Saturday, February 27, 2010

Friday, February 26, 2010

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Blue dog smirk

Blue dog smirk - #103/365, originally uploaded by PJMixer.

Avatar and the TTC

Quite a weird coincidence. This afternoon, I got my ticket to see Avatar tonight.  ON a completely unrelated online activity I'm looking for how to get a to a friend's house in Scarborough and I type in (guessing on the URL for the Toronto Transit Commission).  It takes me to which has an embedded image of Avatar and the company's tech connection to the movie.  Wow.

Snowy West Side CNE

Snowy West Side CNE, originally uploaded by PJMixer.
Not bad for handheld at 1/5 sec (with VR).

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Moe. No.

I'm watching a concert on HDNet - it's a band called moe..  Never heard of them before.  I was been enjoying their rock sound, very good musicians, some nice on-stage energy, interesting progressions and catchy rhythms. Then I heard one of their singers.  Sorry dudes, that's probably why I haven't heard of you.  No offense, especially from this bloke who can't sing happy birthday, but vocals are very poor.  I'm not drawn to singers, nor pay a lot of attention to lyrical content, but holding these guys up as an example, it just shows how important a good voice is to the success of any band.  I sampled a few tracks on their web site, big on the instrumental laden tracks, vocals again weak.  Another singer now singing on HDNet.  No better.  If these guys had a decent voice up front, we'd probably hear more from them.

Sunnybrook veteran's inukshuk

Sunnybrook veteran's inukshuk, originally uploaded by PJMixer.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Lamborghini Gallardo

Lamborghini Gallardo - #101/365, originally uploaded by PJMixer.

At the Canadian Auto Show.


My wife and I went to see the Bodyworlds exhibit at the Ontario Science Centre today.  I had missed a previous exhibit, so I made sure I didn't miss this second chance.  The exhibit was much more comprehensive than I thought it would be.  This specific exhibit focused on the heart, but (I imagine) like the other exhibits it presents all parts of the human body in real life graphic detail.  I found that I had many, many questions about the human body, medicine, disease and the process of plastination.  I kept asking my wife (BSci in micro-biology), but the macro questions were perhaps rather newbie or out of scope for her.  Unfortunately photography was not allowed, but it was actually nice to just take our time (2 hours) and enjoy the exhibit rather than be distracted by trying to photograph it.   The written descriptions were quite technical, but really weren't enough to explain what exactly I was looking at and left me with more questions.  There were audio guides but we didn't purchase them.  After the exhibit we bought the book and the DVD, so I'm hoping those will fill in many of the details and they include lots of beautiful and very educational pictures.

The exhibit gives you a very special opportunity to view the internals of real human bodies and body parts up close.  Based on the quiet reading and intensive viewing of other viewers, I wasn't alone in being awestruck by the exhibit.  I don't think I've ever been to an exhibit where almost everyone was reading almost every description and viewing every piece.  It was marvelous, but rather overwhelming.  It was good to hear many comments from people educated in human anatomy and physiology, but once again, I wanted to stop and ask them lots of questions.  I also wondered how many people were taking notes on what their bodies could look like as smokers, drinkers or fatties.  Along with technical descriptions they were some wonderful quotes from deep thinkers and artists about the human heart and the one that got my attention was about optimism or pessimism.  It went something like pessimism is a bigger cause of death than age or heart disease.  Having trouble finding the exact quote or fact.

The human body is just a massively complex, but perfect machine.  I don't think we do a good job taking care of it in our lives, but amazingly it's pretty resilient.  However, in the end, we just wear it out.  Be good to your body, give it some lovin', be proud of it and respect it.  Santé.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Imperfect passions

For a while now, I've been hearing talk about the importance of following your passions in life.  Or for those still a little lost or in a mid-life crisis, maybe truly discovering what your passion is.  We all know life is short and if you can spend a good chunk of time focused on what you love the most, then you're going to be happy puppy.  Furthermore, if you manage to devote your working life to your passion, then you're most likely to be better at your job and enjoy your working life much more than the average Johnny.

But what is a passion ?  Formally, in the context I'm referring to, it is: a strong or extravagant fondness, enthusiasm, or desire for anything: a passion for music; or the object of such a fondness or desire: Music became a passion with him.  Over some deep conversation over lunch at the pub with my wife today. I suggested that one way to think about what you are passionate about is if you have an afternoon off work and nothing else you have to do, what would you do ?  I would assume that a person with a passion would have no trouble saying they'd paint, or another person would say they'd play golf.  

But what if someone has many things they're enthusiastic about or have lots of activities they love doing ?  Is it fair to say they have many passions in life.  Are people who have more than one or many passions less passionate about any one of those passions.  I'm one of these people.

I love finding and listening to new music.  I'm enthusiastic about photography.  I really enjoy watching football and playing ultimate.  Skiing and golf are great days out and of course, I always want to travel more.

So I said to my wife, if I had an afternoon free, I'd probably do something I miss doing.  That could be one of my passions I've perhaps been neglecting or maybe just something a love to do that falls short of being a true passion.  Today, if I had the afternoon free, I'd go and see a movie.  Of course, some things require the right timing and preparation, but putting that aside to try and make a point, I'd choose a movie over listening to music or doing a photo project.  How can I then say I'm really passionate about photography or music if I'd consciously decide to do something else ?  So this worries be a little and chips away at those grandiose theorems about what makes us happy.  Would following my "passion" and becoming a professional photographer really make me happy.  What if I could listen to music all day, find new bands, promote concerts and festivals and  be able to see the best bands in the world on a regular basis.  Sounds perfect for me right ?  Maybe not.  Am I spreading myself too thin, not focused enough to really appreciate the things I love ?  Am I destined to flirt with a pocket full of passions.  Well, put that way, it sounds kind of nice.

She got me with her eyes

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Back home focusing on her Olympic experience

My wife returned home from the Olympics today. We caught up on her wonderful experience, especially being at the Men's moguls to witness Canada's first gold medal at home. We watched a little of the opening ceremonies at home tonight recorded from her video camera. I was trying to capture her simple joy and memory of personally experiencing one of the world's biggest sporting events.

Gold Medal Tower

Gold Medal Tower, originally uploaded by PJMixer.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Music menu

One of the ways I align my (wide) music tastes with my life is to listen to specific genres and tempos at specific times of the day.  I don't always do this and not always have my say in what music is played at home, but when I do have the turntable, and when I'm not fussy on specific bands or newer versus older tracks, then I switch on a few large, tailored playlists to fill the specific music gap in the day.   To do this my way, you need to have a pretty good grasp on genre assignments and upbeat/mellow settings.  For instance, I've been able to narrow the number of genres down to 22 and I use the Grouping attribute to indicate whether the track is mellow or upbeat.  My library isn't perfect and I don't necessarily categorize and rate tracks my wife or kids download, but for me it works quite well.

My music genres (with some examples) are:
  • Rock/pop - U2, Robbie Williams
  • Rock and Punk - AC/DC, The Clash
  • Modern Rock and Alternative - Arctic Monkeys, Metric
  • New Wave and Early Alternative - New Order, Talking Heads
  • Pop, Idol and Kids -Spice Girls, Miley Cyrus
  • Pop/Rock - The Script, The Beatles
  • Folk/Rock - Devendra Banhart, Diane Birch
  • Country - Johnny Cash, Dolly Parton
  • Electronica - Thievery Corporation, Morcheeba
  • Dance - Tiesto, Madonna
  • Hip Hop and Rap - Timbaland, Lauryn Hill
  • R&B - Mary J. Blige, James Morrison
  • Reggae and World Music - UB40, Matisyahu
  • Jazz vocal - Madelaine Peyroux, Ella Fitzgerald
  • Jazz instrumental - Chris Botti, John Coltrane
  • Blues - B.B. King, Susan Tedeschi
  • Soul - Joss Stone, Duffy
  • Soundrack - instrumental scores mostly, like Big Night and Snatch
  • Classical
  • Opera
  • Comedy
  • Christmas
So, for instance in the morning, the playlist is of course mellow, and I exclude genres like R&B, Hip Hop and Electronica.  Late/easy evenings is mellow again, but excluding Folk/Rock and most Rock categories.  For me, I can't picture listening to Madonna on a quiet Sunday morning or The Beatles when I'm tired and having a night cap.  Of course, there are many more times in the day and music appropriate for different mealtimes, e.g. some get up and go music on a weekday morning (upbeat rock/pop for instance); heading to your hockey or ultimate game (upbeat dance or punk); or jazz instrumental and mellow soul during dinner.

So how about the following menu for this coming Friday ?
  • Some gentle mellow folk/rock to greet the day, then changing folk/.rock to upbeat mode during breakfast time and some upbeat new wave for the commute.  
  • Over lunch, we go with the blues.  
  • Heading home we get urban with some upbeat hip hop & rap, but change to mellow R&B as appertizers are prepared.  
  • Some jazz vocal and mellow modern rock and alternative (to keep the kids interested) over dinner, followed by some upbeat soul for dessert.  
  • Drinks with candlelight with mellow electronica to finish your day.  
Custom music menus available by request.  Bon Appetit.

Where I find new (old) music: Part 3 - iTunes Genius

I just switched on iTunes Genius.  I have used it in the past, but haven't used it since getting our MacBook over a year ago.  There a few people who think that sharing your iTunes library is a little concerning (including my wife), but I don't see any big worry, especially considering all the other stuff I share online about myself.  The one thing I do do (yes, I said do do) is to clear the comments field for the music I have purchased from gray Russian sites.

So, with Genius, you can simply pick a track and hit the Genius button and it will create a new playlist from your library based on a set of magical and mystical attributes from iTunes users world wide.  For me, with a iTunes library that is large, but not very fat, it gives me a refreshing way to create a fresh playlist with forgotten old tracks, mixed with new tracks looking for a home.  It also has a sidebar with purchase recommendations that is good for those people who don't have a large library or those looking for new stuff.
The latest release of iTunes also creates some automatic genre based Genius Mixes with funky names like Neo-Soul, Surf/Garage Revival and Electro-Pop

I think the feature is definitely worth switching on and playing with for big music fans.

Another feature in iTunes that I haven't used much is the iTunes iMix, I've uploaded one as a test, but not published yet.  I may spend a little time composing a few if there is an audience out there for my tastes in music. 

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Friday, February 12, 2010

Vancouver 2010 Olympics from the comfort of my couch

Try to spot my wife - just right of the tunnel at the top of the shot !

Thursday, February 11, 2010


I had a 4 day business trip to Orlando, Florida this week.  We were staying at The Grand Floridian, one of Disney's older properties.  As we were waiting for our shuttle bus to take us back to the airport I spotted what I thought was the best dressed staff / "cast member" I'd seen during my stay.  Oliverio is originally from Manhattan and has been working at Disney in Orlando for 18 years.  He started out helping transport guests from one resort to another and is now the head doorman for the Grand Floridian.  He's seen Presidents Clinton and Bush visit the hotel and met many celebrities.  He once met Oprah in her slippers.  She got into her limo and apologized for her casual look - she'd just got up an hour ago !  Oliverio said she was so down to earth.  The weather was cold during the week, but Oliverio didn't mind at all and it reminded him a little of NY, it helped of course, that he was dressed for it !

Oliverio is also #41 in my 100 stranger project.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Monday, February 08, 2010

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Mississauga suburban vista with self-silhouette

Psychedelic Friday

Driving home from my barber's, my son and I hear The Stones' Sympathy for the Devil (live version).  During pre-dinner music-mixing with my daughter, I request Trout (Nenah Cherry and Michael Stipe) to be added to the playlist.

I sit down to watch Tropic Thunder on-demand on TMN later in the evening - it gets funnier as the movie progresses.  The source track of Trout (Steppenwolf's The Pusher) is on the soundtrack along with Sympathy for the Devil.

Very psychedelic.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Sunset Sunnybrook drive home stop

Late walk look

Late walk look - #83/365, originally uploaded by PJMixer.
Small cheat - the auto in-camera red eye post-processing didn't work on the Fuji FinePix F200EXR for this shot so a quick fix in Photoshop did the trick.

Monday, February 01, 2010