Pixel Back Figtography Agent

Well Pixel Me Surprised!

My friend Shatton has been heavily into the pixel art these days.

I can’t really remember how it all started, but he submitted some stuff to Conan O’Brien and then it all went downhill from there.

A lot of what he draws is great. The rest is astounding.

Check out this one he did of me…



You should go to his site. He just finished revamping it. It’s definitely amazing.



If You Live In Napa, and Need Your Back Fixed…

My friend Kristen is a chiropractor. She’s awesome and has her own practice. I recently designed her website for her and in the process, I learned a lot about chiropractic treatment.

Truthfully, I used to be a bit nervous about it, but reading about how her and her husband practice this interesting science made me rethink my opinion.

I might have to give it a try one day.

You can check her site out here.



Suggestions Regarding Figtography?

Does anyone have any suggestions for my photography? Whether it’s the homepage, the marketing, or the photos themselves, it would be nice to get some opinions on how to make it better.

As it stands, I’ve done a few shows, and sold a few pieces.

I would have to say that it is good to have my art support itself.

However, it’s always good to open it up to a bigger audience.

You can just e-mail me and let me know.



Clarica Agent Time

I most likely offended quite a number of people with my post yesterday about lyrics posted meaninglessly on blogs.

I suppose I could have been more clear by mentioning that it is those that just post lyrics without any context or explanation that really puzzle me.

It’s one thing to use song lyrics to illustrate a point or an emotion. However, to not actually post anything other than song lyrics just strikes me as odd.

That’s all.

I’m sorry if any one of my friends were possibly offended (especially Age and Cathy). I happened to write that post after visiting a bunch of self-professed cool sites with this type of behaviour. I realize that you’ve both posted song lyrics either slightly before or after I made my post.

It was not directed at you.

It was actually directed at Dave and Kris*.




* – I’m KIDDING!

Trendy Fragile

Trendy?

Mary had a little lamb,
Little lamb, little lamb,
Mary had a little lamb,
Its fleece was white as snow.

And everywhere that Mary went,
Mary went, Mary went,
Everywhere that Mary went
The lamb was sure to go.

It followed her to school one day
School one day, school one day
It followed her to school one day
Which was against the rules.

It made the children laugh and play,
Laugh and play, laugh and play,
It made the children laugh and play
To see a lamb at school.

– Mary Had a Little Lamb (Copyright Unknown)


Lately I’ve been seeing a lot people posting song lyrics without any context or explanation. I don’t really know why.

So, in the true spirit of Christmas I thought I would try to be even deeper than them by going back to basics.

You know, kickin’ it old skool

Mind you, I’ve just left an explanation…



Do Not Mark Fragile

The things you learn talking to random people in line.

Turns out that when using any delivery service, marking a package fragile might not be a good idea.

The state of humanity makes me sick. Who would have thought that indicating a package containes something fragile is likely interpreted as please throw this around.

That sucks.

Follow Learned

Yesterday I wrote about a car accident I had a few years ago. This is the epilogue


The Follow Up

I ended up hearing back from the OPP officer that looked after the situation. It turns out that after careful analysis the Ministry of Transportation determined that the patching job done by the gas station (around the corner from my office) was shoddy.

It was far from industry standard.

What they had done was no better than gluing some rubber onto the hole and hoping for the best.

The point at which they had worked on superheated to an alarming temperature, causing a rupture that had nowhere to explode but outwards. It blew the tire apart so violently that it split into three pieces and left nothing but the rim.

This was the information I needed to show that the accident was not my fault.

I e-mailed the head office of this particular gas station (a franchise operation) and informed them that the shoddy workmanship from one of their technicians almost resulted in me losing my life.

The e-mail I got back had a smug tone, asking for proof.

I stated I had a two-page report from the Ministry of Transportation showing that several stages of the patching process had been skipped. I then asked for a fax number.

I got no reply.

As I was not injured, I couldn’t really sue them. It was not my intention to get money from them anyway. I just wanted them to know that they had put someone’s life at risk due to their negligence. Perhaps the fact that I survived to tell them that they had done bad work would inspire them to take action to protect future customers from harm.

Unfortunately, they didn’t seem interested.



Lessons Learned

I didn’t really take my life for granted before this accident happened. I don’t take it for granted now, either.

I try to make sure I tell my friends how much they mean to me. I still do this today. People that know me understand that my compliments are always the truth according to me.

I learned that taking martial arts can really help you in a crisis. I don’t know which martial art contributed to my ability to loosen up and relax. But this go-with-the-flow mode that I seemed to switch into was definitely not due to reading or watching television.

I also learned that in spite of people having different beliefs (which is their right), a miracle is a miracle.

The Anniversary of My Near-Death Experience

Today is the Anniversary of My Survival

My wife phoned me today and wished me a Happy Anniversary.

The odd thing is that our Anniversary is actually in September, so I was rightfully confused.

The haze cleared when she reminded me that it was four years ago today that I survived a car crash that most people think I shouldn’t have.

The Set Up

In the Winter of 2001, our office had gone through several improvements, which left roofing nails scattered all over the parking lot. I parked on top of one of these in my Honda Civic (with new tires, no less) and ended up getting a flat. I took it to the gas station around the corner and they patched it up. Never having had a tire patched before, I asked a few questions (as is my normal way):

 

Jorge: So, will this patch hold until I go get a new tire?
Service Station Employee: What do you mean?
J: Well, I figure I’ll need to get a new tire, right?
SSE: No, not at all.
J: So, this patch will hold in all situations?
SSE: Man, it’s like having a new tire again. It’s like there never was a hole.
J: Wow! Thanks!

 

What he failed to mention was that it was like having a new tire if it had been patched properly. More on this later.

Fast Forward to August, 2001

Mrs. J was a bridesmaid in a wedding in Brockville. She arrived there on the Friday of that weekend, and I was to head up on Saturday, check into our hotel room and proceed to the wedding.

I left early that morning (Just before 10:00, to be exact) to make it to Brockville for a 16:00 wedding. I stopped at a McDonalds before Kingston to have myself some cheeseburgers for a quick lunch, and ended up spilling ketchup on my white t-shirt.

I continued on my journey, reaching Kingston at around 13:00.

I was in the passing lane keeping up with the flow of traffic, when suddenly, as I drove under a bridge (John F. Scott Rd, to be exact) I heard an explosion. My Honda Civic wrenched violently to one side and I heard the rush of wind hit as I hit open road again. My car wanted to veer into the people in the adjacent lane, so I accelerated a little to avoid them.

Something was wrong though. I couldn’t pull out of the turn.

The next thing I know, the car has spun 180 degrees and I’m hitting the ditch backwards. My car cartwheeled, spun and came to rest with a crunch upside down.

That’s the short version.

It probably took all of 5 seconds.

In my time, though, it took a full two minutes. I know because I counted while I dealt with what happened. It was an interesting experience being able to move faster than what was happening. I remember relaxing my legs and arms, so they would not end up hyperextended upon impact. I remember pushing the suitcase back into the area under the glove compartment (I had packed it in there for easy access amd moved the seat up to hold it in place. Hitting the ditch backwards caused the suitcase to push against the lever, thus releasing it). I remember ducking twice. I remember the feeling of the seatbelt digging into my shoulder.

Surreal.

I was upside down in the car collecting my wits when I heard Dude, can you hear me? Shut off the car!

 

I easily slid out from underneath (thinking about how they make it look so difficult on Fear Factor) and stood next to some folks that had stopped to help. Everyone was relieved to know that I was the only one in the car.

Good Fortune Shines Brightly

An ambulance pulled up shortly after. They had finished a patient transfer to Kingston and were driving back to Brockville. It was sheer luck that they were only a few minutes behind me.

They looked at the car wreck, obviously concerned that there would be other people inside…

 

Paramedic: How many people are in there?
Jorge: Just me.
P: Excuse me?
J: Just me. I was in there and then I crawled out.
P: [Seeing the red stain on my shirt.] Are you bleeding?
J: Oh this? No, it’s ketchup.
P: [Coming forward to take my arm after a quick glance.] Sir, please come with me.

 

We walked together to the ambulance and I climbed in.

I needed to tell Mrs. J what had happened, so she wouldn’t worry when I was late…

I tried calling Mrs. J’s friend, who I thought lived in Brockville. Turns out her parents lived in Prescott, and there were 15 people with her surname in Brockville anyway….

 

Jorge: Crap!
Paramedic 1: What’s wrong?
Jorge: I need to get in touch with my girlfriend so I can tell her not to worry. I figured I’d try the Bride’s parents, but I don’t know which number they would be at.
Paramedic 2: You’ve got some glass in your hair. not much, but let me get that for you. [Starts to pick it out.]
J: I suppose you’re going to give me the once over? Check for shock, mental acuity, all that stuff?
P1: Yes.
J: Well before we do that, I need one of you to find a wedding invitation. It was in the front seat of my car, so it’s probably in the ditch somewhere.
P2: Um….Okay?
J: I’m not crazy. I figure that the brides parents are locals, so they would have made all the arrangements. If I can call the hall, they can give me the bride’s mother’s number and I can call using my cellphone.
P1: Woah. Mental acuity? Check! [Everyone laughs.]

 

One of the paramedics ran out and fetched the invitation. As I suspected Mrs. J’s friend’s mom booked the hall and I explained the situation to them. They gave me the number and I dialed…

 

Person: Hello?
Jorge: Hi. It’s Jorge. I’m Mrs. J’s boyfriend.
Person: Oh. Hi!
Jorge: I’m sorry to disturb you, but is Mrs. J there? Can I speak to her please? It’s important.
Person: Sure. Hold on a sec.
Mrs. J: Hello?
Jorge: Hi Mrs. J. Don’t be upset, but I’m going to be late.
Mrs. J: Why? [Her tone was not a good one. I found out later that she thought I was out late with the guys or something and that I was going to be late because I had just got out of bed when I called her.]
J: Well, I’ve had a bit of an accident here on the 401. But I’m okay.
Mrs. J: What? What accident?
J: Nothing to worry about. I’ve just flipped the car, but I’m fine.
Mrs. J: Are you okay?
J: Yes.
Mrs. J: Ok.

 

She then hung up.

I laughed and told the paramedics.

They laughed too.

One of them mentioned, though, that it is a bit of a shock to hear about accidents.

Mrs. J called back shortly after (glass of wine in hand for calming effect) and we had a much better discussion of what I was to do. She said that they could come pick me up, but I told her that it was okay, as the paramedics had mentioned giving me a ride. Since that was the case, we figured that it would be better if I showed up after the wedding because she wasn’t sure how she would react when I walked in.

That was fine.

I told her the paramedics were just finishing up checking me over and that I would figure out a way to get to Brockville somehow and check into the hotel. I would show up after the wedding was done.

The paramedics completed their evaluation and found nothing really wrong with me. I had a bruise where the seatbelt met my shoulder and a small scratch on my thumb, but that was it. My vital signs were barely above normal.

An OPP officer had arrived at this point and the paramedics offered to give me a ride to Brockville if I wanted. I declined, as I wanted to stay and talk to the officer.

I went over the details of what happened with the officer and he did a quick inspection of the tire (or what was left of it). It had blown up into three pieces. He’d never seen anything like it before, and asked if he could take the wheel for an inspection. I had no problem with that.

He officially took my statement and then walked around the wreckage. In the mean time, I took a few pictures of the wreck with Mrs. J’s camera.

The officer walked up, bearing my garment bag which contained my suit. It was torn in quite number of places and steaming. It had fallen into the water at the bottom of the ditch and the heat transfer from the car caused the water to steam.

My poor suit.

My poor car.

 

Friends Can Be a Boon

While waiting for the OPP officer to finish up, I called a few friends. They helped take the edge off the accident.

Observe…

 

[Calling Mike, who happens to be at the car show.]
Jorge: Hey Mike.
Mike: What up, Jordy?
J: I just had a car accident on the 401.
M: Seriously?
J: Yes.
M: Are you okay?
J: Yeah.
M: Is the car totalled?
J: Yeah.
M: [Thoughtful pause.] You getting a Beemer?*

 

[Calling Dave C.]
Jorge: Hey Dave.
Dave: Hey Jorge. How are you?
J: Okay, considering I just flipped my car on the 401.
D: Wow. Are you okay?
J: Yeah.
D: [Thoughtful pause.] Did you save the replay?**

 

I called Dave M after that, but he wasn’t home. I left a message on his phone to the effect of Hey man. I wrecked the driver’s side mirror of my car…along with the rest of my car when I flipped it. At that point I was just happy to be okay and my sense of humour was in overdrive.

 

Horseshoes Up My…

In an effort to use every possible writing format, I will do a bulleted list of the next few events:

  • A tow truck driver on his way to Prescott pulled over shortly after the officer presented me with my suit. He offered me a ride back to Brockville
  • When I got there, I needed to get my things from the car. The side panels at the rear had collapsed over the trunk lid. The tow truck driver offered a crow bar, but I had so much adrenaline that I tore the trunk open. Paint pieces of trunk went all over the place.
  • I had clothes and things for Goodwill in the trunk. The tow truck driver offered to take them in for me, as there was a Goodwill down the street from his office.
  • I checked in. One of the ladies was going off shift, and offered to take me to the hospital.
  • I got to the hospital and bypassed a three hour wait because everyone in Brockville had either seen or heard of the accident, so they let me go through so I could make the end of the wedding.
  • The doctor that saw me actually drove past the accident scene just after it happened. The same doctor saw the car being towed past the Tim Horton’s she had stopped off at. Looking at the state of the car***, she didn’t think that there were any survivors.
  • She administered some simple resistance tests to see if everything was working properly. I ended up lifting her off the floor with just the strength in my arms. Talk about adrenaline.
  • I caught a cab back to the hotel after I was cleared, called my parents to let them know what had happened (in a similar manner that I told Dave)
  • My body had accelerated to the point where I had two-days worth of stubble on my face in the space of 3 hours.
  • I pulled my suit of the torn, wet garment bag. It was untouched. I still have the suit today.

Unbreakable

I arrived at the wedding minutes after it was done.

I’ve never felt so happy to be alive as I was when I walked down the hill and saw Mrs. J. It was all I could do to not break down and cry (that happened later on that week).

At the reception, the bride’s brother talked about how he almost put his car in the ditch a few times running over emotional speech in his head for his sister that evening. I shouted out Been there, done that!

 

What a day that was.

 

 

I’d made a promise to Mrs. J when we started getting serious that I would never leave this Earth before her. The first thing that went through my head as my car started to careen towards the ditch was I am not allowed to die. Mrs. J would be really pissed off.

 

* – Mike had been previously on my case to buy a BMW. He would ask every week if I was going to get one. This was no exception.
** – Dave and I would play Need for Speed a lot. That racing game would allow you to save replays. One thing we would do is try and have the most spectacular stunt crashes. Then we would play them back.
*** – The roof on the drivers side had been crumpled down so far that if sitting upright next to it, it would have just reached the top of my shoulders.

Mean Streets Experiment

Mean Bus Drivers

What pleasure could one possibly get from waiting for some poor passenger walking up to the door of the bus and then taking off just before they can get on?

I mean, really…

I can understand if the passenger was taking their time, sauntering up the street like they owned the town. That type of arrogance should be rewarded with a face full of exhaust.

But when the poor soul has been running for a good few blocks just to catch the bus. It’s not really fair.

Not all bus drivers are like this, mind you. Most are awesome.

I’m only ranting about this because I’ve seen it happen twice this past week.



Streets Suck

Sometimes I wonder what city planners are smoking when they design streets.

I mean, I know that grids are overdone, but they make it easier to get around.

If you don’t know what I mean, go to New York. Pick two places, then ask for directions from anyone on the street…



YOU: Hi there. I’m trying to get from the United Nations property to the Empire State Building. How do I do this?
ANYONE IN NEW YORK: Go to hell.


Honestly, they wouldn’t say that (often). The directions they’d give you would be relatively straightforward, as the streets are laid out and named in such a way as to facilitate finding your way around effectively.

However, go to Sao Paolo and ask for directions….



YOU: Hi there, I’m trying to get from A to B. Can you give me directions?

ANYONE IN SAO PAULO: [Explodes, leaving behind a tuft of singed hair.]


Why am I writing about streets? Well, I was inspired by a conversation I overheard yesterday…



OLD LADY: Excuse me, miss [Approaching some other lady.]. Does Dundas St go North from here?
SOME OTHER LADY: Dundas St West goes Dundas St West.
OLD LADY: Um…


We have a street in Toronto named Dundas St W. In some places it goes North/South. In most it goes East/West. It crosses Bloor St W at least twice, making directions a bit more challenging to give. Seriously, tell someone you’re looking for Dundas & Bloor and see what they say.

As awkward as that sounds, though, it’s not as bad as King St in Kitchener/Waterloo. At any given point it could be King St N, King St S, King St E, or King St W. I think it even crosses Weber St three times…



YOU: [Getting in Cab.] Hi there. I’d like to go to King/Weber.
CABBIE: [Applies gentle bathing to you with flamethrower.]


Ah, gotta love city streets.



Experiment a Success?

I wrote an article yesterday engineered to capture many hits from search engines. The thing about that article is that it will demonstrate its effectiveness in the weeks to come.

Any new article is attached to the front page of one’s blog after it has been written, attaining hits by virtue of being front-and-center. Eventually, though, it is moved down the list, and off the front by newer articles. Occasionally you will see footprints from web-searching-spiders.

Now that the spiders will run amok inside my article and it will move up the hit charts, causing the counter to rise steadily rather than taper off.

That’s the hope, anyway.

I’ve never really been all that scientific…

Engineered For Hitz. W00T!

How Many Hits…

And so, it has come to pass.

The time has arrived to attempt to hold a Darth Vader-like sway over the internet. The goal of this particular piece of writing is to capture as many hits from as many search engines as possible without using obvious references to sex, porn, or swearing (other than writing them there, of course).

I could easily just make a top ten-type list of words that would hopefully be hit by the spiders of the web, but this would be a cop-out. To truly be the bomb, this article has to be done with some manner of style. Thus, I intend to write about myself, while living up to my own little challenge.

I’m not really sure why I want to write this article. It’s not like I am some stats-hungry moron with some kind of agenda. Nor do I have hopes of gaining notoriety or celebrity with it. Indeed, the last thing I’d want to be is one of those celebrities like Tom Cruise or Katie Holmes, who seem to do things for the sake of attracting attention.

Indeed, if I write without any meaning, how can I hope to attract intelligent comments?

Normally I tend to write about things other than terrorism or the moronic activities of George Bush (which seem to me to be quite similar at times). I write about things locally that bother me (like jerks in the subway, or how insensitive people can be). I also write about the good things that I see around me, as well as some of my adventures in nature (that is, camping). I also write haiku poetry.

Originally, my intention was to use MSN Spaces to draw people to my photography. As am amateur it is great to get as much exposure as possible. The naked truth, though, is that selling art helps to keep the art going. I suppose the ultimate goal would be to have my art as my sole source of income. Money is not the most important thing in the world, but it’s tough to buy food with nothing.

Back to the blogging.

As I stated before, my original intention was to bring attention to my photo work. But things changed a bit.

I started to enjoy writing. The process of tapping out words on my keyboard became a therapeutic release. Writing is something I liked to do when I was younger. School almost drove that love out of me. Now that there is no other judge other than public opinion (which is, in all honesty, much more forgiving than a crotchety old prof), it has become enjoyable again. Orgasmic, even.

I don’t have crazy events on my blog for the most part. No requests for cancer research donations, or any other charity (I tend to do that on my own, privately). Instead, it’s just a place to hang out. People are even free to kidnap a poem from my collection to use on their sites.

It’s all good.

What does the future hold for Barking Space? I’ll most likely continue to do this for a long time. It doesn’t take a Superman to keep something like this up (insert Viagra joke here). It’s surprisingly easy to maintain.

It’s a great way to express yourself and a great way to share news.


So let’s see how I did…



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Another Weekend of Bears In the Mail

Another Weekend, Another Camping Adventure

We went camping again this weekend.

A little bit less than an ideal set up.

It was raining as we pulled up to the campsite, and then it poured like Noah was in town.

Let me tell you, setting up a tarp and tent in the rain is not my idea of fun. The tarp kept filling up with water and our tent actually had a leak! After some creative spider-like work with ropes, we managed to shield most of the tent from water and our eating area.

I started a campfire in the rain, and it rocked. We cooked our dinner on there.

Later on Dennis and Lorraine showed up and we played some cards.

It rained all night, which is nice to listen to when you are semi-dry in a tent.

The next day the rain had ceased to pour. The ground absorbed a lot of the water, so the hiking was pretty good. We actually had a great hike. On our way back, though, we happened across some not-so-rare wildlife…


Stupidus Maximus…



Does a Bear Give a Shit In the Woods?

In Algonquin Park Moose will sometimes appear along the side of the road. This leads to people parking their cars to marvel at nature. This is called a Mooose Jam. It’s not so bad when people pull off a safe distance and behave themselves.

Mrs. J and I were driving back from Hemlock Bluff Trail when we saw what we thought to be a Moose Jam. We pulled off of the Highway a short walk from where everyone seemed to be standing and walked back. I didn’t really take any moose photos this year, so I figured it would be a good opportunity to snag some.

As we approached, I wondered how small this Moose was. As tall as the vegetation was, I should have still been able to see it.

That’s when I saw the black fur.

Mrs. J spoke in a hushed voice…


Bear.


Indeed. I saw a cub disappear into the woods and I saw a mother Bear snacking on leaves with her other cub. I readied my camera and gave Mrs. J the car keys figuring she would take this to mean open the doors if things get hot. I was standing about 15-20m away from the peaceful scene.

Meanwhile, the throng of people next to me was not so peaceful. Their kids were getting too close for comfort to the bears and one guy stepped out of his car, leaving the door open for his yappy dog to potentially come out and cause problems.

People were stopped in the middle of the highway to take pictures.

I was going to say something when a Ranger pulled up and told the people that the middle of the highway is not a parking lot and that it is not advised to be so close to a mother and her cubs.

I was nowhere near as close as some and I was ready to deal with whatever happened, because I am aware of how fast a bear can move. Most of these people had no clue.

Another thing that pissed me off is that quite a number of them were all carrying pretty hefty camera hardware. But they didn’t have the courtesy that went along with it. I have no real good shots of the scene because people would walk in front of my camera after they got their shots.

I wish I could have pushed them closer to the bear.

That photo would have been entertaining.

Speaking of photos, I will post some of the shots from the weekend on my photo website tonight. (UPDATED IN THE PM: You can click the link on the left to see the ten most recent photos I have taken. They are not all that good, as a lot of my better ones are in portrait orientation, and I am too lazy to do a script for those.)



Don’t Send Cash In the Mail

A fellow blogger had expressed an interest in purchasing one of my photos. We agreed on the rate and she agreed to send the money as soon as possible.

However, she received her envelope back a few days after she had sent it indicating insufficient postage (which was odd). It had also been opened and was missing the cash destined to pay for her photo.

Remember, everyone. It’s unfortunate that we can’t trust everyone. If you’re going to send money, a cheque or money order is harder for someone to steal and get away with.