2011-10-30

Quiet Thrill

Chatting with a friend in the night cold while frost forms on your whiskers.

2011-10-28

Last of the beautiful days


It might not be the true last, and I find many winter days beautiful, but it is almost November and the air is relatively warm (9°C and no wind) and the sun is shining brightly.  It reminds me of an Easter in Dunedin where I walked to a park with woods and archers and green hills and enjoyed the last dry warmth before New Zealand's winter started to set in, dancing over streams of water and looking beyond fences.
 
I'm not sure where the square pattern came from, but it's cool

Transient Thought

Thanks to help from my friend Ed, I have deduced the source of a strange odour in my apartment and have evicted it post-hastily.  GET YE GONE. 

2011-10-27

My Secret Blog

I have a secret blog.  It is not a blog I write in.  Not anymore.  It is a blog I wrote in 7 years ago.  It wasn't a big secret then: it was my only blog, it was my first blog, and it's since been erased from the Internet, effectively.  However, not from existence, not from memory, and not from my hard drive.  It sits there still, buried under a maze of directories, in an overloaded HTML file.  There are only 175 entries or so, and KosmoKaryote has almost 400 now.  (The major one before KosmoKaryote had 450, and the one between my first and that had 180.)   However, those 175 entries on my screen represent my best writing before me twice, in space and in time.

I shared some of this secret blog's secrets with a friend today because she asked to see it.  I've accidentally created a personal treasure: something only I can really appreciate, but that could amuse the odd person.  It's something precious and revealing and embodying, and I wish I could show you all, but then I'd have spent all my awesome past, and you'd have no more use for me.

So, if you'd ever like a treat for the season, something wholesome and classic, just ask, and I'll flip through for the one perfect for you.  They're just words, like many other words, but their context is unique and foreign and exotic, from me to you.

2011-10-26

Commitment-free Vegetarianism

I designed a poster!  Please feel free to comment on its design and if you have any suggestions.  You can also comment on its message, but be friendly. :)

I'd describe what it is for, but that would defeat the poster's purpose.

Forgotten in Photos

I spent the evening with friends as we made posters with fun facts on them.  I forgot to take photos, though!  Regardless, it was pot-luck style and I baked two vegan pizzas, even using a soy cheese which melted surprisingly well.  In an attempt to cater to everyone, I had 3 different styles of topping, and managed to still alienate one person based on toppings.  (Yellow peppers, olives, tomatoes, broccoli, red chili flakes, mushrooms, 'cheese', no-'cheese', onion, garlic: 3 randomised combinations of these, what a beautiful sight!)  I even got creative and carried them in the rain in an old microwave box, whose remnant styrofoam within helped create the perfect levels for two pizza pans.  I am ingenuitive.  

Also served was a neat rice dish, a salad, beautiful teas from Bon Thé Place, rich conversation, and pets.  The pets were not eaten, but played with.  I got to meet Sam the wizard cat (replete with wizard cape) and Dempsey the pretty bull dog.  I even got a free lesson on how to pet (that is, ravage) a dog to its contentment, scratching all over until your fingers stop feeling.  I adore cats, but am hoping for a tortoise upon graduation (or next summer, when campus calms down).  This is a pretty big thing, but I can't talk to stuffed sheep and foxes and living plants all the time and expect to be taken seriously- wait, who said I wanted to be taken seriously? :D

And now, myself eating my friend Ariel's banana almond muffin:
Before oral contact

After oral contact

2011-10-25

Transient Thought

Nice mornings are meant for two-player Kirby and serving hot tea and cookies.

2011-10-24

You and me

Alles in Ordnung
All the most beautiful things, all the most beautiful music, all the most beautiful art.  It all means nothing without people.  Something I've believed since I was a child that the only thing that really matters (to me) are those things like me: people.  Mostly my favourite people.  A great job, a great apartment, great clothing, toys, and food: without someone to share them with, to show them to, to share in the enjoyment of, it's just a thing that is as easily imagined as it is real.  Across different seasons and different centuries, the things that matter and the world they exist in change, but for a human, something that remains constant is other humans. 

Topics vary: sports, math, science, technology, books, literature, arts, anime, film.  You can like any of them or dislike them all.  It doesn't really matter.  They have no interactive being without another person.  Literature and such comes a little close, depicting human realities, but they're awfully static, predetermined, finite.  They are reactions to an environment captured in time, limited in depth to their origin and how they can interact with you.  You can make them richer by interacting deeper, but when your favourite series ends, you can only go back to memories, or non-canonical dreams of fiction.  Science can help you understand the whole of the world, why things are, treat our curiosity and open new doors of wonder, but we don't really need to know why things are to live, and our understanding will never be very complete.  Technology is scary: at some point it will help alter everything fundamental about our existence: alter the physical world we live in, alter our perceptions of our environment, and create new actors that are equal to other humans, arbitrarily and whimsically.   But today, the vast Internet is finite: it can leave you bored.  You can catch up on all your Google Readering, reply to all your e-mail, find nothing new in Google News, run out of new thoughts to share on Google Plus and through Blogger, find no new activity filtering through Facebook.  Finish another finite game with its illusions of choice and depth.  The Internet is nice in that it connects us so much with other people.  A bit better than literature itself, by giving us so much.  Sport: you could become a 10th dan kendoka and not feel complete.  There's always things to work on, things to better: the rules are arbitrary, and your body is fragile.  Without the world of people to interact with, is it any more than a zoological stereotype?  Does it have context?  Reason?

So here I am, it's 3:35AM and I'm typing into my white box, thinking about people.  I'm glad I've gotten to know so many great people, and I wish I could build more of my world around them.  I think I have a problem, there's something inherently awkward about me that people find unsettling, making it a challenge to casually acquaint unless I offer depth as well: that's no real problem, just a challenge of how much depth to offer, to allow, to permit, to share.  But so what if I want to build my future around people?  If I want them to influence my choices?  I don't want to hear that declining this academic or that professional opportunity to be nearer people is stupid: the opportunity without the people is irrelevant to my existence.  It's substituteable: I used to think people were, but now I think I had it backwards.  So I don't care if shunning people will improve my piano playing, my bushido, my GPA, my salary, or the variety of experience I will get before I die.

Because I am going to die.  It doesn't matter if I don't experience everything possible, there'd still be stuff I'd miss, and I'd still be dead.  I can make a lot of money or a little, live lavishly or frugally, become respected or remain humbly unknown, be called Dr. or just Mr.  Because after all that, I'll still be frail, and slow, and unable to dance through life anymore, and in the back of my mind I know the decline will just continue until it's over.  (Who knows after that!)  The only thing I'll really care about is the impact I'll have had on the only things that matter, the only things with comparable depth to me, things that I'll have influenced and that will have influenced me: people.

So good night neatly stacked dishes, good night freshly baked cookie sitting on a perfectly clean counter top, good night my darling tea flask, sparkling washroom, and orderly closet, and rolls of freshly washed clothes.  Good night my empty inbox and Google Reader.  Good night flashy laptop and smarty phone. Good night my iai, my ken, and my jo.  You're all emotionless, lifeless, and wholly incapable of appreciating your time with me.  Hello people, more precious to me than all the things, than all the sights of the world, than everything not like me.  Hello people, I hope to see you again tomorrow, and the day after, and the day after that, and on and on and on.


Religion: alright, if you have that, this post may not apply at all!  Also, animals apply a bit above along with people, closer than an Android phone, but further than a human love.

2011-10-22

Make it or die chocolate cake

Cake, a family recipe from my friend Ashley, baked for the remote birthday of a friend Arilla:

so there's a chocolate cake recipe that's a "family secret" (oh lies lies and more lies from parents) ... and never knew it was vegan until I was hit by my first vegan. WHAM! and was like,

WOAH, WAIT, THIS CAKE HAS NO EGGS, NO MILK...THIS SHIT IS VEGAN AND I DIDN'T EVEN KNOW IT.

reliable, easy ingredients, yummy:

MAKE IT OR DIE chocolate cake.
(fits in a 9 by 13 pan, or two 8 inch cake pans)

2 cups of sugar
3 cups of flour
6 tablespoons cocoa (don't be stingy... uh but don't go overboard)
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

10 tablespoons veg oil
2 tablespoons vinegar
2 cups warm water (sometimes I mix instant coffee in it)
2 tablespoons vanilla

mix that shit together
350 degrees
25-30 minutes.

and I'll be saddened if you're like,

"DUDE, I already know about THIS cake..I was making it before you were born"
I hear it also won a contest once. Here is the result with the obviously delighted birthday recipient:

So Your Life Is Meaningless

I was redirected from Nintendorks to So Your Life Is Meaningless, which is a strange web comic, to be sure.  However, I am greatly bemused by their 404 page.

Good night.

Transient Thoughts

I generally disclaim any affection for country music, though there are some who doubt that due to my habit of singing with them or having favourites. I blame my father for that. Regardless, here is one that cycles through my mind recently, "My Old Friend" by Tim McGraw.

Velvety Thoughts

Whenever someone mentions The Velvet Underground, I can't help but think

"Definately" delicious, even if their spelling isn't.
 (Note: Velvet Burger is a classy New Zealand burger chain that I highly recommend for their delightful selection of vegetarian meals.  I haven't unsubscribed from their mailing list yet because it was that good.)



2011-10-16

Transient Thought

Partial headline read "Kinder to Buy El Paso for $21.1 Billion" exciting me for the prospect of salsa-filled chocolate eggs.

Transient Thought

Waking up somedays and wondering where my get-up-and-go has gone. :)

Borrowing five minutes of your day to sing you songs

Hello.

Where did all the fireflies of Montréal go?  That's what Laurena is wondering.  Let her know if you find out.  (2m31s music video)
 
She reminds me a little of Rae Spoon, one of my favourite Canadian artists.  Now I have two, and one of them is definitely female!  I used to like almost exclusively female artists and now almost exclusively male.  

One thing I really enjoy about Laurena is that she manifests ideas I dreamt of before, desiring a new future for music.  I think the Open Music people would call it democratising music.  My friend Shane was skeptical.  My thinking was in response to the piracy all my friends were committing.  They complained about the labels.  I thought, if the labels are the problem, then artists and their audience should skip the labels.  Apparently, part of the solution is also creating nifty music videos, though.  I like a good visual too.

Also, as I am certain you are playing Angry Birds as you read this, here is a nifty cover of its theme by Pomplamoose (1m19s):

2011-10-15

Transient Thought

Dark, cold, and windy: a fantastic night for a stroll


2011-10-14

Error: Protected multilib versions

As noted in a previous post, I had to restore the root portion of my system after a failed attempt to upgrade to F16 Beta.  I'm now reinstalling some software I use, and was trying to install gtk3-devel so I can continue working on GXml this weekend.
I encountered this error message:
"Error: Protected multilib versions: libXi-1.4.3-2.fc15.i686 != libXi-1.4.3-3.fc15.x86_64"


One of the first Google search results is on Fedora Forum, titled "[SOLVED] Issues installing wine (FC15) - FedoraForum.org".  Sadly, the solutions that worked for others didn't apply to me.  Instead, my problem results because, for some reason, after installing from the live USB key, the two software repositories that Fedora was looking for software in were "fedora" and "updates-testing" rather than "fedora" and "updates".  I switched it to the latter two, but now I have some packages installed from "updates-testing" that are too new. 


I realised this when I re-read the message and realised that they were different version numbers, and that the latest one wasn't in "updates".  So, I downgraded it with


# yum downgrade libXi


Yay!

2011-10-13

Catastrophic failures while upgrading to beta releases

GNOME 3.2 was released last month, for which I attended a release party and met cool people.  I've wanted to upgrade to it from GNOME 3.0 for a little while, but I use Fedora and Fedora's next release including GNOME 3.2 comes out on November 8th.  Obviously, I'm not that patient.

One way I could start using GNOME 3.2 would be to build it locally using jhbuild.  That might be fun, but I'd like to ensure that the surrounding distribution played well with it, so my intent had been to upgrade to a Fedora 16 Beta.  A beta release: what could go wrong?  I mean, it's not an alpha!  For the record, I usually wait until one of the release candidates comes out before prematurely upgrading to a new Fedora.  On the weekend, I used preupgrade with a Fedora 15 installation on a tablet to successfully upgrade to Fedora 16 Beta.  (Yay for an on-screen keyboard, though I have to file bugs for when using it eventually prevents mouse clicks somehow?)  So, I thought upgrading on my main laptop should go just as smoothly!

Basically says there was a catastrophic failure and installation can't continue
So yah, one of the core packages, util-linux, failed to upgrade, and the installer could not roll back, and my hybrid Fedora installation could not boot afterwards, stuck in its half-upgraded, inconsistent state.  OH NO.

How I've avoided disaster
  1. backed up: All my personal data is backed up regularly, even in another city.  Two back-ups, different locations, and backed up before trying the upgrade.  Phew.
  2. separate system and data partitions: My personal data is on a separate partition.  On a 500GB HD, I had half for the system (of which only 12GB were actually used) and half for my personal data (of which about 100GB is in use).  This would let me re-install my system without reformatting everything and losing my personal data. 
  3. recovery live USB key: I have a nifty Live USB key with Fedora 15 on it that my laptop can boot from, so I can still access my files and use my computer.
  4. creating redundant system partitions:
    • I don't actually want to get rid of my old system set-up: if possible, I want to figure out what went wrong, and I want to have access to the list of packages I previously had installed so I can let them reinstall overnight, so I can use resize2fs and lvreduce to first resize the system's file system down to something petite (25GB), resize the partition (logical volume in my case) down to the size of the file system it holds, and then create a new system partition with the left over space (actually, I just used another 25GB for that).
    • Now I have one large partition with personal data (which is safe), and two smaller partitions for system installations: I can actually install two systems and switch between them if I like (dual-boot between two Fedora Linux installations? :D).  I'll keep this layout for a while, so if things go wrong in future upgrades, I'll always have a safe installation to boot from without needing a Live USB key.
If you have any advice or tips of your own for recovering from system upgrades gone awry, please share :D

2011-10-12

Transient Thought

Sometimes, people claim that something will be better or easier to do once technology improves.  I have sometimes thought that reducing the barriers between me and a blog post would increase my blogging.  Faster Internet, a dedicated application that's one click away, a clear writing space, etc.  Often, it's not true: it's actually a lack of my will to do it, not a technological obstacle or hindrance that discourages me.  However, sometimes, technology does help overcome a threshold of inconvenience.

To wit, I share a lot more photos (like in posts here) now that the device I use as a camera uploads them to the Internet as I take them.  I've written a variety of tools before to get photos off my device and online quickly, but nothing is as seamless as this.  Thank you Google for helping bring to me my Nexus One (my phone which I use as my main camera, and which connects to the Internet), Android, Google+ (the app which uploads and shares the photos), PicasaWeb (the service that stores the photos), and Blogger (whose new interface really does make writing online more compelling to me :D).

Tea time!

My tea consumption has been somewhat ghetto for a while. In later summer, I basically used a pot without a proper handle to boil water, then I added 1 teaspoon of loose tea leaves to it. Then I poured it into a cup from the pot.  Very simple, but I've wanted something nicer for a little while, like a neat electric kettle, an insulated tea glass (like the Bodum ones a friend invested in), and a travelling flask.   Why?  To save energy, to prolong delicious warmth, and to have tea on the go.  That's not so superfluous, now.

Today, my favourite tea shop, Bon Thé Place, had a table on campus and were selling directly to the students.  I thought that was amazing.  Ever eagre to support my favourite tea shop ever, I purchased my first chai tea, Vanilla Spice Chai (to accompany my Earl Grey Cream, Bancha green tea, and Keenum/Keemun (:D) Congou Deluxe), and then saw a dream come true: a well-sealed travel flask with insulating jacket and built-in strainer!

Travel Buddy travel flask and new Vanilla Spice Chai tea
There it is.  The colour on that image is awful is because I have the camera set to sunlight mode.  HA.  The jacket is a very dark blue.  I'd rather purple, but oh well.  The flask is rated to handle temperatures from -30°C to 137°C. 

Flask without insulating jacket; note the strainer at the bottom
It has a beautiful strainer at the bottom.  So, I flip the flask upside down, I put tea leaves into the strainer, and then pour the hot water (still from a pot, no kettle yet) through the strainer to fill the bottle.  Then seal the bottom, and flip it back over and let it steep. :D  The straining is not very important to me as I don't mind drinking loose leaves, but I suppose it can be nice for cleaning.

Note the straw and the pretty bubbles
The straw is made of a rubber.  I just tried my first sip which unfortunately tasted like rubber.  I've poured most of the tea into a cup now and am drinking it from there, and will hope that the straw loses its rubbery taste after a few washes. :)

Finally, the flask can make itself effectively invisible when travelling in the jungle.  Often, jungle bandits, snakes, or tigers might stalk you for your tea.  Now, I can reverse the jacket to camouflage it with the surrounding jungle foliage.  That way, I may be mauled to death, but they'll never get my still-hot tea.

You can reverse the jacket into camo mode.  I bet you cannot sea the flask now!

Rotomaphone and a new numeric identity

So, I've enjoyed the same number with Vonage for over 6 years, despite living in 5 different cities. I once aspired to have it forever.  However, as you may have read, I've now gone with WIND Mobile for a mobile phone plan, and it's awesome

Vonage is a lot more portable.  A flat rate, and I plug in a box, and for $30, I can call anyone in North America for free for thousands and thousands of minutes (effectively unlimited, formerly actually unlimited).  However, I've been waiting for quite a while for Vonage to release an actual VoIP app for mobile phones, so I could make phone calls using my Vonage account over wifi, but they and every other company that could or should do this (ahem, Google?) have refrained, and I don't know why.  It's not that it's technologically infeasible: they already have similar apps.  Vonage has an app that lets you make Vonage-to-Vonage calls, or VoIP calls to Facebook friends, with the same app.  Google lets you make long distance calls from GMail- on your laptop.  I assume there has to be a business reason, like not wanting to step on the toes of mobile phone operators.  Or the belief that everyone who gets a phone has a calling plan.  (Think of the millions of iPod Touch users who do not, and the millions of tablet users who do not.)  Skype might actually have a phone app that lets you call landlines, but I don't think it's for a flat monthly fee, with voice mail and caller ID.  Maybe it is, but I've never liked Skype for philosophical reasons, from being founded by the founders of KaZaA to being purchased by Microsoft, a company that profoundly fails to respect my computing beliefs.  (I'm ridiculous, I know!  By the way, use Windows if it suits your needs :D). So yah, I'm frustrated with Vonage's slowness in advancing technology to where I feel it should be.  I'm also frustrated that it took them over two years to reduce their price in Canada to match their price in the U.S.  I'm also now frustrated with their reluctance to let me port my phone number to WIND Mobile.  It's been over two weeks, and while I think they are obliged to, they continue to fail to release it to WIND. 

So, despite loving the aesthetics of my old telephone number (it has wonderful numerical properties, just ask me and I'll elaborate! :D), I'm actually going to just straight out cancel my Vonage service and keep my new, strange, alien, foreign number.

NEW NUMBER and it's amazing properties!


So, there you have it.  If you'd like to text me, I have unlimited texts.  If you'd like to call me, I have unlimited minutes any time.  If you have my old telephone number, dialing it will be in vain.  I'll still get voice mail there for the next month and a bit, but then it's dead, GONE, a chapter closed in mah life.

Ciao.

Thanks

I'd originally hoped to go to the Boston Summit in Montréal this weekend, but was compelled to visit my father instead, and I'm really glad I did.  In previous years, I've been used to busy Thanksgiving weekends and large family affairs.  This year, though, there was just my father.  We didn't dine with a friend in Owen Sound, or go to my brother's, or have a friend of my father's over.  Instead, for once, we stayed home, and I flexed my amazing culinary skills (oh, you have no idea) to engineer a treat for my father.  A very spicy treat.

I had somewhat hoped that by not gallivanting about I might get more work done, but that doesn't happen when you start camping out in the kitchen and setting traps for those who'd dare disturb your creations.  For food, I made a spicy curry, a spicy cabbage stew, a gingery (spicy?) pumpkin molasses pie, and served my father's home-famous salad, buns, and long-grain rice.  It's not as ambitious as my famous Kiwi Thanksgiving of 2009, but it impressed its audience of one.

Preparation for the curry
Curry, rice, Yves sausage, and buns
Pie, amputated
Pie parts, as beautiful going in as coming out


It wasn't lonely, though.  While my brother's family could not make it, I was able to go see Real Steel with another friend whose family had forgotten her for Thanksgiving (the saddest story) and enjoy typically idyllic walks through Flesherton, even sharing pie, tasting from the Museum's herb garden, and exploring Flesherton Hills after dark with another friend.  It was spooky!  There may have been foxes! :o

Transient Thought

I can learn things. Like, if I've thrown out two bowls of cheerios in a row by blindly adding "fresh" soy milk that turns out chunky, then the third time I should first pour the soy milk into a cup to check chunkiness and then add to cereal bowl if safe.

Chunk-free chocolate soy milk and apple cinnamon cheerios, yum!

2011-10-08

Political Dreams

I just awoke from a dream where I was Hank Green, but had impersonated me (Richard) as a joke to enter the ballot for Premier of Ontario (we just had our elections two days ago), but ended up winning.  Being Premier for 3 dream days was fun, and I quickly saw the difficulty in avoiding nepotism.

In reality, I did just become a GSA General Director for Computer Science :D

(Hank Green singing a song and discussing Steve Jobs)

A Calm Thanksgiving

I'm used to visiting all over the place at Thanksgiving.  This year, I was going to repeat that by going from Guelph to Montréal and back to Toronto, then Flesherton, then Owen Sound, then back to Flesherton, then back to Guelph.  However, due to a variety of considerations, I've now reduced it going from Guelph to Flesherton and back.  I won't be going to the Boston Summit in Montréal after all this year, but will spend more time with friends and family instead, and getting ahead in some necessary work.

If you're around Guelph or Flesherton this weekend and want a nice stroll in the leaves (you can stroll, I'll be rolling in them), let me know. :)

2011-10-07

Transient Thoughts

Philosowaffles and Philosalafels sure are delicious.  (Thanks Ed and Shaun.)

New Penguin

I am cultivating a new penguin.  A friend asked me to help her install Linux on to her computer.  Why does she want to use it?  She's been interested for a little while, apparently.  She has a Dell Inspiron Mini (netbook) that normally runs Windows XP.  Her previous install of Windows XP was getting horribly slowed by cruft and a virus and Cisco software, the last of which was required to connect to our University's wireless network.  Linux machines don't require Cisco network access control software, and in theory could be safer.

Penguin By Kristin De More, Creative Commons BY-NC-ND 3.0
My first instinct was to install Fedora, but apparently the Live USB image didn't load, so I went with Ubuntu using the WUBI installer.  (It runs from Windows and installs it.)  After that, I briefly showed her Unity, but being a GNOME contributor and a Fedora and GNOME Shell user, I asked to show her GNOME Shell, which she seemed to like quite a bit (it was more stable on her system) so she switched to that.
I find that enjoying GNOME and Linux often requires some philosophy.  Especially with GNOME 3.0.  There is intentionally much less customisation and less options than in other desktops, like Windows XP (what she was using before).  However, for myself, a "power user", that's not even a bad thing.  I don't really miss anything that's been since GNOME 2.x.  I used to heavily use launchers, but my need for those launchers has gone away.  I used to use panel applets, but I just don't need any panel applets now.  I don't even want them.  Let the operating system and desktop get out of the way of your work.

I like helping people.  It's my most rewarding activity.  When I contribute to Open Source, I feel like I'm helping more people than in other programming tasks.  I feel that new Linux users should generally be adopted by an existing one.  Linux can be scary when things go wrong, or when you're just unsure how to accomplish what you want.  It's wonderful to have someone you can ask questions to and clarifications from.  Someone you can trust who won't let their own biased opinions harm the new user's experience.  (e.g. by forcing GNOME 3.0 on a new user of Ubuntu- oh, oops!)

Anyway, so hooray, I get to help a new penguin!  I hope I don't leave them disappointed.

2011-10-06

Transient Thoughts

To the person who left the terrifying shark attack illustration in a comment: thank you, you deserve a cookie!  I hope this is big enough for you,





Transient Thought

Morning dew waits for the sun to come to dance with its rays.

(As I walk, it looks like the grass is sparkling)


2011-10-05

Expensive Music

My favourite digital music service is eMusic.  They eschewed DRM before it was cool to eschew DRM.  They also aimed for lower rates for songs than their competitors: hooray for cheap consumers like me?  It works on a subscription-download model: you pay N dollars a month, and get M downloads.  Rates have gone up over time, in part to help attract a greater selection of mainstream artists, but my subscription plan has been grandfathered in, so I basically pay 25¢ per song for 50 songs a month.  Awesome.

For the past 5 months though, I've been either too busy or just lacked the will to log into my eMusic account.  Downloads for a month do not carry over, either, so I've THROWN AWAY TENS OF DOLLARS OF MUSIC :O  Ah well.  This however allowed me to be pleasantly surprised tonight by refinements to their UI.  In particular, they now have a radio bar at the bottom where you can queue up music and listen, with a buy button for the current track, while you browse the site.  I've wanted that for years.  They probably have access to my e-mail or dreams.

warning: the next paragraph contains dull listing of band names, read at your own risk

Today, I read Nintendorks' DRCs (daily reader comments) and discovered a band called The Morning Benders.  This prompted me to seek them out on eMusic and buy their second-newest album, "Talking through Tin Cans."  I then discovered that Feist has a new album releasing now, "Metals."   I then picked up a favourite song by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes, "Home," the lyrics to which I once learned for a friend.  (Karaokes never have it, sadly.)  I then bought "Almost Alice," a collection of songs related to Alice in Wonderland (perhaps they were part of the soundtrack to the recent film?) mostly to acquire a track by Owl City (some of the more popular tracks cannot be downloaded separately from their album, like that one).  Then I realised that I don't actually have a Rilo Kiley album myself, and picked up their classic "Take Offs and Landings."  Finally, I heard Fleet Foxes in the Grad Lounge the other day, so that reminded me to pick up a few of their tracks, some from their album newly released this May, and really finally a few tracks from Nina Nastasia.

2011-10-04

Certainty and Courts

So, in Italy, a girl was convicted of the murder of her roommate in late 2009 and was just acquitted by an appeals court.

As often happens, relatives of the victim are upset and disappointed.  Relatives of the acquitted are elated. 

I suppose I feel like the matters discussed during the trial and the reasons for a judgment  are irrelevant to a lot of people.  They just care about the outcome.  Some seem like they support the system only when it agrees with them.  They seem so certain of their side.  How so certain?

I find law interesting when it deals with contracts, with agreements, with promises, with fraud and corporate deception, with rights and such.  I find it terrifying when it comes down to deciding whether someone probably did or did not do something heinous.  The former situation is usually crisper and clearer, while the latter often is even subjective.  A man was executed in the United States in September despite many doubts.  It's so hard, and so scary, and errors are undoubtedly made.

Court room arguments are frequently polarised confrontations between the guilty and not guilty views.  The lack of clarity in a system like that is alarming.  Both sides have to present reality in their favour as best they can.  It seems to have little to do with reasoning.

I suppose I hope that some day technology can help reveal the truth more easily.  Some court cases involve deciding what might be the best course of action, and some whether someone is lying or not ("I'm innocent, I swear!").  I'd rather see more of the former, as those arguments, like many that reach the Supreme Court of the United States of America, are fascinating, and let mind-reading devices resolve questions over the latter.

2011-10-03

Weekend Wonders


Laundry and the Farmer's Market


I love the location of my apartment because it's one building away from the Guelph Farmer's Market and there's a pleasant laundromat (King's Cleaners) one block away.  Saturday morning was beautiful, making my awesome ability to do two things at once a block away all the more enjoyable.   Most importantly, I have more apple cider!  I had to do both early in the day because of my incredibly ability to schedule 3 events in 3 cities on the same day.

A fantastic Guelphic day

Guelph: Animal Welfare Forum

You could visit the Animal Welfare Club's horrific website or you can read my random notes and summary.  The forum ran from 9:30 to 4:30 and featured 5 speakers.  There was the OSPCA's chief inspector, Connie Mallory, on "Animal Cruelty Investigations."  There was the co-founder of a primate sanctuary, Storybook Farm, discussing "The Plight of Exotic Animals in Canada."  Dr. Ed Pajor from the University of Calgary discussed "Animal Welfare at the Calgary Stampede."  Dr. Michael Noonan from Canisius College (from Buffalo) discussed "The Behaviour and Welfare of Killer Whales in Captivity", and the Detroit Zoo's executive director Ron Kagan discussed "The Challenges of Zoo Animal Welfare."  And, most importantly, lunch was provided.

(Fun notes found here)

Toronto: GNOME 3.2 Release Party

I went to the GNOME 3.2 release party in Toronto, which was mostly at the Rex Hotel jazz and blues bar on Queen St.  I got to see Ryan Lortie and Tiffany Antopolski again (I met them in Berlin).  I met a couple that have been involved with Linux since before I used computers, and who had many great book recommendations and cousins in my hometown (outrageous!). I also met a fellow who is well-versed in Esperanto, and who disabused me of my misconception that Esperanto used genders.  Sure enough, reading the Wikipedia, there was apparently gender reform in Esperanto so I can finally learn it and not hate the world!  We ate at a Vietnamese restaurant called Ginger, also on Queen St.  I had to leave a bit early for a good cause, though:

The subway had a long delay due to strange people on the track (aliens)

Richmond Hill: Danielle's Much Belated Birthday Party

Her actual birthday and its celebrations were a while ago, but I only now got down to Richmond Hill, so I gave her the gift of diabetes: a gingerbread creeper and a hefty bottle of local maple syrup.  Yes, I gave the thoughtless gift of sweetness.  I would like it, so why not everyone else?  I got to introduce her to British wonders like A Bit of Fry and Laurie, and That Mitchell and Webb Look, both on Netflix.  I also got to acquaint myself with her dog, Kylie, and saw Ryan again, who reported the results of New Zealand's epic (and obvious) victory over Canada in rugby.  Yay, go Kiwis!
Kylie, who was terrified of me (because I devour puppies)

401: The Greyhound Home

The bus ride in itself was an event and featured some of the richest conversation I've ever had around noon, covering politics, advertising, school, philosophy of education, etc, etc, etc.

Guelph, 2: 3-Pitch

Back in Guelph, I was preparing for my next destination, but discovered to my horror that my 3-Pitch team for OCUS was short players and would default, so I bravely went to my team's game and risked missing my ride.  However, despite being a girl short, it was well worth it as I managed to run across home plate, hit the ball quite well, and even succeeded in receiving the ball to out a player.  That's hard for me, as instead of being born with hands to catch balls with, I have springs with which to fumble them.  :(  I think our victory was largely reliant on my distracting the other team's batters by encouraging them while I was back catcher.   Or on the fact that we have a few awesome baseball players, two of whom actually went to my high school, Grey Highlands, as well.  We wrapped up the game 6-2 quickly, which was good, because I had to make a mad dash to the bus to catch my ride to my next destination,
Actually taken at the previous game
Flesherton: Visiting my Father

It's nice being able to come home.  Its status in my heart dances.  It never stays still.  Sometimes it feels very much like My Home, and other times like my father's home, that I'm visiting.  More so the latter of late.  I don't really feel like I have a place I want to call home anymore.  I feel a bit like a hobo.  :)  After telling a friend of my father's that his computer was completely dead, Jim, and that I'm just a software engineer, not a miracle worker, I made a thick supper and finished doing grade 12 math equations to proof a friend's work.  I miss math.  I miss a lot of things, but then there's always something new.
Hand made at the Student Support Network table, where I got that cake you might have seen on Google+, if you watch my photos there, mwahaha.


Guelph: Animal Welfare Forum

On Saturday, I attended the Animal Welfare Forum at Guelph.  It was also incidentally World Vegetarian Day.  Hooray!

You could visit the Animal Welfare Club's horrific website or you can read my random notes and summary.  The forum ran from 9:30 to 4:30 and featured 5 speakers.  There was the OSPCA's chief inspector, Connie Mallory, on "Animal Cruelty Investigations."  There was the co-founder of a primate sanctuary, Storybook Farm, discussing "The Plight of Exotic Animals in Canada."  Dr. Ed Pajor from the University of Calgary discussed "Animal Welfare at the Calgary Stampede."  Dr. Michael Noonan from Canisius College (from Buffalo) discussed "The Behaviour and Welfare of Killer Whales in Captivity", and the Detroit Zoo's executive director Ron Kagan discussed "The Challenges of Zoo Animal Welfare."  And, most importantly, lunch was provided.
 
I heard about it through GSETA and sat with two GSETA members during it.  The presentations were mostly engaging, and here are some fun notes
  • Dr. Georgia Mason, Guelph, who introduced the forum, raised the connection of pet ownership and meat production with cruelty.  Subversive agenda?  :)  I'll note the forum had a prominent supply of vegan food at the lunch.
From the OSPCA

  • The Ontario SPCA formerly concerned itself with pets and children: children aren't pets?  The Children's Aid Society was spun off because, apparently, children are not pets. 
  • With greater knowledge of the OSPCA's enforcement activities, I now think of them more as a paramilitary organisation
  • At one point, there was a vegan cookie I wanted to eat, but I ate the vegetarian one, so a vegan could enjoy the vegan cookie, but perhaps vegans would be happier if I had opted to eat no cookie at all?
  • The OSPCA also concern themselves with animals in emergency situations, like power outages, highway accidents, etc. 
  • OSCPA doesn't necessarily require a warrant for its officers to intervene.  Gestapo! 
  • Legal protection for animals explicitly exempts activities like wildlife (like fishing and hunting), agriculture (slaughter), and veterinary medicine.
  • The OSPCA opposes animal fighting (dogs, roosters, horses) but doesn't seem to have an issue with Pokémon.
  • They're mostly funded by fund raising and not public funding.
  • Puppies and kittens sold in pet stores can no longer come from mills.  Yay!
Storybook Farm
  • Apparently St. Jacob's market outside of K-W sometimes holds exotic animal auctions.  Get your lemurs while you still can.
  • Storybook Farm rehabilitates and cares for primates that have come to Canada by various means and need a better home.
  • Enrichment activities sometimes involve giving a primate a paper bag filled with seeds: must try this on kids.
  • Some people do tiger pelting in Canada
  • This primate sanctuary requires a lot of heat which can be expensive.  My proposed solution?  Add a grow op, and use the proceeds to cover the primates' heating expenses.
Calgary Stampede
  • The stampede seems to go to great lengths to control the danger to animals, outside of its feature activities.  I'm not sure how well that satisfies those concerned about animal welfare.
  • They try to do extensive data collection: I like data.
  • I stopped paying attention for a while once I realised that most equipment for kendo has leather components, and I'd like to find synthetic alternatives.
  • A cow that escaped at an event in California apparently was shot by police because no one knew what to do about it.
  • Attempts have been made to measure animals' states before participating, if they're stressed out, reluctant, etc.  Apparently, they're pretty neutral.  There was discussion about possible causes, like they're somehow fine and willing, or learned helplessness, since they've been trained and practised to compete for a while by the time they're in the stampede.
  • A kendo forum poster said that cattle liked being turned into leather, his bogu told him so.  This makes me curious about our future ability to measure animals' states of mind, their feelings and etc.
WHALES
  • Orcas are awesome!  To the GSETA member that I sat next to, I suggested this would be the presenter's argument for having orcas in captivity, and it sort of was, with a five minute slide and video show of proving that orcas are indeed awesome!
  • Orcas are worth $2 million a head, roughly, the most valuable traded creature on Earth.
  • Low salinity in their pools results in horrifying skin peeling
  • I don't really like the presentation technique where you ask an audience a question that experts have trouble with to demonstrate how hard the question is or the experts.  That seems backwards.
  • Orcas apparently get truly bored, have short attention spans, and ignore enrichment activities after brief whiles of entertainment.
  • Orcas in captivity have developed and shared techniques for hunting gulls.  Gulp.  Apparently cultural transmission like that is a Big Thing :)
  • Orcas do echelon swimming
  • Apparently if a whale has been removed from its community for a while, its community will reject it.
  • Given an animal in captivity, the presenter's interest is in how to design captive environments that are best for it.  Comparison of sickeningly small pools for orcas versus a large netted natural cove.
Detroit Zoo
  • Presentation was largely read off a script and wasn't as engaging.
  • Apparently the Detroit Zoo spends a lot more money for fewer exhibits or less exotic exhibits, and they're not really suffering in attendance for it.  Hooray!
  • For instance, they won't keep elephants anymore.

2011-10-01

Transient Thought

Happy World Vegetarian Day!

Clothes Dryers

They went into a burning ring of fire,
They went round, round, round and the clothes they went dryer,
And it dries, dries, dries, that ring of fire,
That ring of fire.

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I am aeronautical, vanship-style.  I am olympic and mythical.  I rest on my laurels.