Archive for January, 2007

I hope they can see this, because I’m doing it as hard as I can

January 31, 2007

mooninites-attack.jpg Re the shockingly hilarious Homeland Security overreaction today, which had Boston police shut down parts of the city because of the threat of…wait for it… light-up cartoon ads (that had been up for weeks). I think yhbc on Metafilter said it best:

If we’re really lucky, this will become one of those cultural watershed moments – yeah, yeah, 9-11 Changed Everything, but maybe, just maybe, the Day the Boston Police Blew up Fucking Mooninites can start changing everything back.


Unfortunately, after an evening of news coverage, I’m inclined to think this incident won’t change anyone’s mind. All the news sites keep using the word “hoax”, despite the fact that no one intended for the signs to be mistaken as bombs. And now I read that a man has been arrested! Instead of admitting their mistake, the politicos are using every press and police tactic they have to frame the advertisers as reckless hoodlums, and themselves as sympathetic heroes, when it’s plainly obvious who’s gaining advantage from the climate of fear. It’s like watching the Wizard of Oz feverishly operate the monster head after his curtain has been pulled back. Be afraid! Trust our power! Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!


On Dating

January 29, 2007

Last week I had this big debate with Jeff about internet dating. Years of stories and movies have taught me that I should meet my “True Love” accidentally, fatefully. Running a parametrized search for someone compatible with my chosen criteria seems a little robotic. I complained to Jeff that people who turn to these services were frustrated geeks with little appreciation for romance who spend all their time on the internet. When he stopped laughing, I realized I had just described myself. Sigh. Moreover the stereotype hasn’t been true for years. These days, everyone is on the internet, and even non-geeks appreciate the downright practical advantages of online dating.

So I gave in and put up a profile on Lavalife. My first week on the market has been a rollercoaster ride. For someone who values control over his emotions, I’ve been all over the place:

Last Thursday: Signed up for Lavalife. Holy hell this is nerve-wracking. I get worked up about a blog post, so imagine the state I was in trying to write a paragraph to describe/sell myself to potential dates. I finish in the wee-hours without enough energy to actually search for anyone.

Last Friday: Ran a search of women about my age in Hamilton. Hey, there’s a couple of cool looking people here! I’ll send them a quick email. Wait, how do I articulate what I want in a partner? How do I describe myself honestly without appearing too rigid? How do I approach subjects like being separated? Cripes I suck. it’s taking me hours to write a few paragraphs again.

Last Saturday: Nothing. OK, this dating thing is doing nothing for my ego. Bleh.

Last Sunday: Hey, check out all the smiles! I got replies to my letters too! OMG there’s a message on the telephone from that post-doc I met (outside lavalife) – she wants to go out sometime! People love me! They really love me!

Thursday: First date with post-doc. Lots in common, and lots to exlore. We had sushi, walked the dog in -30 weather, and planned a second date. It’s too early to tell how far it will go, but I did have a great time. My ego has also reached it’s highest level in months. So much for emotional control.

Saturday: Went to visit Sunir in Toronto. He decided he needed to go to a fancy club so he could live vicariously through me. Why do I keep forgetting how much I hate this scene: Pay cover to join a crowd of narcissists, in a room so dark and full of noise it seems designed to prevent you from getting to know anyone. What was I thinking glorifying this?

So yeah – dating again. It’s early days yet, but so far I’ve been pretty successful. I haven’t done this in many (many) years, so I’m actively working to stay light-hearted about the process in order to fight off the anxiety. The next date is tomorrow. She agreed to go to meditation class with me, despite my warnings that there would be a high risk of flakiness. Eager. I like that.

More Awesomeness

January 22, 2007

I was going to post something thoughtful tonight, but I went running after work, and now I can’t keep my eyes open. So instead, here’s a few links that made me smile this weekend:

Mr Fortune by Eric Lerner, at the AniBOOM animation awards

Where The Hell Is Matt? Doesn’t matter where. He’s dancing and it makes me happy.

Max Headroom and the last great pirate broadcast from

Tupper’s Self-Referential Formula which, as Peter and I debated in all seriousness, may be alive

a run of five fantastic xkcd comics.

These first hand accounts of visits to North Korea (translation here) freaked the crap out of me. But I was able to laugh some of it off with the help of the hilarious Chinese send-up “North Korea’s 007”.

**OMG, Tuesday night emergency addition**: Ridiculously Dangerous/Awesome Human Slingshot.

Repairing a Busted iBook Power Connector

January 21, 2007

Busted iBook Power Connector My iBook power cord is broken! This has happened to every one of my power adaptors (three times in three years, always just out of the warranty period.) Lets just say Apple’s design standards are not always what they get credit for. Take this piece of crap for example.

1) The Body of the plug sticks out over an inch from the computer, giving the cord plenty of leverage.

2) The flimsy little plastic spring is all that’s holding the cord to the plug. Because they made the cord come straight out of the plug (instead of out the side like most other designs), the spring is constantly being bent back and forth. From my experience, it takes about a year for the spring to fatigue and fail, just in time for the warranty to expire.

3) The cord is a coaxial design. So the electricity is partly carried by lots of tiny little wires just under the outer insulation. Without the support of the insulation, these wires break one by one until there isn’t enough connections to carry the current safely, and it starts to spark. Sparks flying from the side of your computer is guaranteed to scare the crap out of anyone.

4) Instead of using an industry-standard power connection, Apple decided to use their own crappy interface. Replacements cost $100, and don’t get me started on the availability of aircraft & car adaptors.

Note that Apple has resolved many (but not all) of these issues with their new “Mag Safe” power cord. But they refuse to acknowledge the mistake they made and won’t replace my broken cords.

Busted iBook Power Connector Being someone who refuses to submit to bad design, and also a cheapskate, I’ve come up with a way to repair these shoddy sockets for a lot less than $100 that looks much better than a ball of electrical tape (my first attempt). I’ve posted the instructions to Flickr. All the typical disclaimers apply – I’m not responsible if you break the connector (any more than it was) or hurt yourself.

I have the worst luck with apartments

January 17, 2007

I came home today to the sound of water spraying from a pipe, and the smell of damp drywall. I recognized the smell immediately, since my last apartment suffered from it too (I left that one when the mould moved in). At least the landlords are responding a little quicker this time. Unfortunately they can’t fix it without turning off service to the building, so I’ll have to spend the night in the dank 😦

The Man is (Rightly) Keeping me Down

January 14, 2007

It’s been a light blogging week this week. This is supposed to be the place where I dump my thoughts, but my brain’s been pretty empty of late.

Work is the culprit. I really enjoy the opportunities I get to innovate as a design engineer, but engineering isn’t really a creative field. There is too much money on the line, and too many safety concerns to let one frustrated amateur follow his artistic vision. Instead, we go through this process where each spark of ingenuity has to be checked and justified by several people in succession. If anyone doesn’t approve, the design has to be revised, and the process restarted. I’ve been chasing signatures in this manner for the past two weeks, and its been sucking away my enthusiasm.

As of Friday, I think I’ve finally got everything approved, which means I can start wrapping my ego up with the next brilliant idea. (who says engineers learn from their mistakes).

Post Party Depression

January 14, 2007

From the DSMB:
In social gatherings I am often mistaken for an extrovert. The truth is when I’m being that friendly and engaging, my brain is running on overdrive. I’m constantly working the room in my head, planning my next line of conversation, and evaluating how my last joke was received. It’s utterly exhausting. Usually by the end of the night I’m no longer able to keep up the performance, and the mumblings and missteps start to pile up until I’m convinced I’ve blown my cover. “Post Party Depression” is the time I spend afterwards trying to figure out what I did wrong, and what the damage will be.

Until recently, I’ve tried to keep this condition secret. I don’t think it makes me more likable to reveal that I obsess about appearing likable. But after confessing to a few friends, it turns out lots of people do the same thing. As with any disorder, it’s nice to know you aren’t alone. PPD-Sufferers unite!

Best Thing(s) Update

January 12, 2007

Bendito Machine. just made my evening. I wish I had an ounce of Jossie Malis’ creativity. (a small warning: some of the other animation on his site is a bit disturbing).

Secondly, allow me to present the divinely cool auto-folding jet-powered strap-on wing. I would sell my left leg elevator to try one.

Lastly, I wanted to introduce Mefi Music. I’ve always wanted to write music, and this site gives me ambition to start. After all, if an eight year old can write a song as great as Runaway Chicken, what’s stopping me? (especially my brother. Heh)


January 9, 2007

Excerpt from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Brendan’s Disorders (DSMB-1 2007):

Little is known about the causes of Perfanxionism, but research has shown that outbreaks occur during periods of high ambition coupled with low confidence.

Symptoms include spending an entire Monday evening creating the header image for one’s new blog.

Intervention is often difficult, as the disorder can interfere with the objective prioritization of one’s health (food, sleep, etc) against the need to keep working. Therapy typically focusses on the separation of self-worth from the wittiness of a blog post.

A successful project can push symptoms into remission, but perfanxionists are at high risk for relapse. Prognosis depends on the diagnostician’s response.

The Secret Life of Machines!

January 5, 2007

OMG, The Secret Life of Machines is now on YouTube!  This was one of my favourite shows in High School that no one else ever saw.  Now I can finally explain why I find the words "I go, goodbye!" and "Oh, nearly killed me! so funny.

Thanks again to BoingBoing for finding me the coolest corners of the internet.