Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Moving on again

I've decided to move all of my blogging for practical reasons (every time I log into my blog, it logs me out of my e-mail). My new blog is residing at I'm really quite happy at how blogger is improving :)

Monday, April 16, 2007

pLAySVG, sing with me, la-la-la, de-de-tede

Lately I've been spending a lot of time developing a software project of mine which is designed to facilitate the algorithmic generation of geometric vector images. This is something that I've been playing around with for a couple of years now, and I've finally made it Free Software by putting it up on sourceforge here. Both the software project is rather sketchy, but as I like to say "it takes a sketch to make a masterpiece". Often I start things and don't take them to a level of completion, but I don't think this will be one of those things. My goal is to make the project something that will enable kids to learn about math, computer programming, and images in a playful manner.

Justin desired dinner guests

Today I sent out a general invitation by e-mail to my friends to come have dinner with me. I have comitted to cook a big meal once a week for my household and often my room mates aren't around to eat the meal. I like eating with other people :)

The Green Penguin House on CBC

My friend who's doing a masters in journalism at Carleton asked me if she could do an radio interview with me about "small life choices that make a diffrence to the health of our environment". I told her that I'd be willing to, and that I would ask my room mates if they would participate. As it turns out, all 4 Green Penguins (we live in the The Green Penguin house, penguin because it's the mascot for Linux) are going to be on the radio. My room mate and I sat down this morning to sketch out a list of things we do around the household to "make a difference". We will be publishing that website on our facebook group. Well, there goes my hidden identity. That's ok because I may just move this blog to my other gmail account under my real name because every time I log into the blog, I get kicked out of my personal gmail account.... I'm not sure when we'll be on the air, but I think the story will turn out well.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Yesterday I almost died ...

Well, maybe that title is a bit of an exaggeration, but I really did have quite a violent illness, like a fever or something. I won't get into the symptoms (I don't want to make you sick too), but suffice to say it was the nastiness sickness that I can remember. I'm just starting to get better today. Well, maybe I needed that butt-kickin' to remind me to take better care of myself.

Bork ! Bork Bork !

Oh yeah, this blog.... Well, I'll start with something light:

You Are the Swedish Chef

"Bork! Bork! Bork!"

Your happy and energetic - with borderline manic tendencies.

No one really gets you. And frankly, you don't even get you.

But, you sure can whip up a great chocolate mousse

Monday, December 25, 2006

Idiosyncratic notes

Last week when I was doing my laundry, I decided to take a look at the bulletin board up on one of the walls. There was the usual, used items for sale, rooms for rent, but then something else really stood out at me, an open memo pad with these words written in the bottom right hand quadrant of the page:

Housewife's Tip #14

take the phone off the hook
after you've booked a ticket to

don't pack. leave.

-Ann Shin
I found it rather mysterious, and due to the numbering, I figured there were more underneath that page of the pad, but I peeked behind it, and all the other sheets were the same. Bizzare. I took one of the sheets for some strange reason, and I just found it while cleaning up my room.

Saturday, December 23, 2006


Last night I attended a fun event right around the corner from my home: TIMEKODE. In the beginning, it was a full-on breakdancing competition, with really impressive breakers from different schools around Ottawa. I was inspired by the clown-like pop-and-lock style moves of some of the dancers. Then the circle broke up and everyone else started dancing. At one point, most of the dancers left, and there was a huge lull, but at around midnight a big rush of folks rushed in. A friend who also lives in the neighbourhood took a break to fetch her hoola hoop and I joined her and grabbed my wands (decorated broomstick cut in half ). Good times !

Monday, December 18, 2006

The highlight of my day today was a Bikram yoga class after my shift at the Rama Lotus. I got in nice an early and positioned myself right next to the heater. I was a bit concerned because it began at 3:30 and I hadn't eaten lunch at that point, but luckily I wasn't feeling hungry. I really got into the class and surprised myself at how far I could flex. By the end, I was awash in sweat and feeling euphoric. Earlier today I kind of beat myself up for not getting up early enough to get to the morning class.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

What's going on with me

For the last 2 weeks I have been working 2 part time jobs, one at 123 Academy, an ESL school for Korean kids, and one as a care-taker for the Rama Lotus yoga centre. The latter opportunity I acquired recently; I like cleaning and it's nice to be surrounded by people who are focused on healing a lot (I otherwise don't make such opportunities readily). The best part of the job is that I get unlimited free yoga. Although I intended to do yoga on six of the days this week, I only managed to get out three times. I've really been struggling with self-discipline a lot lately. Particularly, today I rushed out the door to get to a 10:45 class and arrived at 10:48 so I did an about-face and back at home I am pushing myself to conquer feeling of defeat.

I feel like I'm boycotting Christmas this year. I'm not going home as I usually do this year, and I haven't purchased a single present or even wrote a card. Bah humbug ! Holidays often make me feel depressed because I get the sense that I don't have as close relationships with people as everyone else does. I know I'm completely responsible for that; sometimes it's hard to face.

On a brighter note, I'm going to a Mummers party this evening. A couple of years ago I spent my winter in St. John's, Newfoundland where this tradition is popular, but I didn't get to participate in it (I heard the city has "banned" it for security reasons).

Monday, November 13, 2006

Campus recapitulation

Well, a lot has changed in my life since I last updated. I decided recently that a degree in Computer Science is really not going to take me where I'm willing to go and so I dropped my courses. I'm pretty sure I'll never return to university.

After being mentally destroyed by my 3rd year of Computer Science at Carleton University, I took a year off and did some travelling out in Eastern Canada. It was nice to move around, but I had some complications living with others that led me to return to Ottawa 2 summers ago to work and prepare to return to my studies. I thought that If I studied part time and worked part time, I wouldn't be so overwhelmed and I could do more of the work where my heart was, in the community around university.

I was especially interested in returning to Carleton because it would give me a reason to work with the Garden Spot again. As well, I felt compelled to promote Free Software on campus. This interested transformed into the opportunity to start a Free Culture chapter when I found out about it through reading the book Free Culture: How Big Media Uses Technology and the Law to Lock Down Culture and Control Creativity last Fall.

One of the problems I'm faced with now that I don't have the legitimacy of being a student is that I've made a comitment to start a chapter of Free Culture on campus at Carleton University. I feel that if I withdraw all energy from the project it will die because others haven't expressed too much intersted in taking initiative for the direction of the group. In retrospect, I realize that it was unwise to try to start a group on my own considering that I have little experience organizing people. I really need the support of at least a couple other people who are willing to take partial responsability for the group.

Even though I may divert energy away from making Free Culture Carleton a group that continues past my stay at Carleton, I still am willing to make a minimal amount of effort to keep the group somewhat alive this year. I promised that Free Culture Carleton would produce a DVDROM of Creative Commons media, and so I'll be making sure that happens. As well, I think Free Culture Carleton should do a movie night at the end of January and that's not too hard to make happen, so I'll see that through.

Feeling discouraged at the lack of awareness and interest in things relating to Free Culture at Carleton University, when Andy Kaplan-Myrth shared his interest in creating a national umbrella, Free Culture Canada, I felt compelled to get involved so I've been doing some promotional work with Free Culture Canada and building the web page as well as creating a local chapter here. This involvement makes it even more difficult to exit the academy with grace.

One thinh that has always irked me about the Free Culture movement is that it is a "student movement". I feel quite alienated amongst the student population, and find it hard to speak to them as an activist. In general, I find that most students quite apathetic even when it comes to things that impact their ability to entertain themselves and learn freely. Even the ones who do care find themselves too overwhelmed with work to do anything else effectively. It doesn't end there; as soon as students graduate and fall into their full-time careers and do nothing more than talk about their values every once in a while.

My interest in Free Culture stems from the fact that I am a self-directed student more than a participant in any given "discipline". The Free flow of information over the internet greatly facilitates self-directed learning. I feel that university has failed to thoroughly train me in many key technical areas computing, (i.e. Linux, C++, PHP, python) and I have been left to figure them out on my own. I have learned far more outside university than I have inside the walls, and the knowledge I acquired were towards a particular end. Unfortunately, I know of no institution that provides mentorship in pursuing self-directed learning at a post-secondary level.

Thus, instead of talking with students, I would much rather be talking to the creators out there. By this, I don't mean the academic community because that realm of discourse is one that is inaccessible to most. Instead I mean the popularizers of knowledge and culture. They are the ones who hold a stake in this new knowledge economy and they are going to be the ones who get peoples attention. I would much rather raise Free Culture awareness amongst these people because I feel they are more likely to put the knowledge into practice.

As well, I will to be a creator myself and to lead by example. Building Free Software, publishing media freely, and sharing this freedom with the people closes to me will allow me to entertain the possibility of a Freely sharing society. Eventually I'll prove that you can be paid to play Freely.

I also hope to be a voice in copyright and intellectual property reform in Canada. Although economic and political reform aren't as appealing to me as the sort of "direct action" I refered to above, I still feel they are worthy of my attention.

Until my activist/creative intentions feed me, I will be seeking some other paid work to compliment my teaching/playing job. It would be nice to get paid to play with food once again; I love chopping and serving so I think a catering job would be right up my alley.

Lastly, I will be crafting up a disappearing act for my student loan. The fear of paying it off is one of the things that led me to go running back to the academy, but I realize that there are lots of opportunities out there for me to make money doing something I love that don't require a degree.

I am a life-long student, I never dropped out, I only rose out. Now it's time to grow !

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Blessings: the opportunity to work/play with children

One last comment for today: I have an awesome job ! I am now getting paid to hang out with Korean children, help them with their homework, and taking them on outings. My employer: 123 Academy, a home that accepts students (roughly grades 5-9) from South Korea, takes care of them (housing and food), sends them into public schools here in Ottawa, and provides them with support from "teachers" for their homework and other activities. Not only is it the easiest job I've ever acquired, it was the job that was the easiest to acquire. My friend just asked me if I wanted a job, I accepted, and then I showed up. No resumes, no interviews, that easy. A ray of hope that the world really is working to shower me with blessings (TODO: order and read Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia: How the Whole World Is Conspiring to Shower You with Blessings). I'm willing that it's not a case of "easy come, easy go".

Project porchlight: shedding a light on self

Well, I almost forgot about Project Porchlight, but I dedided to see if anyone had commented on my blog in the last little while and I found out that they had done so, and I commented back on their blog's "Notes for a Thursday evening". I just e-mailed them in hopes that I can get involved in their Dalhousie run of the project. I don't get many comments because I'm not friends with many "bloggers" (who use; I wish I could let the general public comment on this without having spam machines post porno links on my blog. Well, maybe I just need to bring others in...

Treating the neighbourhood ?

Since I've moved in, I've been thinking about getting to know my neighbours. I won't be going out this Halloween, and this got me thinking: taking children out trick-or-treating sure is a good way to get to know your neighbours. I think it's unfortunate that "tricks are for kids" and people of all ages don't have an opportunity to go from house-to-house and share treats. In Newfoundland they have a culture of Mummers which offers a forum for neighbours to exchange presences.

Another dream these thoughts have sparked: a block open-house where people in your neighbourhood would open up their houses to participants. There would have to be some sort of security measures to ensure that not just any stranger would be wandering in your house, and it would probably take a good deal of co-ordination, but I think it would be fesable with enough input. This way you could offer real food to your neighbours instead of polluting them with over-wrapped junk (every house becomes a drug dealer on Halloweeen).

Well, since I don't see this happening any time soon, and I won't be offering candy to our physical neighbourhood, I though I'd offer anyone who's listening some musical treats by putting up links to my favorite music on on my sidebar.

Fighting with selves

I'm having some serious difficulty applying myself to an assignment that's due today at midnight. Once you get a taste of doing work that actually matters in the world (i.e. cooking for the G-Spot, promoting Free Culture) it's hard to work on these silly exercises.

Lately I've been feeling like the ghosts of my own past are comming back to haunt me. Maybe it's true what they say about the boundary between the living and dead worlds being thin this time of year. All of the initiatives that never took off, all of the opportunities I've passed up... soon enough they will lay to rest. I will only let them when my living spirit is strong enough to stand up to them. BOOO !

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Quintessential pumpkins

I was feeling particularly fun Sunday morning of the Thanksgiving holidays and while I was washing the dishes listening to CBC's Thanksgiving special, I started to look ahead to Halloween, and thinking about how it has been perverted from it's original pagan context. So I started singing a song that seemed to be in my subconscious mind, like it was part of a kid's song, but substituting the content of the verses to pay respect to the elements of paganism. I feel in more in concord paganism than I do with Christianity (though I recognize God). So, here's the song:

Quintessential pumpkins

five little pumpkins sitting on a tree
one jumped off and said to me
i am the light that guides the way
when it cometh to the end of day

four little pumpkins sitting on a tree
one jumped off and said to me
i am the fire that burneth bright
inspiring minds all through the night

three little pumpkins sitting on a tree
one jumped off and said to me
i am the vessel to hold your candle
i make your lamp so that you can handle

two little pumpkins sitting on a tree
one looked out and said to me
i am the air that gives lamp fuel
for cutting the flame i am the tool

one little pumpkin sitting on a tree
it looked out and said to me
i am the earth where you plug your jack
for lending support i have a knack

and then they all merged into one really big pumpkin above my head and then i merged with that really big pumpkin and became a jack-o-lantern

i am a jack smiling crookedly
sometimes goofy, sometimes scary

now i think i'll go back to my tree
and multiply quintesentially


Monday, October 16, 2006

While I'm out, may I remember when I come back

This evening I was singing a song about remembering my dreams because I want to, and I thought it would be a good form of mental suggestion. My room mate heard me and gave me some mugwart, which is an herb which is supposed to help you dream. I smoked some, and it gave me a bit of an enjoyable light-headded feeling. Then later I found out that CBC has expanded their list of podcasted programs to include Ideas; hooray ! One of the selected episodes is called "While you were out" and it's all about sleep and dreaming. I heard the second part of it last year, and was quite intrigued about their discussion of lucid dreaming. May you too remember your dreams... if you will it be.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

The Tyrrany of Structurelessness

Today before attending the Garden Spot meeting, I read and essay, The Tyrrany of Structurelessness that gave me insight into why it is so important for organizations to have an explicit structure outlined. Right now the G-Spot is in the process of forming a constitution; I am pleased to see that the G-Spot is becomming more organized. We had a meeting today in part to discuss this.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Libre Commons

I've just finished reading this paper The politics of the libre commons and I've found it quite mind-expanding. Even though I've known for years that promoting democracy and communality through the use of digital technologies is something that I'm interested in, since I've begun participating in the Free Culture movement, I've always felt like there was something missing.

I recently got an e-mail from someone from the U of T who was considering starting a chapter there. It seems like they have given up with this endeavor, not due to any lack of dilegence, but rather, due to their view of Particularly, they felt that was not doing enough to facilitate discourse about these issues; they seemed to think that was more about propagandizing than anything else. Admitedly, I may have fallen into this pitfall, shamelessly promoting Creative Commons and Free Software without trying to engage opinions enough.

Now, concerning this paper: if I had not been introduced to some of the concepts of Deluzian philosophy by my friends, I would have been completely lost. Now I feel more motivated to learn about Deluzian philosophy. This paper takes a philosophical and political angle on "freedom of ideas". The paper criticizes both the Creative Commons and the Free Software movement, as the y supposes the need for law, and thus the state, to uphold these "commons". It criticizes the Free Software movement for being based upon assumptions about morality, and the Creative Commons for having no morality, no commonality.

After reading this paper, I visited the Libre Society's web page, started by the authors of this paper. As it turns out, this organization has created non-legal "licenses" for artistic works. They have a nicely designed manifesto . I'm happy to see that some are taking a more radical approach to the idea of the "commons" in our connected world.

Project porchlight

Today I signed up to volunteer for Project Porchlight

Project Porchlight is a campaign of One Change, a not-for-profit organization based in Ottawa, Ontario. The campaign's goal is to bring together business, community groups and volunteers to deliver one free compact fluorescent light bulb (CFL) to every household in Canada.

I just moved into this area of town dubbed Dalhousie in September; we live on Elm @ Preston. I told one of my room mate that I thought it would be fun to go door-to-door and hand out some sort of baked goods to our neighbourhood as a gesture of willingness to engage in our local community. I later realized that this wasn't the best approach. People would be too suspicious, and possibly feel like their space was being invaded. Participating in this campaign would allow me to meet my goal of getting to know the neighbourhood a little better in a way that was much more acceptable and understood. Maybe I can still give out cookies along with the bulbs :-)

Riding the internet

magicbike is a mobile WiFi (wireless Internet) hotspot that gives free Internet connectivity wherever its ridden or parked. By turning a common bicycle into a wireless hotspot, Magicbike explores new delivery and use strategies for wireless networks and modern-day urbanites. Wireless bicycles disappear into the urban fabric and bring Internet to yet unserved spaces and communities. Mixing public art with techno-activism, Magicbikes are perfect for setting up adhoc Internet connectivity for art and culture events, emergency access, public demonstrations, and communities on the struggling end of the digital-divide.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Tootin' the Commons

So, I've been playing a bit more with Free Software DJ tools on my computer, namely Mixxx (a DJing/mixing applicaiton) and Prokyon3 (a database application to organize music and create playlists). Both applications are cross-platform, which I really like because then I can promote them to pretty much everyone. Today I was mixing some electronica with a spoken word track of Alan Watts. It was fun. I only have one sound card, so I can't really properly DJ (you need to have a monitor).

I was using an old version, stable version of Mixxx, but I'm going to jump to the beta testing version. I would say this application is close to being something more than a toy, something that could be used in a professional setting, and from the looks of the developers e-mail list, the project seems active.

I'm really impressed at how much really great music (that few know about) is under a Creative Commons license. That is why I've decided that as a DJ, I would play only Creative Commons music. Of course, I'm a long way from being able to do gigs, but I'm pretty sure this is something I will become. In the mean time, I can toot the Commons by letting you know some of the great music I've discovered.

So, I revisited for the first time in a long while, and I was pleased to see that they have a "if you like this artist, you may like.." feature to their web site. So, following a trail, I've tuned into the free streams of these albums and I'm quite impressed.
Zilla - Egg : hammered dulcimer with beautiful ambient/downbeat electronic backdrops
Burning Babylon : infectious dub, "Jamaican roots tradition, but with an ear for the neo-dub stylings of the present day."
Headroom Project : "fuses traditional world music with modern rhythms and audio design, resulting in driving beats full of natural power, color, and heat."
Drop Trio : "melody-driven funk jazz band...careens between styles, with feet squarely in the New Orleans funk and Acid jazz camps, and nods to such diverse influences as progressive rock, classical composition and electronica."

As well, I've updated the Free Culture Carleton page about places to get free music. Tell me what you like about the Commons, I'd really like to know.

Lokey night

I need to hang out with my friends more often; I miss them. Last night I went out to Mike's Place to listen to DJ Lokey. I tried inviting some friends, but no one could show. I went anyway because I know this player; he's helping out Free Culture Carleton. Info on the lo:

The lokey massive is intended as a platform for the distribution and recombination of the byproducts of the world. As a scientist, designer and musician, i study the vast realms of data generated by observation, recorded by the distributed network of the rapidly evolving social organism. Replaying and recomposing reality to match the rhythmic pulse of society. I use broken, evocative pulses of chaos, synchronously echoing in and out of the collective consciousness, through your spine and out of your toes, into the roots of the world, grounding you into the potential universe. Desperate neural remapping, but with a cheeky sense of humour to smooth out the transition…
…im always interested to make new links across the planet, if what you see, hear or experience on this page strikes a harmonic chord within you, dont hesitate to send me a shout out down the tubes. The more connections we make in this world, the more we can work together to spread the vibe. I remain lokey, and at gmail dot com…

Leif hosts a show on CKCU entitled Stochastic Resonance, which airs Wednesday night from 12-2am (well, that's technically early Thursday). The flava is pretty mixed up; I say if you dig nice beats, get your aural eats with the lokey treats.

So, the night was moderately social for me; I met a bunch of folks from the Sound Mind club. They produce a zine and a CD compilation, and some of the members seem pretty intent on publishing their work on the internet under a Creative Commons license, but they're just starting out, so I don't think anything is online yet.

I found the crowd started to tapered off pretty hard at around 10:30 pm; it seems most of the people in Mike's place were there for the food and beer and not the DJ. It was the first instance of the venue's Thursday weekly DJ night; I hope more music lovers and dancers start comming out.