TB or not TB

The whole frac­tured quote (which I learned from my moth­er many years ago*) goes:

TB or not TB
That is Congestion
Con­sump­tion be Done About It?
Of Cough, of Cough,
but it’ll take a Lung Lung Time.

I’m begin­ning to think that Feb­ru­ary was named after some God of ill­ness or dis­ease, rather than the Latin term febru­um, which means purifi­ca­tion, via the purifi­ca­tion rit­u­al Feb­rua held on Feb­ru­ary 15 in the old Roman cal­en­dar. (via Wikipedia)

After North­ern Voice, I was look­ing for­ward to a qui­et Sun­day, and around noon Pam and I walked down to Granville Mar­ket and picked up a bunch of veg­eta­bles. About an hour after we returned, I start­ed feel­ing weak and dizzy. Then I got chills. By night­fall, I was run­ning a high fever, and awoke sev­er­al times dur­ing the night to pray to the porce­lain god. Wonderful.

It’s now Tues­day, and this flu has now become a low-grade fever, aches and nasty cough. I’ve been through 1 bot­tle of Tylenol as well as 3–4 box­es of tis­sues, but I’m hop­ing to be back at work tomor­row and pick­ing up where I left off last week. So the score is: Around the first week of the month, I brought in a cold (which got me sick for near­ly a week), which Pam caught and became ‘Flu-like symp­toms’ for her, which got passed back to me and became full-blown flu. I hope she does­n’t catch it back from me again, because this beast­ie appar­ent­ly keeps grow­ing in strength each time it pass­es from one to the other.

We’re both just sick of being sick; near­ly a whole month has gone by where either one or both of us was either cough­ing our lungs out or shiv­er­ing under the blankets.

Northern Voice 2007
So What about North­ern Voice?
My impres­sion was that this year, both Moose Camp (the free-form first day of North­ern Voice on Fri­day) and the more for­mal Sat­ur­day ses­sions were more geared toward some of the less tech­no­log­i­cal sides of blog­ging (com­mu­ni­ty-build­ing, social change through blog­ging) as well as some of the oth­er oth­er media con­nect­ed to blog­ging (Pod­cast­ing, pho­tos for the web, video).

Unlike last year, this was­n’t as much about all of the star­tups and devel­op­ers who were work­ing in the Web 2.0 space. It seemed pret­ty clear that for an indi­vid­ual blog, a lot of peo­ple (includ­ing myself) swore by Word­Press, but for larg­er mul­ti-blog sites (like Urban Van­cou­ver) Dru­pal seems to be the soft­ware of choice. Mind you, we do have a sig­nif­i­cant local Dru­pal devel­op­ment house here in Bryght, but at this con­fer­ence, the clos­est we came to a tech­nol­o­gy fra­cas was when two edu­ca­tion­al devel­op­ers squared off about the advan­tages of each of those plat­forms. There was an excel­lent ses­sion by Kris Krug, a local pho­tog­ra­ph­er and an orga­niz­er of the event, about prepar­ing pho­tos for the web (and I was delight­ed to learn that I make the same adjust­ments in iPho­to that he does, albeit in a dif­fer­ent order). While I was intrigued with Nan­cy White’s “Hold­ing Para­dox in the Palm of your Hand”, I must con­fess that I did­n’t under­stand a word of her ses­sion, what with ‘con­trol ver­sus emer­gence’ and ‘apply­ing con­trol pan­el slid­ers to online ver­sus offline mul­ti­ple memberships’…As fel­low blog­ger Isabel­la Mori (who did under­stand it, and whose hus­band is prob­a­bly in my camp) apt­ly put it “For you, she might as well have been speak­ing in Chi­nese.” Yes, that was it.

Also con­nect­ed with the event, was Tod Maffin’s gra­cious offer of a tour of the local CBC stu­dios after din­ner on Fri­day night. A half-dozen or so of us made our way through the CBC’s very ‘lived-in’ look­ing facil­i­ties, and I was par­tic­u­lar­ly pleased to get a moment or two to hear the CBC Orches­tra rehears­ing Dar­ius Mil­haud’s Suite Provençale in the low­est under­ground floor, deep under the city of Vancouver.

I did get some good knowl­edge and handy tips from the ses­sions, and the ses­sions are all avail­able via pod­cast at http://northernvoice.podcastspot.com/. Maybe I’ll try and lis­ten to some of the more techie ses­sions to see if I can still get my geek fix from the event, albeit belated.

*That frac­tured Shake­speare was appar­ent­ly a Pub­lic Ser­vice Announce­ment regard­ing Tuber­cu­lo­sis. I noticed with amuse­ment that it also shows up as part of the schtick by Woody Allen in the first sketch of “Every­thing you want­ed to know about Sex” of 1972

Trips, Gadgets and Upgrades

Come to think of it, I’ll tack­le these three items in the title in reverse order:

The rea­son that it has been so long since I’ve post­ed any­thing to this blog was because of the new-and-improved release of Word­Press, ver­sion 2.1 (referred to as Ella, as in Fitzger­ald), which is the soft­ware that I use to pub­lish this blog. I need­ed a block of time of about 3 hours, I thought. The first step to doing the upgrade was to down­load both a back­up of the data­base that Word­Press uses (SQL), as well as all of the files that made up the ini­tial blog, tak­ing care to insure that if any­thing went wrong, I could par­tial­ly or even com­plete­ly recon­sti­tute the rough­ly 200 post­ings from just the text. I did this once, but then saw some com­ments. So I put off the upgrade, and there­fore, put off any new posts. Final­ly, yes­ter­day evening I had enough time to very care­ful­ly back every­thing up, delete all of the old blog files (except for the con­tent), and then upload the new ver­sion and run the upgrade script. To my sur­prise, every­thing worked per­fect­ly. Either I’m bet­ter at this than I thought, or the many peo­ple who have report­ed going through an ordeal mov­ing to the new ver­sion had more com­plex sites than I did; I real­ly can’t say.

At any rate, the blog is back, upgrad­ed and improved, and despite delet­ing and upload­ing all of those files and per­form­ing a few oth­er tasks extreme­ly slow­ly and care­ful­ly, it did­n’t take 3 hours; More like 90 min­utes. The changes to Loud Mur­murs are invis­i­ble to you, dear read­er. It does serve the pages far faster, and the edi­tor for doing posts has been dra­mat­i­cal­ly improved. There are a few oth­er admin­is­tra­tive screens and secu­ri­ty rewrites, etc., but again, it’s all behind the scenes. Take it from me, on the oth­er side of the site, we’ve all got new fur­ni­ture. So wel­come to Loud Mur­murs 2.1. Long time, no see.

One rea­son (among many) that I was­n’t able to find time for the upgrade (or post­ing) was a new gad­get. Our newest piece of tech­nol­o­gy is a gift from my broth­er and his fam­i­ly, a TiVo. After a long wait, we’ve final­ly got­ten it set up and record­ing away. It was no small task, because get­ting Cana­di­an list­ings require a net­work con­nec­tion if you don’t want the box mak­ing week­ly long-dis­tance phone calls to the states, because the set­ting for retriev­ing Cana­di­an list­ings is — and I swear I’m not mak­ing this up — Leo, Wyoming. So, after get­ting a wire­less adapter so that we can use the TiVo with our home net­work, and after a few oth­er elec­tron­ic, hard­ware and soft­ware hoops, I’m pleased that I no longer have to choose between catch­ing an episode of Heroes or writ­ing an entry here. Let’s hear it for time-shift­ing! I should men­tion that the oth­er advan­tage to hav­ing this PVR (Per­son­al Video Recorder) on the home net­work is that I can copy any record­ed show from the TiVo to my com­put­er, and after some com­pres­sion and con­ver­sion, to my iPod. Too cool.

After my trips to Buf­fa­lo and San Fran­cis­co, our lit­tle dri­ve down to Seat­tle felt quite short. We vis­it­ed for a brunch and after­noon with my broth­er and his fam­i­ly. We had a ter­rif­ic meal at Mon­soon, an upscale Viet­namese restau­rant where you can not only get that won­der­ful clas­sic, Banh Xeo (pro­nounced Bann-show, it’s a sort of crepe/omelette that actu­al­ly con­tains no eggs; the ‘crepe bat­ter’ is a mix­ture of water, coconut milk and rice flour with a trace of tumer­ic and fold­ed around hand­fuls of beansprouts, shrimp and lean pork), but also a ter­rif­ic Vanil­la French Toast made with brioche (which my niece ordered and many of us tast­ed). We only vis­it­ed for a short time, but man­aged to fit in a chilly walk on Seat­tle’s new Olympic Sculp­ture Park. We also picked up that affor­men­tioned wire­less adap­tor for the TiVo, and were back in Van­cou­ver before mid­night (but not that much before, due to a stop in Belling­ham to do some minor shop­ping at Target).

There’s lots more to add; when you don’t take note of things right away they pile up. I’ll try and catch up in future posts.

Brooms from Baltimore

Brooms from Baltimore
Brooms from BaltimoreBrooms from Bal­ti­more,
orig­i­nal­ly uploaded by MichaelMoore.com.

Each of my Par­ents were on two of 300-some pho­tos on Michael Moore’s Flickr col­lec­tion, pos­ing (as so many oth­er’s did) with a broom on Elec­tion Day. It’s nice to know that we all did some sweeping.

I’m real­ly sur­prised that the Democ­rats recap­tured both the House and the Sen­ate. Joseph Biden sug­gest­ed that this was a repu­di­a­tion of Repub­li­can dom­i­na­tion since 1984 (I won­der what Bill Clin­ton would think of that?)

At any rate, I’m proud of them, and was glad that the US has start­ed the long road back to sanity.

Happy 2006!

Our vis­it with my broth­er’s fam­i­ly in Seat­tle went by in a whirl. After some Hol­i­day par­ty­ing, shop­ping, and what felt like tons of eat­ing, we returned via Trail­ways bus. The bus trip back was­n’t quite as com­fort­able as the train we took down, but it was fine, and cer­tain­ly beat the expense of a rental car or the tir­ing dri­ve and poten­tial­ly long wait at the bor­der. I’m hop­ing that we can do a repeat trip some time soon, or per­haps they can vis­it us here again.

If felt good to be back, and both Pam and I noticed that it was great to see famil­iar land­marks as the bus start­ed to get near to town.

One More Sur­prise Stat
Since New Year’s Day fell on a week­end day (Sun­day), many peo­ple in the US and Cana­da appar­ent­ly felt cheat­ed out of a hol­i­day. So in some back room, some­one placed a check (or an x) in a box, and lo and behold: Mon­day is anoth­er statu­to­ry hol­i­day (a ‘stat’ for short). I did­n’t know this. In fact, I got up at the usu­al time, took the bus in to work and found the door to the office locked (and no answer to knocks or phone calls; I could even hear all the phones ringing!)

So, I had lunch with Matt (who is back from his vis­it to Lub­bock with Oana) and got caught up. Lat­er, Pam and I did some gro­cery shop­ping, so we’re much bet­ter pre­pared for the week. An extra final vaca­tion day, even if some­what unex­pect­ed, was appreciated.

Stille Tag, Eating Ballots and Uncle Edgar

A Few Crea­tures Stir­ring, but Not Many
Yes­ter­day was a very qui­et day indeed. We took a walk along False Creek and saw a few dog-walk­ers, jog­gers and bicy­clists, but as we returned via Broad­way, the only places open were the Asian restau­rants, some of which were doing a brisk business.

Today, how­ev­er, is Box­ing Day (always the day after Christ­mas), a hol­i­day that I only got to cel­e­brate when I lived in Eng­land. Accord­ing to Wikipedia:

There is great dis­pute over the true ori­gins of Box­ing Day. The more com­mon sto­ries include:

  • Cen­turies ago, mer­chants would present their ser­vants food and fruits as a form of Yule­tide tip. Nat­u­ral­ly, the gifts of food and fruit were packed in box­es, hence the term “Box­ing Day”.
  • In feu­dal times, Christ­mas was a rea­son for a gath­er­ing of extend­ed fam­i­lies. All the serfs would gath­er their fam­i­lies in the manor of their lord, which makes it eas­i­er for the lord of the estate to hand out annu­al stipends to the serfs. After all the Christ­mas par­ties on Decem­ber 25, the lord of the estate would give prac­ti­cal goods such as cloth, grains, and tools to the serfs who lived on his land. Each fam­i­ly would get a box full of such goods the day after Christ­mas. Under this expla­na­tion, there was noth­ing vol­un­tary about this trans­ac­tion; the lord of the manor was oblig­at­ed to sup­ply these goods. Because of the box­es being giv­en out, the day was called Box­ing Day.
  • In Britain many years ago, it was com­mon prac­tice for the ser­vants to car­ry box­es to their employ­ers when they arrive for their day’s work on the day after Christ­mas (26 Decem­ber). Their employ­ers would then put coins in the box­es as spe­cial end-of-year gifts. This can be com­pared with the mod­ern day con­cept of Christ­mas bonus­es. The ser­vants car­ried box­es for the coins, hence the name Box­ing Day.
  • In church­es, it was tra­di­tion to open the church’s dona­tion box on Christ­mas day, and the mon­ey in the dona­tion box were to be dis­trib­uted to the poor­er or low­er class cit­i­zens on the next day. In this case, the “box” in “Box­ing Day” comes from that one gigan­tic lock­box in which the dona­tions were left.
  • In Britain because many ser­vants had to work for their employ­ers on Christ­mas day they would instead open their presents (ie. box­es) the next day, which there­fore became known as box­ing day.

In fact, the way I heard it, because it was the ser­vants’ day off, meals would be a ‘box lunch’ or some­thing like that. Many of these sto­ries fol­low the same basic idea of giv­ing the work­ing class­es a spe­cial hol­i­day of their own, which has since many on the Left to decry the hol­i­day as fur­ther per­pet­u­a­tion of the sep­a­ra­tion of the social class­es (some­one had to serve the Christ­mas feast, so the ser­vants could­n’t have that day off, there­fore they had their own hol­i­day while the rich folks slept in and ate left­overs). It was inter­est­ing to see that Granville Mar­ket was open Christ­mas Eve, but was closed both Christ­mas Day and Box­ing Day, which lent fur­ther cre­dence to the ‘give The Help a day off’ explanation.

In the Putting Your Bal­lot Where Your Mouth Is Department

Saw a strange sto­ry about Cal­gary in Boing­bo­ing about eat­ing elec­tion bal­lots. Sure enough, it’s a kind of protest by the right-wing peo­ple there that there aren’t any choic­es that they approve of in the elec­tion (I’m going to assume that Steven Harp­er is not Con­ser­v­a­tive enough for them, since the protest is by fol­low­ers of Stock­well Day, who lost his post to Harp­er in 2002).

Good-bye to Uncle Edgar

We just got a phone call that Edgar John­ston, Pam’s Uncle on her father’s side of the fam­i­ly, died at 1 AM this morn­ing. Uncle Edgar, along with Aunt Mary and Uncle Jim, became what the rest of the fam­i­ly referred to as ‘The Trav­el­ing Trio’, when we found out that they had set off from Long Island, New York to Quin­cy, Mass­a­chu­setts via train, fer­ry, anoth­er train and final­ly the sub­way, with­out telling any­one, so that they could go on an explorato­ry trip to Quin­cy, Mass, where Mary and Edgar had pre­vi­ous­ly lived before sell­ing their house and mov­ing in with Jim in Long Island. They had made plans for months, and we sus­pect that Jim went along with the whole expe­di­tion because he had lost his dri­ver’s license (after 4 acci­dents in the peri­od of a month or so) and thought that the State of Mass­a­chu­setts would give him a license if New York state would not. Their plan was to buy two small hous­es and ‘…live next door to each oth­er’. We found out about all of this lat­er but ini­tial­ly we got a call from a hos­pi­tal in Quin­cy, at about 4 AM. The three of them had been found, exhaust­ed and con­fused, in the Boston sub­way a few hours ear­li­er. It was a pret­ty remark­able inci­dent, and if one of them had­n’t had Pam’s broth­er’s busi­ness card in their wal­let, they might very well have dis­ap­peared into the unseen world of the home­less in Boston. We scram­bled to get them tak­en care of, and Pam and her broth­er became legal guardians of all of them, as they entered a Nurs­ing Home in Wey­mouth, a near­by town. Uncle Jim died in Jan­u­ary before we moved here, and now with Edgar’s death at the age of 93, the sole mem­ber of the three trav­el­ers is Mary, who is most­ly blind and no longer coherent.
When­ev­er we vis­it­ed Aunt Mary and Uncle Edgar in Quin­cy, she was the flam­boy­ant and styl­ish lady, and he was the absent-mind­ed pro­fes­sor. He was obsessed with his time spent in the army dur­ing World War II and as time passed he retreat­ed more and more into that peri­od. I tried to find out why these events in his life seemed to over­shad­ow every­thing that had come before or since, but he had no expla­na­tion oth­er than that was the way he felt. The last time we saw him, he had revert­ed to the state of an infant, per­ma­nent­ly reclined, with soft hands and a vacant stare. He had been this way for months before then and con­tin­ued liv­ing that way for a year, at least, until he sim­ply stopped eat­ing a few days ago. The phrase from Shake­speare’s As You Like It about “All the world’s a stage”, etc. came to my mind — the bit at the end: 

Last scene of all,
That ends this strange event­ful history,
Is sec­ond child­ish­ness and mere oblivion,
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.

I’m glad that Edgar final­ly made his exit, because he spent far too much time in that last scene.