Monthly Archives: February 2010

Better then never!

There’s a tattoo artist in the studio building that we live in, over on the other side (incidentally, I think in Saira and Michael’s old studio), and I’ve been meaning to post this “oops” photo from his online portfolio for a while — reminded to do so because I read Lamebook more than Facebook, so this is posted with apologies to anyone waiting for a response there. It will come eventually. Anyway, I just love misspelled and grammatically messed up tattoos… and there are so many to heartily laugh at.


Raspberry Bowl?

I absent mindedly made this little bowl last night by rolling lots of little balls and sticking them to a can of gingerale and then poking them in the middle with an oven thermometer spike to turn them into miniature donuts, and then cooked the whole thing. When it cooled down I pulled out the can and painted what was left, first with dark purple and then dry brushed in cyan and white. It’s nothing particularly impressive but I think it would make a fun craft project to do with Nefarious tomorrow since it’s a school holiday.


Oh yeah, and I wouldn’t recommend going to see The Wolfman. It’s got kind of a silly, campy ode to Lon Chaney going on, but I had the distinct impression that as silly as the movie was, it was taking itself quite seriously, resulting in being somewhat awkward, a la some hipster doing his best to be ironic but crossing the line into “going full retard” (sorry, I know that’s not PC and I apologize). Too bad, I really wanted to like this movie, but it was not meant to be.

Perhaps my favorite of the senses

I believe that the single most wonderful sensation — or at least one close to the top of the list — is that of drinking cold water when you’re thirsty… that feeling of relief when the dry and withered tissues inside you become engorged with life once again. Next to our fish pond we have a big leafy plant which, after periods of not-being-watered neglect weakens and starts to droop and soften and shrivel. Upon noticing that the soil it lives in is as dry as dust we thoroughly soak it, and in only a few minutes it comes back to life, its stems becoming strong and firm again, lifting its big leaves off the ground and doing its best Lazarus impression. It’s really quite amazing. I’m sure it’s experiencing just what I’m talking about.

On the whole I prefer clean, simple, pure flavors much more than complex flavor textures, water being the purest of all. Yesterday I picked up some golden raspberries on the way home from dropping Caitlin off at work (as well as some blueberries, which I’m eating right now, and some marvelous looking baby carrots — the real kind, not just big carrots whittled down — for later). You might notice in the background that there’s a swank new 24″ LCD panel sitting next to my old one. I just sold my computer and upgraded to a new i7-based (eight CPUs!) with plenty of memory (eight gig) that I’m sure will be a ton of fun to program on — that machine is currently being injected with all my files, flying through the air as, to my surprise, the machine comes with wireless even though it’s a desktop. I also treated myself to a fancy Logitech keyboard that not only lights up for midnight coding, but has a display that does things like tell you your CPU load, the time, or what media is playing.


It totally blows my mind how powerful a computer you can buy for a remarkably small amount of money, and the speed at which that power has grown. I’m both eager to see what computers will be over the next few decades, and a little frightened.

Now back to food. I tend to cook a very plain fish… A few days ago I made a salmon meal that turned out extremely well. I made a marinade with fresh squeezed lemon, a little salt, a tablespoon of brown sugar, some grapefruit juice, and a hefty amount of fresh grated ginger and freshly chopped garlic, in which the salmon rested for the day (which caused it to cure, just a little bit, a la ceviche). I cooked it in a pan with plenty of butter and served it alongside sugarsnap peas, broccoli, and asparagus with some really nice pre-cooked noodles that Caitlin got. I was worried that it wasn’t going to turn out because Caitlin was on an important phone call and it was in the pan longer than I thought was right, but it turned out to be exactly perfect — were it not for the call, it would have been undercooked.

So good.


I think one of the reasons that I so love food and drink these days has to do with pain. As the condition progresses, my senses are increasingly inundated with agony. Bright lights and luminosity changes hurt. Sound is even worse, and touch is worst of all. But taste and smell are, for now, unaffected, which makes it the one thing that I can enjoy unadulterated. I am very afraid of the day when that slips away and I’m left with nothing that has not been corrupted. Don’t get me wrong — I still find joy in everything that I do and in every moment, and I try not to dwell on the negative.

Speaking of sensation, I noticed something funny today. As you may have noticed, I got a new pair of headphones, my first set of really effective active noise canceling ones. There’s plenty of racket in this studio — banging pipes, the hum of ceiling fans and computer fans, water rushing through the exposed pipes, clacking keyboards, the bubbling white noise from the fish tank — but with the headphones on it becomes a rather eerie silence. Anyway, you know how if you’re playing Guitar Hero for a while, with its constant downward scrolling of notes, that if you stop and look at the stationary real world it seems to be floating in the opposite direction (since your brain has gotten into the habit of compensating for expected motion)? Well, after wearing the headphones for an hour I got up to walk to the kitchen to grab the aforementioned blueberries, and I thought to myself, “what is that thundering swishy sound?”

I realized a moment later that it was my feet. How quickly silence can transform the world into a deafening cacophony!



With Nefarious off enjoying Disneyland (and, I am told, trying to pull the “but daddy lets me” scam, haha, to coerce her mother into doing her bidding), Caitlin and I are going to take a rare date night, beginning shortly with going to see The Wolfman (my desire for that being stoked by this video of a bear that walks like a person). One of my favorite conveniences in seeing movies in this modern world is the small blessing of being able to buy tickets online and print them at home. It means that I don’t have to worry about getting to a new movie that might sell out early, and that I don’t have to stand in line at all — standing in lines being something that I really despise doing.

Other than that, I anticipate sleeping very well tonight. I haven’t been getting a whole lot of sleep the last few days due to discomfort, but I think I’ve crossed the threshhold into being so deliriously tired that even if goblins crawled into bed and gnawed on my legs — something that many nights I could swear is actually happening — that I would blissfully snore through it. I think drifting off to sleep in a comfortable bed with Caitlin at my side is up near the top of my “best things list” as well.

Knives on a plane… updated

After I posted by “knives on a plane” entry — which was temporarily removed because I’d received some threats over it and I wanted to investigate the legal issues first — there was some debate as to what the reaction from officials would be, and what level of response (perhaps nothing, perhaps evacuating the airport, perhaps arresting me, perhaps taking the knife, or whatever), and I have that answer for you from the horse’s mouth. I was at the airport again yesterday to drop off Nefarious who’s going to visit her mother for the long weekend, and we sat down and had a slice of pizza because we got there early. Sitting next to us were three women who worked as security agents speaking quite boisterously in Arabic. A moment later I realized that one of them, the one wearing a hijab, was the same woman who’d been working the gate that I’d walked through with the item in question.

Everyone seemed in good spirits, so I figured it couldn’t hurt to approach them about the previous week’s incident. I told them the story of what had happened, and I asked them what a person should do if they’re on the airplane and realize that they have a knife or other item of concern in their pocket. They were incredulous for a moment in a giggling “Oh my, really? How did that happen?” sort of way as they thought about it. I was expecting to be told that the right course would be to discretely approach airline or security staff and tell them, but they told me not to do that. They said it wasn’t anything to worry about, and that I should just keep it in my pocket and not alarm the stewardesses or anyone else on the plane by telling them. I also asked them what they would have done if they caught someone with a knife at the security checkpoint (technically they are supposed to call the police over concealed weapons, although with a plastic letter opener in somewhat plain view, it’s really at their discretion I think), and they said again that it was not a big deal to them and that if that happened I’d just be asked to put it in my luggage.

At the end of it, one of the women gave my daughter a small present (an Avon promotional calendar full of pictures of flowers) and wished us well as they left to go back to work. I’ve got to say that I was really happy to have had this conversation with them. We see all these insane overreaction stories about airline security that I think we assume that they’re all a bunch of paranoid literal-word-of-the-rules numbskull thugs, but instead, I found people who were friendly and approached their jobs with an air of common sense and realism. I hope this means that the so-called “security theatre” is fading away and well on it’s way on becoming yesterday’s “what were we thinking” nonsense.

* * *

Oh, and I love this, I was laughing like crazy: Muslim clerics (including mainstream Americans) have issued a fatwa saying that it’s against their religion to be searched at the airport (by the new body scanners)… Bwahahahahahaaa… Yeah, that one’s going to be well received politically! Ha. As if “you can’t search me because of my religion” is really going to go over well with people who have paranoid nightmares about Islamofascists. Oh, hahaha, I’m still laughing. Too silly.

Also at the airport, right in front of Nefarious and I, were about sixty Israeli-Canadian kids all happily chattering in Hebrew, on some sort of a group trip. The tour organizer assured me that even though their group was huge, that it wouldn’t take long because they’d be getting checked in all at once. Unfortunately it didn’t turn out that way, and every single one of them took an inordinate amount of time to get through. I don’t know if it had anything to do with their semitic background causing them to be subconsciously ethnicly profiled or if they just messed up their papers (that’s my assumption). I did speak to an American Muslim a couple days ago who told me about the way he’s treated at borders and it really sounds like a miserable experience that I wouldn’t wish upon anyone. And don’t worry, this wasn’t an “Angry German versus The Jews” story — after it was obvious there was going to be a crazy wait, they let Nefarious and I go in front of them so we could sit down and read and play cards until the agent came and got her.

* * *

Here is the text of the original entry, now that I feel OK reposting it:

I almost always carry a knife, not as a “macho” thing, but as a tool for opening paint cans, sharpening pencils, splitting pills in half, whittling, opening mail, and so on. It’s something that I use and need, and don’t think twice about because it’s so normal to me. On my last flight I inadvertently brought along such a tool on the trip there and the trip back, passing through security of course in the process twice. They scanned me, my boots, my Kindle, and so on, but didn’t notice the knife (which was clipped to my pants and not hidden in any way). The only thing that they spent extra time investigating? My daughter’s boots, which have a battery and electronics because they have lights in them. I’m posting this to point out that security of this type is largely a waste of time and “all show”, and that we need to think about addressing the risks of terrorism different ways (such as profiling, procedural improvements on the plane itself such as secure doors, or, more importantly, addressing the root causes such as needless cultural conflicts, class inequality, religion and ignorance — those last two may well be the same thing).

No offense was intended to any of the staff involved. The security folks — one of them Muslim by the way, and self-identifying as such by wearing a head scarf — were friendly adhered to proper procedure and given the system, I don’t think anyone made any mistakes. My point is that the system itself is flawed. Note also that this “knife” is a Blackie Collins Zytel (fiberglass reinforced nylon) assisted model with a Beryllium Copper spring, which gives it a very low EM signature. It is significantly less robust than a metal blade to the point of being useless for most knife applications and would be better called a letter opener than a knife, a toy really (which is why I didn’t really stress when I realized I had it with me as I doubt it can really be considered a knife), although more ideal for things like stripping live wire. However, similar knives in stronger but also scanner-invisible materials such as ceramics exist (some nice ones are made by Boker for example).


I do believe that terrorism is a real problem, albeit one that is overstated and fear-mongered, so it bothers me a lot when the steps taken to address the problem are ineffective and counterproductive, and not only that, they end up punishing people who are innocent (by harassing and slowing down paying customers). It’s similar to the problems I face with my pain pill prescription shortage — because there are people who really do abuse those medications, steps are taken to make getting the prescriptions much harder. As a result, people who really are in pain have trouble getting relief, and people who get their drugs outside legal channels are not particularly affected. If anything, they increase the black market cost, which actually increases the amount of money in the hands of drug dealers! Gun control laws often have the same impact of punishing law-abiding owners while completely bypassing criminals. Argh! I could go on and on…

Max Hardcore stays in jail…

I’m no fan of the type of sadoporn that Max Hardcore and his ilk produce, but I was very disturbed to read that his conviction was upheld, meaning that he’ll have to continue serving his roughly four year long prison sentence from obscenity charges. As reprehensible as the movies he made may have been, no laws were broken in making them (ie. the acts themselves were legal) and no one was hurt (non-consensually anyway; nothing beyond permissible constraints of acting). I find it very disturbing that one can be charged and get significant time for doing/saying something legal.

Max Hardcore’s lawyers were hoping to fight the conviction based on the idea that obscenity — a concept which personally I don’t think should exist at all — is defined by the community that consumes or is exposed directly to the content (for example, a national average if not something more specific). However, the prosecution was making the claim that the community could be hand picked, meaning that you could determine obscenity by the most conservative possible community even though they are obviously not the target market (which is what they did, choosing a extremist Christian-heavy community in Florida to poll). I have to wonder what’s next… Could community standards be based on the morals of a repressive Islamic community for example?

The borders of free speech — and human/civil rights in general — can not be dictated by or for the masses, let alone the repressive masses… Rights only have value when they extend out to the borders of expression and lifestyle and belief, as those are the elements of society that need the rights. Obviously the masses have protection by default. Anyway, I don’t normally comment on politics here any more, but this is a particularly disturbing case in my opinion.