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 blogger.com); 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 Jamendo.com 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 FreeCulture.org. Particularly, they felt that FreeCulture.org was not doing enough to facilitate discourse about these issues; they seemed to think that FreeCulture.org 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 magnatune.com 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 lo.key.is 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.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

On the dangers of not having a personal life

So, I've been blogging much more for Free Culture Carleton than I have here lately; somehow I feel that's indicative of my life. It occurs to me that I'm not doing enough to meet my personal needs. I fear sometimes like I'm just going to become a walking mouthpiece for a movement, and that people won't be able to relate to me as a human being anymore. I think people are intuitively drawn away from getting involved with activists that are self-sacrificing; I certainly have been. I'm going to be working on maintaining a balance between my personal needs, and my needs to be involved in social change.