Archives : August 2003

2003 August 1


In a matter of half an hour I've had UPS and FedEx both ringing my doorbell. Woo. And there should be one more package coming.

2003 August 4

The stress of uncertainty

Friday afternoon I went to talk to an immigration lawyer about my visa case, and got an unwelcome opinion. The E-2 investor class is supposed to cover both cases where someone is buying an existing business and cases where someone is starting up a new business (which is what I'm doing); I knew this already. But apparently I'm still supposed to present evidence that I've got a 'real and operating business' even if it's a start-up, and I'm going to have trouble doing that. The kinds of evidence the INS looks for are things like leases on office space, receipts for purchase of inventory, or contracts with suppliers, none of which I have yet. And because the first thing I need to do is spend four months or so with my head down writing code, I don't really expect to have any of those things before December at least. The lawyer said he hadn't actually seen a case quite like mine before.

So I've spent the weekend in a completely stressed-out state, trying to assimilate what to do about this: what would I do if my visa application is turned down? I phoned Anna, rented a movie with Matt and Brandi Saturday night, and went to the Mapparium with Michael and Nomi and Matt, kind of to distract myself in the process.

I don't even know how seriously to take the lawyer's worries -- it's his business to be conservative, after all, and not take chances with uncertain cases. A client would be pretty angry, after all, if he paid $2000 to have the lawyer write an application that got denied. And if he hasn't had a case like this, he can only guess at how it would be decided. How much benefit of the doubt will the INS give me these days, anyway, on a case where one of their six tests is weak? It's a judgement call on the part of the treaty officer. On the plus side I'm a nice friendly Canadian; and on the minus, I suspect they're still in total paranoia mode following Sept 11th (I guess people will keep calling it that, even though it's almost two years ago now).

My options seem to include:

  • (a) Send in my application now, and let them adjudicate on whether I have sufficient evidence of a real and operating enterprise. Then either I get approved, or they tell me why I'm denied and I reapply once I can supply sufficient evidence.
  • (b) Do all beta testing in Halifax this fall and wait until December to apply for the visa. This is like (a), except it assumes an early application would be denied and avoids having that on my record -- but it's not clear whether that's actually anything that would be held against me. That is, is it a black mark to have been denied a visa, or is that just part of doing business?
  • (c) Say the hell with it all, and just move to Toronto and try my business there. (Toronto, because I think Halifax is really too small to try to start in.) Eventually I could expand into the States, but it probably wouldn't be soon.
Option (c) has at various points this weekend seemed terribly tempting, just because it would cut through the painful uncertainty about just what city I should be planning to live in in October. It is intensely frustrating that my first major headache of this business has nothing actually to do with the business. The question is how far I can afford to bend my plans to suit the INS before it starts really hurting my chances of succeeding.

The US Consulate in Toronto's web site, where the application will be adjudicated, says expressly they won't answer questions about hypothetical cases, so I can't just ask them what evidence they'd accept.

2003 August 5

It doesn't take all kinds; we just have all kinds

I was looking at my server logs, and discovered someone had found my site following a google search for the single word "gutpunched". So I had to try it myself, and it turns out this entry is currently google's number 5 result for "gutpunched".

This is number 4:

gutpunch newbie seeks nyc partner
Posted by: pulsator
August 12, 2002 at 06:36:30
Fascinated by gutpunching. (check out clips at - total turnon.) Looking for nyc guy interested in trying this stuff out... I'm 5-9, 150, workout regularly, decent shape. Go for it..., tragically, says it's for sale and will be coming down on August 10th, so I archive a snippet here for posterity:

As cocky, confident Don doubles over, he picks him up and continues the punishment. Will the younger Steven tire? or will Don be the first to surrender? Shot with two cameras the action is real, fast and furious. The grunts, groans and man sweat makes this one of our best videos yet!    50 Minutes of real gutpunching action!

I don't know what to write here that won't sound snide. Honestly, I'm more bemused than anything. I can even kind of see the appeal.

2003 August 6


Saw the Macbeth on the Common with Brad last night. I think this is the first time I've actually seen it performed on stage -- seems sort of surprising, but when I think about it there's a lot of Shakespeare I haven't seen performed. I've mostly seen the comedies.

The production was decent; the first act was pretty rocky, and I started thinking I was in for some pain, but the performances grew on me. Mostly they did, anyway -- I still wanted the witches to shut up every time they opened their bombastic mouths. Macbeth himself was good though, thank god, and Banquo was excellent. Lady Macbeth herself was fine, but it was hard to feel any real relationship between her and Macbeth -- mostly they just yelled at each other. Having seen Scotland, Pa. a couple weeks ago made me want to see the two of them truly in love.

It's funny. Nobody seems willing to stage a Shakespeare play in period costume -- I can't think of the last time I saw one that didn't try to transpose the time period. It often works, I think, but this time I think the modernization just sort of flopped around on stage distracting from the play. Everyone was dressed in South American banana republic style, but they still kept jarringly talking about Scottish places and mediaeval titles. And moving things to the 30s just made the supernatural element of the witches seem more out of place. As written, Macbeth is a mediaeval story, and updating it to the twentieth century needs more than just giving bicycles to Macduff's kids.

The set was full-on, with dozens of lights, two manned spotlights and big speakers. Wasn't expecting that -- Shakespeare by the Sea does its shows in the park with nothing more than the occasional flashlight.

Trader Joe's

I needed some groceries.

Date Route Dist Time Avg Spd Year Total
2003/07/13 Trader Joe's (Arlington Heights) 14.6 km 36 min ? km/h 644 km

2003 August 7

Business-like activity

I'm plugging along with business stuff, though not with stunning productivity -- I'm at a point where most of my energy is going into figuring out what direction to charge off in more than actually doing any charging. Serendipity has taken a bit of a hand: I ran across an ad yesterday for an absolutely fabulous-sounding roommate deal in Toronto, completely unlooked for, and that has frankly got me thinking more seriously about that possibility. I'd love to work here, but the visa path honestly risks leaving me in limbo all autumn arguing with the INS, and that would be hell. Not having to worry about it would also mean I could structure my finances a bit more sensibly than I would have to if the INS were inspecting me. It's starting to look like a real option.

Meanwhile, I've been having some business meetings. Yesterday I talked with a graphic designer about doing some logo work for me -- I'm psyched by the idea of having a tangible look and feel for this operation, even if it's nothing more than samples and business cards. Just having a card that says "Eden Dinner Club" on it will go a long way to making this all seem real. We talked about a stylish Casablanca-esque motif, but we'll see how it goes.

Today I spent an hour and a half with a tax accountant, talking about ways to structure my corporate finances, filing requirements, deductible expenses, and games that can be played with payroll. Then I spent half an hour walking through Staples just looking at the insane array of filing devices, trays, organizers, fancy printer papers, shredders, boxes, and shelving. Didn't buy anything, but it's all cool.

Apart from the visa thing, I'm having a blast.

2003 August 13

Horror couture

Daragh Sankey goes off on how important it is that vampires maintain a sense of style:

Vampire Eye for the Straight Guy: Vampires at least have the ability to select their wardrobe, unlike most of the horror races. Werewolves don't get to wear any clothes at all, nor do they even remember what happened, which makes them the horror equivalent of binge-drinking streakers. Zombies are too fucking dumb to think about clothes, and I can assume ghosts perpetually sport the outfit they wore to their unjust demise, which is a shame, and they must pine for a good pair of hauntin' slacks - something that doesn't chafe the gut. Ghouls, ghasts, wraiths, etc.: too small-market to matter. They should wear uniforms so we can tell them apart. Demons go buff to show off their wings n' horns n' suchlike, as would I, or they take human form for the purposes of tempting so-and-so with the ability to really shred that axe, or the obscure-yet-still-evil real estate deal, and in those cases their attire is dictated by the job (which is a shame since velour tracksuits would probably look great on demons, too, but there are only so many Puffys to tempt). Serial killers - do they even count as a horror race? If so, we know they're stuck in the gutter with the trenchcoats and sweatpant / boot combo, everything wrinkled from sleeping in the van or the basement, exception being dude from American Psycho, but he's a one-off type deal. You're really in your own class, vampires, so dress accordingly.

2003 August 22


Beautiful, clever, astonishingly surreal. Some apparently-Polish flash designers have spawned the bastard child of MYST and the Hitchhiker's Guide: a little adventure game in which you must save your spacecraft/treestump from imminent collision by, among many other things, inducing the mountain hippie to smoke his bong faster and getting the squirrel to crank up the volume on his record player.

Just go try it.

Via metafilter.

update: Also, Chasm.