Friday, 21 June 2019

Musical Interlude: I Should Know

The turn of the millenium saw me travelling frequently for work.  I'd spend weeks at a time in other cities, cross-training new staff and helping to implement their logistics and warehouse operations.  Being away from home was fun at first.  I was in my mid-to-late twenties, living on my own with no responsibilities other than paying my rent, and travelling to different cities on the company dime was an exciting proposition.

Every trip was great... for the first week or so.  Typically, I'd go out after work with members of the local staff and management, sampling the local cuisine and nightlife, and generally getting to know everyone on a personal level.

After that first week or so, the novelty would wear off.  The local staff and management would need to go back to their normal lives, and I would start to get bored.  Not being the most sociable person at the best of times, I'd tend to wander, sightseeing and trying out new restaurants and lounges on my own.  Despite making a few local friendships of a, er, ahem, temporary nature, I'd get bored by the end of the second week, wishing I could go back home, sleep in my own bed, hang out at my own hangouts, and eat my own local food.

During my outings, I'd hear a certain song nearly everywhere I went.  It would be played in the bars, clubs, and lounges... its popularity increased (despite being a couple of years old) by being featured in a Mitsubishi car commercial at the time.  The song was Days Go By by Dirty Vegas.

I'd hated the song at first, but the stupid commercial made me love it.  So, eventually I bought the album.  It was one of the first CDs I uploaded to my (then) new iPod, but only Days Go By ever saw any action.  The album was quickly forgotten.

Fast forward a few years. Feeling nostalgic, I uploaded the album to my (then) new iPhone, but this time actually LISTENED to the whole thing.

The first song, I Should Know, contained a line that summed up that period of my life perfectly:

Playing away from home is fun
This food is cooked, but it isn't done!

Over the course of my many travels, I learned one thing:  There's no place like home.


I'm going to post these musical interludes every Friday.  It's my way of getting back into my music, and also back into blogging.  Can't promise that I won't be wistful or overly sentimental, however :)

Thursday, 20 June 2019

Where Everybody Knows Your Name

A week ago, I finally got off my ass and built the Ikea Brusali cabinet that's been sitting in our laundry room for four years.  That is to say, I finally had a use for it...

Yes, dear readers, I have finally set up my liquor cabinet!

It's been a long time coming.  Apart from the sole time I waded through boxes of liquor to make myself a Martini, I haven't had the opportunity to practice my mixology skills.  With the cravings increasing and for the sake of regaining my magic, the decision was made...

It took the better part of a Sunday afternoon to build the cabinet, rearrange other furniture, move the cabinet into place, load it up and organize it in a logical manner.  It took another few minutes to rearrange everything in order to cat-proof (and child-proof) it.

Happy with the result, but approaching bedtime, I opted to forego a celebratory drink.  I waited until last Friday to christen the new setup with what was to be the signature drink of the (long-abandoned) Speakeasy: the Vermouth Cassis.

Grabbing a long glass, I dropped in a couple of rocks, poured in a half-ounce of Creme de Cassis, 2-1/4 ozs of dry Vermouth, filled the rest of the glass with club soda, and stirred.

The first sip was a bit flavourless, probably due to the fact that my Highball glasses were, as I discovered, mislabelled Collins glasses and thus an inch taller.  Still, for a watered-down cocktail made with decade old booze and ice that's been in the deep-freeze forever, it wasn't half bad!

I nursed the first one for an hour, then made a second once dinner arrived.  Adjusting the ratios to account for the taller glass, my second (supersized) Vermouth Cassis was almost perfect.  Fresher ingredients will help in that regard.

Saturday afternoon, I felt a craving for a Negroni.  If you've been following my blogs for any length of time, you'll know I have a fondness for Campari...the chief ingredient of a Negroni.  This time, however, I went with another recipe, the Punt e Mes Negroni, which replaces the Campari with Punt e Mes, an equally bitter herbal aperitif.

I winced from the bitter taste as I took the first sip.  The cocktail also had a slightly leaden taste due to the age of the ingredients, the last bit of sweet vermouth in the bottle being at least fifteen years old!  It wasn't terrible, I sipped on it for an hour while reading through the latest issue of Metropolis.  I am, however, making it a point to restock the cabinet with fresh bottles when possible.

At this point, I'm satisfied with my cabinet setup.  I have room to move, room to work, and most of my ingredients are close at hand.  I'm confident it'll work until we decide we need a wet bar downstairs... but we'll cross that bridge when we come to it!

Join us next time, where we discuss your neighbour's lawn obsession.  Until then, stay lubricated and stay sane!

Tuesday, 18 June 2019

Links Updated

It took the better part of yesterday, but I've gone through eighteen years worth of posts and fixed any broken links contained therein.

It was an arduous process, and I made heavy use of the Internet Archive.  Sadly, some links (mostly to my own stuff) were not archived and are sadly lost to time.

I have also deleted a few posts that were placeholders for something I was planning to post, others that were drafts or unfinished posts I'd mistakenly published, and a few more I wasn't happy with.  In the interest of full disclosure, however, I left up a few posts where I was in the wrong, and a few more I was ashamed to have written.  I'll leave it to any interested parties to find them.

(I also updated the FAQ again)

Monday, 17 June 2019

Never Let Your Magazine Run Dry (Conclusion)

Previous installment here.

The deadline came and went, and digital magazine app Texture is no more.  I wasn't too upset, as things change and the lifecycle of apps like this is relatively short.  Besides, I still had all the backissues I'd downloaded from the Texture app saved on my tablet.  I'm free to peruse them at my leisure.

Or so I thought...

Imagine my disappointment when, as I fired up Texture, I was greeted with the above screen.  I couldn't access the issues I'd previously downloaded via the app, and the files were no longer on my tablet.  Every trick I tried showed an empty folder.  The magazines are gone.

I was pretty upset, to say the least.  When I finally calmed down (spoiler alert: I haven't), I looked at things logically.  Ultimately, Texture wasn't a retail app, it was more like a rental:  you paid the monthly fee, and in exchange you had free access to all their magazines and back issues for as long as the service was offered.  Now that the service is no longer offered, the free access is gone.

So, I'm still a bit bummed.  This brought to mind something I'd written in the third installment of this series:

"What I don't like about digital magazines is you can't leave one out on the coffee table.  You can't lend it to someone.  You can't draw mustaches and beards on the female athletes, or Hitler mustaches on all the politicians and businesspeople.  There's no sense of wonderment when you find one in a box in your closet.  There's no scent.  You don't get free rub-on samples of cologne in them.  Worst of all, you have no physical artifact to leave to posterity."

The last line is the kicker, and is the big problem I have with digital media distribution in general: there's no physical artifact when all is said and done.  What happens to the hole when the cheese is gone?

What do you have once the battery runs out?  What's left when your hard drive or device is dead?  What's your recourse if media is deleted and the vendor is no longer in business?


Some people might like that: no piles of old magazines cluttering the house, basement, attic or shed.  No non-recyclable glossy pages blowing around the landfill (lol, like dead electronics are much better!), no cleanup once the media is no longer of interest.  There's nothing to throw away in a digital throw-away culture.  Once it's gone, it's forgotten.  Progress!  Hooray Capitalism!

Not me though.  I'll keep my physical media and enjoy my ever-growing library of magazines, books, DVDs and CDs, sitting in my rocking chair in front of my mammoth tube TV and reading by candlelight.

Thus ends a multi-year journey into the consumer side of digital publishing.  I began the journey with pre-conceived notions and ended having validated them in my own mind.  I gave it a shot, saw the benefits and convenience, but also the many downsides.  Thanks for tagging along.

Thanks to Bubbermiley (of New Winnipeg fame?) for letting me know about the Winnipeg Public Library's online mag subscription service!

Friday, 14 June 2019

Musical Interlude: Lamb - Sugar 5

While I work on my next couple of posts, here's a tune I first heard over a decade ago on Frequence Banane.  It's one of my favourites, and regularily makes it onto my martini-drinking playlists.

I present for your listening pleasure:  Sugar 5, by Lamb.

I'll be back in a couple of days with the final (?) installment of Never Let Your Magazine Run Dry, a related project, and quite possibly something alcohol-related.

I'm also going through my old posts from start to end, looking for broken links and replacing them when possible with archived versions from  Hoping to have that done by next week.

Have a good weekend, and stay sane!

Friday, 29 March 2019

Never Let Your Magazine Run Dry (part four)

In the three years since the last instalment, I've been enjoying my favourite magazines in their digital form.

In summer 2017, I invested in a then-new Samsung tablet and renewed a few magazine subscriptions via Zinio, Issuu, and Texture.  The Samsung's large screen lent itself well to the reading of magazines, and I routinely read two dozen magazines per month.

My favourite so far has been Texture.  It has most of the magazines I want to read, and for a monthly fee I can read any of the hundreds of magazines they offer.  For the past couple of years, I've been able to enjoy Canadian Cycling, Bicycling, Dwell, Architectural Digest, GQ, Bike Mag, and so on.

Sadly, all good things must come to an end.  I received the following message in my inbox today:

This left me heartbroken.  After May 28th, I'll no longer be able to read my magazines via Texture on my Samsung tablet (other than the ones I've already saved to the device).  As the tablet is only a couple of years old, I'm not looking to upgrade anytime soon, so a new iPad is not something I want right now... especially given Apple's accelerated policy of planned obsolescence.

Foolishly thinking my nine year old MacBook might handle Apple News+, I opened the App Store.  Nothing popped up.

Following the Apple News+ Link in the Texture, I was greeted with the following message:

Of course, as we all know, nine years in computer years is like a couple of hundred in human years.  This 2010 MacBook can't run the latest macOS, leaving me effectively screwed.  If I want to read my Texture magazines, I'll either have to subscribe to them in Zinio at full subscription price (assuming Zinio offers them), or go back to buying print magazines again.

Frankly, I'm opting for the latter.  A monthly trip to McNally Robinson for magazines sounds pretty good, and we can help the local economy by spending money on other things while we're at the mall or surrounding area.

And for the few magazines McNally doesn't carry (or sell out quickly), I can always subscribe directly.

So, while the situation with Texture and Apple News+ certainly bites, I'll still get my magazine fix somehow.

In other news, yes, both my blog and I are still alive.  I bought the aforementioned MacBook (aka Rachelle) a few months ago to aid me in my creative pursuits (such as blogging), as my beloved Nadia is currently laid up with broken screen hinges.  Sadly, I don't have much time for said pursuits, as fatherhood and family life keep me hopping, but I get a little in when I can.

I do plan to continue blogging, updates will happen when they happen.  Perhaps more often if something inspires me, but really, does anyone really read longform commentary anymore?  Are attention spans long enough these days?

Speaking of which, I've shut down Dove Grace Design's website for good, and the accompanying blog State of Grace may follow suit soon.  I may leave it up, I may fold the content back into C&S, I don't know yet, but it's not likely to be updated anytime soon.

I've thought briefly of bringing my old typelog Smith, Wesson, Corona, and I back, as I've become interested in typewriters again, but I'll see how that plays out.  I may just make it a "feature" of this blog.  I don't know, I will see how it goes.

So, until next time, stay sane and support your local bookstores and blogosphere.

Monday, 8 October 2018


It appears my formerly preferred social media outlet is being shut down.

Google has announced that they are finally shutting down the "consumer-facing" portion of Google+ over the next ten months.  Which comes as a bit of a surprise to me... I'm surprised they didn't do it sooner!

I'd been a large proponent of Google+ and used it as my primary social media outlet for both my blogs and groups for years.  To me, it was functionally the better system.  I preferred the layout, the text formatting, the ability to categorize people, posts, groups, circles, and collections as I saw fit.  I also liked the near-seamless integration with my blogs and Hangouts messenger app.

I much preferred the Google+ experience to that of Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, or Twitter.  Unfortunately, I was one of the few who did, and Google+ will now be a mere footnote in Internet history, and surely the butt of a number of jokes.

I'd killed most of my social media accounts last year, Facebook, Twitter, and Google+, mostly because I was sick of the human race (fuckin' trolls!), but also because of security concerns.  I joined the Fediverse full-time and haven't really looked back.

I've learned a lot participating in the Fediverse, but I ended up reactivating my Facebook and Google+ earlier this year. I did this to keep up with family news, but also because I started blogging again and wanted to announce new posts to a wider audience. 

Facebook was exactly as I left it, but Google+... Google+ had changed.

Most of the G+ groups I'd joined were either gone, or taken over by spammers.  My favourite urban cycling group is now flooded with porn, or spam from the Subcontinent.  Ditto for my urban photography group and retrocomputing groups.  In the space of a few months, Google+ was dead to me.

It was fun while it lasted.  These days, apart from the odd FB post, I spend my days in the Fediverse, a decentralized federation of private Mastodon, GNU Social, Pleroma etc servers.  Better conversation, smaller crowds, not to mention better weeding-out of trolls, bots, and assholes.  And it's open-source!

Plus is dead.  All hail the Fediverse!