolves around making sure you've got enough cash to pay the rent that month, really changed a lot for me. It was that reality, coupled with my newfound career doing Web stuff, that lead me to the corporate life.

I'm grateful for the lessons I learned, and the opportunities that working in the corporate world gave me. It's time for a change.

Happy Birthday, BeatnikPad. And thank you for listening.

Bombing the system

Do your bit to help a sister out: Dean of textism.com has a new Google Bomb that he needs everyone's help with. It's to help spread the word about Leslie Harpold and the manhandling and overwhelming incompetence and indifference she has suffered at the hands of Verisign.

Verisign, if you remember the tale, sold Leslie's wonderful domains hoopla.com and smug.com right out of Leslie's grasp, to some morally deficient weiner. It could have happened to anyone. Spread the word about Verisign. It's for a good, righteous cause.

Snow in May

I know no one cares about this except for the person it's happening to, but I must say it again: Where the hell is spring?

More VeriSign Slime

VeriSignAs if the unending proof that VeriSign and Network Solutions are completely unethical, bumbling idiots wasn't enough, check this out: VeriSign is now sending snail mail spam to non-customers in an attempt to trick them into transferring their domains from another registrar to Versign.

My brother received a letter from Verisign last week which, at first glance, looks like a warning that his domain is about to expire. It states in large letters at the top, "Domain Name Expiration Notice", and just underneath, "Reply by: May 15th, 2002". For all intensive purposes if you didn't look really closely, it seems like a legitimate expiry notice.

But, if you squint WAY down to small print at the bottom of the page, you'll see a very tiny note to Review the terms and conditions on the back of this form.

It's there, hidden in the small print on the back that you'll find that this is actually a marketing ploy and not a real expiry notice.

The catch, of course, is that I registered this domain for my brother, and it has never been maintained by VeriSign / Network Solutions. In fact, neither of us have registered domains with them because of their terrible service and reputation. This domain was actually registered with the competent folks at 000domains.com, an OpenSRS-approved registrar. So, there's no way that VeriSign could legitimately have my brother's postal address in their system.

That means that VeriSign, like a lowly porn e-mail spammer, is spidering other registrars WHOIS databases for their address information. Truly unbelievable. I'm sure this has a lot to do with their increasing lack of ethics. Will someone please smote these idiots with a massive class-action suit sooner rather than later?

Why I love my Mac: iTunes, Unix, and scrumptious Aqua

More reasons why Bill Gates just isn't making the dollar bills jump out of my wallet:

Today, with the help of Adriaan Tijsseling's super Mac OS X tips, I got sendmail running on my system. What that means now is that I'm no longer at the mercy of my rather flaky ISP's mail delivery SMTP server. I can send mail directly from my computer, and Mac OS X's tasty Unix underbelly and sendmail does all of the magic.

Velvet XOn top of that, I can also do some seriously cool shit, like the currently playing iTunes track info now in the featured slot of this very Web site (just under the home page "bay window" image). It works by utilizing the one-two punch of script to gather the information on what song is playing from iTunes, and a Unix shell script to automagically upload this info to the BeatnikPad's server.

I found the information on Adriaan's new Weblog. He's also gathered all of this stuff up into a nice and tidy click-and-run application for those folks who prefer such a thing. Go pay him a visit.

In other geek news, announced the new update for OS X, codenamed "Jaguar". From the list of new functionality I've read, and 's teaser page, I'm getting about as excited as one can realistically get about a forthcoming operating system upgrade. The truth is, makes using computers fun, while still providing some serious computing power to get real work done at the same time. That's good eatin'.

Status: Nitpicky. Nostalgic.

As you may have noticed, I've moved a few things around, and fiddled with the BeatnikPad's style sheet. Again. All of this nitpickiness is just me trying to put off what I really should be doing now that I'm temporarily unemployed, and actually have personal fun time.

That is, of course, redesigning this site and moving it to full XHTML and style sheet positioning compliance, like my woefully under-posted and underdeveloped freelance site, and my girlfriend's personal Website. (Which, by the way, Renée has started updating again, now that she's also found more time. Go pay her a visit and give her a reason to make this a more permanent state of affairs...)

Now that I've been freed from the possibility of putting myself into a conflict of interest position with my old employer, I'm back on the prowl for freelance writing, Web design, and development gigs. That means I need to get off of my lazy glutes and actually start marketing myself again... which then means that I really should finish redesigning my portfolio and freelance site, theNonsuch.

But all I can think about is the fact that a year ago I was gallivanting around Europe with Renée, and trying to scheme up a way to get back out there. One thing's for sure: Rampant nostalgia can paralyze one into a dumbstruck haze - and I am a complete sucker for dwelling a bit too eagerly in the past.

Ah, heck. At least I'm posting more often.

New (old) Photos posted

With some embarrassment at how long it's taken me to get these up on the site, I present the final selection of images from my Europe trip. This set covers part two of Barcelona, plus a few shots from the French village of Annecy.

There's something wrong with my scanner and a bunch of the images scanned with rather soft focus. That, or it's time to buy a new scanner. Plus I left these two rolls sitting in the fridge forever, so they printed rather badly. and the colours were hellish to try and correct. At least they're up, and I can stop resting on the laurels of old vacations and start planning a new one... at any rate, Go and take a peek.

Seeking Patient Testimonials

My eyeglasses now officially cost a small fortune. Ever since I was diagnosed with glaucoma, my glasses perscription has been on the rise. The truth of it is I was already pretty damn near-sighted to begin with - my glasses have always cost around three to four hundred dollars.

With my latest perscription, I have jumped into a whole new ocular bracket. Now, each lens costs about as much as my entire glasses used to cost. Needless to say, I'm not pleased.

So, Laser Eye
I've been seriously considering something I've always poo-pooed: laser-eye surgery. My attitude use to be that it was way too expensive, and way too risky to be worth the possible benefits. With the cost of the surgery plummeting, and more and more people getting the procedure done without problems, I'm starting to reconsider. Facing a few weeks of discomfort and a couple thousand dollars might be much better than spending almost a thousand dollars every time I need new glasses.

This leads, as it should, to questions. Have you had this procedure done? Do you know anyone who has? I'd like to hear your (or their) experiences with laser-eye surgery. How long did your eyes take to heal? How bad were your eyes before the surgery, and how much improvement did you see? Post away in the comments, and help a fella make a decision on whether he's going to allow a stranger to mess around with his eyes. Thanks.

We’re Number One! No one cares!

The BeatnikPad is now the top result when you search for "Moving Stories" on Google. This, of course, points to the Moving Stories Project here at the 'Pad.

Now, if only people would actually submit an actual tale about a move they did, we'd be getting somewhere... <sigh>

[Update: May 10, 2002]: I just realized how utterly pitiful and lame this entry was. Took me long enough, huh?

Weekend Status Report

(in point form because I'm feeling massively disinclined):

  1. Tormented myself with indecision on whether I could afford to visit my friends in Toronto.
  2. Did my income tax. Realized that I am now truly an adult as I owe a rather frightening amount of money. Scratch that trip off of the list.
  3. Went out for expensive, decadent Japanese food with Renée anyway. Perhaps I'm not so adult-like after all.
  4. Felt guilty for not updating Cultural Joy for two weeks.
  5. Became overcome with apathy. It's still not updated.
  6. Made a prolonged trip to slackville. Got caught up on some reading, watched a lot of television, and played with the cats.
  7. Went and saw Spider-man. Big grins all around.
  8. Ate another gigantic, rather expensive meal with me mom and family.
  9. Went to the Winnipeg Humane Society to look at the cats and dogs. I want a dog rather badly, but we're not supposed to have even cats, so it's risky. Stupid landlords.
  10. Took Renée's mom out for Mum's day brunch. More money leaves my wallet so that someone else will cook for me. Ah, financial irresponsibility!
  11. Spent a lot of time planning the relaunch of my Web design business.
  12. Wrote a completely lame and meandering entry for the Web site.

Sorry - I'll try to be more entertaining tomorrow. Really.

Furniture Mover

It's funny. You spent many a day sitting at work, daydreaming about having some time off, and when you finally get some, what do you do? Fritter away the hours aimlessly surfing the Web, screw around with new designs for your personal site, and get some work done. None of it, however, is even close to qualifying as being laudable.

But, enough about work, I've got time off! I could be out gallivanting around the city, tweaking the noses of boring stuffed shirts, eating all the chocolate ice cream I can swallow, spitting off of the footbridge off of Jubilee Ave., giving blood at the Red Cross, and indulging in copious amounts of soul-warming coffee at the local beanery.

Instead, lazyboywhat am I doing? Watching French Sesame Street, eating cereal out of the box, dressing (and slouching) like a lawnchair jockey, and luxuriating in way too much daytime television.

I've got a serious case of the disinclinations this week, partially because I'm trying to force myself to relax a bit (difficult without rampant catholic-esque guilt), and partially because I've come to the sad realization that I work (and live) best when I've got deadlines to meet. When I don't have any looming over my head, I become listless and mentally bleary. Why do anything if there's no deadlines attached?

Indeed, I realize that I'm sometimes a little too used to the working life to fully feel comfortable any other way. That's truly sad, really, and something I really need to address.

Perhaps part of the problem is that I'm still working myself out of the transition from being a man prepared for the great change and upheaval that comes with moving to a new city. Montreal had quickly become the landing pad for us up until I got offered this new job. It's difficult to switch gears from gung-ho "We're moving" to "We're staying for an indeterminate amount of time".

So, what am I doing? Heck! I'm redoing the home office, and moving around stuff in the living room. If I can't have the luxury of massive change from relocation, I can at least get a new perspective on life by moving my furniture around.

This is what excites me today: I've got the second best thing to an Aeron chair on order, which will do wonders for my aching back. Sitting on a wooden kitchen chair with a pillow on it for butt-padding just doesn't cut it. I'm getting a new Herman Miller chair, called the Caper Multitask, which my friend Paul (newly-graduated industrial design student) will probably got nutso over.

This is all very lame, but I suppose life (and some journal entries) is in the little things. Work starts next week; perhaps I should try and get out to the lake this weekend?

Great Moments in Design

phonepadI'll freely admit it: I'm a total hypocrite. For years I've pish-poshed the whole concept of owning a cellphone. Even when I worked for the Internet division of Canada's largest telco and cellphones were everywhere, I resisted. It just seemed silly and superfluous. After all, there's payphones, right?

Alas, at my last job I was forced to own a company cellphone by management. After hearing all of the reasons why they wanted me to carry one, I begrudgingly joined the rest of the cellphone-toting world.

As expected, I've come around to realizing (duh) how convenient they really are. I still think they're noisemakers for the devil though - I still cringe and think violent thoughts when some goofball's cellphone playing some lame-ass tune pierces my eardrums...

One thing that still drives me nuts about phones, though, is trying to use the useless keypad. There's nothing more trying than entering in some long name into a phone with an alpha-numeric keypad. Try typing a name like "occhionero" into your phone and see how long you last before you go insane. These days, cellphones have a ton of cool functions (calendar, phone book, reminders), but getting all of your info into it is an exercise in frustration.

So it was very cool to read this BBC article about a company that redesigned the phone keypad in a completely ingenious way. They basically gave each letter its own button, and fit the entire keyboard into an area 1/3rd the size of a business card. What I wanna know is: can I upgrade my phone?

Reality Check

So do you have your ticket for the big Super 7 draw? If I win, I'll share it with you, okay?

Odds of getting all seven numbers: 1 in 22,000,000.

The Odds of:

  • Dying in a car crash: 1 in 5,000
  • Freezing to death: 1 in 3,000,000    (Unless you live in Winnipeg - then your chances are much
  • Dying from flesh-eating bacteria: 1 in 1,000,000
  • Dying from falling out of bed: 1 in 2,000,000
  • Dying in a plane crash: 1 in 250,000
  • Being dealt a royal flush: 1 in 649,739
  • Dying from Asteroid impact: 1 in 20,000
  • Unending spin-offs from Friends on TV for the next two years: 1 in 1
  • Emeril saying "Bam!" at any given time on his show: 1 in 4
  • Jakob Nielsen making some silly prediction about the future of the Internet based on his "own experience": 1 in 3
  • Donnie Osmond appearing in a celebrity version of a popular reality TV show: 1 in 9
  • That guy sitting beside you on the bus being nuts: 1 in 19
  • A movie version of your favorite book sucking hard: 1 in 7
  • Spilling something bright and obvious on that brand new white shirt of yours: 1 in 3

I realize that this could be really funny (and in the hands of someone like Davezilla, it probably would) but I'm feeling pretty mellow and unfunny today... you got any good ones?

Late night griping

I don't know about you, but I am getting really sick and tired of Weblogs and online journals written either in the third person, or using the Royal We in a rather limp attempt to sound arch and intelligent.

Sure, there's a bunch of very, very good Websites that use the royal we quite well - zeldman.com is a good example of that - but personal sites should never use the third person. That is, they should never use the third person all the time, less they come off as sounding overtly pretentious, slightly creepy, and very annoying.

Oh, and I won diddly-squat in the Super 7 draw. As if.

A New Leaf

Okay. This weekend was dominated with rather bitchy posts, so enough of that. You can channel a poor imitation of Walter Matthau for only so long before you're just making a fool of yourself (and besmirching the good Matthau name, at any rate).

I've finally put in an order for that Wacom tablet I've been needing for a while. I used to get rather fierce carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms when I was playing a lot, and have been noticing very similar wrist / arm problems lately with my mousing hand. Cod liver oil is always great for this stuff, and I've started taking the pills again to help alleviate the problem, but the tablet will make a huge difference.

The sore back, wrist and RSI problems, eyestrain complications, and looming threat of rampant office-seat ass... it's hard to believe something as sedentary as computer work could be so potentially bad for one's health, isn't it?

A Camera, A National Holiday, and iPhoto

LampFace It was a beautiful Victoria Day here in Winnipeg. Warm (+19° celsius, which kicks the recent crappy weather in the butt), and sunny, so Renée and I ambled our way down to a Winnipeg landmark cum tourist trap, The Forks.

Located at the juncture of the Red and Assiniboine River, The Forks (or La Fourche for the Voyageurs in the audience) is historically significant as the place where settlers first set up digs in 1738. As with most North American historical sites, it has now been overrun with trinket shops and other business attempting to cash in on the fairly heavy tourist traffic.

But, we didn't care. We just wanted to get out for a nice walk, and I wanted to actually use my somewhat new Fuji Finepix digital camera (Model #2600), and play with 's nice iPhoto.

Here's a little movie from a lovely, lazy Victoria Day. (1.6 mb, music provided by the great Pullman.) As you would assume with something created by an product, you definitely require the Quicktime player plugin to view the movie. Sorry.

Scary Wedding

Scary WeddingI'm not an easily creeped out person. Really.

Still, I'm finding there is just so much to be disturbed and creeped out by in this photo.

(From anil)

Long-winded thoughts on Moulin Rouge

moulinRougeWell, I just finished partaking in the experience that is Moulin Rouge! Wow. What a stumbling spectacle of a movie.

I've realized from watching this film that I'm not a Baz Luhrmann fan. I find his style comes off like pop art statements filtered through the vocabulary of Hollywood action films; all swagger and kinetics and a magician's sense of distraction, and little real substance.

Short Attention Span

Luhrmann seems to have this strange inability to focus his camera on anything without either distorting it somehow (filters, wide angle lenses, etc.), or cutting away so quickly you're not really sure what you saw in the first place. Moulin Rouge (and his earlier film, Romeo + Juliet) are filled with these rapid fire distortions.

You can almost physically feel him attempting to grab you by the collar and shake you into having an experience with his films. I don't like it when someone is obviously trying very hard to move me. It feels manipulative and fake.

You Look Good to Me

One thing about this movie that does bowl you over is its visual splendor. The sets and costumes (and more than a handful of shots) are opulent and beautiful. You can tell art director Ann-Marie Beauchamp poured her heart into every nook and cranny of this film. A fastidious, loving attention to detail is everpresent. This is Paris, but its Paris as imagined by a Las Vegas casino decorator gone wild, and with an endless budget.

An Embarrassment of (Musical) Glitches

ewanMcgregor.jpgI love musicals, and I'm nutty for the old musicals from the golden age of MGM studios, so the sight of Ewan McGregor or Nicole Kidman belting out a saucy number didn't freak me out too much. It's more the strange juxtaposition that Luhrmann forces here between the ribald anachronisms of the can-can and modern music. I knew from the second the movie opened with the title "Paris: 1900" and David Bowie warbled the words to "Nature Boy" (written in the 60's by Eden Abnez) that period accuracy was not the idea here.

The attempts to toss in music that a younger generation could recognize here, however, proves more surreal than successful. The sight of row upon row of top hat-sporting men singing Nirvana's Smells Like Teen Spirit, or Ewan McGregor bravely warbling Whitney Houston's I Will Always Love You proved too silly and incredulous for me. A duet by the leads about halfway through the film (Come What May) is the one exception - it's quite pretty and well-performed - but I found the music more jarring and distracting than good.

Maybe that's just my internal Grandma Simpson screeching, however: "They don't make musicals like they used toooooo!"

Still, if I hear that damn Lady Marmalade again, it'll be too soon. There's a reason why the media has dubbed Christina Aguliera, Mya, Pink, and Lil' Kim the "Four Whores of the Apocalypse". <shudder>

Note to Director: Pacing is your friend

My biggest problem with this movie is the pacing. The movie, as Renée astutely pointed out while we were watching it, is one big rollicking climax from top to bottom. I half expected Luhrmann, having already hit the ceiling with his numerous climactic song and dance numbers, ending the film with the explosion of the Moulin Rouge in a gigantic spray of glitter and feather boas.

One thing is for sure: I've never seen a movie like this before. It's bold, very daring, and features some of the bravest performances by actors in recent years. I mean, can you believe the sight of Jim Broadbent singing Like a Virgin? The visual audacity of this film is truly stunning. At the same time, the plot is gossamer-thin, the characters mere cardboard cutouts, and the music more often than not cringe-worthy, or unintentionally hilarious.

Finally: A Recommendation

Moulin Rouge! is worth a watch just for the costumes and sets alone, but if you want to see a really good modern musical, rent Mike Leigh's Topsy-Turvy. It has everything: amazing sets, great songs, hilarious dialogue, good acting, and a nicely paced plot.

P.S. Do yourself a favour and check out the Moulin Rouge! Web site - it's really terrific.

200 / Moulin Rouge!

Welcome to entry number 200 for the BeatnikPad Journal. Not really a major milestone, but I felt like pointing it out anyway.

moulinWoman.jpgNot a lot of posting action around here this week. I started my new job on Tuessday and have been sending the week re-acclimatizing myself to the new daily ritual. You know, getting up early, riding the bus, and actually working for a change instead of sitting on my butt, like I've done during my past two weeks away from the working world.

So far the new job is great, if you were curious. The folks I work with are definitely much more in the same headspace as I (ie. artsy-fartsy), and it's refreshing to be surrounded by students eager to learn new things. I think this will be a really fun, enlightening experience.

Speaking of artsy-fartsy, I watched Moulin Rouge! last night. Afterwards, I felt like getting all pretentious and verbose and critical, so I wrote up a rambling, somewhat pedantic review for it. It's now posted in the Cultural Joy section. Not that it was a joy, actually... but I thought it'd be better to post it there rather than here.


I don't know what's wrong with me. I've tried, but I can't stop.

I can't stop eating spinach.

Alright, so I know that sounds weird and neurotic, but it's true. I've been eating so much of the stuff I've been forcing my mom to go down to Costco to buy me these unearthly-sized bags... something like one and 1/2 kilograms of green, leafy heroin. The bags are so big, I swear they're bigger than my torso.

My poor little Chinese mother has unwittingly become my pusher.

I cram half the bag into a pot, and after two minutes it's shrunken down so much I end up being forced to eat almost the entire bag to feel sated. This is how the bastards reel you in.

Yes, there are many other things much worse to be addicted to (and frankly, I probably already have been with most of them), but I can't explain this rather sudden obseession with Spinacia Oleracea. Maybe I'm slowly turning into the Swamp Thing. Or Popeye ("Huggu-guh-guh!"). Or that annoying little green spud that always hung out with the Jolly Green Giant, which I always expected would get stepped on by accident. "Ho Ho Hoooo-ooops!"

Enough of that. As you were.

Viva Los Carteles Cubanos

cubanPosterSteve recently wrote the BeatnikPad:

I have designed a cuban poster web site. Unfortunately it not as thorough as CPP [Ed: Steve, what's CPP?], but, you can't top 'complete'! I do have some posters which cannot be found elswhere on the web.

Boy oh boy, do I love a good poster art site. Steve's collection is quite nice and features a fairly broad selection. Go on, check out Steve's site. Posters are good for the soul.

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