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senatorhung's pad
ramblings of an information troubleshooter


his hands froze to the reins

Sunday, 27FEB2005:

well, the power's gone out a couple of times tonight - does this portend an inauspicious beginning to this blog ? we had a blizzard roll thru wednesday afternoon and most of thursday, so today's is probably just an aftershock.

i've been sitting on the sidelines while this whole blog thing has slowly gone all mainstream and even corporatized. par for the course. i didn't register my first domain name until 2001 and didn't design any web pages until 1996 and even that was merely an export of my netscape bookmarks file. i don't relish acquiring a reputation as a slow adopter, but it does fit into my philosophy that technologies are not value-neutral and that sometimes caution is called for until more consequences have revealed themselves.

so, as i was hunting around online for blogging-related software this week, i thought about what kind of blog i should have. should it be a brain bucket where all sorts of random ephemera get tossed at in the hopes that future-me digging thru the detritus will be able to spot some kind of underlying connective tissue that current-me is unaware of ? should it be nicely structured by topic so that i can see the changing development of my thoughts on various issues ? should it help me build up a community of online buddies so that i have more places to crash on my travels south ?

after examining all of the available options, i downloaded the cgi scripts for blosxom, but this didn't end up being feasible as my ISP requires the cgi scripts to be run from a separate server. in the end, i decided to stick with what i know best - hardcoding html with my own navigational quirks thrown in - just a control freak at heart, i guess. had a discussion with malcolm and agreed with him that comments are half the fun of the best blogging software, but i don't expect this to be a high-traffic site. given my feeble history of maintaining correspondence, if i can put up a new post once a week, i'll be satisfied.

anyway, for an introductory post, this is fairly sedate. future posts will hopefully be a bit more weighty and / or provocative. in the works are diatribes about how copyright law is stifling innovation, why i moved to the arctic, the joys of making mix cd's, dramatic events, why i quit my lucrative job in the oilpatch, political rants, comic book picks, interesting technology tidbits, movie discussions, investing philosophies, updated photo collections, etc.

highlights of the week:
  • music spins: mary jane lamond - seinn o (1997), treble charger - detox (2002), brown-eyed susans - afternoon tea (1996), brown-eyed susans - afraid of heights (2000), sarah harmer - you were here (2000)
  • mixes: working on birthday ones for molly and karrie
  • events attended: cyndi's birthday party at the storehouse on friday, qaggiq theatre session at the inuksuk high school on saturday
  • book reading: douglas adams - hitchhiker's guide to the galaxy (4 parts of the trilogy down, 1 to go), joseph mccabe - hanging out with the dream king (neil gaiman)
  • movies viewed: ong-bak
  • t.v. watched: quantum leap season 2 (on dvd), oscar ceremony (first half hour until tonite's blackout)
accomplishments of the week:
  • 22: sold my shares of SWP in my RRSP account for a gain of 53% in 21 days, or 921% annualized - won't get me out of dogfood range during retirement, but a nice little tweak nonetheless
  • 26: finished my tax return for 2004
  • 26: digitally recorded malcolm & sara's radio show, audio missile defence
  • 27: started working on my own blog / transition of current website
very kewl flash: new grounds

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where the candy floss meets the air

Monday, 28FEB2005:

the flip someone gave me on saturday at broomball surfaced today in my back. so, i decided to step outside tonight for a break after sitting for too many hours jockeying the keyboard. snowflakes were lightly being blown towards me thru a beam of light such that it seemed i was getting my own little fireworks show. it made me very happy.

i pondered possible alternate explanations for this vision - a meteor shower, a bonfire sparking off embers, a starfield trail abandoned by a hyperspace jump, a residual schmengie from a laser eye surgery gone wretched ... i told malcolm earlier today that i had considered radial keratotomy way back in the late '80's, but there was a chance the procedure could actually worsen vision or introduce visual artefacts. more recent keratomileusis technologies have reduced this risk, but the slightest chance of ending up blind still persuades me to regretfully give the idea a pass. now, if someone would invent geordi-type goggles that combine infrared night-vision, polarization and that auto-focusing feature that digital cameras have, i would definitely invest in those !

supper tonite was a chicken poutine (hold the onions) from le snack, the local francophone diner where all the taxi drivers hang out. needless to say, with my cooking talents and constant busybusiness, i'm a regular client.

got home tonite to a message on my answering machine advising me that i had won an mp3 player in a draw held by the nunavut arctic college student council. thanks to joe for selling me the ticket ! i also won a couple of cd's in january's tsunami relief benefit at the parish hall, haven't gone into the red in poker matchups this year, and my stocks are sluggishly climbing. hope this streak continues thru the rest of this year of the rooster !

i'm currently downloading 7:35 in the a.m., one of the shorts that was nominated for an oscar. on my dial-up connection, it will have taken over 2 hours to download the 17.8 meg file. :(

  • music spins: Brave Combo - Mood Swing Music (1996)
  • IP idiocy link of the day: owning silence
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so many theories, so many prophesies

Tuesday, 01MAR2005:

today is friend karrie's birthday. alas, she is many miles away, so i can't give her a birthday hug in person. will hope to make up for this in may when i swing by her neighbourhood while reunioning with the rest of my family.

attended the semi-monthly meeting of First Draft, the iqaluit writers' group (meetings 1st tuesday of each month at l'école des trois soleils and the 3rd thursday of each month at the storehouse at 19:00). i riffed on why one might think about getting into the blogosphere with carolyn and stephen, before we settled down to help carolyn re-work a series of her poems.

when i mentioned that i was considering adding a fourth piece of parchment to my collection, they quite reasonably asked me why i would want to do such a thing. as a librarian, i'm fundamentally against the ownership proposition enshrined under the umbrella of intellectual property, the most egregious wing being copyright. i see providing info to people when they need it, in the form that they can use, as my professional obligation, and the IP idiocy that i encounter daily just boggles me.

carolyn related a situation where one of her patrons had donated a photocopy of an article and she wasn't sure whether to add it to her collection or destroy it, knowing that the library might be accused of copyright infringement. another ludicrous case is the amount of second-guessing that people are forced to do before forwarding pdf copies of documents. james boyle discusses how the difference in treatment of copyright in databases of government-funded weather info between europe (stronger protection / higher cost) and the u.s. (lesser protection / lower cost) has affected public access to the data. while the economic argument that he raises might sway some, the fact that the info is more widely available to the general public in the u.s. is enough to convince me.

information policy in canada takes very little notice of those who have been the caretakers of information for over a century, namely librarians, archivists, and educators. instead, it is technology-focused MBA's and lawyers representing behemoth corporations like micro$oft, $ue-ny and fine warn-er who manage to get the attention of legislators and set policies that undermine the cultural protection philosophies espoused by the department of canadian heritage.

in the past, publication and distribution required greater efforts and more infrastructure, and these intermediaries served a desirable purpose in society by making works available. with the rise of the internet and the increasing capacity for self-publishing, these intermediaries are no longer critical to that process, yet the bureaucracy at canadian heritage continues to bend to their expert lobbyists to uphold their interests over the interests of those who actually do the creating. if you want to promote culture you need to directly fund those who are creating the culture, not those who profess to facilitate the process, yet can't seem to manage to find and promote work by new creators better than those individuals can do themselves using the 'net.

the nhl strike has increased public sympathy for the idea of a salary cap per team to ensure sustainability on a league-wide basis, and yet none of this enlightenment ever spills over into the creative realm. why shouldn't canadian creators be limited at the compensation they get from rights collectives (if such evils need to continue to exist) ? yes, our most famous celebrities will be out a few bucks, but then they have the leverage to negotiate future deals in their favour - it's the struggling up-and-comers who most need the funds.

from the consumer side, you want to be able to go about your day without having to worry about whether you are breaking the law. strict enforcement of copyright, just like strict enforcement of marijuana possession, only serves to increase public disdain for those laws.

unlike malcolm, i have no problem with the levy applied to all blank media including cd-r's and hard drives - like the t.v. tax in the u.k., the 'tax' follows where the consumer goes. like advertising-supported 'free' t.v. before it, the levy makes it easy for consumers to compensate creators for the copying of their works without having to scrutinize and monetize every individual transaction. my concern with collectives is that the sampling methods used to allocate the proceeds merely reflect pro-rata use, thus rewarding those who have already won the lottery rather than ensuring that struggling creators have a shot at surviving.

so, the question that i have to ask myself is: would sitting thru another 3 to 4 years of academic lectures to get the credentials to be taken seriously in information policy discussions be worth the salary hit and stepping away from the frontlines ? if i decide to go to law school in the fall of 2006, i'll have to have my ducks lined up by this fall.

  • movies viewed: nacho vigalondo's oscar-nominated 6.5 minute short, 7:35 de la manana - very kewl, but if you're on a slow dialup like me, you can download directly to your HD before viewing
  • IP idiocy link of the day: this song is my song
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every power lunch has a gold card lining

Wednesday, 02MAR2005:

had to skip broomball tonite as my back was still twinging sensitively when i got up this morning. decided to head back to the office in the evening after a haircut to get some long-delayed volunteer tasks off my plate. as the interim chair over the last year, of nuluaq, the local public internet access society, i'm now in the process of supervising the closure of the site. so, to distract my mind from that unappetizing duty, i treated myself to a supper of cantonese chow mein from the navigator restaurant.

lunched earlier at the legion with malcolm, olivia, sue and sara. ordered meself a steak sandwich and was so eager that i almost took someone else's - what are the chances that out of less than 30 people in the joint, that there would be 2 guys with the same name, both ordering a steak, medium-well ?

odile's planning a potluck for this weekend to gather up all of the part-time players to decide what new theatrical event we should consider for a proposed arts festival around toonik tyme in april. i had the idea of contributing shepherd's pie, so when i went grocery-shopping, i picked up some ground beef and powdered mashed potato mix. of course, i've never made shepherd's pie before, but how hard can it be ? (i know, famous last words). i do find it amusing that the store-bought ones are labelled as 'pâtés chinois' in french, since corn (maize) was indigenous to america until the european invasion and i don't think that china and mexico had implemented any kind of technology-transfer agreement. or maybe it's just a warning to me that i will become chinese pâté if i eat so much GMO corn ?

on every trip to the south, i can't help indulging my yen for sushi. now, as an environmentally conscientious fellow, i've been searching for a site that would indicate whether the morsels i sampled were a sustainable resource, but was unsuccessful until this week when i came across the Monterey Bay Aqauarium Seafood Watch. now i can look up each item on my sushi hitlist to avoid succumbing to any guilty pangs.

that out of the way, here's a list of my favourite sushi restaurants across canada:
  • victoria, BC: ebizo, 604 broughton street, 250.383.4811
  • calgary, AB: sushi hiro, 727 5th ave. sw., 403.233.0605
  • niagara falls, ON: yukiguni, 5980 buchanan ave., 905.354.4440
  • ottawa, ON: wasabi, 41 clarence st., 613.241.3636
  • montreal, PQ: soto, 500 mcgill, 514.864.5115
  • québec city, PQ: kimono, 1034 avenue Cartier, 418.648.8821
send me any recommendations for succulent sushi sites in vancouver or st. john's as i will be heading to those cities in may.

  • music spins: combustible edison - i, swinger (1994)
  • movies viewed: elf - rented for the evening so i could rip the duet where zooey deschanel and will ferrel sing 'baby it's cold outside'
  • IP idiocy link of the day: the future of food
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discussion is my addiction

Thursday, 03MAR2005:

began the day at the public library where i hashed out patron info privacy and service issues with the public librarian. we're looking to host our library cataloguing system on a vendor's server in the u.s. and have been trying for months to figure out how to implement this without exposing library users and their personal info to the US PATRIOT ACT. in the afternoon, i sat in on a conference call to comment on document managment and internet and data transfer security issues.

had a busy evening of scurrying around town after work. first stop was at the red fed building where the iqaluit organizing committee for hosting the Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour divvied up tasks for our shows on March 19th and 20th. i volunteered to reprise my 2003 role as technical supervisor, arranging to book the technician from ICSL and confirm the setup at the theatre.

in january, we selected the films for our local program to include mountain biking, skiing, base jumping, paragliding, culture of sherpa women, whitewater rafting, ski hill pickup lines, dog sledding, etc.. the tickets for the shows ($40 for saturday gala, $30 for sunday show) will go on sale to the public at 10:00 this saturday at the northmart, and we expect to be sold out fairly quickly. for those can't make the lineup, we will also be selling raffle tickets where there will be 2 early bird prize draws for pairs of tickets to the shows.

next, i was off to subway to pickup a seafood sandwich supper before moseying on to the arctic college to take in this year's orientation session for the Community Volunteer Income Tax Program. we reviewed the new tax software provided, which seems a bit simpler and manages to match the look of the actual forms better than what we used last year.

however, i'm still piqued that people are forced to dole out money every year for tax software, when revenue canada could easily just send out spreadsheets with pre-filled info based on data that employers have already sent in. over the years, i have developed my own spreadsheet setup with all of the forms and schedules that i use regularly and this works well enough for me. the one thing that it did miss this time around was the fact that 2004 was a leap year of 366 days which means i missed out on a few dollars of northern residency deductions. *shrug*

after that meeting, i headed up to the astro theatre to chat with bryan about the technical details for the BMFF and then sat down to watch 'hitch' for the second time. eva mendes was captivating as the sassy but jaded gossip columnist (i also enjoyed her performance in 'once upon a time in mexico' , tho johnny depp pretty much stole that show). quotable: "begin each day as if it were on purpose".

rounded off the evening / early a.m. by executing my monthly visa reconcilliation while wincing at how many times i ate out in february. my only excuse was that the high school musical production of 'grease' left me with meagre time to cook, much less stock my fridge.

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you can bounce me once and i'll ricochet

Friday, 04MAR2005:

well, there was talk of a blizzard this morning, enough that the taxis were called off the road and most offices announced that they were closed until after lunch. however, i could still see my workplace from my living room window, and as i was already awake anyway, i slithered thru the snow drifts to my office to take care of some BMFF and nuluaq stuff. once other people started arriving at the office, i managed to pawn a booklet of BMFF raffle tix.

hunger pangs drove malcolm and i to le snack for a mid-afternoon lunch. after 5, i headed up to the frob to check out the press club, a group of media and communications folks from various organizations who meet the first friday of each month to hobnob and listen to a guest speaker. i decided to become a member with the idea of getting a better feel for some of the things happening in the territory that i presently don't know much about.

after that function wrapped up, i sauntered down to the legion to hang out with malcolm, robert, sara, brent, pascale, sue, chris and kevin. got tired of the d.j. and wandered over to the games room to shoot a few rounds of pool. i sucked hard early on, but as i loosened up a bit, my game improved. played 3 matches with gibbons - lost the first 2 fairly badly, and only won the 3d one after he didn't make his call on the black.

went on to play against levi a couple of times. he beat me handily the 1st round, but our final match was a real beaut. nothing went down after my break. levi sunk one solid, but missed the second. on my turn, i ran down all 7 high balls in turn, but couldn't leave myself with any shape on the black. calling for just a shot, i hit too hard and the black combo'd another solid into the corner. levi proceeded to sink all 6 remaining balls without breaking a sweat. classic.

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radio is a sad salvation

Saturday, 05MAR2005:

what a treat to sleep in until 13:00 !

went to northmart to work a shift at the BMFF table with janice. suprisingly, the tix were not already sold out, but with only 40 tix left for the gala, they will go pretty quickly once word gets out that they are still kicking around. the remaining unsold tix will be dropped off monday at tittaq for laggards to purchase.

today's broomball game seemed to match the energy of the impending blizzard outside as both teams blew around the ice chasing the ball hard. martha, jf, jacques, gavin, kevin, bobby and greg faced off against carine, tom, chad, denis, brock, mark and myself. twinkletoes gavin breezed in to score the first goal for the dark team and things looked bleak when jf snapped the ball out of the air right in front of the net handily beating the hapless goalie (um, me). the bright side managed to show their pluck when denis streaked down the wing and willed the ball into the net. we then pressured the dark side for the rest of the game, but were unable to even things up before the buzzer sounded to let the hockey players take over the ice.

had planned on taking in the music society's coffee house featuring molly and jamal, but after a nap, shower and starting supper, the wind had picked up outside. remembering my trudge up the hill to the last coffee house to find the event cancelled, i decided to finish my meal and catch up with my email. was just finishing the last bites when i glanced over at the clock and realized that i was missing the latest edition of 'audio missile defence' hosted by malcolm and sara on KPFT 107.3 (my stereo tuner's memory function hasn't worked since i left the states, so i had to use google to lookup the station callsign). i quickly got the cable from the stereo to plug into the back of my pc and hit the record button.

heard a dedication to myself, so i decided to call them up. to do so, i had to cut off my dial-up to give my phone the right-of-way, but when i realized that i didn't have the piece of paper with the request number anywhere in sight, my first thought was to check google again. errrrr. what to do ? oh, right, lo-tech ! flipped open the phone book and voila. requested sinead o'connor's 'drink before the war' which M+S didn't have, but they consoled me with 'emperor's new clothes' which had me singing along and bopping away in my chair.

when sara introduced neko case as a canadian, i called again to correct her. neko should be one of ours, but sadly isn't. the story i heard was that she was in b.c attending some kind of art school, but when she finished her academic program, she was forced to return to the u.s. i'm sure i'm not alone in thinking neko should be given honourary canadian citizenship.

after the show, it was a toss-up between editing the audio file or heading up to brent's place for his going-away party (he's leaving town next week). the weather outside was still crappy and paipa taxi wasn't answering its phone so i decided to give up on swimming thru half an hour of snowdrifts to ascend the hill (sorry brent). of course, half an hour after i made that decision, the wind died down and i could see the streetlights clearly again.

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