ä´r1kv'  (n.)  A place or collection containing records, documents, or other materials of historical interest.

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Friday, April 28, 2006

Way back in 1999, I created an orchestral Star Trek theme, having been inspired by Jerry Goldsmith's theme to "First Contact". I called it "Adagio for Trek" and it became the unofficial theme for Outpost 10F. Now, almost 7 years later, I've gone back and reworked that piece that's always had a special place in my heart. With a more skillful arrangement and nicer synthesizers (thanks to GarageBand and the Symphony Jam Pack), it's now given a treatment more as I feel it deserves.

So enjoy the new Adagio for Trek.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Now that I've depressed everyone in a failed attempt to engage in techno-environmental socio-political discussion, I suppose I should mention how my week is going...

I saw Ladytron the other night at the Commodore. It's a nice venue, very classy. Before the show began I was standing in line and saw the two leads, Helen Marnie and Mira Aroyo come out the front doors (Mira's hair is hard to miss) and sort of wander by in a "will anyone recognize us?" casual way. Someone behind me stepped out of line to say hello. I opted to stay put because I didn't feel I had anything more to say than "Hi, I like your music." Perhaps I still should have.

Anyway, the show was enjoyable. For a change, the opening band didn't stink too badly. In fact, with a little development they might actually be pretty good. Ladytron themselves play well live. They're an electronica group that shuns prerecorded material as much as possible. Real drums and vintage Korg synthesizers are played to generate a true live performance. I was a little disappointed by their live version of "Destroy Everything You Touch" which lacked the overall cleanness and enjoyable timbral clashiness in the synths which the record version possesses.

Lots of birthdays this week. Must remember to remember them all.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

It was 20 years ago today that the world's worst nuclear accident occurred at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in the Ukraine, and these past few months the event has been continued source of morbid fascination for me.

The BBC has a very good summary of the events that caused the disaster. But the fact is that the whole event was a monumental edifice of human error that it would be impossible to explain the entire scenario in any way which would qualify as succinct. Operation, design, and disaster management all bear the earmarks of Soviet halfassedness.

  • Positive void coefficient: In a nuclear reactor which uses water as a coolant, steam bubbles can form in the system. When this happens, less cooling takes places. Also, the nuclear reaction speeds up because water absorbs neutrons better than steam. Both these effects raise the temperature inside the reactor, which creates more steam. A feedback loop rapidly occurs which can lead to a steam explosion, which happened in the Chernobyl accident. (read more about void coefficients)
  • Graphite tipped control rods: In nuclear reactors, control rods (which absorb neutrons) are inserted into the reactor to slow down the reaction, and removed to accelerate it. The boron carbide control rods in Chernobyl's RBMK reactor were tipped with graphite, which is transparent to neutrons. In an emergency situation, a nuclear operator will likely order the full reinsertion of all control rods to halt nuclear reaction. In the case of the original RBMK, performing such a procedure would initially speed up the reaction.
  • No containment: The majority of nuclear reactors worldwide are incased within steel and concrete containment buildings which are several feet thick. Not only can they protect the reactor from external attack, but in the event of catastrophic events, such as meltdown, the reactor building is meant to protect the outside world from any contamination. Original Soviet reactors had no containment structures. When the steam explosion occurred at Chernobyl, the roof was blown off. The fresh oxygen and intense heat sparked a fire, and smoke lofted nuclear materials high into the atmosphere.
  • Underqualified personnel: The plant manager and chief engineer of the plant were only familiar with conventional plants. The deputy chief engineer had some experience operating the reactors used on nuclear subs, and claimed that instability of the RBMK reactor designed was never explained to them.
  • Violation of safety procedures: The plant operators engaged in a ridiculous experiment to operate the reactor's safety systems on minimal power. Several safety regulations were violated.

It goes on, too. Wikipedia has an excellent article on the subject, as usual. The world nuclear association has an explanation of the RBMK reactor's deficiencies. There's also the accounts of journalist Mary Mycio's travels throughout the 30KM exclusion zone around the site. Some of the photos are pretty amazing. I picked up National Geographic's April issue on the subject. I encourage anyone with an inkling for science to have a read through some of these links. It's important to understand the events. Nuclear energy is no toy, and failure to handle it with the utmost seriousness can have dire consequences which effect both present and future generations.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Not-Quite Crazy
Not-quite by Patsy Cline

Crazy, you're crazy for feeling so lonely
You're crazy, crazy for feeling so blue
You know I'll love you as long as you want me
I won't leave you for somebody new

Worry, why do you let yourself worry?
Wondering what in the world did you do?

Crazy for thinking I won't love and hold you
You're crazy for trying and crazy for crying
'Cause I'm crazy in love with you

Crazy for thinking I won't love and hold you
You're crazy for trying and crazy for crying
'Cause I'm crazy in love with you

PS - Sorry Patsy... here's the original.

Sunday, April 23, 2006


I'm falling backwards
A drop of dye in the ocean
Diluted and dissolving
All thought and emotion

I'm shooting skyward
A leaf caught in a windstorm
Untethered and chaotic
Slowly losing form

Stop watering me down
Just don't make me drown
Stop watering down
My renown

I used to be so special
A shining star in the night
But now there are so many stars
That no one can see my light

Stop watering me down
Just don't make me drown
Stop watering down
My renown

The currents tear us to pieces
We're all rent to tatters
Our sense of self releases
And nothing else really matters

I'm falling backwards
A drop of dye in the sea
Dispersing and becoming
Until we all agree

  - Jesse Schooff

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

At work today I was listening to my favorite recording of Mozart's Piano concerto no. 21 in A major. I've been a fan of the recording for 8 years since I heard it on my Basic Musicianship CDs in college. But today for the first time my ears detected an extra level;the pianist moans as he plays.

This is nothing unique, I remember the first time I heard Samuel Barber's Piano Sonata it was played excellently by Willian Doppmann. I was rather distracted however by his almost orgasmic moaning. Between the third and fourth movements the man actually turned away from the audience and groaned loudly into his hands for several seconds (awk-ward).

Then there's Canada's own power-virtuoso Glenn Gould, who hummed along somewhat incoherently during his exquisite performances of JS Bach's keyboard repertoire.

Pianos: as good as sex. (for some, apparently)

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

A recent striking trend among veteran environmentalists is a switch to endorsing nuclear power as the most environmental solution for meeting the vast energy needs of the modern world. Accidents such as Chernobyl and Three Mile Island have stalled any further expansion of nuclear energy. However, its easy to argue that Chernobyl was the result of typically poor Soviet safety standards and dangerously underqualified personnel. Sound design prevented the release of any radiation at the Three Mile Island plant. Today, nuclear fuel can be continually recycled, and while waste fuel does remain radioactive for thousands of years, it looses 99.9% of its radioactivity within 40 years.

This pales in stark contrast to the effects of fossil fuels. Not only are they drastically changing our climate, but they are becoming expensive and scarce. 5,000 people are killed annually in coal-mining accidents, to say nothing of those who suffer long-term health problems from inhaled dust.

Patrick Moore, a co-founder of GreenPeace, makes the case for nuclear in this article in the Washington Post. The points he makes are very interesting. For the moment, sustaining our way of life whilst doing the least harm to the planet may require an environmentally-unorthodox solution.

Monday, April 17, 2006

The moment I stepped off the bus to walk home was when the cloudburst hit. The rain came down and droplets pelted on me, so big that they often bounced off in varying directions.

And I thought, "Hmm... this isn't so bad."

Because the sun was also shining down on me, and it was warm. It was almost quite pleasant. Of course, my leather jacket was getting soaked, and I wasn't sure how much of a soaking my laptop bag could take before things got critical. Ironic that if I had been naked, I would have been just fine... until the cops arrested me, anyway.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

This is such a ridiculously frivolous toy, but of course it's also really, really cool.

Starting to feel better now. Need to buy more tea, orange juice and tissues.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Sick today. If nothing improves, I'll probably be sick tomorrow as well. I hate these colds that just totally incapacitate. It's all you can do to just keep filling yourself full of orange juice, tea, soup and crackers whilst continually emptying the contents of your sinuses into raggedy tissues.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Didn't leave the house today, or get out of my PJs. Made breakfast with Angela. Watched the original "The Producers" with Gene Wilder. There were a couple of things I probably should have done, but I didn't feel like doing them. Today was a "me" day.

Much introspection is happening among my group of friends. Why are you with someone? Are you spending too much time with them? Are you dependent on them? Is your relationship based on specious attributes?

It's so nice to be able to be absolutely sure that you're with someone for all the right reasons. To not have to suppress that shadow of doubt in the back of your mind that you know is probably right but can't bring yourself to face. To be comfortable but not feel like you've settled. To be stupid goo-goo in love all the time.

Plus, seeing how incredibly hot they look in a nice skirt is a great bonus.

Take care, everyone. Good night for now. :-)

Thursday, April 06, 2006

The last 24 hours were not fun. They were also terribly embarrassing. Let me tell you how it went.

So yesterday I noticed that my pants were considerably less comfortable than the last time I wore them. At some point in the evening I decided to do away with them and put on my PJs. It was at this point I noticed a bump under my skin in the tissue of my thigh. An unidentified bump, about the size of a cashew?

Naturally, I flip out: I must have cancer, and this must be a tumor. Perhaps lymphoma. I eventually realize that I will not be able to stop freaking out about this until I can see a doctor and he tells me what IT is. So I call up Andrew and tell him that I won't be in to work in the morning because I need to see a doctor. After fidgeting nervously in bed for a while longer I call up Angela because it's the only thing that can bring me some momentary comfort. Angela, hearing how distressed I am, comes all the way out to my place (on a school night, no less) to try to calm my hypochondriacal anxiety. A poor night's sleep for both.

The wait at the walk-in clinic is about two hours, plenty of time for my mind to play out all the horrible scenarios. Living with a terminal illness, losing my hair to chemo. Finally, I get to see the good Doctor. I tell him about the "mystery bump". So he examines it, then looks at me in my obviously anxious state, and says, "Well first off, it's NOT cancer."

I breath an obvious sigh of relief. No, what I have is a subcutaneous fluid-filled abscess, probably brought about by an infected blood vessel or ingrown hair.

In short: I have a pussbag on my thigh.

Wow. The sheer magnitude of unnecessary stress I put myself through over a puss-bag is certainly astounding. I think I'm going to have to take some time here to recover. Even now, I'm writing this post with my laptop on the seat cushion in front of me rather than on my lap, terrified of the 5.8 Ghz waves emanating from it's wireless card, which probably amount to as much radiation exposure as I'd get from standing beside a microwave oven for a minute.

I'm really pissed off at myself right now. Hopefully, this has at least provided you all with some amusement.

Captain Pussbag, signing off.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Most of you probably don't care, but Apple has released BootCamp: a utility which allows you to easily dual-boot Mac OS X and Windows XP on Intel-based Macs. This means that at startup time you can chose which operating system to boot into. Game or use business-productivity software on your XP installation, then switch to the OS X side for creativity software and general computing. Ooo... the power.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

The internet was rife with delightfully whimsical misinformation yesterday as April Fool's Day unfolded upon us all. First off, Google announced the creation of Google Romance, a tool using the search-engine giant's vast data-sorting capabilities to find the one person who's right for you. Blizzard announced that the new Alliance race for WoW would be wisps. Wizards of the Coast announced their D20 modern-based My Little Ponies RPG (check out the pink beholder at the bottom of the release). ThinkGeek announced several amazing new products. Among them were wireless power cables, the grow your own 1UP mushroom kit, and the iZilla everything media player. ThinkGeek also had sidebar ads for "Playstation 3: Now Shipping!" Slashdot changed to a more "young female oriented" all-pink design which included the new slogan "OMG!!! PONIES!!!!" Nerds really took the pink theme and ran with it, and soon we were informed of the new BarbieOS: a Linux distribution released by Mattel.

You ARE the pony.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

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