He prepared the explosives with slight care, quickly, casually, the ritual well-practiced, components proportioned more or less precisely, burner tuned just-so to an unmarked setting, the steel lid lowered for even heating and explosive containment.
Sirens sang, foreboding shrieks and squawks and shearing sounds, as the vessel was shaken and slid across the element, stirring untouched its contents. Intermittently the concoctor ceased his agitation and crooked an expert ear to the silence, listening for sizzling, steady but not slow, energetic but not angry. It mustn’t burn. Burning meant acrid smoke, accusatory smoke, overpoweringly aromatic smoke, smoking evidence that lingered, alerted the neighbours, testified to his activities, testified to his inexpertise.
An explosion surely overdue, his doubts began to mount. Was it too hot? Not hot enough? Was this batch going to explode? *pop* The first explosion always a surprise, always a relief. *pop-pop-pop* The explosions came faster, faster still. The tin-can rat-a-tat-tat of the popping startled his senses, stimulating salivation before sent was detected.
Still shaking, sliding, stirring the pot, he watched, trance-like, the stochastic explosions sending kernels careening, chaotically clanging and caroming off the pot with each pop, pop, pop.
Eyes drying and mouth watering, he stood mesmerized by the turmoil. Blasted blossoms burst like frozen fireballs, each concussion showering the seething mass with corn-husk shrapnel, triggering secondary and tertiary explosions as ticking time-bombs tumbled.
At last the cacophonous barrage began to abate. But not the stirring, shaking, sliding. He knew the risk of burning was highest now, knew that explosive packages had to be sifted toward the heat, had to be detonated before the now-dry pan overheated.
Three seconds. Three seconds without a pop was all that could be afforded. One—*pop* The clock reset. One…*pop* Reset. One… two…*pop* Reset again. One… two…*pop* Too long, three seconds was too long this time. One… two… —burning, it was going to burn— three! He doused the burner, threw back the lid, and dumped the steaming contents into the waiting container.
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If you haven’t ever seen It’s a Wonderful Life, or even if you have seen it, but don’t remember it well, do yourself a favour and go watch it. It is one of those somewhat rare classic films which still holds up amazingly well today. More than that, it isn’t at all the sappy, corny movie that most people assume it is or mis-remember it as.
Far from the cinematic snow-globe that most people mis-categorize it as, It’s a Wonderful Life is surprisingly dark, very witty, and truly entertaining.
Whether they’ve seen it or not, most know it for Jimmy Stewart as George Bailey running through Bedford Falls, yelling “Merry Christmas!”; and of course for the sacharine-sweet Zuzu proclaiming “Teacher says, every time a bell rings, an angel gets his wings!”; all culminating with the tearful reprise of Auld Lang Syne. Those are the images that everybody –everybody who doesn’t remember the film well– recalls immediately upon hearing its name. And I’d agree, if those scenes were indicative of the overall tone of the movie, it would indeed be a sappy mess, hardly worth watching, save for when you desperately need a simple and sweet bit of holiday fluff.
But that is not the feel of the movie! Far from the cinematic snow-globe that most mis-categorize it as, It’s a Wonderful Life is surprisingly dark, very witty, and truly entertaining. The film is thoroughly rewarding even to more refined modern-day audiences. And while it has been elevated to Christmas canon, very little of it actually occurs around Christmastime, and it certainly isn’t your standard holiday fare.
The first two hours of the film are a long, dark study in the psychological torture of George Bailey.
The reason for the dissonance between the perception and the reality of the film is obvious; for decades television network and advertising executives have slavishly adhered to the Law of Classic Films, the law mandating that all, and only, the most clichéd moments of classic films must be repeated, ad nauseum, in every advertisement or reference to said films.
What makes It’s a Wonderful Life such a surprise to the first-time viewer is that, while its runtime is a hearty 130 minutes, all of those oft-remembered, oft-rehashed, and awfully sweet moments occur in the final 7 minutes of the film. While the final few minutes are indeed a super-concentrated distillation of the essence of Christmas, they serve as a well-balanced counterpoint, a satisfying glaze, too sweet on its own, but just perfect as the topper to the body of the film. These clichéd, over-sweet moments work so beautifully well, because the first two hours of the film are a long, dark study in the psychological torture of George Bailey.
Many photographers struggle with the decision whether or not to add a watermark to their photos, balancing the elegance of a photograph against a desire for accreditation, sometimes even compensation, for their creative works, works that are so frequently
stolen shared without permission by the online community.
For my own purposes, I choose not to watermark the photographs that I post on Flickr, Facebook, or other sources. Through these media, I choose to share my work freely, opting out of any sort of inbuilt accreditation. However, on this site, where my images are more likely to be found out of context, I choose to add a subtle indication of their source.
I find the watermark above to be readable and yet still subtle on practically any image, working well, without alteration, on solid and mixed-colour backgrounds, remaining legible overtop all but the most intricate detail. Feel free to drag that image about your window or download it and experiment with it yourself. I’ll describe exactly how to create it after the philosophizing below.
What is a Watermark?
Some photographers, feeling the need to protect their work so jealously, create a visual paywall behind which the quality of the photograph is merely alluded to, a barrier so severe as to move beyond a watermark, instead becoming a photographic moat surrounding and isolating their artistic treasures.
However, with the ability to remove these marks seemingly outpacing even the wildest imaginations of would-be counterfeiters, such attempts to secure photos via watermarking are usually futile, often resulting in the mutilation of the image by the artist, the destruction of any value worth protecting, the end result no longer a watermarked photo, instead merely an advertisement for the photo itself.
For the fourth time in under twenty years, a work stoppage is affecting pro hockey. Four times since 1993, the NHL has locked out its players or officials. As the most recent lockout enters its fifth week, after having seen yet another season’s opening day come and gone without the drop of a puck, we find that hockey is once again held hostage in a billion dollar game of chicken, a stare-down of unparalleled avarice over percentage points, with the sport’s devoted fans caught squarely in the middle.
It’s the fans who are locked out of hockey.
Millionaires are haggling with multi-millionaires and billionaires over a difference of about 5% of revenue. According to The Globe and Mail, assuming the same growth since the last lockout, the NHLPA (the players) have offered a 4.3% smaller cut of revenue from what they took home last year. The NHL however won’t accept the 4.3% pay-cut, instead they demand a nearly 10% pay-cut over the next five years.
The Fan Lockout is a fight over cash, over how to split that last 5% of revenue per year, and that’s incredibly frustrating for a fan. I’m all for fair shares, and it seemed to me that hockey was booming over the past few years when the players’ cut was a lot more than what they’ve offered and had rejected by the NHL, so I can’t help but think it’s the NHL that’s acting exceedingly greedy in this case. Ultimately though, I don’t care which group of millionaires gets that remaining 5%, I just want to watch hockey.
With nothing to gain, regardless of who wins the financial showdown, it’s the fans who are locked out of hockey. We fans are the cash cow being fought over, and yet we have no stake in, and exercise no power over, the bargaining.
That needs to end. We need to stand together and refuse to be treated with so little regard. If we want to see hockey again this year, we must put pressure on the NHL.
Fans canceling cable for the duration of the lockout will light a fire under the NHL.
A problem has been bugging me for quite a while now. Occasionally when working within the WordPress admin pages, checking the stats, updating posts, etc, a blank, all white page will be returned. When this happens the following error is output to the logs.
PHP Fatal error: Out of memory (allocated 42467328) (tried to allocate 67105 bytes) in (docroot)/wp-content/plugins/jetpack/modules/stats.php on line 448
If you’ll notice, WordPress isn’t exactly asking for the moon. It’s using about 40MB of memory, and only asking for 70KB more. Surely, I should be well in the clear with this, especially since I’ve configured every memory setting I can think of upwards of 256MB.
This is a pretty common problem with the PHP script serving the WordPress site requiring more memory than is available or allowed. There are a number of suggested fixes, described below, but none worked for me, and I managed to simply work around the issue (by deactivating plugins) for quite a while. This wasn’t altogether satisfactory, and today I had no ‘superfluous’ plugins to deactivate, so I dug deeper into the world of hosting and PHP multi-user configuration.
Thankfully, I found the silver bullet, and have (hopefully) banished the White Screen of Death forever. If you’ve encountered the same problem, simply follow the steps below to solve the issue.