Here goes nothing…
Thanks for the reminder, I guess, but I wasn’t exactly planning to spend my anniversary on Facebook. This brought up some similar stories from friends:
When I removed my “In a relationship” status [...] all the targeted ads changed from ‘Buy Engagement Rings Here’ to ‘ARE YOU SINGLE AND ALONE?’
The barrage of wedding ads my wife and I received once we were engaged only subsided when we got married — then, she immediately started receiving ads for baby stuff. As my friend put it, “Facebook is like a really pushy, suggestive relative.”
My wife got the anniversary reminder too, but the next day Facebook stepped up its game and served her a divorce ad.
An hour later, the divorce ad and anniversary suggestion appeared on the same page.
… was it because I didn’t send her a message? Well, there’s yet another reason to move away from services like Facebook…
I’ve now been married for a year. I’ve been meaning to share more from the wedding. I’ve already posted my wedding speech, but there are also the wonderful wedding photos taken by my aunt, a few photos I took myself during the day, and a video clip of Robyn Dell’Unto playing her song, Dreams of Me, for our first dance (the song I fell in love with when I first met Robyn).
My first computing experience was on the family computer, a 386 running Windows 3.1 in my parents’ den. It was truly a family computer—my parents used it for work, and the kids used it for games. A few years later, my parents moved to IBM ThinkPads with Windows 95 (vehicles for my first Internet experiences, dialing into chat rooms to talk about my dog with strangers… I was 9!), but the kids’ computer was still the shared desktop. When the 386 was no longer able to run our games, it was replaced with a new Windows 98 desktop. That shared kids’ computer spent most of its life out in the open, in our family room.
In the next five years, our home computing landscape changed drastically. I got my own desktop when I started high school in 2001. A few years later, I acquired a laptop after a summer trip overseas, and my two siblings (3 and 6 years younger) both got recycled older desktops in their rooms for homework. My desktop became the new kids’ computer, but it was quickly phased out as gaming shifted to consoles and my siblings got upgraded machines. By 2005, our computing took place in separate rooms.
But in 2007, I entered the free software world and developed an interest in bringing old neglected Windows machines back to life with GNU/Linux. I bought a TV tuner card, and turned my old Windows 98 desktop into a MythTV server (among other things). It was an odd project, since I rarely watch TV, but soon enough I had another old computer connected to my MythTV server and setup on the big screen TV in our family room
I soon realized that we didn’t just have a new way of watching TV, but a fully-featured PC hooked up to a giant screen. With a couch and a wireless keyboard, I began using it to browse the web and consume other forms of media (especially useful when we had company!) and even used it for some work (handy for group projects!). It provided a stark contrast to the tethered appliance computers nearby—an XBOX 360 and a Rogers HD PVR (which broke!).
I don’t want any proprietary tethered appliances when I move out. I want a general purpose computer that opens up to the room—not a personal computer that family members take turns using, or a TV that people just watch, but a group computer that brings other people into the computing experience.
With a general purpose computer, I can specialize with software (MythTV for television channels, Firefox for web content, etc.). MythTV is cool, but video is moving from TV to the web—why not focus on that? I don’t know of a real group user interface for general purpose operating systems yet (i.e. like on video game consoles), but a big display goes a long way to involving a room in the meantime. I’m also fascinated to think about how handheld devices fit into the picture, with large tablets for media consumption or smaller tablets as controllers.
A TV is just a big screen. I’d rather have a computer I can own, control and create with hooked up to it, instead of the black box proprietary tethered appliances that commonly broadcast into a room. I don’t want a “home entertainment system;” I want a shared computing experience.
Is there a name for this? I’ve been calling it “family room computing”—or just “room computing”—but suggestions are welcome. I’m just getting some rough thoughts out. What do you think family room computing could look like, with computer users in charge?
ps that original family room computer? It’s still semi-set up in our basement—I installed Debian on it a few years ago to give Fluxbox a try!
The chamber strings pops concert was an amazing success. During my set, I played a new song I wrote for Heather as a surprise and proposed to her during the bridge.
My mom loves to ski. My parents used to joke that it was part of their marriage contract that my dad would ski and my mom would golf (not that my dad was ever much of a golfer for the first 26 years of the marriage, I think he was just looking for a sport he thought he could learn so he could have a “his side” of the bargain).
My mom always dreamed skiing would be a family activity, and for a while it was. When I was about six, I remember my mom and my uncle took me to Glen Eden, a small ski resort near where we used to live. The following year, 1994, we bought a condo in Ellicottville, New York, across the road from Holiday Valley ski resort. We’d spend 2-3 weekends a month there during the winter and about a weekend a month in other seasons (they had a swimming pool and a golf course, which my dad did use a handful of times). As Caleigh, my younger sister, and Jared, my younger brother, became older, they too learned to ski at Holiday Valley. In 1997, I travelled with my mom to Silver Star (interior BC), and in 1999, with my mom and my uncle to Whistler. In 2001, my family spent a week outside Salt Lake City skiing at Deer Lake, Park City and Canyons. But Holiday Valley was always “home.”
In April 2003, we sold the place. We had moved to Toronto the previous summer and it had become hard to find time to get there. In some ways, that was my fault. Instead of leaving Friday evenings, I wanted to spend Friday nights with my girlfriend and Saturday mornings with my band, and Sunday nights became vital for an increased homework load at a private high school. Moving to Toronto also added half an hour to the drive in either direction. There were other factors, I’m sure. Having a real estate investment south of the border was increasingly worrying for my parents post-9/11 as border security (and security theatre) increased and the Iraq war was imminent, and the money was needed to put my siblings and I through high school and university. For a variety of reasons, that era was over.
There’s more to skiing as a family than just sport, though exercising and staying healthy is certainly a part of it. Skiing as a family means working as a team. It’s about helping each other out as we improve our skills and navigate the mountains. It’s about getting a chance to talk over hot chocolate during a break, or in front of the fireplace at the end of the day. It’s about retreat from the stresses and distractions of daily life (to a condo instead of a cottage). Beyond our immediate family, we were host to many other families and friends over the years, sharing and introducing many people to the experience and our love of the sport and the place. For us, Ellicottville was a place where we could get away and a place where we could grow.
Skiing as a family continued. We travelled to Jay Peak (Vermont) that winter and continue to ski in Ellicottville at least once a year as renters. In 2006, we skied Whiteface (Lake Placid) and I (somehow) convinced Heather, my girlfriend, to join us. The last time she had been skiing was 2003, in Ellicottville, and she ended up with a mild concussion (after she was “too cool” for the helmet I offered her and she hit her head on a patch of ice). We made a day trip to Ellicottville in preparation and she took a lesson while we were in Lake Placid. By the end of the trip, she had fallen in love with skiing (which is better than the fall she had last time…) and she bought her own equipment later that winter. Just like with the many families and friends we’d brought to Ellicottville, the love had spread.
This Christmas break, my mom had planned a family ski vacation at Mount Tremblant. Heather wanted to come, but my sister didn’t. My parents tried to convince her to come, but she brought up the fact that I’d been able to skip out on a couple family vacations in the past. As we were loading up the van, my dad’s skis were removed. He never skied much, but he’d usually do at least a day or two. This time, he’d sit it out on account of his workload and health reasons (he still came — pretty sweet to have someone preparing dinner while you’re on the hills!). My brother slept through the first day and wimped out pretty early on the second. He came out with us, but after a fall on one of the first runs, started to complain, “I’m only doing this for you, mom.” He went in early and didn’t come out the next day. And who am I to criticize my siblings; it was when I was Jared’s age that I no longer had time for Ellicottville, and it was by my example that Caleigh exempted herself from the family vacation.
My mom had always hoped for a European family ski trip, and she saw a lot of the smaller trips as working up to that. On the drive to Mount Tremblant, she realized that would never happen. I doubt her mind was changed through the week. It seems the whole family skiing thing has ended, not with a bang, but a whimper.
It’s only recently that I’ve realized how things are constantly changing so gradually, yet so permanently. I mean, that truth is obvious, but to really internalize it and be conscious of it — not just to know, but to understand, feel and experience — is a whole new level of recognition. I’ve long since been hyper-conscious of that reality on a social (peer) level, but I guess family has always seemed relatively permanent and stable (I’ve been lucky — not many deaths, no divorce). Change comes quickly; it seems almost exponential now. (For example, in the last few years my dad has been developing a real passion for golf.)
I’m thankful that my mom shared her love of skiing with us, and with my friends and with Heather. I have no plans to stop skiing, and I’m sure I’ll keep skiing with Heather and with my mom in the future. And here’s a promise: one day, I’ll do that European ski trip with my mom.