03 February 2009


The 25 random narcissistic things meme

Here are 25 random things about me. I was tagged twice for this meme on Facebook, once by an acquaintance currently stationed in Iraq, so I felt obligated. I have to say it was more fun to compile the list than I expected. Now I'm supposed to tag 25 more people (!). Not sure if I'll get to that many. If you're on Facebook and I tag you with this, and you haven't done it already, and if you want to participate—unlike a typical chain letter or meme, I impose no such obligation on you—then read the rules at the bottom of my list here.

  1. I was born three weeks before the first moon landing, and apparently cried through most of the event.
  2. My two daughters and I were born at the same hospital, St. Paul's in downtown Vancouver. My wife was born at Lions Gate Hospital in North Vancouver. My mother was born at Vancouver General Hospital. My dad was born in Berlin, Germany, in 1939 (good timing!).
  3. Finnish (which my grandparents spoke) was my first language, but I've totally forgotten it. I never really learned German (my father's first language) either. I picked up French pretty well in school, and was nearly bilingual for awhile, but that has become awfully rusty. Even so, I can still read out words in all those languages with excellent pronunciation, without being able to understand them very well if at all. I also took Latin for two years, briefly studying Russian too. All have been helpful in my day job of being a writer and editor in English, and were also useful during my science degree, with all the Latin and Greek terminology.
  4. The house I now share with my wife and daughters is one half of a duplex; my parents live in the other half. I have lived in this structure, which was built in 1967, for all but four years of my life. A poplar tree I planted in our yard in kindergarten now towers over the house.
  5. My hair was quite blond, with big waves, until I was five or six years old, when it began turning to the straight dark brown it is now. My eyes have always been able to appear either blue or green, depending on the light. If you look closely, you can see that's because I have a dark blue ring around the irises, then mottled green further in, and light brown speckles near the pupils.
  6. When I was a kid, my favourite colour was red. Now I prefer purple, but I don't own many clothes of either colour.
  7. I don't think that I ever believed in a god or gods, even when I was a little boy who did believe in Santa Claus.
  8. We first got a colour television in the early '70s, but I didn't notice a difference, because I had been imagining the colours on the black-and-white set anyway.
  9. Having grown up during Canada's conversion to metric, I instinctively think of speeds in kilometres per hour but fuel economy in miles per gallon, dimensions in inches and feet but volume in millilitres and litres, and temperature in Celsius but weight in pounds.
  10. In grade 5, when I was the same age my older daughter is now, my best friend and I, with our parents' full permission, took several day-long bike trips by ourselves across Greater Vancouver, such as to the airport and back, or to the North Shore. Hard to imagine kids that age doing it now.
  11. I was enough of a nerd in my pre-teens to learn pi to ten decimal places (3.1415926535) and the speed of light to similar precision, in both metric (299,792.458 km/s) and imperial (186,282.397 mi/s) units. I was still able to type those out just now without thinking about them.
  12. I'm pretty sure I've never experienced an outdoor temperature lower than about –20°C. I've visited plenty of places that get cold enough, just not at the times of year I've been there.
  13. I saw Pluto the (former) planet once, at Manning Park in southern central B.C., where I had to look through my dad's telescope, see a star, look for a dimmer star next to it, and then avert my eyes slightly to catch the dim spot of Pluto out of the corner of my eye. I was very, very cold.
  14. When my roommates and I first moved in together in 1987, we had more than one computer per person, but none of us owned an iron.
  15. While I've been a professional musician for close to 20 years, and made my full-time living at it for a while, I never took band class in school. I had four years of private guitar lessons before high school, but I taught myself drums, now my main instrument, when I was 18 and in second-year university.
  16. The big toe on my right foot has lacked a toenail since 1988.
  17. Although I've lived in Canada my whole life, and I've been to many cities around the world, including Melbourne, Las Vegas, Moscow, London, Honolulu, Rome, Los Angeles, Denver, and New York City, I have never visited Winnipeg, Montreal, Quebec City, the Maritime provinces, or any of Canada's three northern territories. I have also never set foot in Asia, South America, Africa, or Antarctica.
  18. Most of the guitar solos I ever play on my recordings or when jamming around are based on the generic blues-box scale positions I learned from the September 1990 copy of Guitar World, with Jeff Healey on the cover.
  19. Amusement park rides that spin sideways in any way make me want to throw up, usually within 20 or 30 seconds. Roller coasters, Ferris wheels, and the like are no problem, but even something as innocuous as the Tilt-A-Whirl turns me green.
  20. My wife helped me learn to enjoy extra-hot showers and baths, and I helped her learn to enjoy sleeping in.
  21. I keep an old pair of glasses to wear when I go swimming, so the plastic on my newer frames doesn't get dicoloured by the chlorine. No glasses is not an option—my vision is too poor.
  22. One reason I still try to play gigs with my band, despite my current health problems, is that at least once during every gig, often in the green room between sets, something will happen that sets me laughing uncontrollably. For example, on a chilly April morning last year, it was seeing bassist Doug layered up so much in his warm clothes and costume that he looked like this.
  23. I have quite a few scars, almost all of which are, for some reason, on the right side of my body. The vast majority have come from cancer-related surgeries in the past two years. One required more than 25 staples; another looks like a bull's-eye target on my abdomen and is about the diameter of a DVD.
  24. It's not unusual for our house to get an international courier delivery every weekday, usually cosmetic samples from New York for my wife to review on her podcast.
  25. My current sideburns were inspired by Jemaine from Flight of the Conchords, even though he has huge mutton-chops and mine are polite little strips of fuzz like my dad had 35 years ago. Jemaine named his first child Sophocles, but that didn't inspire me at all. Besides, my kids are a decade older.

The rules: Once you've been tagged, you are supposed to write a note with 25 random things, facts, habits, or goals about you. At the end, choose 25 people to be tagged. You have to tag back the person who tagged you so they know you've done it. If I tagged you, it's because I want to know more about you, or just because I'm annoying.

To do the tagging, go to Notes (in the Tabs section of your Profile page on Facebook), paste these instructions in the body of the note, type your 25 random things, tag 25 people (in the upper right corner of the Notes app), then click Publish. Or if you import your notes from your blog into Facebook, tag the note once it appears. Have fun.

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01 December 2008


Sixth-photo meme

Beth is propagating a meme. If you use Flickr, go to the sixth page of your photostream and pick the sixth picture there, then post it to your blog. Here's mine:

Leaves 4

The next people I'll tag for this meme? I'm supposed to pick six: Arieanna and Ianiv, John, Mark, Gillian, Dave, and Tony.

But hey, don't let that restrict you. If you want to join in, then have at it!

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15 July 2008


Who are those fuzzy brown rectangular monsters chasing the kitten?

ETech 2006 (Monday) at Flickr.comOne of the classic Internet meme images is the blocky stuffed monsters chasing a tiny cat. (The associated tagline is "Every time you masturbate, God kills a kitten.") I didn't know the origins of the image, or who the monsters were, so at a low level I wondered about it—but not enough to look it up.

Then Tod asked, in frustration, "What IS this anyway?" Since I was already in bed with chemo side effects without the motivation to do much else, that got me rolling. It didn't take much to find out, and inevitably the best explanation was at Wikipedia:

Domo is the mascot of Japan's NHK television station, appearing in several 30 second stop-motion sketches shown as station identification during shows. [...]

[Domo-kun is] described as 'a strange creature that hatched from an egg.' Domo's favorite food is Japanese-style meat and potato stew, and he has a strong dislike for apples, due to an unexplained mystery in his DNA. Domo-kun is known to pass gas repeatedly when nervous or upset. [...]

The popularization of Domo as an internet meme and cliche outside of Japan is often attributed to a Fark thread from July 28th, 2001. The thread became popular on the then-young site, prompted in part by its serendipitous ID number of 31337. From there, Fark users began using the image and likeness of the character in various image contests and as additional, humorous banter in threads.

Alas, most images in the thread are now broken, so Google Images and Flickr to the rescue.

In other words, it's one of those semi-fluky Internet memes that no one could possibly have predicted. But the meme-launching "Domo-kuns chasing the kitten" photo has just the right combination of cute and "blurry '70s Sasquatch documentary" creepy for me that, in a way, it needs no explanation.

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10 June 2008


Photos from ideas

Here are a couple of photo collages. The first one shows two views from the same place in my kids' schoolyard, one from today and one from this past winter:

Spring and winter

The second came to me via Jodi, who explains at her blog how to search for and assemble your own similar Flickr meme collage:

Flickr photo meme mosaic

1. Penmachine in action, 2. 2006 07-22 HOOK typeB [16], 3. talking to air, 4. alive and bright, 5. Lavender crème brûlée with fresh berries, 6. hawaii lava, 7. The Glenlivet, 8. Kari Byron, 9. Auroville 014 - Colour Purple, 10. St. George's School - 1931, 11. Disco Girls - 5, 12. derek jarman's gaff

P.S. I answered the questions in reverse order.

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01 January 2008


One words for 2008

Let's start off the year with one of those taggy blog post things. I stumbled across it at Jen's site last night, which is when I filled it out:

  • Your last meal: appies
  • Something on your desk/work area: microphones
  • Your New Year’s Eve plans: family
  • The smallest gift you received this year: adenocarcinoma
  • The largest gift you received this year: life
  • Something you wish you hadn’t eaten so much of during the holidays: nuts
  • On your feet: callouses
  • Your hair: greying
  • How many other countries you’ve traveled to: nine
  • One country you dream of visiting: Antarctica
  • A hobby you’d like to take up/revisit this year: cycling
  • A hobby of yours that died (aww, buh-bye) this past year: bass
  • A publication you subscribe to (print): Wired
  • The most embarrassing subscription in your feed reader (if you have one): egofeeds
  • One of your favorite stores to window shop dreamily in: L&M
  • One of your favorite online stores to window shop dreamily on: cameracanada.com
  • A color you love to wear: purple
  • Your bed pillow: doubled
  • The color of your kitchen counter: 1967oleum
  • What you plan to do when you get up from the computer: sleep

Why not try your own, either in the comments here, at Jen's post, or on your own blog? The rules: answer all questions with one word only; you may need to get creative if, for instance, your favourite store is more than one word. This will be strictly enforced, in a scary way that shall not be revealed unless necessary.

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