A.A.Gill

Some of the best writing I have ever read on the web is that of A.A. Gill, the restaurant reviewer in the Style section of the Sunday Times of London. I had stopped reading it for the last few years due to the paper’s use of a survey blocking immediate access to their site. I found him again today without the required layer of personal data extraction.    Gill’s most recent review contains the following passage:

A good cheese trolley was driven by an authentically Japanese-ish person. Now there’s no reason why a Japanese shouldn’t be allowed to drive French curds without supervision, except that the Japanese think fermented milk is more disgusting than licking hospital sheets.

Magic.

[I am going to find my saved copy of the text of his article on being “heterogay” from the late 1990’s and link to it here later.]  Later. I have found it and I am renewed.

D-Day

I was delayed on my drive to work this morning by a parade of soldiers in battle fatigue marching up Princess Street past Market Square here in Kingston. D-Day ceremonies. It reminded me that when I was a kid in the early 70’s, Dad’s church in the Annapolis Valley still had WWI vets. In Scotland I would visit my great-uncle John Dobie who had delayed shell shock from his time in the trenches. I have a postcard photo of him in his battle kit from 1917. Later, when I was in highschool, the D-Day vets were my buddies older uncles all in their late 50’s having a Ten Penny waiting for their burgers to be ready on a Saturday afternoon on the deck. Now – 59 years after that day – they are in their early 80’s and fewer and farther between.

Dad onceĀ told me about meetingĀ a guy in a nursing home in Dartmouth in the late 80’s who was Nova Scotia Highlander in Normandy. [I think of him as Buddy MacDonald as over 37% of all Nova Scotia Highlanders were actually called Buddy MacDonald.] On the first day after Juno Beach, the lads who Hitler apparently referred to as “the Ladies from Hell” had advanced so far against the SS that they were told to halt to let the rest of the Allies catch up. His position was actually dug in beside the Germans line and he could see that the Germans troops were in their mid-teens. The officers were beating them with rifle butts to keep them to hold where there were. The beatings got worse and worse over 24 hours. Buddy couldn’t handle it so when a particularly nasty and very high ranking officer showed up and threatened the cowering kids in grey, Buddy put a bullet in his temple. The German line collapsed and the Allies advanced. Reminds me who won the war. The Buddies and Ivans and Tommies and GIs. Think of one if you see one.

Owen Sound

On the road writing from the Owen Sound Library here on the shores of Georgian Bay. Not as grand a trip as this or this but you do what you can.It’s grannie-in-law’s 87 and, as she has been a mad hockey fan since before she attended the opening night of Maple Leaf Gardens, it is a good time to be among the caring and knowledgable given Ottawa’s loss of last night. Mrs. Penny is a cousin to Ken an Dave Dryden [1st,R1], Murray Murdoch [3rd], Andy Blair [1st] – who got her Leafs tickets throughout the 30’s – and the Syl Appses Sr. [2nd], Jr.[2nd,R1], III [2nd,R2]and the up and coming Gillian [2nd,R2] all via the one but mi’chty Dryden clan [of which Peter Rukavina is a member and suffers from my fifth cousin in law status.] EP knows her stuff.

Owen Sound is as perfect a small city as I have ever seen. A park in the middle where the river splits the town. A small working port with a car ferry to the North Shore of Lake Huron. A diversity of churches including a corner lot for the Christian Scientists where formerly Lutherans and Temperence Unionists met. An OHL team and a great farmer’s market where I should be now buying asparagus for the pahtay.

PS: Did I tell you she and I did B-52’s on the night the Blue Jays won the World Series?

Logs, Diaries and ‘Zines

Has Google jumped the shark? Every good IT company sooner or later does a odd thing which may herald a downturn of its fortunes. Didn’t Xerox give away windows in the late 60’s because it would never work. Didn’t IMB give away the PC as, surely, no one could reverse engineer their stuff. Apple – well, Apple will overcome one day…

Google may have entered that lofty pantheon as it has started “Googlewashing” by which they are ridding searches of their bloggy results. Why they would care to is a bit understandable – it seems people want “real” answers not opinions on the topic they are looking for…so they go…to the internet. That hotbed of fact. Go figure. Beyond the problem of identification of the media it works within, how will Google know what to wash out of the search? What is a blog?

Some blogs are like the pre-webs topical ‘zines. After friends got married in 1995 or so, I realized I wanted a way to keep in touch collectively after everyone was married off. I started a photocopied ‘zine called “People Who Know Al” – one and a half issues made it to print before I took the on ramp to the information super highway and got email and a browser to call my own. Fellow travellers AOV and CEO Blues are pretty much interactive ‘zines on their relative topics of web related innovation and business theory. Others, like Ian William’s are pretty much a personal exploration through a diary. Still others, such as Tomalak’s Realm, continue the original links concept.

What I don’t get about Googlewashing is this – if I wanted to know what it was like to try and put a movie together, Ian William’s site would be a great resource. If I wanted to know what was new in web related things, AOV is a great resource. Apart from the hubris of believing that it should direct the web substantively based on its definition of what is a blog, what does Google think it is doing making it difficult to find one of the best things the internet does well – provide opinion.

Radio Boy

There are certain personal interests one is wise not discussing during courting. One of mine is the habit of listening to long distance radio in the middle of the night. I have about ten radios including a real nice wind-up model originally designed for third world listeners to BBC World Service, a Sony ICF-2010 as well as the little Sony I got in grade 4 with which I listened to reports of the raid on Entebbe in ’76 from my bed in the Annapolis Valley care of a New York all-night news station, hockey and baseball games from the US Mid-West fading in and out on waves of propagation, coal miner shift bulletins from WWVA, Wheeling West Virginia.

It was not until 20 years ago that local all-night radio was becoming common in the Maritimes. CBC’s night service started with the old CBC Stereo service’s Brave New Waves which used to be formatted in the early 80’s with increasingly obscure and hardcore music as the show moved deeper into the night. By four in the morning, during a King’s campus police shift, we would be well beyond Bragg, past punk and listening to Berlin industrial an hour and a half before Mac Campbell came on at 5:30 am with the Maritime Fisheries Broadcast with an update of conditions on the Sable, Fourchu and Banquareau Bank.

During really nerdy phases, I have even been a member of DX clubs like CIDX, BBC World Service Listeners Club and ODXA. Meeting other members of such groups in person can be quite uncomfortable. Once a guy on vacation driving around the Maritimes listening to every broadcast band transmitter – AM to the uninitiated – stopped in at the manse at Bible Hill. All I can remember about the event was that he wouldn’t stop picking at his ears. I was something of a celebrity at the time having logged in the CIDX monthly news letter and confirmed via a casette tape of my reception of a local East German am station on 1044, just above CHUM. [Are you starting to get the point about not talking about this before she says ” i do??].

Since Archimedes, radio is the second most important technological advance after the harnessing of electricity. With the growth of the unfortunately named WiFi – with its echoes of 1960’s suburban rec-room parties around the stereophonic Hi-Fi and Mitch Miller sing alongs – the internet is catching up. I came across the term RLAN last week, radio local area network. Now I want a dedicated RLAN internet radio player so I can listen at work where Bell apparently has a public hot spot. Something with good sound for about $59.99 would be good, thanks.