Friday, November 28, 2008

Double Cups

I used to drink coffee frequently. This year (since January), I have had maybe three cups of coffee, all decaf. I had a cup of decaf yesterday from Tim Hortons. Of course, the franchise should be called Tim Horton's but that's another issue.

Lately, there has been tons of discussion about disposable coffee cups and how they are filling up landfill sites. Some people suggest a tax on these cups, while others want to make sure coffee shops use the kind of cups that can be put in the green box. It makes little difference to me, since I rarely buy coffee, but I wished I had taken my mug from my office with me.

So, I asked for a small decaf and she hands it to me and I walk over to join my colleagues and discover that I had been double cupped. I didn't ask for double cups. I didn't want double cups. I know that the coffee is hot, but is it hot enough to double cup? What am I supposed to do with that extra cup? I am sure that if Tim's stopped double cupping, it would have a big impact on landfill sites.

This reminded me of a time in Starbucks when a colleague asked for double cups and he was told that they don't double cup. Instead, they gave him the cardboard sleeve. That has to contain less waste than a double cup, and you can put the sleeve in the paper recycling.

Next time, I am saying no to the double cup. Suddenly, I am thinking about bras.

I think I need a nap.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Flickr is like a Stalinist Regime

Flickr really pissed me off today. Flickr has a mechanism for users to "flag" their photos as either safe, moderate, or restricted. My interpretation of these flags are:

safe: photos of flowers, sunsets, trees, buildings, cars, food, chairs, puppies, rivers, urban scenes, etc.

moderate
: any photo with nudity, like breasts, bums, flaccid male appendages

restricted
: sex acts, pornography, graphic displays of genitals, etc.
So, I have dutifully flagged any photo with nudity as moderate. Since I have no photos of people crashing the custard truck, I have nothing flagged as restricted. A couple of my photos, from a recent Toronto Pride Day parade, do feature male frontal nudity. I flagged these as moderate.

It's important to note that Flickr allows people to alter their search preferences. So, if you only want to see safe photos, you leave your preferences as safe. There are three settings:
SafeSearch on: You'd prefer to see photos and video that is safe for a global, public audience.

SafeSearch moderate: You're OK seeing the odd "artistic nude" here or there, but that's the limit.

SafeSearch off: You're over 18, and take full responsibility that you're comfortable to see whatever turns up.
As far as I am concerned, I flagged my photos appropriately. But, like the good old days of Joseph Stalin, when someone turns you in, you get punished. Someone, who had changed their search settings to moderate, reported me to the Flickr secret police, who then flagged two photos as restricted without any consultation with me. These are photos that have been viewed more than 22,000 times and 5,000 times respectively, and only one person complained.

I am upset because Flickr has a means for people to self-moderate photostreams, but they can intervene at any time to dictate morality. Here is the guidance Flickr offers when flagging photos:

Safe - Content suitable for a global, public audience

Moderate - If you're not sure whether your content is suitable for a global, public audience but you think that it doesn't need to be restricted per se, this category is for you

Restricted - This is content you probably wouldn't show to your mum, and definitely shouldn't be seen by kids
This sounds like my original interpretation and like the the description in the safe search settings. So, why the hell did the Flickr Politburo change my settings? Because 0.0045% of the people who have viewed one of these photos was offended. In the USSR, under Mr. Stalin, all it took was one person out of millions to point the finger.

The thing that really bothers me is that my mother would have no problem seeing either photo, and neither would my kids. In fact, they saw the real thing at the parade. It's the freaking puritanical US of A that pisses me off. You can watch someone's head being blown off on prime time broadcast television, but show a breast and you have a date with the FCC.

I think we should all adhere to local standards. In Ontario, for example, it is legal for a woman to be topfree in public. She need not fear any oppression from the patriarchy (well, she might suffer some sexual oppression, but legally, she can bare those breasts). Of course, in the puritanical USA, it is illegal for women to be topfree in most states. So, if it is legal for a woman to exercise her topfree rights, then these photos ought to be permitted as safe or moderate. If the city permits men to march nude in a parade, then these photos ought to be considered as safe or moderate, and certainly not resticted.

End of rant.

P.S. My flickr account is not listed under my Zydeoc Fish alias, but my real name. 

Friday, November 21, 2008

Very Amusing

There are several interesting celebrity appearances in this video. You might like it.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

New Shoes!

I know some of you - perhaps the women - might find it surprising to learn that I just purchased my first new pair of shows in about six years. It might even be longer than that. Seriously.

I am breaking them in now, as I type. Ah, new shoes, with that new shoe smell. It's awesome. I might run out and get another pair this week.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

I Hate all Couriers

I am fairly sure I will never purchase another piece of equipment from Dell unless it severs all ties with Purolator Courier. Purolator is a disaster. The last time I ordered equipment, I dutifully followed the package's progress on the Purolator web site, taking note of the expected arrival date. I arranged to stay home from work, so that I could take possession of said package and avoid an inconvenient trip to the depot.

Suddenly, the status of my package changed from in transit to returned to depot, or some such status that meant I was not at home when the driver arrived! The blasted courier wo/man did not come to the house and, on top of that, left no note! I called, and was able to arrange delivery for the next day. I took another day off work and guess what? The same thing happened. No courier showed up and the status indicated that the package was once again en route to the depot. I sent a very angry email, 'cause it was impossible to get through to the bonehead on the phone.

How can a company call itself a courier if they fail to even attempt delivery? What's the point of sending something by courier if one has to travel to the depot (usually located in suburbia) to retrieve the package? Why can't they deliver packages to residential addresses during evenings and weekends?

This week, I was expecting a package from UPS, that strange courier that likes to call itself "brown", like shit. Brown is not such an impressive business colour, even if it has been the New Black for years. I worked for this company for part of one summer, by the way. So, I came home on Monday, and saw a note stuck to my door. None of the fields that could have been filled in were filled in. All were blank, in other words, except for the comments field.

There was no indication if this was the first, second, or final attempt to deliver. The date of new attempt field was blank. A field at the bottom read: "In your absence the package(s) was left at: Front Door, Back Door, Side Door, Garage, Neighbour, Other. None of these boxes were checked. In the comments space something illegible was scribbled.

I thought that I would need to take a day off work to wait, but there was no indication of when the package would be re-directed, so I called, and waited and waited. I wanted to tell them that the least they could do is indicate that another delivery attempt would be made. After reciting my waybill number, the dude says:

"The package was left at the side door."

"I don't have a side door," says I.

"Are you sure?"

"Quite."

"What about a garage?"

"Nope"

"Porch?"

"I don't have a porch either" UPS dude advised me to look around. I have to say that I was stunned. I only called because I wanted to know when it was going to be delivered. It's lucky that I even called. Now, he told me that the package was left somewhere, and I had no idea where and the note didn't say where.

On my cell phone, I circled the house, looking here and there. For some unknown reason, I looked behind my new City of Toronto garbage bin, and there it was. How bizarre. It could have been there for days, had I not called the idiots. And then, it all made sense. I was finally able to decode what looked like:

"h eft Ai sio/E" I guess that said "left at side."

Friday, November 14, 2008

Bananas and Sleep and Politics

Is there anything more disappointing than going into your usual grocery store and discovering that all of the bananas are as green as emeralds? It either takes a week for the bastards to ripen, or they do so overnight, because they are genetically-inferior and end up tasting awful.

But, on to more important things. For some inexplicable reason, I slept very badly last night. I woke at 3:00 AM and failed to get back to sleep. I really hate it when that happens, mostly because I am a great sleeper and rarely have any problems.

In other news, an old high school friend showed up on Facebook. Two, actually. That's all well and good. One friend now lives in a large American city. During our exchange of messages, he complained that the democrats were now coming to power and that this would sink the economy. Is he on drugs? I wanted to ask him if he happened to notice that the economy tanked on the Republicans' watch. Of course, talking politics and religion with friends is probably a bad idea.

I am kicking myself for not taking today off. I like taking Fridays off. Why didn't I take Friday off?

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Phew!

There is always a great sense of relief after one presents, which I just did at lunch. Granted, it was to a smallish group (25 or so), but I am glad to have that one over with. I have two more coming up. Now, I can get back to the important things, like reconnecting with my online social networks and procrastinating :-)

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Reading Update

More books I have read, instead of a real post, because I am too busy to write a real post. Maybe later, when some of this work has passed.

1) The Scheme for Full Employment by Magnus Mills - I'd like to know where this dude gets his ideas. I still believe that his first two novels (The Restraint of Beasts and All Quiet on the Orient Express) were better, but this is quirky and interesting and well worth the journey.

2) Genesis by Jim Crace - Crace is one of my favourite writers. I will admit to not being a fan of Arcadia. That was a tough slog, but Quarantine and Being Dead are very very good. As for Genesis, well, it didn't grab me and I struggled with it. In the end, I give it 2/5. I wished I had liked it more, but I didn't. I just didn't and that's all there is to it.

Currently reading: My Name is Legion by A.N. Wilson - I am 25% in, so I can't really comment.

Monday, November 10, 2008

A Depressing Post

I logged in, planning to write, in my best Soup Nazi impersonation, "No post for you!" But, let's just see where stream-of-consciousness takes me.

I just got back from rural Ontario, which is always interesting. My father is fighting 5 types of cancer, but oddly, all of them are considered to be the least deadly types of cancer in each class. He has skin cancer, but not melanoma, for example. But, he looks pale, which makes his wardrobe choices all the more perplexing. His beige pants, beige shirt, and beige socks match his pale, ashen complexion, a complexion that would seem to demand some colour compensation. He just needed a hat to convince all of us that he was about to go on safari.

The loss of 25 or 30 pounds makes him appear completely different. His face is drawn; he has no energy; he needs to nap several times per day. For the first time, he looks old to me. He's lost something. He didn't make a single racy joke and, far more surprising, didn't offer any political commentary or investment advice. Occasionally, he stared off into the distance, and I really wondered what he was thinking about.

I wonder if having skin cancer makes him regret the hours he spent basking in the sun. Somehow, I doubt it. He loved the sun and would probably follow the same route again, given a second chance.

Time prevented an additional junket to visit my mother, now housed in a new home, close to my sister's house. It's here where she will live out her days eating meatloaf and watching her roommates die. I gather she is not enamored with the place, but that might change. At Christmas, I will have to ensure that I visit her in her new abode.

My, wasn't that depressing? I just have to add the title and hit publish.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Is your Cucumber Curved?

If so, or you have undersized melons, there's good news. The European Union is altering its fruit and vegetable policies, and will soon allow the sale of diverse fruits and vegetables, those that might deviate from the norm by being crooked, small, ugly, or asymmetrical. Look how fast the world is changing! The next American President is not on old white guy and now previously prejudiced produce will soon hit the shelves in Europe.

That's all for today. Happy Friday and have a nice weekend. I will be heading into the rural parts of Ontario, where people like the Conservative Party, Celine Dion, and bad grammar.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Vista?

Are you using Vista? I am considering purchasing a new laptop next spring, but I am afraid of Vista. Evidently, very few developers are writing applications for Vista, which I assume means that they are waiting for Windows 7. I would also love to wait for the new OS, but that is not expected to roll out until 2010.

So, if you are running Vista, what do you think? Incidentally, Hitler hates Vista:

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

The Times they are A-Changin'

All I will say today is that I am delighted by the election results south of the border (Alaska went red, but that's OK).

Come senators, congressmen
Please heed the call
Don't stand in the doorway
Don't block up the hall
For he that gets hurt
Will be he who has stalled
There's a battle outside
And it is ragin'.
It'll soon shake your windows
And rattle your walls
For the times they are a-changin'

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Opium, Cocaine, and LSD

During a seasonal lunch back in 2002, a colleague confessed to having taken opium, cocaine, and LSD. Just to remind you, this person is a librarian. Of course, I made such a confession about LSD in the past (here and here). I don't think it's a big deal, but I would draw the line at addictive stuff, like cocaine and opium, unless I were dying. On my deathbed, I want the full Aldous Huxley experience. I might even smoke a big fat cigar as I lay dying. Yeah, just imagine: me at age 110 (or so), lying on my bed in silk PJs. There would be a dog curled up on the bed with me. We'd be surrounded by young busty nurses in old school uniforms, stockings, and FM boots. I'd have some nice psychedelic music (maybe early Pink Floyd) playing. Mangoes, papayas, and pineapples would all be close by, plus wine and dark chocolate. Come to think of it, this is Hugh Hefner's life right now, except he has 8 blondes, which is not my thing. Maybe Hef is dying?

But, back to the story at hand. I find his/her confession to be extra weird because this person is very childlike. I can't imagine this individual drinking under age or sneaking into a restricted movie. S/he seems to be so law and order, so old, so straight and narrow. If I had to guess, this was the person who clapped the teacher's chalk brushes after school. It makes me wonder what other secrets people are carrying around with them. All of which reminds me of Post Secret, which I am sure you all know about. Heck, even I knew about it, but I often forget to visit it. I think I will go now.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Second Last Word on the US Election

Please vote. Here's my favorite page of the day:

http://www.sarahpalin.com/ (This seems to be a joke. If you go there, it reads: "This page intentionally left blank.")

Notice that I used the American spelling of favorite, in honor (another American spelling) of the election.

I have to admit that I have election fatigue and I am not even American. The whole process takes way too long. There are the endless primaries with all of these presidential wannabes running around, raising cash, spending money, making speeches, kissing babies, etc. etc. etc. And, that is all before the election campaign officially commences. Usually, I am sick of hearing the names of the candidates after a while.

Anyway, please vote. But, if the elections are rigged, I wonder what the point is of even voting: