Whoever said change was as good as a vacation probably took a lot of vacations. But in the spirit of renewal, I have updated the site’s theme to techmania. In looking for a new theme, I wanted something clean and simple, nothing more than that. As I traversed the web in my search I discovered a few things about WordPress themes:
there are about a hundred million billion of them out there now
most themes are cluttered, garish and often use color choices that make text difficult to read
Fortunately, a few designers still show enough restraint to provide a few reasonable options, which is why I am bothering to highlight techmania in the first place.
In the meantime we are getting our first real dump of snow as winter officially approaches. My bike is stored in the workshop, feeling cold and unloved.
Earlier this week I went over to the island (that’s Vancouver Island, we just call it “the island” because it’s bigger than some countries) to visit mom and took a few pics. Click the Photo Galleries link at the top of the site and select Duncan July 2008.
Duncan has changed quite a bit since I moved away in 1986. Back then it was only eight years since we got a McDonald’s. To me that was how you knew your town had arrived, you got a McDonald’s. Today, Duncan has nearly every fast food franchise you can think of. Not surprisingly a lot of the people I saw walking around were fat. Really fat. I don’t have anything against fat people, really, even fat people who like to wear skin-tight clothing that reveals every bulge in lurid 3D. But come on, Big Macs and Super Big Gulps are not food groups. The ground would often shake while we walked around town as these porcine citizens thundered about like big fat people who ate too much crappy food.
On the other hand, there is something very calming and wonderful about being able to drive only a few minutes out of town to get fresh eggs from a local farm or to watch deer, quail or other wildlife foraging within sight of your home. As long as they don’t poop on the lawn or eat your garden, of course.
One of the things I’ll be doing is using this space to relive the wonder and occasionally the horrors of my childhood. I present to you one small example below. This photo was taken in 1973 when I was about 9 years old. I was dressed up for my uncle’s wedding. There are so many fascinating things in this image one is almost rendered speechless as to where to begin.
The handlebars on the bike seem impossibly wide for someone with such spindly (but nicely tanned) arms. The collar on the shirt, if turned up, would probably cover most of my face. The hair — believe it or not, it got much worse. It’s probably safe to assume that the real focal point here are the pants. That is serious plaid. I never wore them again. For me, it was simply because they were not jeans, not because I was committing a crime against fashion. The shoes, which look like formal sneakers, I also never wore again. Quite the look, overall. Quite the look indeed. The best part is this ensemble did not raise an eyebrow in 1973. In fact, I was told what a sharp-dressed young man I was.
We were all mad, obviously.
This stunning photo and others equally charming will be added to galleries in the near future.
Thanks to the efforts of a certain mello elf, I have a copy of all of the blog entries from the previous site. I’ll be restoring them as time allows. Sorry, they still lack in profundity. They also lack user comments, but you can’t have everything. Or at least you can’t have user comments.
You may also notice the occasional really old entry. These have been inserted from journals or notebooks I kept in days of yore (yore meaning the 80s and 90s).
The move to a new host has been completed and after spending some time looking over various CMS and blogging software, I decided to just stick to WordPress and jazz it up with a new theme or something.
I’ll be adding back the stories and miscellaneous other bits over the next week but alas, the enchanting posts I made on the previous site are not yet restored and may never be. But you never know.
I go downtown today and as the bus is being re-routed down Hastings due to more work on our $2 billion sinkhole, er, <em>subway </em>to Richmond, I notice a rather sizable crowd gathered at the corner before my stop. Turns out to be a protest against Scientology, whose, uh, “church”, is on the corner opposite the protesters. Lots of people waving signs about “killers” and generally how evil those Scientology folks are. My favorite was a guy wearing a cream-colored (and expressionless) mask with a sign that read “I for one welcome our galactic overlords”.
Don’t tell Tom Cruise I made this post.
And speaking of protests, there is a local ad campaign currently running on bus shelters with the theme of “Trivial problem vs. 250,000 baby seals about to get slaughtered. Get angry for the right reasons.” Some examples are the price of gas rising 3 cents a liter, your cellphone signal not working or your shoes being the wrong color. I’ve never found such ads to be effective (for me at least) because guilt is too blatantly manipulative. “You materialistic consumer-driven scumbag, stop worrying about the irrelevant details of your daily life and start frothing at the mouth over the annual seal hunt. Grr!” Yeah, well, what if I was a doctor and that wonky cell signal meant I missed a call that could have saved a life? What if I was a member of Greenpeace and the call I missed could have saved a baby harp seal’s life? Hmm? Your ads aren’t so clever now, are they?
For the record, I am opposed to the seal hunt.
Morrissey refused to tour Canada because of the hunt. There’s another great thing — celebrities and artists picking and choosing what offends them from a buffet of choices then deciding they’ll make their stand over Issue A by boycotting Country B. We miss you, Morrissey. Really. How’s the British campaign going in Iraq? You’ve canceled all your UK dates to register your opposition, yes? No? Do as I do and scrap your fey ways, dial-a-cliche.
There’s a new bakery that sells absolutely decadent double chocolate muffins a few blocks from where I work. I actually have to walk past another bakery to get there. Then there is another bakery across from the double chocolate muffin one. The neighborhood around here is pretty much bakeries and sushi places. But today I went to get a muffin at the new bakery and they had none. I settled for a chocolate chip oatmeal cookie. It was good but not as good. Maybe it’s a sign to stick to my New Year’s resolution and eat carrot sticks or something.
Also, it turns out the version of Rasputin I bought was the truncated single, not the full song from the, uh, classic album Nightflight to Venus. The entire verse about chopping off his head was missing. So I had to spend another 99 cents to get the full version. Perhaps I’ll look for some iTunes complaint site to express my outage over this. Hopefully it will have a simple form with multiple choices to check off, because I like my complaining to be easy and convenient!
I should have my next short story added to the site soon and a shocking announcement about my next novel, too. :O!
When I listen to music I still mainly do it the old-fashioned way, buying CDs and listening to them on my stereo. I rip all the tracks and copy them over into iTunes so I can also listen to them on my PC and iPod. When it comes to buying songs over iTunes, I never buy full albums because I’d rather get the CD and rip the tracks at my preferred bitrate (which is higher than what Apple offers on their DRM-protected songs). So mostly I’ll buy a few individual songs here and there. And I’ve noticed a trend.
I use iTunes to buy kitsch.
I could never bring myself to buy a full Boney M album (although I did when I was 14 but hey, I was 14). I can, however, bring myself to buy their cornball classic “Rasputin” for 99 cents. Also see: “Venus” by Bananarama (is it possible to buy this song, be male and not gay?), Loverboy’s “Turn Me Loose” or even The Mama and Pappas’ “California Dreamin'” which may not be kitsch unless you also watch film footage of them in concert from 1967.
So I’d like to thank Apple for providing me the opportunity to indulge my horrible taste in music and nostalgia for mere pennies! I’m still not buying one of your iMacs, though. Sorry!
I’ve done a wee bit of tidying up by removing all of the .doc versions of my short stories. I figure for a .pdf is good enough for reading and I’m the boss here, so that’s that! I recommend Foxit for viewing .pdf files.
I’ve finally added Stop That Cow!, a story I originally wrote in five installments on the Martian Cartel forum. I’ve converted the text file to something a little more readable for a .pdf but have otherwise not changed it. It could probably do with another pass but it’s not exactly heavy reading. Enjoy!