Home sick, turning on the BBC news site this morning, my world shifted about 2 degrees in some direction. This is the new face of terror? Uncle Louie? The guy who runs the corner store? So much for racial profiling as a tool when Mr. Hooper goes to the dark side. I had Elmo pegged from way back but Mr. Hooper?
Apparently their Federal government has determined that Aussies like porn. Wonders never cease. Apparently, next door to those researchers, others are working on the study "Does the contemporary Australian male like to (a) drink and/or (b) swear?"
I have become interested in Upstate New York, the bit of the US which is now within a three-hour drive from my house. When I was a kid growing up in Nova Scotia, most of us thought the USA was the great Satan or at least, like Upper Canada, a source of nothing that is good. One taste of a beer proved it. Then I moved to Upper Canada and I had to cut through New England once or twice a year to go home. Wasn't so bad on Highway 2. Then Ross moved to Portland Maine and I added a couple of visits down there a year. In PEI the last few summers, I even flew the flags of Maine, Connecticut and Alaska from time to time picked up from Ebay or while travelling. For our next property I would like to add at least Ohio and New Mexico.
Now I find myself infatuated and want to pop over any given weekend just to have a look around. I am watching local Watertown TV sports - covering semi-pro football and single A baseball - and also listening to North Country NPR pretty much every day. Our next planned visit is Labour/Labor Day weekend when we are going to do some state park camping and check out the Great New York State Fair at Syracuse. Saturday, 20 August 2003 is even dubbed "Pie Day". What's not to like about Pie Day?
Without getting deeply into the US v. Canada thing, I find that the welcome you get in the US can't be beat. Maybe they are better at service, maybe it is like the thing where the best looking girl in the room is the foreign girl. Whatever it is, even the beer tasting pretty good these days.
When I was looking through some lps at a second hand shop at lunch today I noticed how fixed in time they were. Though I bought the Nirvana on MTV album on vinyl when it came out, I think it was 1989 when a couple of Christie Moore lps had last hit the turntable fresh from the shrink wrap, new record smelling very close to old VW, click and hiss free. Two bucks now for an early '80's Pete Townsend, $12.95 for Quadrophenia.
I have never been in on the beginnings of anything but I get the feeling that something is going on. Since my return from the State of Maine with a handful of ska CD's, there has been something between a murmur and a roar on - ok, its very close to murmur but technically I am not lying...
It's the fourth wave of ska starting as a little ripple in a big ocean. I say get a pork pie hat, a narrow black tie and start the moonstompin'. Calling everyone you meet Rico would help, too. Maybe the boys will chip in for the Hopping Penguins for the Crow Bowl VIII post game party next July - if they still taking any bookings that soon.
Later: The BBC explains the three waves of ska. The BBC is apparently creating a web encyclopedia of everything called BBCi which is very impressive. Also, check out recently departed web show The Ska Parade.
In the BBC's technology pages, there is an interesting article on the confusion surrounding the word "WiFi". An illustrative passage:
Five per cent thought that it referred to a night club, while 2% said it was something smelly that had been left in the sun for too long. Among the other explanations picked by people was a posh hot tub, a sunbed and a microwave ready meal. And 1% of married people though that it meant someone was having trouble with the wife.One problem the internet faces is its inability to explain itself well using words that make sense to the public. It is too concerned about using either blandly meaningless, technical or, like WiFi, branded language. If you think of two complex tools used every day, cars and telephones, you can see that they do not complicate demand by requiring users to submit to a fluctuating lexicon before they can understand opportunities and collectively create public demand. Being involved in the purchase of IT and having watched intellegent people buy useless systems for years or not buy the right one, it is clear that the language gap skews the marketplace. That is why email is the true gem of the medium - its simply works as it apparently should. Until plain language is adopted, the market will be subject to bubbles and will not move far beyond being in effect what Bill Gates called it in 1976: hobbyists.
Until I lived with Al Jones of Unity, Saskatchewan in 1989, I could not bear hot sauce. Given the choice of burning my insides or putting up with the jeering taunts of this one of Unity's sons, a mad young caffine stoned loud loud loud W.O. Mitchell, libertarian without politics, cousin to Lawrence Welk (who I will note now - years later with most of a continent between me and Mr Jones - never was known to brag up his secret Saskatchewan past), I learned to eat hot sauce on everything. Now, the perfect tonic for a slow morning is a blue cheese and Franks Hot sauce sandwich after having your back slathered with Tiger Balm. Cure for stuffed sinuses? Cabbage soup with Malaysian hot chili paste.
Tonight, I took some of the sweet peaches that have just hit town with that 36-hour limit before they start to go, squeezed them, mashed them, sieved them, adding Hungarian hot sauce and good dry sherry to the juice. Pour it on salmon, ice cream or aching muscles or joints. Good fo ya. Add just enough heat that after the first bite you have to jump out of your chair, wiping each flowing eye and nostral, shouting "Jesus, sweet Jesus on the cross, that is ache-oh-tee...HOT!...whew..." before you remember two children are at the table quietly staring at their Daddy.
It was quite the thing seeing TV shots of a very familiar neighbourhood in Halifax evacuated yesterday due to a fire at grain silos down by the South End rail yards. Just a few streets over from the SMU campus, these concrete silos tower over houses on Atlantic Street, one of the last working class streets in the South End.
As brother Iain pointed out to me, these towers appeared in the background of the early scenes of the movie Shipping News when Coyle lived with the crazy lady in the white car before he headed to Newfie to find happiness while clinging to a rock in woolly hats with a red headed lady.
Just when you thought it was safe to go out on the information super highway, we are now going to hear about "fisking" - a new word for a usenet-old practice of interweaving replying within the text of what is being discussed, used often in flaming. For the first round of response it is slightly useful as it directly relates a paragraph of response to a paragraph of original statement. It is useless for the next level of response and beyond as it creates a mess.
I hope "to fisk" gains some new meanings - to pointlessly create new words, to confuse a discussion through unnecessary structures...suggestions?
Looking through some boxes last evening, I came across stacks of letters I had saved and there were a few things I noticed. They pretty much stopped coming in when I got the computer in 1996 and signed on to the information super highway. Names of those who did not get nerdy along with me in 1996 quickly fell away from sending letters, then Chirstmas cards by 2000, then Christmas cards sent and received have thinned out entirely over the last few years. I used to send masses of letters. I used to even send wacky faxes to pals with fax machines before we were on email. Ross is now my sole regular correspondent by pen. I hardly ever reply. I phone or email. I have a few replies to him never sent or really finished as I know the letter is a pretty crappy letter. Writing a good letter is different than an email, a newspaper column or certainly a blog post. It takes more long term thinking - of the recipient, of what was said two months and four letters ago. If you do not write like that, you do not think like that.