Monday, October 8, 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!

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

But What Can I Do?

Can you vote?

Can you write a letter?
A missive?
A book?

Can you blog?

Can you talk to others?
Can you engage?

Can you speak up?
Can you shut up?

Can you yell?

Can you paint a sign?

Can you draw?

Can you make a phone call?

Can you send an email?

Can you sign a petition?
Can you draft one?
Can you circulate one?

Can you throw a rock?

Can you pull a trigger (as a last resort)?

Can you march?
Can you protest?

Can you talk it out?

Can you light a torch?
Can you carry one?

Can you walk off the job?
Can you strike?

Can you change?
Can you support change?

Can you donate?
Can you boycott?

Can you give your support?
Can you withdraw it?

Can you fund?
Can you defund?

Can you join?
Can you leave?

Can you?

Will you?

I normally steer clear of politics, but a recent conversation with a friend in the US left me drained (as most political conversations do).

He complained about the state of his country, its government, its sitting president, the recent Supreme Court appointment/attempted rape controversy, the possibility that Roe vs Wade will be overturned and women will be stripped of their right to choice, et cetera, et cetera...

I've had these conversations many times in the last year, and they all seem to end with the same lament, "But what can I do?"

My answer to this is "Plenty."  We can always do something, even if it's just a drop in the bucket.  Enough drops will lead to a trickle, then a flow, then a stream, then a fucking torrent of change.

You can do a lot.  But will you?

CJ's Note:  I'm sure similar things have been written throughout the years, and I've probably and inadvertently plagiarized at least one work.  My apologies if I have, send me a link to your (past) work so I can give credit where due.

Also, before anyone asks if I've done any of the things I've listed: Yes, I've done all but write a book, pull a trigger, and lit/carried a torch.  I practice what I blog.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Frequently Asked Questions (updated 10/03/18)

(Original post: March 2008)

I've had a few people emailing me with the same damned questions over the last couple of weeks years, so I thought I'd put together a FAQ in order to better serve my not-so-adoring public.

Q. I love your nickname! Are you really conceited?
A. No, but I have every right to be.

Q. Are you a sociopath?
A. No.  I'm normally quite friendly and easygoing until you piss me off.

Q. Are you single?
A. No, I'm a happily married father.

Q. Who is this Nadia?
A. Despite my referring to Nadia as "her" or "she", Nadia is a "what" and not a "who". Nadia is my beloved Macintosh Powerbook G3 "Lombard", still in active service as of 10/03/2018.

Q. Why aren't your blogs updated more often?
A1. I don't have much to say.
A2. I did have something to say, but someone else has already said it better, and I hate being a "me too".
A3. Social media gets the lion's share of my attention, along with any thoughts that might have turned into blog posts.
A4. I have an active family life away from my computers.

Q. Why don't you allow comments on your blog?
A. Because, frankly, I don't care what you think.  Most internet commentors seem to be either loathsome trolls, racists, partisan, or are just plain ill-informed, and I refuse to deal with any of that crap on my own blog.  The only feedback I'm interested in is guitar feedback!

Comments are however allowed for Blogger/Google+ users. I won't allow anonymous comments because I believe everyone should have to sign their name to what they write and take responsibility for what they write, instead of hiding behind the relative anonymity of the Internet like the spineless fucking cowards they are.  I will delete irrelevant or inflammatory comments, and don't owe anyone an explanation as to why.

I'm also tired of spammers.  I don't have a lot of free time to spend deleting spam.  I also have little to no time for (or interest in) engaging in debate on anything appearing here.  I'll clarify statements I've made and will make an attempt to answer relevant questions when I have time, but don't expect to have any sort of discourse apart from that.

Unlike some people, I don't spend hours upon hours on my computer or mobile devices every day.  I'm an adult, I have an adult life, and adult obligations outside of the internet.  I have no time for book-smart pseudo-intellectuals whose social consciousness was formed by the Internet.

Q. What, exactly, is your blog about?
A. The focus of my blog is broad, and vague.  It's about nothing, and everything.  Mostly, it's about me, my experiences and observations, and a bit of (anti-)social commentary.

Q. Why don't you write about something constructive? Like politics or current events?
A. I write about current events as I experience them; I will not quote, reference, rehash, or reinterpret newspaper or news site articles (or worse, someone else's blog) for my own purpose. There are plenty of other local blogs do cover politics et cetera better than I care to do.  Frankly, I absolutely loathe partisan politics.

Q. Don't you ever think before you post?
A. Rarely, if ever. I prefer to use my blog as a spontaneous, off the cuff, knee-jerk reactionary outlet, as it captures my true feelings concerning a particular subject at the time of posting. I prefer this method and I find it's a great deal more honest, and not peppered with half-assed rationalizations and/or justification. My motto has always been "Justification is for people who lack conviction".

That said, a lot of my writing has a moral buried somewhere within. Sometimes it's obvious. Sometimes it's not.  Sometimes I'm wrong.  Sometimes I'm not.

Q. Why do you name your computers?
A. It's a holdover from my Project Planner/Implementation Coordinator days at a previous job as a warehousing/logistics specialist, where everything was assigned a project name by the higher-ups. This practice, which I was forced to use, soon carried over to my life outside of work, where I used it when working on several similar computer projects at once.

It all started when I did a buyout of several dozen identical computers from a failed dotcom. I wanted to tailor specific machines for certain tasks, while I fiendishly experimented on others. It got to the point where I was unable to keep track of what I was doing on which machine, so I started designating or "naming" my machines and writing a project manual on each in order to keep track.

Desktop machines and servers were named after cities or countries, while portables and laptops were typically given women's names (as in "my girl friday").  Sexist, I agree.

Q.  Why do you feel you need to write multiple paragraphs when a single sentence will do?
A.  I wrote freelance for a number of years (1990s through early 2000s), and I'm used to padding my word-count.

Q.  How much of this blog is factual, and how much is made-up bullshit?
A.  All of it.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Coffee Cup Blues

It's that time of year again.

Mornings are getting progressively cooler, cool enough for me to start bringing coffee along on my commute.  It's been a few months since I last used my commuter mug, and I won't describe what I found inside when I pulled it down from the cupboard.  Suffice it to say, it's only of interest to people of science.

With a pot of coffee brewed, and not enough time to drink it all before I left to catch my bus, I scrambled to find another commuter cup in the cupboard.  After digging through the cupboard as quietly as I could (didn't want to wake Astrid, and thus Jill), I waded through the collection of mismatched cups and lids.  After finding a lid that fit a cup, I poured my coffee and headed out the door.

By the time I got to my bus stop, I was wearing some of the coffee.  Sure enough, I'd neglected to close the sliding lid before I dashed off.  I'm used to this happening, which is why I tend to wear darker colours (or light browns/beiges) around this time of year.

After getting on the bus and securing my belongings, I opened the cup and took a sip... and promptly dribbled coffee down my beard and onto my chest.  Turns out the lid that fit... didn't.  Was probably for a different but similar cup.

After cursing myself for rushing this morning, I mopped up what I could with the single crumpled tissue I had in my pocket, and spent the rest of the ride with a leaky cup, dripping wet hands, and a wet patch on my shirt.

I'm sure my fellow commuters can relate...

Tonight's task will be to pick up a decent commuter mug.  Non-plastic, of course, both for environmental and thermal reasons (coffee cools down too quickly in a plastic mug).  I'm specifically looking for one without a handle, that will also fit in my Bar-ista cup holder... thinking about a ceramic mug that's in the same form-factor as a Starbucks cup.

That's it for now, more relatable workday drivel to come later in the week.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

A Couple of Old Friends Dropped By Today

A couple of old friends from Europe dropped by this evening.  It had been a while, we haven't seen each other since before Jillian and I were married - possibly even before we started dating in the late Noughts.

I've truly missed these old, dear friends.  It was a heartwarming reunion for the three of us, and now that they're back in my life, we'll always be in touch.

The only two things I miss from my bachelor days are cocktails and cigars, and with Autumn a little under a month away, it's time I cleared a path to my liquor cabinet.

It's been a while since my cocktail heyday, and I am terribly out of practice.  If it weren't for muscle memory, I don't think that Martini I made around Christmas would have turned out at all.  Worse still, I couldn't remember my signature Martini recipe... the same recipe I used thrice daily for several years!  This is not good.  Not good at all.

Hell, when I went to have a little Pernod this afternoon, I realized I didn't have the glassware anymore!  A most of my barware was broken when we moved to Westdale in 2015, so I was forced to use a generic glass tumbler.  So uncouth!  Suffice it to say, this next payday, I'll be buying a cheap set of glassware (Hiball glasses, tumblers, etc) from Wal-Mart until I'm able to invest in a quality set.

(My Martini glasses were in a separate box, and survived the move.)

Anyhow, time to take stock.  Do any of you know where in Winnipeg I can buy soda bulbs/chargers for my soda siphon?  I've tried a few Wal-marts, Canadian Tires, and Superstores, but none have stock.  I'd rather buy local than order online...

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Radio Jerk International

It all started with a tweet from Kevin McDougald of The View from Seven:

Source: Twitter and the CBC

Being an occasional shortwave listener and CBC fan, this CBC story interested me.  The thought of owning a piece of Canadian broadcasting history,  as impractical as it was, really appealed to me.  I started daydreaming about what I'd do with the transmitter if I bought it, but stopped myself when I started seriously considering it...

Kevin has been following my antics for a while!  So, I decided to share a story I've never shared:

True story

I received the shredder in '08 when I acquired a lot of equipment from a shuttered dotcom.  I had to barter a truck and crew to move it into my garage, because it was that huge.  It's largely irrelevant to this story, but makes for an interesting side note.  I was going to commission a plaque that read "got mielke?" to mount on the unit, but not many people would have gotten the joke...

Our story would have ended there, a what if that had been a brief blip in my imagination, if not for my old buddy Derick of Around This Town fame:

This, of course, got me thinking.  What would happen..?

Well, nothing, really.  We don't have the resources (or space) to repair and maintain the unit, let alone run it... but let's pretend.

Imagine this popping up in your rss reader or blogroll:

The GimmeSomeMoney campaign has been a huge success.  Not only did we raise enough to pay for the transport, installation, and repair of the transmitter and antenna, we also prepaid the first year's lease on the new broadcast site in Headingley.  All the legal stuff has been taken care of, and our first broadcast as Radio Jerk International will take place at 0200 UTC on 7310khz.

Contrary to popular belief, we will not be bringing back Maple Leaf Mailbag as we are not affiliated with Radio Canada International, nor do we have the rights to do so.  On the same token, no, we have not coaxed Peter Mansbridge out of retirement.  These are false rumours spread on social media.

It's certainly an interesting thought.  I've toyed with the idea of running a pirate radio station over shortwave in the past,  Lord knows I have the equipment and rebellious streak to do so, and the possibility of running my own independent station (legally) is intriguing.

It's also a lot of work and, despite my enthusiasm for the media, shortwave radio is as dead as Telex on this continent.  There's also the chore of producing content on a regular basis, which would be an issue considering I can't be arsed to update my own established blogs on a regular basis...

I could always sell radio time to carefully screened clients.  That'd be fun for a while.  I'd sell time to all the left-wing nuts, anti-conservatives, and hippies, just to balance out all the right-wing nuts and ultra-conservative "religious" types so prevalent on AM and shortwave these days.

Yeah, that would be fun for a while, but it's just not me.

You got the radio frequency from a friend.  14426khz usb.  Sure, this archaic technology was a pain in the ass to set up, but since the demise of Net Neutrality and ensuing crackdown on independent speech online, this is the only way to hear the latest word.

You plug the radio into the line-in jack on your PC and fire up the decoding program.  After a few minutes, a series of odd clicks and digital noise bursts break through the static.  A message slowly appears on the computer screen:

Conceit and Sociopathy
On Slipping the Leash, part three
February 11th, 2018

If I actually did buy the transmitter and restored it (myself) to its former level of functionality, I would probably misuse it.  Seriously, I would probably use it to broadcast blog posts, missives, zines, propaganda, and subversive texts as radio faxes or SSTV images across the world.  Legally or otherwise.  24 hours a day.  My stuff and others.

That sounds a lot more like me.

So, if you had a powerful shortwave transmitter at your disposal, what would you do?  Let me know in the comments!  Winner receives online validation from myself!

Monday, January 1, 2018

The Perpetual Self-Improvement Game (part three)

Happy New Year to all my readers, spammers, and bots!

Now that the holidays are over and we're winding down, it's a good time to go over my New Years Resolutions.  Hell, as I'm in the middle of a series on self-reflection, it's the perfect time!

I've been thinking about the changes that need to be made, where I'd like to be (and more importantly where we want our family to be), changes in philosophy, etc, and the interesting part is that we don't really need to make many changes.  By and large, we're on the right track, but still have a few things to sort out.

Some of the things I'm working on:

1.  Get Fit.  As in the first part of this series, I'm still tipping the scales at 230 lbs, which is not my ideal (doctor wants me at 200).  I don't drive as much anymore (opting to take the bus), but also ride my bikes whenever I can.  We also want to take more walks as a family.  Hoping to shed the 30 lbs by this time next year.  Speaking of bikes:

2.  Ride my bikes more often.  I spend more time tweaking, cleaning, building, customizing, and reading about bikes than I spend actually riding them.  I've commuted to work on occasion (17 kilometers each way) and would really like to do it more often.  Ditto for exploring the little-seen parts of the city.

3.  Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Repurpose.  This is a no-brainer for me, as I tend to repair or repurpose things rather than throw them out, or at the very least recycle them properly.  Of course, I can always do better.  To this end, I'm finally going to make an effort to learn to solder electronics.  I have several electronic items that need repair (chiefly my Japanese MSX2 computer), most of which requires desoldering old components and soldering new ones.

4.  Plan for retirement.  This is something I have neglected for far too long.  I have twenty-two years 'til retirement, assuming a retirement age of 67 (also assuming I live that long).  The original plan went south during a particularily difficult period, but now that things are back to relative normal, it's time to get back on track.

5.  Reduce my stress level.  This is something I've never been good at doing.  When I was younger, I used to thrive on stress.  Hell, I was a stress junkie!  But I'm not as young as I used to be, and prolonged periods of stress wear me down.  I've learned to relax a bit, and am at a point where I no longer feel a constant need to be doing something, but could use more de-stress time.  Thankfully, we have a sauna at home (came with the house, bourgeoisie FTW!) that I really should start to use...

6.  See my extended family.  I have aunts, uncles, cousins, and now several second cousins I haven't seen in years (outside of social media).  It's about bloody time we reconnected.

7.  Be a better neighbour.  We've been in the neighbourhood for two-and-a-half years, and we don't really know our neighbours.  Should really make an effort...

8. Be more engaged socially and politically.  I got tired of politics twenty years ago and have been largely apolitical since.  Unfortunately, I've since realized that being apolitical is a privilege at best, a cop-out or excuse at worst.  There's far too much going on these days to be lazy and lackadaisical, and we're letting the assholes who fart the loudest drown out the rest.

So, that's about it.  Nothing I can't handle!