I would save up for a year to go to one conference. It would be this one.

My God, my head would explode from all the smart, funny, creative, insightful, courageous, innovative deliciousness. I would get Kate to follow me around with a roll of duct tape just in case I started to look like I was gonna blow. ๐Ÿ™‚

(Yes, just one of the many ways my daughter is cooler than I am — this is her fourth year attending. My other daughter, Rose, Kate’s wife, is busy being ogled by marine mammals, t’would seem…)

Watching/listening to the talks has been keeping me uber-happy the last while. Srsly recommended.


This is a picture I did not take of an elderly man, carrying a Starbucks cup and wearing a newsboy cap and plaid slippers, out for a shuffling, off-kilter stroll during a lunchtime snowstorm.

Go big or stay home

I’ve wanted to go to SXSWi for the last few years. I’ve heard all about it; I’ve read all about who’s going and what’s going to be presented; I know about the peripheral culture where all the good stuff happens; I’ve been treated to first and second-hand accounts of adventures had there.

However, I also worked for a company that was neither swimming in cash nor really had a culture that “believed in” things like conference attendance. And I like to do lots of things with my life and my money, not just plan and save for one conference a year.

So I’ve never gone. And it sucks, but c’est la vie. At the same time, though, especially in the last year or so, there’s been something in my brain telling me that going might not be a great idea for me. Why?

Well, I think this sums it up pretty well. And hey, he’s been, so he knows what he’s talking about.

Noise and crowds do bad things to me. Not a fan at all, and if I’m stuck in an unfamiliar environment where I don’t have a well-known escape route and place to hide out and recharge? I’d probably end up bunkered down in my hotel room, refusing to come out. ๐Ÿ™‚

Unlike that dude, I’m not a teetotaler, but I’m also not a big drinker. And I hate bars. Michael can crow all he likes about yelling at people in bars at 2am, but not everyone considers that the pinnacle of awesome social interaction.

And while I am single, the implications behind that last bullet point speak for themselves. I’ve been to big corporate events. I’ve been to conferences, and the idea of hooking up at one… blech.

Intellectually hooking up? Sure, faboo! But at the same time, I thrive on small group, in-depth interactions. I don’t thrive on (gag) “ambient intimacy”. I don’t consider myself totally connected to people because of Twitter interactions. And so a giant conference, even full of geeks and totally cool people, isn’t likely to be somewhere I’m going to meet my new BFF.

His final point about not seeing people he actually wants to see is relevant, too. There’d only be one or two people at the conference I actually know. But they’re not people who exist in my in-person social sphere, and they’re the type of people who really look forward to things like SXSW. Which means, by definition, that I’m not someone they’d terribly look forward to seeing there.

And yes, I am capable of socializing and meeting new folks and being funny and charming. But when I’d be expected to do it for five straight days, in big, noisy crowds, and frequently in bars?

I think I’ll just stay home and peruse coverage online, thanks.


When we hear โ€œMozartโ€ or โ€œBeethoven,โ€ we think of a person behind the music. When we hear โ€œBach,โ€ we think of music only.

I saw that blurb on Arts & Letters Daily, and it immediately occurred to me that nothing’s changed in several hundred years.

It brought to mind a conversation Sherry and I had a while ago. Michael Jackson’s Thriller is undeniably a great album, classic nearly end to end. (I’ve been reminded even more of this with the album’s 25th anniversary and the remix version by contemporary artists.)

However, what invariably happens when you hear the opening riffs of a Michael Jackson song? You start grooving. Thriller, Beat It — it’s hard not to. But then a second later your brain goes, “Ew”.

It’s become impossible to separate the music from the man, the freak show he’s become, and the various proclivities he’s reported to have.

For some artists and celebs, the shenanigans they get into in their lives can, and are, overlooked. They have PR machines whose multi-million dollar purpose in life is multifaceted manipulation and prestidigitation.

And celebs benefit from the fact that “normal” standards of behaviour for the famous or for geniuses is very different from that expected of the average joe. Plus, when the alchemy produces real magic, the wizard becomes invisible.

But for some of them, they live too big or go too far even for fame’s allowances. Or, by quirk of fate, they’re chosen to become lodged in the cultural consciousness, while other near-clones languish in “long tail” obscurity years, decades, even centuries later. (Quick, name a composition by Antonio Salieri.)

Selling out

I learned about Red Canary last summer when I was job hunting. The property is an effort by The Laudi Group, a recruiting firm out of Toronto. I liked the material, the writing, and was particularly impressed that a Toronto firm had such a solid grasp on tech business and culture here in KW. (The relationship between the two cities is often more antagonistic.)

Anyway, for a number of reasons, once of my New Year’s goals was to write more. And hey, if you can get paid to do it, why not? So I pinged the editor of Red Canary to inquire about freelancing.

And from there, an idea I pitched morphed into a paid blogging gig. Cool. ๐Ÿ™‚

My first piece went up today: Three degrees of separation – Waterloo edition

(The title was the editor’s idea, not mine.)

I’m pretty jazzed. If you click my name you can see the picture I took at lunch time today. I had to create a profile so they could attribute the article, and they like to have a mugshot. I might have 7 or 8000 pictures in iPhoto, but of course that doesn’t mean there are any suitable ones of me in there…

(And yeah, I realize I just kinda “outed” myself, since I rarely use my full first name and have never used my last name on this site, but far as I know, plenty of the folks who read already know who I am. And, really, you still can’t find this site via googling my name, so ’tis all good.)

Whatever you do, don’t let me go to Italy…

So this morning I remembered during breakfast that I needed to get gas before heading over to Guelph for an appointment. Fortunately, I’d gotten up early enough that that wasn’t a problem, and I still had plenty of time for the drive, even with things being a bit slow due to the weather.

Unfortunately, it didn’t occur to me until I was turning into the parking lot at my dermatologist’s office that I remembered I’d need parking money. As usual, I had next to nothing in my wallet. Crap. So I pulled in anyway and got my ticket, since there was a car waiting behind me. I figured I’d sort it out after my appointment.

Unfortunately, there was no ATM in the building, so I pretty much had to throw myself on the mercy of the parking attendant. I just drove up and asked immediately where the nearest ATM might be, and explained I’d forgotten to get money out. I don’t think I was the first person to have made that mistake, since the attendant just handed me a pen and asked me to write my name, phone number, and licence plate number on the back of my ticket, all while giving me directions to the nearest financial institution (which, blessedly, happened to be less than a block away).

So off I went, got my money, headed back, and paid my $3 for parking. Then I drove home and got on with my day. (Oh, I also succumbed to the siren’s song of Roll Up The Rim, so I’m at 0-1 for the season now.)

Then this evening I headed out to run a couple errands on the way to the gym. And when I opened my wallet at Shoppers to pay, noticed a tell-tale empty slot in my wallet where my two bank cards and Visa reside. Shit.

Brain churnchurnchurn… I’d only used the bank card twice today, once to get gas and then when I got money out to pay for parking and shit I left my card in the ATM in Guelph good one you dumbass.

So I used other plastic to pay for my purchases, then high-tailed it home and called the bank. I also logged in to internet banking to check my purchase history (since I knew they’d ask, though blessedly the attendant only asked for the most recent transaction and not the last five, like I had to give one time).

Card cancelled, new one issued, and no one attempted to use my bank card over the course of today. (No PIN…) And so I can either go to the bank and get a temporary bank card issued, or wait til my new one gets here in a week and a half. Of course, for someone like me, with a bad habit of not carrying cash very often, not having my bank card is a bit of a pain. However, perhaps it’s a good opportunity to start getting into the habit of NOT relying on it for purchases. Maybe I can bat my eyelashes at Andrew on laundry and Torchwood night and get him to buy me dinner. ๐Ÿ™‚

Aside from my own absent-minded stupidity, the thing bugging me the most about it all now is that I’m going to have to learn a whole new card number. Yes, I actually knew my bank card number from entering it to do my online banking. Impressed the attendant on the phone, too, since when she asked, right off, if I happened to know the number, she sounded doubtful, so I doubt many people bother learning it. (I also know my Visa number, SIN, and library card number. Go me!)

(The post titled references the fact that Italy is notorious for pickpockets and petty thievery and such. Mom said that both times they were there, guys would stand in or near the doors of banks while you got money or whatever, and weren’t even remotely subtle. Like they’d make eye contact and everything. Lovely.)