Tuesday, December 12, 2006

A picture a day for six years

The eyes of the man in this video are very sad. Why is that? Watch his hair mostly as it flails in a maelstrom about his monoexpression face. I get a sense that he is getting older, yet I feel that he isn't changing. I see him in a variety of environment, so his life seems interesting, but there seems to be a feeling of deep sadness.

Is it the inevitability of aging? I don't know. I feel this video affected me alot though. I'm going to go watch Robot Chicken instead.

Monday, December 11, 2006

The Interactive Universe

I just discovered the most amazing game - Samorost. The control of this game is such that you play a character (in the loose sense) navigating about a world in a puzzle-solving mode. But, the cool part of this game is that you get to make choices about your environment which should be beyond your control.

In typical puzzle games, the player would only be able to make choices that the player's character could make, physically.

For example
You walk into a casino. You are presented with a choice to play either the slots or craps. Whether you win or lose is based on your skill and luck (if you actually play the game-wthin-a-game) or is pre-determined by the designer.

In the new style of the game (I'm not sure if it has a name yet) you get to make the choice about the outcome, like if you lose or win big at the slots. This sounds a little ridiculous at first. Doesn't it ruin the point of the game, which is to test your skill?


Not when the game is about storytelling, and when the goal of the game being played is to produce the most interesting story, or a particular story the designer had in mind.

In Samorost, you can control parts of your environment which are beyond the normal control of your character, for example:

A bird's flight.
When a fish bites on a rod.
Which branch a monkey swings on.

The gameplay element is still there, as there is a set of correct choices to advance the story, but the choices that can be made are not confined to what is physically possible from the embodiment of the character's point of view.


I had said that in Samorost you are playing a character in "the loose sense". The irregularities I pointed out about the character being able to do things beyond their control do not matter if you treat the game player as a "god" of the universe, with his/her own agenda. Then, what I had called the player's characters before is now just a character in the broader universe. I don't think this is necessary though.

I see a parallel between choices in this game sense and choices that I make as an improviser. When I play a story-based improv game, I play a role, and if I'm playing improvisation properly, I make good choices that drive the story forward and make it interesting. This is done by feeding, endowing, offers etc.

For example

Someone passes me a (mimed) envelope. I say something like
"I see, its the inheritance from my grandmother."
"Oh no! A death threat!"
"Strange...just an address and a time."

All of which would advance the story. I wouldn't make a choice like:
"Its the utilities bill."
"Another Christmas card from the Jefferson's."
"Its the wrong address."

NOTE: The wrong choices here could potentially lead to stories, but they aren't as immediately interesting as the first three.

The choices that I as an improvisor should make are any that advance the story. Not a choice that my character made, but one that I as an improvisor made about the universe. So, I don't think its necessary to view the gameplayer as a "god" of this particular game, Samorost. It takes some emotional attachment away from the player's character, which I might add is really cute. The objectives of the character (stop an object from hitting his home in Samorost I, rescue his dog in Samorost II) are less personal if the gameplayer is treated as a god, and not an extension of the character. This lowers stakes (BAD IMPROV!)

Coming up, I'm trying to introduce these sort of choices in my choose your own adventure, "A night on the town". I'm writing it in flash now, and once the story structure is down I'm going to go through again and make the language prettier. Keep watching!

Monday, December 04, 2006

Why is the Pioneer Plaque so sexist?

My home page for the last while when Firefox starts has been the wikipedia start page. Just a few minutes ago, I was greeted with this:

This is the Pioneer Plaque, a gold-engraved image sent out on the spacecrafts Pioneer 10 and Pioneer 11. For those that didn't know, these were two spacecrafts that were launched in the mid-70s to take advantage of the gravitational slingshot effect of the solar system's planetary alignment in that decade. The Voyager spacecrafts were launched later for the same reason.

Presumably, some intelligent race of creatures will find this plaque and be able to decipher all sorts of things about the human race, including the location of Earth (oh no! cylons!) (Un)fortunately, it will take the age of the galaxy already at least for the spacecraft to get anywhere near a habitable solar system, so chances of the plaques actually being seen are slim.


What I'm getting to is that the engraving is horribly sexist. The male stands strong, waving one hand at whoever gazes on the engraving, while the women slumps to one side, doing nothing other than being present, and not really even having a facial expression. Come on! This was the seventies!

PS. "AI for Game Developers" just came in the mail today. Oh man!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Is there a pedagogical value to being confusing?

When a teacher makes a lot of mistakes, and you notice them and shoot up your hand to correct them, are you learning more or less than if the teacher was right all the time?

What if it isn't you shooting up your hand, but someone in the same class as you?

Since my degree is practical and science-oriented, most of what I learn is self-consistent rule systems (math, thermodynamics, physics). So, it is pretty easy to notice when a mistake occurs during teaching, and they are quickly rectified.

My opinion is that small mistakes make the transmission of information more clear, as it encourages you to correct information. So, should a teacher do it on purpose?

I am a T.A. for first-year calculus, and mostly I teach how to work through problems. When I am designing how to teach a problem, I build in common mistakes that people make and, of course, a few of my own by accident. Then, the process of doing a problem is much more interactive, and I think it makes for better students.


Saturday, November 25, 2006

Flash is back

I used a new FTP site, so here is my first flash again.

Watch for more coming up!

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Ruben's Tube

Whenever I see something like this, it gives me more reason to become an eccentric rich person who retires to live in a museum owning all sorts of shit like this.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The new iCod

And the original:

Theory of Forms what? what?

I love the ancient idea of Theory of Forms by Plato. I try to reference it as much as possible in conversation.

The idea that there are two worlds, the real one, and than a higher one of perfect ideas is a very old-fashioned belief. The Theory is summed up as this:

The Theory of Forms typically refers to Plato's belief that the material world as it seems to us is not the real world, but only a shadow of the real world. All relation as form becomes the basis for discovery of the form, an inference of the ancient Greek schools.
-From the Wikipedia article

Case in point: Plato actually opposed to the creation of "art" because it was imitating something in our reality, which was already a bastardized version of what existed as a "being" form. As if where an object stood in the hierarchy or reality determined its worth.

Anyway, I find anything that perverts this presumed hierarchy of the world refreshing, like this hotel room with all the edges outlined to make it look like a cartoon:


Tuesday, November 14, 2006

What have I been up to?

With my (barely) free time?

Playing Hitman 2 - it's a beautiful combination of TPS, puzzle solving, and cinematic experience. It's the sort of game I would be proud making.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

The Statistics of Awesomeness

I have a very deep faith. Faith, that in the large but not infinite set of possible events on this planet, awesome things happen.

There are, after all, six billion conscious beings on earth. That is a really big number. Now that may not be a good objective indicator of all the different things that happen, but STILL. Big number.

The whole point of this is that somewhere, at some point, I have a deep belief that a Banana Truck hit a Toy Marble Truck during a Roller Blade Derby.

The only unfortunate part is that no-one has sent me the pictures yet.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

The Definition of an Artist

This following is not bullshit.

As far as I can tell, people who call themselves artists do little to create things that are "new". (There is nothing wrong with that, by the way)

I am of the belief that all that will or can be created exists in people's minds already in lesser forms.

An artist solely exists to notice things that are cool or important or relevant and to say "Hey, look at this people." Whether these are things that already exist (found art), or things they have amalgamated themselves, but already did exist in mental space, they are just noticing the cool things.

People who are good at this, according to measures of popularity, become better artists. And what they tell people to look at ("Hey, hey! Right here! Look at me!") is believed to be more artful or important than others, as is probably so.

There are no entrance requirements to be this sort of person. Just as there are no special privileges alloted once you are this sort of person.

Okay, I'm off to do some Advanced Math.

Thursday, October 26, 2006


Man, linux computers suck. I'm at the workstation I've was at for four months this summer, and I can't don't anything, specifically look at Flash or pdf.

So, this rules out:

Doing my COGS 100 readings

Looking at my flash animation from Tuesday again, for the 100th time, to poke more holes in it (How I can improv it).

Emailing out the contact info for the Mischevious Ants Project.

Studying for my midterm at 6:30 tonight, by looking at online problem sets.

Can you tell yet that I'm busy? I hate when I get like this. Everything, especially people, become immediately less important as compared to my percieved goals about what it is neccesary that I have to accomplish. I turn into a judgemental, abrasive asshole and its awful, at least a little bit more so than normal. I end conversation abruptly because I have tiny things nagging me.

I think I need to go through another chill-the-fuck-out phase.

Oh, here's something I can do. I'll go memorize my lines for The Eumenides. They're on paper.

Athene -
you are the new foundation of Agamemnon's Ressurected house.
You have given an exile back his home.
Now it can be said:
Orestes is an Argive. Orestes uphold his father's throne,
Blessed by Apollo and Athene and by the all-father Zeus.
Great Zeus, who has redeemed by dead father
for my mother's crime.
God himself
has exonerated me of all guilt.
I will return home to Argos
but before I do, let me swear this:
For all time to come, Attica shall be a beloved friend of Argos

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

My First Attempt at a Flash Animation

I think its obvious at this point that I love syncing visual movement to music. There's something so Zen about it. Music is from Samurai Jack, which I have been addicted to lately.

I've started a new project...

The Mischevious Ant Project

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Step up, Real World

So, I just finished reading Everything Bad is Good For You, by Steven Johnson. The thesis of the book is that today's popular culture, which is generally considered to be mind-numbing, and making the average person dumber, is actually, on the whole, making us smarter. It has stuff like diagrams of the relationships between people on shows like Dallas compared to shows like 24, with complexity increasing incredibly with time. It looks at all facets of popular culture, from TV to movies to literacy, but particularly (to my interest) video games.

The book (which was a good short read that I recommend) points out that the brain always seeks to consume more complicated information. The brain is constantly trying to challenge itself - so it seeks situations in which it is challenged most. This is surprising, I find, considering that when the "brain is a muscle" analogy is used, it should be working as little as possible, considering that is what muscles do.

Anyway, the book visited the standard image of pop culture hatred: the 10-year-old white male sitting in front of his video game console for hours on end, eyes glazed over, ignoring the yells and shouts of those around him to "do something productive" - ignoring the real world. Well, maybe, just maybe, the video game world IS more exciting than the real world.

Think about it.

In the video game world (at least a well designed one) goals are clear. You have shiny numbers and a happy sound pop up when you've done something good. A loud honk occurs when you do something wrong, so you try again until you get the shiny numbers. People you meet give you clear goals (my kitten is stuck in a tree! Help!) NPCs that don't like you SAY so, and usually offer a way that you can appease them.

Is there anything wrong with this world? No. Except that spending too much time working on it, and not your real life can, ya know, make your real life suck.

So, Step up, Real World. You can do better. Maybe don't give me clear life goals (mine look something like:

Graduate University
- Pay Tuition for this year
- - Get Scholarship to pay Tuition
- - - Hand in Scholarship Application
- - - - Give Johsa Scholarship Application to edit.

But, at least let me know how I'm doing. Have people come up to me and say "You're looking nice today!" or run in fear if I am disheveled. (Fable, anyone?) Pat me on the back if I've just made you happy. Let me know if I piss you off - don't be passive agressive (you'll probably be ignored).

If you're reading this (does anyone?) make an effort to be honest with the people around you. Let them know how they're doing. Give them points. Congratulate them on their effort. This goes for anyone of all ages. The Real World can definitely afford to step up.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

more POLE and also flash

Another pole picture. Somehow these have the magic of turning out amazing all the time.

In other news, I'm finally going through something I have been promising myself I would for a while - learning Macromedia Flash. I'm keeping a learning diary too. Hopefully this will make sure I keep on doing this until I'm good at it, and don't flake out like I do with other things.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Media Priming

Any James Bond movie starts with some sort of giant chase scene. Our andrenaline is pumping within seconds that the objects on the video screen start to move.

Modern TV shows (especially serials like Lost or PrisonBreak) start with a familiar intro, as well as information from what has happened in the past few shows. We get excited about the plight of the characters in this next episode.

This priming is important, or otherwise the intended audience is not in the mood for for what is about to happen to them. Sort of like sex without the foreplay, or eye contact.

I've noticed this lack of priming when it comes to video games. We'll let this slide a little bit cuz video games are relatively new when it comes to a portion of emerging media. Typically when it comes to non-casual video games (e.g. Thief, Deus Ex, Half-Life, etc.) I play them late at night when I cannot sleep, or at other times when I need a break during the day and I don't have anyone around to entertain me.

These games I enter directly from a loading screen, usually in the middle of a mission. Now, I'm playing devil's advocate here, playing the game in the worst condition possible. But the point is that with a good game design, I shouldn't be allowed to.

So, I've landed WHEREVER, in the middle of a save game, with half-completed objectives (this is most noticeable in THIEF) and I am completely disoriented.

This is where, in game design schools, they need work on how to prime me.

Or maybe its just my fault.


The Greasepole was fantastic. 4 fucking hours. This was like it in first year (7 hours) except that it was cold and rainy, instead of sunny, and I was hungover from drinking since 4 am.

My friend Yuki took this picture, which is now part of the Wikipedia Article.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Ride Wit Me - Nelly

In continuing the recent trend of high school, music videos, my discovery of embedded youtube, and non-verbal blogging, here's something that uses all of those.

John Whitney
Chris Olthof
Chris' damn rich digs, including mercedes, audi and boat.
My cheap station wagon.

Note: this was made BEFORE "I want it that way", so the quality is worse.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Awesome Photo

So, a picture I took at when I was at the Mars Desert Research Station in second year got used as a cover of a scientific magazine. My friend Ken alerted me to this.

The scientific magazine is Mars Analog Research, Volume 111, Science and Technology Series, ed. Jonathan D.A. Clarke. Invited papers on Mars Analog Research,2006, 356p
Here is a link.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

I want it that way

A little high school nostalgia.

Start me (Brian), John Whitney (AJ), Chris Olthof (Nick), Caitlin Cameron (Howie, a man) and Kevin as Kevin.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Toronto Improv Blog Post #1

I headed down to Toronto a little bit early in order to see the Neutrino Video Project. Its an improvised 60-minutes long form movie. They go out and film scenes on DV tape, and have runners bring it back to the theatre, where scenes are played in between the Neutrino screensave that plays on the main screen for most of the time.

I was curious what the quality of this show was compared to our attempts at longform. Honestly, I was a little disappointed. Despite the performers being genius actors and comedians, the plot was just as muddled and chaotic as usual. This actually gives us a ton of confidence.

Whats the main drive of improvisation, for me? I mean, I can't expect to clevely mimic the plots of scripted movies. I do like the unpredictably - the chance of following the more chaotic route, the chance of fucking up. Hm...

More to come.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Holy Connectivity

After finishing my job, I've been spending alot of time working in Second Life on my MyZoo project. When I entered the welcome area a few hours ago, I saw an avatar sitting on top of a device labelled "Universal Translator". I initially thought - how cute!

The avatar's name is Hank Ramos, and we played with a few different Languages - Spanish, French, even Chinese characters. You chat in Second Life like normal, and it repeats (via object IM) the translated message to those who do not share you language but have signed up to "Listen". It doesn't use a translator script on the prim (which would be CRAZY). It uses the recent addition of HTML reading to LSL scripts to access the Google Languages translator, which is amazing to me. It keeps track of who is speaking what.

So, until about 45 minutes ago this was just a cool toy, when suddenly a new user in the Morris Sandbox came up to me and said "Speak you spanish?" How perfect. The pictures are of us in the Morris Sandbox, me in the middle of working on MyZoo, him wandering around in his plain newbie avatar. His SL name is santico Sapunov. I popped out the translation box immediately, and somehow we communicated how to use it. He knows a little english, which helps, but the interface was outrageously easy. We found out details about eachother. He is some sort of post-graduate 33-year old economics student in Argentina. This is when everything turns awesome. We are still talking, but I took him out of the area to the Electric Sheep island. He is impressed with the virtual architecture. I shouldered the translator box on my back so I can fly around and we can still keep talking, me in English - repeated in Spanish, then he responds in Spanish - repeated in English.

I'm going from place to place. Shouldering the translator box - sending santico the teleport and he follows me. We are now in a club, trying (with difficulty) to talk.

I think this is the epitome of an experience SL is supposed to provide.

Lazy Ramadi

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

This is what is in my room right now

Going counterclockwise from my computer monitor.

Two black walkie-talkies, holding down about 50 pieces of paper containing scribblings about MyZoo, a proect, I'm working on.

Some climbing equipment.

My left hand, freshly covered in gymnastics chalk.

A metronome I've had since I was ten, in the original box.

My fiction collection, mostly strange sci-fi I found in this box on the side of the road one day. Some new-age comedy, and several issues of Y: The Last Man.

On my couch, a partially inflated kiddie pool, my toque, 5 large rubbermaid containers (which go with the kiddie pool). On top of the rubbermaid container is a manila envelope containing the 4 plays I'm writing - a post-it on top says "SENIORS must be CHARACTERS".

A bike helmet.

A stack of giant books on top of my dresser. Highlights: "Ants", "Impro for Storytellers", "99 ways to tell a story", "An Album of Fluid Mechanics". Also a moon globe and a lego contraption my brother Skyler gave me.

An improv block.

A two-foot long foam rocket I bought in Watertown.

My closet, containing clothers.

A picture of me and my bros.

My bed, covered in leopard print sheets.

My non-fiction book collection. Mostly random stuff. I was looking for my thesaurus in there last night to find another name for "midget" or "dwarf" but found nothing, meaning I couldn't find the book.

My right hand, freshly covered in gymnastics chalk.

Directly over my monitor, a series of equations relevant to my summer job on a 8.5 x 11" piece of lined paper, taped to the wall with drywall tape.

On my monitor, several post-its saying things from "Write Scripts" to "Fix OSAP"

And that's it.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

How to cope with ADD with a Linux operating system

Before reading any further: put on your thick glasses, your pocket protectors, fanny packs, and don't shower for a week.

I have a distraction issue. Maybe its not officially ADD or ADHD or whatever but it could be construed as such should a pharmaceutical company want it to be. Anyway, I am frequently distracting at work, which consists mostly of programming, both this year and last. I've spent hours on wikipedia or *shudder* facebook almost by accident between more important efforts, but I just realized my solution about an hour ago. I'll outline it.

This is what my desktop at work looks like.

Two absurdly large LCD screens, both one by one and a half cubits (I don't have a tape measure). Next, I am running Linux on these computers with the multiple workspace feature - 4 per screen actually. So thats a total of 8 workspaces; a total of 12 square cubits of pixel space.
I program in MATLAB, usually with the command line section and whatever code I have open taking up one whole workspace. More often than not, I have multiple copies of MATLAB open as I am trying different things, or running tests. This tends to massive confusion, and I've often found myself having no idea what's going on.
Today I hit on the idea of having a tiny text editor open (this is quick due to the "note" feature I have in Linux) in the lower right corner of the screen saying explicitly what exactly I am doing in the particular workspace. I have 6 copies of matlab open right now, all performing independent tasks. The other two screens are taken up by some file management stuff, and then the last screen is for writing this blog entry. 4 of the Matlab copies are running tests, and the notes tell me which test I am performing. The other two are programming experiments I am toying with to improve our algorithm. When I move to a new workspace, I have a message (written by me) telling me exactly what the hell is going on. I move, godlike, from place to place making a tiny change here and there and I getting more done that I have been in the past week.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Family Reunions are Awkward because...

o You see what you could have been like if you had a slight shift in genes, or upbringing, and its strange and disturbing.

o No matter what (maybe this is only me) you are the ONLY one your age. I'm always the oldest of the children, except for some guy that is too cool to talk to me.

o Usually the only thing that you have in common is ancestry.

o You can't flirt with anyone, because they are probably related to you. Asking is doubly awkward.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Awesome/Wierd Night

Last night was so wierd/awesome that I feel I have to capture it.

On the elixir patio me and my team the Albino Seals were for some post-Ultimate Frisbee drinks and hang-outage. Overheard, there were some flashes of lightning, so a storm was about to start.

I love storms so much - they are the equivalent of an atheist's religious experience for me. Guys - you know how you get that tightening feeling in your balls when you are near an edge of a long drop that you could fall off? Well, its that same feeling of scary excitement for me.

We were hanging out, and the wind started to pick up. It got so intense an umbrella was actually pulled out of our table and hit my friend Matt in the face. Fortunately, my team's well-honed ninja-like reflexes grabbed it before it hit anyone else. Strangely, the bouncers took no notice to a situation which was going to get inevitably worse. After all my craptalk about how much I love rain to my team, they made me go out and dance when it started raining really hard. As I was getting back on the patio, a giant whoosh whipped up the umbrella again and sent it flying through the air directly at Matt (again), even though he had moved and WAS WALKING AWAY.

We went inside to dry off, and drink more. After two close encounters with an umbrella in a strange fashion, we started talking about Final Destination. Someone mentioned that in the Final Destination 3 DVD, YOU GET TO CHOOSE WHETHER OR NOT PEOPLE DIE! I immediately became fixated on this (having a fetish for new and interactive media) and we (Matt, Kim, Simon) immediately left to find it and watch it.

It seems that at 10:45 on a Wednesday night most video stores were closed. Night Owl Video was closed permanently (Dear Night Owl Video, I will miss hanging out in your curtained-off porn section as a way to make people I've just met jittery and test their limits). Finally, we went down to Classic, which was closed but being staffed by Jeff Williams, a guy I hadn't seen in FOUR YEARS who I used to play improv in high school with. He's a crazy-ass film student who is both hated and loved for his eccentric and ambitious videos, as I remember it. Anyway, it was after closing time but he hadn't closed the cash and let it in.

There it was, lying in three copies on the shelf - FINAL DESTINATION 3.

Incidentally, on the way home, we saw a massive tree that had crushed a car due to the intense winds that were going on. This made us a little more on edge.

We went home - I ate an unevenly toaster ovened chicken pot pie and we watched the movie. It was both awful and amazing. The choices were arbitrary and sometimes stupid, having little effect - but we could see it had been filmed with the intention of being used this way, at least. Also, I noticed that the director or whoever believed that people are made with Ravioli on the inside, having crushed or exploded several of them, and the cbunks looking rather delicious.

The movie is sitting on my desk now, waiting to be rewound and watched again.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

I wish I could sing

This is was summertime looks like in Kingston at the Tir Nan Nog

To my left is Megan Lee Shulman, minus glasses.

For the record, we didn't pick this song, but got pushed on stage.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Moving up in the (googlefied) world

Dustin Freeman

So it looks like FIVE OUT OF TEN of the google search results for Dustin Freeman (no quotations!) are for me. Its never been this high, in fact usually some athletic Dustin Freeman from the U.S. out-googles me. I take this as a sign I'm moving up in the world.

This comes from:

Improv Show
Kingston Ultimate
Urban Dictionary (I wrote a pretty awesome definition)
The Time Project
Frappr (some social mapping thing - I forgot I was even on there)

Sad to say, but the Dustin Freeman from MobyGames is not me. I wish it was.

I hope these enhanced results aren't due to regional selection, because then they would be artificially inflated.


Update: turns out SIX out of TEN are me. There's this creepy ZoomInfo thing that found stuff I did with the Mars Society.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006


working all day in a quiet room with no windows is driving me crazy!


Friday, June 30, 2006

Moment of the Week

So this week is shaping up really nicely, with the massive Canada Day breakfast/Parti on Saturday, but now for the


So, on my ultimate frisbee game on Wednesday, I was chasing down a frisbee with a defenceman tight on my heels. As the frisbee passed my and I turned around to catch up with it I found myself tripping over my own feet (I swear this doesn't happen often) Suddenly, I was on all fours. The frisbee would be landing four metres away, and it would take too long to get up to run and catch it. So, I crawled enthusiastically.

Unfortunately, the only thing I got was some cheering from my loving team. Crawling is generally not a good way to catch frisbees.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Hit Me....BAM!

New meme announced:

So, for those who have seen Dave Chappelle's Block Party, you'll remember the scene where Dave Chapelle is rehearsing, with Mos Def in the background on the drum set. (For those who haven't seen this, see it!) Dave Chappelle would be going through a routine, and all of a sudden yell..HIT ME! and all the instruments would give him a nice orch hit (BAM!) He went on with some stand-up style about how awesome this would be to do have in real life.

Well now you can! At improv a few hours ago, we decided (Jim's idea first) to form a HIT ME posse. Whenever one of the posse says HIT ME! anyone else around who knows has to reply with a loud BAM (not exactly like "bam", but sounds like a hornish full orchestra hit). Variations are HIT ME TWICE! (BAM BAM)

I hope people pick up how awesome this is, and it spreads like wildfire. In the school year, I should be able to go into bars, say HIT ME to absolute strangers, and get a nice satisfying BAM back. That would be Dave Chappelle's dream.


Sunday, June 18, 2006

Cottage Weekend

This is a picture of the bros (Skyler, 11, Wyatt, 15) and Dad (50). I'm 21. This is from the awesome past weekend at our cottage in Muskoka, here.
I haven't been there in over a year. I talk to my dad really regularily, but I realized I've become really detached from my brothers. They were such a big part of my life growing up and now they've sort of dissapeared off the map now that I'm off being an adult and such.

No matter what age you're at, everyone below you will always seem immature. Skyler is in grade seven. I remember having to hide my raging pre-pubescent boner under desks at that age. I look at him, and can't imagine that he is going through that. Wyatt has out-heighted and out-beefed me. We had a few testosteronal challenges over the weekend. The role reversal is pretty scary for an older brother like me, who has always had the upper hand. At least I can superficially take comfort in being cooler and having had more sex than him (for the moment).

I'm all sunburned and chafed from tubing over the weekend, and its 30 degrees C in my room right now. It sounds like an awesome summer.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Weird-Ass Summer

I was pessimistic about this summer being awesome. Yet somehow, its starting to defy all the expectations of the 9-5 job, single-small-town way.

Two big things:
- I've discovered gymnastics.
- I'm going to live in Toronto for two weeks at the end (I know defies the conditions at the beginning)

I feel much fitter/less shitty than last summer, in general. Awesome.

Back to work.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Chapter Confusion (spontaneous rant)

Heres another thing about video games.

I'm currently in the midst of playing a few, I find its good to keep a few going at the same time for interest. They are: Dreamfall: Longest Journey and Opposing, and some others.

Anyway, I'm also reading a bunch of books. I'm reading Foucalt's Pendulum specifically, the thickest, most pretentious and hardest to chew thing around. Fortunately, its chaptered into small morsels when you digest it - usually 3 or 4 pages at a time.

And here's the rub.

Despite all the dreams and desires of a creative person, whether their medium is books, video games, or films, has to keep in mind the mechanics of how the user will consume their media. I remember a story about how a record executive in the sixties would demand that the songs his label made would sound good in crappy cars radios before he would let them be published.

Anyway, with the average book or video game (films excluded) the "play time" is more than a single sitting. So, the "delivery" of content has to be streamed into manageable chunks, chapters if you will. With books this is easy - you see a chapter end coming, you stop, put down the book and go make dinner. But video games, in their "immersiveness", tend to plow through, disregarding the gamer. So, if you ever make a save to go somewhere else, you've already seen the next few seconds/minutes of the next chapter, which ruins the whole cliffhanger mechanics of a good plot. A good contrast to this is video games which have a special loading screen between each level, but this is stupid as is completely destroys the immersivess.

The ideal case:

Excitement comes to a close after the portion of the game, and its somehow made very clear that the chapter is about to end and another will start. This don't need to be a "click here" or anything, but entering an elevator, answering a phone call, slapping your noodely appendages together, etc.

Otherwise, you (well, I at least) feel rushed through the game experience) as chapters keep ending and starting before you get to think about them.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Half-Life 2: Episode 2 Review

Holy crap. I just finished HL2:E1 a few seconds ago, and I'm going to say it was fantastic. I took tons of screenshots, and I'm going to play this again, of course, with the Valve commentary, but, for now, here's the review. I'm going to be incredibly critical because there's really no other way to do it.

Opening screenshot

Valve has certainly reached the pinnacle (for now) of combining a video game experience with art. The attention to detail seen throughout the entire game is exquisite, and leaves me feeling I can play it again and discover more, without missing anything vital the first time. The experience is cinematic, in that not only is every screenshot appreciable as a single frame in terms of beauty and quality but also in terms of modelling and architecture, but the decor of the environments is amazing. The game took me 4 hours, all of which were today, and I'd say this is an excellent length for episodic content. It means one can stop and reflect at a suitable breakpoint. Compared to Sin:Episodes, which was released a few weeks ago, this was shorter and did not drag on. Comparing this installation to the original Half-Life 2, I noticed a few things: first, the colour tones throughout this game are darker, redder, more apocalyptic. Second, the near-constant presence of Alyx changed alot of things, especially the puzzles. Thirdly, unlike the original HL2, there was almost never a slow point. More on all these as we go on...

The game starts out with Vortigons overwhelming G-man as he comes to talk to you (Gordon) in the black void. This is an interesting break in the overwhelming omnipotence of G-man, and is quite a surprising turn. Gordon and Alyx appear somewhere on the ground level next to the Citadel, and receive some messages on a nearby terminal from Dr. Kleiner.

Dog also makes a reappearance. This is the first level of the game, Undue Alarm, and as with any Valve game, its easy technically, very expository, and very cinematic.

It's in this first section that I really noticed the darker tones. I bet if you took a spectral colour graph the shape would be unsimiliar to any seen in Half-Life 2, except maybe in Ravenholm (the best level of all time). On Dr. Kliener's advice, we're heading right back into the Citadel again to shut down the reactor core, which apparently is about to REALLY blow this time (the explosion at the end of HL2 was just a trigger).
Alot of the advertisments for this installation were showing off Alyx and Dog, and it looks like they meant business. I'm amazed at the attention to detail they've put into their expressiveness (although with Dog, its obviously easier). This really shows up more later in the combat sequences, which are so well choreographed its almost distracting. For now though, I applaud the animators, and whoever they were looking at when animating Alyx.

So Gordon and Alyx go down a little cliff area to get closer to the Citadel, and then, through some interesting and comic pantomime, Dog suggests they get in an old van, so that he can hurl them at a open area in the side of the Citadel across the expanse between the edge of the ground and its base.

This is well done cinematically, and suddenly turns into a roller-coaster ride when the Citadel's structure (which is breaking apart at this point) gives. After getting our bearings, we come across two creatures, who Alyx inexplicably call "Stalkers". You'd think she would explain this to Gordon, but based on clues given later, they appear to be Borg-esque humans who were taken in by the combine.
After a few more rooms, we come across a recorded message that we heard Dr. Breen leaving at the end of HL2. This is useful to remind us of the story, and I appreciate that it is there.

Its then that this odd creature appears, covered in some sort of white cocoon. These appear again at the end of the episode, without us determing what they are. Alyx doesn't even seem to know, in fact. Looks like Valve is happy to leave some loose ends for us to give us reason to keep the episodes coming (and what is wrong with that?). At some point here, the gravity gun (which was found near Gordon at the beginning of the game) is re-activated to its blue-energy levels, so I feel like we're right at the end of HL2 again. Through some analysis of Alyx's, its determined that we need to go re-establish the reactor's safety in order to give enough time for us to evacuate, as well as the Citizens of City 17. Thus begins Direct Intervention. So begins a puzzle sequence, at the onset of which Alyx says "Good thing you know what you're doing" in reference to Gordon Freeman's MIT training.

So, here's my beef with and Half-Life "puzzle". The puzzles are obvious, in that they interrupt the shooting gameplay and demand to be solved. There is nothing wrong with that, except that I find them painfully easy. Sometimes, in good Valve tradition, jokes are made about it, just like Alyx's comment above, but if you are going to interrupt gameplay, you had better do it for a good reason, or at least have a bit of a cerebral challenge. Alot of it feels like going through the motions, which is, frankly, bad design.

The particular "puzzle" on the left here is a good example. Aesthetically pleasingly, you are maneuvered like a dummy to find these three vertical generators empty of their generators balls (before screenshot). Look! - a generator ball tube nearby (these were actually pretty fun to navigate earlier). Lets fill these up! The way the game is designed, it won't let you leave the immediate area until you do something about these. Come on.
You return to Alyx to find that blowing up the Citadel was in some way related to transmitting an important information packet (worth blowing up the Citadel apparently), and the new goal is to get this information to Eli Vance and Dr. Kliener.

A second late, we see recorded message from Judith (from HL 2) to Dr. Breen about something that the combine weren't supposed to know about. This isn't dealt with in this episode, leaving yet another thing for later episodes. Awesome.

And, as we are leaving the Citadel on an elevator, the current chapter becomes Low Life. We board a train, the first of two train sequences in the game. This one, horribly enough, is full of more stalkers. The train breaks down deep underneath the city, and thus begins an incredibly dark portion of the game. Like, actually dark physically. It almost seems that the light has become a little thinner than in HL2. Its also cool that Alyx will only shoot at stuff that you light up. I noticed at this point that Gordon has still not recieved his traditional crowbar yet - it seems its been replaced as the do-all by the grav gun. Hmmm. Some humour starts to be injected to the game at this point. As we walk towards the first dark area, Alyx starts mimicing zombie noises, and then says "just kidding". This actually made me laugh out loud. Well done. She also makes fun of the short flashlight battery life, thankfully extended by some flares lying around. We meet a new enemy at this point, this combine zombie, or "zombine" as Alyx calls it. These run a little faster than the traditional zombie, and some of them will carry grenades around above their head, so that when they die and relese the mechanism, they explode shortly. This was an interesting gameplay element for Valve to add.
We finally come across an elevator, and this is the really scary part. Its pitch black, there are zombies/zombines/running zombie-things (are these dogs with head crabs?) coming from three sides, and your battery has only some life. Also, some zombines will explode when killed. I died a ton of times here, until I found that holing myself and Alyx up in a corner fared better as I was able to predict which direction the attacks would come from.
Finally, the elevator comes and we break to the surface. It appears that Dr. Kliener has replaced Dr. Breen as the man-on-the-screen, touting all sorts of messages. This is awesome, especially because of his scientist awkwardness throughout his looped speech.
Thus begins Urban Flight. This sort of combat is reminiscent of the latter end of HL2, and nothing much has changed (though there is little wrong with that!) We notice a change in the Citadel, and it appears that the reactor has been reversed, although we have bought some time to leave City 17.
Its at this point that I'm starting to notice a difference in the "puzzles" between this game and HL2. They feel dumbed down - in fact, the whole game does. I mean, I'm all for fun, but I feel cheated by easiness, or at least the lack of difficulty. As I said, if you're going to give me a puzzle, at least give me a hard one. In alot of cases, you learn by death in this game. Then, you go back and try again, dying each time until you get it right. A game should be designed so that, barring skill, you should be able to play it through once without dying. Alyx seems to be a device as well to blatently alert you about problems - "The crank for this door must be around here somewhere." Maybe this makes the game more accessible, or whatever, but you should really challenge your audience.
In this particular "puzzle" where I had to navigate a room full of explosive, I simply threw a grenade down the ventilation shaft when I knew they were going to be there, thanks to the learn from dying technique. That shouldnt be possible. Fortunately, this sequence is over quickly enough, and we enter a "safehouse" with some other rebels. A TV is on, Dr. Kliener again replacing Dr. Breen in hilarious fashion. Dr. Kliener breaks the fourth wall repeatedly, by mentioning "exposition" just before he goes on a long rant about the state of City 17. He also alludes to the human population needing to expand itself, and there is some excellent tension thanks to Alyx.

As we're wandering through the safehouse, Gordon manages to voyeuristically spot a couple conversing, and although they dont grab much attention, they go on for quite awhile, including such wonderful snippit as
"sometimes I think everybody's a doctor but me"
"I kind of miss the combine"

Finally, we see Barney again, who gives us our missing crowbar. (Wow, I'm really mixing up the personal pronouns, eh?). There's some cool propoganda on the walls again. The next sequence is the most exciting sequence of the game, gameplay-wise, as we go through a hospital fighing zombies versus combine versus zombine, as the music heightens greatly. As a result, I didn't take many screenshorts, but lets just say it was pretty good. Finally, we arrive at the train station, just before the end of the level. Here, a pretty interesting gameplay style is introduced that I havent seen before you are tasked with rescuing a few citizens by accompanying them between two building across a dangerous area, and go back and forth several times. However each time the route and strategy is changed slightly as new enemies appear in different places, and due to wear and tear the route actually changes geographically. My issue was that there didn't appear to be any payoff for moving a certain number of citizens to the train, as some of them could die in the movement. For all I know, maybe you need to move a certain number before they "run out" at the delivery end, but I, as the gamer, can't tell that unless it was made obvious to me. There is some more anti-Dr. Breen propoganda here.

Alyx says goodbye to Barney as he leaves on the train with the Citizens

Finally, Alyx and Gordon board their own train (after some last-minute altercations) and we get to watch the Citadel as...a bunch of stuff happens that could only be descibed in pictures:

The game ends in a flash of white, after the Citadel explodes with Gordon and Alyx on the train. This was exactly the ideal length for an episode. While certainly feeling less EPIC that HL2 did, especially near the end with level names like "AntiCitizen One", it leaves alot for the remaining episodes in terms of plot and anticipation. New gameplay elements were added too, which is great for episodic gaming, as there is likely less time for playtesting to hone certain aspects of gameplay.
Verdict: Awesome. I look forward to more episodes.

Saving My Face

So, before reading this post, read about Second Life to get an idea of what I'm talking about.

For a long time, I've been trying to get my avatar (below) to match my face. You can go two ways in SL - be fantastical or be yourself. I'm currently lazy, so I opted for the second. The avatar below is the closest I could get to myself with the usual SL sliders.

A week or so ago, I got an awesome idea: put an actual picture of myself on myself. Here's the steps

1) Put a box on your head.
2) Set the entire box texture to transparent
3) Drag an appropriate picture of yourself on the front of the box
4) Adjust


I'm happy that it actually matches the clothes I'm wearing. The picture is very high resolution, so it takes a while to load.

I've been getting a ton of questions about it lately, and actually showed someone how to do it in the SL Explorer's Sandbox last night, so I making a post to make sure I can take credit for it, before it spreads like a wildfire throughout SL.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

The Summer Job

I felt like it a little overdue to describe what my job is this summer, but here goes.

This year was the first time, almost ever, that I've had an over-supply of job offers which are actually legitimate. The feeling was awesome - I felt like a real person, and I highly suggest it. All three job offers were NSERC (Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council) USRAs (Undergraduate Student Research Awards), which I get paid about $6800 over the summer for, depending on how rich your department is. The job offers (in order of how good they were) were:

1. Quantum Phases and Semi-definite Programming in Math Department at Queen's
2. Ethanol Accounting in Portable Electronics at the Fuel Cell Research Centre
3. Mathematical Physics in Materials for the Materials Dept. at Queen's

I rejected number 3 for number 2, and then number 2 for number one, as that's the order I received them in. I'm not regretting my choice at all, as its turning out to be way more interesting than I expected. My "interview" consisted of me sitting in my supervisor's office for an hour while he explained the project to me, after which I was sold. Disadvantages of the other jobs:

- Project boring/not well-defined
- People not as enthusiastic/present

I geuss this is because the projects I rejected were sort of made "for" me, as I was going around asking for them, whereas the research I'm working on has a strong establishment in the department. While you would think that would make it boring, there is actually lots of development as it is a relatively new field.

So what am I actually doing?

Here's our webpage, which has a description.

The motivation for the project is to gain a better understanding of high-temperature superconductivity, and generally for all "quantum phases" in a solid lattice (e.g. ferromagnetic, etc.). Superconductivity is a state in which a material has no resistance to electricity, which traditionally occurs at only very low temperatures, usually below 20 K (Kelvin). Expanding superconductivity to a more reasonable temperature has all sorts of useful application, as no energy loss occurs, no heat is produced, and current will flow forever in superconductive circuits. High-temperature superconductivity, which has been produced in the lab at temperatures up to 130 K, is generally still unknown as it is not explained under the same theory as conventional superconductors. Curiously, all high-temperature superconductors found to date have had a two-dimensional lattice structure, meaning that they conduct poorly in one dimension, and perfectly in the other two.

Science does have method to describe the behaviour of electrons (or any particle) called the Schrodinger Wave Equation, but this is too computationally intensive to solve for almost any useful problem, despite its high accuracy. I actually remember that Richard Feynman mentioned this for atomic nuclei (as the equation applies to protons and neutrons) in one of his lectures, which I own on CD.

This leads to the reason this research is associated with Math Department and not the Physics Department, as we are working on an algorithm which is fast and less intensive, while still being shown to compare very closely (like 4 decimals) to Schrodinger Equation results. This method is called Semidefinite Programming, a very fresh technique (for the world of math) and is based on the Pauli Principle, meaning simply that two electrons of the same spin cannot occupy the same position in a lattice. This reduces the problem to onlyvery large (~800 x 800) matrices which need to be minimized according to certain constraints, which is a typical semidefinite programming problem. The minimum matrix will represent the ground state of the electron distribution, meaning the lowest energy level. An investigation of what this is represents will determine where the electrons are and how they are moving - if they are in Cooper Pairs, then we are looking at superconductivity.

Where the dimensionality comes in (remember that high-temperature superconductors only operate in two dimensions?) is the simulations to come. So far, the Master's was done on a ring, representing one-dimension. Hopefully by the end of the summer we will refine our algorithms enough to go up to two dimensions by using a torus, followed by a hypertorus for three dimensions. Then, dimensionality can be compared.

So what am I doing right now? Writing this entry. The last few weeks I've been proving some theorems to myself and doing alot of reading to catch up to the speed of my supervisors. I'm also working with one other student (Ben) which is a plus compared to the other jobs, as working alone last summer drove me crazy! I've also written some useful algorithms which are already being used to investigate old data. And as its a research job, I'm generally slacking off most of the time and relaxing, which tends to be the best attitude to inspire creativity and learning.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006


It doesn't make much of a difference which side of the bars you're on - you still feel the heat.


My eyes peer out from my personal shadow; the guard leaning against the wall is relaxed. He is slowly melting. The whole place sweats, including the walls. I remember some moaning, some time ago, which suddenly stopped. Not violently. The sound ceased to matter; the body decided that it was not in its best interest.
Oh, the heat.


My mouth hangs open. I have to breathe in big gulps as the air is too thick to squeeze through my nose. My breaths don't come consciously, or even noticeably - it moves like an eddy in a bit of current. I have not lost my resolve, unlike those who lie amongst their fluids on the rock. The plate, hastily emptied, is free of crumbs.


A crinkle of metal as a guard falls slightly and rights himself. The tip of my mouth turns up only slightly as he recieves an eye from his superior. The ceremonial armour may as well be worn by me or any other of the guests with my fate.


Water drips slowly into a puddle, taunting someone to stop it, but no one does.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Last Night

Bread Baking

Improv Party Last Night.
Jim made bread.
I brought 6 pounds of watermelon.

We played very difficult charades, which someone compared to how if accountants were to have a party, they would get together on a really difficult case, and just end up working at the party.

I just finished a math exam.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

I have a robot obsession

I was going to write something about the bipolar street performer I met last night who told me that he had a 90% chance of committing suicide. Then, I was going to write about the representation of computer games in recent films. But...

...I decided it would be much more fun to talk about robots. Specifically, my obsession with them.

I just sat down on my couch to draw something (yes, the couch IN MY ROOM) and the first thing I drew was a rectangular prism, followed by a sphere atop it, and then the words in block capital letters "EVIL ROBOT". This is a symptom of the problem.

Getting down to it - robots are sexy, seriously. They are what's hot right now. Popular media doesn't care about the human condition anymore, it cares about the robot condition - the struggle to find love, control your feelings, reproduce and find your purpose. Robots trying to look like people. For example:

- Battlestar Galactice
- BiCentennial Man
- A.I.
- Any and all Star Trek, etc. (I'm not a Trekkie)
- my friend Jim somehow

I'm also trying to build/program a virtual zoo called MyZoo using simple AI in the Second Life platform right now, which is probably why its on my mind, or maybe that's another symptom. Anyway, its sexy - we'll see what comes of this.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Fog: Real Time Computer Graphics Adventure

So last night I stepped of Glen Garry Glen Ross with Kate and Jenmy to very thickly fogged weather, which I found delightful. The conditions for it were just right: no wind, very moist cold air. The fog was uniform over our entire walk.

While I was walking, I realized just how difficult it must be to simulate fog, and shadows, and combinations of them for computer graphics. I really wish I had taken pictures of what was going on, how the street lights were interacting with the trees and power lines to make really sharp and diffuse shadows.

So, what is the behaviour of fog? Let's assume this: every point in a region of fog distributes all the light it recieves evenly over every angle. Also, the fog has a certain density in the air, which determines whether directionality or diffuseness of light dominates.

On the macro-level, I would notics that diffuseness seems to dominate: light sources have "clouds" of illuminosity surrounding them, which is why it is so useless to have headlights on. Back to computer graphics, this must be horrible to have to simulate, so perhaps (as with some games) it is slightly pre-rendered.

On the micro-level, and this is what is really cool, I noticed that thick, straight power lines or branches that were close to the light cast a planar shadow. This, obviously, isn't unexpected, but it looks fucking cool. For a first short bit the shadow is really harsh, and then lights fills in as it diffuses. What's also fascinating is that the shadows is a VOLUME, not a 2-dimensional pictures that were are used to seeing cast on a surface. As I was walking along I noticed that the shadow would change shape based on the thickness of its volume I was looking through, as it had no clear defined visible edges. This above effect further adds to the horror of trying to simulate this. which makes me content that the universe exists in its full volume and computational power to create pretty effects.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Hedonism, Gregarity, Selflessness and Everything Nice

Lessons learned: It's hard to change who you are, or maybe its just me. This was meant to be an experiment to see what variable X would be like enhanced for twenty-four hours, but it turned out to be more an experiment about whether or not I was capable of enhancing variable X.

So, round-up

Hedonism - fun day, nothing special though. Ended up staying at Pete's house and drinking seriously for the first time in like 4 months, I think I totalled 2 pitchers for the entire night, including dinner.

Gregarity - for one intended to be a social butterfly, this was a pretty dissapointing day. I spent most of my time working on an assignment.

Selflessness - I cleaned the kitchen, and did everyone else's dishes, which I think is pretty damn selfless. Didn't donate to a charity or anything, or pick a child out of a sewer, but that's really because neither of those presented themselves.

So, there you have it. I want to do this again sometime , but maybe for like a week. Oh yeah, I also have a sweet job this summer, which is awesome, but unfortunately, its in Kingston. Judging from my supervisor though, the hours will be flexible, which is the only way Dustin works.

Time to work on a lab....

Wednesday, March 22, 2006


So this entry was a little late, but today is the day of Hedonism, so I'm fucking going to enjoy myself, which does not include blogging.

I defined Productivity for my purposes as to produce as many tangible, finished items as possible. This didn't happen, but I felt that it did. Starting at 7:30, I had alot of momentum coming out of bed and through the day, but, around 3 pm, my resolve started to wane. I wasn't allowing any downtime for myself. Finally, nearly having my lab finished it all broke down and I became screwing around. Nothing happened for a long time, it sucked.

As drastic as that sounded, it really wasn't generally, my days doesn't change. Life isn't a movie, unfortunately, so I didn't cure cancer or anything yesterday. The day of productivity wasn't as inneffectual as the day of impulsivity, but it still drags. This experiment isn't being as successful as I had hoped.

Today is the day of Hedonism, which isn't being as hedonism as I hoped (no grapes being fed to me by nude women). Most of this stems from my confusion over the definition: Is it hedonistic in the moment? or hedonistic in the long-term? I am fine doing both, and the latter is simply calculated selfishness. The definition from the Merriam-Webster Dictionary is: "Hedonism: The doctrine that pleasure is the chief good is like." Man, hedonism gets knocked alot, mostly because people have a narrow view of what pleasure is. It's not all fucking and massages (I haven't had a massage yet, but I came shortly after midnight, putting today off to a good start. No, not alone!) Please can be riding bikes, doing something productive, eating or whatever - whatever makes you feel good.

Okay - this entry is starting to drag so I'm off to pursure more pleasure.

Monday, March 20, 2006


A day of following in the moment impulses. For myself, I defined being impulsive as not thinking of the past or present (within limits, obviously).

Like I said already, looking at my overall day, nothing changed on the macro-scale. I didn't end up in Tahiti, sleep with 100 women, or anything memorable. What I did do is read papers in class, chug a Red Bull and a half each with Thom, and touch stuff unusually, yell out. I felt warm inside in the moment, but I'm left feeling rather hollow. I didn't get anything major done. I DID find out that I got an NSERC grant though today, which is ridiculously good.

So what have I learned? When I act "Impulsive", I simply act crazy. I yell out, jump around, drink wierd things, but am left with nothing. There is no calculation of benefits but within the next few seconds. I have no lasting worthy memories.

I have decided the difference between impulsiveness and hedonism is that hedonism is calculated, like Ayn Rand would have loved, whereas impulsiveness is random. I've found extreme impulsiveness is rather bad.

Tommorow's trait: Productivity. I've already got my alarm clock set for 7:30. Until midnight though: Rumble Box!

Week 1102: The Week of Change

Today's Theme: Impulsivity

This is the only planned thing I do today.

Every once in a while I get a creeping fear that I am becoming a boring, full-grown, integrated member of society. This is a symptom of those fears, and I'm having a personality experiment to mess with it. The schedule for this week is as follows:

Monday: Impulsivity
Tuesday: Productivity (for the sake of bourgeoisis)
Wednesday: Hedonism (sort of indistinguishable from impulisivity, except I'm allowed to be sloppy)
Thursday: Social Butterflyness (aka Gregarity)
Friday: Selflessness (something I need to work on)

So start the grand experiment. The first 12 hours have gone fine, I haven't noticed major changes on the macro-scale of my life but I feel different, with impulsivity being highlighted.

My major concern coming up is this job decision I have. I geuss I am content that either way I will make a relatively large amount of money this summer for someone my age.

I just discovered the sweetest game! Rumble Box! I'm going to play some now then watch Battlestar Galactica!


Friday, March 10, 2006

Sick Again

This makes three times this semester. Each time, I've known exactly what I've had, and who it came from. Judging from the predictability of this so far, I'm writing this in the hopes that I will actually remember something and learn from this.


Disease: Flu
Perpetrator: Kate Evans

This happened just when school was starting again, and put me out of commision for a few days. I remember sweating alot and being delirious.


Disease: Norwalk Virus (Stomach Flu)
Perpetrator: Daniel-Ryan Spaulding

D-R thought he would host a "sexy party", in his true style, and told everyone like two weeks in advance. It seems that the day of the party, he was throwing up, etc. but was determined that the show must go on. Big mistake. Norwalk is highly contagious, and everyone at the party got sick, which screwed up rehearsals for Heterotopia for a full week. Strangely, Kate didn't get sick - she was like the only one.


Disease: "Sinusitis"
Perpetrator: Talia Acker

I'm coughing up my lungs right now because of this one, another disease spreading around with thanks to Heterotopia. While the name of this disease is somewhat ambigious, and I think defines a symptom and not actually what I have, the effect is not. I have a fever of 39 degrees Celsius. I should probably be sleeping right now, but I just had to prove that infinity is odd.

I plan on getting better soon.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Heterotopia (or what the hell Dustin has been up to all this time)

The Time Project Website

Hi Everyone,

Since September I've been involved in a play creation project that has gone full circle from ten people sitting in a room, to writing, to dramaturgy, to rehearsal, to production next week. Its been amazing working with creative people from drama, applied science and education for so long, and The Time Project (as it was code-named) became quite a large part of my life.

We've talked about topics ranging from destiny to quantum mechanics to social spaces and imprisonment and disconnection. We used a blog posting-process to innovatively control writing. We spent time brainstorming, and have hundreds of notepads of ingenious scramblings somewhere. The embodiment of this entire process finishes this March 14th -18th, when the play is going up in the Integrated Learning Centre (Beamish-Munro Hall).

If you've noticed that I haven't been around for the last year, especially since January, then this is why. This is for every time I declined your asking me to go out and drink or have fun, because I was either rehearsing, writing, or finishing some homework that had been displaced by the play. The entire process was overwhelming, and I'm going to miss it once it's over, but then again, I will have time to eat properly again. Help me let it go out with a bang.

I and a bunch of other people put alot of blood, sweat and tears into this play, so in essence, if you don't see it I won't love you anymore.


More info: http://www.criticalstage.co.uk/current.htm
Blog (writing tech): http://thetimeproject.blogspot.com/

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Last 24 hours

24 hours ago, I arrived in Toronto.

22 hours ago, I played in a free improv Workshop at Bad Dog Theatre.

21 hours ago, I saw Globehead Theatre Sports at Bad Dog. They were okay.

19 hours ago, I sat down to watch Second City: Reloaded sketch show, and then improv. For the long form improv, I gave the suggestion (and only suggestion) of "Destruction".

14 hours ago, I started driving back to Kingston, after dropping off an old friend I hadn' seen in a while who shares my birthday.

13 hours, the other two guys in the car and I start trying to tell the best worst joke.

12 hours ago, I arrive in Kingston, and sleep/

6 hours ago, I wake up and return the rental car. It was a full-size Buick with faux wood interior. Upon returning it, I felt as if I became younger by 60 years.

5 hours ago, I ate eggs, 40% raisins and OJ while watching a bad horror movie, while reading in Scientific American about Tsunamis.

4 to 3 hours ago, I cleaned my room, checked email, got stuff ready for the rest of the week. I've decided that I'm not doing any work until tommorow.

2 hours ago, I ate lunch.

For the last hour, I've been listening to Feynman's Lecture on Physics while becoming progressively more stoned.

Does this last 24 hours say alot about me (that's what I intended when I started writing this). I think it says about my days off.

Yours in Ego,

Wednesday, February 15, 2006


I don't write enough. Here goes.

A few years back, when I lived in British Columbia still, I read alot of the Myst Books, and generally was obsessed with the Myst Universe. The most intriguiging part was the possibility of world creation based on simple, self-consistent rules. No restraint on real world physics. This may not have been the intention of the Miller brother's lasting effect, but its what I have.

I was reminded of this yesterday I think when I remembered of a particular world I created, and wrote down.

I often wonder what the essence of science fiction is - is it creating a world, populating it with characters, and then placing the literary video camera up to this world. In this case, the work is front-end heavy. Lord of the Rings would be an example of this. OR, is it the other way around: A simple world, with most of the work ongoing as the plot continues. In this case, the work is continuous. I imagine most science fiction television shows are like this. In my opinion, its much more fun to do the front-ended work, as I am better at it, and at least imaginative enough for it.

So this world I created was situated on a gas giant. Ideally, I would like this to be possible with normal-universe physics, but some stretchings would have to be made, maybe. So, a gas giant. There is a planetary surface, but for the humanoids I care about, it is far too low and too far away to be of concern, or to even be visible. The core of the planet is metallic, liquid even, and conducts strong electric currents, producting a strong magnetic field. We see this on Jupiter today. Now, here comes the cool part. Suspended, high above the planet's core, in a region of habitable atmospheric pressure and density and temperature, are clusters of large superconducting quasi-metallic rocks, ranging in size from 1 km to 10 m, with some soil/plant toppings. The superconductivity may occur due to some cooling process, as a results of bombardment from an unusual radiation environment, whatever, but it is borderline possible. The superconductivity is what causes the suspension in the strong magnetic field (just look up superconductors). Imagine standing on a 10 m rock, jumping up and down and feeling it jiggle just a little bit. Imagine traversing a crude bridge between neighbouring rock islands.

I imagine life on this planet could start airborne, depending on the atmosphere, and somehow migrate to the rocks, build up plant life. Actually, reading Guns, Germs and Steel hs given me a great perspective on the development of civilization. I'm thinking now, there is no incentive for animals to grow. So, how about I induce a spin in the rocks, meaning that the plants have to rotate to capture the sun, beginning the development of mobility and metabolism.

Cool. I should do this more often.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Looking for other Hills

I have an issue.

I've noticed a pattern in myself - namely that I am lazy and impatient when it comes to almost anything. I try to get the most for the least amount of work. Now that I'm writing this, this reminds me about Atlas Shrugged, which I'm currently reading, but that is another matter.

The point is, I think I need to fix this. I've always had a problem of not living in the moment. Despite years of improv training and performing, I still have trouble recognizing the present for what it is. This brings me to the sort of person I am today - reasonably well connected in many many different circles, having tons of superficial acquaintances, having a large skill set, etc. I feel spread too thin. I don't know if life is supposed to have some central focus or not, but everything is really blurry. I spent thirtyish minutes today reading job descriptions and figuring out what I'm doing this summer, which is one of the most dehumanizing and disheartening tasks ever, yet somehow I enjoy it a little bit.

This blurriness leads to me being lazy. I developed a certain level of passive aggressiveness - listen, listen, listen, consider, and then make a small contribution that tilts things slightly in your way. What is wrong, man? I think I'm afraid of confrontation for some reason, some deep-seated reason I don't feel like going into. Fuck.

This all leads to the title of this entry - "Looking for other Hills". My lazyness and passive-agressiveness and lack of presence in the moment leads to me, if I am not absolutely pleased with a situation, to look for a better situation. This applies to almost everything for me: relationships, friends, disciplines (haha), fads, habits, hobbies, jobs. This stems from my belief that in a world as large as ours, the possibilities are so diverse that any reasonably-motivated person can, instead of taking the time to fix/work on something, easily look out and find anything better as their choice. When I get tired/bored of something or someone, I just stop paying attention to them instead of actually confronting them. As I write this, I realize more and more how much of a douche I am.

This is changing now (making a phone call). I'm grabbing life by the horns.

Promising more positive entries in the future,

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Green Unicorns and the Flu

The last few days I've been suffering from being sick, probably from some new strain of the flu. The worst was on Thursday, where I threw up everything I ate. I ate four slices of bread, 4 eggs and some orange juice. None of that stayed down, leaving me with a net foodage of nothing.

I don't get sick often, which is why this was such a surprise. Also, I had taken a flu shot earlier, which is why I'm geussing this was a new strain. Also, it was very late in the flu season. I remember back when I was in elementary school it seemed my family would get it almost every year, but I haven't had it for like, 10 years. I point the blame for this case of the flu at a particular close friend of mine, who shall remain unnamed.

So, at this point you are probably wondering what I mean by "Green Unicorn". Here is a chronology of my flu experience (very approximated):

10 am Thursday - Threw up clear liquid

10 - 12 Thursday - Slept?

12 - 3 pm? - Made two slices of toast. Ate slowly over the next 3 hours, while watching the George Lucas director's cut of THX 1183. I had to stop several times to throw up the toast.

3 - 5 - ?

5 - 7 - Made a nice big dinner of two slices of toast and four eggs. The eggs were somewhere between scrambled and sunnyside up. In this period of the symptom, I was beginning to enter the stage of delirious hilarity and neediness. Being sick and effectively alone in my house, I was unfilled. I was also starting to sort of imagine and hallucinate, and I was beginning to feel cold. Wow, I need to work on my writing.

7 - 9 - I began to watch Spinal Tap with the commentary, which turned out to be the bandmembers in character. I was delighted that they kept the mockumentary facade, and that they managed to keep thier characters and voices after 20+ years.

9 pm - Threw up everything I just ate. At this point I reached a new high in humour for what was going on. I appeared that despite my acute attempts to eat, I would not be allowed to do so. I then proceeded upstairs to sleep off the flu.

10 pm - 10 am. This was a blurry period, where the Green Unicorn comes in. at 10 am I woke up, apparently better. I still have a headache, which is either from the flu still, or playing Rag Doll Kung Fu for the past few hours.

In the blurry period, I remember being very cold (which means I had a fever, if you've read your body manual). I know somebody, well more so am aware of them, that overdosed on ecstasy and had their brain overheat because they passed out and nobody looked after him. I changed position in my bed every ten minutes throughout the night, and I always had the nagging thought that my brain would overheat. I had visualizations of the Divergence Theorem and Heat Conduction equations from MATH 227 and PHYS 231. Not only that, but in my delirious half awake/half asleep state my brain began to wander and repeat itself. I found myself trapped in thoughts I couldn't escape, like things I had forgotten to do or people still talking to me. This has to me in the past whenever I've visited a new, fast-paced place and been forced to do a routine for a long period of time, usually school or minimum-wage jobs. I get mentally stuck in it, and being a frequent insomniac does not help.

I devised the green unicorn to get rid of these thoughts. What is something I am not likely going to think of, but isn't too abstract so as to be unimaginable? A Unicorn. What is the least likely colour for a unicorn to be? Green. Its not magical or natural.

Whenever I entered a routine thought-pattern in my flu-driven delirium, I would call in The Green Unicorn, which would tear up the fabric of what I was picturing, and then EXPLODE, leaving my mind blissfully empty. It wouldn't actually break up a wall of the scene where I was, it would literally roll it up like a carpet as it charged through.

I'm going to use this now on to destroy or alter dreams I don't like, I suppose until it becomes so commonless place as to be dilute, but then I'll invent something else.