Saturday, June 30, 2007

The Bolt


FRAGONARD, Jean-Honoré
The Bolt
c. 1778
Oil on canvas, 73 x 93 cm
Musée du Louvre, Paris

Friday, June 29, 2007

Dear Quebecers

Your accent is too hard to understand. Why don't you speak real French? Tabarnac!

L'Arcade Fire c'est extra là.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

"My name is Sue, how do you do?"

Remember when your dad used to spend all weekend in his underwear, bag of pork rinds in his gnarly construction worker hands, watching back to back Three Stooges movies, and you beside him with your little legs not yet long enough to dangle off the worn-in secondhand sofa? Sometimes he'd get you up out of bed with the smell of scrapple and eggs, which you'd eat together at the shaky table that had imprints from years of homework, bills and your mom's ceaseless journaling, in order to prepare yourselves for the triumphs and tribulations of Larry, Moe and Curly. Sometimes this was substituted out for Dad's Donuts (remember the cold floor-mats of your dad's truck on your bare feet early in the morning on the way to the shop?) and Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton or the Marx Brothers, though we always returned to the Three. For some reason no one else in your family had any desire to join in on these marathons of raucous laughter and pork rind breath.

Of course, you too eventually skipped out on these events. The Three Stooges began to seem to you more dumb than funny, and you moved on to the likes of Gene Wilder, Steve Martin, Robin Williams and Eddie Murphy. You felt that stand-up comedy was a more advanced form of funny than the Three Stooges. In the following years you moved up to that guy Mitch Hedberg and then find yourself squealing with laughter while reading At Swim-Two Birds (very legitimately, bien sûr).

But something very unexpected happens. It slowly becomes obvious that the next step in the path of humor is the Three Stooges, the Marx Brothers, Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin. You find yourself checking these movies out from the library by the armful, slapstick humor and gags showing hints of the genius your dad attributed to them. He was right all along, as tends to happen.

I myself only remember some of this. Nevertheless, I find myself in my underwear, beer in hand, watching, religiously mind you, a little French-Canadian television program called Just For Laughs Gags. The program consists of a troupe of folks with the ability to keep a straight face going around playing gags on unsuspecting Montrealers. Every day at noon I watch this show. If I miss it I feel something important missing from my day. Danica thinks I look white trash watching in, but I care not. It is the funniest stuff I've ever seen, though no one seems to agree with me on this point. My new goal in life is to end up on the show, a prank being played on me.

The thing I find really interesting about the show is how it changes the feel of the city. It makes walking around the Plateau, downtown or the Old Port more mysterious and magical, sneaky even. The other day Danica and I were sitting in the terrace of a Lebanese restaurant on Blvd. St. Laurent and we saw a group of police swagger past. I kept waiting for them to play a gag on someone, as the pranksters of Just For Laughs Gags often impersonate police officers. Just For Laughs Gags is "a special ether which determines the specific gravity of everything that appears" in Montreal, as Marx put it, speaking of something else entirely.

Welcome to my favorite television program:





Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Le tatouage

This shit is off the muscle or whatever. It is by a Parisian tattoo artist who goes by the name Tin Tin. I've always dug all-red tattoos. You can see more here.


Here is one by a Quebecois dude* who works at a shop in Montreal called Glamort. He definitely thinks outside the box with his tattoos. I think they're excellent. Maybe for my next birthday...


*I stand corrected. A reader has informed me that he is not a Quebecois dude, but a French dude. Either way, your meat is his.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Ode to Lindsay Smith

Once upon a time, when the interlux was a much smaller place, young people used to buy domains and then "host" other people's personal websites by giving them their own directory and the password to the ftp account. One wishing to be hosted had to first prove that she was worthy of being hosted, usually by having a cool-looking site on a free hosting site like Angelfire, and hope that a hoster with whom she had "applied" would let her on board.

In nineteen hundred and ninety-nine, both Matt and I were approved and hosted by one Lindsay Smith of offcentre.net. At the time, we lived two time-zones away from each other and, of course, had two very separate web sites. In fact, neither of us knew the other was hoping to be hosted by Lindsay until we were both approved. Both of us were very excited at the time. Neither of us can remember why now.

Lindsay's site was large and content heavy with one section or another always under construction with promises that it would all be up and working soon. She was constantly redesigning the site, often before the previous version was finished. The web archive's last recorded version of the site was version 7.

And now the site is gone. No one owns the domain anymore. It makes me a little sad. Even though I rarely visited, I always knew that if I typed offcentre.net into my address bar, there would be Lindsay's somewhat-finished site with already-past due dates still posted on the homepage. Not anymore.

In rememberance of Lindsay "Red" Smith, I present to you now this link to what I can only assume was Lindsay's own free-hosted site before she decided to take matters into her own hands and host her site herself.

UPDATE: I also found her current journal in case you are curious. She was the first Lindsay Smith on a search on myspace too. Makes me feel like the internet is small again, like the good old days.

Beer

When people tell me that they don't like beer I know that they are lying. They don't dislike beer, they just haven't taken the time and put in the necessary effort to know they they do in fact love beer, and that absolutely. Everyone loves beer but not everyone knows it. So now we have two camps, those who know they love beer, and those who are ignorant of the fact that they love beer. But these two options do not exhaust the possibilities apropos of beer love. There is a third camp, which causes far more harm to the beer cause than those who claim to dislike beer. This camp never fails to espouse their love of beer, ceaselessly standing up for the gloriously righteous and righteously glorious cause of beer. One often finds pubs and bars filled with these folks, every hand clutching a pint glass (or worse, a British dimpled mug). These are the folks who go to a brewpub and order bottles of Heineken or pints of their sacred Guinness. These are the people who endlessly say that "American beer" tastes like piss. These are the ones who are a danger to society, who claim to love beer but have yet to drink the stuff. War must be declared on these poor souls.

All this to say that I am a beer snob and that, save for a couple brewpubs and one or two microbrewery beers, Quebec beer is really bad. Quebecers will continue to claim that they love and know their beer, but they are liars. There is not a single U.S. microbrew for sale in Quebec, and we all know that American microbrews are where its at. American beer is looked down on in Quebec because they've only known the corporate monster beers. Sorry to say, but the microbrews and imports in Quebec are not a whole lot better than the mass-produced rice hulls and corn syrup beers of the U.S. I don't know who is in charge of beer importation at the SAQ, but they should be arrested.

All this has forced Danica and I to take action, in the form of brewing our own beer. We were fed up with spending $8 for a pint of shit-ass swill.

All this to post pictures of some of our homebrew. The first is a picture of Danica's first attempt at beer-brewing, a British-style brown ale which she entitled West of Downtown Brown. I don't typically care for brown ales, but I really dug this beer.


Next up is my latest creation, a saison, which is a Belgian-style ale. Spicy, hoppy and refreshing. This one needs some more time for bottle-conditioning, but the flavors are already starting to come together nicely. Really interesting stuff.


End of shit-talking.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

La haine

I hate that all hope that I have for a better situation in the world, politically, socially, economically, environmentally, religiously, and on and on to infinity, rests in a group of people who are absolute fucking idiots and with whom I seem to be incapable of teaming up.

I hate that I did not go through with joining the absolute fucking idiots. I bailed about a week before Easter because Danica thinks they're The Borg. I hate that I am not part of The Borg.

I hate that at first I wanted to join the absolute fucking idiots because I thought doing so would solve all of my problems. I hated them when I realized that being a part of The Borg creates new problems while recreating the old problems in new ways. I hate that my desire to join their team has not wavered a bit through all of this.

I hate when people say that God told them to do something and I don't have a fucking clue what they're talking about. Once my dad confessed to my mom that God had never spoken to him. I respect my dad more for that confession than for anything else, and I respect my dad a great deal.

I hate that God has never spoken to me.

I hate that God supposedly speaks to folks and yet we're still clueless as to what we should be doing. Has no one thought to ask? Is He giving mixed messages?

I hate that I am incapable of atheism. It would be so much easier.

Diga não à poluição visual!


This is the coolest thing I've seen in a damn long time. All outdoor advertising has been made illegal in São Paulo, South America's largest city. And this from a right-wing government. Kick ass!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Mao on Michael Moore

"A revolution is not a dinner party, or writing an essay, or painting a picture, or doing embroidery; it cannot be so refined, so leisurely and gentle, so temperate, kind, courteous, restrained and magnanimous. A revolution is an insurrection, an act of violence by which one class overthrows another." - Mao Tse Tung

Monday, June 18, 2007

BOOM!

This morning I was lying in bed, telling myself that I needed to get up and get to work but complaining that I was so tired and no one was expecting me anywhere and the bed was so comfy and I could sleep just a little longer when BOOM! An explosion! Up I jumped! Looking out the window, we couldn't see anything out of the ordinary except a bunch of people gathering on the sidewalk and a little boy excitedly shouting, "Fire! Fire!" I threw on some clothes and went outside but by the time I got down there, there was no fire left. I spoke with the maintenance lady from our building who was putting out the trash, and she told me what happened: two manhole covers exploded open! One of them was under a car at the time, and the car was thrown off the road. There was fire coming out of the now-open holes in the ground, (although by the time I got downstairs, it was just smoke) so she thought it was a gas pipe explosion. Our street is now closed off, and there are firemen everywhere, although they don't seem to be doing a whole lot. (And their trucks have been idling this whole time! Damn energy wasters!) I don't think we are allowed to leave our building without being escorted by the firemen, as we are in the danger zone, roped off by orange (not just yellow!) tape.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

This is dumb

I don't want a blog anymore. I have nothing to say to you.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Fashion

Add pizazz to your head.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Žižek on Nitebeat

I still love this, especially Žižek's bit at the end.

Huh.

Just wow.

Music for Tuesday

Nana's dance from Vivre sa vie


Cafe dance from Bande à part

The origin of the world


Our friends Renee and Aaron from our church in Kansas City just had a baby boy, Isaac Aaron, last Tuesday. Renee's brother is a photojournalist and took some pictures for them. I think the pictures are so awesome. You can see the rest here. Birth makes my hair stand up on end, in a good way. Congratulations, Renee and Aaron!

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Baseline

Over the past week, I've tried to come up with a baseline for the 90% challenge that I've decided to take on. (Matt is sort of taking it on.) Because we are not in control of and cannot track progress in some of the categories, we are not going to be able to do the whole challenge, but I still think it will be fun to see how low we can go in the other categories. Here is where we stand now.

GASOLINE
We are allowed 50 gallons each per year or .137 gallons each per day. According to the challenge rules, public transportation can be calculated at 100 miles per gallon. That means we are allowed to go 5000 miles per year or 13.7 miles each day on public transportation. We don't have a car anymore, so this is almost the only kind of transportation we use. I have seen a few sites that say that air travel is roughly around the same mpg per person. I know that I am going to be going to KC by air this winter, which is approximately 2400 miles round trip. If I don't want to bust my 90% allotment, I'll only get about 7 miles each day on public transportation. (Of course, that doesn't count all the gas I'll eat up once I get to KC, which has no public transportation to speak of! And it's 33 miles just from the airport to my mom's house!) I think this is entirely doable since I don't really go that many places, and I don't take public transportation every day. It's 5 miles round trip to Mary's house and 3.5 miles round trip to Twist Image. Anyway, enough rambling about gasoline.
Baseline: On a daily basis, we already use 90% less than the average American uses.

ELECTRICITY
We are allowed 90 kwH per month. According to our latest electric bill, we used 125 kwH last month. One caveat: the laundry machines are communal for the building, so I can't track that energy usage.
Baseline: We currently use 86% less than the average American uses. Woop!

HEATING AND COOKING ENERGY
We are allowed 100 therms or 283 cubic meters per year or 23.5 cubic meters per month. This one is tricky because we don't pay for (and are not in control of) the natural gas that is used for heating the apartment or for heating the water. We only pay for cooking fuel. I only found a couple sites that broke down natural gas usage by category, and they were not really in agreement. So I'm going with 10%. That means we are allowed 2 cubic meters each month for cooking. The latest natural gas bill I could find was from January, and we had used 14 cubic meters of natural gas. I'm not sure if this is something we'll be able to adjust that much. Also, if 2 cubic meters sounds way off to anyone, please let me know!
Baseline: We use roughly 30% less than the average American uses.

GARBAGE
We are allowed 6.3 pounds of garbage and .9 pounds of recycling each week. In the past four days, we've accumulated 5 pounds of garbage and 3.25 pounds of recycling. At that rate, we'd have 8.75 pounds of garbage and 5.7 pounds of recycling, or 14.45 pounds total. I know that a great deal of our garbage is cat litter/poop and vegetable scraps that could be composted. Because we live in an apartment, there is nothing we can do about the cat waste. The vegetable scraps are a different matter. Our friend MA has a compost pile. There are various places in town that accept scraps for community composting programs. We could try a worm bin. I am confident that we can and will improve a great deal in this category. We should also try to buy in bulk more and remember our cloth shopping bags to cut down on the amount of packaging we trash/recycle. One bit of progress already: today we brewed beer. We would have to throw away 4.5 pounds of spent grains and hops, but instead, I saved them and will get them to a compost pile soon!
Baseline: We throw out/recycle 53% less stuff than the average American.

WATER
We are allowed 20 gallons each day. Unfortunately, we can't track this since we are not billed for our water usage. I have a feeling that we are most certainly not down to 10% of the average, but I don't think we use as much as most people either. We certainly don't shower as much as normal people! :) Brewing beer uses a whole lot of water. We probably used at least 20 gallons just to make a 5 gallon batch of beer. I know that at least 5 of those gallons were unnecessary. (Yes, you know what I'm talking about, Matthew!) I'm sure that as we get more brewing experience, we will streamline our process in terms of time, energy and resources used.

CONSUMER GOODS
We are allowed $1000 per year or $83 per month. We don't spend a whole lot of money on things other than edibles for us and the cats, so I figured we were doing pretty well on this one. Then I added up how much money we spent on consumer goods this past month, and it was pretty eye opening. This last month, we spent approximately $450 dollars on clothes, a brew pot, curtains, a diva cup (which is totally awesome!), and a book by Karl Marx. At least half of that was on the clothes, and Matt and I are definitely not the most fashionable people you'll ever meet! I got a "job" and needed some new duds for that, and Matt caught the shopping bug. The last time we bought clothes before that... I honestly can't remember. However, for the sake of being fair, I'm going to count all of the money we spent for our baseline. After all, we have spent a lot on consumer goods in the past year, since we moved to a new city and had to buy a lot of furniture, etc. And it didn't all come from Craigslist.
Baseline: We currently spend 46% less than the average American on consumer goods.

FOOD
This is a tricky category. We are supposed to aim for 70% of our food being local and organic, 25% being dry bulk items, and 5% being the rest. This is very hard to approximate. What do you do about bread that is baked locally (or even in our own home!) but made with olive oil from Italy? What about the beer we brew? It uses lots of water and natural gas to make, but in turn, we re-use the same bottles and don't have to transport it anywhere (or package or advertise). In light of these concerns, I've decided to revamp this category a bit. We are now going to aim for 70% of food being local -- organic or not. I believe that while organice, sustainable growing practices are extremely important, eating locally and in season is even more important. This 70% will include anything we make at home (bread, beer, yogurt, etc) even if a few of the ingredients are not local. The other two food categories are basically the same.
Baseline According to last week's grocery list, our groceries were roughly 45% local, 10% dry bulk, and 45% everything else.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Abracadabra!

Can I ask a favor? Never ever use the magic words "image of God" in reference to humans like you know what you're talking about. If you have done so in the past, repent sinner. If you were planning on doing so in the future, just don't. That's all that I ask. Those words were mentioned once in the Bible, with absolutely no explanation as to what they mean. But you, you, mowing your 10' by 10' yard in the suburbs with an honest to God tractor, you know what those words mean! And you, well-meaning Christian, if you're going to attach those words onto some notion of human rights, just please please please stop. I beg of you, please, no more.

Philosophy v. Geography

I am torn. This is my dilemma. I really dig philosophy. I dig it really deep. If I study philosophy (of the Continental flavor) I'll need to get at the very least a Masters if I hope to get a job in a philosophy department. But even if I am the most amazing philosophy student on the face of the earth and I have a Masters, I am still infinitely far from being assured a job in a philosophy department. There are just too few jobs and too few people willing to give up their jobs so that I can have them and too many philosophy students who think that they'll be the ones to succeed.

Now, Danica hates to work. She doesn't want to work anymore. She wants me to be the bread-winner already. I do, too. I'm really sick of school. So, if I stuck around with philosophy I'd be in school another few years with no guarantee of a job. I'd probably end up substitute-teaching middle school gym classes. Then Danica would have to keep working because I wouldn't make enough money to live off of.

Keep in mind that philosophy is very very dear to me.

I've been checking out this program at my school lately. It is a B.Sc. in Environmental Geography. Here is the description:

Environmental geography is the branch of geography that describes the spatial aspects of interactions between humans and the natural world. It requires an understanding of the dynamics of climatology, hydrology, biogeography, geology and geomorphology, as well as the ways in which human societies conceptualize the environment. Environmental geography represents a critically important set of analytical tools for assessing the impact of human presence on the environment by measuring the result of human activity on natural landforms and cycles. This program draws on courses within physical geography, including a distinctive strand of courses dealing with environmental issues, resources and management. Teaching and learning methods are diverse, ranging from lectures and tutorials through to a variety of practical work in cartography, GIS, remote sensing and statistics.

Environmental geographers are familiar with how natural systems function, but they also know that humans are a dominant agent of change in nature. They realize that it is not possible to understand environmental problems without understanding the physical processes as well as the demographic, cultural, and economic processes that lead to increased resource consumption and waste. Environmental geographers fan out along a variety of academic paths, and these paths will cross, mingle, or converge with those of other disciplines. By its very nature geography is a discipline that seeks to integrate and synthesize knowledge. Therein lies its strength. The geographer’s world is your world: it is the earth as the home of humans.

Environmental geography prepares students for careers in environmental planning, design, and restoration, as well as in environmental assessment and monitoring, resource management, natural areas preservation, and outdoor and environmental education. Students completing the program will develop competencies in a broad array of subjects spanning the natural and social sciences, as well as complementary analytical techniques.

Environmental geographers ask a diverse set of questions such as:

* Can the global environment cope with anticipated population growth?
* What will be the extent and impact of global warming?
* Should we protect tropical forests and why are they being destroyed?
* What causes famine and why do people die from it?
* Should we allow Hydro Quebec to dam the rivers entering James Bay?

Much of what happens in our daily lives is influenced by events beyond our ‘local world’ – events often beyond our borders and outside the control of our national governments. As the world’s nations and environment become more interdependent, the need to understand how our lives are interconnected across the globe increases. With it the role of geography and employment opportunities for geographers will continue to grow.


This sounds like a lot of fun and I know I'd get really into it, I'd be out of school sooner, and I'd be pretty much guaranteed a job, which would make both Danica and I very pleased. But, again, it is not philosophy, which I love. I don't know what to do.

What should I do?

UPDATE: What about a double major in Littérature de la langue française and Environmental Geography and a minor in Philosophy. That would be the same number of credits as a double major in Littérature de la langue française and honours Philosophy, which was my original plan. A minor in Philosophy won't get me anything, but at least I'll get to have a bit of fun. Come on, what do you say?

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Music for Tuesday: Nineties Rock Edition

As the D to the motherfucking P can attest, I hate a little bit more than 99% of rock music released during that quirky decade the 1990s. Really shitty stuff from all corners of the universe. But I must concede that not all 90s music deserves to be melted down and made into playgrounds for the little shavers. So, for this episode of Music for Tuesday I'd like to enlighten you kind folks and enliven the river of filth that is your daily lives with some real good and real underrated rock and roll from the 1990s. This stuff has held up really well, if you ask me, especially Tugboat Annie.

Quicksand - Thorn in My Side


Samiam - Capsized


Tugboat Annie - Posterboy

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Man up, you pansy!

I just found this challenge to reduce your personal carbon emissions to 90% of the national average. This sounds like an awesome challenge, both in terms of difficulty and being a fantastic thing to do. Just reading about it gets my tree-hugging self all excited. I'm going to have to talk to Matt about it and also do some calculations to find out the Canadian national averages for the carbon emissions categories included, but as of this very moment, consider me a contender! Will you join me? It's exciting! It's daunting! I urge you to at least give it a good read and think about what small (or big) changes you can make to the way your lifestyle effects the world at large.