Today


-Lost an hour of my life deleting spam comments from my blog. To help with this, Davin installed mt-blacklist. It’s too soon to know if it’s working or not, but it certainly looks well-designed.
-Saw a cello and violin performance, by candlelight, in a cabin, in the forest.
-Worked through lunch.
-Found out Howie Day — who I discovered three weeks ago thanks Davin‘s friend Nathan — is coming to Orlando on March 8th. Woo hoo!
-Discovered Howie is opening for The Barenaked Ladies. WOOHOO!!

“An average game lasts 2.5 hours”


Cam and Melissa co-opted movie-night last night by inviting Jeff, Kemp and I over for a game of Monopoly. But not just any old game of Monopoly. Dot-com Monopoly! Every square was the name of some dot-com company back in 2001. It was in both French and English, as he bought it while still in Canada.
Being that it’s been something like 12 years since I played last — and even then, I never finished — all I could remember of monopoly was that it took a long time to play. So when Cam invited me, he was spot on to explain right up front that it could be played quickly.
So it just sorta figures the game would end up lasting 5 hours. As Kemp observed before we started: “I don’t think I’ve ever seen a game of Monopoly end. Usually a cat or dog comes along and wrecks the board.” Not this time, but things started off very slowly, with no one of the five of us obtaining all properties of a certain colour (and hence, no-one being able to develop the land with houses). It wasn’t until Cam, Kemp and I negotiated a three-way property trade (with me trading Monster.com to Kemp for Lycos, and then Cam trading one of the — Utilities? not sure — for Kemp’s Monster.com) that the game really got anywhere. Jeff would bankrupt first, then me, then Melissa, then finally, it came down to just Cam and Kemp, each with a single monster-sized property. Eventually Kemp would destroy Cam, doing so by avoiding Cam’s properties by one or two squares, and landing himself in jail instead. Eventually Cam landed on Kemp’s property (the so-called “Mr. Kempie’s Neighbourhood”), the 20-second stay at which cost him 1700 (million) dollars. The second time it happened, that was all-she-wrote for Cam. Kemp ended the game with 8.5 billion in 500-million dollar bills, and probably another billion in smaller currency.
Indeed, by the end I had been watching for an hour with heavy eyes. But the game was a lot of fun, and wasn’t nearly as complicated as I remember. I’d love to try out the short version, which Cam tells me plays out much more quickly. Maybe it would end before 1:30am? Hee.

The Results

Here’s how I did.
Apple two days ago introduced the iPod mini, a business-card sized, 0.5-inch thick, 4 GB version of the popular iPod mp3 player.
I really only made a single prediction, and that was on the price of the device, which I expected to be higher than the original analyst-consensus of $100, as well as higher than the later street-consensus of $150. Well, it was higher than that. Weighing in at $249, it was higher than my $200 prediction, too.
But here’s something I didn’t expect: by combining the iPod’s operational buttons with the scroll-wheel, Apple essentially preserved the much-lauded iPod user-interface in the iPod mini, but smaller.
Right now, the general consensus is that the device is far too close in price to the 15 GB iPod, which is just $50 more. But as Daring Fireball points out, it takes a lot of money to miniaturize products which are already small. And they’re betting there’s a lot of people out there who’d love to have an iPod, but just figure it’s too heavy/too large to carry around.
While I’ve got no problem carrying around my brand new 40 GB iPod (woohoo!!), Kai’s first comment was, “Wow, so heavy!” (for the record, she was shocked it held 40 GB). πŸ™‚ So…. at least from my experience — Daring Fireball’s assertion is correct.

miniPod for $100? I doubt it


The forest floor at Oscar Scherer
So here we are, on the morn-before-a-SteveNote: wherein Apple CEO Steve Jobs gives the keynote address for the (usually) twice-annual MacWorld Expo tradeshow, often introducing neat new products (such as the original and flatpanel LCD-based iMac), the super-small 12 and gi-normous 17″ PowerBooks, and so on.
This time around, the rumor-mill started about two weeks ago, when a bunch of paid Apple watchers (“analysts”) got together in a room and decided to release a joint press-release over Reuters saying they expect so-called “mini-Pods” — new, low-cost portable music players, based around the iPods — at this expo. The device(s) would cost about $100, use Flash-based memory instead of hard drives, and would help make the iPod as ubiquitous as Sony’s Walkman in the early 1980s.
While I agree that the timing for such a device is correct, I am having trouble reasoning out how Apple would be able to make it for $100. As As The Apple Turns noted recently, it seems unlikely Apple will be able to hit such a price-point.
However, as Cam pointed out to me in the car-ride to work this morning, there was an announcement yesterday on the availability of tiny, cheap ($70 each in quanities of 100,000/year) 2GB hard drives. This adds some much-needed credibility to the notion of a “miniPod”; right now, 2GB of Flash RAM for consumers is about $445; unless the profit margin there is gigantic, I can’t see Apple being able to produce a device using Flash RAM for under $250.
Earlier this morning The Wall Street Journal wrote an article about the rumored low-cost iPods. Unfortunately a subscription is required to view the whole article, so I’ve only read the blurb on MacMinute — but it looks like they’re expecting a $200 device.
I’ll agree with that. Any more expensive (and with an appropriate feature set), and Apple will start cannibalizing their current iPods; any cheaper, and they won’t be getting the profit margins they need to continue production.
As for what it will look like: I’m sorta stuck on this one. Apple is notoriously protective of their branding, so I can’t imagine such a device would look the same as the current iPod. But get much smaller, and you’ll need to redesign the user-interface, which to this date has won much praise for usability. So I’m not sure what we’ll get.
I’ll be taking score in my next post, stay tuned πŸ™‚

Time for bed


I just wanna say: Tilex Mold and Mildew Remover is a product of the gods. It does a better job than my scrubbing ever did, and in 1/5th the time. Seriously. This stuff is awesome.
The four day weekend was good fun. Friday saw me downtown to make good on my resolution of reading more, and got distracted by a bridge πŸ˜‰
Saturday I was rudely awoken by Amy (okay, okay, it was 11:15am, I probably should have been up anyway πŸ˜‰ inviting me to join her and Erik’s family on the beach at 2pm. Darren and I carpooled down there with Melissa, and we explored a local state park beforehand, which, despite almost getting lost, was a lot of fun. The beach — Siesta Key — was packed. It’s been ten months seen it that full. We mostly threw the disc around… the heat was definitely oppressive. I’d have a couple pics for you, but I accidentally left el camero at Jeff’s place tonight.
Speaking of which, today, after a small pickup Ultimate game at GT Bray with Cam and Melissa, we headed over to Jeff’s with Kemp for a margarita/BBQ cookout/NHL2004 night — and man, was it just what I needed. Thanks Jeff, Cam, Melissa .. man was the food good. :: stretch ::
[Oh, would you look at that? Miracle of miracles! The backlight on my flatpanel LCD monitor seems to have fixed itself again. For those keeping score at home, from Dec 21st until five minutes ago, the top half of my display has been about half as bright than the bottom half. I’m starting to wonder if it’s just a wire that’s gotten loose. I would have called it in for service this weekend, but I left all my warranty info at work.]
Hope you’ve all had a most excellent and relaxing weekend.

Resolutions


Resolutions, resolutions. I’ve never made them before — at least, not in public — but now seems as good a time as any, so here goes:
1. Read more. Seems like I’m perpetually in the middle of the same half-dozen books. I used to read quite a bit, but ever since I stopped riding public transit, I haven’t set aside time to read. I’d really like to get through all the books I’ve got on my shelf right now: Douglas Adams: Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, The Long, Dark Teatime of the Soul (page 0); Stephen Dobyns: The Church of The Dead Girls (page 0); Robert M. Pirsig: Zen And the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (page 92); Douglas Coupland: Miss Wyoming (somewhere around page 170, but I’ve forgotten nearly everything); Carl Hiaasen: Kick Ass (page 142).
2. Become a better cook. This is just something I really enjoy and want to become better at. Everyone should become a better cook.
3. Use the food I have already, more effectively. It seems like I’m always throwing something out because it’s going bad. In 2004 I resolve to make a conscious effort to get through the food I’ve got before it goes bad, or if I’m not going to eat it, simply not buying it in the first place. Hmmm, looks like there could be some tie-in between this one and number 2.
4. Sleep more. In 2003, bedtime for me on a weeknight was somewhere between 1:30 and 2:00, and I was up at 7:20. That’s just over 5.5 hours, definitely not enough. On those rare days where I did get more, the difference was very noticeable. No amount of caffeine would be an adequate substitute. It’ll be a gradual process of course, but in 2004, I’d like to get at least 7 hours in per night.
5. Go dancing more. Yep. πŸ™‚
6. Get back in the dating scene. This one is long overdue. πŸ˜‰ In the past year I think I’ve been subconsciously avoiding relationships, but enough is enough! πŸ˜€
7. Exercise more. Ultimate does a fine job of exercising my calves and cardio system, but what about all those other bits? In 2004 (geez, this sounds like a US election campaign) I’d like to develop the parts of my body which don’t get exercise through Ultimate.
8. Explore my surroundings more. Back in June, exploring Myakka with Cam and Melissa was a good start. Now how about all the rest of Florida? What I’ve seen so far is beautiful… I’d like to see more.
9. Become a better photographer. I’ve learned a lot since I bought my digicam 13 months ago, but I feel like I’ve only scratched the tip of the iceberg. Two topics I’d particularly like to learn more about are composition and lighting, so I will endeavor to find out more about them in the coming year.
10. Start learning Spanish. This was one of my goals when I took this job, and so far, it hasn’t gotten much attention. Uno, dos, tres. ¿Una cerveza, por favor? But that’s as far as my vocab goes. Not sure how much I’ll be able to learn, but I do know I want to know a lot more Spanish by this time next year.
Wow, I didn’t think I had nearly that many. One nice thing is that there seems to be multiple areas where my resolutions could overlap, so it might work out pretty well. Guess we’ll know for sure, this time 2005. πŸ˜€
[About the bridge]

Totally Redefining Jetlag


Christmas in Victoria was awesome.
It was so nice to see Mum, Dad and my brothers again — feels like it’s been forever since we’ve all been in the same room. Arrived on Xmas-eve, and Mum immediately sat me down to bagan choka, liti roti, chai and cookies. And suddenly I remembered why I like going home so much.

Got to bed pretty early that night, 11pm I think, and, thanks to the time-change, I was up at 8. So did what anyone else would have done in my position…. ran around the house and woke everyone up! Or tried. Mum and Dad were up shortly after me on their own, and Neil was easy to wake. But Anand and Davin were another story completely. Anand tricked me out by faking waking up. And Davin barely moved a muscle! He blinked at me, but that was about it.
So I sent Neil down after ’em, to greater success. Presents were opened, good times ensued. Davin gave me a mini-tripod stand, which totally rocks. It’s so small, it fits in the side of my camera bag. I’m using it all the time. He also gave me the DVD of Blue Velvet, which also rocks, because I haven’t seen it AND I’m a big fan of [director] David Lynch. He also gave me Morning Sci-Fi, the new album from Hybrid, which needless to say, I’m enjoying. I also got a new sweater from Mum and Dad, which should come in handy for work (which, despite being in Florida, can at times be an icebox).
Shortly thereafter, Dad, Neil, Davin, Rocky and I hiked up Mt. Doug. Wow, it was so great to climb an actual hill again. If there’s anything I miss about Victoria (and BC in general), it’s the mountains. Even though it’s only about an 800 foot climb, muscles I forgot I had burned in my legs afterward.
Then it was back home for two Christmas dinners — first at home pop-overs, squash, turkey and gravy, and second, at Davin’s girlfriend Mina’s Mum’s place, for turkey, mashed potatoes, carrots, cranberries and gravy. If that sounds like a mouthful, trust me, it was. πŸ™‚ Davin and I picked up Dani (a good friend from our childhood, in town from NYC), and we came back home, met up with Erik and crokinoled until our index fingers hurt. Around midnight, we indulged in a late-night tradition and headed out to Denny’s with Anand (who was just getting home as we were leaving), Davin and Dani, where I loaded up on coffee and way too much sugar. It was awesome.
Boxing day saw me in Nanaimo for the traditional Boxing Day Greenwell Family Reunion. That was a lot of fun, got to see all sorts Dad’s side of the family I haven’t seen in ages. The more I think about it, the more special it seems that we do this each year. Grandpa, a regular fixture at these events, wasn’t there though — he had fallen badly sick a few days early and was in the hospital. At 92, he could fall prey to any number of illnesses, so that had me kind of scared. I’m not exactly sure, but I think it was some sort of immune system breakdown. We went to see him shortly after arriving in Nanaimo. There he was, propped up in bed. Tubes up his nose, something attached to his wrist. He shook my hand from his hospital bed, and I remember being shocked by how firm his grip was; he nearly crushed my knuckles! Grandpa’s great. You’ve never seen anyone with a bigger will to live. You could sense he regarded the hospital as just some minor inconvenience. It’s inspiring.
Drove back from Nanaimo that night with Davin and cousin Liz in the big green van, and took off to [Davin’s friend] Nathan’s to play 4-way Super Bomberman. Which, despite getting my ass kicked repeatedly, was a lot of fun.

Saturday, Paul (who was in town from Vancouver by surprise) stopped by to kidnap me. It was a really nice gesture, but I had to decline, already having a stupid-hectic day in front of me. I met up with Daniel, and we had tea he brought back from a recent trip he took to South Africa. Then it was off to meet Jayne, who had just gotten back from a work term in Montreal.


We exchanged stories over Tim Hortons for about an hour, then it was off to meet up with Tex and Nicole for dinner at Christie’s pub. They brought along Kirsty, and I invited Daniel along as well, who brought along Kathy.


The food was excellent, of course. Then it was back to Daniel’s with Tex, Nicole and Lisa to watch The Crimson Rivers, which was an odd but well-done French whodunit.

Immediately after the movie ended (around 12:50am), it was off to meet Davin at Hush to see Dekoze play. Unfortunately Dekoze wasn’t able to make it, but I still had a blast dancing to a trance DJ which replaced him, as well as progressive house dj extraordinaire Braeden, who closed the night.
But that wasn’t it — shortly thereafter it was off to CFUV to sit in as my brother and nickgurns broadcast a special 3-hour edition of Resonance.

The show didn’t end until 6:30am! Due in part to black ice causing us to drive home really slowly and in part to insomnia, I didn’t get to sleep until 7:30. Needless to say Mum (who was up before I got to bed) wasn’t terribly impressed.
I stumbled out of bed 4 hours later. The theory went that if I was extremely sleep-deprived, I’d have no trouble getting some rest on the red-eye flight later that night, which was necessary if I were to make the hour drive home from the Tampa airport. I’m not so sure that worked, but it sounded good at the time. πŸ˜‰
Met Sarah for lunch downtown. It was really nice catching up. Afterwards we took a walk on the breakwater — a three-metre wide walkway which juts about 800m into the ocean to protect the docked ships from the bigger waves of the Pacific.

It was packed. Not surprising though… the conditions were perfect. The air was crisp, the sky blue, and just windy enough to redden your ears by the time you reached the lighthouse at the end.


And then it was back home for dinner and what would turn into a mad rush to get everything packed up for the flight home. Anand was getting on a ferry back to Vancouver at the same time as I was going to the airport, so we had to say our goodbyes while we were still at home.

Dad drove him to the ferries and met back up with Davin, Neil, Mum and I at Victoria International…


…where I jumped on a plane at 7:30pm, and walked in my front door in Sarasota 15 hours later.