NaBloPoMo: Day 5

S’getting cold out there already.  Really starting to feel like Winter, which is weird, ’cause Vancouver doesn’t really do Winter.  We get maybe two or three days of snow a year, and it usually melts into slush the same day.  Smells like it, though.

Arwen was working today in Point Roberts, and I gotta say “I don’t get it.”

Point Roberts is at the Southern-most tip of this little spit of land that leans into the ocean near the Tsawwassen ferry terminal, and bits of it dip below the 49th parallel, which means that yeah, it’s in the States.  We drove up to the gate (yeah, a gate, literally a seven-foot chain-link gate) and stood there looking through it.  Yep, that’s America right there.  All three square miles of it.

Sidebar: How many times a year does Coldplay need to play SNL?  Seems like they’re averaging three or four, at least.  Shouldn’t the musical booking folks be looking for the next Sugarcubes or something?

So yeah, there’s this itty bitty chunk of land that’s in the US, and there’s an airstrip on it and probably a bunch of boat docks, but here’s the problem, I don’t know about the horses any more.

See, about 20 years ago, someone told me that SCA folks do some sort of weird trick with taking horses down to Point Roberts, and then “going for a run on the beach,” across the border and then people picking them up on the other side and taking them away.

Only now that I’ve been there, I gotta ask “and then what?”  Where do the horses go?  Get on planes?  Walk onto little boats?  I don’t get it.  So that happened.

While Arwen was doing her thing, I took the kids to Richmond to kill some time, and we ended up going to the Richmond Public Market, which was a nice little culture shock for the kids (and me, frankly).  Bubble tea was had (mine was supposed to be green apple, but was plain chocolate, I think) while we sat on the upstairs seating and looked down at the people shopping below.  Always fun to see vegetables you can’t name.

Oh, but before that, I had to go to the Telus store and get A’s Blackberry figured out, ’cause it’s constantly scrolling up, which is a bit of a problem.  I had time navigating the first five minutes of the store because there were no less than four staffers in a place smaller than your average shoebox, and the one that stopped chatting to help me had fake eyelashes that I think still had the backing card attached to them.  It was intense.  Like, “Hi, {flap} can I {flap} help y{flap}ou?”  Obviously from the Ghost Whisperer school of makeup flapplication.

I explained what was happening, and she said “I can try updating the software on it, and see if that fixes it, can you come back in about a half-hour, forty-five minutes?” I asked her how a software update was going to fix a hardware issue, but okay, fine, maybe it’s got to do with the sensitivity drivers or something.  I remember seeing that with trackpads “drifting” when nothing’s moving, so okay, sure.  I’ll go wander around the mall for a bit.

Orange Julius is a lot of sugar.  Wooftie.

Eddie Bauer is trying to outfit me for the zombie apocalypse, but wants me to be stylish about it.  Seriously: how many kinds of pocket knives do we actually need that are also bottle openers (but the old churchkey type) AND have flashlights AND whistles in them with a loop for attaching to carabiners?

I came back 45 minutes later, and was told the update was “still downloading” (um, shouldn’t you have a little stockpile of the latest updates for each of the devices you sell, to avoid this sort of thing?) and (oh hold up – this is a Telus STORE and you’re having “problems with our Internet.”)  I refrained from asking if they were hitting the Telus speedcap at 160K?

We repeated this little “How ’bout now/come back later” dance for a total of 90 minutes before they did what I’d assumed we were going to do in the first place, replace the device with a loaner while the old one got swapped/repaired.  Seems like maybe everyone in the store had enough coffee and had caught up on their Friday nights, ’cause they were suddenly all in full-on sales mode.

So, yeah.

NaBloPoMovember: Day 5

Today was also a long day, but it ended on a happy note.  After many many hours of backing up data just in case the Isilon cluster decided to asplode when we upgraded the operating system, I finally shooed everyone out of the office and “pulled the trigger” on the upgrade process.

  1. Uploaded the upgrade to the cluster.
  2. Initiated the upgrade process.
  3. Selected the file from where it was on the cluster.
  4. Clicked Start.
  5. Watched as it started doing its thing.
  6. Watched while it started rebooting.
  7. Stared at the “The login screen will appear when the upgrade is complete.” screen.
  8. For
  9. Six
  10. Minutes
  11. (That’s a very very long time when you’re waiting to find out whether or not your entire weekend is going to be completely toast and you have to spend all your time on the phone with some cheerily determined technical support folks from Seattle, just so you can *barely* scrape your way into Monday morning in time for people to show up and start work again).
  12. You know the Public Enemy song Fight the Power?  Of course you do.  Same length of time.  Same amount of “Come on, come ON, YES!” energy was expired in that six minutes waiting for it to come back online.

So that was good.  Copied a few files to/from it just to make sure all was well, and then packed up to go home.

Time to get back to some of the topics I promised on Monday:

Screaming at the Children

So, I’m a dad of two, eight and five, and I think

(Wait: if you’re a Firefox user, and are running a version that does Personas, go put this on.  Very nice.)

and I think I’ve mostly got things figured out when it comes to parenting.  I make mistakes, and I overreact some times when my eldest does something that I find particularly evil, but it’s because I want to show him quickly and surely that there’s bad things that happen when you use your crafty powers for evil.  The other day was a pretty good example of this, and here’s why –

Tape gets used a LOT in this house.  Both the kids love to do artsy things, and scotch tape becomes a part of just about anything.  On Monday night though, youngest (5) comes downstairs and says to me in all seriousness

“Dad, don’t close my door upstairs, ’cause I-”

“You won’t be able to see ’cause it’ll be dark?  There’s your Ikea swirly blue ligh-”

“…won’t be able to get out of my room, ’cause Eldest taped the door.”

I take youngest back upstairs, and put him back to bed, and then look, and sure enough, the door has about four layers of tape around the doorknob, rendering it damn near impossible to turn (for me, and I’ve got some pretty good pickle-jar-openers if I do say so m’self), and so I rip it off the door, and walk into Eldest’s room, and flip on the light.

“Eld, what’s this?”

(Eyes wide) “I just wanted to see if-”

“If what?  If you could trap your brother in his room and cause him to be so scared he’s in there screaming and crying and banging on a door he can’t get open?  What if there’s a fire?  What if he needs to pee?  What if he thinks there’s a monster in his closet, and he CAN’T GET OUT and I CAN’T GET IN and he’s stuck in there?  HUH?”

(Tears in his eyes) “I didn’t think it wou-”

“WHAT IF IT’S 2 AM AND HE’S WAKING FROM A NIGHTMARE AND TERRIFIED OUT OF HIS MIND, AND THEN HE CAN’T EVEN SEE THE LIGHT FROM THE STAIRWELL?  DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA WHAT KINDA DAMAGE THAT CAN DO TO YOUR HEAD WHEN YOU’RE ONLY FIVE, AND YOU THINK YOU’VE SEEN A GHOST YOU CAN’T GET AWAY FROM?”

(Crying) “You’re scaring me…”

“YOU’RE GODDAMN *RIGHT* I’M SCARING YO-…”

(Whimpering) “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, Younger, I didn’t think it would be-…”

“Next time you do something like this, I’m making you eat the tape.  Now good night.”

I walked back downstairs, and sat on the couch for a bit, and a felt bad.  Also thought about a study I heard about once in which they concluded that people under high stress will often place themselves in a position of more stress so they can get to a point where they explode, and yell and gnash their teeth because there’s a spot in your brain that finds that endorphin/adrenaline rush to be FUN.  Freaking the fuck out like that is ENJOYABLE, like going on a ride at the fair.  Like “WHEEEE…”

And even while I was yelling at Eldest, I knew exactly what he meant.  I’m that kid, too.  I worked at a video store for about two hours before I took the time to figure out how to get tapes past the security gates.  He was just going “Oh hey look, you can make the door not work by doing this.”  My best friend when I was a kid and I used almost exactly the same trick to get ourselves into a empty/condemned/closed office building after hours back in Chilliwack.  I remember we found a beer bottle that had something disgusting in it.  I remember thinking it was a mouse, or something organic and dead.  It was probably a paper towel from someone’s dinner.

But I look back at me then with my now-fatherly eyes and think “That wasn’t safe.  That was stupid.  That was dangerous.  You were in there on the weekend. There could have been others in there.  Others with drug habits, and make-shift weapons, and mental health issues.  You could have been hurt, either/both of you, and nobody would have known where to even start looking for you.”

So.

So when I lost it, I became the monster I felt my child should fear before messing with doors.  With locks.  With security.

Like we learn from monster/alien films: When creating the barrier, and locking the bad guys out, make sure you’re on the other side of the barrier from the aggressor.  Make sure you lock the bad guys out, instead of locking them in with you.

‘Cause sometimes you think you’ve got it all under control, and you realize the monster is you.

Stache pics tomorrow, I think.  Maybe after I go bike shopping.

After making pancakes for the kids, and letting Elder pour his own batter, even though the stove is hot.

Big talk, for a guy who’s never been in a fight.

Arwen’s been pointing something out to me over the last few months (maybe longer, and it’s only sinking in now) and it’s about violence.  In specific, it’s about me having violence as the go-to when it comes to why certain things just shouldn’t be done.

I was talking about something I saw on the Skytrain last night: The train was crammed on a rainy Vancouver evening, and at one of the stations, a few people tried to squeeze in, and managed to just make it in, and then there was this one last guy who came running across the platform like a linebacker, and crashed into the half-dozen folks in the doorway.  There were shouts of “Hey” and “What the hell?” and a moment later, a transit greenjacket pulled the guy off the train, and the doors closed.  The train pulled away without further incident.

So I told this story to Arwen, and was saying that it was probably a good thing they pulled the guy off the train, ’cause I thought things might’ve actually gotten violent on that train if he’d stayed.  Arwen suggested in no uncertain terms that this was the least likely thing to happen on a transit car full of commuters on a rainy Wednesday evening in Vancouver.  Dirty looks.  Rolled eyes, maybe, but then everyone would go back to their iPhones, Blackberries, and newspapers, and generally forget about Mr. Shove.

This is something Arwen has pointed out to me before: To hear me tell it, it would seem that in my day-to-day life, I’m generally a pretty easy-going and “no-no, after you” kinda guy ONLY because my primary reason for not being a pushy line-cutting* butthead (at least when storytelling) is to avoid getting my teeth punched out.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t walk around out there thinking I’m going to need to duck a punch if I step on someone’s shoes, nor do I think I’m going to partake in fisticuffs if someone steps on my toes.

Let’s face it, there’s a fair amount of truth in the joke “How do you make a Canadian say sorry?  Bump into them.” so I wonder why my first thought is often that you need to avoid the violence inherent in the system.

Two of my male friends have also said things to me over the years that make me wonder.  One of them was more about the strength of my hands, as in “Holy geez, look at those meat hammers – I’d hate to be on the wrong end of that.” and the other friend (who has waaay too much Aikido training) was just referring to my internal violent imagery, as in “You’re a nice guy and everything, but I can see you’ve got that crazy demon in there, and you need to get back into training to get that thing under control.”

So now I wonder if it’s been in that head-patting “Yeah, yeah, you’re rill rill scary.” sort of way.  I wonder what I think the point of those stories spun that particular way is supposed to be?  That I’m the Defender of Justice, so I wish people wouldn’t be assholes so I wouldn’t have to hold back the mob of angry villagers with the pitchforks and torches?

Huh.  Interesting.

Maybe it’s time for me to get into karate again.

Either that, or stop talking about people being pushy buttheads out in the world.  Just let it go, y’know?  There’s the studies that say that people build up stress and then have explosive rants because it releases all sorts of cool something-amine into your brain, which feels good.  So feeling stress is bad, but having stress but then freaking OUT is good.  At least, it feels good to do, but then leaves everyone around you with the impression that you’re this dramafest, when actually, you’ve let it go in the moment (at least in the instance of who/whatever was making you crazy).

…and now, I sleep.  Don’t wanna be a grump tomorrow, or I’ll uh… I’ll what?

Yeah, I’ll probably… nothing.  WooOOoo, scary stuff, eh kids?

*Queuing is Canada’s secret National pastime.

Making A Mountain Out of a Hell Hole

I didn’t go to last night’s AGM at Mole Hill.  Not only did I not run for re-election, but I didn’t even go to vote.  Show’s how little faith I have left in whether or not the board is still a functioning part of the Society.

I don’t feel like I’ve given everything I can, but I do feel like I tried to fight the good fight, and that (most of) the folks on the board I was really in direct opposition to are now gone.  Initially it was because the Executive Director was really sketchy, and had a really suspicious background that had obviously not been checked.

I went in swinging, and fought for four months straight before the ED left citing health reasons that made it impossible to fulfill his duties.  Funny that it didn’t stop him from finding a new job two weeks later somewhere else.  The treasurer quit shortly thereafter (or was it just before?) after a heated flamewar in which he told me that “living at Mole Hill, and having cheap rent was a privilege, not a right.”  Lovely.  Just freakin’ lovely.

Been a long two years.  Been a lot of sleepless nights.  A lot of pretty atrocious things said in person and in email.  Some of them to my face, and some of them said by me.  The time approximately half of the board met with BCHousing to discuss the “extraordinary rent increase” (the first of two annual ones they were planning), I was  not invited (nor told about the meeting), but found out about it while walking down the lane, and bumped into another board member (one somewhat infamous for lurking around the block.  Another tenant noticed that there was a meeting happening, but I wasn’t in it, and so it became public that I wasn’t attending this meeting, due to exclusion by the “Executive” members of the board.

The next time I went to a meeting, and someone had sent in a letter asking why not all members were invited to all meetings, the room was told that we were not doing our duty by keeping the inner machinations of the board secret…

Ugly stuff…

Glad there’s a new board coming, and I wish them well, I really do.

Oddly, I haven’t been able to receive emails from the board list since I told them I was no longer seeking re-election.  I guess the Chair took it upon himself to remove me from the list before another “outburst.”

So yeah, I’m done.

This stuff is just too gross to even think about, still, so I’m going to bed.

Monday, where’d ya go?

Wake. Work. Food. Clean. CDW5. Kids to bed. TV. Tea. Here.

Hi.

Remember when Avril Lavigne was a singer?  At least, that was her listed profession?  When will she get back to that, instead of doing dippy digital camera ads.

While we’re at it, can all the comedians who are still doing the “I hate my wife” routines?  Just. Leave. Her.  It’s not funny.  Move on.  It’s 2009, and that stuff stopped being funny right after it stopped being shocking that not all couples are happy.  Shortly before television started broadcasting in colour.

Tonight, I’m going to play with Google Wave, ’cause I don’t get it yet.

That’s all I have to say about that.

I want the sun to come back now.  I wanna start cycling again.

Also, Facebook on my Blackberry has lost its tiny mind.  It’s sorta funny to watch.  Reminds me of when Tate used to start telling a story and then get lost in the weeds and have to finish with “I don’t know what I’m talking about.”

COFEE – Really? That’s it?

Latest Movember photos are on the Mo’09 photos (there’s a link to the page at the top of this page.)

So, a while ago (really? April of last year?) I wrote about Microsoft’s new toolkit for police to quickly gather everything they’d need from a Windows-based workstation, called COFEE.  I had a bunch of questions about COFEE at the time, and now that I know a little more about it, I’m going to go back and answer my own questions and see if there’s any clarification on some of the  (I hope).

(15 minutes go by while I read the documentation).

Are you serious?  Is this the right thing?

There’s like, it’s practically, I mean, c’mon.

It’s a nice big batch file that collects a bunch of information, fair enough, but it doesn’t actually DO very much.  No passwords are grabbed.  No filelist generated (at least, not that they documented), and it looks like all you’d need to do to make it pretty-much useless is disable your USB ports’ and/or mass storage device drivers.  The documentation for end-users tells us how to do such things as run the scanner with OR without the autorun enabled on the system.

(Heh, wait. What?)

I thought this was going to be a bootable thing – was I wrong?  I thought there was going to be this killer tool that meant you could walk up to a machine that’s OFF, boot from the stick instead of the onboard drive, collect the data from the operating system, and walk away, and as far as Windows knows, the machine wasn’t even powered on.

I’m, I guess, in a way, sorta saddened.  Don’t get me wrong – I don’t expect the average cop out there to be able to do a thorough job of collecting all the necessary data by hand, but I was sorta hoping that maybe they’d have something that would at least be on-par with Backtrack, which any person with a highspeed connection and a thumb drive (or a blank CD) could create, and it’ll let you do all SORTS of alarming things to a machine without actually “touching” the operating system (unless you want to, in which case you can pretty much set the thing on “Liquefy” and watch all of Microsoft’s security go away).

(That was a long sentence, woof).

I guess what makes me sad is that COFEE isn’t going to collect any data that isn’t obviously available on the system in the first place.  Seriously: is it common for prosecutors to bring forth evidence based on which local groups on the machine someone is a member of?

“He must have done it – he’s in the SuperElite Hacker Pwnz0rz group, see?”

I know the “no touchies” forensic methods for data gathering (like ENCASE, which I’ve used in a previous job) are a different class than what COFEE is meant to do, but it looks like it’s only meant to be useful for kicking the door in, pushing the alleged bad guy outta the chair in front of the computer, and then running the launcher to collect your data.

I can literally hear the hardware hackers out there trying to figure out how to set up something that’ll either automatically cram the drive with data that’s bogus, or simply melt it into a little plastic Hershey’s Kiss, or hey, maybe a virus that’ll wreak havoc back at the station.

Not that I want that to happen.  As much as my brain enjoys trying to figure out how to defeat whatever security system I come across, I want the cops to be able to figure out what’s real and what’s not about a given machine.  I want them to be able to nail the bad guys when the chips are down.  I want them to have the tools, I really do.

COFEE isn’t the tool they need (yet).  It’s better than taking the machine to the guys at the nearest Best Buy and asking “has this machine been used illegally?” but not much better.

And if any of you have ever had your USB stick’s data go “poof” when being moved from computer A to computer B, you’ll know why I don’t trust that the data will even make it back to the office (or even the cruiser’s laptop).

I just hope what I have is a red herring, and not the real deal.

Oh, and this time last year*? I was yammering about other stuff, but still lovin’ a good run-on sentence…

And now, because most people won’t bother going to my Movember page, here’s a picture of me rubber-facing because my normal face never looks good to me.

Neither does this, but it makes me giggle.

Helps if you imagine me going "Borkely-orkely-yobbley-bawk!"
Helps if you imagine me going "Borkely-orkely-yobbley-bawk!"
* I’m tellin’ you? With the uptalking?
http://www.forensicswiki.org/wiki/Encase_image_file_format

NobemverPoMoustyclonobo

Long post warning: You has it.

November 2nd.  No point in posting the picture of my alleged moustache, ’cause there’s hardly anything there unless I have *just* finished shaving with a Bic, and I don’t have a camera or the patience to even bother getting anything approaching a macro setting for some hairs on my lip.  Also, even though I initially thought I was going to go for some sorta triple-threat thing and blog every day AND grow a stache for Movember AND ALSO PLUS cycle to work every day, I can’t, ’cause my back tire has a slow(ish?) leak and is currently flat.  Yes, the back time with the kevlar tube guard thing that’ll stop anything sharp from getting anywhere near it unless that sharp thing happens to be on the road, I guess.  Oh!  Story about the crazy who jumped my bike last week.  I’ll tell you all about it tomorrow okay?  Okay.  Coffee?  What coffee, YOU shut up.  Ahem.  Starting now.

[Monty Python Man At Desk]: Good evening.

I like to think I type gibberish like that because it’s witty, somehow, but mostly it’s just that I’ve found that typing damned near anything will get me going off on some tangent, usually with way too many parentheses, and far too few periods.  Especially dangerous at work, lemme just say.

Is it a tangent if I wasn’t going anywhere in the first place, or just mental bumbering?

I remember reading once that one of the signs (not necessarily a warning sign, mind you) of Asperger Syndrome is “atypical use of language.”  This pretty-much includes anyone I’ve ever enjoyed spending more than about an hour around.  Whether it’s friends who enjoy odd sentence structures, or those that use of words that haven’t been in a newspaper or magazine in… oh, maybe a century, or just about anything by Soul Coughing’s front man, Mike Doughty

(and then, instead of continuing to write, I just went out bomping around on the ye mighty ‘net, looking for good examples of why I like Doughty’s stuff, and instead of finding one thing I found about eight and then went looking for a track he did with another guy who normally does music I’m not actually that into but thought that maybe all y’all would be a little more interested in his lesser-known…)

Whoo, lookit that little brain try to skitter away from what it doesn’t wanna do, huh?  Flip the lights on and watch ’em scatter.

Here’s what I’m not saying:  I’ve been thinking about death today.  No, that’s not true.  Not death.  Not even sipping tea and watching ferryman coming for us.  Just thinking about the grandfather figure I mentioned yesterday.  Ace.  He was one of those mythical creatures in my life that gained the less-than-heavy-enough title “Friend of the Family.”  He was a old dude who was a friend and coworker of my mom and step-but-not-really-since-they-married-years-after-I-moved-out dad.  {Imagine a ricochet sound, as I jump to the top of this post and type what you THOUGHT was the first paragraph, but actually the seventh, which ends at the phrase “Good evening.”}

Cool.  Brain doesn’t wanna go there.  Check that out.  Pyeerommm….

Here’s the short version: Ace, an old friend of the family, and, as he would put it “A good shit,” showed me that me playing with computers was something that was possibly a legitimate thing I could do as a job.  Turned out he was right, of course, but before I ever got to be enough of an adult to spend time doing these sorts of things, he died.  I don’t know how to tell his part of my story.  I had a C64, he had a C64, but when he got a C128, and then later a PC, he and I would sit around trying to figure out what we could make these things do.  I’m pretty sure he’s one of the first people I knew who owned a “pc.” annnnd he was a friend, ’cause he would sometimes swear around me, and there was no “Whoops I swore in front of the kid” moment.  He knew that at twelve, I’d heard swearing before, but he also knew that I’d mostly heard it from the kids at school, who had no sense of tone, timing, or delivery.  He would swear with gusto, like he meant it, and like it was okay.  It was fun, it was joyous, it was powerful.  Not everything that contained force has to be ugly or mean, his swearing said.

He and his wife were crazy hippie bastards who’d gotten old, but were still active and still fighting the good fight.  I think Marge may have been a Raging Granny at one point, but don’t quote me on that.  She may have been “A” Raging Granny, but not necessarily “A Raging Granny.”

Fuck it, there’s no short version of Ace’s story, so lemme just tell you my favourite story of Ace, even though I have zero first-hand experience of it, and was told that he always felt really bad about what happened (it’s okay: Ace stays a Good Guy through the whole thing, you don’t have to start reading through your fingers or anything).

Ace had a daughter (or was it two?) and she was grown and out of the house, but came home one day to visit and let herself in.  Ace came home and when she stepped out of one of the bedrooms and spoke to him, he was so surprised that he turned around, bringing both hands up and then down in a sort of air-traffic-controller-guy (with the orange cones) move, hitting her in both collarbones at once, breaking them (or maybe it was just one).  There was something about military training at some point in his younger years.  Something about it all coming back in that split second, when he heard a footstep and a voice behind him he wasn’t expecting, in his own home, when he knew his wife wasn’t in the house.

Something about hearing that story for the first time (when I was still a kid, maybe 14 or so) made me see, in crystal clarity that adults are humans who have lives we didn’t know about.  That parents are humans.  I knew that, of course.  They were people with past lives.  I knew that too.  They were people who’d maybe learned things they hadn’t used in a long long time.  I don’t think I’d really known that.  I just assumed that everyone went to school and then to work, and what they did day in and day out was the culmination of everything they’d learned so far from DNA up to that afternoon.

I came to the slow realization that sometimes people learn things they maybe didn’t want to use in the first place, and maybe never wanted to use again if they could help it.  Left me wondering if this six-foot-something gangly guy with a huge rockstar smile and tinted glasses had at one time been a bad mutha, and had maybe done things he had never quite healed from.  That he had pains that were more than just the limp that I was always told was from some of his many motorcycle accidents of his youth.

He also, without ever a word between us, showed me what a broken heart looks like when you spend your whole life with the person you love most in the world, and then they get older just slightly faster than you do.  He aged fast then.  He was still in there, still driving behind his eyes, but he didn’t have that same spark.  That same fight.  The old crazy hippie bastard who’d marched in peace rallies and swore with grace and warmth had kinda gone out of him.

Yeah, no, there it is.  That’s it.  The fight had gone out of him.  His “military presence” was gone.  He was an old man now.  Old and sitting in a Tim Hortons, having a coffee, by himself.  Thinking about things.  He was still teaching at the College (or the University, or whatever they hell they were calling it that month), and he was teaching old folks about computers.  20 years later, and he’d taking all the stuff he and I had cobbled together about what we thought about computers, and turned that into the end of his career.  Helping the little white haired grandmothers NOT send hundreds of thousands of dollars to Nigerian scammers, or something.  Helping them take whatever gumption they had left and get it online.

I only saw him for a few minutes, but he caught me up really quick on what he was doing.  Folks my age would call themselves techs, nerds, or geeks, but not Ace.  He was “still teaching.”  I got to introduce him to the woman who would later become my wife, and I could see him light up a little at that.  He could read in me that I was happy, and that I was full of all the fire and brimstone and alarmingly deep focus on a topic that he’d had when he was starting out way back when.  He knew I’d found love that’d keep me going until I was old, too.

He died less than a year later, I think.  Never really got to say goodbye.  Don’t think I could have, given the chance.  Wouldn’t have wanted to put him on the spot like that.  I wrote him in my head as a character for a story my buddy Rick and I came up with a few years later, and one that Arwen wrote a chapter for (but it didn’t include Ace).  He was the first line of my version of the same story.  In it, he was a fence for some sorta futuristic information pawnshop, hauling ill-gotten data around between buyer, seller, and thief, and cop.  He’d been caught in the middle of all of it one time too many, and the deal had gone wrong, but he hadn’t disconnected from the technology.  He’d hidden away the last little bit of what they’d come for deep in his mind, and then exported himself into a system that he’d knew our heroes would look through for clues.

He’d passed the torch, expecting us to… no, demanding that we pick up the fight.  That we understood the weapons, the dangers, and the loss of what was to come, but didn’t let any of that leave us standing in the middle of the room when the bad guys came back to clear out the rest of his memories.

Was that what I wanted to write?  Who knows.

Felt like that ricochet swung back round a bit though.

Happy Screaming Birthday, Tate

We had 8 kids here today. Two of them were ours, and while there were a few tears, and lots of screaming, I think most of it was happy screaming.

I may have to steal the Nerf gun Tate got, though, or at least modify it so he can pull the pump on it.

The place is NOT a total shambles, and there’s only a little bit of Oreo cake on the carpet. Pin the tail on the donkey is still fun for the kids under the age of 10. Arwen (on her third trip through being 10) did pretty well, too.

I decorated (not my forte) and generally stayed outta the way when kids played, and tried to not get the same headache I had yesterday.

Mission accomplished.

Best moment: Tate rushing into the house announcing “I hafta poo!” and jumping onto the toilet. Okay, he made it. Great. I stuck my head around the door, and asked if he’d need any help when he’s done, and he said “Nah… Because I’m four now.”

Wish more of life was that obvious.

“Aggressive Panhandling” or Failed Mugging?

Triggered by something over at MonkeyPants, and realized her comment system would probably explode if I wrote my diatribe into there, so I put it here, instead.

Working in the business district downtown, you get a lot of the guys who’re “from outta town who just need enough to get to SomewhereElse for a job that starts in three days.”  They usually open with “I thought Vancouver was supposed to be *FRIENDLY*” or “can’t you help out a guy from the East coast, laddie?” and then launch into their schpiel if you make eye contact.

I’ve heard the stories a bunch of times, and they usually have it down pretty good after they’ve been doing it for a while (and tend to really ham it up, if they think you’re a tourist off the cruiseships at Canada Place, two blocks away).

I will often cut them off mid sentence and paraphrase Flava Flav “I can’t do nothin’ for you, man.”  I’ve had a few get tense with me because I’m allegedly calling them a liar, to which I usually respond that while THEY might not be lying, the other FOUR GUYS I’ve heard the story from in the last month certainly were.

Now, I’m also a well-fed, English as a first-language male just shy of six feet tall, wide-shouldered, weigh 240 pounds and look fairly un-fuck-with-able when I get my grump on, and you can see my Blackberry on my hip, which means I have a cel phone and a camera, so it doesn’t really go past that, usually.  Besides, who’re the cops gonna believe if some physical altercation takes place: “Guy with wife and two kids heading to work?” or “Guy scamming tourists for booze money?”

But I always feel bad for the tourists (or the new Vancouverites) who don’t realize that these guys have no problem telling you about their starving kids or pregnant wife trapped in a broken-down car somewhere, breaking into tears (and trying to get you to, too) if it means you might part with five (or twenty) dollars.

They’ll also happily yell/swear at you if you just tell them no.  There was a guy a few weeks ago that was *slapping* people (mostly women) after really aggressively trying to get money.  He was tracked on video cameras near SkyTrain stations, and picked up the same day his face was on the cover of Vancouver Sun’s website.  It started out as an “aggressive panhandler” story, but quickly was rebranded as a “serial mugging” instead.  I think anyone who gets up in your grill is heading into that same territory, and should be dealt with accordingly.

A bullshit story is one thing, and guilt is just part of that, but making anyone feel physically threatened in order to get anything from them is simply illegal.  We like to think Vancouver is crime free for the most part, but mugging is what’s happening in those cases, successfully or not.

But the “binners” who look for returnable bottles in the lanes and alleys of Vancouver?  Most of those people work harder than *I* do.

30: Byevember.

Today started out really nice, and then kinda got bent outta shape.  By the time dinner rolled around, I was a basket case.  I’m good now.  Laundry folded, kids long-since asleep, icecream has been nommed.  We watched Pineapple Express and I either wasn’t stoned, or wasn’t 18 enough to enjoy it.  Seriously, what was the point?  It was your standard “Two Hapless Dudes try to Run Away from the Seriously Bad Guys,” movie, but with way more shooting, stomping, and death.  Think Half-Baked meets Lethal Weapon III.

Okay, don’t think that.  It wasn’t as good as either of those movies.

So today started well, and ended well, but In the middle, between breakfast and dinner was some stuff that wasn’t a whole bunch of fun.  Ripley was manic today.  He was having fun, but in that challenging “I don’t know when to quit” kinda way.  The kind that makes me crazy.  Makes me think of me.  Must be hard to deal with me when I don’t know when to shut up.  Sorry, world.

Tate?  Tate was a butt-head today.  Exhausted, I think.  Still getting over that egregious flu we all had a few weeks back, I guess.  I think he’s also going through a growth spurt, so everything just kinda hurts.  Even sleeping, I bet.  He’s also figuring out the power of getting your back up and saying “No,” really sternly.  I mean, it’s not that it works for him, but he’s understanding that sometimes you try to put up a fight even if you think you’re gonna lose.  It’s not the toy-putting-away that’s the point, it’s that you raged against the dying of the light, and didn’t want to go to bed, even if it was 7:30 and you were having crying jags about the xmas stuffy you found in a box that had just come outta storage.  When you’re three, you try anyway.  Something I’ve said to Ripley on hard days comes back to me today: Tomorrow will be another day.  Tate is usually pretty quick to forget such difficulties.

We’re watching Harry Potter and the How Many of Us Are Married Yet, and Alan Rickman DOMINATES.  Everything else is segue.

I’m shaving my moustache off tomorrow, unless I suddenly land a gig in Roadeez! the SpeedMetal Musical.

Last day of Sportball with Tate (let’s hope he keeps his shit together this time, and that I do, too).

Oh, and since Digsby seems to have forgotten what Free means, I’m most-likely going back to Pidgin as my instant messenger of choice, expecially now that it has added the Facebook chat plugin.  With that, I really don’t need Digsby any more.  Too bad, though, ’cause I enjoyed that application while it lasted.  I understand that they need to keep the lights on somehow, but did you need to go SO far off the deep end in your first excursion into adware?