Michaelwclark.com

Just my stuff


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Boxing day, my father’s birthday

Poor dad. We were always so hungover or just plain tired on his birthday. I don’t drink alcohol any more but still feel fairly wiped this morning. It’s all the excitement, preparation and texts texts texts! Will be nice to take it easy for a while and settle back into my usual routine.

My dad was a proud Canadian. He went to Upper Canada College and then the University of Toronto. A civil engineer, he settled into business and worked for a couple of large companies. He did well but found that teaching was more to his liking. Ending up at Ryerson university, he became the Dean of Business. But he didn’t take himself all that seriously. When friends came over they’d joke around, lightly calling him “Dean” and he’d always play along.

After retirement he and my mother had a wonderful time doing volunteer work in the 1990s with a Canadian organization (CESO/SACO) helping Eastern Europeans develop Western style businesses. He and mom went everywhere: Czech Republic, Poland, Russia, to name a few places. Dad and mom were well liked by Dad’s students and seminar participants, as evident from the old, analog photos they brought home.

I often think it ironic that dad tried so hard to help Eastern Europeans and I was literally bit in the a** by one at the University of Ottawa.

In this photo dad is visiting my great aunt in Cleveland, Ohio. She was a librarian there. A very kind, saintly woman who eventually moved up to Toronto. Because dad had been to UCC, he enlisted for Officer Training during WW-II.

Here he is, ready to go and risk his life for democracy and freedom.

dad_as

William James Loudon Clark

Happy Birthday Dad! Even though you’re not here physically, I believe you’re around.


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You can’t do that on the internet !

mug_bricks

Okay, so some of you are probably wondering what the heck I look like. Apart from a few pics at Facebook and Flickr, I’ve kept a pretty low profile. It wasn’t always that way. But things happen and I just wanted to lay low for a while.

Today I went to a 11:30 Mass and then hung out in a coffee shop for a while after. By the time I got home I was in a silly mood and wanted to do a selfie. So here’s a silly selfie.

The effect is “Brick Wall” in Photoshop Elements. I adjusted the lighting angle to make it look more like getting run over or attacked by a staple gun than just mere bricks.

Life goes on. Life is good. Maybe next time I’ll do a serious one. Or a smile. 🙂


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Shape Dance – A very 90s “Popcorn”

A few years ago I picked up a dollar store CD called Shape Rave, volume 4 (Pikosso records, Berlin 1996). I just got around to listening to it tonight and discovered a nice remix of an old radio hit from my childhood, “Popcorn.”

The pan flute sound is a bit passé (technology has given us a much broader palette today). But as a novice bedroom producer, I can really appreciate the programming, the texture of the underlying sequenced sounds, and the fantastic swing. “Swing” is a feature used in sequencers where the 2nd, 3rd and 4th beats are delayed a bit behind the first beat. It makes it sound less robotic and when done right, gives it, well, swing… 🙂

I like the old-style graphics that the uploader put with the tune. I think it’s the same remix that is on my CD (there are several remixes). Back when the first “Popcorn” came out, that tape deck would have been really high tech.


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More tips for people trying to get the most out of an old computer

compaq-crop

I awoke in the middle of the night last night. Instead of rolling around in bed when that happens, I usually get up and do something.  I also enjoy listening to music late at night. My senses are heightened. It’s quiet. And usually there are some other night owl bloggers with whom I might engage in some friendly banter. So it’s all good.

But last night my faster laptop was in my bedroom. And I wanted to sit at the dining room table, where I have a really ancient laptop set up. I say “set up” because the hinge is busted, so I have to prop up the screen with something moderately heavy.

A bit tired of Spotify and Stingray, I wanted to listen to Naxos online. But this little dining room laptop just couldn’t hack it. After playing sounds for a few seconds it would skip and sputter. That’s what happens with 512 RAM and an atom-style processor.

So I tried the K-Meleon browser, highly touted among old computer hobbyists. But it couldn’t load the Naxos playlist. I tried Firefox. Same thing. Next I tried the ultra-light Midori. The portable version didn’t load. But the installed version did.

This looked very promising and, happy for a few minutes, I thought I’d found the answer. But after a while the whole Midori browser just crashed.

Then it came to me. Duh. Just load Chrome without all my extensions. This meant signing out of Chrome and loading the blank browser, clearing all history, bookmarks, etc. (Not sure if the latter makes any difference but I thought I’d do it anyhow).

Success! This works so well that I am listening to Handel (streaming) and typing this note on Word 97. Next, I’ll try to load up WordPress and see if the music still plays.

It’s the little things in life…  🙂


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Does Blogging Change Anything? or How I Beat The Midsummer Blues

Image via Tumblr – Click for fullsize

Sitting in front of a library, annoyed by a nearby smoker. Asking myself, does blogging change anything?

I mean, since graduating I’ve spent untold hours on a computer, and more recently tab or phone, and what has changed?

In the beginning I had high hopes for earthpages. I really believed it would make a major impact. But today I wonder.

Should I pack it in? What keeps driving me to blog for virtually no monetary gain? (No, I’m not set up for life as some might imagine).

Hmm. A midsummer meditation.

Maybe I just like doing it. That must be it. Although I must admit, some of those entries at earthpages.ca take some discipline to revise.

I change. What once interested me becomes boring.

Anyhow, this is my first blog written outdoors on a phone. That was fun.

Good enough reason to keep at it!

Afterword… and I walked home smiling. 🙂


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Only in Toronto…

assbackwards-01.jpg licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License. Click image for source.

Toronto sports fans are rejoicing that the Leafs finished dead last in the NHL season this year.

Why?

Because this dismal season made them eligible for a lottery to get the first draft pick for the upcoming season. And they won the lottery. So theoretically, Leafs get to choose the best new player. I say theoretically because there’s no guarantee their pick will actually turn out best.

Many fans actually wanted the Leafs to lose their final games so they could get this pick.

To me this is the same kind of ass backwards philosophy that runs through much of Canada: Keep the dollar low so we can attract foreign business and, especially, customers for exports like good ol’ Texas Tea (Alberta blend). Meanwhile, tax more so we can (supposedly) get better services.

It’s a loser’s game… in sports and life. Far better, I think, to always do your best rather than skulk around in the mud.

 

 


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A fun thing to do every month

pically_calendar_2016_05-blog

Some folks like arts and crafts. Others, like myself, enjoy fiddling away on the computer, trying out new freeware and pushing it to the max. I find it not only relaxing but plain, simple fun.

Here’s a calendar I made for the month of May. I used Pically’s free online calendar creator.

http://www.petrosit.de/pically.php

Pically makes white borders a little larger than I’d like, so I loaded the finished product (a pdf file) into Photoshop Elements (which can read pdf files) and cropped the white edges out before sending to Staples.ca for a good, inexpensive laser printing.

Actually, it was a bit more complicated than that.

Because I wanted to get the entire photo in the calendar, I simply loaded a blank (no image) calendar template into PS Elements. Then I pasted the tulips into the blank area, adjusting that image’s ratio so as to fit just the way I wanted. Add a little text at the top right, and you’ve got a lovely little 8.5 x 11 inch calendar.

The reason I started doing this is because I usually get my Mom two calendars for Christmas. One, a store-bought calendar. The other, a free calendar from my local parish. But this year I didn’t see any calendars at my parish. Either they were all snapped up before I got to them, or the Church is cutting costs. Not sure. But my Mom likes to have one for events (she’s like a medieval chronicler … been writing in her calendars for decades) and one just to keep track.

So feeling a bit guilty that I didn’t get her her second Christmas calendar, I began searching online for the best calendar maker, where I wouldn’t have to download a whole bunch of stuff that might slow down my computer (which I keep mean and lean for music production).

The result… Pically. It seems the best free online calendar maker to me. Try it!