I'm a father, manager, programmer, scrum master, geek, & movie lover.

Orange in the U.K.

Dear Hunter S. Thompson, You are fucking insane, yet you have the power of the sane; lucky bastard. I bought Kingdom of Fear completely by chance. I didn’t and don’t know who you were but by page 60 I said to myself “I want to shake that guy’s hand. Maybe fire a couple rounds. Maybe not. Too imposing.”. If I drive my ass from Toronto to Owl Farm in Colorado, will you shake my hand and have a drink? It feels important that this should happen, and I don’t know why. Derek

Drove to Chris & Michele’s at Woodford Close in London. We spent an hour or two ‘warming up’ with red wine and generally catching up. Then they had a nice collection of people over for drinks; a Christmas Eve tradition. The company included Tony Blair’s bodyguard’s family. So cool! Also present was Chris’s mother who seems to be very sharp and quite cool. We stayed up quite late. Dec. 25th, 2003Christmas Day. I was awakened by Chris saying “Here’s your tea, Derek. Bathroom is free.” He had made tea and put it on my bedside table. Wow. British people are cool :) It was early, and we were about to drive to Cheltenham to be with Chris & Michele’s son Dave (my cousin) and his fiance Nats for Christmas and Boxing Day. They have a new house that Chris & Michele haven’t seen yet. We took the scenic route, through London. It was great! I got to see where everything was, and even got out of the car for a quick peek at the Thames. Drove by the Millennium Dome too. It was eerie to see the streets of London completely empty. They were totally empty! Ooooooooooo…. Dave & Nat’s house in Cheltenham is blinding! It’s like walking into an Ikea magazine. It’s day 3 and I’m up to 8 beer, 11 tea, 6 coffee, and an untold number of glasses of red wine. Ahhh, the holidays. Christmas Dinner was fabulous — moist turkey, stuffing, roast potatoes, and loads of mince pies. Mmmmm. We opened our presents too. Chris & Michele gave me a book “London from the Air”. Nice. Somehow I also managed to receive a whack of Scotch Whiskey and some spending money from Dad & Uncle Charles & Aunt Margaret, and my Granny back in Petrolia. As you know, mom gave me my digital camera as an early gift, as well as a package from her and Breslin which contained various spices, photos, trinkets, and cards :) Oh, and lots of sweets. Dave & Nats had far too much chocolate at their house. I ate an unhealthy amount of it, and it was delightful. Yippee! I gave everyone a large box of chocolates (Dave & Nats, Chris & Michele, Charles & Margaret, and Mary). Since I hadn’t really met them before (in my adult life) I didn’t know what else they’d like. Chocolate is usually a safe bet, and as luck would have it no one was diabetic. Phew! Dec. 26, 2003On Boxing Day we all went for a walk around Cheltenham and up in Cotswald. Had a pint of bitter in an olde pub in Cotswald (spelling?). Beautiful town. We were 8 miles from the Cathedral used as “Hogwarts” in the Harry Potter films, but I decided to leave that as a sight to see on my next visit :) On our way back we toured Windsor Castle and Europe’s First Hindu Temple (, both of which were mind boggling. Windsor Castle is lavish and ornate with much gold and many turrets. It’s the largest inhabited castle in the world. For 2 months of the year, it’s the Queen’s home. The Mandir Temple was pure white marble, carved in India and sent piece by piece (26,300 pieces) to England for assembly — Phwoooaaarrr! I could have stared at the ceiling for hours. Reader’s Digest called it “The 8th Wonder of the World”. I bought an incense burner, some incense, and a booklet about the temple. Seems to me that Hinduism is a lot like Zen Buddhism, but more strict with what you can and can’t do. Neat. Then we went back to Chris & Michele’s house where I tried to think of things I wanted to see in London. I did my grade 8 class project on Jack the Ripper, so I decided I’d like to see White Chapel, where he committed his murders. Chris happened to have a book about the East End of London, and it just happened to contain 1 full page and photograph of each of the places Jack’s 9 victims were found. Unfortunately, only 2 of these places still exist as they did back then — a street corner and a pub. The rest have been torn down, or re-built as strip malls :( Still, 2 was better than none. We’d only have time for 1 of them anyway. You might be wondering why I didn’t just call up “Ripper Tours” or something. Well, turns out London outlawed any promotions & tourism related to Jack the Ripper because it makes residents (and women in particular) nervous. So, there are no Ripper Tours. Dec. 27th, 2003Wheeee. We made it to the corner of Wentworth and Osborn, and I stood on the spot where Jack the Ripper killed his 1st victim in December 1887, almost exactly 122 years ago. The victim’s name was never known. The spot is now located in “Little India”, and smells great. If you venture down any of the side streets though, they look much as they did 122 years ago, and would have been quite scary without the streetlighting (installed as a direct reaction to Jack the Ripper). We walked around the area and checked out a huge outdoor market that used to be a fish market. I forget the name of it, but it was pretty cool. On our way back to the car a pub caught my eye. I’d seen it the previous night in that book. It was the “Ten Bells Pub”, which had been briefly renamed “The Jack Ripper Pub” because it is where Mary Kelly ordered her last drink just before she was killed in a nearby alley on November 9th, 1888. She was Jack’s 9th and final victim. So, purely by chance, I visited the sites of Jack’s first and last murders. The pub changed its name back to “Ten Bells” when publicizing Ripper stuff became illegal. Took a long walk all around London with Chris & Michele. Had a coffee in a nice pub from which we had an excellent view of Tower Bridge. Walked a LONG way. Walked around the outside of the Tower of London. Went to Trafalgar Square, and saw the outside of Westminster Abbey, which was closed. Walked past the London Eye, but the queue was monstrous. Saw London Bridge, which most tourists confuse with Tower Bridge. London Bridge is actually unremarkable and ugly, whereas Tower Bridge is beautiful. Walked past Downing Street and the Houses of Parliament (home of HP Sauce). Took a Black Cab back to our car, which we’d wandered far from. Dec. 28th, 2003Went to The Tate Modern with Aunt Mary. Saw some acutal Mark Rothko paintings. A room full, in fact. I don’t think the gallery realizes this, but the dark red painting on the right wall (as you enter the room) is hung upside down. I can tell by the way the paint drips are running. Can’t blame them too much though, as Rothko paintings are squares of colour. Easy to screw up. I’ll send them an email :) Saw an excellent exhibit on Weather. The artist installed a *massive* sun, and filled the great hall with a mist, so that the resulting light ressembled a London Fog. It was remarkable. The whole place reminded me of Ben Skinner. Then we went for a ‘flight’ on the London Eye — the huge ferris wheel thing that’s 140 metres tall. It was raining, but the view was still spectacular. London stretches as far as the eye can see, no pun intended. Then I took a tour of Shakespeare’s Globe theatre. Awesome. I’d love to work there. I bought a t-shirt and some postcards :) Dec. 29th, 2003Wooo hooo! Stonehenge, baby! Yeeeah! Got up at like 6:30am and Chris drove us to Stonehenge. We got there 5 minutes before the parking lot filled with cars and 10 tour buses. It was a cold foggy morning - perfect for viewing & photographing something so mystical & mysterious. It was great. I’ve always wanted to go, and now I’ve been. You can’t go up and touch the stones, but you can get damn close. There’s also a free audio tour. Did you know that Stonehenge is the third ‘henge’ on the site? Before it there was a sort of “mound-henge” and then a “wood-henge”. Stonehenge is 5000 years old and the trilithon stones weigh 50 tons each. Whoa. I took about a million photos and some panoramas. I also bought a couple books and postcards, being the good little tourist that I am. Then we went into the town of Salisbury. Their Cathedral is the best I’ve seen. It houses the world’s oldest working mechanical clock, built in the 15th century. It also has a great nativity scene, and cloisters I wouldn’t mind spending most of my life in. We also got to see the Vicker give a little sermon and say an Our Father. I videoed it :) How anachronistic is videoing a Vicker in a centuries old cathedral! Then we went out for lunch at “The Cathedral Pub”, which the Vicker directed us to — “It’s across from the Red Lion Pub”. Apparently my grandparents met at The Cathedral Pub. In those days it was quite rare for women to be in a pub, but my grandmother was there with a friend, and so my grandfather moved in for a little conversation, and one thing led to another — ultimately resulting in 2 Canadian grandchildren, one of whom was sitting there now thinking about all of this. I had no choice but to order a Full English breakfast and a pint of Guinness. The breakfast came on a large bun. I’d never had 3 scrambled eggs, bacon, and 2 sausages on a bun before — but it was awesome. Then Chris & Michele drove me to St. Albans so that I could spend New Year’s Eve with my friend James Trott (aka Wildhog). James and his friend Stu met me at the St. Albans cathedral just after dark. We walked downtown and James bought a sleeping bag for me to use — very nice of him. Then we caught a cab to his house. Yummy pizza & beer for dinner. Okay - James has a super-beautiful and nice and friendly housemate named lucy. We had a few brief conversations, but not nearly enough :( Dec. 30th, 2003James & Stu and I spent the day playing “Rise of Nations”, which is a real-time strategy game. Very fun! Then James and I played some Quake 3, which I was really good at in 1999 when it came out. Unfortunately for me James was ranked 9th in the U.K., so I got my ass handed to me. Still fun though :) Dec. 31st, 2003More of the same. Relaxing and gaming… until night, that is. We went *out on the town* for New Year’s Eve. The first pub we went to had no cover charge, but sucked. So, we went to the bank machine to get some cash to get into another pub. There was a Drunken Mariachi in the bank machine area, singing his friend’s PIN and strumming his guitar while he was withdrawing cash. Idiot! Then we made our way to O’Neill’s pub. After waiting in line for about 35 minutes in the freezing cold, we got in, but not before being mistaken for an American by several drunken Brits. Oh well, I corrected them and told them I loved having the Queen on our coinage. The pub was packed and it was great. Our method was that Stu would buy a round of drinks, then James, then Me. Whatever the person brought back is what you were drinking. I think we had about 6 pints of lager, and then James came back with Vodka shooters. The first one tasted great, the second not so great, and the 3rd tasted much like vomit… all in the name of partying. Also, I forgot to mention that I drink A LOT slower than Stu & James. Apparently this meant that I had to be punished. I don’t know what it contained, but what they brought me was a large glass full of something strong, which I downed in a single swig. I’m sure this contributed significantly to my state the next morning. After that I vaguely remember something about rubbing a girl’s back, seeing a Blockbuster Video store filled with smoke and girls in satin dresses, lamb kebabs, rain, and a lot of stumbing on the way home. Taking a group photo. Then — faceplant on the floor. The room didn’t spin, but I was out cold. Jan. 1st, 2004Spent most of the day lying on the floor recovering. Didn’t puke though! :) Then I watched “Sound of Music” with lucy, because we both *love* that movie. Exchanged a few nice glances, and she showed me the pics of her New Year’s Eve. She looked stunning. Oh well, I’m going back to Croatia in 4 days anyway. James and I went out for dinner at a nice restaurant. I had a pasta dish, and we split a bottle of chillante. James and I watched some Strongbad. If you haven’t, you must. So funny. > the scroll, the scroll the buttons, the buttons scrolling so smooth like the butter on the muffins

Jan. 2nd, 2004Taking the train from St. Albans to Worthing to meet up with Auntie Mary again. Got on the train and a 50 year old man with his daughter got on. He saw the flag on my backpack and asked “Are you Canadian?” — “Yeah!”, I replied. His name was Michel Celemenski and his lovely daughter was maya. Michel used to live in Montreal but has been in Paris for the last 25 years. His daughter is Parisian. They frequently travel to Montreal, and love it. Michel is in the translation business. He spent a few weeks in Dubrovnik in 1974 and told me some stories about pre-war Yugoslavia. We hope to meet up in Paris in April. How cool does that sound! Mary picked me up at Hassocks Station, and we went back to her place where we’d meet up with Uncle Charles and Aunt Margaret. We got there about 1/2hr before they did, which gave us time to freshen up. They’re both super-friendly, and Charles is so very like Dad. He says “yeh/yeah” where Canadians would typically say “eh”, and says it often :) He’s really cool. Loves the coffee house lifestyle nad people watching, and model trains and boats. Told me what his mom (my grandmother) always used to tell kids who were self-conscious about some aspect of themselves — she’d say “It’s a sign of refinement”. Great! He told me how urban and exciting Dad was when he was younger — wink at a girl and she’d drool ;) It’s always fun to learn about what your parents were like when they were young. I hope repeating it here doesn’t get Uncle Charles into trouble ;) He also said that Dad and his friend had a great gig at British Telecom. Each day they had a certain amount of work they had to get done, and if they got it done, they had the rest of the day to do whatever. As luck would have it, there were some empty garages behind their work building, so on days when they finished early (most days) they’d re/build sports cars and make some extra cash. Sweeeet. Anywho - Charles loves challenging driving — mountainous roads etc. Fun stuff. Spoke with Great Aunt Bernadette on the phone. She is very nice and very loving, though we’ve never met. She sends her love to Mom & Dad & Breslin and asked how Breslin is doing. She used to be a cabaret singer on the original Queen Mary and another cruise ship. Now she is an expert spanish guitar player/instructor. Neat-oh! Charles says that if I like the laissez-faire lifestyle of coffee houses, I’ll love Italy, and that I simply must go. Jan. 3nd, 2004Charles, Margaret, Mary and I go to Brighton. We see the pier, and walk around the lanes for some window shopping. We also tour the Royal Pavillion, which has an Indian exterior and Asian interior. It’s sooooo spectacular. You really need to see a crystal chandalier that weighs 1000 lbs. to know what I’m talking about. Brighton is hopping & vibrant. There was a great street band called “Logjammin” playing. I bought their CD for 10 pounds. Saxophone, double-bass, trumpet, violin, & jazz guitar! Jan. 4nd, 2004Mary and I see Charles & Margaret off. Then we went to see a church that my ancestors attended. It was built by the Knights Templar somewhere around 1000AD. The graveyard surrounding it illustrated its age. Then we went to see the family farm (long since sold) — Butterstocks Stables. Beautiful place. Apparently it’s under new ownership, and they frequently host polo tournaments. There were also some cute sheep, which I petted. Then we went to Worthing Cinema to see Lord of the Rings: Return of the King. Thankfully they had an intermission. Phew! It was a long 3.5 hour film, but the battles were awesome. Mental Note: Mounted Knight loses versus Flying Dragon. Knight on foot wins versus Grounded Dragon. Lazy evening with a few phone calls home, some pizza, beer, chocolate, and television. Jan. 5nd, 2004Very early morning. Got up at quarter to six in order to catch the 6:15 train to Gatwick airport. Arrived at Gatwick at 7:30am and said goodbye to Mary. Waited around for my boarding area to be announced. Went to it. Waited for 1/2 hr. Found out that they’d announced the wrong area and that my area was actually at the opposite end of the airport. Rushed ot get there. Did. While waiting I surveyed the crowd of a couple hundred or so people for “who I wanted to sit beside”. Of course it was the super-hottie. But this time my luck had changed, and out of all the seats on the plane, she was indeed seated next to me. Unfortunately she wasn’t very talkative and was actually Slovenian from Sarajevo, so her English wasn’t great. Oh well. Got to Ljubljana and hailed a taxi. Man, they know they have you by the balls. The airport is 30km out of town, so they can charge whatever they want, which in this case was 5800 Tolars to get to the train station downtown. That’s about 35 or 37 Euros. Bitch. My train ticket from Ljubljana to Zagreb was only 1200 Tolars. I couldn’t buy it at first though, cause I didn’t realize the numbers on the interac machine went “789/456/123/0” instead of “123/456/789/0” as they do in Canada, so I kept punching in the wrong PIN and my transactions were denied. Anyway, I got on the train and had a seating area all to myself until 2 post-highschoolers sat in it with me. Now 3 seats were occupied and 3 were empty, but it turned out that Dennis and Kate were really cool. Kate is from Zagreb and Dennis is from Sibenik, which I had visited and loved. They are dating. Kate is really into astrology and makes money by doing tarot readings. She’d like to learn more about it, but there is nowhere to learn about it in Croatia — so I told her about Flamel College, and she was so happy that she gave me some of her chocolate bar, which was very yummy. Dennis loves techno music. They are both self-described “Playstation2 Freaks”, so we got along well. Bought some groceries at the square and caught a tram home. Stores are closed tomorrow so I had to do it now. Riding past my friend Janka’s apartment I saw her light on, so I flopped my stuff on the bed, shaved, and went over to her place. We had a coffee and chatted for a bit. It was nice. I also met some of her other co-workers who were still working (she lives above her office). Jan. 6nd, 2004 — National Holiday — “3 Kings Day”Went to Zamir to check email. Went to see “The Italian Job” at the multi-plex with Dinko. He’d never been to a multi-plex before, so it was an adventure. This is a brand new multi-plex, and Croatia’s first. There were “previews” for “The Hunted”, “Basic” and “Narc”, all of which I rented on DVD in Toronto before coming to Croatia. It hasn’t hit theatres here yet. Nutty. Jan. 7th, 2004Today is my first day back at work in over 2 weeks. Going well so far. Catching up with everyone. Tonight I’m going to a “Food Not Bombs” meeting with my friend Emina. Should be a good time. Listening to a “The Beer Song” by Reel Big Fish. It’s a goodie! Download it :) Okay, so humans evolve But HOW does the species know what evolutionary newness is needed? Do we think about what we need / would like, and introduce that to the collective unconscious? Does that unconscious slowly influence future incarnations? Can you tell if you will like a person by the way they type? Like, if you find the way they type annoying, what are the odds you’ll get along with that person? Granted, hating their typing style is petty, and a poor foot to start off on, but still… Christopher Columbus would have listened to mp3s, not CDs, or DVDAudio discs. Why? MP3s are about exploration, not re-listening. MP3s make it easier to explore much more music. Even when confined to your own mp3s, it is much easier to start listening to a different band on mp3 than on cd. Click & Go - Yay!. Whereas CDs require changing - Booo! MP3s don’t force you to “get into” a certain band - because of factors like lack of other music. In fact, when was the last time you said to yourself “I’m really getting into this band”. More than likely you thought “This is nice, I wonder if amazon knows of any other bands like them”, and then proceeded to download related bands’ music. For me, music has somehow become about collecting, and not listening, and I’m not sure I like it. In the movie High Fidelity, John Cusack has a great speech about making mixed tapes. That remains true, but because we skip around in our listening to much, it becomes harder to really “know” the songs we own, especially if you ‘own’ tens of thousands of MP3s. So, although we now have more pre-fab words with which we might convey our emotions via “mixed tape/CD”, our actual ability to create a great mixed tape is decreasing due to information overload. Boooo! My Hypothesis: given 2 bands of the same genre & general quality, the listener will prefer the music with the higher bitrate. I took about 550 photos while I was in England, but have only managed to put up 5 or 6 so far. You can find them here.

Comments from my old blog:

mom said: just on my way to work, so can’t stay on, awesome trip hon, so glad you got to go. just so you know, i can’t get to the photo’s , it says error every time, don’t know if others will have the same problem. ttyl, love ya, mom at 2004-01-07 11:35:57

beige said: hooray! Derek apparently back from the dead. Been entertaining Athionus at my crib for the last week or so and we’d both been wondering what the hell happened to you. Sounds good : I agree with you about the airline food for what it’s worth.

Two links: Serious (From Chromewaves)

Fun :

“I’m a computer. Stop all the downloadin’!’” at 2004-01-07 14:41:13

derek said: FYI, I mentioned back on November 3rd :) Say “YO” to Athionus for me. at 2004-01-07 14:52:17

you know that guy… ummm… andre said: Derek,

Amazing trip.

1) Its amazing what men will say to be with women they are attracted to. You may like ‘the sound of music,’ but Derek, be honest, do you really LOVE ‘the sound of music’? How much more did you suddenly love the sound of music when Julie said she loved the sound of music.

2) You asked “Do we think about what we need / would like, and introduce that to the collective unconscious? ” According to a lot of people yes. I’ve never been in to nutty supernatural metaphysical views of the universe. A deck of cards cannot predict the future. The day your parents decided to have sex and conceive a child having you born on a certain date in a particular zodiac sign can in no way have an affect on the type of personality you will have. (e.g. Fire signs are passionate, Earth signs are serious and natural leaders etc.).

Still, the only such nutty notion that I subscribe to is that our thoughts and collective unconscious do in fact change the world around us. Not always in obvious ways - but they do IMHO.

3) MP3’s are about exploration, but I will have to disagree with you about getting into bands. I’ve found it infinitely easier to get into bands given access to their entire catalogues. Given a few minutes and a broadband connection I can tell if I like a band or whether a band just happens to have a fluke song that appeals to me.

4) Mixed Cd’s are just as easy (or difficult) to make today as they ever were. “Knowing” a song is a relative. If you’ve only heard a song once and it produces an emotional response that captures the feelings you have towards a person, that song could easily qualify for a slot on a mixed CD. Its not a question of how intimately you know a song - but rather a question of whether a song accurately conveys your message regardless of your intimate knowledge.

The other great thing about mixed CD’s today is that you can crack open your favorite graphics program and create elaborate professional liner notes that tell more of the story through images and your own words.

andre at 2004-01-07 21:24:59

derek said: yes, i really do love The Sound of Music :) Ask me to sing a song. I know them all. at 2004-01-08 10:24:10

(James Trott (UK))[] said: Derek, my housemates name, is lucy! at 2004-01-08 18:33:54

1st Day Back

“i think therefore i am”hardly takes into account the thoughts that make up the person.

Schopenauer wrote on pessimism in an age, for most, of pessimism, where humanity subsisted in the drudgery of life.With a pessimistic outlook…people were elated by the simplest and smallest of positive things that happened.Optimism was met with the same old familiar drudgery…so pessimisn…expecting the worst, was the datum of life at that time.

Today in a positive environment there’s no room for pessimism,after all ,the world is our oyster,so we’re told and yet the smallest of negative things that happen throw people back to being pessimistic unless they are happy with who they are inside.

So,no matter what environment you are in,a happy individual can handle the positive and negative aspects of life in stride and remain happy because ultimately it’s what’s within the individual that decides how we react to anything.

In a balanced individual,a happy individual,one that likes and loves themselves the way they are,happy in their imperfection the pendulum of life oscillates gently from positive to negative and they experience the highs and lows of life optimistically.

So…in answer to your question…people experience the world according to the weighting of their accumulated thoughts.Remove thought and you flatline…know what i mean!!!…egad i’m long winded today!!! at 2004-01-08 15:00:57

mathninja said: re: zen buddhism

I don’t know if zen is the same as kadampa buddhism, to which I proscribe at the moment, but…

My teacher says that it’s not about ‘not getting upset’ or about ‘not getting excited’ - it’s about recognising the fact that the experiences that one has in this life are illusionary - that our living life is suffering. Only by understanding the differences between LIFE and the MIND can one recognize that our experiences are neither a route to, or a blockade from, happiness. at 2004-01-08 19:48:17

beige said: For my two cents:

cent 1) I wouldn’t describe the desired (ha!) end of Zen buddhism to be a ‘flatline’ of emotion at all. Rather, I think it’s about idling at somewhere approximating a universal perspective on the world. I don’t think strong emotions need be resisted exactly - I just feel that they will de facto become somewhat irrelevant when operating from a Zen perspective. Step back from your body, your city, your time… and take a good hard look at the vastness of time and existence, then think about your infintessimally small place in it. You’re born for maybe a trillionth of a trillionth of a trillionth of a universal second, and that’s it, as far as your fifteen seconds of fame goes. It’s pretty hard to work up a lot of indignation about anything from that perspective. Still, pancakes are good. Bacon tastes good. Therein lies the secret of it all.

Zen is definitely a tradeoff between strong emotion and happiness. My own cent #2 is that it’s better to live a life idling in a warm, generalized contentment than it is to oscillate wildly between doubleHappy and doubleSad. Desire and Regret are two faces of the same poisoned coin and you don’t want to spend either in large amounts.

Because we are human we needn’t worry about losing our emotions entirely any more than we need to obsess about them. Our minds have enough of a buffer on them that they will keep going back to the would-haves and could-haves on their own without our needing to culture them. If something makes you cry during a movie, so be it… Live the experience and then move on. Analyzing the rhyme or reason is counterproductive to happiness. What I’m saying is that if you find it happening all the time (or vice versa, getting really excited all the time over the possibilities of the Future), you are going to live a life full of dissappointment.

Pancakes taste good, and syrup is easily had. Mmmm pancakes.

at 2004-01-08 21:37:49

derek said: Incidentally, my whole dilemma about the ‘flatline’ thing was a result of something beige said years ago… at least, that’s how i remembered it, which doesn’t mean it’s accurate. And the reason i mentioned it at all is that I’ve been a lot more emotional lately, which is great. In the last few years I’ve noticed that my emotions were pretty flat, and that movies didn’t really affect me very much anymore, whereas they previously had. Well, now they do again, so that’s great, and I’m not worried about it. This morning I ate a pretzel. Mmmmmmmmmm, pretzel. I’m not content to ‘be idle’ though. I want to get more involved in the activist community in Toronto when I get back. IMHO activists are the best citizens. PS—thanks for all the comments. This is the most a single post has ever gotten. Wow! at 2004-01-09 10:05:17

Remote Control

The Media is also a method of “remote control”. It shows you things that give you ideas. Those ideas influence your actions; maybe not as directly as with an actual remote control, but it influences you none the less. So, the question is: Who is holding the remote control? Who controls the media? Who controls your mind?Of course you have ultimate control over your mind, but if you really want to be in control you have to stop letting the other remote controls into your life, or at least be selective about which ones you do let in. Do you trust The Globe and Mail, The Toronto Star, or the National Post? You shouldn’t. They’re owned by the same person — Conrad Black. (Rupert Murdoch is another big name to watch out for). How about NBC, CBS, ABC? They’re also owned by a mega-corporation. Who can you trust? Independents who do their own research. You have to find trustworthy sources, and ignore the rest — especially on controversial issues. If you find a news source that’s reporting on something none of the major networks are covering, it might be a good source. Still, you should check out their ownership chain. Is “The Independent” really independent? This is not some nut conspiracy thing. This is how things work.How? First you need to know how TV shows make money. TV is free (non-cable tv), so they don’t get paid just for broadcasting. Advertisers pay to have their commercials shown during certain TV shows. The more popular the show, the more expensive it is to show a commercial during that show (because more advertisers are competing for those spots). So - TV is about advertising, not about entertaining. It just so happens that if you have the most entertaining shows, you can charge more for your advertising (Superbowl charges the most). Radio works the same way. Magazines are a bit different. They make a little bit of money from you paying for the magazine, but not nearly enough to make it profitable. That’s why almost every page has an advertisement on it. Magazines also make their money from advertising. Whenever you see something nice, ask yourself “who is paying for this, and why?” Lets do an example, to show you how the world works:Loreal wants to sell make-up. It’s easy to sell to self-conscious & unattractive people. The problem is that only a fraction of the people in the world are self-conscious or unattractive. That limits potential profits. The best way to sell more make-up is to make more people feel self-conscious and less attractive, but how? Show commercials with the most beautiful women putting on make-up and saying “I need to cover up this tiny ‘blemish’ that makes my entire body ugly”. If that super-model needs make-up to be beautiful, and if I’m not as attractive as that super-model, then I *definitely* need it if I want to be beautiful. This is how to *create a need*. So, the method in place is: a) have a product; b) increase the perceived need for that product; c) sell more of that product. I say ‘perceived need’ because there is no *real* need for make-up. It doesn’t make you healthier. It may not even make you more beautiful. Heck, the wrong make-up can even make you uglier, but for whatever reason, you believe it makes you more beautiful. It’s your perception they are manipulating. But there’s more to it! Lets say Loreal owns a magazine, like Cosmopolitan. Lots of women read Cosmo for beauty tips. Do you think Cosmo would allow Revlon to advertise on its pages if it is owned by Loreal? Hell no! (unless Revlon & Loreal are owned by the same company) To give you a more concrete example, have you ever wondered why McDonalds only serves Coca-Cola and not Pepsi, and why Burger King only serves Pepsi and not Coca-Cola? The same company that owns McDonalds also owns Coca-Cola, but not Burger King or Pepsi. Some other big company owns them. In the marketing & advertising world everything works through corporate incest. Inter-breeding is not allowed. Do you know why you’ve never seen Bugs Bunny & Wyle E. Coyote at Disney World? Sure, they’re cuddly and cute, but they are Warner Brothers Characters, not Disney Characters — so they’re not allowed in Disney World. So, if everybody is owned by somebody, then whoeverhas the most money holds the remote control. Who has the most money & power?Global organizations & governments. I lump these two together because neither one is more powerful. Sure, the government could have corporate executives arrested, but then that corporation could pull its funding for various programs, and if that corporation is big enough it could be devastating to the local economy — Especially if that corporation makes yearly donations. What are some of the largest corporations? I’m guessing Lockheed Martin, General Electric, & Coca-Cola. What do they do? G.E. doesn’t just make dishwashers. They make light and heavy military armaments. Lockheed Martin makes fighter jets & bombers and secret weapons. Coca-Cola provides CIA agents with cover jobs at their factories in almost every country in the world, but I’m getting ahead of myself. The point is this: if a government or global corporation doesn’t want you to know something, all they have to do is ban the media that they own from reporting on the story. They literally *own* the media, so the media have to obey. A reporter might have the story of the decade, but if it’s on a “do not report” list, the story will never get out. You’ll never hear about it. Stories that make governments and corporations look bad are the first ones to be banned. Yesterday I told you that if you serve free food to homeless people in San Francisco you will be arrested by riot police. It shocked me, yet I had never heard of it. Why is that? Precisely *because* it would shock me. It makes the government look bad. They are spending money on weapons to defeat other nations while their own citizens are starving at home. The Ultimate Remote ControlLets have a little adventure in remote-control-land, shall we? You find a lamp out in the desert and rub it 3 times. Out pops a genie who offers you 1 wish. As the President of the Student Council, you ask to be able to do something that would normally piss off a lot of people, and always have the majority of people’s support. The genie says, “Done!… but it’s too bad that’s what you wished for. You can do that without magic. Here’s how…” Lets start simple. You want a new pop machine in the cafeteria and a new stereo for yourself, but you need all the votes of student council to agree before the motion to buy a new pop machine will pass, and Jim won’t agree because he’s a health-nut. Plus you’re broke and can’t afford a stereo. How can you get what you want? First, you need to CREATE A PROBLEM (that doesn’t exist in reality) — Take the pop machine money and tell the students that there will be no new pop machine because someone broke into the Student Council Piggybank and took all the bills. After a day or two, tell everyone that you received an anonymous note from a math student who saw an auto mechanics student about six feet tall with red hair come out of the nurse’s room on the day of the crime (the nurse’s room doubles as the Student Council Chambers after school). This gets people mad at the auto mechanics students, who no one really understands anyway. Plus, math students are so precise that they couldn’t be wrong, right? Did I forget to mention that Jim is a tall auto mechanics student with red hair? Review: 1) Have a hidden desire (you want a new pop machine for the cafeteria, but you also want a new stereo for yourself) 2) Create a problem (take the money for the pop machine and buy a stereo, then report that the money you had to buy the pop machine was stolen) 3) Get the reaction you want (by implicating the auto mechanics students). Students are mad, cause they want pop! Students will voice their anger and demand to know what YOU are going to do about it. 4) Now YOU get to provide the solution to the problem YOU created, and that dumb patsy Jim takes the blame. 1) You kick Jim off the student council for stealing. 2) You add a $1 levy for each student to replace the money lost. 3) You get all the votes you need and install the new pop machine. Plus you have that nice new stereo you bought with the original pop machine money. Let me do a more relevant example:You are the President of the USA and you want to control the world’s oil supply, but that would require a pipeline from Afghanistan to a port in Iraq. The problem is that your business associates (The Bin Laden Family) don’t want to give you a pipeline to their oil fields, and Iraq is still kind of mad at you from the last time you bombed them, PLUS because Iraq has not done anything bad to you lately, your citizens see no reason to be at war with them. Fortunately, now that we know this method, that doesn’t matter! Step 1) Create a problem that no one will blame on you, and that will result in everyone being happy when we attack Iraq. What could possibly make Americans happy to attack Iraq? What if they were angry at Iraq for something? That’d probably do it. What could make all Americans in every state really angry, instantly? A disaster of some sort would probably do it. Since we want the Afghan pipeline, lets have some Afghanis destroy a symbol of American Power — the Trade Towers. Yeah! That’ll piss everyone off, and once they’re convinced that some Arabs want to hurt us, it’ll be easy to convince them that the Iraqis want to hurt us too. I mean, they’re the ones who tried to kill my Daddy! This will give us the free bonus prize of being able to take away everyone’s civil liberties in the name of “increased security”. PLUS if we declare this a global neverending war on terrorism, we can avoid ever giving back those liberties. Did you catch that? We’re removing your civil liberties to ensure your freedom. Step 2) Get the reaction you want. You own the media, so tell them to promote stories demanding war, or some violent reaction. Promote the stories that will outrage & infuriated people, so that they will demand action! Step 3) Offer a Solution to their demands — 1) we can be wimps and beef up our missile shield and they can attack us and other less powerful nations forever more; or 2) we can launch a war on terrorism and be the heroes of the world while at the same time getting revenge! Yes! Lets start with the capture of the Afghani Terrorists (and their oil), and moving on to any related terrorists (say, anyone else who’s Arabic or even vaguely suspicious looking). This is what you wanted to do in the first place, and now the American people are demanding that you do it. Think I’m crazy? Click on and read the links in this next bit of text. There is evidence that The President and others knew in advance about what was going to happen. President Bush told the press that “I was in a classroom talking about a reading program that works. I was sitting outside the classroom waiting to go in, and I saw an airplane hit the tower — the TV was obviously on. And I used to fly, myself, and I said, well, there’s one terrible pilot. I said, it must have been a horrible accident. But I was whisked off there, I didn’t have much time to think about it. And I was sitting in the classroom, and Andy Card, my Chief of Staff, who is sitting over here, walked in and said, “A second plane has hit the tower, America is under attack” (official whitehouse transcript). First of all we’d expect a much bigger reaction, and secondly *there was no live footage of the first plane hitting*. It was only recovered later from people with camcorders who just happened to be filming when disaster struck. Why would he have continued reading to the children at the school when he knew a national tragedy had just occurred. Why is Bush lying to us about the chain of events, and why wasn’t he surprised? Also, why was a FEMA Team (Federal Emergency Management Agency) dispatched to New York and put on standy the night before? And why did many government officials cancel flights for September 11th just the night before? And why did a building *across* the street from the Trade Towers collapse straight down only minutes after the disaster when it had sustained NO structural damage? I don’t think it was luck that the planes hit before most people had gotten to work. I think that was planned, because although the American Government was willing to sacrifice a few thousand people, it wasn’t willing to sacrifice the full complement of those Twin Towers — thank God. Anyway, that’s the basic “PROBLEM-REACTION-SOLUTION” method for mass remote control. Interesting, eh? > “We ought not to forget that wars are a purely manufactured evil and are made according to a definite technique. A campaign for war is made upon as definite lines as a campaign for any other purpose. First, the people are worked upon. By clever takes the people’s suspicions are aroused toward the nation against whom war is desired. Make the nation suspicious; make the other nation suspicious. All you need for this is a few agents with some cleverness and no conscience and a press whose interest is locked up with the interests that will be benefitted by war.” — Henry Ford

So - the next time you watch TV, read a magazine, or listen to the radio — ask who’s paying for it, and what the goal of the advertisement is. Is it to sell a product? To cover something up? Or to make you feel inadequate? To see a more graphic representation of how this might all work, rent the movie “Wag the Dog” starring Dustin Hoffman. It’s spectacular. Another good one, along the same lines, is “Arlington Road” starring Jeff Bridges. Make no mistake, we ARE living in The Matrix, but it’s not controlled by death machines. It’s controlled by corporations. We don’t live in a computer simulation of the real world, but we do live in a world that’s absolutely covered in advertisements and false media. > The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. — Edmund Burke (1729?¢‚Ǩ‚Äú1797), Irish philosopher, statesman.

Anyway, this is why I love Michael Moore. He draws attention to the evil things that other media outlets are unable to report. He is a one-man news organization. It’s a wonder that he hasn’t been killed just to shut him up. What other media sources seem to be trustworthy? Well, Michael Moore recommends a few on his website. They include:,,,, Guerilla News Network,, WhatReallyHappened.comWhat media sources do you trust & recommend?

Comments from my old blog:

derek said: Oh, if you want to try out the anti-spam email service that I use, you can now get a free account at If you have hotmail, don’t worry - it can check your hotmail and filter out all the spam :) Yippee! The free account can only hold 5 meg of email, but that’s more than twice as much as Hotmail can hold anyway :) at 2004-01-09 10:39:24

derek said: also, this device is THE BOMB! at 2004-01-09 10:47:30

derek said: Comments are fixed now! Weird error. Had something to do with that last comment being the 255th comment on my blog. Apparently an integer auto_increment field needs to be more than 3 characters wide if you have more than 255 comments. Weeeeird. It should have been fine up to 999.

“The war on terror involves Saddam Hussein because of the nature of Saddam Hussein, the history of Saddam Hussein, and his willingness to terrorize himself.” — George. W. Bush, Grand Rapids, Mich., Jan. 29, 2003 at 2004-01-12 10:18:23

mom said: no offence, but i am glad the comment problem was at your end, because if it was from my end, that would have been the end. what i was going to say was that they used the edmund burke quote on 7th heaven one night and its so true, but i also heard this one recently and loved it. grandpa tells grandson that we each have 2 wolves inside of ourselves, they are constantly at war fighting each other. one is nasty, vindictive, angry, and evil, the other is kind, loving, nurturing and goodness. the frightened little boy asks, but grandpa, which one will win. he replies, thats easy son, the one you feed the most. love mom at 2004-01-12 11:23:15

(James Trott (UK))[] said: Derek, the reason that it capped out at 254 is likely that the system stores digits in HEXADECIMAL, so a three digit maximum (FFFFFF) is the equivalent of 255 (or 254 including 0) hence fourth, to go beyond 3 digits, you need to increase the number of digits so you get a second pairing in the hex conversion, sounds like a bug in the auto_incrementation to me though! at 2004-01-12 11:42:17

Mac Attack

As for macs, you can play games on mac, most RTS games come on mac, and RPG’s and you can get Quake 3, Unreal Tournament, and with the advent of OSX being FreeBSD based, any games that theirs a linux/BSD port for, you can run on a mac.

Just keeping comment numbers up…. - James at 2004-01-13 13:02:16

derek said: dude - the whole point of mp3s for me is that i can always have access to all of my music instantly, without changing a cd, or whatever. So, lets ‘pretend’ that I have just over 100 Gigabytes of MP3s, and that I love each and every one of them as if it were my first born.

Would it be fair to my 96 Gigabytes of children if I were to take only 4 Gigabytes of my children on fieldtrips and outings? Don’t you think they’d be jealous and resentful, and eventually use that anger to crash my computer?

I would like a Terabyte MP3 player with wireless headphones, and as soon as they’re available I’m there. If I can get an implant, so much the better — as long as it doesn’t have any DRM ;)

Re: your Mac comment. I don’t think so. I can guarantee that HalfLife2 and Doom3 will take at least an extra 12 months to make it to the Mac, IF they make it. Recently my friend Scott got a “new wicked cool” game for Mac that I’d finished over a year before! Boooooooooo. Hardly encouraging for a guy like me who is bored with something after it’s been out for a week. I need cutting edge! It’s my lifeblood! and my Gigabytes of Children’s lifeblood! And their children’s! at 2004-01-13 13:55:27

beige said: Lasermonks. Real monks, rock bottom prices on printer cartriges and ink. Why is this so cool? at 2004-01-13 14:48:50

mom said: You will have to just trust me on this one hon,I know you are a techno geek, but as great as music and computers are, they pale in comparison to kids!!Especially mine i might add. They aren’t even on the same page. Miss you, love Mom at 2004-01-13 18:19:50

mom said: just wanted to check that you are getting your emails, haven’t had a reply for awhile, and want to check that you are just busy not sick or something. hey, its a mom thing. love ya at 2004-01-14 11:23:52

dad said: re gigabyte children……..reminds me of when i was young…two sisters and moi,around the same age, were miffed cause younger bro (6 years younger) got more expensive trips and we questioned this fact of our parents………answer……we gave,relative to what we had at the time….oh, now we understand..we said.So our perception of him being spoilt was nothing more than being unaware and unappreciative of the fact that financial conditions change and that it’s not always possible to equate perceived fairness ( through the mind of a child) with the amount given.We all got trips,were all loved and nurtured equally but finances changed allowing the youngest to have more expensive trips.

So,your gigabyte children have to accept that a small mp3 player will not necessarily accomodate them all unless finances allow and since the older children have had a longer time with the player on cheaper field trips they may be bumped to accomodate the youngest children for future field trips and regardless of the expense, a trip is a trip…we see that …now.Funny what you remember!!!! DaD at 2004-01-14 17:07:30

mom said: sorry to bug you but i think you are not getting my email again, i sent one and asked that you reply to see if they were getting there, just wanted you to check it out, hugs mom at 2004-01-14 22:38:01

LED Lighting, Mars’ Blue Sky

As George Karlin says…life should not be measured by the number of breaths you take but rather by the number of times life takes your breath away…soooo i guess whatever takes your breath away is living life to the fullest…even if you are only sitting in front of the puter. at 2004-01-15 21:59:46

mom said: I have to agree with that, moderation leaves no room for passion, regardless of what you are passionate about. Hugs, mom at 2004-01-16 11:18:31

mom said: I suppose moderation is useful for things such as diet, or other things that are hard on your physical health. Other than that, i would think you just go for it!love Mom at 2004-01-16 14:20:12

In Sickness and in Health

  1. John Lennon with The Beatles
  2. Johnny Cash
  3. Stan Rogers (renowned Canadian folk singer - many songs of the sea & adventure)
  4. Mark Sandman (the band “Morphine” - can you guess how he died?)
  5. Buddy Holly? (i had to wrack my brain for a 5th one)

One of the easiest things to forget over here, is that the showerhead does not turn itself off when you turn the water off. I mean, the water stops flowing, but the passageway to the actual showerhead remains open unless you close it. At least twice now this has resulted in me turning on the water and being completely drenched, immediately, by an unexpected torrent of either hot or cold water - not to mention that it soaks the entire bathroom. Just thought I’d share. Good news for open-source developers — mySQL 5 has stored procedure support! and 5.1 will have trigger & foreign key constraint support! Wheeeeeeeee! Finally! And just in case you haven’t RTFM in a while, it already has transaction & rollback support (as of 4.something). Did you know that the mySQL manual is 1135 pages long? I’m giddy for php5 and mysql5. Oh boy! What’s your favourite sourceforge download location? I always download files from the Ibiblio mirror in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. I don’t know why. I just do. “What do I want to do with my life?”This is a question that has been on my mind for quite a while. I’ve always known that I want to help people. First I tried to do this by becoming a psychologist - but I got interested in computers along the way. I also loved my university, and protested Bonnie M. Patterson’s ( changes to it. That was the beginning of my involvement in activist stuff. Anyway, how could I help people through computers? That question coupled with a bad experience in writing a psychology thesis resulted in, and started my involvment in the not-for-profit sector. Then I taught web development for a while, and did some freelance web development — a bit of floundering around. I came up with a few cool ideas for how to facilitate actions in grassroots/distributed organizations along the way. Last Thursday I had a conversation with a Croatian Activist (who shall remain nameless), and that person was talking about how there’s a need for web hosting that doesn’t reveal any information about its clients, and doesn’t mind of there’s politically explosive material on the site. Well - since I already like activism and am a web developer, I decided that being a web hosting provider specifically for activists would be cool. A quick search told me that “” was not taken — and so now it is. I own it. I also managed to create a partnership with a Toronto-based hosting company whereby I can re-sell their services under the name ActivistHosting. They get the majority of the profit, but I get some too, and all I have to do is sell/advertise etc. When I get back to Toronto I’m going to try to get more involved in the scene, and promote myself by being out there, with them. I think that will be really cool. Plus, I’ll be ‘helping people’ in different ways. Once that’s up and running I would like to get back into riding horses, and target shooting, and would like to get a bit part in a gangster movie, and would like to build my own house, and learn carpentry and electronics. Also I constantly flirt with the idea of doing a Masters at Trent (while living in Toronto) with Regoczei, but can’t really bear the idea of incurring more debt. It takes as long to drive to Trent as it does to take the bus to Humber. Does anyone know how I can set-up an SMS gateway to allow me to send messages to cell phones? In other news, scientists are baffled by a teenage Russian girl who appears to have x-ray vision. Natasha Demkina from Saransk, has already disproved several medical diagnoses without the benefit of x-rays or ultra-sound, and has not made any mistakes.

Comments from my old blog:

mom said: i think you have been away too long, our shower at home is the same and you have just forgotten! i think many are. the process of life is, paramount, it is the journey that is important, . if you ever achieve all your dreams and goals, i would expect you would no longer be living, at least not in the full sense of the word. so…when you stop learning, you stop living. love mom at 2004-01-19 15:35:15

(frank)[] said: Mark Sandman died of a heart attack on stage. at 2004-01-20 12:56:57

derek said: What kind of activities/substances can make a relatively young guy keel over on stage? It was right around when ecstasy was becoming popular ‘underground’, along with many other ‘goodies’. Perhaps it was just too much bacon & sausages, but I dunno… at 2004-01-20 13:09:50

Steve said: My Top 5 5: Stevie Ray Vaughn 4: The Doors 3: Ella Fitzgerald / Louis Armstrong 2: Miles Davis 1: Frank Sinatra

i could easily come up with top 100!! at 2004-01-21 01:50:15

(uncle wiggly)[] said: Come Poop With Me at 2004-01-21 14:44:19

(matt dan)[] said: Hey I like Japancakes too! Who knew…. at 2004-01-22 14:29:45

TV Time!

Where do you find that stuff? I love the flash animation. at 2004-01-23 17:51:48

mom said: the flash was great, it reminded me of something i wanted to tell you. i was reading something the dali lama said recently. ” i am a non violent man, except when i am feeding the birds, and the hawks come, then i take out my pellet gun and go after them, for them i have no patience ” He said one should maintain their sense of humour. hugs, mom at 2004-01-23 19:10:45

Moody Music

Apache, How Do I Love Thee?

ePaper & the Zone

My latest favorites are from the Duke (of Freezepop fame) - you can down load them at Try coding to Spaztik or Luge Crush - hilarity ensues.

Get Them Now! at 2004-01-28 16:14:20

(Ryan Waddell)[] said: MC Frontalot is the bomb, cheetah. I love his stuff!

My musical tastes are all over the map when I’m coding. I used to be all about the loud - Korn, Tool, NiN (especially), etc. Now, I’ll bust out the Dido, or some Tiesto if the urge hits me… Maybe it’s because now I’m doing windows development as opposed to the unix development I did in school… or maybe I’m just getting older and more mature. No, it’s not that second one.

I wish I could remember the name of the worst movie I’ve ever seen… I know it had zombies in it, taking over a movie theatre (or some kind of theatre, at least) and I think it’s originally german (european, non-english for sure), dubbed over to english… we used to see it in the horror section of the video store, and finally broke down and rented it… it was wonderfully awful. at 2004-01-28 19:02:51

mom said: hi hon, i am back from toronto, it was the trip from hell, they had about 30 inches of snow and it pretty much closed the city. i had to stay an extra day. i am writing here, because while i was away all my emails decided to go on a break. i can’t get into anything but your site and everything is very slow. any suggestions? if so you will have to reply on this site since i can’t read what you send me. hope all is well and that you are not so sad now. i think that no matter if you are young and sad or old and sad, it is the same, because sadness cannot be measured. it just is. love mom at 2004-01-28 21:17:33

(mathninja)[] said: More treats: The Cathedral Love it up. at 2004-01-29 02:20:01

(mathninja)[] said: Also… did you know that Sorority Babes and the Slimeball Bowlarama had a sequel? It’s true: Check it out. at 2004-01-29 02:34:49

Your Favourite Movies

what’s your obsession with the mailblocks? Check out

*You can check all POP/IMAP accounts from one interface(even yahoo, hotmail, and aol) *Realtime access to your IMAP accts *20MB of space for each address you have *Calender *You can make “disposable” addresses *There’s no annoying ads on the site

there.. :) at 2004-01-31 09:34:58

derek said: vlad - my mailblocks account is 100meg. It has a contact manager (no calendar yet). There are no ads. IMAP access. Can check yahoo,hotmail,aol, pop, imap. AND the main reason I use it is for its whitelist spam blocking. It shows you how many spam it’s blocked, and in the last few months it’s blocked over 6000 messages for me, AND I haven’t missed a single email from a friend. at 2004-02-02 09:20:09

Vlad said: shadango does not get spam at all :) it has a calendar I believe, you don’t miss any e-mails.

the best thing is that you can create disposable e-mal addresses.

sorry, they can’t beat the 100megs you have with mailblocks. they do, however, offer “virtual hard drive” space of 10megs so you can store files on their server.

im not paid to advertise, just letting you know there are other great companies :) at 2004-02-02 11:29:02