Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The loss of stuff

I dedicate this blog entry to the events that transpired today. I suppose every blog entry I write, now that I think of it, has something to do with that particular day. The focus is on the 'loss of things' because I have friends that are secretly getting rid of their kid's toys to alleviate the amount of stuff collected within their homes. 'Secretly' to the kids anyway, I found out because they posted the getting rid of stuff on facebook. This entry also documents my loss of data today from my iPad2.

Ironically the chain of events that follow all started off from performing a back up, of all things, of my iPad2 because my computer hard drive was getting full.

I had purchased Torchwood the complete seasons of one and two (mistake number one) which take up about 1.5 gigs an episode. My main hard drive sits in a netbook. Not a lot of space to begin with. The idea was to use iTunes to back up my files to an external drive. That was it. Simple. Straight forward.

Unfortunately it was neither. After backing up my files to my 'R' drive and checking to make sure they were all there by comparing it to my 'C' drive I proceeded to delete the stuff off my 'C' drive (mistake number two).

Upon running iTunes I noticed that all the apps were gone. How to solve this? I decided to hook up the iPad2 to the computer and download them (sync them) back to the laptop (mistake number three).

Instead of downloading the apps, iTunes decided to sync the empty laptop back to my iPad. Doing this not only wiped out all my Apps on the iPad, it also deleted all the support files and files created for those apps.

I lost music compositions, sketches, spread sheets, Word documents, game settings (including about a month of fish planet data), and all my sound recordings from travelling around the Boston T just before Christmas. Ugh. There could still be more stuff gone that I haven't discovered yet.

I suppose the part that really sucks about this whole experience is that it took almost 12 hours to get things back up and running properly and still not have those files. The good news is that Apple does keep track of all the software you buy so you can at least re-download everything. That was a small victory in itself. Had I not been able to reinstall the apps I would have probably put the iPad on eBay.

Things could have been a lot worse. Most of the data was only two months old. iTunes managed to back up my contacts and my notes data. This is the problem with a closed system like the iPad. You forget to backup files because they're hidden away. I knew this going into buying the Apple product so it wasn't a complete surprise when everything went to crap.

Whether it's computer data loss, a hundred view master reels your uncle gave away as a kid, that Apple ][+ (with all the software) your mother gave away to your relatives, your best friend dying, or your loss of youth and the ability to bend without grunting, you'll always lose something in life. It's just the way it is.

Wow, as I write this I realize that this blog entry is a big downer. To help pick you, the reader, back up here's some photos I took of Phoebe while I was working on the restoration of the iPad. We went outside when the computer was re-downloading the apps.

Also despite knowing the fact that loss is a fact of life, know this... Appreciate stuff when you have it. The memories of having that stuff in your life will last forever (or at least until your memory fades due to old age). If you buy an Apple product with a close system remember to back up each individual file (see, out of a horrible time consuming experience for me you have taken away some valuable time saving information; life is good)

Here's a photo of Phoebe with the neighbour's newspaper from today (It's the Wall street Journal)

The bridge near the park (again)

Phoebe rolling around on the ground (why? I have no idea)

Phoebe sleeps while I start the iPad's restoration

Phoebe changes beds. My restoration is taking a while.

Position three

Position four

Back to the softer bed (position five)

While the laptop is re-downloading all the iPad Apps I decide to take Phoebe for a walk.

Haymarket Pizza Prices

Phoebe with the statue of Kevin Hagan White, the longest-serving Mayor of Boston

Phoebe waiting for me across the street while I use the bank machine.

Phoebe at South Station

Phoebe near the Children's Museum

Phoebe across the street from the Barking Crab

Phoebe on a bridge connecting Boston to South Boston

Phoebe in front of some Christmas lights

A Boston park display

Phoebe in front of a large Christmas Tree in Quincy Market

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas in Boston

Phoebe Hurd

There was not a lot going on today being Christmas and all. All the stores were closed and even if I were in a shopping mood (which I wasn't) most of my day was filled with lounging and reading.

I had picked up some novels, yeah okay they are Star Trek related, purchased from the Apple iBook store. It's the four part Invasion series where each book covers a different crew (TOS, TNG, DS9, and STV respectively). A while ago I owned the first book, part one, in paperback and read through about half of it before losing it into a box while moving apartments. That was a few apartments ago.

The reader for the iPad2 was a free download so I figured I'd buy the book and see if it was any good (the iPad2 as a reader). The night theme on the newer version of iBook helped. It was easier to look at a dark screen.

I am posting this blog entry before some of the days past. I'm trying to catch up on blog entries since RollerCon. So if you already know I'm in Boston then pay no attention to what follows.

I'm in Boston. I'm currently on vacation from working on a movie being filmed here and instead of going back home to Toronto I decided to stay here at Patrick's apartment for Christmas. I really didn't want to do any travelling during the holidays. So in exchange for staying at the apartment I'm taking care of the family dog, Phoebe.

Looking for a good place to poo.

Phoebe reminds me of an ewok if one were to be real. If the dog were to say 'yub yub' this would not be of any surprise.

Phoebe requires walking a few times a day. This is a good thing as it gets me out of the apartment even if it's only a few minutes. I then get out of that stereotype of being that guy barricaded in an apartment by himself (or herself; let's not be sexist) over Christmas with food and movies on DVDs, sandbags at the entrance, and a shotgun to drive the curious kids and nosy neighbours away. Yes, walking a dog makes you more normal.

Wandering at the nearby park

Not that I was looking for this to happen but according to Patrick, and other dog owners, walking a cute little dog is a babe magnet. I would like to blow that myth out of the water. I had not seen or talked to any 'babes' today. This could also be that it's Christmas. Who in their right mind would be outside when they could be opening presents, spending time with family/friends, or sleeping... oh wait across the street... yep... another dog walker (specifically a guy who looked like he was thrusted out of his house by his spouse/girl friend/person that wears the pants in the house). Geez, he looked in sadder shape than me.

Did I mention that it was snowing? Not enough to start calling for snow plows or to start the barrage of putting salt on the streets, just enough to notice that it was indeed snow and not some person with a dandruff problem on a second floor apartment shaking their head. The snow melted by the time it hit the ground.

Phoebe walks toward me and the camera

The Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Memorial Bridge in the distance


For dinner I had forgotten to take a chicken I bought a few days ago out of the freezer. So for dinner I had cereal (Krunch Heads) and a choice between two calm chowders I had bought at the grocery store (the same day I bought the chicken).

CHOICE A: Cherrystone Clam Chowder

CHOICE B: Snow's Clam Chowder

I went with Choice A. The Cherrystone. I wasn't really that impressed. It seemed to have more sand in it than I expected. That or hard shell like particles floating around. Also it wasn't that thick. Stay tuned for Choice B, which I'll probably eat tomorrow.

Close up of Phoebe

Phoebe, like most dogs, watches me without blinking (creeps me out a bit) while I'm eating. I suppose all animals are like that. She'll just sit there and stare until I have no more food left and have put the bowl in the sink. If I'm still holding the bowl she's still there... staring.

Suspicious but lazy

She also has a lazy side to her. If she's sleeping and hears me doing something not food related she'll look around with as little head movement as possible shifting her beady little eyes towards me to see what I'm up to. If it's food related she's up and as close to the bowl as possible.

Sunset over Boston.

And that was how I spent Christmas.

Monday, December 19, 2011


Today's random trip took me to Alewife.  The end of the Red line.  I suppose I just wanted to see what was out there.  A bunch of run down apartments and probably not the best part of the city.  On the train a couple with arguing.  Well swearing at each other actually. "bitch!", "asshole!" seemed to be the key words that popped up a number of times.

By the end stop there weren't a lot of people on the train, just the crazy couple, me, and a lady that looked really uncomfortable.  The argument between the couple became louder as the guy continued to yell at the girl from the other side of the train, wanting to put as much distance between himself and her and still be on the same car.  The girl returned the loud shouting adding another colorful metaphor.

In my brain I wondered why these people would even travel together if they hated each other so much.  Maybe they wanted to make a public spectacle of themselves.  I kind of wanted to take photos or video record the exchange as an example of interaction between the lower class.

The uncomfortable lady was trying to avoid eye contact with them all together.  She clutched the rolls of Christmas wrapping and fumbled with some other packages she was carrying, dropping them at random points between stops.  I could see her exhaling a sigh of relief when we reached the final station.  She waited for the couple to leave the train, still screaming at each other, before she scurried out and disappeared down the other end of the platform.

I walked around a bit noticing a pond surrounded by fencing.  I got to a bridge and walked toward a Staples sign.  This was how I found the Whole Foods grocery store and where I ended up buying lunch.

Friday, November 11, 2011

MacGyvering a studio in a hotel room

The make shift studio in my hotel room

"Procrastination" a word that my grade seven teacher, Linus Pauli, made me memorize the dictionary meaning to. Since then, and most likely before then, I've become a great fan of procrastination. For example, while doing taxes other crumby tasks were undertaken instead because they were more "fun". Cleaning the room, making the toilet bowl shiny, getting dust out of the keyboard, sorting DVDs (or laserdiscs, or comic books) into alphabetical order, heck even sorting the bills in my wallet into serial number order was more fun than taxes.

Utensils made with airplane alloy!

Today I am swamped with data entry duties. Inputting the data I have collected on set (on paper) and inputting that data into a computer database. While I can do this for hours while listening to in my hotel room, getting started takes a larger effort.

Today I decided to create a mini studio to take photos of some new eating tools I picked up at REI. A bowl that flattens, a spork/mini spatula/knife, and a knife/fork/spoon made of 7075-T6 aircraft alloy. I love photographing things (if this is news to you then you've just started reading this blog or haven't been paying attention).

Plastic utensils

I can't remember which Joe McNally book I read this in, he explained a simple way to diffuse strong hard sunlight from entering a room is to put up a bed sheet over the window. This creates a nice softbox like light.

And so armed with some gaffers tape and a bed sheet from the bed in the room that's what I did.

The hotel room key

Puffin cereal

A Nutter Butter cookie

And now back to data entry...

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Krunch Heads

Meet up with Ben in china town.

Today, being our weekend, I met up with Ben and Patrick (and Patrick's wife) for dim sum at the China Pearl (9 Tyler street, Boston, MA). It's a restaurant close to where we were shooting the night before. Perhaps this is why we picked this restaurant because we had lunch here in the am.

The China Pearl

The nice thing about having dim sum on a Thursday morning is that there's no one around. Everyone, everyone normal, is at work. No line ups, or empty food carts. Once I sat down food came in like it would have if it were on a conveyor belt.

Me at the entrance of the China Pearl.

Ben and I succumbed to ordering three plates of food before Patrick and Sabrina showed up and I think only two minutes passed between the plates hitting the table and them sitting down. The women pushing the carts were relentless. dumplings, shrimp stuff, fried thing, pork goodies, baked thing, it was a blur of food. In less than 10 minutes we had a table of food.

Patrick, Sabrina and Ben at a table of dim sum.

I thought the meal was pretty good. We all wobbled out of the restaurant pretty full.

The Cereal Thing

Krunch Heads

While in the US one of the past times I had was looking for different cereals that are not available in Canada. I would like to think that the population in the US is so much bigger than Canada that a large assortment of cereal is possible. In the back of my mind however I have a nagging fear it's because Health Canada (the Canadian equivalent of America's Food and Drug Administration) won't let the cereals over the border for health reasons. Hopefully not because most cereal's I've had in the US are pretty yummy (yes I'm generally eating the sugar infused ones but that's what's so great about these things).

My fascination with US cereals all started years ago when I saw ads for cookie crisp on TV. Cereal that look like mini chocolate chip cookies in a bowl. The commercials were on all the good cartoon filled stations on Saturday mornings. Unfortunately the cereals didn't appear on any shelves at any grocery stores here in Canada (at least not in Toronto), but what did I know I was a kid at the time, it might as well have been all across Canada.

During a family vacation to New York city I found a box of cookie crisp and was so excited that I ate it right out of the box. They tasted terrible. Really awful. Turns out the secret ingredient for making them taste better was adding milk. Since then I've been hooked on seeing what kinds of cereals are available for consumption, not just in the US, but any where I go.

The second unit caterer had the Post Monster cereals (Booberry, Frankenberry and Count Chocula). They used to sell these cereals in Canada but don't any more. I'm not sure why. Maybe lack of interest. Anyhow, this became my mission in Boston. Find Monster cereals, specifically Booberry.

The local grocery stores in Boston that I went to look at (Shaw's, Whole Foods, Stop and Shop) didn't have any Monster cereals. I would like to point out that there are a really limited number of grocery stores in the Boston downtown area to begin with. Most grocery stores are located outside the city. Fruit and vegetable stores? With the exception of the market they're pretty non-existent or at the very least hidden from visitors.

The cereal I did find and take note of was Krunch Heads. I bought a box to try them out. I thought the packaging was quite comical for some reason. It's like the advertising people just gave up. Having worked at an ad agency in the past I could just hear the thought process of the execs in charge, "Put a seal on the box, kids love seals!", "We can keep the naval theme from Captain Crunch by putting the seal in a sailor's outfit."

Personally I think the cereal would have been better if it was shaped like like heads, hence the name krunch "heads", but oh well.

Facts for kids.

It's not just the food inside the box that interests me, it's also the packaging and design or the free prize inside. Although these days the free prize is generally kind of lame. Maybe a DVD or coupon for a free t-shirt or something. I always wanted one of those mini submarines that worked on baking soda.

The cereal up close

I have a few cereal collectibles some where. One day I'll have to take photos of them and put them on the blog.