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Showing posts from 2011

Train Show

We went to a model train show in November. Mainly, okay, soley for Owl Jr.'s benefit. It was at the local community centre, the gym which usully holds weekend warriors doing some approximation of a team sport they had done decades ago in highschool playing host to enthusiasts of recreating some aspects of industrial-era mass transportation infrastructure. The hobbyists are nearly exclusively old men with beards wearing engineer's caps. Train engineer caps, to be precise. (I'm not sure if other engineers (mechanical, electrical, chemical, etc) have hats, although that could only be a boon to recruiting new blood. Just think, a solid iron baseball cap with oversized rivets for mech engies, a erlynmeyer flask breeding a hardy yeast species for industrial bread making for bioresource engineers, the mind staggers.) And some a bit younger folks who would not look amiss at a convention featuring dragons and swords and possibly magic. My kin, if you will. Or kin from a long forgo

Bunk Bed

In August, I constructed a bunk bed. Assembled. From the standard Scandinavian outlet of fine particle-board based furniture. Owl Jr had just come graduated from the crib. We made the sage decision to have Owlet and Owl Jr sleep in the same room, in a bunk bed, and leave the other room as a play room. (In actuality, now they have one tiny room for playing and sleeping, and one room with an infrequently used tent). It took me 3 hours. Or 4, depending on how truthful I want to be, and how prepared I am for humiliation. These things look so simple in the show room. Until you get it delievered in three flat boxes, each one absolutely packed with long 2x4's which look exactly alike. The wood pieces differ only slightly, by the position of the holes, by the number, by some currently indiscernible difference which you better discover before you get 80% of the way through and find that the 2x4 with the three holes on one side and two holes on the other is NOT interchangeable with the

Christmas Family Letter 2011

It was a hectic year for the Owl family. As it is every year for families with children of a certain age (where they cannot creditably threaten you with retirement homes). It ended on a very bad note, however, so let's start there. In November, Mrs. Owl's dad passed away from a heart attack. It was sudden and hit the family  hard. Mrs. Owl and her sister rushed to their mother's side, in the Phillippines, where Mrs. Owl's mom and dad spend a good part of the year. He was a well loved man , always with a song or a game for the kids. The songs were either  Tagalog or old songs that had the faint air of the Roaring Thirties and Spain. The games invariably involved the kids riding on his back. His enormous, ready smile was big enough to include everyone, just like his post dinner impromptu programme in which anyone with even the slightest talent was called upon to perform. He will be missed. Mrs. Owl had a trying time in the Philippines, and I’m glad she had her mother and

Gabriel García Márquez Denies Your Firewall Request

Your request reached me just as the sun had set, and the sound of cicadas rising with the smell of frying onions and garlic and forgotten bits of lamb from yesterdays repast. It was not my intention to ignore it, indeed, it had done the unforgivable sin of reminding me of the years and months on days and hours since I had last been vigilant, that ever dwindling and ever so important virtue which holds the Group IV IT Security and Audit together, the shield against a rapacious public and the blind, unseeing corporation. My heart is heavy, pendulous, dripping with, if not pain, then something much like it. If I were to excuse my age and the fading of my keener thoughts -- which were I an infinitely braver man, I'd have to admit was dementia --I still couldn't pinpoint why. Your request, like so many others, seem reasonable. But the corridors and cobbled alley ways of networks and protocols and Virtual Firewalls and SANs all twisting between each other and over another and no

Seaside Part 4 : Activities I

We were there only for a few days, hoping to avoid the dreaded affliction of boredom that runs rampant among kids 1 to 65. So the next day we had to pack in all the quaint and Kodak-moment worthy activities that any beach-side town has in abundance. The activities that look really fun and laugh-a-minute until you're on the bumper boat and the water smells like bilge from a recently decommissioned Ukranian cargo ship and your particular boat is persistently wreathed in engine smoke that smells faintly of burnt hot-dogs. It wasn't as bad as all that, thankfully. There is a sheen though, isn't there, to all those whacky activities, like our first one: Bike Cars! A side-by-side tandem bike with seats in the front for the kids and pedalled seats in the back for the galley-slav--I mean parents. And to steer they give you an actual steering wheel! Oh the whimsy! There is a sheen, anyways, when you first see them, a novelty, a minor spastic scurrying of imagination, 'Wow!

Seaside Part 3 : Beach

It was finally time to make our way back to Owlet and Mrs. Owl. It's a tricky thing toddlers, the Terrible Twos. That explosions of impotent rage are just under the surface most of the time, but it's something that I've come to empathize with. Imagine if you, after months and months of not really having an opinion about anything, suddenly, are YOU. You with all your preferences and ideas and wants. Now imagine that you need to communicate with an unreasonably large human who has complete and utter control over everything you do. Now imagine you can't quite speak English. Or can, perfectly, clearly, succinctly, but either the Ginormous Human has defective ears or you must, at all times, speak with your mouth filled with marbles. I can see where the rage comes from. These episodes usually arise when the activity changes, especially if I'm taking Owl Jr. from an activity he likes, aimlessly following tire tracks, to one he might not like, joining up with the family

Seaside Part 2 : Settling In

The rental house was a few blocks from the ocean, so not a beach house perse, but a close-enough-to-the-beach house. Which was fine by me. If you get one right on the beach (so I tell myself), you'd have to start driving cars with leases that could be confused with a mortgage,  have opinions about European soccer leagues, test cricket, various exchanges, and how often, or if you ever, press your chinos (you'd have to have chinos as well, come to think of it). You'd be Upper Class, or Comfortable, as the Upper Class like to think of themselves. And I can't, I won't, have that. And not just because I can't afford it, not in the slightest. It's a principles thing. The house itself was not the seedy, somewhat charming dive I expected it to be. It was rather done up and not altogether horrible. Which it had every right to be. As far as I'm concerned, these neglected, often empty houses have every expectation to be utterly run down and just this side of co

Seaside Part 1

I find I'm trying to reconstruct my childhood in my vacations. Not purposely, but out of habit. To that end i took the family to the Oregon coast, to experience the beach as I experienced it: chilly, windy, and with far too much Gore-Tex™. It's summer vacation as experienced by a son of immigrants. How were they to know a proper vacation was at a multi-billion dollar ride park festooned with anthopomorphic domestic animals, professionally-created childhood-focussed-grouped animated imagination avatars and other copyright protected IP? They wouldn't. There is also the small problem of my parents being under the intermittent delusion that they enjoy the outdoors. (Memories of camping, such as it was, is dominated by twenty year old canvas tents that I now know smelled overwhelmingly of mildew with brief notes of a hardy, devastating killer mold; short-lived fires that were constructed with the quixotic idea that a roaring blaze could be had from warming rather large, da

Pecha Kucha Vol. 17

In a shambling, unfocussed, and entirely inconsistent bid to Get Out More, and Do Stuff I Wouldn't Normally Do And Perhaps Get Inspired I decided to go to this talk, called Pecha Kucha . The idea is to present a number of speakers: each one has 20 images, and has 20 seconds for each image. The one I went to covered West Coast Modernist Architecture. Everything I know enough about architecture could fit in a extra small fortune cookie. I think natural light might be important. I.M. Pei? Is that close to something that might be architecturally related? Arches, I'm sure, feature in some way. It turns out that West Coast Modernist is all about clean lines, large, large windows, and a blurring between nature and living space. Also, what was unspoken but all too well understood, is that the only people who can ever experience it first hand, on a daily basis, are the sort people who have a passionate interest in capital gains tax and actually know what the hell a Turks and Caicos

Brief Update : Fitness

Since February 7th I've been on a bit of a diet. And going to the gym. All which seems to have cut into creative time. Or, more sensibly, has cut into any energy I might have had to think up appropriate topics for the blog. So I'm just going to blog a post that's more.. bloggy. The getting fit thing is something that I've been meaning to do for a while, but I finally snapped. Cumulative thing really. One of the straws was realizing that the amount I was overweight was like carrying my two kids strapped to me at all times. Another was I was getting short-winded typing. My fitness regimen is a mix of things, really. The most important being diet, since it's far more important for weight loss. I'm from the school of thought that goes, if it's too hard, I ain't gonna bother.¹ Which, granted, might be the Loser's Recipe for Life, but helped me to build the perfect program for me, so far. Diet A few notes: in weight loss, diet is way more imp

Just Saying...

Oh breaking buddha on a babbling baboon. That goddamn phrase is among several makes me briefly consider that the mandatory sentences for 'murder by blunt force trauma' are tolerable. It's not just that it's the needless blathering of a word-hipsters trying to fit in. It's not just that it precludes any sort of actual, real personality of the writer and steamrolls it with a snarky asstit blunderbutt who's first opinion about anything is mockery and sarcasm. It's that it creates a sort of verbal short-hand. A personality stand-in. It's a phrase most often used by the sort of people whose desire to point out their lack of a television is only eclipsed by an urgent impulse to proclaim their simultaneous love for a multinational grocery chain (their Raw Rosemary & Kosher Salt Kissed Brazil Nuts are AMAZING)  as well as an even larger multinational which manages to charge 40% more for electronics by making them 100% more ostentatious. It's the &#

Opening Lines of Cormac McCarthy's "The Cat In The Hat"

The boy and the girl were  inside. Outside it drizzled an unending fall of dead cloud. They both shivered. Their ball sat motionless in the middle of the room. Not waiting, not sleeping. Maybe dead. The boy looked at the girl. Not much to do. Too cold. They sat and watched the grey splatting outside their window. She frowned and it creased her face until it might have been a smile but then the shadows faded and there was only that frown. They both heard it, who first, didn't matter. It was a bump. They jumped. And then they saw him. Tall, a grin ringed with sharpened canines and a clownish hat, bent in the middle, or sagging, or broken. Sitting around? He said. The girl shrugged, the boy just stared. I know some tricks. Might be worth your time. They both stared back now. The girl's frown deepened. Our mother? She won't mind. The fish swam to the edge of his bowl, made bubbles like the last sighs of a dry corpse. That cat must leave. You don't want to play

Crushing, Secret HR Policies

while fraternization is frowned upon, sexual harassment complaints from someone lower on  the totem pole about someone who has, quite literally, carte blanche will always end poorly for the complainer. the Kleenex in the break room are for make-up removal or runny noses. Please bring your own supply for crying jags or otherwise personal issues. our wellness coordinator is actually a co-op/intern position that's shared with six other mulitnationals across three states. You may book an appointment with him/her in March and late October. people who are inordinately thirsty during the day will have their cubicles moved furthest from the watercooler.  our 'paid grief time' is for recruitment purposes only.  the 'security cameras' are actually used to record the time you take for your breaks and lunch. smokers and people who have been deemed 'generally unpleasant' get fewer, and less enthusiastic email reminders to join the Summer Company Picnic. there is n

The Waffling Waffle Salesman

Why hello there. You look like you're in the market for a waffle iron, am I right? Unless you're not, I mean there are plenty of perfectly acceptable breakfast foods in the bread group to satisfy the working man's needs, why only yesterday I had a... Oh, you are? Well then, well then. I have, I think, just the waffle iron for you. You live in an apartment don't you, or a condo, or a timeshare, or a sublet, or a parked RV, or perhaps a very large house tastefully decorated, or none at all, the bare look. You.. well, that's not really important, I think you'll agree. What matters is that you are in the market for a waffle iron and I have it right here. The last iron you ever buy, unless you have need of more than one, or your residence catches fire and you don't have the opportunity to go back and get that iron and maybe choose to save a loved one or a photo album or a rather lazy cat, I understand. We all have priorities. I think you'll find thi

Various Interesting Things About The Napoleonic Era Part III

Killing On The High Seas The battleship was the most complex machine of that era, requiring hundreds of sailors in addition to the many specialists (armorer, cook, cooper, surgeon, carpenter, etc). This is a machine (which, I know, sounds a bit wonky, one doesn't think of something that doesn't have an engine or at least a very prominent smoke stack to be a machine; a bit of rope, some sail, and alot of wood hardly constitutes one) which controlled the only means of overseas trade, --from the West or East Indies, from the Americas-- and therefore of wealth, and therefore, ultimately, of power. They were the Star Destroyers of their time. Killing was done very simply, and much like on land, but with more cannons, heavier cannons. Iron balls of death that weighed as little as 6 to as much as 45lbs would be hurtled at the enemy. If you didn't get maimed or die outright from those, you'd die from splinters of all things, being broken off by impact and hurtling through

Various Interesting Things About The Napoleonic Era Part II

Ah, you thought I'd given up on this dusty topic that can only be of interest to people who collect ascots and have an enduring love of Coronation Street . How wrong you are. Killing - On Land Whereas now all you need is a few billion dollars worth of laser guided ordnance dropped from tens of thousands of feet lit up by an elite military team that has more hours training in Killing The Enemy With Dental Floss than I have spent being alive, in the Napoleonic Era, killing was all about cojones. Not that modern day or soldiers in Korean and Vietnam and WWII etc etc didn't have cojones. But in the Napoleonic Era that's ALL there was. No real tactics perse, or situational awareness, it was more or less a gigantic game of chicken. You had three main groups in a land battle: cannons, cavalry, and infantry. They work in a sloppy rock papers scissors fashion. Infantry can beat infantry, cannons soften or beat infantry. Calvary can, in certain circumstances, destroy infantry, b

Various Interesting Things About The Napoleonic Era Part I

Having read through the entire Sharpe and Aubrey-Maturin series, I realize I know perhaps a little too much about the Napoleonic era given my age, general disposition to pipes, and my inability to procure a single piece of furniture that might be described as an 'ottoman'. Without resorting to taking strolls through the retirement communities of British ex-pats and striking up conversations with fellows sporting luxuriant moustaches and alarmingly hopeful comb-overs, I doubt I'll have opportunity to discuss the various interesting things about the Napoleonic Era. And there are many. The Sharpe series follows a loud, rambunctious, go-getter in the Army with recurring money problems and a taste for the wench as he climbs the ladder of promotion by grit, luck, and raw love of violence. The Aubrey-Maturin series features Jack Aubrey, who well, is very similar to Sharpe except that he's in the Navy, his idea of 'fiscally destitute' is quite different from Sharp

Vice Admiral of the Blue Alexander "Like A Steel Trap" Parakov's Last Rallying Speech Before the Great Mutiny Of 4962

I know I ask alot of all here today, what after the quasi-sentient bloodthirsty dark nebula 8301-wS, and the shockingly violent parasitic tribes of the Acbsenmil asteroid belt, there might be some trust issues in the fleet. I mean, never mind the Fzerom brain melters or the curiously strong limb-ripping pond scum from Aquas III. Only a machine, not unlike the Baader Hoff Decapitate-Maim-KILL! Kings of Circuita, to not appreciate that perhaps I'm asking too much; that perhaps every man and woman has a breaking point, as, indeed, the Gel Monsters of the Angel IV Outlander Colonial post found out for everyone there, in the longest time possible. Where was I. Yes, breaking points. But we are the Inter Galactic Space Force Triumvirate Regiment! Conquerer of galaxies and usurpers of celestial dominions! Our people are made of harder stuff! Sterner stuff! Our suicide rate is nearly 0.000894% off the entire Imperial Navy. That's some real numbers! Sure it might be because we don'

A Dream Within A Dream

I've been a little writerly blocked up lately. It's irksome. Last night I dreamed I had become friends with Patton Oswalt, although I didn't recognize him until I woke. In any event, he was my new, real life friend! And we were walking down a street at night, and he looked at me and said, 'ok, GO!', basically asking me to riff on anything, it was an audition for his friendship, this is what I remember saying.  Plus added fluff, because, really, who remembers their dreams?   I like blue drinks, the sort made by marginally paid scientists who's last work involved Dow chemical and horrific civilian casualties in some easily coerced Banana republic. Something that rings with a metallic taste and the undefinable comforting finish of something entirely man-made. Like the Constitution, the GMC Gremlin, and Lisa Carlise. Centuries of science and civilization and experimentation and the march of humankind bolstering a colour of drink that would only be found in na

I Don't Understand This Mainstream Star Who Is So Popular

I don't understand how this mainstream star can be so popular. Sure he has the looks of a young Errol Flyn and the disarming charm of a Sean Connery during the golden age of Bond films, but please. Really? This guy? With the millions of albums sold and the half a dozen multi-million dollar movies to his credit? I mean, where does the public get off? Sure he can dance and sing and seems to have the fashion sense of a high-end Parisian heroin dealer while retaining some of that down-home charm that makes even mothers swoon, but come on! It's entirely puzzling. Look at that face! And that skin! It's almost too perfect! How can the general public find him appealing in any way at all? No one without a published genetic disorder has a chin that chiselled, or a self-effacing manner that calls to mind Carey Grant without some serious, serious personal issues.How is that so hard for Joe Six-Pack to understand? He's only appeared in films where his natural charm, good look

Failed Approaches to Defending Ship Memorabilia Purchases to Your Spouse

Oh my god, it's not like I said ANYTHING about you wanting to BRONZE Sebastien's shoes? And he has weird feet. It's like this, OK, you loved Richard Gere in "An Officer and and Gentleman", right? Well, it's kinda like that. Except without the subtle gay subtext. Well, you did make me eat kale. KALE. *looks meaningfully at 1/2 empty plate* I could just get a Veritech fighter. 1/60 scale. Oh, so your love of anachronism stops as soon as we need 2 feet of bookshelf space for a 110-gun Spanish Galleon with flammable rigging. What? It is. I promise this has nothing to do with me calling it "Davey Jone's Locker" down there. You said no to my rubber ducky, my rubber sheep, AND my inflatable Betty Boop, and NOW THIS? What is WRONG with you? Don't you dare bring my LP collection of "The Captain and Tenille". They are TOO more important to 20th century pop culture than "Sonny & Cher". Well, you DID make me learn all thos

Prospective iPad 2 Owner With His Thoughts.

Look, I know I live in a state and a city which thinks quinoa is a reasonable substitute for a starch and that gears on bikes an abomination. I know that all my coworkers, immediate family, and extended family who live in this region all love "The Wire", "Arrested Development", and now slightly hate "Arcade Fire" ever since "the Grammy incident". I know there are almost more recycling bins outside my apartment complex than there are elements in the Periodic Table, but still. I have some expectations. It'd be nice if the lineup wasn't ten blocks long. Like, 15 people. I could handle waiting for 15 people. But only if those 15 people don't have an itemized list as to why the iPad 2 is really the one to get, and, in the long run, actually quite a bargain. Also, could the people in my immediate vicinity please not have tumblrs or blogs or twitter accounts that they casually try and advertise? How many streams of information do I nee

Uncomfortable Movie Synopses

Predator Ethnics die first. Austrian herrenfolk survives thermonuclear blast in a jungle without cover. Death and the Maiden Doctors who systematically rape and torture for a totalitarian regime can afford extremely expensive chamber music seats. Robocop Only a horrifying amalgan of machine and half-dead man, funded by and developed for a private corporation for profit can save a major city in decay. Ocean's Eleven Eleven hardened life-time criminals are justified in robbing millions from a legitimate business man because he's somewhat cold and happens to be dating the head criminal's ex-wife. Untouchables Federal agent has nearly all his best friends killed in a bloody war over a substance that's legalized a few years later. Red Dawn Every conflict to ever descend upon Afganistan, transposed to Montana. Breakfast Club Over-privileged white kids in the suburbs feel hard done by, get high, have a make-over, collaborate on a letter. Top Gun Man learn

Things I Would Miss From My 20's If I Had Them In My 20's

washboard abs. any abs at all. belonging to a team sport. belonging, full stop. having a nickname that wasn't used with derision. keg parties. scratch that. having a secret handshake/hi-five ritual. cruising down the strip. having a car to cruise down the strip with. knowing where said strip might be. having a favourite band. going to quirky cultural heritage days of which I'm weirdly proud. beach volleyball. not the "Top Gun" kind. not  the "Dead or Alive" kind either. I'm not sure what I mean here. witheringly advanced political views. handing out Beat Poetry flyers. joining an amusingly mismatched club for a girl. getting more interested in the club's activities than said girl. a koi pond.

L4D2 NPC's and Infected Rejected Out Of Hand

Oil Derrick Worker: You never see them, because, well, they're kinda isolated, but you hear reports about them, and they sound terrifying. Tai Chi Master If you ever swing that ax faster than an heavily sedated sea sponge, he goes down immediately. But should you go slower, HOO EEEEE!. Hipsters You only ever encounter their corpses, they go first. Vegan He can be found dumpster diving, looking smug and eating rats. Organic rats. Flautist A jazz flautist. Driver Sits in his car, a well-notated map of Toledo in his lap, a cold cup of coffee on the dash, and him, crying softly. Concierge He stands, looking from the door to his front desk, torn behind a hunger for human flesh and a sense of duty. Gymnast Stands below the double rings, arms still on the rings, him looking up, moaning. Foodie Fusses and pats you down, emits a low 'humming' noise as he considers, invariably leaves you alone.


In a fit of what only can be described as a radically unfounded enthusiasm for the outdoors we decided to take the kids tobagganing. Living in BC means ridiculous cost of living,  receiving way below the national median salary, but also that mountains are about 30 minutes away, turning the 1000 mm of rain we get at sea level into wonderful, if soggy, snow. Capitalism dictates that where there are parents desperate to create 'memories' for their children there are cramped ticket booths at the end of interminable lines ready to charge money for it. And they do. For bringing your own sled to go down the mountain. Gravity is apparently a premium resource. We borrow tobaggans from the neighbours, who have kids who are quite a bit older. This should have sent off alarms for me, cautious dad that I am. But on the other hand, I want my kids to be more or less fearless, and adventurous about things, so I don't really give it a second thought. It's a board, that you sit on, t

General Qualities Required for Yacht Captains Employed by Third World Drug Kingpins

ability to keep eye contact when addressing employer on the "hottub deck". past experience with caring for a ficus. general disinterest in female anatomy, especially on aforementioned deck. experience with pH balance and chlorination of 1/4 Olympic sized pool. enjoys 'Miami Vice'. supportive, but not too supportive of recreational drug use. able to remove tricky stains from snow-white uniform (mud, grass, human brain and skull fragments). refrains from 'punching it' at the first sign of law enforcement. comfortable with frequent small arms fire. knows how to start and operate a Vecoplan K-Model RG70K Industrial Shredder unassisted. can do light cleanup (mainly of bent spoons, dusty mirrors, various lengths of rubber hose). fond of Billy Ocean. equally comfortable talking out of a search and seizure from the Coast Guard as he is having light banter at the dinner table. doesn't press the need to wear 'short shorts'. competent enough to

Goodbye, Old Friend

I got a snazzy LCD flat screen whatever computer screen. Quite recently. Approximately fifty hojillion years after the whole CRT monitor technology had become obsolete. That meant I had to dispose of my current monitor, a behemoth, 19" Samsung Syncmaster 900NF. Weighs about 40 pounds and has the dimensions of a early CAT scan machine. A google here and a clicky there and apparently there's a depot nearby that will take it. Situated in a byzantine maze of twisty turvy streets that have never heard of a 90 degree junction. A place where entire businesses and thrive or die or live a kind of half-life that crushes the dreams of anyone who tries to work there. Marble counter top re-installation? Got that. Double Decker bus storage? Yup. One gets  a sense of how many different sorts of things there are that people do to get food on the table. An entire life worrying about 'Industrial Outdoor Deck Design and Repair'. I'm not usually a sentimental guy about stuff. I do

You Can't Afford To Lose Me, I'm The 37th Best Pilot In The Fleet

You can't ground me. I know you want to, I know in that hardened heart of a five star space admiral with oak clusters that you want to bust me down to private first class, have me bustling K-Rations across the fleet in the crappiest rust-bucket you can get out of mothballs. Well, guess what, you can't. You can't afford to lose me. I'm your 37th best pilot. Sure, after Stryker and Killion and Raybird, I mean, their kills together dwarf the next 150 pilots down the roster combined. Everybody knows that. And yeah, okay, number 34th on the list, Lieutenant Caberron, from the Xarglaac Nebula isn't exactly a fighter pilot but can fly a really mean intra-fleet transport, isn't exactly a slouch. Okay, I get it. You got me. But how many pilots do you have like me? Not counting number 36th and 38th and the fact that pilots 38-179 are separated by the thinnest scintilla of statistics which would hardly hold up to closer scrutiny. So how many? That's right, on