The Arrival and Borders

We made it. I’m happily ensconsced in Canada, living among the Northerners as an immigrant. It’s an odd place to be still, only five days after arrival, but there are many initial observations, despite our current lack of a permanent home, a permanent peace, furniture, wireless connectivity, and general daily stability.
I crossed the border at Winnipeg International Airport, currently under renovation like much of the city, and the immigration security there were both extremely efficient and friendly, just as I had hoped. We had done an incredible amount of “strategic planning” in order to get to that point with the help of our lawyer and this was a big payoff.
Being only two hours from the U.S. border is odd. I immediately started to look at the labels on packages throughout the house we’re staying in and most of the labels say “Made in Canada.” This is not surprising. But it’s interesting that these products are made for the artificial container of the Canadian nation and made for cost effective and duty-free distribution within the country in order to ensure appropriate tariffing and transactions. The border, as everyone knows, is a fluid thing, a contrivance that is both porous and structured and yet the products made and distributed here are a subset of the Canadian nation. WHat does this mean? It means that I’ve found it fascinating to recognize that national ideologies and tropes are really separate entities from the commercial ones we’ve come to accept. But they’re also intimately connected – Canadian goods are not unlike U.S. goods but they are captured under a differently organized national infrastructure.
Maybe I need a better example. Many of our friends here are traveling throughout Canada right now to see their friends and family. They think nothing of traveling 1000 or 2500 miles to do so. Canadians, from my superbly limited observation time, don’t mind making long treks across their country to visit one another. One city is not like the other but they all operate within a nationalism that is not like that of the U.S. Here, nationalism seems to include a feeling of comradery among citizens among cities and places. In the U.S., nationalism is more exclusive, based on states, localities, regions, and dialects (not to mention the more permeating issues of race, class, culture, etc.) In other words, I’m fascinated by the fact that Canadians are taking these next few weeks to travel around Canada and to visit their fellow citizens via automobile. Not once in our conversations did I hear about gas being expensive or about traffic being a worry or about finding enough time to see everyone and having to sit in the car – all things that seem to predominate U.S. travelers’ conversations.
In any case, I was able to attend the last night of Winnipeg’s Fringe Festival and saw a play called “The Big Funk,” an unfortunate name for a good performance by young and very talented actors about the possibility or improbability of transcending one’s mind.

The Move

It’s going to be a few days, folks, until something more real gets posted. But here’s the latest boring move information:

  • I sent out a Telegraph the other day that will hopefully reassure clients that MANOVERBOARD will only be a few hundred miles north of the border and a phone call away. Thanks to all of the kind emails I’ve received.
  • I sold the car at a place in Jersey. It was demeaning, gross, and highly demoralizing. I took a minor loss on the vehicle, which I bought used and it was as beautiful as sunshine, shiny and bright, quick and sharp, fast and smooth, and I don’t want to discuss it further.
  • The boxes are piling up. It’s at that point where I honestly cannot determine where all of the objects inhabiting those boxes were placed throughout the apartment. I know we had a good deal of closet space, but how could those closets possibly hold all of these boxes of things? Maybe the question should be phrased with a “Why are” at the start.
  • The little one has been positively responsible, responsive, easy-going, unphased and devout the entire time of this naya mishagas. It’s impressive. I’m not impressed with myself.
  • I’ve backed up my computer data on four separate systems, just to make sure. Is that paranoia or good personal computing?
  • If I didn’t get a chance to say goodbye to you, I apologize.
  • I swear I’m going to write a book about this move to Canada. Amazingly, the information online about moving there from the States is poor and often inaccurate. The best informational sites are those by the Canadian Government. This is true.
  • I’m now using Google’s Gmail to receive and respond and write emails. It’s a bit of drag, even though it’s a pretty sweet online app. I’m pretty old school about these things and strongly prefer a desktop app like Entourage to an online app. Perhaps it’s a control thing. NO, it’s a control thing.
  • The cats are vaccinated as am I.
  • My stomach is in small knots the size of thumbs.

I promise to be a better behaving weblog diarist when I settle into my new surroundings. Either that or I promise to be a better person. Maybe I can even pull both off if I try.

Young Thing

It’s a few days very late but is 10 years old. That makes me feel about 40, which so happens to be almost how old I am.
The Web truly is a young thing. It lives everywhere and is reckless and dangerous and thrives among the best (e.g. Wikipedia) and worst (Total Information Awareness, e.g.) of us. The Web shows that it’s possible for any schmuck to design or write for ebooks and that commerce is possible among breathing people without exchanging breaths. The Web is both old and new, shaped by our perceptions of quickly passing time and even more quickly fleeing electrons, prepared to submit to our little whims, whether fetishistic, opportunistic, receptive, or attavistic.
In any case, I uncynically applaud for taking the pounding of millions of keystrokes and landing in the spotlight for its success, longevity, and profitability.

Webbed Sadness

I found out today through Airbag that Design-in-Flight has shut its doors. This is truly a sad day for the Web, for Web designers, Web developers, and online folks everywhere. For a small fee, Andy Arikawa produced a beautiful PDF magazine that focused on Web standards, productivity, design tricks and tools and it was illustrated lusciously and elegantly. It was the first (and I guess only) PDF magazine that I had (very) hopes for. I still haven’t found the answer to the qustion “Why?” yet but when I do, I’ll try to post it.
I know what it’s like to start a publication and end it. The work that goes into producing a regular periodical is voluminous and never-ending. I edited a small zine called Soup Magazine back in the early 1990s when the desktop publishing revolution was alive. We took ads and I eventually had a small staff of friends to help produce the thing. It eventually sold in Tower Records throughout the U.S. and Europe and got picked up by Printed Matter as well as many other small print distributors. After leaving for a year to live in Poland, the zine couldn’t get rescusitated and it failed. [It’s hard to believe but Printed Matter still has some of these issues available!
I also found through Hicks that Joshua Ink is no longer writing. I don’t know his work well but there seems to be a big community of folks that are missing him.
These things always come in threes, right? I’m going to take it as a good sign that there’s no apparent three there.
[Note: The last DIF issue can be downloaded now (July 15, 2005). I have a small piece in it.]

Packing It Up, Getting It Out

I’ve been so extremely busy packing up our home for the movers to come in a few weeks time.
Got rid of books I didn’t need. See previous post. Got rid of some paintings. See heartache. Got rid of a bunch of files and folders that haven’t seen the light of day in over 10 years. See recycling containers burst.
Getting rid of a old software, old hardware, lots of kids clothes, and a mirror or two that probably won’t make the 1,500 mile trip. Got boxes from around the neighborhood, much thanks to Fresh Direct who make the perfect size small moving box.
Getting cold feet. Getting to say goodbye to some friends and family. Getting out a bit more only to know that I’ll be getting out less soon. Getting a lot of telemarketing calls lately. Don’t know why. Getting up early, getting to bed late, not getting enough work done, getting nostalgia for Coney Island, Gothamist, Prospect Park, a few museums and galleries, Time Warner Cable, the MTA (here’s a cool related link from Kottke), the Major Deegan, the Coastal Evacuation signs, getting lost in thoughts, getting gone.
Getting better and getting sad.


I wish sincere condolensces and solidarity to everyone directly and indirectly affected by the blasts in London today. While it’s easy to say that it was “inevitable” as so many bloggers are saying, it remains an outrage that cowards feel it’s their duty to kill in the name of any higher cause. These were very cowardly acts and there’s no real justice that can be had out of this.

The Great Book Giveaway

In order to save the overall emotional and financial costs of moving hundreds of pounds of books, we’ve been culling our stocks for the past few days. Today, I dropped off literally hundreds of books, valued probably in thousands of dollars, at the local Brooklyn public library.
It felt good and despairing at having done it. Books are one of my most treasured possesions but they have the following drawbacks: they’re heavy when you move, they’re heavy to store, and they rarely get re-read despite the best attempts at doing so. I’m now happily resigned to the fact that those books – cookbooks, technology books, fiction, nonfiction, science fiction, children’s and otherwise – will find a happy home in the midst of reader-friendly Brooklyn.
What goes unspoken about the massive drop-off of these books? Namely, the psychological attachments that will eventually become realized once we’re safely moved and I’m looking for a fix that only that one book can have. Canadian bookstores are well-stocked and seem to contain most of the essential books one would need as a citizen of North America but I do know that books there are much more expensive and that the VAT on consumer items is high. And yes, there’s but my suspicion is that, once planted there, online ordering will become slightly less desirable because, well, I’ll need to meet people and experience my new environment in a very solid way. And going to the bookstore – particularly McNally Robinson in Winnipeg – will provide a small perch from which to shiver me timbers.