Thursday, May 24, 2012

Quo Vadis

It's been a couple of weeks (yes - only a couple of weeks) of upheaval for my employment situation, and I want to talk about it in depth, but I'd like to see how the next bit plays out fully before I embark upon the quest of publishing it.

For now, I'll summarize:

I was provided the opportunity to do a contract gig after having worked full-time since 1999. At first I scoffed, but then I got everything I asked for, re-considered, and now I'm taking the gig.

I swear there'll be more details.

We cool?

Friday, May 11, 2012

Radiohead - Love doesn't need a reason

Hi all,

I make the case here that our love of music doesn't need a reason to exist.  At least I hope it does'nt, since I'm living this very theory.

My absolute favourite band is Radiohead.  I've followed their career since turned on to them by a friend in High School.  They've alienated the majority of their fans with their latest records, but I'm still a die-hard fan.  Their album that was released in 2007 (In Rainbows, for those not obsessed with Radiohead or willing to click the link) is my current favourite, although I change this stance a fair bit (here's their whole discography - I'm sure most have spent some time in the coveted favourite spot).

When talking to my wife about a song recently, I voiced the fact that I had no idea what the words were.  Then, I thought a bit, and I think I might understand the words to 10% of Radiohead songs. Of those 10%, I understand the meaning behind 0% of the songs.  I just love em.  

My absolute favourite song of theirs (Paranoid Android, for those making a list.... creepy), I completely melt every time I hear it due to its sheer awesomeness. The video is potentially better than the song alone, which is high praise. Just don't ask me why either the song or the video is awesome.

Do you have any bands whose tunes you just DIG, but don't understand?

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

My bad behaviour - Part 2 - Transportation

Hi all,

This is one that I feel less guilty of, but I am absolutely guilty of doing bad things.

Transportation (public and private) - Road rage has been known and discussed for a long time, but my bad behaviour is kinda the opposite. Don't get me wrong, I can get overtly angry at people when they do the wrong thing (which they constantly do), but I'm cool with that part. The thing I do which bugs me is being a huge perpetrator of the "distributed responsibility" phenomenon while I'm safely wrapped in my plastic/metal bubble. 

Here's an example since that last paragraph was kinda weird: Every day I drive to work a similar way. I often see the same person, or people, walking to work, and I knew where they were going (the same place I was). I absolutely had room to pick them up (before I had two car seats lashed in), but thought to myself "someone else will pick them up". Inevitably no one picked them up. This sucked huge donkey balls when it was raining, or heaven forbid snowing.  I could feel my credibility as a human being decreasing every time I saw them come in drenched.

The same thing goes for people having problems with their car.  I'm totally not able to help with technical car stuff, but I have a phone and a CAA card. Instead I think "someone who's good with cars will stop...", and I'm pretty sure that never happens (sad face).

Buses are a whole different can of suck. Bus etiquette is weird, awful, and possibly just in my head, but I think these are the rules:

  1. If there are the half the number of people on the bus as there are seats on the bus, no one should have to sit next to each other. 
  2. ONLY if there are more than half should people sit next to each other, and if two people are sitting next to each other they CANNOT acknowledge each others existence. 
  3. "Saving" a seat next to you by placing any belonging on it is a totally acceptable way to not have to sit by anyone, and who cares if it makes people stand.
  4. If there are more people on the bus than seats, it's a stare-down battle by the standing folk to determine who claims any seat vacated. Physical ability has nothing to do with it.
  5. Happy people are weird. Stay serious and/or numb.

Am I close? Am I wrong to be angry that this is the bus etiquette situation?

People should feel good about taking public transportation, they're helping the planet and stuff. This etiquette certainly doesn't inspire me to take the bus any time soon.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

My bad behaviour - Part 1

Hi all!

I've recently become aware that although being a pretty decent dude in most situations, there are some where I alter that behaviour for the worse.  Hopefully by discussing them, I'll get over these hangups, or embrace my bad behaviour as being part of the "social norm".  Heck, I might even contribute to changing what people consider to be normal - who knows :)

Here's my first instalment of situations where I regret my behaviour:

Public restrooms - If I'm going to a public restroom and a friend is also going, I will often pretend they don't exist for the duration of being there.  There are exception, but that's the basic rule.  I shut down completely - no sounds, staring at the floor, and only speaking when spoken to.  This happens to me 99% of the time now at work, so I'm kind of ok with it there, but I feel like I'm marginalizing my relationships with people I do know because of those walls.

Isaac Asimov wrote about humanity's behaviour in restrooms (or Personals, as they're called in his universe) in "The Caves of Steel", which I had the good fortune to read at an early age thanks to my Dad. The accepted behaviour was pretty much what  I do now, and what others around me do too.  However, this norm is challenged by a Robot, claiming that this behaviour is illogical.  The protagonist has been forced into this norm with something very personal, and here's how he describes his indoctrination: 

It was the first time he had spoken in a Personal, proper, since he was ten years old. That had been in his uncle Boris' presence and had merely been an automatic complaint when he stubbed his toe. Uncle Boris had beaten him well when he reached home and had lectured him strongly on the necessities of public decency.

I think this thinly veiled reference to our behaviour in public restrooms is right on the money. Granted, I'm not afraid of being beaten for talking in a restroom, but I'm consistently appalled with my behaviour, or lack thereof, in a public restroom, sometimes even when I go in alone.

In trying to find the above passage online, I stumbled across this thread of people talking about restroom behaviour, and whenever I did a search for an image, I came up with a bunch of etiquette stuff, so maybe my lack of talking is a good thing?  It certainly doesn't feel good, so I either have to become ok with it, or change.  What do you think?

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Favourite and Life Changing Media

Hi all!

During my transition to Google Drive (which is awesome btw), I found a note to myself about life changing media.  It just had two entries, so I'll start with those which I'll leave in italics for, you know, the archives. I'll add some entries too as I firmly believe that media has shaped me a lot, and I don't think I'm alone there:

Recently, I've found myself saying more and more that things are "life changing".  I hope I was truthful in most of these outbursts, but just to clarify - here are the pieces of media that I have found life changing:

Book - Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein.  The potential of the human race is often theorized about.  I always hear statements like "Geniuses only use 10% of their brain", but Heinlein describes the potential of what could happen to a human who uses more of their potential.  Michael Valentine Smith is a human raised by martians, so his abilities are unlike anything that has ever been seen before.  He thinks nothing of bringing his automatic bodily functions such as heart rate and breathing down to a level where they are imperceptible.  He makes things vanish which distress him.  Tremendous. *edit - 2/3 of the book is mind-blowingly awesome. The last third has its place, but is definitely not for the faint of... genital? (there's a lot of sex).

Video Game - Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic.  Without exaggeration, playing this game felt very much like a religious experience.  You do good things, and good things happen to you.  Not that far off what some religions claim to offer their followers. *edit - I played this game twice through on PC, and when I got it on XBOX, I played it through again Totally awesome. The sequel, while not well liked in the media, was good enough for me to play through, and I shudder at the awesomeness that is the current massively multiplayer online role-playing game installation. If I had 24 more hours in a day, I would be playing that game NON-STOP.

These entries still stand up today as my favourites of those types of media. My current favourites of other media exist, but they fall a tiny bit short of being life changing:

Movie: Fight Club. 1999 was a banner year for cinema in my life. It was definitely the year I spent the most time in movie theatres, that's for sure. Star Wars: Episode I was released (I saw it 9 times in theatres and am a fan), the indie Blair Witch Project (proving you didn't need a budget to make a blockbuster), and Fight Club were all released. My group of friends was psyched enough to see Fight Club that we showed up at the theatre a week before it was released, without checking to see if it was even going to be playing. No great loss, as we watched Three Kings instead, but talk about committment! After being completely blown away by it, I returned 6 more times, even dragging my then girlfriend on her only weekend home to see it. When it came out of DVD, my friends and I watched it several nights in a row, until we had completely exhausted the special features (which took a long time, but was extremely worth it to hear the awesome commentary tracks!). I often call Fight Club the movie of my generation, and I don't think that's overstating it. I might be a bit young for it, considering that it was talking to people who were already established in their lives, while I was still living with my parents, but it absolutely spoke to me. I love everything about the movie - the messages, the actors, the direction, the set (locations that were mostly built to be awesome), all amazing.

TV Show: Star Trek: The Next Generation. The first show I can remember waiting for an episode to air, and I can't remember ever being disappointed with the awesomeness. Sure the effects are hokey, and the costumes could be lame (especially early), but it was so darned awesome! When the series was re-released on DVD one season at a time, I found a way to buy each and every season. 99% of the episodes were golden - even the early ones for pure kitsch factor. The morals and values inspired by this show go far beyond what I could ever put into words. Sir-not-pictured-here Wil Wheaton was my absolute least favourite character on the show, but even he has risen to the ranks of supreme awesome with his honesty, candour and amazing code. Check out his recollections on him leaving TNG here. Beautiful.

Album: Billy Joel - An Innocent Man. Honesty in relationships. Not dealing with gossip. Appreciating the good after the bad. Leaving good enough alone. Modern star-crossed lovers. The performer of this album couldn't possibly a mess himself, could he? Separating the art from the artist, this album was completely formative for me. It was the first time I really understood what was being said in songs that were years beyond what I was supposed to understand. I'll always remember and appreciate that, even after I heard about the car crashes, and the drinking, and the failed marriage... I think I need to re-evaluate... Moving on!

Concert: Radiohead - Montreal - In Rainbows Tour. Driving from Halifax to Montreal in one shot is no biggie - it's been done before, and it'll be done again by others, but I consider 2008 my last "hurrah" when it comes to that travelling gig, at least until my yungins are old enough to not stop every hour for potty, snacks and streches. Where was I? So my absolute favourite band is coming within driving distance! Their set was amazing, playing all of the In Rainbows album as well as some personal favourites of mine (the title links to the setlist - a gem of a show). Although it was an outdoor show and it rained a bit, it was incredible from the first to the last. Major highlight was frontman Thom being distracted enough to forget the words by fireworks in the distance. I can't give the show enough credit. Amazing.

Musical Artist: Hawksley Workman. This kinda looks like an honourable mention next to Radiohead, but I gotta give credit where credit is due. While my then-girlfriend and I were living in Ontario, she was working with these cool folks who were listening to this dude named Hawksley Workman. His lyrics are like poetry, and they were pretty cool, but I wasn't absolutely sold until we went to see him live in Halifax at the Marquee. It was a packed show, which surprised me, and the dude was ELECTRIC. After that show, I acquired his stuff, and it was really awesome. I played it over and over again - it makes me laugh, it makes me cry, and most of all it makes me think deep thoughts, which I love doing. I stole Hawksley's music, transplanted my words where his were, and came up with a proposal song for the one who brought Hawksley into my life. It's definitely not all she's done :)

This entry was a lot of fun, and you can have fun too! Is there any media that has shaped who you are, or that you just really like?