Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Hard Hat Zone

No, this is not a post about Thinkman.

Moments ago, I popped a hard hat on my head and went up to investigate the recent renovations and to select my new office. I had a choice of two offices, both roomy but lacking windows. I will have to give up my windowed office with lots of natural light pouring in, for a equally nice office illuminated by artificial light. In my current office, I rarely have to switch on the lights, which I like very much.

I regret not taking my camera along and getting a photo of me in a hard hat. I think I looked good and it made me wonder if I had made a wrong carer choice along the way. I think I'd rock the hard hat, tool belt, work boot look. Plus, when you are in that uniform, you get to whistle at the ladies with no reprisals. It's expected behaviour.

Of course, I'd probably have a stupid nickname, but that is good news to me, 'cause I've never really had a good nickname, except for Zydeco Fish, but few people in my real life know about this blog and so no one calls me that.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

TV Shows I have been Watching

Battlestar Galactica - I really love this show. It seems to realistically depict spaceflight and future technology without the fantastical Star Trek gadgets. My only complaint is that Captain Apollo, the CAG, hot shot pilot, and son of Commander Adama has the voice of a 8 year old boy. Couldn't they have found someone who has gone through puberty?

Dexter - I have finished the first two seasons and am awaiting the third. This is a really awesome show, but I am a little distressed to have discovered that Michael C. Hall is dating Jennifer Carpenter, who plays Deb, his adopted sister. It just does not seem right to me. It's so incestuous :-)

30 Rock - It's back after the strike - as I have already mentioned - and it is still awesome.

Curb Your Enthusiasm - Larry David makes me cringe a few times every episode, but I also laugh a great deal. Who would have guessed that this would be the most successful post-Seinfeld show?

Monday, April 28, 2008

Damn Kids

Yesterday in the park I clashed with a group of obnoxious foul-mouthed prepubescent boys (5 kids about 9 or 10 years old). Also in the park, were my two kids (aged almost 3 and almost 7), plus two other kids a bit younger. I walked over the little shits and said very sternly: "There are little kids here, so kill the language." They shut up.

Of course, they left a pile of litter behind them when they finally left, and I would have said something, but they sneaked away. Suddenly, I am left to ponder the word snuck, which sounds like the past participle of a mid afternoon snack.

A few years back, I confronted another group of kids who had invaded the toddler part of a park, and were exuberantly climbing on the monkey bars, etc. They left a pile of refuse on the ground when they turned to go. I said, "You know, I saw the house that you came out of across the street and I am going to knock and that door if you don't pick up all of that garbage you left behind." They cleaned it up.

I could give you more examples, but that would be excessive. I do wonder what I would have done if this most recent group refused to shut up, or, perhaps worse, decided to swarm me. I already know how many 5 year olds I can take in a fight, but these guys were a bit older and might have proven to be tougher. Would it have been excessive to throw sand in their faces and kick them in the groin?

Friday, April 25, 2008

My Bohemian Index

After listening to Kevin Stolarick (Prosperity Institute at the University of Toronto) speak for an hour on the Creative Class recently, I was left to ponder what a Personalized Bohemian Index might look like. Of course, the Bohemian Index, devised by Richard Florida and his cohorts, deviates somewhat from the dictionary definition of bohemian:
Main Entry: Bo·he·mi·an
Pronunciation: \-mē-ən\
Function: noun
Date: 1555
b: a person (as a writer or an artist) living an unconventional life usually in a colony with others (Merriam-Webster)

Florida's indexes (which also include a Gay Index and a Diversity Index) measure the prevalence of writers, artists, and performers in a location, usually a city and its relationship with urban regeneration. If you want to know more, you should check out The Rise of the Creative Class.* His theory suggests that the dense concentrations of high-tech workers, artists, musicians, and gay men correspond with a higher level of economic development and prosperity.

I am left to ponder my Bohemian Index. Since I am neither gay nor diverse, I will avoid the other two indexes. I might hold a few unorthodox or antiestablishment political or social viewpoints, although I am not interested in voluntary poverty. So, I have no answers yet, but when I figure it out, you will be the first to know.

* Florida, Richard. The Rise of the Creative Class: And How It's Transforming Work, Leisure, Community and Everyday Life. Basic Books, 2002, ISBN-10: 0465024769, ISBN-12: 978-0465024766.

Thursday, April 24, 2008


OK, so I was just at a long session from a database vendor, and the presenter used the term pinkynail (or, maybe pinkienail) rather than thumbnail when referring to a scaled-down image. Very odd.
Helmets, Fires, Medical Emergencies, Stuff, and Dead Soldiers

I saw a woman today wearing her helmet incorrectly, which is not unusual, but she also had it on backwards.* Seriously.

When I arrived at work, there was a fire blazing in the garbage can near the entrance that I use. The security guards, who were walking leisurely to the scene, suggested busting out the marshmallows, but I was not convinced given all of the toxins in burning plastics and lord knows what else might have been in the can.

I suspect smokers, of course, because many are still pissed-off at the no-smoking law that restricts puffing near doorways.

Moments later, the 911 team rolled onto campus to deal with someone on the pavement. I have no idea how this person ended up there.

According to CNN: "There have been 4,354 coalition deaths -- 4,046 Americans, two Australians, 176 Britons, 13 Bulgarians, one Czech, seven Danes, two Dutch, two Estonians, one Fijian, one Hungarian, 33 Itaians, one Kazakh, one Korean, three Latvian, 22 Poles, three Romanians, five Salvadoran, four Slovaks, 11 Spaniards, two Thai and 18 Ukrainians -- in the war in Iraq as of April 23, 2008..."

Let's hope the McCain doesn't win, or the toll will go even higher.

Lastly, maia blogged about an interesting video, and I think you should watch it.
*I often see people who wear cycling helmets incorrectly. The main issue is that people push them back on their head, when they ought to be forward and level, because in most cycling mishaps, the cyclist falls forward.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Pissed Off

To the scurvy bastard who walked up to my house last night, opened my green bin, dumped the decaying smelly organic material all over my property, and then stole my green bin, I hope something terrible happens to you today - like you accidentally flush your keys down the toilet or a pit bull bites you in the groin.
The city's web site states that I have to purchase a new bin, which is exactly the reason some thief made off with mine. Offering replacement bins is clearly the thing to do. I tried calling the city, navigated the menus, and finally heard: "to speak with an agent, press 4." The next sound I hear was a busy signal!

Moments later, I tried calling the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency. After locating the proper phone number and verifying that I was calling within operating hours, I again got a busy signal. I set up a login for the My Account feature at CCRA, which is a laborious process. It took ages to enter all of the information, and when I had finally done it, I was told that I would have to wait for, like, 5 days until they mail me a security code.

Now, I realize that security is important, but I already gave them my SIN number, date of birth, line 150 from a prior return, the answers to three questions, etc.

What's wrong with government agencies?

Update: They just replied to my email message to tell me that: "The City is not responsible for any lost/stolen or missing bins. You will have to purchase a new bin. The cost is $18.00 ( including taxes)." Great.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Another Conversation with my Daughter

Upon noticing a white shirt hanging in the closet, my daughter (age 6) said:

Daughter: You have a white shirt?

Me: Yeah.

Daughter: But you never ever wear white!

Me: Well, sometimes, one needs a white shirt. But you are right, I usually avoid white.

Daughter: Only dads that are 30 wear white. Really young dads.

Monday, April 21, 2008

News Roundup

1) Edward Lorenz, the "father" of chaos theory has died. His cause of death has been traced to a butterfly in Brazil.

2) Sex and the City death: a plot leak suggests that a character will die in the up-coming Sex and the City movie. This has raised my interest in the movie from zero to one on a scale of 1 to 100. If it were up to me, I would put Carrie out of her misery and donate her shoes to charity.

3) Obama says McCain would be a better president than George Bush. He also noted that crunchy is better than smoothie.

4) The Bird's Nest - the Olympic stadium in Beijing - was unveiled recently. Since the upper half of the stadium is obscured by smog, those seats come with a complementary gas mask.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Obsolete Skills

A colleague alerted us to I find this site to be very amusing, but there are some things on this list that I still have to do, like:

adjusting the rabbit ears on the top of a TV - I do not have cable...

putting a needle on a vinyl record, but not very frequently.

buy a roll of film - I have three cameras loaded with film right now and some of them require that I know how to focus a camera.

clicking the up and down arrows of a vertical scrollbar - now that is just stupid. I still do that.

calling a phone sex line ... no, wait, I never did that.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

It droppeth as the gentle fart from heaven
Upon the place beneath.

I originally titled this post God's Ass, but I thought that was a bit vulgar. Then, I considered Cosmic Flatus, Mysterium Flatulosmographicum, and Cutting the Universal Wind. My final title retains some poetic qualities, I hope.

But, anyway, this is an interesting project. NASA wants to place close to 100,000 antennas on the dark side of the moon to form what it is calling the Dark Ages Lunar Interferometer (DALI). The principal behind this is simple: the bigger the telescope, the farther back in time you can see. And, by placing it on the far side of the moon, you can eliminate interference from earth transmissions, etc.

In theory, you could see back to the "dark ages" of the universe, right after the Big Bang. In other words, you would see clouds of ionized gas drifting around. Maybe my brain is helplessly stuck at the age of 14, but I can't help but thinking that if we look far enough back, we would see a huge butt, right after it had broken some wind.

Just when I thought that I was being too juvenile, I read the second last line of the article on Space:
Probing the dark ages presents the opportunity to watch the young Universe evolve," said Joseph Lazio, NRL astronomer and head of the DALI proposal.
Probing? Really. He said that. And, I thought of the fundament...again. But, I do like the idea of the telescope.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

666, A Stream of Consciousness Post

This is post number 666. Too bad 666 has lost its impact, since the revelation in May 2005 that the number of the beast is really 616. So much for that Iron Maiden song. 666 sounds much better, if you ask me. It has punch. 616 sounds like an area code ... hang on a minute ... yup, that's in Michigan. I knew there was something odd about Michigan. Michigan has been hiding something, and now I know what it is.

Anyway, heavy metal reminds of all of those hot summer days spent cruising the streets of southern Ontario with my metal-head cousin in his souped-up Duster or Dart. Occasionally, there would be beer close at hand, sometimes too close. Far less often, some interested girls might happen by only to lose interest very quickly. That, I blamed on a number of things: my cousin's weak attempt at a moustache, which made his upper lip look soiled; the blaring heavy metal, which made it impossible to have a conversation (or at least his failure to get the ballad queued up in time - those monster ballads are there for a reason); and his belief that the car could do all of the talking for him. He would just pull over and say "hey," hoping that would be enough.

I learned a lot about heavy metal that summer, and while I can still sing along to a goodly number of soothing heavy metal anthems -- you can sign me up for AC/DC karaoke any day -- I did not gain any appreciation for the art form. I think it's the screeching high pitched vocals more than anything. I was never fond of the Eddie Van Halen school of self-indulgent guitar solos, but I am not afraid of a little heavy guitar.

I like Led Zeppelin, as I have already mentioned here, and some punk, later Ministry, Nine Inch Nails, some selections from Tool, even. But, those posers in big hair with a voices like castratos do nothing for me at all. Don't even get me started on the likes of Twisted Sister or Warrant or ...

Monday, April 14, 2008

Lemon and Lime

Finally, 30 Rock is back on the air. Of all the shows I watch, and that is not many, I missed 30 Rock the most. It might be the funniest show on TV right now, and its return to air with the MILF Island storyline was hilarious. (Hint: if you are not sure what a MILF is, you might want to look here, but be warned that it is an adult term). In the bad news department, I took this quiz and discovered that I am most like Liz Lemon. And I thought I would have been most like Jack Donaghy.

Anyway, moving from Lemons to Limes, I finally saw The Third Man. It's a stylish, paranoid thriller. The British Film Institute voted it the best British film of the 2oth Century. I don't know enough about British films to agree or disagree, but I would have to say that it is a great story with there was some solid acting and fantastic cinematography. And, let's not forget the fine performances from the dog and the cat.
Harry Lime: Don't be so gloomy. After all it's not that awful. Like the fella says, in Italy for 30 years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder, and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and the Renaissance. In Switzerland they had brotherly love - they had 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

New Job and Caffeine

As I mentioned previously, I have a new job (same place, new responsibilities). The only problem is that I am retaining my old job until someone can take over my old job, and I have no idea when that will be. So, I am doing two jobs and I feel a bit schizophrenic.

So, today I had the gluten-free and vegan chocolate cake at Tinto on Roncesvalles Ave. This is amazing cake. It tastes the like the real deal. The trouble is that the server gave me coffee with caffeine, and I feel like I have been given uppers. Since I avoid caffeine, it has a serious effect on me. Right now, I feel like I could write a novel in an hour or so. The caffeine also explains why I am posting on a weekend. It also means that I will not get much sleep tonight, and I will be sleepy tomorrow. I hate it when that happens.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Flickr Video

I have to confess that I am a little dismayed that Flickr is now accepting videos. If that is not enough, videos are appearing in Explore pages mixed in with the photographs! This is chaos. I love video and I think that YouTube is great, but Flickr is not YouTube and YouTube is not Flickr.

By the way, why isn't YouTube called YourTube or MyTube?

Yahoo! - who owns Flickr - already has a video sharing site, so why do we need Flickr videos mixing it up with a distinctly different art form? At least they have instituted a policy that users only upload videos that they have created and the vids must be shorter than 90 seconds. Still, I am not fooled by Flickr's description of videos as "long photographs."

So far, the videos that I have seen are not that good, but I did view a couple of good ones. Maybe I will change my mind if I ever decide to make some videos. I have already received invitations to join video groups even though I have no videos to share.

I do like this one, though:

I am drying off after my rainy ride in this morning.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Do the Test

I think that posting a video is kind of cheating, because it is not a real post. Nevertheless, this is really cool, and anyone who is a cyclist or an automobile driver ought to watch it. Thank you to Maia for telling me about this one.

Oddly, I am locked out of my email account this morning. It gives me a certain degree of peace, but also a bit of anxiety.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Free Tibet

I have never been in favour of Olympic boycotts. I feel terrible for those athletes who have trained for years for a chance to compete. The US-led boycott of the 1980 Moscow Olympics was really sad, and the 1984 Soviet-block boycott of the LA Olympics was dumb retaliation. There have been other boycotts as well, and I think that they had very little impact, except on the athletes.

There has been some pressure on world leaders to boycott the opening ceremonies, but I don't think that goes far enough. I would hope that all athletes boycott the ceremonies as well.

I have to say that I am really amazed that China was selected as the host nation given its occupation of Tibet. The ecology and integrity of Tibet is being completely destroyed. Of course, we can't forget China's relations with Sudan, but that is another huge topic.

* * *

I cycled to work in the pouring rain this morning. Because of some limited rain gear, I have wet feet. My rain pants kept my pants dry, but it soaked though my coat. I hate it when that happens.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Down with 8 Glass of Water per Day

Finally, people are beginning to recognize that it is dumb to drink 8 glasses of water per day, something that I could never do anyway. Two kidney experts argue that such a practice has no benefits and may, in fact, be harmful to some people. Boy, this sounds like a news report. The kidney dudes conclude that drinking all of this water:

does not suppress appetite
does not flush toxins from your body
does not reduce headaches
does not improve your skin
(the research article was published in the American Journal of Physiology)

In 1945, the U.S. Food and Nutrition Board advised people to imbibe 8 glasses of fluids every day. This recommendation has always puzzled me because our bodies tell us when to drink. We get thirsty and we drink. Trying to force all of that water down one's throat is unpleasant and stupid. Besides, we get fluids from the things we eat, fruit, vegetables, etc.

We don't need to port around bottles of water, or worse, those Nalgene-type polycarbonate bottles that contain Bisphenol-A (BPA), an endocrine disruptor.

* * * * *
Oh, and in other news, I have a new job. Same place - different job.
So, there's work to be done.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Another Conversation with my Daughter

In the bath, she told me how a boy who used to sit behind her kept pulling her hair. They are both 6 years old.

Daughter: Does anyone pull your hair in class?
Me: I am at work all day, and I only have one class - my French class - on Thursdays.
Daughter: But, does anyone pull your hair in French class?
Me: No ... well, not so far.
Daughter: Are there any pretty girls in your class?
Me: Yes, I think so.
Daughter: What are their names?
Me: I am not sure I can remember all of their names.

I told her (en français) that my French prof is from France.

Daughter: He's from France! Wow, that must be so cool. He must be really good at making pasta.
Me: Pasta is an Italian dish.
Daughter: It is?
Me: Yes, but my French prof can speak Italian and Spanish too.
Daughter: Well, maybe you can go to Paris and have pizza.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

The End of Jericho

So that's it for Jericho. I thought the show was OK, but the ratings killed it. It's too bad really, but networks are constantly killing off good shows and pumping out garbage.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Essential Links

I am off to a very long meeting that will last most of the day, so, I present a list of essential links for the John-obsessed, following on from yesterday's post. By the way, I think I should mention that I thought that Mr. Cusack was really good in Being John Malkovich. It was his best performance. Other than that, meh.

John @ Wikipedia
John @ IMDB
A John Fan Club - seems like it's free to join
Another John Fan Club - this guy is popular
John @ HuffPost - blog posts written by the man himself

OK, that ought to be enough to get you started. Have a nice Friday.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

The Coming of Apokalupsis Eschaton

Here are more signs that the end is near.

1) Mariah Carey has surpassed Elvis in number of #1 hits. Only the Beatles have had more #1 hits. If she ever does pass the Beatles, the end of the world will be upon us.

2) Someone came into the library yesterday wearing a tiara. A friend of mine wore a tiara at her wedding. My daughter has had several in her collection of dress-up paraphernalia. I know I have seen pageant queens wearing them, but I can't remember the last time I saw someone walking around campus wearing one.

3) A woman has been charged with stalking John Cusack! WTF! Why on earth would anyone want to stalk John Cusack? By the way, John was in Toronto yesterday.

There are more signs, but I have to run to a meeting now...

Wednesday, April 02, 2008


Some cattle, photographed by my mother when she was very young, with a Kodak Brownie Hawkeye. I prevented my mother from selling the camera in a lawn sale, and it's been in my possession every since. The trouble is that it was damaged some years ago.

After scanning close to 1000 of my mother's old photos, I am forced to consider the possibility that she is partly responsible for my love of photography. I am also forced to recognize that advancing technology killed any photographic skill she may have had. Most of her early photos were taken with a medium format camera, as you can see from the photo above. I love big square negatives much more than the 35 mm variety.

She dumped her clumsy camera for one of those compact cameras that used 110 cartridge film. The first kind used disposable flash cubes, and later ones had a built-in flash. This led, of course, to colour balance problems, grain, and generally bad photos and, eventually, red-eye. When I was eight or nine years old, I was gifted with a Kodak Instamatic 126, which was not much better.

Anyway, I like the cows.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Looking for a Good Home

In light of some circumstances beyond my control, I need to find new homes for my small family of Fawn and White Indian Runner Ducks. You can get photos and standards here for this breed of duck.

The patriarch, Jack, is a fine example. He is lean with a perfect wedge-shaped bill. He stands 75 inches tall and has full, alert, and bright eyes. His partner, Jill, has tight, smooth, and hard feathers, and stands a very straight 66 inches from bean to toe. Their children, Wanda and Richard, are joyful, playful, and loving. These guys will do you well in the show pen.

If I can't find a new home for them, I will be forced to find room for them in my freezer and then practice my French cookery skills. I found a very nice recipe for Duck a l'orange.

I am offering these fine birds on a first-come, first-served basis. I will also hand over all of my copies of IRDA newsletters.