August 2007

Living the Dream

by Joey deVilla on August 29, 2007

(This article was cross-posted to Global Nerdy.)

What Did You Want to Be When You Grew Up?

According to a Workopolis poll of Canadians, more than 80% of Canadians aren’t doing the job they dreamed of doing when they were children.

3 photos: fireman (carrying a beautiful woman to safety), astronaut doing spacewalk, male stripper in front of screaming women
Possible dream jobs.

The poll posed these two questions to adults:

  • What was your dream job when you were between the ages of 5 and 9?
  • What was your dream job when you were between the ages of 13 through 19?

The results:

  • 7% of those surveys are now working at what was their dream job between the ages of 5 and 9.
  • 13% of those surveyed are now working at what was their dream job between the ages of 13 and 19.

What I Wanted to Be

Both my parents were doctors, so at the age of 5, I wanted to be a doctor when I grew up. This was in the early seventies, and the way I hear my parents tell it, those were some of the best years to be in medicine, from a money-making point of view.

However, at around age 7, I discovered space and astronomy books. I was glued to the TV set when the Apollo-Soyuz mission took place and followed any news about the not-ready-for-flight space shuttle, which was stilled named the Constitution. (A letter-writing campaign from Star Trek fans would later make them rechristen it as the Enterprise.) I thought I might make a good astronomer, space scientist or rocket engineer.

In my teen years, I met my friend Pavel Rozalski, whose dad did some computer/electronics work at a glass company, and he got me into computers. We developed a sort of early Apple Computer working relationship while working on our science fair projects: Pavel played the “Woz” role doing much of the building of our simulator of AND, OR, NAND and NOR gates, while I was the “Jobs” guy, doing a lot of the writing of reports and talking to the judges. Our heroes were the guys who did stuff out of their garages — Woz and Jobs, as well as Hewlett and Packard. From then on, I was hooked on computers. I wanted to do something computer-related when I grew up.

I was also a dabbler in music and graphic arts (especially cartooning — most people at Crazy Go Nuts University know me for being a DJ and a cartoonist rather than an engineering and computer science major), so I always hoped that there’d be a way to combine those two loves with computers, perhaps with some chatting with people thrown in.

I remember reading an article in Creative Computing, one of the premier computer hobbyist magazines of the late 1970s and early 1980s. In that article, a programmer predicted that in the next coupel of decades, computer programmers might get the same sort of recognition as rock stars. I remember thinking, “Yeah, I’d like that.”

I showed the article to a friend of mine who laughed at me. “That’s stupid. That’s why I’m going to be a rock drummer. It’ll be way better — you’ll be coming home, all tired from work, ready to die, and I’ll be onstage and on TV in front of screaming chicks, getting high off the audience’s smoke.”

(Dude: been there, done that. With an effin’ accordion. How ’bout you?)

Finally, at the end of my teens — or maybe just after — I became aware of Guy Kawasaki, who held an interesting position at Apple: Technical Evangelist. I remember thinking “That’s a cool job…maybe I’d like to do that someday.” Since then, Guy’s been a role model of mine.

All this is an explanation for my generally good mood: I’m working at my dream job.

Joey deVilla and Chad Fowler playing the opening number for an evening keynote at RailsConf 2007.
Me and Chad Fowler playing the opening number for an evening keynote at the RailsConf 2007 conference.

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Friday Night Accordioning

by Joey deVilla on August 27, 2007

Here are some scenes from last Friday night, when I joined my old pal from Crazy Go Nuts University, Karl Mohr for his last number of the evening, the maudlin yet somehow catchy Can Your Remains Be Buried With Mine? at the Tranzac Club:

Joey deVilla performs with Karl Mohr and Ian Revell at the Tranzac Club

(Now that I look at the photos, I think I may need to explain what’s going on at a later time…)

You can see more photos from the performance in this online album set up by photographer Roman Bershadsky.

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The “TV Tropes” Wiki

by Joey deVilla on August 27, 2007

Vintage TV setI was sick in bed with a really bad cold for most of the weekend. I alternated between sleeping, drinking lots of juice and water, watching a little TV (I’d never seen Good Will Hunting before) and a little light surfing on the laptop.

While poking about the web, I stumbled into a site I’d never seen before: the TV Tropes wiki. It started out as a catalogue of TV writing tricks of the trade, formulas and cliches, but has expanded slightly to incorporate movies, literature and even videogames. Here are just a few of the tropes you’ll find on this site:

  • The “Falling in Love” Montage: Two characters are becoming romantically entwined. Their first date is shown normally and the audience is shown how amazingly compatible the couple is. A montage follows, usually with no dialogue and an upbeat or romantic soundtrack, showing the couple during a series of classic dates (the picnic, the carnival, the unexpected kiss, the meaningful eye contact, The Meadow Run, etc). The montage segues into the end of a date and the audience is shown just how in love the couple has become.
  • Odd Couple: Mr Neat/Tidy/Law-Abiding/By-The-Book forced to work/live with Mr Messy/Slob/Zany/Risk-Taker/Plays-By-His-Own-Rules. The couple might be cops. See also: Salt And Pepper, Different As Night And Day. Compare Heterosexual Life Partners.
  • We Want Our Jerk Back: A common Sit Com plot where the total ass learns his lesson, turns sweet and benevolent -– and becomes absolutely intolerable, making the other characters yearn for the original tool. Eventually the character in question will revert to normal, and the reaction will either be relief, or realisation that he really is worse in his obnoxious form. A subset of Flowers For Algernon.
  • The Obi Wan: The protagonist is not the best at what he or she does. There is someone else — a friend or mentor — who is better, faster and more experienced. However, they aren’t the hero — the lights don’t dim and the music doesn’t swell when they enter the room. The goal of the Obi Wan is to pass the torch to the protagonist, before dying. Which they almost always do, then becoming a Spirit Advisor, either as a literal “spirit” or in flashback. If they don’t die, they will stick around giving advice, but not actively adventuring (unless Gondor Calls For Aid). The Obi Wan character, by having a mentor role, can also play Mr Exposition. In film, the Obi-Wan typically bites it at the end of Act 2, passing the torch to the young hero who then goes on to avenge his death. The Obi Wan is an Archetypal Character.
  • Lampshade Hanging: Pointing out the use of a trope, as when a WWE announcer said “If I live to be 100, I will never understand why they keep so many damn weapons under the ring. It’s like they want the wrestlers to use them on each other!” Another example: when a character says something like “This idea is so crazy, it just might work!” or “I feel like I’m in a badly written TV show.”

If you don’t know where to start, go visit the wiki and hit the “Random Item” button at the top of the page, then start following links. It’s an entertaining read.

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Adios, Pendejo!

by Joey deVilla on August 27, 2007

Alberto GonzalesIt’s nice to start the working week with some good news: the world’s most sleazy amnesiac, U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has resigned. Says the A-G, who’s stepping down on September 17th:

I have lived the American dream. Even my worst days as Attorney General have been better than my father’s best days.

How would he know? He can’t remember a damned thing.

Not Up on Your Spanish Profanities?

Here’s the definition of pendejo (pronounced “pen-DEH-hoh”).

Alberto Gonzales: Some Videos

Here’s a CNN piece on Gonzales’ inability to remember key details at his hearings:


Can’t see the video? Click here.

Here’s Gonzales stating that the U.S. Constitution doesn’t guarantee habeas corpus as a right:


Can’t see the video? Click here.

Here’s Jon Stewart on Bill Moyers’ show. He hits the nail on the head when he says that Gonzales, based on his testimony, is “either a perjurer or a low-functioning pinhead”:


Can’t see the video? Click here.

And finally, a telenovela from The Daily Show, Mommy, Why is the Lying Man Still in Charge of the Law?:


Can’t see the video? Click here.

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This comic gets bonus points for using the word “tessellate” in a down-to-earth, everyday context: the way Subway “sandwich artists” add cheese when making submarine sandwiches:

“Dear Subway” comic
Click the comic to see it on its original page.

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“America to the Rescue”

by Joey deVilla on August 24, 2007

This week, The Daily Show aired one of its best and most spot-on segments, America to the Rescue, a high-larious summary of 30 years of American foreign policy in the Middle East:


Can’t see the video? Click here.

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(This article was cross-posted to Global Nerdy.)

Boing Boing points to the story of Blinky, the two-headed calf, who was euthanized yesterday.

My co-workers at Tucows and I couldn’t help but notice that Blinky bore a rather uncanny resemblance to our corporate logo:

Blinky the two-headed calf, side-by-side with the Tucows logo

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