Darren Barefoot
Darren Barefoot


Thinking Chaos, Thinking Fences

This is for those who descend into the code
and make their room a fridge for Superman

July 15, 2003

I really admire people who can schmooze and make small talk. Of the common skills us humans use on a regular basis, this is certainly my weakest. I'm incapable of doing it effectively. When I make purchases in stores, and forget to keep my mouth shut, the transaction also ends with the clerk laughing nervously. Why? Because, in my attempt to be congenial, I've offered some utter non-sequitor and confused them badly.

For example, I met a fellow writer for the second time ever tonight at a (gulp) networking event. What do I offer about eight seconds into our conversation: "So, you're Greek, eh?" See, that's me grasping at straws. She's got a Greek name, I've been to Greece, here's a topic we can share information about. Oy.

I did meet the lovely and charming Devon and Arwen, who bravely faced my unseemly banter. That was my first meet-the-blogger moment, and it wasn't overly awkward. No one struck anyone, so that's generally a good result for me.

Like Arwen, I too got a geekmail.cc (what's with that domain? I get the carbon copy reference, but c'mon) t-shirt. They've got some nifty, robust technology, but my current, free spam-killing solution operates at 95% effectiveness. It's not worth my US $75 for the extra 5%.

One other note: I didn't stay for the band, The Town Pants. The announced the band as "The Town Pants", like you might say "The Town Drunk." I think it should be "The Town Pants", as in the kind of pants you wear to town. I could be wrong.

10:55:55 PM        Technology Vancouver

Check this out. I just searched for "amazon canada", and check out the top result. It looks like Amazon Canada, but check the URL: http://vijaykumar.com/AmazonCanada/. What's up with that? If you go to his home page, you'll see that Vijay is apparently a "man who realized God in 1993". It's all very peculiar. I'm going to investigate.

10:44:22 PM        Canada Internet

Most of the music that I download from Napster, Kazaa, et al, are obscure, live or bootlegged songs by artists whose CDs I already own. I also occasionally used P2P clients as tasters for new artists. I might read about an artist somewhere, and want to try out their music. Alternately, I might try an artist that I'd been aware of for a long time, but never bothered checking out. Thanks to file-sharing programs, I've discovered:

  • Dave Matthews Band
  • Anne Sofie Von Otter
  • John Mayer
  • Jess Klein
  • Gemma Hayes
  • Gillian Welch

In all of these cases, I've gone on to buy CDs by these artists. Most recently I purchased this Jess Klein album and this John Mayer album, both of which are excellent. They kind of guilt buys, because I've been enjoying their MP3s for a while. Ms. Klein, especially, could probably use the $1.20 that she gets from my purchase. 

10:40:29 PM        Music The Commons

So I bought this shirt at Zara in Athens. Or was it the Zara in Barcelona? As Dublin didn't have one, we visited Zara stores in every major European city we made it to over the past two years. It's a fitted, striped, shirt with tight sleeves and a big collar. I'm no fashion guru, but it seems to playfully harken back to the seventies.

I've got a certain geeky/artiste/preppy sartorial combination which is, if nothing else, conventional. Aside from this shirt, my most exciting garment is a gas attendant's shirt with snaps that reads 'Janice' on the name tag. I wear that, and savour the irony (Janice must have been a big girl).

But this shirt is too cool for me. I put it on occasionally, walk around the apartment, and sulkingly take it off. This shirt knows about cars and wine, it has a timeshare at Whistler and a girlfriend with implants. Me, I just feel like a chotch.

Lacking a digital camera, I've scanned my shirt. Note the two buttons at the collar. That alone makes it too cool for me.

10:31:10 PM        Mixed Bag

Bree points to an unusual and deeply wrong article that actually opposes Internet voting. Frankly, I couldn't wade through the whole thing, but Bree summarizes it nicely. This has come up because Markham, Ontario is the first city in North America to approve Internet voting (for this fall's municipal election).

Anybody who opposes Internet voting has got to be on some special, evil kind of crack (Bree refutes this guy effectively, so I'm not going to bother). Voter turnout has been decreasing steadily since 1988. Though, in truth, this chart suggests that it's not at a worryingly low level yet. Ask me after the next federal election. This article says that, in three municipalities in Europe, Internet voting increased votes cast by 20%. Twenty percent, folks! That moves our meagre 63% turnout from the 2000 federal election to a level unheard of since 1917 (when I suspect mostly women were voting, or all the men at war were forced to vote). Of course, you're probably going to get a better increase on a municipal level than a federal one, but even 10% would be pretty meaningful.

As presidential hopeful Howard Dean notes, 'The Internet might soon be the last place where open dialogue occurs.' Kudos also to Liberal party leader hopeful Paul Martin, who has a blog of his own. Here's why he's got a blog. On that page, he says 'durm and strang'. Isn't it actually 'sturm and drang'? Error, spoonerism or homespun variation? It's certainly ain't common on Google.

10:43:17 AM        Canada Internet Politics

I bring you www.skinema.com (runner-up for URL of the week). Pr0n fans will be disappointed, as it's actually a site, I kid you not, about 'Dermatology in the Cinema'. Don't miss actors' skin conditions (Ms. Diaz's zits are apparently back), skin disease to represent evil, and films that actively embrace skin disease.

He's also got the Skinnies, annual awards such as 'best performance to distract from strange skin lesions' and 'performer with most moles'. And I thought Jennifer Connelly had great skin.

You know, it sounds like I'm mocking, but really, it's kind of interesting. In a deeply obsessive way. I could see a decent university course on this subject.

10:24:26 AM        Movies

My American-but-lives-in-Ireland-after-several-years-in-Italy friend James sends me this universal truth from CNN: Italians are lousy drivers.

According to the poll by vehicle lease company LeasePlan, 22 percent of European drivers said Italians were the worst menace on the roads. The French came in a distant second, picked by 16 percent.

Apparently while much of continental Europe relies on verbal abuse while the driving, the UK leads Europe in rude hand signals. That's typically English, I'd say. They wouldn't want to roll down their window for fear of actually speaking with someone. In truth, given their rich gestural history, it's surprisingly that the Italians don't lead in this category as well.

Which reminds me of a hand gesture something I learned in Ireland. I was vaguely familiar with it from Irish and British films, but you never see it in North America. It's the two-finger salute, a sort of peace sign, except with the back of your hand facing the target. It's the British Isles equivalent of flipping the bird. British and Irish readers, is there a common term for this gesture?

I believe this is all-American Steve McQueen, but he's got the gesture correct:

There's an insightful history the gesture here.

10:11:28 AM        Mixed Bag Politics