What is this? People miss me? I don't even miss myself, LOL.
Seriously it's great to see all you familiar faces. The chances of me returning here are, I regret to say, slim to zero, but I do still lurk from time to time, to see how folks are. And you don't look a bit older!
My life has been virtually consumed by something called www.PositiveLite.com (Canada's Online HIV Magazine, which has become a bit of a runaway success and which I'm now Editor. I also maintain a blog there; for those needing a ruralrob fix, you can read my not so rural ramblings here http://positivelite.com/by-author/editorial-authors/bob-leahy . It's likely a bit HIV-y for some though, although not entirely poz pickings, as it were.
Otherwise things here in Nanookville, on the verge of the dreaded Canadian winter, are pretty fine, thanks.
Is it quiet around here, or what? Still I see some of the cool cats are still here. Good for you! It makes a visit so worthwhile.
I think occasional visits like this are going to be it for me. But boy, a lot of water has gone under the bridge since I last wrote here. I’ve been busy.
I’m firmly established now on PositiveLite.com, where I’m the Contributing Editor. This basically is what it sounds like; I contribute original material while I also edit and manage the efforts of the dozen or so other regular contributors. You can read all my recent stuff here if you’re so inclined.
In the course of that work, I’ve interviewed some amazing people. Look through my recent out-put there for some of them. Look for instance, for my interview with Paul, a poz guy, an ex-inmate, ex-user from Palm Springs who stands out on intersections in the hot desert sun with a hand-drawn placard advertizing HIV testing. Or the poz guy Kengi, formerly homeless himself, who does HIV outreach and runs support groups for homeless HIVers on skid row in Los Angeles.
I have turned in to a HUGE fan of twitter, where I’m @ruraltweeter. Who’d have thunk?
In any event, the site has done incredibly well. I don’t want to reveal numbers but let’s just say growth has been phenomenal. More importantly, it feels like the best and most rewarding work I’ve ever done. Perhaps I’ve found my niche.
My niche has also involved myself and my colleague Brian becoming a knowledge resource for anyone wanting to know about the use of social media in HIV work. I spoke on that subject at two national organizations last month, one in Toronto, the other in Ottawa.
I have the opportunity, scholarship gods willing, to go to the North American Housing Summit in September, held this year in New Orleans, and cover it for PositiveLite. I’ll know by July 15 whether that’s a go.
Along with all this has come some perks. I now have accredited media status with many Toronto theatres, which means free tickets to opening nights which I take full advantage of. The catch is I have to write a review for the next day. So I’ve been in Toronto a lot, acting as theatre critic for the site, and burning a bit of midnight oil in the process.
Other good stuff? I was accredited media for Pride Toronto this past weekend, which means having a press pass giving access to the parade route inside the barriers, which is something I’ve always coveted. You can see my two Pride posts, with photos, on the site.
In other news, the dogs are all fine, as is Meirion. One sour note is my feet. The peripheral neuropathy, a side effect of the drugs I take, has worsened. My doctor has reacted by dropping Truvada from my five-drug combo and adding Gabapentin. But it remains the case that walking a lot hurts, so I don’t.
Still, I’m pretty blessed, no? I always have been. How about you?
These were taken last week while I was in Toronto. Things have changed since I was there last year, which makes me feel less guilty about featuring Toronto’s Graffiti Alley aka Rush Lane once again. In fact the art changes often – it’s refreshed once a year in the form of a giant graffiti jam, which attract some of the best graffiti artists around. The taggers subsequently add their own touches, of course, so this is a continually evolving body of work.
There have already been extended discussions here on the worth of this stuff, so I won’t elaborate. Whether you consider it an urban blight or an exciting free art exhibit is up to you.
But I will put a plug in for watching the terrific Banksy film Exit though the Gift Shop. This Oscar-nominated documentary is both a great primer on the graffiti–as-art world and a riddle that will have you talking about it for days. Highly recommended.
I’ve been busy but it looks like LiveJournal not so much. It doesn’t take nearly so long to go through my friends posts now, so many having become inactive, and some former bright lights no longer here. And then there are the games cropping up on the site? And why is my text in blue today? Oh dear.
For my part I’ve become very active on two other social media platforms - twitter and PositiveLite.com – which fact is reflected in my lack of recent posts here. I think from now on, I’ll post weekly here, and see how that goes. But it does look like LJ is dying on the vine.
Meanwhile I’ve been away from home a lot with meetings. By the weekend I will have been in Toronto six days out of the last seven in fact. As well, I’m one of the producers of a show that opens next week here in Nanookville, that for rather complicated reasons, I can’t talk about too much here. But next week will be crazy busy too.
In any event, today’s photo is of the Royal York Hotel in Toronto, where I stayed with Meirion for three days earlier this week. He was attending a roads convention for municipal employees and councillors, which struck me as just about the most boring thing on earth, and which was confirmed when I attended one of their luncheons.
The Royal York is one of THE grand turn-of-the-century hotels, and reminded me a lot of the one featured in The Shining, minus Jack Nicholson, although I half expected to see a tsunami of blood come out of the elevators each time I summoned them.
I’ve being reviewing stuff for PositiveLite.com lately. Here’s what I wrote about Nixon in China.
Last week, Meirion and I went to see The Canadian Opera Company’s Nixon in China at the Four Seasons Centre for the Arts, Toronto’s (relatively) new opera house. Hadn’t been there before. I loved the building. The lobby’s a symphony of blonde woods, glass staircases and stainless steel finishes. It seems designed to make patrons feel elegant. It works too. The auditorium itself is more traditional – five tiers of seats arranged in a horseshoe make for good sightlines for all; the acoustics are first-rate too.
Nixon in China is by John Adams a contemporary American composer of the minimalist persuasion. I’ve always liked Adams’ music. It has chugging repetitive rhythms, much like Philip Glass on steroids. Meirion says it’s monotonous and unchanging, which misses the point entirely. Like the music of Philip Glass, Adams' music is in fact always changing, albeit slowly and subtlety at times - and that's the point.
Nixon in China is sung in English but there are surtitles projected above the stage. They really help.
The opera tells the story of the historic visit of Richard Nixon to China in 1972. It’s an unlikely subject for an opera, and frankly not always an engaging one. There are indeed moments of grandeur here, such as the plane landing at the outset, and a performance piece in Act Two at a state dinner attended by the President which gets dangerously out of hand, to the point that Mrs Nixon attempts to halt the proceedings. But much of this work, all of Act Three in fact, is taken up with the reflections of the principal characters - the Nixons, Chou En-lai, Henry Kissinger, Mao Tse Tung and his wife, the volatile Chian Ch’in. That it mostly engages is a tribute to Adams impressive score, the fine orchestra and cast and the absolutely first-rate staging.
The floor of the stage is blood red. Dozens of terra cotta warriors decorate it before the opera begins and are employed symbolically throughout the opera. It’s a spare but clever set, with the large chorus often arranged as an architectural element in themselves. In a nod to technology, TV sets, many of them, showing images of the actual event, appear throughout the work. It adds a sense of both immediacy and history to what is an extremely powerful stage design.
The leads are excellent. Robert Orth, who has apparently made a career for himself playing Nixon, strikes me as entirely definitive. The mannerisms are not overplayed, but he looks like Nixon, acts like Nixon and captures that mix of awkwardness and authority that was this doomed president’s other legacy.
Did I like it? Yes, I did. Meirion did too. But once again, this is a challenging work. If you're unfamiliar with operatic conventions or minimalism, or both, this might be bit too much. Fans of modern opera though will almost certainly walk away from this production singing.
You get a sense of the music in the clip below. This btw is not the same production as the one currently being performed by the COC in Toronto – in other words, the visual elements are different, but the tensions it portrays, and of course the striking musical score, are the same. Both productions feature the same lead baritone, however.
A story caught my eye in Tuesday’s Toronto Star that said that cupcakes, which have enjoyed the limelight for the last year or two, are yesterday. I would say they were toast but that would be too much of a mixed metaphor. Anyway, for a while the macaron was apparently a contender for the cake crown; I don’t think I’ve ever had one so can’t comment. Now, gourmet donuts are predicted to be the next big thing. The article was accompanied by a photo of some luscious-looking ginger donuts with lemon-lime filling. Sounds Yum. I’d gladly go there.
In the meantime, I’m happy with whatever Tim Horton’s serves up. They are an iconic coffee shop chain in this country, less well represented in the States. Their donuts aren’t stellar, just good. I think Boston Cream is my favourite.
Here’s another donut story. We have a friend who lives in the village, Jason Walker is his name. He paints donuts – meticulously and in great detail. Above is a sample of his work. You can see more here: http://www.madametutliputli.com/ You’ll note that he’s also a very fine portrait photographer, but donuts are his bread and butter. (Ooops,there go the mixed metaphors again.)
Jason is learning to drive. A week or two ago I was going to Toronto; he needed a ride, so we travelled together. He had a lot of errands to do around town, but part of his mission was to find unusual donuts to paint.
There is a Tim Horton’s at a service centre on the way in, where we stopped. Now Tim Horton’s sometimes has limited edition donuts and Jason happily scored two – one a simple donut with a hole, with pink icing and red and white sprinkles, the other a no-hole donut, garishly decorated with multi-coloured sprinkles. Gruesome - but perfect. Jason asked for them in a box – the server seemed puzzled but Jason explained he photographs donuts, which made the server even more puzzled. Anyway, it was a good start to the day. Part of his mission was to scour the donut shops around Chinatown for more varieties. I’m not sure how he did.
There is a good market for his paintings. As you’ll see from his website, Jason is represented by a prestigious gallery. His donut paintings sell for thousands of dollars.
The hotel room view, as usual, this one at the Delta Chelsea in Toronto, where I was ensconced for most of last week.
I had a pretty good time at The Gay Men’s Sexual Health Summit.
The buzz words of the day in the world of HIV prevention are as follows:
Asset based – in other words, focussing not on weaknesses and what people are doing wrong, but on their strengths and how to build on those.
Resiliency – one of the assets we hear a lot about now, in particular the resiliency of negative gay men who have stayed negative all this time, despite the odds.
Syndemics – the ability of several pandemics to react with each other and affect each other to form a larger more complex entity – for example risk behaviour, mental health issues, drug dependency and homelessness can together produce results hugely difficult to deal with
My take is that HIV prevention is getting much more sophisticated now, rooted in research, theorizing and the accumulated wisdom of what works and what doesn’t. Whether it is any more successful, particularly in the gay male population, is debatable. Certainly new infections continue unabated, but what would the situation be if there were no interventions at all, one asks? And what is the impact of the perception of a disease which is generally no longer life-threatening, but instead a chronic manageable condition?
Of course I lap up this kind of discussion, always have done. Prevention is, in the end, like one giant jigsaw puzzle where someone has gone and stolen some of the pieces, but a search around the house reveals the odd one here and there.
Meanwhile, I had my PositveLite hat on much of the time, and did two interviews with Brian filming, me doing the actual interviews. Brian presented a session on the site and we both did a lot of politicking with those present. It almost felt like work, but in a good way.
One thing that came across loud and clear at the conference is that Twitter, of which I’m a recent convert, has arrived big time in our community. I love it. It was great to meet a few fellow tweeters, almost like those LJ meet-ups we used to hear about. And btw, on that note I met up with muddster one evening, and we had a rather nice dinner and convo at Just Thai on Church Street. He’s a super nice guy.
And over on PositiveLite, I have an extremely interesting post up today, or at least I think so. It’s the story of an injection drug user, HIV-positive for twenty years, currently serving a sentence at Warkworth Institution, a medium-security gaol just a few miles from our place. He consented to an interview with one of my agency’s support workers. If you’re curious about the conditions for HIV-positive inmates in our prison system read the piece here.
It’s looking VERY snowy here lately. We have not had any major snowfalls, just frequent smaller ones. The result is a permanent winter wonderland look, like the above. It’s our house, btw, for those not familiar with my story.
Off to Toronto tomorrow, returning Friday evening, for a conference; it's The Gay Men’s Sexual Health Summit. I’m on the provincial organizing committee but in truth I haven’t had to do a lot.
There’ll be about 200 plus people there - HIV prevention and support workers from across Ontario. My colleague Brian is presenting for PositiveLite.com in a Friday afternoon session; in between I have a few interviews to videotape, including one with Jim Pickett, an American who is well known in our movement. So far, I’m mostly the on-camera guy and Brian is behind the camera. I’m not sure it shouldn’t be the other way around, as he’s way more photogenic than me, LOL. However, I can stumble through an interview with the best of them, as those familiar with my previous efforts know.
Anyway, I’ll be at the Delta Chelsea Hotel which is right downtown but otherwise about my least favourite Toronto hotel.
Oh and I’m hoping to have dinner with new Torontonian, the muddster Thursday.
I emailed our friend Kim first thing to see if she was up for adventure and felt like driving in and meeting us at Jeannine’s. She was game, but got stuck in her driveway and never made it. We barrelled through the snow, however, in Meirion’s 4-wheel drive, and had no difficulty. It was so windy there were actually bare spots on the roads, four foot drifts elsewhere.
You’ve seen this drive before – the ride from our driveway in to the village, but never quite in these conditions. Note that Meirion is driving faster than some would expect – I’m guessing it’s about 60kph. But Canadians tend to be familiar with driving on snow covered roads, and thus are sometimes pretty confident winter drivers.
Today, I’m off to Peterborough, to do a rare volunteer stint at the local AIDS Organization I used to be chair of. They are building a new volunteer training program and want my input. That’s good. I still have strong ties with that organization, including actively fundraising for them, but little else as I’m busy elsewhere now.
Oh Mike, good news. Looks like I will be coming to Ottawa after all for that 4-day conference in June. Indian?
I thought this would amuse some of you, and cause fits of laughter in others, like it did in the ruralrob household. I really think this is the funniest drag I’ve ever seen.
The performer is Mark S. King, a well known activist/blogger/poz guy living in Florida who is now on PositiveLite. He’s quite an amazing character. You can read his column on PositiveLite here, or go to his own website here.
Firstly, Meirion is extremely busy, thanks to juggling his real estate job – he now works in part out of Toronto – and his local council duties. So our old routines are gone.
Secondly, for one reason or another we seem to be spending more time in the city. The almost two hours it takes to get there, more in rush hour, now seems more worth it than ever. We’ve been driving in almost every week now, to see some show or other, or have dinner with friends. I’m liking that.
Saturday, for instance we made a late decision to go and see a well-reviewed show at Harbourfront, a show from Italy called Questo Buio Feroce. We’re glad we did. It turned out to be extremely strange (The Toronto Star said “it’s unike anthying you’ve seen before” - and they were right). It’s a dance/drama, AIDS-themed, visually Fellini-esque and stunning to look at – the trailer below will give you a hint of that. It was marred at times by the fact that I had absolutely NO idea what was going on. Overall, though, I love these challenging kinds of work; Meirion does too. We had a ball.
Prior to that we had dinner at Il Fornello, also down by the water at Harboufront. For a chain, they turn out pretty convincing Italian Food. We both liked our meals. Then, after the show, on to Church Street to check out what the gay boyz do on Saturday nights. We chose to go into George’s Playhouse, where the drag queens hang out and perform on a small stage, and where the clientele is our age. No point in us two geezers going to the boyz bars, really, is there? It was fun.
Anyway, thing are changing on the home front too. I’m becoming increasingly consumed by PositiveLite.com. I write there regularly, of course, often on topics close to my heart and where the number of hits per post can number in the thousands. But it’s the extra stuff I do, helping the site owner run the site, promoting it on Twitter and elsewhere, that takes up a very large chunk of my time. Fortunately, I love it.
At the same time, I’m spending less time on LiveJournal. That’s in part a reaction to the fact that, to be brutally honest, it’s a less exciting place than it used to be. There are many exceptions to this, but collectively I think many of us are getting a bit boring, a little less creative and a lot more repetitive. Or is that tired me talking, too busy to post much or even read what’s out there?
It’s inevitable I guess that I won’t be quite as active on here as I once was – I just don’t have the time any more. However, you can count on me to pop in from time to time to share some puppy pics, or similar. I don’t see myself leaving Live Journal anytime soon. I'd miss it too much.
Looks like that exposé of the HIV internet dating industry I talked about writing yesterday won’t see the light of day. I wrote it, but then thought better of it. Essentially I have too many community connections to feel safe about putting it out there.
I have on the other hand, a nice post over on PositiveLite today about the role of social media in HIV work. In it I recount the tale of how I really felt that the use of social media had arrived in Nanookville last night. It’s here.
Actually not, but anything to come up with an image appropriate header. I discarded “feeling drained” or “all wet”.
I’ve been researching the wacky HIV dating site market for an upcoming PositiveLite.com article. I first became aware that something might be wrong with many of the players when I was spammed on Twitter with “free internet dating for AIDS victims” and “HIV sufferers” messages. Now those particular terms are NOT ones we in the HIV community use at all; the correct term, which is way more positive in tone, is “people living with HIV/AIDS”.
Clearly the people running these sites haven’t a clue; the majority of them seem to be strictly money-making enterprises.
Look closer at some of these sites – there are a large number of them which lump HIV with STD’s and seem to treat us as a package, which in itself is unusual - and a little digging reveals they are all franchises, ultimately part of a Swiss based internet dating empire. It all seems rather seedy.
Google ”STD dating sites”, and you’ll find dozens. The terms are all similar. $30 a month, automatic renewing. They use a customizable front-end, but functionality is identical. The “free” come-on allows you to access the site, but not to contact any of the members on it. Who knows how many there really are until you sign up. Information on STD’s etc and even access to a councillor is available, the sites say, but only if you pay. Now who PAYS for information on STD’s?
Anyway, this is my first stab at investigative reporting, or something akin to it. Wish me luck. I’ll post a link to my article when it’s up, assuming my editor goes for it.
First of all, it was incredibly cold in the city yesterday. It’s cold here in Nanookville this morning too -26C or -15F. Jeepers!
Anyway, we spent yesterday in the big city, as it was my birthday. First we went to the MoMA Tim Burtton exhibit at the new(ish) TIFF building on King Street. It’s a wonderful collection of artwork, costumes, scale models and props. If you are a Tim Burton fan, this one’s a wet dream. If you merely like many of his movies, as we do, it’s really enjoyable. I had no idea he was such an accomplished artist.
Then cabbed it across town – it was way too cold to wait for streetcars - to see The King’s Speech at the Market Square cinemas (see above). Loved it. It’s just plain good old fashioned story-telling, well told, well made. Colin Firth is truly amazing, totally inhabiting the title role.
Then back to King Street West to Dhaba 309 (opposite The Bell Lightbox) for dinner with The Cloyce and Lorenzo. We had planned to go to Fred’s Not Here, which is almost next door, but they had phoned to say the restaurant was closed for the weekend due to an air-conditioning problem. Anyway, Dhaba 309 – we’d been before – is a good choice for fancy Indian food. It didn’t disappoint.
The Cloyce and Lorenzo had to go after that, so we went across the street to The Canteen (see above) for dessert. It was full there, so we sat in the take-out section. They have an amazing desert there called lemon posset that we love.
As a side note, we were talking at dinner about how long Meirion and I had been together. It’s thirty years this month. We are never sure of the exact date we met, so there is no particular day we celebrate anniversaries. In fact January sometimes slides by without our noting its been another year.
Oh well. It was a nice birthday. Nice anniversary too.
I can’t think of a more typical small-town-Ontario–in-winter scene than this. Nanookville looked like this Tuesday: it hasn’t snowed a lot - but it has snowed often
Across the street, in the Post Office window, there is the display shown below. It’s to publicize a talk/slide show Meirion and I are doing next Monday evening for The Historical Society, on our trip to Warkworth, UK. When I was there, I had doing something like this in mind, so I took scores of photos which try to capture the favour of the place, not just how it looks. I’ve whittled these down to 70 odd, which we'll speed through in 45 minutes or so. Meirion and I will share the speaking part. In the meantime I need to research a little more about the history of the place.
We’ve always thought that a twinning arrangement between Warkworth, England and Warkworth Ontario (Nanookville’s real name) would be a natural. This presentation may well get the ball rolling on that, we hope.
Here at home, it's been a busy week with PositiveLite.com, which is experiencing a lot of activity and a impressive increase in visits. I get involved in many blogging issues there.
Lots of other little bits and pieces this week too. I was just looking at my calendar. This week, I’ve worked on the planning committee for the Gay Men’s Health Summit, a large affair taking place in Toronto next month. I’ve worked on the presentation for the Historical Society referred to above. I’m on the executive of Nanookville’s Business Association, serving as its treasurer, and this generates a solid stream of financial-related stuff. And I’m involved as one of the producers of a musical scheduled for March celebrating the 25th Anniversary of Nanookville’s Maple Syrup Festival, a grand affair I’ll write more about later.
Plus I’ve been getting over a cold (again); one of those return-visit colds which seem to involve a dog’s breakfast of ailments so numerous that I sometimes think I have everything that could possibly be wrong with me, short of some of the more exotic STI’s. I’m sure you know what I mean. Health-wise, it never just rains with me, it pours. I even sprained my foot. God knows how.
But on to more important matters, namely the new judges on American Idol. What do people think? Meirion was prepared to give up on the show with the departure of everyone but Randy. I said let’s give it a chance. Turns out Jennifer Lopez – she’s truly beautiful btw -might work out. She is, of course way too nice, and clearly has a hard time saying no. But she seems better suited to the role than any other woman they’ve had on the show since day one, and I think she’ll do OK. Steven Tyler I just don’t know about. I’m not thrilled by lecherous 63 year old grandfathers dressing as teenagers with layers of make up so thick on their face it’s hard to see if a person is under there. Plus he’s full of himself. But who knows. Meanwhile, Randy is just Randy, nice but ultimately irrelevant.
It’s my birthday Sunday. I think we are going to Toronto for dinner with The Cloyce and Lorenzo at Fred’s Not Here. Before that we’ll take in the Tim Burton design show, which is just across the street and also see The King’s Speech. Should be a nice day.
It's is homo-erotic, and not overly explicit, but this one warrants a NSFW warning. Similarly, the language is not suitable for most workplaces. Otherwise, turn up the volume; it has a great soundtrack.
I’d be curious what those who don’t work in the field think about the effectiveness of this video – why it works or why it doesn’t.
Curious about what’s been said about it over on PositiveLite? See my column here or our new blogger Mark S. King (of My Fabulous Disease fame)’s post here.
Right now we are dealing with just under a foot of snow and extreme cold. This morning it is -22C, about -8F. That is bordering on the really uncomfortable to be out in, and I’m sensing the dogs, who all like a bit of snow, find it a bit much too.
I think the two bassets like it least. Being short in stature, they have to sort of burrow their way around d. They don’t stay out long.
Meanwhile, I can’t say enough how just plain tickled pink I am that Glee’s Chris Colfer won a Golden Globe last night, almost overshadowing Glee’s own Golden Globe later that night. Good that he took the opportunity to mention the bullying issue too.
I’ve always maintained that Kurt’s stance on bullying beats the well-intentioned but ultimately less efective It Gets Better campaign by a country mile. Choosing between the messages of each, Kurts’s “screw that kids” wins hands down, in my book.
It’s been a complicated – and snowy - week here in Nanookville. So much so that my routine has been topsy-turvy, and the frequency of blogging here on LJ has suffered. That disruption may continue for a little while. I’ve become VERY busy with PostiveLite.com the other website I write for, but where I do more than just write. For instance, I tweet all new blog entries on three different Twitter accounts, and as we’re currently hitting about 14 posts a week, that’s become a significant activity, but one that pays of hugely in terms of site traffic.
There is a lot of relationship-building going on too. I’ve learned a lot about how to get a small business going, and to work with community partners.
Anyway, in just one year, PositiveLite.com has become quite the success. Have a look at it, if you’re curious; I post there under Green Acres. Click here.
Whoever thought I’d be sold on Twitter, btw? But as a vehicle for promoting websites in a viral marketing context, as opposed to announcing that you just sneezed, it’s quite impressive.
In other news, Meirion is now working for another real estate broker, this one based in downtown Toronto. He’ll still be listing properties in our neck of the woods, but in Toronto also, so that has already meant a busier workload for him. Meanwhile his councillor’s duties are pretty time-consuming also. He has one full life right now.
So this is my second crack at using Pummelvision. This time, it’s 340 photos of the pups in 52 seconds flat. It starts in May 2006, the time we acquired Dudley and Dougall; Peggy arrived later, in December 2009.
If you missed it, My Life in Pictures, 2,000 photos from my Flickr photostream in less than five minutes is here.
Needless to say I’m quite taken by this program. The results are just plain fun, and with a bit of luck, they can even give you some insights in to the overall look of your photographic body of work.
Photos unrelated to content again, except for the simple fact that it’s been snowy lately.
My regular doctor’s appointment, which has morphed from quarterly to every four months, went OK Wednesday. My CD4 went from 749 to 658, a drop which is neither here nor there. It’s still good. My viral load remains undetectable.
I can't help noticing how the concept of undetectable viral load and its connection to a patient's infectivity is skirted around by almost everyone, except perhaps for the "treatment as prevention" crowd, whom I have isssues with anyway. There is, after all, so much evidence that suggests I'm most likely of harm to nobody, that I couldn’t infect anyone if I tried. That news should be a huge boost to the psyche of anyone who for years has been viewed by society as a “diseased pariah” (which is actually a term used with some affection in our community; the Diseased Pariah News was a newssheet by and for people living with HIV in the 90’s.) But nobody really celebrates our undetectable status; instead the AIDS establishment stumbles all over itself to try and prove we could just still be capable of infecting others, even though the chances – and I know the evidence well – are really quite slim.
So why don’t we celebrate our undetectability? Sadly, because too many people don’t want us to, for fear of what we might do with it.
Cynical, aren't I?
In other news, I’m almost ashamed to admit it but I’m most taken by The Million Dollar Drop. True, the concept is as incendiary an example of greed as we’ve seen on any TV game show, ever. BUT, aside from all that crap, the concept is original AND exciting. It is, in fact, an hour of gripping TV.
There, I’ve said it.
In other, other news, I finally got my photo book I did in December back from Photobook Canada. They did a nice enough job in the printing, and the program itself is a joy to use. But delivery-wise they were slow, and expensive, I thought, at $70.06 including everything. That was for a 54-page 8x10 soft cover. In any event I think I prefer them over the other photo book supplier I’ve used, Viovio, but neither company is perfect.
In other, other news, Meirion is gone for two days for some kind of councillor’s training course in Kingston. How will I manage? Fortunately, there are pizza in the freezer and stuff.
People here probably already know that I have a pretty light touch when it comes to photo editing. However, I’m a sucker for some of those wacky iPhone apps that do a number on the images taken on that phone.
My favourite off all the photo apps, and I’ve featured it here before, is Photofunia. It’s the slickest of the many apps that take an image from your camera roll and place it in a different setting. Photofunia does this seamlessly and has by far the most interesting backdrops. The one above is from a recent app update.
As it happens, Lorenzo gave me a magazine for Christmas which included reviews of multiple iPhone apps. I went straight to the photography section, following which I chose these next two programs to download.
So this next one is called BowShot with the” bow” as in bow wow wow. It’s an ingenious app for photographing dogs that includes noises designed to get your pooch’s attention. Select the sound of dogs barking for instance; dog looks up (see Dougall below) and the shutter clicks 1.5 seconds later. There are something like forty-five sounds to get your dog’s attention. It works like a charm. But be warned; dogs have a limited attention span. That door bell chiming sound will perk up their ears for the first few times, and you’ll get some good reactions – but dogs seem to bore of it after a while.
Anyway, here’s Dougall perking up at a door bell chime, courtesy of Bowshot.
This next series is taken with a novel app called Camera Fun. Surely effects like these are not new, you ask? And you’d be right. But here’s the difference that makes Camera Fun totally unique. These effects - and many others - are what you see THROUGH YOUR VIEWFINDER BEFORE YOU TAKE THE PHOTO rather than obtained via post processing. Now that’s unique.
Honestly, I don’t really like this kind of stuff, but that didn’t stop me investing $1.99 in it for the sheer novelty of this app. Anyway, here are five of the effects that the program delivers, with Dudley this time being the subject, who sat uncharacteristically patiently for all five.
Again, the novelty with this latter set is not the effects themselves but the manner in which they are achieved. I can’t think of any other camera that can do anything even close to this.
On the other hand, do you really need this capability?
It snowed yesterday, so I went out taking photos of the countryside. 'Fraid I don't have time to post them this morning, though, as I have a doctor’s appointment in Toronto – it’s routine – at 9.30am. This means I have to leave really early, like now, as what is normally an hour and forty-five minutes drive will likely be around three in the rush hour. Yikes.
Our new year’s group has always bought each other gag gifts. This year I got not one but two of these. She’s toting a solar-powered handbag, so her right hand waves, during daylight hours at least, in that endearing little way everyone knows.
Unfortunately, one queen was broken – her head had fallen off right in the box - but that will be easily fixed with a bit of glue, and they’ll both be on my windowsill in no time waving away at passing birds and rodents.
Talking of rodents and other nasties, a dead snake appeared on our front porch yesterday, I’m sure courtesy of our beloved dogs. Needless to say I had Meirion dispose of it, my relationship with snakes being way beyond paranoia. How it got there, in winter no less, we’ll never know. One theory is that it was somehow uncovered, dead, after the snow melted last week and the dogs brought it home. A second theory is that last week’s warm weather somehow brought it out of hiding and - horrors – the dogs seized on it. Either way, it’s yucky.
Anyway, here’s another present I got. For the last few years, The Cloyce has bought me a fairly elaborate wind-up toy, because I like such things. They’ve always been modern ones, though, from Taiwan or some such parts. This time, I got the real thing – a vintage wind up B-90 helicopter. It niftily revolves round the globe, with a separate wind-up for the propeller, and you can control the height etc. by a couple of controls. It's clearly not a repro. It’s very cool.
Try as I might, I can find absolutely nothing about it on the internet. Anyone – like a certain wind-up retailer on my friends list – know anything about it?
In other news, my recent LJ post listing my top ten photos of 2010, or actually the PositiveLite version, which was almost identical, was published in something called Photography Daily. It’s here. That this happens speaks to the power of Twitter. Most posts on PositiveLite are tweeted, which, if you’re lucky, produces retweets and mentions by third parties like this one. Our posts promoted this way occasionally attract several thousand hits. Amazing eh?
No reason why you couldn’t do exactly the same thing with tweeting one’s LiveJournal posts. Anyone doing this and getting good results?
Monday, and finally back to a routine world after a long period of not.
I do enjoy the holiday season and never more than this year, but there is something that’s extraordinarily comforting when it’s all over. True the tree is still up and so are all the outside lights and decorations, but I’m off to Jeannine’s for breakfast today, and all is good with the world.
Readers will recall we were in Toronto for two days right after Christmas. There was a day at home after that and then The Cloyce and Lorenzo from Toronto and Stephen and Tyler from Vancouver arrived Wednesday and stayed until Saturday to do the New Year thing with us. It’s been a tradition for probably a dozen years.
Lots of good eats, presents, games and stuff ensued. Wednesday we stayed in for spaghetti dinner, then did our usual gift exchange, which takes hours, even though we cut back this year. Thursday we went to the adult version of the panto Hansel and Gretel at Sterling. It was quite well done, but not nearly dirty enough. Friday, New Year’s Eve, we had dinner at our place. Stephen and Tyler prepared the first course, an excellent leek and potato soup. Meirion did the main – jerk chicken with rice and beans, fried plantain, baby bok choy and tomatoes. The Cloyce made an amazing lemon meringue pie for dessert. Altogether, it was a lovely meal. We spent the rest of evening playing Catch Phrase until midnight, again as we always do. Later we watched the Bette Midler special on HBO and that was that. 2010 done.
I spent new years day re-arranging photo files and such. I also put my engagement book on my iPhone, to see if I can dispense with the hard copy, just as i have done with my cheque book. Daring, eh?
I got some great presents this year, notably tickets to the opera Nixon in China which I really wanted. I'll talk about some of the others in a later posting.
Must say I’ve been impressed by these little vids that have been cropping up here like flies.
It’s a clever little program. Take two thousand photos from your Flickr, FaceBook or Tumblr account and Pummelvision does the rest. Works best, I think, if the two thousand includes at least some thematically grouped images, rather than two thousand unrelated images flashing entirely at random.
While I didn’t expect anything deep to come out of this 4 minutes and 34 seconds, the result is surprisingly revealing, not so much about what photos I like to take but the nature of my life in general.
Boxing Day found us at the mall, and not just any mall but the Eaton Centre, which is the mutha of all malls, in Toronto at least. Why we were there is a long story and it doesn’t matter. But it was a mistake to be there, of all places, on Boxing Day. It was not as pictured here, taken the next day, but instead a swarming mass of ant-like humanity. I couldn’t wait to get out of there.
It really reconfirmed that I can no longer identify as a city person. To live in the city you have to really, really like people - and I don’t. At least en masse.
In any event, our two days in the city was otherwise pleasant. We met Kim and a friend of hers for dinner at Fred’s Not Here, an eating place which impressed me greatly, particularly for its lobster/crab bisque, which was perhaps the best soup I’ve ever had. Then on to see Priscilla again. Loved it again too. It really is an incredibly over-the-top feast for the eyes and ears too. But seeing it from the front stalls this time brought out the drama, and there are some wonderful performances here too. All four of us were bowled over.
Then on to one of the new places in the Bell Lightbox, the very trendy O&B Canteen. Let’s just say the lemon posset is an amazing dessert.
We stayed at a downtown hotel overnight, toodled away the next day before joining The Cloyce and Lorenzo and the boys for dinner at their house.
Home again yesterday, and the highlight was probably watching the Banksy film Exit Through the Gift Shop. Wow! It’s excellent. And puzzling. And a conversation starter par excellence. “Is this movie for real” is the question and honestly I don’t have a clue. I’m thinking the whole thing's a hoax, but you be the judge. What a ride though.
I do this every year – go through all the photos taken over the last twelve months to see which appeal to me most. And here they are, a motley crue indeed, reminding me that when it comes to a consistent style or subject matter, I have none.
As I did last year, I’ll say a few words about each to indicate why I chose the image for inclusion in this post.
This lead-off one, and the one which follows, have all the negative attributes attached to photographing animals in zoos. Wildlife photographers, quite rightly in my view, would consider these kinds of shots entirely inferior to those captured in the wild. Unfortunately, though, there are no wild tigers in this part of Ontario, so this will have to do. This particular shot took some patience in waiting for the beast to turn just so, so that the themes of repetition and symmetry that often appear in my work could play out here.
I chose eleven other images from 2010 to complete the dirty dozen. Wanna see more?
Busy, busy lately, what with Christmas and all. Today is a bit of a break in the clouds and then pretty well full tilt until the New Year. We’ll be spending boxing day and the following day in Toronto to see Priscilla – The Musical again. The Cloyce and Lorenzo from Toronto and Stephen and Tyler from Vancouver will be with us as usual in Nanookville, arriving on December 29 and staying until New Years Day.
So Christmas stuff, combined with moving my office from the ground floor to the basement, where I have 1,500 square feet to play with, has kept me away from LJ a little bit. It looks like I’ll be here only sporadically for the next week or so, so perhaps it's best for me to wish everybody a happy holidays now.