26th birthday

decamping after a decade plus

I'm pulling up stakes and moving over to Dreampepper. Let me know if you're still here, I'll put you on my RSS feed, and feel free to try to talk me into following the crowd to somewhere like Dreamwidth or Ello, because I still believe blogging brings us closer together than short form walled-garden posting every will.

I'm not sure how I could improve on it, so here's the Metafilter post that inspired my move:

"LiveJournal represents social media without borders."
December 30, 2016 10:48 AM   

As of a few days ago, the IP addresses for blogging service LiveJournal have moved to 81.19.74.*, a block that lookup services locate in Moscow, Russia. Now users -- especially those who do not trust the Russian government -- are leaving the platform and advising others to leave.

For years, the online blogging community LiveJournal -- popular in Russia, Belarus, and the Ukraine -- has served as a key communications platform for Russian dissidents (the Committee to Protect Journalists earlier this month called on Russian authorities to release a LiveJournal user who has been sentenced to 2 years in prison for a critical blog post). Even after Russian company SUP bought it from California-based Six Apart in 2007 (previously), the fact that SUP continued to run the servers in the US meant that users felt relatively safe; a 2009 press releasespecifically said that LiveJournal, Inc.* would continue to run technical operations and servers in the United States (and claimed that 5.7 million LiveJournal users were Russia-based).

December 22 support request, following a multi-hour service outage: "Since yesterday's upgrade, our work firewall is blocking you because you appear to it to be based in the Russian Federation. Have you got a Western mirror I can use?"

Tracerouting livejournal.com now points to a Moscow location and an ISP operated by Rambler Internet Holding LLC, the company that also owns SUP. (Former LiveJournal user Gary McGath says that a few days ago, he checked the IP location of livejournal.com, and it was in San Francisco.) LiveJournal's official news posts do not mention the change; users have begun to ask questions there and on their own journals.Rumors have it that LiveJournal has also begun to delete the LiveJournal accounts of some Russian-language bloggers, especially pro-Ukraine bloggers. (Twitter search, anonymous comment.) Also, users can no longer browse and read LiveJournal over an encrypted (HTTPS) connection; going to https://www.livejournal.com redirects the user to the insecure site.

Some users are switching to the competing Dreamwidth service (which is based in the US and which can import LiveJournal entries and communities); new user statistics show newbyday new user numbers spiking up from a baseline rate of hundreds of daily signups to over 87,000 new users in the last week. The Internet Archive's ArchiveTeam was already on the case, given LJ's size, historical importance, and history of controversy and apparent state of decline -- they started archiving LJ's public posts in March of this year.

* The LiveJournal, Inc. website stopped updating in 2011 and started redirecting to LiveJournal.com in 2014 (though the LiveJournal.com contact page, privacy policy in Russianand English (last updated 2014), terms of service in Russian and English (last updated 2010), and abuse policy still say that LiveJournal operates out of California and is subject to US and California law.
26th birthday

greeting the longest night

Last week I took part in casual posse developed around the Solstice Lantern Festival held at the Roundhouse Community Center in Vancouver. I arrived after dinner, the small shows already started, and entered a hallway full of people, crowns of leaves and branches scattered through a crowd full of familiar faces. It's a small city, so we who volunteer all nodded to each other as we passed, knowing each other from other festivals, even if not by name.

Further inside the building, past the line-ups for tickets into the labyrinth, families with small children were congregating with handmade lanterns, ready to step into the cold for a walk around the block. We decided to venture inward, rather than follow them, and found a square stage dominating the center of the main room, where taiko drummers entertained the crowd.

Watching #taiko at the #Solstice Lantern #Festival.

A video posted by Jhayne Faust (@foxtongue) on

David, a friend who arrived earlier, eventually pulled us past the drummers to a door in the corner marked with a sign: Lantern Tree Grotto. Inside was dark, a chill room, a theater space, black floors and walls, lit only by a glowing paper tree in the middle of the room, "branches" thick with clusters of papier-mâché covered balloons, each one lit from the inside.

At the far end, musicians in white sat in a row, playing foreign instruments, while the rest of the floor was covered in people lying on the ground, soaking in the music. Occasionally the musicians would take their instruments into the crowd, picking their way through the prone bodies on the ground.

The #lantern tree grotto at the Solstice Lantern #Festival. #didgeridoo #performance #chill #art

A video posted by Jhayne Faust (@foxtongue) on

Curious about what else was available, we eventually left and joined one of the random line-ups in the hallway. We could see the shadow of a simple, one person circus act falling on the doors where our line began, so it seemed the most promising. Twenty minutes later, we were let into the room and discovered it had been set up for a puppet show. A small box stage was flanked by a woman in pale face paint, playing an accordion, and a regular floor lamp with cloth flowers pinned all over the shade. A man started the show with a marionette of a bird, fluttering its wings as it explored the front row of the audience, dipping its beak into offered hands.

The beginning of the marionette show at the #Solstice Lantern #Festival.

A video posted by Jhayne Faust (@foxtongue) on

Next, the man brought out the marionette of a man with fluffy white hair and magnetic hands, the head of a guitar his handle, carrying a metal bucket of paper flowers. Each flower had a twist tie stalk, so the marionette could pick them up as well as the bucket and hand them to members of the audience. When I was handed a flower, the first, I took it from his magnet with mine and tucked it into my hat, a jolly splash of yellow against the dark fuchsia felt.

Once the show was done, the puppets put away, a small girl approached the puppeteer, wondering how it had managed to interact with all of the props. He knelt down and began to say it was magic, but I interrupted, pushing my hand forward with a paper rose attached. "He's right. It's a lovely sort of magic, something that happens with puberty. It's not all bad." The puppeteer looked up at me, his face opening with warmth and surprise. I gestured with the flower attached to my finger. "I'm like your puppet," I said, then walked away, the little girl still standing there, pressing her flower against each of her fingers in turn, a look of deep concentration on her face.

Then came the festival's fire finale. Radiant Heat, dressed as foxes and raccoons, took to the sunken stage outside where the train roundhouse used to be and lit up the night.

The fire show finale of the #Solstice Lantern #Festival.

A video posted by Jhayne Faust (@foxtongue) on

The crowds dispersed after the fire show ended. Tear down began, rooms were shut down. We did not leave, though. We had bought tickets to the main event, the heart of the festival: the labyrinth, an experience best left to the end of the night.

Every year at winter solstice, one or two groups will lay out a large labyrinth, usually inside of a large, darkened gym, lined with beeswax candles in paper bags. Soothing music is played and people are let in, a handful at a time, to walk the path. It is a gentle experience, warm and inviting. The one we attended did not allow recording or speech while inside the labyrinth and had a young man urgently whisper these instructions to each participant before they were allowed to walk. It was an awkward way to begin, but amusing. ("Here are the rules to this particular incarnation of a semi-spiritual experience that you are meant to interpret as you will." Sure, kid. Thank you for embodying so much about what I dislike about the wet coast.)

26th birthday

Do you need a portrait? Reaching out the the relief efforts in Syria.


my worst chanukkah

A memory. A holiday dinner. A Jewish thing on the edge of the country with a family I can't seem to like. I am here with the eldest son, my employer, a shallow, suburban creature who, when he speaks in glowing colours about his ex-girlfriend, repeats how she stayed a size zero, because she knew he likes girls small. He is certain that everyone loves him, that he can read anyone. "Just part of being a businessman," he says. He makes me increasingly uncomfortable. The more I learn about the relationship, the more it sounds toxic and mutually abusive. She left him right before they were to be married, cheated then fled, leaving behind the only life she'd ever known. Even though I am new to this group, still tentative, and her actions seem extreme, it never occurs to me to think she made the wrong decision. I know, rather, at the edge of my own understanding, deep and dark, that I should follow her. Distance myself from these people and this place.

The younger brother works for a large American multinational. Clever, he works on their kernel team, a job for life, specialized in a way that feels nearly impossible for a human to endure. On the surface, he seems fine, but he, too, is unkind to his partner, a woman who seems to love him very deeply. I don't know her well, but it seems she might do well to step away, much like the aforementioned ex-girlfriend. They fight often behind closed doors, voices rising. He doesn't know how to connect, so he tries tricks from the dog training manual. Coldness, harshness, attempts at alpha supremacy.

The dinner is awkward, with coils of tension wrapped tight like springs, ready to suddenly unwind and blind someone. I learn that the brothers may have inherited their uncomfortable emotional outbursts from their parents, who humble-brag about volunteer hours spent working to "save" battered women, but then damn my mother for being one when I bring up my childhood while thanking them for their hard work. "How dare she keep children in that situation! I'm so sorry for you, she must be a horrible person." I am shocked and say so. I am told that they will accept my apology for being a rude guest, as it must not be my fault, given that I was raised by such a contemptible mother. I do not apologize. The subject is changed.

The only person there I feel I can speak to is his grandmother, as her prejudices are expected and I know how to deflect them. She is an antique, however, and detached from her era. Her conversation meanders, jumping from year to year, as her focus wavers. I've never met anyone quite like her, but his grandmother still feels like she's been standardized, traits pulled from a pamphlet about age and fading bodies. "The slightly racist old lady: Option III". Her make-up is a billboard advertising her deteriorating motor skills, eye-liner applied as if with a crayon, lipstick approaching an event horizon, and her wig, a klaxon blaring, crooked and slightly terrifying. I wonder what she was like before, as she seems nice, as if what I was looking at wasn't representative, but sunlight filtered through too many years.

During dessert, when an aunt and uncle started singing and I start bringing dishes into the kitchen, someone decides to tease me for being "such a good little woman". It is made very clear that the man who brought me told his family that he was bringing his girlfriend to dinner. Shock again, but this time I stay quiet, lacking a script. There is a chance that I will be fired if I contradict this.

My own relatives don't keep close, but nor do they pretend to. There are no public facades, flawless or otherwise, no pretense to an external whole. Perhaps I am missing out, not having a family structure, but this, I think, surely must be worse.

I want to leave so badly, be anywhere else. Shrinking into myself, I look around the table, quiet and concerned. No one else seems to think the bickering is abnormal or the shouting downstairs is out of place. They are acclimated to their fractured, strange reflections of familial bonds, unhealthy though they are, and blind to their own internal misfires. How do they manage to be so stubbornly insular in such an interconnected world? I do not ask. It does not seem the place.

Later, as I am driven home, I am admonished for upsetting his parents.
26th birthday

muscles & glitter

Chrystalene Chrystalene side plank

I just updated Lensflower.com with a new post: Muscles & Glitter. My friend Chrystalene started hitting the gym this year and part of her program asks that participants take Before and After pictures, preferably by a professional photographer, in order, I suspect, to encourage participants to take it more seriously.

There’s a lot of social pressure for women to stay weak, myths about bulking up and being less feminine, as if having strong muscles cancels out beauty, rather than enhances it. She and I are more modern and believe, quite strongly, that type of thinking is rubbish. So, rather than take the usual sort of fitness photos, where the focus of the portraits are hard, oiled muscles, back-lit and knife edged, she wanted something fiercer, more feminine. Nevermind smiling, sweaty looking jogging shots or virtue signalling like mad with work-out clothes (yet without a hair out of place), it was going to be full of glitter and pizzazz.

So here she is, glamourous and gorgeous, flexing her muscles for feminism.

And, as most of the time lately when I take a picture, I'm pleased with the result. I haven't been creating much lately, so it's reassuring when I like what I do.

Also, this shoot may have produced my new favourite review, "It's a rare photographer who will get half naked just to make you feel comfortable being half naked."

26th birthday

Saw a great slide recently, "Privilege: The human version of "works on my machine"."

Learning by Sarawut Intarob on 500px.com
Learning, by Sarawut Intarob

The American elections continue, with reactionaries on the left and right, worse on the right. Everyone has fallen on the right, except for Trump, who runs on a campaign of divisiveness and scapegoating. The educated, the ones with options, don't seem to understand why he's still around, still a force. The language he uses in "debates" consistently register at the fourth grade level, the "solutions" he offers are the equivalent of trying to fix a broken garburator by hitting it with a hammer. How can this man, who seems like a parody of himself, like a satirical rendition of a concept too awful to look straight in the face, be relevant? But that seems the crux of it; options. It's easy, when you have them, to be blind to the desperation of those who don't.

You can convince yourself anything is fine if you don't think you have any other options.

And America's narrative of money and power? It's fading, and failing, and sad. Even the tech bubble seems to be slowly deflating. Meanwhile, headlines are painting a larger, bleaker picture. "World's carbon dioxide concentration teetering on the point of no return; future in which global concentration of CO2 is permanently above 400 parts per million looms."

Yet this is the same world in which Google’s AI is writing post-modern poetry, there is less crime than ever known, and extraordinary art is being created everywhere people go. The world which provided the above photo, which I find tirelessly inspiring. It displays a glimpse of the world I want, a mix of contrasts, varied and rich in experience, with education and tools for all and everyone, no matter their circumstances. Education, tools, and options.

So, wild ones, when you try to talk with those who hold opposing viewpoints, especially those who accept the scapegoat as truth, maybe point them over here: It's Okay To Be Gray, by GlitchedPuppet and Siderea's three part explanation and take-down of what's going on with Trump's campaign, which I consider essential and file unequivocally under REQUIRED READING - The Two Moral Modes: Part One, The Two Moral Modes: Part Two, The Two Moral Modes: Part Three.
26th birthday

affirmations ("for your trials and tribulations") -::- I am looking forward to it with some relief.

The Life of Death from Marsha Onderstijn.

More travel approaches. Nevada. California. Festivals of thought and music. The desert. The rich. The coast. More of the rich, though a slightly different kind. Lights. Action. Arduino. An experience in a large dark room underground, the entry the same as the cost of a plane ticket.

Tomorrow I'm going on an in-depth, insiders tour of the TRIUMF Accelerator Laboratory, Canada's national laboratory for particle and nuclear physics and accelerator-based science, to learn how to use the world's largest cyclotron.

Later, by a week, I'll be at Future Forward, a Burning Man spin-off for the one percent run by Robot Heart. A double-date just outside one the most artificial city in North America. Google's Eric Schmidt is the keynote speaker. Darren Aronofsky will be wandering around with a camera. I will recognize no one, both a weakness and a strength.

I write this while streaming Coachella live, a private concert projected onto a wall, Underworld and M83 and LCD Soundsystem, five feet tall and eight and a half feet wide. I write this while the man on screen singing is the same man who held the door for me at Michael's funeral. How small, the world.

Later in May, I'm going to San Francisco for my birthday again, bracketed by Maker Faire. (I have never been.) There are secret plans afoot and a place to stay for ten days. The secret society is gone, but there will still be a party. I will still find my way.
26th birthday

Joining the world of missing persons and she was.

The Darker Sooner
by Catherine Wing

Then came the darker sooner,
came the later lower.
We were no longer a sweeter-here
happily-ever-after. We were after ever.
We were farther and further.
More was the word we used for harder.
Lost was our standard-bearer.
Our gods were fallen faster,
and fallen larger.
The day was duller, duller
was disaster. Our charge was error.
Instead of leader we had louder,
instead of lover, never. And over this river
broke the winter’s black weather.


Work pulls me onto trains, lately. Seat upon seat, row upon row, the windows looking out onto the same dark green trees and slate gray ocean that I've grown to associate with my own failure to find colour and light. These trips, short and small as they are, would have been special, would have been seen as stepping stones, but there has been little, since Michael died, that inspires, that cradles me or helps me feel alive. I am thankful that the places I've been going have community; cleverness and kindness meshed together, a basket to land within that protects me from hitting the ground.

I made a new friend through work, one of my on-going contracts as a copy-editor for a group of Information Security professionals. He lives far away and we don't talk often, but when we do, we have the sort of personal, political, and philosophical discussions that I always imagined friends must converse about deep into the night, sitting on hypothetical porches with bottles of wine or in imaginary living rooms flickering with candlelight, post dinner-party or house-party. Maybe there's a cat, the furniture is well loved, and discoveries are being made, bridges are being raised, and beliefs and opinions are being forged, tested, and reforged.

I use "hypothetical" and "imaginary" because I don't know how to find myself in such cozy situations, (though I crave them more than most things). Like many things, I only know they're real because I've been told about them and seen them at a distance or through the lens of media. That said, I still like it when I find its echo on-line and it's been good to have again, as it's something I've been missing for a number of years, since defeat took me and my capacity to reach out diminished (as is easily mapped by the decline of this journal).

He has me reading books I would have skimmed over, summaries of Wittgenstein and Bertrand Russell. They haven't pulled at me yet, there's been no internal tug of recognition, but I appreciate the gentle push into new directions. I haven't had the focus for entire books lately, so I spend my reading time on-line now, following the news instead, like the Panama Paper leaks or the horror show that's passing for the Republican primaries. Topics: Science, privacy, human rights, politics.

I miss art and design, but I've misplaced those impulses too. They're somewhere in my history, but not my present, along with my languishing photography backlog, my lost animation reels, finding new music and singing along, dancing, movement, creation. Agency, desire, grace. The spark.
26th birthday

pass the popcorn

Hominid from Brian Andrews.

Hominid is an animated teaser based on the Hominid series of photo composites by Brian Andrews, described as "photo composites made from human and veterinary images".


A weekly movie night has sprung up in the homeless-yet-have-a-place dichotomy I've been inhabiting. Challenging films, insistent and smart, things I haven't seen before, but have dearly wanted to. An exquisite corpse of connections from week to week.

It started with Fassbinder's Macbeth, a faithful and brutal retelling of Shakespeare drenched in colour, shouting, and death, then moved to Far Side of the Moon, written, directed, produced, designed, and starring Robert LePage. Based on his visually striking theater production of the same name, he plays two Quebecois brothers awash in tides of their mother's recent death, set in the context of the USSR-United States Space Race of the 1960s.

The loss of a parent, the small kingdom of the stage, brothers, strife. Small threads, alike in dignity.

LePage is known in Canada as a national treasure, the intellectual French-Canadian prince of visual delights. The transitions in his films are especially beautiful, as the round door of a coin laundry becomes the port of a space capsule or the green screen background of a weather channel becomes the wall of someone's apartment. They are playful and unexpected, much like the films of Michel Gondry, the French-Parisian master of surprise and whimsy, who directed the next choice, Mood Indigo.

Based on a book written in 1947 and set in a blur between an imaginative retro-future of when the book was written and the modern day, it concerns a joyful couple who meet, fall in love, and marry, but the wife, played by Audrey Tatou, falls ill with a flower in her lung. What was bright, grows dark.

Next, pivoting on the love story, the toxic flower, the here and now, we showed Upstream Color, written, directed, produced, edited, composed, designed, cast by and starring Shane Carruth, the man responsible for Primer, which details the path of a man and a woman who fall in love after being poisoned by a parasite from a specific flower. From darkness, comes light.

It ends with an unconventional family, isolated in the country, like the subjects of Dogtooth, a Greek film by Yorgos Lanthimos we're showing this week.