ryan west, i'm sorry

December 22, 2003 under Life

Dena and I made it. Cincinnati‘s airport is poorly laid out. Also, I’m an idiot for grabbing the wrong suitcase in Green Bay‘s airport. The suitcase that I did grab looked identical to one of ours. So I apologize to Ryan West from Rock Island, Washington. My bad. I guess it can’t be Christmas without something weird happening to us 😉

PS: Dial-up blows 😉

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a whole new holiday experience

December 18, 2003 under Life

Today is like a Friday since it’s my last day of work until next year. From the 19th to the 31st, Dena and I will be in Crystal Falls. We’ll be getting there via Cincinnati and Green Bay with Delta. Let’s see if they love to fly and if so, how much will it show 😉 Pearson in the early afternoon should be a fun start to the holidays, too 😉

This won’t be the first Christmas that I’ve spent away from Timmins. My parents and I were in Florida for two Christmas’; once when I was four years old and the other when I was sixteen. It will be the first time in a long time, though, that I’m not in Timmins for the holidays. A holiday without rawking the Welcome Tavern or kicking off Christmas night festivities at Pat‘s parents’ house before going out to bars with other weirdos drinking on Christmas day? Nobody falling up (yes up, not down) stairs? You wanna hear a joke? Not this year 😉

I wonder if ESPN will be covering much of the World Junior Championships and if they do, how many of Team Canada’s Juniors‘ games will they have. I’d like to be able to see what Sydney Crosby will do. It’s going to be weird not watching it on TSN. That’s a holiday tradition of its own. Hey, Kitchener and London are teaming up and bidding to host the 2006 World Junior Championships. Kewl.

I may update this site while I’m in Crystal Falls, just to reassure everyone that I haven’t been shot by an anxious hunter or trampled by a herd of crazed deer. When we get back to Kitchener, perhaps I’ll list my personal highlights(?) of 2003. Maybe those of us working on JustCheckers will even manage to release a playable version in the coming year 😛

Happy Holidays!

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crystal reports would give anyone searing gas pain

December 17, 2003 under Computers, Life, Programming

Looking for last-minute Christmas gifts? Look no further than GasBGon. It’s functional and stylish 😉

Someone got a hold of me the other day looking for help in developing some reports, using Crystal Reports, for Business Vision. They were from a company called ESFA Tech, which is apparently a consulting company of some kind. She said she found my resume with this Google search. I’m not too sure where she found any mention of Crystal Reports or Business Vision on the current version of my resume (although I should add it), but Google does find a blog entry of mine. I’m being cached 😉

My team rawks, folks. Ssshh, you didn’t hear that. They’re un-jinxable 😉

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more on the list

December 16, 2003 under Music

If you’re wondering if my list of 2003’s best albums is the final word…yes, yes it is. I have received a couple of submissions from mates and it’s all Canadian! Pat recommends The WeakerthansReconstruction Site; hailing from Winnipeg. The Weakerthans may contain a member of the kewl punk band Propagandhi, but they don’t sound anything like them. Think along the lines of Wilco. Pat‘s likin’ the mellow stuff, lately. Barry recommends Guelph‘s own The Constantines and their album, Shine A Light. There are still more great 2003 albums out there. Go get ’em!

Use your fast Internet connection and take a gander at the hi-res Doom3 trailer (you need a FilePlanet account).

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my fave 2003 albums

December 15, 2003 under Annual Fave Albums

Well, folks, here it is. It’s what you’ve all been waiting for. Here’s my annual list of favourite albums that were released this year. Once again, you won’t find any shlock that’s sandwiched between commercials on “new rock” radio stations and music video channels. This is pretentiousness at its finest 😉 2003 was a surprisingly decent year for music, so I’ve left off some good albums due to sheer volume. If you’re a serious music fan, you’ll seek them out. Let’s get on with the list (in alphabetical order).

1. A Perfect CircleThe Thirteenth Step
Is it a coincidence that this album is entitled The Thirteenth Step and I have thirteen albums in my list this year? Yes, because that is what a coincidence is defined as. This album rawks even though distortion is kept at a minimum and the amps never go all the way up to 11. This is what The Cure would sound like if they were headbangers. Jeordie White’s (the dude formerly known as Twiggy Ramirez when he was in Marylin Manson‘s band) bass riff in “Vanishing” has to be one of my highlights. I can’t wait to hear the next album when James Iha is around for the recording of it.

2. Black Rebel Motorcycle ClubTake Them On, On Your Own
Sure BMRC ape The Jesus and Mary Chain a little bit, but they do it well and I’m a huge JAMC fan. This album has more kick than their first album, which is a good thing.

3. Death Cab For CutieTransatlanticism
If Lou Barlow were to have a child and it matured at an alarming rate, there’s a good chance he would become Ben Gibbard. No, DCFC don’t sound like Sebadoh or the Folk Implosion. They sound like DCFC, duh. Dena might actually approve of this band since they were name dropped by one of the stars on a fave TV show of hers, The O.C..

4. Frank Black and the CatholicsShow Me Your Tears
Frank got divorced and it’s all over this terribly depressing album. There’s no Pixies flourishes or sci-fi references to be found on it. Instead, we have a cathartic release from one of rock’s foremost icons and he pulls it off with style and dignity. He even manages to rock a bit, too.

5. MogwaiHappy Songs For Happy People
Mogwai rawk, lull, spook, hypnotize and rawk some more. I love these buggers. “Hunted By A Freak”, “I Know You Are But What Am I?”, “Stop Coming To My House”…aw bloody hell, all of the songs are great.

6. New PornographersElectric Version
The Vancouver super-group’s second album is as good as guitar pop gets. Most ciritcs think this album is better than their first. I disagree but the Electric Version is still a wicked album.

7. The Postal ServiceGive Up
Death Cab For Cutie’s Ben Gibbard shows up twice in my list this year. This time, it’s for his electronic side-project with some guy called Jimmy Tamborello from a band called Dntel that I’ve never heard of before. It’s Ben’s lyrics on top of electronic music. Now I’m not the world’s biggest electronic music fan, but this is good stuff. Anyone that can sample the Super Mario Bros’ theme and make it sound good is ok in my books.

8. Pretty Girls Make GravesThe New Romance
They’re sorta sounding like AYWKUBTTOD and then they’re sorta not. It’s stuttery at times, laced with interweaving guitars, screaming female vocals and the odd Sonic Youth-like blast of noise here and there. They’re first album was a little “punkier” and had appeal right out of the box, but The New Romance is still an awesome album. It took a few repeated listens to sink in for me, but wow, is it great.

9. RadioheadHail To The Thief
Let’s face it, if Radiohead released a CD of fingernails scratching a chalkboard, it probably would be hailed as a masterpiece. As the world’s best band, IMO, they can do no wrong in the eyes of many. This album is comforting in that although it contains some of the electronic flourishes of Kid A and Amnesiac, there’s more of the familiar guitar rock that they were once known for. That and the kewl alternating left-right stereo effect at the beginning of “Backdrifts” is a nice touch (headphone stoners take note).

10. SloanAction Pact
I’ve been a Sloan fan since Smeared (I missed out on the Peppermind EP the first time around) and in each of their phases (shoegazers, indie rockers, 60’s rivivalists, etc), they’ve always sounded great. This time, they appear to be celebrating rock for rock itself. This album is massive guitar onslaught with a steady dose of hooks, ya’ll!

11. Stephen MalkmusPig Lib
I wasn’t a huge fan of his first solo album and prefered PSOI’s All This Sounds Gas instead. SM’s sounded like a bunch of Pavement toss-aways from the Wowee Zowee sessions gone awry, except for “Jo Jo’s Jacket” and “Jenny And The Ess-Dog”. But this album sounds more like the SM I remember. It’s funny but never seems like it’s trying to be funny and it rocks when it’s required to. This album will remind you of how great of a band Pavement really was while charting a good future direction for SM.

12. The StrokesRoom On Fire
Critics lauded the Strokes‘ first album, Is This It, as a masterpiece. Personally, I thought it was pretty good, but not all it was cracked up to be. You might say that I was pondering “is this it?”. Heh ;) But this time around, the Strokes hit the nail on the head. The album’s ending trilogy of songs is an awesome way to conclude Room On Fire.

13. The White StripesElephant
Let’s face it, Michigan hasn’t produced any good music in a long time. It’s been some time since Iggy Pop, Alice Cooper and the MC5 burst onto the scene. Eminem, Andrew W.K. and Kid Rock aren’t good music folks, sorry. At least they can claim one of the world’s best bands as their own. If you don’t _get_ the White Stripes, that’s a shame for you. And why “Black Math” hasn’t been released a single is beyond me.

Here are a few albums that didn’t make the list for whatever reason, but could have.

GrandaddySumday
This album is a rarity for Grandaddy in that it’s quite upbeat. They do upbeat well. It’s not the most exciting album, though, but “Stray Dog and the Chocolate Shake” has to be one of the catchiest songs…ever.

Folk ImplosionThe New Folk Implosion
This is a great album but only 9 songs?!? C’mon Lou, give us some more.

The MusicThe Music
I haven’t listened to the entire album but from what I have managed to hear, it’s definitely good. The songs don’t contain insights into the secrets of the universe, so the lyrics are mostly a secondary thing. But the sounds are what count and they definitely have a great groove at a very young age.

Sam RobertsWe Were Born In A Flame
Here’s another album that I haven’t heard in its entirety, but he’s released 4 singles and I’ve liked them all. Who would’ve thought that the one to take over for the Beatles’ sensibility would be some guy from Montreal in need of a shave and a haircut.

OutkastSpeakerboxxx/The Love Below
Hip-hop bores me these days. It didn’t always, though. In my younger days, Public Enemy, Ice Cube, Cypress Hill, NWA and Ice-T were going boldly where nobody else had gone before. The last hip-hop album that I actually listened to daily was A Tribe Called Quest’s The Low End Theory and that was a wicked album that was released back in 1991. After that, it became all about the bling-bling. Boring. Enter Outkast, who remind me of A Tribe Called Quest. Not in sound per se; mostly about style and muscial intelligence. Here’s another album (actually two solo albums combined into one) that I haven’t heard in its entirety. But what I have heard, has been a breath of fresh air in an otherwise boring (to me) hip-hop world.

Yo La TengoToday Is The Day EP
EPs aren’t albums and won’t make it on to my list. But the version of “Today Is The Day” on this EP crushes the wimpy version found on Summer Sun. It’s refreshing to hear distortion and feedback from YLT after they’ve released two very light and breezy jazz-ish albums in a row.

The Flaming LipsFight Test EP
Another EP that has no chance of making my list but I gotta mention the Flaming Lips every year ;) Sure, the Ego Tripping At The Gates Of Hell EP was just released but Fight Test EP contains three special gems; the creepy cover of Kylie Minogue’s “Can’t Get You Out Of My Head”, the rip-roaring cover of Radiohead’s “Knives Out” and the awesomely hilarious “Thank You Jack White (For The Fiber-Optic Jesus That You Gave Me)”.

Lost In Translation Soundtrack
This has a few new songs from Kevin Shields. Since there may never be a follow up to My Bloody Valentine’s perfect Loveless, I guess we have to take what we can get. But I haven’t heard any of the new songs yet (except for one and it was almost over but it sounded kewl)!

Here are two albums that I wanted to make my list but they just couldn’t.

Guided By VoicesEarthquake Glue
Bob, what happened? I’m all for the rock, but GbV is not Yes.

Yeah Yeah YeahsFever To Tell
Their first EP was great. But this over-hyped album, though, seems like nothing but filler except for one amazing song; “Maps”.

What albums will 2004 bring us? If 2004 knows what’s good for it, they’ll be good ones ;)

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ode to a maintenance programmer

December 11, 2003 under Computers, Programming

I’m reading a hilarious (to me) book titled How Not to Program in C++: 111 Broken Programs and 3 Working Ones, or Why Does 2+2=5986. Each chapter contains a small C++ program that contains one of many possible common programming mistakes for you to discover (answers are at the back). After each chapter is a humerous anecdote. One of my favourites is a poem:

Ode to a Maintenance Programmer

Once more I travel that lone dark road
into someone else’s impossible code
Through “if” and “switch” and “do” and “while”
that twist and turn for mile and mile
Clever code full of traps and tricks
and you must discover how it ticks
And then I emerge to ask anew,
“What the heck does this program do?”

Happy Birthday to Barry who is 26 today! Kick his ass 26 times if you see him 😉

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happy birthday, doom

December 10, 2003 under Classic Gaming, Computers

Ten years ago, idSoftware unleashed Doom on us. I didn’t get my first computer until I was 17, so I missed out on the early classics in PC gaming. But I got to try Doom out shortly after getting that 486 SX 25MHz (later upgraded to a 486 DX2 50MHz). I was instantly hooked. I was mostly a console gamer before, but Doom made me see how great PC games could (and would) become. Doom was the first game that actually scared the shit out of me on occasion. I used to play at night after my parents went to bed. I played with the lights off and the sound low, but loud enough to hear all the creepy atmospheric sounds and screams. I’d catch myself leaning into the monitor to try to see around a corner. Who needs drugs when you have the paranoia of a possible imp around the corner, you’re low on ammo and you’re facing a dimly lit corridor? Trippy indeed.

The shareware business model made Doom popular and it had a very busy mod community that kept the game fresh. I also have fond memories of deathmatching with Sean Claire on our 28.8 KBps modems after work at the golf course. The other Doom’s (Ultimate Doom and Final Doom) and Doom 2 were great too, but nothing can still compare to the original Doom…especially it’s first episode; “Knee Deep In The Dead”. I’m not sure if Doom 3 will have the same impact as the original, but I sure hope that one freaks me out even more.

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shean donovan and i wore tights

December 9, 2003 under Hockey, Sports

My team is finally doing well so I don’t want to talk about them too much on my website, incase I jinx it. Shean Donovan…I played against that guy back in the day. My mom has some funny pictures of him and I when we were lil’ scamps.

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party time, excellent

December 8, 2003 under Life

This week is a week of parties. Not parties for me, though. Parties for Dena. Tomorrow she has one at a fancy banquet hall (forgot the name of it) in Cambridge and then on Thursday, she has another one way up in the world’s largest man-made free standing structure; the CN Tower. These parties are for legal types only, so bums like me can’t go 😉

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taurie is crazy and i love her for that

December 4, 2003 under Computers, Life, Programming

I got a Christmas card from Taurie Hannigan yesterday. So Taurie, if you visit my webiste and read this, email me bud. I’m not going to be in Timmins for Christmas this year!

Barry‘s set up a forum for web development-related things. He’s made me an administrator, for whatever reason, and moderator for the discussions areas for Perl (a programming language I totally love, as all of you know) and PHP (a scripting language I don’t mind). I’m not sure why I’m doing this since my bread ‘n’ butter is software development and not Web. But I’m helping out a friend, and code is code/programming is programming and that’s what I do.

Dena got her hair did today. It’s a ritual of hers that she looks forward to every couple of months. She wasn’t aware that I was going to snap this pic of her as she walked through the door after returning from her hair appointment. Sassy! 😉

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