Monthly Archives: February 2010

The terrifying torture of hitting “the wall”

I think if you’re suffering from something terminal, whether that terminus is immediate or not, end of life counseling, knowing that you are able to have relief, final relief, when you can’t take it any more gives you an enormous calm, a calmness that I think may be hard to relate to if you haven’t lived in constant pain that has little prospect of ever going away. And perhaps it seems counter-intuitive, but getting end-of-life counseling also extends life I think, by taking away the great fear that comes with lack of control over life’s conclusion — a control that I strongly disagree should be left to fate (or worse yet, a ghoulish medical system that sometimes extends a life that has devolved into nothing but agony at any cost).

Canada is considering C-384, a brave bill that I strongly support which amends the criminal code to allow doctors and patients a little more control over the way they live the later portion of their life, and what sort of response you can get when you’re lying in a hospital bed, or even a home bed, in pain and unable to do anything but mouth the word “help”, and it’s something that I very much hope passes and if you’re in the position to speak to your representative, I hope you tell them that you support it — and same goes in the US, as this “special comment” video below discusses and lays bare the pain of.

A Big Project

So Nefarious and I have undertaken the project of recording the entire 870 page reading of The Order of the the Phoenix on 720p video via our new Flip UltraHD. Today was the first day of doing so, and there was only one minor snag, in which the battery (which I guess did not come fully charged) died half way through the first chapter. We “solved” that problem by swapping the batteries and playing a game of cards with the red light on, and we re-told and acted out what happened as we played.

I had told Nefarious that one day perhaps she could show this video to her kids, if she has some, so she took a moment to talk to the future — “Hello children, I am your mother!” and a hilarious monologue telling them all about herself and me. How wonderful it will be for the future’s parents to be able to share such artifacts with their descendants… We move slowly toward the dissolution of the sequential nature of time, and experientially hop around as if it was just another dimension for us to explore.

PS. Famous person I most resemble? Yes, that would be Rasputin.


Ice Sculpture Surprise

Today we all took the subway downtown to have lunch at the overpriced salad bar at Whole Foods — overpriced being appropriate because Caitlin and I watched Capitalism: A Love Story (Michael Moore’s latest, one of his best yet, in the same arena as movies like Zeitgeist) after Nefarious went to bed. To our happy surprise when we walked out of Bay Station we found out that we were in the middle of some winter festival with tons of ice carvings, and the whole thing was going on to promote the area’s businesses, which was nice because Caitlin and Nefarious got free hot chocolate at the Starbucks tent, and not so nice because it was extremely crowded and you couldn’t take a step without blocking someone’s photograph (including a wedding).




Of course we took some pictures too which I think turned out well. At least when my illness does me in there are tons of nice pictures that Nefarious can look back on — I was talking to someone recently whose dad died when they were quite young, and they had barely a single photo of him and described the torment of him slipping away as their childhood memories faded… I just ordered myself — and yes, I do seem to be on a self-gifting kick — a little Flip Ultra HD miniature camcorder as well as one of those twisty gorilla tripods that can do stuff like wrap around pipes, and the next book we read (Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix) I’m going to record us cover to cover. Maybe one day her children, if she has them, will be read to “by me” as well, while they watch their mother as a child enjoy the same book they are. Perhaps it will go on for more generations as well. Thinking about that possibility makes me very happy.

All in all I don’t particularly like living in the big city, and would prefer somewhere less crowded, but one of the many redeeming qualities is that you often randomly bump into events and street festivals like this. Afterward we were considering going to the ROM (the museum) because I just renewed our family membership so it’s “free”, but we ended up waiting, in part because they’re currently rebuilding some of Nefarious’s favorite parts, not least of which is creating a larger version of the bat cave, which she and every other kid I know loves sprinting through (I think it’s not until they’re older and more patient that they walk through slowly enough to appreciate what a beautiful ambiance the place has).

Then Nefarious went crazy and started smashing everything! Just kidding, we found this sculpture that way, honestly. A guy actually came on the PA system and said that because of the warm day and cold night that the ice sculptures were unusually brittle and begged us all not to touch them.


Later in the day, after we got home, Nefarious and I went out to pick up a Wacom Bamboo tablet (which is nice and big and quite inexpensive in comparison to the other full sized ones), and I’ve installed the drivers and software on both of our machines, so she spent a while learning how to use it… The main reason I got it though was because I’ve been seeing so many great flip book and stop-motion animations lately that I really wanted to make some more myself, and I think doing it with the tablet is way better than using paper (and a mouse is too hard to draw with in large volume).


I’ve really been enjoying have two monitors again, but I do sort of feel like I’m “walled in” by them, which isn’t so nice. I think I might build a table arch over the one monitor using 2x10s, so instead of putting the two of them side-by-side I’ll stack them vertically. Other than that, I have still not heard from the guy whose Delorean auction I won, so my worry that the whole thing was a too-good-to-be-true scam of some sort was true is growing. Fingers crossed… But if not, I’m keeping my eyes open for another seventies Corvette.

I couldn’t resist…

I sold my Delorean about eight years ago and have really missed it ever since. So today I got another one (this isn’t my new one, it’s just a picture off Wikipedia). The price was really low, so I hope when I go to inspect it in person that it doesn’t turn out to be a scam or have some catch that makes me sadly walk away without a silver gullwing-doored beauty. It’s an automatic this time, so that means Caitlin can drive it too. I’ve had the Saab Sonnet III back on the road over the last couple of weeks (the truck needs a tuneup) — even though the rear view mirror fell off on the highway (it was not “authentic” so I’m not too stressed, and it’s no big deal to get a better replacement anyway) — and other than it being physically hard for me to get in and out of the car because I don’t have the leg strength to deal with the low to the ground seats, I sure do enjoy driving it, and I feel a real sense of peace behind the wheel of the right car.

Click it to amuse yourself with how the filter I mentioned an entry down handles it.


Secret Agent Chess

Nefarious and I have not been playing much chess lately because we got a bunch of new strategy games and because we’ve been playing card games and she’s really into them right now so it’s all rummy and blackjack and crazy eights and such, but today I came up with a new game that I presented to her and her school pals when I picked her up. This one is called “Secret Agent Chess”.

The reason it’s called that is because it’s built around the idea that you have “secret agents” among your opponent’s pieces that occasionally sabotage their game. At the start of every turn you flip a coin. If it’s heads, the turn is played like any normal turn. If it’s tails though, you have a choice — you can either play your turn as normal, or you can activate a “secret agent”, which means that instead of moving one of your pieces, you get to move one of your opponents pieces (any legal move, as if they were making it). If you choose to do this, on their next turn they have the limitation that they can not “reverse” the move you made. They can move the piece, but they can not (in that immediately following turn) move it back to the square it was on before you moved it. The game is also played “full board”, meaning that the goal is to take all of your opponent’s pieces, rather than to capture the king.

This chess variant is interesting because it adds a level of chaos and unpredictability to the game, giving your opponent the ability to mess slightly with your plans. Nefarious picked up on it well, way better than I did I suppose, as she beat me more soundly than I can recall… For the next hour I experienced an emotional state that encompassed both pride and shame.


We were up a little later than usual (late for a school night anyway) as we plowed through the last couple chapters of The Goblet of Fire — all 636 pages — finishing it up, which means that we can finally watch the short-falling film adaptation for Friday’s movie night. I expect Nefarious to be quite exhausted by the end of tomorrow, as she’s spending the day downhill skiing with her school, and then after school, gymnastics. The first time I went downhill skiing I couldn’t walk the next day — a memory which has me wondering whether the problems with my legs may go back further than I assumed, because now that I think about it, I can remember quite a few times where these specific muscles have caused problems.

PS. I just got a new Photoshop filter that I think must have some of the best painting simulation effects that I’ve seen yet. It’s called Virtual Painter and it does some really nice stuff just out of the box using defaults. Here’s a quick example taking the settings that it came with — I’m sure it can produce even nicer results with a bit of tweaking:


That said, today I was looking at the classic Photoshop filters — you know, embossing, charcoal, and so on — and was thinking how terrible and tacky they looked. When we first saw them, they seemed so cool, but now I have to wonder who in their right mind would ever use them. I’m sure things like this painting filter will go the same way with a short wait.