Entries from June 2002

June 1st

Sunny SaturdayA strange hybrid of spring and summer has finally sputtered to life. I woke up to the pleasure of a window overflowing with sunlight and greenery. The trees outside my window have obviously realized that they're still alive after a much too long winter.

This, of course, makes everything better: bus rides, long walks, nips out to the corner store, sitting in the park reading, staggering down the street in a blurry haze, hanging out on the corner with the pachucos...

Winnipeg is a city suffused with sunlight on even a bad day. A gloriously radiant summer afternoon, with a soft, Prairie breeze meandering through chattering leaves, and the soul-warming comfort of a huge cup of coffee and book almost feels like a kind of heaven.


There's an airshow on today, and every twenty minutes or so a low-flying jet roars over my neighbourhood, sending birds and small animals scurrying for cover.

In the past, this used to be no big deal. Now I get a twinge of paranoia everytime one flies overhead.

Reasons I regret not having my camera today

  1. Sign over The Gentleman's Club (a local cheeseball, greasy "high concept" strip club [as if all of those words go together]): This Week is Banana Week!
  2. Passing by a 60's style diner, long abandoned to the elements and hereunto now never seen. For sale sign on front door, half-obscured by years of detritus: "Bernie Wassleman: Realtor".
  3. Watching a young Chinese boy rock his baby sister to sleep while out for lunch with my friend Dean.
  4. Discovering the parade of concrete flourishes that adorn the Lindsay building while waiting for the bus to go to work.
  5. Native men and women playing a very spirited game of baseball in a field off of Logan Street.
  6. The suddenly green and alive trees reaching across River Avenue like a botanical recreation of a Michelangello painting.

Tomorrow, I'll fill in these images with photos. Or perhaps I should just leave these as images in your mind?

Some really bizarre and borderline disturbing Flash work: Qrime.


I must be appeasing some unknown, benevolent being these days. The new job is working out rather nicely: I get to use lots of lust-worthy gear; I just went on a tour today of the still under construction downtown campus and got to see where my new office will be; none of the people in my department are knife-wielding maniacs (or asinine ninnies)...

Plus, it's summer in Winnipeg (which means all memories of the brutal winter have vanished into the ether), there's finally cheap airflights out East again, and I've be getting a rather surprising number of incredibly kind and complimentary e-mails about the BeatnikPad. My ego doth swelleth.

Sometimes, life really goes like this.

Hand hits forehead

My god, but can I be earhshakingly stupid, or what?

Sunday Grab Bag

· Finally got myself dug out of the mess I stupidly put myself in yesterday. Let's just leave it at this: don't empty the trash on your computer if you're not 100% positive you want to empty it... two days of work gone like <snap> that. Yee gods.

· It's a wet, breezy day today in Louis Riel's world. The tress outside my home office window are swaying hypnotically in the wind like the hips of a dashboard Elvis. The rain and greyness reminds me of Vancouver.

· Took Raj and Emma to the vets yesterday. Emma doesn't like the cat carrier one bit. My scarred arms are a testament to her protestations. Hope I don't get cat scratch fever. I have enough Ted Nugent in my life as it is.

· Soccer just isn't the same when you're not surrounded by rabid soccer fans. When Renée and I lived in Toronto, we lived both in Little Portugal and in Little Italy, where soccer is a religion. Here in Winnipeg it's just another international sporting event.

· Mac OS X + the Internet + Mozilla 1.0 + gloriously anti-aliased text = surfing bliss.


From the "more-proof-Neil-is-regressing" department:

Just for the heck of it (and to give the BeatnikPad that dusty, archival library feel) I've started archiving past BeatnikPad designs.

Of course, there's only one so far (this site is only 13 months old, after all) but this does give me some incentive to put this site under the knife and retire this design - it's got a nice, cozy place to go. Hopefully it'll re-emerge shinier, prettier, with its wrinkles vanished into a taunt and trim complexion. Like Mary Tyler Moore or Joan Allen - though we can only dream of aging so gracefully.

Anyway, the journal content is updated, but the rest of the page is the way the site looked when I pulled it down last October for retooling. There's even a couple of MP3's on there... (as incentive, I suppose). Go and take a look if you're so inclined.

The Chair

theChairIt came.

My butt and back have finally been relieved from the contortionist hell that drew heavily from the "wooden chair with a scrunched up pillow for a seat" school of design. This, my friends, is a kind of ass heaven.

It is, of course, the long-awaited chair.

People could launch schemes of elaborate heights and death-defying complexity if they had the proper seatage. They could ponder the mysterious of the genetic code, and pontificate on the wonders of the emotive mind if only they knew comfortable buttock support. They could write a novel that would make all who read it deeply comprehend the vagaries of love, and weep.

All I know is, I am a vain, materialistic, self-centred solipsistic, boastful, all-consuming jerk. But I am happy.

Birthday of a Dinosaur

(Cross-posted at the reBlog.)

nn4Someone pointed it out to me on a mailing list just recently: Today (or yesterday, depending on which report you believe) marked the fifth birthday of Netscape 4.

Now, the non-Web designing folk who frequent the BeatnikPad will probably give about as much a hooey about this as a cat does for raw vegetables (which is, probably nil). But, any person who has designed their own journal Web site or blog, or who designs Web sites for a living, knows the agony that is Netscape 4 and the havoc he wrecks with the most carefully planned layouts.

» Birthday of a Dinosaur continues...

Kitty Food Pusher

rajEmmaTile.jpgI'm sure many of the visitors to the BeatnikPad have cats; I'm convinced, actually, that the majority of Webloggers and journal writers have cats. Perhaps we should have a poll somewhere? (This sounds like something I should put together).

Anyway, perhaps someone that visits here has the inside scoop (pun intended) on cat food. Perhaps they're a nutritionist at Purina, or they work as a bagger at Hills Science Diet - where ever they get their dirt from, I have to know:

Do they put catnip (or some other feline freak-out additive) into wet cat food?

» Kitty Food Pusher continues...

The Letter Project: The proposal

Before the Internet and the instant gratification of e-mail came along, I used to write letters. Long ones.

I'd spend a full week or two working on a single letter for a friend, treating it more like finite journals. They were snapshots of what was happening at that moment when I was writing. They were, for all intensive purposes, very much like this journal.

Last December it was pointed out to me that a certain friend of mine and I had communicated more by e-mail than in person. That made a small part inside of me ache. I sat down that day and started writing a letter.

Letter writing has always felt like an inherently nostalgic act to me, made more so now because of the instantaneous nature of e-mail. No one writes letters anymore. I can say this with conviction because I know it to be true. I haven't received a bonafide letter in years.

Unlike these posts, and unlike e-mail, letters are permanent. They're intimate in a way that the Web possibly never will be; penmanship itself is a personal thing. I think we should write letters more often.

This is what I propose:

  1. You send me your name and address.
  2. I randomly pull names out of some receptacle (a hat, if no other is conveniently at hand)
  3. I send each participant a name and address.
  4. You then write that person a letter, and receive one from another participant.

I think there should be a particular subject for this first attempt, just so that everyone knows what's expected of them. The subject will be: "Something that happened today." Of course, the letter must be handwritten.</p.

It can be as long or as short as you want. It can be a personal letter, or it can be factual and indirect - the choice is up to you. If you like, you can post your letter on your site and send me the link so I can link to it... but that's also up to you. I think there should be a time limit of some kind, just so it doesn't drag forever. I'll set one once I see how many people are actually interested.

I have no idea if this will work, or if anyone will even be interested in this. It's something I've been thinking a lot about. Please spread the word; I'd love this to be a very large group endeavor. And send that info if you want to participate.

Update (June 26): I have set the cutoff date for round one (yes, there will be more, I think) to be July 7th. Why that date? I just got my cat to pick a date on the calender. And for those who worry about their privacy: I can't guarantee anything, as your address will be given to another person - that's the whole idea, anyway.... but think of it this way: if you registered a domain, your address is hanging out bare-assed for the whole Web to see with a WHOIS, anyway... so you might as well make some new friends with it (and get a letter in the mail, to boot).

I'll make sure not to match people who live within driving distance of each other, if that makes you feel better... does it?

Amazon.ca launched

amazon.gifIt looks like Amazon.ca is now live, after months of innuendo and rumourmongering by the media.

Lots of pontificating about Amazon's foray into the Great White North later (I used to be a bookseller). I believe this may be a soft launch as I haven't seen any press about it yet (someone correct me?) - at any rate, enjoy your cheap books, but remember to support independant booksellers if possible.

(I was hesitant to post this, as I want to keep the Letter Project on the home page. This will just kick my ass to get me to design a special section for it, which it deserves, anyway.)

Penmanship and Photos

Well, as you can see I've found a way to keep the Letter Project up on the home page (besides mentioning it in every damn post). We'll see how long I can handle looking at my godawful penmanship before I'm forced to swap it out for something less personally offensive... heh.

(Update: June 26, 11:52pm: The handwritten notice lasted exactly 23 hours, 50 minutes. I got sick of it pretty quick.)

Oh, and there's a new cutoff date for signup - it's July 7th (subject to being extended at my most fickle whims). See the Letter Project page for more details.

Out of curiousity, does anyone actually write anymore? As in cursive writing? Every single person I know either prints, or "cursive" prints - another way of saying, "they squash all of their printed letters together so it might as well be cursive". Perhaps that could a dying art, like letter writing, good conversations, those itsy-bitsy Japanese trees, and adding a P.S. at the bottom of correspondence...

At any rate, there'll be some more iPhoto movies coming very soon; I'm just trying to find suitable soundtracks for the photos and then I'll post them. Oh goody, goody, right?


Have I mentioned that Winnipeg is a gorgeous city in the summer? I really have forgotten just how green and lush Winnipeg becomes once the barren, snow-filled desert of winter finally shuffles off of the seasonal stage. And the clouds...

Actress Shelley Duvall was once here in the summer, acting in local film maverick Guy Maddin's Twilight of the Ice Nymphs. She continually remarked how bowled over she was by the gigantic, billowing Prairie clouds, going as far as getting someone to drive her around Manitoba, taking photos. But, I digress.

As blissful as Winnipeg can be, there's always history. History is the reason I left Winnipeg in the first place...

» Anonymous continues...

The Ex

theEx.jpg Okay, I posted three more iPhoto movies in the Photos section of a visit to the Red River Exhibition that me, my brother and my nephew made. Nothing spectacular photography-wise - just a weekend family outing and that's that - but you may find it interesting.

One thing's for sure: if the overwhelming presence of Scooby-Doo dolls as prizes was any indicator, the Scooby Doo movie is going to be huge. They were everywhere.

(Oh, and a photography tip: never take a bunch of photos without checking the white point setting of your camera first. I had mine set to "interior", and spent a very long time colour-correcting these to get rid of an infernal bluish-magenta cast. Sigh.)

Cat Vee at 33° Celsius

catveeS.jpgIt is hot. The heat is so muggy and tacky and completely bewildering it's difficult to do anything but slouch on the futon and have mental arguments with oneself. About what? Such things as the plusses and minuses of rushing out to buy a portable air conditioner (even though we can't afford it, and besides, this weather won't last forever, and it's a sucky, wimp-ass thing to do) - important, meaningful arguments.

To make matters worse, the infamous Prairie mosquito season is upon us with avengence. Renée and I tried walking down to the local gelati joint last night, and after a mere hour outside I was literally engulfed in loonie-sized mosquito bites. We beat a hasty retreat back to the sauna-like (but mosquito-free!) confines of the apartment, where the cats were well-nigh swooning in the heat. I sprayed them with the watter bottle and swear I heard them squawk "hallelujah!"

So, on this Canada Day weekend, it's hot (45° Celsius with the humidity factored in), during the day, and encephalitis-carrying, nunchuck-wielding killer mosquitos at night. Here's hoping you're comfortable and bite-free - happy birthday, everyone.

Ice. Snow. Pool. Shower.

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