writings


Fasting: Carbs are the frenemy. | Thursday, March 22nd, 2007

Though I've left behind many of the traditions and customs that come with growing up in a church-going family, one that has always stuck with me is the idea of fasting for lent. Across different religions, the act of giving something up (usually food) for a pretermined amount of time is quite hip.

My Dad (Roman Catholic) and Mom (Orthodox) both grew up in Iraq with a strong understanding of the spiritual importance of fasting, which stuck on me too.


Unpacking and installing the FON wireless router (sorta) | Monday, March 5th, 2007

FON - the self-proclaimed "largest wifi community in the world - recently celebrated their 1-birthday by giving away 10,000 free "fonera" routers. I won't go into the details of how their business plan works, but rather focus on my experience setting up the router.

Fon Fonera Router

I think I was one of the last people to take advantage of this offer, as a few days later they removed the promotion page. Actually, I hadn't even heard of the promotion until Sascha tipped me off about it. I filled in my info and submitted the form, and then completely forgot about it until a package arrived about a week later from "Housing Components Company Of" (??) in Ontario. I was puzzled, as I wasn't in the business of building houses and / or dealing with companies in Ontario. :p


climbing Poetree - This is how it should be done. | Saturday, February 17th, 2007

Last year at the 2006 Allied Media Conference, I had the honor to see alixa + naima - otherwise known as climbing poeTree. All I knew about them (through word of mouth and the bio on the AMC site) at the time was that they were multi-talented artists, most well-known for their intense spoken-word poetry set against a multimedia backdrop. I have to confess that I wasn't a big fan of the form back then; but one way or another, it seems to have really grown on me - these days, I go out of my way not to miss any noches de poesia (fun, informal gatherings of poets and artists) here in Montreal, and I spend lots more time listening to spoken-word poetry (which to me for all intents and purposes, is music). Of course, when the content is so striking and relevant to us, we can more easily gain an apprecation and understanding of the medium. .

Helping out a little with the current iteration of the AMC site, I was going over a list of participants and spent some time learning more about those who had an URL. I ended up at the climbing poeTree site. The flash site's background music is a captivating instrumental version of "Emmet" (based in part on the murder of 14 year-old African-American Emmett Till in 1955). After listening to a few samples - in truth, after listening to "Emmet" and "I wanna believe" I was already sold - I decided to go ahead and buy a CD - the second CD I've bought in about three years. They didn't charge any extra for shipping to Canada, which is already way cool.

Two days later, I get a package from Brooklyn, with only my first name and address printed on it. Inside, I find the CD inside the CD case (duh...), along with a personalized, signed, handwritten note from the artists.

That kind of extra touch - which took maybe a minute to do - makes all the difference in the world. On its own, it's a beautiful gesture. But when it accompanies an album as powerful, moving, and relevant as ammunition, it becomes something that immediately builds a rapport between the artist and their audience. I cease being a consumer, and start being a listener and a supporter. In the imminent Market Socialism economy, it's the little details like this that will set apart those who are truly masters of the their craft and doing what they love.

It doesn't hurt that every track on the CD hits very close to home for me. I'm loathe to try and define the musical styles that jump from track to track. Some tracks have an obvious hip hop leaning, while others have a much stronger eastern or latin sounding beat. If there even exists a line between music and poetry, it is blurred beyond all recognition on ammunition. Infectious tracks, major-label production values, perfect mastering, lyrics that come from the soul without pulling any punches - this is one of those rare albums that I set on repeat without ever growing tired of.

Buy a copy.

"... and yes - another goddamn poem about Revolution."

"Nike sneakers tied around my neck like a noose..."

"Carry... a rock in your back pocket just in case. And let him know who David was."

"We're all trying to redefine 'normal' in six different dialects."

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Youtube / Google sends me a copyright infringement notice for a home video. | Saturday, February 17th, 2007

This is the video in question.

Can someone please explain to me whose copyright I infringed on? Is linking to an URL copyright infringement?

I stopped using Youtube a little while ago - and am phasing out all my Google services one by one to get off its grid - and this reminds me why I'm doing it in the first place.

How about we all select a few random videos on Youtube and write up third-party notifications claiming that it's infringing? Don't they even watch the videos that they're notified about, or do they just take it down withiout even checking? Well done, guys. Brilliant.

Quel gang de connards, pour vrai.

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Following through. | Monday, February 5th, 2007

Well it took me long enough, but as promised, I've donated $1 USD for every comment in that thread ($1.50 for comments with a secret).

I opted to donate to the Iraqi Humanitarian Response of the Red Crescent.

Thank you to everyone who commented!

receipt


"I love my friends. Also, I love rum." Part Quatre | Monday, February 5th, 2007

Steven: : when did you wanna come to the gym? thursday or saturday?
Nick: Not sure, depends if I'm feeling awesome on Thursday.
Steven: : You? Awesome? Guess I should give up any hope of ever seeing you there then.
Steven: : ohhhh... [...] snap.
Nick: ...It's good to have you back.
Steven: : summer's almost here
Steven: : you know what that means
Steven: : ...
Nick: Yep, you coming?
Steven: : where?
Nick: Europe
Steven: : Europe?!?!? Why the deuce would I want to go there? i was talking about something much more important: basketball.


The Gun That Changed The World. (with video) | Thursday, January 25th, 2007

I'd always been rather proud of the fact that in my 26 27 years here, I'd never touched a firearm. Heck, I'd barely ever seen one that wasn't in a police officer's holster (or hands, if you're in Mexico or Cuba). I don't like guns. I never have, and I probably never will. The American obsession with them, however, fascinates me... the whole idea that gun ownership is a right is something that I'll never quite wrap my head around. What's more, is that a gun is a pretty lame way to kill somebody. Although I don't think I'd ever have the will to actually take someone's life, if it came down to it, the least I could do is to use something a bit more classy, like a throwing axe. Or a poison dart.

Anyhow, I've been known to be a pretty serious PC gamer in the past, mostly with "First-person shooter" type games where you and some squad members walk around and hunt down the other team. But how similar is firing a gun in a computer game to firing one in real life?

So, last week in Las Vegas, I was a little hesitant when my cousins Rami and Ramon asked me told me we're going to a shooting range. I decided to go along with it though. I'd be popping my gun-virginity cherry, to be sure - I was hoping to save that for someone special. But the way I figured, is that I'd never really fully understand the mind of your average gun-happy American until I became your average gun-happy American. I guess I agreed to fire a gun for much the same reason that I occasionally read right-wing blogs: because I hate myself it's easier to make a case for what you're saying when you've seen both sides of the coin.

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