wohbits, 2007.10

  • I managed to get my confidence in gaming again, though I am still having hand/eye coordination issues. Katamari Damacy was what did it, and without selling my soul to the PS2. Half an hour of play is enough to last me all day. Talk about a far better game than Kingdom Hearts!  (Really, I just like crossover stories. The gameplay in KH is awful. Talk about a button masher.)
  • Oh, yeah, I’m talking at CASCON 2007 this year. I’m presenting tomorrow on Education in the 21st century, and how new technology affects how we teach, think and learn. My focus continues to be on affordances of synchronous environments. IRC will be a big part of the presentation, which focuses on our GRAIL project and research @ U of T’s OISE. Research conducted under the guidance of Dr. Clare Brett.
  • Few weeks ago Chris and I started work on the workshop & garage. (OK, he’s been doing most of the work. But I am helping!) I snapped some arsty shots of the foundation in progress, and am feeding them into Lightroom now. I’ll have the pics online shortly, once I’m satisfied that any of them are any good.
  • I’ve realized that the only reason I haven’t been entertaining others more often at my place is a lack of reaching out to people I know (and would like to meet) in the city. Intentionally sticking to “othered” space tends to result in this sort of isolation. Perhaps it’s time to kick off Friday night “red wine and games” again?

no longer a gamer?

so I tried. I tried to play a 3-4 year old game (Kingdom Hearts, PS2) and failed miserably. I can’t even get past the first level, where you’re mock-dueling with characters on the beach. I lose every time. I just can’t get the hang of the first-person interface, keep losing who I’m attacking (even with the lock-on), and just get pummeled to bits trying to avoid their attacks.

Apparently I am no longer a capable gamer. :( And this is a Disney game, folks!

Man do I feel old!

Maybe I’m just frustrated too easily, and falling prey to the “the more frustrated you are, the worse you perform.”

[Edit: I managed to get through 3 of the 4 characters. Then I tried 3-on-me, and couldn’t get past that. So I can advance, but SLOWLY. Far more slowly than I can with games that aren’t based on an FPS interface. Guess I need to build those skills…or give up forever…but hopefully the former, if I can be patient enough with myself!]

thanksgiving 07

So I didn’t get into the studio. A pity. Instead I was helping to tear up the backyard for the new workshop/garage (photos shortly), and cooking Thanksgiving dinner yesterday. Thanks to everyone who came over to help work in the backyard, or to eat food!

That means, instead of making music, I turned this:

Raw turkey 2007

Into this:

Cooked turkey 2007

The full menu was as follows:

  • Roast turkey (hormone and antibiotic free, from Rowe Farm Meats; brined and cooked Alton Brown style)
  • Turkey gravy, made purely from the pan drippings and giblets
  • Sweet corn bread stuffing (Alton Brown style)
  • Halved boiled sweet potatoes (sometimes, simple is best)
  • Whole-berry orange/cranberry sauce (C. brought this – delicious!)
  • Halved, steamed fresh organic Ontario Brussel Sprouts in Mustard Butter (don’t knock ’em if you’ve never had ’em fresh from the farm, steamed properly!)
  • Cherry cream cheese streudel (bought at the St. Lawrence Market)
  • Peach Chiffon Pie (recipe below the fold)
  • Apple Ricotta Coffee Cake (tip: don’t use a food processor, just cut the lard in. And use animal shortening!)
  • Fresh vanilla tea, fresh whipped cream

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lebanon from a lebanese child’s^Wadult’s view

Yesterday, someone who randomly shows up on IRC in a channel I’m in – a 17 year old from Lebanon, living alone, his father in another land – posted a story I felt deserved a wider audience. I’ve love to hear your thoughts – as would he. I’ll make sure they get passed along if you post them here.

He apologizes in advance for his bad English. (I think he’s doing just fine – far better than my Arabic!)

 The Story of Lebanon

come here son and sit down and let me tell you about the problems in the country. one time my dad told me the same thing.

Long, long time ago, god made the planets, he made this tinny country and he named it Lebanon. its environment was gust like the magic. Its men was its real men. How clean was the sea, washes its mountain’s feats. What a good ______ that came from its magic, the grapes where green and fresh, the apple was  THIS size.  The fisher throws the net, it gets out full. It wont finish from holly days, dancing, dabkays, and playing. The amount of the birds singing, leaves with a tired voices at the end of the day. People sleeps at night keeping the doors opened. There used to be friend ships, safe, with love and sharing. The humans used to be peaceful going to his work with smiles.

My grandpa died and did not continue the story. years passed on this story, and my father continued it to me.

He told me suddenly like the speed of the light it came as a touristic country. Its name became east Swiss . Its night lighten like the day. The people are coming and going, planning where to spend there night. The trourist used to come and stay for the whole summer, the beer and food. The candies and the junk food. The living was great and safe. No religions nor clan parties. We used to agree with each other. That’s our houses. No singer in this world did not sing for Beirut. “Beirut you peaceful living” ,”Beirut you good of the world”,  “Beirut you opened minded from street of sool sool till manara”. “ beirut your beautiful on your friendly on rawsheh and the olives”. From the mass of songs, its looks like they have hit it an eye.

It doesn’t know from right or left. It turned to worse and worse suddenly. Its men became hatefull, when they sit to gather smoking and talking about people, when they have the sign, they start killing each other. Each became having 2 homes. first is on somewhere, and the dungeon is his second home. People became homeless no  first nor second. People objected and said no, we could not know who’s fault. Why did this country got ripped like this??!?!?!?!?!!! The judgers’ sake puts on other’s wrong. And we are getting the results with the civil war. Suddenly came in the strangers between us and Israel attacked. That’s my cousin or that’s my friend. but anyhow the people destroyed the country on them selves . Every thing became expensive. 100$ for the gas you take little from it. To get your breads. You have to wait an hour on the line, men and women in this line on the cold and the hot, someone tries to get cross the line with a gun on his wrest.

On the days of your grandpa, our doors used to be opened. On my days its still the same, but this time its broken. I don’t forget that story, I don’t forget that moment, he turned off the cigar and told me am going to sleep. After long time, I called my son at night, so at least I can say the things he told me. I told him the cannon has stopped, we did not know where and why. When they stopped the cannon they bombed us the second day. The problems came with us. There where no enough no mercy. Over it we pay taxes. About the schools, its same as the gallon of oil.  In order for your son to get education you should first sell the house. The citizens went crazy. The dreams became like a visa.

I wish for you my son, to continue the story to your son. Don’t continue it in Canada, continue it in here, in Lebanon. God bless you, and good night.

Omar Al_ Natour

musique for fall 2007

Catching up on Futurama I missed, before the new ones come out. Some of these are really, really good.

Seems there’s renewed interest in some of the music I’ve engineered/produced or written recently. Makes me want to get back into the studio.

Well, this weekend is a long one, so sure, why not! Any suggestions on what to do? I have one work in progress, 70s jazz fusion, so something contrasting would be nice. Something I can do without purchasing more gear would be perfect ;) And something that I can achievably manage in 3 days would be essential.

Long week ahead of me next week. Thanksgiving on Monday (if you’re in town and need a place to eat, email me and we’ll talk), then a team meeting in Chicago, and then over the following weekend to New Orleans to see my ailing grandfather. He had another heart attack. For some reason he’s not answering his phone. :( I should call the home to ensure everything is OK tomorrow…

insomnolence

Do you ever find yourself up all night, reliving mistakes you’ve made 5, 10, even 20 years ago? Tonight’s one of those nights for me. I’m alternately thinking about social faux pas & mistakes at work, white lies that’ve gotten me into troubles and hearts I’ve broken over the years.

Unlike the grieving widow who blames herself, I think these particular memories haunt me because they were all reasonably preventable. “If I’d just…” I think. But I didn’t. And I don’t have a holiday for atonement, nor a confessional booth. I don’t feel any of that would give me peace of mind; it hasn’t in the past, anyway. But I still aim for perfection, even if I’ll never achieve it.

Maybe I’m upset because I know I haven’t corrected my ways? At least I feel remorse.

Scrawled on an SH-6.

chicago pizza take 1

After having lived in Chicago for 10½ years, pizza that’s 3″ thick and full of cheese kinda gets into your blood. I’ve been making Chicago-style deep dish pizza for a number of years, mostly because it’s impossible to get outside of the city. (No, Uno’s doesn’t count. Especially not if you ever had the privilege of going to the original Uno’s. Or the original Gino’s East, with that delicious corn bread crust. Or Giordano’s. Or tasted Edwardo’s stuffed spinach pizza. Or Lou Malnati’s – still my favourite place to head when I have a few hours layover @ ORD.)

Speaking of Edwardo’s, this weekend’s experiment was a stuffed spinach and onion pizza, topped with peameal bacon. That’s what you Americans like to call Canadian bacon, though it’s virtual impossible to find real peameal bacon south of the border.

I’ll post the recipe later – I’m still tweaking it, it’s a combination of my friend Fred’s recipe and one I’ve been working on independently – but this week’s experiment included the following ingredient variations:

  • Whole wheat flour (because I’ve run out of all-purpose)
  • 1 lb. fresh spinach, wilted in hot pepper olive oil with fresh garlic, stems left on
  • A large handful of fresh oregano and basil from the backyard garden
  • Pecorino romano instead of parmesan cheese
  • Layering, from bottom to top:
    • whole wheat crust
    • brushed with hot pepper olive oil
    • 80/20 mix of shredded mozzarella / shredded romano
    • homemade pizza sauce, from scratch, including fresh herbs
    • Wilted spinach, prepared as above
    • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped, raw
    • More 80/20 cheese mix
    • 3-5mm slices of peameal bacon, quartered
    • 20/80 mix of shredded mozzarella / shredded romano
    • edge of crust brushed with melted butter, then re-brushed halfway through baking

The result was outstanding:

Partially-eaten Chicago deep dish stuffed spinach and onion pizza.

The photo was taken after the pizza had cooled off a bit, so imagine it just oozing with juices and smelling outrageously delicious.

Fixes for next time: cook the sauce a bit longer, it was too watery; replace some of the average-grade mozzarella with buffalo mozzarella, especially in the top 2 layers; try a 50/50 mix of white/whole wheat flour in the crust, or possibly corn meal for a corn bread crust.


P.S. This is my 500th post!
P.P.S. Yes, that’s my Kohjinsha SH6 on the left there. I’ll post about it next.

rohs sucks

And EDN agrees. I don’t build equipment to last 2-3 years, I build it to last 200-300 years, at least.  I rely on lead to make that happen reliably and cost-effectively. And, I ensure that any electronics I stop using is recycled appropriately. It just makes sense. EDN further proves that RoHS legislation is actually going to have a worse environmental impact than the way we have been doing things.

Join the fight @ RoHSUSA to free us from ridiculous lead-free requirements in electronics.