ironphoenix: (gull)
( Jan. 17th, 2015 04:41 pm)
We have a European Goldfinch visiting our balcony birdfeeders. The default assumption is that he's an escape from domestic captivity, because its natural range isn't exactly close to here, but it's acting wild, hanging out with a mixed flock of Common (American) Goldfinches, Redpolls, and House Finches, and it arrived with an Arctic air mass. We're hoping that experts can establish its subspecies from pictures, because if it's from a Northern one (rather than, say, the subspecies particular to Sicily, Corsica, and Sardinia), it might be judged a genuine wild bird way out of its range.

If so, the trickle of interest we've had for visiting our viewing area may get rather more substantial!
Thursday, my ankle was sore; yesterday, I was having real trouble walking, so I made an appointment with my doctor. He diagnosed it as tendinitis and prescribed an anti-inflammatory for 1 to 2 weeks, which is working very well; I expect I'll be back at aikido on Monday, although I'll try not to be too hard on it. This is much better than I expected, which was to be off it for a couple of weeks!
ironphoenix: (flaming)
( Jan. 4th, 2015 07:00 pm)
Alex Feinman on the stupid "rules" our society foists on guys. Snarky, hyperbolic, and very pointful.

An excerpt:
Man Rule 1. If you don’t show it, you aren’t feeling it
“Men aren’t allowed to have feelings.” This is, of course, inaccurate—men are allowed to have feelings, provided they show them in some sort of caricatured, over-the-top way. If they don’t show it, they aren’t really feeling it.

Angry? You have to smash something. Punch a wall. Shoot your TV. Hit someone. It’s justified: you were angry.

Upset? You can’t cry; that’s for sissies. Get really drunk and wreck your car. Glower into the darkness smoking your cigarette, making sure everyone *sees* you glowering and brooding.

Attracted to that woman? Better make sure you tell her. In fact, be ridiculous about it, invasive and over-the-top. Stand outside her window and throw rocks, or yell, or hold a boombox over your head. Buy a thousand roses and scatter them all over. Wolf-whistle at her and call her names. Bitches love names.
The analysis shows how this relates to homo- and transphobia, too.
ironphoenix: (gear)
( Jan. 3rd, 2015 04:30 pm)
In (faint?) hopes of getting a bit of discussion...

What's up with the Canadian non-Conservatives? Is there any hope of the parties putting their differences aside enough to work together in any significant way, or will they spend next election taking potshots at and stealing votes from each other? If they were to work together, how could they do so?
Reflection for 8-9 November, 2014
Dedication of the Lateran Basilica

Text: Ezekiel 47:1-2, 8-9, 12; Psalm 46; 1 Corinthians 3:9b-11, 16-17; John 2:13-22.

Dedication of the what? Preaching with a DIY element. )
ironphoenix: (blast of happy)
( Sep. 19th, 2014 08:26 am)
Ganked from [ profile] zenten on G+, Panic! at the Disco covers "Bohemian Rhapsody"; I think they make it their own.

Ganked from [ profile] goldsquare, An outstanding display of driving skill. The first little while is kind of ordinary, but then, a bit past the half-way mark, it gets incredible--the kind of thing one expects in CGI, not IRL.
ironphoenix: (pirate)
( Aug. 29th, 2014 09:21 am)
There are stones which appear to push themselves around a dry lakebed in Death Valley, but nobody has caught them at it--until now.
Here are a couple of experimental results from FaceBook: one person Liked(tm) everything for 2 days; another person didn't Like(tm) anything for 2 weeks.

LJ doesn't have a Like(tm), +1(tm), or other such general-purpose one-click response option, so we have to, brace yourself, use our words here. This is rather likelier to involve thought, but it takes more effort--effort which people hooked on FB/G+/etc. are unused to putting in. As a result, we get less feedback here than we get on other shiny social media (even though the feedback there is ultimately less genuinely connected), so we post less here.

It's frustrating. The marketers are winning, because we are, more than we like to admit, creatures of reflex and habit, and those things are very manipulable. The only defense is mindfulness: awareness of ourselves, our instincts, reflexes, and habits, and claiming our power of choice.
Reflection for 9-10 August, 2014
19th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A

Text: 1 Kings 19:9, 11-13; Romans 9:1-51; Matthew 14:22-33

Walking on water--or not )
Tinfoil hats are so last year; check this out!
ironphoenix: (academia)
( Jul. 30th, 2014 12:34 pm)
This article illustrates core problems with corporate personhood pretty well.
ironphoenix: Raven flying (Raven)
( Jul. 15th, 2014 02:08 pm)
LJ notifications appear to be down at the moment... if there's something you're looking for a reply to, please comment here!
ironphoenix: (pirate)
( Jul. 12th, 2014 07:55 pm)
It's been a pretty stereotypically surburbanite day... lunch and shopping at the Carp Farmers' Market, more shopping at Pesto's Deli, Jojo Coco, and a hardware store, a bit of gaming, weeding the back lawn (there were some pretty impressive bull thistles growing there, up to well past 4 feet) and dinner cooked on the BBQ. Well, the organic pork chops were cooked on the BBQ, the organic greens went into a salad with an Italian dressing made with fancy olive oil and balsamic vinegar from the deli, and we warmed up the organic dark sourdough bread in the oven.

We so yuppie.
ironphoenix: (gear)
( May. 4th, 2014 09:29 am)
A couple of gifs for your entertainment:

Basketball fakeout

Tire roll
ironphoenix: (academia)
( Apr. 30th, 2014 11:02 am)
Chameleon vine imitates host plants; mechanism unknown. (Ganked from [ profile] theweaselking.)

In other plant news, the walking palms apparently don't actually migrate by growing new roots as they are alleged to... it made a good story, though.
ironphoenix: (wake up call)
( Apr. 28th, 2014 08:53 am)
I just read an interesting book review of C. Wright Mills' White Collar: The American Middle Classes. The book was written over 60 years ago, but the article is fresh, and makes me keen to read the book. The article highlights some of the issues we white-collar folks contend with and how the Mills anticipated them; I can recommend reading at least that much!
ironphoenix: (I love my work)
( Apr. 3rd, 2014 11:27 am)
The Expert: a 7.5-minute comedy sketch depicting something which is excruciatingly familiar to most tech-employed folks. Neither [ profile] soul_diaspora nor I could watch it all the way through on first viewing, so painful was it.
ironphoenix: (I love my work)
( Mar. 20th, 2014 04:51 pm)
Dark Dungeons is coming, a movie based on the famous graphic novel!
ironphoenix: (gull)
( Mar. 19th, 2014 03:11 pm)
We're safely back from Costa Rica!

Lots of fun, lots of rest, some good food, many, many birds and beasts, lots of reading... not a cheap vacation, but memorable! A few highlights:

* A couple of full-day birding tours with Johan Chaves, a very friendly and skilled guide; by full-day, I mean that he picked us up before sunrise, 05:30, and dropped us off after sunset, after 18:30. We saw all kinds of birds; [ profile] soul_diaspora will likely post a list soon. The macaws and toucans ("the Froot Loops bird!") get lots of attention, and are certainly good to see, but there are many, many less well-known ones well worth seeing.

* Dining at Rancho el León, a great little restaurant close to our resort (about half an hour's walk) which had very good typical Costa Rican food at quite reasonable prices, and a very friendly owner to boot.

* A ziplining outing to remember at El Santuario, with 9 lines in and above the jungle canopy, several so long that the end couldn't be seen from the start (the longest was almost a mile), plus some very neat cable bridges.

The bit of Spanish I learned through Duolingo came in quite handy... I generally didn't need to carry a phrasebook, between the bits of English many folks spoke and my rudimentary Spanish.

And now, back to Canadian weather, work, and laundry... pictures may appear sometime, as a follow-up!
ironphoenix: (slicktory)
( Feb. 28th, 2014 02:09 pm)
I'm off to Costa Rica on Sunday morning with [ profile] soul_diaspora!

We're going for two weeks, staying at a timeshare via my parents near Quepos. There will be nature-watching, ziplining, sailing, snorkeling, and lots of general relaxing. We went 15 years ago on honeymoon, and this is our first time back. I gather things have changed some, modernizing a bit; it'll be interesting to see.

I expect to be pretty much internet-free while we're down there; don't shut down LJ while we're gone, m'k?
ironphoenix: (headpiano)
( Feb. 25th, 2014 12:44 pm)
So, here's the meat of a Bill that has passed the legislature in Arizona, and is up to the Governor for approval or veto:

B. Except as provided in subsection C of this section, state action shall not substantially burden a person's exercise of religion even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability.
C. state action may substantially burden a person's exercise of religion only if the opposing party demonstrates that application of the burden to the person's exercise of religion in this particular instance is both:
1. In furtherance of a compelling governmental interest.
2. The least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest.
F. For the purposes of this section, "state action" means any action by the government or the implementation or application of any law, including state and local laws, ordinances, rules, regulations and policies, whether statutory or otherwise, and whether the implementation or application is made or attempted to be made by the government or nongovernmental persons.

This Religious Freedom Bill gives people the freedom to do pretty much anything in the name of religion. Oh, and by the way, in the definitions section, "'Person' includes any individual, association, partnership, corporation, church, religious assembly or institution, estate, trust, foundation or other legal entity."

If this doesn't get vetoed, I'm not goin' to Arizona anytime soon.

Thanks to [ profile] goldsquare for drawing my attention to this!
ironphoenix: (wake up call)
( Feb. 24th, 2014 01:26 pm)
This is an important thing: The Department of Justice Public Consultation on Prostitution-Related Offences in Canada.
On December 20, 2013, in the case of Bedford v. Attorney General of Canada, the Supreme Court of Canada found three Criminal Code prostitution offences to be unconstitutional and of no force or effect. This decision gives Parliment one year to respond before the judgment takes effect. Input received through this consultation will inform the Government's response to the Bedford decision.
This is your chance to influence a socially significant law... speak up!
ironphoenix: (flaming)
( Feb. 24th, 2014 01:15 pm)
The kenjutsu seminar was about as intense as expected, with lots of fine-tuning of things we knew, and also 3 katas (traditional scripted sequences) new to me, 2 with shinai (split bamboo sticks wrapped in leather, designed to allow safe impact) and one with jo (a stick about 4 feet long; in aikido, we use a hardwood one, but for kenjutsu, it's made of bamboo and is thus whippier). The visiting instructor is extremely clear, giving specific tips addressing many of the difficulties I and others were struggling with. The jo techniques are especially tricky to practice safely, since it's often wielded one-handed in broad, whipping sweeps and spins; still, we managed to get through the weekend without injuries.

Tonight and tomorrow will likely be my last martial arts classes before leaving for Costa Rica... by then, I think my body will appreciate the rest!
In a couple of weeks, one of the folks I met in Edmonton last year will be coming to teach a kenjutsu seminar here in Ottawa. The schedule is rather more substantial than most of our aikido seminars, which run 6 hours spread over 2 days: this one will have almost twice that over the 2 days. I will likely do most or all of it... wish me luck!
I was a bit taken by surprised at how well this one went over... I thought it was a bit less tightly written than I like, but quite a few people were moved by it enough to tell me about their reactions. However often I do this, it always feels like a risk: I'm never sure of reaching people. Perhaps this one addresses the soul of my parish in a way it needed right now.

Anyway, without further ado, here's my reflection on the salt of the Earth and the light of the world. )
ironphoenix: Raven flying (Raven)


( Jan. 25th, 2014 10:49 am)
I've stuck with LJ for a lot of years now; I don't really do much on GooglePlus or LinkedIn, and I'm not even on FaceBook, Tumblr, or Twitter. Yesterday was the Church's " 48th World Day of Social Communications", celebrated on the occasion of the memorial of St. Francis of Sales, patron saint of communicators. Pope Francis' message has a paragraph which expresses what I want to see more of again here in LJ-land:

It is not enough to be passers-by on the digital highways, simply 'connected'; connections need to grow into true encounters. We cannot live apart, closed in on ourselves. We need to love and to be loved. We need tenderness. Media strategies do not ensure beauty, goodness and truth in communication. The world of media also has to be concerned with humanity, it too is called to show tenderness. The digital world can be an environment rich in humanity; a network not of wires but of people. The impartiality of media is merely an appearance; only those who go out of themselves in their communication can become a true point of reference for others. Personal engagement is the basis of the trustworthiness of a communicator.

Most social media encourage shallowness; I hope to keep more depth here.
ironphoenix: (bookgasm)
( Dec. 18th, 2013 04:59 pm)
It seems that quite a few great creators worked only in the mornings. I don't exactly consider my reflections as being in the same league as these folks' work, but I certainly find that I write them in the mornings, generally on Saturdays, before interacting with anyone else. Design work, I can do anytime, but inspiration-driven writing seems to require more specific psychological conditions.
Reflection for 14-15 December, 2013
3rd Sunday of Advent, Year C

Text: Isaiah 35:1-6a, 10; Psalm 72:1-2, 7-8, 12-13, 17; James 5:7-10; Matthew 11:2-11.

Shorter than usual... )
ironphoenix: (flaming)
( Nov. 10th, 2013 09:05 am)
I wrote this in the context of a discussion in my parish's LGBT & Straight Alliance group. The question of the duality and complementarity of gender as expressed in Genesis (and referenced specifically by Jesus) was raised, and how to square that with homosexuality, bisexuality, transgenderedness, etc.1 This is a rather deeper and harder question than addressing the "clobber passages" which refer specifically to various kinds of homosexual activity.

Thoughts on tradition, myth, modernity, and diversity. )
1: ETA; see comments.
ironphoenix: Raven flying (Raven)
( Oct. 21st, 2013 01:24 pm)
I just picked up a few new games:

Tzolk'in: The Mayan Calendar is a worker-placement game in which workers can perform more advanced actions by waiting, as wheels turn over time to move them to new actions. This is the most "serious" of the new games I got.

Galaxy Trucker is a simultaneous-play spaceship-building and -racing game, created by the same designer (Vlaada Chvatil) as Space Alert and Through the Ages. I got the Anniversary Edition, which has both expansions and a bit more, so there's lots to work with here.

The Ladies of Troyes is an expansion for Troyes, a clever worker-placement game with dice which nevertheless retains decent game balance; the expansion promises to add more variety and replayability. [ profile] ilanikhan is a fan of this one, only partly for thematic reasons.

Small World Underground is an alternative twist on Small World, a lighthearted wargame which [ profile] soul_diaspora and I have been playing quite a lot. The two can also be combined for even more chaos. I believe this now fills out my set of expansions and variants in the Small World family, and should keep us having fun for a good while!
ironphoenix: (bookgasm)
( Oct. 20th, 2013 02:06 pm)
This seems to happen to me whenever I get close to a bookstore.

ironphoenix: (tunez)
( Oct. 12th, 2013 01:56 pm)
This may be a bit late for the more connected among you, but anyway, a couple of somewhat new things that I ran across:

The Fox plus Gangnam Style gives this mashup... earworm2, anyone?

Also, I ran across Arcade Fire's Reflektor on the radio and liked that too.
ironphoenix: (academia)
( Sep. 8th, 2013 11:33 am)
Michael Kimmel at Dartmouth (1h28m). I don't usually watch, let alone repost, all of long videos; this one is worth it. He addresses two things, and links them; I think each one is worth hearing about, even if I'm not sure I agree with his attempt to make them All One Thing. The two things are: a proposed new phase of human cultural development between adolescence and adulthood, based on cultural practice in the (North)Western world; and markers and rituals of masculinity and their relation to the changes in women's gender.

The first part gets into the question, "why are twentysomethings not acting like 'grown-ups'?" His answers are worth considering.

As to the second part, for those who were asking that famous question, "But what about the men?", this is a pretty good answer. He doesn't ignore women by any means, but there is a really solid treatment of masculinity here.

I'm not sure I buy his attempt to link these two things as closely as he does; I think his fieldwork among the sports teams, fraternities, and sororities of US colleges may have slanted his views a bit there. Still, I think it's a video well worth the considerable time investment.

[Note: there's about a 5-minute intro before Michael comes on.]
ironphoenix: Raven flying (Raven)
( Aug. 31st, 2013 10:18 am)
First off, it was great to see so many of you at Pride last week!

My mother-in-law has been in town for a while, and we went up to Quebec City Monday and Tuesday for a whirlwind tour: we mainly hit the Old City, Aquarium, and Montmorency Falls. There's a lot of good food to be had in that town, too!

Work has been crazy busy this week; I think I have to give up these mini-vacations as a failed experiment, since they are just too short for people to feel the need to deal with anything in my absence, so stuff just piles up and rots for the couple of days I'm away. Henceforth, I think that I'll generally take a week or more at a time, so that people know that they can't just let everything wait for my return.

Today and tomorrow, I'm participating in a kenjutsu seminar. A teacher of a style even older than the one I practice is visiting town, and offered to teach a seminar for folks with some sword experience. The schedule is a bit odd, with a late-evening session tonight (see previous post) and a midday session tomorrow, each running 3 hours. I'm looking forward to it: this is the oldest martial art with a continuous lineage in Japan, and was the art studied by the founder of the style I study.

I'm also looking forward to some quiet time with [ profile] soul_diaspora tomorrow evening and Monday, after all this excitement!
ironphoenix: (preach)
( Aug. 24th, 2013 08:36 pm)
I'll be walking in tomorrow's Pride parade. There is a contingent of us from my parish; I don't know exactly how many of us there will be, but it's sanctioned by the parish itself (we even have T-shirts!). I have no idea whether there will be any reaction from the wider church institution. I think it's an important step for us in the Church who look at Jesus' life and teachings, and imagine what his radical inclusivity might be today.

To those who have been turned away by the church: I'm sorry, and we're trying to change things for the better.
ironphoenix: Raven flying (Raven)
( Aug. 7th, 2013 12:24 pm)
The kenjutsu seminar was very enjoyable, and very different from last year's adventures at Aikido Summer Camp. There were perhaps fifty of us in total, and I met nearly everyone who is currently practicing this style at a senior level. The hardwood floors were good for traction and stability, but hard on my feet; I wore socks for some of the practice, and was far from alone in doing so. The soke (head of the school) is a brilliant, enthusiastic, and energetic man; I enjoyed his classes immensely. The sempai (senior students, singular sempai) were great to train with and learn from, too.

All told, I figure I got somewhere a little over 20 hours of practice during my trip, at various venues: the community center where they usually hold classes, the school where the seminar was held, and my host's home: I stayed with one of the senior students, who has a dojo in his house (it replaced an indoor pool), but was unfortunately unable to practice due to injury. He also has a couple of cats, to which I was surprisingly unallergic, and a pretty good wine and scotch collection, which he was quite happy to share.

One of the students who had been to Japan recently brought back a bunch of hakama storage cloths to give away, so I now have a very nice blue and bronze one. I may also have a line on a second-hand iaito (metal practice sword, blunt, not designed to be sharpened or used in combat) at a good price; we'll see what comes of that.

A couple of us went to visit the Muttart Conservatories, which were nice, but not all I had expected: I had the idea that there were birds and butterflies, but no, just plants. Pretty and interesting plants, of which some pictures may show up (here or on [ profile] soul_diaspora's LJ) sometime, but very much vegetable-kingdom plants. A few of us also went to the Heritage Festival, where we ate some interesting food, saw a few demos, and generally relaxed a bit between fairly intense classes.

To finish the trip, my luggage just got delivered: WestJet mistakenly off-loaded it when I transferred in TO, but to their credit, called me over as I got off the plane in Ottawa and told me so right away, rather than making me wait for it to fail to show up on the carousel. As usually happens, they delivered it directly to me when it arrived.

I'm glad I have today to recover, and will likely skip tomorrow's aikido practice too. Friday, I'll teach the kenjutsu class, since my sensei and sempai are all away. I'll introduce a couple of the changes and refinements from the seminar, but not overload students with all of it in one go.
ironphoenix: Raven flying (Raven)
( Aug. 1st, 2013 09:49 am)
I'm leaving today for Edmonton, there to take part in a kenjutsu seminar on the weekend and a bunch of extra classes. Last year, I went to Aikido Summer Camp, and had a good time; this is this year's big martial arts outing. I expect to practice some 30 hours between Friday evening and Tuesday afternoon, assuming my body holds out. It's promising to be intense and fun, with local students putting several of us (including me) up during our stay.

This is kind of a big deal for us, it being the first such seminar held by the soke (lineage-holder, chief instructor of the system), and the first chance he will have to meet the Ottawa students--and of course, the first chance we will have to learn directly from him. Seven of us are making the trip, including Sensei J., which means quite a bit of money in airfare.

I get back late Tuesday night; between now and then, my online-ness will be spotty at best.

Also, this will be the farthest north I'll have been in Canada, but not globally: Helsinki is more than a degree further North, and I've been past the Arctic Circle in Lapland.
Leaving for work yesterday, I heard a hissing noise from the basement, and thought it odd, so I went downstairs to check it out. I'm glad I did... the water pressure regulator had cracked, and was spraying water into the front of the basement.

There was much kerfuffle, but minimal actual damage, since the basement is unfinished and there was less than a quarter-inch of water at the most. We managed to get the part replaced yesterday afternoon, and are now drying stuff out. It came to a few hundred bucks for a shop-vac and plumbing costs, some hours of hassle, and an opportunity to get rid of stuff that we don't really need and never use anyway.

The plumber's diagnosis of the cause of cracking was overtightening in the original installation. If you do your own plumbing work, it might be wise to keep in mind that too tight is as bad as too loose.


ironphoenix: Raven flying (Default)


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