Because a meme is a terrible thing to waste – Six Random Things About Me

August 24, 2008

Been tagged for the “Six Random Things About Me” meme by the lovely and talented Daryl Cognito of the curiously entertaining Atomic Suburbia podcast. See down below for The Rules Of The Meme.

  1. Many years ago, I was young and foolish. Now, I’m no longer young.
  2. Despite no longer being young, people often think I’m much younger than I actually am, although they seldom think I am less foolish.
  3. I believe that beer is nature’s most nearly perfect food, with pizza a very close second.
  4. Approximately 9% of my life to date was spent living and working in France.
  5. Sports that I have engaged in moderately seriously during my life include alpine skiing, bicycling, archery and windsurfing; of these I still bicycle occasionally and practice archery a bit.
  6. I saw “2001: A Space Odyssey” presented in 70 mm Cinerama on a curved screen at the Glendale Cinerama (reserved seating no less, like a stage show) when it was in first-run theatrical release.

And, as promised, The Rules Of The Meme:

1. Link to the person who tagged you. (Check)
2. Post the rules on the blog. (Check)
3. Write six random things about yourself. (Check)
4. Tag six people at the end of your post. (Check)
5. Let each person know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog. (To be done when this is posted)
6. Let the tagger know when your entry is up.  (Idem)

I’ve linked to my tagger, Daryl Cognito, at the top of the post. My taggees are:

  1. Maureen Blaseckie, of the most excellent Baba’s Beach Podcast
  2. Cat, who puts out the wonderful CatFish Show podcast with her husband Bob Goyetche
  3. Bruce Murray (nicest guy in podcasting), of the Zedcast podcast
  4. The Scarborough Dude, of the one-and-only DiscksnJanes podcast
  5. John Meadows, of the quietly brilliant On The Log podcast
  6. Sage Tyrtle, of the awesome QN Podcast (formerly Quirky Nomads)

Phew!  Done…  now to post and notify the victims, er, 6 people I would like to know 6 random things about.


Required Read… er, Listening

April 30, 2008

If you do nothing else this week, go listen to these two podcasts:

Oh, and if you still happen to have an hour left over, go listen to the DicksnJanes podcast episode #149 wherein K, I and some friends and acquaintances from podcasting help The Scarborough Dude celebrate his 60th birthday this past weekend.  Happy birthday, Dude!

And while you’re at it why not go read Bob Goyetche‘s excellent rant over the morphing/rebranding of Podshow into Mevio (WTF???  Just what kind of drugs were they on when they came up with that name?) – the comments are particularly worth reading.


Copywrong

September 3, 2007

I’ve been reading a thought provoking book, the cult of the amateur (subtitle: how today’s internet is killing our culture) by Andrew Keen, which touches on the socio-cultural consequences of the supposed democratization of new media brought about by “Web 2.0″.  As I’ve not yet finished the book, I won’t say a lot about it at this point; it is, as I said above, thought provoking — but in reading it, I do find that I swing between agreeing with Keen on a point and then strongly disagreeing on another.   Often within the space of a page or two, even within a single passage.

At that, I’d still recommend reading it, even before having finished it — whether or not you agree with his conclusions, the points he raises are ones we should all be considering, as they concern more than just new media and “Web 2.0″.

What really prompted me to write was a recent post on Mr. Angry’s blog in which he speaks (in his inimitably candid and refreshing manner) about the hypocritical behaviour of big business toward copyright infringement.  His rant, er, post was prompted in turn by the situation Christopher Knight found himself in, as described on his blog The Knight Shift.

Christopher Knight is an independent filmaker, according to his blog, who created a video for his campaign for election to the local board of education.  In addition to airing the piece on local TV, he posted it to YouTube.  Nothing too unusual in that, in these Web 2.0 days (q.v. Keen’s book).

Where it gets interesting is that VH1, a Viacom show, used his YouTube video in an episode of their show Web Junk 2.0 — without obtaining permission, a clear infringement on Knight’s copyright.

Turns out this was not a problem for him — he was pleased at the exposure, even though Viacom was making a profit off his work.

Where it gets interesting is when he posted a clip, featuring his work, from the Web Junk 2.0 show on YouTube in order to reference it on his blog.  And Viacom slaps him down for… copyright infringement!  Talk about cajones

Evidently, democratization of new media a.k.a. Web 2.0 and money mix about as well as political democracy, old media and just about every other facet of life where big business thinks they can suck another dollar out of you.

When I’m done reading Keen’s book, I may have some more to say about it; even if I don’t, I suggest that it’s certainly worth your while to read it yourself.


Life at warp speed

June 23, 2007

Whooeee…. It’s been a week (maybe two) this, um, week.

First, the new job. In short, it’s been a great week — busy, lots to learn, meeting new people, some fun (the Summer Pot-luck lunch out in the park) and initial confirmation about the quality of the organization.

And at the end of the week, K and I drove to Kingston for Podcasters Across Borders 2007 — which is where I’m writing this from. It’s great meeting people we’ve listened to and communicated with over the ‘net to share our experiences in podcasting.

More on both Real Soon Now.


Women are from Venus; Men are from Duh.

May 13, 2007

Oops. Mea gobble, mea gobble, mea maxima gobble (to paraphrase from the Latin “mea culpa).

We went to the weekly Saturday morning farmers’ market in town and picked up a bunch of the first “local” asparagus — it was from a farm in South Western Ontario somewhere down near Lake Erie, which isn’t strictly local to where we live, but does fall within (or at least within a country mile or so… :) ) the 100 mile (~160 km) criteria (as in “The Hundred Mile Diet) we’ve been trying to stick to as often as possible when shopping these days.

We also bought some organic shiitake mushrooms from Greenfields Farm, which has a stall at the farmers’ market. For dinner, K combined them into this:

Sauté of local asparagus with organic shiitake mushrooms.

A lovely sauté of the local asparagus, first of the season, with the organic shiitake mushrooms. It was delicious…

Now to the oops part (yes, I know it’s hard for you to believe that I’m not perfect… ;) ) — I was cleaning up in the kitchen (which is my usual role in the process of doing dinner, well, apart from eating it that is) afterwards and eventually got to the pot that K had blanched (or parboiled or something like that…) the asparagus in prior to adding it to the sauté. The water that the asparagus had been cooked in was still in the pot; nothing unusual about that, I thought.

So I emptied the pot down the drain before loading it into the dishwasher.

And a little while later, when K comes into the kitchen after I’m pretty much done cleaning up, she looks at the pot-less stove top and cries out “Where’s my asparagus broth?!?!?“.

She explained that she had planned on using the broth as an ingredient for other dinners later in the week. But she had forgotten to mention this to me, and I didn’t even think about asking whether she wanted to keep the cooking water before I pitched it out.

Well, I really felt bad about it — I’m sure that the broth would have been put to good use in livening up the taste of another dish.

You can be sure, though, that from now on, I’ll be asking before I dispose of just about anything when I’m cleaning up in the kitchen.

And that’s why I’ve concluded that women are from Venus and men are from Duh… :)


The Good, The Bad and The Miscellaneous

May 10, 2007

The Good

Yesterday evening, we (me and my wife, K, that is) were in The Big Smoke for a book launch party that K had been invited to. She’s known Amy, the book’s author (she’s also Editor/Publisher of the on-line knitting magazine knitty.com), for some time so to show support we schlepped into town to help her celebrate.

Book Launch party for “No Sheep For You”

The book’s title, No Sheep For You, alludes to Amy’s allergy to wool and fabrics made from it — as a knitter, this has a somewhat limiting effect… The book is filled with information about substituting alternative fibres in hand knit garments — the characteristics of each type of fibre and the yarns made from them mean that it’s not always a straightforward substitution as adjustments need to be made to accommodate the differences in order to make a satisfactory finished garment.

The book has actually been out for a while now, but Amy wanted to have the launch party outside of Lettuce Knit, a local yarn shop that she frequents and which holds weekly “stitch ‘n bitch” knitting get-togethers. Weather was therefore a determining factor, and it’s finally becoming seasonable enough in these parts that she was able to schedule the party with reasonable confidence that there wouldn’t be snow…

It was a great party, and Amy deserves lots of congratulations (and success) for all her hard work in putting together the book and knitty.com — here’s a picture of the get-together, with arrows to point out K and Amy:

K and Amy at the book launch party

During the party, I did wander off while everyone knitted and chatted, exploring old familiar stomping grounds: Kensington Market, Spadina Ave (including walking by the El Mo, where I had seen George Thorogood and the Delaware Destroyers perform an amazing set many moons ago), up through the campus of the ol’ Alma Mater and on into Yorkville.

Which leads to…

The Bad

Walking back to Amy’s book launch party from Yorkville, I passed along Cumberland St, where there are a number of chi-chi re$taurant$ and boutique$. Now Cumberland is a no parking zone, but I came across a Mercedes-Benz AMG SL55 AMG folding-roof convertible (I can tell you exactly what kind of car it was because it had the “V8 Kompressor” logo on the side of the front fender — I am an admitted, life-long gear-head, and didn’t need to look at the trunk lid for the model badge to identify it) parked at the curb in front of one of those aforementioned restos. It had a handicapped-parking permit on the dashboard.

Now, I’m willing to entertain the possibility that the owner/driver, or perhaps their passenger, were legitimately entitled to be issued the permit by the authorities — but it certainly made me go “hmmm…” and wonder if there had been some monetary influence involved in getting the necessary medical certificate required to obtain said permit.

Then, a short distance down the street: another fancy-schmancy car parked in the no parking zone, also with a handicapped permit. If memory serves me correctly, this one was a Bimmer, a 6-series if I’m not mistaken — I wasn’t paying as much attention at this point (being distracted by my thinking about the possibility that fraudulently obtained permits were being used to abuse a privilege that should be reserved for those who truly need it), so I can’t say with authority whether it was the vanilla version or the M6 überwagen with the V10, or even whether it was a coupé or cabriolet.

So, while it’s possible that both of these were legitimate applications of the handicapped parking privilege, the circumstances — two very expen$ive cars parked in front of expen$ive restos on an up-scale street in a trendy neighbourhood…. well, let’s say that I’m leaning heavily towards believing that everything was not exactly on the up-and-up.

The Miscellaneous

There were a couple of other items from yesterday’s foray into T.O. that were interesting (well, at least to me — Your Mileage May Vary) that I will mention here:

While driving in to the city, we came across a pixelboard displaying the following news item:

Toronto the good?  Guess it depends on what you like…

Which was immediately followed by:

What to do while in town…

An unfortuitous (or perhaps intentional ;) ) — but amusing — juxtaposition…

The other miscellany: while walking along Yorkville Ave, I noted on the hoarding in front of a construction project a sign reading something like “Funding provided by BNP Paribas (Canada)“.

Why did this seemingly mundane sign catch my eye? Well, BNP Paribas is a French bank that I am familiar with from my time living/working in France — but I had no idea that they had a presence in Canada.

Certainly not an earth-shattering observation, just one of those connectedness things that strikes you at odd occasions and in odd places.


Bien élevé

May 8, 2007

For those of you who don’t speak French, this post’s title literally means “well raised” — that you’ve been brought up properly and know how to behave in the company of others; you have social graces and good manners and so on. It’s not a phrase you’re likely to run across in a guide-book, but it gets used all the time in France — as well as the pejorative negative form, “pas bien élevé“. You really don’t want to hear the latter being said in reference to you…

And what does that have to do with what’s on my mind today? Well, if you’ve read one of my responses in the comments, a couple of posts back, where I described my experience with going to a job fair, you’ll have seen me mention that I was contacted by a recruiter about a position she was trying to fill for a client after she had found my résumé on one of the on-line job search sites.

As it turned out, I had already been interviewed for the position (but didn’t get the job), so the effort on her part ended up being in vain. With most recruiters I have been in contact with, things would have ended there — time is money, as they say, and the recruiting business tends to be particularly cut-throat and competitive.

So, with most recruiters, unless they feel you’re an exact fit with a position they are trying to fill they don’t want to bother presenting you to a client — they’re looking for a quick, low-effort slam-dunk placement so they can get on to the next one.

What impressed me about this woman was that she told me to e-mail her a copy of my résumé to have on file in case she came across another suitable position. Well, that’s not the part that impressed me, as I’ve had other recruiters ask me to e-mail a copy of my résumé — and then there’s been absolute radio-silence from them…

For example, another recruiter that I spoke to on the phone told me to e-mail it to her and asked me to follow up by calling her back the next day, which I did. When I called back several times over a few days, she was always either in a meeting or out of the office. I left voicemail, but never heard anything back.  Zip, zilch, nada, bugger all, not a sausage…

What did impress me about this latest recruiter was that I actually got an e-mail back from her — several in fact as we conversed about the circumstances that had transpired when I had been interviewed for the position she was trying to fill. I had explained that after the second face-to-face interview I had not heard anything back from either the company (possibly because they had not been provided with my contact information — this is a fairly common practice with recruiters to prevent them from being cut out of the deal and losing their contingency fee) or the recruiter who had presented me to them.

In response she said that too many agencies seem to “have lost the basic principles of courtesy and mutual respect” and she added that “I hope I never fall prey to this negative trend”. She also said she would be happy to keep me in mind for any suitable position that comes her way and asked me to let her know if I land a position on my own.

That’s when the phrase “bien élevé” popped into my head, and when I wrote back to her I told her that based on our phone conversation I thought it unlikely that she would lose the basics of courtesy and respect; that some things are bred in the bone, and I felt she was “bien élevé“.  I also noted it seems that this is becoming all too common behaviour in just about every facet of life, not just the recruiting business.  Sigh.

Once more, she took time to respond, and thanked me for my kind words, asking me again to keep in touch. I certainly will, as I don’t want to be “pas bien élevé;) .

Now, if you’re either an employer looking to fill a position or a jobseeker and are looking for a recruiter with a difference, if you’re in The GTA you should check out the website of the agency she’s with: Career View Inc.

Their website has contact info (general e-mail address, phone and fax numbers, snail-mail address) for the company, but if you’d like to deal with her specifically let me know by leaving your request in the comments (you’ll be able to provide your e-mail in the comment form, but it won’t be displayed in the blog) and I’ll pass it on to her (as I’m not about to put her e-mail address in this post, opening her up to spammers and other assorted internet trolls and vermin).

Hey, do you think someone “bien élevé” would just give out another person’s e-mail address on-line?


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