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Macs, Movies, Games, Books, etc. The Rants of a Mad Man.

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`Tis the season for group text messages

December 30th, 2008 by Raj

A big, “ho, ho, ho”, Yuletide returns and all that jazz to my internet peeps. I thought, whilst in between these two large holiday events, it might be poignant to detail one of the more stupid traits I find humans displaying over the holidays; The group SMS (or text message for you non-Australian types).

Now I’m all for spreading a little cheer amongst friends, I’m almost certain the first off the blocks to text a friend a happy birthday for example, but that’s a very different scenario to writing one message and then sending it to the four ba-jillion people in your phone’s address book all at once. I understand that you want to spread a little Christmas/New Years cheer but what’s the point?

You’d think the cost alone would be enough to turn most people off. If I was to send a message to everyone in my phone book this coming Wednesday night, not only will half of them not be sent due to the network being jammed worse than a constipated 90 year old, but it will cost me around AUD$35. Well actually it’d cost me nothing because I’m on an unlimited SMS plan but that’s hardly the point now is it! The overseas people would in my address book would be at least $10 worth.

What pisses me off the most is when you people that feel their need to impose their cheer into your perfectly happy world see you a couple of days later and say “You didn’t reply to my [group sms event] message the other night/day”. Well no, I didn’t, I couldn’t be bothered replying to yours or any others of the “generics” that beep, beeped their way into my phone all through the night and the next morning while I was trying to sleep! Now, now, don’t start crying, it’s not because I don’t like you, it’s just because I think you’re simple and have deeply rooted emotional issues that relate back to your childhood spawning your annoyingly constant need to feel loved.

Hmmm… OK, I can see that so far I’ve probably pissed off a few people that may glance at my blog every now and then so now let me back peddle just a little so as not to offend every last one of you. On Christmas day (and New Years Eve) I will send out text messages *BUT* they are not generic! If you’re going to send out SMS’s personalize them, have them actually say something beyond “Happy New Year!” and send them to those whom you are close to and actually care about. All I ask is that you “think before you text”, it’s not just drunk texting that can hurt people…

BA-HUM-BUG Bitches!

(yes I know, I’m a sarcastic prick at times)

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Apple Expo Paris cancelled

December 18th, 2008 by Raj

After having attended two of these events myself over the last few years I’m sad to see it go. Apple Expo and the US based MacWorld’s are a mecca for the Apple elite of the world and if you ever had the chance on visiting them and seeing his “Steve-i-ness” deliver a keynote it was like reaching the pearly gates themselves.

That said MacWorld SF still hasn’t been cancelled but with the announcement that Apple will no longer be exhibiting at it after 2009 I can’t see it staying afloat too much longer.

It looks like the only way you might get to capture some of that Expo thrill again is by signing up as a developer and tagging along to the WWDC.

Source: Apple Expo Paris cancelled | Macworld

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Frank Gehry’s Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO)

December 12th, 2008 by Raj

How would you spend your last full day in Canada before returning to Australia? Ice skating in Nathan Phillips Square? Watching ice hockey in a local bar? Randomly selecting strangers and asking them if they “know what it’s all a-boot?“. All great suggestions and worthy activities to keep one occupied during their last hours in Canadia-land but no, no, not for me; instead I took it as my opportunity to visit the newly redeveloped Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO). Why you might ask, well that’s just how I roll bitches.

In fact the real reason I wanted to visit the AGO before leaving Toronto has absolutely nothing to do with the art within it’s glass curved walls but rather for the walls themselves. You see the new building was designed by none other than everyone’s favourite architectural doodler Frank Gehry.

Gehry, who was born in Toronto, is one of the world’s most famous living architects. His signature curves provide breath taking aesthetics utilizing natural light as an almost catalytic emphasis upon them. His most well known piece of work, the Guggenheim Museum “Bilbao” , is in great company including the Walt Disney Concert Hall, Dancing House and Seattle’s Experience Music Project, which I have also just recently visited.

Immediately upon entering the AGO’s foyer you’re greeted with signature Gehry, a curved-maze-like ramp providing an unique version of access for the disabled or merely adventurous, leading you to the counters of ticketing agents guarding the gallery’s true core via an CAD$18 toll.

Just yonder of the AGO’s ticketing smurfs is an area of open space that has to be experienced first hand to appreciate completely. It’s just sex in architecture, there’s no other way to describe the open hall almost church like area, so vacant with it’s sparse Gehry designed furniture and three story high ceilings yet so warmly immersive as if held by it’s beech coloured wooden floors, spiral staircase and echoing acoustics.

With such an amazing beginning I must admit the remainder of the gallery was rather disappointing. I presume there are only so many ways you can make one square room after another different and the contrasting flat walls are a necessity for the artworks most effective display. For me there was really only one other area that was true Gehry genius and that was the buildings street fronting glass atrium (as seen in the picture above).

Running the length of a city block the upper floor of the AGO’s curved face is a composite of hefty serpentine styled wooden beams and their conforming glass sheets. The internal area itself is home to only a few large pieces of art yet it’s emotive atmospheric warmth is undeniably comforting even whilst only exposed to the darkest of nights beyond it’s half domed enclosure.

I think it’s pretty obvious that I was taken aback by this building or perhaps more so the mind and work of Frank Gehry. I’m a little bit of an architectural nut I must admit but I don’t think you need to be to truly appreciate the beauty of this building and even if you don’t find the structure exciting there’s always plenty of art scattered about the place, or so I’m told!

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My Toronto – A Video Tour (with Audio Commentary)

December 3rd, 2008 by Raj

As I rapidly approach the final days of my Canadian experience it occurred to me that I’ve not really shared a great deal of the “real” day-to-day Toronto with my internet peoples. So in a rather weak attempt to introduce you all to the digs I’ve called home for that past six months, I present to you “My Toronto” – A Video Tour (with Audio Commentary).

Just in case there are any of you out there that think this is actually serious; it’s a joke.

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Walking in a Winter Wonderland

November 27th, 2008 by Raj

For my second to last weekend in fair-ole-Canada-land I was treated well beyond my wildest dreams. Joined by an all Aussie crew consisting of Andrew “Sweet Cheeks” Dansie, Dave “El Presidente” Smithson and Aimee “Technically American” Wagner we embarked on adventure into the now frequented cottage country district of Muskoka ending up in the appropriately named destination of “Port Sydney“.

Clambering into Sweet Cheek’s new Jeep (after losing it in the Airport carpark for 20 minutes) we were off, cruising down Highway 27 taking in the beauty of pitch black darkness as you become accustom to blanketing the sky after 4pm. To relieve the boredom of it all the heavens opened with a flurry of snow dancing in the glow of freshly installed headlight globes.

Once arriving at the now snow clad cottage, three hours after our originally predicted ETA, there wasn’t a great deal of activity beyond alcohol and sleep to make clear mention of. We had a constant light dusting of snow falling throughout our stay that was just beautiful, a lot of my time I spent staring out the window and watching the flakes fall against the glass amazed at their intricacy in random design. There was one brief parade of enthusiasm, it involved a snowball fight on the side of Highway 11 in front of the gates to the closed national park we were kicked out of (if it’s closed for winter lock the fucking gates you idiots), but after 15 minutes of running around in 0 degree weather your lungs start to burn just a tad, well ours did anyway, and besides there was more alcohol to consume back at the cottage.

Unfortunately for me alcohol still isn’t going down the best since my little hospital stay. I did luckily managed to consume one of El Presidente’s fine Mojito’s made with the skill and precision only that of a true “muddler” master could achieve. It’s a shame they tasted like crap without the sugar added but that wasn’t his fault ;) My lack of alcohol consumption did however mean that I was the only half sober one in the place, thus automatically delegating me as the cottage’s personal chef for the weekend. Over the two and a half days we were there I managed to cook 3 T-bone steaks, 20 marinated chicken drumsticks, chocolate chip cookies, and 6 egg, bacon & tomato muffins each to the individuals personal preference. Hmmm, maybe I should start The Cooking Show back up again!

Put it down to good friends, hospital stays or the miraculous beauty of a snow kissed scenery but with only one weekend left in North America it’s going to be very hard to top this one! Thanks guys!

You can see all the photos here.

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I’m coming home!

November 21st, 2008 by Raj

Just as the first snow begins to fall in Toronto I am making a sooner than expected departure. In less than two weeks (December 4th) I will be boarding a plane and heading home to Melbourne.

Unfortunately the return will signal the end to my “Canadian Tales” adventure, which in turn has been cut short as a result of my recent hospital stint.

A lot of people have asked if I’m going home simply because of what happened and whilst it was a terrible ordeal the act itself is not the reason but it does construct the basis. The healing fractures in my skull require further medical attention with specialists that I can simply not afford here in Canada, the one in my eye socket especially as it may require surgery to prevent any eye damage.

I am regretful that I wont be staying longer, especially now that I’ve seen the city under a blanket of snow – it’s a magical sight and I’ve now decided that I simply must have a white Christmas in years to come. That said seeing my family after seven months over here is going to be the best Christmas present I could ask for.

See you all in Australia December 6th!

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Pure Pwnage Premier Video (from August)

November 20th, 2008 by Raj

It may have been way back in early August but it took the Pure Pwnage peeps 3 months to upload the video from the event and then another month for me to realize the thing even existed! Whoops.

Oh well better late than never they say. Check it out below and listen out for my almighty roar when they ask if anyone from Australia made it. Believe it or not that is my voice screaming “yeaaaaah”.

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The Toronto Christmas Pageant

November 18th, 2008 by Raj

OK, so I’m a big kid… what did I do with my last day before returning to work? I stood out in the freezing cold *snowing* weather and watched the Toronto Christmas Pageant. It did happen to being going along the street in front of my apartment building which may have had something to do with me actually braving the elements to watch but truth be told I just wanted to enjoy myself and be a kid again.

I must admit I was slightly disappointed by the quality of floats. Maybe it’s because I haven’t seen a pageant in about ten years or so but I remember the one in Adelaide to be far more impressive. Sorry T.dot you lose this one!

Flickr set here.

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The Hospital Stay – Indians

November 16th, 2008 by Raj

In case you’re wondering what this series of posts is in regards to I had a recent stint in a Seattle hospital after being assaulted. Details on the “why, what, when, how” here.

OK everyone prepare yourself I’m about to shock you; nope, blow your minds even! Hang on, no, even better, I’m about to turn your world upside down bitches! Are you ready? Are you sure? OK, here goes… 3… 2… 1… I’m an Indian. There, I said it. Well, no, that’s a lie, I’m half Indian, and no it’s not “Woa, woa, woa” Native American Indian, I am in fact half curry-munching-bad-BO-thank-you-very-much-come-again Indian. Can you believe it?!

I’m surprised more people don’t figure it out for themselves to be honest. I mean my name is “Raj” after all but then again my skin is about as dark as an extremely over-milked cup of tea. You know, that brown that kind of sits in between blood-nut white and tanning-salon-addict orange. The point is I get mistaken for pretty much every other nationality besides Indian. Italian, Spanish, French, Cuban, fuck I’ve even had Thai and Chinese! In most cases I’ll generally respond with a correction of “Nah mate I’m `stral-yan” (Not really, I speak the Queen’s English) not actually letting them in on the fact that I’m also part Indian.

Now there’s plenty of reasons that this is probably the case, the biggest of which is that I was never brought up with a great exposure to an Indian culture, but if I’m to be honest with myself one of the real reasons is more likely to be that I’m a bit ashamed. Indian’s don’t get the best rap when it comes to social acceptance in Western culture. They smell, they take our call centre jobs, they drive our cabs, their heads wobble as they talk, etc, etc, the list goes on.

It took the shit kicking of a lifetime for me to re-evaluate my own perception of Indians but I’m glad it came about. Whilst in hospital in Seattle I had three different Indian nurses, two male, one female. One of them in particular “Vic” was there from day one, he would come in every couple of hours and check my sugar level, empty my urinals and then leave again as quickly as he had arrived. It was like clockwork, he was never late, he never pried, he was always professional and proud of what he was doing. I would watch him come in and perform the routine meticulously time and time again until on the third day, when my senses had begun to return, I finally asked him his name and where he was from. After a brief conversation, one that is almost identical to every conversation I have with a newly met Indian; “I’m half Indian”, “No, Dad’s Indian”, “He’s Punjabi”, and finally “No I don’t speak Hindi”, Vic left and we barely spoke another word until it was my day to leave and we said goodbye and good luck.

What amazed me most about Vic was just how professionally he went about everything. He wasn’t being a snob he knew that I didn’t want to talk, he just went about what he had to do and did it with the upmost of attention and decorum. It took me a while, but when I thought about it the majority of Indians I’ve encountered in their workplace did the same. They work hard, they do jobs no one else wants to (I mean the guy was emptying my piss into a toilet for Christ’s sake) and they do it proudly as best they can. Vic’s work demeanor made me proud to be Indian, made me feel almost guilty that I, at times, can be a pre-madonna when it comes to working matters and most importantly made me want to be better. It was much needed inspiration.

Professional pride is however only half of the story because what happened after that first conversation is more of the amazing culture that is India. You see, once it was established that I was of Indian blood the grapevine did a’flutter. Eevery Indian within a 50km radius knew of my situation within a matter of minutes. By the end of the day I’d met three more Indian nurses and by the next day I had my Dad’s extended family calling me to take me in as soon as I returned to Toronto. I swear the gay rumour network stole their schematics from the Indians, either that or they outsourced its construction to them!

Indian’s accept any as their own, if you’re Indian you are family. My Mum and I were talking about this the other day because of how confusing it makes things when you’re actually trying to figure out who’s a blood relative and who isn’t. For example, every Indian male I meet who is friend of my father is my “uncle” and any Indian I meet of my generation is my “brother”. They have an unbelievable sense of family, something I’ve unknowingly inherited in the way I always put family before anything, but never really understood how passionately I do so as what I believe to be a result of my Indian genetics.

Hospital was an eye opener on my heritage. I’m not about to whack on a turban and migrate to “the homeland”, that’s not what I’m getting at all, but the next time someone asks me about my background that silly feeling of shame isn’t going to be there any more.

P.S. I’m not just saying all this because Indian beat Australia in the cricket either :)

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The Hospital Stay – Soul Searching

November 14th, 2008 by Raj

In case you’re wondering what this series of posts is in regards to I had a recent stint in a Seattle hospital after being assaulted. Details on the “why, what, when, how” here.

If it’s a soul searching environment you’re after then do I have the solution for you. It’s really not that hard at all to set up the ideal surroundings required to bare your inner thoughts to some conscious daylight. All you’ll need to get you started are a couple of things…

  1. Damaged eyesight. Anything that’s going to stop you from seeing a TV and reading a book.
  2. A short hospital stay. I’d recommend a minimum of a three day stay, you want it to be long enough that you get really bored, yet not too long that you’ve recovered enough walk about the place.
  3. To be in another country. This one’s pretty important. Try and pick a country that you know absolutely no one and is far enough away from everyone you know that you’ll get no visitors but has a health care system that’s actually going to fix you.
  4. Travel Insurance. Hospital stays aren’t cheap in foreign countries.


Well those are the four elements that did it for me anyway. I’ve been in hospital plenty of times before but this time was a very, very different story. Never before have I spent so much time analyzing not only the immediate events of my life but every moment before it that had led to where I am now.

Hospital felt, as best as I could imagine, to be akin to solitary confinement. The only solace was food, even if for the majority of my stay that was liquids it was the only thing to break up the day. I couldn’t even hide in slumber, my dreams filled with flashbacks and nightmares resulting in me constantly waking covered in cold sweat, heart racing and barely able to breath. There was nowhere for me to hide and only one thing I could do; think.

Now I’ve looked in the mirror and stared back at the reflection with a pondering gaze many a time before but staring into the infinite space of darkness with only your mind to keep you company for hours at a time is another kettle of fish entirely. There’s lots of things that begin to swirl around, “Why am I alone?”, “What’s the point of it all?”, “Life after death?”, or just “Why?” but when it all comes down to it what I dwelled on most was me or to be more exact “If I was to take a good hard look at my soul would I like what I see?”

To be honest I’m still not sure if I have an answer. Of course I, like everyone else, has moments in their past they’re not particularly proud of but do they make me a bad person? Perhaps. They make me feel like they do at times but then I feel as though I have a lot of redeeming qualities too. It’s not an easy, nor fun thing to do, question one’s existence and morality in the world but it is one of the top 5 “Things to do in hospital whilst blind and incapacitated” list I just now made up.

I guess the only real conclusions surmounted after jumping into the rabbit hole were that there are things I’m not happy about. Be those general things in my life, work or relationships there are elements in each that I need to change. Maybe this whole adventure was life’s strange way of getting me to wake up and smell the roses, lord knows I could’ve done with a kick in the butt. Message received.

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