I'm on preventive antibiotics following a dental surgery. Last night, I ate some mango and the darndest thing happened: a large thumbprint-sized patch of skin below my right eye and toward my nose swelled up and turned warm and pink (think hives).

I've eaten mango before without any incident, but I decided to research mango further anyway, and it turns out the tree parts and skin of the mango fruit contain various irritants that some people are allergic to. I suspect my immune system normally handles these things without incident, but because it's being modulated by the antibiotics, those irritants were able to trigger a kind of false-positive inflammatory response. I checked on it after some research and it looked about the same.

I continued my research, and came to the conclusion it would resolve itself fairly quickly, and at that point, it already appeared to be lessening. About thirty minutes later, it was impossible to tell there had ever been anything unusual happening on my face recently (although I managed to take a photo earlier).

So, now I know that some people can have sudden immediate first-time allergic reactions to [poorly processed] mango. Oh, and I had to chuckle when I learned that one of the symptoms was anaphylaxis; if that had been my lot, I wouldn't have had time to read that far!

Also, in my research, I happened upon an excellent protein called Langerin which may help protect our bodies from some viruses. Cool stuff!

Amazing luck! Tickets (Josef-Ashton Summs) was able to pay me a visit tonight, and I was introduced to the magic of Cubase. Now I'm thinking more about my options in terms of virtual gear. I have used Reason almost exclusively for many years, because it had everything in one place, but it's always good to investigate other tools, techniques, etc. :-)

Tomorrow, he plays RN, and it sounds like a great evening planned. Team Quato will be there too, mixing it up. The schedule was been slightly weirdened, but it actually sounds like a good idea. See all y'all there tomorry who's goin'!

I had a lucid dream.

I dunno if that stuff is legit, but I'll share my experience. I'm a fairly skeptical person when it comes to metaphysics, so I believe this was just my brain being loopy.

It was early afternoon on a day off from work, and I was reading about other people's lucid dreaming experiences, and methods they used to become self-aware in the dream state. I was uncharacteristically tired, and I looked at the clock, seeing that I had time to spare before heading out for the evening, so I decided to take a nap.

I was only planning to sleep for about an hour, but I hadn't set the alarm, figuring my body would wake me when appropriate. After what felt like an hour's worth of sleep, I came to, and the first thing I noticed was that my body felt weak; every muscle felt as if it hadn't been used in years. Remarking on how unusual that was, I strained to look at the clock. Everything else was in focus, but the numbers on the clock were blurry, jumbled, moving -- nonsense! At that point, my brain, which had written off the muscle weakness as just part of a slow wake-up process, told me, 'you were just reading about this... you're still asleep!'

Until that point, everything had been cool, but the second I made the realization that I was conscious in the dream world, I became aware of a presence, what felt like two distinct entities, two distinct minds, and they were not pleased with my discovery. I sensed that they intended to find and take hold of me, and eject me from the dream world. An instant later, I felt something grasp my dream body, as if by the shoulder or scruff of the neck somehow (not painful, but a firm grip). 'NO!,' I cried out in my mind, 'I want to explore this place! I won't harm anything!', but it felt too difficult to vocalize. The minds radiated a mental impression: stonefaced. No malice; they were just doing their jobs.

I felt myself being slowly but inexorably pulled upward, out of the realm of dreams, and it appeared to stretch below me, as if I was being pulled across a division of two worlds connected by a rubbery nexus, back into reality. My still-lethargic dream body was useless, and in my desperation, I realized I was still breathing, so maybe I could cry out for help.

Now, I knew there was no one else at home when I'd drifted off to sleep, but this was the dream world -- maybe there was someone or some...thing that would grab me and pull the other way, and help me stay in the dream world for a few minutes of free exploration, and maybe to learn how to walk, talk, etc.

Breathing in as deeply as possible, I let loose with all my force -- or so it felt -- and produced... a tiny little pop, maybe 1/16th of a second in duration, at some deep but unidentified pitch. The weird thing is that although it was the tiniest sound, it snapped me out of the dream world instantly, so fast that I woke up mid-sound to hear the end of it. I immediately thought of checking the clock, lifted myself up with ease (noticing how that smacked of reality), and read the time clearly. Yup, reality. I'd been asleep for about an hour.

For some reason, I once again remembered the various things I'd read earlier in the afternoon, and then reviewed the experience, recalling how it had felt like I was in some other higher-dimensional reality, where "constants" (like physics) were tweaked or even dynamic.

I haven't really tried more since, because I've never really been seriously trying to have a go at it, but it was definitely interesting, some great "ominous" feelings in the dream world and so on. I'm almost certainly going to try it again, but probably not until I need another nap. Maybe next time, I'll start calisthenics immediately upon entering dream-consciousness, so I can elude those shoulder-grabbers. :-D

(This entry is dated the day I wrote it, but the event happened last Autumn).

Good idea: YouTube recently disabled public display of tags; a simple change, which causes the least disturbance, yet is still effective for solving the problem (abuse of the tagging system).

People can be slow to adapt to technology, at least compared to the speed at which some technology is developed. The most successful technologies requires not just a material solution, but ways to avoid harm to the user and abuse to others. Many times, the material part of things (device, software, etc) will be completed before the human-interface/-integration part is sorted out. Firearms are an example; they already exist materially, but some people still aren't entirely settled on how they fit into our lives. Even nature makes "technology" that some societies find difficult to integrate. And now, a case in point: tagging.

Tagging (on the Web, keyword or keyphrase metadata about the content of media) is a very simple concept which has existed for years on much of the Web, yet most people, when given the opportunity, don't bother to use tags effectively (versus simply using tags at all). Tagging technology has, however, been warmly embraced by the sketchballs of YouTube who want to exploit the popularity of videos that have risen to fame by having [presumably] legitimate value (that is, as demonstrated by view counts, ratings, etc). This sort of abuse renders the tagging system largely ineffective. The simple countermeasure of hiding the assigned tags curbs that sort of abuse without significantly affecting functionality of any systems that interface with it. Just as importantly, honest users can still tag things as effectively as before. :-)

I finally joined FB a few months ago, which is why the blog has been so quiet. I gave it a good shot, but ultimately, I found too many things (interface, constant changes being pushed on users, etc) I didn't enjoy, so I'm resurrecting the blog. Another important distinction is that it allows anyone to see my "status updates" without needing to sign up for anything. I'll still check messages on FB, etc, but my "serious" writing will continue to be posted here.

Astute individuals will notice the design/layout has been changed (for change's sake, of course!). ;-)

Electronic Brain was a superb kick-off to the 2012 festival season.

The music was fantastic, as was the deco. The campground was beautiful, complete with a semi-natural pond in a rock depression. The layout was very, ahem, "organic"; the best way to navigate was by landmarks. Luckily, the skies were relatively clear all weekend, and the moonlight was sufficient to make out most of the terrain at night. The two stages were opposite each other, across the main roadway, making it easy to travel from one to the other for a change of vibe.

A goodly number of Ottawa people ended up camping on a hilltop/plateau with a sweet breeze, beside a chalet with the most gracious neighbors (thank you again!). It got pretty cold on Friday night, but Saturday, the sun blazed in all its glory, and the "villagers" congregated under the sun shelter I'd brought, which a certain festival elf improved by lending her blanket as a temporary side wall.

I was hoping for a sunny, rain-free weekend, because my tent was set up on a slight incline, and I wasn't sure how well it would respond to a downpour. :-) Luck was with me, because the weather stayed beautiful all weekend. Well, actually, Pirate Pete called for rain at 4am Monday (he has seafarer's intuition), and lo and behold, there was a sprinkle of about 40 drops of rain at the appointed time! Not sure if that's enough to qualify as actual rain, but it was amusing nonetheless. :-)

One of the big draws for me at this festival was a live act from Quato (local dudes Manu and Pete). Unfortunately, because I had dawdled in setting up camp, I missed some of the set. Doh! Still, when I reached the main stage, their music got me right into the swing of things. After their set, they were totally giddy with excitement (and possibly a touch of alcohol, hahahahaha), milling about on the dance floor. Pete did some "stampa" (proof somewhere on YouTube), while Manu and I talked about music production.

The main attraction (for me) was the live PA from Broken Toy (James Copeland), all the way from South Africa. Long story short: James broke the funk-o-meter, I danced like a loon, and nabbed him afterward to give him props and a tee-shirt. Awesome sauce.

I was also excited to see Super Evil (James C and Adriano Rodrigues), but they were delayed by a technical problem (not their fault, as I understand, but these things happen), resulting in an impromptu hangout with the two and a small group of assorted festival-goers at the other stage, where James told us something scandalous (ha hah!) about his musical career. After some banter, we all agreed it would probably be a while before things got sorted, and the group dispersed, with hopes that a workaround could be found. And lo, someone came up with a solution (never found out whom, but thanks, whoever you are), and thus it was that I got to hear (and see) 'Brutal Train Blues' right in front of my eyes. Big ups to James and Arno for making the trip!

Sunday night was magical forest psy night. I was hanging out with Jan (this was her first festival) and we met Oleg (from TO) on the way to check how the second stage was doing. He shared his pineapple juice with us (everyone knows pineapple juice is the best) and joined us in our mission. We arrived to discover that someone had sorted the generator (which had been malfunctioning earlier in the day) and there were dark and foresty sounds cranking. Result! DJ Psygourmet was the stand-out act of the night, mixing up a sweet selection of swirling psychedelic sounds as we danced, awash with moonlight, among the looming conifers.

This year, I had resolved to regulate my sleep and water intake more carefully. In doing so, I had consistently high energy levels while roving about, and slept fairly well during down times. I also gave "instant meal in a pouch" camping food a try (it's... okay).

The blackflies were in full effect. I'm pretty sure this was my first serious exposure to them. While the bites do hurt (and itch somethin' fierce!), the flies were some of the slowest and dumbest "offensive" insects I've ever encountered. They tended to crawl around a lot before biting, giving one ample opportunity to thwart their plans, even if just by brushing them off. :-)

All told, despite some glitches, a most enjoyable fest!

Apparently, bright yellow was a difficult color for artists to get ahold of until the 19th century. Nowadays, you can get any hue you want, and it's cheap to boot. This made me wonder about similar "sets-with-missing-elements" in the present that may be completed after my macro-soma has macro-apoptosed itself. I lived before and after the time of [proper] blue LEDs, and their results (e.g. tons of gaudy electronics merchandise, and eventually, my current handset's color display). I wonder if van Gogh was one of the first to find a cheap hook-up for yellow. I can't help but notice we still don't have any flying cars (sorry, Moller, you're still R&D:ing).

In the present, it's almost impossible for someone to tell us "no" if we want something badly enough. Hell, you can experience zero-gravity. You can accomplish what you want. Sit down. Stew about it for a bit. Really think about what you want. Then go out there and get it! You totally can. It's difficult, and it'll take time, but you can live the life you want to. Remember, however, that your actions have consequences, and you're not the only one on this planet. Let's all remember to consider others, shall we? :-)

One nice thing about the Internet is that now, when you are just about to hack something because it doesn't do quite what you need yet, you can do a quick search and see if someone else has already taken a crack at it. The downside is that most hacks are intended to solve the local (hacker's) problem, and thus the hack may not work on other machine configurations (even if they're not particularly weird). The upshot is that some hacks need to be hacked, but the good part is: [computer program] code is eminently hackable! :-]

In this case, I'm looking to automate a tedious graphic design process in version 2.6 of the GIMP, and I found a potentially useful script-fu "plug-in" which should have worked as is, but I had to make a small change to get it to show up in the GIMP's menu listing.

Here's a sort of patch to illustrate a solution:

--- random_density_map.scm.original +++ random_density_map.scm @@ -130,7 +130,7 @@ ) (script-fu-register "script-fu-random-density-map" - "/Filters/Map/Random Density Map..." + "Random Density Map..." "Draw a specified number of random points with the currently selected brush, using a density mask." "Rob Antonishen" "Rob Antonishen" @@ -145,3 +145,6 @@ SF-ADJUSTMENT "Border Margin (pixels)" '(0 0 100 1 6 0 0) SF-ADJUSTMENT "Bailout Threshold" '(200 100 2000 10 100 0 0) ) + +(script-fu-menu-register "script-fu-random-density-map" + "<Image>/Filters/Map")

The modified script can be placed in your user-scripts directory (e.g. ~/.gimp-2.6/scripts). I discovered the solution the lazy way -- by looking at the structure of an existing working plug-in. ;-) After I got it working (the new item shows up under sub-menu Maps), I tried it out, and it turned out to not be quite what I'm looking for. :-b Still, this little hint might help someone else. :-) "And still, the search goes on..."

Okay, last night was surreal and fun-tastic as hell. It all started with an afternoon nap...

I've been pushing really hard at work on some urgent projects lately, so my sleep patterns have been, let's say, mildly abused. Normally, I don't need a whole lot of sleep, and I almost never take naps, but after work on Friday, I came home pretty beat and set an alarm (just in case, ha ha!) just before laying down on the sofa to see if I was truly tired. My mind was still quite active, especially with my eyes closed. Now, my couch may not be flashy, but it is very comfy...

It was dark when I awoke, and I saw I had only half an hour of dawdling time left. Wow, guess I needed that! Either way, that nap was like a natural dose of amphetamine, because I was wired for the rest of the night, until getting home around 0900 (I'm often pretty stomped out by the end of RN).

I listened to my latest track on the way downtown. When I make electronic music, I listen to it again and again (especially on as many sound systems as possible), noting areas that need improvement, or hearing new ideas forming on top of what's playing. If I'm particularly inspired, I whip out this little app called Caustic 2 (summary video of Caustic 2 in action) and I make some "musical notes". Anyway, I'm really stoked on this track, and want to finish it up soon, so I made some mental notes of changes (all these different kinds of notes, eh?), and then I listened to some psytrance favorites. My phone and Bluetooth headphones both play well with others, so together, they're pretty stable.

I reached downtown in good time, and wanted to hit a bank machine before meeting up with friends for the first part of the night. I'm still getting used to the quirks and outright design flaws of my phone, so I still don't trust it that much, but I try to give it a chance when it seems appropriate. There, amongst the skyscrapers, I whipped it out (ha ha!) and turned on the GPS so I could let the mapping application find me, and then I could ask it for the nearest bank machine affiliated with my bank, or at the very least, a functional IOO cash machine. The search "worked", but the three "nearest" locations were at least 10 blocks away in any direction, and I didn't feel like walking that far, so I ventured into a nearby corner store, and found, much to my pleasant surprise, a bank machine affiliated with my bank. 'Tonight is going swimmingly,' I thought. I also thought, 'Brain: one, phone: zero.' Locally wealthier, I headed off to meet up with friends at the pub for phase one of a most excellent Friday night...

...I wasn't able to make it to RN (phase two) until a little after 0100, but I had a great conversation with the cabbie on the way, which kept building my energy. Arriving at Eri, I felt like a puppy that runs around and "says hi" to everyone by licking them in the face. Note, I didn't actually get that rowdy, I just felt that way. ;-b

The place was pretty full, but there was still room to move about the dancefloor with ease -- pretty much my favorite density level for an indoor psytrance event.

Now, I gotta put in a word about a buddy of mine, who does the visuals now and then at RN. I like what he adds to the vibe, and last night, in particular, was a great example. He (probably with cooperation from the DJs) had taken the effort to synchronize the visuals with the music unmistakably (you know, sometimes it "sorta works" but not really) for at least one track, and I just loved it! Thanks for helping create a fun atmosphere, bud! (If you recognize yourself in this story, and you want your name emblazoned on the Web for all time*, let me know).

* or until I can't afford $12/year Web hosting

Phase three: the after-party. On the way there, I made a new friend (I keep meeting women who share her name, and who turn out to be cool -- plus, I like the name, ha ha!). Our caravan stopped at her place to pick up her dog and bring him along to the party. He's smart, friendly, and looks very much like his mum. Before we arrived, we were forewarned that the dog's half-brother was already at our destination, and the two had issues (aw, so cute!). I get along great with dogs (though I've never tussled with attack dogs under command, but I guess that's kinda different), so I just thought it would be mildly entertaining, and, indeed it was. The two dogs are still unsure of who's the "boss", so they front like crazy and act all hard, but are hesitant to actually scrap. It was whimsical. Gradually, they calmed down and realized they'd just have to agree to disagree, and share the space. I think it helped that they both received a more-or-less equal measure of petting and attention from the humans. I wrastled with one, and he trapped my forearm in his jaws, but was gentle, only holding it, not even pinching. Such experiences always remind me how smart dogs must be to stay their instincts and abilities to tear us up, as a response to us trusting them to live in close proximity and share our lives quite profoundly.

It was light out by the time I started for home, and the buses were running again. Waiting at a stop, a friendly gent (who was apparently a panhandler, but absolutely not aggressive about it) made some small talk and, still feeling energetic, I engaged him and he gave my a synopsis on his life situation. We chatted for a while. When I was younger and more idealistic, I would long to solve everyone's problems, but eventually I realized that most of the time you can only give people a nudge, one way or another, through direct interaction. The nudge doesn't even have to solve a problem, necessarily; sometimes, it's useful simply in encouraging the recipient to keep fighting for happiness and goodness in life, so as the bus pulled up to the stop, I gave him an unusual and most unexpected parting gift. He thanked me kindly, and told me his name. I told him mine as we shook hands, and then I boarded the bus, looking forward to a nice long sleep. Who knows if we'll ever see each other again? Either way, we both walked away enriched by the experience. And it started with talking.

The software development process involves a lot of decision-making; it can often feel physically draining, and recent research suggests why: the ability to make good decisions (i.e. willpower) is strongly affected by our physical state, and good decision-making has a physical cost. Could that explain my sweet tooth? :-D

Wowzers, last night's RN was a smash! The last few days have been intense, and Friday night was the highlight of the week. Work was busy but satisfying, and some of us went to the new IKEA for lunch (I had the koettbullar, of course -- BTW, the cafeteria now offers beer and wine, whaaat!). The rest of the workday flew by, and then it was time to get ready for RN.

The weather was heavy, and I got there a bit later than usual, but I still caught half of Koda's set, and it was pretty energizing. Then two of my favorite DJs (Virtual Light and the unstoppable Data Decay) played back-to-back, unleashing a relentless barrage of beats and grooves that could make even the most uptight person get to dancin'.

That's the thing about psytrance... there's no "official psytrance dance" -- except for everything in this hilarious video, that is absolute truth, hahaha, no, but seriously -- you just let the music carry you and dance however you want to. Maybe you're full-on liquid:ing, or maybe you just nod your head with the downbeat; it doesn't matter. All that matters is that you're becoming one with the music, and letting it carry you, your body expressing what you're feeling. As in yoga and other similar physical activities, it's about becoming more familiar, more comfortable, with your own body and mind. To know oneself is to be one's best, at whatever you do (hopefully nothing too awful).

Thanks to those who gave me gifts, and thanks to those who accepted my gifts. It was a pleasure, in all cases. There was someone there I was really happy to see. Was it you? Probably. ;-) Those who couldn't make it, you were missed. Those I haven't met yet, I look forward to it. And if I already know you and I didn't say hi, a thousand pardons. Sometimes, I lose myself in the music, but if you want to say hi, don't be afraid to interrupt my dancing; your interaction is always welcome! RN friends, it's amazing to know all of you. :-) 'Til next time!

It's true. I've finally decided to investigate mobile device support on the Web. I've tested against the stock Android 4.0 browser. So far, so good. I'm sure I'll try other platforms soon enough. :-)

I first went snowboarding years ago at Camp Fortune. It had snowed a lot the previous week, and then it got warm for a day, then froze again. Not to worry, I was told, as Fortune had snow machines. Unfortunately, the fake powder did little more than disguise the brutal layer of ice that had formed on the otherwise deep, soft snow. As it was my first time, I fell. A lot. I had a good attitude about it on the whole, but by day's end, the most significant thing I had to take away from the experience was a sore ass.

Fast forward about 15 years, to yesterday, when I finally went for round two. This time, however, I went to a smaller hill (quite literally, just one hill), which was a lot better for learning, because it had minimal traffic. The conditions weren't much better than my first experience (icy; minimal powder), but I've since learned better balance and falling skills, so I felt ready for the challenge. On each run, I improved measurably, and by the third run, I was already feeling much more positive about the whole thing, considering my previous experience. I can't say I've taken to it like I have with some other things in life, but it was definitely a lot of fun, and I will almost certainly go again before another 15 years goes by. :-D

There is no moral here, except maybe "snowboarding is fun, and you should try it". And don't be discouraged if the first time is tricky; try it twice. ;-)

So, you can access your music from almost anywhere with a PC and an Internet connection. But what if you get the itch to hear a particular song right where you are, say while travelling? Okay, let's talk about streaming music from your home PC to your phone. Yes, one of my fantasies as a kid was to have some sort of gadget that lets me listen to my own personal radio station more or less anywhere on the planet. That technology has arrived, in moderately-useful form, while flying cars still totally suck. :-D

Here's a way to live the dream. Note that it's not the way, it's just a way; in particular, I'm targeting an Android device as the client (for listening) and a Linux box as the server. And now I present a recipe entitled...

"How to burn through your data plan"

Ingredients:

  • a host equipped with Logitech Media Server, formerly Squeeze Server from which to serve your stream
    • If you haven't at least secured your server with a password, do it now!
  • an Android device with mobile data capabilities
    • I used a phone with ICS 4, but this may work for stuff like 2.x.
  • a mobile data plan
    • If you love music like I do, go for the "hungry, hungry hippo" plan. :-D
  • Squeeze Player ($4-ish) for playback and Squeeze Commander ($5-ish) for control
    • Yeah, we're going to reward the dedicated codesmiths who've created some useful pieces of the chain.
  • working knowledge of LAN and WAN
    • IP addressing, ports, firewalling, dynamic DNS

Procedure:

  • Install the two apps on your Android device. You can go through Android Market.
  • In the LAN where your server lives, open ports 3483 and 9000 on any related firewalls, and configure any routing to forward external traffic on these two ports to your server (forward all protocols if you're unsure). If you've set up for external clients (e.g. SoftSqueeze) already, you can skip this step.
  • If you don't have a static external IP address, configure your network for visibility from the greater Internet using something like a dynamic DNS service (for example, a dynamic DNS service. Ha ha).
  • Configure Squeeze Player (only the important settings are listed) on your Android device.
    • Set Manual Server Address to your static external IP, or your dynamic DNS name.
    • Set Authentication to the username and password with which your server is protected.
  • In Squeeze Player's main panel, turn Playback on, and it should connect to your server; there's nothing playing yet, because we're about to configure it using Squeeze Commander.
  • Start Squeeze Commander; SP has a shortcut that detects SC, so you can launch it right from SP.
  • In SC's device list (leftmost pane), you should see your Squeeze Player listed by name. Other players (hardware and software) connected to the server will be shown as well. Select it to focus your next actions on it.
  • Hit the top-right icon (folder with music note) to get the master index of your music collection. I then usually choose Music Folder because I know my directory structure pretty well.
  • Drill down until you can pick a file, then choose Play. Yeah, and uh... don't forget to set a global data limit or take some other finance-related precautions. You've been warned. ;-)

Both apps are happy with whatever network they have access to (wifi or mobile data), although the hand-off from one connection type to the other isn't seamless -- Squeeze Player stops and doesn't try to auto-resume, but maybe this will change. All in all, a pretty reasonable interpretation of the "global personal radio station". :-)

"Forbid a man to think for himself or to act for himself and you may add the joy of piracy and the zest of smuggling to his life." -- Elbert Hubbard

This guy sure was a straight shooter. In fact, he was quite a fascinating chap, and I'm really enjoying his writings. He's someone I can identify with, in terms of having faith in my fellow humans. Here's a great bit of insight into his philosophy.

Okay, it's true. Face Unlock is really more of a novelty than anything else. I have at least one friend who passes as "me", and I've seen video of a photo fooling the software as well, although it's likely to improve with development, and those who are more security minded have other options.

Aside from the fun factor, there's a subtle, hidden benefit to using it: when I first set it up, I was smiling; not a big dopey grin, but something that looked positive, instead of neutral. I was a bit saddened when I wasn't allowed to smile for a recent passport photo, because I find people more approachable when they're smiling. Anyway, occasionally, my phone will fail to recognize me (it seems to have trouble with long hair and toques), but I recently realized it was much more likely (and faster) to see "me" when I smiled. So, now I'm reminded to smile more whenever I want to unlock the phone. The next lesson is "enough with the phone already". :-]

Last night's RN was a grand ol' time. I exhibited my latest print, and still got in some time to shake my ass with some beautiful people. Thanks to the DJs, some new to me! It was quite a mix of stuff, and I really enjoyed some of the tracks. I met the maker of some deco which had tripped me out like crazy at Orion two weeks ago (but that's a story for another day), and there it was again, right in the midst of the RN magic. Big ups to everyone who showed up to participate despite the nasty weather!

One more thing: if you haven't heard this already, it's been a favorite of mine for weeks now: Frost RAVEN -- Cosmic Radiation. Discovered on SoundCloud, a very cool site indeed!

Over the last few weeks, I've observed various approaches to cooking, and tonight I was inspired to make chili-cheese wraps for dinner. I guess they could also be considered something like burritos. Either way, they're simple and delicious. Start with some of my home-made chili. What? You don't have it? Oh man, you've gotta have it. In a pinch, use some of your own home-made chili.

Okay, you have your chili. If you have a microwave, you can start with "cold" ingredients (perfect for leftovers). Grab a tortilla, chuck some chili on it, mostly across a diameter. Grate some cheddar or other delicious cheese amply onto the chili, then microwave it a bit to warm the chili and tortilla, and melt the cheese. Lastly, roll it up, and let it cool slightly to let the heat disperse. If you have a toaster oven, adapt by starting with hot chili, add the cheese and then roll up just before placing in toaster oven briefly. Yes, of course you can add other ingredients! :-) Don't forget to have some veg. I had broccoli. Good old broccoli. :-)

I was also inspired by a new friend to simplify this site's code. CSS is pretty well supported by now, and it looks like a more effective and refined way to manage the look and layout of a Website.

Intense NYE weekend; crazy times. A visit to the Atwater "beer cave". Walks. Wifi. Downtown. Underground. Mix-ups. Mix-downs. Mekkanikka. Rikam. Bamboo Forest. Great psytrance, great dancing. Massive crowd. Chill people, friends, cherished ones, those admired, and those desired. Together. Writhing. Many. One. As real as anything else happening NYE as the days begin to get longer again, yet somehow, this time, a little more than real (get the details in person). Home. Wind-down. Sleep. 2012... After 35 years, I've barely scratched the surface. :-]

While visiting family in the Niagara area, I discovered a recent addition to the glut of attractions -- an indoor water park. Since it was winter, I had to give it a go. My sister and brother-in-law were up for it. First, we hit up the (famous?) UFO-shaped restaurant (not because of the food, *ahem*, but because my sister had never been). It isn't really that spectacular, yet it's one of those places you always want to check out to satisfy your curiosity. If you do decide to eat there, the fries are great, but otherwise, stick to the burgers.

Now, I like to swim, but I'd only been to two other water parks before. This one would have been more fun (read: scary) to visit as a kid, but it was still worth going to just for the novelty of splashing around in a warm, brightly-lit, giant glass cube in the middle of a chilly city at night.

The layout is decent, and there are a good number of water slides (including body, tube, and mat types), a wave pool (well... wave pool junior, really... seriously, unless you are less than three feet tall, don't get excited), and a bunch of contraptions to play with or climb around on. There's also a giant bucket that fills and tips every 10 or so minutes, creating a temporary "Niagara Falls". Oh yeah, and hot tubs, for the adults.

The price is unsurprisingly touristy (i.e. steep), but if you're a local, let them know; otherwise, hunt a bit for a coupon. Absolutely do shop around for parking. Look near Michael's Inn. Watch out for the yellow post in the lot.

You can rent large and small lockers at the water park. We brought our own towels and rented lockers; you should be able to rent towels, but always call to confirm stuff like that. I felt kind of bad for the employees who must endure long shifts breathing in copious amounts of chlorine gas, but I guess no one's forcing them to take the job. Go capitalism?

Well, I had fun and it tired me out (yay, exercise!), so I got my money's worth. Unless you're a raging hypochondriac -- or actually infected with something contagious -- you should check it out, if you're in the Clifton Hill area. Oh, and if you don't like water parks... what's wrong with you? :-D

So, I decided to take the train to visit my family over the holidays, and one of their selling points is free wifi (yes, I realize the bizarreness of something "free" being a selling point). I'll admit, at the very least, it works. I'm sitting here on the train, listening to music streaming from my mediabox at home, while editing my website over ssh. It's pretty slick. The only downside is the bandwidth is lurchy and a bit on the slow side, but... you get what you pay for. :-)

Still, props to VIA for giving customers more options. Now, what would be really great is a supertrain (high speed, like the TGV) doing this run (Montreal-Windsor).

In fact, I've been partial to Logic Bomb for years, but what's actually important is... they released a new album! So excited! I don't have a favorite LB track... I have two! Jack in the Box and Life is a Progressbar. Can't wait to hear this!

Boom festival sounds like a pretty good time, although I haven't been yet. One of my favorite producers played a set there in 2010 and I found it on the Web. So, here's the Dick Trevor (Dickster) DJ set from Boom 2010. Enjoy!

RN is always a good time, but this one was just outstanding.

Koda played some very laidback stuff at the outset, but kept building the energy as a crowd gathered. Before his set was done, the place was hoppin'. Then Clone took over the decks. Man, did he pick some good stuff! His set had an excellent flow to it, perfect for dancing your ass off. To top the night off, Data Decay blasted us with a mix of classics versus new stuff, and the sound of the set's opener can only be described as "ruddy mysterious!". Thanks again to the Eri staff who help make this event possible.

It really was a treat to see some close friends, and I missed some of you, but maybe we'll see each other next time. It needn't even wait until then, although I keep pretty busy. You can always try me by phone (still my favorite "social appliance"). What? You don't have my number? Well, if you're not a bot, you can look it up. ;-) Maybe I'll add a contact form one of these days.

Turns out there's a working Squeezebox client written in Java. Nice!

I wax philosophical too often, so I'm going to talk about waking up in a strictly literal sense. The human mind seems to have an extraordinary ability to keep track of time, and yet it's difficult to establish conscious awareness of it. I've had days on which I woke up one minute before my alarm, as if my internal clock was trying to show off, and although I've done this a number of times, it was always a fluke, rather than a product of intention. Consequently, I need an alarm clock to ensure I'm not (too) late for work.

The alarm clock I was using until recently has become unavailable, so I was in the market for a new one. Now, being somewhat geeky, I wanted something that could play audio of my choice as an alarm sound. I got a decent deal on a Logitech Squeezebox Radio, figuring I could get it working with my Ubuntu mediabox without too much fuss.

There's a reason Logitech is still in the game after many years of having to keep up with the fast pace of technological evolution. Once again, they've created a thoughtfully designed product that works as well as can be expected, with no obvious glitches or design shortcuts. There was a small hitch in getting the server software installed, but -- as is often the case with Linux -- there was a simple workaround that got me up and running in just a few minutes. Essentially, the repository server was having problems (at the time this was originally written), but you can simply download an installation package and install it manually (e.g. sudo dpkg -i package_name) and then surf to the default address (localhost:9000) to set up everything else.

This device is packed with features, yet manages to keep things simple. The wifi setup was so painless that I haven't even bothered to try the ethernet interface. In addition to that option, there is also aux-in (TRS connector) for maximum user flexibility. You can set different alarms for each day of the week (awesome), install third-party apps for new capabilities (e.g. Flickr slideshow), and it's even possible to get the server software onto my Asus WL500g router, although I haven't investigated that option yet. Really, the only thing I can complain about is the glossy piano-black finish of the housing, which makes fingerprints and other grime instantly visible. Then again, when choosing a gadget, looks aren't that high on my list of criteria; functionality is far more relevant to my happiness.

Well, I can't wait for tomorrow morning. :-)

So... what stage are you at?

Just... wow. Can't believe I hadn't heard of this sooner. Wish I had more time to mess about with it.

For me, Natura 2011 was a mix of high and low points, and time is of the essence, so I'll summarize the key points, and follow up with some details, and then we're done.



Timeline:

  • Friday -- Best day/night of the weekend. I arrived knowing I'd be hearing some great stuff during the wee hours -- Quato's first live PA, followed by two great Ottawa DJs, Psycronik and Data Decay. I was not disappointed. The weather started off beautiful, with a warmth that made the soon-to-come rain feel that much more chilly. Really, Friday was perfect, so much fun.
  • Saturday afternoon -- Cool forest hike, over a dozen species of fungi sighted, including poisonous mushrooms with a dark green cap and yellow stalk; live salamander held, marveled at.
  • Saturday night -- WTF happened? Rain overload, no nighttime psy, more rain, no Urantia, even more rain.
  • Sunday -- Some better weather, lots of chillin'.

Miscellany:

  • Due to great location, our campsite became something of a social hub. Coolness.
  • Location (campground) is awesome.
  • Suspended bridge is awesome.
  • Personal festival firsts:
    • Donned a makeshift poncho (garbage bag). It was armless, for efficacy, and secondarily, amusement.
    • Saw a giant slinky successfully traverse more than three steps in a row.
    • Saw other people with UV-A flashlights.

I heard Urantia was held up at the border by red tape. I can't confirm it, but dammit, it's disappointing no matter why it happened or who's to blame. Maybe next time.

All in all, fun, but I've done better. The highlight was the great vibe created on Friday night by local Ottawa producers and DJs. It set me up to make the remainder of the weekend bearable in spite of some disappointments.

Okay, enough. Thanks to the organizers, although next time, it would be awesome to see the headliner. ;-) Thanks to the volunteers. High fives and all that to everyone who braved the weather (it wasn't actually that bad). That's it for this year. Productivity mode... if I get enough vitamin D, or Substance D, or whatever.

Straight up, Open Mind was an absolute riot. Yes, the tickets were pretty dear, especially if you were only attending for the weekend. That said, an event like this has significant expenses, and there was evidence of a lot of investment in the facilities. Money matters aside, it was clear that a lot of volunteer effort went into this event, so I want to give a shout-out to everyone who helped set up.

Okay, let's get down to it. Having looked at the line-up, I decided to change it up and enjoy this festival on a more social tip. Don't get me wrong, though; the music was decent all weekend, definitely a Montreal flavor to the psy, as well as some serious old-school Goa sounds on Sunday night. Just the same, I felt it was the right time and place to focus on chilling with my fellow festival-goers.

A bunch of the Ottawa contingent had talked about about doing another "tent city" this year, and we were really pleased to discover, upon our arrival, that someone had staked out a lovely spot (two, actually) for us to make camp. Even better, they had convinced some cool Torontonians to settle among us. The sun was shining, the weather was sweet (heh), so we got everything set up to our satisfaction in no time flat, even while taking breaks to chat with people passing by (we were off to the side of a sort of main thoroughfare). I even bothered to set up my psy lantern, which performed admirably using the new inverter and smaller battery. It made finding our campsite a breeze, even from a good distance away. A few interested people asked about the setup (it seems the solar panels I use to recharge the psy lantern's battery are fairly conspicuous on the forest floor). One of them works with electricity professionally, and we had a great little chat about all sorts of things. He was a humble, amiable person, boosting up the friendly vibe that was a highlight to me this year.

Let's talk about the special installations.

  • If you go to Open Mind, you won't be able to leave without at least hearing about the labyrinth. I'll admit, last year (my first at Open Mind), I never got around to trying it. This year, I scheduled (haha) some time to try it. My enthusiasm was built when a bunch of us were lounging around the fire at night; a friend enthralled us with the account of his visit to a mirrored grotto somewhere within the maze, in which his group was visited by a unicorn (no, not a real one, silly!) which totally tripped them out. He had the photos to prove it. Good times were clearly had. Well done, unicorn! Anyway, I resolved to take a crack at the crazy forest maze before the weekend was up. Unfortunately, when the time came 'round, perhaps due to technical difficulties, much of the lighting -- a rather important part of the whole deal -- was out. Although the moon was brilliant that night, it couldn't quite provide enough light to make the forest floor visible, never mind the "walls" of the maze. After some discussion with my companions, we admitted defeat. Better luck next year! :-) In any case, part of the enjoyment, for me at least, was wandering around in a forest without being in any sort of hurry -- such a welcome change from the usual hustle and bustle of the daily grind back in "civilization".
  • There was also an art gallery tent, which, in addition to providing some respite from the bright, warm sun, gave one's eyes something to feast on. In particular, I enjoyed the works of JL and CD.

  • Another clever and well-executed attraction was the Cinebulle setup, which was a medium-sized white fabric bubble, kept inflated by a fan, which one could enter and then watch a 360-degree film projected against the bubble wall. It was near the chill stage, which itself was a larger version of the inflated bubble concept (sans projection). It was a really clever way to create an enclosed space, with a zippered portal that was both practical and provided a surreal feeling of passing between worlds. Hat tips to the ones who conceived of and implemented the bubble-domes.

  • There was a totem pole on the beach, with UV paint, which looked awesome at night. Whoever put that up, nice work!

  • The stage deco was sweet. I thought the large color-changing "quartz crystals" on either side of the main stage were pure brilliance. I can totally imagine the fun that was had creating them, and they provided a fantastic visual effect. The posts that made up the skeleton of the stage were carved with runes, and it was a great touch that someone provided a translation chart, although I only got around to interpreting a few of the runes before concluding they might have just been random, or I was unfamiliar with whatever language was expressed in the carvings. Either way, I saw it from a more abstract, eye-candy POV, and it really worked for me that way.

  • Okay, the enchanted forest was so great, I had to visit twice. The first time, I saw the meditating man, a near-life size golden statue of a man seated in a meditation pose (something like a lotus, IIRC). It freaked me out the first time I saw it, because of the near-realism and ghostly lighting. The second time, I couldn't find the meditating man (maybe he reached nirvana), but some friends wove parts of the "Na'vi tree" into my hair and took a photo. I am always up for silly stuff like that. :-) Thanks to everyone who decorated the forest.

  • One afternoon (Saturday?) I wandered past the dance floor, and there was an astounding group of women wearing gigantic, brightly-colored, and unique dresses with hidden stilts, weaving and bobbing gracefully near the back. Children crowded 'round, taking their hands and leading them about; it was both magnificent and adorable. The costumes were absolutely splendid, a true labor of love. They slowly made their way around the grounds, seeming to disappear back into the ether from whence they came.

And now for some miscellany. The weather was pretty standard for a late summer festival (hot and humid). On the second day (I believe), word came 'round about a storm warning, but in the end, there was only an hour of gentle rain, which was quite welcome as it cooled things off a bit. The site had shower facilities which were, in the context of the setting, quite the luxury, although it was cool/cold water only (brrr!). Still, nothing like scrubbing off the grime before setting off to collect some more. :-D Frankly, if daily living were similar to festival conditions, I wouldn't mind in the slightest, but at the same time, one of my favorite things to do when I get back to the "real world" is take a nice, hot shower. Ah, civilization, what have you done to me? :-)

Well, thanks to all you beautiful people who made it happen -- organizers, volunteers, and revellers alike. I'm sorry if I know you but didn't say hi; I'll try to do better next time. That said, never hesitate to interrupt my dancing or whatever if you want to say hi yourself, or enjoy a proper hug. ;-) All in all, I had an amazing time, and I hope to see you all again next year!

Wow, where to begin? This adventure started with a battle; I was just getting over a cold, and kind of low on sleep. Fortunately, I'm employed by some way cool people, so I'd had the Thursday off to recuperate. Friday morning, things were still looking grim, but my positive attitude would not be squelched. As I hurried to pack things up, my anticipation for the upcoming adventure developed almost into a kind of euphoria that made me forget about not feeling one hundred percent. There were more obstacles to come, however.

We left late (not exactly unusual) and got bogged down in late-afternoon Montreal traffic. Disaster! We were really hoping to arrive before sundown to make camp setup much more enjoyable. A vibe of impatience began to seep into our group, and tempers got a little short, but we reminded ourselves that there was nothing that could be done now, and whether it was dark or not, we'd be very happy to get there.

Now, when I said "disaster" before, I was exaggerating, because the next obstacle was more serious. You see, we had foolishly [in retrospect] trusted the English directions to the site which had been posted on the Web, instead of just identifying the campground and planning our own route. We arrived at the "correct" address, and saw... a farmhouse. Fortunately, we were greeted by a friendly and helpful woman who lived there. She explained how to get to the site, and related how she'd already met all sorts of people from all over, who had also relied on the faulty directions. We thanked her, hopped back in the vehicle, and grumbled to ourselves about the crap directions, before laughing it off, and set off in hopes of arriving before the last useful minutes of sun gave way to twilight.

Finally, we saw a cardboard sign that confirmed the end was in sight. As we pulled into the parking lot, the excitement was palpable. Unfortunately, we'd burned the last of the daylight on the unexpected detour, so we set up camp in the dark (argh!), managing to get a tarp above the tents for the rain that would likely fall in a few hours. After spending my last remaining energy on setting up camp, I conked out, deciding that the festival would truly begin for me in the morning.

Saturday morning, I felt incredible. The night of sleep had done me some good. I munched on various breakfast things, and headed out to explore the grounds. What a gorgeous site for a festival! I looked forward to a dip in the rapids, and the upcoming live shows from Electrypnose (Vince Lebarde) and others. I thanked my immune system for doing its part in what looked to be a fantastic weekend.

Saturday evening was the main event, in terms of the music. Electrypnose had a dark set scheduled for the wee hours, and I knew Mad Maxx would thrown down like a champ a while after that, so I got revved up to dance my ass off. And lo, the music rocked. And rocked. And the sun came up. And still it rocked. There was a brief technical glitch when Max played, but he took it in stride, and got people hopping again as soon as the power was restored. That guy is committed to entertaining, and I appreciate it.

We just kept on going throughout the day, taking breaks to eat, explore, and chill, and before we knew it, five o'clock had arrived, and some familiar funky sounds began to emanate from the main stage. Yes! Electrypnose was back to play a funky live set! I gotta tell ya, this guy is a pro. The knob-twiddling was precise and determined. I heard several of my favorites, and just loved it. There's nothing like hearing Balabala on a sandy beach, with the sun blazing down, knowing you have nothing to do for the next little while but eat, sleep, and dance. I love vacations!

I had brought a tee-shirt as a gift for Vince, as a tribute to his great contribution to electronic music, but I'd forgotten it back at camp, so after his set, by good fortune, I met up with him and he agreed to visit camp so I could present him with the shirt. My awesome campmates, aware of my initial misfortune (forgetting the shirt), had already gone back to camp to retrieve it. I chatted a bit with Vince about music and other things along the way. My campmates were overjoyed to see who I'd brought along. He chilled with us for a bit, before heading off to relax a bit more, seeing as he'd just finished kicking ass on-stage.

Well, what can I say? I met Electrypnose, and he's a real class act. If you have an opportunity to see him play, you should take that opportunity. Really, there was a lot of great music 'round the clock, and I want to thank all the artists, vendors, campground owners, and especially the organizers who put this event together. I met some cool new people, and also hung out with some more familiar faces. It was a smashing good time.

I still have one unanswered question, which was nagging at me all weekend: after the festival, where will that octopus go? :-)

I finally upgraded my mediabox PC.

  • AMD Athlon 64 X2 → AMD Phenom II X4
  • 2 GB RAM → 4 GB RAM

It's not at all unusual to have compatibility issues when upgrading computer hardware, so a good rule of thumb is to only change one thing at a time, and confirm that everything still works before the next step. This upgrade was the exception.

I started with the RAM. I had a pair of 1 GB modules which I was to replace with a pair of 2s. I placed a single new module in the primary slot, and booted. Things looked okay, so I installed the second module and booted. Things looked good for a minute or two, but then the PC locked right up. In my experience, RAM is rarely actually defective; most of the time, the problem is compatibility or faulty installation. I removed one of the modules, and things worked again. I swapped them; no problems. It looked as if I could only use one 2 GB module at a time, but that wasn't an upgrade. I then installed each module in turn and performed a RAM test on them. They both appeared flawless.

It was time to check if any BIOS settings might be causing problems. I experimented with a few settings, to no avail.

At this point, I surmised that the processor, being a little old, might just be having difficulty dealing with the timing on the new modules. The next thing to try was breaking the rules, and upgrading the processor at the same time as the RAM. I booted, and was pleasantly surprised by the increase in performance (even just in terms of boot time). I was even happier after a few minutes of stable operation. After an hour went by with nary a hitch, I declared the operation a success.

What's the point? Although computers are deterministic systems, they are so complex that upgrades are not always routine. Your best tool is a good basic understanding of computer technology. If that doesn't interest you, call an expert for help. ;-)

I had a last-minute opportunity to visit Toronto with two friends for a Canada Day party; I decided to take that opportunity. The driving was great (and this time I got to be a passenger!), and we made good time. We had a few hours to hang out at the homestead of one of the organizers, and lo and behold, the legendary DJ Vibes (Shane) and his lovely sweetheart were already relaxing there. We made a mad dash for patio chairs 'round back, and Shane came up with a chair borrowed from inside, with a rather uncomfortable -- erm, supportive -- back on it. He was a good sport about it, though, and cracked wise with us all evening until it was time to head to the venue for final setup. Here's a guy who's been at it for over 20 years, has had umpteen releases, and is definitely world famous, but hasn't let it get to his head. He's just what you want in a DJ: refined skills framed by a friendly, approachable demeanor.

The venue was pretty good, although you could tell there hadn't been a whole lot of investment in the building itself recently. The deco was okay; it worked out well that the driver (who was playing that night) had brought a banner that happened to fit perfectly on the wall behind the stage. There was a good variety of music, including some breaks (w00t!) at the start of the night. Although I'm mostly into psytrance these days, I gotta say, I enjoyed Shane's happy hardcore set, as well as the earlier breaks (I'm not sure who played those, but he made some good picks either way). Thanks to the organizers and performers, and a happy Dominion Day to my fellow Canadians.

Some years ago, I had the good fortune of visiting central Europe. It was a coach tour made up of some lovely people from around the world. Two of these people were from Ottawa (of all places!). Mac and Helen were fantastic tour buddies. They were older, but still light on their feet, always smiling and laughing, making everyone feel at ease, and really demonstrating the easy-going attitude Canadians are known for.

During the trip, I got to know Mac a little bit in terms of his educational and work background. He'd served as an RCAF pilot, and then gone on to direct the NRC's Flight Research Laboratory. I was quite impressed with everything he'd accomplished in his life up to that point, and he was still working professionally in the aerospace field as a consultant; it was clear he had found his passion in life.

I saw Mac once more at a holiday gathering at his place a few years later. I got to meet many of his family and friends, and got to know him a little better in a different setting. He was loved so much, and it was easy to see why. Sadly, everyone must go at some point. Mac left this plane of existence on April 19th, 2011. I respected him deeply, and will always remember him as an exemplary human being. My condolences to all who knew him.

Ever since I became addicted to A Few Spoonfuls... (a TRON and Dickster co-op with some brilliant use of Futurama samples), I've been keeping my ears open for that distinctive TRON sound. Both TRON and Dickster have developed their own audio fingerprint, so either one live should be a treat, right? I put this theory to the test during the holidays.

Finding the place wasn't too bad. Every time I drive around in downtown TO, it seems to get a bit smaller. The venue was pretty nice, with two well-separated rooms. The psy room had solid blacklight coverage, which really brought all the banners to life, not to mention some of the great looks various people were rockin'. The projected visuals were a mixed bag, though pretty good on the whole. As for the sound, well... TBH, I found the top end a bit harsh during TRON, even when I moved to the back of the room. His stuff is pretty bass-heavy anyway, so the high end doesn't really need extra gain (insert standard disclaimer about me not being a sound engineer).

Thanks to the organizers, to Earthling and TRON, and all other artists and helper elves who made this one happen. I got to listen to some thumping music, dance out some winter blahs (fuck SAD!), meet some cool people, and have some great chats. Thanks, TO, for being good hosts.

It was just a matter of time before another master of full-on graced us with his presence. Sure, we had to drive to Montreal again, but this time it wasn't snowing on the way there, and we made excellent time.

The location was a bit chilly at first, but a few minutes of dancing soon took care of that. The deco was pretty good and matched the party theme. I've helped with setup once before at that place, and I know how much work it is to get stuff hanging from that ceiling, so props to the orgs/setup crew. As per my usual insanity, I created a new PTS (psy-tee-shirt) for the night, completing it just before we left. It turned out pretty well. Of course, it helped that the setup had two blacklight cannons flooding the main room.

Virtual Light and Kode Six each dropped a solid selection of very dance-able stuff. Go local talent! When Mekkanikka took over (4-ish? 4:30? I wasn't really watching the time), I was still full of pep, and I went koo-koo-bananas when I heard King Bate winding up ("...a bug's life."). I'd been listening to that one a lot lately, and was really hoping to hear it on the big system. I got my wish, and more besides: another favorite, Sublime, was dropped as well! I can't turn it up to eleven at home, so I was stoked to hear some favorites at full blast. Honestly, throw pretty much anything containing Boosh samples into your mix, and I'm a happy camper.

Thanks again to Nikka and all the artists and helpers who made this show a success!

Amazone 2010 proved to be quite a decent shindig. The location was pretty good, and the only downside to the night was the nasty weather during the drive (and for a few minutes as our group waited outside; luckily, out-of-towners were given "express check-in").

Once inside, the weather was quickly forgotten. Someone had turned the deco up to 11 (yeeeah!), and there was a fantastic assortment of costumes. I gotta give a shout-out to the dude dressed as HST, because, man... you killed it; well done!

Although not mind-busting, the music was very solid throughout the night (Quantize and Silicon Sound entertained us before Mad Maxx hit the decks), and that last track Mad Maxx played was pretty wicked (a friend was raving about it for days afterward).

We made it to the afterparty, but it was absolutely sardined. Before our group decided to bail, I ran into Max in the front hall, and got to talk with him briefly, and -- classic Bernz -- I didn't think of the really good questions until I got home, but that's okay; it was cool enough just to shake his hand. The one question I managed to think of, he answered in earnest, and the exchange has stuck with me ever since as both a source of inspiration *and* an important reality-check. :-)

Thanks to the artists for visiting, and to the organizers for all the hard work setting it up.

P.S. I've heard a rumor that Mekkanikka is coming to Montreal soon. You know what that means!

Sensient (Tim Larner) played Montreal last weekend, and it was something else. Not only is his music very distinctive to begin with, but under the right conditions, it's more than music; the vibrations become physical sensations inside the body.

I'd forgotten to bring earplugs, so I thanked my ears for being understanding and plunged into the full frequency range. Well, I don't know who set up the sound stage (speaker placement, levels, etc), but they definitely understood both audio in general, and the Sensient sound in particular. It was dialed in to optimal bass without the distortion that is so easy to hit when one is zealous about getting it just that little bit louder. Props to those who helped with setup before Sensient began. Then, what a show!

Hearing The Deepness live was simply amazing. I noticed that couches had been arranged in an arc relative to the sound stage. Maybe it was coincidence, but I took it as a hint, and took a seat for a few minutes every so often to feel the entire couch vibrating with bass, and wondered if some of it was subsonic. In any case, I left the event with no tinnitus, and yet my innards had received the most delicious acoustical massage.

Thanks to the organizers and everyone who helped set up the deco and infrastructure, and a salute to Tim for visiting Canada and sharing his music with us. Keep up the good work!

To better appreciate my gushing, it might be helpful to know that I consider Simon Shackleton (Mr. Elite Force) one of the most talented music producers of his time. Ever since I got into the Elite Force sound (can't pigeonhole it, really), I promised myself that if he ever came to Canada, and it was reasonably possible for me to attend a show of his, I would pull out all the stops to make it happen. Well, this Sunday, the universe pulled out a few stops of its own, and brought Simon to Montreal, pretty much as close as I could have asked for.

The weather looked a bit sketchy, but I wasn't going to be stopped by the possibility of rain. I managed to pull off a last-minute car rental, and made it down in time to settle in before Elite Force started. The stuff he played was definitely new to me (I'd been out of the loop on it for almost a year), and he gave the crowd a good working-over with some wicked dirty synths and beats, and some simply raw sounds. Well done, sir!

After his skillful and energetic performance, I mustered up the courage to march on up to the side of the stage, where he was magnanimously greeting the punters, and I not only shook his hand and thanked him for visiting, but gave him a freakin' hug too! What an amiable fellow! Thanks again for coming to Canada, my good man. May your travels be full of joy!

What a day! My only regret was not bringing my Mindfunkpsychedelic EP for him to sign; when I set off for Montreal, I was not humble enough to believe I'd get to meet him. That'll teach me! :-]

P.S. He just posted a remix of a Prodigy tune that's free to grab. Go check it out!