Status Update

So, I had a job interview recently at this place: Netsmart. It is possible that I applied at this place just because I feel the name settles in nicely with the likes of TruSecure and Cybertrust, which are company names already on my resume. If I get hired there, it will be like I have collected a set of something, like a trilogy. Or an evolved pokemon.

In related news, I am no longer working at Cisco. I was unhired due to the recent workforce restructuring. Not to worry though, the job offers are already rolling in.

I freaked out for about five minutes when I got an email from my boss saying she happened to be in town and wanted to take the opportunity for a face to face meeting – historically this is the sort of thing which precedes a firin’.

I didn’t really feel much loss connected with leaving the job itself, and I have to wonder if that has to do with the way I worked. I did not go to an office very often, as Cisco is good enough to allow employees the option to work from home. Pretty much all interaction with my co-workers was via email and chat. So not a whole lot has been different, except I have 10-12 hours a day free that I did not before. I have become quite skilled at Starcraft. And by skilled, I mean competent. I’m not ready for the Korean league or anything.

Also, a fat severance package has a somewhat calming effect on the nerves.

I saw a couple of articles like this one encouraging former employees not to sign the general release required for the severance package:

” . . . the severance amount may not be sufficiently paying you for what you are releasing. Consider the resources, the lack of work life balance, the time you have dedicated to Cisco. Is the severance fair?”

Maybe I should have sued?

What would I even do for a year in Canada?

No, probably not.

While there was often a lack of work/life balance, I imagine there was at least a chance that I could have alleviated that had I bothered looking for another job. I doubt being too lazy to explore career alternatives is reasonable grounds for a lawsuit.

Anyway, job searching is on hold for the week for jury duty, since a job interview is not a valid reason to miss a day. That seems reasonable if you have already been selected for a case, but thus far I have just been taking up space in the jury pool. So, instead of going to a job interview this morning, I watched half of a shitty movie that kinda looked like a remake of The Great Outdoors. It had Adam Sandler and the fat guy from King of Queens in it.

My old phone contract went away with my old job. This required a new number and fresh 2 year commitment to Verizon. It also provided me with an opportunity to snag a new phone. However, any phone that looks even a little bit like it might have a touch screen requires a data plan at this point – except this one:

Everyone seems to hate this phone – and as it was originally marketed, that’s totally understandable. It’s a phone with no apps or other significant smartphone features, but they tried to attach the same data plan required for say, a Droid. It was billed as a smartphone for teens, and so was not supposed to need all the apps. It was instead meant to integrate with social sites, such that you would more often be checking your friends’ Facebook status and uploading pictures with this phone, rather than texting or calling people.

I would not have paid $150 plus data plan for this phone. It did seem to be a pretty excellent deal at $0 and no data plan, so I think they have found the sweet spot, pricewise. And the phone itself has a decent amount of hardware features, it’s just that they are not used for anything in particular. It has wi-fi, which was the biggest reason for getting it. It also has a GPS chip (used for geotagging in one iteration of the OS). Here are the full specs, if anyone is interested: KIN Hardware Specs.

So, it’s like they’re basically expecting you to install a new OS on it, right?

Marcon 2009

Apparently “British SciFi” is synonymous with “steampunk”, because we saw more than a few of these guys strutting around the convention center taking their shit very seriously.

I actually got to see the dude on the left assembling his costume in the dealer room. Well, I saw him buying the goggles and gimp mask anyway, which really sets the tone for what he’s going for. I guess. I’m not entirely sure what look he was trying to attain, but I am entirely sure he’s perfected it. In any event, he seemed exceptionally excited to have his new fetish gear, so good for him. I spotted him a few more times lurking about here and there, making it a point to move as slowly as possible so everyone could get a good look. Although, in the midst of his hilariously regal stroll through the food court, it occured to me that his slow and methodical gait might have been due to the fact that his airways were wholly covered by leather. I think he may be this year’s favourite. Either him or this guy, I can’t decide.

I nearly bought those same goggles, but couldn’t justify the price tag. It is worth noting at this point that I myself am not assembling a collection of cosplay gear. I just find the notion of mounting a heads-up display in something like this almost too delightful to contemplate. That might still count as Shadowrun cosplay though, I don’t know. Whatever, I don’t LARP. I don’t LARP.

Speaking of blending computer dork with fantasy dork, I found a couple of treats in the art room:

I was positively giddy over these things, which I was not at all prepared for. The art room is for hate and mockery, as it is typically the haven for 1.) jewelry vendors that want to hawk their wares a higher price than they might command in the dealer room and 2.) furry artistes that will lecture you on the importance of tolerance when you call them out on their soft core bestiality watercolors. (For the record, I do tolerate your work, freaks. I have not set a single painting, sketch or member of your abominable “community” on fire. But I have no issue calling a thing what it is.) I feel the need to applaud the convention organizers for their decision to give them their own section this year. In the corner. Behind a series of tarps with “admittance requires ID” signs all over. To be fair, I don’t know for certain that’s what the tarps concealed – I couldn’t bring myself to check. It’s just that I didn’t see any magnificent horsecock anywhere in the room, so I could only assume.

Some additional highlights –
Continue reading

Curious Little Monkeys

I am a fan of science – I feel I need to say that up front. Forge ahead confidently, nay, boldly in the pursuit of knowledge. I want a time machine and a re-pet and a replicator and a goddamn spy vacation on Mars injected straight into my brain. I want vials of embryos available at Walgreens just in case I think my caffeine shakes might be early onset Parkinson’s. Maybe powdered embryos, so I can mix it up in my coffee.

But even I will occasionally adopt a “just because we can doesn’t mean we should” attitude. I recant – I’m not even going that far. I’m merely suggesting that “Let’s try it and see what happens” is not a globally applicable policy. Specifically in the following cases:

Ok, maybe try it and see what happens is ok for the robot issue. I will admit that there are appealing possibilities. But then I look at the hyper little engineer, excitedly pointing out that “The robot has no additional control from a human or a computer, its sole means of control is from its own brain.”

Huh. Right. So, we get a robot up and running, let it think for itself and remove any possibility of interfering with its actions other than, well . . . killing it. Have I summed this experiment up? Well that sounds like a top notch idea. Hey, lets put a brain in one of these things. Does it have guns on it? No? Well why the fuck not? Give someone a grant, and get them on that shit.

Can we get these guys a copy of The Terminator? 2001? The Matrix? Anything?

I’m impressed at the ballsiness of attempting to re-create the very beginnings of all we know. Really guys, super cool. I’m just curious – and only because I haven’t seen anything yet released, I’m sure this is all worked out – but what happens if the project yields successful results. What if you make a universe in the basement? Will it be a very small universe? Or will you simply halt Genesis before it gets too far? Perhaps you’ve developed a way to contain it?

The best thing about the big bang article actually has nothing to do with the experiment itself. It’s the fact that political correctness has reached it’s apex:

“In a way it’s biblical”, says Limon. “I’d like to think that this curiosity, this need to know is, if you’re not a religious person, the soul of human beings, the thing that makes us different from dogs and cats. Even though dogs and cats are wonderful”.

Our natural inquisitiveness is what separates us from the lower beasts. Not that there’s anything wrong with being a cat or dog. It’s their choice of lifestyle, and it’s beautiful and valid.

And yes, I added the zombies tag to this post. Because you just never know how it’s going to start, and this is exactly the sort of attitude that opens the door for bullshit like the undead.

More reference:

Not buying this was impossible.

Seriously. I pulled in a team of physicists and statisticians, and they confirmed my own findings based on research involving a sample set of me buying this. Turns out, across all possible universes where I exist and this print was for sale, the probability that I would make this purchase was exactly 1.

In one instance, a self in a parallel reality where the print did not exist became aware of its potential existence and attempted to purchase it anyway. Successfully.

Apart from being the exact target audience someone would have in mind for a piece like this, I have to say that I’m pretty impressed with this guy’s talent in general.

Looky-look: Pop-Monkey Stuff.

I ordered the print a few days ago, and am now anxiously awaiting its arrival. I bide my time by surveying the walls in my apartment to determine which is the most worthy.

Marcon 2008

Sometimes pirates steal your cargo. Sometimes pirates play unlicensed games. Sometimes they just stand around in bars being fierce bitches that think your shoes are cheap.

Marcon was this past weekend – I’m sure some of you noticed a jedi or two wandering around the North Market. It’s been days since the event, and I’m just now posting. I’m a lazy shite, I know.

Honestly, I wasn’t that moved to take too many pictures this year. Anything worth photographic evidence I have mostly already documented1. It seems like people put a lot of effort into one costume and wear it year after year. Not that I can say I blame them. I don’t know that I could look at myself in the mirror if I continued to sink hundreds of dollars and hours every year to lovingly recreate every permutation of the starfleet uniform.

In lieu of taking pictures, I suppose I could move on to ear tagging and tracking of migratory patterns. I dunno.

I hadn’t seen this guy before though

Normally furries can die in a fire, but this guy gets a pass for embracing the Tank Girl franchise. That would be my friend Alex high fiving the anthro-roo.

We played a couple of board games we hadn’t seen before, though we didn’t actually playtest any unreleased ones this year. There was one game in progress at a table near us that caught my attention. It involved hats. This fascinated me. Everyone was wearing hats. Somtimes they switched hats. I noted that one hat in particular seemed to be undesireable, as its new owner was mocked while reluctantly placing it on his head. I felt like an anthropologist peering into a new and altogether alien culture. With each new shift in this strange hat-based society, I reported back to my associates, who mostly seemed irritated that I wasn’t following the rules of our game. I couldn’t be concerned with that – there had apparently been a major power shift at the next table. One man was now wearing two hats. Two! I narrowed my eyes. While I knew neither the rules nor customs that allowed one to acquire an auxilliary hat, I sensed that the peaceful equality of free hat exchange had just been irrevocably sundered.

This was the same weekend my cousin Jenna came to visit. She was spending the night with me after paticipating in a friend’s wedding on Saturday. So of course I dragged her to the nerd-meet. Thankfully her late arrival spared her the worst of the cosplayers – they had wandered off to their respective clans and yiff piles, while the remainder of the day for us was spent playing games and drinking at the various room parties. If you really feel the urge to see pictures of nerds rolling dice, playing StarCraft and getting drunk, I have more pictures up in a gallery on myspace. It was either that or take the time to repair my site gallery.

1The exception to this would be the elusive gothapotamus I saw wandering the area near the convention center. I saw it as I was searching for a place to park, so I didn’t get a picture. Naturally I assumed it was heading to the convention, and that I would have my chance to capture the majestic creature on film later in the day. Sadly, it made no further appearance.

Yes, I know they’re not real.

So there’s a commercial out for a new set of Star Wars DVDs – the original trilogy, not the most recent set of catastrophes.  I’m not entirely certain why we want to buy this particular set.  I *think* it is the actual original, un-re-mastered version – before it was raped by by new and improved visual technology to the sound of weeping muppets.

Anyway, the commercial features this family sitting around excitedly reminiscing about their favourite scenes.  It’s very sweet because the parents are now sharing the experience of these beloved movies with a younger generation.  Near the end of the commercial, their little blonde daughter – presumably around 4 or 5 years old – comments in her piping saccharin voice "I would love to have a pet wookie!"

That so poppet?

Think the parents will reprimand the little aryan cherub with a "Now honey, remember: we don’t keep other races as pets"?  No.  They will chuckle, ruffle her hair and say "Oh how darling – she devalues other beings because they look different."  And the rest of the viewing audience is supposed to do the exact same thing.

Wookies are one of the major races of the Star Wars universe.  The movies themselves show Chewbacca as a co-pilot and engineer, not munching out of a bowl of kibble under Han Solo’s bunk.  During the time of the Republic they held seats in the Galactic Senate.

Yes, I do realize that I’m ranting about fictional characters.  Yes, I realize that it’s cute when little kids don’t quite know what they’re talking about.  Yes, I occasionally follow trucks full of immigrant workers so I can pay one five dollars to let me walk him around the block on a leash.  The point is that there is a lesson to be learned here re: diversity.  And that lesson is about respect.


I attended MarCon (sci-fi nerdfest convention for you normies) this weekend – and accumulated a gallery of assorted freakery. I would like to take this opportunity to mention that I have an exceptionally shitty camera. I open the lens and it takes about thirty seconds of “warming up” or whatever before I can take a picture. By that time, whatever example of sweet dork drag I wanted a picture of has already passed by, cape sweeping majestically in its wake. Most of the nerds spend a considerable amount of time on their costumes and are all too happy to strike a pose and hold it for as long as you need to get the picture. They probably spend hundreds of $$ on the getup and admiration from the rest of us is the only way they really justify the expense.

I don’t really want anyone posing for the shot though. Like any good photographer, I know it’s the candid shots that really capture the essence of life. Like these pictures of folks enjoying the food court:

I took these pictures with my phone btw, not my actual camera. Because of my camera I missed some of the best shots – I don’t know why, but I deeply mourn the loss of an opportunity to get a photo of a Nazgul hanging out in a parking lot having a smoke.

Anyway, I am pleased to have obtained photographic evidence of Satan getting his knob polished by one of his concubines

Satan Scores!

Judging by the audience, I’m going to go ahead and assume that this is part of some dark ceremony meant to praise their lord. Never one to judge based on religious beliefs, I merely documented the ritual in a photo-journalistic fashion and moved on.

After taking in the costume show & playing a couple games, we headed up to check out some of the parties. The convention center is adjacent to a couple of hotels, and some of the more affluent nerd coteries host parties that occupy entire floors. We could have partied with either the Highlanders or The Order of the Scorpion (Klingons). We instead chose to hang out on the Barfleet floor. I had hoped that the immortals and the klingons would be drinking on the same floor so I could watch kilted nerds get into a drunken brawl with some dude wearing a latex headpiece. No such luck.

Barfleet did not allow you to bring cameras on to their party floor – dude checking IDs saw one in my purse and wouldn’t let me in until I got rid of it. After we got in, it became apparent that the reason for this was that several of the rooms had various levels of clothing optional policies. One room had a stage set up where they were having a lap dance contest.

Hilariously, even though cameras were prohibited, I spotted at least ten people with camera phones. So, skanky chick at the bar showing your boobies for tips – you just might end up on the internets after all. Same goes for you freaky naked guy with duct tape covering your penis – I really hope you shaved first, cause that’s gonna be twelve kinds of hurt otherwise.

I’d also like to share an exchange I had with a guy who really liked the shirt I had on and wanted to show it to his, um, friend.

Dude: Oh hey, it’s you again – that is such a great shirt
Me: oh , yeah – thanks
Dude: Can you come over here a sec I’d like to show it to someone
Dude: *Motions to a girl in a group*
Dude: I’d like you to meet my submissive
Me: . . .uh . . .hi!
Dude: Isn’t that a great shirt
Sub: *reading my boobs* Oh, that’s great!

I just loved the very matter of fact way he introduced her. I do enjoy an open and accepting environment.

On a final note, I’d like to offer a safety tip: wizards dislike being caught unaware. They become nervous and may strike. Approach them with caution.