Sophie Canade 

Are you going to Grand Rapids, Michigan?

There's a little something hanging in a bar called the HopCat. Please wander in and have a look.

Please go read the brilliant things being said about the sock monkey tree at extraVEGANza!

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The meaning of a meal

Two very good friends came to visit a few weekends ago. They are both vegan, like me, and we got the chance to indulge at Soul Veg in south Chicago. The all vegan menu captivated us. We delighted in the difficulty of choosing from too many options. This contrasts with the usual experience of searching a standard menu for the possible options that could be modified into a suitable vegan item. After stuffing ourselves on fried, gooey, and filling vegan fare, we sat in Millennium Park and shared two unspeakably delicious pieces of pie; one key lime, the other sweet potato. I loved knowing that we three took hedonistic pleasure, consuming with abandon, wallowing in the rich sweetness that was not responsible for the direct death or suffering of animals.

I spend a lot of my time being the difficult one in social situations whenever food is involved. The sensibility that guides my eating is an invisible bond that connects me to family and friends. I don't love all vegans, and not all the people I love are even vegetarian, but it is one solid place for a relationship to begin.

It's not what goes into a person that matters, it's what comes out. Ultimately, that is true, but what goes in, does have a lot to do with what comes out. I don't preach the gospel very often, but I'm just going to put a couple of links here for anyone who is interested in eating a bit lower on the food chain. Matthew Halteman has a terrific blog called ExtraVeganza!, and I'd recommend you go take a peek at Food Inc.

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Aping aggression

Bourne Identity is playing in the background as I write this. Punching sounds, "oofs" and grunts, and the rumbling of bodies colliding with furniture seem to go on and on. Watching (and hearing) violence in movies makes me flinch. If you've read my previous posts or know anything about mirror neurons, then you know that watching movie violence makes everyone flinch. I wonder about the relationship between exposure to violence and the violent tendencies in people. Are we prepared to be more violent through the rehearsal that takes place as our mirror neurons are simulating movie battles?

You know how kids play games, pointing their fingers at each other and making exploding "blam! pow!" noises? Kids' pantomimes are probably more violent because of exposure to cop shows, , sci-fi movie battles like in Star Wars, and video games. (I'd have said westerns, but there aren't any anymore.) The playground imaginary battles must have their origins in tv and movie violence. Before television, I suppose there were radio gun battles to plant violent seeds in our imaginations. Before guns were invented in the 1300s, were imaginary sword fights the game of choice? Did the kids of the middle ages naturally want to fake kill each other in-between working the field and scrubbing the cellar? Maybe.

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I've always depended on the kindness of strangers

At the end of my first trip on Amtrak to Chicago, I was lost and looking for the appropriate bus stop. I asked a bus driver whether his was the bus to take me to the south end of Michigan Ave. He said no, but if I hopped on, he could take me down to the correct stop. It was a very, very full bus and my bags were large. I motioned towards my heavies on the curb as I declined his kind offer. I decided instead to take the EL, and I started dragging my bags in the direction I imagined the stop to be. Hmm. No train tracks in sight. Walking through a pedestrian area, I asked a leprechaun with one good eye where to EL station could be found. He hopped off the wall upon which he was sitting and gave me detailed directions. He warned me that the station was in a "bad" neighborhood. It was a sun-shiny afternoon, the streets were populated with bustling suits, shuffling tourists and the occasional bum asking for spare change. It didn't seem a "bad" neighborhood could be just around the corner, but I recognized the worry in this little man's good eye. My mirror neurons fired through my insula to communicate with the limbic portion of my brain where emotions are assigned. I felt his concern, and flashed back a reassuring smile as I thanked him for the help and said goodbye.

Approaching the EL train station, I saw a very steep staircase, and my body took a dip as I steeled myself to lift my bags up the stairs. A woman was just behind me on the sidewalk. Her mirror neurons identified my sigh, and offered a quick solution. She instructed me to take the handle on one end of my biggest bag while she lifted the handle on the other side. She walked me up to the gates of the Orange Line and waved good luck as she darted towards her own gate. "Thanks! Bye." An employee at the station stepped in and helped me get my bags through the gate just as the train arrived and I was on my way to the Roosevelt stop. "Thanks!"

This weekend I traveled to Madison, WI to meet with my friend Dave. I took a Megabus despite having read horrible stories about the busline on yelp. The ride from Chicago to Madison was pleasantly uneventful. The capable driver's name was Michael. He was not drunk, and we arrived right on time. What did suck is that the drop-off point at the Dutch Mill park and ride is a fair distance outside of Madison. I called a public transportation telephone number on the sign to learn that the next bus from the park and ride to town would not be arriving for two hours. The nearest bus stop was just under two miles away. I took a big sigh and hoisted by back pack onto my back, grabbed my bowling ball bag and started marching down Broadway. I must broadcast disappointment in a way that is very easily read. An old man with a truck asked me where I was headed and offered to give me a lift. His name was Budd, and when he dropped me off he insisted that I take his number and give him a call if I needed a ride to my Megabus when returning to Chicago.

Often when I travel, I am surprised at the great number of people who are out there willing and wanting to help. Mirror neurons are neurons predominantly in the motor and premotor cortexes of our brains that show activity when a person is observing an action almost identical to the neural activity when that person is actually performing those actions. A good portion of our brains is simulating the experiences of those around us all the time. The discovery of mirror neurons gives empathy an anatomical explanation. When we assist someone, in seeing her suffering ease, we also feel the relief. I'm glad we're built this way.

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Mirroring People

Yesterday was a day for spring cleaning. In a burst of energy and determination to freshen my nest, I put my wool duvet in the wash. As many of you would have guessed, it was far too heavy for a lil' home washer to handle, and I found myself with a plastic bag full of wet blanket looking for a laundromat in this big city. The first clue to tip me off that it was going to be a very good day--my friend Stephen came to my rescue, driving me to a nice wide-open laundromat in Hyde Park. That laundromat conspired with Stephen to put a smile on my face by turning my twenty dollar bill into twenty dollars and fifty cents in quarters. Very nice, thank you!

While the duvet was getting dizzy, I went for a walk to hear some nice jazz music coming out of a pub. (Mothers' Day beer at a jazz bar, now that's a good gift.) I overheard three people trying to lay down a plan to get change for their parking meter. I was quarter rich, so I gave them two dollars in quarters. On my walk, I came to a Starbucks. Normally I don't go into these places, but I had a desire for some soy chai and I compromised my desire not to support the coffee chain. Well the good day continued to smile upon me, because I was handed the soy chai with a big "thank you," as a throng of customers flooded into the store. "I didn't pay you," I said to the woman behind the counter. "Oh, you didn't?" She shrugged me away as she'd already started taking another order. How about that? I didn't support the chain.

With my free soy chai, I headed back to the laundromat where I began to read a book about mirror neurons. The book is called "Mirroring People," by Marco Lacoboni. Mirror neurons were discovered when neuroanatomists monitoring the brains of macaque monkeys observed activity in the F4 and F5 brain regions when the macaques were merely observing, not performing activity. Now neuroscientists are saying that about 20% of the brain's neurons are mirror neurons--dedicated to perceiving the activity of others. Mirror neurons are at the beginning of how we learn to walk, to play sports, to communicate, and feel empathy. Every time you watch another person get up and walk across the room, your brain's activity is mirroring the activity of the one who actually performs that the walking.

I was still thinking about mirror neurons when I walked to the Metro Station with my bag of dry duvet. A couple came towards me on the side walk walking the opposite direction. The man who was also on the curb side of the footpath and I made eye contact. We had an unspoken flash of communication, probably an unthinking directional signal with the eyes that twitched as each of our sets of mirror neurons perceived the other's trajectory. Without delay, we agreed I would walk further to the curb, he would walk further to the center. His wide grin acknowledged the easy diplomacy that prevented us from colliding.

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Coffee, anyone? Hey, gave me a line in the "Links With Your Coffee--Friday" section. Hooray! Now go see what else they've got on offer over there.

That listing must have been what led Cat Cubed to find the Mobius Sock Monkey. Have a look!

I'm chuffed.

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Do not go gently into that dark energy

This evening I've been tinkering with Photoshop, preparing images of my latest sock monkey series for the portfolio page (coming soon) on this site. Among the sock monkeys are three images of my "Dark Energy Monkey" in various phases of the life span of a universe. I made the monkey when I saw a show on Discovery that introduced me to the idea of dark energy. The problem, as my brain has simplified to a personally comprehensible level, is that when mathematician cosmologists calculated the expansion of the universe and accounted for the mass of planets, the force of gravity versus the momentum of the energy outward since the big bang, they could not make numbers match-up with the rate at which the universe is measured to be expanding. Einstein himself decided to just fudge the numbers and invented a factor which in 1997 scientists started deliberately including in calculations. They named it "dark energy." Dark energy is (the hypothetical) repulsive force which prevents the gravity of heavenly bodies like planets & stars, space dust, and anything with mass from pulling back into each other. Dark energy is calculated to be stronger than gravity so that the mass in the universe is pushing away from itself, thus the universe is expanding.

My understanding could be a touch "off," so if anyone wants to correct me on specifics, I would only be happy to learn.

Having the above understanding of dark energy, I knew instantly how it would look in the medium of sock monkey. Often art comes through hard slogging and constant revision until just the right amount of accident happens and I am happy with the finished product. The Dark Energy Monkey (watch for it, coming soon on the profile page of this site) was the closest I get to a final work matching the original vision. I'm not saying the original vision was such a thing of splendor, but I hit the idea of questionable merit square on the head.

While preparing the jpgs in Photoshop (for upcoming profile page you've heard so much about), I was listening to the May 1st podcast of the BBCs Newspod. About 26 minutes in, I had to pause the podcast, pause the Photoshopping, and write my first legitimate blog entry since December. As I was Gaussian blurring the edges of a sock monkey universe which illustrates the concept of dark energy, the English were telling me about cosmological conundrums of dark energy and dark matter.

The information set me into a tiny panick-- at Cape Town University has taken on the current widely accepted model of the universe He says that we make a mistake to assume that the density of the universe is consistent through out. Ellis suggests that if the universe varies in density, and if our galaxy is in a less dense patch (towards the center), dark energy would not be a necessary factor to explain the increased speed of the expansion of the universe. Just a few minutes of that eerily pertinent news happened to be playing exactly when I was focusing on the presentation of my Dark Energy Monkeys. What are the chances? Practically 0%. Coincidences don't just happen, not like that. This was a cosmic whisper blowing into my ear; George Ellis is putting forth notions which invalidate your sock monkey dark energy sock monkey model of the universe. Cosmic forces are aligned and showing me that my art is under attack. He must be stopped.

If Ellis turns out to be right, and my dark energy sock monkey model of the universe is reduced to an illustration of the clumsy way scientists tried to balance an equation, I can at least appreciate the human pursuit of knowledge. We learn the most when we prove ourselves wrong. Thanks for the warning, cosmic coincidence, I'll be keeping an eye on George Ellis. This isn't over yet.

May 4, 2009 10:21:28 AM CDT Kim Trainor wrote: Your sock monkey images are tremendously entertaining, not only funny but informative as well. Even if Ellis's theory is correct, it's all still pertinent. Thank you for your sock monkey depictions of scientific formulas and other such expressions. This generations artists are into modalities I only dreamed of, how wonderful.

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Another Monkey Post?

As you can see, I am taking steps to return to the web. Thanks for all of your patience.

I've gotten the comment feature up and running for the first time. To all of you who commented in the past- your postings are now visible. (Sorry it took so long.) Did I ever tell you my parents used to call me "slowphie" when I was young? Parents can be so cruel...

Welcome to the new blog with the old information, and the new site with my newest art. Hey, now that the comments are working, we can have some discussions! What do you think about the sock monkey birth video? (Honestly I am just dropping the description of the video so search engine spiders will find me anytime someone is looking for sock monkey birth videos.) Really I'd just like to hear your feedback on anything. Who do you think Obama's going to pick for Supreme Court justice?

Hello Chicago! I'm optimistic about things to come.

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What kind of monster am I?

Regarding my previous post, time for reflection has given me a different interpretation on the 5 dollars that appeared at my feet at the end of a long, disappointing day. Pretending for a moment, that I am a person who believes the universe would decide to communicate with me in the methods of mothers, mates or masters, the universe wouldn't have been apologising. Rather, the universe, being a clever parent, was likely training me to stop whining by showing me positive reinforcement. Or maybe the universe was like a grandpa, cheering me up by pulling a quarter out of my ear! No matter the reason or lack thereof, my day ended on an up. In fact, most of my days end on ups, and I wish the same for you. Thanks for letting me off the hook for the last grumpy post.

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Country Mouse, City Bus

I had a long depressing bus ride tonight. It began when I decided to sort two different issues that have been on my mind for a short while. One, I needed Drain-O. My bathroom sink won't drain, and when I plunge it dark green and black flakes come up. Sorry for the unnecessary detail. Two, I've been trying to turn a deflated Swiss Ball into a bean-bag chair, and I needed some Gorilla Glue to seal up the slit made in the Swiss Ball where the styrofoam beads were inserted. My trusty internet served up a list of hardware stores in the area, and I called the first one on the list.

Me: Do you have Drain-O?
Hammer Hardware Man: Yes, we have Drain-O.
Me: Do you have Gorrilla Glue?
Hammer Hardware Man: Yes we have Gorilla Glue.
Me: I'll be right there!
Hammer Hardware Man: Do you know where we are?
Me: No.
Hammer Hardware Man: Ask for the Royal Oak Round-a-bout. We're right there.
Me: Great, I'm on my way.

I'll cut to the chase here and tell you that the bus ride cost me $4.30 each way, and took me out into the Wap-waps. Okay, not the wap-waps, but a distant suburb. I cursed myself for not bringing a book along but decided I would make up for all those wasted minutes of my life by grocery shopping in what would, no doubt, be cheaper isles than what can found in the centre city. After I bought my two hardware items, I headed over to the Pak-n-save. The shop was huge and well lit, but everything glowed in a nicotine hue and smelled like a wet sidewalk after the rain. People took full carts for walks down isles, seemingly directionless and neglecting all grocery store traffic rules. Did the international foods section have any Halva? No. Any carob buckwheat hippie-yuppie-new-agey-snacky things? No. Soda water without sodium? No. Gluten free bread? No. Okay fine. I'll just have to get some expensive chocolate to savour on my bus ride home. Any Green & Blacks fair trade Maya Gold? No. Okay, I settled for a large Cadbury dark chocolate block with peppermint filling, and a 65 cent avocado. I ate a third of the chocolate while waiting for the bus to arrive, and rubbed my belly regretfully all the way home.

About 50 metres from the door of my building, a boy sat in a box with nothing visible but his head. It made me laugh, so I asked him if he wanted some chocolate. He accepted with a huge smile, and my steps after that were lighter. I opened the door to check my mail on the second floor, and lilting on the floor at my feet was a 5 dollar note. I scooped it into my pocket, accepting the universe's apology for a stink bus ride into the land of the bland. All is forgiven.

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I Wish You Were My Next Door Neighbour

Hello to anyone who visits my poor, long ago forsaken blog.

What have I been doing?
I quit my job and sold the Commer van in the hopes that my cash would last the fix-up and sale of my house. My first real estate agent was a lazy slouch, and it's a buyer's market out there right now. I guess it's obvious to anyone reading this story, I have run out of money, and my house has not sold. I am reluctant to get another job here in Dunedin, as I feel it would be giving up and moving back. (Sad face.)
There is no time for sad faces! I've gotten a new real estate agent named Jane who brings me roses and even brought someone around and view my house on her birthday. I'm feeling optimistic again. I've made this video (below) with a bit of a photo tour through my house.

The song is done by (my friend) Gina Rocco and the Rockettes.

Jane can be contacted for further house info at

The house sold in early 2008. Thanks for all of your interest.
December 12, 2007 6:00:53 PM CST jono wrote: Sorry fellow readers, that house is no longer available, though I think you'd agree that's a kick-ass video from Ms Canade. I guess the sale of your house means you'll be movin on. I for one hope that your blog springs to life once more. There's a continuing stoooooooooory to be told, with all the fresh promise that 'no more obligations in Dunedin' holds. And monkey videos to post. Love you lots, jonoSorry fellow readers, that house is no longer available, though I think you'd agree that's a kick-ass video from Ms Canade. I guess the sale of your house means you'll be movin on. I for one hope that your blog springs to life once more. There's a continuing stoooooooooory to be told, with all the fresh promise that 'no more obligations in Dunedin' holds. And monkey videos to post. Love you lots, jono
December 27, 2007 4:14:04 PM CST sss wrote:Of course I want a monkey! Your house is lovely. Mr. jew-fro, the 2 fat cats and me all send you big pseudo Canadian hugs.

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When the office keeps me from the monkeys...

all is not well.

The sock afterlife from my wardrobe is often monkeyhood. These days my sewing machines are burried under the detritus of years with the real-life-ex, and my spare time is swallowed by web page building and bus riding. No more happy times for split-toed socks in my home, and so a damaged sock had become an obsolete sock. This chilly morning I had a revelation for which future sermons will, no doubt, be written. First I put one pair of wholly holy holey socks on my feet, and then I put another right over the top. Now I can feel my big toe breaking through dimensions of one sock and finding itself inside another. Ha, there's no escape! I've triumphed over those destructive little digits, and I've found a use for sock monkeys who will never manifest.

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Internet Boyfriend == Net Loss

I'm not actually going to go into much detail elaborating on the subject line. I just thought it was a funny way to summarize one of the threads of life experience I had while not blogging anything for a month. (Holy crap! It's really been a month!) Pardon my absence. I'd moved into my computer where it was more affirming than my job with a micromanaging, esteem-gouging boss, and warmer than my poorly insulated house. (Have I told you how the kiwis keep their houses warm? Curtains. Not storm windows. Thick curtains.) The winter blues have been dogging me, and I didn't want to post anything that couldn't at least end on an upbeat. I'm posting again, so you know things are looking up. I'm selling the Commer, the house, the couch, the vacuum. I'm selling all the domestic trappings which have caused me to hesitate leaving a dreary emotional pit. California get your sunshine ready. I'm going to be there in two weeks. Tennessee, have your ticks standing by. Fresh blood is on the way. Iowa, well, just lie there like you do so well.

It goes without saying, nothing matters so much as seeing the faces I've been far away from for far too long. My computer can miss me for a change. I'm ready to eat burritos and drink root-beer with my homies.

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Kiwi Me

This Thursday before going to pino-pong in Port Chalmers, my friend Rakhee and I had dinner at my friend Nalani's house. Nalani's flatmate, Emily, was also there. Dinner was superb, and conversation after wards was engaging at the very least. At some point in the evening, Emily, the only New Zealander at the table remarked at how international our gathering had been. Rakhee is Indian, Nalani is Hawaiian, and when she got to me she paused and said "are you international?" I'm not suggesting that many people would have missed my Americanness, but this is the first time ever that a Kiwi thought I might also be a Kiwi.

Yesterday my parents sent me a quiz that they received via e-mail to define three Kiwi phrases.

"Money for Jam."

"Off yer Face."

"Piece of Piss."

I recognized two of the phrases immediately. My favourite is the "Piece of Piss." New Zealanders use the word "piss" in many different ways. To "take the piss," is to be fooling with someone or mocking them in a friendly way. "Going on the piss," means to go out drinking, and "a piece of piss," is a "piece of cake." It is not the same to say you are "taking the piss out of someone," and although you can say you are "drinking the piss," one would not say something is a "piss walk."

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Happy Esotre

Welcome to spring, Northern Hemisphere! I've decided that there is no more appropriate time for resurrecting my neglected blog than the time of year that a pagan fertility holiday was transformed into an Xtian day to celebrate zombies, bunnies and marshmallows. Even the the word "Easter" has evolved out of the names of many incarnations, iterations, and adaptations of fertility goddesses. 'Tis the season to watch the budding leaves unfurl and people creep out of their houses shedding their winter gear to buy 50 percent off After-Easter Peeps.

I'm romanticizing the time of year, because I am attempting to force a bit of transformation on my own perception. If you've been paying attention, you'll notice that I am speaking about the coming of spring yet I live in New Zealand on the opposite arc of the cycle. Each day is getting colder here, and I was startled to see how early dusk had come this evening. Soon it will be dark at 4:30. Shudder. I'm wearing two layers of PJs already, and doing my best to resist the emotional slump that so much cold night brings.

Lately I've caught myself wondering what I am doing so far away from so many friends and family members. Some part of me came here to find out who I am when nobody already knows. After the brain injury, I learned about myself from the people who remembered me better than I did. Well I have done it--learned about myself through interacting with strangers. Now there are fewer strangers, and I'm not sure what I've learned. The problem with my goal of learning about myself is that I won't stop changing, and every new person makes me into someone different. I'm just like the stupid holidays and religion that keeps morphing to make itself relevant enough to keep subscribers. After observing that I am neither static nor consistent, I've decided to just attempt to influence the transformation while it is happening. Tonight I am a glass-half-full kind of girl, snuggled cozily in bed wearing my two best pajamas and a cat that likes me a sickening amount. I don't need sunshine when I've got this much cat hair to keep me warm!

Happy Eostur everyone! Stay warm or cool, whichever you prefer, and enjoy your resurrection/transformation/evolution.

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A Little Reminder...

“Hello, babies. Welcome to earth. It’s hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It’s round and wet and crowded. At the outside, babies, you have about a hundred years here. There’s only one rule that I know of–

God damn it, babies, you’ve got to be kind. “

–Kurt Vonnegut

Thanks to the Canadé parents for reminding me.

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One night on Auckland

Last weekend I went up to Auckland to see visit my friend Reb Fountain.

The cabbie who picked me up at the airport had his own gps tacking device. affixed to the windscreen. i told him the address of the pub where my Ladybird friends were playing, he punched it on a tiny keypad, and a soothing lady's voice ( Hal's girlfriend, no doubt) came out of the little computer, assuring us that she knew the way.
Gentle robotic confidence narrated our journey through the night time city streets to my destination--The King's Arms.

Sadly, I had missed seeing the french garcons play on stage, but we did get a chance to hang out, and they're pretty good close-up, too. They gave me another issue of their fanzine, and introduced me to some the kiwi girlfriends who are brightening their days while here on the small island. A few whiskies and some hours later, it occurred to me that i should find my way to bed at Reb's. Julien and Luk walked me out and hailed a cab. Sadly, the one that pulled over was a losing lottery ticket.

I crawled into the passenger seat, doing my best to hover above without touching the bloated black leather seats. I told the cabbie Reb's address, and he sped off without hesitation through several sets of traffic lights and into the more desolate city outskirts. I wasn't watching the clock, but the late hour began to make itself more known. It could have been twenty or thirty minutes and a few disorienting turns down the road when the cabbie began checking with me for confirmation that he was going the right way. Oh. I don't know directions, and I certainly don't know Auckland, and even if it hadn't been so dark, my mind was a bit hazy. Yes, the hour was feeling very late.

The cabbie kindly stopped the metre as he parked the car and pulled out a brand-new road atlas. With my assistance, he finally found the right page for the correct Auckland suburb, and so he sped away again with renewed determination. Another 13-or-so minutes passed with me searching the map for identifiable cross streets or land marks before we realized we'd been reading the map upside down and were traveling south rather than north. I flipped over the book, cabbie stared calling out street names and I exclaimed with delight, "there it is, keep going!" at every corner. It was a far cry from the gentle confidence of the computer lady, but I had become the navigator. I did get us there, and I did sleep like a rock. The cabbie wasn't parked out front the next day, so I'm assuming he found his way back. ***

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Flattery will get you vegetables.

It's been so long since I've been in here, my browser's auto-fill had forgotten the URL. Please pardon my absence. My flatmate is the big news. I got one. She's a lovely vegetarian who has actually brought piles of vegetables into my home. They're all over the counter. My refrigerator has never been so full, and we actually use a compost bucket rather than the empty non-dairy frozen dessert containers I'd been getting away with for so long.

New Flattie is appalled at the lack variety in my diet. Last night I ate carrots as well as broccoli, so things are looking up.

March 14, 2007 10:06:04 AM CDT terra s wrote: i am certainly glad to hear that you are showered in vegetables. maybe we can swap recipes....
March 15, 2007 6:08:55 AM CDT m_walker wrote: You pack variety all into the one meal though, then eat the same meal over and over. It's an approach :-) Pumpkins took over my vegetable garden and I appear to have hundreds of the little grey monsters. Not so little either.

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3/3/2007 1:34:00 AM

YouTube Adventures

When I first wrote about jumping into the world of sharing videos on youtube, I gave a pretty romantic description of the internet exchange 'taking place outside of a shared time and space...' I fancied It as an exchange that would escape the limitations of our clumsy and shallow 3-D selves. That was a bit silly.

With these videos,.the maker is not in the same physical space with the viewers, but s/he is communicating a space, and so s/he is not judged just for a physical embodied self, but also judged by the technical extension of that self.

My first "book report" on the God Delusion by Richard Dawkins, seemed to provoke mostly comments about the sound quality and the unsteadiness of the camera. It was a real eye-opener to what those in advertising know and exploit for a living. Medium is the message. None of my ideas are going to be good enough to rise out of the ashes of a poorly produced video. The experience of watching a video has to at least not be distracting for people to pay attention to the words. Okay duh.

Also, the level of discussion to be found on youtube is not consistent. Even a well articulated message on a topic that is at all controversial is likely to earn below-the-belt, irrelevant insults about being ugly and dumb. Yes, youtube offers a forum for geographically distant people of different cultural backgrounds to each bring his or her stereotypes, to share ideas, and to semi-anonymously, verbally abuse others who disagree. Lucky for me, the distance of the internet also lessens the pain of those blows, and the public nature of the "battle" does nurture some healthy dialogue. Overall, I'm finding it a real kick.

February 19, 2007 7:56:34 PM CST z wrote: hey dearest, i couldn't agree more with your break-it-down on youtube anticulture. i read 3 letters to the editor in harper's magazine regarding dawkins' book and was blown away by how, in just 3 short letters to the editor, i was so much more intrigued/informed/impressed by what i learned about the book than all the stupid youtubers put together. guess it helps to be a reader rather than a vidiot, sometimes...? you're too good for them suckers. [sic] love, z*
February 22, 2007 9:26:42 PM CST cp453 wrote: I don't have any misgivings that the videographer or her/his subject(s) do not resonate with where my life has taken me....I tend to see connections with all of life now :) But, inevitably, the vid tends to be a KFC sign on the highway of transitory existence....leaves a slightly greasy sheen on my sensorium, and prompts me to reach for my high fiber Ry Cooder CD's to blow out the system....keep smilin'

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2/17/2007 4:57:00 PM

Celebrate February !2th, Darwin Day

Get your TV's ready to watch Richard Dawkins talk about the God Hypothesis on CNN during the "Paula Zahn Now" show.

Or maybe you just want to celebrate by getting back in touch with your roots. Try climbing a tree, flinging some shit, or eating a bug off your friend's back.

The weather is beautiful. Wish you were here.

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2/11/2007 7:36:00 AM

Monkey Post
Mad, mad, monkeys...

Come and see what the hell I'm talking about. Here is a "challenge" that spawned a video book group I've joined on YouTube. If it's no fun, I'll let you know. In the meantime, I've spent my entire holiday (Waitangi Day) learning how to make videos with iSight, iMovie and Quicktime Broadcaster. Videos are neat.

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2/6/2007 8:57:00 PM

To Hell and Back in 6 Seconds.

When I moved to New Zealand from the states, my former real-life friends evolved into pen-pals or virtual friends. Because the people closest to me were also the furthest away, my experience on this island has partly been one of finding a new way to have community-- a post modern community, consisting of people who don't have to share time or space. (A shout out to all my fellow amature phenomenologists, hey-o.) The internet is a treasure trove to indulge any eccentric hobby. (**Oh the internet**) We've all got our list of regular sites that dish news items, quips and ponderings on our favourite genres. At the top of my list is the site It is a place that frequently posts video clips of the Jon Stewart Daily show, and keeps a pretty close watch on what is happening in the collective consciousness concerning religion, especially noting freaky things done by evangelical Christians in America. It was on onegoodmove that I first found a link to a youtube video put out by the Rational Response Squad called The Blasphemy Challenge. I am always keeping an eye out and an ear to the ground, ready to jump at the opportunity to blaspheme. As long as Blasphemy is done in good taste, much hilarity can come of it.

(Here I would like to give as an example, my mum's downstairs bathroom which has been decorated ceiling-to-floor with elegant religious works of art, such as a paint-by-numbers Jesus and cross-stitched Last Supper. The power of the irreverence- I mean veneration, can, perhaps, only be appreciated while sitting on the can and staring down the son of God who flashes his flaming Sacred Heart at you.)

The Blasphemy Challenge is a call to people to make their atheism public, I got on the horn to one of my real-life, kiwi friends, (Jono), and asked him to help me blaspheme. We used his cell phone and recorded the six seconds that would send me to hell, according to one interpretation of one version of one part of the Christian rule book for getting into heaven and hell. But this post is not really about religion.( I'll try to get to the point. I know we're all suffering varying degrees of ADD, and there is so much else on the internet waiting to be seen!!)

So I uploaded my video and now I have joined a community that is deeper in cyber space than I've been previously. On the weekends now, I cruise the youtubes and watch the videos of fellow atheists. Many of them tell brief personal histories of their relationship with the church/god/the bible. Underneath some of the videos are written exchanges that happen between people (using self selected screen/member names) who mostly have never met. Sometimes video makers will have a series of vlogs (video-blogs) that are monologs running a gamut of very intimate considerations of self or the world, or one's place in the world. These videos are sometimes directed in response to a particular video, person or group of people, but always the audience will be largely anonymous. My youtube persona, snowfeet, has been an active participant in the text-discussions, but I have found myself wanting to respond to a few videos with more than the 500 character limit that youtube permits. (Imposed hierarchy of communication medium.) I've got an isight camera, and last night I downloaded Quicktime Broadcaster, so maybe soon I'll be able to volley more in the youtube video forum. It will be a strange thing, is this the solitary act of a maybe shy, maybe lonely exhibitionist? I will write more about this if I follow through and if the experience makes me think of anything that I would rather type than speak into a web cam.

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2/4/2007 1:04:15 AM

Molly Ivins, RIP.

A moment of silence for Molly Ivins who has passed away after a long battle with breast cancer at the young age of 62. Julia Sweeny has some good stuff to say about it over on her blog.

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2/3/2007 6:31:15 PM

Plumbing makes me happy.

Often when someone asks how are you? it is meant as little more than an extended hello. Rarely does the person asking have time for an honest answer. As I was heading to the bus stop after work yesterday, my painter friend, Rachel, tossed out one of those polite how are you's, and, poor girl, I stopped and answered her truthfully. I opened my mouth and out it spilled-

"I've been at work since 7:30" (It was then 6pm)
"My boss got angry at me" (for troubleshooting code in a Firefox browser, not JUST Safari and IE)
"I'm overworked, and I hate my job." (Ouch.)

The sympathetic and shocked expression on her face filled me with guilt for having unloaded on her like that. (I should have saved it for the blog!) I gave her an apologetic hug and then sprinted off to catch my bus.

On the ride home I handled the two new monkey wrenches which had been purchased over my lunch half-hour, and in my mind I planned the way I would turn my mood around and rescue the day from wallowing in the pit of pits...

  1. Get off the Bus.
  2. Let Bonza (the rabbit) out to frolic in the front meadow.
  3. Turn off the water to my house through that little hole that goes under the sidewalk.
  4. Enter the new monkey wrenches, stage left. Attach the bathroom faucet to the water pipes.
  5. Feed cats, feed self. (OMG, delicious burritos!)
  6. Brush teeth, spitting for the very first time into the new bathroom sink.
  7. Dishes.
  8. Pet cats.
  9. PJs on.
  10. Fall asleep listening to Air America Radio on podcast.

And it all happened quite a bit like that.

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1/30/2007 11:25:15 PM

A Whisky Cocktail for the Wage Junkie.

I was talking on the phone to my friend computer geek friend, Matthew last night. (I don't mean that in a deprecating way at all. In fact, "computer geek" is a title to be worn as a crown--no, not a crown, because the title is not something one can be born into like king-hood or U.S. presidency, but rather it must be earned, like money. no wait, that's not good either. okay, a computer geek is one with desirable skills. Besides, you'll notice by viewing Matthew's web site that he is much, much more than a computer geek. I won't call him anymore names just now. Go check him out and come up with a few of your own.) As is appropriate now that I have a job in computers and Matthew is one of my best computer-knowing friends, I complained about my job for a very long time. Fun. 'My boss promises the moon to clients and I'm the one who is supposed to build that moon. My boss doesn't understand how long these heavenly body-type things actually take to build...' and so on. What I complained about is the boring part of the conversation. It all got good when Matthew said he was drinking whisky. (He also said he coded better that way, but I'm not sure if that was the whisky talking.) He said the whisky and the phone conversation made a whisky-Sophie cocktail.

What would it be called, I wondered, "Take This Job and Shove It?"
Oh yeah, great name, Matt said.
No really, I could see it. It would be satisfying. You're at the pub after work, and you order one "Take This Job and Shove It," please. No wait, make it three "Take This Jobs and Shove It--" er, I stumbled to pluralize the name of our new Cocktail"Take This Job and Shove Its!"

And then Matthew's gift made itself known with the solution, "Take These Jobs and Shove Them."

I was still laughing on the bus to work this morning as I imagined ordering a round of drinks for all my burnt-out, bitter wage-slave compadres. Another round of "Take These Jobs and Shove Them!"

Now I have to stop laughing while I write this or my boss will get suspicious. Which, of course, reminds me of a story sent to me by my mum. Woo-hoo! Go Iowa!

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1/25/2007 3:47:15 PM

TBI, 12 years on.

The Big Idiot.

Tons of Bad Ideas.

Trying to Be Independent.

Totally Bluffing It.

Today is not the anniversary of the day I got brained on the highway in Indiana, but it is a day that I broke down when I got different bills from two different house insurance companies. Cannot comprehend... two bills, one house? Who asked for this? The responsibility of being a homeowner almost crippled me, but I've got a safety net, of sorts. I'm lucky, you see, anytime I find being a grownup too hard, I can always blame the brain injury and then relax. I don't have to be good at this! I'm already a success just to be walking, talking, and feeding myself. It's okay to write this kind of possibly inappropriate (The Blessing to Be Inappropriate), possibly embarrassing stuff on a blog that any bored net troll could read, too. I've accomplished so much in even being able to write again! It's the weekend, we're all a little damaged, and we're all successes for being able to eat, breath, sleep, etc, so let's celebrate. With helmets.
(In keeping with a theme, The Burritos are Incredible!)

*Dedicated to cousin Darren. Way to go, so far!

p.s. This Blog Is broken. I'll get it fixed up soon. Bear with me here.

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1/20/2007 9:20:15 PM

I did say I'd make Burritos

My long sunday of work was rewarded by seeing some great music performed at a local pub/speak easy called Circadian Rhythm. Kiwi legends Bob Scott (of the Bats and The Clean) and Martin Phillipps (of The Chills) played in-between two sets by a great young french group of Buskers called Ladybird.

Ladybird swept me off my feet with their musical talents, charming intellect, good looks, etc. Check their myspace link and give them a listen. I persuaded them to come to my house on monday for a feed, and I was not disappointed. Both Luq and little Victor, (whose eyes light up at the very word, "burrito"), managed to put away two and a-half each. Well done! We also had wine, beer, whisky, chocolate, talk of Sock Monkeys, 8-tracks, and the Beatles. Luq (of Glasnost) hates TV. Niko is a writer who writes in complicated Françias. Victor is incredibly well traveled, loves globes, and did the dishes at the end of the night. The requisite "quiet one," Julien, was the enigma of the group, adding a touch of mystery to the weekend.

I wanted to forget about my new job and become a gypsy, but here I am back at the office earning the dosh to feed my cats another week and to buy CDs. Happy travels, Ladybird NZ crew, bon chance!

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1/16/2007 5:55:15 PM

First Entry

If you've been to this site previously, you will notice that not much has changed in some time. What have I been doing, you may ask. Why have my site and, (one could infer-), my art been so neglected? Just in case you haven't wondered, let me suggest that the reasons are shocking and about to be revealed. I got a job. I got a job and a mortgage, at least one "special needs" cat always on the edge of requiring a urinary tract flushing, plus a complete engine rebuild for my 1970 Commer Autosleeper (campervan) to guarantee that I never again get away with spending 5 years "making sock monkeys not money." I hope you'll still be my friends when I am bitter and fully re-assimilated into the rat race.

So watch this space. I am now a web developer for a company called Flying Lizard. I'll be trying out new things that I learn with server-side coding, for example, this little bloggy thing here. So hello to anyone reading this. The next page I'll work on is the mail form, so you guys can give me feedback. Shit, you can just e-mail me now, too.

New Zealand has been pretty good lately. Please come visit. I'll make you burritos. *sophie

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1/12/2007 10:29:18 PM