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Showing posts from 2010

Questionable Bios

Bios, as in the tiny biographies that magazines give contributors or blogs give their bloggers when you click 'About ...' When not completing his collection of WWII hand grenade pins, Steve can be found volunteering his time with 'Explode This!', an interactive, hands on pyrotechnics demonstration for kids 1-4. Fran takes her obsession with size-exclusion chromatography to pretty daring extremes, but not so much as to interfere with her career, a receptionist at Duluth's 16th highest grossing Century 21 office. Travis enjoys his school marching band, being co-sub-captain of the Junior co-ed cheer squad, and taking all comers in his travelling full-contact "Octagon of Terror" (touring most of Norther Florida's retirement communities), Marilyn's other hobby is sharpening steak knives, often not her own, and usually without anyone knowing. Stamford says his most prized isolated pure virus is a variant of E. Bola he has secured with  patent-pendi

Christmas Family Letter 2010

Another year has passed and that means another torrid and spicy family drama wrapped in the infamous Owl Family Christmas Letter. Maybe not torrid, and perhaps not entirely spicy, but certainly without the more earthy odours familiar to any parent who's kid has switched to solid food. Owl Jr. is now almost two. TWO! His soberness and infinite sadness continue unabated. I do so hope he doesn't reserve that look just for me (however well-founded it may be). He's starting to speak. Not in any way or form that might be recognizable as such, and not in any way that might be measured in relation to others of his age, unless others of his age call everything 'Ma-Ma', 'Da-Da', or “CHOO CHOO”; especially “Choo Choo”. He's very much into locomotives and rail centered conveyances. I suspect it's because we're not allowed to expose them to more interesting and edifying things, like ninjas, robots, ninja robots, and perhaps vikings. He's a happy camper,


Owlet has this doodle pad, it works with magnets somehow. You use a magnetic pen and you draw stuff, and when you're done, you erase it with another magnet. Owlet enjoys making sea-monsters and aliens and robots and all sorts of things that I'm sure I had NO hand in putting in her head. We've taken to doing these things collaboratively, each adding a bit more. I used to draw a bit in elementary, jet-packed leopards with flamethrowers, aardvarks with rocket launchers, the usual stuff. Ok, maybe not usual, maybe the product of a war-and-apparently-zoo-obsessed 10 year old, but, no letters to home, so it's all above board. In any case, I enjoy these collaborative efforts: sea monsters look something like the Loch Ness, with added various eye-stalks, claws, flippers, jaws, and tentacles; robots are generally squares with other square like things added on, invariable jet wings, or something of the sort; aliens are more humanoid, lots of antennae, and, well, overlap alot


Went to a friend/coworkers place for a Christmas work dinner type thing. Good company, food, and the many, many kids didn't leave lasting scars on each other, so, a success in my book. There was a Secret Santa with all the excitement and bubbling enthusiasm that free loot tends to engender and the kids were relatively happy about what they got, or well-bred enough not to make obvious their bitter disappointment. What was interesting was realizing how far I've come, well, how far anyone comes when they hit adulthood. Doubly so when you have kids and you see how excited they are about the whole thing and its stark contrast to your own mild enthusiasm. For me it's become a thing to endure. Hopefully something I can make memorable for my brood. Christmas magic and all that. Christmas songs, eggnog, turkey, Christmas cookies and what have you. But I'm far beyond being in the moment, the suspended magic of it. Because, well, I have a bloody mortgage don't I? And respo

It's Not That Impressive

It doesn't matter what sort of restaurant you go to: the chic one with glass everywhere and the vague impression that the interior designer might have had a short but meaningful fling with slight, well-manicured Japanese man; those BBQ places that aren't really so much BBQ as they are the end product of some highly efficient de-graded beef and chemical food delivery process that would put Mussolini's railway to shame; a small cafe at some long abandoned highway town where the main ingredient in all the food, even the fruit bowl (especially the fruit bowl) is pork fat; one of those chipper new 'hip' restaurants that's just a front for one of those older restaurant chains that you could have sworn had given up the ghost to marching progress and the vagaries of the every changing and fickle North American palate; Dennys. It really doesn't matter. There's always a cadre of servers who have, through choice or fate, made that job their life. For good. And

Herculean Achievements And Other Small Miracles Part II

I'm not sure where the obsession with trains comes from, but it seems to be universal for kids of a certain age. Thus we have Thomas The Train Engine and Chugginton and those wooden train tracks sold by everyone from Ikea to Toys R Us. Then there are the other incarnations, train rides in shopping centres on small electric carts kitted out to look like 19th-century steam engines, outdoor gasoline-powered mini-trains manned by former engineers and those who have taken their hobby far too seriously. You don't notice it until you have a little boy or girl who goes absolutely ballistic at the first sign of anything that goes on a track. It's the Blue Car Syndrome with multi-ton uni-directional transport vehicles. Owlet is fairly far past it, but Owl Jr. is deep in the throes of this near pathological mental disability. On the merest hint of one, he drops whatever he was doing (invariably, playing with a small train) and shouts out "CHOO CHOO!", then looks around to

Herculean Achievements And Other Small Miracles Part I

So, I knew it was coming. The Payback. After carousing in NYC with my fellow nerds for a few days, it was only fair that Mrs. Owl get a chance away from the kids, in Vegas. Yes, Vegas. It's lucky for me that both of us have the gambling habits of a Siberian ermine in hibernation, that is, none at all. Or it's lucky that she's hid her gambling addiction and the second mortgage we are now carrying. Either way, you know, I'm a happy camper. She went down with some of her fellow mommy friends and they had a grand old time in heat that made NYC seem like a spacious Frigidaire. Killing heat. The kind of heat that's too hot for sand . But hey, who am I to judge if her idea of a good time is to gawp at the living proof, the soaring edifices proclaiming that often-repeated but rarely heeded motto "The House Always Wins"? By all accounts she had a good time and whatnot and I haven't noticed any undue garnishing of my wages, so it was a success. But enough

Other Filler Words According To Socio-Economic Class

 You know how there is a certain youngish girl, who, when describing another girl to girlfriend, will use the term 'oh, but she's really sweet'? That 'sweet' means essentially nothing, it's just a pablum stuffer of styrofoamian proportions. Here are some other Filler Words used by certain groups to describe peers about which there isn't much to say. Accountants : "Diligent" Arts Students : "Interesting" Babysitters : "Loves children" Commercial Airline Pilots : "Has put in the hours" Doctors : "Bright" Judges : "Tough, but fair" Mechanics : "Ain't afraid to get his hands dirty" Mob : "Good guy" Painters : "Unique perspective" Sea Captains : "Taut" Science Students : "So smart" Stunt Persons : "Tough" Voltron Pilots : "Team player"

Rules of Engagement for the Squirt Battle Flotilla

I have a friend who likes to use military terms in polite company as if everyone grew up idolizing Robert Mitchum and reading Jane's Tactical manuals for fun. He suggested this topic. After write this up, I'm going to look up what ROE is, exactly, and find out why he was looking at this when he has neither kids nor a pool. It's hot.  Combatants are in swimming trunks or bathing suits or other such attire that is allowed to be spattered with chlorinated water. Aggressors shall assault the defensive positions at no more than 45 degrees off the normal plane, or however far the squirt gun rotates. All battle flotilla equipment is fully inflated by respective parties. No parental help. Chris is not allowed to use his electric air pump. Sustained fire to the eyes or mouth shall be curtailed to no more than 3 seconds, unless targetted parties have breached such offenses at least as egregious, but not less than: wedgies, purple nurple, visibly relieving oneself in the pool.

NYC Meetup : Monday Manhattan

On the Monday, most everyone had gone home. I had taken advantage of Han's really fantastic hospitality a bit too long, I thought, so an outing was called for. Yes. More walking. It was up to me and Bob to wander around Manhattan, the island that I think most people think about when you say "New York City" (well, what I think when people say "New York City" is that El Paso commercial, but that's neither here nor there). The financial district, Central Park, erstwhile meat-packing districts now the fashionable stalking grounds for high priced escorts with rod and tackle still in place, all the glories of NYC, in other words. I wanted to see the crush of people, the endless sea of NYC that first got drilled into my head by, I think, "Crocodile Dundee". You know, where he has to climb a lamp post to get his bearing? I got a bit of it. I think. But, you know, it's just people. And they didn't walk at a blazingly fast speed that had me at half

NYC Meetup : Sunday

There are certain expectations I had of Brooklyn. The lurking spectre of crime (possibly backed up by Tommy Guns and speakeasys); taxis; high-strung Type-A personalities who's abrasive interpersonal style might be best described as a 'high-impact verbal assault' and which is undoubtably augmented by prescription and not-quite-prescription stimulants. Now, nobody said it was accurate or based in any sort of reality, unless you count "Wall Street" as reality (you know the movie, the one where Michael Douglas plays a powerful and rich white man who's overconfidence leads to his own downfall?). Anyhoo, that's what I expected. At least a shadow of that. Brooklyn nearly dissappointed me entirely. On Sunday we idle around, waiting for one of the nerd-herd to move in a direction so we can all truculently follow. It's brunch at DuMont's Burger. There are about, oh, well, enough off us to take over 2/3rds of the seating. A hang-out for the urban hipsters and

NYC Meetup : Saturday Get Togther

Saturday was recovery day. I think I felt nausea for its entirety. The type that makes you think hard about how much you really need that meal, or any meal, for, say, the rest of your life. My body was having its revenge one me for drinking like a 300 lb. Scandinavian who had replaced his liver with an industrial composting plant. We kinda dazed through the day. Speaking low, trying to remember why we wrote down "Rainbow Ten, Rainbow Ten, The Circus Spins" on both wrists and why the PS3 is crammed with Cinnamon Toast Crunch. OK, maybe not that bad. Just all-0ut toxic trauma to every internal organ who thought it its duty stand in the way of high grade whiskey. Naturally, for the evening, we have drinking, Rock Band, whatever PC games on the two desktops/three laptops available, and some sort of board game. When I say board game, I mean it in the geek sense, not the normal sense. Normal sense of a board game is a game with, a, well, a board , for one thing. It also has fairly

NYC Meetup : Brooklyn Death March

Is it always the case that, while inebriated past any measure of personal safety, and when ensconced in a group of like minded individuals, sound decisions become as likely as Uwe Bolle winning the Palme d'Or? Maybe the fact it was 2:30 AM didn't help our rational brain functions. Maybe the fact that the place we were heading after the first bar promised a free wood fired personal pizza with every beer purchase, maybe... no, wait, it was the last thing. The Alligator Lounge is about a mile from Han's place, where I'm staying. Which is a bit of a walk for a group of inebriated shut-ins who find walking to Gamestop to get their pre-order... uhm, taxing. A mile. There's one problem, we're still 3 miles to Han's. I shouldn't complain. I'm from BC. Land of Greenpeace and hippies and hikers and orienteerers. Outdoorsy. But those generalities are just that, an average. Somebody has to be the outlier. To top it all, I'm lucky to have on my feet the cheap

NYC Meetup : Friday Night Amazon

Names have been changed because that's what people on the internet do. So after the BBQ at Ralph's we all head out. For more drinking, apparently, because having a long drawn out scotch 'tasting' apparently is not enough trauma for the liver. We nerds are a pretty humble, quiet lot. Mostly. He kinda follow where everyone else is going in hopes of not being left behind (which, in so doing, would bring back so many third round picks of dodgeball in which stood on the line, shuffling, unchosen, along with the exchange student from Estonia and the guy who had an unsettling fascination with abattoirs). I'm not sure any of us knew where we were going. We are not cut for leadership, I don't think. But we are more or less thoughtful, and knew that it was time to leave Ralph to clean up our embarassingly small mess (nerds use coasters); you can only impose on a host for so long. Excepting LAN party. So we head out to a bar. It was like a hallway that someone had doubled

NYC Meetup : BBQ

Friday was a pretty great day. Milled about, played some retro games (Sega Collection for the PS3 (yes, that's right, with the power of two deskstops, four laptops, two PS3s (enough technology to rival worldwide computing power in 1975) we played games which were ports of 80's arcade games made for 90's consoles then retrofitted for 00's consoles)), some PC games, and attempted to play some card games. Then it was time for BBQ. We headed over to Ralph's place which was situated in some patchily gentrified portion of Brooklyn. There were Hasidic Jews everywhere, and African Americans, and Hispanics (I'm sure this breaks down further, like how in Vancouver "Asian" covers a wide array, I'm sure there were Senegalese and Mexicans and Chileans and Puerto Ricans etc). Slightly less hipsters. This dizzying array of multiculturalism, and there was something about the alternately well-worn and tumbled-down nature of the neighbourhood with newer bits, mom-an


It's amazing how tightly packed people can get. Sardined and crammed til they're breathing over and under each other, stepping on toes sandals shoes dreams personal spaces. It's like every sidewalk is a misinterpreted sneeze away from a rather bloody riot. Young and old and old neighbourhood and new immigrants. I kinda like seeing more than the usual Vancouver minorities.That is, Pacific Rim. Korean Japanese Chinese (Hong Kong and Taiwanese and every single possible shade of acculturation that represents the Chinese in Vancouver), Indians (Sikhs, Muslims, Hindu, Canadian-born), Persian. That's the norm, anyways, in Vancouver. People gush about how multi-cultural Vancouver is, but that's really only for a very small subset of 'culture'. Every other shade is out in Brooklyn. They're so many and the varied. And, since it's Brooklyn, apparently the home of the hipsters, you get that extra strange and weird and sadly predictably subculture. But it's

Airport, JFK

Have arrived at JFK. It's your standard sprawling, patchily modernized airport. Charming 70's peppered rock themed linoleum, fancy Air Train system which complexifies it's already dizzying multi-ring setup by having only one train working. Meaning you can go from terminal 5 to 6, but to get from 6 to 5, well, yeah, you have to go the entire way around. I'll try and take a picture of their helpful brochure. Even in the most simplified colours and large text, I'm pretty sure it could double as the MRI of a contortionist's circulatory system. I expected this, I think. A third of Canada, for crying out loud. That's even counting the bits of Canada we cherish especially for its multi-cultural otherwordlyness but never visit, like Yellowknife, or West Vancouver. The people are, oddly, just people. No one has yelled at me a phrase along the lines of , "HEY I'M WALKING HERE". But then, these are also Airport People. The bright shining happy people who


It's hard to sum up my feelings about going to NYC. I mean, that's a real world-class city. I'm from Vancouver. A city that constantly, if embarassingly self-consciously, proclaims itself to be just that. Last time I checked, though, I don't see people walking around NYC with "I HEART VANCOUVER" shirts on absentmindedly. Yesterday, in Vancouver, I saw two NY shirts (they were kinda well-worn and had all the tourist feel of a Nike jumpsuit). No director is shooting in NYC trying to recreate the picture-perfect Kitsilano scene. I suspect there's a dance club in upper Manhattan that has a higher GDP than all of the Lower Mainland. There's a enormousness about NYC. Movies and books and the collective memory of much of Western Civilization are put in the backdrop of, are created in, are stamped out in the streets of that city. Midnight Cowboy, An Affair to Remember, The Godfather, Wall Street, The French Connection, Guys and Dolls, Independence Day. It'


So, it's begun. Sometime while partaking in my hobby I'm mildly ashamed about , I formed a bit of a bond with the people I was playing with. Folks from Metafilter, which seeems, in retrospect, to be the last sort of people I'd cleave to. Not that they are dull, at Metafilter , but they are so full of snark and invective and trenchant analysis as to why that thing you like sucks, it makes it a unlikely source of friendship. But I have. Sure, there have been hiccups, and the invaraible flare up of forum drama, but all internet hang outs get those. It's a question of whether the place is left standing afterwards. And it's stuck. Fortunately, miraculously. Bright, funny, interesting people playing video games and getting angry over strange things like K:D ratios and Team Stacking and things that, granted, likely have analogues in say, a bowling league. So, it's been three years or so. Playing, chatting, forum drama, jokes, in-jokes, in-in-jokes, baked goods exchange

Pacino On Flotilla

Another post I made for the Full Glass, Empty Clip gaming blog. This has to do with the indie game Flotilla , which is a turn-based strategy space combat sand box exploration game. With no goddamn save feature. It’s a rough galaxy out there. You go out there, every day. You flank and open fire and strategize because the galaxy isn’t doing you any favours. You tear at your hair, at the bulkheads, you claw your way past the militant penguins and the looming space hulks because that’s what you do. And the Galaxy tries to shove back? It tries to take from you what is your right? You shove back. Maybe you get another ship, maybe your flotilla gets bigger. You keep growing. And you know you’ll kill for that flotilla, for every upgrade you’ve fought for, for every new ship that you’ve won. Because that’s what you do. The Galaxy isn’t going to be explored by itself. It’s up to you, and your crew. That’s it. That’s what the Galaxy expects from you, and, damn

Andy Rooney On Teams and Fortresses

I'm blogging over at this gaming blog some of my MeFi friends setup. Specifically, some of my MeFi friends who formed Mefightclub, which is kinda the gaming arm of Metafilter , I suppose. This article has to do with Team Fortress 2, so, if you're not a PC gamer, and not hip with all the incarnations of Team Fortress, you can skip this post . I don’t know what’s happening to gaming these days. In my day you had a fortress, you had a team, and you just went at it. It was like tag or flag football, the bedrock of any small town community. I know community isn’t in vogue these days. It’s one for one and all for none, it seems. I watch the television and it’s not more about team sports, its about the individual stars. A trophy for this, a medal for that. It seems to me that nowadays, our fortress team games are obsessed with personal milestones. What sort of whacky combination of numbers have to be achieved today, I wonder. When I was younger, you

Look Vs Is

Idea courtesy of a Mysteriouuus Straaanger with a surprising amount of Ben Gay in his medicine cabinet and a voracious appetite for Reader's Digest "Humor In Uniform". What He Looks Like : A former Airborne Ranger for the 501st who operates a heavy machinery leasing company while doing heli-rescue work on his spare time. What He Is : A man who's spent more time in his barcalounger than he has commuting, sleeping and eating. Combined What He Looks Like : The in-house emotions counsellor at HP. What He Is : Chronically distant technophobe who has a powerful fear of barber shops and small talk. What She Looks Like : An army field nurse who has seen more action than a platoon of Foreign Legionnaires. What She Is : A fundamentalist Mennonite who insists on affecting a Dutch accent. What She Looks Like : State fair runner-up for "Best Baked Dish Using Rutabaga", 1982. What She Is : Vice-President for a private para-military outfit that operates mostly in

Art & Crap

There's a fantastic book out there that I've been meaning to get, Art & Fear . It has great anecdotes and advice about making art, or Art. I have a few nonfiction books to work through, so I'm not overly concerned about getting it just yet, but the book certainly comes to mind now and again. Mainly when I'm writing stories. It came right to the fore when I was slogging through the 30 Days Project . Hell, or hell-like. Certainly reminiscent of brimstone and repurposed Pan imagery, anyways. Because, as you'll notice, through my thirty posts (15,000+ words(!!!)), and to be fair, through almost every other participants thirty posts, there are nearly no comments. Which, I assumed, was one of the draws of the 30 Day Project. Get feedback, support, community of artists, etc. Poor naive me of thirty plus days ago. The whole process helped me with come up with a revelation I call "Art & Crap". Which is tangentially related to the bits of Art & Fear I&#

30 Days Project

This June I'll be participating in the 30 Days Project . Create something new every day, for 30 days. I suspect it was first set up with visual and audio artists in mind: sculpture, painting, music, etc. Art forms that have a relatively high barrier to entry. Not writing.¹ It was added later, a sort of nod to us lesser creative types. Which, I suppose I should qualify. There's just so many of us, that, on average, our quality has to be lesser, only stands to reason. You can't throw in 6,291 blogs about Iron Man & Hulk slash fic with the odd brilliant pieces and hope to come out with a positive whole number on an arbitrary scale of quality. So, feeling like a bit of an imposter and in intruder, I'll attempt to write at least 500 words of fiction a day. About what theme, I'm not sure. Maybe just a smattering of different things. This is a fair warning (and perhaps another bit of pressure upon myself to not abandon it), that the next 30 days in June will be FIC


We went and saw old friends for a small picnic at Stanley Park . Cold cuts, muffins, cookies, the awkward pause as you try and ascertain whether you're doing the 'brought enough for everyone let's all share' or the 'brought just enough for me and my own, thank-you-very-much' type of picnic. It was slightly chilly, enough to warrant a wind-breaker, and strong enough that any attempt to cover up one's pudge with baggy garments was sure to be thwarted. Stupid low pressure systems. We had Molly, a baby and a toddler, and they a little one (1 ish). There were also two playgrounds and a beach to explore. When one has small children, doubly so if one is visiting friends who also has small children, you don't so much 'visit' as you tag team trying to supervise them, all the while attempting some form of small-talk and catch up. I might have exchanged all of 10 words with my old college buddy that was not related to immediate childcare. It


I have a deathly phobia of needles. Not pointwork or gramophones, but the kind you jab into your arm or thigh. This among other things -- lack of work ethic, not enough free time, self-body image not as damaged as need be-- have kept me from professional body building. Zoroastra help me if I ever get adult-onset diabetes. I tend to get the shakes and start to squirm like The Dude in The Big Lebowski when a ferret was thrown into his bubble-bath. I recall having my wisdom teeth extracted under general anesthetic. The oral surgeon walked in, all freshly tanned from his likely month-long vacation in some place tropical, expensive, and littered with Sands resorts (it's a sobering thought that the cultures of umpteen number of Melanesian and Micronesian nations are kept afloat by overfed Americans, heat-stroked stupefied and blazing sunburnt, watching disinterestedly to a thousand year old dance while devouring some endangered tropical fish that tastes 'just like chicken'). He

The Interior Dialogue of My Children & Dog

Owl Jr. Upon seeing the door open to the laundry room, a room which he is STRICTLY barred from. Stops whatever he's doing in the family room, rushes over, totters inside. "Oh hey, what sort of parties are going on here." Upon seeing the dog food and water lowered. "Although I've been told not to splash in the water and play with the dog food multiple times, the ban has surely been lifted." Molly (the dog) Upon seeing her food lowered. "I've been famished for HOURS, what sort of wonderment do we have here for my gastronomical pleasure, a small fillet of sole, perhaps? A rare porterhouse? Perhaps a... Oh. Oh.. Uh. Did you know you have dog food in there?" Slowly turns around and walks away. Greeting you after you've left for more than 30 seconds. "Sweet mercy how I've MISSED you, Where have you been, what trials and tribulations have kept you away!? Life isn'' worth THINKING about without you around. After about 20 seconds