Saturday, August 15, 2009

Late to the party

Drock showed this to me at the cottage. Its kind of fun to think that someone with a low rez camera and too much time on their hands (not sure if pun is intended there or not) can post a video that gets watched 33 million times.

33 million... which must make mine the last blog on the planet to take note.

Friday, August 14, 2009


I really like this as an artistic medium. It's sand on a light table.

It starts slow, but finishes strong.


Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Beads are the new plastic tubing

Does anyone remember the episode of WKRP where Johnny's daughter has that douche bag boyfriend? I can't really remember the quote (or find it on the web), but his career choice was "Plastic tubing" or some such thing, cuz everyone was getting into it. Great episode.

I couldn't sleep tonight so I went on a short walk. I am still down on Toronto so I am a) trying to do more "Toronto things", b) trying to make sure that I look around while I am out and about and c) moving into a place that I can nest for a bit (while reclaiming the best bed in the world - sorry Alison). Mixed results thus far.


How is it that "Beads" can occupy so much prime real estate on Queen west? Did I miss the gold rush somewhere along the way? Yes, this is was the "fashion" district... but... wow.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Shut up.

"I will tell you one thing -- if we get a woman president, let it be her. She is a real woman. She knows what a woman is supposed to be. She is pro-life. She is pro-family. She is pro-woman," said Jon Eric Thompson, who attended the Sunday picnic in Fairbanks.

(About the Palinator)

I've been getting a serious hate on for some of the things I've been seeing lately. Source.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Things on my mind.

I would love to be one of the people who work in mints (not the chocolates). With the economic crisis unfolding I've seen more of these people than I ever would have thought. Every half hour and on every news channel, I see $millions being printed, folded and generally fondled by these people.. as stocks plummet and deficits fly. They are the "Crisis Celebrities". Them and poor middle Americans in front of foreclosure signs.

I watched a special on BBC that was talking about 8 tourists that went on a tour to Iraq. One older women said that she felt quite safe, but it was "very difficult to get any postcards at all".

My spam folder today had some very new and exciting offers. "Give your male member the strength to remember" seems to be a popular hook.

I think that a good horror movie would be firemen that went insane. An evil psychological thriller where you think that the firemen are the good guys, but really its a rogue platoon of evil doers who do unspeakable things to people and then spray their liquefied remains onto real fires. The town would be completely fooled (the mayor would give them the key to the city in one scene). Only one person would be on to them. Terrifying hyjynx ensue. (There may be a movie like this already.. I feel like I dreamt it, but maybe not?)

In Washington DC, 6.5% of African American males test positive for HIV or AIDS. Overall, 3% of the population has it, which is the same as Uganda. [source]

I played Civ4 (strategy game on the computer) for the first time. It told me that I have the leadership style of Dan Quail. I think that Syd Meyers (author of said game) can suck it.

I was watching TV with Ken and someone on the show said, "you can't look at this.. its classified". Ken made a good point. What the hell does that really mean? You can't look at this because it has gone through the process of being categorized?

I am down to 188 lbs. Somehow I didn't gain weight in Lebanon. Its an Easter miracle, cuz boy oh buoy is the food in Lebanon ever freaking tasty and buoy oh boy did I ever eat and drink a freaking lot of it.

This is all fluffy.. and I've got some things to say about Libya and Lebanon. They are rich experiences and I am finding it tough to frame them with words. Thought it would be better to squeeze out 10 sentences of shit that doesn't mean anything than continue to be blocked.

As you were.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

A Month in Time

[EDITOR'S NOTE: This is a long post. Don't read it.]

[EDITOR'S NOTE: This is an old post (Feb 19th). There was about 2 weeks that I wasn't in an environment to keep track on a lot of this stuff. Stay tuned for "next month" sometime soon.]

One day you have "it", the next day it’s gone. "It" can be anything really - cars, cash, people, places, houses, love, health, happiness, fortitude blah blah blah. It’s crazy.

Buddha and his ilk nailed it. It is Impermanence (kind of .. I think Buddha was talking more in a life and death sense). The gist being that you can't tie yourself to these things. If you do, you'll find yourself perpetrating a wildly disproportionate response when they disappear, or in a vain struggle to keep your death grip tight.

Once upon a time, I had my wagons rallied so tightly around myself with such an intense fear of failure that I wasn't able to let anything go or let anyone in. Loosing a big fat client or eating in a restaurant vs. takeout …. I was completely indiscriminate. I found myself holding on tight to shit that really didn't matter - even then.

I was, in a word, rigid.

Rigid materials are usually hard and are often brittle. They are strong, but they don't bend very well. If you put too much stress on them they'll snap if you are lucky; shatter if not. Take a look around you folks. Ask yourself why you are holding on so tight to this or that. "Because it’s important to me" doesn't cut it. I know that I thought it did, but the mental energy required to hold on to it all is startling. Why is it important? Am I a better person for expending this mental energy? I certainly wasn't.

Those whales died. Every single one of them. When I was on Isabella, I smelled them. There are few more striking moments in my memory than of being in the back of that pickup, smelling that fetid carcass smell of those useless deaths. That night the would-be rescuers had dragged one of them 3 miles out to sea by the tail. Imagine the smell of 5 boat dudes mixed with the rotting fish smell of a confused whale's breath in the salt spray. They finally let the ropes go and there had to have been this infinitesimally small slice of time which decided the fate of that great brute. A few muscles contract, deciding whether this being, this energy with its sad and wise eyes, answers some calling to go and beach again, or he comes to, shaking its head and saying "wow that was some experience. I am sure glad for that boat ride which saved my life. What was I thinking? I wonder what's over there? That fish has a fluffy tail". [EDITOR'S NOTE: cheesy boat metaphor redacted]

A fluffy tail indeed.

Now me and the Buddha are homeboys, and the above is a kind of a contradiction on my part. One way to look at it is if it is time then its time. The other, and what I am talking about here, is that a whale had it in its head that it was going to beach no matter what and that there were other options if he just wasn't so damn rigid. I guess what I am trying to say is that I need to work on being more flexible with things. When I hold on too tight, I end up beached.

There is a flip side to impertinence in that it goes both ways. The new age'rs and their ilk also have it right. You need to set yourself up for good things to come into your life. Just know that they might not stay and get it into your head to be ok with that.

My unified theory of life is still a work in progress, but being fluid is something that I have been wishing on for quite some time.

I've also been wondering why I don't keep up with the random nice things for my body. Like eating right, or working out. Little things don't take much to make a difference. I learned this once opun a time, I just need to be reminded every now and again.

So I set out to set a stage for good things to happen to me this month. I put myself in an environment that was simple, removed and well… stable (it has been far too long). And hell, a month is only a drop in the bucket from a time perspective.

The Good News:

I don't operate very well when I am over 200 pounds. Running the numbers, I gained 25 pounds last year.. Yikes. It hurts just to write that. When I was recovering from dengue fever, I weighed 179lbs, which was the result of a nasty piece of illness, but 2 months later I still weighed around 180 and felt pretty stellar. When I left early in December, I weighed in at 205 and change. Argghhh.

I've realized that I have never really lost weight unless I've been horribly sick. So this month I made a concerted effort to eat more better like. I ate about 25 tagines ("tagine" in restaurants refers generally to a type of food and not usually actually cooked - but served - in one), of which 14 I cooked at home. Lots of veggies. Lots of hearty food. I feel great.

Every morning I'd throw on a coffee and do as many pushups as I could in one go. My whole life I've been in the 20 pushup range (if and when I ever did them), but at the end of my kickboxing I could do 30.. Which was a world record for me. Some days ago I did 45. I also did sit ups every morning, but didn't keep track.

Everything in moderation.. Even moderation.

There's some beer math going on here as Moroccan beers are 250ml and 4.7% alcohol, so I converted everything into standard 1.5 ounce, 40% drinks. So all in all, I averaged 1.25 drinks per day.

I don't generally sleep all that much. I used to… a lot. But in the last couple of years I have tapered off on that trait. This month I slept as much as I wanted. Every morning. Some mornings I didn't want to sleep, or I was doing shit until 5am and 10 just seemed to be a good time to get my move on. Some mornings I slept in a ridiculous amount. The apartment is pretty noisy and the bed is lumpy so it wasn't a perfect experiment, but it seems like, all things being equal, I like to sleep an average of 8.5 hours a night. Any Google search could have told me that I need 8 hours of sleep a night, but I digress.

Take joy in the little things

I bought myself a coffee mug that says "I love you" on it. Every morning I'd get a little affirmation. Hahaha... the wit. That and the fact that I tended to talk to my cooking. Like "Look at yooouuu. You are gonna be taaaasty" in a most lascivious manner. Everyone does that though don't they?

Seriously though I spent a lot of time just looking at stuff. My brain has been pretty active and I have denied it no road. I haven't judged it and I've been scribbling thoughts a plenty.

I've tried hard to say things that needed to be said. In terms of being vulnerable, this post is a big step for me. It is rife with opportunities to bashfully write long posts in the future about how things that I learned just didn't stick… again.

There are some simple things that I am doing that I won't bore anyone with. But there are 5 of them, and I did them every day.


I set a goal of billing 80 hours this month, which roughly translates to half time. In this I was mostly successful (72). It was a pretty frustrating project and next month is looking a bit thin, but in terms of testing my ability to work in a beach town, I was very successful. My quality of life has been quite high, and I've made a decent wage this month which is in stark contrast to where I have been at of late.

I continue to vet out a business idea with a good friend which has been fun.. and I continue to learn Ruby on Rails and Linux which has been a huge challenge for me. I have only scratched the surface of each. Baby steps.

The Bad News:

I locked myself into a closet and smoked all of these in one go.

I need to quit smoking. I average exactly 20 a day. That was my cap, but basically I smoked every time that I wanted one and that’s where I netted out. Gross.

I am addicted to caffeine. I love everything about it… in all its forms.

Which leads us to this months goals:
  • Smoke less. Less caffeine. Standard fare.
  • Continue to track what I am doing, but annotate my days with a how do I feel?
  • Likely doing one set of the maximum number of pushups is a stupid way to become proficient at doing pushups. I want to figure out an exercise routine that is a little bit more balanced (and useful)
  • This month is going to take a beating on cooking at home, but I want to continue to make good'ish choices. Don't get me wrong, I ate some pringles and chocolate bars, but they were treats not snacks. My only bad snack was one macaroon cookie a day. They are soooooo good. Its ridiculous.
  • Shave
  • Learn a minimum of one Arabic word a day.
  • Write a "what I did this month" post... next month.
  • Kick this OCD tendency that I picked up some where apparently.
And if they don't work out? Well then that’s ok, but I will celebrate the little accomplishments along the path. At least I feel like I have finally chosen to go somewhere.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Cooky McCookerstein

And i am back into kitchen land again, trying to eat healthily (I know.... it is shocking). Although Ken and I gorged ourselves on Dominoes Pizza a couple of nights ago... and well there was that incident with a grilled cheese loaded with 10 strips of bacon, but I digress.

Tagine Porn for Janette

Saturday, March 7, 2009


Garth asked me if I was lonely in the context of traveling with someone else or a lack there of. I thought briefly about it at the time, and then thought about it on a trip I made to the desert and then actually thought about it when I was in Tripoli. And then I actually wrote some stuff about it on layover that I had.

The short answer is yes. The long answer is somewhat more involved.

Saturday I had one of the best days so far this trip, just walking around lost for the day (one of my favorite pastimes). Libya seems to be a good place with a good vibe (as long as you can see through the bureaucracy of actually getting in). I hung out in a junk store in old Tripoli and wished I had another backpack. I have an idiosyncratic view of souvenirs, but check out this phone!! The shopkeeper delighted in showing me that it was actually his shop phone and made a dialing sign in the air (there was indeed a dial tone). I delighted myself by picking up the phone, mashing some numbers and saying, "Hello…. Canada?" Laughter ensued. Ha! Good times. Another highlight was meandering around a pet store that was sandwiched between a fruit market and an abattoir, each overflowing its boundaries to the other. Being a pet would blow in Libya, as would being livestock. Being a carrot or a tomato probably wouldn’t be that bad though.

It is entirely possible that if someone else was there that I wouldn’t have spent the time in these places. I may very well have taken my perception of what they wanted to do and not have dug deep in that pile of junk. It is likely that I would not have had such a gleeful reaction to the day’s events.

Even if that day’s experiences didn't have any room for someone else, there have been a lot of moments that I wish I could have shared. Its experiences like breakfast in the Sahara that has enough room for sharing to drive a Mac camel through. I need to relate with a friend in these places. Then sometimes you just want to have a significant other to keep your head on straight.

I'd have asked if she thought that the sand people found me to be joyless and she'd have asked me if I thought that it mattered. And I would have said yes, because what if I was joyless? and she would have rolled her eyes and reminded me that I have to work on not being dramatic. I would have sipped my coffee and looked out at the dessert, validating both points nicely.
Now not every moment traveling with me would be filled with such fun. There would be hard work, like downshifting through switchbacks, or making sand angels in the dunes, or seeking the maximum sustained speed of a KIA (155), or helping me triage out the fun Berber hitchhikers (some of them are duds), to laugh at the ludicrousness of a day or two here and there and see some really cool shit.

It is a cruel joke that the singular moments that I cherish the most make me the loneliest and the wackiest moments that are the most fun are likely only so for me.

So I guess I'm traveling alone partly as a choice and partly as necessity. I don't think that I am capable travelling with someone else for a long period of time. Although I barely notice when people make me do things that suck, I can't seem to forgive myself for choosing to do stuff that makes others have a bad time. Being with someone else (and actually traveling) comprises of about 150 decisions that have to be made each day. There is a certain responsibility to each other, and to each others "successful" trip (whatever that means) that really could be fulfilling, but may just turn out to be paralyzing. I don’t have enough experience with the subject to run the risk of late (things can change though). It boils down to a mixture of an inability to be vulnerable and an ability to take oneself too seriously, which I think too often, are just the same. Whatever it is, I am afflicted with the condition from time to time.

So I am alone. Lonely? Yes. Would I want it any other way the last few months? No. Although I am short on shared experiences with a palpable desire to relate to someone in a deep manner, I am doing what I need to do for now… without apology.

[EDITOR’S NOTE: It’s funny that I am writing this on my way to crash Ken’s apartment in Dubai. Upon reflection though, there is a huge difference between two people spending most of the day working in the Las Vegas of the Mideast and 2 people sitting around a strange town asking, “So what do you want to do now?”, 10 months in a row. Does that make any sense?]

Anyways. I wish you were all here to share some things with me, and then disappear :)