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Have a Beer. Don't Cost Nothin'.
Good Evening, Godless Sodomites.
I've been thinking for a while that I may just ditch LiveJournal entirely. It's pretty much nothing but Russian spam these days anyways. On the upside, I now have a multitude of resources for finding software, movies, and Viagra, along with a multitude of other legal and not-so legal drugs.

But I digress.

For a few years now, I've been running www.markramsden.wordpress.com as my photo-a-day blog. It's definitely less-than-a-photo-a-day, and has been for some time. So, I may appropriate that one as my regular writing place, and put together something like MJRPhoto.wordpress.com or something. It would match my @MJRPHoto twitter. I have so much linkage between my, myself, and Boozysmurf now, trying to keep them seperate is pretty much redundant. I also have The Penguin Likes White Russians for fiction writing. Again, it's been a while since I did any of THAT, either.

It would definitely make things easier and more accessible though.

Not that it's been a particularly bad ten years on LJ, but these days, I think it's pretty much outlived its usefulness for me.

So, feel free to look up the ones up there depending on your taste: Inane ramblings, inane fictional ramblings, and inane random photography.
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Yeah, cuz you care, right?

Currently, I'm continuing to forge my way through Steven Erikson's "Toll the Hounds": The Malazan series (of which it's the seventh? book, I think) has come to a close, and I've got about three to go. But they are hard work. There's an awful lot going on in them, they span hundreds, if not thousands of years, and the cast is monstrously large. I like them a lot, but they take work. They're also measureable by weight: I think my current one is about twelve-hundred pages.

I've also just started Lev Grossman's "The Magicians": appparently, everyone except me has read this already. I've gotten myself about two chapters in, and I'm hooked.

Finally, because I didn't have "The Magicians" at work yesterday, I started rereading John Wyndham's "The Chrysalids": Yet another in a string of books I got as freebies in a box of throw-aways from my bosses' boss. I've read it before, but to be honest, I'm not sure I've read it since high-school, and that's too far back for me to think about comfortably, now.

After those are done, I'm looking at:

  • Cormac McCarthy - No Country for Old Men
  • Peter Hamilton - The Dreaming Void
  • Jack Whyte - Order from Chaos
  • David Bilsborough - The Wanderers Tale

    That's a pretty solid couple of weeks reading, I think.
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    Last weekend, I made the run down to my folks, saw my Uncle Dave, had some beers, did the good life thing.

    This week is more of the same:  Work Monday, sick Tuesday (went in and came home), work Wednesday, then vacation Thursday, Friday, and Monday.  Weather permitting, Thursday and Friday are new lawn day.  idioglossia is very excited.  Zaphod has no idea what's going on.  But that's pretty typical. 

    Friday night, I'm hoping to be driving down into Southern Ontario.  I say "hoping" because I've got a GenCoupe cruise on Saturday: however, the forecast has just taken a 180 degree about-face.  Rain all weekend.  And if that's the case, much as I'd like to do the cruise, I'm not driving 1500km in the rain, to go for a drive in the rain, and not check out everyone's cars, hang out, etc.  Without that "no rain" time, it's kinda pointless.  The good news is, I'm not the only one who feels that way: there's an official 'rain date' for the meet, which is July 16th.  I'm half hoping that ends up being the case, it'd make life easier.   Also, the rumour is someone is picking up a new vehicle this weekend (no, it's not me).  But I shall leave that be for the moment so I don't jinx it.

    If it's rain all weekend, well, then, it's gonna be games and movies all weekend.  I'm not cancelling my days off.  If the forecast clears again, then it'll be stuff for the house... Actually, let me digress here, for my own benefit.


  • Pick up new dog food
  • haircut
  • weather permitting: set up chop saw, do more baseboards
  • wash/clay bar/wax car
  • install silicone vaccuum hoses


  • 8:15am appointment for two-year service (oil change, coolant and transmission flush, all fluids changed, etc etc)
  • minor detail on car, vaccuum interior, condition leather, detail hard surfaces
  • 4pm - hit the road to Bellville


  • Up at 5am, drive to Brampton for the meet
  • 5pm or so, meet back up with Jay
  • Maybe end up at LilBrother's place

    So, yeah, that's a fairly well packed couple of vacation days.  It's a good thing all the car stuff is relaxing for me.   The plan had, in fact, to have idioglossia come along for the cruise, but we've not sorted out kennels for the pooch, nor have we got any sort of plan.  I'm hoping, if I do go, that I can stop in and visit my lil' brother and his wife.  Again, that's all contingent on weather.  I can definitely tack some extra stuff on the side, but I definitely am not making the run if the forecast is for rain all weekend.  Overcast, I can live with!  30% chance of rain? Totally fine.  In fact, actually better: it's way easier to take good photographs in those conditions than in full-sun, blue skies.  And lets face it, one of the reasons I'm going is to take pictures!

    Sunday will be the drive back, probably stopping in again at Mom & Dad's, briefly, to say hi.  Otherwise, it'll be heavy on taking idioglossia to Starbucks.

    If I don't go to the cruise, then I think I gotta head over to Scotiabank Place and at least look in on the guys who're starting AutoCross this weekend.  And I gotta prep myself for the following weekend when, I think, I'm gonna do it myself.  Eeps.  In fact, if I don't go to the cruise, I'm pertty much obligated to go race on the 18th.  Because I won't have spent $100+ on gas the weekend before, so I can definitely afford the $45 entry fee for the event.


    After a huge fiasco, I did finally get my grill for my car, from Korean Auto Imports, however, the service, and specifically the communication/support is so lackluster there that I can't say I'll be doing business with them again.  I'm actively advising other people to consider their actions before they deal with 'em too.  Not only did I not get an apology, but they took down my (obviously negative, but polite, and constructive) review on their site, and actually accused me of being at fault for their lack of communication.  I've got a reply ready for them, and it'll be sent shortly, I just want to calm down a bit, re-read it, and ensure that I remain the on-paper good guy in all of this (ie. not lose my cool).  The good news is, there's lots of other vendors for the things I want/will want in the future, and several of those, I've dealt with before, and trust their ability to get shit done.   KAI is NOT on that list.

    The upside is, I got the grill, finally, in the right colour, and got it installed with a minimum of difficulty.  For once, I didn't even need to take the entire front bumper/fascia off to do it, too, which was excellent.  And it looks fantastic.  I'd come to really loathe the stock "waterfall" grill.   On top of it looking better, I seem to get improved airflow through to the radiator as well: the temperature gauge was down about a third of a tick, and while it's not much, every little helps, especially with the heat a turbo engine develops.

    One way or the other, there'll be new pics this weekend, I'm sure.


    And that's about all there is to say about that.  Cars and houses and work... Yeah, not talking about work online right now.  Not worth the hassle, nor is it worth it to get myself worked up again.  Let it end with "I'm not thrilled with the way internal business is done, especially when I get screwed" and leave it at that.

    Posted via LiveJournal app for Android.


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    Well, I finished “Tarzan of the Apes”, and loved it. It’s got it’s cringe moments (as you might expect from a book who’s social mores and stereotypes are 99 years old). The maid, “Esmerelda” specifically. Otherwise, though, it’s still a fantastic adventure story that holds up well, and is, for all its ‘superman’ feel to it, has a believable vibe to it that was enjoyable.

    I finished “Autumn” by David Moody last night. Despite [Bad username: elhulk] having recommended it, I’m not sure I’ll pick up the others: I may read ‘em if they’re thrown at me, but it definitely didn’t pull me in, and nothing really … happened. Just a few people cowering in the corner of the room at the end of the world.

    I’ve ended up, with the last of the books from the box’o’freebies, with “The Crysalids” and “Ravenheart”. Everyone knows Crysalids, but I’ve not read it in years, possibly since grade ten or so. But Ravenheart I can’t start because it’s book three of David Gemmell’s “Rigante” trilogy. Fortunately, I’ve read a ton of Gemmell in the past and am a fan. It’ll be no major hardship to order up book one and two.

    One of my kindle freebies is, and you may laugh at me now, C.L. Bevill : Bubba and the Dead Woman which is a semi-comedic (to me, at least) mystery novel set in the deep south, who's protaganist is an ex-millitary, now-suspect, mechanic hillbilly. I shit you not. I'm really enjoy it. And, free! So, what the hell is there to lose? And it's on my phone, so I can read it whenever I feel I have a minute or two, or longer.
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    Seriously. I finally jumped on mightydogking's bandwagon, and started really reading stuff on my phone. And by "stuff" I mean, books. And I'm diggin' it. Even the legitimate sources have a plethora of free stuff, and not just classics.

    So, again, there's no doubt that there's a tablet in my future. It's a matter of when, not if. I've got apps for the Kobo and Kindle right now, and I'm finding that because of them, I'm reading more. Which, for me, is saying something. And I'm now completely completely sold on a tablet rather than an e-reader. Given that e-readers tend towards being locked to a single purchase point, and don't do anything BUT e-read, where a tablet does all my interwebs stuff, plus every e-reader market place out there? It's a no-brainer for me.

    That said, the companies have to get their shit together. I've said it before, but it bears repeating. There is NO WAY an e-book should cost the same, or more, than a dead-tree book. NO WAY. Yes, I know, the distributor has to get paid, and the host has to get paid, and the author has to get paid. But the overhead on producing and distributing an e-book is nowhere near that of a paperbook, and gets cheaper and cheaper the more you sell. Bestsellers should actually be cheaper than other stuff. Will that happen? No. And I don't begrudge the authors their profit, either. They gotta get paid, and I want them to, because if I bought the book, it's because I like it. If I like it, I want them to make more of them. That means they gotta make a consistent living doing it.

    So I get that.

    But if a paperback is $6.99, why the FUCK would I pay $9.99 for the e-book?? Hell, if the paperback is $9.99, why would I pay the same price for e-book? If the paperback is $6.99, the e-book should be $2.99, at most. The overhead is nil, and if you believe the author's getting ANY of that extra money from the ebook? I think you're dreaming. So, much like the music industry, why would I pay extra to prop up the middleman in an obsolete business model?

    And I'll tell you, find the pricepoint? And I'll buy a lot. I regularly spend $150 every six to eight weeks on books. I'm a fucking junkie. The only reason I buy that little is because that's enough to keep me fixed, without breaking the bank. I've got $70 queued up at chapters.ca right now. I'll buy a lot more volume of books, and a lot more frivolously, if you let me do it on the fly, and for a price I consider "nearly inconsequential".

    But if you charge me more for a non-physical thing than for the physical thing?

    Well, torrenting it is, kids.

    Also, anyone who buys a physical book should get the e-book version for free. And I don't want to hear "that's not economically viable" or "people will just share it and we'll lose sales". Because independent authors, podcasters, and self-publishers are ALREADY DOING IT. And making money. Know how? By selling a product people actually want to buy. They're fostering a community of fans, rather than consumers, people who buy it because it's there and they want to support it, and 'their' author. My posts about my favoured podcasters are a good example. If all I wanted was the story, I can have that for free. They give it away, serialized weekly, in an audio podcast. Voila. I've got my stories. I buy the books when they're released (pre-order, in fact) because I want these guys to surivive and keep going. When they publish the book? Email them with your recipt, they send you (a number of them do, not all, to be fair) a non-DRM format of your choice. They have apps for varied and sundry platforms, providing the same materials.

    Sorry, ranting a bit.

    But it really is crazy. e-books will explode, if they're priced realistically. But this is, I firmly believe, a case of an industry protecting the 'old' way of doing business. They're ALMOST adapting. But not quite.
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    While idioglossia is lovin' the rain for what it's doing for her garden, it's not helping me and my riding/exercise any. This week doesn't get any better, with rain forecast in varying amounts (from 3mm to 20mm a day) and effectively shutting down my rides. Also, no sun next weeked right now! Booo!



    Always reading.

    I've just started Autumn, a fairly light zombie book. That's my current home-read, after finishing the lastest from Jonathan Maberry, King of Plagues. Highly recommend the Maberry books (specifically, the "Joe Ledger" series). The first Patient Zero got me because it was a zombie book (and had a good rep as such). The follow-ups continue the story but aren't zombies. Heavy on international terrorism and secret societies dedicated to destroying the world, with some serious crazy worked in, too. The first book was a bit flat in the characters, but he's definitely gotten his legs now, and the characters are growing leaps and bounds. I always look forward to a new one of these.

    I just finished "Warriors", as well: a compilation of short storries about, well, you guessed it. I figured, hey, how much can it hurt to read a bunch of short stories about swords and sorcery?

    Thing is, that's not it at all. There's some excellent sci-fi in here, and even one about a pet dog (and I gotta admit, that one got me right down in the cockles *sniff*). Some fantastic reading here, and if you check out the list of authors involved via the link? It's not a huge suprise that there's some good stories in there, either.

    That's all finished up though, so, I've gotta pass it on to my dad (who uses my addiction for books as a library. There will be no intervention), and likely mightydogking too.

    Next on the list is one of the classics I just never got to:

    Yup. I never read (and I don't know how that happened) Tarzan of the Apes. I snagged a copy out of a box of freebies though, before I turned them over to the charity garage sale people here at work, so, I've got nothing else here at my desk right now, and I'm looking forward to striking another classic off the list. I'm really stunned that I never read this one, of all the classics I have gotten to over the years.


    I'm really stressed at work, and about work. This is problematic, because there's no immediate 'fix'. I'm stuck in a situation where, at best, I'm short-contract-to-short-contract. At worst, I'm back to my old job, testing, which I don't want to do anymore: I don't learn anything at it, and I'm bored doing it. But there's a whole bunch of rules/politics/union stuff involved right now, up to and including a complete clusterfuck of a hiring process, and what it's ended up with is that everyone wants me to keep doing my job, but no one can offer any sort of guarentee that I'll be allowed to do so. What it means is, I've had ten contracts in the last fourteen months, as short as three weeks. My pay has been interrupted and topped up four times. It's about to happen again next week. I still don't have an extension for the coming weeks/months, but at the same time, I've not trained anyone. There is no one right now, except me, who has any idea at all how to do the job. I stress out over taking vacation and sick time, because of this, never mind potentially just up-and-leaving because the process is holding everything back.

    I have no idea how much I'm going to get paid, on a week to week basis, despite knowing what my salary is.

    I've actually laid the situation out to my boss, and her boss: If I don't get to keep doing what I'm doing (and doing well) then I'll be out of the division in six months/first opportunity. They understand this, and I think, are as frustrated by the process as I am. What's worse, as far as I'm concerned, is that I've been given short-term (very short-term!) opportunities at a higher level, and come out looking good. None of this will actually help in the process, because the process is blind (and apparently, stupid, but I won't even get into that).

    This leads to me being extremely frustrated, which leads to me being unable to concentrate on anything. I'm definitely doing my university thing: and working deadlines at the last minute. And I'll probably keep getting away with that, but I'd rather go back to doing it 'right' over time, rather than right, at the last minute. Concentration though, that's a bitch.

    On top of that, it makes it hard for me to contribute to any gleeful examining of future financial prospects (ie. houses that don't share walls with other people's houses) because I don't know how much I'm gonna be getting paid for longer than three paychecks at a time. ANd if I do go back to my old job, it's nearly an $8000/year pay cut. Needless to say, over two years, I've gotten used to that extra scratch, and started planning around having it.

    There is no resolution in sight, and any resolution is completely out of my hands, and worse, seems to have little-to-no bearing in how I've done the job, just "the process demands it".


    For years, I've been waiting for the next Song of Ice and Fire book, and I guess we know one of the reasons, at least, why it's been five years since the last one (wherein Martin said in the preface that the next (fifth) book was already completed and should be out in around six months... aaaand now it looks like tentatively, it'll be out July 12th, 2011) Game of Thrones on HBO is ... in a word, fantastic. Heavy on the politics you'd expect from a "game of thrones", but doesn't shy away from the action and violence. There's a ton of sex, which also seems to be an HBO trademark these days (*cough*TrueBlood*cough*) in their serials, but it's not quite as intrustive as some of the reviews have made it out to be. Visually, I think it's pretty much spot-on, and the opening credits are a thing of beauty. Complete wins as far as casting? Tyrion Lannister, for sure, and John Snow, who's more subtle than Tyrion, but an excellent portrayal. The others (Daenarys, especially) are coming into their own. The only downside I can find is that they've over-exaggerated the truly despicable characters which makes them mildly unbelievable. They're definitely heavy-handed in the books, but on-screen, even more so.

    More importantly, I got idioglossia caught up on them on Victoria Day Monday, and she's not read the books, so it's fresh and new for her. She practiaclly bounced and clapped at the impromptu duel between the Mountain and the Hound.

    Tonight, pizza, and episode 6.

    And that should do it for now. Are ya bored yet?
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    So, as anyone who reads here regularly knows, I've bandied about the idea of doing Autocross this summer. Actually, it's more like "you bought a sportscar, you pussy, stop being a pussy-ass-poser, and go race it". This is about the safest and most affordable of racing forms: A cone track, timed, in a parking lot (a big one), with cars grouped by class. It's about thirty-five bucks a race, with about a 10-race season. You help work the corners, and set-up/clean-up. It's as grass-roots as it gets. (read the link for more than that!).

    The schedule for the Motorsports Club of Ottawa Autocross Season.

  • Open House: May 15th @ Canadian Tire Carling (details to come)
  • Autox School : May 22nd (separate announcement coming)
  • Rumble at the Strip: (non-scoring) May 28th & 29th at Picton Airfield, Picton, ON
  • Event 1: June 12th
  • Event 2: June 18th
  • CADL: June 19th (non-scoring) at PMG in Blainville, QC
  • Event 3: July 2nd
  • Event 4: July 10th
  • Event 5: Interprovincial Cup - July 23rd & 24th -- Ste-Eustache, QC
  • Event 6: August 7th (preferred) or August 6th (alternative)
  • Event 7: August 14th (preferred) or August 13th (alternative)
  • Event 8: September 4th (preferred) or September 3rd (alternative)
  • Event 9: CADL Septemeber 11th (possibly scoring) at PMG in Blainville, QC
  • Event 10: September 18th (preferred) or September 17th (alternative)
  • Event 11: October 2nd

    I'm not expecting to get to all of these. I'd love to. But the 'non-scoring' events especially, are unlikely to happen.


    Except May 28/29 at Picton Airfield. That could be done, because I've got somewhere to stay (Mom & Dad's, duh). That'd be a fun introduction to the way things work, I think. But I'll have to confer with idioglossia as to whether or not a weekend away is viable that weekend. It may not be, and as it's only ten days away...

    What I do know is that I will 99% be in Class "D". Very mild modifications (Cold-Air Intake, Blow-off valve, lowering springs, performance tires). The bad news is, that puts me up against last years "rookie of the year" (who also drives a Genesis Coupe).

    Gamz #222 ridealong finishline
    GAMZ on the Autocross last year

    On the upside, I won't be up against (directly) Spool2Go, who's now bordering on massively modified, and is making around 80hp more than stock.

    I'm definitely going to need a photographer in the house on some of those dates. :) Just not early on, when I'm embarassingly slow.

    If anyone's interested in coming to watch one day, they're welcome. It's a drop-in, drop-out kind of situation, and all you have to do is go to the timing booth, and sign the waiver (to hang out in the 'paddock') saying you won't sue. The chances of anyone getting hurt? pretty much nil. And there will be some seriously zoomy, fun cars there through the summer. the "A" and "B" classes have some ridiculous, purpose built cars that are blindingly quick.

    Other car stuff.

    I had a blast at the Hyundai Fundai in Cambridge last year, and am hoping to go again this year. This year, though, it's July 30th.. Normally, that would be the August Long weekend, and the cottage, but as Jay is working that Monday, now he's a Quebexican as far as work is concerned, I'm wondering if we put off the big-cottage-event until September/Labour Day Weekend. I shall have to confer with all involved. It would suck to miss that cottage weekend for the first time in, oh, ten years, but at the same time... I really enjoy seeing all the Toronto and Southern Ontario guys & girls who I talk to all year on the forums. And this year, it sounds like there's a contingent of Ottawa folks going down. It also doesn't coincide with a race-day weekend, so I don't have to ditch THAT to go. Again, will have to see what happens. In fact, if there's a bunch of Ottawa types going down, I'm seriously tempted to talk to Mom & Dad, and go Friday night, and have everyone camp on Mom & Dad's lawn that night. Could be some serious fun. And it's all of about a two hour drive to the meeting spot in Toronto, for the big cruise down into Cambridge.

    Hmmm. yeah, that could be some serious good times.

    As you can see, I've kinda gotten immersed in the culture, rather than sitting on the fringes.

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    Street Photography is one of the things I've never been brave enough to really throw myself into. I love the idea: it sprung to mind again today with Mother Jones' article on Vivian Maier. She shot some stunning pictures, completely candid, unstaged, city personality images, and never shared them. They were found a few years back, and it turned she'd died fairly recently after the find. Read the story: it's worthwhile.

    But it's a different time, too. I've talked about this with a lot of people I know, and I'm expanding in my head as I look at, as I discover Maier's work.

    For those who don't know, Street Photography is not photography of streets. It's about people. It's about candid, unstaged, often unposed, subjects. often enough, those subjects are completely unaware they're being photographed. I've tried a little. To begin with, I'm not great at portraits. But beyond that there's a bigger issue.

    Fabio Costa, Street-Photographers.com

    I'm a guy.

    Why's that an issue?

    Well, fifty, sixty years ago, it probably wasn't, often. But now? You see a guy with a camera taking pictures of PEOPLE in the street, and even more so, kids, or women, he obviously doesn't know, and they don't appear to know they're being photographed, what's YOUR FIRST THOUGHT?


    It makes me uncomfortable to say the least, to be thought of in that light. To have that suspicious spotlight focused on me.

    John Goldsmith, Street-Photographers.com

    And it's easier for women. I'm not saying that spotlight doesn't brush across them occasionally: I'm certain it does. But I gotta say, Europe, the UK, The good ol' USA, I've not seen any videos of police approaching female photographers and calling them terrorists because they're taking pictures of architecture, and having their gear confiscated. I've not seen people getting in the face of female photographers for taking pictures of women or children in the street. But men... Well, that's a different story.

    It's a sad state of affairs when we're losing an artform, or at least a specific (male) perspective on an artform, because of societal paranoia.

    And it's even worse that that paranoia is in some cases completely justified.

    I don't really have a point with this, other than "this is the way it is, and it's why I don't do it". I'd love to practice this kind of photography. I think street photography is one of the best slices of history you can get: at its best, it's completely unstaged, it's representative, and it is, for lack of a better term, completely real.

    Maybe there's a way around it.

    Maybe this guy (or girl) is right. You have to be IN it:

    Street Photography involves getting close to people — often very close. To do this type of shooting successfully you have to be in the scene, part of it, not a distant observer. This means shooting with wide lenses; certainly nothing longer than 50mm. With a wide-angle lens you are a participant. With a telephoto you are at best just an observer, at worst a voyeur.

    But even this guy gets my issue, and why I just... don't try... on this particular topic:

    This little girl was standing at the window of a doll store in Florence, Italy. The child's parents were standing just behind her and I was walking towards them with my wife beside me. Before lifting my camera to my eye I smiled at the parents and they smiled back. We all recognized the charm of what we were watching. After taking a few frames, we smiled at each other again and moved on. If I hadn't been with my wife I wonder what their response would have been.

    The whole article is worthwhile.

    And there's a lot of suggestions for doing it right. What pains me, and worries me, is the cost for doing it wrong. And it's a personal cost, I admit. If I'm goign to play at being an artist, then shouldn't it be worth that cost? And yet I can't make it worth that cost in my head. I can't make the leap to it being worthwhile to me to get a photograph, if the cost is increased paranoia on someone elses part: if the cost is those ten seconds of fear for a mother who thinks a predator is tracking her child, or even her. I can live with having to explain myself, even to the police, if it got that far, but inflicting that on someone else, a parent, someone who's been scared before.

    Hell, in the long term, I could even handle a punch from an irate boyfriend or husband.

    But I know that feeling, that vibe, about men, about photographers, and about society, is out there. That you can't trust anyone with your own person or your family. And in those situations, the instinct is NOT to talk it out, to rationalize, to find out what's going on. The instinct is to end the percieved danger.

    And one thing I noticed, rifling through the shots at
    Street-Photographers.com, is that the vast multitude of pictures there are of either men, or wide streetscapes. There's few of women, and fewer still of children. And I don't believe for a second that there are no women and children on the streets in question. What I do believe is that I'm not necessarily alone in my feelings, and that there's some pretty serious self-sensoring going on, before the shutter even gets snapped.
    So I don't know.

    I will, I'm sure, get the odd streetscape, crowd-shot, a person pulled in close because I don't appear to be shooting them, that moment of awesome in a crowd where you get just the right expression, on just the right faces, at just the right time. But I don't think it's something I can willing work at. Because, from purely selfish reasons, I don't think I can deal with seeing that lookin people's eyes, when they know I'm the bad guy: even if it's just for a brief moment.

    Parting shot. Not all street photography has to be serious. Nor does it all have to be in black and white.

    Lukas Vasilikos, Street-photographers.com
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    Or rather, riding them.

    I've been back on the bike four days now: I hurt less, am sleeping well, and am re-organizing.

    Monday - 24km in 1h15m
    Tuesday - 29km in 1h20m
    Wednesday - 25km in 59m
    Thursday - 32km in 1h20m

    That's not bad. I'd set myself a first week goal of at least 100km. As long as I do 22km Thursday then I'm good for the week. The goal for Thursday wass actually 30km, flat, from work in a circuit home. Speaking of, for anyone who actually cares, I'm logging my routes on Map My Ride. Yesterday's 25km/h average was in large part due to only getting caught at two stoplights, because the entire route was on the Riverside bike path. The other side of the numbers is calories. I'm pretty sure my estimator (<ahref="http://www.myfitnesspal.com">MyFitnessPal</a> over-estimates the benefits of bike-riding, even at high-speed/high-effort/long-distance. I find it hard to believe that my hour of biking yesterday was good for 1000 calories burned. Hunh. It turns out (yay google!) that it might not be so over-optimistic, although speed does not equal calories burned: it's about effort, obviously. I'm on fairly flat land though, and the effort is consistent: I'm working hard to maintain speed. So, it might not be as badly estimated as I thought.

    Although in the course of that search, I found a guy who claims to have created a biking/energy used chart wherein the units of energy expended are not calories, but pints of Guinness. Now, THAT'S change I can believe in!

    Lets face it, that's not even that hard a conversion. At about 200cal per 20oz pint (proper pint) of Guinness, I'll have burned around 4000 cal this week. That'd be about twenty pints of Guinness earned, if I weren't trying to lose the weight from the Guinness I already drank over the last few months.

    Achievement Unlocked!

    I'm also (like most of us) hitting the money wall again. The last few months I've bled cash: and it's mostly my own fault. I bought some stuff for the car, I've bought a nearly equivalent amount of stuff for the house, and all in all, my VISA isn't falling, it's staying flat, and I've no cash in the bank. Of course, car and house parts don't account for the entirity of that situation, so where is it going?

    Well, it's going to eating out, eating out, and eating out. Subway at lunch ($10, and I don't NEED the cookies or drink: I have to have lunch, but that could just be a five-dollar sandwich: it's not much more than my $3 can of chunky soup) But what's really hurting me is, once again, coffee.

    $1.80 per XL Coffee at Tim Hortons
    2 times per day
    6 days a week
    4 weeks a month
    12 months a year
    $1036.80 a year on coffee.


    And, lets face it, half of those times I give into temptation, and buy a donut too. So, add another chunk to that.

    Where as, once again, a can of coffee (mid-range, PC Great Canadian Coffee) is about ten bucks, and lasts me three to four weeks. Well, it used to. Before the patented GroceryStoreShrinkRay(tm) turned my 1KG of coffee into 875g, in the same size container. *sigh* it's so hard to find good help.

    Final thought: the goal for hitting the journal (ie. writing for the sake of writing) has progressed well this week. Despite the general lack of activity on LJ these days: if it's just for me, does that matter? Maybe I should migrate to an 'actual' blog without the stigma of LJ, but.. meh. I'm comfortable with this, for the moment.

    Posted via LiveJournal app for Android.


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    so, yesterday's issues with the bike saddle.  As noted, I found a store that stocks Brooks Saddles, Tall Trees Cycles.  Turns out they're the major distribution point for Brooks, for the area.  They also showed me how the Brooks saddles work (cool) and how they break in (cooler).   Most cool of all, I didn't buy one.

    Didn't need to, with a caveat of 'yet'.

    I'm stunned this didn't occur to me, but the guys there took one look at my bike and said "well, your seat's off-line".   I've adjusted it left/right on occasion, as it's slipped, but for some reason, it never occured to me to check tilt up and down, and front/back slide.  It was slid forward, and tilted down in the BACK.  This is not good for my ass or my lads.  So, they did a quick re-adjustment (of the seat, not me.  It's not like they were buying me dinner), and sent me out for a test ride.  Definite improvement right away.  Came back, told 'em that, and they told me to enjoy, no charge.   Now, it may not always be the best business model, but they effectively talked me out of spending $130 on a new seat.   What they have ensured is that I will at least LOOK at them when it's time for me to buy a new bike.  The bad news is, they're a strict Kona/Brodie dealer.  And I've not looked much at those brands.

    That said, I'm going to.

    I've checked out a few Kona's online, now, and while they don't have a street-oriented 29'er like Marin does, they do have at least one excellent street/urban/communter: Dr. Fine.  It's especially neat because it cuts weight by not having a switch gear for the crankset.  Just a single 42-tooth crank (which is slightly smaller than the 48 I'm used to).  It'd be slightly slower than my current bike, but lighter, and more efficient.  And I could probably get them to swap a 48- or 50- tooth on for me.

    Kinda cool, they also make something that I checked out yesterday, that might be really good for idioglossia, who I'm still trying to get on a bike.

    The 'UTE.

    Extra long frame, a wood-board carry area (again, extra long) and comes with a pair of paniers.

    I gotta say, this is a cool bike!  The long frame will make it superbly comfortable: it's not going to be quick, but with the ultra-wide (read, comfortable, good on potholes) but still big-and-round 700x47c tires it won't be slow either.  And that big frame is aluminum, which will help blow off some of the weight.  It's also TOTALLY idioglossia's style.  Like, totally.  I'd love her to pick one of these up: if she did, I'd find the money for something similar for myself, too, for weekend cruising, and get us out of the car a little more often.  She could bike to Starbucks on it!  (I'm gonna die for that one). 

    The only downside is that, with the aluminum frame, and Shimano Deore gear on it, it's SERIOUSLY over-built for her: Which also means, it's expensive.  But it'd last her forever, too, and it's got that upright riding position that she favours.  I think she could also live with, and enjoy a Brodie PAX, but it's not as cool, I don't think.  It's purple though, so that's a plus. 

    At the end of the day, if I'm lucky and don't need to buy a new saddle (yet), then I'm effectively $130 closer to my own new bike.  That's not necessarily a lot, given that I'm looking to spend between $800 and $1000 on my next one (my current Devinci cost me about $750, in 2003).

    Posted via LiveJournal app for Android.


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    I went out for my first ride of the season, and pretty much my first real ride in a year, last night.   And in that year, not only has my ass gotten softer (it has, no way around THAT) but my bike seat has gotten harder.  A lot harder.  A lot, a lot harder.

    To be fair, this is the seat that came with the bike (apparently a Selle Royale Freccia Hunh.  Never knew that), my much-loved 2003 Devinci Stockhom, which now has eight years, and 35,000km of my 210+lbs ass on it.  That seat has nothing left to give, and owes nothing, either.  Hell, they bike doesn't owe me anything, with that kind of mileage on it.

    But I did 25km last night, give or take, and I hurt in my areas when I got back on the bike this morning.  Hurt to sit on the saddle.  And that's never happened before, even when I was at my heaviest. 

    Which means, it's time for a new saddle.

    Which saddens me.  I'd hoped to hold off on any major maintenance on the bike for another year, and just replace the bike.  With the mileage on her, I'm surprised that I've not seen any major issues in the crank and cassette, and derailleur.  But I haven't.   So, those low-end Shimano Alivio parts?  pretty damn good, if you clean them and oil them fairly regularly.

    But I digress.

    I can't afford a new bike right now, no-way, no-how.  Even if I don't buy a tablet (which is a want right now, not budgeted at all) it doesn't 'save' me enough to buy a new bike.  So, I'm shopping for a saddle.  And I'm a big lad, and I put real miles on my bike.  So, I have to actually resarch it.

    And I don't know anything about bike seats.  I've never bought an after-market saddle.  I've never even looked at them.  The first thing I did was google "Bike Saddle 200+lbs".  The one thing I do know about bike seats is there is a big difference in them if you're 140lbs, vs 200lbs.  What turned up first was the Selle Italia SLR.

    Well, guess what?  I'm NOT spending $250 on a bike seat.

    What comes up next, and CONSTANTLY, is the Brooks B-17.  It appears everyone swears by this seat.  there's references to it all over bike forums, it pops up first in google searches (as I did above) and, better, it slots into the $70-$140 range, depending on the model. 

    And that's where I run into problems.  What the hell model do I buy?  And who in Ottawa stocks the damn things?

    The other option is a Fizik Arione.  And honestly, that's because the tech is just cool: where the Brooks is old-school leather, and just good engineering in the old way, the Arione is definitely new-school.  Unfortunately, I think it's out of my price range.  Online seems to indicate they're around $160 average price, which is pushing it.

    Now, I know, I could spend the money, get the best I can realistically use (that's important: I'm not a racer and never will be: $500 on a saddle is insane for me), and I can always transfer it from this bike to the new one.  But at the same time, I know all things are incremental improvements, once you reach a certain price point.  Which means, for the average, semi-serious rider?  About a hundred bucks gets you 90% of the payoff of a more-expensive seat.

    The question is, where in Ottawa can I get a Brooks saddle?  Because I can't afford to wait a month to get one delivered from the UK or somethin'. (update: anyone shopped at Tall Tree Cycles?  They stock all the Brooks saddles, and a bunch of others, too.

    Posted via LiveJournal app for Android.


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    ...I was lamenting on Twitter and Facebook about losing my headphones. Well, I found them. In the dryer.

    And while they technically still work, they're definitely not long for this world. The sheathing has been rubbed off the wires in a half-a-dozen spots: currently, they're wrapped in tape, but it's not going to be a fix that lasts for ever. Which means I'm shopping for headphones again. I'd kinda hoped I could hold off long enough to order both sets of headphones, Minor and Major, from Marshall Headphones, and save myself fifteen bucks on shipping. Why both? Because my old (second hand) Sony MDR-V500's, which I adored, have started squeaking and squealing. I fixed the problem there briefly by tightening the screws, but it seems like it's actually the plastic that's a problem now, which means they're pretty close to done. The issue is basically they're fine... As long as you don't move. If you move your head, etc, the plastic flexes and they squeak at you. Of course, they were only fifty bucks, four years ago, so that's not terrible, but they were great headphones.

    So, yeah, I wanted the "Major" headset, as well as the "Minor" buds/mic combo. Alas, it's not in the budget to spend $175 on headphones right now, even if I do use 'em like crazy. Especially the Major's: they get a lot less use than the buds, and are definitely a luxury.

    I have a really hard time buying buds too. Even though most of the models come with a variety of sizes of squishy replacement earpieces, they rarely fit well. The iPhone's 'hard' buds are generally the best style, but I don't like the headphones themselves, and I don't like that when the rubber ring on them wears off after a year, there's no way to replace it, you have to spend fifty bucks on a new set. I've also not found an AD2P Bluetooth set of headphones that I like particularly either.

    So I'm hoping that the Marshall's work well. Because I think I gotta order them on payday. My current ones, post-wash, are cutting out left, right and center, and I use them far too much to be able to live with that for the long term.


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    Despite swearing up and down I wasn't going to do much this year, I've already thrown myself into the bolt-on game with the car.

    Last year's efforts, an Eibach Prokit to lower the car 1.3", and the larger wheels and tires to go with it, was a complete success. Still superbly happy with that. THis year, it's about going under the hood, and making sure I'm getting all the right data.

  • HKS SSQV Blow-Off Valve
  • AEM Cold-Air Intake
  • Block off Plate
  • GlowShift Series 7 Boost/Vacuum Guage
  • Ixion Grill

    Ok, one of those is cosmetic.

    The stock bypass valve for the turbo is reputedly not bad, but also tends to bleed pressure as well. A lot of people have documented this, specifically when they increase the boost to 20PSI. So, removing it, putting a block-off plate in, and installing the HKS SSQV Blow-Off Valve kit on the cold-side intercooler piping makes a lot of sense and will provide better response down the road. Stable boost is good boost, even if there's no documentation to suggest that just putting a BOV in place provides any power at all.

    The Boost Guage is pretty self-explanatory, and is a relatively easy installation except... it means drilling a hole in the dashboard to mount it. Eeeps. Apparently, this is not a big deal, but it FEELS like a big deal. There's a few DIY's on it, as well, so I'm sure it's fine. But. Yeah. Eeps. Dashboard. Holes. Other than that, it's just running a vacuum line through the firewall, and tapping into the existing Vacuum system. Not a big deal, and provides necessary information (it should, IMO, have been something that came with the car). This information becomes even more essential if (ok, when) I end up getting the car tuned. Being able to monitor boost pressure will become necessary at that point, to prevent damage.

    The AEM CAI is simply about breathing better. The ghetto-fab intake on the RSX (thanks to Jay) not only sounded great, but definitely provided more power (seat-of-the-pants), and gave a documentable increase in fuel-economy. The AEM, on paper, cuts out a bunch of restriction, and they claim about 7hp. Not enough, I don't think, to be noticable, but there, and again, will aid matters when it comes to tuning the ECU. Also, I'm expecting to get even more airflow, because I'm going to cut out the back of the foglight surround so I'm getting direct road air into intake, rather than just what's circulating. This is one that I'm not worried about doing: it's a bit of work with a dremel and then adding some mesh to keep the big stuff out, on the road.

    On SUnday last, I drove up to Montreal to hang out with some of the forum guys, take some pictures, and see how the whole ECU tuning thing works. And I gotta say, the difference is night and day: just tuning the ECU, on an otherwise stock car makes it a NEW CAR. Seriously. Throttle tip-in is vastly improved, and while the (dyno-documented) 20-30hp is a nice bump, it's the 60-65lb.ft of torque that really make the difference. Average seems to be a jump from around 225lb.ft of torque at the wheels, to nearly 290lb.ft after flashing to the canned tune. And all of it down low (under 2300rpm). This is 'off-the-line' power, not theoretical top end. A custom (rather than canned) tune with slightly-more-than-basic bolt-on's (the stuff I have above, plus injectors and intercooler) has seen 270hp/320lb.ft of torque, and if you keep the stock turbo, but replace the internals of it, that jumps to around 300hp/350lb.ft. By all accounts, that's about the limit of the stock internals on the engine. After that, you've got to make the jump from cast to forged internals, and then you're looking at some serious cash. I think I'm unlikely to ever take it that far, though.

    There's pics over on Flickr too. These're a good bunch of guys who, for the most part, are the same as me: daily-driver that they want to be something 'more'.

    Aaand, I've signed up to 'participate' in the CUSA Show'n'Shine on Saturday, April 2nd. Honestly, I'm going for the experience. Although I'm picking up all of the above this week, none of it will be installed for this weekend. I'm treating the show as "VIP" parking. :) There's gonna be a ton of guys there from the various forums who I know, and it's a couple hours taking pictures of cars, and shooting the shit with like-minds. Free admission if you're interested in checking it out (mostly, I'm thinking Jay and notmikesince91 being the in-house car guys).

    As for installing, this week is a write-off. The BOV might get got put in tonight, I'm not sure yet, but that will be it. I'm definitely going to need a Saturday, Jay, and a driveway (probably mightydogking's) and beer, which means it's going to have to be reasonably warm. That, I think, probably means the weekend of the 16/17 of April at the earliest, especially as I want to do the grill at the same time, and that probably won't show up for at least two weeks, and possibly longer, as I'm getting it painted before it ships.
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    The last year, not been so good for me for the whole weight loss / getting in shape thing. I did great last winter. Between Christmas and May, I lost forty-five pounds, and did an 80km ‘race’ in two hours, thirty-nine minutes; just shy of 30km/h.

    Then we got Zaphod:

    Tiny Puppy

    And a puppy? Frig, they’re a ton of work and time. He’s awesome, don’t get me wrong, but when people joke about puppies being like children, they aren’t kidding. The first four months were come home at lunch to let him out, back to work, rush home after work to let him out, play with him, entertain him. If you left him alone, he’s start barking and going nuts.

    My normal routine had become (pre-puppy), walk to work (winter), come home around 3:30, hang out for an hour or so, set up the HTPC, throw a show on, and hit the elliptical for forty-five minutes. This, and watching what I was eating? Worked wonders.

    Once his poopness arrived, though, things changed, as they’re wont to do.

    And I did ok. I got through the summer without putting too much on. I was biking occasionally in the evening, eating reasonably well, and basically maintaining. I wasn’t getting any better, but I wasn’t getting any worse, either.

    Then the fall hit. And he was bigger, needing longer walks, and was more insistent about his attention. At the same time, I felt really, really guilty about the time he spent in the crate. He spends nights, and work hours (9-3) in the crate. That’s plenty. More than that, and it starts into “unfair” territory. So, I walked him unconscious, and hung out with him on the couch. Can’t leave him around the house unattended: he gets in too much trouble (read: eats things he’s not supposed to. Like couches).

    So, here we are. It’s February, a year later. Zaphod’s a year old next week:

    dead dog

    And I’m fifteen pounds heavier than I was in May last year. I’m at that point where I can feel the weight hanging from my ribs and gut, and generally, feel uncomfortable. Shirts I like don’t fit in a way that doesn’t make me feel self-conscious.

    The good news is, if I can force myself to walk home, walk the dog (or even just play with him for forty minutes, hard), then I can close the door to the basement, and he’ll just collapse, chew his bone, and nap. And I can hit the elliptical.

    I’ve been trying this this week.

    And, I’m making a deal with AnnieKik and K, two of my regular email buddies, to log and share my progress. This not only keeps me honest, but keeps me going.


    February 1st, 2011
    Weight: 221lbs

    That’s all I’m dealing with. The reality is, I should, with effort, be able to see a very, very healthy 180lbs. That’s not primary goal though. First is back to 210lbs, maybe 208lbs, by March 11th, 2011.


    That’s the weight I was when I went to PAX last year.

    After that, I’m looking for 200lbs by the time I do the CHEO ride again, the first weekend in May. That gives me six weeks, give or take, to lose ten pounds, and nearly eight weeks to lose ten pounds after that.

    Then it gets difficult.

    Then we’re into summer, and I’m looking for 185lbs by Canada Day. I’ll have eight weeks again to get another fifteen pounds off me. The last time I was even close to that was the winter of 2005/6, when I got down to 187lbs. That took me a year. Admittedly, I started at 265lbs that year, too, but even so. I’m gonna have to bust ass to pull it off by July this year. 190lbs may be more realistic, given my lifestyle, but we’ll see what happens.

    Are there tools involved? YOU’RE A TOOL. Wait, no. Yes, there are. Last year, I still had my iPhone, and I was using Lose It to track both calorie in, but out as well. As in, food + exercise = weight loss. However, I’ve switched to Android now, and they don’t yet have a LoseIt app for Android. So. New tracker. I had originally found FatSecret.com’s “Calorie Counter”, but I found it tough to read, and the interface was not excellent. However, AnnieKikki pointed me at Map My Fitness, who have both Android and iPhone apps, and you can add food and exercise via their website too. The only downside is not being able to see your entire week in the app (that I’ve found yet), you’ve got to hit the website for that. This isn’t a huge issue, however.

    Like all the rest, it lets you set your goal, as well. The highest you’re ‘allowed’ to lose in a week is 2lbs, they recommend 1lb. I’m, of course, splitting the difference. That said, I know in the past I’ve dropped 2lbs a week with a little effort, so I don’t think there’s really any reason I can’t do it again. And, of course, no matter what the app says, it's not like I'm gonna go eat a pint of ice-cream, just because the app says I've already lost 2lbs for the week, and I should be 1.5lbs. Ok. I MIGHT. But it's unlikely.

    Saturday (tomorrow) is going to be interesting, too. I'm going to, for the first time, hit the elliptical and then the YORX machine that's been sitting downstairs for the best part of a year. Forty-five minutes of elliptical followed by twenty to thirty of weights, that should prove both interesting and painful. But it appears I'm drinkin' Saturday afternoon, too, so there is THAT to consider and plan for.
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    I'm kinda suprised, right now, by the 'willingness' of the Telco's to 'let' people use their cellphone data plan as a connection for other devices. First, it was just the device you were wired into, your laptop, generally. Now, and especially with the proliferation of Android, you can set your phone up as a wireless router. That's really slick.

    But still not great with laptops. I mean, they're big and bulky. Not in the way they used to be, for sure, but they still are. Netbooks, better. And the Telco's are already selling 'discounted' netbooks and laptops either with a 3G data stick, or simply with a connection built in.

    But the way Tablets are proliferating, especially at CES this year, damn. Yum.

    I've been involved in a couple of conversations recently dedicated to "which eReader should I buy?" and honestly, while the whole idea of electronic books is very attractive, my answer is invariably "none". It's followed with the caveat of "you should save a few more bucks, and get a Tablet". There's really good reasons for this. The first of which is, if you're looking for an eReader, why not spend a couple of bucks more, and get them all in one? Whether you go Andriod or i/OS, both platforms have free access to each of the apps for all of the major eReader platforms: Kobe, Kindle, etc. With them being an android device, rather than a dedicated, sole-purpose eReader, they bring a multitude of other uses to the table.

    Which brings it back to me.

    Since I switched to my Captivate S, I have mucho love for Android as a platform (even 2.1: apparently 2.2 is available for Rogers customers now, but I've heard conflicting information on that I've gone through the terrifying and ridiculous process of upgrading to Froyo. I'm still having nightmare, and it's Samsung and Rogers fault.). And I definitely want something I can read books on. I'm still, it should be noted, dedicated to paper/print. I love having books. I love the feeeeeeeeel of them. But sometimes, having an eReader would be great. And I may migrate to a 50/50 kind of split. But, if I'm going to carry a device around, i want it to do more. And getting a Tablet, rather than an eReader, does that. For me, wifi is all that's needed. I'm not going to pay for a second data plan: I already pay for a good one. What I will do is set my phone up to provice service for the Tablet. Then, if I've got time, or if I'm going somewhere, or whatever, I can either take both phone and tablet with me, or just the phone (ie. if there's goin' to be going to a bar kind of stuff going on). But the extra inches of a tablet make some sense for me. I've played with a 7" tablet, and it's pretty close to right. But I'm really interested to see the new generation of tablets, like the 11" Galaxy Tab that's coming. The dual-core, wifi only tablets will also be potentials.

    One of the things I will also be holding out for will not just be screen size, but resolution. While, yes, I'll be able to read articles (in, say, gReader) more easily on a 7" or 11" screen, even at the same resolution as my 4" phone, it would be far, far better to have at least 1024x600 or so resolution (as opposed to the 800x480 resolution my phone has). One would assume, that even factoring in the wifi broadcast, my phone should last longer, because the screen isn't on and off all the time: it's just ... broadcasting.

    Also, how long have we all waited to have our Star Trek data pads? They're freakin' here. And I want one.

    Yet another advantage over dedicated eReaders? Backlight. I've heard tons of complaints about eReaders being invisible in the dark. That's a weird oversight in design, no matter how much you want to emulate paper. It is ridiculous to have a brand new eReader, with a $10, 1970's style, clip-light reading light on it, so that you can read in bed. Seriously. Even if you're not going to backlight the screen, build the damn reading light in as a pop-up.

    So, anyone got any thoughts on spec? Like I said, right now, my big concern is 7" vs 11". But there's going to be a lot of choice in the next few months, I think. I know the Dell Streak is bouncing up to 7". I don't, however, know what size is 'best' for my uses. I'm thinking it would actually be preferable at the 9" range, but I've no idea if anything is going to pop up at that size. There are Tablets for sale on TigerDirect right now: several Archos units running Android, and the like. But I think I still want to wait for the newer architecture if I'm going to do it. It also means I get to wait and see how the hardware develops. It also appears that almost everything (heavy on Galaxy S and Tegra2 platforms) is set to be shipped with Android 3.0/Gingerbread. I'd dearly like to hold out for one of those. Which means, of course, I will. Because I don't have to get anything yet. These are, in my case especially, complete luxuries.

    But what a luxury!
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    Yes, I'm flogging my blogs. Not like that. It's not THAT kind of show.

    I have a ton of audio fiction that I, quite honestly, adore. I listen to it all on weekly basis: sometimes, I fall down, and go a few weeks, or even months, without getting to one of my audio podcasts. It just means I've got a huge backlog to listen to when I DO get to it again.

    So, these are are people and organizations who, if you're a fan of fiction of all kinds, you want to listen to, and support.

  • EscapePod Sci-Fi stories, reviews, and discussion (still very heavy on the stories). You can look forward to high-quality audio, high quality writing, and major 'brand names' on a regular basis.
  • PodCastle Fantasy stories, again, high quality production and writing, and you'll recognize names on a regular basis.
  • Pseudopod Horror stories. Like the above, high quality, and you'll recognize authors on a regular basis.
  • ClonePod Sci-fi and fantasy, but more "PG" rated, and read and organized by kids. They do a great job, and get some fantastic stories.
  • Starship Sofa Sci-fi and fantasy, and much heavier on nerdly discussion on those subjects as well, including movie and book reviews. Fantastic podcast, that I never have quite enough time for.

    What's even better about these weekly regulars? They've introduced me to a multitude of excellent authors who give away their full length stories for free, in serialized podcasts:

  • Scott Sigler. The FDO. King of Horror and Sci-Fi podcasting, and getting major play in bookstores everywhere. You definitely want to raid the backlog of Ancestor,
  • JC Hutchins. Great stories, less regular content.
  • Phil Rossi Sci-Fi Horror For the win. Crescent is freakin' great. Also, not just writing, but music too!
  • The GearHeart found this one recently, good steampunk/fantasy story.
  • Mur Lafferty podcasting all things geek, writing, and some fantastic fiction too. Like, a huge backlog if it's your first time there.

    Finally, if you get through all that, check out Podiobooks: a huge volume of audiobooks and podcast archive. Totally worth your time, and if you can't find something in there that you like, then.. well, there's no pleasing you.

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    About a month ago, I got myself a Galaxy S Captivate, running Android 2.1. Before anyone asks, no, I've not rooted and updated to 2.2 yet. I'm still getting used to using Android in general.

    The phone itself, I love. I gotta be upfront about that. The 4" AMOLED screen is awesome, the touch screen is as good as th iPhone's (I had an iPhone for two and a half years prior to getting this). Being able to run everything I want in the background, real-time, is brilliant. On top of that, the 16gb of built-in storage, along with the 16gb micro-SD card I've added means I've got all the music capability that I require, as well. And the Android Music Player is actually pretty damn good: I find it's more intuitive as far as building playlists on the phone. Apple really has to stop streaming people towards doing that on iTunes on their PC and make it more functional on the phone itself.

    What's interesting, for me, is that while I had an iPhone 3G, and updated to the Captivate, idioglossia has gotten herself an iPhone 4, so I can make direct comparisons between the three devices.

    And where the iPhone 4 blows both the 3G and Captivate away?

    Battery life.

    idioglossia does not go easy on her phone: she managed to blow a gig of data in the first four days she had it. She's using it for media and games a lot, which means the screen is on constantly. Despite that, she's getting a solid two to three days out of a charge. I only got about twenty-four hours of real usage out of my 3G and, sadly, the basic 1500Mah battery in the Captivate only stood up to about ten hours of hard use.

    That ten hours on the captivate has improved to about fifteen to eighteen, now that the battery is conditioned after a few weeks of use, but, still, that's not quite enough. I know for ryestar, it was a deal breaker.

    So, early on, I started looking for a replacement battery. I found a few Hong Kong Knockoff's on ebay: $12 for two batteries (1500Mah, same as the OEM Samsung) and a plug-in charger with a USB port (so I can charge a battery out of phone, and plug the phone in too to charge in-phone).

    And it's not bad. But when I turn the phone off to swap batteries, I have to restart all my services, and then kill any that auto-restart that I don't want running as a power drain.

    But it works.

    However, I'd been watching the Seidio.com site: and they were showing a 3000Mah battery as "in development". About two weeks ago, they had it for sale, for $69.99 USD, plus shipping. I ordered it, and $78.64 CDN (shipping and exchange included) I had it in hand.

    Instructions are to charge it for eight hours on first charge, and when the charger or phone shows "charging complete" let it sit on the charger for an additional three hours. I assume this is conditioning, so, I did that: basically it just charged overnight.

    As you can imagine if you've every seen a higher capacity replacement battery for a different cell phone, this is a thicker, chunkier battery. Because of that, it comes with a replacement cover. The Captivate is a pretty sexy little phone: it's very thin. Because of the screen size, and thinness, I've actually worried about flexing the phone in my pocket. So, I wasn't really worried about a little extra thickness.

    With the 3000Mah battery, and replacement cover, in place, it's definitely chunkier. But the cover is a really nice piece. It's soft-touch plastic: the best equivalent I can think of is the non-reflective dash material that Audi and BMW use in their cars. It's matte-black, and has a pretty nice texture too it. It adds about 8mm to the thickness of the phone. Considering the phone itself is only about 12mm thick, normally, this is a noticeable difference. Because of the design of the phone, you end up with "overhang" at the top and bottom(there's a bezel on the back at top and bottom, so those areas aren't "thickened" by the battery cover.

    Oddly, the phone actually fits my hand better with the thicker cover in place: it's more palmable. It's definitely not as pretty as the slim, carbon-fibre-esque cover the phone comes with though. Actually, there's a little indent (where the external speaker is) that they've enlarged somewhat on the new cover. When talking on the phone, or browsing, this is perfectly placed for my fore-finger to hold the phone. No one likes having a non-standard, over-sized cover on their phone, but five-stars for design on this one. They didn't cheap out on it at all, and there's some actual ergonomic thought gone into it.

    I admit, this is an unscientifically-measured, seat-of-the-pants review. Times and data volumes are approximate, and I'm not paying a huge amount of attention to whether or not it's on HSPA or 3G, or even Edge. It's fair to say that 90% of the usage is on 3G or HSPA though.

    Another item I was worried about was heat. Both the OEM Samsung 1500Mah and the knock-off 1500Mah batteries get very hot under heavy load (like, say, downloading 300megs+ in five minutes). This 3000Mah does not, so far. I'm not sure if it's actually not getting hot, or if there's enough air flow under the replacement cover that it's disipating faster, but I'm not feeling the heat through the cover the way I had done previously. Obviously, the other potential is that the new cover doesn't transfer heat, and acts as an insulator, but I'm going to assume that's not the case.


    Battery Samsung 1500mah Seidio 3000mah
    Start Time 6:15am 6:15am
    Music Player 2hrs 6hrs
    Data 15omb 700mb
    FullTime Apps PodTrapper, Dolphin, Facebook, Seismic, @mail client, Gmail Chat, Greader Pro* PodTrapper, Dolphin, Facebook, Seismic, @mail client, Gmail Chat, Greader Pro*
    Screen Time 1hr 20min @ 75% brightness 4.5+ Hrs @75% brightness
    Voice Usage 20 minutes 45 minutes
    Texting 40 175
    Recharge Time 2:25pm (8hrs) 3:25pm (33hrs)
    Percent Remaining 9% 14%

    * apps all set to grab updates every ten minutes

    All in all, after bonking the battery away, not worrying particularly about usage, and turning pretty much everything on, I get a full day's usage out of it. I've still got the original battery, and cover, as a spare, but I don't honestly thing I'll need it.

    Basically, I'll give the Seidio four stars, here's your basic pro's and con's:


    Battery life is excellent
    Build quality is fantastic
    well designed backplate replacement
    good materials for the backplate
    Customer service: order was at my door inside of ten business days.


    Price. eighty bucks is still a chunk of change for a cellphone battery.
    Size: despite the excellent materials and design, it still makes the phone MUCH thicker, and that will be a serious concern for some people.

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    Well, it's 2011. Two weeks before the new year, I started hitting the elliptical again, sporadically. this is not, by any means, a resolution. But, I'm over the hump of the holidays (so the party/consumption will be dropping off again, finally). On top of that, Zaphod is approaching a year old, which means he can be left unattended without fear of chewing and barking, while I hit the elliptical.

    This should, hopefully, have two effects for me. First, better sleep. For the first time in my life, at thirty-seven, I'm finding I need more than six hours a night. Now that poochy is sleeping through until at least five-thirty in the morning, and more often, six, or even six-thirty, I can go to bed at ten or eleven at night, and get seven or eight hours sleep. And, I know for experience, when I throw the exercise in there, I sleep better, so hitting the elliptical five times a week will help me on that front too. The other side of it is the yo-yo that is me. One year ago (well, thirteen months, actually) I was 243lbs. In April, I was 206lbs. Today, January 4th, 2011, I'm 216lbs. I definitely back-slid through the summer and fall this year. Just too much going on, and the first thing that suffers is always the hour or two I need for exercise. Not to mention the decidedly-not-healthy eating that happens at the same time. So, it's goal setting time again. First goal is 200lbs by March 11th, 2011. That's... ten weeks away. Which puts me at a loss of about a pound and a half a week. That is thoroughly achievable with some exercise, and a little self-control. Why ten weeks for the first goal? Well, for one, it's achievable. Second...

    ...PAX EAST 2011 is March Eleventh through thirteenth. And I want to be happily in shape and less self-conscious by the time I get there. Yes, I know, it's nerd-heaven, and there are (from experience) a lot of people significantly larger than I am now there. But it's a specific point in time at which I can be happy hitting a goal, and for a reason (so swag shirts can be Medium or Large, not Large or Extra-large, for example). It also means that by then, I can get back into clothes that I'm not wearing right now, because I, well, lets not beat around the bush, I 'bulge' in unsightly places in right now. This shall not stand! And, I'll be honest. This will also need a diet modification. Not a diet, persee, but rather, not being a glutton. Portion control, healthier choices. I just get in the habit of eating, you know, a pie. I don't need to, I'm honestly happy NOT to. But I'm also happy to eat all of that pie. It's a thing.

    This also leads to me doing the CHEO Ride again this spring. Despite being in pain after it, and thoroughly blasted during it, I really enjoyed the event. Not the least reason for which was that in less-than-professional-attire and on a less-than-professional-bike I more than held my own. 2h 43m for 81km, or 29.42km/h. I'd like to have a new bike this spring, a Marin Point Reyes 29er, but if I end up doing it again on my now eight-year-old Devinci, so be it. I'm pretty sure if I push a little harder I can break that 30km/h barrier that I wanted to make last year. This is also going to end up being my fund-raiser for the year, I think, so, you should best be prepared. Right now, I don't evne know when the event will be, but if it's like last year, it'll be early May. I'm pretty sure that'll put goal number two about nine weeks after PAX East, which means, assuming I make my 200lbs goal by PAX, I can probably pretty fairly make 190lbs, or even 185lbs my "By the CHEO ride" goal, in early May.

    That will put me at 25-30lbs down since Christmas, and the lightest I'll have been since I was 187.5lbs in December 2005 (the year I lost seventy pounds).

    So, what does that cover? Oh, yeah. Health, weight, PAX, and CHEO.


    Also this summer: racing. The car. Via the Motorsports Club of Ottawa, and specifically Autocross. Should be interesting. I'm still not sure if I'm just going to sign up for a few events, or do an entire season. Entire season may be... hard... on my tires.

    I'm looking forward to this, but I'm also nervous. It's competetive, and IT'S MY CAR. There's a couple of things I'm really tempted to do along with it, not the least of which is have someone with a decent video camera come along one day to get vid of my various runs. The first time I do it, espeically, should be, umm, amusing. Everyone gets a DNF (Did Not Finish) for at least one lap when the start, because you're still learning to read the cones.

    For those who don't know, the course is a cone-course, set up in an open space. Usually (and in Ottawa's case) this is the parking lot at Scotiabank Place. It's open, low cost, low danger, and relatively low speed. Relatively, because you top out around 80-90km/h, in second gear. From sitting in the passenger seat, I'll tell you this, it feels an AWFUL lot faster than that. And that's a cool thing too. While I won't do it to start with, as long as the passenger wears a helmet, they're welcome to ride-along. So, that means if I do a few of these through the summer, if people come see me/visit during the day, they're also going to be welcome to grab a helmet and come for a ride-along. I was good luck last year: all three times I rode-along, the guys I rode with set season-best times! It also sounds like while there's a general paddock for the racers who've signed up, we're going to have between three and nine Genesis Coupes out, per session, all season long. We're actually considering making it a local "team Genesis" event, just for kicks.

    Anyway you look at it though, I'm looking forward to it immensely, and have some nervous trepidation going on. Ok, more than a little.

    I'm also tempted to try and get Dad to bring his Integra up for a run one weekend!


    Other than all that, it's going to be about ensuring that life doesn't get forgotten. Ok, the racing, kinda 'life' stuff for me: it's fun, it's cars. However, one of the big issues that idioglissia and I both noticed a large amount of our time was spent rushing through things we could normally enjoy, so we could get to the next thing on the list or agenda. Basically, we had too much, and wanted to cover it all. See the 'sleep' issue, above! So, this year, we think, we hope, will be slightly slower, and a lot more fun.

    More coming, later. This is too long as it is.
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    It’s not JUST the car, and doing it up and making it look different, you know.

    I am planning on, horror of horrors, doing a grill and wing on the car. Both are from the same company, and both are pretty conservative, and mesh with the lines of the car exceptionally well. The company is Ixion, and while they do make some outrageous bodykits, they obviously understand that some people just want to make mild personalizations, rather than massive body changes.

    I also have to invest in a lip, for the front. My own fault. Before I lowered the car, I pulled into my parking spot too quickly, and forwards (which I never do), and scrapped the front edge of the fascia. And two-hundred bucks for a lip to go over it is cheaper than than six hundred for a new bumper, and repaint.

    Oh, yeah. What’s a lip?

    This is:

    I may end up, somewhere down the road, just replacing the front fascia, but this is definitely the cost-effective method of solving my f#$kup, for the time being.

    As for the engine, beyond a cold-air intake, I’m not doing anything for the moment. Shocking, I know. But there’s a reason for it.

    Like I said, it’s not just about making the car look different, and making it mine. It’s about using it. And I always said, if I got a serious sports car, I would get serious with it. Well, I have, and I haven’t, which makes me a bit of a poser.

    As of the spring, not so much.

    I will definitely be going out to the MCO, otherwise known as Motorsport Club of Ottawa, in the spring. They run, specifically for what I want to do, AutoCross events every two weeks, at Scotiabank Place, in the parking lot. I went for a couple of ride-along's last summer, with two of the guys from GenCoupe.com, Chris and Geo, and wow. I always thought I ran my cars pretty hard, even on the street: through corners, on ramps. Turns out, not so much. In fact, I figure I've explored about twenty or thirty percent of my cars potential.

    And what is amazing about autocross is, you rarely, if ever, get out of second gear (80km/h, +/-). It's affordable ($40 a day), and well officiated. And, best of all (especially for amateurs) you're really only racing yourself. Cars are classed according to their ability, level of modification, etc, but otherwise, it's you vs the clock.

    The only thing I've not decided is whether or not I go out once or twice, when I've got time, or if I sign up for the season. It's a seven- or eight-race season, bi-weekly, through the summer, and I'm tempted. HOWEVER.

    This year, money may be tight. And it occurs to me, that while I got good tires for the road, on the car now, I may be better served doing one or two events on them, and making them last a third, or even fourth summer, and buying a set of tires/wheels for racing. This will be even more necessary, if I end up doing a couple of full days at Calabogie autosports park. It won't be viable (or safe) to burn up my current tires, and then order up some replacements. A better plan is to order a set of good, street-legal ultra-performance tires, and keep my 19" Hankooks for daily driving use (and the 18" Pirelli's for winter, still, obviously).

    There is actually a racing advantage to that, as well.

    While the Hankook V12 Ventus tires I got provide a larger contact patch, I chose them not just for traction, but treadwear (280AA) and stance. And they weren't cheap. They're also heavy. Surprisingly (and I'm very proud of her!) idioglossia remarked as we pulled out of Home Depot yesterday that the car felt 'snappier'. And, unfortunately, she's right. The 18" wheels and tires I have for winter are lighter than my summers. They don't grip as well, but that's a matter of compound as much as anything.

    My temptation (and the temptation woudl become a necessity if I was doing more than a couple of autocross events a year) is to invest in yet a third set of wheels and tires.

    This time, I'd split the difference between stock/winter sizes, and my summers.

    18” OEM wheel 19” summer wheel Potential race
    Front Tire 225/45R18 245/35R19 235/40R18
    Rear Tire 245/45R18 275/35R19 255/40R18
    offset +33mm +20mm +25mm?
    front wheel 18x7.5” 19x8.0” 18x8.0”
    rear wheel 18x8.0” 19x89.5” 18x8.5”?

    If I choose my wheels carefully for the race set-up, and worry more about weight than appearance, I can shave more than ten pounds a corner of unsprung weight from the car: weight that the engine needs to spin to make the car move. Increase traction and decrease the inertia I need to break to accelerate, and what I end up with is faster.

    For example, the stock 18" set-up weighs in around 25lbs for the wheel, and 24lbs for the tire: about 49lbs per corner. The 19" with more grip (and significantly better through the corners, have no doubts about it) weigh in about 53lbs per corner. With the right choices, it would be possible to get a set of 18" wheels, with ultra-high-perforamnce (read, race tires that're street legal) tires that weigh in around 18lbs per wheel, and 22lbs per tire, or about 40lbs per corner.

    49lbs vs 52lbs vs 40lbs.

    For the moment, at least, this is all blue-sky thinking. I've a feeling that what will realistically happen this year, especially with what idioglossia and I have on our plates, life-wise (job, house, dog, social, etc) I'm likely to just do a couple of autocross events, and get a feel for what I'm doing out there, and whether or not I want to do it more.

    I've a feeling though, that by 2012, I'll be looking for a race set-up, just so I don't burn off a years worth of driving on my road tires.

    And that's ok. By then, I can save for them, and they can be my treat to myself for the year. New tires and an MCO membership. $1500 worth of entertainment in one fel swoop. And with just autocross, rather than autocross plus daily driving, the race tires will last a couple of seasons, for sure.

    The other advantage is that, very likely, this will abate my desire for more power, somewhat, at least. Long enough that I can wait until the warranty is out (at five years) on the drivetrain, so I'm not voiding it, and to be honest, so that I can have a daily driver that isn't a car I race: the Genesis is, hopefully, going to become a weekend/summer/race/project car, something I can take apart, and have in pieces for a week, without it impacting my ability to run the rest of my life. But, short of a lottery win, that definitely won't happen until the car is paid off, and out of warranty (That would be in June, 2014, in case you're wondering or keeping count). The more I can do to keep myself getting crazy with the power (keep in mind, I probably dyno right now at 185hp, and 225lb.ft of torque, at the wheels, and eventually, I want to see 300hp, 340lb.ft (again, at the wheels) that's a whole other post, right there).

    YEs, I have considered this enough that I've looked for wheels and tires. And while I've not had a lot of luck with affordable wheels yet, the tires already seem to be down to three brands, and three models.

    Nitto NT05
    Yokohama Advan Neova
    Continental ExtremeContact DWS

    I've not even settled on sizes: I'd prefer to grab a little extra section width (235 and 255, Front and Rear, respectively, vs the stock 225/245 f/r) but given that I'm going to be making a serious traciton upgrade, even compared to the Hankooks I've got for summer already, getting that extra contact patch isn't quite as big a deal.

    But as the most expensive of those listed above are $185, in the sizes I'd be looking at.

    Any way you look at it, I'm going racing next summer. Time to shit or get off the pot. And actually run the car to the limit, rather than increasing a limit (more power) that I've never approached.

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    While walking the dog last week, over and over (and over, and over), I saw a spot in the road, just round the block from our house. The light, at night, was that classic, sodium halide street-lamp orange: and just accentuated the fall leaves. it also gave a great 'spot' of light, as the rest of the street was mostly dark.

    So, I of course, thought "shoot the car here".

    However, it took me a few days to organize. It rained, for one. I was tempted to shoot in the rain, it could have been a neat look, but then decided against it. I definitely wanted to light paint the car while shooting a long expsure. In fact, I was going to do this Friday night, but it turned out that my ten-million candlepower spotlight had given up sometime in the last three months. So, Saturday morning, I went and bought a new million-candlepower spotlight, charged it up, and went shooting that night after I'd put the dog down for the night.

    Blue on Orange
    Blue On Orange
    25 seconds exposure, f/11, ISO 200
    Nikon D70s, Nikon 18-70mm f/3.5-5.6, Generic 1-mil candlepower spotlight

    I had a second, 20-second exposure attempt, here, as well. I'm pretty happy with both shots, although a wider beam would have been helpful for the light painting.
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