Tuesday, May 31


Since yesterday:

Picked up the 2 new Macs. Feels incredibly strange to walk out of a store with more technology than I can literally carry at one time. I had to get help from the guy, and when I got home I had to leave the scanner in the car.

Got home. Skipped on dinner, went straight to backing up the current machine. Cloned the drive on our old machine to our external. While that was happening, set up the Airport network, figured out a problem with the phone, set up the laptop, got connected to wireless internet, found both printers (wireless printing is just way sexier than it ought to be) and started charging the first battery. Used the external to start moving all my files to the laptop, using setup assistant.

Went to poker. sucked like never before. didn't care. couldn't wait to come home and keep working. Leah was working away, appropriating the internet connection away from the wireless base. Decided to pass the time by unpacking the main machine. got my first look at Tiger. Got the internet back. Updated all programs and systems on the laptop. Successfully paired the wireless keyboard and mouse with the 20 inch. Started installing Office: 2004 and virtual PC on the laptop. hooked the external to the imac. transferred Leah's stuff, took about 1 hour. after 5 minutes realized that this was a waste of time, since I still hadn't partitioned the drive on the imac yet. let it finish while I took care of the microsoft installs. Did my first ever Windows XP install.

Partitioned the drive, reinstalled the system. Updated everything. Charged the 2nd laptop battery. Hooked the external back up, ran setup assistant. another hour. Started transferring the 15 gigs of music I have lying around waiting for these upgrades. Finished the transfer on the imac. Decided to back up the laptop to the big machine. Tried over the network, best I could manage was a disk image, not a full file transfer. decided to use firewire target disk mode. Purposely didn't leave the laptop plugged in, so that the battery could drain and calibrate. Got the wrong machine in target mode. switched everything around (the source machine should be running and controlling everything, not the target) got the backup going, realized it was going to take upwards of 2 hours, watched a little of the TRON dvd to pass the time, didn't want to fall asleep and have max wake up and accidentally break something, decided to sleep next to the machines on the couch.

Got about an hour of sleep, on and off. Backup finally finished around 5:30 am. Moved everything out of max's way, put the laptop to sleep, put myself to sleep.

Whew, I fucking love my life right now.

Monday, May 30

I'm sending out mad love, yo

So, in the last little while, my awesome cousin Aura has:

Gotten married in the freaking Ice hotel.

Moved to Vancouver. Didn't really know anybody. Just pulled up stakes and moved.

Started 2 Blogs. Personal, and professional. That's the way to do it.

Got herself right into cartoon form

Seriously, is there anything she can't do?

Friday, May 27


I just miss MrShowbiz. Around this time of year, the website mrshowbiz.com (which is no more) used to run a box office derby game to beat the friggin' band. I played, and frequently did quite well in a game where opening weekends were guessed, movies were bought, sold and traded, and hundreds of people tried in vain to separate the wheat from the chaff. In honor of all that, here are my picks for the top ten movies of the summer. Summer is all movies released between Episode 3 and the last weekend before Labour Day.

1) Star Wars Episode 3: Revenge of the Sith
2) Batman Begins
3) Madagascar
4) Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
5) The Fantastic Four
6) War of the Worlds
7) The Dukes of Hazzard
8) The Wedding Crashers
9) Bewitched
10) Mr and Mrs Smith.

Notable also rans: The Longest Yard, Herbie Returns, The Island, Cinderella Man, Stealth, The Pink Panther, The 40 Year Old Virgin. These will all do well, but not quite well enough.

I'll recap and let you know how I did at summer's end. Also, if you disagree, email your own list and I'll put it up here as well.

Wednesday, May 25

This is how humanity ends, to thunderous applause

This article seems like a pretty sure sign of the impending apocalypse. Listen, why, even if you could do it, would you in god's name want to do research into any of the following?

1) Humanoid robots with 10 times our strength?

2) Nano machines that can replicate themselves?

3) Super intelligent computers to store our identities?

Yeah, those are going to make life soooo much better.

Tuesday, May 24

Emptrophy, the decay of empathy

Since Matt was kind enough to publish his misadventures in customer service, I thought I would do the same, although in a slightly more constructive, and slightly less major fashion. What happened to Matt is epic, the sign that a company has completely lost its way.

To begin, I bought one of these, about 3 weeks ago:

A black one. My first one. Because I don't have any nice shirts for work that don't have to go to the cleaners. That is a pain, because as nice and reasonably priced as my dry cleaners is, I seem to have a real mental block about getting there. This means I often don't have shirts for work. Also, with the company changing names, there goes about half my central stock, 'cause I'm not wearing stuff with the old company name on it. Polo shirts, golf shirts, whatever you call them, are a good alternative. Except every single one I've bought in the past 5 years immediately looks like crap after a wash. They fade, they stretch, the buttons don't close, the collar wrinkles up, they suck. So I decided that if I'm going to give them any kind of a last chance, I am going to do it right. No more half measures, no more sales, just the best quality shirt I can buy. Which I decided after some research were the alligator jobbies.

Ninety Five Dollars. Yipe, this thing better be the best, for that kind of money. I tried on a couple, settled on a size 7, black (euro sizing, no less.) It fit. Close to perfectly, which starts me on my first anxious moment. "Is this gonna shrink?" I ask. No, comes the reply, as long as it's washed in cold (I always wash the darks in cold)and it shouldn't be heat dried. So I can tumble dry, or better yet hang dry it without a problem. Yes, comes the reply. Because at this point I'm happy to buy a size 8, if this is going to be a problem. No, no, you'll be fine.

I pay. I wear the shirt the next day to work. 4 independent complements. Wow. It must be nice. I'm making plans to save up for a couple more at this point. I'm wearing this thing again straight out of the wash. I'm happy.

2 days later, it comes out of the wash. I'm not as happy. I realize that despite following instructions, my worst nightmares are realized and I now own a very expensive shirt which doesn't fit me right. It's tight in the arms. Like, the actual arm holes are tight around my biceps (such as they are) and the whole thing just feels "funny."

No problem. I'm already wearing the thing, so I finish out the day, take it home, wash it a second time, and them take it back to the Lacoste store. I'm there on a saturday. The first warning flag is that I'm immediately informed that once a shirt has been washed, it can't be returned. Except that, as I point out, it's been washed according to their instructions. Oh, I'm told, I'm just a salesperson, only the manager can make a decision like this, and she's not there. The manager of the Lacoste store has decided that Saturday, the single busiest retail day, is the very best day for her not to be there. Because what can go wrong on the busiest day. So I should come back, during the week. "When exactly do you think I have time to come out here?" I ask. Oh right, of course, they apologize. They call the manager. She doesn't answer her phone. They tell me I can leave the shirt with them, she'll make a decision about it on monday and call me first thing. I leave.

Let me take a minute here to point out what they could have done, even as salespeople without the ability to solve my problem right then and there.

1) They could have asked me to try on the shirt and show them what I thought the problem was.

2) they could have asked me to try on a new size 7, to see if it had the same problem.

3) They could have (and this is the absolute key) empathized with me. Not agreed with me on the issue, just acknowledged that it sucks to be less than happy with a $95 purchase.

On Monday the manager didn't call me and left by 4:30, when I called to see what was taking so long. I was told there would be a note left reminding her to call me first thing Tuesday morning.

She didn't call tuesday, either. I called her, about 11:30. I was informed that there was nothing wrong with the shirt, that she had compared it to a new one, and that in fact there was a stain on the back of it. I would not be receiving an exchange, and I could pick the shirt up whenever I liked. The tone was clear: I was trying to pull a fast one, I damaged my own shirt, I was a crook trying to make the store eat a large cost for a damaged piece of merchandise.

Again, some things that could have been done differently:

1) How about not accusing your customer of being a general scumbag? That might be a start.

2) Maybe don't keep hiding behind the words "store policy" quite so much.

3) At least have the courtesy to call the client back, instead of making them come to you.

I went and got the shirt last friday. Know what? It's actually okay. It certainly doesn't have a stain on it, although I was able to locate a tiny bit of washing powder which came out with my fingernail. The arms loosened up again once I wore it awhile. It's fine. I probably am buying some more of them. Just not from the dicks at sherway gardens, where the policy seems to be the customer is always an asshole, angling for something for nothing. Nice Going, Salome Mohyeddin, Manager of the Lacoste store.

Friday, May 20

all the way in

In the last 6 months, I've gone from casual star wars appreciator, and someone who would openly mock the insanely faithful, to being well on the road to the fanatical about it. It's been a pretty cool trip, I must say. And I definitely get how rewarding it can be to be on the inside of the phenomenon, even if I myself am not really there yet. Because it's impossible to tell how episode III would have played for me if I hadn't been keeping myself abreast of things the way I have the last couple of months.

Celebration let me in on the joy of the thing. The way people feel about the saga, the way they "own" it in their hearts. Like it or not, anything in this age of disjointed experience that lets the collective experience of that happen is a good thing. There's a warmth and generosity amongst fans who just want to love this thing no matter what, because after all it is star wars, and life would be a lot less cool without it.

Watching episodes one and two, and before that 4,5 and 6 let me see things a little more clearly, forgive some things I thought flawed, and reevaluate some of the flaws into strengths. The main thing I thought, and it's confirmed now with Sith, is that 1,2 and 3 function way way way better when viewed as one six hour movie than they do as separate 2 hour ones. Phantom Menace is slow, but act one of a lot of stuff is slow. Clones can seem disjointed and more than a little confusing (which side are the clone troopers on, exactly? Sifo Dyas? whuh?) but the second act of a complex political story should obfuscate and play with audience expectations. Sith proves to not just colour and enhance the original trilogy; it improves and grows the scope of the prequel trilogy, too. It really plays like a cohesive and brilliantly structured piece.

Seeing the entire run of Clone Wars, the animated micro series that fills in some of the gaps between 2 and 3 probably helped as well. As much as I think the movies should play completely on their own apart from all the spin-off storytelling that's out there, it's extremely helpful to know exactly what has been happening in the days leading up to the opening battle in Sith. I spent no time at all grounding myself in the story; I was right in there, completely engaged from the get go.

All three prequels lack what we have come to expect in our spoon fed dramatic environs; namely, the scene where either the good guy or the bad guy lay out the entire plot for the audience so that they can understand exactly what they hope will happen. For a movie trilogy about which the biggest complaint seems to be too much exposition, this is an omission which borders on the brilliant. Lots of characters explain things that are happening, but they aren't always telling the truth and so the audience does have to work to see what is happening around us.

I made a bold statement when the screening was over, and I'm repeating it here: Episode III is my favorite movie, not just of the prequels, but of the entire series. That's right, more than Empire, more than Star Wars, more than Jedi. More than anything, Sith feels like the most Star Wars that a star wars movie could be. The purest distillation of what Lucas seems to want the the whole story to be. The only time since they came out that I felt the way I did when I was 13 and watching Return of the Jedi for the first time. For any movie to cut through 20+ years of the aging process and make me feel that way again, it has to be the best one for me.

Movies are a complex alchemy when it comes to an individual's verdict. Did I, by steeping myself in the lore a little more than I normally would basically force myself to like episode 3? Maybe, but all that familiarity could have just as easily bred contempt if things hadn't gone the way I'd wanted them to. Who knows? I do know that I'm a lot happier loving the movie than I would be if I hated it. To paraphrase Norman Vincent Peale, it really sucks to hate stuff. Liking stuff is better, and I really liked Revenge of the Sith.

Tuesday, May 17

evidence of the big day

I took some films of Max, so you can watch and enjoy them at home. The best I can do right now is to link to them and let you download and play on your machine. Someday, I hope to be able to make them play right here, at my somewhat interesting life. The first one is him leaving us to explore; the next involves him coming back.

Monday, May 16

the big day

Saturday was one of those milestone days, man. When you have a kid, or at least when I had mine, there were just certain days. First girlfriend introduction. First movie in a theatre. The day he leaves home. The day he beats me at chess. BIG days.

We had one, one of the biggest of them all, at least what passes in our modernity for a true rite of passage. We went out to a flat piece of ground, took the training wheels off and watched Max ride his bike with no help from either of us. After twenty minutes he didn't need us to steady him while he started, and he didn't fall once.

It is awesome to see him get that excited about his own accomplishments, too. Just ask him about it and his face beams as he says the words "two wheeler" and talks about casting off the training wheels.

There's a yiddish word that gets used, often as a punchline, but it seems apt. That word is "kvell" and it means to burst with pride, and that's pretty much what I did when I saw max stomp down on that pedal, almost overbalance and then pull that correcting move that's second nature to anyone who rides. The first time you see that, you kvell till it borders on mishegas.

Friday, May 13

gentlemen, start your pens

Some preliminary notes on a comedy film sketch:

1) A man wakes up to find his pants are made of cheese. Also, all female humans have become mice, but since women are finally interested in getting his pants off, the man does not mind either change.

2) Voogle: The voodoo Google engine. Every time someone is googled, they feel "weird". If I google someone's name along with a feeling, they experience that feeling.

3) Christ returns, and joins the justice league.

4) Everyone's brain must be upgraded to consciousness service pack 2.

5) We parody those daily show field reports, by having one of the subjects finally punch the reporter in the nose for being such an asshole.

There. You can't say I'm not contributing. Also, the following remake ideas have recently occurred to me. These are not jokes, I'm interested in these as legit ideas.

1) Ball of Fire. The gangster's moll hiding from the mob with the 7 professors, itself inspired by snow white, seems a natural vehicle for anyone from Renee Zellweger to Queen Latifa. Just reserve James Gandolfini, Danny de Vito, James Cromwell, Christopher Walken, Carl Reiner, Harvey Keitel and Harrison Ford for the profs. Where are the Coen brothers when you really need them?

2) Strangers on a Train. They can't exactly meet on a train anymore, now can they? I think they ought to meet while playing Halo 2 online. What gamer doesn't want someone to kill his mother?

3) Pickup on South Street. What if the pickpocket grabbed someone's iPod instead of some errant microfilm? What if the state secrets were being passed to Al-Qaida instead of the reds? What if indeed.

Monday, May 9

growth hormone

Moore's law says that everything about computers is just gonna keep on getting faster, bigger, more. Actually, Moore's law isn't a law at all, just something someone at intel noticed about 40 years ago, that about every 18 months computing power (whatever that means) will double. That's why intel has been so focussed on clock speeds on its chips, since that's an awfully easy way to self fulfill their own prophecy. But putting that aside, there is one way to tell that computer power keeps growing faster than our uses for these expansions in power.

When we bought our first G3 tower, back in 1999, it came with a 6 gig hard drive and 256 megs of ram. Also a 14 inch CRT. Plenty of space in every way. When I wanted to do some video editing with it I added and external firewire drive. I was going to add 30 gigs, but there was a screw up and I got a 45 gigger from LaCie to make it up to me.

When we bought the G4 iMac, it came with a 60 gig hard drive (10 times the space,) 768 megs of ram and a 15" LCD. I ended up adding an external 160 gig drive about 18 months ago, for backup and video, etc.

We just ordered our G5 iMac. It has a 400 gig internal drive (only about an 7 times jump this time,) 2 gigs of ram and a 20" LCD. I expect that in about 18 months we'll be adding an external drive with a terabyte of storage, if the pattern holds.

At this rate, my next computer will have two terabytes of internal storage, 6 gigs of ram and a 30" screen. What in hell will I do with it all?

Friday, May 6

Why are people spending that much money on replicas?

click me. for the love of god, click me.

Thursday, May 5

ruutu to krup; shoot on puppa

Stop worrying about me; I'm fine. I have managed to recover almost fully from the whole ordeal. Although at the last minute I wound up not going to the movie. It's a long story. I did get to stay home to watch a humdinger of a Lost episode. I'm glad I'll be with friends to watch the next 3.

We bought our new computers today, so if you're in the market for a used machine that can burn dvd's and is an awesome music machine, we're letting it go for $800. The screen is included, obviously.

I watched Star Wars episode 1 this week, getting Max ready for the big day when he sees a star wars movie in the theatres for the first and only time. The thing about that is that now that it's clear where things are going, Phantom Menace plays way better than I remember it playing. It really feels like I suspect Lucas wanted it to, the opening act of a 3 act play. The restraint in the action and excitement is laudable, as it's going to make the hell on wheels situations in Revenge of the Sith feel that much more insane when these three are watched in a row. I have my ticket, for 2 weeks from yesterday, and I just can't wait.

Tuesday, May 3


I walked in this morning, on a day that was sure to be tough. Let me 'splain. My company, the one I work for, is getting a divorce. It's a partnership and for a variety of reasons the partners have decided to got their separate ways. Which is fine and in the long run probably better for me. I've got lots of new responsibilities, starting today. The first thing is I have to make sure that we reinstall our point of sale software on all of our machines. PeeCees, to be exact. I suck at these, and I am the one making sure that we put in a software VPN, the POS, and some background sequel server stuff. Don't ask me what I just said, I have no fucking clue. So I follow the emailed instructions I have, and after about 3 hours I finally have everything working, on one machine. Then I fan out and start calling our other two locations, getting them set up, replicating what I just did. Except the one store doesn't even have winzip installed on his machine and can't uncompress the programs to install them.

Also, now that the programs are installed I need to be upgraded to administrator status on the POS so that I can start learning about how to take care of it. I could go into more detail, but let's just leave it at the fact that I will be overseeing making sure that we, the company, get paid correctly for our work, and that we, the employees, get paid correctly for our work. It's a lot of niggling detail. It's what makes this all better for me, since I think more responsibility makes me harder to get rid of. But it's a shitter of a learning curve. I'm staring straight uphill.

Also, orders and other general business keep on happening. I sold four internet connects today, a new cell phone and helped another few folks with their various questions and concerns. All the normal part of my day.

And I'm buying new computers. Two of them. Apple just gave the imac a kick ass update, basically killing the specs over the previous model and saving me about $600 in the process. Plus we're gettin' a powerbook so I can work at the same time as leah, and so we can have something when we travel. So I'm understandably excited and my adrenaline is up, the way it always is when something extremely expensive and good is just around the corner.

And I look after repairs for the company. That means when people bring their malfunctioning phones in for repair I facilitate sending them to the correct service centre, loaning out a temp phone for them to use and tracking the repair and any charges and approvals through the system. I keep a spreadsheet that let's me record everything in case the whole thing crashes. I completely depend on that thing, and it's safe on my work computer.

Today, it was erased. Gone. I am completely fucked.

I was so upset Leah thought I had lost my job when she called and I couldn't talk to her. I had to call back and assure her that in fact I am just stressed out of my mind, not fired.

We're trying to undelete the file. and it's not working. and I'm going home, and starting again tomorrow.

And I haven't even told you how I lost my babysitting for tommorow night and had to cancel going to see Raiders of the Lost Ark: the adaptation, and then gave the ticket to Jason, and then my brother came through with the babysitting and I had to call Jason back and take the ticket away again, one of the shittier transactions I've undertaken in a while.

get me out of here.

Monday, May 2

if you need the beeg truck, or the strong men

Have you gotten the voicemail from Boris? or Janosh? or Tugboat Bill? 'cause they call like a couple times a year, leave a message on the voice mail about helping you move. People outside toronto have no idea what this is about, but you need to know that this happens, to everyone, all the time. And it is downright awesome, bordering on performance art. If you do nothing else, you need to check the cellar dweller for some of the most incredible misadventures in tracking these guys down. Real movers? Culture scramblers? Does it even matter?

may is chocolate month at tim hortons

I'm back, and somewhat rested.

The rest of the convention was really excellent once i got a few hours of sleep under my belt. Here's what we did for the next three days:

1) we got our action figures. In a stunning move of bold brilliance, Jason came up with the idea of pooling our four per person allotment into one group of 16 figs, thus allowing us to acquire a (dunt da da da!)sealed box of 12 figures. Which were listed on ebay that night, and sold within 2 days. and shipped before we left the country (by the nicest and most competent kinko's employee that may have ever lived)

2) i bought Max a couple more figures (real cheap old school figures, but they do the trick), got him a free comic book, and a wicked cool lego scout walker. Now he can have luke and han fight vader with light sabres, and use the scout walker to provide cover fire.

3) The people behind the counter in Indianapolis (with the exception of the coffee nazi at the convention center starbucks) were beyond great. I have never met such an unrelentingly friendly and nice group of folks.

4) GenCon, the organizers of the four days, were really unprepared and caught off guard. Lots of lines, no real system and a general lack of planning added lots of unnecessary stress to my weekend. Also some joy, as their bungling of the massive George Lucas lineup led to my compatriots and I jumping ahead of about 9,000 other fans to nearly the front of the line. Everything was set up for maximum frustration and we were all given plenty of time to stew over it.

5) it got so bad that by the last day, when I was climbing over, under and through those flipping metal barriers for the last time I just gave up, hulked out and in what was apparently the funniest thing ever seen picked up a barrier and chucked it across an empty expanse of sidewalk. The thing flew about 25 feet, and landed with an insanely satisfying clang. I'm pretty sure that half the assembled crowd loved me and half were very, very afraid of me.

6) My super secret project was completed and made it most of the way through the trip. I built a full size replica of Artoo's head, fastened with magnets to the top of the volvo to look like he was my droid co-pilot. I drove with him on the roof to pick everyone up, then we stowed him in the back with the bags, and on our last day there we drove around indianapolis with him until he was caught in a gust of wind and "we lost artoo." I prefer to think of him still lying there, on Meridian avenue, as cars weave past his fragile little domed head.

7) We got to watch Jason and his new found lego buddies demolish, and I mean cream like corn the competition in the big lego star wars build off. go see the sharknet website for a picture of what he won, but let me tell you, it was impressive.

8) I have seen what few at this point have seen, and that is an actual 3 minutes from Episode III. there is no way to accurately judge the movie based on what I've seen (and out of the more than 40,000 people who attended Celebration, less than 2% of us have seen this) but let me tell you, this looks DAMN GOOD. scary good. I was drawn into this sequence in a way that I haven't been since Return of the Jedi. I am much more excited about this movie than I was when I went on this trip, and that is a very very good thing indeed.
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