On Saturday night, we went curling. It’s a fine old sport. Granted, Canadians are awfully good at it and deserve the credit for keeping this originally Scottish activity alive and well.
We went to a rink called “Heather” here in Winnipeg. Heather was nice. There were about 6 courts. Well, they’re called “rinks” but I prefer to think of them as courts because they look, to my jaded American eyes, like shuffleboard courts, despite the fact that ice covers them.
I did pretty well. That is, I stank. But I was able to get the rock (I mean, “stone”) to the other side. And my form was pretty good, despite the fact that I fell once on one knee, hard. Then I fell on my chest and arm. And I then fell on my side and knee again, which is pretty black and blue but looks, according to my daughter, like a lightening rod.
The stone itself is very easy to push across the ice. The hard part is pushing it across the ice so that it doesn’t either fly to the other side. That combined with not knocking your own team’s rock too hard.
And sweeping the ice in front of the stone is a pretty odd endeavor. I tried hard to sweep when requested (“hard” when screamed means “sweep hard”) but the skeptic in me kept thinking that sweeping in front of the rocks to make it go further was pointless. Was my brush-pushing actually doing anything at all? It was hard to tell but I’m a good sport.
Mostly, it was just good fun for eight people to get together, throw some rocks (sorry, “stones”) and see what the sport is all about. I would definitely to it again in a few months, though I doubt I’d get a membership at a local curling club. It is tempting, though. Curling does strike me (no pun) as a sport where no conversations can be had and friends can be made. I have a huge new respect for the sport because, man, it’s hard!

Manitoba’s first settlers, in 1812, made curling stones from oak blocks. Curling exploded in the west, turning Winnipeg into the center of curling, with more clubs in Manitoba than in Quebec and Ontario combined. The Manitoba Branch of the Royal Caledonian was established in 1888 and curlers from all parts of Canada and the U.S.A. flocked to the Winnipeg Curling Club, with 62 rinks participating in the bonspiel that year.

– Gleaned from
Manitoba, the province in which I reside, has a very strong Curling Association. There must be a few hundred clubs listed. I, however, quite liked Heather.
After the game, the eight of us went upstairs to drink beer and talk about our curling.
Today, there were 78 comments on a post called “The Greatest Curling Shot Ever” on Metafilter. I don’t know enough, yet, to say the video there is really the greatest but it’s an inspired bit of play.
A good friend of a good friend of mine made a movie about curling that is as hilariously informative as it is beautiful. It’s called History of the Hogline.

End of a Time

It looks like Jason Kottke has called it quits to his year-old and brilliant micropatron experiment. It’s too bad. I was really rooting for him and hoping that collecting small individual contributions would be a kind of antidote for advertising on blogs. Not that Kottke is going to go ad. But no sadness here – Jason will prevail.
It is quite interesting that nearly 100% of his funding came during the first three weeks of his fund drive. It goes to the issue of novelty, of course, but, perhaps more importantly, it highlights the importance of clearly communicating “marketing” goals from the outset, particularly on the Web. I’d love to see Jason do a “case study” or a “lessons learned” analysis. I’ll follow up this post with lessons learned about another kind of Web experiment.

I Love …

There are a lot of people I love. They pretty go unmentioned on a blog, and rightly so.
Here are the things I love (I mean I really love) that are not people (in no particular order):

  • The ease of death.
  • Domain names that end with .ca.
  • Slippers in the winter.
  • Owning a small business.
  • Collapsing discarded food cartons.
  • Coloring within the lines.
  • Bryant Park.
  • The smell of spring.
  • Designing with Web standards.
  • Animal rights.
  • Contemporary Judaism.
  • The activity of reading well-kept blogs.
  • The quiet of night.
  • Margins.
  • Documentaries about political success.
  • The sky’s light.
  • Multiple moons.
  • Cement highways.
  • Slab serif fonts.
  • Any magazine.
  • Walking straight.
  • Smooth skin.
  • Blackness.
  • Large ships I don’t have to get on.

Skin on Metal.

I actually couldn’t write about this last week.
Sometime on Thursday morning, it was minus 53 degree Fahrenheit here (wind chill factor). I sh*t you not. I wrote it correctly, but just to be sure (and just so I’m sure): It was -53 F.
The temperature reading in the car on the day before (which is pretty much my thermometer because, when I went to Home Depot to look for outdoor thermometers, every single one of them were butt-ugly), said -25 C, which amounts to -13 F.
I listen to pretty much every day of the week and on weekends whenever I can. I found it thrilling and sordid that the radio announcer was telling its New York audience (of which I used to be a very happy member) to button up.
On Thursday, I took out the garbage. When I came back, momentarily sans gloves, I brilliantly put my hand on the steel metal door handle. It went red.
It was the coldest day of my life.

New Rules for Vice Presidents.

Mr. Cheney came “out” today, saying that he shot his “wad” in the face of his friend.
I’ve been thinking about some new rules for the Vice President’s Office that may be applicable now that this transgression is (maybe, possibly) over:

  1. Don’t shoot guns. They could hurt someone–even someone you like.
  2. Don’t kill animals that can’t kill you. It’s just kind of bad karma, dude.
  3. If you have to be out with a gun, try to keep the thing above your head. Lots of shit can happen when you carry guns and stuff.
  4. If, for whatever reason, you shoot someone in the head, tell the police and be manly. It’s hard to admit shooting someone in the head, I know. But it’s important that you explain what happened, if it does happen.
  5. Try rubber bullets. They’re pretty cool and they can still kill things. Sometimes they kill people even though they’re, like, rubber.
  6. Don’t tell folks, after you shot someone, that you wish the person you shot well. It’s probably better if you kind of hang out at their hospital bed for a few days and make amends.
  7. If the person doesn’t get better soon, send a card. But make it a personal one and don’t have your press secretary make jokes or anything.
  8. If you really do want to shoot guns and stuff, overall you can be a lot more useful in places like Iraq or Iran where they need the help. But if you can’t make it that far, that’s cool. Get your kids to go do that shit.</li.


Tonight, I had the opportunity to be totally immersed in some really beautiful and original music performed by the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra. This week, and all week, is their New Music Festival, which features new symphonic works by international composers. (Tickets to all seven concerts can be had for $69.00.) Tonight I heard an incredibly moving piece, “Rhythms of the Earth,” by Ural-based Olga Victorova and then was treated to another contemporary composition by Jim Hiscott called “North Wind.” Victorova, youngish at 45, hails from my grandmother’s motherland. The soloist for the latter work was a flutist from China, now living here, named Xiao Nan and his virtuosity during the entire performance made my hair rise.
I’ve been here six months. It’s not that long. I have to continue to remind myself to remember that six months is about the amount of time it takes to learn where the corner deli is and that’s about it. To have found the WSO tonight, housed in a majestic and modernist building downtown (about 15 minutes drive from this computer), was stellar, surprising, and, in that surprise, a tremendous humility.

Silver Jews.

I’ve been a big fan of the Jews ever since my friend M.G. gave me a tape of their stuff a lot of years ago. They have a newish album out called Tanglewood Numbers as well as a nice newish video of their song Punks in the Beerlight. The whole thing is one melancholic enterprise, full of hell and high waters, sad tunes set to slow guitars and the droning voice of Jewish David Berman.
It reminds me a lot of depressing things like

  • The fact that really sucks here in Canada
  • I probably have a good 15 more really happy summers to go what with my birthday coming up and all
  • I don’t read no more
  • I bought OmniOutliner a few weeks ago and I’m not using it to keep any lists
  • I’m not going to buy Yojimbo, though I wrote about it a lot
  • There are people that called me a year ago and I haven’t returned their calls
  • It’s become obvious to me that death is pre-birth
  • Mail hasn’t been getting to me for some reason
  • Turin don’t matter
  • The dictatorship officially began
  • The color yellow seems fresh. A clear indication that I’m morose
  • The new Belle and Sebastian album is kind of silly in a bad way
  • There’s a tribute album out for my G-d-favorite artist Elliot Smith. It’s sure to be uplifting. I can’t listen to it.
  • Jeff Chester thinks the Internet as we know it is done because of corporate media consolidation and the need to monetize content that is ostensibly free
  • I used to be cute
  • It’s Thursday and then there’s the weekend

The Street.

The Muslim world has gone nuts over the past few days because of a pretty ugly series of cartoons. I don’t blame them for being pissed. Jews get pretty angry when Saudia Arabian and Lebanese and Syrian papers, for instance, publish heinous editorial cartoons of Jewish leaders looking like Nazis. This happens pretty much every day in strictly Muslim countries.
But more shocking than Muslims burning down the Dutch embassy in Beirut is that the liberal media (who I read with pleasure) has said absolutely nothing of meaning about this. Is their Street closed? Nothing of import and no headlines in Salon, Slate, The Nation, etc. Take a look a look. It’s not unlike a few months ago when France and other parts of Europe were burning (or at least vehicles there were). Are they afraid of their offices being torched? Do they, like the US Government, not have enough “translators” to follow the story? Perhaps they don’t have an opinion about thousands of people burning buildings, cars, and effigies?

Making Sense of AdSense.

I’m thinking of something inscrutable: Google AdSense.
I can honestly say that I have one of the longest running weblogs out there. I started after seeing Jason Kottke‘s blog back in 2000, when I featured him on my old art website (which is up but no longer living). His site was a huge inspiration for starting a weblog and he continues to impress and, on occasion, astound. In any case, I was an early advocate for blogging and Deckchairs on the Titanic has become a mildly exciting thing for me. Some days I hate it, others I’m in love with it. I started redesigning it three years ago and then again three months ago, but it’s still, pretty much, unchanged for the past 4 years. I really started blogging in a very serious way right before 9/11/01. And, after witnessing the Twin Towers on fire, it felt a little more urgent to write.
I know that Deckchairs isn’t the best written or nicely designed blog out there. It works. I try to keep the content diverse and informative and personal without it dragging into a complaint box, an information machine, or a leather couch. I like to write about different subjects because that’s what my experience has always been and that’s how I definitely try to live – learning and explaining are key to my personal survival.
I know this blog isn’t updated as often as I’d like; I’d prefer to post every other day. Most weeks, I’m lucky to post twice. I guess this is the one thing we all have in common – the same number of minutes in a day.
Here’s the rub: I’m flirting with AdSense. I’m looking into using (small) ads on my site because, well, I’m fascinated by the fact that, possibly, my site does enough traffic now (approximately 1000 unique visitors per day) that others might benefit. How is traffic and the benefit of others related? The more and better content featured on a weblog and the more visitors one gets, the more relevant the ads are being served on a site.
The other reason I’m thinking about ads is that, if I find ads on the site are popular (and, possibly, useful, which Google hasn’t yet measured), I’ll write more and more often. Who knows? Maybe I can even get around to finally redesigning the site which has been on deck for over six months now.
It’s weird, no? You may think I’m being disingenuous, coy, or even dishonest. Don’t get me wrong: if I could make $10 per month on Deckchairs on the Titanic, that’s fantastic. It will pay my hosting costs and a soda. (They call it “pop” around here, though.)
What I actually think is that taking small advertisements might actually direct some readers to useful information. I know I’ve often clicked on many ads on others’ blogs and, on occasion, I’ve been lead to relevant technology, political, or design information. The blogger was paid four cents but, more importantly, I gained eight cents of knowledge.
So, if you start seeing quiet ads on the site from Google, don’t hate me. I’m thinking about serving my visitors. Or serving myself more bullshit.
Postscript: In a bout of synchronicity, I see that one of my fave bloggers, John Gruber, is signed on to take visual ads as of yesterday through the elite and pretentious The Deck. Gruber previously took on text ads from a variety of customers and they were beautiful, in part because, well, he designed them.

Okay, it's cold.

I’ve been in tremendous denial during the month of January about the weather, which I generally take very lightly. I’m of the old school that believes very strongly that there’s nothing you can do about the outdoor temperature so get dressed and go outside.
It turns out that January was the warmest month on record in Winnipeg – at least since 1944, which wasn’t a very good year, afterall. I told people around here that I didn’t actually believe them that it got cold, that they were a bunch of exagerators and that I really liked the weather here.
Well, that’s changed.