how many is too many?

I finally succumbed & opened a myspace account. Seriously considering facebook, too. Not really sure why, other than that I'd like to explore those communities. OK, myspace has a really active music community, and I'm hoping that I'll be able to make some good connections there, with interesting people. Not sure about facebook, but since it's largely linked with education communities should also have some interesting people.

blogspot is just fine, and LJ isn't too bad either. It's not like I've got all the time in the world to keep up with a lot of communities. I guess I'll just have to see how it goes.


where have I been?

Not in here, that's for sure.

At times this year it's felt like I lived on another planet. Work issues simply never stopped. Added to which I played good fairy godmother to my staff & they took all their vacation in the summer. Well, that's about to change!

In less than 2 weeks, I'll be off to TIFF, for the 3rd year in a row. A friend and I go down & share a room at the Delta Chelsea, right in the centre of things. Ideal location, really, in spite of the fact that there was a murder last year while we were there. Thankfully, not on our floor. I guess that's Toronto for you. Our first American city.

Great program listings, including a new David Cronenberg, a new Denys Arcand, and a new Paul Haggis. Not to mention that one of my favourite actors, Viggo Mortensen, will be in town. Always nice to see him there -- he always has something intelligent to say. And the Cronenberg-Mortensen pairing is becoming legend.

I'm royally ticked with TIFF's management, though. They are as obtuse and disorganized as ever, and becoming ever more media-oriented. This was always touted as a "people's festival", but their scheduling and ticketing practices are becoming less public-friendly all the time. They revel in gamesmanship. Perhaps we should start calling them RIFF (Rip-off International Film Festival)...just a thought.

Take the final schedule announcement, a bare week and a half before the festival starts. There's little doubt in anyone's mind who's been to TIFF that they have their near-final draft when their web-site goes live in July. They then dole out the schedule in dribs & drabs. Not only that, they certainly have the final schedule when they put their galas on sale in mid-to-late August. There is no reason, other than mind games with the public, that they could not put up their whole schedule at least a week before they do, although even that is much too late for most non-industry attendees to schedule their travel & accommodations.

Then there's the ticket "lottery". They have a limited number of seats made available for this arcane & nonsensical process in the last week of August. For which you pay extra, as much as double if you're from out of town. Just another shell game, where they're supposedly enhancing your festival-going experience by creating suspense. pffffffffft

And finally, there's the gala and newly price-hiked VISA screening room tickets. These go on sale on the Internet, on a web-site that's notoriously unstable & hard to get onto when they upload it at a specific time. There are many, many people who find that although they have prepared to get in then, it is simply impossible. And the phone? Completely tied up for more than an hour (possibly more, but I stopped re-dialling at that point). If they aren't able or willing to staff phones better, why offer that as an "option"? I'm even more ticked since this nonsense resulted in me missing gala tickets for "Eastern Promises". So now they want me & everyone else to hang around their site waiting for them to dole out a few more. And they call this public-friendly?

Even with all this, I really enjoy being at TIFF. The events are great. It's sort of like travelling to New Zealand. Wonderful when you get there, but an incredible pain in the ass on the trip. Especially when you have to transfer through LA & negotiate US Customs (for TIFF, read "wait until the last possible second for program announcements & endure the cutesy lottery & lame web-sales site").

You'll notice I only briefly touched on cost. More on that subject later.


frustrating fruit

Ranting about the Internet, like the half-hour I just spent tearing my hair out trying to access this blog, can be tedious. Usually I don't succumb to the temptation. However, since I also missed 4 important deadlines today I feel entitled to a tiny rant.

I'm more bothered about the unrealistic expectations we all have in this high-speed wi-fi Blackberry era. I'm no Luddite, but I think most people should be amputated at the Blackberry. If management or colleagues couldn't flip me a memo in the expectation of an instantaneous reply, that is, if I had fewer specious interruptions, I might just be able to make some of those admittedly unrealistic deadlines!

Fortunately for me, I have a 3-day weekend coming up in which to forget all of that nonsense. If I try to do too much, it will all be on my own head. And that's just fine. However, I guarantee that I won't be serving blackberries for breakfast, lunch OR dinner.


Can you take the heat?

It’s January 4th. The sun shines brightly in a cloudless blue sky. This combination, in Ottawa, usually means that I head for the coat closet and hunt out my thickest parka, big furry boots, hat, scarf, gloves – all the paraphernalia of winter. Bright weather in winter equals COLD.

Not this year. Temperatures are firmly above zero °C, and by all accounts likely to stay there for the foreseeable future. Next thing you know, these spring-like conditions will see tulips popping out of the ground and trees leafing out.

What’s wrong with this picture? Well, it wouldn’t take much for a late cold snap to do a lot of damage to the trees, for one thing. Not to mention the shrubs and flowers. A winter without cold could turn into a summer without green. A very disturbing prospect.

We’ve been through El NiƱo events before. In 1998, the result was a serious ice-storm. They seem to be getting closer together. Severe weather all over the planet is on the rise. What’s next? A good question to which I don’t have the answer. Things don’t look very promising, though.

I’m not advocating doom & gloom, here. No culture of fear for me. That doesn’t mean I’m not concerned, though. I think global warming isn’t just a buzz phrase. It’s real, and we need to do some pretty drastic things if we’re not going to get to a point where we can’t do anything but wait for the climate as we know it to further erode.

What would I suggest? Smaller, cleaner-running cars would be a start. High efficiency hybrid or diesel engines. Get rid of some of the clutter of trucks (by which I mean SUVs and the like). Dis-incentives for owning anything bigger than a mid-size car such as higher insurance & fuel surcharges. Exemptions only for registered businesses or those who could prove need.

Not much, but perhaps a place to start. We North Americans need to be more responsible.

Me? I drive a VW Jetta diesel. Just re-insulated the house, too. I put my money where my mouth is. How about you out there in cyber-space? What have you done for the planet, lately?


happy 2007?

I hope it may be so!

You can expect to see a bit more of me here this year. I'm doing a little reorganizing and shifting priorities. For one thing, I have just 2 years before (early) retirement! Yippee!!