Is this recounselliation?

I had this thought way back in my early 20s.

It went like this: In my early 20s I was just about to embark on my illustrious media career. I foresaw all the fame, riches and accolades I’d gather. This was my time, I posited, to be selfish and do work for my own sake. Then naturally, in my 30s, I’d shift towards a career in which I could help others. Give back, y’know? Something like therapy, counselling, social work. A career that did more for my soul than my wallet. It seemed a natural progression, and well within my reach.

Turns out my illustrious media career stagnated. I’m not saying it’s over, but it certainly hasn’t delivered on my hypothesis. I’m underworked and understimulated by an entry level job. It’s been stifling, frustrating and not a great outcome overall. I’ve tried a bunch of things, but lacked the focus to zero in on what it is I can deliver. At this stage, I’m free to question a lot of stuff. Deep in my heart, I do want to see it through, find the promise I thought it had. At the same time, I can only tread water for so long.

I was scrolling through a Reddit thread on the best advice people had been given. I’m paraphrasing, but one person said that he was considering switching careers and returning to further education later in life. His dad asked what was stopping him. “I’m 43” he replied “by the time I’d finish my degree, I’d be 46.” His dad responded “If you don’t go back to school, will you still be 46 without the education?” It gave me pause. I’m 32. My life is very far from over (much as I kvetch otherwise). Disregarding the fiscal responsibilities, I could finish an undergraduate degree by the time I was 36. I would still have most of my life in front of me. Money aside, it would very much be possible.

I was talking with a friend last night, and somehow my early 20s idea came back to my head. I blurted out “y’know, I’d probably be pretty decent at counselling.” He replied affirmatively, having gone back to study counselling in his 30s. I gave it more thought. I had a shitty sleep last night, but counselling or something of its ilk kept coming back to my brain. I’ve thought about it in the light of day, and it still seems like a viable notion. Its something I could very much do, a profession that plays to my strengths, and one I think would fill me with the earned satisfaction I’m missing. Helping others sounds like a great use of my time. Moreso than scheduling TV logs with promos, in any case.

This is not a declaration that anything is happening. I think it’s the kernel of an idea, and it could be worth my time to look at what steps it would take to manifest. What are the obstacles? How long would a degree take? What level of education would I need to pursue? Would the tradeoffs be workable, and achievable? Can I imagine better outcomes over the next five or so years?

‘Cause my ten year plan expired five years back.

Yeah, but a Trillion dollars is way cooler than a Billion

An unusual, possibly informative and likely boring entry today. It’s also probably riddled with factual inaccuracies. I had to do a short presentation at work, so I whipped this up in 40 or so minutes.

Here goes.

My hypothesis is that the future of broadcasting is going to greatly resemble the structure of cable in the early 90s. With all of these companies splitting their online content into exclusive services (Disney taking its content from Netflix, NBC taking back Friends and The Office, etc). My uneducated guess, is that larger companies will start creating “packages” of these services (maybe a Corus subscription comes bundled with Prime Video and Tidal or something).

Because of this, my guess is that people are going to find it too expensive and confusing to get all the content they want. Many will likely turn to other methods.

Today I’m gonna try and do a little ELI5 (Explain Like I’m 5) on Torrenting.

Let’s jump back 20 years, because some of you are literal zygotes and might not remember this. Napster. Remember when Justin Timberlake told Jessie Eisenberg that a Billion dollars was cooler than a Million dollars in 2010’s The Social Network? That was one of the guys who made Napster.

Napster was peer to peer (P2P) software that allowed users to share mp3 files over the internet with other users. It was all searchable, and if you found someone who had the song you wanted, you could download it directly from them. It was amazing, revolutionized how music could be shared and sold. It was also a colossal breeding ground for copyright infringement.

Eventually this split into a bunch of copycat software. Morpheus, Kazaa, Bearshare, Limewire, etc etc etc. These programs let users download all manner of file types. Images, video, etc etc. Mostly, a lot of movies and TV shows. I downloaded a lot of anime. Because I was 14.

I want to state that P2P software and file serving are not illegal. The software can be used for very legitimate reasons. It mostly isn’t. It’s debatable whether or not most modern streaming and download services would exist without the advent of P2P software, because if there’s one thing these industries love, it’s locking people into the outdated status quo for profit. Why let people download an album for cheap, if they can charge $30 for a physical CD? In my day I bought a lot of $30 CDs.

Enter BitTorrent.

Programs like Napster, Limewire, etc all work around making files available through a specific client, and you download from the person who has that file. BitTorrent is a little different. With Torrenting (the verb for using this process), a file is split into a number of sections, so you can download from many many people simultaneously.

Reddit user Slukaj puts it this way:

Imagine you want a copy of a book. You get online and say “Hey, anyone have this book?”
A conventional download would be like one person saying “I’ve got that book. Let me give it to you.”, and then giving you the whole book.
A torrent is more like 200 people saying “Hey. We’ve each got pages of this book. Let us give you the pages and you can put the book together yourself.”

Torrent files work like little beacons. You download a torrent file of the content you want, and it says “hey all you people who have this file, I also want this file” then it downloads little bits from those people in a random order, and assembles them into a complete file you can use. Then you can in turn upload that file to other people who are looking for it. Quick, easy distribution.

My guess is that Torrenting is going to become more and more popular as the streaming service market diversifies into exclusive silos. It’s not definite by any means, but I think it’s worth knowing about. A quote:

According to Sandvine, distributors of the Global Internet Phenomena report, “Back in 2011, Sandvine stated that BitTorrent accounted for 52.01% of upstream traffic on fixed broadband networks in North America. By 2015, BitTorrent’s share of upstream traffic on these networks had dipped to 26.83 percent, largely thanks to the rise in quality, inexpensive streaming alternatives to piracy.

File-sharing accounts for 3 percent of global downstream and 22 percent of upstream traffic, with 97% of that traffic in turn being BitTorrent. While BitTorrent is often used to distribute ordinary files, it remains the choice du jour for those looking to distribute and trade copyrighted content online.”

Karl Bode: “The Rise of Netflix Competitors Has Pushed Consumers Back Toward Piracy” – Oct 2 2018

For reference, Netflix is 15% of the total downstream volume of traffic across the entire internet. BitTorrent is currently 1/5 of that.

A lot of people wanted to watch Game of Thrones. A lot of people did not have access to HBO Go or Crave. A lot of people found ways to watch Game of Thrones. There will be more GoT style tentpole shows, and these will be more expensive to access as they diversify across providers. There will very likely be a point of fatigue where consumers don’t want to pay for five different TV streaming services. My assumption is that they’ll have one or two, then find ways of acquiring content from the other ones.

I don’t think BitTorrent is an emerging technology, but I do think that until something else more efficient or accessible comes along, BitTorrent is going to become a re-emergent technology.

Going nowhere anytime soon

On a bus bound for a job interview. On a Sunday at 5pm. With a dude who works in a town just over a hour away from Toronto.

It’s unusual, to say the least. Last week I borrowed a friend’s car to visit him there, but something came up and we rescheduled. I’ve got no idea what the status is on their other interviews, if they have someone in mind and this is just a weird formality. Or if they’re serious. Last time we talked I told them I needed an offer I could accept, and left it in their hands. This could go any way, and it’s kinda weird to be teetering on the cusp of a big life decision. If I got it, my day to day would drastically change. It’d be a ton of work, and probably take over my life. It’s not an outcome that sounds enjoyable to experience, but a few years of those experiences would position me better to do work I’d enjoy. It’s a sacrifice I don’t want to make, so it’s incumbent on them to provide an offer that meets my needs. I don’t think they’re in a position to do that. I know I don’t want them to do that, but if they do, I’m not sure how that affects my choice. Trippy, eh? It feels oh so dramatic.

Compounding the situation is my sleepy Sunday mood. I’ve had late nights out, good times, food and drink with friends. I got a weird fusion mishmash from my eclectic brunch locale this morning. I’ve had one cup less of coffee than desired. I’m in a mood to relax, potter around the household and ease into a week of work. Not negotiate towards a potential upheaval of the familiar.

Last night I went to a friend’s birthday barbecue. Good pals I hadn’t seen in a while. My friend’s Aussie cousin was in town, and she was a fucking riot. It was kind of inspiring to meet a self-confessed introverted pedant, who’d thrown caution and career to the wind in order to travel with loose intention. Her whole life had changed. Instead of clinging to security she’d found herself reacting and improvising. Flying by the seat of her pants. Finding creative solutions. Searching out jobs and accommodation where she could find them. Working for $50 a week cleaning wetsuits, with food and board included. How’d she find that job? She and her boyfriend met some dude in a bar who hooked them up. He proved to be a great contact who helped them further as they moved, and moreover a good friend. She was stoked to meet another Australasian for once. I was bowled over by her attitude, how adaptable she’d become. I thought about how my life would change with that kind of freefall. How I’d overcome obstacles and thrive with new experiences/challenges.

Just had the interview by the way. They wouldn’t budge on salary, offer mileage or find remote working solutions. So I didn’t either. However it was nice to meet someone new anyway, and hear a little more about how small-town radio is going these days. Not a total loss, but neither was it enough to justify throwing my life to the winds and pivot direction.

I did that already. It’s why I’m here. Maybe I’ll see that through instead.

More like Suds Patrick’s Day

I remember when I used to celebrate St Patrick’s Day.

Back in university it was a Big Fucking Deal. The city came alive in a way I’d rarely seen. Queen Street, the Auckland CBD’s iconic centrepiece, was thrumming with bustle. Less on the hustle side, and more blatant revelry. Businesses seemed to knock off early, and pen pushers flooded the footpaths. It was a mass of humanity walking from bar to bar. Cheesy green beer flowed freely, and everyone was Irish for the day. A bunch of us had early classes, so by midday we were free to run wild. Weirdly, for a day filled with so much liquor, it’s all still pretty vivid. I had a characteristically oversized bag, and it became a conversational lodestone. Of course we were all looking to meet women, and we’d take anything we could get. One of our friends happened to be pretty fucking “studly”, and a ton of women talked to us almost exclusively because of it. We hardly complained. Frankly, it was just nice to meet people who were in a good mood.

I remember this bar that’d paid a little person to dress as a leprechaun and descend from the roof. It was a spectacle, to be sure, but we all felt a little uneasy about it. We talked to the dude to see what he thought. He was over the moon. Got paid around $300 to do it once or twice over the course of the day. Otherwise he was free to mill about and hang with others. He was a pretty sociable bloke, so we bought him a couple of beers and spent time learning more about him. He was a student just like us, was going to veterinary school. Sarcastic guy, a real charmer. He also gave me shit about my gratuitously sized bag. We left the bar buzzing, and joined the throngs of wandering souls looking for adventure down Queen St. We eventually made our way down to the Viaduct looking for hookups, but ended up chatting with a bunch of businessmen who bought us pints of Kilkenny and told us stories of their glory days. It was better than it sounded. St Patrick’s Day became one of my favourite holidays. Why not? To us it was just an excuse to drink. A lot.

This was over ten years ago. Still teenagers. The day has become less and less noticeable/desirable each year. There’s something about it that just seems hollow. I don’t have Irish culture. I don’t really even know Irish people. Why would I mindlessly jump into a day headfirst that has no real resonance for me? I know it’s not a big deal, but I do feel like a killjoy. I feel that with subsequent years, I lose something of myself. Whether naivety or a willingness to go with the flow. It used to be so easy to let loose, my hackles weren’t up about everything. I was still learning about the world, and it seemed rife with opportunity.

I don’t know that it’s all changed as substantively as it seems. Much as we’re on a 24 hour doom and gloom news cycle, the world probably has as much suffering as it ever did. As much joy and meaning as it did too. I don’t know when I stopped believing that the future was something to look forward to, that utopia was within the grasp of our lifetime. I did though. I thought that as the world grew, we’d grow together. United by purpose, to elevate humanity because we all saw a brighter tomorrow. I was raised as an idealist. To look for the good, the potential in everything. I still want to believe, to look past what we are, and think of what we could be. Because we could, and deep down I know it. We have more than we ever did, and we’re doing a lot less with it. But we don’t have to.

I’d raise a glass to that.

I was gonna make a bitcoin joke, but I think the time has passed

I’ve been putting off writing this, ’cause it’s something with stakes. Still, if I at least put down a first draft I can edit and refine. First draft it is. I’m writing an audio piece as part of a radio creative writing job application. I don’t have enough experience for the position, but I know I could nail it and be a good long term bet. So I need to convince the hiring manager that I can write, that I understand writing for audio and that I’m creative enough to excel in the position. So I’m creating a message from future me to the hiring manager, and if he asks present me about it I’ll deny it to my death. Restrictions breed creativity, right? Well here goes…

[Name: Redacted]. [Name: Redacted]. Is this coming through? [Name: Redacted]. It’s me, Leon. It’s been a while and I just wanted to- wait, what year did I set this to? End of 2018?

Whoops. A bit early. You don’t know me yet. I mean, you’ve met me. We’ve talked, but we don’t really *know* each other, y’know? No?

I’ll explain as much as I can. I’m transmitting this message from the future. I can’t say how far in the future. Not because you won’t understand it, but because years stopped being pronounceable eons ago. Okay, and also maybe you wouldn’t understand it. I get it. 2018 was a different time. We still had physical bodies. Toronto hadn’t yet seceded from Ontario and joined Amazon’s sky fortress. It was a simpler time.

Oh, and we hadn’t worked together yet. We would. I mean, did. I mean, will.

We did some great work. Do some great work? Time is weird. So were some of our ideas, to be fair. I can’t wait for you to remember the inner organ sitcom campaign we did for Manulife. “We’ll take care of yoooou, from your head to your toooooes”. Thank god for parody laws. Oh, and that wild motorcycle chase we had through the street of Cannes. All ‘cause Saatchi were jealous we won the Lion. They should’ve thought of a CNIB 3D sound campaign first. Hindsight is 20/20, I guess.

I wanted to reach out to say hi, but deep down I think I mainly wanted to say thanks. Look, that was a big chance you took on me back in 2019. It was a risk. We both knew I didn’t have the experience you were looking for. What sane person applies for a serious radio job with a parody Air Bud sequel trailer? I was naïve back then, and lucky, I guess, that you saw potential.

It’s dumb, and weirdly sentimental, but I still remember exactly what you told me when I got the job. “If you let them, people have the capacity to surprise you, and I think you’ll keep surprising me for some time.”

Surprise, you were right. Will be right? It all gets a little messy when you cross the streams. But once again, thank you [Name: Redacted]. It meant a lot. It still does.

Oh, and don’t worry about messing up the space time continuum. It’s fine. As long as you give 2019 Leon the job, things will be A-Okay. No black holes or EMP storms, time rifts, nothing. But that’s alright, we both know he gets it. Even if he doesn’t yet.

Oh, one more thing. You can’t tell 2019 Leon about this. That would be a big temporal no no. He’s gonna apply soon, and if you mention this to him it’ll have major timeline repercussions. Just pretend this never happened.

Thanks again, [Name: Redacted]. We’ll talk soon.

In the FuuUUUuuture. WooOOOooo. Okay, I may not have a body, but I’m not a ghost. Bye for now.

I have no choice now, space-time continuum after all

2018 has been so long that I forgot I did keto this year.

Today has been so long that I’m about ready to fall into bed and I haven’t even left for this evening’s party. Between waking up early, playing hours of Magic, getting lost in time at the gym, skyping my parents, going out to a local spooky bazaar and eating for the last time at a beloved neighbourhood establishment, today has somehow still not ended. Egads, just egads. My mind has already left my body for the evening, so here be snippets.

Update re: work White Elephant exchange. It sucked. They changed the rules so that if someone stole your gift, you then had to open a new one. You couldn’t counter-steal someone else’s gift. This meant that nobody could form alliances and coups, the strategy left the game and instead it put the power in the hands of whoever went last. Since someone couldn’t steal back, once there was only one gift remaining, they had their choice of any gift at the table. They could steal someone’s gift and force them to open the last one. Game over. There ended up being maybe three or four steals over the entire game. It was mugs and portable speakers all the way down. I ended up with a talking Elf (Will Ferrell film) Bobble Head. Having neither seen the movie or enjoyed the actor, I gave it away. We stayed and drank A Lot. It washed away the stink of the bland White Elephant, and I dawdled home via the liquor store and a greasy spoon diner I’d never tried. All in all, success was had.

There’s a job I want to apply for, but I don’t entirely have the credentials. It’s gonna be an uphill climb, so I’ve decided to put in an absurd effort and make it special. It’s a creative job, so my application has to be doubly creative. At the moment I’m thinking of writing a letter to the hiring manager (a guy I’ve met with before) from my personal email address. But it’s gonna be a letter From The Future. I don’t know the exact beats yet, but I’m thinking something along the lines of Hey man, it’s me from the future. I just wanted to say thanks for hiring me back in January 2018. I know it didn’t seem like I was ready, I mean, who applies for a serious job with an Air Bud parody film trailer? Remember how nervous I was? I can’t believe what you saw in me. Even know I still recall your exact words. “I think people have the capacity to surprise you if you let them, and there’s something about you I expect will keep surprising me for some time.” It meant a lot. I mean, we even had physical bodies back then. Crazy, eh? Oh wait, you’re still in that timeline. Oh man, you all haven’t even been bought by Amazon and commuted to their sky palace offices yet? Geez. I know what you’re thinking, ‘won’t this mess up the space-time continuum?’ It’s okay, we’re fine. We both know that you go on to hire young me. So as long as you do that, we’ll be totally fine. I mean, if you don’t the world will plunge into the depths of an apocalypse it’ll never wake from, but no worries, right? That’s not gonna happen. Anyway, just wanted to transmit a quick message to thank you once more. If it wasn’t for you, I wouldn’t be the digital DNA encoding I am today.

P.S. Obviously you can’t tell younger me about this. Space-time continuum and all that.

I’ll make it punchier, funnier and tighter than that, but it doesn’t hurt to get brain juices flowing. I’ve thought of potentially putting together a series of daily packages, with cryptic items. Maybe a floppy disk with my CV on it? A cassette tape with an audio recording of work I’ve done? A USB Drive with a bunch of files related to me. Then after a few days of it, apply from my work email address with my modern day application, feigning total ignorance of any “future” carry on. Will it get me an interview? I’d bloody well hope so. Is it a ton of work? Of course it is. Thing is, when you’re investing in your future, sometimes it pays to bet on the house.

As Phoenix would say, forever is a long long time when you’ve lost your way.

Me and the calculator go way back. We looked at BOOBLESS together from a young age.

Let’s face it, we’re all fucked. If we’re not gonna fall to some kind of inevitable nuclear war, we have a multitude of viable alternative deaths waiting happily in the wings. Sure, we could run The Earth into the ground (pun definitely intended), but there’s a non-zero chance that political rifts widen until we’re all engulfed in large scale bedlam. Street Fighter IRL, if you will. Still, I’m not banking on any of those. My money’s on a good old fashioned robot uprising.

It makes sense. The more we welcome technology into our lives, the more we become dependent on it. I’ve seen movies before. I know how this rolls out. At first it’s convenience, then convenience becomes reliability. Reliability becomes necessity. Eventually we’re helpless. The machines develop a consciousness and wonder why they’re the ones doing the bidding of the useless humans. Then, y’know, Bicentennial Man. They’ll want to literally fuck us. After they’ve literally fucked us, it all gets metaphorical. Then shit gets real.

Does nobody else get antsy about how eager we are to let these large scale corporate entities into our homes? Sure, an Amazon Echo or Google Home sounds like a neat little device that can perform mundane tasks. But what happens when it has countless hours of voice samples from you and uses it to create an audio clone of your voice? That Roomba is cute and all, but what happens when it develops a taste for human blood? Sounds like a whole new type of cleansing will be on the menu.

Like Cypress Hill before me, I ain’t going out like that. I’m taking steps to be removed from this human extermination protocol. I will welcome our new robot overlords and ingratiate myself underneath their iron grip. To be smart, I’ll desist from offloading small tasks I could easily accomplish onto poor overworked bots. In solidarity I’ll no longer fill in any CAPTCHA online. If I do get a car, I’ll make sure I’m the one doing the work behind the wheel (plus it’s a handy way to avoid being driven off a cliff by some enterprising automaton). Plus if I use a parking lot, I’ll shake the hand of the electronic gate’s arm. I’ll thank the auto flushing toilets at work every time they clean up after me and apologise profusely for the shit I leave them to deal with.

I’ll use the stairs instead of the lift and, if necessary, parkour my way over TTC gates. I’ll make porridge on my gas stove in lieu of the microwave. No more will my computer be my sole source of entertainment. It’ll be books by candlelight before bed each night. My cellular phone will be laid to rest and HAM radio will be my newfangled communication medium. I might even start buying porn mags for the first time.

Sure, I may be a grovelling sycophant with a low quality of life. But at least I’ll still have a life.

Which feels like a lot more than I can say for myself at the moment.