Garstor's World, My realm of 3D art, LEGO and atheism

Settling In

Posted on Sunday, October 16th, 2016 at 6:47 PM in Personal by Garstor

I have been here in Etobicoke for over two weeks now but I am still unpacking. I accomplished a lot on that front today though.

Some highlights:

  • Walking to work is awesome! I love coming home for lunch and have started a healthier sandwich meal instead of eating at the food court at work.
  • The layout of this apartment gives the feeling of being bigger than my last place in Hamilton, even though it is technically smaller.
  • I might be able to put some of my LEGO models back on display!

Work remains however.

This is a much older building with a lot more units, so bug infestation is a problem. I know that sounds gross, but it isn’t that bad and it can be dealt with. I need curtains. The 3D machine isn’t working yet; I can’t wait to get back to LightWave, World Machine, Poser and Photoshop!

FFRF 2016 National Convention

Posted on Friday, October 14th, 2016 at 6:41 PM in Atheism, Skepticism, Travel by Garstor

Last weekend I was in Pittsburgh for the 39th National Convention of the Freedom From Religion Foundation.

This was my fifth convention already! I’ve been to Hartford, Portland, Madison, Los Angeles, back to Madison and now Pittsburgh. Next year will be in San Francisco. This is one reason that I attend; I get to travel to cities that I might not otherwise visit. First and foremost though is the socializing with like-minded people.

This convention was no exception to that. On Sunday afternoon, I walked around Pittsburgh for over two hours with a fellow attendee. We crossed two bridges (Pittsburgh has more bridges than Venice) and used two funicular railways to ascend and descend Mount Washington. But I get ahead of myself!

The link above will tell you the names of the speakers. I’d like to summarize how many of them made me feel.

FFRF attorney Andrew Seidel gave a preview of his forthcoming book with his talk, “Is Christianity Un-American?” This promises to be an excellent read – I cannot wait for it to be released. Andrew has set out to completely dismantle the argument that the United States was founded as a Christian nation.

Friday evening was rather moving when a former preacher from East Tennessee came out publicly as an atheist. “Adam Mann” was one of the first people in The Clergy Project and he went to great lengths to conceal his identity. He had yet to tell his wife that he no longer believes in the fairy tales of the bible.

I hope his coming out to friends and family goes just as smoothly. It really is a serious problem for many clergy. Welcome to the ever-growing family Carter! We’ve got your back!

Professor Lawrence Krauss accepted his Emperor Has No Clothes award and gave a science-heavy talk that built on his excellent book A Universe From Nothing. He suggested that last year’s confirmation of gravitational waves might be used to see beyond the cosmic microwave background. Exciting stuff!

Unfortunately, my copy of A Universe From Nothing is still packed in a box somewhere. So I bought The Physics Of Star Trek and had Professor Krauss sign that instead.

The new Forward aware was bestowed upon Rafida Bonya Ahmed. She barely survived the Islamist machete attack that killed her husband Avijit Roy. Her speech was inspiring and helped to explain the major problems facing atheists in Bangladesh. I certainly never had to fear for my life while living in Texas; so the atheist bloggers and publishers in Bangladesh deserve mighty praise and even more support.

Professor Jerry Coyne – who won Emperor Has No Clothes at the Hartford Convention – spoke on “Evolution & Atheism: Best Friends Forever.” My recent move thwarted me again, I couldn’t get my copy of Faith vs. Fact signed. Professor Coyne has given a interim blog post about the Convention.

Lastly, Professor Daniel Dennett spoke on “Has The Dam Broken? Omens and Worries.”

It should be obvious how much I love the FFRF National Conventions. There is always interesting and inspiring stuff – I only scratched the surface here.

I have intentionally left out the group tour of Fallingwater. That amazing part of the weekend deserves its own post after I have sorted through my photos.

The 10th Anniversary Of “The God Delusion”

Posted on Sunday, October 2nd, 2016 at 1:39 PM in Atheism, Books, Religion by Garstor

Today Hemant Mehta at The Friendly Atheist published about the 10th anniversary of Richard Dawkins’ excellent The God Delusion.

Like so many other thousands of people, The God Delusion was a major factor in my de-conversion to atheism. One day I will write a detailed, personal account of that process. For now, I want to express my gratitude to Professor Dawkins for his incredible work.

The near future of the world will be better as more and more atheists are able to come out openly. Today’s youth are rejecting organized religion in record numbers; soon they will be raising their own families and hopefully the new generation will be equally non-religious. Meanwhile, the older generations are facing the inevitability of death.

The future is secular. I can’t wait!


Posted on Sunday, October 2nd, 2016 at 1:28 PM in Personal by Garstor

The worst of it is over! I am now living in Etobicoke again. I used to live near Eglinton Avenue and Martingrove Road before I moved to Texas. Now I am near Dundas Street and Islington Avenue. I thought that I would have to lose my last month of pre-paid rent in Hamilton. Happily that was not the case.

I can see the Moneris building from my balcony. I am only a five minute walk to work now. This is going to be a huge boost to my life. I will have much more free time for getting back to the gym and diving deeper into 3D art.

The Rogers cable internet speed is a pretty sweet upgrade too!


Much unpacking and organizing remains! I’d better get back to it.

The Move Looms Closer

Posted on Saturday, September 24th, 2016 at 7:43 PM in Personal by Garstor

Next Thursday is the big day. At last I will be free of the horrible mismanagement at Chateau Royale!

In some good news, my original fears about losing out on my last month’s rent have been put to rest. That will be very helpful indeed since it should cover most of the costs of the moving company.

I’ve packed up nearly all of my books and I hope to start packing my computers tomorrow.

At the new building, I’ll be using Rogers’ cable modem for internet access. That should be faster than what I have currently.

I can’t wait!

Latest Books Read

Posted on Tuesday, September 6th, 2016 at 7:15 PM in Atheism, Books, Religion by Garstor

imageSure, it is atheism and religion again. Shoot me! Open-mouthed smile

50 Simple Questions For Every Christian is a really good read. The title pretty much says everything about the book. What are miracles? Why doesn’t everyone believe what you do? Have you read the bible?

Guy Harrison offers his own atheistic/skeptical answers to each one; but he clearly means for a believing reader to ponder these on their own. Each question’s “answer” from the author typically covers 2-4 pages.

The book is in no way an attack. Harrison is respectful throughout. I wish that I could keep my cool like that. But his demeanor is refreshing and definitely made me imagine asking these questions of my mother.

I know there is no chance of her reading this though. What a shame.

So, I had to kick things up a notch with the current book I’m reading – devouring actually, I’m already two-thirds through it.

imageDavid Silverman’s first (and hopefully not last) book Fighting God is considerably more direct and confrontational.

It is less the autobiography that I thought it would be and much more his defense of being a firebrand atheist. Silverman comes out swinging with the chapter, “Atheist, Know Thyself.” He makes the case that we non-believers should use the word atheist. Don’t use humanist, freethinker, agnostic or other labels.

First, most people don’t know the meaning of those other words; but they do know the meaning of atheist. Second, the more we use the word, the more normalized it will become. Anything else makes atheists appear to be a smaller minority than we actually are. That is just what the religions of the world want people to think!

So far it is a great read but with nothing surprising (so far) if you have ever seen David Silverman speak publicly.

Both books are well worth the read.

More Trickling Updates

Posted on Sunday, August 28th, 2016 at 8:02 AM in Personal by Garstor

What a month this has been! Nearly three weeks have oozed past since the last post attempted to provide updates to my world.

The move to Etobicoke is probably the most impactful to my world at the moment. I do have the apartment confirmed and am aiming to move in at the end of September. This means losing out on a month of pre-paid rent here.

I hate this building and its (mis-)management so much that I am prepared to throw away $1,600 just to get the fuck out of here as soon as possible. Hamilton can be a great city to live in – just never, ever, live at the Chateau Royale building.

Next Saturday, Debug gets her next rabies shot. I do tend to avoid this since she is never outside. But this will be an opportunity for further check-up on her dental situation.

Miscellaneous Updates

Posted on Monday, August 8th, 2016 at 4:35 AM in Personal by Garstor

Here we are, one week into August with no blog post. Yes, I have been busy – a weak-sauce excuse perhaps; but true nonetheless. So here is a point-form set of updates about what has been happening.


I am so glad that I love my job. Last week, was my most recent on-call rotation so I didn’t stray far from my work laptop in case an alert call came in. That meant no grocery shopping. Unfortunately, my one call was a false alarm. The hindsight is 20/20 as usual but I refused to risk not being able to respond quickly to an issue.

This past weekend didn’t see any relief. A major – and long delayed – data migration project was finally executed. So I was working from home all weekend, tied once more to the laptop. At least that was a successful series of tasks; it will be a large accomplishment for the year.

I love my job, but I hate my commute. So that leads me into…


Yep. I have to leave Hamilton and get closer to work. I thought that the commute would give me time to read or study. But it doesn’t – it is so utterly mentally draining that I usually snooze on the bus in both travel directions. The snooze is not a restful one either.

When I get home, I am practically in a coma. There is so much stuff I want to do – especially with 3D and Photoshop – but I cannot get the energy or motivation to kick in. The commute is 4 hours every weekday and around $400 per month. I’ve got to get that back.

I am looking at a two-bedroom apartment that will be a 5 minute walk to work. It is an older building so I am not expecting much from it. But the cheaper rent and the removal of the travel time sink should do wonders.


Of course I wasn’t about to forget an update about my baby! I took her to the vet on Friday for a post-surgery checkup. Having been on a wet-food diet for 2 weeks, she lost some weight – which is good, she was just slightly overweight before. The vet says her mouth is healing nicely though. She can now have some kibble.

I think she has gotten much more affectionate since the surgery. She’s almost always moving to whatever room that I am in and she loves to cuddle at night.

There are a couple of other items that I am keeping under-wraps for now. We’ll see what comes of those later on.