Monthly Archives: January 2007

Connor, Warrior Fish

So I got a fish.

Thumbnail: Connor side-view

A Siamese fighting fish, or Betta, named Connor to be exact. I wanted something lively in my room, since I spend so much time in it. When I went to the store with Pat and Jen, they noticed that one fish was constantly flaring and swimming in circles, almost like he was pacing. The fish in the cup next to him (to keep them separate or they fight to the death) kept setting him off, so naturally, he was the one. As a clowntail variant, his fins are extended long like a comb.

I also got some live plants with which came a tiny snail, so small that he was transparent at first. After a few weeks, he grew considerably bigger, and survived a couple hours out of water while I was cleaning out the tank. Bronwen named him Humphrey, but he has since died, found dried up at the top of the tank one morning.

Bettas are funny creatures. Supposedly, they have personalities (for fish), but I can never tell with pets I can’t touch. Sure, he swims towards me every time I turns on the lights or enter the room, but for all I know he could think of me as food. I can only tell that he’s very aggressive, flaring out his body and swimming back and forth whenever something gets near enough. It’s like he’s a caged gladiator, restless about his next battle. Dolly likes to sit in my chair and watch him go.

Thumbnail: Connor flares
Thumbnail: Connor flares
Thumbnail: Connor macro
Thumbnail: Pale Connor

I named him Connor, after the immortal Connor MacLeod from Highlander, because THERE CAN ONLY BE ONE (Betta in a bowl at a time).

Kilted Groomsmen

“You’re the perfect woman.”

She realizes this as she writes down my chest, waist, and hip size, then asks rhetorically, “What are the typically ideal measurements?”.

Aaron and I could only look at each other, as we had no idea.

“36–26–36.”

“Wow, so you’re a really hot chick!”, says Aaron.

Hi-LAR-ious. Years of confidence I’ve gained, girlfriends convincing me that I’m not too skinny, gone.

Reduced to a male fantasy, I’m my own dream girl.

“And how much do you weigh?”

“(Pause)…113”.

“After he’s had a buffet”, Aaron adds. My friend the comedian. To console me, he says, “It’s okay. Remember, you’ll be paired up with Jenn in the party”.

My counterpart. The tiniest girl I know.

Thumbnail: Aaron's wedding band

In the last few years I’ve been to weddings for other friends, but Aaron’s the first out of my core group to get married (although Pat got engaged before him). To pay tribute to his culture, he wants the wedding to be a bit Scottish — something his Popa is especially pleased about.

As a groomsman, I’ll be wearing a kilt. As a Chinese guy, I’ll be feeling a little out-of-place.

Thumbnail: Matching the sporran and kilt colours
Thumbnail: Comparing sporrans
Thumbnail: Ghillie Brogues
Thumbnail: Ghillie Brogues

He asked me to give him a hand in shopping for the regalia. What a culture shock. Looking through catalogues of claidheamh, sporrans, Sgian Dubhs, Ghillies Brogues. I can’t even pronounce the names. My tongue wasn’t made for these kinds of inflections.

“It’ll take you guys longer to get dressed than the bride”.

Before we leave I remember to ask, “Can we go traditional?”, with Aaron adding, “My Popa would be pretty upset if we didn’t”.

Traditional. The euphemism for commando. The euphemism for bear-ass naked.

“Don’t worry, everything is dry-cleaned”, say the woman reassuringly.

It’s only after we leave that I realize everything but the shirt is made of wool.

I’ll be scratching my balls through the whole service.

The Bias of Insecurity

I like to think that humans are, in general, cerebral beings, unaffected by bias or emotion.

But every time I’m met with a bigot, who has nothing to cling to but the strength of their opinions, I lose this hope.

The more they speak, the more they prove themselves as incapable of accepting anything but their own beliefs. Added to this is a lack of self-awareness, causing them believe that they’re not closed-minded, they’re just right.

Often it betrays an insecurity. You can tell that underneath their words, they harbour a subconscious feeling that they’re wrong. To make up for this, they express themselves strongly enough to convince themselves that they’re right.

As logically as you explain things, step-by-step, premise to conclusion, they won’t understand. They’ll never be able to accept the truth, and remain completely ignorant.

It’s impossible to have a discussion with someone like this.

The discussion is superficial, and the issue lies within the person themselves.

9rules

I generally don’t like blog networks. Too often they’re superficial, cheaply constructed communities used by the creators to give themselves a sense of belonging and purpose in the blogosphere. Some of the most prominent examples of this are on Livejournal, where anyone will create a clique if they’re an emo kid, a self-proclaimed “hot mom”, or even happen to hate Rachael Ray.

There was only one community that caught my eye in the four years I’ve been blogging. Several prolific sites I frequent, such as graphicPush, Snook, 456 Berea Street, and even Lorelle feature a small leaf on their site. I had to learn more about this little universal logo that was on many of the sites that inspired me, and the network called 9rules.

9rules logo

I discovered that they’re the only community with a philosophy and quality with which I agreed. As on their website, “9rules is a community of the best weblogs in the world on a variety of topics. We started 9rules to give passionate writers more exposure and to help readers find great blogs on their favorite subjects. It’s difficult to find sites worth returning to, so 9rules brings together the very best of the independent web all under one roof.”

Their philosophy is based on a set of nine rules to live by:

  1. Love what you do.
  2. Never stop learning.
  3. Form works with function.
  4. Simple is beautiful.
  5. Work hard, play hard.
  6. You get what you pay for.
  7. When you talk, we listen.
  8. Must constantly improve.
  9. Respect your inspiration.

Although I can say that I agree and follow every single one of them, number eight particularly resonated with me. It’s one of my reasons for living, and partially why I started blogging in the first place.

For once, I felt compelled to join a community.

Becoming a member, however, isn’t a simple task. Every few months, they open a 24 hour window for people to submit their blogs. 9rules doesn’t have a specific criteria for what to accept. Sites are judged on consistency and quality of material, as well the passion for the subjects being blogged.

The community leaders go through every site together, often several times, before deciding whether to let someone join. They also maintain an exclusivity clause; members aren’t allowed to be part of any other community. There was even a purge once, to clean the network of any sites whose quality had dropped.

In the past, the acceptance rates have been between 8–16%. The most recent round (the fifth) was last October, with 1190 blogs being submitted. At the end of this round, the number of accepted members stands at a tentative 134.

Two weeks ago, I found out that I’m one of them.