Professional Friends

Now that last post is just annoying me. It was a thought I needed to share, but not one that needs to be at the top forever. Yesterday marked the start of the Introduction to Artificial Intelligence class I am taking for free, and online, associated with Stanford University. I’ve been motoring through the videos, enjoying the knowledge. I’ve also been stimulating my brain at the really awesome Khan Academy, where I’ve been learning about various maths (mainly so I don’t feel dumb when learning about AI). Forget Brain Age, this is actual learning without the pressure to achieve any kind of success.

Also: lots of writing. I have two stories on the go right now: one is dark and the other, lighter. I am hoping to share the dark one with you all soon. This morning I devised a suitable ending. Accompanying podcast forthcoming.

I am also psyched, as I launch this psuedo-writing project, that I’ll have a piece of fiction in an upcoming issue of Montreal’s Matrix magazine (details coming). Also check/like my Facebook “Page.” As I tweeted earlier, any attempt to extricate myself from FB’s clutches only drew me in further, resulting in the creation of said Page. Turns out I am pro-friends, as in “professional friends.”

Slowsville

At the moment, I am procrastinating. I do not want to do the big pile of grant paperwork I must do. Alas, as a Canadian musician, this is my burden. I AM NOT COMPLAINING.

In the meanwhile, I’ve posted a few short notes at our fancy new “Dears Blog.” Admittedly, I’m trying to figure out how to only post here, and also make it appear on thedears.org. It seems like it should be so simple … I use WordPress, the new site is written in WordPress 3-point-something. I digress. I remain a terrible nerd.

Ok well, for now I will “co-blog” or “bi-blog” or “double-blog” or whatever that term should be. But if there are any WordPress pros out there, leave a comment and let me know if there’s some magical plug-in I should know about.

Meanwhile, YOU should know about this:

Year in Preview

Ahhh, first post of 2011. I recently got a “status report” from WordPress about the “health” of my blog. Apparently this blog is very healthy or “WOW” status, to use their terminology. It’s been viewed 28,000 times in 2010, which works out to 2,333.333 times per month, which it pretty awesome considering I only post about 4 times a month.

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

Yeah, um, so anyway. Welcome back. I hope to post more, but I’ve been spending more time working on my sci fi ideas, of which I hope to post clips soon. What would you prefer, though: a text post or a free downloadable mp3 of me READING the text? Listen to that shit on your way to work! Or both. Just an idea.

2011 is going to be a busy year: I forsee lots and LOTS of touring, coming to visit everyone we haven’t seen in a while. Love you all, thanks for reading, and for being one of the 77.777 daily visitors!

Recovered Ramblings

After taking out (most of) the annoying bits, I am posting this draft I wrote on a recent train ride. I spent a few days away form my laptop: on one hand I loved “unplugging” and reading a real print magazine, on the other hand I was totally jonesing for the internet:

Presently, I am on a train, bound for Toronto. I’ll only be there one day plus two half days, so a brief trip.

A middle aged lady in the seat in front of me is watching Twilight on a DVD player, and for some reason I find that fascinating. I’ve been reading the March 2010 issue of Wired, intrigued by the idea that our “digital remains” may need management (page 60) (posthumous Facebook status updates? RAD!), and endeared by the brief Q&A with Kevin Smith on page 80. I was surprised that he is among the Twitter Elite – meaning someone with over a million followers. I only wish I had that many followers, but sadly I’m struggling to break 400. It reminds me of how my mobile phone is only a few years old but already totally and completely out of date. It is not even wifi-capable. How can I keep my social network a-flutter without it? How will I attract more followers, if I can’t even watch and/or post a YouTube clip on my mobile? I mean this confounded WordPress app is totally pushing my phone’s limits…if I see that hourglass one more time…

Yeah, I know: boo-frakking-hoo. I’m just bored out of my mind over here. My kid is asleep next to me, drooling all over the armrest. What else am I supposed to do? Anyway, all this stuff is boring, and I apologise.

Aren’t we collectively glad that I saved that? I’m making up for lost internet time today; wasting hours looking for cheap flights, appraising coins on eBay, and creating a profile on myouterspace.com (username: Natalia – Be my friend, nerdz!).

*giant sigh*

Social Network Breakdown!

Holy crap. Twitter is down. This morning I wondered why my last few tweets were MIA. I figured it was a problem with TwitterMail, which has happened before. But no, it’s bigger than that. Should we panic? How am I supposed to broadcast my tiny, insignificant thoughts to the world?

I know: Facebook. So I start to be concerned (with an underlying sense of relief) that Facebook won’t let me login. Server too busy. Login timed out. Connection was reset. This is the social apocalypse! I may have to communicate more thoughfully, timelessly, indirectly. Say by telephone, or postcard.

I wonder if this is a big deal or not?

Update your Bookmark Toolbar

Let’s face it: the main function of the internet is to consume our time while giving us a feeling of accomplishment. Does scouring Facebook for information on our “friends” qualify as social research or a waste of time? Everybody has their favourite sites, their Bookmark Toolbars with their most visited places. While wasting some time of my own, I found this story: A.V. Club’s Favourite Time-Wasting Websites. I realised it was time to update my bookmarks.

For about a year I’ve been addicted to Perez Hilton. It’s been like a car crash: I have to look, at risk of seeing something terrible. That’s a human reaction, right? Anyway, I have seen several accidents, train wrecks, and tons of stupid, baby-la-la shit. Sometimes its funny, sad, tragic and definitely juvenile. Sometimes I agree, others I disagree. But it is celebrity paparazzi culture, so I don’t let it affect me too deeply. But of all the double-standards that are all over that site (like some people are gross when they smoke, others are allowed), the final double-standard was when he announced that he was starting a record label. This label is going to be a success, and I have to give Perez props for deconstructing the entire entertainment industry, only to rebuild it under his rules. He really gives it his all, his personality is invested in the total identity of the site, and will spill over into the identity of his label. Excellent marketing.

And so I realised I needed a new vision when it comes to trash talking. I deleted my Perez bookmark and am feeling like I will get the same content between my music “industry” newsletter, Go Fug Yourself and new addition, Dlisted. Round it out with NME.com, the BBC and the occasional local perspective from either Midnight Poutine or Fagstein and there you have it: the world in pop culture.

Update your bookmarks accordingly.

I have not abandoned this blog. I’ve simply been extra lazy about it. No, really I’ve been wanting to write more but since I’ve been doing Pop Montreal bio writing and a bunch of grant paperwork, I rarely have brainpower left to write anything beyond a tweet. So, sorry for the links, the half-brained posts, but this can be included as one of them.

Something that is interesting, however, in the meanwhile (gadgetry): Apple Tablet. Not certain how I feel about a giant iPod en lieu of a laptop, but I am on the market in the next year or so for something smaller, lighter, faster, niftier…and that doesn’t run on Windows.

Now that we’re done playing shows for a little while, I promise to write more in August (after grant deadlines, essentially).

Books

The other day I formulated an extreme thought on society and culture. This is one of my classic thoughts (reminiscent of last year’s post: Poetry is Dead), something that I might believe in but could never commit to. Its just interesting, a “what if.”

The thesis: Do we need fiction anymore? Remember a few years ago when the soft-memoir was all the rage? Until the Oprah-fueled debacle over the fictionalization of an apparent memoir: “A Million Little Pieces”. That was disappointing: not because moments of the book were fictionalized, but that people cared more about whether or not it was true hard fact, rather than the idea that they just read a well-written, inspiring story (though I never read it, but you get the point).

The other night, looking at a small stack of novels I have piled at my bedside, I wondered why I find it so difficult to get into a book? Why don’t I read anymore? There are certainly enough books worth reading, and also a near-equivalent number of books I haven’t read yet. So my bedside booklist sits, glowing with good intention, but rarely ever beating out the back pages of The Economist or a rousing game of Sudoku on the DS: both wonderfully sedating by being boringly-interesting (or interestingly-boring?).

I love reading: it fires up my brain, reminds me of the words I know but that I never use, makes me think of all the things I could communicate properly instead of calling them “great” or, quite simply, “radz.” I am also reminded of my poor command of the English language, my grammatical laziness and slothful attention to usage. Ah, but I’ve digressed.

I thought of how I often feel uninspired to read, unwilling to immerse myself in a story, in something dense and complicated, with characters both likable and not. When I realised this is it: I am resistant to investing my time in people, in the protagonist and the antagonist and their little dilemmas. The mere idea is entirely exhausting.

Why would I study, commit, connect to characters when this is what I am doing all day? I read people’s blogs, their Facebooks, their Twitters; somehow I know what people across the continent have done in a day, where they’ve gone, how they feel, how the weather affects them, which YouTube videos made them laugh, the news they’ve read, the music they’ve listened to, the things they like/loathe. I know the intersections of myriad characters: hundreds of people and the minutiae of their every single day. Aren’t these the very elements that help us learn and understand a character in a novel? The threads that weave together a personality? Their relationships and how they interact with the world? This is my new fiction, my neo-memoir: via social networking, I am reading dozens of life stories every day. The only difference is, unlike reading a book, I cannot control how quickly I get to the end. I am also never guaranteed a prefect story arc or meaningful closure. If I don’t like someone’s story, or the way they are telling it, I have to wait years to see how it ends: do they stay together? Lose the house? Get the job? Succeed wonderfully? Fail miserably? Stay happy? Stumble into a crippling depression? How will I know? I have to be patient.

I’ll get to the end of every story, sooner or later.