Thursday, 9 December 2004

Syd Explores the New Place in the Night

In the interest of exploring the new place, my cat has been ending up in weird places (like caught inside the inner workings of the back of the dishwasher) and as seen here when I opened the cupboard at breakfast time.  The soldering gear is for working on the arcade cabinet's control panel, not for making western omellettes.

Sunday, 5 December 2004

Saturday, 4 December 2004


Because the chips that make my arcade machine work were kinda hanging on wires when I first installed them, I completely unwired the control panel to move to my new place, so the chips wouldn't be banging around in there when the machine was taking the hour-long truck ride. Today I wired them up properly, with the chips mounted in the cabinet, and I was relieved that I finally got my original Pole Position steering wheel working. Coolio. Much neater wiring job this time. I may leave wiring up the "Player 2" side of the control panel until tomorrow.

Sunday, 28 November 2004

Ghost Town

So, my first Saturday alone in my new place and everybody near and far is too busy doing other things to be bothered with a sad sack like me. I made the best of it, though. Moved some boxes around, drove into Kingston (Ontario) and bought a few things, paid my first rent, played some guitar, rented "Jersey Girl" and watched the extras first, hooked up my arcade cabinet (apart from the actual control panel, which I'm rewiring) and it worked... All in all, a pretty limp and uninspired Saturday, but what can you do?

Saturday, 27 November 2004

Moved to Elgin

With a huge amount of help from Dave in moving my "museum of me" archived crap, I have moved about an hour from where I lived from 2000 on. I've moved to be close (1 km) from the school where I work. This is great, but it is farther from Ottawa, which I use as my "city shopping" city. I had an awful large amount of things to move and the U-Haul truck I rented broke down twice with a dead battery, but we got it all here and now the Huge Unboxing awaits. Today I don't want to do that, so need to find something else to do.

Sunday, 3 October 2004

West for a Wedding

From school last Friday I headed west for about 4 hours through the changing leaves of fall in a truly Canadian landscape of rolling, rocky hills and a 50-50 mix of coniferous to deciduous forest. Very rugged and beautiful (not that I felt like driving at all). Got to Haliburton for the wedding I was an usher at and spent the weekend surrounded by rustic beauty, not-quite strangers and tables groaning with sweets and free booze. Got up to some silliness in our tuxes, danced and ate and drank and then drove home today. I'm glad to be home. Ever been overwhelmed by wonderful events and need to go off and think a bit?

Saturday, 25 September 2004

Bezels and Barbarians

A bezel is, among other things, a thing that goes around the screen in an arcade cabinet so you can't see past it or behind it. I got a piece of black poster board (called Bristol Board in Canada and England, but not in America) spattered it with white paint for "stars", and double sided taped it to the TV with a square part in the middle cut out so the screen would be visible, and a tiny square so the remote control for the TV would still work. It makes a huge difference. I also got a Pole Position steering wheel from eBay this week. It's about 3/4 the size of your average car steering wheel, and has the Atari logo on it. Now I have to figure how to hook it up. This week I started teaching short fiction, and used videotaped TV shows to illustrate story structure. One class got "That 70's Show" and the other got "The Dukes of Hazzard" to do this with. The kids are grateful to have this stuff of the real world enter the sterile fastness of their high school. I'm also photocopying short stories I feel like teaching, to mix in with the milksop, moralistic pap that much of the textbook stuff seems to be. As the textbook has that sort of stuff, I'm going to throw in some pulp fiction short stories, for instance, the first "Conan the Barbarian" story. My only concern is that the ornate, faux-ancient language will be too hard for some students. "Know, oh prince, that between the years when the oceans drank Atlantis and the gleaming cities, and the years of the rise of the Sons of Aryas, there was an Age undreamed of, when shining kingdoms lay spread across the world like blue mantles beneath the stars -- Nemedia, Ophir, Brythunia, Hyperborea, Zamora with its dark-haired women and towers of spider-haunted mystery, Zingara with its chivalry, Koth that bordered on the pastoral lands of Shem, Stygia with its shadow-guarded tombs, Hyrkania whose riders wore steel and silk and gold. But the proudest kingdom of the world was Aquilonia, reigning supreme in the dreaming west. Hither came Conan, the Cimmerian, black-haired, sullen-eyed, sword in hand, a thief, a reaver, a slayer, with gigantic melancholies and gigantic mirth, to tread the jeweled thrones of the Earth under his sandaled feet."

Tuesday, 21 September 2004

The Tea Party

Went to see my first show ever at Capital City Music Hall. Troy and friends were there. The Tea Party. They're always impressive musically, especially for three guys. Lots of alternately tuned guitars and Eastern musical instruments used by the ever-more-portly Jeff Martin, who was pretty drugged up, and sweaty and cheesy with the women of the audience, calling them "my sisters" in his poor-man's-Jim-Morrison way. Still, they blew the roof off.

Sunday, 19 September 2004

At Both Ends

After burning the candle at too many ends for my first week of school and getting sick (I'm told this is a common thing for all teachers in their first week back at school) I had to convalesce last weekend, with Tylenol, vodka with lemon juice and Dan Brown's "Angels and Demons", a fictional novel, based on facts about the Vatican and the Illuminati. This weekend, I wrote a summary and interpretation of the biblical Creation story in Genesis for the book I am writing, hung out with the cat, played with the new TV and gas pedal in my arcade cabinet and watched a M*A*S*H* Season Two DVD set I picked up at the pawn shop where I got the TV. I took two trips to that shop because the first TV I got (a 27") was only slightly too tall to go into my cabinet, so I had to return it and get a smaller one and make up the cost of the cheaper, smaller TV in merchandise. That was a heavy TV to carry up and down stairs! The 20" that is now in the cabinet is adequate. I suppose a 25" would be ideal. I would love to hang out and nap on the couch with the cat, but I promised to pick up people and bring stuff to band practice. I will have to cut practice short to get my school planning done before my newly-prompter bedtime.

Saturday, 11 September 2004

First TGIF

A teacher at my school had a TGIF party at his house on the lake. Canadian lake-country scenery by sunset, with beer and BBQ and stuff like that. A lot of people brought kids. That neighbourhood is REALLY nice, and I'm commuting really far each day, AND it turns out that renting a house on the water is amazingly cheap. Gotta check that out. I read a Scottish poem in a Scottish accent today, and got saucer-eyed (impressed) kids instead of the laughs I was sort of looking for. "Are you Scottish?" they asked, suspecting I'd been doing a fake Canadian accent all week. I got a lot of laughs generally today in other ways. As can be seen by my exhaustion-induced gnome-like appearance here (in front of the gym teacher's taut frame), the driving is taking a toll.  

Tuesday, 7 September 2004

My First Day Teaching High School English

I jetted in, driving faster than I'd wanted to, because I somehow managed as usual to start out getting up early and ended up leaving late. It takes me an hour and twenty minutes to drive from door-t0-door. My grade 9's were wide-eyed and eager to please, and the grade 10's were generally, by comparison, bored, sullen and begrudging each task or response asked of them. I have an idea for tomorrow that I like. In keeping with their "functional literacy" needs, I am going to do the following:
Put an "action" scene from a TV show (like a car chase or crime of some sort) on the VCR with the sound off, let them watch it (it would be a short scene) and then they have to make a written report as if to a police officer as to what they saw, describing the sequence of events and people and objects in as much detail as they can remember.
I include here a shot of me in the first week here, and also a shop teacher who has shaved his beard the day before this photo was taken.

New Job at RDHS

Tomorrow I start my new job. I'm the grade 9 and 10 English teacher at a little rural school. I will be in charge of molding young minds. (as an English teacher, I know the difference between "molding young minds" and "molding, young minds"). 
   There are any number of silly things I could on my first day. I don't think I will do most of them. I'm supposed to be both achieving trust, and also setting a precedent for how hard I'm going to be to "get past" for the whole semester when it comes to shirking work. 
    I'm starting with an introduction exercise where everyone needs to grab a partner they don't know and "interview" them to get an info page. Then they need to write up an introduction for the person, and present it to the class, thereby introducing that person, sharing their knowledge and showing their writing, speaking and summarizing abilities. I will collect their written summaries to have a sample of their writing ability the first day. 
    My first period class is an MSIP (kind of Canadian study hall) and my job is to make sure they do work they've been given by their other teachers each day. The first day, there will be no work. That's why I will need to occupy them for the whole period. My other two classes need me to assign them some MSIP work for tomorrow, so I will ask them to write for 15 minutes on what we're going to be studying first ("Heroes" in the one case, and "Artistic Writing" (speeches, lyrics, poetry) in the other.) That's the plan. Let's see what goes wrong.

Wednesday, 1 September 2004


With the arcade cabinet finished, I can tinker with the specifics of the games, but really, I need a new time-consuming activity. I'm doing a lot of recording work on my (and other people's) music, and I've started a set of three paintings. Looks like I'm going to need more colours of acrylic paint to do a good job. Starting with a black canvas and painting "light" into it. We'll see how that works. No artist I. All done for the sake of a girl.

Sunday, 29 August 2004

The Arcade Cabinet Is Home

Well, Bill and I loaded the arcade cabinet onto a trailer and drove it to my place, lugged it up the stairs and got it going. It was a brutally hot, greasy, sweaty day. I installed the control panel into the cabinet and temporarily put a little TV in there until I find a good used one (maybe 25") at a pawn shop or somewhere. It's pretty sweet. Now I just have to go through about 250 games and make sure all the controls and resolutions are set properly. Pretty sweet, nonetheless.

Monday, 5 July 2004

Lanarchy Plays Napanee on Canada Day

For non-Canadian readers, July 1st is Canada Day, our national holiday, not unlike the American July 4th Independence Day thing. The band I'm in drove to Napanee, a town in the middle of nowhere, famous for being the hometown of Avril Lavigne, and we were the "rock" act midafternoon after a classic car show. It rained. A lot. Lightning too. We rocked. Got some of it on video, which I am trying to edit in interesting ways. The nightvision setting got flicked on somehow, and raindrops were all over the lens, so it's a little trippy. Sounds good, though.

Thursday, 24 June 2004

New York Bound

The plan is to go to New York City tomorrow. Exciting. Rental car. Missing the last big practice my band is having before the big gig in Napanee, home of Avril Lavigne. I would like to busk in New York, wander about and see Fahrenheit 9/11 there.
[note: rented a car, did all of the above, and busked in Battery Park and saw the ruins of the World Trade Centers.  At the movie, they put on The Terminal instead of Fahrenheit 9/11 and were going to leave it, but we made such an outcry they switched it.]

Thursday, 10 June 2004

A multimedia yearbook for the Alt School

All year at the Adult/Alternative High School where I work, I've been taking digital camera pictures of any and all special events. I have a lot of pics now, and the boss lady suggested "Why don't we(you) make a digital Yearbook for the graduating students?" She thought I should do this and then burn it onto a CD for them. I pointed out that many of them might not have computers, or not good enough ones for playing movie files, especially if I put sound on it. I suggested making what she said, then outputting it to VHS tape. Far more people have VCRs than good computers. For the last day and a half I have been paid to stay home and work on it on my computer systems at home. I have been sitting in my underwear in the sweltering room, editing away for pay. I put the still pics into PowerPoint slideshows, outputted these to video format, added a couple of funny little video short things, threw in some Flash animation and a soundtrack and classic Hanna Barbara sound effects, and we had a winner. I consulted a friend for a perfect current #1 hit single for the first part (I don't listen to the radio) and it's done.

Saturday, 5 June 2004

the sound guy

For the graduation ceremony for this region's group of Adult/Alternative High Schools, I was the "sound guy". I also ended up climbing up and down inside one of those metal "Tube" ladders like you see in submarine movies, to turn lighting on and off. Here I am, dressed in my no-nonsense utility clothing.

Friday, 14 May 2004

AWAKE!'ened by Jehovah's Witnesses Saturday morning

I was just visited by two Jehovah's Witnesses, one of whom was the best I've ever spoken to. Responded to actual questions, was able to converse without seguing immediately back into where he'd left of in a prepared sermon, got interested when I said things, had his chapters and verses straight, didn't misquote, didn't flinch when I quoted verses from the same chapter that didn't support his argument as well as the one he'd chosen. (Didn't, of course, let me get a word in without interrupting, but fortunately I am well-trained in that ancient art.) 
     The other guy was older and was there to drop sermon and get the hell out of Dodge with literature deployed. After I noticed them getting around to "the right way to live" and their mission "to warn people about living in ways that are not correct, and are displeasing to God", I got them to agree with me that "being a Christian so you get to be right about things" wasn't a very spiritual or Christian reason for following Christ. 
     They were, however, very uncomfortable with the idea that this applied, therefore, to elaborate arguments as to there (obviously) being a "select group" of people who were "God's People", and who God (obviously) always has to work through. The idea of being like Anna and Simeon (who, I said, didn't seem to be either Pharisees or Sadducees, any more than we need to take a Catholic/Protestant church affiliation before we can approach God) seemed to really trouble them, as did my quoting Christ's feelings about worshipping in spirit and in truth, rather than in a specific geographical location, or with a special group of people. 
     They showed every sign of being just as entrenched in "You need *US* to properly approach God" as any other religious group I've seen. They used the book of Revelation to argue that people have to "come out" from associations with evil churches, doctrine and traditions or they will be judged as "connected" with them. 
     The silent guy decided to give me a killer argument: He said, "Ok, now. If you claim that this doorway is 6ft high, and I say "No, it is 7ft high!" and we have a tape measure, what is the obvious thing that we should do about the matter?" and waited smugly, as if to say "That's got you. That's the end of THAT nonsense!" 
      My response was "I think we should both wonder what was the matter with us that it was of vital importance to each of us that the other be proven wrong as to something as trivial as the correct measurement of a doorway. The door *is*, and it is as tall as it is. This is more important than our agreeing as to its height. Don't you feel that devoting a lot of time to proving that "we are God's chosen people" and that other people, therefore, aren't; actually inhibits our going ahead and *being* anything that could make that claim worthwhile?" 
      The previously silent guy let the other guy try to field that one, and became silent again immediately (his face judging me a frivolous and unspiritual person), sent a hand-signal to a young JW who was evangelizing at my neighbours, and rooted around in his bag, pulling out his Awake and Watchtower magazines, riffling through them and eventually putting them away without giving me one, jumping in once a bit later to deliver the punch line of his aborted sermon: "The Bible is our Measuring Tape!" 
     I gave him a fond smile which was encouraging and only slightly condescending. The talkative guy, naturally smiled very largely and said to me, "You raise an interesting point" which he then, of course, completely failed to pursue. 
      Then he gave me Russ Heibert/Bob Thonney's argument: "If there is a God, and there are people who seek to serve Him, wouldn't He make a way for them work together?" 
     He saw me pause for half a second to formulate a proper response to that deceptively simple-seeming "rhetorical question used as an argument," and then when he saw me ready to open my mouth and answer it, said, "I'll leave that question with you for you to think about. If there is a correct way to serve God, and He's made it possible to do so, that must tell us something." 
     Then he started right into further "signs that we few are right and the rest of the world is not" verses, and how to judge others who aren't, so we can cut off associations with them. They were uncomfortable with my "Who am I to judge another man's servant?" argument, and my saying that we can judge each other or not as we wish, and that our judgments don't matter if we have no relationship with another person, as we are not put into positions of judgment, and that uninvited judgment says more about the judger than the judged. 
     They said that, within a healthy Christian context, judging could be a positive thing, to which I replied that in theory, yes, it could be, but that in my own experience it all feeds the typical Christian preoccupation with being right. They kept going, switching "correct" for "right" and didn't get anywhere. They spoke of "Well, in the field, there is good seed and also weeds planted, and today there are some who are that 'Good Seed', anointed Christians here to serve God, there's not denying that", so I said "One would hope they'd focus on growing up into tall, healthy plants, rather than building a big sign that says "Hey! WE'RE the Good Seed. Those guys are just weeds!" 
     Eventually they left, the talkative guy having enjoyed an actual debate, and the other guy impatient with him for wasting precious time that could otherwise have been spent disseminating the good seed.

Sunday, 9 May 2004

Arcade controls

After the DHL company misdelivering them, and after days spent on hold straightening the mess out, here are some of the controls I've ordered to make a MAME (Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator) cabinet. Now I need to build or buy the actual cabinet to put the stuff in, and a refurbished old Pentium to play it, and an I-PAC and Opti-PAC adapter to connect the controllers to the computer.

Thursday, 6 May 2004

You Might Be An Idolater If:

Idolotry is having a perfectly good God, who is a person, not only a figure, to worship and have a relationship with, but instead, you choose to make up extra crap to focus upon instead of Him (rules, a lifestyle etc). If you are an idoloter, you have chosen to block God out of your life with something else. He hates that worse than a wife who finds a blowup doll in her husband's closet.

You might be an idoloter if:

  • You think it’s something akin to blasphemy for anyone but you and people you respect to criticize the church you are associated with. Everybody else is an infidel-unbeliever who can’t understand.
  • You attend church so people will know you are spiritually ‘Ok’ and if you don’t, you assume you aren’t (you attend church not as a natural part of your spirituality, but to try to get or maintain some spirituality by the act of dutiful, regular attendance).
  • You collectively come together to worship your collectively coming together to worship.
  • You feel unsafe without a human-built structure within which to approach God. You ‘worship the church’, rather than ‘worship in the church.’
  • You are willing to alter many parts of your life, habits, dress and time on a daily basis for no other reason other than to accommodate the expectations of people in your church.
  • Your solution to ‘different’ people is to ‘feel they’d be happier somewhere else’ because they ‘don’t fit’ and you don’t feel inclined to accommodate them. (Rather than make the structure accommodate people who could be helped by it, you treat with suspicion any people who aren't helped by it in its current form)
  • Someone’s non-attendance at church means you think, feel and act almost as if they were dead or some kind of traitor/deserter.
  • You aren’t willing to seek out your own God-given answers to your own God-given problems, but badly want to be told what to do by others, either in person or in writing.
  • You’ve built a lovely castle of ‘should’s’ that you will neither stop feeling guilty about not achieving, nor achieve. Contemplating this castle you’ve built makes you much happier than the thought of looking at anything real.
  • You don’t know how to feel good about your lifestyle choices unless people at your church feel good about them.
  • You care more about your church and events related to it than about God Himself.
  • You hope that God will bless you, based upon what you put into the church, and what you sacrifice for it. When you don’t benefit from church, don’t learn anything at church, or are actually hurt by your church, you assume that the problem must somehow lie with you on some level.

Sunday, 2 May 2004


Went to my Dad and Mom's. Dad fixed my car while I fixed his computer. Mom made me supper and talked with me about her unease with what's going on in her church, and offered to let me use her air miles to maybe go to New York City. Coolio.

Friday, 9 April 2004

Being Busy

The other thing about being busy is, that even though the whole time that you are busy you are very aware of all the fun (and perhaps important) things you are turning your back on, the first day you get when you aren't busy (like a Good Friday off work without pay), you have no idea what to do with yourself. There are 100 things you could do, but you are kind of in shock to find that your schedule isn't determined by people other than yourself. You haven't agreed to anything, and so nothing will happen unless you choose something and do it. In the meantime, you've more than used up the emotional energy required to do fun stuff without a heavy structure and big agenda. Or maybe that's just me.

Tuesday, 3 February 2004

What news of me?

Still teaching and being paid as if I were merely assisting a teacher. Still expecting to be an uncle in the spring. Still driving one of my Dad's cars. Still playing in a band.
Saw Janet Jackson's partially exposed boob without having to sit through the Superbowl, thanks to the Internet. Fairly happy on both counts. Starting taking an online course so I'll be qualified to teach History at the Senior level, in addition to the English (Intermediate and Senior) qualifications I already have.

Monday, 19 January 2004

George Again

I saw George Carlin again, with Bill. I can't believe the memory on that guy, considering the age and the drugs. He's got "cranky old curmodgeon" down as a character he enjoys playing.

Saturday, 3 January 2004

Christmas Holidays

During my unpaid holidays I got some music recording done on my computer, as well as a whole lot of lazing around with friends watching DVDs and downloaded things. My friend Dave gave me a bottle of wine he made. You couldn't really tell that it was homemade wine, but you could kinda tell that he'd made the label himself. ("Walloping Winestoppers! This is good Merlot!")