Monthly Archives: June 2006

Character Is Destiny

Thumbnail: Reading papers

An hour before arriv­ing, he calls me, excited, to let me know that he’s run­ning late. He explains that he got caught up in the cal­cu­la­tions for my natal chart. Out of the hun­dreds of read­ings he’s done, both per­son­ally and pro­fes­sion­ally, he hasn’t seen a chart like mine. It’s described as a bun­dle, where all ten plan­ets are con­tained within 1/3 of the 360° chart. This means that my energy is con­cen­trated, focused, self-driven.

The read­ing takes four hours of cal­cu­la­tions and prepa­ra­tion, with an hour-and-a-half ses­sion of thor­ough expla­na­tion. After help­ing him with his new com­puter last month, a triv­ial favour for me but a big one to him and his fam­ily, he offered a read­ing in return. I hap­pily accepted, never being one to dis­miss such a unique offer. He swore me to secrecy because he’s retired, and will only do this ser­vice as a spe­cial favour.

Before he begins explain­ing though, he tells me that I can take the infor­ma­tion he gives me for what it’s worth. He doesn’t tell for­tunes, he sim­ply sees pat­terns in the num­bers. It’s up to us, our per­son­al­ity, our deci­sions, to deter­mine our fate. “Character is des­tiny”, he says.

I can­not describe this man.

There’s too much to him. Too many facets, too deep a per­son­al­ity. He’s a book unto him­self. I could explain as much as I could about him, and one would still have no idea what to expect when meet­ing him. Even today, he sur­prises me every time I see him. I tell peo­ple that he’s a stay-at-home dad, an ath­lete, a writer, an astrol­o­gist, but I haven’t really described him at all.

The chart offers a sub­tle glimpse. The stokes are wide, large, and deep with con­vic­tion. It’s a mix of cur­sive and print­ing, a gen­eral insight­ing into his flex­i­bil­ity. His notes are messy, cor­rected. He prides him­self on being accu­rate, not vague like the far­ci­cal daily horo­scopes, and it’s for this rea­son that I start to believe him. There are things that he describes to me — my penchent for revenge, my philo­soph­i­cal pur­suits, my affin­ity for cer­tain sports — that slowly bring my ever-present, skep­ti­cal guard down. He says that I have a nat­ural cre­ativ­ity, that I’m visu­ally artis­tic, that I see colours dif­fer­ently from other peo­ple. Because of this, he encour­ages me to start mak­ing money off my art within the next 15 years, or I’ll have missed a good oppor­tu­nity. Sometimes it goes over my head; the posi­tions of my plan­ets, my houses, my sagit­tar­ius ascen­dant. He goes into so much detail about my career, romance, sports, travel, and friends that I can’t begin to list it all.

Although there are a few points of inac­cu­racy, I have trust in what he tells me. Ceasar said “men will­ingly believe what they wish”, and per­haps I’m sim­ply one of these men. So will this change me? Will I act on these new insights and become a self-fulfilling prophecy? Will I dis­card them, and end up with the same fate? Maybe it’s wrong alto­gether, some sooth­ing snake-oil, although I don’t think this is true for rea­sons I can’t explain. It’s too soon for me to tell just yet.

All I know is that I’d like to be like this man. I’d like to be as com­plex, as inde­scrib­able as he is.

Maybe one day, if des­tiny is character.

HomeStar - 21st Century Home Planetarium

Featured on Slashdot on June 12th, 2006, under Toys, Space, and Science.

Introduction

Pat once told me that he har­bours an inex­plic­a­ble com­pul­sion to be in space. His belief is that when he’s finally there, he’ll have all the answers. Life. God. 42. The meta­phys­i­cal impli­ca­tions don’t make sense, yet this is what he truly thinks. It’s a strange hole in the log­i­cal being I know as Pat, and only the enig­matic curios­ity of the night sky can do this to someone.

I’m no excep­tion. Something borne in us from child­hood is a fas­ci­na­tion that stems from the unknown. The stars pro­vide enough for us to won­der about for a lifetime.

Unfortunately, for those who live in the city, there’s lit­tle chance to see the sky with­out “sky glow”, the annoy­ing phe­nom­e­non that drowns out a large num­ber of stars vis­i­ble to the naked eye and tele­scope alike. As a by-product of indus­tri­al­iza­tion, light pol­lu­tion has taken the sparkle out of the stars, and this is where the HomeStar comes in.

What Is A HomeStar?

Thumbnail: Hoodie view

According to the offi­cial Homestar web­site, (trans­lated through Babelfish):
“It is the plan­e­tar­ium for world­wide first opti­cal type home. It is pos­si­ble to exceed sev­eral thou­sand num­bers of stars that to project approx­i­mately ten thou­sand thing stars it can see gen­er­ally with naked eye of the human.”

Continue read­ing “HomeStar — 21st Century Home Planetarium”…

A Shattering Of Stability

Last Friday, my mom called me at work.

Do you want the piano?”, she asked.

Sure”. She must have detected the curi­ous hes­i­ta­tion in my voice.

We’re going to be mov­ing soon”, she fur­thered. There was never even a hint of mov­ing before, so I had to ask.

Separately?”

Yup.”

This is how I find out my par­ents are get­ting divorced.

My imme­di­ate feel­ing was that of resigned sad­ness, and a grow­ing resent­ment as a result of this sad­ness. I wished that they couldn’t affect me like this, that they meant noth­ing to me, but in the pit of my stom­ach, I know that they do.

It’s like won­der­ing if you’ll cry when your grand­mother dies, never believ­ing that you will.

Until it happens.

I should have seen it com­ing. A few weeks ago, she called to inform me that she was putting funds in my invest­ment account, so that she would have an acces­si­ble cache of emer­gency funds in case my dad ever left her. Like insur­ance, it’s another thing to have just in case, hop­ing never to need it. Even in my early child­hood, there were mem­o­ries I’ve tried to block out. Bloody gashes, divorce scares, plead­ing for us to stay together. All I ever wanted from them was a nor­mal family.

Thumbnail: Parents 1

Thumbnail: Parents 2

Lately, even in the last few years, every­thing seemed to be going well. The last time I vis­ited, they were doing things together. Dancing. Eating. There was even talk of buy­ing a new car. Now the real­iza­tion is set­ting in. That was the last time I’ll have seen them together. Married. As hus­band and wife. I took a pic­ture of them that week­end, when we went out for dim sum. My dad was order­ing food from the menu, and my mom was pour­ing him tea, arms crossed over his. It’s the last time I’ll see them together like this, and the only pic­ture I have of them.

I don’t even want to think of what the annual fam­ily gath­er­ings are going to be like, or how I’m going to visit them, indi­vid­u­ally, dur­ing the hol­i­days. How I’m going to react if I find out they’re dat­ing again.

All I can say now is that I’m disappointed.

Nick And Ali's Wedding

A trib­ute to Nick and Alison, my old laid-back room­mate (who taught me how to make a mean grilled cheese, offered a sig­nif­i­cant chal­lenge in Counter Strike, and intro­duced me to Lamb) and his new bride.

I would say some­thing about the wed­ding, but the video says it all.


Thumbnail: Brent
Thumbnail: Bronwen
Thumbnail: A Cupcake cake
Thumbnail: Greg and Amanda
Thumbnail: Trolley
Thumbnail: A shot in the mirror
Thumbnail: Signing
Thumbnail: Table settings
Thumbnail: Table six
Thumbnail: Karen in the dark
Thumbnail: Aaron drinks
Thumbnail: Three on the steps
Thumbnail: Final shot

At one point in the night I was run­ning around with my Karachi Outpost strapped on my back, and my cam­corder bag around my shoul­der, feel­ing like a one-man doc­u­men­tary team, even though my focus was on video instead of stills. There are a cou­ple of cam­era issues, such as focus and zoom speed that still bug me when I watch the footage, but until I can afford a Canon XL2 my cheap Hitachi DVD-cam will have to do.

Surprisingly, the eas­i­est part was pick­ing the song, some­thing that can take days itself. I needed a sin­gle track that would work through land­scapes, kiss­ing, and drink­ing, three things that evoke vastly dif­fer­ent emo­tions, and Tulips by Bloc Party was per­fect. Even the tim­ing of the lyrics worked out. I wish I could say that I was able to obtain a score for the music, ana­lyze it, and symet­ri­cally break down the scenes accord­ing to the devel­op­ment. To be hon­est I just didn’t have enough footage, so I just put what I could in the parts that would fit, with­out inter­rupt­ing the flow of the story.

The entire clip took about three solid days to com­plete, half of which was just get­ting the scenes in the right for­mat to work with in Adobe Premier 2.0. I was plagued by video for­mat prob­lems and asyn­chro­nous audio issues. It was also the first time I was able to try this lat­est ver­sion of Premier since I was run­ning 1.5 for a while. The process really pushed the capa­bil­i­ties of my sys­tem; load­ing only Premier with the whole sequence took up 1.6 gigs of RAM. Render time was about 20 min­utes on a dual-core AMD 4400+. Uncompressed video size is almost 2 gigs.

Influences were Michele Gondry from the Hardest Button To Button video, as well as the smart and witty stylings of Spike Jonze.