frandroid: Dune is the best book in the whole world, man. (Great Worm)
I rented my mini dream car, a Smart Car, from car2go yesterday. I just drove it for an hour and a half, so take this review with a grain of salt. Yes, I'm writing a car review. :)

The car2go experience is funny... They've modded the cars with electronics to accomodate the rental system, and it's rather interesting. You put your car2go card on the windshield outside the car to unlock it, and when you're inside you have to enter a pin to start the rental. The car speaks to you and stuff. Not the whole time, but through the transactional process. It's amusing.

As for the Smart Car:
Wow, you have great peripheral vision driving this. I'd compare it to the Chrysler Neon in this regard. Firoza rode with me for a while, and being a short person who has had a challenging time driving certain cars with reduced visibility, she really enjoyed the view. That said, I could fit comfortably height-wise as a tall guy. I felt a little cramped width-wise, but it IS a narrow car, you can't quite avoid that.

The driving was both amusing and frustrating. The most frustrating part is the automatic transmission. It shifts gears like an inexperienced standard transmission driver, i.e. it de-engages from one gear for a whole half-second before engaging the next gear, so one second you have thrust, and then the gear chances, and you are left without thrust for a full half-second. I mean you keep going based on the existing inertia, but remember that this is a light car, so it doesn't have as much inertia as a bigger car. I guess one gets used to it, but I think it could be dangerous in a tight driving situation, like trying to avoid a bad driver or some obstacle on the road. Rather unnerving. The other bad part for time is that you can't sustain acceleration. I mean it's an urban car, so it's not like you're street racing with this, but it feels lacking. If there is a sports package to give the Smart more performance, I think I would buy it.

The second frustrating part is that this car has a rough suspension. You really feel the road. This is part suspension, part small tires, but the end point is that any time you see you're going to hit some rough road, you want to take it easy. On the other hand, I hit a speed bump I didn't notice at ~40kph on St. George St. and the car took it waaaay better than I thought it would. I had some serious bounce but no clanging, no banging, it seems that the suspension took the whole shock without cringing. Maybe that's where this car's light weight was a bonus?

The really fun part about this car is maneuverability. You can turn on a dime, do U-turns in 2 lanes, squeeze between cars on the road, in a parking lot, etc. I was putting the car through its paces and it barely consumed any gasoline, but then again this is like a scooter engine (kinda sounds like it too) so that's expected. The dashboard has an app (!!) that tells you about how ecologically you're driving. I wasn't faring well, but my goal was to have fun! I was paying attention to the road so I didn't notice much, but Firoza reports that lots of people were looking at us. I've always thought this was a special car, so I guess others share my opinion.

The fact that this tiny car doesn't have a backseat means that there is a small but decent trunk. You can possibly fit two large suitcases? I should test that. Groceries for a couple, for sure, but not for a family.

I booked a Smart car for a weekend rental to Montréal once, and when I went to retrieve the car, they were out of Smarts (what part of "I chose a Smart on the website" could they not understand?) so they lent me a Yaris instead. In hindsight, I'm really happy this happened, because I think driving the Smart on the 401 for 5-6 hours would be scary. I'll rent the Smart another time in the futue and try it out on the 401 or DVP and report back...
frandroid: Slavoj Zizek, the most dangerous philosopher in the West (Default)
I think the most surprising thing was just how fast it all came on. I was originally supposed to run in the K100 Kananaskis Relay Race on Saturday. Late Thursday morning, all was still normal; we heard something about high water levels in Canmore and the fact that Cougar Creek was running high. When I left work for squash around 4:30, there was a report that there was a mudslide on the Kananaskis highway. “But don't worry,” the K100 website reassured us, crews anticipated having the slide cleaned up by Saturday, and the race was still on. By the time the squash was over, and I was back online, not much later than 7:30, the world had Changed. 17 communities in Calgary had received mandatory evacuation notices, a dozen more towns and cities outside, the same. Those numbers would double within the next few hours. Travel inside the city was discouraged, and on the highways outside, banned, with road closures everywhere west of Calgary. The race, needless to say, had been canceled. Barely three hours, from normal to a disaster area. The river was rising fast enough to be seen by the naked eye.

Of all the things I will least forget, right at the top would be the speed of the onset.
[...]
On Sunday, life outside the valley was again close enough to normal that my friend Namrata's wedding was still on. Namrata, a Hindu, was getting married to Bryan, an Irish Mormon. One half of the wedding was held in saris and sherwanis, the other half in tartan. The reception was held in a former Pizza Hut. Any other week, such an event would have been all I could write about. Now it seems almost quotidian.


My friend [livejournal.com profile] mrputter's account of the flooding in Calgary.
frandroid: Slavoj Zizek, the most dangerous philosopher in the West (Default)
So, one web project that's been simmering on the prefrontal stove is an online political campaign management platform. http://www.labourstart.org/ does a bit of that, but on a minor scale. Some political parties, since Obama 2008, have become rather savvy at this, and front what I've read, Obama 2012 was a sight to behold. But what tools do we have for mobilization on the left?

There are many hurdles to political action. We often feel that we are alone; Facebook events have mitigated that a bit for protests, as you can see who will be attending. I think a lot of people rely on email as their main organizing tool, but email is a painful discussion platform. I find forums and chat rooms much better for this (http://campfirenow.com/ is becoming a popular tool, even though anyone has access to IRC/anyone can set up their private IRC server). A recent group I was organizing with collapsed when someone posted a giant toodle multiple-meeting request for the next three months; this was a case of using the right tool, but overdoing it and overwhelming everyone. (There were other issues, obviously...)

Before I embark on a full activist organizing suite, I was thinking about putting together a democratic decision-making app. I remember being on a board where we were sometimes called to make "emergency" decisions by email. I was pushing really hard to not make any decisions by email, because email stifles discussion, and I was rather against making decisions without discussion, for various proper governance reasons. If you did end up having the discussion by email, that resulted in a gazillion emails, which is a huge waste of time. However, there were plenty of smaller decisions that we could have made outside of a meeting when we had consensus. If only we had known we had consensus...

I started writing a long example, but I'm finding that I was taking longer writing about it than it would have taken me developing a working prototype in Rails. So I'm going to let this simmer for a bit longer and come back to it in a few days. If you have any ideas for a decision-making app thought, please do share. How could such an app help your organizing or your governance?

Current mood: Don't mourn, organize.

no buts

May. 14th, 2013 10:49 am
frandroid: Dune is the best book in the whole world, man. (Dune)
I need to remove the word "but" from my conversational vocabulary. It's a sledgehammer that displaces other people to set my ego firmly in the center.
frandroid: (stephen harper)
So I lied (friends-only). I'm used to giving up easily on challenges, so the only thing I can do now is giving up on giving up.

One benefit of having a mind unencumbered by sri sri filters is that I let emotions run over me like reucurring tidal waves. Cases in point:

1) We went to see Le nombre d'or (Live) on Sunday (here's a video excerpt, if you want to get a sense of its texture). We had seen Marie Chouinard's bODY_rEMIX/gOLDBERG_vARIATIONS a few years ago, which was good, but admittedly F remembers more of it than I can. All you need to know: Marie Chouinard runs a pretty damn good contemporary dance company with a side of raunch.

(SPOILER ALERT, MARIE CHOUINARD, THE GOLDEN MEAN) )

2) I went to see Retox at Sneaky Dees. Retox is fronted by Justin Pearson from The Locust. If you know The Locust, you have a sense of the insanity that prevailed, sans organ. Just like The Locust, it was a short, tight set, but really intense. Before them was Foxmoulder, with a similar sound, from Toronto. Also pretty awesome. Once I put my glasses in a safe place I was spazzing out in front of the stage. Motionless Toronto crowds, you fucking suck. YOU SUCKK.

Anyway, I really got into both shows, in a way I would have not quite done so until recently. That was pretty good. Now I just have to keep the rage and personal attacks in check.
frandroid: Dune is the best book in the whole world, man. (Great Worm)
I took a picture of a zine cover. Edited it in my phone's default photo-editing app (Android Gallery). Went to the new Great Worm site in my mobile browser. Uploaded the picture to the zine's profile. The site automagickally created thumbnails and various sized versions. I saved, and it ALL WENT LIVE INSTANTLY.

There isn't anything groundbreaking about this technology. Except that I BUILT THIS MESELF. And it's going to save me MILLIONS OF YEARS OF MY LIFE. Because that's how long I'll be selling zines for, bitches.

I have waited (and procrastinated for) 14 years to be able to do this. This sleeper has awaken, big time. I am back to having a live zine distro website. I'm going to be slaying this. Whoop whoop.

slsk

Apr. 22nd, 2013 12:29 am
frandroid: Slavoj Zizek, the most dangerous philosopher in the West (Default)
Got back on the soulseek bandwagon, downloaded 2 days' worth of music. Oops!
frandroid: (trek)

AHHHHH CLAUDIA CHRISTIAN READ THE PART FOR 7 OF 9!!!


Imagine that. I totally would have been all over Voyager.
frandroid: (sabotabby)
Anxious awaiting for [livejournal.com profile] sabotabby's Thatcher celebratory post!!

death train

Apr. 7th, 2013 11:36 am
frandroid: Dune is the best book in the whole world, man. (Great Worm)
Ahhhh an old friend from BBS times just died. We weren't close, but the guy is younger than me. Last time that happened was 12 years ago. Now I think it'll start to be more frequent... *shivers*

*** ETA: He died of a heart attack while playing floor hockey. He was probably 33 or so. I play floor hockey now. WTF. Getting in better shape ASAP so that it's not the only exercise of the week I do. Now off... to my playoff game. Sigh.
frandroid: Slavoj Zizek, the most dangerous philosopher in the West (Default)
So I had an interesting discussion on the phone tonight... My friend L has been training/working as a career-type coach thing for over a year now. She was taking some other training this weekend so she enlisted me to be her guinea pig.

I've never done any coach thing with her and I didn't feel a particular need for coaching, so it started slowly, but over the course of 50 minutes I was able to re-surface and verbalize thoughts that I have had over the last few years:

1) I enjoy solving intellectually, technically challenging problems.
2) I enjoy helping other people solve their problems, more than solving my own.
3) I'm interested in working with other people more than I'm interested in working for myself, for my own sake.
4) Ruby on Rails is a toolset that I am learning in order to be able to tackle a specific set of problems. Eventally, either there won't be satisfying problems that I will want to solve with Rails, I'll find a better toolset, or Rails will just become deprecated. At that point I will let go of Rails. But right now it's a toolset to work on 1-3.

So that's kind of why I'm learning RoR now, and I have guidelines for when I'll outgrow it, or something. I feel better about that.
frandroid: Dune is the best book in the whole world, man. (Great Worm)
Can someone explain to me why sites like LJ, Dreamwidth, Blogspot, Wordpress, etc. don't have an updates counter like Facebook has on its top bar, with an easy way to click to load the updates without loading an inbox page? It's such a game-changer, they really should work on that. I mean they both have an inbox, but you have to mark messages as read, delete them or whatever. Bring on the AJAX and jQuery peeps, we've entered the 'teens 3 years ago. This ain't 2001 anymore.

I am so designing my own BBS software sooner than later. Seriously, Facebook is the first platform that really brought back the New Message Scan that BBSes had in a meaningful way, except improved. If I had sat down and learned some scripting language in the mid-aughts, I might be a billionnaire today! (Likely PHP, like Facebook).

Barring that, I've dived back into Rub on Rails yesterday, and restarted development on the Great Worm website. Yesterday was an extra day off from work, and starting this week I have scaled down my work to 3 days a week. This week I'll be using my extra time off to work on a lucrative translation contract, but after that I'll be back to Rails... Pretty excited about that.
frandroid: (technology)
So, I have about 3000 emails in my inbox. I do a clean-up every few days but there's tons of just I keep because "I'll get to it later". So after doing my regular partial clean-up, I just turned the tables on my inbox: I've started from the end.

I had some 2009 and 2010 emails, but I went through those quickly. (I'm still keeping a few, but now they're not buried in as much crap. I still want to read the Monthly Review article on the implosion of ex-yugoslavia, for example.) Now I'm in late 2011. I load an index page with 100 emails, select obvious mailing list crap, delete. Then I do a second pass on the personal emails I kept. It's pretty fast. 200 emails gone already. I now get less than 20 emails a day so I should be able to catch up fast by cleaning from both ends. I am pleased.
frandroid: Dune is the best book in the whole world, man. (great worm)
How many times have you heard "Together we stand, divided we fall"?
[...]
I suggest that this machine of modern life, which is like a parasite on the Earth, is AGAINST THE GRAIN OF LIFE, and that is precisely why the children hold the lowest position on the scale of dominance.

What I'm suggesting is that it's unnatural to be isolated and divided. That a single mother or family can barely help oppressing their child to a degree, and that children are naturally happier, more confident, quicker to learn and easier when in groups of all ages. That children actually have more freedom when a large circle of people feel responsible for them. That children need all the stimulation in interacting with groups of people. That the quality of a parent-child relationship can be better when it is not forced on them to be together when they don't want to be. I'm suggesting that the child's needs are too great for just one or two people to supply and so they are often suppressed instead; the child is making it too hard on the parents, so the child must be wrong.

A simple fact that deserves common acknowledgement--with more caretakers; friends; relatives; and responsible strangers in public, the child can be comforted and not be as heavy on its parents. The parent could blow off steam and not be as hostile to its child; and child abuse would go way down. Child abuse thrives in climates of stress and privacy. When other people can come to the aid of an abused child, they can play a part in helping the child. Sometimes parents need to see an example of how to handle a situation in a positive fashion.
frandroid: (poste)
So, the US Postal Service has increased cross-border postal rates even more than Canada Post has in recent years. The large flat rate envelope, a mainstay of Americans sending zines my way, has gone from $13 to 20$ in one year. Meanwhile fucking Amazon has a sweat deal with Canada Post, which means that they probably pay less than anyone else for premium service. The delivery times on Amazon items is frighteningly fast... The Canada dollar is dropping, making American zines more expensive.

Anywé, this means that I will be selling a lot more Canadian zines to Canadians in the near future. I have nothing against Canadian zines (!), but there's just such a smaller scene here, it's easier to find American zinesters with a certain following that have been going at it for a long time and that Know What They're Doing. This is going to force me to dig out and promote a lot more Canadian content. The Toronto Public Library bugs me once a year to sell them Canadian content, and I never return their calls because I don't have anything they don't have already. Maybe I'll soon return their calls!

Thank you USPS and Canada Post for sucking big time, you're making me do what I should have been doing a lot more of in the first place. :P
frandroid: (revolution)
Dear DreamJournal,

Who are your favourite women in ska (and reggae, I guess?)

I adore Amy Winehouse's ska tracks* and The Slits (not technically ska, but seriously, listen to them??) as my recent discoveries. On the general ska front, I love the Specials as much as I love Against All Authority, so I go for all waves. An old female-fronted mainstay of mine is The Cartel from Montréal, but no one knows about them and there's almost no online documentation about them...

*: I'm convinced that if she had kept singing ska, she wouldn't have killed herself. She sounds so happy!!
frandroid: (nordiques)
I have one particular regret in life right now: Not having seen Sonic Youth live. They're not my favourite band, but that Confusion is Sex/Kill Yr. Idols disc in one of my favourite albums of all time, and I love many others.

I was even close to see them once. We went down to New York City a few years ago for the Portraits of Past reunion show. We landed in Newark, we found our hostel, left our luggage there, had dinner, went to the Cake Shop for the show. Next day, we're having breakfast (a single bagel) at the hostel, I open up the Village Voice, and Sonic Youth had played a concert at the BOTTOM OF AN EMPTY SWIMMING POOL in Brooklyn the night before. I was devastated. We also missed Public Enemy playing a free concert in a park that day, which kinda killed F, because I hadn't read the Voice far enough that morning (in part for being upset at missing Sonic Youth, although given a choice, I still would have gone to see PoP because this was one of only two reunion shows...)

Now that Moore and Gordon have split, there might still be some SY show in the future, but It Won't Be The Same. I just listened to Chelsea Light Moving, Moore's new project, but it's not as good, even though it's undeniably Moore's band. I'll have to listen to his solo music, and hope he plays somewhere here soon.

Don't ever wait to see your favourite acts live. I have learned that lesson too many times already, and I keep learning it over and over.

Next up on my Can't Miss list: Neko Case, The New Pornographers. Already that TNP mostly don't tour with Neko anymore... :/
frandroid: (vegan)
Moi: So I just wanted to mention that while you used butternut squash here, I discovered a squash I didn't know, butterCUP squash, which looks a lot like an acorn squash. It kind of has the consistency of a potato, and tastes something between the butternut squash and a potato. I used it instead of potato in a Nepalese dish (Aloo, tama and bodi, which I adore). I think I like the original with potato better, but this combination is also very good and gives it a lighter flavour.

Michael: Where did you get the buttercup squash?

Moi: I got it at Kensington Fruit Market, across from Essence of Life, but I think it's widely available. When I say "discovered", I just mean in my own repertoire, Columbus-style.

---

If you have good buttercup squash recipes, especially curries, please ssend them my way; there doesn't seem to be that many online. I discovered this vegetable by having it in a Thaï curry at the new Sukko Thai on Wellington (as tasty as on Parliament, but a few dollars more expensive, and with WAAAYYYY more tables) and I fell in love immediately.

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frandroid: Slavoj Zizek, the most dangerous philosopher in the West (Default)
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