Monthly Archives: June 2002

Three pictures

Rachel's Red Car

Rachel's Four-wheeler

My development machine

Yes, as you may have noticed, Rachel has a toy penchant that certainly approaches mine. That said, as much as her Porsche is super slick and one of the greatest summer cars you can own (it's a C2, not a C4, and even a C4, stock, isn't really that great in the winter), I really prefer driving my diry old vette; it's just so satifying gutterally (peniley?), although it's really scary at speed (which isn't much).

As you can see I've finally set up a proper desk (I worked on a couch for five years), which means I can plug in multiple monitors. This has definitely made my work go much faster as it allows me to properly multi-task. On one side of my I have the three monitors on the development box (shown above), and on the other side are three more monitors for the video editing box.


Wow, those hoodies sure went fast. If you missed out (I think they were gone within the hour), put your name on the waiting list so we have a good idea of how many we should reorder… I think we're also throwing a few of the ZOMBIE TEAM BME design (in black as well as green) on the backs of zip-up hoodies.

I wanted to mention this article on the size of the Department of Homeland Security (and is it just me, or is “Gay Alcorn” an odd name?). A high percentage of what this new office will do is domestic surveillance and monitoring of the American people (with a nearly $40 billion budget, and 170,000 employees this is quite do-able). Hello Police State.

I find the current set of secrecy battles quite interesting as well. Clinton nearly gets thrown out of office because he lied about getting a blowjob from an assistant. Bush on the other hand runs a corrupt election, embezzles huge amounts of money via Enron and other scams, and then plays a role in allowing piles of Americans to be killed in 9/11 (I'll mention here that the agents that aggressively blocked the pre-9/11 investigations have since been promoted), and no one seems to care… Or even if they do care they've been so scared to say anything because anything nowadays is labelled “anti-American”. Since when does American = Political Corruption?

Thank god we've now got the “War of Preemption!”

PS. Stay off the subways.

Finally, for anyone out there that's a regular tea-drinker (like me), I've come across what I think is a really nice “breakfast” combination — earl grey mixed 50/50 with dandelion. Dandelion on its own is definitely an “aquired taste”, but it really complements most teas really well.

More BBQ shirt musings

I have about a week longer to submit the designs, and, because I'd really like to submit the shirts using the new event engine's t-shirt request module, it will be a week. Anyway, I was fiddling with a tri-tonal verson of the shirt. Also, I wanted to hear any productive feedback on which of the following two options is better:

  1. Charge $10 for the shirts. My cost will probably be $8+tax, so that's making a few bucks and nothing more. Any covering of BBQ costs would have to come through donations.
  2. Charge $15 for the shirts. That's making $5, which means that about $500 profit is made on 100 shirts, which certainly covers half of the core cost of the BBQ.
  3. Charge $20 for the shirts. That's $1000 profit on 100 shirts of course. This is what I normally do, which makes the BBQs almost break even.

The BBQ costs me between $700 and $1500 depending on how much I provide food/drink-wise, and, more importantly, how many fireworks we launch. Of course, I could always charge the $10, and then have a donation bucket to cover the other costs.

Anyway, here is that new shirt idea (and yes nitpickers, the tiny overprint by the bucket is fixed in my master):

Moving servers more…

OK, I've successfully moved the glossary, the poll system, and QOD over to the new server and they seem to be running fine. I'm going to continue moving pieces over, and then I'll be moving IAM (which means custom layout gets turned on too!). So… later today I'll make that announcement and I'll try and give a good estimate of how much downtime the IAM move will generate.

In other news… I'm going to be a bit vague who I'm talking about (he reminds me of Kimble), but I had a Canadian friend recently travelling from overseas come back home to Canada and had a stop-over in the US. Even if you're just stopping over, you still have to pass through US immigration for some reason. Anyway, he works in the tech sector as well, and has in the past had involvement with various hacker circles and got himself in some trouble along those lines a long time ago, but since then he's travelled and lived extensively in the US and abroad without difficulty (he lectures on scientific subjects internationally, as well as conducting business around the world).

Anyway, this time he got tagged as a “potential terrorist”… They used some “moral turpitude” clause and held him for a day and a half in an immigration prison. Luckily they eventually released him (although they didn't want to allow to continue to Canada; they wanted to make him return to overseas and then get a direct flight)… Anyway, I wanted to remind everyone that the FBI is now able to break into your home with very little to no proof, plant monitoring devices in your computer and elsewhere, and then give you “delayed notice” three or more months later (as long as they want — the “delay” can be extended indefinitely). This isn't conspiracy stuff — this is happening, and it's law.

I'll also mention that the US government is currently doing everything in its power to block peace acts in the Sudan, and to keep the civil war going and to aggressively drill for oil (that's a link to the summary of the bill being blocked, which has been ammended to stop big oil companies from interfering in the Sudan). And it's not like they have to justify it… After all, Rumsfeld has actually said that proof should not be a requirement for starting a war when there's terror involved.

Finally, now America and Britain are talking about sending troops to India and Pakistan in an attempt to diffuse the upcoming nuclear war. Ah, good. America and Britain are there as well — hello World War Three!

"That hypocrite — smokes two packs a day"

When I was a teenager I was kicked out of my house twice for choosing to look different from how my parents wanted. When it was clear that I wasn't going to change, my parents paid a medical hit man to try and kill me. I'm not kidding about the last part.

The first time was when I was I think sixteen and pierced my own nose — my father didn't really care (he just told me, “if you're going to be a sociopath, stop telling everyone”) but my mother, descended from German royalty, found it offensive. I was literally thrown out on the spot and was not permitted to return until it was removed. I was sixteen, living in the country, hours walking distance away from the nearest town, with no job or job prospects. It was either remove my nostril stud or live in a field until I starved to death, so it was not long before I returned (although it had made me pick up a nasty smoking habit from the stress).

Perhaps a year later, I cut my shoulder-length hair down to a Mohawk and, as it says in the song, “I'll kick you out of my home if you don't cut that hair”. I spent about a week exiled, and returned under the condition that I not wear my hair up and that I grow out the sides. At this point I was already starting to tattoo and pierce myself more (although my parents basically didn't know about it), and my relationship with both my parents started going downhill rapidly. Among other things, I was accused of being gay, which had already resulted in the disowning of another family member.

As you know, at that point I was doing software development both for my own company and for my father's company. It was not an uncommon event for me to be woken up by my father late at night and told that I'd have to have some software module done by morning, or he'd “kill me, bury me in the woods along with my stuff, and tell everyone I ran away.” Because I'd been kicked out a couple times already, it was a very plausible story that I thought people would believe, and as a result, I became a very solid worker very fast. I believed, and I still believe that it was a very real threat.

When I was young, nobody believed me when I told them this was happening. They'd made it very clear to me that even though I was both working a high-end job and pulling in a mid 90's average at school (I was literally at the top of my class), they were deeply ashamed of me and didn't want to be seen in public with me and that they certainly didn't trust me or believe anything I said. At this point (as in now, not then) my father has publicly gone totally crazy and most of my family and even some neighbors have restraining orders against him. But even still, even after all this has been revealed, it's been made clear to me that even after seeing him do it to others, they don't believe me about my experiences with him as a teen. The closest thing to an admittance is comments along the lines of “but it was your fault; you were asking for it.” They actually had the gall to claim that it was me that was threatening to kill him.

I'll quickly fast forward over the next couple of years to put things in context. I went to York University on a fine arts scholarship. I chose York largely because I wanted to distance myself from the hard sciences, which was what my family wanted me to pursue. Even though I aced all my exams at university, I was “lost”, for lack of a better word. I barely attended classes, spent most of my time dealing (and doing) drugs and stealing high-end electronics, and ended up dropping out without really completing much of the first year. I started a telephony company with a friend, and the stress got to be a little much for me after four months. We hadn't made sales as the product was still in development, and I ended up moving back home for a short period.

The combination of the continued abuse from my father coupled with the “shame” and “disappointment” that my mother exuded eventually pushed me to the point of a nervous breakdown. My mother forced me to visit the utterly incompetent doctors at the local small-town psyche-ward (just a room in the run-down hospital filled with some old rotting people who tore out their own hair). In part under her guidance, these doctors diagnosed me as “schizophrenic” (which is utterly false — they simply didn't think that a sane but obviously eccentric person could be interested in piercings and tattoos and still be high-functioning) and put me on intense levels of anti-psychotic drugs, which hugely messed up my brain chemistry.

I became a total zombie and absolutely wasn't myself. I couldn't think straight, I couldn't work or program, I couldn't read, and I couldn't even focus on television shows. I couldn't wake up and I couldn't sleep. I was moved to Toronto mostly to get away from my father, and eventually I overdosed on the psychiatric drugs they were force-feeding me (I'd been told that if I didn't take them, I'd have to spend the rest of my life in lock-down). My breathing and heart failed, and if it wasn't for a series of luckily timed coincidences I wouldn't have woken up a week later in the Clark Institute with my sinuses full of blood and on a 30-day lock-down form. It's taken me a long time to really understand and accept how all of this occurred: My mother was so ashamed of me because of her personal prejudices that she, along with the medical community, chose to murder me rather than accept who I was as a person — it's a far too common story that I've seen here on IAM a few times now, and I've seen mirrored in hundreds of experiences on BME. I'm sure they hoped that they could make me someone else, but that's just not an option. You either embrace who a person is, or you kill them. They chose to attempt to kill me, and nearly succeeded.

Luckily I met a doctor that recognized that I was not schizophrenic, and that my only problem was that I'd been put on drugs I should not have been on. He helped wean me off of them (at this point I was being prescribed large doses of both anti-psychotics and tranquilizers), and I went back to “normal,” although at this point I have very little memory of my personal life, and my memory problems continue up to this day. I assume this is in part self-imposed psychological blockage, and in part physical damage from the drugs and subsequent overdose. I should point out that “normal” included resuming body modification practices.

My friend and I fired up our company again (I hope he'll read this and understand that he, along with my other friends at the time, deserve much of the credit for saving my life), and it quickly started doing very well. Our products were well received by the industry, we got great press both in the trade journals and in consumer-level magazines like WIRED, and started landing larger contracts. I attended the University of Toronto for a year for computer science, and, most importantly, started BME and as I said, began getting more seriously back into body modification — and you know the rest of that story.

Anyway, getting back to the now of the core story, a while back I had to turn off the public access aspects of IAM because my father was using it to spy on me and would cut and paste parts of it and create “fake emails” from me to him that didn't make any sense, but still looked like I'd written them, and then forward them to family members and associates in an attempt to make them think that not only did we have contact, but that I was the crazy one. At this point my mother claimed not to know about the IAM site, and because of what my father had done, then understood that it was private. She also knew that my sister has an account here as well, and numerous times stated that she didn't know what went on on the site.

She started asking me odd questions, pretending not to know the answers, even though I know now she already knew them because of her anonymous monitoring. She continued to make it clear that she did not have access, as she knew that not only would I not appreciate the spying, but running anonymous spy accounts is counter to the philosophy of the site and I have talked at length about that to her (I had done my best over the previous five years to reconstruct that relationship, and until recently I assumed that my mother had finally “accepted” who I was). I don't run a tracker on my page, so I didn't know about the spy account, but a few of my here friends do have trackers, and asked my why an anonymous spy account called “Kay” kept coming to their page. I looked into it, and my mother had bought an account and was using it to spy on myself, Rachel, and my sister, along with anyone that we regularly communicated with or mentioned.

This isn't the first time that I've had to delete parents from IAM, and I'm sure it won't be the last. Anyway, the point of the story is that I won't tolerate what amounts to placing hidden cameras in our home, be it from an anonymous pervert or be it a parent or ex-boyfriend or other “targeted spy”. It runs counter to everything that IAM stands for, and so far over three thousand spy accounts have been found and removed (yes, it's that big a problem).

Anyway, this coupled with the fact that my mother and grandmother have been doing everything they can to stop my sister from attending University of Toronto (even though it's a better school) simply because they don't want her around me (it's clear that they're “afraid she might turn out like me”) has made this the final straw. They have even told my sister that they'll give her a car if she doesn't go to school near me, and I suspect will now only help her pay for school if she doesn't come to Toronto. Obviously I'll gladly send my sister to university, but I really shouldn't have to.

In any case, now I officially have no parents at all. Funny thing is, I still have a big family here, so I don't really feel much of a sense of loss.