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.