Sunday, February 27, 2011

Still Alice

I’d been meaning to start reading more books lately.  I used to read a lot but lately life just got too busy, and I hadn’t really sat down to read a good book in longer than I’m proud of.  When I was in Winnipeg for Xmas my Mom was talking about her mother, my grandmother, and her battle with Alzheimer’s Disease.  It’s gotten pretty bad, and I felt terrible my Mom had to watch her mother disappear.  It’s hereditary, and we suspect my Grandpa on my mom’s side was starting to get it as well when he passed away of unrelated issues.  So the chances of my Mom and/or aunts or uncles on that side of the family getting it as well are high, and in turn that means my brother and I have a chance of inheriting it.

We were discussing what it must be like from her perspective, my Grandma’s.  When she was still speaking, she’d often confuse my Mother for her sister, or ask where her husband was, even though my Grandpa died years ago.  I mentioned if I were diagnosed with it, I’d probably commit suicide before it got too bad, to spare my family the despair and burden, and to go out on my own terms, as the person I’d spent a life becoming.  I didn’t like the idea of letting the disease strip away all the memories I’d spent my life building, I can’t imagine anyone who would like such a thought.

still aliceMy Mom mentioned she’d read a book written from the perspective of someone with Alzheimer’s.  The main character also decides she wants to commit suicide before she forgets herself.  I made a mental note to read the book.  It sounded like a powerful book, and I also felt like reading it would help me understand the disease that stole my Grandmother from the people who love her, and what I pray I never have to go through with my own Mother, or put the people who love me through.

A few weeks ago I bought it for my iPad and ended up reading through it in two sittings.  And I can’t recommend it enough.  Very emotionally draining.  It’s tragic but life affirming at the same time, and can be quite scary, but informative.  I recommend it to anyone who’s been affected by Alzheimer’s in some way.  Even if you haven’t, it’s a great read on its own merit.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

It Keeps Changin’ Fast And It Don’t Last For Long

I had someone important to me from Edmonton tell me she heard this song and the lyrics reminder her of me.  On seeing the lyrics I was really touched that someone saw this in me.

Rocky Mountain High
John Denver
Words by John Denver; Music by John Denver and Mike Taylor

He was born in the summer of his 27th year
Comin' home to a place he'd never been before
He left yesterday behind him, you might say he was born again
You might say he found a key for every door

When he first came to the mountains his life was far away
On the road and hangin' by a song
But the string's already broken and he doesn't really care
It keeps changin' fast and it don't last for long

But the Colorado rocky mountain high
I've seen it rainin' fire in the sky
The shadow from the starlight is softer than a lullabye
Rocky mountain high

He climbed cathedral mountains, he saw silver clouds below
He saw everything as far as you can see
And they say that he got crazy once and he tried to touch the sun
And he lost a friend but kept his memory

Now he walks in quiet solitude the forest and the streams
Seeking grace in every step he takes
His sight has turned inside himself to try and understand
The serenity of a clear blue mountain lake

And the Colorado rocky mountain high
I've seen it rainin' fire in the sky
You can talk to God and listen to the casual reply
Rocky mountain high

Now his life is full of wonder but his heart still knows some fear
Of a simple thing he cannot comprehend
Why they try to tear the mountains down to bring in a couple more
More people, more scars upon the land

And the Colorado rocky mountain high
I've seen it rainin' fire in the sky
I know he'd be a poorer man if he never saw an eagle fly
Rocky mountain high

It's Colorado rocky mountain high
I've seen it rainin' fire in the sky
Friends around the campfire and everybody's high
Rocky mountain high

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Dragon Age 2 Demo


The Dragon Age 2 demo is now available for Xbox, PS3 and PC!  Go download it and see the last game I worked on at BioWare, the follow up to Dragon Age Origins, the first game I ever worked on!

Click here to download the PC version.

I’m in the process of downloading it on Xbox.  It’s gunna be surreal to play it.  Last time I saw the game it was still a major work in progress, in something known as whitebox.  Lots of place holder assets and very barebones.  To see the game completely fleshed out will be awesome.  I’ll get to enjoy the game from both sides.  I worked on it enough to feel a sense of pride, and know the “behind the scenes” that went into it, but it will still be new enough that I can enjoy it with the excitement and curiosity of a consumer.  Cannot wait for the full game to come out!

Songs For No One


Yes, another playlist already.  The last one was made of old songs I had laying around, these are all brand spanking new finds!  With some help from some Facebook friends suggestions!

  1. ceo – All Around
  2. Geographer – Age of Consent (New Order Cover)
  3. The Temper Trap – Fader
  4. Uffie – Difficult
  5. Two Door Cinema Club – Eat That Up, It’s Good For You
  6. Ingrid Michaelson – You And I
  7. I’m From Barcelona – Anywhere You Looked
  8. Darwin Deez – Constellations
  9. Hurts – Silver Lining
  10. Deadmau5 and Kaskade – I Remember (radio edit)
  11. The Temper Trap – Resurrection (Penguin Prison Remix)
  12. The Temper Trap – Sweet Disposition
  13. Menomena – Dirty Cartoons
  14. Hurts – Stay
  15. Klaxons – Echoes
  16. Miike Snow – Song For No One
  17. Hurts – Evelyn
  18. Radiohead – Codex
  19. Radiohead – Give Up The Ghost
  20. The Antlers – Kettering
  21. The Antlers – Epilogue

Sunday, February 20, 2011


“All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter another.”Anatole France


It’s been about 3 years since I moved away from Winnipeg.  When I did, I really only planned to be gone for 3 months.  I’d lived there my whole life, and until a recent road-trip, I’d been completely content with the idea of living there the rest of my life.  My family lived there, I had life-long friends, I knew the city…  Now I doubt I’ll ever live there again.

Even after all this time, it still hits me sometimes and I have to just take a second to take it in.  I’m living in Halifax, on the East Coast, working a salary position in the videogame industry.  Before that I lived in Edmonton for over 2 years, with a group of great friends there, working at BioWare.  How the hell did that happen!?  I always expected to grow old in the city I was born in.  I never expected things to change too much.  But they have.


Sometimes as I’m falling asleep I still expect to wake the next morning in my room on Horace Street, the apartment I lived in with 3 of my friends.  I’d spend some time on the computer for a bit in my little computer room, then drive the Honda to Rogers Video and work a shift with Craig or Lauren, maybe Omar.  Watch Aladdin or Ferris Beuler at work, rent a free movie or game on the way home.  Brett would get home from his shift at Little Caesar’s, maybe bring home a pizza.  Brett, Linda, Tim and I would watch a movie, Jeff and/or Andi might come over.  On the weekend I’d catch a movie with Chad at the St. Vital Famous Players, maybe some Smitty’s for lunch first, then he’d come over with Olga and we’d all have some beers and play some Rock Band.

My mind still can’t seem to grasp the fact that it’s been 3 years since then.  And that not only has my life has gone on since then, but so has theirs.  I still feel like I could go back to that if I chose to.  I could just fly back, get my job at Rogers Video again and move back into my old room.  Have everyone over and just say “Hey guys!  I’m back!”, and just fall back into the familiar.

But that’s not the case.  I wouldn’t recognize the people who answered the door at Horace, my friends moved out of there a long time ago.  When I went to Rogers Video for my old job, I’d find a mattress store.  Rogers Video closed last year, and everyone I worked with have moved on to other things.  If I dropped by Chad’s place to invite him and Olga to a movie, I’d remember they now live in Edmonton, 1400 kilometers away from the St Vital Famous Players.  Tim and I wouldn’t be going grocery shopping together for supplies for the apartment, he lives in Vancouver now.  Brett and Linda will soon be following.  Andi lives a whole other life now, as do many friends I’ve fallen out of touch with. 


That life is over.  It’s not continuing in some place I can choose to return to.  Those people no longer exist, they’ve grown and changed; those places are no longer those places, other people lead different lives there now.  The places erode and are rebuilt, constantly changing, to the point I don’t recognize my home town a little more every time I visit.  The people I used to hang out with every other night now live as far as the other side of the country.  But the real kicker is knowing that even if that life did still exist, perfectly preserved as I left it, and I were to return to it, I’d find it didn’t matter at all how different or the same it is.  I’ve changed.  I’m not that person anymore either.

It’s not that I want to be that person again, or even want to return to that life.  But I never got proper closure on that time in my life.  An impulse decision to move, something temporary inadvertently becoming permanent, ambitions driving me across the country and changing me in the process, the whole while some subconscious part of me felt like it was still just for 3 months, then I’d be going back home.  But home is gone.  And for the time being, I am transient.  Part of the job.

That sudden break from a life I’d known and built for decades probably left a permanent mark.  It’s not a bad thing, just an experience that has formed me.  On some level, that life will always be waiting for me to return.  Brett and Linda are at Horace in the living room, playing with the Pug.  Tim’s in his room recording a track.  Craig, Lauren and Jenna are working at Rogers, making plans to go to The Toad that night.  Chad’s working at Wal-Mart and then Olga’s spending the night.  Andi’s always ready for a late night conversation over some cigarettes in the car in front of her place.  Kyra is excited about our next date.  And when I get back, we’ll al go to Earl’s for some drinks, and continue that life where we left off…3035414171_34164574fd_b

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Those Left Behind… 3!


Another playlist in the “Left Behind” series.  Just a collection of older songs that for one reason or another never made it into any of my previous playlists!

  1. Stars – The Night Starts Here
  2. The Verve – Love Is Noise
  3. The Arcade Fire – Rebellion (Lies)
  4. Death In Vegas – Hands Around My Throat
  5. Yoko Kanno – Call Me Call Me
  6. Mr. Bungle – Pink Cigarette
  7. Death Cab For Cutie – I Will Follow You Into The Dark
  8. Pomplamoose – Beat The Horse
  9. Broken Social Scene – Anthems For A 17 Year Old Girl
  10. Muse – Exopolitics
  11. The Republic Tigers – Contortionists
  12. Red House Painters – Have You Forgotten?
  13. The Spinto Band – Oh Mandy
  14. Patrick Watson – Drifters
  15. VAST – Flames
  16. Emily Haines & The Soft Skeleton – Winning
  17. Mr. Bungle – Retrovertigo
  18. Death Cab For Cutie – We Looked Like Giants
  19. Stars – Take Me To The Riot
  20. The Whip – Dubsex
  21. VAST – Dirty Hole
  22. Kutiman – I Am New
  23. Patrick Watson – The Great Escape
  24. Red House Painters – Song For A Blue Guitar
  25. Big Wreck – Blown Wide Open
  26. The Notwist – Consequence
  27. VAST – Take Me With You
  28. Stabbing Westward – Waking Up Beside You
  29. Speakers – Nothing Ever Dies


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

In Production

Layers melt away until all I can see are the patterns. The mechanisms in my life are hard at work. As the equations work themselves down to their simplest expressions, I see it all play out. And it all seems so familiar. The faces behind the masks, the meanings behind the words. All those I've always known but never met.

I glide between the orbits, never making contact. Pieces come together, pieces fall apart. I see lone elements on vagrant paths to nowhere, I see overwhelming plans coming to fruition.

It's all so beautiful in its function. It's the art of living. Paint stroke decisions, melodic mistakes, the grammar of emotions.

I wonder the landscape of my past, strolling through the painful times and taking a moment to rest in the pleasant ones. I watch the machine operate as a whole. It doesn't make a sound, flawlessly creating a product never meant to be completed.

Things start to lose their perfection, variables are added to the equations. An uncertain future fractures the landscape. The masks slip back on, the layers are laid down once again. I begin to lose sight of the orbits. As the over-saturated colors of subjectivity begin to fade in from the monochromatic perfection I'd witnessed, I find myself back in the abstract.

I step into the future and let the mechanisms get back to work, and I make some new paint strokes. The melody goes on.

Monday, February 14, 2011

360 Panorama

I bought a cool app for my iPhone.  “360 Panorama”  1.99$.  Lets you take panoramas by stitching photos together.  Here’s 2 examples:

Sprint Planning:

Sprint Pano


Office Pano

Each one took about 20 seconds to make.  It uses the accelerometer and compass in the phone to stitch the photos together automatically, so all you really do is click capture and move the phone around until you’ve looked in all directions.

But the really cool thing is it lets you export them as true 360 panorama views as a website link.  Try clicking this link for an example using the second image.


So.  Valentines Day.  Two people at BioWare I kind of knew had an interesting way of celebrating it in Minecraft!

Congrats to them both!