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Welcome to the personal website of Andrew Turnbull. This outpost features tons of stupefying and trivial things pertaining to various and diverse interests of mine. Chances are, if there's something I know about or like that doesn't much other representation on the 'net...there's a bit of it here.

The front page updates every week whenever the hell I feel like it. And it is just a static page.

An encrypted version is also available.

Support abortion rights.

Bodily autonomy is the most fundamental human right that exists, and no one should be forced to give birth against their will:

9 February 2024

New Year, New Tattoo

[New tattoo]

Many thanks to Steph Duchesne for her amazing work.

28 January 2024

Bundle Labels: Much Ado About Mail

Dedicated to Andrew Filer, who I think would have gotten a kick out of this.

On cold winter weekends, there's nothing I like better than browsing the Lakehead University Library...and looking for the unexpected.

[Bundle labels on periodicals]

Take the periodical above. Despite being in a Canadian library, it unexpectedly bears a mailing label addressed to Nashville, Tennessee. And that bright orange sticker with the letter "S?" That's an unexpected artifact from the U.S. Mail.

[Bundle labels on periodicals] [Bundle labels on periodicals]

In the late 1960s, the U.S. Post Office used paper facing slips to identify bundles of presorted mail destined for specific locations. In the 1970s, these were replaced by adhesive labels bearing cryptic letter and number codes. Fast-forward to the 1990s: My family handled mailings for an organization...and I was cast into a role of remembering what a red "D" or orange "S" was as we dropped bundles of newsletters into the mail.

[USPS bundle label instructions]
USPS, 1981.

With latent memories awakened, I found a 2016 article by Tony Wawrukiewicz (R.I.P.) explaining the history of the bundle labels. After digging around the deep corners of the Internet for further research, I think I've finally cracked the code and pieced together a full chronology:

[Bundle label chronology]

At least eight different labels were used for different sorting classes (shown above in decreasing order of granularity), although not all of them were in use at the same time:

  • Firm, for mail destined for a specific address.
  • Carrier Route, for ZIP code subdivisions (including postal spam addressed to "Boxholder" on a specific road...ask how I know).
  • Direct, for specific 5-digit ZIP codes.
  • Mixed City, for large municipalities spanning multiple ZIP codes. (I spent most of my life in places where towns and ZIP codes had a one-for-one correlation, so I never saw this one back in the day.)
  • Sectional Centre Facility, for 3-digit ZIP code groups.
  • Area Distribution Centre. This one emerged in the early 1980s and may have briefly replaced the SCF label outright, then existed alongside it after consolidation resulted in ADCs spanning more than one 3-digit ZIP code group (and sometimes, more than one state).
  • State, which came to an end following USPS "classification reform" in 1996.
  • Mixed States, later Mixed ADC, a catch-all for the scraps left over when other sorting was done.

Has Canada Post ever done anything similar to this? As far as I Though Canada's post office does have its own analogous presort groupings (including a catch-all called "residue"), the Commercial Mail Customer Guide reveals that their prescribed way of labelling them is with paper facing it was for the USPS prior to the mid-1970s. No colour stickers for you!

13 January 2024

Andrew Filer (1980-2021)

[Picture in memoriam]

This was Andrew Filer. He was a friend of mine.

He died two years ago. He was only 40. I only found this out this week, and now I feel like shit. :'-(

Andrew was originally from northern Minnesota, and had an encyclopedic knowledge about the little quirks of the area. He was excited when I moved to Thunder Bay, and encouraged me to visit the Hoito...which is also now gone.

How do I remember him? He was "super gay," out and proud, and had an unbridled passion and enthusiasm for the geekiest things.

How geeky? He travelled to South Africa just to track down a 1970s road sign manual in a library. He had a plan to restore a vintage character generator and use it on a YouTube channel showcasing obscure books.

We almost met face-to-face once, while he was travelling through his old stomping grounds and made a stop in Duluth. Unfortunately this happened when the pandemic was in full swing, and the border was locked it was not to be.

Sadly, he and I drifted out of touch in his final months. I had withdrawn from Flickr and Twitter, putting me out of reach of his daily interaction. That left text messages as our primary fallback...and he wasn't much of a texter. Add the blur of life and work...and the next thing I know, he's been gone for two years, I'm the last one to find out, and I'm reeling from the shock.

Now I wish I had reached out to him some more. Called him up in 2021, braved the border...done anything. I wish I could listen to him wax poetic about city lots, 1970s typography, or the joys of "exciting books" one more time. I wish...I could turn back time.

The image above was his personal Facebook photo. Knowing him, he made it small and pixelated on purpose.

26 December 2023

Two new Doom levels.

[Doom screenshot montage]

The Doom Museum

The Doom Museum gives visitors a historical tour of Doom's early history, with attractions spread over six floors:

  • A main floor gallery, with genuine Doom artifacts from 1993 on permanent exhibit (so don't pick them up);
  • The opening area to the first level of Doom's predecessor, Wolfenstein 3D (May 1992);
  • A realization of a proposal for a first level illustrated in Tom Hall's Doom Bible (November 1992);
  • The small, singular map from the "Doom: Evil Unleashed" 0.2 Tech Demo (February 1993);
  • The "level" used in the automap mockup of the earliest Doom alpha releases, turned into an actual map (February 1993);
  • A re-creation of the version of E1M2 shown in John Romero's earliest released screenshots (February 1993), with a pillar surrounded by an octagonal stepped area.

The museum's lobby and gallery are based very loosely on the layout of the Thunder Bay Museum in Ontario.

Download. Requires Doom; limit-removing source port recommended.

[Doom screenshot montage]

Andrew's Library

Andrew's Library is a "proof of concept" effort at reproducing the J. Frank Marsh Library (at Concord College in Athens, WV) in a video game. Since Doom came out in 1993, the map strives to accurately reflect the configuration of the library as it would have existed 30 years ago, give or take.

In light of West Virginia's passage of a law permitting concealed pistols on college campuses (in a spate of other legislation easing the state towards a deadly dystopia), I concede that this map could be construed to be in bad taste. But it is what it is.

This is a "work in progress," and I may choose to re-release it as a multi-level episode at some point in the future.

Download. Requires Doom II with a limit-removing source port (such as Crispy Doom).

13 November 2023

[Doom screenshot] [Doom screenshot] [Doom screenshot] [Doom screenshot] [Doom screenshot] [Doom screenshot]

The 30th anniversary of Doom is less than a month away! To celebrate, I've beefed up my game walkthrough with over a hundred new images, and added a new page explaining which items are in which levels.

30 October 2023

arm cast

My 38-year track record of never breaking a bone came to a sudden and painful end this year, thanks to a freak fall that left me with multiple fractures in my left wrist. Thankfully I live in Canada, so I was able to access emergency care and necessary surgery without bankrupting myself. Sadly, we are all abled for only a limited time.

Thanks to my semi-incapacitated state, I've had to write off most of my plans for the rest of the year. But I can still type (one-handed, that is). I've given The History of School Transportation in Mercer County, WV its annual update, with help from Adam Ross.

25 September 2023

An update for the week, as a coda to the last: Other stores.

Now, on to the next project...

15 September 2023

Remember this ridiculous project of mine? I have updates in tow. Enjoy!

The Artifacts of A&P

  • 8 W. Madison St., Eau Claire, WI
  • 111 Centre St., Espanola, ON (maybe)
  • 380 Eramosa Rd., Guelph, ON
  • 2500 Barton St. E., Hamilton, ON
  • 1405 Ottawa St. N., Kitchener, ON

The Artifacts of Dominion

  • 753 Main St. E., Hamilton, ON
  • 248 Northern Ave. E., Sault Ste. Marie, ON (new picture)

The Artifacts of Loblaws

  • 800 Tower St. S., Fergus, ON
  • 1045 Paisley Rd., Guelph, ON
  • 503 Concession St., Hamilton, ON
  • 435 Main St. E., Hamilton, ON
  • 1124 Main St. E., Hamilton, ON
  • 1005 Ottawa St. N., Kitchener, ON

The Artifacts of Safeway

  • 475 Pim St., Sault Ste. Marie, ON
  • 115 Arthur St. W., Thunder Bay, ON (new picture)

The Artifacts of Steinberg

  • 500 Edinburgh Rd., Guelph, ON (technically an Ultra)

11 September 2023

I don't engage with Tr*mp supporters. Never have, never will.

Because engagement lends legitimacy to their white supremacist, insurrectionist, ecocidal, fascist views, and treats them as though they were worthy of respect and debate instead of the utter revulsion and exclusion they deserve.

20 August 2023

The last Walk the Moon concert?

set list

For me, it will probably be. :(

Ashley for the Arts (Arcadia, WI), 2023-08-12.

14 July 2023

Walk the Moon announce their "hibernation."

hello WALK THE MOON family, we invite you to tune into this message with an open heart.

we are announcing: our hibernation.

the time has come for us to take a long break from touring and making records together. we are lovingly making space for new creations, for family, to serve our well-being and the well-being of WALK THE MOON. our gratitude for this adventure + this connection with you is much grander than a caption can say. please check out our video for the full picture.

there are a few things to celebrate together before we hibernate, including: - we have NEW MUSIC for you. something to celebrate our time together, coming in August! - we will be streaming the last show of our 10th Anniversary Tour as a premiere event on YouTube, to chat live and watch together with you. details to come. there's more in the video. stay tuned over the next few weeks. we love you endlessly.

<+> Nicholas, Sean, + Eli

NGL: I'm sobbing right now.

Walk the Moon were the band that singlehandedly reinvigorated my interest in new music for the first time in 15 years. They crafted hard-hitting, danceable rock songs with substance, and their influences (Genesis, Talking Heads, The Police, David Bowie, The Fixx...) were very much the same as my own.

What's more, this was a band whose songs resonated perfectly with my lived experiences. From the euphoria of marriage equality to the crushing shock of the election of 2016, my subsequent immigration to Canada, and all the challenges and uncertainties that dominate life in the post-COVID world...Walk the Moon were there.

It was life-changing to hear "Anna Sun," "Shut Up and Dance," "Different Colors," "Aquaman," "Can't Sleep (Wolves)," "Lost in the Wild," "Heights," and "Someone Else's Game" for the first time. And seeing them live was life-changing all over again.

8 June 2023

Pat Robertson, the extremist directly responsible for the rise of the white-supremacist Christian Dominionist right in North America; the man who spent 60 fucking years waging war against feminists, non-Christians of all stripes, and especially the LGBTQ+ community on his media platforms; the man who was directly responsible for commandeering the U.S. Republican Party in the late 1970s and 1980s and transforming it into the sociopathic Trump-deifying terrorist group that it is dead. Thread.

As with Rush Limbaugh and Billy Graham...I don't want to commemorate him. I want to commemorate and remember the innocent people that he hurt.

24 May 2023

Lately, I've been thinking a lot about Doom. Hard as it is to believe, the classic computer game is wrapping up its third decade of existence this year.

Despite its "macho" posturing, Doom always struck me as a game grounded in social justice. The player fights against supernatural beings invading the realm of secular reality. The cruelty of Hell is shown in explicit detail...and you aren't expected to blithely accept it. On the contrary: You apprehend the perpetrators of these horrors in episodic battles, you hold authority figures to account, and you work to preserve and avenge Earth's humanity.

So driven with enthusiasm, I was inspired to create a feature: A Look at Doom: The First 30 Years. With a walkthrough of the original game that took me two weeks to write.

Just in time for the lead programmer to remind everyone that he's an unempathetic piece of garbage...not that that's even a surprise to anyone who knows even a cursory bit about the man. But John Carmack didn't develop the creative content of the game: Tom Hall and John Romero did. And both have made passionate defences of trans rights, leaving little doubt in my mind that Doom has a heart.

6 May 2023

What it really means when "You can't go home again."

James Haught, "The yearly torment of living in red states:"

In the 2023 West Virginia legislative session, which ended last weekend, the troglodytes tried to (1) force rape and incest victims to bear babies, (2) pass a "religious freedom" law to let Christians voice hate for gays, (3) force all public schools to display "In God We Trust," (4) forbid doctors to treat transgender youths for their condition, (5) let schools teach "intelligent design" to counteract evolution, (6) give tax money to church-backed anti-abortion clinics, and (7) let college students carry pistols on campus.

Statehouse correspondent Phil Kabler summed up:

"Our legislators act like they are hell-bent on turning West Virginia into a fundamentalist Christian theocracy.

Last summer, soon after Roe v. Wade was overturned, legislators enacted a near-total ban on abortion, not based on the findings of medical science, not because a majority of West Virginians demanded the ban, but because of a fundamentalist Christian belief that abortion is sinful.

Many legislators sought a total ban on abortion, eliminating exceptions for rape and incest, which would have effectively required crime victims to carry unwanted pregnancies to term. Indeed, a bill this session to eliminate those exceptions had 13 cosponsors in the Senate."

Jamie Lynn Crofts, "No, $12k is not enough to make me move back to West Virginia:"

In the end, though, the absurd attempts to eliminate the state income tax ended up being among the least bad things to happen in West Virginia while its lawmakers were in Charleston. When the state legislature is in session, stupidity and bigotry reign supreme. Lawmakers mocked mask requirements and wore mesh masks that looked like jockstraps. Every member of the legislature was offered the COVID vaccine - and about 30 percent of them were just like, "Nah, I'm good." One of the people who declined the vaccine was Delegate Brandon Steele, who managed to contract COVID twice (TWICE!) during the 60-day legislative session.

And naturally, West Virginia's celebration of willful ignorance does not begin or end with covidiots and mask freedom fighters. The state's lawmakers took care to pass as many bills as possible hurting people who live within WV's borders.

The state that has been hit hardest by the opioid epidemic, and which is already in the midst of one of the worst HIV outbreaks in the country, decided to criminalize needle exchange programs that follow the CDC's best practices for harm reduction. Trans kids have been banned from participating in sports that match their gender identities. The legislature exempted gun and ammo manufacturers from state sales and use taxes, opened up concealed carry permits to out-of-state residents, passed a bill saying the state can't close gun stores or shooting ranges during states of emergency, and banned the state from enforcing federal gun laws.

[...] Hilarious rebukes of Jim Justice aside, this entire session was a demonstration of the very reasons people leave. Elected officials regard and treat their constituents with open contempt. The only part of the Bill of Rights they believe in is the Second Amendment. And if you happen to be a woman, not white, not Christian, or a member of the LGBTQ community, well, good luck. Don't forget that all of the horror of West Virginia's 2021 legislative session is in addition to all of the other ways the state has been trying to go back to the stone age. West Virginia has discrimination against women and people who can get pregnant literally written into the state constitution, no statewide protections for LGBTQ people, some of the laxest gun laws in the country, and a wannabe supervillain attorney general who helped incite the January 6 insurrection. It is kind of incredible to see the people who are the actual reason no one wants to live in West Virginia pontificate on how to attract more people.

Reddit, "What would it take for you to stay in WV?"

That being said, the politics here have done a number on me. I cannot stand the idiocy, hatred, lack of compassion, and pseudo-Christian fascism that has taken root in our statehouse. I never cared about local politics until all of a sudden some jerkoff I went to High School with votes away my family's right to reproductive healthcare. The fuck! So, to answer your question more specifically, the politics of this state need to change. If anything drives me away from my beloved home, it will be the political environment. I'm of the opinion that we are spiraling toward another civil war and I don't want to be in WV when that war breaks out because I know I'll be on the losing side.

I fear for family and friends who aren't "alt-right and white". I fear for my family and friends who are LGBTQ+. I fear for not only my children's future, but all women's futures in WV.

It is simply unsafe here. From abortion restrictions to further marginalization of trans people; it's not safe to have children or raise them. Heck, even straight people are scared to drink the water. It's leave or die for many.

A massive shift in politics and an increase in opportunities (employment and entertainment). Specifically, I don't feel welcome in the state as they continue to prove and attempt to pass legislation to push me out of it (Member of the LGBTQ+ community) and there just isn't much to do and hard to find like minded people.

It's unfortunate, but now I must leave. I am Hispanic and gay, and frankly, I was better accepted socially before a lot of recent political divides. It seems our government constantly is shooting us in the foot; think mountaintop removal, excessively regressive social politics, etc. I really do love so much about it here, but it's getting inhospitable, and watching the government legislate my rights away is getting tiresome. That, and I have virtually zero job opportunities as a history major, which is in part my choice but nonetheless a determining factor.

West Virginia will forever be my home state. Hard as it is to believe today, this is the exact same state that voted to the left of secular Vermont in my lifetime.

As a kid in the 1990s, I swore that I'd spend my whole life there, following the lead of my parents and family's friends in leveraging education and public policy to be part of the solution to the state's problems.

Then I started questioning my belief in God...and I was knocked flat. And I started questioning my straightness...and I was knocked flat. And I watched on as the people who surrounded me in my community, who were friendly and neighbourly so long as you agreed with them, started treating right-wing reactionaries like Cecil Underwood, Shelley Moore Capito, Joe Manchin, George W. Bush, Don Caruth, and John McCain as if they were the second coming of Christ. And started boasting about the guns they owned. And how obsessed they were with the (locally-nonexistent) immigrants they wanted to deport from the country.

And if I so much as spoke back, I felt as if I had a target on my back.

And I left the state, with some regrets, in 2008. Before it was afflicted by fifteen more years of radicalization and brain drain, with no end in sight. Before Trump. Before the 2023 West Virginia legislative session turned the state into a fundamentalist Christian theocracy.

Now, I question whether it's even safe to visit.

And I don't know what the solution is. It's a vicious cycle: People flee the state because of existential threats from theocratic bigots...which results in the theocratic bigots assuming more political power among the shrinking populace...which results in even MORE people fleeing the state. How do you break out of this? Getting guns out of the hands of angry people, cutting off access to Fox News and hate radio, and squelching the fear and paranoia that they influence would be a great step...but it would require political leadership that doesn't exist federally, much less in WV.

Meanwhile, the state of Minnesota is working to pass a Reproductive Defense Act and Trans Refuge Bill. "I wish that other legislatures across this country shared our values. They don't. But guess what? If you need gender affirming care—and that is life-saving care, it's medically necessary care. If you need it, you can come to Minnesota. If you're scared, or you're looking for a new place to build your family, we want you here in Minnesota. We want you to take refuge here." —Clare Oumou Verbeten, DFL-St. Paul.

I have no doubt that a fair number of the pregnant and transgender people taking refuge in the Gopher State are going to be from West Virginia.

Feeling disoriented? Here's the site map that used to be on the front page.

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