Fire in the sky & day 2 of mesh07

Ummm…what the hell is going on over there? And what’s going on with the moon?


Today was day 2 of mesh, led off by keynotes Richard Edelman (consensus: kind of boring, but eminently quotable…which is about right since he runs a huge PR firm) and Jim Buckmaster, CEO of Craigslist (consensus: half of the people in the room thought this dude was an alien, since he seems to care little for the profit motive, and a lot about the ways his company runs is antithetical to established business doctrine. Me, I wanted to hug him.).

My optional sessions for the afternoon — “New Media – Teaching Old Markets New Tricks”, “Building a Community – How and Why it Matters” and “Is Fake the New Real? Transparency and Trust” — were all okay, but all kind of ran together for me. Good thing I took notes; I can’t remember anything specific about any of them.

Right after the conference finished many of us went to a pub just down the street, which a) was already packed, b) wasn’t expecting us, c) seems disorganized at the best of times and d) had malfunctioning draft taps. As a result I stayed for only one drink, with the eminently delightful Amy Rae who is beyond any doubt the coolest, most interesting, most fantabulous living being ever to inhabit the earth. She’s smarter than you (whoever you are), she can juggle swords and I believe she invented the monkey. She also goes by the name LiquorPig; look her up.

I’m not sure if I’d go again next year. I’m not learning a whole lot of new stuff and, given my introversion, I’m not meeting a lot of new people. What I am getting is a lot of quotes that I can use to persuade my company to get on this bus, so maybe that’s reason enough to keep going. It doesn’t hurt to be re-energized once a year, being surrounded by people who get it.


"Coupons…you want coupons, don't you?"

Today was day 1 of the mesh conference here in Toronto. I met up with Colin, cursed the caterers for only having bagels to eat, drank as much water as I could and found a seat before the proceedings got underway.

The first (and best) part of today’s schedule was TechCrunch‘s Mike Arrington. He’s a pretty frank guy, and when he lambasted Ted Murphy from PayPerPost — calling him “the most evil person in the room” — things got fun. He also spoke frankly about how silicone valley is in need of another meltdown, to get all the PR and money-grabbing types out and let the real revolutionaries take over again.

Tom Williams and Austin Hill were also good, giving their perspectives as two guys who got very rich very young, and have devoted their time to effecting social change. Hill talked about an interesting new distributed computing power saving tool; think SETI@home for saving electricity. Check it out at

After a sad lunch (strike 2 against the caterers: only vegetarian options were ceasar salad and pasta salad) I saw a very funny panel with Rachel Sklar, Loren Feldman and Cynthia Brumfield about whether or not old media should be scared shitless of new media. The consensus: maybe a little. New media won’t kill old media, but it’ll scare it into reacting.

I also watched panels entitled “Digital Blinders – Are We an Inch Wide and a Mile Deep?” and “The Always-On Generation – What Do Youth Do with the Web?”; the former was more like a university lecture or radio show than panel discussion, while the latter was amusing for how old it made most of the participants feel. A sample snippet:

[panelist] Erica Sum: “How many people in here have been to YTMND?”

[I raise my hand, as do maybe 4 or 5 other people in a room of about 100. Erica then starts talking about how cool it is in a screwy kind of way.]

Confused audience member #1: “Umm, could you maybe describe what that is for people who don’t know?”

Confused audience member #2: “Yeah, like how it’s different than Facebook or MySpace?”

Erica [trying to stifle laughter]: “Oh, it’s not at all.”

You can’t fault the audience members for not knowing what YTMND is, or for thinking it has something to do with social networking, since it’d been the dominant theme of the day. It was just a funny exchange.

Looking forward to tomorrow. Note to self: bring a nutrigrain bar.


Obviously, if I’m at home writing this, I wasn’t able to attend the free screening of Severance that I won passes to earlier this week. I was feeling too wonky, and have too much to do tonight. As soon as I finish writing this I plan to do an hour or two of work while I watch the hockey game. Dagnabbit…I wanted to see that movie too.


Things I’ve learned in the last 36 hours: never wear a white dress shirt to the dentist (that pink shit they polish your teeth with sprays) and screens for balcony doors are outrageously expensive (we’ve been quoted >$400 each).


An instructional video: how to break up with advertisers.

[tags]mesh07, severance, dentist, balcony screen doors, bring the love back[/tags]


It’s a good thing I was super-productive for the early part of this day ’cause around 2:00 I got one badass mofo headache. I assume it’s because of the cold I’m still trying to fight through, but man…it took somethin’ out of me. I managed to do about two more hours of good work, but then it got even worse so I left for home. Now that I have some Advil in me and I can look in the general direction daylight again, I should be able to get some studying and some heavy thinking done tonight.


I won some tickets today for Severance (imdb | rotten tomatoes), which, according to the TIFF website, is a cross between The Office and Deliverance. I wanted to see it at last year’s festival, but the timing didn’t work out; I guess I’ll still get a sneek preview. Thanks for the tickets, Eye Weekly.


I cannot wait for August 17th. Why? Because that’s the day Superbad comes out. Watch the trailer. I will watch anything that has Michael Cera and Seth Rogen in it.*


Also funny: this Dr. Tran clip that my brother sent me. I almost broke my damn elbow falling off my chair. If you have 7 minutes to spare (and are not easily shocked by cartoon violence), watch this one too.

OK, on a serious note…WHY in the Sam Hill has no one told me about Dr. Tran before?

[tags]headache, severance, eye weekly, superbad, michael cera, seth rogen, dr. tran, lonesausage[/tags]

* Except porn, should any exist.

"What is a ghost?"

I finally summoned enough energy today to do some shopping. We had a delicious brunch at Toba, went to UpCountry to buy a new bed and some patio furniture, picked up some groceries and came home to collapse on the couch. This thing is just lingering forever; I’m feeling marginally better each day, but sleep is still difficult, and I still wake up so congested that I have to blow my nose non-stop for half an hour.

Normally, if I felt like this I would never leave home to do a bunch of walking & shopping, but the furniture situation was just going nowhere and we’re tired of living like students. I mean really, who has a futon for their couch? A long time ago we made the decision not to buy furniture until we were in the new place, but now it was time to get on it. Nellie’s mom is coming to visit soon and we need the couch so that the futon can go to the den/guest bedroom.

Next, the final “urgent” purchase: the barbeque.


Whilst laying on the couch today I watched The Devil’s Backbone (imdb | rotten tomatoes), a Guillermo Del Toro film released before (and related to) Pan’s Labyrinth (which I loved). Though not as good as Pan’s, it’s absolutely worth watching.

[tags]toba, upcountry, devil’s backbone, pan’s labyrinth[/tags]

Hard cell

For about five years now I’ve gone without a cell phone. I don’t miss having one; I can usually do what I need using my Blackberry (which doesn’t have voice enabled). Lately, though, I’ve been thinking I should get another.

So I spent some time poking about cell phone provider’s websites, and I’ve forgotten how freaking expensive they are. The newer phones are $300-400 unless I opt for a long-term contract, and only the oldest few are free, even if I sign for 3 years. Signing up subjects me to all kinds of charges…at least $25/month, plus a “system access fee” which is in the neighbourhood of $8-9/month. What the hell is a system access fee? How is it any different than the $25 I’d already be paying? It’s not, of course, but it’s a way for the phone companies to hide costs and increase the customer’s perceived value.

Now Magazine took a swing at mobile providers this past week, and Tom Purves pointed out last month how much our mobile data access costs. I’m just not sure I want to play along with this little scheme the carriers are running.

[tags]mobile phones, mobile data coverage, bell, rogers, fido[/tags]


At the last minute I had to cancel our plans to meet up with friends in Niagara On The Lake this weekend. This cold just isn’t going anywhere, and over the course of the day my voice has completely disappeared. I felt ridiculous leaving voicemails for people, sounding like a just-pubescent kid drawing his last breath.

I’ve never before taken a double-dose of neo-citran before going to sleep; I fear tonight it may be necessary.


Happy birthday, Star Wars. I was one year old when you were released, but I came to love you as I grew up. A little too much, maybe.


Speaking of my childhood obsessions, Chuck Klosterman writes about a Rush song that, 27 years later, shows how badly the mystique of radio has faded.


The Globe and Mail harrumphs all over the lolcat meme.

[tags]niagara on the lake, sick, star wars, chuck klosterman, rush, globe and mail, lolcat[/tags]

Just like Mel Lastman was Canada's mayor

It’s warm today. Very warm. But it’s good; I think the sticky, humid weather is good for my cold. Feels like I’m in a sauna, kind of.

Another plus to being up this high, this close to the water: even on really warm days we get a cool breeze up here.


I left work just after 1:00 today. Got home, ate, caught up on a little work and just rested. I can’t bring myself to take sick days anymore — I’d have to pretty damn sick to not be able to look at a laptop — but today was a good rest for me. We’re going away for the weekend, so I don’t want to be snotty and hacky around my friends.


Apparently there’s a new poll out that says the Toronto Maple Leafs are who most would call “Canada’s Team”.

Overall, 24 per cent of the just over 1,000 people surveyed between May 17 and 20 named Toronto as Canada’s team, while 22 per cent picked the Habs and just 15 per cent chose the Senators.

This surprises me a little bit. Not because the Leafs got the most votes, but because they won by so little. Given the population of the GTA and the surrounding area, I would have expected the Leafs to have more support, but there’s Montreal right behind them. While that should be a little embarassing for Toronto, this is worse: what the poll doesn’t capture is that the 76% nationwide who didn’t vote for Toronto probably despise the Leafs, whereas — apart from in Toronto — the Canadiens have plenty of fans nationwide. If you were to do a net promoter score, I don’t think Toronto’d do so well.

[tags]toronto weather, humidity, leafs, canadiens, canada’s team[/tags]


Do I continue to go to Hero Burger because their veggie burgers are so good? Or do I stop going forever because they’re so goddamn disorganized and incompetent?

I’m sick. All I want to do is go home and eat lunch and lie down. And they keep forgetting my order or giving my food to other people.

[tags]hero burger[/tags]